The Hindu

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.

 

Why is media losing sleep over Justice KM Joseph

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)

Something doesn’t seem right here. All the four major English dailies—Indian Express, The Hindu, Times of India, Hindustan Times—today (August 6, 2018) have a front-page blockbuster story of “some” Supreme Court judges planning to corner Chief Justice of India (CJI) Deepak Misra on Monday over the “downgrade” of Justice KM Joseph.

A background is necessary: The President of India has cleared Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Orissa HC CJ Vineet Saran and Uttarakhand HC CJ KM Joseph as judges of the Supreme Court. However, Joseph has been put last in the list of seniority and this has got the hackles up for a few Supreme Court judges, as these pious newspapers claim.

You could belong to one of the three categories below:

 

(a) A complete innocent on the “judicial-activism-of-Supreme-Court-kind” who would instantly ask if this is true and whether the Centre has indeed been manipulative.

(b) A general reader who probably knows that government had asked SC collegium to reconsider Joseph’s name but after being re-recommended by the SC, has now acceded to their request.

(c) A keen hawk of Indian politics who knows all about the “puppets” (i.e. media) and their “masters” (Left-Liberal lobby).

 

If you are a complete innocent then it’s important to know that the government is strictly going by the book. As per Article 124 (2) of the Constitution, The President may but is not obliged to consult Supreme Court judges. As for seniority, KM Joseph is least senior amongst the three in terms of dates when they were appointed High Court judges (see image). I leave it to you what to make out of the unnamed judges plea that “Joseph must be recommended senior-most since his name was recommended first.” What logic? Juvenile, I say.

Now, if you are one from the second category, a general reader who knows basic details, you are still wondering why there’s so much of fuss over Joseph’s name. Well the media tells you that’s because as Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice, he overturned the President’s Rule in the state two years ago (and that’s why the Modi government is being vindictive). It might help you to know that as per law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at that time, there are presently 11 more Chief Justices of various HC who are senior to Joseph; and that Kerala HC already has a judge in the SC.

And finally, if you are in the third category, a keen hawk, you would dribble out a few simple questions: How come all the newspapers have same story and same detail without anyone being named? Was there a press conference? Did all those Supreme Court judges who intend to corner CJI Deepak Misra on Monday rang up newspaper offices? Or is it there is a “diktat” to our Lutyens’ Media to roll out the story as they have been told? Or whether a favourable judge today could be a difference between imprisonment and freedom for those out on bails or being pursued by state agencies such as Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Quite clearly, it’s the last option which seems most plausible. Does the “deep state” of India, read long-ruling Left-Liberal combine who control media and academia in this country, have the ears, if not the pockets, of both judiciary and media? May be they are doing out of fear. Or they are compromised. One thing though could be said with certainty: in this harmonica, all the notes are one and coming out of a single mouth.

The danger is acute. Supreme Court seems to be exercising its overreach; it’s getting into the crosshairs of executive, that’s government. A showdown is not far off. As the SC/ST Act has shown, the government is prepared to reverse a SC ruling when it suspects an intrusion into their authority and responsibility. More such repeats could happen.

Supreme Court must appear neutral; never show bias or prejudice or overreach for people are beginning to impute motives. It should never be seen doing a PR exercise. The people have noticed how a press conference by a few honourable SC judges was not criticized; how shamelessly an “impeachment” notice against CJI was moved; how retirement of SC judges—from `packers and movers” to full-page interviews—was covered; or how the KM Joseph non-issue is being given wind to by Lutyens media and their masters.

Who cares if long-established norms and institutions are brought down, anarchy is served for course and blood is your drinks for the night…

 

 

 

Why nobody is allowed to criticize Sonia Gandhi

Take a deep breath and reflect who you are not allowed to criticize in India. I could think of no other than Sonia Gandhi, former Congress and UPA chairperson. Run the entire gamut, pore over the worksheet of honchos of Indian media, Shekhar Gupta, Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc; google as you might; dive into the archives of Lutyens Media like Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu; Sonia Gandhi, much like Caesar’s wife, has been above reproach.

That’s astounding. I mean nobody has been the president of 134-year-old Congress longer than her (19 years); she got her party two consecutive Lok Sabha victories; a whole lot of scams were unearthed; yet not a word against her. I mean yes, BJP and her bete noire Dr. Subramaniam Swamy keep pelting her windows but that’s par for course for any opposition. But what accounts for no “black sheep” within Congress bleating ever? No media house opening its edit pages for trenchant views; no historian/academician offering critiques? No scholarly paper in JNU? No diagnosis on a person out on bail?

I do recall two embarrassing Sonia interviews, that is for any self-respecting journalist, by Rajdeep Sardesai (he kept saying “fought like a tigress,” both in 2005 and 2016), as it was for Aroon Purie on another occasion, coy and adolescent.  Yes Shekhar Gupta (“she keeps a formidable dynasty on her slender shoulders,”), Barkha Dutt (“she has made a public commitment to Women’s Reservation Bill”) have also interviewed her;  Vir Sanghvi has been profound in “Nobody-in-Nehru-Gandhi-Family-Has-Given-Kind-of-Authority-she-has-to Manmohan-Singh,” echoed by a gushing Sagarika Ghose ( “She never undermined Manmohan Singh, always backed him up”). Both Sanghvi and Ghose don’t touch upon how another Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, was humiliated, even in death. And these clowns happily go toting about “bhakts” to everyone else. Phew.

Two books on Sonia immediately come to my mind. One is a pathetic account by a sychophant;  another is “Red Sari” which was unofficially banned in India for six years due to machinations by Abhishek Sanghvi, as alleged by its author.

There was though one voice of dissent which was muzzled without much ado by this “deep state” in India. Margaret Alva, a former Union minister of state and Governor, was quite scathing in her autobiography: “Courage and Commitment:” Excerpts:

“While Pilot, Prasada and Scindia got all the honours due to them as Congress leaders—with shamianas erected at the AICC to receive their remains before the last rites—PV Narasimha Rao, the tallest of them all, was denied a state funeral in Delhi. His body was not even let into the AICC compound; instead, the gun carriage carrying the former Prime Minister and Congress President was parked on the pavement outside the gates, with chairs lined for party leaders. I was shocked…ever since, I have regretted not protesting and walking away.” – On PV Narasimha Rao’s death in 2004

Alva details that she played a peacebroker between Sonia and Rao: the latter falling out probably for deciding to appeal against the Delhi High Court’s decision to quash a complaint against the Bofors case. Sonia Gandhi once retorted to Alva: “What does the Prime Minister want to do? Send me to jail?”

Alva’s outburst about the unfair ticket distribution in Karnataka led to her ouster. She was asked to resign from the post of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in 2009. In her resignation, Alva wrote thus:

“Times have changed and for the first time I have come to feel like a misfit in an organization that I considered as precious as my own home. A look at our recent candidates lists show a distinct patter of patronages to the wealthy and rich lobbies like mining, education and real-estate…”

Just reflect on the above in line of recent Karnataka assembly elections and ponder why no newspaper or media celebrity ever brought this book out of the shelves to examine Congress’ candidates in 2018? Why Congress’ demise in the state is not looked through the prism which Alva afforded us?

As per one reviewer of the book: “Alva’s book offers an amazing insight into the maneuverings of 10 Janpath—the home of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Without being too harsh, Alva clearly indicts Gandhi for lacking transparency in her manner of functioning, her penchant for surrounding herself with a handful of loyalists…”.

Alva was made to leave Delhi, appointed as she was governor of Uttarakhand. In her words: “Once I had made the mistake of saying: `The Alvas are the only political family to have a member in Parliament without a break for almost half a century.’ This statement sealed our fate.”

(As an aside, Alva was Governor of Rajasthan when Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Alva describes her meeting with Modi thus: `I told him I had come to pay my respects, not plead for an extension, adding `I am not prepared to quit anytime.’ “There is no question,” He (Modi) replied. “You are doing a good job please continue where you are.” She was subsequently given additional charge of Goa and Gujarat!).

Why Muslims owe a lot to Sardar Patel

This is the centenary of the year when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel first met Mahatma Gandhi and India got its unifier as we know the nation today. His birth anniversary, which falls this week, was all but erased from public memory under the Congress continuance and the media/academia which controlled the public narrative. It’s only now that the man is being pulled out of history’s dusty racks.

History bears testimony how the birth centenary of Sardar Patel on October 31, 1975 was blocked from public consciousness by the dispensation of Indira Gandhi and the media/academia cabal. Contrast this with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s who was festooned all over India in 1989 during his birth centenary.

You have Marxist historian Romila Thapar pointing out Sardar Patel’s role in reconstruction of legendary Somnath Temple after Independence, an act of communal and not secular ideals of India by inference, though how Nehru pushed the passage of the Haj Committee Act in 1959 is better not questioned.

Congress loses no time in terming Sardar Patel as its own, and couldn’t care less about your protest that the “Iron Man” got Bharat Ratna only 44 years after India’s independence. Try telling them that no less than three Nehru-Gandhi icons were decorated with India’s highest civilian award in between (two of them, Nehru and Indira, while they were still alive). A few awardees in between, while Patel was kept in the storeroom, could be suitably embarrassed.

All this while Patel’s has been nuanced into an anti-Muslim persona. Be it agenda-driven websites which have mushroomed lately; the known Left’s stable such as The Hindu/Frontline or NDTV, and mainstream media, Patel’s legacy has suffered in their hands. The man deserves truth even if respect eludes him from the indifferent amongst us. Sardar was no less than Bismarck—but India hasn’t been a match to Germany in gratitude.

The anti-Muslim narrative must seize our immediate attention. BJP has been tireless in pointing out Sardar’s role in India’s unification. It’s been easy for the Indian ecosystem to club the two and project it against Muslims of the country. One, it establishes their “secular” credentials and two, it kind of helps in explaining their willful neglect of the towering Sardar.

Was Patel Anti-Muslim?

The one unethical method the intelligentsia adopts is to take a quote out of its context and use it to buttress its agenda. We have Rajmohan Gandhi writing in “Patel A Life” (P. 426) that “He (Patel) was unquestionably roused more by a report of 50 Hindu or Sikh deaths than by another 50 Muslim deaths.”

Another by Rajmohan Gandhi: “…Patel could not get over his anger against Muslims whom he held responsible for the Partition; they had brought this tragedy not only upon themselves but also on others.”

Patel has been blamed for introducing the Permit system which didn’t allow Muslims to claim their Indian citizenship even if they had gone to Pakistan for a visit after August 15, 1947. He is also burnt at stake for slapping the Evacuee Property Law which meant the absorption of movable and immovable assets of Muslims who chose to leave for Pakistan. In both the instances, it was in retaliation to similar moves made in West and East Pakistan but such logic is usually lost in wilderness.

Quite a few of Sardar’s utterances are cited to hold him guilty of anti-Muslim bias. There is this speech in Hyderabad, just two months before his passing away in 1950, where he said: “I naturally begin to doubt whether Muslims here feel that their future lies in India.” (That his next sentence condemned some Hindus for celebrating Gandhi’s assassination, is studiously avoided). (Chopra, P.N., The Sardar of India, p.150.)

There are these words of Sardar’s in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in January 1948:  “The Muslims who are still in India, many of them helped in the creation of Pakistan…They (now) say why their loyalty is being questioned.”

When Pakistan invaded Kashmir, the same month, he addressed Muslims in Lucknow, thus: “I want to tell you frankly that mere declaration of loyalty to the Indian Union will not help you in this critical juncture…those who want to go to Pakistan can go there and live in peace.”

Contrast these words with the actions Patel took vis-à-vis the minority communities. He was instrumental, as chairman of the committee on minorities and fundamental rights, in allowing Muslims and Christians the right to (a) propagate their religion (b) the right to preserve their language and culture; and (c) the right to run their own educational institutions.(1)

Men like K.M. Munshi and Purushottam Das Tandon, protested that even in the 1931 Karachi session of the Congress, only the “right to profess and practice one’s religion,” and not propagation, had been allowed. But Patel would have none of it. He went by the reasoning of Christian and Muslim members that propagation of faith was central to their tenets. That’s how you have the word “propagate” in Article 25 of the Constitution. (2)

It was also Patel who gifted Muslims and Christians, and other minorities, with Articles 29 and 30, that allowed them the right to pursue their language and culture as well as control their own educational institutions. These rights are enshrined in India’s Constitution. (3)

The first Chief Commissioner of Delhi that Patel appointed was Khurshid Alam Khan. The Inspector General of the Special Police Force was a Muslim and a close confidant of Sardar Patel. In September 1947, Patel had 10,000 or more Muslims shepherded to safety inside the Red Fort. During communal violence he had free kitchens opened for them.

Many senior civil servants and police officers have left a vivid account of Patel’s sense of justice. He once rushed out in person in the middle of a night to save the Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya. Choudhary Khaliquzzaman writes in Pathway toPakistan (P 395-396) how Patel ordered Section 144 Cr.P.C to save besieged Muslim lives.

It was in the sacred Constituent Assembly, that Patel had thundered: “…a discontented minority is a burden and a danger and that we must not do anything to injure the feelings of any minority so long as it is not unreasonable.” On another occasions he addressed Hindus thus: “If you think that you can go on constantly troubling loyal Muslims because they happen to be Muslims, then our freedom is not worthwhile.”

In 1949, the idol of Ram was installed inside the non-functioning Babri Masjid. Patel lost no time in writing to UP Chief Minister Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant that the mob must not be allowed to take law into its own hands. That the law-breakers must be met with force.

Rajaji wrote thus in “Swarajya” in 1971: “A myth had grown about Patel that he would be harsh towards Muslims. This was a wrong notion but it was a prevailing prejudice.”

In January 1948, Gandhi wrote: “Many Muslim friends had complained to me of the Sardar’s so-called anti-Muslim attitude. I was able to assure the critics they were wrong…the Sardar had a bluntness of speech which sometimes unintentionally hurt, though his heart was expansive enough to accommodate all.”

Thus here we are looking at a man who is more secular than those who employ it as a tool to push their own despicable agenda. Why would you think a man of such generosity and big-heartedness didn’t get his due from the establishment? In one short word: Nehru, his successors and the ecosystem which they spawned in their wake.