(A reprint from NewsBred).
I had just picked up my morning tea in balcony when my elder daughter tapped me on shoulder. “Would BJP stop at anything? Gender, patriarchy, misogyny—what do they have against women?”
She was drawing my attention to an Indian Express news where Nirmala Sitharaman, our present finance and past defence minister, had raked up a recent brutal murder in Hoshiarpur, Punjab. A six-year-old girl child of a Bihar Dalit migrant labourer has been raped, killed and her half-burnt body was discovered this week.
My daughter wasn’t amused that Sitharaman had chosen the gruesome murder to make some political points, like “Doesn’t it shake the conscience of the brother and sister pair (Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi) who rushed to every other chosen site…as if they were going (Hathras) for a picnic…But why not in Hoshiarpur? Why not if it (the crime takes place) is Rajasthan?…the pretentious Congress is nowhere…A woman heads their party.”
I wasn’t sure the bit in Sitharaman’s words which had offended my daughter till she drew my attention to another story in Indian Express. The “rejoinder” from Gandhi scion and the chief minister of the Punjab state, Capt Amarinder Singh: “Unlike in UP,” we are not “denying” the rape or “blocking the course of justice.” Amarinder was more lyrical: He found BJP doing a “political puffery.”
Well, that might be true. With first phase of Bihar elections due in a matter of hours, parties are jostling for political points. But leave aside politics, my girl, if it is gender, patriarchy and misogyny could we please look at Congress more closely please.
Till last year Congress had a high-profile spokesperson. Priyanka Chaturvedi commanded attention on media of all kind: Print, digital, social media etc. But she quit in disgust in 2019. She felt “hurt and self-dignity” compromised when her offenders, within Congress itself, were reinstated after being suspended briefly. “I put in 10 years (for Congress)…they ignored a woman..(I had put up) at a great personal cost, self-dignity…If I don’t (quit), it would let all those women down who want to join politics, raise voice.”
More recently Khushboo Sundar, a high-profile Congress spokesperson in South, quit Congress. She said she had given up her personal life to work for Congress in last six years but she has no option but to quit as she was being “pushed and suppressed.”
Let’s say, these incidents were ambitions couched in sexist pretence, I ventured to my daughter. Let’s also not make much of Rahul Gandhi’s “Come, Rape in India” remark in the Parliament which had led to a massive uproar. Mr Gandhi thought he was being witty when he said “Come, Make in India” is more like come “Rape in India.” The fellow women Members of Parliaments were outraged for they found Mr Gandhi being cavalier about a crime which leaves a victim with two options: Suicide or a living dead.
But let’s not deny that it was the kind of remark which should make gender-activists see red. A newspaper like Indian Express ought to have initiated a debate on the mindset of India’s wannabe Prime Minister. It’s no excuse that he is still a bachelor. He has women in family, his grandma was India’s iron lady. Rape can’t be a matter of wit.
If she wants she could give this another instance a miss, I proffered by daughter. Mr Gandhi was all pompous when he had said in Parliament last year that the prime minister had “got a woman (Nirmala Sitharaman) to defend him (Modi),” on Rafale deal. It surely smacked of patriarchy. A woman who is a model to millions in this country—try to see how Nirmala makes such earnest effort to speak Hindi, good one at that—can’t be ridiculed as if it wasn’t the Parliament but some Duryodhana’s sabha.
But no apology. No reprimand from their mother Sonia who has been at the “helm” longer than even Indira. No outrange or OpEd in Indian Express or The Hindu. And if I could ask you my daughter how do you think they ought to have reacted to “haram-khor” jibe in their own coalition-run State to a young lady who has achieved more than arguably anyone in Bollywood? Did the Gandhis mind the threat to Kangana dare she descend in Mumbai ever or when a crane made itself comfortable in her Bandra room?
It was not the BJP but the Dalit supremo Mayawati herself who was angry beyond words at how the murder and rape of a Dalit girl in Alwar was “hushed up” by the Ashok Gehlot Congress government, as there are a string of other rapes which are occurring in Rajasthan even as Gandhis lost their shirt on Hathras. And when your former chief minister (Kamal Nath) mentions a sitting woman minister (Imarti Devi) an “item” should a perfunctory disapproval by Rahul be enough to cover the silence of Sonia and Priyanka? Has there been any consequence on Kamal Nath? Has Indian Express sought out Randeep Surjewala for his reaction?
I won’t go into what happened to the “Nirbhaya Fund” of a 1,000 crore which was set up by Congress in the aftermath of the terrible incident on Delhi streets. It remains under-utilized even by the BJP states. But the larger point is Gandhis indeed are convenient on women. Debating points, highlighted by predisposed newspapers is no shield.
So, when you raise banners against gender-bias, patriarchy and misogyny my child, I told my daughter, do keep a memory log. And could I have another fresh morning tea please now?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Well, well, well…I am interested in Taiwan. We all should be now that we know China doesn’t like it one bit.
Sure, I would save you some embarrassment if you can’t put your finger on world map; or if you don’t know if we have anything common but for China; or whether you could get a visa to visit its glittering capital Taipei.
;Don’t be dampened that India doesn’t recognize Taiwan. Nobody does except for 14 countries you hear about only when a tornado bursts through their shores. But business is rocking by other names. The jump in trade is 20% year-on-year so much so that India does it more with Taiwan ($7 billion) than with Italy, France, Japan, Korea or Saudi Arabia (beat that)!. India counts Taiwan as its 14th largest export destination and you could again refer to the nations mentioned and more. We have students in Taipei—I mean, don’t be startled when you are not on Indian students in Islamabad. There are restaurants, cultural exchanges, business delegations etc. Why, Sachin Tendulkar could be promoting cricket and Aamir Khan the Bollywood fare only if he could pull himself out of Istanbul.
These “ties” exist since 1995 when the two countries set up their representative offices in Taipei and Delhi. Call them “embassies” if you must (Delhi address: Taipei Economic and Cultural Center, 34, Paschim Marg, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi). That’s where you go first thing once Covid-19 is over and you have that itch of a foreign travel. The little island country could be mesmerizing for it has beaches, mountains, forests and a city-life which befits its status as a “developed” country.
Now you lazy bums might be wondering why we still don’t call Taiwan a country. Well that was out of deference to China (People”s Republic of China) who refused to recognize Taiwan (Republic of China) for its fallout in 1949 after the colonialists left and civil war ensued. Initially Taiwan claimed control over mainland China but Mao changed all that and now the shoe is in the other foot.
So China doesn’t recognize Taiwan, rather won’t let anyone do it too. Beijing calls it “One-China Policy.” India doesn’t recognize One-China nonsense (bravo) but saw no reason to stir up the hornet’s nest too when business-by-other-names with Taiwan was booming. It might change and it should, and we all could play a role in it. Trust me, Galwan or Tik-Tok won’t hurt China as much as if India was to recognize Taiwan! Imagine India doing so when United Nations doesn’t. I know it’s wishful but the sheer word-of-mouth would get the Dragon hopping mad.
Just recount last few days. First China issues guidelines to India media (phew) how to refer to Taiwan ahead of its October 10 National Day. I mean how stupid for this tribe, we call Indian media, doesn’t give even the State a damn. Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu belled the cat with his tweet: “Taiwan’s Indian friends will have one reply: GET LOST!”
Sure enough, Indians smarted at this diktat. #TaiwanNationalDay began trending on twitter. Bharatiya Janata Party, nationalist that they are, didn’t miss the moment: Its’ national secretary (Y. Satya Kumar) greeted his “Taiwanese brothers and sisters” and its spokesperson (Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga) wished Taiwan a happy national day with a poster outside the Chinese embassy in the Capital.
Suddenly, Indian netizens were falling over each other in following Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen’s twitter account, leading for her to tweet several photos from her trip to India from 2012, including Taj Mahal. She didn’t forget to mention a “vibrant culture” and “kind people” of India. Next were Indian restaurants in Taiwan which found mention in her tweets. “How about sharing your favourite Indian dishes” gushed Tsai Ing-wen. Some PR maverick sure was at work.
Now the latest is that India Today TV has done an interview with the Taiwanese foreign minister which has got Beijing raging (see video section). I tell you what our TV stations: Forget about manipulating TRP ratings; just bring on Taiwanese biggies on your shows and you would not only have numbers but goodwill of the masses too.
India, Hong Kong and Taiwan have reasons to feel outraged on Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sure are spoilt by the success of measures it employs against its own people, no less on Uighurs. The era of bullies is over.
How about lining up in front of Taiwanese “embassy” and posting your pictures on Instagram? Don’t forget to send the link please. And do make sure you shout near anything Chinese: Be it embassy, cultural centre, Mandarin classes or China bazaars.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Uddhav Thackeray has lost the plot badly. I mean Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar have nothing to lose—their fiefdom would survive only till they are alive. But Uddhav had many advantages which we could count as (a) Balasaheb who had nurtured a regional identity; (b) Hindu plank which is only now peaking and; (c) and BJP’s hand-holding which could have morphed their rogues into those adorable kids who knock our doors for social cause and not to knock us out (Ask Madan Sharma, if you must).
So, here we have a man who by his own admission left the groovy train of BJP because he wanted to be the chief minister. That was the first transgression against the mandate of his own people who had BJP as first choice. The second overstep was joining hands with those who were arch enemies of his own dad, his own legacy and not people’s preferred choices. Then Palghar, Sushant Singh Rajput, Kangana Ranaut, Madan Sharma (again) and Arnab Goswami reminded us of a cave man on street you ask you sister to keep eyes closed to lest he bumps in and asks for a fig leaf.
I mean who looks the other way when your khaki guys are boarding trains to nab a man in Hooghly only because someone has made a threatening call to your spokesperson who himself doesn’t suffer a flushed face in “haramkhor-ing” others? Who throws journalists in a cell only because they were loitering outside your gates? Who declares Mumbai out-of-bounds for a celebrated actress whose national recognition vis-à-vis acknowledgment in media is the biggest giveaway on caucus that manipulates the success and failure of our films? Who brings bulldozers into drawing rooms? (Well, okay office). Who allows broken bones for cartoons and still not called out for an Indian version of Charlie Hebdo? Who calls celebrated journalists into interrogation rooms only because he addressed the Dowager Queen by her original name? And you move Maharashtra assembly for a privilege motion against the man?
And this brings us to the latest saga of Thackeray’s Maharashtra which is akin to those Seasons of Netflix which abuse Hindu deities (in form of canines and monkeys) and ridicule its holy men (beef-eating Pujaris) in the name of artistic licence. So here we have a Police Commissioner holding a press conference which is an unveiled attack on a television phenomenon of our times with a script which a policeman even with Alzheimer could write as a second nature.
So, a complaint is made, a guy is caught, names are taken, arrests are made, complainants hail the model police and a noose is tossed on a raging bull of an anchor who is breaking all your China shops—from Palghar to Rajput to Bollywood to drug mafia to Hathras—only because there is so many cupboards and so many skeletons which it would be improper to leave unattended. It’s as kiddish and Kalidasa-like (before the latter learnt not to cut the very branch on which he was perched) that you wonder if Congress-NCP are doing a hit-job on Shiv Sena on behalf of BJP. It’s like those suicides which Jihadis do only because they read in a dusty old book that its surest way to be in Jannat and enjoy 72 virgins (Why the figure of 72? Well some other day).
How this all would end? In a whimper though it’s a silly to stick neck out against a subject whose self-destructive streak by now is legendary. I mean all they have done is to only empower Arnab Goswami. A Kangana Ranaut which was fading from memory; a Rajput which viewers were getting tired with; our Deepikas and Saras and Shraddhas had come and gone and why, even Rhea is out of cell. But now there is a new fire and Arnab would harness it to the hilt.
The dye is cast. Arnab is daring them to arrest him. He says if called for interrogation he would walk to the police station and walk back (at least two-hours of primetime TV on his network which would break records of Sholay). He is baiting them for the lolly which they could serve him on a plate. You put him behind bars and all the hell breaks loose. You let him go and those two owners arrested as a collateral damage would go for your throat. You make a sheepish retreat and all your macho posturing would conjure image of a damsel who had gotten into the bed with high hopes.
I mean who needs enemies when you yourself are doing the job so spectacularly?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I would give credit to Anurag Kashyap for where he is a today. A small-town boy, an outsider to Bollywood, who has carved a niche for himself without quite directing a blockbuster but has produced films, like “Queen”, which were a source of great joy to viewers.
But Anurag revels in “dark movies” and if all art is autobiographical, given how his life has shaped up, he has an immense store of anger: A man who forever is pitting himself against forces, against the system, wishing a revolution—in an interview to Telegraph he laments why #MeToo couldn’t become a grassroot revolution—and probably discovering his new movie ideas through his palpably provoking stances. He is obviously obsessed with movies and his present scrap could well be a vehicle to gain new ideas which feed his “dark” instincts.
He has a long-standing angst against “Right” forces in the country. It could be because of his tiffs with the Censor board; the temporary exodus from twitter after the backlash on his stance against the abrogation of Article 370 last year; the accusation of being funded by AAP for his movie “Udta Punjab” by no less than the Censor board chief. This anger is now bubbling forth in reprehensible posts, showing the Prime Minister of this country, a man immensely loved by majority of his people, as a masked goon or asking him to prove his parentage.
By design or accident, Kashyap is now the darling of the Left-Liberals. Both are unlikely to let go of each other. Both are busy feeding on each other; like his interview in The Hindu today. It’s now no good to empathize with him, or explain him away psychologically. It’s imperative we examine his positions and nail the dangerous lies he is floating. He is no Che Guevara: If this is your fantasy, live in your loony fantasy Mr Kashyap but stop peddling lies. Here is an attempt to counter the positions he has taken in his interview with The Hindu today (in bold is his position in quotes, followed by arguments):
“They are literally borrowing from the book of the Fascist Nazis”
Quite a juvenile assertion, really. For one, Fascist and Nazis are not the same. But let’s accept your reference metaphorically. “They” in your book is BJP dispensation in the Centre.
BJP are Nazis? If BJP is similarly violent, why there has not been a single Hindu-Muslim riot in the country in last six years? Where were you when “riots” regularly made headlines in Congress era? Remember Muzaffarnagar? (We don’t remember your position on it: Is it because you took crores from Akhilesh Yadav who ruled UP then?). Indeed BJP is the most peaceful regime ever. It’s your secularist governments which had festered riots.
BJP are Nazis? Within his first year, Adolf Hitler had eliminated rivals (Night of the Long Knives), dissolved all other political parties and effectively abolished Parliament. You accuse BJP of the same crime?
BJP are Nazis? You could bring Gujarat and somehow contrive to present it as “genocide.” Gujarat was many times fewer than the Sikhs killed in 1984 on the streets of the Capital, forget the six millions Hitler killed. If at all, rumours have persisted that Ms Sonia Gandhi’s father was a militant fascist and, in 1941-43 was a volunteer in the German offensive on the Eastern Front (It can’t be held up against Ms Gandhi, but just to counter your parentage muck on our prime minister).
BJP are Nazis? Are there gas chambers against Muslims in India? Has any subsidies offered to them been even touched? On the contrary it has increased many folds. Has BJP enforced Uniform Civil Code?
BJP are Nazis? It would interest you that it was Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar who wanted Indian youth to take up arms against the Germans during World War II. (On the contrary, Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 Quit India was predicated on an Axis victory).
BJP are Nazis? Anybody who has read Hitler’s Mein Kampf knows how inimical he was to Hinduism. Hitler had also lambasted the hereditary priesthood which is sine qua non of Hinduism. Hitler had opposed India’s freedom movement. Hitler simply held Hinduism in contempt: So you are either Nazi or Hindu. Now don’t tell me that BJP is enamoured of someone who is anti-Hindu!
“It’s almost like you are sitting in one of the Romans arenas and all the followers are the audience”
So in your words, BJP is autocratic, dictatorial. Mr Kashyap, could you please tell us how many state governments have BJP dismissed? Do you know that Congress dismissed no less than 93 state governments during their terms?
If BJP is autocratic, what do you call the Congress governments which has had a suffocating hold in the Nehru-Gandhi clan all these years? Are you aware that BJP sacrificed its own government by a single vote in 1999? (It could have easily appeased Mrs Jayalalitha’s by dismissing the Tamil Nadu state government). But it stood by its principles.
“CAA was notified in the gazette though rules have not been formulated”
That’s how you betray your political ugliness. (And The Hindu its’ nastiness by letting it pass). Rules are always formulated after the law is notified. Got it or still under a hangover? (booze or whatever stuff it is).
“After your patience is over, you tip over and resort to violence (in the aftermath of CAA)”
Really? So CAA was passed by the Parliament on December 11. The Jamia violence broke out on December 15. In just three nights, patience was tipped over and people had to resort to violence? So is this how you define patience? Shouldn’t we call it “anarchists” trying to break up the country? Tukde-tukde gang trying to stage coup on a legally-elected government by the majority of this nation?
“JNU vice-chancellor is not meeting students”
Oh come on. Whenever JNU authorities approached students for a dialogue, they were met with a stony wall. Be it wardens, proctors or vice-chancellor, all of them were confronted with physical violence. JNU VC Jagadesh Kumar once faced a physical assault and the students broke the window of his car. “On the one side they say, let’s have a dialogue. On the other, they destroy any possibility of having any meaningful discussion,” says Mr Kumar. You want to promote such anarchy and violence?
“There is nobody to have dialogue with”
You apparently don’t appreciate the “dialogue” drive of BJP or even the Police who is trying to educate the students. No less than “dialogue” with 3 crores people has been initiated. And if I may ask you, what about you having a dialogue with students who just want to register and appear in exams? What about the fear they have on their jobs and careers? What about the debilitating loans which their parents might have secured for the higher education of their kids? What about the 208 vice-chancellors of universities around the country who are alerting on “Left-induced” violence in their campuses? Any idea of a “dialogue” with them sirji?
“India’s federalism is under threat: Every state is going their own way (India would unravel)”
Don’t have such loony fantasy. No state would dare break away from India. If Kashmir couldn’t, no other state has any chance. Those fuelling such loony ideas would by “lynched”, yes “lynched”, by their own state people. Be thankful that you could voice such words and still escape punishment.
“They can’t win Delhi unless there is manipulation”
And how do you think this manipulation would happen? EVM? Bribing voters? Why be so nervous on a state election? You are free to admire AAP and hope fervently for their win. After all, Kejriwal is an original anarchist and appeals to a similar instinct in you.
What do we make of you Mr. Kashyap that you stand up for an “alleged” molester Tarun Tejpal; pooh-pooh the Aligarh rape and murder of a little girl; and yet plaster you twitter wall with “Chhapaak” as if you stand up for women empowerment?
Please look in the mirror: you would find a fake looking back.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury looks funny in the video. I mean buttoned sleeves of a tightly-fitted white shirt with matching trousers tucked under a jeans belt near his navel, dyed remnants of what were once hair, he looks every inch a babu (clerk) we meet in dusty government offices. Very few prefer such an appearance at 63, certainly very few politicians. He could learn from the likes of Digvijay Singh, Abhishek Sanghvi, Kamal Nath or MJ Akbar who reserve their flamboyance within private walls.
But Chowdhury is no one’s Keshto Mukherjee, the drunk-comic in yesteryears’ Bollywood. He has been of invaluable use to Congress since 1991 when he cut his teeth in politics under Rajiv Gandhi’s regime. In just one generation of Gandhi dynasty, he has risen to be the leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha. There must be something about the man who could question “Why Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are sitting in the parliament and are not behind jail” or abuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi and still earn no rebuke from his Congress high command. All within a few hours of being asked to be the leader of his party in the Lok Sabha.
Chowdhury is in the news for he has blamed his Hindi for the abuse hurled at Modi. So did Sam Pitroda, Mani Shankar Aiyer or for that matter Congress president Rahul Gandhi himself who kept fiddling with his mobile while President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the Parliament recently. Gandhi’s ingenuous darbari (courtier), Anand Sharma guessed Rahul baba was looking at the English translation of Kovind’s difficult Hindi words. So be it.
I now bring Shashi Tharoor into my theme which is different from offering my shoulder to a tearful man who has been overlooked as Congress leader in Lok Sabha. If I needed to lend a helping shoulder, I would’ve gone for Manish Tewari. Both Tharoor and Tewari must be sheepish around their 10-12 or whosoever is left among lackeys. But then when has talent been rewarded in Congress? They could’ve learnt from the fate of a Sachin Pilot or Jyotiraditya Scindia who are answering to old fogeys such as Ashok Gehlot or Kamal Nath with a straight face. The drubbings in Rajasthan and MP have mattered little; they are still in the groove.
I bring Shashi Tharoor on the matter of Hindi which happens to be the one issue holding this piece together. The man under a cloud on his wife’s death once confronted Sushma Swaraj in Parliament when Hindi was being pushed to be an official language in the United Nations. There are six official languages in UN—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Hindi, despite being the fourth most spoken in the world, is ignored. Nations such as Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana who could support Hindi, are fighting shy of expenses involved (The procedure, translations of files, letters, drafts etc would cost a few hundred crores). Tharoor objected to Hindi being pushed as a national language in the UN when it’s only an official language in India. (Talk of tomfoolery!).
Tharoor would’ve none of it even as Swaraj pointed out at least two prime ministers, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi, for having addressed the UN in Hindi. That, when visiting dignitaries speak in their local language (other than English), Indian representatives too prefer speaking in Hindi. Tharoor was to argue: “Why should we put our future foreign ministers and Prime Ministers who may be from Tamil Nadu put in a (awkward) position?”
It’s only incidental that all the names who have had faux pas on Hindi are from Congress party. No, no, I am not trying to drive home the point that they have something against Hindi, Hindu and Hinduism. I am not a (Randeep) Soorjewala who would take a shot even if it is below the belt. Mine is a larger point: Why speak Hindi and later apologize if you are not good at it? Or even a Hindi translator around you would be a discredit to your “secular” pretensions?
The fact is you can’t avoid Hindi and hope to rule India. One/third of the country is Hindi-speaking. Over 45 crores in a population of 1.30 billion. Most Indians, even if they are from north east, south, east or west understand Hindi. Would the same be said about Tamil, what say Mr Tharoor?
So speaking Hindi is a compulsion for politicians, even the reluctant ones of Congress. It’s another matter they speak in haste and repent at leisure. Till they get better at Hindi, expect such gaffes and the entertainment that follows.