BJP’s Delhi campaign was not divisive by sanyog or coincidence. That is its prayog or experiment. Which it will take to other elections.
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)
Is the Indian state turning into a religious dystopia, like some of its neighbours?
Image Courtesy: Free Press Journal
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government has pushed the Citizenship Amendment Act through, but it is struggling to manage its fallout and the national outrage that a related proposal to create a National Register of Indian Citizens or NRIC has generated. At first, BJP leaders desperately assured those who were excluded in the NRC, or national register of citizens, that was finalised in October this year for the people of Assam. Its pleas were meant to reassure the Hindus who were excluded in the state’s citizen-count that it would hold a fresh all-India count of citizens, in which they will be included. The reason for the BJP’s desperation was the outcome of the Assam NRC, which turned out to be contrary to its expectations: out of 19 lakh found “illegal” in the state, only about 5 lakh are Muslim, almost all the rest are Hindu.
Yet, the fears of the citizenship law, combined with the resistance to an all-India NRC, have now given rise to tremendous mass resistance across India. There have been massive marches and rallies in many places, some of them culminating in aggressive confrontations with police and security forces. There is an ongoing massive crackdown on several universities, including in Lucknow, Aligarh, and Delhi where students were agitating against the new citizenship law and the all-India listing of citizens or NRIC.
( Read the full story here : https://www.newsclick.in/CAA-NRC-turning-india-earzone-peace)
Jinnah propounded his two-nation theory in 1939—exactly two years after Savarkar presented it.
Who could have been the best prime minister of independent India?
Nehru or (Vallabhbhai) Patel?
For more than last five years, we have been a witness to this manufactured debate—courtesy Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has tried all the tricks in its kitty to create a false binary between these leading stalwarts of independence movement, who called themselves ‘Gandhi’s sipahis’.
Anyway, thanks to the differences of perception within the saffron fraternity, a new competitor to Sardar Patel seems to have emerged from within the Hindutva Brigade who is being projected as someone who would have been a “better PM”.
Uddhav Thackreay, chief of Shiv Sena and at present, a junior ally of the BJP in Maharashtra, recently made his choice clear by stating that if Veer Savarkar would have become the prime minister, “Pakistan would not have come into existence”. At a book release event, he even refused to call Nehru a Veer (courageous), making a rather provocative statement: ‘I would have called Nehru brave if he would have survived jail for 14 minutes against Savarkar who stayed in the prison for 14 long years.’
Definitely, the fact that Nehru spent more than nine years in different jails of the colonialists without ever compromising his basic principles—whereas, the 14 years spent by Savarkar were interspersed with mercy petitions sent by him to the British, wherein he had even expressed his readiness to ‘serve the government in any capacity they like’—did not bother him at all.
( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/humko-savarkarich-mangta
Scientists have barely offered resistance to pseudoscience. This must change—IIT students show how.
Surely India’s scientific community must be waking up to the realisation that their silence is detrimental to scientific development and allows many varieties of mischief to breed. In a rare show of gumption, students of the elite engineering institute, IIT Bombay, have slammed the recent decision to invite the Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ to chair their graduation ceremony.
For too long India’s scientists have remained silent—even the credulous claims by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech at the Ambani hospital in November 2014 was not challenged by them for a long time. A key role has to be played by the scientific community in the ongoing battle of ideas. Perhaps students of IIT Bombay show the way.
They have said in their in-house publication, Insight IIT Bombay, that a guest who “recognised, embodied and endorsed the scientific and moral values” of their institute should have been invited instead of the minister. Their problem is with Pokhriyal’s speech, pervaded by unscientific claims and “twisted facts”. They are under no illusion the speech tried to stoke “patriotic feelings”. To the IIT students, the speech was a “mild form of scientific blasphemy”.
( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/war-scientists-join)
The German acceptance for stolpersteine plaques helps them honour victims of Nazism. One wonders if it will ever be possible to take up similar projects in this part of South Asia.
Hier Wohnte Bernhard Marx
‘Here lived Bernhard Marx
Year of Birth 1897
It was while walking past a desolate street in Bonn that we stumbled upon some brass plates on which the names of the members of a family were engraved. The name Bernhard, supposedly the head of this family, was engraved on the first plate, followed by three to his right: Erna Marx Geb Hartman, (born 1899), Helena (1929) and Julie (1938).
This was an ill-fated Jewish family from Bonn, deported to the dreaded Minsk concentration—rather extermination—camp that was brutally murdered just four days after they got there. The youngest, Julie was barely four when she died.
Estimates of how many died in this camp over a period of two years vary but at least 65000, mainly Jews, perished there until it was liberated by the Soviet forces.
The young researcher who was our host and guide to the city said that the brass plaques, raised on stone, are called stolpersteine. Stolper means to stumble in German and steine means stone. The idea behind erecting stolpersteine is to raise awareness about events that took place in the late thirties and early forties in this region, when millions of innocent people—Jews, Romas, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals and political dissidents—were sent to the gas chambers or brutally killed by the Nazi regime.
( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/India-Remember-Dadri-Akhlaq-Germany-Victims-Nazi-Barbarism)
In May 2019, the party of the Hindu Right, Bharatiya Janata Party, under Narendra Modi, won a spectacular electoral victory.
The victory seemed to defy common sense – why did conversations of life and livelihood not dominate the election? Why did the thuggery of the Hindutva vigilantes seem inconsequential to vast numbers of ordinary, decent people? Why is an aggressive, masculine fundamentalism so normalized in our society today?
In other words, why didn’t the issues that matter, seem to matter? The question goes deeper than electoral arithmetic. It asks if Modi and the BJP have not only changed the electoral map, but also begun to corrode social norms.
This book, based on Modi’s first five years as prime minister, is a warning for the next five.
The recent spate of attacks on dalits in the state is an indicator of the fact that the unfolding project of RSS’s Hindu Rashtra has entered a new phase where the community is being construed as the ‘new other’.
When I was born, I was not a child
I was a dream, a dream of revolt
that my mother, oppressed for thousands of years,
Still it is untouched in my eyes
Covered with wrinkles of thousand years, her face
her eyes, two lakes overflowing with tears
have watered my body….
– Sahil Parmar (Noted Gujarati Poet)
‘You are Welcome to Enter … Village of Hindu Rashtra’!
It was around two decades ago that headlines in a few national newspapers reported the ‘arrival’ of Hindu Rashtra in parts of Gujarat. A few inquisitive journalists had even displayed photographs detailing the nascent phenomenon then.
The shock generated by the news died down in a short while.
Hardly anybody then could have a premonition that it won’t take much time for the idea of Hindu Rashtra to gain wider acceptability across India with a commonsense gaining ground rather getting consolidated where religious minorities were increasingly understood as ‘the other’.
Could it be said that the recent spate of attacks on dalits — leading to at least three deaths in the past one month in the same state, coupled with growing instances of life of insecurity of many concerning their lives or their continued deprivation by the dominant castes, is an indicator of the fact that the unfolding project of Hindu Rashtra has entered a new phase where dalits are being construed as the ‘new other’, one who could wreck the project of ‘Hindu Unity’ from within.
Perhaps it is too early to draw any such conclusion, but portents are there for everyone to see.
( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/Hindu-Rashtra-Gujarat-BJP-RSS-Dalits)
The art of legitimising religiosity in a secular country and live happily ever after.
Religion 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’
The Prime Minister of India,
Prime Minister’s Office, South Block,
Raisina Hill, New Delhi 110 001.
21 April 2018
Mr Prime Minister,
We are academics and independent scholars from India and abroad, writing to express solidarity with, and to endorse the sentiments expressed by, forty-nine retired civil servants in their open letter to you of April 16th 2018 (https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-open-letter-kathua-unnao).
Along with these civil servants and countless other citizens of India and the world at large, we wish to express our deep anger and anguish over the events in Kathua and Unnao and the aftermath of these events; over the efforts, in both cases, of those administering the relevant States to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes; over the subsequent profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation, deflection and diversion that have been so much in evidence in the reactions of your party’s spokespersons in the media; and finally over your own prolonged (and by now familiar) silence that was broken only recently with wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and non-specific assurances of justice for the victims. Continue reading Open letter to the Prime Minister of India on the Kathua and Unnao Rape Cases – The Full Text
‘Nirastapadapeshe Erandopi Drumayate !’ – Sanskrit Proverb
(In a treeless country even castor counts for a big tree)
( Quoted in EPW ”An Occasion for the RSS”, GPD)
Come September 25 and the capital would see the culmination of the year-long birth centenary celebrations of Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay . The year gone by had witnessed flurry of activities around Deendayal Upadhyay supposedly to project him as one of the ‘makers of modern India’. Exactly a year ago Prime Minister Modi had shared a piece of his mind at a public meeting in Kozhikode wherein he had specifically put Deendayal Upadhyaya in the same category as Mahatma Gandhi and Lohia who had “[i]nfluenced and shaped Indian political thought in the last century”.
[ Random notes made in the wake of the conviction of Dr. Baba Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan of Dera Saccha Sauda for the offense of rape in Panchkula, Haryana, with some attention paid to the testimonials of his close friends. ] Continue reading The True Bargain : How Dr. Ram Rahim Singh Insaan Defined His Time
The prime minister of India Narendra Modi’s cheap hindutvavaadi jibes in his farewell address to vice president Hamid Ansari were better suited to Republic TV or The Organiser, but under Modi’s regime, parliament is pretty much run like an RSS shakha, and Modi himself seems no different from Arnab Goswami.
Said Modi in parliament to the distinguished out-going vice president:
Aapke karyakaal ka bahut saara hissa West Asia se juda raha hai. Usi dayere mein zindagi ke bahut varsh aapke gaye, usi mahaul mein, usi soch mein, aise logon ke beech mein rahe. Wahan se retire hone ke baad bhi jyadatar kaam wohi raha aapka; Minorities Commission ho yah Aligarh Muslim University ho, zyadatar dayara aapka wohi raha.
Lekin yeh 10 saal puri tarah ek alaga zimma aapka sar mein aaya. Puri tarah ek ek pal samvidhan samvidhan samvidhan ke hi dayere mein chalana. Aur aapne usko bakhubi nibhaane ka bharpur prayaas kiya. Ho sakta hai kuch chatpatahat rahi hogi bhitar aapke andar bhi. Magar aaj ke baad shayad woh sankat bhi nahin rahega. Mukti ka anand bhi rahega aur apni mulbhut jo soch rahi hogi uske anusaar aapko karya karne ka, sochne ka, baat batane ka awsar bhi milega.
ऊपर से शांत दिखने वाली भीड़ का हिंसक बन जाना अब हमारे वक्त़ की पहचान बन रहा है. विडंबना यही है कि ऐसी घटनाएं इस क़दर आम हो चली हैं कि किसी को कोई हैरानी नहीं होती.
15 वर्ष का जुनैद ख़ान, जिसकी चाहत थी कि इस बार ईद पर नया कुर्ता पाजामा, नया जूता पहने और इत्र लगा कर चले, लेकिन सभी इरादे धरे के धरे रहे गए. उसे शायद ही गुमान रहा होगा कि ईद की मार्केटिंग के लिए दिल्ली की उसकी यात्रा ज़िंदगी की आख़िरी यात्रा साबित होगी. दिल्ली बल्लभगढ़ लोकल ट्रेन पर जिस तरह जुनैद तथा उसके भाइयों को भीड़ ने बुरी तरह पीटा और फिर ट्रेन के नीचे फेंक दिया, वह ख़बर सुर्ख़ियां बनी है.
दिल्ली के एम्स अस्पताल में भरती उसका भाई शाकिर बताता है कि किस तरह भीड़ ने पहले उन्हें उनके पहनावे पर छेड़ना शुरू किया, बाद में गाली गलौज करने लगे और उन्हें गोमांस भक्षक कहने लगे और बात बात में उनकी पिटाई करने लगे. विडम्बना है कि समूची ट्रेन खचाखच भरी थी, मगर चार निरपराधों के इस तरह पीटे जाने को लेकर किसी ने कुछ नहीं बोला, अपने कान गोया ऐसे बंद किए कि कुछ हुआ ही न हो.
ट्रेन जब बल्लभगढ़ स्टेशन पर पहुंची तो भीड़ में से किसी ने अपने जेब से चाकू निकाल कर उन्हें घोंप दिया और अगले स्टेशन पर उतर कर चले गए. एक चैनल से बात करते हुए हमले का शिकार रहे मोहसिन ने बताया कि उन्होंने ट्रेन की चेन भी खींची थी, मगर उनकी पुकार सुनी नहीं गई. इतना ही नहीं, रेलवे पुलिस ने भी मामले में दखल देने की उनकी गुजारिश की अनदेखी की.
विडंबना ही है कि उधर बल्लभगढ़ की यह ख़बर सुर्ख़ियां बन रही थी, उसी वक़्त कश्मीर की राजधानी श्रीनगर की मस्जिद के बाहर सादी वर्दी में तैनात पुलिस अधिकारी को आक्रामक भीड़ द्वारा मारा जा रहा था. जुनैद अगर नए कपड़ों के लिए मुंतज़िर था तो अयूब पंडित को अपनी बेटी का इंतज़ार था जो बांगलादेश से पहुंचने वाली थी.
( Read the full article here : http://thewirehindi.com/12095/mob-lynching-and-india/)
On 22 June 2017 fifteen-year old Hafiz Junaid was stabbed to death on a Mathura-bound train from New Delhi. He was traveling home for Eid with his brothers and two friends. A dispute over seats resulted in a group of men repeatedly assaulting and stabbing Junaid and his companions. The assailants flung their bodies onto the Asoti railway platform. A crowd gathered. At some point an ambulance was called and two bodies were taken away. Junaid is dead. His companions are in critical condition. While one person has been arrested the police investigations are running into a wall of social opacity since they have been unable to find a single eye-witness to the incident. Of the 200 hundred strong crowd that assembled on Asoti railway platform on Thursday evening, the police cannot find one person who can say what they saw. The police cannot find a witness because something very peculiar seems to have happened to those present at Junaid’s death. A report by Kaunain Sherrif M in the Indian Express provides specific details. When asked if he had seen anything that evening, Ram Sharan a corn-vendor whose daily shift coincides with the killing, Sharan said he was not present at the time of the incident. Two staffers who were sent to investigate by the station master were unavailable for comment. Neither the station-master, the post-master or the railway guards saw the event they were present at.
In this startling piece the journalist reports how the public lynching of a Muslim child becomes a social non-event in contemporary India. He shows the reconfiguring, and splitting, of a social field of vision. He reports all the ways in which people – Hindus- did not see the body of a dead – Muslim – child that lay in front of them. The Hindus on the Asoti railway platform managed to collectively not see a 15 year old Muslim boy being stabbed to death. Then they collectively, and without prior agreement, continued to not see what they had seen after the event. This is the uniquely terrifying aspect of this incident on which this report reflects: the totalising force of an unspoken, but collectively binding, agreement between Hindus to not see the dead body of a Muslim child. Hindus on this railway platform in a small station in north India instantly produced a stranger sociality, a common social bond between people who do not otherwise know each other. By mutual recognition between strangers, Hindus at this platform agreed to abide by a code of silence by which the death of a Muslim child can not be seen by 200 people in full public view on a railway platform in today’s India. Continue reading Why Two Hundred Ordinary Hindus Did Not See A Dead Muslim Child On A Railway Station In North India
Guest Post by JUHI TYAGI
In light of the recent book, I Am A Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Diary authored by journalist Swati Chaturvedi which describes the working of the BJP’s media’s cell to systematically undermine dissenting opinions, we need to revisit other, seemingly innocuous, government media campaigns such as the demonetization survey and its use as a tool in bending into shape public opinion.
The demonetization survey was officially launched on 22nd November 2016 on the NM app by the government. Its purpose was to receive feedback from the people themselves on the validity of withdrawing 86 percent of the currency in circulation to address two problems: that of black money and counterfeit currency. The survey consisted of nine questions, with the tenth providing space for sharing suggestions. The questions dealt with people’s beliefs about the existence of black money in India and on its need to be eliminated. On their opinions of the government’s efforts against corruption, and more particularly, on the effectiveness of demonetization in ridding society of black money, all corruption and terrorism while creating opportunities for higher education, health care and affordable housing for all.
On New Year’s Eve, the Prime Minister in his much-anticipated speech amongst other commitments made a vague announcement of a “nation-wide” scheme for maternity entitlements for pregnant women.
But the PM has not spelled out any specifics – neither the timeframe;budget nor its universal coverage as obligated in the National Food Security Act (NFSA) since2013. Clause 4B of the law already promises all pregnant and lactating women maternity entitlements of atleastRs 6000 for each child. But for three years, the central government didn’t honour this legal obligation. Though better late than never, re-packaging this legal right as the PM’s New Year gift is disingenuous.
Further media reports, from December indicate that the Finance Ministry may hike the budget by a mere 20 percent (instead of the sevenfold increase necessary for universalisation) and that too restrict the benefit to only women Below the Poverty Line (BPL). This would be in complete violation of the NFSA.
But there seems to bearecurring trend to subvert the law. For the last three years, this government continued with the pilot Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyogYojana (IGMSY) in just 53 districts of the country despite repeated demands by civil society activists and women from across the country. This year, Right to Food Campaign activists from across India even sent postcards to the PM to remind him of the state’s obligation.
In September 2015, even the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre on the non-implementation of maternity entitlements under the NFSA.
While the government did initially enhance the IGMSY allocations from Rs 4000 to Rs. 6000 to be in tune with the NFSA, neither the coverage nor the budget was enhanced which languishes at Rs. 400 crores. Instead to ensure that all eligible women are covered as per the NFSA, Rs 16,000 crores is necessary. A real test of the Prime Minister’s announcement will be in the fine print of the allocations in next month’s budget.
Guest Post by SANOBER UMAR
The ugly patriarchal politics of ‘Triple Talaq’ or unilateral ‘instant divorce’ through which Indian Muslim men (specifically Sunnis who follow the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence), can divorce their wives by pronouncing the word ‘talaq’ thrice in a single sentence, has appeared once again in mainstream politics. In this board game played over Muslim women, you have two main players. On the one hand you have the ever-so-vocal and self-proclaimed representatives of Muslims – The All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) – and on the other hand, you have right-wing public figures of Hindutva, including our very own Prime Minister Mr. Modi, shedding tears of concern for Muslim women’s rights.
However Muslim women should not be deemed as agentless victims in this plot, and many are raising their voice against this practice by asserting their Koranic rights. Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize that while AIMPLB and Hindutva politics may seem to be polar opposites, the two have much more in common when it comes to curbing or denying Muslim women their rights. The male dominated AIMPLB is clearly vested in its project of misogyny even at the cost of denying Muslim women their Islamic right of longer procedures of divorce, that allow time and space for reasonable consideration before annulling a marriage. On the other hand, Hindutva men are no saviours of Muslim women either, as many instances both past and present have shown – including the recent spates of rape and murders (such as the Haryana rapes and murders by Gau Rakshaks and not to forget, the horrifying Muzaffarnagar violence not too long ago).
This is a guest post by ASHOK SWAIN
Since the death of a young and charismatic separatist named Burhan Wani, Kashmir has erupted into violence and chaos. Weeks of violent protests in the Valley have resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people and over 5,000 injuries. Kashmir is not new to violent protests and civilian deaths, but this time the intensity of the protest and the passion of the protesters is unprecedented. Continue reading Not Pakistan, but Modi has pushed Kashmir on the Brink : Ashok Swain
Earlier this week, I tried to join the many dots of violence at universities into a coherent pattern. My central contention is:
Spirited resistance in campuses across the country suggests the politics of India’s youth are more fluid and assertive than expected. The mid-1990s empowerment of historically oppressed castes, narratives of economic aspiration from the 2000s and an instinctive suspicion of authoritarianism have come together to forge a bold poetic new politics of desire that has befuddled even ruthless and astute politicians like the prime minister.
Modi’s government uses outdated laws, a pliant police force and Hindu student organizations as a battering ram to crush this awakening, exacerbating the discord between a prime minister determined to stamp his authority on an unruly nation and students enraptured by a thrilling moment of unlikely solidarities that could define their generation.
To: Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-110 067, India