Arvind Kejriwal

Next time you quote them on Dalits, put them to this neutrality test

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

There is little gain-saying that Dalits have not suffered in India. They have been raped, murdered, discriminated against, distanced from wells and temples and that’s largely because upper-castes kept up the social barriers against them. The same utensils or glasses for both were out of question.

Thus you can’t quarrel with an Arundhati Roy (minorities-Dalits-living-in-fear); Shekhar Gupta (Dalits must suffer as they have over the millenniums and keep mouth shut); Rajdeep Sardesai (Access is not for Dalits); Barkha Dutt (the plight of Dalit women) or Sagarika Ghose (Upper-castes were bigger oppressors than the British) for they can back their claim with evidence. You also can’t pick a quarrel with the BBC (Dalit killed for eating in front of upper-castes); New York Times (Dalits scalped); Washington Post (Lower caste chamar slur); or The London Times (Dalits and discrimination on horse-riding) for highlighting the divide. You also can’t fault with politicians like Sonia Gandhi (horrified on Dalit atrocities); Rahul Gandhi (Dalits are beaten and crushed); Priyanka Gandhi (Dalits insult can’t be tolerated); Mamata Banerjee (Organized crime against Dalits); Akhilesh Yadav (Dalits suppressed); Arvind Kejriwal (BJP has insulted Dalits); Asaduddin Owaisi (I ask Dalits to stop suffering)  or Pinaryi Vijayan (Anti-Dalit politics by BJP) for they arguably are worried about the society. The angst of Dalit leaders like Mayawati, Prakash Ambedkar and Chandrashekhar Azad could also be understood. They are pained at the wrongs against their brothers and sisters.  I may be missing the instances of Rana Ayyub, Saba Naqvi, The Wire, The Scroll, The Quint, The Print, The Squint, The Caravan, The Huffington Post etc but you get the drift.

Now let me narrate a couple of instances of this week. Both instances occurred in Uttar Pradesh. In Jaunpur, houses of Dalit families were set ablaze by Muslims in Batheti village on Tuesday. According to police, the clashes erupted after two groups of Dalits and Muslim boys fought over cattle grazing.  The village head tried to intervene but to no effect. Muslim boys returned with a bigger force, stones were pelted and these Muslims indulged in arson and set fire to Dalit huts.

The second incident happened in Azamgarh on Friday. Sixteen Muslim youths attacked a group of Dalit men under Maharajganj police station. Twelve Dalit men were seriously injured. It occurred after Dalits objected to Muslim boys harassing some girls. One 22-year-old Sudhir was slashed with a sharp-edged weapon. Eleven others were badly beaten with sticks and stones.

A rabid Muslim, anti-Hindu or anti-BJP person would claim that this is a manufactured narrative. That this Muslim violence wasn’t because of caste-divide, never mind a few upper-caste violent acts against Dalits could similarly be over petty matters. Or they could ramble on what do you expect in a state of Yogi Adityanath. Or that these innocent Muslims have been framed by partisan police. Or that the state government has got another stick to beat the innocent, hapless Muslims with. That Hindu elements might have spread rumours for Dalits to confront Muslims and in consequence suffered physical and material losses. Or that this piece by me is a whataboutery to hide what regularly happens against Dalits by upper-caste Hindus. You could also cite the recent US State Department Report to shame present India. You could work out a few more excuses I might have missed out.

Let’s say I don’t contest such an argument. Let’s for a moment concede them the point. That these two specific incidents of Muslims against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh defy credulity. That Muslims can never beat Dalits.

But the thrust of this piece is above this narrow binary. It is addressed to millions of Indians in this country, who are more than a Hindu or a Muslim, more than a BJP or a Congress, more than an Indian Express/The Hindu or a Republic TV which represent the two opposite sides of the spectrum. These Indians who hold the future of India in their neutrality.

And the thrust is: Have you heard a Shekhar Gupta, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt, Saba Naqvi, Rana Ayyub, the Gandhis, Yadavs, Mamatas, Owaisis, Kejriwals and Vijayans say a word in condemnation against these two horrific incidents against Dalits? Or even from Mayawati, Prakash Ambedkar or Chandrashekhar Azad, the latter who often threatens to fast-unto-death in the cause of his Dalit community? Or Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi who wipe the tears of Dalits and photo-op with lunch on the same plate? The Wire, The Scroll, The Print, The Quint, Caravan or Huffington Post outraged? And if not, next time you quote them would you be honest and accept that these illustrious could be prejudiced and don’t mind the ill of our beloved country? Or that you are prepared to sacrifice your next generation as long as you score a point on a Facebook debate?

If these icons in media and politics fail this neutrality test, would you confess that they could be biased. That they are not neutral. That they could be propagandists.  That they could be dangerous for society. For unity of India. Maybe paid for by forces which want India broken. For “Jewel of India” which is still lusted for by foreign cabals. Those who thought India would break up in pieces and are distressed that it has survived 70-odd years and practices the best of democratic traditions?

I don’t suggest you believe me. It doesn’t matter if I find currency with your or not.  All I suggest is that next time you read these sources, pause. PAUSE AND REFLECT. Notice if you see any bias or prejudice. Hold them under microscope and see if you still find them neutral. If they fail the test, don’t quote them next time. Make them honest; and not clink glasses on your back for having once against fooled you.

 

 

Delhi voters cruel lesson: Freebies are not governance

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

The unfolding Corona pandemic disaster in India’s capital Delhi is a reminder to voters that freebies aren’t the yardstick to elect a government.

Just before the assembly elections this year, Arvind Kejriwal had announced free bus rides, free metro travels and multiple other sops to its citizens. He had gloated on his mohalla clinics; declared his medical infrastructure as unprecedented. After winning the elections by a mile, he had preened in front of national media that his government had still made profits in each of his five years of first term.

Both apparently were a lie. If he had made profits for five years, his coffers wouldn’t have run out in just two months of lockdown. If freebies were just a matter of “Rs 150 crores,” as he said to a TV channel the other day, Delhi wouldn’t be struggling for beds at this grave hour.

Let’s look at it in real figures. Delhi presently has a shortfall in thousands of beds where symptomatic patients could be quarantined. If we go even by Kejriwal’s own estimate that only Rs 150 crores of freebies were spared, just imagine the boost it could have given to Delhi’s Corona battle—hotels could have been turned into quarantine centres, paying guest houses likewise and Delhi would’ve done one thing which is now a worldwide truism: quarantine, quarantine and quarantine.

Now hospitals are burdened with unmanageable mix, dead bodies are in corridors and horrific images are being flashed in our living rooms. Paramedical staff is being persecuted to the extent that even the Supreme Court has asked Kejri government to spare the “warriors” in this raging “war.” The lashing by India’s apex court is a scathing indictment of his government.

Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain estimates at least 50,000 Corona patients in the Capital by June-end. The experts put the figure to 100,000. Even if we go by the fatality rate of 3 per cent, it means 16,000 people would be Corona’s fatal victims in the Capital. That’s damning. Death would literally be dancing on Delhi’s streets.

All along, Kejri and his men have flipped and flopped in their measures. Some days the lockdown is lax, on other days suffocating. Some days Delhi’s medical help wasn’t for outsiders, later it was withdrawn. Wine shops had an early reprieve. Tablighi Jamaat fiasco was met with a manufactured response. Kejri and his odd-even methods had a play too. Then there was this migrant fiasco where thousands marched on to Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus terminus only to be told no-go. He is further not in best of terms with his neighbouring states. Clearly, this man is at his wit’s ends.

It’s important that Delhi recovers. Delhi is the engine which drives at least the north India economy. It’s hugely dense mega city with a sizeable lower-class population. Social distancing or home quarantines aren’t an option with them. How do you quarantine a mildly infected young kid when his grand parents share the space with him?

The only option is to seek quarantine facilities outside the box. It’s still not too late to look at hotels and paying guesthouse for those extra few thousand beds. Corona is shattering Delhi to pieces. If it’s beyond Kejriwal and his government, he must ask Centre to take over and impose President’s Rule. You just can’t be a bystander and leave everything “ram-bharose” when the stakes are this high.

 

 

 

Mr Kejriwal, we needs your hands on the burning deck; not FIRs against our saviours

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

In filing a FIR against Ganga Ram Hospital in the Capital, and accusing them of “black-marketing” Arvind Kejriwal could’ve appeared a concerned chief minister of Delhi but for a condemnable transgression—he saw a few “political” contacts behind it.

Taken to a logical conclusion, Kejriwal seems to be implying that Corona patients are not given due care and are being turned away as the hospital is secure in its political contacts. That is, if Delhi buckles under Corona’s weight, it would help a few of his political opponents.

If it wasn’t so, Kejriwal could have just limited his diatribe to the conduct of the hospital which doesn’t pass his muster. A FIR and accusation of “blackmail” is bad enough. The accusation that the hospital is not following the due norms is contestable. But to give it a political colour is wildly unnecessary.

One, it’s suspicious for in the past Kejriwal had made many wild accusations against other political heavyweights and then, with his tail between his legs, offered unconditional apology. In effect, he is loose-tongued and makes accusations when it politically suits him – only to flush it down the drain after it has served its purpose. Two, it raises the spectre of fear that Delhi is sinking and pretexts are being manufactured. Both are not good.

The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) duly has sent a stinging reply to Delhi’s chief minister. They feel it’s an “insult” to paramedical staff who are “risking their lives;” and are being “penalized” for their tireless work of the last few months. They feel an “overstressed” medical staff is being “threatened” and “intimidated.”  For good measure, DMA has mentioned its 15,000 members as being the ones who are being put “under pressure” by the “diktats (farmaans)” of the Delhi government.

The DMA, for good measure, has made a few demands which, if true, reveal the immense pressure under which medics are performing their duty. For one, they are explicit that testing facilities are inadequate. There are not adequate labs.  The DMA has made two other relevant points which deserve close attention of readers.

One is that there is need for timely transfer of grave patients to higher care centres. Two, in case of Covid-19 deaths, a prompt and efficient system to transport and cremate the body as per guidelines is urgently needed. It points to an overwhelmed medical system in the Capital. There are multiple issues with Corona pandemic where hospitals are being subjected to sorting their patients; bring additional requirements for those “quarantined” including supervision and in case of worsening patients virtually dictated to keep them within confines instead of shifting them to better care Centres.

Further, a peeved Kejriwal has banned the test on suspected Corona patients by the hospital since June 3.  Implying that they be admitted without ascertaining if they are Covid patients or not. It’s leading to the situation of over-congestion and chaos which the DMA has outlined in its letter. It would overwhelm the system and not help anyone—neither the hospitals nor the unsegregated patients nor Delhi for that matter.

Delhi needs a chief minister with hands on burning deck—not one who is blaming everyone but himself for at least one of his oversight: Remember Tablighi Jamaat? The last thing we need is to put the ones on the dock who are India’s real saviours. If they go, so would Delhi.

Why Indian Express defines “gutter journalism” of our times

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Let me say this at the outset that the headline of this piece doesn’t quite convey the disgust I feel for the kind of journalism Indian Express indulges in with a straight face and yet call itself a “journalism of courage.”

This “journalism of courage” publishes family interviews of terrorists (like they have of Shakir Bashir of Pulwama attack today) but would never have time for tears of near and dear ones of a  Ankit Sharma or Kamlesh Tewari.

In other stories on front page today, it has one on how Indonesia has called in Indian envoy on CAA as a headline.  But Express won’t headline the fact that Jakarta has expressed “complete confidence in Indian government.”

It has one headline on front page which says “10 stabbed in Shillong, toll 2 in anti-CAA unrest in state.”  The very first line in the text says the “violence believed to be related to Citizenship Act..” So the readers must treat it as a CAA-related violence even as the text only “believes” it to be so.

These examples I have quoted are of just one day, today. All on front page. Indian Express does it everyday. So bad is their track record that once I had offered Rs 50,000 in 2016 to anyone who could show me a favourable story on Hindus on their front pages. Needless to say, the offer remains unclaimed to this day.

This toxic newspaper does more or less the same thing every day: Twisting headlines, hiding texts which don’t suit their agenda, any positive story or comment by a BJP leader is inevitably deflated with the help of bytes of a Anand Sharma or Sitaram Yechury; Ghulam Nabi Azad or D. Raja; Shashi Tharoor or Mallikarajun Khadge, the usual rent-a-byte suspects. It’s editorial pages “breed” academicians and experts who peddle the Left-Liberal narrative, twisting history;  Human Rights activists who can’t see Hindus being butchered, say, in Bengal and Kerala;  former judges, election commissioners, police chiefs who were beholden to the toxic Congress rule in this country.

I would still have given Indian Express the benefit of doubt if once in a while they tried to present the other side of the narrative. How come farmers’ plight under the BJP regime is sung from the rooftop but the Madhya Pradesh government, which hasn’t honoured the farmers’ waiver promise of its manifesto, isn’t pulled up? They would use microscopic lens to highlight “lynching” of a particular community while the one of the other community is altogether ignored. How come a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan doesn’t have one single story come out in its criticism. Are the readers being told that Arvind Kejriwal hasn’t done a single thing worthy of criticism in his three terms as chief minister of Delhi? A GST is criticized even though it came about with the consensus of all states and stakeholders.

To me eyes, Indian Express is bereft of any credibility today. It’s allowed to go scot-free because the inner mechanism which upholds truth and integrity of Indian media, the Press Council of India and Editors’ Guild, are so hopelessly out of shape. Dead men walking. Information and Broadcasting Ministry is wary of belling the cat for fear of its own kind.  The judiciary is all sanguine for fixing the “hate-speech” makers and “sedition” cases. But it won’t take a call on media which polarizes the communities with fake news.

As for readers, they remind me of a famous saying: “A crook appeals to the straight; guilty to the innocent.”

So readers be vigilant. Watchful. Know your responsibility. If nothing then to see where your buying rupee is going. All responsible mechanisms in this country have given such newspapers a free run. They are looking the other way. You alone can bell the cat. If your newspaper doesn’t mend, stop buying those rags.  

 

Hoping for another Kejriwal and AAP model? You must be a fool

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Those looking to have new Arvind Kejriwals and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) replicated all across India are living in a fools’ world.

Delhi is unique in the sense that a ruling party doesn’t have to worry about law and order nor has a jurisdiction over its land as is the case elsewhere.

All it needs to do is look after infrastructure, health, schools, education etc and offer freebies without a thought in the world since its revenue is always in surplus compared to its expenses.

Figures show that Kerjiwal’s government has surplus money of over Rs 5000 crores. It’s education budget is 25 per cent of its revenue. The subsidizing of electricity has gone up by 6 per cent.

This enables Kejriwal to stuff Delhi’s mainstream corrupt media with advertisements worth tens of crores which in turn ensures that not a line in criticism appears in public domain.

Kejriwal also has the unique advantage of practically having an urban political party which can’t be compared with any other local, state or national party in India.

It’s no secret that Urban India gives the nation its growth and economy compared to rural folks but India’s cities don’t control its own revenue. All the money earned through local bodies in urban areas goes to state governments who divert it in the hands of farmers, poor etc in order to secure its vote-bank and remain in power.

Just look at ministerial portfolio distribution in the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra: The urban ministry has been retained by Uddhav Thackeray and it gives him control on most of the revenue earned in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state.

As per data, 32 per cent of India is urban while the rest is rural and hence it makes sense to divert a significant portion of your revenue towards rural areas and reap the benefits in elections.

In contrast, a Delhi government retains control of its landscape and its revenue and doesn’t have to divert its money anywhere.

Sure there are other Union Territories (Delhi is neither UT nor state but has a special status and hence enjoys legislative assembly) but nobody has the scale and depth of Delhi. Just consider: Delhi National Capital region and Mumbai metropolitan region, alone between themselves account for 9% of India’s population.

So for other Kejriwal and AAPs to emerge, a hopeful must have the (a) size of Delhi; (b) No rural vote-bank obligation; (c) no law or land obligation; (d) no subservience to a state party.  No other place than Delhi in India can claim to have this advantage.

On a larger note, it’s also a sign that sooner or later tens of urban political parties would emerge in India’s growing cities who would seek independence from the yoke of state governments.

At the moment, India’s Constitution doesn’t support such a division between power and responsibility between state and local levels but a change can’t be stopped in coming decades.

For one, India is increasingly growing urban. Surveys show that nearly 70 per cent of India would be urban by 2050. Already, from sky above, larger part of India appears to be towns, mini-cities or cities but the “definition” of “Urban” vis a vis “Rural” limits its numbers to 32 per cent only.

The definition of “urban” as per Indian laws is that the area must have its own municipality, cantonment and corporation board and must have a minimum population of 5,000.

Sooner than later, the state governments would have to cede control of their big cities in the hands of “mayors” since a great deal of rural India is moving towards cities in any case. This migration is unstoppable due to the lure and opportunities in big cities.

These mayors would be like Presidents of their cities, looking after its infrastructure, water, electricity, health, education etc and managing its own budget.  Diversion of its funds would not be feasible for state governments as most of their vote-banks would’ve moved to the towns and cities anyway.

Besides, badly managed cities where health, water, electricity, policing is ignored could lead to large-scale riots which would burn up the remote controlling powers in its own flames.

Hence, there is one Arvind Kejriwal, one AAP and one Delhi. Hoping a duplication of this format elsewhere in India is plain day-dreaming.

And hence brace yourself for BJP don’t ceding control of India’s political landscape in 2024 and beyond.

 

 

4 Forces which BJP must confront—or be ready to lose India they have in mind

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Forces which oppose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would feel they now have a gameplan in the wake of its’ crushing defeat in the Delhi assembly elections.

These anti-BJP forces could easily be clubbed as (a) opposing political parties; (b) Left-Liberal controlled propaganda media; (c) Indian Muslims; and (d) urban youth. More or less these four forces would feel empowered now.

Political opponents which fear BJP’s hegemony—and nearly all of them do—are the hyenas who think they could now hunt the lion named BJP down. They won’t take recourse to Parliament or judiciary but would look to resist Centre on the most inane of legislations on their turf. They would put women and children in front. They would look to stall or breakdown India’s federal structure and create anarchy.

The time-tested proven method of George Soros-led Liberal forces is to force a showdown with police on streets, show the State impotent, build support in captive media and when the state strikes back, build the pressure through global colonial, imperial forces to bear down on the hapless country.

Propaganda mainstream media, who fatten themselves on their political, religious and colonial masters, would be on steroids now. They would be more vitriolic and vicious. This despicable media hasn’t found one act of Arvin Kejriwal—or of Ashok Gehlot/Kamal Nath—in the last few years worthy of criticism. NOT ONE ACT! Even though AAP operates right under it nose in the Capital. It must tell you a thing or two about their “neutrality.”

Indian Muslims have long enjoyed entitlement in a “secular” nation. Modi’s rise played on their anxiety. With abrogation of Article 370, Triple Talaq Act and Ram Janmabhoomi, they were simmering under the breath. Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) gave them a tool. Propaganda media and political parties fanned it.  Theirs became a cause célèbre. It made headlines around the world. A nondescript lane of Capital was turned into a shrine. Death of a toddler was deemed “Qurbani”.  Secessionist slogans and war-cry of “Azaadi” rent the air. They would now stall your daily life and governance.

Urban youth, particularly students and of elite society, were completely sold off to the Jamia and JNU narrative.  This 20s newbies feel no connection with 370 Article or Ram Janmabhoomi, two issues which have by and large troubled the soul of this nation. It’s the power of the propaganda, and our shambolic education system, that these youths are completely weaned away from the ethos of India.

BJP, and its two engines, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, work under the constraints of the Constitution. They won’t dismiss a Mamata Banerjee or Pinaryi Vijayan government or make Shaheen Bagh protestors run for cover. There won’t be lathi-charge or pellets shots. They do get affected by the negative publicity. The headlines and images which are multiplied by international media leave them passive.

In view of the mounting challenge from these four opposing forces, BJP would be foolish to believe it would just go away. These four forces would “create” issues to cause disruptions. There is no escaping them. You can’t wish them away, close your eyes and feel it’s disappeared.  They are in your face. Sharks have tasted blood in the water. You better deal with it or squander everything you’ve gained in the last few years.  There is a new game in the town. It’s called ANARCHY.

One, BJP shouldn’t be shy of dismissing state governments which promote violence and anarchy or resist their Constitutional obligations. The first litmus test would be at the time of CAA implementation in April against which Punjab and Kerala assemblies have passed resolutions. If they resist its implementation, dismiss them. To hell with niceties or looking for approval from hostile corners.

Two, BJP shouldn’t leave propaganda media to its own devices. Instead, they should try to force them in corner on their omissions and commissions. Fake propaganda spread by them needs to be accountable. Mobilize readers. Have a very active, virile awareness campaign to their manipulations. Drop the velvet gloves. Spread the world. You have men and money. Use it to tame the beast.

Indian Muslims must be stripped of their undue entitlement. Have a very serious look at how India could claim to be a secular nation and yet promote minorityism by having separate ministries and funds. Bring on Uniform Civil Code which is an obligation our Constitution has longed for from our lawmakers. Don’t give an inch or treat any group as privileged. Treat them as any other citizen. Law and order is a state subject and if a hostile state government promotes anarchy by prodding the Muslims, deal with them harshly.

Urban youth must be engaged with discussion. There ought to be a mechanism where their issues are listened to and addressed on a fortnightly basis. Engage them. Propaganda media won’t cover it but publish ads, use radio and television, to let the “neutral” public know of government’s keenness to dispel the doubts. Long-term solution of course is change of India’s education system and it won’t happen on its own. It needs be done. The course correction must begin now.

And then finally there is this matter of Hindus who constitute majority in this country. Delhi election results would convey they didn’t stand by BJP. They weren’t upset by “Hinduon se Azaadi” slogans. They weren’t upset by the anarchy on the streets. They weren’t upset by Shaheen Bagh. They weren’t upset that their Hindu brethrens from neighbouring Islamic countries are stopped from having own roof over their head.  Ram Janmabhoomi doesn’t touch them a bit. Nor the sacrifice of our tens of thousands of soldiers in Kashmir. Hindus didn’t stand by BJP in the Delhi elections.

There is also no denying that BJP expected such support from Hindus. That’s why perhaps Shaheen Bagh was allowed to linger as long as it has. That’s why Pakistan was evoked at every public address by an Amit Shah or a Yogi Adityanath. Surely, it has been a miscalculation to bank on their traditional votes.  Hindus are a sloth – and history is a testimony.

BJP doesn’t need to blink against the four inimical forces. It also needs to ramp up its information- disbursement mechanism. It needs to nurture those voices who are laboring under their own passion and “dharma” but could do wonders if sustained with attention and care. As for Hindus, they have been disappointing. They can’t see the threat these four forces are determined to inflict on their existence.  And on India they call their motherland.

 

 

Gadkari has shown a mirror to We-the-Dodgers of traffic rules

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

A typical day when I hit roads in my car in the Capital. The roads themselves have three types of variations.

One is in the neighbourhood which teems with shops, cows, pedestrians, vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Here you could find our Virat Kohlis and Saina Nahiwals of future under the benign doting glances of their parents on the balcony.  Schools-buses come every afternoon in the weekdays; alien cars make a stop in front of floors which rent young lives that celebrate weekends with booze, music and dance.  Navigation requires yogic-contortions. Baring smiles on ladies who occupy a patch of lane for their daily round of gossip is a daily act. Here are no traffic lights.

Out of my sector are the big, bad roads. Traffic here is always slow, a bane of our municipal corporations who hadn’t accounted for a future of burgeoning cars, lakhs of flats and millions of residents. Now there is a scramble to collect the daily waste, roads dug to wire our homes with competing WiFis, multiple gaps in dividers for vehicles to switch over from left to right and vice-versa.  Not that it matters to we the citizens: We simply opt for wrong side of traffic flow, braving ugly glances, gesticulating hands and showers of curse. How does it matter when a second of time and an ounce of fuel has been successfully saved?

All this before you hit your first traffic lights of the day. They usually take offs half a week. You can’t blame them either: We the traffic are colour-blind to their signals. It’s indiscreet to press on accelerators when it’s Green; It’s too idealistic to stop on Reds unless and until shrivelled beggars and their acrobat sons and daughters fulfil your idea of charity; or desperate men with fake editions of Sidney Sheldon and Irving Stone in your face reflect your educated background.

The next hour is a tribute to your ever-growing vocabulary on abuses. English swear-words are too polite. They are no match to our Punjabi and Hindi lexicons. The worst ones are reserved for the two-wheelers who swarm around your vehicle; darting from left and write, brushing your bumpers, navigating a gap you thought didn’t exist between two cars. Invariably you are forced to move out of right-most lane where the slowest of vehicle is lording over the lane meant for the fastest. There are three-wheelers who couldn’t care less if their iron frames scratch your newly-painted car or goods carriers who move slower than a bicycle and make you swerve wildly to the hail of abuses in the background.

The irony is, all of these troubles could actually be your work to the others. You too jump traffic lights; you too speak on your mobile as you drive; you too drive against the traffic once in a while and it’s been ages since you submitted your car for a pollution check. You too subdue the traffic police with your rank and position if a folded 100-rupee note isn’t a good-enough grease to his palms.

So you too are part of the problem. Other traffic violators have turned you into one. Or it could be you who has turned others into traffic violators. Daily we hit the roads, daily we come back cursing the jungle that is out there on the roads. We are not wrong too when we curse the rogue mobike-rider who you nearly killed or one who ran a scratch across the length of your car. You also swear at the governance which leaves huge potholes and unmanned traffic lights out there. Submerged roads could test out the lungs of your car; or worse you could’ve an idea how a submarine floats under the water.

So, on the terrifying jungle out there which could maim or kill you and your dear ones, all the stakeholders- people, traffic planners and regulators—are guilty. Planners don’t have a vision for future; Enforcers are corrupt and we the people have turned monsters on the road. Like millions of gods we have on different aspects of our lives, we need to invent a traffic Ganesha too for our wellbeing.

Let’s now view the new whip which has angered most in this country. Most of us are either dipping deep into our pockets or crowding the Pollution Control centres on gas stations. We find the measures too draconian what if our registration, insurance and pollution papers are not in order. We aren’t counting the benefits which discipline would bring on our roads and provides umbrella against pelting hefty medical bills.

At the outset there is every reason to applaud the transport minister Nitin Gadkari. He has been vocal on the Motor Vehicles Amendment bill for more than two years. He spent months in consultations with the states before finalizing and winning the ascent from the Parliament. He has shown a bloody-mindedness ignoring populism and discomfiture within his own ranks.

Three states go for elections in next three months and are all headed by BJP—Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. But for Haryana, the other two aren’t willing to face people’s wrath. Gujarat has brought down the fines by almost 90 per cent; Karnataka and Uttarakhand would implement the Act but reduce the fines to just a slap on the wrist. Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura haven’t even implemented it.

Non-BJP states have only poured scorn on the new Motor Vehicles Act. Congress, which runs Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Punjab have put the new Act on hold. Rajasthan would implement it but the fines would be reduced to a minimum.

There is no second-guessing the “non-BJP” states of West Bengal, Kerala and Odisha. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is vocal that she wouldn’t implement the Act and burden her people. Kerala initially implemented the bill but now has put it on hold. The Odisha government of Naveen Patnaik has announced a three-month moratorium on the new Act. Interestingly, the Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal is all in support of the Act.

It’s clear populism and politics would finally prevail over prudence. Our dharnas, noise and cribs matter to politicians. Asking us to wear seat belts, ride with helmets, follow zebra-crossing is too much of an ask. As it is to the tilted-heads on mobikes, using shoulders to attend calls on their mobile-phones.

Is this the entire truth? Doesn’t a couple with two small children, an old mobike and a few thousand rupees for a salary have a compulsion of their own on roads? Don’t we have faulty traffic signals? Don’t poor people buy a spluttering vehicle for a pittance only because it’s without papers? Don’t we have bus-stops right after the traffic-lights? Does the new Act take into account the last man on the road?

Good governance is one thing; populism is another. One leaves us with standardized conduct out on the streets; the other leaves us with chaos and anarchy. Good governance is never a zero-sum game: A few would always suffer in a society of extreme disparity. We have always longed for a government which governs for the good of the people. Now that we have it, we should strengthen and not weaken it.

 

A chameleon changes less colour than our own Kejriwal

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Let’s take a call on how you define Arvind Kejriwal: Principled or Opportunist? Is he for power or people?

The man who changes more colours than a chameleon does has opted for deep silence on the recent drama surrounding P Chidambaram, former Union minister.  He doesn’t want to be seen supporting an allegedly corrupt politician nor does he want to oppose the Centre which he senses has people’s support.  With Delhi assembly elections less than six months away, Kejriwal has simply ducked.

Kapil Mishra, his former colleague but now with BJP, wasn’t the one to let go the moment.  He tweeted: “Why there is such a deep silence @Arvind Kejriwal.  Are you in a spell of mourning? During Anna (Hazare) agitation, (our own) people had braved batons in front of Chidambaram home…”

But Kejriwal isn’t falling for the bait. He has shown skin as thick as an armour on taunts that he is rebuked almost daily by Congress—be it on gimmicks of buses, electricity waivers, women safety or CCTVs—which also had spurned his advances most disdainfully during the 2019 General Polls. Yet he is not rubbing salt into Congress’ wounds. Interesting!

On Friday, Kejriwal was raving about the Modi government on a public platform in the Capital.  “I hope and I have full faith that in the coming time, Centre will take concrete measures to deal with the (economy) issue…We want to assure that the Delhi government will support and help the Centre in whatever steps they take to fix the economy,” he said.

This is the same Kejriwal who had termed Modi illiterate and questioned if the prime minister understands economy at all!

Kejriwal  and his AAP was one of those Opposition flanks which supported Modi government when it tore down the contentious Article 370 and 35A  and announced the plan to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory. He probably has the votes of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits in mind who are settled in his territory. The Janus-faced Kejriwal, at the same time, doesn’t allow police to persecute members of the “Tukde-Tukde gang” like Kanhaiya Kumar and others.

It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t care less about Muslim votes. His analysis of drubbing in the 2019 Polls was that Muslims had ditched the Opposition.  That’s why he didn’t say a word when a Hindu temple was desecrated right under his nose in the Capital. He didn’t say a word in condemnation nor did he visit the vandalized Durga temple in Chandni Chowk (Delhi).  He similarly didn’t vote in favour of Triple Talaq Bill in the Parliament.  Like a clever bania (trader), he must have worked out that less Muslims are bound to feel outraged about decisions on Jammu and Kashmir than the majority who would be hostile if he was to oppose abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.

Kejriwal, side by side, isn’t turning his back on Hindu votes too. He is sponsoring “religious tours” for elderly in the Capital and a willing media, fattened on his advertisements, is completely smitten.

A good gambler never spreads himself thin. You can’t hedge your bets beyond a point. You can’t bet on all blocks on the board and hope to earn profit.  Kejriwal seems unaware of this time-tested logic.

History tells us that good or bad, a leader can’t afford to be neutral on matters which concern people.  Masses aren’t ignorant that this man once opposed corruption and is now seen in embrace with those very forces.  He hauls people to court on corruption and then apologizes to them.  He is one day supporting Congress and venting venom the very next day.  He once chose vilest of terms for prime minister Narendra Modi but now doesn’t throw even a flower in his direction.

More so, all his trusted lieutenants have deserted him. NONE is seen in his corner. You could begin with Shazia Ilmi, Prashant, Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and peer through the ever expanding list of Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Alka Lamba and now Kapil Mishra.

Kejriwal feels only those who’ve deserted him know his true face. The succession of debacles in elections after elections has probably not made him wiser that people too have seen through his mask. Or maybe he knows it already and hence his zipped mouth.

 

 

Ravish Kumar, Magsaysay award and connecting the dots

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Ravish Kumar has won Magsaysay Awards as once did Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Ramdas. The common thread is community service and any inference to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is incidental.

The award was established by New York-based Rockfeller Brothers Fund in the memory of Philippines president Ramon Magsaysay who died in a plane crash in 1957.  In 2000, Ford Foundation did its bid by constituting the Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership Award.

It is in interest of Indian citizens to know the background of Rockfeller and Ford Foundations.

In the early 20th century, United States legalized endowed foundations. What was once a missionary activity was now called corporate philanthropy. They were the new lifeguards of Imperialism, or call it Capitalism, under threat from Communism.  Among the first to be set up was Carnegie Corporation, endowed in 1911 by profits from Carnegie Steel Company. The Rockfeller Foundation was endowed in 1914 by JD Rockfeller, founder of Standard Oil Company.

Rockfeller Foundation was the early patron which gave seed money to the United Nations, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  These Foundations had massive resources, all tax-free, with an unrestrained brief:  to turn economic muscle into political, cultural and social capital. Massive funds were not there to raise wages of its workers. It was to turn money into power—to run the world. (So we have Bill Gates controlling health, education and agricultural policies all over the world from seemingly dull occupation of selling software).

By the 1920s, US had begun to swoop on overseas markets and its raw materials. In 1924, the Rockfeller and Carnegie Foundations had created the most powerful foreign policy pressure group—the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), later funded by the Ford Foundation as well.  So far CFR has had two dozen US secretaries of state on its roll. No less than 5 CFR members were in the 1943 steering committee that planned the UN. JD Rockfeller bought the land for UN’s New York headquarters at $8.5 million grant.

Then came the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement to set up a new international monetary system. Now all other currencies were pegged to the value of the US dollar, which, in turn, was pegged to the price of gold. World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the checkposts of world’s financial roadways. They demanded Good Governance (as long as they held the strings), Rule of Law (as long as they helped make the laws) and transparent institutions. Ironically, these rules were mandated by two of the most opaque, unaccountable and non-transparent global organizations.  Country after country were cracked open by World Bank for global finance. (A fact:  All dozen presidents of the World Bank since 1946, which has its foot on the throats of Third World governments, have been members of the CFR, barring one.)

The Ford Foundation came into being in 1936. It works in lockstep with US State Department. It is in complete harmony with Bretton Woods philosophy of standardizing business practices and promoting free market.  The Capitalist Order is dressed up in liberal ethos.

It’s with these lenses you need to view the activity of Ford Foundation which has invested tens of millions of dollars in India. Generous aids are given to specific university courses and scholarships. A lot of these funds go to writers, artists, film-makers and activists.  (Again any inference to Award Wapsi gang, List of 49 “eminents”, MeToo movement, dalit scholars and research foundations taking over the edit pages of Lutyens Media is incidental).

These Foundations have made it an art to put their pieces on the chessboard of a society. Elite clubs and think-tanks are formed. Ford Foundation makes no secret of intervening in grassroots political movements as its avowed “goals for the future of mankind.” If your mind is going to Anna Hazare and his sudden centrestage occupation in Indian politics, along with the likes of Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, the inference again is incidental. It would do us no harm though to remember that Kejriwal-Sisodia have publicly conceded of generous grants by Ford Foundation to their NGO in the past.

By the 1950s, the Rockfeller and Ford Foundations were in an overdrive in funding NGOs and educational institutions around the world. They were quasi-extension of the US government to topple democratically-elected governments in Latin America, Iran and Indoensia. The Indonesian students, trained in counter-insurgency by US army, played a critical role in effecting CIA-backed coup in Indonesia in 1965 that brought General Suharto to power. Similarly, eight years later, young Chilean students were trained at the University of Chicago (endowed by JD Rockfeller) to do their bit in the CIA-backed coup that killed Salvador Allende and brought General Pinochet and his reign of murders that lasted 17 years.

Please reflect why Anna Hazare, who calls himself a Gandhian, never said a word against corporate power or privatization. Why India’s corporate media proclaimed him to be the “voice of the people.” Whether the rage against scams was intended to wither away the powers of government and give levers to privatization? It’s worth reminding readers that Anna Hazare in 2008 received a World Bank award for outstanding public service (Any conjuring up image of Ravish Kumar and his Magsaysay Award, again, is incidental).

Or for example how come urban Gender champions and their feminist movements never have a word to say for a lakh-strong Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Saghathan (Revolutionary Adivasi Women’s Association)? Are they afraid of standing up to mining corporations in the Dandakaranya forest? Is this Capitalism and its ugly face which is covered under Liberal ethos, pushed by these Foundations?

These Foundations core philosophy is to prepare an international cadre which could extend Capitalism and the hegemony of the United States. Find natives who once served colonialism and would now do  them. Take over the fields of education, arts and entertainment; extend hold on the minds of masses. What if its costs millions of dollars? Money is useless if it can’t buy global power.

Magsaysay Award to Ravish Kumar is another piece in this chessboard. A brand has been created as a bulwark against India’s cultural resurgence. Watch how Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra are swooning in praise.  The enemy is making moves on all fronts. It is for us to connect the dots and keep fists in front of face.

 

History could remember Modi as one who freed up Indian Muslims

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

What do I tell which all of you already don’t know?

Maybe to my Muslim brethren who fault the Triple Talaq Bill—still not an Act till President Ram Nath Kovind puts his pen to paper– on its (a) criminal; (b) maintenance; (c) interference; and (d) whataboutery aspects that  (i) cruelty against wife is a criminal offence; (ii) maintenance provided for by erring husbands is statutory; (iii) interference citing Islam is neither borne out by Quran nor by practice since most Muslim states, including Pakistan, have outlawed it;  nor (iv)  Hindus or other minorities could escape punishment for cruelty against wife.

Maybe to those who are still smarting at the betrayal of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), along with those avowed champions of “minorities” and “secular values” such as JD(U), TRS, RJD, TDP and NCP that when push came to shove, these parties didn’t want to be seen in the Muslim corner and stand against the overwhelming tide. Parties such as SP and BSP still have nightmares about BJP leading in 385 out of 403 assembly seats and why Muslims are no longer the vote-bank they espoused! Their personal brief honeymoon is over too.

Maybe to those who see Mehbooba Mufti as champion of Islam, a baffling fact that her two PDP members in the Rajya Sabha stayed away from the vote-count even as she kept scare-mongering that BJP was “entering into our (Muslim) homes” using the legislation. Her rival for favours in the Kashmir Valley, Omar Abdullah didn’t miss out in pointing out her double standards even as he himself kept his counsel to himself.

And then you have Arvind Kejriwal who bemoaned the loss of Muslim votes after the 2019 Polls but is now frozen to his spot on the matter of Triple Talaq Bill. This is the man who wants a survey done on government jobs to ascertain the percentage of Muslim employees and whether the low number is evidence of a deep-rooted prejudice by the system.

Maybe to those who know or don’t know the names of the Congressmen who absented themselves (namely, Vivek Tankha, Ranjib Biswal, Mukut Mithi, Pratap Bajwa and Sanjay Sinh), it may come as a surprise that they did so against the express whip of their party to be present in the Rajya Sabha proceedings. Sonia Gandhi and the two apples of her eye: Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra have cloaked themselves from the public scrutiny on Triple Talaq Bill and their writ probably doesn’t run large as it used to.

Today, the husband-wife duo of Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose; Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt are like frogs in the well of silence. Gupta has donned the persona of a Sherlock Holmes as he delves into every grain of coffee that its founder, now unfortunately dead, VG Siddhartha ever managed for his enterprise, Café Coffee Day. Barkha Dutt has worked herself into a lather on the Unnao rape victim.  Sagarika Ghose is just a cryptic “I-don’t-support-Triple-Talaq” while her husband is just an anchor on the subject with no personal opinion. And you thought their calling was upholding “freedom” and “gender justice.”

All of them have been caught in a bind. You stand up for Triple Talaq Bill and you alienate the Muslim community which number over 9 crores. You rail against the Bill and earn the wrath of fair gender and not just of Muslim women.

It’s the larger picture which has left them shaken to the core. An empowered BJP would now find it easier to push for the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.  The hoax of scare-mongering is exposed. BJP, in one stroke, has created millions of extra votes for itself. The Opposition has nothing better than a fig leaf to hide their shame. The injustice of Shah Bano has been righted after a generation’s gap.

Above all, empowering Muslim women could transform the community. It frees them up to express opinion and seek financial security, gain education and pass on the good word to their kids. It loosens the control of Mullahs and Owaisis who exert it through the boardroom of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) or the platforms of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).

As for Modi, history could judge him as the leader who took the first steps towards emancipation of a community which were led up the garden path by Nehru-Gandhis; Muftis and Abdullahs; Bukharis and Owaisis without deliverance.  This would be the irony of the sweetest kind.