Category Archives: Government

Modi’s Meditation ‘Tour’

The art of legitimising religiosity in a secular country and live happily ever after.

Modi in KedarnathReligion is regarded by the common people as true, by wise people as false and by the rulers as useful. — Seneca (4 BC-AD65)

A picture is worth a thousand words.

An outgoing Prime Minister of the ‘world’s biggest democracy’ seen meditating under the glare of cameras in a cave specially opened for the occasion and with a dress stitched for the event, conveys many things simultaneously.

First and foremost, it tells us that the present incumbent to the post would at least be remembered for his varied sartorial tastes among the galaxy of PMs who headed the republic earlier. It appears that either all the others lacked the sense to dress for the occasion or found it a mundane job not befitting the post and the responsibilities they held then. Continue reading Modi’s Meditation ‘Tour’

Democracy as Majoritarianism

Extract from the Preface of  ‘Hindutva’s Second Coming’

Preface

Democracy as Majoritarianism

We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal… we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
— Martin Luther King, Jr

What is the signature of democracy?

It is the understanding that minority voices will be allowed to flourish and they will not be bulldozed.
At the apparent level majoritarianism – rule by majority – sounds very similar to democracy but it essentially stands democracy on its head. For real democracy to thrive, it is essential that ideas and principles of secularism are at its core. The idea that there will be a clear separation between state and religion and there won’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion has to be its guiding principle.
Majoritarianism clearly defeats democracy in idea as well as practice.
While democracy’s metamorphosis into majoritarianism is a real danger, under rule of capital – especially its present phase of neoliberalism – another lurking danger is its evolution into what can be called as plutocracy – government by the rich.
As India enters the race for elections to the 17 th Lok Sabha, these are the two broad questions which are staring in everyone’s mind, whether the same dynamic – which has made the last five years as unique in Independent India’s history – will continue or we will witness a rupture.
It is a disturbing scenario when the biggest democracy in the world seems to have taken a ‘[Q]uantum Jump In Wrong Direction Since 2014’ (Amartya Sen) – prompting even the normally reticient community of scientists to ask people to reject the politics which ‘.[d]ivides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society’ and remind them that “[D]iversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.’
Whether there would be further normalisation of majoritianism or ordinary people’s desire to live a more inclusive, egalitarian life and in a less toxic world would ultimately triumph the designs of the hatemongers and secondly, whether free run being given to the crony capitalists and moneybags would be over and ideas of redistribution would make a comeback with vengeance.
What has added a new dimension to this dynamic is the existence of a ‘self proclaimed cultural organisation’ called RSS – whose principles, ideology and activities contravene the very basis of Constitution – which is de facto ruling the country. It is an organisation whose principles “[d]epicting Indian nationalism in terms of the faith of the religious majority – have serious negative social and political implications for sections of the citizen-body and are in violation of the Constitution.” ( http://caravandaily.com/rss-principles-are-in-violation-of-constitution-detrimental-to-india-hamid-ansari/)
It was exactly 42 years back that Indian people defeated the attempts to throttle the democratic experiment by their united struggle, whether they would be we able to have an encore when more secretive, sinister and communal forces are on ascent who are also popular among a significant section of people.
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The central concern of the collection of essays (some of them published earlier and revised for this collection) presented here is this normalisation of majoritarianism which is taking place here. A situation where representation of the biggest religious minority in the outgoing Parliament had been at its lowest since independence and where it is being slowly invisiblised even from public discourse.
Section I tries to situate these developments in India in South Asian context and search for any commonality in the experiences of people and also looks at the societal roots for this fascination of hate filled ideologies and leaders.
Section II deals with the ‘pioneers of the Hindutva Supremacist movement and the new icons they want to present for a ‘New India’ which is supposedly taking shape under their wings. Section III tries to offer tentative suggestions to fight the menace which is trying to overwhelm the Indian republic.
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The book is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Tur (February 20, 1925 – April 30, 2006) who survived persecution, imprisonment and censorship, whose writings have inspired generations of Indonesian People,
What was remarkable that Pramoedya, a leftist, was jailed not only during the anti-colonial struggle but had to undergo a long phase of detention which started in mid-sixties when Indonesia witnessed a CIA sponsored military coup – which witnessed killings of lakhs of people. He was released from imprisonment in 1979, but remained under house arrest in Jakarta until 1992.
His tetralogy of novels – for which he is best known – ‘Buru Quartet’ was written during the tormenting period of detention only. “Is it possible,” Pramoedya asked later, “to take from a man his right to speak to himself?”

 

Glory to his memory !

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Contents

Dedication
Preface
Section I
1. India: The Road Less Travelled by
2. Time to Militarise Hindus, Hinduise the Nation
3. South Asia: Forward March of Majoritarianism
4. Dear Hitler
Section II
5. Veer of a different Kind
6. Can the Real Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Ever Stand Up?
7. Godse: In Love with the Assasin
8. Deendayal Upadhyay: BJP’s “Gandhi”
9. Many Silences of Mr Mohan Bhagwat
Section III
10. Hindutva’s Second Coming
Appendix IV
Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism

Index
—–
About the author
Subhash Gatade ( born 1957) is a left activist, writer and translator.
He has done M Tech ( Mech Engg 1981) from BHU-IT, Varanasi.
He has authored few books including  Modinama : On Caste, Cows and the Manusmriti ( Leftword, in press), Charvak ke Vaaris ( Authors Pride, Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( Sugava, Marathi, 2016), Beesavi Sadi Mein Ambedkar ka Sawal ( Dakhal, Hindi, 2014), Godse ki Aulad ( Pharos, Urdu, 2013) , Godse’s Children – Hindutva Terror in India (Pharos,  2011), The Saffron Condition ( Three Essays, 2011)
He also occasionally writes for children. Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi ( NCERT, Hindi, 2010)

 

 

 

 

When ‘Strange’ Visitors Called on Ram Puniyani

Recall Kalburgi and Shahid Azmi? There are several such unconnected looking incidents in recent times that are part of the same mindset that looks for ‘internal enemies’ in every dissenting voice.

When ‘Strange’ Visitors Called on Ram Puniyani

Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : Siasat

Ram Puniyani, the affable and relentless campaigner for communal harmony and peace, who at the age of 73 displays the enthusiasm of a 25-year-old ever ready to go from place to place with his characteristic bag full of literature, had some unusual visitors in his house a few days ago.

What was rather strange was that the trio that visited his house in plain clothes on March 9, introduced themselves from CID but were reluctant to show their identity cards and supposedly had come to make enquiries regarding a non-existent passport application, as neither Professor Puniyani nor anyone else from his family had applied for the same.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/when-strange-visitors-called-ram-puniyani)

 

 

Statement in Support of Prof Ram Puniyani

Condemn attempts at intimidating Prof Ram Puniyani

Related image

To
The Commissioner of Police
Mumbai

We the undersigned strongly condemn the way in which attempts were recently made to intimidate Prof Ram Puniyani by people supposedly belonging to CID. We fear that it is to silence his voice which has always remained critical of communal forces and has fought for peace and harmony.

We are told that on 9 th March three men who said they were from CID visited his home in the garb of an inquiry for passport, which neither Prof Ram Puniyani had applied for nor did anyone else from his family applied for one. What is worrisome is that they asked all kinds of objectionable questions to him and his family members.

Looking at the fact that not only the Maharashtra government but the BJP led dispensation at the center is trying to suppress all voices of dissent against their acts of omission and commission – which has generated tremendous concern among human rights defenders everywhere – we feel that this can be a precursor to involve him in some legal hassles, or implicate him in some case so that he is silenced.

It need be underlined here that Prof Ram Puniyani, who was a professor in biomedical engineering at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Bombay had taken voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full-time for communal harmony in India. Author of many books on communal harmony and secularism, he writes regularly in different publications to strengthen voices of sanity and has consistently questioned and challenged divisive forces of various kinds and has even received the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award (2006) and National Communal Harmony Award (2007) apart from many other awards for his work.

We demand that an inquiry be ordered into this whole episode and the guilty be brought to book for their act of intimidating a widely known writer and noted activist.
Endorsed by

( Please send your endorsements to Ms Shabnam Hashimi, shabnamhashmi@gmail.com latest by 11 am 13 th March 10)

‘Patriotism’ Made Easy in Times of ‘WhatsApp Elections’

A WhatsApp-sponsored report, prepared in partnership with Queen Mary University, has raised the alarm that the 2019 elections in India, which already has cleavages on lines of caste, race, gender, religion, would be a fertile ground for damaging fake news.

‘Patriotism’ Made Easy in Times of ‘WhatsApp Elections’

There was a time when ‘Good Morning’ messages were causing much “pain” to internet giants?

It was the beginning of last year when the obsession of Indians with starting their day with a deluge of ‘Good Morning’ messages flooded WhatsApp, and generated a lot of chuckle. But it but also raised serious concerns such as the overloading WhatsApp servers, and clogging Android phones.

We were told how millions of Indians were getting online for the first time and how everyone was getting hooked on to WhatsApp. Their obsession with sending such messages was causing “..[s]ome serious pain for Internet giants.” Not only WhatsApp but even Google researchers in Silicon Valley had noted how “[I]nternet newbies are overloading their Android phones with Good Morning messages.”

Nobody then had any premonition that India would shortly come under scanner for the spread of online disinformation and fake news resulting in a string of murders and growth of anti-minority sentiments. A report published by BBC’s Beyond Fake News Series had tried to corroborate this.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/patriotism-made-easy-times-whatsapp-elections)

 

‘Mother to Indians’ Kasturba, Bose versus Hindu Sangathanists

Image result for kasturba gandhi

“Kasturba Gandhi is no more. She died at the age of 74 in British jail….I salute this great woman who was like a mother to Indians ….Kasturba was an inspiration for millions of Indian girls with whom she lived and met during the freedom struggle of our motherland. She was party to the many travails and tribulations of life with her great husband since the days of Satyagrah in South Africa.. She went to jail many times, which severely impacted her health but she did not fear going to jail even at the age of 74 years. When Mahatma Gandhi led the Civil Disobedience Movement, Kasturba was in the forefront of that struggle’

With these words Subhash Chandra Bose remembered Kasturba when she expired in detention at Agha Khan Palace – which had in fact been turned into a jail – on 22 nd February 1944. History bears witness to the fact that it was a death precipitated by the callous and ruthless colonial rulers who had refused to release her despite her worsening medical condition. She had been suffering from heart disease for more than four months. She also had a heart attack during this period. Continue reading ‘Mother to Indians’ Kasturba, Bose versus Hindu Sangathanists

A Statement against Suppression of Dissent by IACLALS

We are publishing below a statement sent to us by the Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies against the suppression and criminalizing of dissent in India

The Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (IACLALS) expresses its deep dismay over the continuing assault on civic freedoms and constitutional rights of writers, teachers, students, human rights activists and public intellectuals in the country. The current political climate of fear and intimidation – fuelled and vindicated by the state and the ruling party – has simultaneously targetted entire communities through a range of religious-ethnic violence, as much as it has sought to silence conscientious voices that have spoken up against such onslaughts. Vacuous rhetorical constructions like “anti-national” and “urban naxal” – with no basis in fact or in principles of democratic governance – have been repeatedly manufactured as the grounds for punitive-legal action and media trials, through the invoking of outdated colonial codes like the sedition laws. The latest of these forms of orchestrated witch-hunt has seen the attempted arrest or chargesheeting of Hiren Gohain, Anand Teltumbde and of several JNU students – in the cause of raking up an electoral consensus against the spirit of scientific inquiry and free-thinking.

The IACLALS’ academic investments have engaged with and gained from the works and ideas of these scholars, who now face the ire of the state. As a scholarly association, we believe in the need and power of a critical public sphere, as the only promise of a living democracy. We stand in firm solidarity with them, and strongly condemn every attempt being made at gagging forms of dissent and enforcing regimes of censorship.

Pondicherry University, Feb. 8, 2019.

GJV Prasad (Chariperson), Subhendu Mund and M. Asaduddin (Vice Chairpersons), Rina Ramdev (Secretary), Angelie Multani (Treasurer)