Caravan

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.

 

 

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

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leila: Who would question Prayaag Akbar or Netflix?

I expect a political storm over Leila, a six-part TV serial on Netflix, the first season of which went on air last week.

The serial which has Huma Qureshi as the central character is Hinduphobic and foresees India becoming a totalitarian regime, priming itself for a genocide in the name of purification, a throwback to Adolf Hitler and his “purification” drive of ethnic cleansing which caused World War II. (Even the greeting—Jai Aryavarta—a la “Heil Hitler” is uncannily similar.)

It’s a frontal attack with no punches pulled. The clock is set on 2047, exactly 100 years since India’s independence. India has been replaced by Aryavarta, as “Bharat” was known in holy Hindu texts. Its’ a totalitarian, repressive regime: The show begins with the lynching of a Muslim man and poops drop at every stage to establish “love jihad”, “ghar wapsi,” “suit-boot” persona of its authoritarian head, the degrading conditions in Doosh (Dalit) camps etc.

The serial, directed by Deepa Mehta, is based on a work of Prayaag Akbar who deserves an introduction of his own. The young writer was once deputy editor of Scroll as well as a writer for Caravan, the two news outlets with the stench of Left. His lineage is even more interesting: Prayaag is son of MJ Akbar and unlike his father who swung from Congress to BJP with a straight face, the son has ventured too far into the Hinduphobic drain to have any possibility of “purification” in future.

There is no point picking holes in Prayaag’s work. It’s a free world, you have the licence of artistic freedom and the vehicle, Netflix, is free from local censor. You know exactly your audience as well as your funders, that media outlets and film critics of this ecosystem who would only unsheathe their pens in praise.  You are turned into an icon by this system who can spot a peddler and his potential from a mile.  May be this was his intention from the outset.

I say so because the serial lacks conviction in every next frame.  Script is too convenient: the protagonist could will herself at 3-4 different places in a matter of a night in her quest to be at Commercial Centre in the morning. Surveillance always fails; frisking is always lax, the bosses are dumb idiots as the protagonist waltz from one room to another, one computer to another, her manager an accomplice hidden in plain sight. But how does it matter as long as you could stoke fears of an approaching fascist Hindu nation, overriding logic, reason, decency and all this without looking into a true mirror which reflects your dishonest self.

Let me put a writer-bucket challenge for Prayaag. The year is 2070, exactly 1500 years to Prophet Muhammad’s birth, peace be upon him. The Muslim world constitutes 90 per cent of humanity—not by repression or war but by the message of his piety, love for all. The prophet comes into dream of every Muslim on earth at a certain hour, minute and second of the night. How would you depict Prophet Muhammad? Would you dare give this role to any human actor?

No, you won’t. You can’t Prayaag. Nobody has dared so in hundreds of centuries: I hope it sobers you down to the orchestrated praise on your courage which is coming your way.  I can even ask you on an easier script: Ever heard of Tughlaq or Aurangzeb; Khilji or Tipu Sultan? How about putting your creative juices at work on these subjects?

Everyone knows that chances of a dystopian Hindu regime in future is lesser than your car running on air.  I mean in a country where you can’t even chant Jai Shri Ram or include “Veer” ahead of Savarkar or even vaguely mention “Hindi” as a link language, forget about Ram Temple, abolition of 370 and 35A, triple talaq etc, where army is independent, how would it come about. Who would burn up the Constitution? And what do you think forces in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and United States etc, who might have invested in your project and who you might see as your investment in fame and money, would react? Let India be taken up by a totalitarian regime?

In showing India as a dystopian state in the making, Prayaag Akbar has insulted the wisdom and resilience of a 1.30 billion people. The fibre of our democracy.  The basic tenet of peace and ahimsa which made “Aryavarta” never seek to invade, rape, kill or usurp countries. If he is looking for such traits, he would find aplenty in Islam and Christianity.  To show a country which has suffered like no other nation in 1000 years as a monster-in-making is sin—and let Prayaag deciper it in whichever religion he follows. As for millions of Hindus, we are still under repression, by tools other than war.  In the liberal world, they call it artistic licence. And a warning to Hindus: You just can’t drop your guard for the enemy is committed.

 

The saga of Kumaraswamy keeps Congress out of “mahagathbandhan”

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Most prospective allies dread Congress as a partner in the approaching 2019 General Elections. They know of the mauling of HD Kumaraswamy (JDS) by its partner Congress in Karnataka even though the faithful Lutyens’ Media are doing their best to keep the sensational news under the wraps.

None of the English mainstream media has taken note of a News 18 story which mentions Kumaraswamy almost “cried” while listing the ills of partner Congress recently. Only if this news was in “The Wire” or even little-known “Caravan” magazine, the English MSM would’ve fallen over each other in reserving the columns.

The report says Kumaraswamy has dropped enough hint that his Karnataka government may not last beyond the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing his party’s MLAs and MLCs, Kumaraswamy was virtually in tears, alleging that he was functioning like a clerk and not like a chief minister because Congress is interfering in everything.

“He is sad. He almost cried. Told us that the Congress was behaving like a big brother. Forcing him to sign all kinds of orders. They forced him to expand the Cabinet and even appointed chairpersons to government run boards and corporations without his approval. He feels that it is getting tougher with each passing day,” said an MLA who was present in the meeting.

Kumaraswamy apparently told his partymen that Congress leaders always expect him to behave like their subordinate. The JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was present in the meeting.

The JDS is looking for 12 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections while Congress is offering them just six which has led to serious friction in recent weeks.

JDS and Congress bitterly fought against each other in the Karnataka assembly elections of last year but joined hands in an opportunistic manner to keep BJP out of power. BJP had won 104 out of the 228 seats but Congress (80) and JDS (37) buried their hostility to form the government with Kumaraswamy as chief minister.

But no sooner had Kumaraswamy assumed his post, Congress began humiliating him in no uncertain manner. The English mainstream media meanwhile kept admonishing Kumaraswamy instead of questioning Congress on their arrogance.

All big players have watched the unfolding saga of betrayal in Karnataka and are hedging their bets against an alliance with the Congress.

Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have decided to go together in the critical Uttar Pradesh and have turned their back on the old national party, now creaking under its own sloth and arrogance.

Mamata Banerjee didn’t even deign to congratulate Congress after its win in three assembly elections recently. She is carrying a personal hurt against Rahul Gandhi for ignoring her offer to contest the Tripura state assembly elections together. “I don’t know who advised him and influenced him,” Mamata had then said curtly.

Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) is already firming up Federal Front which he plans to field in 2019 general elections. He is doing the rounds of the county, knocking at the doors of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal but apparently can’t stand Congress.

The arrogance of the Congress is sickening. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Sanghvi warns SP-BSP alliance that they ignore his party at their own risk in Uttar Pradesh. Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi chuckled at the “sleepless nights” of Mamata’s leaders in the wake of his party’s win in recent assembly elections.

There are cautionary voices within Congress, like the one of AK Antony, twice defence minister and thrice Kerala chief minister, who has openly stated that Congress is not strong enough to take on BJP in 2019 general elections. But the hubris of Congress knows no limits and it’s in-your-face arrogance is becoming difficult to ignore for the potential allies.