Author: Ashish Shukla

Indian Muslims: Rise and find a voice against Jamaat; Win the nation’s trust

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian Muslims can no longer blame others of Islamophobia if they continue to defend or ignore what has happened in the wake of Tablighi Jamaat disaster.

It’s clear that thousands came over and stayed put in Nizamuddin markaz despite restrictions/lockdowns being in place.

We now have videos where they are seen eating from the same utensil, drinking and bathing from common tanks.

Hundreds slept in the same room.

When social distancing was being practiced by millions of Indians, their “maulana” or head preacher was allegedly suggesting that it’s a ploy to divide Muslims. “Being together is your strength,” was his alleged call.

While the nation, in the midst of a life-death battle, seethed at this blatant transgression, the Tablighi Jamaat devouts first refused to leave the markaz and then chose to spit on the policemen around them.

Subsequently, we have had videos of a Muslim locality in Indore throwing stones and hurting paramedical staff which came to save them from Corona Virus threat.

A few of Tablighi Jamaat Corona Virus patients under medical care in Ghaziabad, are walking semi-naked and passing lurid comments on nurses, as per an official complaint.

HImanta Biswa Sarma was almost in tears on national TV, stating Tablighi Jamaat attendees who have returned to Assam have gone in hiding. Sarma fears that his state, which had no case till the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco, could face a disaster if these men remained untraceable.

Their so-called leaders, like Asaduddin Owaisi, are suggesting that those who have lost the battle against Corona Virus are no less than “martyrs.” Amanatullah Khan is busy blaming the police.

There are a few attendant questions which India’s sizeable Muslim community needs to pause and reflect:

(a)    Would you not fault one of your religious offshoots which want its followers to go back to the lifestyle of the seventh century? Is it in sync with modern realities and their own future?

(b)   Those who are defending Jamaat at this grave criminal conduct, can they reasonably claim to be secular? Aren’t they being communal? Worse, aren’t they directing anger of India’s masses against you, the Indian Muslims?

(c)    Aren’t these seculars widening the divide between you and the rest of Indian society? In which way is it helping you or your next generations? Can’t you see their only aim is your vote and not your welfare?

(d)   There could be a widespread opposition among Indian Muslims on CAA-NPR-NRC. “Kagaz Nahin Dekhayenge -Won’t show identity papers—sounds revolutionary. But if the State has real numbers of its citizens, wouldn’t it help to dole out cash to needy? (That’s what US president Donald Trump has resorted to now).

(e) Would you blame the rest of India if it feels that “social-distancing” norm was flouted only because prime minister Narendra Modi had made this call?

(f)   Would you fault intelligence agencies if they probe that a few in the vast congregation at Nizamuddin markaz could’ve been bio-bombers? I mean how could you rule out this possibility. More so when 100s of attendees have gone underground?

(g)     Would you ignore the fact that Intelligence today points at a few Rohingyas who have slipped in as members of Tablighi Jamaat?

(h)Would you feign ignorance that Sri Lanka has tipped off India on a few extremists having crossed over as Tablighi devouts? After all one of your own, India’s minority minister, has termed Jamaat’s act as Talibani.

(i)    How do you think India is today reacting when the NSA literally had to beg Tablighis to vacate the markaz?

The truth is: Everyone has failed you. And you yourself.

Your community leaders are out to use you.

Your “Mullahs” want to keep you blindfolded into ignorance.

your political suckers have kept you in misery for the last seven decades.

There is no point blaming others of Islamophobia;  or wearing the “persecuted” mantle.

There is a reason why other minorities—Sikhs, Jains, Parsis—have done so well in the same milieu in which you breathe.

You can’t blame BJP also for they have emerged only recently. If anything, you were worse under UPA.

If Indian Muslims feel that rest of India is hostile to them, they first need to put their house in order. They need to be Indians first, Muslims later. It would mean calling a spade a spade. Find a voice to condemn Tablighi Jamaat. They have shackled you; their plan is—always has been to—use you to their own end. Rise above them and win India’s trust. Take to social media, exhort your own locality; for Allah’s sake do something. You can’t be sheep at their command. Stop playing the “Islamophobia” card. Your future lies with the rest of India; embrace it.

 

 

Why Indian Express doesn’t want to stay on the Tablighi story?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

 

Yes. That’s the charge. A charge its’ readers like me are levelling: Why Indian Express doesn’t want to stay on the Tablighi story?

Express has opted for a banner headline (see the image) today which can’t get bigger even if World War 3 breaks out.

Only, this is not about Corona: It’s about four states “knocking” on Centre for extra funds.

Now,

(a)    Who are the states in question? Anti-Modi governments of West Bengal, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab of course.

(b)   Have they already asked for funds? Not yet.

(c) What’s the source of Indian Express story? An unknown official.

(d)   And why states could be asking for funds? Now hold your breath: For returning migrants. Not for Corona victims but for migrants.

(e)   And who are the states who should be in the forefront of seeking help even on migrants? Of course Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Indian Express conveniently doesn’t seek these two states out.

So, no funds have been asked, no written or spoken request made, questionable states, questionable source, and that too for migrants and not Corona!!! And yet Indian Express gives a kind of banner headline which most editors don’t give in their entire careers.

This when Tablighi Jamaat fiasco threatens to drown the country in the misery of Corona Virus.

The cases have doubled and crossed 2000 figures overnight.

One single person testing positive could potentially infect 10,000 people.

Many Tablighi Jamaat attendees have gone in hiding.

Official request is making no difference to them.

Could they be bio bombers?

But none of these thoughts prick the conscience of our “newspaper of courage.”

It doesn’t ponder if it could be “infiltrators” and perhaps justify CAA-NPR-NRC

It wants its readers to concentrate on funds a few anti-Modi states “could” ask. This when the Centre is constantly in touch with states to seek out remedial measures. Modi is holding meeting with states regularly.

This is not the sole reason for a reader like me to believe Indian Express is doing its best to bury the Tablighi Jamaat complicity in spreading the Corona Virus. When this news hit the Indians like scalding oil on Tuesday, Express chose to almost bury the story.

That sensational story was not even front page lead in Indian Express that day. Worse, it chose to put a “Delhi area” in the headline (see image), instead of squarely blaming Tablighi Jamaat for the distress it has plunged the nation into. And this I am talking about the Delhi edition of Indian Express.

Don’t you think readers of the city needed a more frontal, and not ambiguous, coverage from its newspaper about its own city? About a story which could put their lives in danger? And what about the residents of the area? They wouldn’t even have an inkling of human bio bombs exploding in their neighbourhood and their chosen newspaper trying to keep them in dark.

I may sound angry. But I am angry. It’s a gross betrayal of readers, if not country, from a national newspaper. It puts doubt in my mind for what could be behind such Indian Express’ coverage. If it’s only about their journalistic competence, it needs to shut its shop. If there is more to it, if there is an interest in spiking this sensational story, then not just Press Council of India but even law agencies need to move in. Tablighi Jamaat has not only cost 10 lives thus far, It has put thousands on the line as well. It could submerge India in political and economic tsunami.

Indian Express would be under my lens for the remaining days of this Corona misery. Forget about Express exploring the Al Qaeda angle of Tablighi Jamaat about which I wrote yesterday; I would look carefully if Express is even reporting the mishap truthfully. As should be their thousands of readers. And authorities.

 

 

Tablighi Jamaat: Why FBI finds it a “recruiting ground” for Al Qaeda?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Tablighi Jamaat hates attention from the world. They prefer secrecy. But once Corona Vurs patients narrated their travel history from around India, the Nizamuddin headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat kept popping up. It blew the cover off on Monday.

Why Tablighi wishes to slip under the radar? How is it even possible with 80 million members, spread over 150 countries (Figures Pew Research Center) ? How it has evaded discourse in public when its’ nearly 100 years since it was born? More so when, its’ essence is to proselytize Islamic tenets?

Well, some did take notice all this while. A clutch of Central Asian countries—Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kazakhstan—have banned it.  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States feels its’ breeding ground for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. A WikiLeaks document released in 2011 claimed that Al Qaeda operatives used its’ Nizamuddin headquarters to obtain travel documents and shelter.

Kafeel Ahmed, a part of this movement, was arrested for the failed attack on Glasgow airport in 2007. A series of coordinated terrorist suicide attacks in London on July 7, 2005,  known as 7/7, which targeted commuters in the city’s public transport system, were carried out by Shehzad Tanveer and Mohammed Saddique Khan who used to pray at a Tablighi masque in Dewsbury, England.

Still Tablighi evades attention. And that’s because its goals appear innocuous. It wants to recreate lives of Muslims in the image of the Prophet Muhammad. The beard has to be of certain length; teeth-cleaning ought to be done with miswak (twig) and not toothbrush.  It professes to be apolitical. Women are segregated; often they sit in one room while a Tabligh elder shouts a lecture from behind a closed door.  It discourages worldly activities, ostensibly to prepare them for the Judgment Day,  From mosque to mosque, cities to cities, states to states, countries to countries, its missionary bands knock at doors, preaching a return to “pure” Islamic values. The lure seems pretty harmless: Why don’t you join us for a few days on the road and see for yourself?

Such promises often attract youth, angry or lacking identity. Men who want things in black and white, and nothing in gray. The other-worldliness holds attraction. The society around loses its lustre. “People are tutored that you don’t fit in, modern world is an aberration, an offense, some form of blasphemy,” says Khaled Abou El Fadl, an Islamic professor in US, “By preparing people in this fashion, you are preparing them to be in a state of warfare against the world.”

This detachment perfectly suits terror groups like Al Qaeda. Those with intense zealousness in Islam are kept in eye. Al Qaeda fish in the Tablighi pond of alienated and escapist youths. ”We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jamaat in the United States, and we have found that Al Qaeda used them for recruiting, now and in the past,” said Michael J. Heimbach, the deputy chief of the F.B.I.’s international terrorism section.

A chilling analogy is drawn: Tablighi Jamaat is like electricians who set up poles and draw up lines. Till one day the mayor comes and switches on the lights.

Tablighi Jamaat, an Arabic word, means the “group that propagates the faith.” It’s hierarchical. There is an Ameer who dispenses advice to everyone.  Full-time members are usually elders. They make up the Shura or the Council. Younger members of course make up the missionary band. There is a daily mashoora (gathering).

In its Nizamuddin headquarters, Indian Muslims occupy the first floor. Arabs, Algerians, Tunisians, Indonesians, Malayasian etc devouts are spread on different floors. There is a room for communal lunch: people squat on the floor and eat on plastic sheets. There is little time spent on food or sleep. But for a brief siesta, most of the day is spent in Quranic recitation.

Malaysian political scientist, Farish Noor, says in his book Islam on the Move: “Saudi national Abdul Bukhary who was on the watch-list of numerous countries had managed to get himself into the Tablighi markaz (Centre) in Nizamuddin while claiming to be a Tablighi too.” FBI is on record that it has found Al Qaeda was using Tablighi Jamaat for recruiting new terrorists.

How is it funded? No one knows for sure. But the numbers are big. Nizamuddin markaz affords massive accommodation with accompanying food etc. An analyst, Alex Alexiev, wrote way back in 2005: “There is no doubt that some of the vast sums spent by Saudi organizations such as the World Muslim League on proselytism benefit Tablighi Jamaat.” For instance, the Tablighi headquarters of Europe, built in England, was funded by World Muslim League way back in 1978.

Tablighi Jamaat originated in Mewat region (now part of Haryana and Rajasthan) in 1926. The local muslims, known as Meos, shared Hindu traditions, like pheras (going around the sacred fire) in marriage; and celebrated Hindu festivals as they did their own, Eid etc.  In due course, local Muslims, to hold on to their identity, began Tablighi Jamaat.  Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas is said to have begun it.

The last word must belong to Mushirul Hasan, former vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia. “Tablighi Jamaat claims to be totally apolitical. It’s a very convenient statement. No movement is apolitical. Every moment has an objective.”

In the present Corona tremor induced by Tablighi Jamaat, AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan says that this congregation couldn’t disperse because of the nationwide lockdown on March 24.  But he won’t tell that on March 16 itself, no more than 50 were allowed to gather in Delhi.  On March 19, all institutions had been ordered close. On March 22, the Delhi government had announced a lockdown in the Capital. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan too has rushed to the defence of Tablighi Jamaat. He said in a tweet: “it’s unfair to blame them.”

Indeed, a series of incidents, such as ones in Shaheen Bagh, Jamia, Jaffrabad, Seelampur point towards an “Islamic insurrection of sorts  which has come to the surface in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”, tweets Amit Malviya, head of the BJP IT cell. Thousands of preachers from abroad were in the town, concealing their purpose of visit. It’s as good a reason as any to press ahead with CAA-NPR-NRC exercise. India needs to find out the enemies who are illegally residing within its borders.

(This article is heavily based on pieces in New York Times and Live Mint. Of course references to Tablighi Jamaat as recruiting ground for terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda won’t be mentioned in our corrupt Lutyens Media).

 

A letter to Prime Minister Modi: 21-day lockdown is not enough

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Mr Prime Minister,

The Indian state would be making a fatal mistake if it chooses to sit on its haunches just because a 21-day lockdown is in force from Wednesday.

Your  second address to the nation on Tuesday was an incessant appeal to stay at home. You described this measure as “one flicker of light in this enveloping darkness”. You left no one in doubt that India won’t be able to overcome this deadly killer virus on paramedical staff, ICU (intensive care unit) beds and ventilators alone.

Unofficial figures suggest India has probably 150,000 ICU beds and 75,000 ventilators. Probably a few lakh paramedical staff. It has ramped up random testing since last week. But India needs a proactive strategy to catch the “virus” in hibernation within four walls of homes.

In simpler terms, go for door-to-door testings across India.

You quoted South Korea more than once in your address to emphasis how the Asian nation appears to have come to grips with Corona Virus. You identified “social distancing” as the prime reason for such a spectacular success. But South Korea hasn’t resorted to a lockdown. Of course, such a comparison is unfair given the unequal medical muscle of the two countries.

South Korea has also relied on doing tests on its citizens at every high-spot of people’s presence: medical stores, grocery shops, petrol pumps and of course homes. It so far has conducted over 400,000 tests on its 51-million citizens. United States, in contrast, has done random tests on only 50,000 of its 300-mllion plus citizens.  India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, only has a sample of around 5,000 random tests thus far.

India, before it banned international flights from landing this Sunday, had largely restricted its testing to arriving passengers. It then has lately woken up to random testing. But still random tests are within 1,000 a day. South Korea in contrast is testing close to 15,000 citizens everyday.

Lately, stirrings are being felt across the country. Jaipur is isolating every 3-km radius area where a positive test has emerged. It’s being followed with home-to-home tests. The paramedical staff is being supported by volunteers and nursing students. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now conducting door-to-door visits in Mumbai. But these visits primarily are to check with housing societies if there is anyone who suspects himself/herself to be infected with the deadly virus. They are also checking on those with a recent travel history in these societies. Ludhiana is being remarkably alert as health officials are visiting every household in the district to obtain a declaration if anyone in the family has travelled abroad recently or is showing symptoms of virus.

On paper, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Indian state to resort to home-to-home tests. After all, it’s a practice which is followed during vaccination drives, if not entirely during General Elections. India would find volunteers in thousands. All it needs to do is to provide these bravehearts with adequate protective gears, equipments and a few hours of training on how to conduct tests.

One hopes your government isn’t being too wary lest home-to-home tests are construed a “dry run” for National Public Register (NPR) exercise. Rumour-mongers of course are busy overtime. But frankly, the government has no option but to bite the bullet. It must take recourse to judiciary, Constitution and the long arm of law. And to hell with naysers.

Yours’ truly

Ashish Shukla

Corona Virus: India enters the stretch when the wheels could come off

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

India stood as one behind its prime minister Narendra Modi’s call to “isolate” itself on Sunday but there is a fear that the deadly Corona Virus could be laughing in the background—or in the midst of 1.3 billion people.

Any world leader could have swooned at such a doting citizenry which stood indoors and came out with pots and pans; conch-shells and bells at an appointed hour to extol India’s medical warriors in the frontline against the pandemic virus. But Modi’s words in the aftermath are one of caution: “Stay indoors”.

For the moment, Modi’s message is directed at residents of 80 districts of 22 states which have officially been “shut down.” But for grocery and medical shops, nothing moves. This figure, if the example of rest of the world is anything to go by, is due to shoot skywards in coming days, if not hours.

Nations, mauled by this virus, have shown a spike after the first 250 cases are detected. Thus, Italy went from 322 to 41,000 cases in 24 days. Spain (261 to 17,000) and the United States (233 to 14,000) went into a tailspin in just two weeks. Germany (262 to 14,000) and France (285 to 11,000) nosedived in a mere 16 days. United Kingdom took a dozen days to find its 270 cases balloon to 3,200.

India crossed its 300-patient figure last Saturday.

India, on its part, is stretching itself thin to buck this trend. Trains have stopped running as India’s migrant poor, who work in cities and different states, are coming in hordes on platforms to return home. It’s Capital, Delhi, is now formally under curfew. Most states are shutting shops, entertainment malls, restaurants, metros etc. in cities to ensure people stay indoors. Only essential services like grocery and medicine shops are exempted.

All signs indicate that India is fearing the worst. Its health ministry held a press conference on Sunday to confess they are mostly using anti-viral drugs to combat the menace. “But then countries most developed, having the best of

scientific and medical infrastructure, haven’t been able to come to grips with it,” said the official rather sheepishly.

The preparation for the worst-case scenario is underwhelming. New labs are being taken into the fold but they add only 60 to the numbers which is battle-ready from the State’s side. Schools are being converted into quarantine-wards. Medical staff in the business of testing suspect cases is complaining of inadequate protection. India would lose the battle if its medical personnel take to heels. Then there would be no stopping the marauding virus.

A committed, aware citizenry is thus India’s best bet. And there could be no better man than Modi for the task as millions swear by him. His secretariat is holding meetings with honchos of other states to get real on the situation. States increasingly are offering money and free food to aid India’s poor, without a formal job and now shunned by the shops and householders who usually seek them out on a day-to-day basis.

Isolation seems to be the first and possibly best bet for the Indian state. Many of its citizens believe that the rising temperatures could stall its spread. Some hope Indians have the requisite immunity system within their frames, having grown up in less than perfect environment, to combat virus. Nobody knows for sure.

For the moment though the nation is on its Sunday-high. The recent heat generated on Kashmir or the recent Citizenship Act is doused. Families are rooting for neighbours they hadn’t noticed previously. Indian flags are being unfurled on balconies and roof-tops. There is celebration at the sight of empty streets—quite eerie, Orwellian, for this otherwise would signify the end of the world.

 

Who’s afraid of “Lobby of Six”? questions Gogoi; Puts nation on alert

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

It’s the last time readers you would hear about it. So I want you to be serious. Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India and now a member of the Rajya Sabha, has said that there is a “Lobby of Six” which controls our judiciary by maligning them.  You could make it a fun exercise. Or if you are serious, reflect how our system is compromised.

Three names immediately spring to my mind as suspects: Prashant Bhushan, Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi.  They opposed tooth and nail matters of national importance, such as Rafale, Ram Temple, Article 370, EVM, Loya judge case etc in varying degrees, individually or collectively.  Remember the names who wanted an “impeachment” motion against then CJI Deepak Misra? A few judges too cross my mind for some strange verdicts. But I better not spell out my hunch.

( Or it could be that Gogoi might be hinting at a completely different set who work behind the scenes. So folks, send in your choice of “Lobby of Six” on my twitter or facebook handle.  Let this issue hang in our public discourse. For your newspapers are unlikely to give it wind. They have already dug up trenches to bury Gogoi’s views. I would follow up this pieces with due credit to your credible hunches).  

Gogoi says that this “Lobby of Six” took recourse to “maligning” to control judiciary.  You only “malign” through propaganda. And propaganda is best managed by media. This is rather easy. I remember a piece I wrote when a “sexual harassment” case was popped up against Gogoi last year.  Three websites with Leftist bent–The Wire, Scroll and Caravan—made a coordinated attack. They appeared hand-in-gloves with the forces who wanted to malign our judiciary. My piece then had tried to connect the dots. Read it and see if you agree with my deductions.

The Indian Express and The Hindu are two other national dailies which are more than suspects, in my humble opinion.  The judges and advocates they have in their rosters as guest columnists/rent-a-byte individuals, all have a bent towards a particular ideology.  Refer to the pages of these two newspapers when a “sexual impropriety” charge was made against Gogoi last April. Or the recent spate of articles they have had against Gogoi’s nomination in Rajya Sabha.  That Gogoi has now chosen to speak to Times of India, and not Express and The Hindu, carries its own message. Or it could be that Express and the Hindu didn’t approach Gogoi in the first place. The latter is worse: for the gold-standard in journalism is to hear both sides of story. Don’t pronounce someone guilty unless you’ve heard him.

Be that as it may, do read Gogoi’s interview in Times of India. He makes some pertinent points which deserve to be a part of the collective memory of we the citizens who unfortunately are also readers of a few disgraceful newspapers. As per the supposed perks on being a Rajya Sabha member, Gogoi puts forth the same arguments I had questioned Left-Liberals on in recent days.

Gogoi says that Ayodhya was a unanimous verdict by a bench of five judges. So all other were compromised? Rafale too was a unanimous verdict. So the other sitting judges were also compromised? Isn’t it a slur on their integrity? Gogoi also took on his critics who said he practiced “sealed cover” jurisprudence. “Should I have made public details on Rafale”? Pakistan would’ve laughed its guts out. Why was this bunch silent when the judiciary asked for sealed cover report on “2G scam”. Or when now the Supreme Court has asked for “sealed cover” report on Shaheen Bagh?

Strong words. And a bit of humour from his ex-Lordship: “I never was, never am and never will be afraid of anyone’s opinion, except my wife.”

Hopefully, Gogoi’s interview would give teeth to “independent” voices within the judiciary.  There is no reason to buckle down to this “Lobby of Six” or anyone else. You have nobody but your conscience to be answerable to.

(Post script: As to how our judiciary functions, listen to the voice of a fearless amongst us, legal hawk Vibhor Anand, who had penned for us a few pieces in the past).

What’s so great about RS seat to Ranjan Gogoi which is giving ulcers to our Left-Liberals?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Frankly, what kind of nincompoops we have in our public discourse.

Indian Express is jumping up and down on Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India, having taken up the Rajya Sabha nomination by the President, Ram Nath Kovind.

It’s like a barking dog which hasn’t pissed for two hours and is scratching at the exit door.

Express has scavenged its own plate of former lawyers and judges who have a hangdog expression of a mongrel in claiming arbiters (judiciary) would now be seen in bed with the litigant (government).

(In a separate story, this rag typically distorts an old Gogoi exchange with a lawyer. Gogoi had asked the lawyer if he believed post-retirement jobs is a scar on judiciary. Express puts it as Gogoi’s own views!!! Do click this hyperlink and mark the difference between the headline and the text.)

For god’s sake, what’s Gogoi’s crime? How does it fit the punishment he is getting at the hands of mockingbirds?

Shekhar Gupta, like a devil quoting from the scriptures, finds it morally repugnant on his website. Should we even bother what the cocktail-couple Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose think about it? Or second guess what shows up on the twitter timelines of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan?

Would somebody ask these hopeless creatures how does a Rajya Sabha seat benefit a former Chief Justice of India? Does he get more money than he would have otherwise as post-retirement benefits? Does he get more in terms of travel benefits which a senior citizen in Makkhiganj gets by way of routine? Is a salary of Rs 16,000 such a lolly?  Is it worth your time to spend time in a branch of legislature where you could be flanked by illiterates?

Want to know his daily, dearness and travel allowance? The sum he would get for office-expense? The free telephone calls which would be his privilege? Click this link and quarantine yourself in a fortnight of shame. Just ask yourself what could have goaded Gogoi to accept the Rajya Sabha offer when he could have easily put his feet up and basked in the afterglow of his Ram Temple judgment? How big is the perk of a Rajya Sabha seat for a former Chief Justice of India?

A Manmohan Singh to this day, with bypass surgeries and all, thinks he could contribute at 88. ( Some loyalties don’t come with expiry dates). A Yashwant Sinha still can’t live without the limelight. The legal legend, K. Parsaran is busy with Sabrimala after Ram Temple at the tender age of 92. Why this nation would like to lose out on a living authority on law and Constitution in Gogoi? Wouldn’t it prepare our legislatures to be Constitutionally correct in passing a contentious bill?

Could you guess who were Franklin Roosevelt, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama before they became the president of the United States? Or Clement Atlee, Tony Blair for United Kingdom? Lawyers, of course. Why their legal stances didn’t come in their way of vying for White House or 10 Downing Street? How come no barb comes the way of Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi who take sides on “religious” battles while remaining stalwarts of “secular” Congress?

Just think. How many would be more worthy than Gogoi to be in Rajya Sabha? What does he gain by way of money or power or prestige? Would he be remembered in annals as a legal light or a member of parliament? Why would he open himself to ridicule in such a polarized society? To hear and read nonsense from imbeciles? How is it “copulating” between judiciary and legislature when the man is in no position to influence the former or to be the casting vote on the latter?

It would also do us no harm to know of Gogoi’s background. He belongs to a royal family from his mother’s side. His father was once the chief minister of Assam. Power and money isn’t new to him. He was born into it. Adulating heads he would’ve seen from the very first day of his life. And now we are supposedly giving him “nirvana” with a Rajya Sabha seat. No shit, Sherlock.

And how does Narendra Modi gain in influencing Gogoi’s presence in Rajya Sabha? Wouldn’t he be better off in choosing a yes man than one who could intellectually be a problem? Why to convey even a hint of suspicion on Ram Temple judgment? Well, of course, unless Modi thinks that our Parliament could do with the presence of such a luminary.

This is the level of discourse India is reducing itself to these days. A few newspapers and crackpots are its’ Pope. Throw them out in the first sewer you find on our roads. A few deranged are telling you to take leave of your common sense.

Don’t do it.

 

 

Who are the Right Wing voices you admire most in our public domain?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

It’s difficult. You see right-wingers are as high-nosed as anyone who is first among equals. A little like the elites they criticize. They ought to put cause ahead of self; blow wind to voices in the society. Those who could step in when they leave. For this is a long overhaul. One life-time is not enough. They are battling an entrenched monster. There is need to harness. Less preening, more scouting.

You cast your eyes around and it gets stuck in three dimensions: Social Media, Academic, Debaters. I don’t know who are the right-wingers in languages other than Hindi and English. Isn’t that sad? I am also leaving out backroom worthies: websites, historians, field-workers, organizers etc. True, they are a mighty force. But this is about individuals.

Here I name my Playing Eleven, captain and all. There are also support staff and motivators.  Inevitably, those out would be miffed. But I promise this is an annual list. So there would be another in 2021. (In bracket, you have their twitter accounts).

Openers:  Swapan Dasgupta. Swati Goel Sharma

It’s a kind of Gavaskar-Sehwag choice. One, orthodox, steeped in academics, never caught on wrong foot. Other, flamboyant, swings hard, stares down the bowlers. While Swapan (@swapan55) could be run-less for long hours, Swati (@swati_gs) is a busy-bee, swatting propaganda on lynching and riots. The two are not of the same kind.

Swapan could be irked to see Swati as his partner.  My criteria is who contributes more to the “team” – in terms of rattling the Lutyens’ agenda. Swapan could be too politically correct at times, tries too hard to be neutral, and in my view that’s a bit underwhelming to the cause. (Truth to tell, I like Swapan the debater better than the writer). Swati doesn’t carry any such baggage. She puts her skin in the game.

Middle Order: Amit Malviya, R.Jagannathan (Capt), Aravindan Neelakandan

All three are my favourite and I put them in that order: At number 3, 4 and 5.

Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya), of course, is the IT cell head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But his value to masses lies in TV debates in which he chooses his facts and words like Rahul Dravid did with his flicks and drives.  Pretty well-organized. He could be nasty without a snarl on his face. His directness is unnerving to the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai.

R. Jagannathan (@TheJaggi) is heads and shoulders above the rest. A Sachin Tendulkar of this team. He brings so many dimensions on so varied subjects that it’s almost unreal. A most original thinker.  An erudite man who in my opinion is the best journo in the country. Swarajyamag is lucky to have him on board.

Aravindan Neelakandan (@arvindneela ) who? Well, look for him in swarajyamag.com. He takes up the most contentious issues which Liberal-Leftist forces are fond of passing as truth. There’s a certain rootedness in his pieces which convey the essence of India, be it on architecture, archeology or even in culinary domain. A most credible voice who prefers his work to do the talking.

ALL-ROUNDER: Dr Anand Ranganathan

Dr Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72 ) is the Jacques Kallis of this “team”. Could defend and attack as it suits him. Immaculate with his facts. Sarcasm and poison comes easy to him, as does humour.  But sometimes “labours” with his idioms and metaphors.  Prefers a monologue than to a real debate. But he’s a work in progress—I sincerely hope the “professor” takes this comment in the spirit it’s said. Life is rewarding to those who are its’ students.

WICKET-KEEPER:  Rahul Shivshankar

Rahul Shivsankar (@RShivshankar) hands down is the best anchor in the business today. A MS Dhoni, if you may. He brings on nasty Left-Liberal forces on his show and then schools them with facts. Ups a mirror which reflects their ugly visage. Puts everyone at ease, irrespective of their bent. Extremely good with words and expressions. Earnest to a fault.  Doesn’t let a debate flag.

BOWLERS:  Arnab Goswami, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Tarek Fateh, Pushpendra Kulshreshtra

Arnab Goswami is often rash, a sledger, who arguably isn’t as good as he once was. But he was a trend-setter. His put-downs make no distinction between a Rahul Gandhi or a Shashi Tharoor or with people he once shared the studios with. These days he gets his runs like Steve Waugh, often ugly, but, as said, the opposition hates him, and that’s good enough.

Dr Swamy (@Swamy39) has too many distinctions to his name. He does some “real” damage to biggies of India’s political landscape.  Gandhis and Owaisis amongst present times. Karunanidhis of the past. He could make legal hawks like Ram Jethmalani twitch on TV debates. Some of India’s biggest headlines–UPA Scams, Ram Janmabhoomi etc—bear his imprint.  Indefatigable. Brutal with his words. Erudite.  Quite a bit his own man. Friends and foes fear him in equal measure.

Tarek Fateh (@TarekFatah) isn’t often seen on TV these days. But his value lies in exposing the “muddled” mindset of Muslims.  He defends Islam but believes it’s hostage to Mullahs and Jihadis.  He doesn’t as much spew venom as he spits it. Few have put Islam under as sharp lens as he does. If Islam needs a “Reformation”, Tarek Fateh could be its’ Martin Luther.

Pushpendra Kulshreshtra (@Pushpendraamu @PushpendraKul  ) has kind of burst on consciousness in recent times. A former journalist, he is excellent in front of camera. Has a good grounding in Quran. History is his armour. Logic his shield. Words his halberd. He is a rage amongst Hindi-speakers and that’s a sizeable number to help the team’s cause. Needs to be more Social Media savvy though: Has two twitter accounts!

Post script:  These 11 are in people’s eyes. But the support staff and philosophers are no less significant.  Madhu Purnima Kishwar (@madhukishwar) is unlucky to miss out the first XI. Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan)  and Nupur J. Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) are excellent for OpIndia. I like Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) too. Yaajnaseni (@yaajnaseni) is a rising star but you won’t believe it looking at numbers who follow her on Twitter. Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) and Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) are popular. Among philosophers, True Indology (@TlinExile) is brilliant. Dr Koenraad Elst (@Koenraad_Elst) is without peer. Rajiv Malhotra (@@RajivMessage), David Frawley (@@davidfrawleyved) and Subhash Kak (@@subhashkak1) all are shining lights. Go out and look for them if you don’t already.

 

Two moves which could send chill down the spine of anti-India forces: Loving it!

(This is a reprint of NewsBred).

The rule of law has taken two extraordinary steps this week which should send a chill down the spine of forces hell-bent on breaking up India on religious lines.

The first one concerns media which clearly works on partisan political lines, if not to the smell of funds which they could be receiving from Indian and foreign sources. The other involves the alleged anti-CAA violence perpetrators in Uttar Pradesh who have been hung out to dry in public by the state government.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry banned two Malayalam channels for 48 hours, beginning 5.30 p.m today (The ban was subsequently lifted this morning following appeals by the two channels).  The two channels are Media One and Asianet News. Media One is owned by a company which is backed by Jamaat-e-Islami. Asianet News is indirectly owned by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar.  (So please cut out the notion that the Centre is discriminating on partisan lines).

The I & B Ministry’s charge against Media One read: “The anchor/correspondent saying that it seems the vandals and police are hands in glove (on Delhi violence)…and the government’s cold-shouldered approach towards anti-CAA protesters is the main reason behind ongoing protests in the national capital.”

On Asianet News, the Ministry cited similar instances of anchor/correspondent claiming “Centre gave silent consent for the violence”; and that the “violence turned communal after a group of Hindu people chanted Jai Shri Ram.”

Centre had to return to its trenches against NDTV for a similar ban in 2016 on fake news after the Channel knocked the doors of Supreme Court. The present move seems to convey Centre’s intent to check unbridled “press freedom.” A few newspapers too, with their glaring bias and prejudice, promote ill-will and communal hatred. They too deserve be booked.

The second instance, which concerns the CAA protestors and the UP government, is sensational. The Yogi Adityanath government has put up big banners at four prominent junctions of Lucknow, the Capital, which puts the faces, names and addresses of 28 arsonists booked for anti-CAA violence last December. These people have claimed it puts them and their families at risk.  And that the charges against them haven’t been proved. The UP government says it’s not a conviction rather a recovery notice made public.

I have a feeling it’s the start of Big Brother striking back. The gloves could be off. Media had crossed the threshold where it could hide behind the garb of “freedom of press.” The “mob-street” strategy of political, colonial and Islamist forces could now be paid in the same coin. You wanted to take the battle in your hand; avoid the Courts? Go ahead. Governemnt would meet you with the guerilla tactics of its own. Tomorrow, when you don’t want to show your papers—“Kaagaz nahin dekhaenge”—your mobile networks could go out of coverage area. Your bank accounts could be suspended. You would then remember Indian courts–and find your “kaagaz”–for good reasons.

Who knows, judiciary in this country could be carrying grouse of its own. This “mafia” all too often drags them in the mud. One day, the Chief Justice of India is embarrassed on sexual harassment charge. Other day, an innocuous praise of PM Modi makes a judge an object of hatred amongst Liberal media. At other times, social activists say they find judiciary redundant. Impeachment moves are made against the Chief Justice of India. When judiciary offers mediation to Shaheen Bagh protestors, the latter evinces no interest. Its plea not to occupy public places falls on deaf ears. No wonder, the judiciary is now taking its own sweet time on anti-CAA petitions. It has said it would settle Sabrimala protest first and then worry about CAA. Meanwhile, the government would roll its own National Population Register (NPR) process next month.

It apparently escaped the notice of anti-Modi forces that a person who could rearrange the decades-old Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir won’t be cowed down by pressure tactics. A man who could send the armed forces to border in an eye-to-eye showdown for months in Doklam, won’t be cowed down. A man who could do a surgical strike inside the Pakistani territory, can’t be cowed down. A man who could defy the threat of US sanctions against buying S-400 missile system from Russia, can’t be cowed down.

So Left-Liberals, dub him the way you prefer. Take steroids of Islamist forces such as Iran and Turkey. Inject the poison of United Nations Human Rights Council or European Union. The man doesn’t give a fig. A billion behind him don’t give a fig either.

Western Media is trash: Here’s the proof you always wanted

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

It’s a bad time to read Indian or Western media or perhaps there would never be a better time to read them.

Headlines such as “India’s politics of hate” (Washington Post); “Millions of Indians could be in detention camps” (Bloomberg); “New Delhi turns into battleground” (New York Times) or Newsweek talking about India’s ruling party’s agenda to “marginalize Muslims” are guaranteed to give you a bad conscience. However, it could also be an occasion to brush up your primer on Western Media and know why they do what they do.

I of course am referring to the unfortunate violence which erupted on New Delhi’s streets and claimed 20 lives even as the president of the United States Donald Trump was beaming from ear to ear on the massive welcome he received from masses and Indian establishment this week.

Let’s believe Hindus and Muslims could’ve been on the opposing sides of violence even though India’s intelligence is in the middle of determining if it was engineered by inimical forces. Let’s also not deny that law and order, crime against women, caste, linguistic identities, inequality etc is unreal in India. Let’s also not frame this debate on the narrow binary of rise of Narendra Modi which has let the genie of Hindu-hating Western Media out of the bottle.

Modi alone is not the fall guy

The truth is no Indian leader—be it Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee or Modi—has escaped the scalding venom which Western Media has poured on them. Nehru was lampooned for his Non-Aligned Movement; Indira for standing up to violence in neighbouring East Pakistan; Vajpayee for Nuclear test and Modi of course for everything he does. It doesn’t matter that these leaders, at various times, were overwhelmingly voted into power by India’s massive population.

In essence it’s the colonial and imperial hangover of the “North” against the “Savage South” who must get tutorials on “tolerance”, “peace” and “multiculturalism.” This hangover is the binding thread of policy, business, academia and media in the West. Woven with the cloth of liberty, religious freedom and human rights. Of American Exceptionalism and the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon world. An outsider like Donald Trump might be loathed. But the moment he does “right” things against Iran or Venezuela, he is a darling.

Try pointing out the racial violence on American streets, the bogus wars it wages in Middle East or elsewhere; or the travel bans it has on Muslims from around the world. Try asking them why they oppose countries which choose an independent course, such as Russia, China, Syria or Iran—and yet pat those who were dictators like Suharto and Pinochet and reserved bayonets for their citizens. Why proven legends of humanity such as Salvador Allende, Kenneth Kaunda or Kwame Nkrumah don’t catch their ticking human hearts.

Why local elites mirror Colonial masters

The Indian case is typical of any country which has freed itself from the colonial yoke. The freed countries are left with elites who are a mirror image of the masters. Same language and mannerism. Their worldview is similar. In due course, the two collaborate. They work to validate each other. When masses go against such a view, they are “savages” and “bigots.” Then popular mandates,such as for Rouhani, Assad, Putin, Xi or Modi, don’t matter. For the “masses” are not allowing the “classes” to keep the countries unstable; to exploit its’ wealth and resources.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for an educated Indian to comprehend that media is business. Media is not out there for ordinary folks. It’s for profit. Such profit would only come from subscribers. Home subscribers in UK or US are forever looking for who is a “good” or “bad” guy. Such boxes are duly created. In India’s context, those who could afford the subscription of Western media outlets such as Washington Post, New York Times or the Guardian are prime catch. Ordinary folks, who neither could understand English nor pay to buy Western rags, don’t matter. When such faceless masses, who don’t come to TV studios, rise and Trump, Putin Modi or Brexit happens, there is mayhem.

India has its problems. It always had. It always would. It can’t be otherwise in a country of multiple religious and linguistic identities. Yet it has grown to be one of world’s biggest economic success stories. It’s digital and space milestones are massive. Its democratic traditions are unbroken. Its interiors today have access to health, education, houses, electricity and gas. Its’ roads, trains, airports and infrastructure are on a major revision course. India is more than just one Narendra Modi. Let Western Media and their local mirror image see India in the Modi- binary alone. You and I should know better.Western media has always peddled a narrative and people from Asia—and Africa—have suffered most from it. If you don’t wake up now, this “rape” of our minds would continue into our next generations.