Tag Archives: AAP

The Violence in Delhi, Politics and ‘Heroism of the Ordinary’

 

What is there to say? What can one say that has not already been said umpteen times before – during earlier rounds of communal violence elsewhere – and in Delhi this time?

The political class, true to its character, has revealed as it has so many times in the past, that when it comes to matters like communal violence, it is simply paralyzed – perhaps with the exception of the Left in states where it was strong enough to impact things.  For all its failures in other respects, this was one where the Bengal Left, for instance, too had in the past shown great promptness in nipping such possibilities in the bud. Most often this was done, not by relying only on the administrative power of the state, but with  the entire party machinery moving into action. Kerala too has had a similar record. But those instances apart, especially in states of the Northern or Western India, there hasn’t been much to write home about. What entering the political domain does to you is illustrated so starkly by the fate of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its utter capitulation to what it imagines to be the ‘Hindu sentiment’.

Continue reading The Violence in Delhi, Politics and ‘Heroism of the Ordinary’

Kejriwal and the ‘Dirty Hands Problem’

Guest Post by SURAJ JACOB

[Note: This article was written before the ongoing violence in Delhi began and is not about current affairs. It rather engages with the political problem at a broader philosophical level. – AN]

Analysts of Delhi’s recent election note thatAAP imaginatively courted voters on the BJP’s own turf (Shekhar Gupta): welfarism with a dash of nationalism and careful projection around religion. There are several critics of this strategy. Satish Deshpande criticises AAP’s quiescence in ‘mere’ development activities (its campaign “was about municipal matters such as water and electricity and nothing else”). He describes AAP as a “non-ideological management consultancy”, even arguing that its campaign conveyed the message: “Don’t worry, we have no problem with communal politics, but please don’t ask us to say it openly”. Apoorvanand also casts the AAP as “an ideology-agnostic party that does not impede the BJP’s nationalist drive”. Similar points are made by Yogendra Yadav. They castigate AAP for its ideological failure in resisting the BJP’s polarising tactics violating the spirit of the Constitution. AAP voted with the BJP on Article 370, welcomed the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya temple and did not sufficiently support protests around the CAA/NRC especially in Shaheen Bagh. Besides ideological failure, Yadav also identifies AAP’s moral failures: choosing consultants and candidates based on winnability “without any moral or ideological hindrance” and undemocratically centralising power.

Deshpande, Apoorvanand and Yadav are scholars and public intellectuals with activist conscience and commitment to the public good. Taking their disquiet seriously, one may ask: How, indeed, should AAP’s campaign have been? Is the party and its dominant leader Kejriwal really “non-ideological” and “ideology-agnostic”, especially when it comes to toxic polarisation? The evidence simply doesn’t stack up for such a sweeping claim (though, according to Suhas Palshikar, “we will probably never know” Kejriwal’s real stand on these issues). Notes Monobina Gupta: “the AAP, within and outside parliament, has opposed the CAA and supported the protests in Shaheen Bagh in different ways. … What his [Kejriwal’s] ideologically-inflected critics mean to say is that he didn’t take the position they wanted him to. Yes, he didn’t run an ideological campaign.”

Continue reading Kejriwal and the ‘Dirty Hands Problem’

Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History

I have been reading with interest the exchange between Aditya Nigam and Satish Deshpande on the AAP’s strategy of avoiding ‘politics’ – or rather, distancing itself mostly from the polarised ideological debates while making small moves to shape for itself a space, arguably fuzzy, in the hegemonic discourse of Hindu. I am also witness to the unbelievably egregious attacks by the CPM leadership in Kerala against Islamist organizations protesting the CAA — the free reign granted to an explicitly communalised police force, the appallingly soft treatment of Hindutva offenders, even when they make open threats that warn Malayalis to ‘remember Gujarat’, the wanton attack on internal dissidents in the CPM using the worst instruments of the security states such as the UAPA, and the threat to dismantle the pandal of the Shaheen Bagh solidarity satyagraha in Thiruvananthapuram, something even Amit Shah has not dared to do (thankfully withdrawn after public outrage), and its blatant caste-elite majoritarian thrust while claiming to be the (sole) guardians of secularism. Continue reading Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History

Imagining an Antifascist Coalition Today

 

The debate on the meaning of AAP’s victory in Delhi and the Hindu idiom that its spokespersons have adopted continues as indeed on the implications of its refusal to play the electoral game in the way the BJP was intent on setting it up. But to keep our perspective right, we need to remember that this was just one stop on the long and arduous journey that still lies ahead. We also need to remember that AAP is only one of the forces and Delhi only one of the theatres of the anti-fascist struggle.

The lessons of the antifascist struggles in Germany or in Europe at large clearly are of no use in our battles here. At one level, we are all destined to repeat the grievous mistakes of the German communists (and the Comintern) for concentrating their main blow at the Social-Democrats, pronouncing them ‘social-fascists’ – till it was pretty late in the day and Nazism was already on the way to consolidating its power. In states other than Delhi, there are instances where this mindset can be seen to be in full operation. In Delhi, thankfully, this is not the scenario and most non-BJP political parties assess the situation differently, though an entirely negative stance towards AAP’s victory can be seen among many people. However, I do not intend to engage them in a debate in this post, having already stated my position on AAP’s victory quite categorically. Continue reading Imagining an Antifascist Coalition Today

Apropos AAP Victory in Delhi: Satish Deshpande Responds

Guest post by SATISH DESHPANDE

[This post responds to the piece by Aditya Nigam on Kafila last week, which was partially in response to pieces by Satish Deshpande and Apoorvanand.]

Thanks for your response, which (despite its tone 😊) helps to underline the seriousness of our broader predicament today.

I readily concede that my article was not sufficiently respectful of AAP’s major achievement in winning a second landslide against heavy odds.  But I do not think – as you seem to do – that this lack of respect (even if it was ungenerous) was without any justification whatsoever.

The article expresses my frustration at the fact (yes, this is a fact and not just my opinion) that the most effective and astute non-BJP political party around today chose not to use even a small fraction of its proven on-the-ground capabilities to counter the poison being spewed daily.  I have no prescription to offer AAP, and I don’t know why you think I do – where have I said that or even implied it?  Though I had no specific acts in mind (such as AK visiting Shaheen Bagh, etc.) I did expect AAP to do something (in its own unique way) to take back at least an inch or two of the political ground that is being ceded every day.

Continue reading Apropos AAP Victory in Delhi: Satish Deshpande Responds

Towards BJP’s Hindutva Lite Template

BJP’s Delhi campaign was not divisive by sanyog or coincidence. That is its prayog or experiment. Which it will take to other elections.

BJP’s Delhi campaign was not divisive by sanyog

Kitney aadmi thhe—how many were there?

A meme based on this famous monologue from the highly successful film, Sholay (Embers), from the early seventies, started trending when “David” Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), defeated “Goliath” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi’s recent Assembly elections.

No doubt this election’s result has put paid to the efforts of Home Minister Amit Shah to retain his image as “Chanakya” of Indian politics, at least for now. The result is despite BJP’s desperate attempts to win Delhi, as part of which pulled chief ministers, former chief ministers, cabinet ministers and more than 240 Members of Parliament to campaign in the city. Blame it on the high stakes battle that allegations surfaced that they had distributed cash and liquor ahead of the polls.

The result is for everyone to see.

The most toxic electoral campaign, perhaps ever, in which leaders of the ruling dispensation even provoked violence through their hate speeches, did not work. The BJP’s seat tally rose by merely five and a bloody nose.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Towards-BJP-Hindutva-Lite-Template)

Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

 

What has Gandhi got to do with the recently concluded elections in Delhi? On the face of it nothing. But at another level, the election process, its campaign and its results – all invite us to revisit Gandhi’s stupendous moral-political project of cementing the Hindu-Muslim division with his own blood and his heroic failure. He could not prevent the Partition and ultimately fell to the bullets of a fanatic Hindu nationalist of the kind who are in power today.

I remember Gandhi today because gung-ho secularists (the political community that I inhabit, if very uncomfortably) are once again at their favourite occupation of daring Arvind Kejriwal and AAP to ‘prove’ their ‘anti-communal stance’ and all that it can mean today – as though they alone have the talisman to fight communalism. I am reminded of Gandhi because his was by far the most audacious  attempt to fight the communal menace but he too had no readymade answers to it.

Secular warrriors have been basically daring Kejriwal and AAP to do and say things that he had been avoiding doing or saying all these days. Just two instances – of the quotes below from two dear friends – should suffice to indicate what I mean.  The first is from Apoorvanand, writing in the Business Standard,

‘Voters in Delhi were confident that the AAP victory in the assembly elections wouldn’t so much as serve as an irritant to the BJP, let alone rock its boat, as the saffron outfit was firmly and safely ensconced in power. An efficient delivery boy is all the electorate wanted. In the Delhi voters mindset, an ideology-agnostic party that does not impede the BJP’s nationalist drive is tolerable.’

Continue reading Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

Delhi Elections and the Difficult Terrain of Antifascist Struggle

 

Three incidents of firing in four days – two in Jamia Millia Islamia and one in Shaheen Bagh – quickly followed open calls to violence (‘goli maro saalon ko‘) by Union minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and the demonization of Shaheen Bagh protesters by BJP MP Pravesh Verma (‘the protesters will enter your homes and rape and kill your daughters’ if Modi and Shah aren’t there). In the case of the Shaheen Bagh shooter, Kapil Gujjar, the Delhi Police (which has till date not managed to find out the JNU attacker Komal Sharma’s affiliation) was quick to link him to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – an allegation expressly denied by his father. All these episodes, so obviously set up, basically aimed at provoking the protesters into committing some violence that the lapdog television channels would then play up, in their usual hysterical style (some of them may even have appeared on air in police uniform!), to vitiate the atmosphere.

On the very first shooting, one such channel did indeed keep doing precisely that till long after the identity of the shooter (in the clip above) had been clearly established. The clips were circulating almost instantaneously and you can hear the gunman shouting Delhi Police zindabad, and there was little chance of mistaking him for an anti-CAA protester. The channel knew exactly what it was doing and at whose behest but kept on at it till 9 o’clock at night.

Continue reading Delhi Elections and the Difficult Terrain of Antifascist Struggle

Arvind Kejriwal, Article 370 and a Blind Alley

(Photo Courtesy : http://www.newslaundry.com)

He came, he saw and he concurred

– Caption of a RK Laxman cartoon in early 90 s

 

AAP’s stand on article 370 has confused and disheartened many.

For its workers the party has opened itself to attacks by its adversaries because of its support to stripping of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir and thus weakening its own plank for full statehood for Delhi which was its key slogan during the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign.

A section of its fellow-travelers who had high hopes of the experiment, activists/scholars – who were rather enthused with its ‘participatory’ approach – also feel betrayed or disheartened now.

It is a different matter that not many have made their displeasure known.

May be it is a sign of their increasing fatigue or possible cynicism with politics in general, they have preferred to share their frustrations at private levels only. Continue reading Arvind Kejriwal, Article 370 and a Blind Alley

Nationalism and Politics – An Open Letter to Arvind Kejriwal

I write this open letter to you as a well wisher, and someone who has been seriously supportive of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) through all the ups and downs in the years since its formation.  Perhaps like many others, I too have high expectations of the experiment that AAP is and the new ground it has tried to break in terms of providing a government that has steadfastly kept the interests of the common person in mind while taking decisions.

But I also write this letter because I, like many others, have been perturbed by some developments which do not augur well for the future either of your party or of the country. The latter in any case, is set on a disastrous course, thanks to the current dispensation at the Centre. Let me also make it clear right away that I am not one of those who criticize AAP for ‘lacking a clear ideology’ and I in fact value the fact that on many critical issues, AAP has been able to resist the pressure to step into well trodden, familiar responses to specific situations and issues – especially well trodden among Leftists. But I do think that AAP needs to think a bit more seriously  about politics – which is not the same thing as ideology.

Continue reading Nationalism and Politics – An Open Letter to Arvind Kejriwal

Rainbow Social Coalition – To What End ?

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

 

USS passe rani hai, iss passe Gandhi!
(“On that side is the Queen, on this is Gandhi)
(https://indianexpress.com/elections/patiala-dharamvira-gandhi-aap-elections-2019-bjp-congress-5726029/)

Nawan Punjab Party’s candidate ex MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s election campaign and the way he projected his appeal as ‘battle against the royals’ had rightly evoked interest in a section of the media as well as pro-people circles.(https://www.newsclick.in/electoral-mobilisation-vehicle-rainbow-social-coalition)

It is of interest to know that in this era of money and muscle power politics the campaign was largely run on support generated by people. What is also notable (-do-) that the campaign was successful in building a social coalition – cutting across various fissures in our society – and could challenge “populist fascism of the Bharatiya Janata Party, patronage-based populism of the Congress, and a fractious identity politics of SAD which cannot see beyond its narrow aims. “. Continue reading Rainbow Social Coalition – To What End ?

The Elephant in the Room – Silence on Class Issues in Indian Politics : Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by SANJAY KUMAR

Ramesh has been working as a daily wager in a Government of India office in Delhi for ten years. He is one of the army of peons, office assistants, security guards, gardeners, and cleaning staff which government offices, city municipalities, hospitals, schools and colleges of the metropolis employ regularly. He is a graduate, but gets the wage of an unskilled worker. He is among the fortunate ones who at least get government mandated minimum wage. Most private employers in the city violate the minimum wage act; either they pay less than the mandated amount, or make daily wagers work more than eight hours without any overtime.

Ramesh was pleasantly surprised this April when he noted a more than 30% increase in his wages. His daily wage that stood at Rs 360/ earlier was now Rs 513/. This was due to a Government of Delhi notification issued on 3rd March, 2017. The news was covered in the inner pages of some newspapers. Most TV news channels ignored it. Hence, it is not surprising that employees like Ramesh who are not associated with any organsiation of workers were not aware of this increase. Continue reading The Elephant in the Room – Silence on Class Issues in Indian Politics : Sanjay Kumar

Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?

My friend Guddi has a great story about a Gujjar wedding she attended recently in Ghaziabad. It was a typically chaotic event, marked accurately by the swirling crowds around the dinner stalls. If Gujjar weddings are chaotic and the dinner doubly so, the scene around the tandoor is triply compounded chaos. Barely concealed competition amongst overmuscled Gujjar men in overtight pants for that precious hot roti ensures that none but the most Hobbesian men remain, circling the tandoor like hungry wolves, periodically thrusting their plate forward like fencing champions and shouting obscenities at the harried servers. In such a heart-stopping scenario, a young server had as Guddi recounts, figured out the formula to keep everybody from killing each other (or him). As soon as the roti would be pulled out of the tandoor, seductively golden brown and sizzling, this man would hold it high up with his tongs so everybody could see, then in an elaborate dance-like ritual, touch each of the empty extended plates in front of him with the roti, and finally, in a mysterious but authoritative decision, place it respectfully on a randomly selected plate. Repeat with every single roti that emerged from the tandoor. A hushed silence followed by nervous laughter followed every such flourish.

Continue reading Who will get the hot roti in the Delhi assembly elections?

Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics Set to Shut Thanks to L-G and BJP Controlled Municipal Bodies: Jyoti Punwani

[The Superintendent of Tihar Jail, went a joke recently circulating on WhatsApp, had staked his claim for the Chief Ministership of Delhi, because he had the requisite number of MLAs! The mainstream (Big) media has had a field day, reporting with great ‘earnestness’, what even the ordinary person on the street can see is an orchestrated move to harass and discredit the AAP. A leading paper even did a status report on all the cases against AAP MLAs a couple of days ago, as if it was simply ‘reporting’ (with a straight face). Some day, hopefully we will be able to come out with a more detailed analysis of the ways in which sections of the big media have – even in the person/s of their most benign representatives and columnists – played footsie with the regime at the Centre. This dispensation and its utterly unprincipled and unethical ways are truly unprecedented and this phase of our history has emerged as the dirtiest chapter of parliamentary democracy in India. In the meantime, online news forums have kept the tradition of actual reportage and fairness alive. Here are some extracts from a report by JYOTI PUNWANI, courtesy The Hoot (linked below), on the mohalla clinics and the strange politics of the media that surrounds reportage around such measures undertaken by the Delhi government.]

The AAP’s mohalla clinic experiment drew the attention of The Washington Post. Its article (`What New Delhi’s free clinics can teach America’, March 11, 2016) was also carried by the Chicago Tribune. A University of Southern California delegation came to study mohalla clinics  in July.

But our print media didn’t think this important experiment was anything special. Not all covered it; of those that did, some didn’t carry the report in all their editions….

The Indian Express carried a long report in April, after the second batch of clinics opened, in its Delhi edition (“In rented rooms across Delhi, part 2 of ‘mohalla’ clinic project takes off’’).  Livemint hada detailed report last month, after more than 100 clinics had opened (`Mohalla clinic: AAP offers affordable healthcare model at doorstep’); and earlier this week, The Hindu evaluated their performance in its Delhi edition (`A thousand promises of prompt health care’).

Among news websites, Newslaundry did a lively report immediately after the first clinic opened (`Mohalla clinics come to town’). In January, Catch News did a report  (`#MohallaClinics: AAP has diagnosed Delhi’s health problem. Can it cure it?’), and a follow-up in April after the second batch opened (`AAP Mohalla clinics: rented homes turn clinics, private docs appointed’).

A two-part article appeared in Scroll.in in May (`The clinic at your doorstep: How the Delhi government is rethinking primary healthcare…) Indeed, news websites, rather than newspapers, seem to have given the new experiment the space it deserves.

Going through the reports on mohalla clinics, it became clear that the possible removal of some of them was only the latest move against them. A few days before the NDMC issued this order, the Lieutenant General (LG) of Delhi had got into the act. Consider the sequence of events:

On August 5, the Delhi High Court ruled that the LG was the administrative head of the capital. After the judgment, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia specially requested Najeeb Jung not to transfer the Health and Education secretaries as these two bureaucrats were essential for the AAP’s new initiatives in these sectors. Continue reading Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics Set to Shut Thanks to L-G and BJP Controlled Municipal Bodies: Jyoti Punwani

Odd/even – A Baby Step, But a Step Nonetheless: Kaushik Chatterji

Guest post by KAUSHIK CHATTERJI

One January evening a couple of Delhi winters ago, I was at my doctor’s. During the routine examination, he discovered that my blood pressure was rather high: 160/100 to be precise. I asked him what I should do; he said, “walk regularly, reduce salt intake and come back next week”. So I did. The reading remained the same, so I asked him again what I should do; again he said, “walk regularly, reduce salt intake and come back next week”. This went on for a few more weeks. Finally, after five or six weeks of consistently high readings, my doctor prescribed a medicine and added, “walk regularly, reduce salt intake and come back next week”.

Popping pills after an isolated high blood pressure reading is something no doctor worth his/her, er, salt would recommend. Instantaneous readings can vary wildly depending on a wide range of reasons – cold weather, a full bladder or the white coat. It is true of blood pressure; it is also true of air pollution. Its sources are many – from power plants to industries, from open burning of dried leaves to dust from construction sites, from vehicular emissions to road dust.

Continue reading Odd/even – A Baby Step, But a Step Nonetheless: Kaushik Chatterji

Sex Workers And Women’s Organisations Condemn DCW Chair Swati Maliwal’s Statement On Sex Work

[While in complete agreement with the statement posted below, I would like to add a personal note. I am a citizen of Delhi who believes that in its short stint in office so far, and despite every attempt by the central government to paralyze its functioning, the Aam Admi Party has taken decisive, creative and positive steps in several fields – education, health, and above all in its strong assertion that water is a natural resource that should not be treated as a commodity.

Nevertheless, it is unfortunately increasingly clear that on gender related issues, AAP’s functionaries exhibit the deepest conservatism – from Kejriwal’s speech on March 8th, which thanked his wife for keeping “his” home running, to Somnath Bharti on making Delhi safe enough for even “beautiful women” to be out at night, as if sexual violence is a tribute and compliment to the beauty of women, to Swati Maliwal’s aligning herself with the deeply conservative abolitionist position on sex work.

This conservatism is at odds not only with “elite activists”, as AAP may think, but with the views of the majority of ordinary people, who poured out into the streets after December 16th 2012, and sent scores of petitions to the Justice Verma Committee, expressing basically the belief in the rights of all women to public spaces at all times, and condemning victim blaming; sex workers are ordinary people too, and so are housewives, who even while they run homes with devotion and efficiency, are not unaware of the unfairness of the shared domestic space being considered to belong to the husband and “his” family. A March 8th message could have recognized women in their different roles, as housewives, domestic servants, CEOs, political activists. As a party that has learnt from other social movements, AAP needs to urgently start a conversation with women’s organizations of different kinds, including sex workers’ organizations.]

The statement follows:

The National Network of Sex Workers and women’s organisations in India strongly condemn the observations and statement of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Ms. Swati Maliwal calling sex work and prostitution akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”. We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work, whose dignity has been impacted by her observations.

The Honorable Supreme Court has recognized the need to ensure that sex workers are able to live a life of dignity. The Court set up a panel to discuss “Conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.” (Budhadev Karmaskar vs. Government of West Bengal).

 The Chairperson of DCW should do her homework before launching into a campaign that has not engaged with the ongoing debates and dialogues to recognize the rights of adult consenting workers to remain in sex work and ensure that their human rights and dignity are protected, such a short sighted and uninformed perspective demeans the office of a Commission set up to protect the rights and dignity of women. Continue reading Sex Workers And Women’s Organisations Condemn DCW Chair Swati Maliwal’s Statement On Sex Work

Delhi Police Blames AAP for Gajendra Suicide – Remember Constable Tomar’s Death?

Reports have it that Delhi Police has blamed the AAP for the death of Gajendra Singh at its rally recently – not surprisingly, as we had noted in our previous post on the suicide. We had suggested in that post there seemed to have been prior instructions to the Police from the Central government, under which it functions, not to act. And the reports today about Delhi Police reporting to their higher ups only confirm our suspicions.

Here is what one of the reports has to say:

In a letter to the Home Ministry, the Delhi Police has claimed that the mob including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers incited Gajendra Singh to commit suicide at a party rally in Delhi. The letter also claims that untrained volunteers climbed the tree which led to Gajendra falling off.

The report states that AAP volunteers and leaders were clapping and raising slogans which incited him to engage in more dangerous acts. It also adds on to say that though police requested AAP volunteers to stop provoking him through clapping and solganeering, neither the volunteers nor the leaders present on the state acceded to the request info.

Another report in a channel known for its BJP connections, says:

As per the Delhi Police report, AAP leaders were making provocative speeches, and the crowd present at the rally venue instigated and provoked Gajendra to commit suicide. The report also alleged that AAP did not heed to the police’s request to change the rally’s venue to Ram Lila Maidan.

Continue reading Delhi Police Blames AAP for Gajendra Suicide – Remember Constable Tomar’s Death?

An inability to grieve

Sarcasm in the  moment of death? For this you need to be evil. For, the first human reaction to death is silence. Even in the case of a normal death. It suddenly reminds us of our own mortality. Impermanence of our existence. When death is not normal, when it is an accident, a suicide or a murder, it shocks us. Or, it should. A life cut short unnaturally creates a void in us. A sense of unfulfillment. And our gaze turns inwards. We tend to become reflective. Words do not come easily to you. On  most of the occasions they sound false, even obscene. Therefore, we console the grieving not though words but by touching them. It is not easy to make sense of death, in whichever form it strikes us. Continue reading An inability to grieve

The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by RAVI SINHA

…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer[1]

Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.

An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganesha and reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.

Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headed Parivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath (inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”. Continue reading The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Acche Din Are Here Again!

U Turn on Pictorial Warning on Tobacco Products

picture courtesy : WHO

 ..Government is set to defer indefinitely the implementation of notification for increasing the size of pictorial warning on tobacco products beyond April one, when it was to come into force. ..The notification regarding amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008 sought increase in the size of specified health warning from the current 40 per cent to 85 per cent of the principal display area of the package of tobacco products.

(http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/health-news/govt-set-to-defer-tobacco-pictorial-warning-notification_1568427.html)

The week gone by has brought back smiles on the face of Tobacco Corporates.

Thanks to the latest U turn by the Modi government, Acche Din would continue unabated for them. The non-transparent manner in which the decision was taken and the media was kept in the dark has raised further eyebrows. It was only on the evening of 24 th March that while talking to the media, the health minister J P Nadda had assured them that there is no rethink in the government on introducing pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of packaging for tobacco products from April 1 and within few hours of this interaction he left for Beijing. Continue reading Acche Din Are Here Again!

Peace, bread and politics of AAP: Satya Sagar

Guest post by SATYA SAGAR

Among the epithets, most frequently hurled at Arvind Kejriwal by the BJP, in the run up to the Delhi assembly elections, were ‘anarchist’, closely followed by ‘urban naxal’. What is it about AAP that threatens the Sangh Parivar to a point of exhibiting such great hysteria and anxiety?

AAP, despite some novelties, is after all a very mainstream political formation, operating completely within the ambit of the Indian Constitution and no pretensions of turning the system upside down?Is there something deeper happening here?

One possibility is of course that, in its name-calling, the BJP presumed the average Delhi voter would run scared, straight into the waiting arms of Papa Modi[1]. In that case then, it was obviously a complete misreading of the public mood of anger and defiance against established national parties. Continue reading Peace, bread and politics of AAP: Satya Sagar