…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer
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→
Arvind Kejriwal is the new Sachin Tendulkar. You throw him the most difficult googly and he sweeps it to add runs for his century. In 2011, he started a national anti-corruption movement with the specific aim of setting up an anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal. The movement’s public face and leader was Anna Hazare, a respected social leader, who like Gandhi, believes in fasting for politics. The critics said Anna is just a puppet and it’s Kejriwal’s movement, and that such sophistry showed Kejriwal (who takes oath as chief minister of Delhi tomorrow) had sinister motives.
Kejriwal’s critics said that fasting unto death was a blackmail strategy not suited to a democracy. Kejriwal can’t have a Lokpal just because he wants it. His popular support is just media hype. If he really wants a Lokpal, why doesn’t he form a political party and contest elections?
Kejriwal’s critics said he was supported by the RSS and the BJP, that he is a BJP stooge, that the Lokpal movement was a right-wing conspiracy to remove pristine, super-secular, people-loving, chosen-by-god Congress party from power. Continue reading Arvind Kejriwal, master-blaster→
There is nothing novel about new parties upsetting the two-party binary. We have seen that happen through the process of Mandalisation in many states. But all those new parties have come up in the name of one or more identities caste, community, region. The BJP is the Brahmin-Bania party of Hindu nationalism. The BSP is the party of the Dalits, the JD(U) of the Kurmis, the BJD of Odisha. Many of these parties don’t have ambitions to rival the Congress or the BJP on the national stage.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is an exception in that its central ideology is good governance. This helps it escape identity politics. At the same time, the AAP embraces identity politics like everyone else does: its symbol, the broom, was from day one targeted at the Valmikis. Be it Muslims or Dalits or Brahmins, the AAP quietly takes note of identity politics and gives lip service, even as the party as a whole does not identify itself with any one community. The only other party which handles identity politics this way is the Congress. Continue reading Why AAP is the new Congress→
Aseem Trivedi is a cartoonist in Kanpur. Or was. He has, for some months, been a full-time activist against internet censorship in India. As 2011 was turning into 2012, the Maharashtra police got his domain registrar to suspend his domain, http://cartoonsagainstcorruption.com, which was in support of the Anna Hazare-led Lokpal movement. His website wasn’t blocked, but the domain name suspended – the equivalent of shutting down a printing press. This was done in no time, and he wasn’t given an opportunity to defend his content. This was done thanks to the IT Rules 2011, a simple FAQ about which can be found here. Today, 1 April, Trivedi celebrated “Kapil Sibal’s Day,” calling the Communications minister the fool that he is. In the image below, taken at Delhi’s Rajghat today, Trivedi is standing on the extreme right. For more on Trivedi’s campaign, see http://www.saveyourvoice.in.
Hindi Press Release:
पुलिस प्रशासन के अवरोध के बावजूद राजघाट पर मनाया गया सिब्बल्स डे, पहुचे ब्लोगर्स और सोशल एक्टिविस्ट
1 अप्रैल के दिन पर राजघाट पर सेव योर वाइस की टीम ने आईटी मिनिस्टर कपिल सिब्बल को प्री सेंसरशिप पर दिए गए उनके बयानों के लिए मूर्ख दिवस की शुभकामनाएं दीं. राजघाट परिसर में बड़ी संख्या में पुलिस बल, आईबी, सीआईडी और सीबीआई के लोग मौजूद थे और सेव योर वाइस के सदस्यों को बापू की समाधि पर जाने से रोका गया. केवल कुछ गिने चुने लोग ही चुपचाप राजघाट पर पहुच पाए. पुलिस ने पूर्व अनुमति होने के बावजूद सिब्बल दिवस का आयोजन नहीं होने दिया. कारण पूछने पर उच्चस्तरीय आदेशों का हवाला दिया गया और कहा गया कि उन्हें पीएमओ . और आईटी मिनिस्ट्री से आदेश दिए गए हैं. काफी गहमागहमी के बाद टीम के सदस्य राजघाट के बाहर समता स्थल पर एकत्र हुए. Continue reading Happy Kapil Sibal’s Day→
Well, Information and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal’s prickly suggestion to pre-screen content on social networks like Google, Facebook and Twitter, has invited such derision from the internet world that it has given him a tag to his name – Idiot Sibal. For iSibal, it’s not his status on Facebook that should bother him, but the ruinous unmasking of the minister in status-anxiety New Delhi. Sibal, after all, prides himself in belonging to the elite movers and shakers of the Capital – educated, connected, and gold card holder of the Stephen’s Old Boys Network. For the status seekers, this is a world of privilege and entitlement, cosmopolitanism and tolerance.
Now you would wonder what came over the blue-stockinged Technology Minister to make such an ill-thought out statement. Sibal’s liberal snobbery is not always what it seems to be, for there is a lurking autocratic and despotic streak, even archaic at times, that has surfaced time and again. And it is this aspect that has largely been ignored in the bedlam over his latest decree to social network companies.