Citizenship Amendment Act

Indians can’t desert Modi and leave him at the mercy of sharks

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

All of us would agree that public transport should’ve been allowed to let migrants reach home. Done and dusted in the first week of Lockdown 1.0 itself.  Free food and community centres are not homes.

Then came mischief. One fine day, we had thousands of migrants at a bus station in Delhi. Somebody had promised them transport home. This whisper also worked in Mumbai. Thousands poured into Bandra station. Somebody was trying to get them on streets. An educated guess is it was politics. As we would presently see, any political upheavals can’t be caused without people-on- streets.

It’s now Priyanka Gandhi on the move. Her bleeding heart has arranged a thousand buses for migrants for Uttar Pradesh. She has chosen buses over trains.  Never mind UP is successfully requisitioning tens of trains by the hour. Half of all Shramik Trains, 301 out of 642, have headed to Yogi’s state. She won’t tell, and our media won’t ask, if she has allergy to Indian Railways. She is surely not living up to her surname who once discovered India on trains and ended up as Mahatma.

So let’s agree on the basics: One, State made a mistake in denying migrants a window to escape. Two, somebody wants human misery on streets. This agenda was bound to soar on the headwind of people’s trauma. This was one reality which was wired to favour fiction.

We got to know of fictions on a regular basis though our media don’t give enough credit to its readers for intelligence. This usually happens when you are unchecked. NDTV was caught arranging migrants through a staged performance. They were shamed enough to delete the video but its men were soon up to another mischief. So, a report has Priyanka’s buses lined up, only the image actually is of Yogi’s buses for Kumbh Mela last year. One recalls a fake report in The Hindu of migrants being extra charged. Indian Express isn’t leaving a single migrant on a single highway who could add to its’ misery editions. India Today group meanwhile is selling migrants photos for thousands of bucks.

These are the kind of times when Western media wakes up to India. Washington Post has run dozens of photographs on Indian migrants; New York Times likewise; The Guardian wasn’t quite British in overplaying it as India’s greatest exodus since the Partition. Quite interestingly, the newspaper in a matter of 24 hours, was praising the United States and Australia for enforcing a complete lockdown on its people; no escaping the measure. It had drooled on UK lockdown as a “necessary hardship.’

All this doesn’t blind us to migrants’ nightmare. People have lost lives on roads, trucks and railway lines. Centre hadn’t seen it coming. Nobody had, truth to tell. Smiling idiots who pass off as experts were moving between one media house to another, predicting catastrophe for at least 40 million Indians. The end was near.

This is the thing about images. Young kids are psychologically scarred by Corona Virus. Possibly in lakhs. But they don’t make up images. Indifferent couples, in 24×7 proximity, hate each other more than ever. We possibly have lakhs of divorces sowed. Again, there are no images. Young entrepreneurs are ruined. Again, no images. Corona has been a pandemic which in real gritty world, outside our Netflixes and home-bakeries, has been nothing short of death to millions. Again, no images.

The political beasts know this truth from ages. In modern world, it’s the most important tool of imperialism. These days they don’t send out armies, well not everywhere. They strangulate you by propaganda. A government, howsoever loved, is pulled down through steps in these orders: (a) Bring people on streets; (b) Show police as murderers; (c ) police freezes; becomes spectators; (d ) anarchy on streets morphs into violent mobs; (e ) Pressure groups—UN, EU, Media, Human Rights Groups, NGOs—pounce on its prey. Its’ “sleeping cells” they have fattened all these years in the home country—opposition and corrupt media—are the proverbial fifth column. Judiciary succumbs. Before long, the popular leader is pulled down. Those who know the truth of Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya and “Arab Springs” –and a pro-democracy fake in Hong Kong—would agree.

Narendra Modi is in this unfortunate situation. He is popular and nationalist – two traits which financial sharks don’t allow to exist. It hurts free trade and their agenda of endless profits. They hold the presidents and the prime ministers of the world by their little finger. Men like Modi, or Putin, Xi or Kim, who put nation first, are caricatured and shown as savages unworthy to be in office. First the world opinion is won over by propaganda. It paves their road for intervention in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.” The suffering nation would face financial sanctions; or worse military action.

This is Modi’s fate for next four years. People-on-streets is an agenda which has been set in motion. Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was the first roll of the dice. Migrants is another. They would keep recurring, in the guise of one or other, to bring anarchy on streets. Every day, every month, every year. This much I know for sure. What’s Modi’s response we would know. India can’t desert its man in this hour.

 

 

Migrants: Know the “dark” forces feeding on their misery

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

People-on-the-street is citizenry against the State. It affected the United States from continuing the Vietnam War. It brought down Charles de Gaulle in France in the 1960s as students came out in droves. Arab Spring had millions on the streets and toppled many governments in MENA (Middle East North Africa) region. “The Maidan” revolution in Ukraine bears a similar testimony. And Hong Kong hasn’t faded from memory in so-called “democracy” protests. India was in the grip of a similar meltdown on CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) before Corona Virus took the matter in its own hand.

Why people-on-the-street are a nightmare for the State is easy to understand. It could encompass a whole range of emotions: Anger, Violence, Hunger, Grief, Helplessness etc. It’s moving at a human level. Images connect the rest with the misery rolling on the roads. Slowly the whole citizenry gets on the back of the moving vulnerable.

It’s known States can’t do much if people rise against it. They either freeze themselves into inaction which only brings a domino effect on the “volume” of protests. Or if they resort to violent curbs, the matter goes out of hands and the world is up in arms. Stark images make headlines worldwide. United Nations, European Union parliament, rival nations, human rights groups pile on the pressure. Political rivals within the State smell blood in the pool. The State staggers. The nation stops.

It’s now well known that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has made countless enemies on his nationalist agenda. Nationalism upsets powers of the world. These powers have swindled the world in the name of “globalization” and “free trade.” Their maxim is “World without borders”. In nationalism, they see a phenomenon where a State is putting Nation first. That’s why they hate Modi. That’s why they have an angst against Donald Trump. That’s how they see an existential threat in Putin. That’s why Xi is an elephant in the room to them.

Who are these powers? Well, elaborating on it would take my focus away from this piece. Nevertheless, a passing mention is in order. These powers are the ones who control money. If you control money, you control governments, control media and movies, which in turn allows you to control humanity. Money in our world is controlled by Federal Reserve and City of London and a clutch of international bankers. You don’t see much of them in our newspapers. But if you are aware of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), you get the picture. George Soros is the only name I could suggest for the uninitiated.

Such forces were in work to hurt India on the pretext of CAA. But then Corona Virus happened. It threw a spanner in their machinations. The issue of migrants then fell in their lap. Migrants on the road served the same purpose as the CAA protestors did. They couldn’t care less about the cause or misery. “People-on-the-street” was good enough.

We would never know how lakhs of migrants gathered at a bus station in the Capital even as the lockdown was in place. Or how a similar movement thronged railway stations in Mumbai. It’s these pictures which anti-National forces feed on; if they don’t create it in the first place.

Western media described it as the “biggest movement of people since the Partition.” Indian mainstream media led the frenzy. The incidence of Tablighi Jamaat didn’t hold them back for long. They are again back on “migrants” theme. Harsh Mander, Barkha Dutt and their likes are busy with their poisonous pens. Indian Express isn’t letting it go. Nobody has died but a Front Page story a day is their staple diet. To them, Migrants is bigger than deaths and infections caused by Tablighi markaz.

Make no mistake that migrants is a real issue. They want to go back home. Either to be with their family. Or attend to their farms. But it’s also a fact that Indian states have made resources to feed and house them. Migrants are closer to medical help under states than they would be in villages. Isn’t it practical? What if they carry infection to villages where medical help of the scale seen in districts would be impossible to replicate?  Everyone is going through hardships. Migrants are no exceptions. Nobody has died out of hunger. Or neglect. These are the days of lockdowns. For the larger good. Personal inconveniences are the least Indians could suffer for the nation.

As things stand, migrants would move towards homes from April 20 onwards. Such arrangements are being made. Still trust the Lutyens Media not to let it go in a hurry. Already some are evoking the image of “detention centres” with the venues where migrants are being put up. Images would still do the rounds. You see, “People-on-the-road” is their design in Modi’s second tenure. They would persist with it in rest of Modi’s tenure.

Dear Folks, you have been warned.

 

Corona Virus: India enters the stretch when the wheels could come off

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

India stood as one behind its prime minister Narendra Modi’s call to “isolate” itself on Sunday but there is a fear that the deadly Corona Virus could be laughing in the background—or in the midst of 1.3 billion people.

Any world leader could have swooned at such a doting citizenry which stood indoors and came out with pots and pans; conch-shells and bells at an appointed hour to extol India’s medical warriors in the frontline against the pandemic virus. But Modi’s words in the aftermath are one of caution: “Stay indoors”.

For the moment, Modi’s message is directed at residents of 80 districts of 22 states which have officially been “shut down.” But for grocery and medical shops, nothing moves. This figure, if the example of rest of the world is anything to go by, is due to shoot skywards in coming days, if not hours.

Nations, mauled by this virus, have shown a spike after the first 250 cases are detected. Thus, Italy went from 322 to 41,000 cases in 24 days. Spain (261 to 17,000) and the United States (233 to 14,000) went into a tailspin in just two weeks. Germany (262 to 14,000) and France (285 to 11,000) nosedived in a mere 16 days. United Kingdom took a dozen days to find its 270 cases balloon to 3,200.

India crossed its 300-patient figure last Saturday.

India, on its part, is stretching itself thin to buck this trend. Trains have stopped running as India’s migrant poor, who work in cities and different states, are coming in hordes on platforms to return home. It’s Capital, Delhi, is now formally under curfew. Most states are shutting shops, entertainment malls, restaurants, metros etc. in cities to ensure people stay indoors. Only essential services like grocery and medicine shops are exempted.

All signs indicate that India is fearing the worst. Its health ministry held a press conference on Sunday to confess they are mostly using anti-viral drugs to combat the menace. “But then countries most developed, having the best of

scientific and medical infrastructure, haven’t been able to come to grips with it,” said the official rather sheepishly.

The preparation for the worst-case scenario is underwhelming. New labs are being taken into the fold but they add only 60 to the numbers which is battle-ready from the State’s side. Schools are being converted into quarantine-wards. Medical staff in the business of testing suspect cases is complaining of inadequate protection. India would lose the battle if its medical personnel take to heels. Then there would be no stopping the marauding virus.

A committed, aware citizenry is thus India’s best bet. And there could be no better man than Modi for the task as millions swear by him. His secretariat is holding meetings with honchos of other states to get real on the situation. States increasingly are offering money and free food to aid India’s poor, without a formal job and now shunned by the shops and householders who usually seek them out on a day-to-day basis.

Isolation seems to be the first and possibly best bet for the Indian state. Many of its citizens believe that the rising temperatures could stall its spread. Some hope Indians have the requisite immunity system within their frames, having grown up in less than perfect environment, to combat virus. Nobody knows for sure.

For the moment though the nation is on its Sunday-high. The recent heat generated on Kashmir or the recent Citizenship Act is doused. Families are rooting for neighbours they hadn’t noticed previously. Indian flags are being unfurled on balconies and roof-tops. There is celebration at the sight of empty streets—quite eerie, Orwellian, for this otherwise would signify the end of the world.

 

Modi’s churn of silence is taming the beast of protests

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could well end up taming the beast which hogged the headlines and filled the streets for two months now in protest against a new Citizenship Act.

A seemingly innocuous Act which fast forwards the citizenship process for persecuted minorities of three neighbouring Islamic states of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was dressed up as one against the Muslims by Modi’s detractors. The propaganda succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

It tapped on the raw anxiety of Indian Muslims who were fed the misinformation the Citizenship Act was the first step towards their disenfranchisement despite various official clarifications.

Political opponents upped the heat by passing resolutions in state assemblies run by them, such as Kerala and Punjab, even though constitutionally Citizenship is a matter which doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction and strictly is a preserve of the Centre.

The Siamese twins of mainstream Indian and Western media fished in the troubled waters with inflammatory headlines. The New York Times wondered if India is becoming a Hindu nation and BBC termed it an anti-Muslim law.

Various cities in the United States staged anti-Citizenship Act protests though there were hardly many Indians discernible in those rallies. A segment of European Union called for a stricture against the Modi government which was withdrawn at the last minute. From United Nations Human Rights office to US senate religious committee, all whipped up a storm.

An Indian Maidan in the making?

A tiny enclave in India’s Capital, Shaheen Bagh bore all the markings of a Maidan of Ukraine or a Tehrir Square of Egypt. It’s the shrine of protests, so to say, well into its eighth week, full of mural arts, revolutionary songs, media briefers, technological deftness to be passed off as spontaneous. It holds the torch to a revolution India never had. This was Modi’s gravest crisis in six years.

Modi has chosen to meet this mushroom of clouds overhead with a churn of silence. He kept his police in the barracks, used a light hand over provocations. People, including his supporters, wondered if he had lost control. Now it appears to be a part of a grand strategy. He always knew the contours of powers, both at home and abroad, at work against him. Now his followers, which are the majority in his country, have been made aware of the gravity. It could lead to consolidation and additions in millions among his supporters.

Rivals are now waking up to Modi’s grand game. They are urging protestors to withdraw and go back home. A leader who was so nuanced in handling Kashmir against international storm, couldn’t have been silent without a reason. They sense a turn in tide. Credible surveys reveal that Modi remains muscularly popular; far from being severely bruised as his opponents had bargained for in the present protests.

Modi’s measures can now be clearly deciphered. On the domestic front, his ministers are linking the protests to a machination by the arch-rivals Pakistan who, unable to whip up support for Kashmir in international arena, are now being linked to causing unrest within India, an insinuation which never fails to get the ire up of a billion-plus people.

Bilateral ties are all which matter

In the world beyond his borders, all that matters is bilateral ties. Modi is yet to hear a move from any of the major nations against the Citizenship Act. The European Union and US Senate and George Soros of the world could make as much noise as they want; the Western press could send its army of correspondents and cameraman to India’s Capital in droves, the  non-state players like NGOs could work its collective noise to a shrill but all of this would materially make no difference to Modi or India’s standing. As long as there are no sanctions; and the majority of his people are behind him, Modi can afford to sit back and let the forces against him play themselves out into a meaningless heap.

Important alignments in Modi’s favour are beginning to emerge. All parties in alliance with him are backing him to the hilt on the Citizenship Act. The Supreme Court is due to take a call on the petitions this month and it’s unlikely to go against the Act.  Shaheen Bagh protests are alienating the rest of the Capital as its causing traffic jams, affecting local business, and rendering schools and hospitals in the area virtually inoperable.

There are now also incriminating videos in public where the prime organizer of Shaheen Bagh was heard hatching plans for India’s northeastern states to secede from the mainland. It has raised the hackles of a nation which has already been severed of its eastern and western arms on the grounds of religion at the stroke of independence seven decades ago.

Politics is not a zero-sum game but Modi is set to harvest a bounty nobody had seen coming out of the present crisis.

 

 

Supreme Court could leave the dissenters red-faced on Citizenship Act

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

India’s Supreme Court is likely to crack the whip on Wednesday on a few dissenting states who have raised the banner of revolt against the Centre and are looking to bend the Constitutional norms which have served the country so well for over seven decades now.

The bone of contention is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which has met the mandate of the Parliament and strictly comes under Centre’s domain yet a few opposition states have struck it down in home assemblies and added fuel to the fire of protestors, out on India’s streets for over a month now.

India of dozens of states, hundreds of languages, thousands of castes, millions of gods and a billion plus people was envisaged as a federal structure by its founding fathers where states could run most of its affairs independently as long as they don’t interfere with the core of the Union which has restricted itself largely to defence, foreign affairs, communications, citizenship etc.

Such a division was enshrined in India’s Constitution which took four years of intense making and where legislature, executive and judiciary were so finely balanced that each knew of its roles and limitations. India also boldly trusted its millions of citizens, largely illiterate at the time of independence, to choose its representatives at the local, regional and national levels at periodic intervals, never more than five years apart.

A rare Constitutional success in Asia

If my founding fathers were venture capitalists, and if India was a start-up, it would have been a wildly successful investment.  India’s Constitution has survived when none have in Asia among the countries freed from the yoke of colonialism after World War II, barring Taiwan and South Korea. It’s a still bigger feat if one is told that Constitutions around the world have lasted a mere 17 years on an average since the French Revolution of 1789. It might have taken 15-lakh words but nearly 300 men who shaped the Constitution gave India the priceless gift of life.

India presently is in churn because a New Order has emerged which is threatening the entrenched class of political and academic elites. It’s a classic masses vs classes situation. Never has the embedded ecosystem been rattled so badly. It’s losing election after general elections as masses overwhelmingly are voting in favour of prime minister Narendra Modi who is a complete antithesis to a typical political elite: A tea-seller once, carrying no baggage of dynasty and an existential threat to cronyism.

It’s been only six months since Modi’s re-election but the speed with which a new India was changing its contours, be it on matters of Kashmir or Lord Rama’s temple, issues which had been frozen in a time warp for decades, has made the entrenched ecosystem sense a quaking, slipping earth below their feet. The new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) gave them an opportunity to spread the misinformation and stoke the fears of Muslims which has led to protests and riots on India’s streets. People are being openly incited to slam the door shut on Centre if it comes asking for their verifiable identity.

Thus a few opposition-ruled Indian states have been defiant and a few more have professed to do so in coming days. The protests have been sensationalized by India’s deplorable media which has long been part of ecosystem and thus not prepared to lose its entitlements. Western media, as ever, is fishing in troubled waters.

Global implications

So is India coming off the wheels? Does the rebellion by a few of its people and states portend an approaching disaster? Has the historical and cultural animosity between Hindus and Muslims been unsheathed and won’t return till it has devoured its share of lives? Would a few states go ahead and declare themselves independent? Would India’s established institutions strike back and change India’s cherished Constitution forever? Would it make the Western sharks smell the blood in the waters and move in in the name of protecting “democracy” and “human rights”? And if that happens would a nuclear-armed South Asia became a flashpoint which could be humanity’s worst hour?

History often is a good guide in troubled times. It’s not the first time when states in India have rebelled against the Union. It’s also not the first time when people have indulged in anarchy or large-scale violence on India’s streets. It’s also not the first time when feelings have run high between Hindus and Muslims. But sooner than later, the order returns. And that’s because the two sides of the divide, political or religious, realize that they are better off with existing order than in trying to finish each other off. That in essence is the reason why India’s Constitution endures. That’s exactly the message Supreme Court is likely to declare on Wednesday. And that’s when the warring camps would return to their trenches.