Assam

Where does Modi go from this Bihar high? Is this bugle of triumph also one of warning?

(It’s a reprint from NewsBred).

There is a reason for prime minister Narendra Modi to have an extra cup of tea which he loves so much in the morning. There are breakthroughs in Telangana and Manipur; a reaffirmation in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh; and Madhya Pradesh sealed for years to come. And then there is Bihar.

And he could afford to smell roses too in his garden now that the foul air of Covid-19, migrants trek, China-at-gate, economic tsunami, engineered anti-CAA etc harnessed by the devil siblings of Opposition and prepaid media has blown back on their faces. Even Hathras didn’t work.

This morning though the tea won’t be the same for regional satraps of Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu who have an assembly election to defend in next few months. A couple of them are allies who suspect they would be soon out of breath in keeping pace with such a driven partner. They don’t have to speak to Uddhav Thackeray or Nitish Kumar. They know it in heart.

It brings us to two existential questions in India’s political landscape: Are BJP and allies actually enemies sleeping in the same bed?

The basic premise of this puzzle of course is whether the two need each other. BJP didn’t concede to Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and I am sure there must be second thoughts within if it was judicious. Hindu vote is divided in any case, if not stupid. Why fragment it further? It has allowed the Pawars and Gandhis a stroll in the power corridors. Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD) was better to be without since it was cohabiting with farmer mafia while BJP is committed to rid India of weeds on the ground.

Politics is vision. But it’s also about staying in the present. BJP need to be both pragmatic and principled with allies. Only a fool can’t see that the Rest are coming together en masse: It doesn’t matter if they were enemies (BSP-SP; NCP-Congress, JD (S)-Congress, PDP-NC) only till recently. They are sinking and would hold on to any straw. They would get wiser—if not by 2017 UP then surely by 2020 Bihar–that caste piper isn’t quite belting out the chartbusters. They would band aid the pockmarks of corruption. They would woo the masses which so far were not even worthy of their contempt. They would rely less on media and friends-in-courtrooms now that it no longer is cutting the ice.

They of course are on the pitch of anarchy for some time. To their minds, they have already dispensed with umpires, third umpires and DRS etc. It has helped them in paralyzing the Centre, bound as it is by its Constitutional vows. What voters can’t deliver, villains might.

All those who stand with you, matter

It ought to be BJP’s goal to be in power, state after state. It can’t do without allies. It would have to allay their reasonable fears. Like it can’t afford to let go both Chirag Paswan and Nitish Kumar in Bihar. BJP might have a vision for India and its friends might suffer from cataract but then who said it’s an ideal world. You need every that voice, every that whiff, every that ray which could brighten your cause. Most have baser instincts, shallow interests, malleable emotions. But even those who just stand with you, matter.

So instead of a mere blinkered vision, BJP needs to look around and greet those who could say hello in return. It must account for inadequacies of others. It’s too straight-jacket and regimented with its friends. It can’t be that BJP is afraid of criticisms. If it was so, Yogi Adityanath wouldn’t have become CM of Uttar Pradesh; Article 370 would still have been a thorn, CAA-NRC would have gone into files by now. But BJP only harps on development. It doesn’t on discourse. They need to cultivate allies; they need to empower voices rooting for them to do good to Mother India.

It’s a seminal moment in India’s history. In millenniums. BJP can’t let it go only because its rulebook is cast in stone. It has to take every single voice along. And it has to stamp the hood of serpent into ground. It would be a Prithviraj Chauhan if it lets go the moment against Muhammad Ghori.  It would be a mistake to think that chorus is not contributing to the melody. Keep them in the background but keep them on the dais. Rise to their defence even if it’s unsavoury to your style. Men like Arnab Goswami, for instance, need you now. Niceties could wait.

So take your time as you finish your tea, Mr Modi. But open your gates a little wider, your drawing room a little more spacious, and summon extra chairs in the garden. There are more hues in the painting than just winning elections on the plank of bettering masses. There are independent voices, perhaps too stray and too disparate to matter to you or BJP. But they are helping the wider discourse. It would matter to you and India in longer run. Embrace them as you go forward.

 

 

 

Abki baar, 400 Paar: BJP shows up break-India forces

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Think of all the reasons you could in opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and you would’ve all of your answers in these two pieces (here and here). If you still want to get your man, Amit Shah, then the latter’s words in the Rajya Sabha would make you seek penance for the sins of your mind.

After you’ve done the hard work to cleanse yourself of your prejudice, try to make sense why stations are being burnt in Bengal; why Islamist Jihadists have given a call to put flame to Kerala and why chief ministers of at least five states—Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Bengal—are defiant. And then ask yourself what kind of “secularism” and “democracy” these rogues have in mind without adhering to judiciary, parliament and the Constitution?

Now if you still try to bog me down in justifying your “anti-Muslim” slant of the Citizenship Act, I would still nudge you to the above references unless you could convince me that the Sun doesn’t always rises in the East.

There’s another clarity you must’ve before we proceed any further. Is this a popular “revolt” against the Citizenship Act or a “whipped” one? Assam is now seeing reason after being misguided on fear on its language and culture but everything else is “drama” and a dangerous one at that. Goons who are burning up the railway stations in Bengal aren’t doing it to save India’s “democracy”.

Let’s look at the two opposing sides—those in the pitched battle for and against the Citizenship Act. The five Chief Ministers are hell-bent they would slam the door shut on the Act. This is all bluster. There is no way they could block this Citizenship Act in their domains. Judiciary could come down heavily on them; Centre could dismiss them for trying to unravel the unitary structure of the nation; and people could make sure their political careers—and that of their parties—is buried deep on the floor of the oceans.

Let’s look closely at the affiliation of these five Chief Ministers. Three of them are run or controlled by the Congress—Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. The two others—Kerala and Bengal—are accused of treating Hindus as lesser citizens of their states, as critics would point out with the instances on Durga Visarjan and Sabrimala.  Maharashtra too might deny Citizenship Act as the strings of Uddhav Thackeray are pulled by Congress.

It is thus a “political”rage  and not one for secularism and democracy. Congress is fighting for its survival and so are Mamata Banerjee (Bengal) and Pinaryi Vijayan (Kerala) as the 2019 elections have shown. All these forces have ceded the political ground on Hindus to the BJP.  Their vote-bank of Muslims is all but lost: Triple Talaq, Ayodhya, Article 370 and Citizenship Act instantly come to mind. Shunned by Hindus and abandoned by Muslims, these forces are staring at political oblivion

So their best hope is anarchy. Judiciary exposes them at every given stage: Remember Rafale, Article 370 or Ayodhya as instances. People see them singing the same tune as arch enemies Pakistan. The ruling dispensation holds them up on corruption and convenient stands. The last throw of the dice appears to be their hope for agitations on streets, swelled by students of bastions of a select universities, and foreign intervention in the form of West and their stooge institutions, including the United Nations and a corrupt media. Lutyens Media in India is a drummer of such inimical forces against a strong India.  Why, the overseas wing of Congress has already given a call to hold demonstrations outside embassies around the world, against the Citizenship Act.

The biggest fear of these forces is political oblivion in case Indian Muslims pull the plug on them. The Muslim vote-bank no longer sees Congress and similar forces as dependable. It could lead to fundamentalist forces within Indian Muslims to assume leadership and dump Congress and their likes for good. It would amount to their political annihilation.

The other side, favouring Citizenship Act, have logic and reason with them. It gives them an ironclad moral shield at least in the eyes of the majority in this country. In raising the charge of divisiveness, the Opposition is only strengthening BJP’s hands. It’s getting the majority in this country behind Modi and Shah and exposing themselves as inimical forces working against the interest of India. How would Hindus see a Shiv Sena or Sikhs would view Shiromani Akali Dal if the inclusion of their brothers and sisters from across the border is opposed by these parties?

“Abki baar, 400 paar” could after all come true in 2024 elections, given how a stupid Opposition is squandering the last penny of their political capital.

Post Script: I end the piece as I began it: By referring a piece to your attention. It would give you a bigger picture and firm up your spine in the defence of your country and its people.

Shobhaa De could be first in a long list to be exposed

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

An interesting sideshow calls for your attention. It’s serious too and has wider implications.

We have long wondered why a few of our journalists, politicians, film personalities, media houses, academicians and historians speak the language of Pakistan on matters of Kashmir and Indian Muslims. Why their concerns for refugees extend to Rohingyas but not to Kashmiri Pandits. Why they get worried about a demography change in Kashmir Valley but stand by the demographic distortion in Assam. Why Hindus lynched doesn’t even elicit a pause while a similar tragedy for a Muslim evokes a diatribe. Why animal-sacrifice is sacred for one while Jallikattu sport is animal-cruelty by others. Why Triple Talaq Bill is persecution of Muslim males but arrests under dowry act is justice. Why a Mamata Banerjee could openly appease the Muslims but the Prime Minister chanting “Jai Shri Ram” is communal.  Why skullcaps knocked off a Muslim head is bigotry but a Durga Temple vandalized, idols broken in the heart of India’s Capital is passé

The irrepressible Dr. Subramanian Swamy has an interesting explanation on such Break-India forces. He says that most of such voices are funded by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Even if neutral, all these inimical forces route their ill-gotten money through hawala by Dubai black money channels which in fact is controlled by ISI. The deal of the game is simple: You be of use to us to cause distortion of facts and a general amnesia in Indian state and we won’t spill the beans on what we do for you. But if you don’t, one line in press and you are finished, Dr Swamy tells of ISI’s implicit threat.

One such line has finally appeared in press. Shobhaa De, a regular columnist in Times of India, has been called out by former Pak envoy to India, Abdul Basit, for writing a pre-separatist piece on Jammu and Kashmir at latter’s prompting. Ms De has denied the allegation but really what other options she had? Nobody neutral is believing her as outpouring of reactions on twitter show. Her journalistic career is over in disgrace. All this by a stray comment in an obscure blog.

This must have sets alarm-bells ringing in dozens of such Shobhaa De’’s hidden in plain sight amongst us. Twitteratis have composed their own list but we won’t fall for it, not yet. But an educated guess is that the “disclosure” on Shobhaa De wasn’t accidental. A small pawn in a Great Game has been sacrificed to warn other rogues embedded in India’s fabric to do some meaningful damage to a purposeful Modi government. (Or why would you get headlines of “Sober Eid” in Kashmir Valley when governor Satyapal Malik is inviting everybody to come and see the exact opposite happening on ground).

India’s stand on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and dilution of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a Union Territory has dropped the baby of pretence. You are either this or that side of the divide: the clever game of rearranging the narrative and peddle the Pak agenda won’t work. Pakistan would demand “compliance” from these journalists and academicians; lawyers or social activists; filmi-sets or politicians. What fun would it be when such names are stripped of the cover of immunity and laid bare amidst us, as Shobhaa De currently is.

One has long wondered why a socialite with little idea of complexities and nuances of our political, cultural, economical or historical perspective gets to write in edit pages of India’s premier newspaper. It’s not also if her language is electric—why even a Twinkle Khanna in comparison reads better. Her readers, if any, ought to be on Page 3 and certainly not on the hollowed edit pages where burning, larger issues are in focus.

This is the set which ensures that anger in India is managed whenever a terrible tragedy happens in Kashmir Valley or in rest of India. Whenever a major attack happens in Kashmir or elsewhere, the bogey of “dara hua musalman” comes into play. It happened in 26/11 which, if it was a Modi government, would’ve certainly caused a war with Pakistan. When Pulwama happened, an orchestrated campaign in Lutyens Media began about Kashmiri students fleeing from rest of the country. The same narrative is overwhelming the front pages of Lutyens Media about “subdued Eid”, “scared” Kashmiris and the Valley being turned into a new “Palestine.”

We all know this is not true. So far government has ensured no untoward incident happens in the wake of their sensational decision on the troublesome state. But we all know that Pakistan won’t keep silent. It would use all tricks in the game and one of it is the “sleeper-cells” it has woven into India’s fabric. They are not allowed to be neutral. A goat is fattened not for nothing, to use a typical Eid flavour of the season.

Hope Express has not let Vishal Bhardwaj down

Indian Express is letting itself down so badly on the ethics of journalism that it’s a cause for concern for its loyal readers, more so since the Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors’ Guild appears an acquiescing party due to its silence.

Indian Express has a bottom-spread on its Monday’s Delhi edition where excerpts of film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj’s comments at Express Adda are quoted. The headline states: “TV News comedy circus…maybe Cinema must tell truth” (attributed to Bhardwaj).

However, Bharadwaj’s quote in the text-copy of the story states: “…present-day journalism…feels like a comedy show, it’s like a comedy circus.” Nowhere, Bhardwaj mentions TV news. He mentions present-day journalism. The readers have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj didn’t have Indian Express itself in mind, for all you know.

I suggest readers to read the full story.  Real quotes are added and subtracted to expand or reduce the newspaper’s own agenda/interpretation. For example, see this para below:

That was one of Bollywood’s most political filmmakers, Vishal Bhardwaj, opening up at the Express Adda Friday on why the industry hesitates to speak up when political controversies impact mainstream films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil, which faced calls for bans due to the casting of a Pakistani actor, and Padmavat, which withstood protests for its portrayal of Rajput queen Padmavati.

I have no way of knowing if Bhardwaj did take the name of films such as Ae Dil E Mushkil or Padmavat to make his point (for the full interview would only appear later this week) or whether the newspaper is adding this name to buttress its point/agenda. The above para of the newspaper insinuates he did though I seriously doubt so.

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Same is the case in another front page story Indian Express has on Monday, headlined: Godhra line in book: FIR against four for “misleading students on beloved PM.” This is on an academic book in circulation in Assam.

Just looking at this headline, it would appear the state is trying to muzzle the freedom of speech, neutrality of academic-text books, all because PM Narendra Modi has been portrayed in poor light.

Indian Express, in its report, doesn’t touch the concerned “line in book” till they are in the second-half of the story. The first half is all about a “well-known…90-year-old renowned publisher” and a description of three authors who have been “heads of political science department” of established colleges in Assam. (Shades of a certain retired son of a headmaster in the Valley by the name of Burhan Wani).

So here comes the relevant para on Godhra in the book which offended a couple of citizens enough to file an FIR against the authors and publishers:

“In this incident (burning of coach) 57 persons died including women and children. On the suspicion that Muslims were behind the incident, next day Muslims were mercilessly attacked in different parts of Gujarat. This violence continued for over a month and over a thousand people were killed. Most of those killed were Muslims. Significantly at the time of the violence, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a silent spectator. Morever, there were allegations that the state administration helped the Hindus.”

Now let’s look at the FIR which states: “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (Sit) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave clean-sheet on PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated September 12, 2011, on the issue.”

Aren’t the complainants appear rightful on all counts to go ahead and file the FIR? By terming Modi government as silent spectator, aren’t authors suggesting complicity even as the Supreme Court gave a verdict to the contrary, giving clean chit to Modi, no less than seven years back? Doesn’t such mis-representation would only potentially lead to Hindu-Muslims tensions, may be communal clash and certainly a polarization between the two largest religious groups in the country? And what about the innocent children who are thus poisoned by half-truths? In a state, as sensitive to Hindu-Muslim polarization as Assam is?

Not a day passes by when I don’t read such reports in Indian Express which makes me squirm in my chair. As a practicing journalist, I see one guiding hand behind the reporters, sub-editors, headline-givers and positioning of stories on front-pages making them work in sync in antipathy to BJP/RSS. Whosoever this hand is: An activist editor, his employer and his leanings, or the forces keeping the newspaper in an ideological bind or otherwise, the fact is, it is anything but journalism. And that’s a betrayal most heinous to its readers by any newspaper in circulation.

 

Assam’s NRC: All you need to know and which media doesn’t tell you

It’s possible looking at wall-to-wall coverage of Assam’s National Register for Citizens (NRC) final draft in our newspapers that you believe a Hindu nationalist party in the Centre is rendering lakhs of unfortunate Muslims homeless.

It’s also possible that you believe in the blood-curdling call of Mamata Banerjee and fear that a civil war would reach our doorsteps.

It’s quite possible tears are welling up in your eyes at the graphic coverage of Indian Express about unfortunate victims rendered illegal in one stroke.

It’s possible you are breaking out in a sweat over the prospects of another “Partition” as snakes-in-the-sleeve come out writhing in the mud.

It’s quite possible your respect for Congress has gone a millimeter up after they gave adjournment notice in the Lok Sabha over the matter.

My advisory to you is to shove this all in the nearest bin or spare your toilet roll. You need to know that this exercise has been mandated by the Supreme Court (and not Modi government); that it’s just a draft; that no NRC exercise has been taken up after 1951 (sic); that Congress had itself promised so in the Assam Accord of 1985; and that Mamata Banerjee back in 2005 had herself wanted the illegal Bangladesh immigrants identified. In case you want to know everything there is to know about illegal migrants in Assam over the centuries and the present, just to make sure this nonsense doesn’t waste an extra second of yours from now, read this piece and no further.

If nothing, please pay heed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who has stressed “it’s just a draft” and nobody is going to a “detention centre.”

You could also bear this basic question in mind in case your office-colleagues are thumping your desk down: All the regional leaders who are shedding copious tears on “poor” illegal migrants of Assam– “refugee in own country,” as per Mamata — whether their own people in state would welcome these 40 lakh illegals in their fold.

All things point to nothing materially changing for illegal migrants post release of second draft of NRC. One, India doesn’t have an agreement with Bangladesh in place (our eastern neighbours don’t even acknowledge influx of illegal migrants from its stable); Two, a porous border allows an extradited illegal migrant to return without hassle; Three, many lakhs of illegal immigrants are already spread all over the country, especially in metropolis such as Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Who keeps tab on them?

Sooner than later though, illegal migrants must be taken off the election rolls; ways must be found to give refuge to millions of fleeing Hindus (and other Indic minority sects) from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh with full citizenship status (without worrying about Rohingyas or Human Right Activists—for Hindus have only India to turn to while Muslims and Christians have dozens of own doors to knock around the world); and illegal migrants legally committed not to indulge in political or religious subversive acts.

Centre rushes forces to Assam; all eyes on NRC draft

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Centre has rushed tens of thousands of paramilitary forces to Assam lest violence breaks out in the north-eastern state after the second draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) is released on July 30.

The first draft had embraced 1.9 crores out of 3.9 crores as legal citizens of the state. The second draft could take care of a few lakhs more. But what’s certain is that there would be many lakhs more who won’t have the papers to meet the cut-off date of March 24, 1971.

A majority of them are persecuted Hindus fleeing Bangladesh: informed sources put it to over 11 million Hindus between 1964 and 2013. There is also no insignificant numbers of economically-motivated Muslim migrants over decades.

Most have moved directly across the vast 272 km border which Assam shares with Bangladesh. Some have come from West Bengal. Being termed illegal overnight could’ve serious law and order consequences though home minister Rajnath Singh has stressed “it’s just a draft” and nobody is going into a “detention centre.”

Census figures over the years show that Assam’s population exploded by 36 per cent between 1951-1961; and by 35% over the next decade. In 2011 Census, it’s population was 31.2 million which was a 17.1% rise from 2001 figures. Most migrants are Bengali-speaking and Barak Valley is their stronghold. The Assamese-speaking population of the state are rooted in Brahmaputra Valley.

NRC is hardly a comfort to (a) an illegal Hindu migrant family who fears being sent back to Bangladesh where it fled religious persecution in the first place; or (b) Muslim migrants who in one stroke could find two of its generation stateless refugees; or (c) even indigenous Assamese who know NRC would make no difference to ground reality and that these illegal immigrants would multiply manifold if the Citizenship Bill 2016 is passed into an Act.

All things point to nothing materially changing for illegal migrants post release of second draft of NRC. One, India doesn’t have an agreement with Bangladesh in place (our eastern neighbours don’t even acknowledge influx of illegal migrants from its stable); Two, a porous border allows an extradited illegal migrant to return without hassle; Three, many lakhs of illegal immigrants are already spread all over the country, especially in metropolis such as Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Who keeps tab on them?

It’s worth remembering that the present exercise of NRC is at the behest of Supreme Court. The Centre has got nothing to do with it. BJP can’t abandon illegal Hindu migrants—which would be a stick they would be beaten with– nor antagonize local Assamese who have given vote in their favour in 2016 assembly elections.

This makes nobody happy. Certainly not people. But Congress is sure to fish in troubled waters which is largely a making of their own indifference, if not mischief. Congress has ruled Assam for decades and benefited immensely from the political umbrella it provided to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Despite then-PM Rajiv Gandhi signing the 1985 accord with leaders of the Assam movement, it remains an embarrassing fact for the party that only 2442 illegal immigrants were expelled from Assam between 1985-2012.

Not to forget TMC  and its head, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is already stoking the fire in Assam from her den in order to appease illegal migrants in her own state who arguably are her vote bank; or Left which in the past sabotaged one such move by Shiv Sena-BJP combine in Maharashtra to deport illegal Bangladeshis in 1998.

Sooner than later though, illegal migrants must be taken off the election rolls; ways must be found to give refuge to millions of fleeing Hindus (and other Indic minority sects) from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh with full citizenship status (without worrying about Rohingyas or Human Right Activists—for Hindus have only India to turn to while Muslims and Christians have dozens of own doors to knock around the world); and illegal migrants legally committed not to indulge in political or religious subversive acts.

 

 

Pregnant women are not just Muslims

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of financial aid to pregnant women in his new year’s address has led to suggestions that Muslim women would benefit the most from this scheme as they produce more children than any other religious sect in India.

Muslims today comprise of 184 million people in India or around 14.5 percent of total population (compared to Hindus who have fallen below 80%) as of 2015.

A Pew Research Center report predicts that by 2050, India will overtake Indonesia to have the largest Muslim population in the world. The Muslims are expected to swell to 310 million, or almost 18% of the population while Hindus would hover around 77%. As of now, Indonesia has 209 million, followed by India (176 million) and Pakistan (167 million).

This has led to unseemly concern among Hindus that Muslims are in an overdrive to produce more children so as to skew the demographic profile of India. They put the arguments below in support of their theory:

  •  That Muslims in India are poorer and less educated which results in high growth rate;
  •  That Muslim women get married at an early age (16-20 years) which means higher fertility rate;
  •  That Muslims have younger children (0-6 years) population as compared to Hindus
  •  That Muslims in India are less interested in adopting family planning measures in India.

However facts and figures fly in different directions.

Muslims have witnessed a sharp fall in growth rate to 24.60 in the 2001-2011 decade compared to 29.52 growth of the previous decade (1991-2001). An average Muslim family is of lesser number (5.15) in 2011 than what it was a decade earlier (5.61). The average members of an Indian family is 4.45 persons. This points out upward mobility of Indian Muslims in terms of education and career growth.

Indeed, across all religious groups in India, there’s been a decline in population growth. Buddhists have shown the sharpest decline due to an ageing population.

As of now, Indian Muslims are in majority in two states: the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and Jammu and Kashmir.

Just three states—Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam comprise of almost 47 per cent of entire Muslim population in India. Rampur is the only district with a Muslim majority in Uttar Pradesh.  The Muslim population in West Bengal and Assam has been fuelled by refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh.

So folks, hold your horses. Don’t see the PM’s announcement as a sop to Muslims. It’s an inclusive scheme for all Indians. Welcome it instead of tearing it apart on religious lines.

(As an aside, Muslims are likely to equal Christians by 2050 (around 2.82 billion). Hindus would be around 1.38 billion. The world’s total population is set to rise to 9.3 billion by 2050, a rise of 35%).

 

Angoorlata and her oath in Sanskrit

Angoorlata Deka, the newly elected BJP MLA from Batadroba constituency in Assam, has made front-page headlines with her oath in Sanskrit language. The newspapers are shocked at her audacity for don’t we all have given up the language as dead?

Our ignorance deserves a reality check. Sanskrit is one of the 22 languages listed in a Schedule to the Constitution. It’s the official language in the state of Uttarakhand. Since 1967, Sahitya Akademi has been giving award for literary works in Sanskrit. It’s true of adult as well as kids’ literature.

In all, there are 15 Sanskrit universities, thousands of Sanskrit colleges. Features films are being made in Sanskrit, the ones on Adi Shankaracharya, Bhagavad Gita and Mudrarakshasa (a film on great emperor Chandragupta Maurya) instantly come to mind.

An animated film in Sanskrit, “Punyakoti” is scheduled for release in 2016. There are more than 75 dailies, weeklies and monthlies in Sanskrit. We have television news in Sanskrit. No less than our Prime Minister tweets in Sanskrit. In Karnataka, two villages of Mattur and Hosahalli has everyone speaking in Sanskrit to this date.

All the 125 major languages and 1500 minor languages of the country can trace its origin on Sanskrit. It’s not just India alone, Nepal’s motto is a pick from Valmiki’s Ramayana. There’s Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the word Angkor meaning “City” in Sanskrit.

Initially, Sanskrit wasn’t known by its present name. It was called Bhasha. This was a fact at least till the 6th century BCE. It was essentially a spoken language. When rendered into writing, various different scripts were used. The use of Devanagari is of a recent vintage. In its grammar, letters and words freely merge to form compound letters and compound words. Two of these principals are called sandhi and samasa.

The greatest proponent of Sanskrit language was poet Kalidasa. His classics, such as Malavikagnimitram (the love story between King Agnimitra and Malavika), Abhijnanashakuntalam (the famous Shaknutala story) and Meghadutam (Cloud as messenger) haven’t lost its lustre till this day.

It’s a fallacy to believe that Sanskrit was only spoken by Kshatriyas and Brahmans in ancient times. Instances abound where commoners were known to use the language. In the Rig Veda, 21 out of 407 rishis were women. There was no gender bias in the use of the language.

Since 2003, India has a National Mission for Manuscripts (Namami). Its task is to list, digitize, publish and translate manuscripts at least 75 years old. As of now, Namami has a listing/digitization of three million—the anticipated stock of manuscripts in India is 35 milion. There are at least 60,000 manuscripts in Europe and another 1,50,000 elsewhere in South Asia. Ninety-five percent of these manuscripts have never been listed, collated or translated. To give you an idea of the enormity of the task: Since the advent of printing only an estimated 130 million books have been published in all languages of the world.

We don’t know the treasure waiting to be rediscovered. Take the instance of Arthashastra for instance. The classic on political economy and governance was written by Kautilya (350-275 BCE). But it was rediscovered by R. Shamasastry in 1904, published in 1909 and translated into English in 1915. We don’t know how many Arthashastra we have lost in all these centuries.

Same is true of many variations of scripts of Sanskrit. The sharada script, popular in Kashmir at one time in history, is completely lost. Same is true of Paishachi language and a very famous work in this script, Brihatkatha. Both are lost to us. Many Buddhist and Jain texts were written in Sanskrit too. And lest we forget, Ayurveda, the treatises on medicine, the work of Charaka (2nd century CE), no longer survives.

And here is the surprise of all surprises: “A Companion to Sanskrit Literature,” authored by Sures Chandra Banerji, has an entire chapter on the contribution of Muslims to Sanskrit. This volume traverses 3000 years of Sanskrit literature.

Naheed Abidi was bestowed with Padma Shri in 2014 for her contributions to Sanskrit literature. Her first book in 2008 titled “Sanskrit Sahitya Mein Rahim” is an account of the Sanskrit leanings of renowned poet Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana. Another bookof hers, “Sirr-e-Akbar” is a hindi translation of 50 Upanishads, earlier translated by the Mughal prince, Dara Shikoh into Persian. Naheed has published a Hindi translation of Vedanta, translated into Persian by Dara Shikoh and also the Sufi texts by the prince.

There is no denying the crisis though. The last Census in 2011 still don’t tell us how many speak Sanskrit in our country. The Census of 2001 had put the number to 14,135. There is an initiative from the government for the long-term vision and roadmap for the development of Sanskrit. Angoorlata’s act of oath has brought the Sanskrit language into popular mainstream and we ought to be grateful to her.

(The background of this article is largely based on Dr. Bibek Debroy’s speech in Paris on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day, organized by UNESCO on March 3, 2016).