Guest post by VIKAS BAJPAI
Sometimes, memories stacked away for long, come tumbling out. If these are not just about personal nostalgia, dwelling upon them could serve some public good.
It was 31 October, 1984. The time may have been around 11 am. I was taking my second term exams for class XI in a room on the ground floor of the science block of the Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi. Unfortunately, mine was the first seat very close by to the only entrance and the exit for the room. ‘Unfortunately’ because this made seeking the help and guidance of fellow examinees in this ordeal a rather adventurous proposition. Nevertheless, I focussed on the question paper intently, trying to make sense of what was expected of me.
A while after the examination had taken off, the teacher invigilating in our room and other teachers in the adjacent rooms flocked together at the door of our room for a conference of sorts, each having a cup of tea in their hands which had been duly served by that time. Barely a minute or so into their hushed conference, I over heard one of the teachers remark – ‘madam ko to goliyan lag rahin hain’ (madam is being riddled with bullets). I was a bit startled as to what that could mean; but then, I had a task at hand and got immersed in it before long. Continue reading Seasons of Violence: Vikas Bajpai
Guest Post by RAM PUNIYANI
Text of the Dr Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture
I begin this lecture paying tribute to my very dear friend, Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, with whom I had the rare privilege of working with for close to two decades. Dr. Engineer was a unique scholar-activist, totally committed to the dream and vision of a humane society that honours the values of diversity and where human rights for all are the defining point.
In this regard, he may have been among the first persons who realized the dangers of divisive communal politics. It was he who set the trend seeking the causal factors behind communal violence, doing his own meticulous investigation after such riots. He contributed massively to reforms that took place in the Bohra community, on the issues of secularism and finally, in the interpretation of Islam. We need to learn a lot from him in order to strive for a society that values peace, amity and compassion.
Where are we standing today? What are the major threats to Indian democracy, today, even more menacing with the coming of the Modi Government?
The factors contributing to his victory have been several. The unstinted support given to him by India’s corporate; the fanatical zeal of the RSS and its lakhs of volunteers; the role of a corporate controlled media; the false projection of the ‘Gujarat model of development’; and the polarization of society along religious lines
The promise of Achhe Din – Good Times – has vanished into thin air. Despite the steep fall in the prices of crude oil in the world, the overall ‘cost of living’ continues to going up. The promise that all the black money stacked abroad will be brought back within six months or so and that we would be surprised to see 15 lakh deposited in our accounts, has been forgotten. The pattern of (good?) governance is only visible in the centralization of power around one person, Modi. Gradually the cabinet system of governance is giving way to one man’s autocratic ways, with secretaries of Government departments reporting directly to the PM. Continue reading Indian Democracy and the Current Political Dispensation: Ram Puniyani