Christophe Jaffrelot

Now that Hindu-Dalit divide is closing, a few are having loose motions

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

We are at a seminal moment in India’s history. The divide between Hindus and Dalits is closing. Once Muslims also join the flank, the pincer attack of Break-India forces would finally meet its wall.

These forces face existential danger.  Hence, their attacks have grown sharper. I would place two articles in the Indian Express and The Hindu for readers’ attention. One is from the known-baiters Christophe Jaffrelot and Gilles Verniers. The other is a survey by The Hindu. Both articles work on the caste equations, fudging data to show only if Dalits had closed the ranks, BJP would’ve met its fate in 2019 General Elections.  In essence, it’s a roadmap how to polarize Indian society in preparation for 2024 elections and beyond. Both articles have taken refuge under the umbrella of scientific surveys and peddled their agenda.

Jaffrelot-Verniers combine in Indian Express fire from the shoulders of SPINNER (Social Profile of the Indian National and Provincial Election Representatives) Project, undertaken by Trivedi Center for Political Data- Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI). It concentrates on the “cow belt” or Hindi-belt which makes up nearly half of the MPs in our Parliament.

Jaffrelot and Verniers bemoan the erosion of Other Backward Classes (OBC) and consolidation of “suvaran” (Upper) caste. That the religious mobilization (read Hindus) has swamped OBC (read Dalits). The thrust of the article is:  BJP and its upper caste are weighing down heavily and that Dalits are being divided into “jaatis (sub-castes).”  The message: Dalits, watch out or you would be swallowed by Upper Castes. The agenda is the twain – Upper castes and Dalits—should never meet. INDIA MUST SINK.

The two sides are described thus: Upper caste (Brahmins, Rajputs) vs lower castes (Yadavs, Kurmis, Koeris, Jatavs).  BJP has upper caste in its fold. Jatavs are with Mayawati and Yadavs with Akhilesh-Tejaswi fold in UP-Bihar.  BJP has prevailed because it has worked on the layers of “jaatis” among the BSP-SP-RJD votebanks.

So BJP divided the Jatavs by working on the non-jatavs. It countered Yadavs by giving seats to “other OBCs”—non-Yadavs, non-Kurmis, non-Koeris, non-Lodhis, non-Gujjars–and still smaller OBC jaatis.  I mean is it some kind of video game?

Let me explain the absurdity of Jaffrelot-Verniers agenda. I mean all politicial parties, including Left, have upper caste leaders. Haven’t they heard of Namboodripad and Jyoti Basu? Don’t they know that Narendra Modi himself is OBC? That Mamata Banerjee casts herself as a “Bengali-brahmin”? That Rahul Gandhi is a “Shiv-bhakt” what if he ran away to Wayanad in Kerala and sought a sanctuary among Muslim votes? Is BJP more communal than SP, BSP, RJD etc who harvest on the communal and casteist fields, hopefully no longer fertile? That Modi has been overwhelmingly voted for by Scheduled Castes (SC)  and Scheduled Tribes (ST) -46 out of 84 SC seats; 31 out of 47 ST seats.

Not a word on Modi’s connect with the masses, cutting across caste and communal lines (why, even Muslims voted in larger number for BJP than in 2014). Not a word if GST, Demonetization, jobs and agrarian distress could have been drummed up issues. Not a word that Ujjawala, Ayushman, toilets, houses, loans, Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) etc might have been massive factors. So much so that no less than 91 per cent of Jat votes went to BJP and not to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), for instance.  But Jaffrelot-Verniers must stick to the agenda of looking at things from the Upper Caste vs Dalits prism.

The Hindu piece is termed as CSDS-Lok Niti-Post Poll Survey. It repeats more or less the same agenda. Their initial survey had highlighted the dissatisfaction with the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh. That people are unhappy with its MPs and MLAs, that the stray-cattle issue is epidemic. Now the upper caste-“jaati” social engineering has worked for the BJP. Easy isn’t it.

The fact is these forces wouldn’t like the country to go back to pro-Mandal days or pre-1990s era. Mandal Commission brought job reservations into vogue in 1990. It shifted the power equations, a new crop of backward class netas—Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kanshi Ram etc—spawned all over the Hindi belt. Hindu-Dalit rift was put on steroids, Bhimrao Ambedkar was dusted off the shelf, and these leaders and parties held the country on ransom.

Now Modi Magic is threatening to bridge the divide. A young and “New India”—most of them in their 20s—couldn’t care less on caste and communal lines. The mandate is as big as Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s (364 out of 489 seats) in the first General Elections in 1952! It should tell us all about the enormity and possibility of 2019 results.  Modi himself has given a new definition of caste identity: “There are only two castes: One of the poor and the other of those who want to alleviate poverty.”

That’s why it’s an existential crisis to a few. The Hindu gives its game away when it states in the last sentence: “The two parties (BSP-SP) need to rework their understanding of caste equations.” Shame that they are putting castes above the country.

(Post script: In the same edition, in its’ editorial page, The Hindu has a piece which berates Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad for concentrating on Yadav-centric politics which allowed lesser OBCs to fall in BJP’s lap. I mean these guys are something).

Arrest over photo-shopped image: A curse has befallen on Mamata’s Bengal

(It’s a reprint from NewsBred).

This is a poser for you, readers. Please tell us what’s common amongst Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu, Lalu Yadav, Rabri Devi, Tejaswi Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt, Shekhar Gupta, Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Swara Bhaskar, Pritish Nandy, Vir Sanghvi, Karan Thapar, Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie, Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Raveesh Kumar, Rana Ayoob, Saba Naqvi, Ramachandra Guha, Harsh Mander, Apoorvanand, Faizan Mustafa, Siddharth Vardharajan, Sadanand Dhume, Christophe Jaffrelot etc. Stumped?

Ok, let me try to suggest a few alternatives to you: (a) They all are anti-Modi; (b) They all stand for “freedom of speech”; (c) They all are for democratic, secular values; (d) they all are against totalitarianism; (e) They all are for feminism and stand for equality and dignity of women; (f) for freedom of press; (g) they are all of the above.

One option which you all must have missed and I would name now is that they all are SILENT on arrest of BJP’s young leader Priyanka Sharma by the totalitarian government of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Like they were silent when CBI officers were held as hostages; police officers under probe being shielded; violence in elections; opposition candidates unable to file their nomination papers; TMC goons forcing voters favourably in polling booths; arrests on mere chants of “Jai Shri Ram”; scuttling of Ayushman Bharat only because it’s BJP’s scheme; Refusing to pick up Modi’s phone on Fani cyclone because she doesn’t consider PM a PM; refusing to let BJP land helicopters for scheduled rally; preferring Ramzan over Durga Puja; custom officials harassed only because they found 2kg gold in the bags of wife of Mamata’s nephew; number of alleged scams etc.

I cite these instances to show how fake are these forces and the ethical and moral cloak they use to hide their agenda. But at a more urgent level, this has probably encouraged Mamata Banerjee to go berserk. Look at the issue of Priyanka Sharma. She circulates a photo-shopped image of Mamata Banerjee, imposed over a latest picture of actress Priyanka Chopra. A complaint is filed and she is sent to 14-day judicial remedy. Mind you, Priyanka Sharma hasn’t created the image, only shared it. Yet amongst thousands of such shares, she alone has been made to bear the brunt of suppression. The clear corollary is that she is made to suffer because of her political affiliation which Mamata can’t stand.

Yet these forces are silent. Even as the hashtag #ISupportPriyankaSharma on twitter is building up a considerable steam. Twitteratis are so upset that they are changing profile picture with the one which has landed Priyanka Sharma in trouble. “Arrest me, if you must,” is an assertion by many twitter-users under the above hashtag. Yet none of these forces are taking note. A BJP worker is jailed for sharing photo yet it’s Modi who’s a “Hitler.”

Newspapers are wrongly defined as a bridge between people and the government. In Lutyens Media, people don’t matter. Or only a certain kind matter.  A Modi is hauled for uttering “Bhrashtachari No.1” while a Mamata Banerjee can get away literally with murder.  Remember, she recently said she would put pebbles in soil and present it as rasogoolas so it breaks Modi’s teeth? How did these forces react? Silence.

I remember an instance when RSS ideologue Prof. Rakesh Sinha had a non-bailable warrant issued against him by West Bengal police for posting a picture of his with his mother in Mahakal temple in Ujjain. The West Bengal police acted on the complaint of an individual who felt Sinha’s “provocative” picture spoilt the communal harmony in the state! An aghast Sinha didn’t know what hit him. “I haven’t even visited West Bengal in the last two years,” a baffled Prof. Sinha had said. Where was the outrage from these soldiers of “democracy”?

The sixth phase of 2019 General Elections would be over on Sunday. Election Commission, worried over history of violence in West Bengal during elections, spread the one in the state to all seven phases. Yet, even the cover of central armed forces haven’t been much of a help. In each of the six phases so far, violence has happened; cases of rigging have been reported. Yet the names mentioned above haven’t bat even an eyelid. Shekhar Gupta, head of Editors’ Guild, instead is drooling over Mamata “fighting fire with fire, venom with venom.” A Rajdeep Sardesai is gushing and asking Mamata Banerjee the secret of her energy. (Boost, of course, you terrible).

A real Mamata Banerjee is very different from the Mother Teresa-like sari she wears.  Her autobiography conveys the image of a woman who likes to play the victim card. She is deeply insecure about losing control. She is also extremely star-struck. Just look at the number of MPs, MLAs and ministers who are stars and starlets in West Bengal. A whole lot of them were recruited in 2014 General Elections. Many more have been made candidates for the 2019 General Polls. Why, she even got a few from across the border to do her bidding.

This piece is just not about naming game. The most troubling is the intimidation which any Indian citizen in any state could be subjected to by the longest arm of law in West Bengal. Judiciary hasn’t been much of a help. Nor the Centre who many believe should’ve imposed President’s Rule in West Bengal seasons ago. Even Islamic State declaring they have an emir in West Bengal hasn’t brought home the horrible truth that West Bengal could be a beehive of Islamic/Jihadists designs today.

West Bengal is slipping out of Union. All the ideals enshrined in our holy book, the Constitution, are being butchered today. The worry is, we are all being reduced to spectators. Some by design, some by helplessness. Time for a saviour. Maybe, May 23 could throw up light.

Amen.

 

How the propaganda against RSS falls flat on its face

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian Express has two voices which do not like RSS or BJP or Hindu resurgence in India. You scroll down articles of either Christophe Jaffrelot or Ashutosh Varshney and get the drift. Jaffrelot is more scholarly and dense; Varshney more sound and less substance. Both are present in Indian Express of today, dominating two separate pages.

Jaffrelot is the crudest today than he has perhaps ever been in his long association with the Indian Express. All the veneers of scholarly nuances are out of the window. What remains is a pen-pusher who is unsure of his dwindling influence over the readers or his promoters. The crux of his agenda is that lynchings is orchestrated by the present dispensation who appear in different garbs at different times: RSS, its affiliates, BJP etc. He terms it the “deep state.” Everything that’s wrong with Modi’s India—the “cruelty” against Muslims and Dalits—is part of a larger design. In his view, India is a theocratic state in the making.

To Jaffrelot’s misfortune, Varshney has a detailed interview on Page 25 with Waltern Andersen who has a new book, “The RSS: A view to the inside” in the market. It completely debunks Jaffrelot’s argument that RSS and its affiliates are the “deep state” in India. Indeed, Varshney couldn’t have done a better service to RSS or BJP with this interview (a must read, I say).

Now Varshney must not have bargained for it but the Andersen interview is a validation of RSS. All Indian Express could do was to pick a comment as headline: “A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming.” I will reserve dwelling on this headline in the end: I promise the irony in it would have you doubling up in uncontrollable laughter.

The interview first establishes the credentials of Andersen: the only scholar to have observed the RSS for five decades. Then Varshney rolls out the questions which reflect his own venom:

  • What about RSS chief MS Golwalkar and his book, “We, our nationhood defined.”
  • For Savarkar, Muslims and Christians born in India were not Indians/Hindus
  • What pledge pracharaks take? Can they marry? (An answer hopefully which would nail Modi, himself was a pracharak)
  • RSS influences state and its’ policies
  • What is RSS views on Modi’s economics
  • RSS is committed to promotion of Hindi as language
  • What is RSS view on ideal Hindu women, and divorce
  • The RSS relationship with Muslims
  • How does RSS integrate lower caste? What is RSS views on Ambedkar who was anti-Hindu?

You would agree these are the questions which reflect the entire gamut on RSS; the basis of the misinformation campaign which writers of the ilk of Jaffrelot and Varshney spread with impunity. And now look at how Andersen replies to this mal-propaganda.

  • “We, our nationhood defined” I later learnt was not his (Golwalkar’s) book;
  • Savarkar, as you know, was an atheist (while you were told he was a hardcore Hindu zealot!). For MD Deoras everybody born in India was Hindu. He was against caste system and untouchability; non-Brahmans could be pracharaks;
  • They (pracharaks) take ascetic pledge; some do marry. It’s a casteless Hindu monastic order;
  • That’s inevitable since you have to deal with government in all spheres, all activities. Government is all pervasive in India. But Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is opposed to FDI; while Modi is all for it;
  • Demonetisation and GST directly hurts their (RSS) base. But RSS has not passed a resolution against it;
  • It can not and it does not (promote Hindi). RSS schools teach their pupils in their mother tongue; RSS could not have simultaneously sought a rise in India’s national strength and continued its strident attacks on English;
  • Wife and mother have ideal role in society; but they also idolize Rani ki Jhansi. Both images have existed;
  • When Deoras invited Muslims to join the RSS, he did argue that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian;

And now to the final question (RSS on lower caste and Ambedkar); its’ answer on which Indian Express has based its headline: “A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming.”

Andersen explains: “There have been Dalits and OBC pracharaks, including the OBC Narendra Modi…Ambedkar is now a hero…Hindutva emphasizes one-ness of Hindus; (Hinduism is more rigid, by inference). Hence there will be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism.”

Did you get the joke? This definition of Hindutva and Hinduism completely turns on the head what the likes of Shashi Tharoor and Digvijay Singh have been drumming in our ears. That “I-am-a-Hindu-but-have-a-distaste-for-Hindutva.” In their view Hindutva is reactionary and violent. But as Andersen tells us, Hindutva implies inclusiveness of all!!!

That’s why I say identify these jokers. Identify the agenda they have. Identify the mistruths they spread. The “farragos” and “whatabouteries.” And save this piece as evidence when the next misinformation campaign against RSS and BJP is served inside the pages of your newspapers.

(P.S: let me imagine a scenario: “What did you do mate,” Jaffrelot to Varshney on phone, “and to my `deep state’ theory.”)

Why you must question mainstream media

If we were to be asked whether (a) mass media doesn’t speak for common citizens; (c) is not neutral; (c) is corrupt; (d) is caste divisive; (e) is politically controlled; (f) it’s independence is a myth; most of us would say yes.

If we were to be asked if journalists such as Rajdeep Sardesai, Shekhar Gupta, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt etc are “stars” (a) because of their prose; (b) intellect; (c) knowledge or; (d) impartiality, most of us would say no.

Yet, we follow media and the “star” hacks like the lemmings which jump off the cliff. We don’t question (a) why our daily public issues are not important to English media; (b) why a clinicially/morally/intellectually “dead” Congress is being kept alive by bigger and still bigger coverage on front pages; (c) Why Communists with just 11 MPs have a bigger discourse on edit pages; (d) why a Hindu life or an issue concerning Hindu majority never makes it to front pages; (e) why animal rights issue of Jallikattu doesn’t extend to Bakrid; (f) Why an apparent “feminist” Swara Bhaskar would keep mum on Triple Talaq; (g) who foreign refugees Rohingyas are important and refugees-in-own-land Kashmiri Pandits are not; (h) why political killings in Bengal and Kerala are never front-page news; (i) why the Kashmir narrative is always against Indian state and its army despite the unspeakable loss of lives of its brave men and women.

We don’t seem to question why anti-BJP voices such as a Ramachandra Guha or Pavan Varma or Christophe Jaffrelot have edit pages reserved for them while right-wing intellectual giants such as Rajiv Malhotra and Dr. Koenraad Elst are always ignored. Why third-rate journalists such as Saba Naqvi and Kumar Ketkar are presences in our living rooms while a Madhu Kishwar or Makrand Paranjape are rarely sought.

We don’t seem to question why the mass media is like the way it is. (a) What could be its motive in being so overtly hostile to Hindu opinion and its causes; (b) is their funding legitimate or an enterprise of left-liberal mafia; (c) Or the “support” in form of funds and grants is a modus operandi of say, a CIA or a Ford Foundation.

We don’t seem to question what could be the unyielding goal of Left-Liberals and imperialist forces in trying to break-up India? Why there is such a ruthless agenda to ensure nothing good is mentioned of Hindu culture and heritage? Why there is a missionary zeal to ensure that Hindus only remember their past with a sense of guilt and inferiority complex?

Social media is bringing about a balance to this false narrative of mainstream media. OpIndia.com and Swarajya Mag have been phenomenal is presenting a counter viewpoint. My endeavour in NewsBred has an avowed aim of exposing media lies. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have held mirror to mainstream media and its monstrous profile.

But more vigour—and certainly more vigilance—is required from all of India’s citizens. We need more counter-narratives than just a handful. We need mass dissemination of this antidote to mainstream media. Only when most grow wise to presstitutes, would they be aware of dangers imbedded within our socio-polity fabric. And our children could expect a better, safer future.

So never drop guard; never be lazy on what’s good for you, your children and your country. Question the prevalent narrative and you would be closer to truth.

And you would’ve passed on a better India to your next generation.