(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Pollution in Delhi will be a toxic matter in the assembly elections in next few months. The Capital turns into a toxic gas chamber in winter primarily due to crop stubble burning in north India as polluted air hangs overhead on a surface which is lower than the adjoining regions. Crowded streets with vehicles don’t help as do the open trucks carrying construction materials and blowing dust particles around.
The cost of pollution in the Capital is no longer a secret. The air quality of Delhi and NCR is among the very worst which World Health Organization (WHO) found in its survey of 1600 cities. Air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India costing 1.5 million lives every year. In Delhi, poor air quality damages the lungs of 50 percent or 2.2 million children.
So when the air quality improved by 25 per cent there was no way Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was going to let go his moment. Every newspaper you flip open you see a full-page ad with Kejriwal in his benign-est smile; like a wolf who has the best of manners before it pounces. Kejriwal is thumping his chest by claiming it’s been due to 24×7 electricity supply which has reduced the usage of generators and heavy fines which he has imposed on construction sites in violation of dust control norms. He has another ace of odd-even scheme for cars next month to make profit of.
Of course Mr Kejriwal is not honest enough to admit the air improvement has largely been due to Delhi’s wind blowing in easterly direction. All this is set to change next week when the wind would start blowing north-westernly. This would bring in the dusty air to the Capital region. Stubble-burning would then bring its weight to bear on Delhi NCR. That the monsoon is still in a retreating mode had also considerably cleared the Capital air. But then monsoon is not here forever—it would go in next few days.
This is not the only noise Kejriwal has made on the pollution front. He has launched an online campaign where he is asking residents to chip in with their suggestions to reduce pollution in the Capital. This is participatory governance, like the one he did in his first term as Delhi chief minister by severing the arrangement with Congress. Then too he had apparently acted on people’s express opinion. Much has flown down the dirty Yamuna in the last few years though.
The regulatory bodies for pollution, like the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA), unfortunately for Kejriwal, are putting out facts as they are. It has told the Delhi administration that 13 hotspots in the Capital need “immediate” attention. Open waste burning and industrial pollution have been identified as two unattended issues. Delhi administration in response has promised it would soon have camera-fitted drones to monitor instances of garbage burning and indusrial emissions in the city. But then promises come easy to politicians.The 13 “dangerous” hotspots for immediate action in the Capital have been identified: It’s Okhla, Narela, Mundka, Dwarka, Punjabi Bagh, Bawana, Wazirpur, Rohini, Vivek Vihar, Anand Vihar, RK Puram, Ashok Vihar and Jahangirpuri.
The truth is Delhi would soon gasp for breath. These advertisements featuring Kejriwal in his best pose would soon disappear. The residents would look for their own options: have masks on face, stay indoors or worse, bring it on. Every year we hear the same noise on crop stubble burning and nothing happens.. There are no plans to educate the masses on their responsibility. All we have is a chameleon of a chief minister beaming at us in the newspapers, claiming credit for 25 per cent reduction in air pollution when the real menace hasn’t even set in. We all have been fooled once by his rehearsed “innocence”, let us not be suckers again.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Bhagat Singh is a hero to all Indians. The man made sure he was caught and hanged to death in 1931 in the hope it would rise countless youth against the British yoke. He was only 23 and arguably a bigger legend than both Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in his closing days. The nation hoped as one he would be pardoned, and not executed.
As we celebrate his 112th birth anniversary (September 28, 1907), the cacophony is back to own him up. Marxists claim him to be one of their own; Congress cite countless instances of how much Pt. Nehru admired the revolutionary in public and his atheism is cited as rebuff to RSS and communal politics.
Times of India today has a middle in its edit page today where a Bhagat Singh researcher, Prof Chaman Lal has been interviewed by one Manimugdha Sharma. The piece begins and ends with Bhagat Singh being a proud son of Marxist/socialist ideology but doesn’t miss out in rubbishing Veer Savarkar for his silence on the martyr. Predictably, Bhagat Singh’s distaste for casteism is showcased too.
Is this the binary we want Bhagat Singh to be reduced to where everyone is apportioning a piece of his corpse? Where facts are twisted to suit an ideology? Where Bhagat Singh is revealed a Marxist but hidden is the fact that he never joined Communist Party of India? Where Savarkar is demonized for his silence but cloaked is the truth that Bhagat Singh never said a word against Savarkar and indeed completely read the latter’s work, “Hindu Pad Padshahi”? Where Bhagat Singh is mentioned an atheist but masked is the evidence that Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Arya Samaj exerted a great influence on him? Where Mahatma Gandhi is cited by Prof Chaman Lal to have “made efforts” for Bhagat Singh’s release but veiled is the historical reality that Gandhi faced black flag demonstrations by angry youths in Karachi who shouted “Down With Gandhi” in the wake of latter not demanding clemency for the condemned revolutionary? Where Jawaharlal Nehru is shown to be an unabashed admirer of Bhagat Singh but disguised is the truth that Pt. Nehru snubbed revolutionary Chandrashekhar Azad when the latter sought his help that Bhagat Singh not be hanged?
To satisfy their conscience—DoubleThink is the hallmark of Commies as George Orwell famously told us in Nineteen Eighty-Four—the interview does have a question on why Mahatma Gandhi never sought a pardon for Bhagat Singh which the nation prayed for. Prof Chaman Lal tells us that “Even if Gandhi had made it a point not to have the Gandhi-Irwin Pact without the commutation of their death sentences, the revolutionaries would not have accepted and compromised at their end.” Really? So I must not be blamed for adultery because it was this loose girl who threw herself on me. Is this the logic you’re going to sell to your wife?
There is this wonderful piece in Swarajyamag where Prof Irfan Habib is shown indulging in similar skull-duggery on Bhagat Singh. Since we can’t show Prof Chaman Lal and Manimugdha Sharma a mirror on the folly of their concert, let’s urge them to read it. Let’s not assume they have no shame. (Even though I firmly believe the edit pages of Times of India is now the bastion of Marxists).
The oversell of Prof Irfan Habib—a JNU professor like our very dear Chaman Lal—was the soft corner Pt. Nehru had on Bhagat Singh. He cited countless instances when Pt. Nehru was effusive in his praise for the nationalist. The Swarajymag piece laid bare the fact that Nehru never put his foot down when Gandhi-Irwin Pact was being ratified by the Congress Working Committee to which he was the president. Subhas Chandra Bose didn’t mince his words: “The responsibility of Pandit Nehru is very great. Besides being the President of the Indian National Congress, he was the only member of the Working Committee who could be expected to understand and advocate the Left-wing point of view…”
Non-partisan historians believe that if Gandhi had wanted he could’ve persuaded Irwin—with whom he shared a good rapport—to release Bhagat Singh. There are elaborate mentions of Gandhi-Irwin dialogue on Bhagat Singh in the Swarajyamag piece. Also, Nehru defended Bhagat Singh in public but in reality left him on wolves’ table. (We in NewsBred have an archived piece where Bhagat Singh’s nephew lambasts Congress for treating revolutionaries as terrorists!).
Those who are innocents would be startled on how disappointed Chandrashekhar Azad was when he sought out Nehru on Bhagat Singh’s clemency. The Swarajymag piece also details the version of Manmathanath Gupta, a fellow revolutionary of Bhagat Singh, on the attitude of the Congress leaders, including Gandhi and Nehru. Gupta mentions the betrayal by the two leaders and is quoted thus: “…Nehru completely misrepresented the revolutionaries, charging them with fascist tendencies” So Nehru viewed Bhagat Singh and his fellow revolutionaries as fascists! But Chaman Lal tells us that the martyr approved of Nehru above Bose!
The headline in Times of India doesn’t reflect the piece; as the piece doesn’t reflect the legendary Bhagat Singh. It’s a work of small men committing sacrilege on a deity of sacrifice and courage. It’s a disservice to Bhagat Singh’s memory.
(Post Script: An advice to Times of India. Keep a tab on those who manage your edit pages. Or else it would be a hub for Marxist ideology as the Indian Express and The Hindu are. Your credibility would become a piece of fiction).
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
First, the bitter truth.
You are fed lies by the mainstream media.
They told you Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
They lied you about reasons to invade Libya.
That the revolution in Ukraine was people’s movement as it is in Hong Kong and Venezuela.
That Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is despotic but Saudi Arabia is benign enough to be heading the UN Human Rights Commission!( This when Saudi Arabia in 2015 beheaded more people than ISIS)
That North Korea is a terror to the world even though it hasn’t attacked a single country all these years.
Iran is an eyesore even though it was faithful to the pact it had with the West and now millions of its citizen face starvation because of the US-inflicted sanctions which are ot UN-mandated.
You never come to read the macabre truth of Africa where regimes are overturned and humanity is butchered every day as imperialists eye their land, labour and resources.
Russia is certified aggressor even though it’s NATO which is encircling the beleaguered land.
The truth on terrorism which US claims to be in fight against would make you lose faith in humanity.
Closer home, a miniature version is Lutyens Media, wholly deceitful and corrupt.
They would never question why PoK was never an agenda in the Congress hegemony; they would never report on the gruesome murders and brutal rapes on Kashmiri Pandits; millions of infiltrators in our East don’t prick their journalism of courage; tens of thousands of soldiers killed by naxals and terrorists are not martyrs in their eyes but only a brutal face of a repressive regime; their umbrella of protection is big enough to shelter Congress, TMC, SP, BSP, RJD, Left and what have you. Lynchings are for Muslims; religious persecution is for minorities only. Why bother that an Ankit or Gudiya have also paid with their lives and that a temple was vandalized in the very heart of the Indian Capital not long ago.
Don’t for a second think that Western and Lutyens Media are unrelated. They are part of a network: sharing scoops (e,g Panama Papers), editorial pages and a clutch of celebrities and personalities who are agents of Liberal Order, implying in the garb of protecting freedom, human rights and democracy, they cause defiant societies to implode from within. They work on the faultlines: Like in India, the Lutyens Media loses no opportunity to blow up any terrible incident against a Muslim or a Dalit; work on the gender and North-South divide; scare minority against the majority; preach their own brand of secularism – all of which of course takes flight in States where Hindus are in minority and repressed; gender-divide which doesn’t include Muslim women and secularism which doesn’t extend for example to Kashmiri Pandits. They subvert India’s history and heritage; culture and legacy; where mausoleums are celebrated and sublime temples are ignored. Ghar-Wapsi is a calamity but thousands of conversions in the countryside are a matter of celebration.
This network feeds each other into a size of a behemoth. Lutyens Media din a BBC, New York Times, CNN or Time into your ears and vice versa; the news agencies such as AFP, AP and Reuters are the feeding pipes as are social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter who dump searches, bury voices or slap bans against all those which run contrary to Liberal Order.
How do you arrive at truth? The “base camp” of course is the voices which never reach you. In India, you could look at following websites and reason out yourself which could be closer to truth:
Abroad, I can suggest a handful which are puncturing the mainstream narrative with facts, logic and reason:
Clearly the above voices are in the wilderness. They don’t reach you till you look for them. The biggest disadvantage is they are not mainstream.
What’s mainstream? Mainstream is the narrative which seamlessly weaves into your daily life. You accept the news beamed in your drawing rooms or the ones dropped in the morning in your frontyard is credible. They are credible because they speak of freedom, equality, liberty which appeals to human senses. (George Orwell had predicted long ago that good words would covey exactly the opposite meaning by ruling classes). They are credible because everyone else finds them credible. You don’t want to be the odd man out. Lies constantly drummed become truth in due course.
How a sample of alternative media I have mentioned above could become mainstream? First admit the tall order because you are talking of dismantling the very narrative which you have been fed since you started walking. From your kindergarten schools to higher education to job, mainstream narrative becomes you. To unlearn what you’ve learnt all your life is difficult.
But truth like light has a way of shining through the pall of darkness. As 99% of the world become more dispossessed than they were in the 60s, they intuitively feel that Democrats or Republicans (US), Congress (India), Conservative or Labour (United Kingdom), use the tool of Liberal Order to bond and feed on each other. Their goal is hegemony of the world, of our minds. Alternative views are systematically put out of sight.
It’s unlikely the alternative media could become mainstream. For that to happen, you first need to have a system (government, universities, academia, media) in place. That is mostly unlikely to happen. Liberal Order has monopolized lexicons of Liberty, Equality, Freedom and Democracy. You exposure on lies would be seen as conspiracy theorists; your flashing of mirror in face would be dubbed whataboutery; you assertion of your culture and legacy would be labeled as one of a fundamentalist.
Narratives, however, do change when anti-mainstream opinions come to power, as it has in India (Narendra Modi), United States (Donald Trump) and Russia (Vladimir Putin) for example. They have been hoisted to power by millions of dispossessed and faceless citizens. Mainstream narrative willfully ignores them and they end up consolidating the alternative forces. It gives rise to foot soldiers–the websites I have mentioned above—to yank open the door further. There is a need to support these websites with funds and footfalls; provide a structure to what till now is an organic growth; organize seminars, institute awards, hold public dialogue vigorously. Have your own Nobel or Magsaysay Awards which are manipulated; Pulitzer or Booker prize which never gives space to alternative views.
Social Media is a good start but not a conclusive one as the Big Brother sooner than later would come back to bite you. So hold hands, spare time and money, and let the good word spread.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
A father turns out a son who tries to destabilize the family. A criminal is sanitized if his presence is a threat to a society. A terrorist is neutralized if he has common people in his gun’s range. Individuals or groups who are hazards are brought to book by those who have the assigned role to protect society or a nation.
Thus we are looking at two ends of the spectrum. One end has the authority which has a job to keep a home or a nation safe. At the other end are the suckers who won’t let it happen. At one end is the welfare of the millions. At the other end is the good of the few. It’s a no-brainer that individuals have constitutional rights only till they start imperilling a society.
Two such individuals are presently in public eye: One, a high-profile politician; the other a fringe player. Both face serious allegations. Both are under probe. Both claim vendetta. Both are relying on hidden support from within society.
Let’s presume that both P. Chidambaram and Shehla Rashid are not guilty. One has been named “kingpin” in massive financial scandals by no less than judiciary. The other has been refuted by Indian army and hauled to court for inciting communal discord. The next logical corollary is: Who would decide they are innocents? When a criminal has ever admitted to his crimes?
That’s why society sets a mechanism which can arbitrate, punish or pronounce not-guilty. This mechanism could be judiciary or law-enforcing agencies such as police, CBI or ED. Irrespective of how one or thousands or millions feel, it’s this mechanism which we have entrusted to carry out justice. Everything else is gasbag—including you or me.
But try telling this to our politicians and media. Both feed on each other. When it’s convenient, they hail judiciary like they did on pronouncements on Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha elections or favouring HD Kumaraswamy in Karnataka’s unholy tie-up. When it doesn’t suit them, they don’ t bat an eyelid in trying to impeach even the chief justice. CBI is “caged parrot” when it pursues cases against Mamata Banerjee or P. Chidambaram. But when the agency was in hot pursuit of Amit Shah, for instance, it was hailed for setting high standards of probity.
Just follow the headlines and editorials in our newspapers on P. Chidambaram. Indian Express in its editorial finds it revolting that P. Chidambaram was pursued in the manner he was done by the investigating agencies. It doesn’t question Chidambaram once on his reprehensible conduct in not submitting himself to law and thus subverting the course of justice. No newspaper has given a headline that Chidambaram was deemed “kingpin” of grave financial misdeeds. Just look at this headline in Hindustan Times: “Please sit, judge asked Chidambaram…He declines.” (As standing is a conduct of a morally upright person!). Be it media or politicians, both are aghast that Chidambaram was not given urgent hearing by the Supreme Court. We even have a letter from a group of Supreme Court lawyers protesting against denial of urgent hearing to Chidambaram. Pray, god, when a matter is presented on Wednesday and the hearing is fixed on Friday, is it not urgent hearing?
Shehla Rashid has been hauled to court in a criminal complaint against her claim that torture and excessive force is being applied by Indian forces on Kashmiris. Indian Army was quick to make a strong rebuttal: “Allegations levelled by Shehla Rashid are baseless and rejected. Such unverified and fake news are spread by inimical elements and organizations to incite the unsuspecting population.”
Did you find anyone in Lutyens Media question Rashid to either provide evidence or shut up. When she was cornered by journalists in an Opposition protest drama in the Capital on Thursday, she, instead of offering evidence, threatened to call police.
Has Lutyens Media questioned Shehla Rashid on fake allegations? Has it questioned the politicians of CPI or CPM, SP or BSP, Congress or TMC etc on what a fake news peddler who spreads lies on our Indian Army was doing on their platform of protest? Are we wrong to presume that these politicians, political activists and Lutyens Media have no regard for institutions and integrity of the nation and instead, could be hand in gloves?
This of course is not the first instance of transgressions by Shehla Rashid. She posts old videos and pass them off as recent; an FIR was filed against her for spreading rumours after the Pulwama attack; she had once tweeted that Nitin Gadkari was plotting to assassinate PM Modi on which the former had threatened her with legal action; despite a video evidence of abusing the police, she termed Jignesh Mewani as victim; Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against her in the infamous JNU sedition case; She wanted United Nations to intervene on EVM issue as Modi seemed set to return to power in 2019 polls; and she termed Modi a “mass murderer” after his first win in 2014 polls.
All of Rashid’s allegations of course are unsubstantiated. She is encouraged into vomiting more of such diatribe as Lutyens Media lends a helping hand and investigating agencies dither in view of the entrenched break-India forces within the system. As Chidambaram was encouraged to be allegedly more corrupt even as his bête noire Dr Subramanian Swamy asserted that former’s crimes are fit for a 500-year-long sentence. Why, Indian Express reserves top of his editorial page for Chidambaram every Sunday. Like Times of India is nonchalant about allegations of paid write-ups from across the border against one of its’ regulars, Shobhaa De.
All of this of course is unlikely to stop. Faced with an existential threat, these forces inimical to India’s interest would continue to spew venom in a concerted manner. You would have letters from films, legal and writers’ corners tearing into Modi government for its violations of “democratic” principles. We, the stunned citizenry, must take note of these virulent rats which are a plague to India’s sovereignty.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Kashmir was a game which the Centre played with political parties, Pakistan and the world. It was a bout without an end, round after round, with people never the coveted object.
Congress began it at India’s independence, decades passed, Nehru-Gandhis parleyed with Abdullahs and Muftis, pretty pictures all around, all like an exclusive club of democrats which kept people out of gate.
There were of course people within people, like Matryoshka dolls, some important some dispensable, like the Kashmiri Pandits, driven out of Valley without a story in our newspapers, without a word in our Parliament and state assemblies, worth not a glance by champions of “democracy” and “human rights.”
Such a set had dug their roots deep, seemingly controlling all levers of Indian state, a Pakistan and ISI away from Pakistan, often lauded by Hafiz Saeeds and Masood Azhars, ready to spill blood of tens of thousands of brave Indian soldiers, even as glasses were clinked in Pakistan embassy or global summits.
People in Kashmir were scared with the threat of the mainland; the one in mainland were made nervous by the implications of a nuclear war; newspapers, like the trumpet boys, blew “Aman ki Asha” score in the background; terror and goodwill two imposters who took turns on centrestage, every next appearance bigger and worse for the people on either side of the divide.
People in Kashmir Valley wallowed in squalor and dirt. There were no jobs to pick, only stones or AK-47; every round of bloodshed growing their hatred against the Indian army; every reality of no doctors, no dentist, no industry, no investment, no reservation, no provident fund, no private employer, no health, no power, no education, no sanitation was bludgeoned by the homilies of Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriat. The only access to money came from bullets and bombs which were for free. Even throwing stones were worth two bucks of hundred rupees. The only language left was – you get us or we certainly would.
In two decades, by 2047, it would’ve been 100 years to the Kashmir problem. Imperial forces was too eager to fish in the troubled waters, brought its weight to bear on India’s West and East shoulders; all the while paralyzing us from taking any action. They danced in symphony with India’s power-brokers who dressed up in different garbs of politicians and historians; media and academicians; think-tanks and activists. Self-promotion mattered; not people protection.
Kashmir won’t go out of headlines in a hurry. A few implications could only be guessed: Pakistan which has nurtured the terror monster for decades wouldn’t abandon it overnight. The state is run by its army which is the father of modern terrorism. It’s a bargaining chip they won’t surrender at a drop. If bombs can’t go off in the Valley, limbs could be strewn around in the rest of India. Our newspapers would work overtime to link every terrible incident with the fateful decision of August 5, 2019. (Don’t you know already with the lynching and Jai Shree Ram how narratives are spun).
You won’t read many positive stories on Kashmir. Even as lives are bound to improve with the avowed promise of Amit Shah—“give us five years and see for yourself”—only blood and gore would accompany your morning tea with newspapers. Kashmir would be made to appear a Palestine, East Timor or South Sudan. If anything, BJP would need a Kashmir wing in its information and broadcasting ministry to neutralize such bugs in the room.
It’s also not too early to say the duo of Modi-Shah would be most admired children of India’s political history. As if Sardar Patel again took the human form in this duo to fulfill his unfinished work towards One India. Mahrana Pratap and Chattrapati Shivaji were valiant but these two are victorious. For all his virtues, Mahatma Gandhi ironically laid the basis of Partition with his morals which only served to appease. Pt Nehru’s spirit would also be at peace in grave now that it’s historical blunder is straightened out. It’s an India with eye on future and a baton in hand for inimical forces within and without.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Indian Muslims, most of whom are political, have a difficult choice today.
They number most in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal and switch between SP and BSP; JD(U) and RJD; and CPI(M) and TMC. None of them stood by them on Triple Talaq Bill, not at least as a complete bloc.
They have been steadfast to Congress for all the independent years of India, ignoring few seats the party afforded to the community in Lok Sabha and promises which were never kept. This boat is close to capsizing now in the political churn whipped up by India’s dominant right-wing party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Worse, in five desertions in Rajya Sabha, its Gandhis and Vadras have betrayed their poor hold on the flock.
Your newspapers are unlikely to tell you that between 1952 and 1977, when Congress and Congress alone mattered, the Muslim representation was never more than seven per cent in the Lok Sabha.
Political parties, specific to Muslim identity, such as AIMIM, the Indian Union Muslim League and All-India United Democratic Front—in all there are seven Muslim parties– have looked to fish in the troubled waters. They have caught little except that Asaduddin Owaisi makes an appearance in your drawing rooms, finger-wagging and presenting his report card in newly explored regions of Maharashtra, UP and Bihar. Truth to tell, AIMIM is confined to Hyderabad alone though West Bengal has lately figured in Owaisi’s radar. Imams and Bukharis are good only for religious and moral discourse; as a political influencer, they stay in the basement.
Ironically, your Muslim and my Muslim could be two entirely different human beings.
The community is geographically dispersed across the country and is not a monolithic group. They have never voted with a singular national Muslim aspiration. Language, caste and social hierarchy fragment them; the supposed composite glass never existed. Shards on the floor are visible to even naked eyes.
India’s Liberal-Leftist media, Lutyens Media per se, have worked overtime in conjuring up Hinduphobia with an exaggerated focus on stray lynchings and the narrative of “saffron terror”in forced rendition of “Jai Shri Ram” etc but on ground, it has had had no traction whatsoever. In 80 of Lok Sabha’s 543 seats, Muslim number more than 20 per cent Yet, BJP won 58 of these 80 seats in 2019 Polls. One-fifth of UP is Muslim; yet BJP claimed 325 of 403 seats in 2017 assembly polls without fielding a single Muslim candidate!
The propagandists are elephants gone wild who are crushing the very narrative they are looking to fabricate. The signs of Muslim consolidation is nowhere but one of Hindus is visible everywhere. In constituencies where Muslims pack a punch, Hindus are coming as one in polling counters. BJP worked it out long before the first vote was cast in 2019 polls.
An average Indian Muslim today knows that beyond rhetoric, SP or BSP, JD(U) or RJD have no interest of their community at heart. Their agenda is to keep Indian Muslims poor, uneducated and thus malleable. It’s true of their last plank of hope too, i.e. Congress. They would do better to pay heed to the words of Arif Mohammad Khan who exhorts the community to uplift from within instead of blaming others for their mess. The community needs to trust India and its cultural heritage which is too big to be put on a leash even by a million Modis. It must stop looking for reservations or suffer from a persecution complex. It’s time to give up on false prophets. Educate and reform are two mantras it can’t do without.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
What do I tell which all of you already don’t know?
Maybe to my Muslim brethren who fault the Triple Talaq Bill—still not an Act till President Ram Nath Kovind puts his pen to paper– on its (a) criminal; (b) maintenance; (c) interference; and (d) whataboutery aspects that (i) cruelty against wife is a criminal offence; (ii) maintenance provided for by erring husbands is statutory; (iii) interference citing Islam is neither borne out by Quran nor by practice since most Muslim states, including Pakistan, have outlawed it; nor (iv) Hindus or other minorities could escape punishment for cruelty against wife.
Maybe to those who are still smarting at the betrayal of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), along with those avowed champions of “minorities” and “secular values” such as JD(U), TRS, RJD, TDP and NCP that when push came to shove, these parties didn’t want to be seen in the Muslim corner and stand against the overwhelming tide. Parties such as SP and BSP still have nightmares about BJP leading in 385 out of 403 assembly seats and why Muslims are no longer the vote-bank they espoused! Their personal brief honeymoon is over too.
Maybe to those who see Mehbooba Mufti as champion of Islam, a baffling fact that her two PDP members in the Rajya Sabha stayed away from the vote-count even as she kept scare-mongering that BJP was “entering into our (Muslim) homes” using the legislation. Her rival for favours in the Kashmir Valley, Omar Abdullah didn’t miss out in pointing out her double standards even as he himself kept his counsel to himself.
And then you have Arvind Kejriwal who bemoaned the loss of Muslim votes after the 2019 Polls but is now frozen to his spot on the matter of Triple Talaq Bill. This is the man who wants a survey done on government jobs to ascertain the percentage of Muslim employees and whether the low number is evidence of a deep-rooted prejudice by the system.
Maybe to those who know or don’t know the names of the Congressmen who absented themselves (namely, Vivek Tankha, Ranjib Biswal, Mukut Mithi, Pratap Bajwa and Sanjay Sinh), it may come as a surprise that they did so against the express whip of their party to be present in the Rajya Sabha proceedings. Sonia Gandhi and the two apples of her eye: Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra have cloaked themselves from the public scrutiny on Triple Talaq Bill and their writ probably doesn’t run large as it used to.
Today, the husband-wife duo of Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose; Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt are like frogs in the well of silence. Gupta has donned the persona of a Sherlock Holmes as he delves into every grain of coffee that its founder, now unfortunately dead, VG Siddhartha ever managed for his enterprise, Café Coffee Day. Barkha Dutt has worked herself into a lather on the Unnao rape victim. Sagarika Ghose is just a cryptic “I-don’t-support-Triple-Talaq” while her husband is just an anchor on the subject with no personal opinion. And you thought their calling was upholding “freedom” and “gender justice.”
All of them have been caught in a bind. You stand up for Triple Talaq Bill and you alienate the Muslim community which number over 9 crores. You rail against the Bill and earn the wrath of fair gender and not just of Muslim women.
It’s the larger picture which has left them shaken to the core. An empowered BJP would now find it easier to push for the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A. The hoax of scare-mongering is exposed. BJP, in one stroke, has created millions of extra votes for itself. The Opposition has nothing better than a fig leaf to hide their shame. The injustice of Shah Bano has been righted after a generation’s gap.
Above all, empowering Muslim women could transform the community. It frees them up to express opinion and seek financial security, gain education and pass on the good word to their kids. It loosens the control of Mullahs and Owaisis who exert it through the boardroom of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) or the platforms of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM).
As for Modi, history could judge him as the leader who took the first steps towards emancipation of a community which were led up the garden path by Nehru-Gandhis; Muftis and Abdullahs; Bukharis and Owaisis without deliverance. This would be the irony of the sweetest kind.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Mehbooba Mufti is baying for blood. That is if contentious Article 35A is abrogated in Jammu & Kashmir. This is her preemptive warning to both the legislature (Parliament) and the judiciary (Supreme Court) which has a series of petitions due for a final call soon. Similar murderous intents are of Abdullahs (Farooq and Omar) which warm up the hearts of terrorists and ISI in Pakistan. The two could also count on the support of Congress who sowed the seeds of this tumor and have been steadfast in support over the last seven decades.
Mehbooba warns in a language not dissimilar to Hafiz Saeed (LeT) and Masood Azhar (JeM). She says if Article 370A is abrogated, the whole India would burn; a typical “tukde-tukde gang” delusion. This is not the first time either. She once tweeted that if Artcle 370 is scrapped, “Hindustan-waalon, tumhari-dastaan bhi na hogi dastaano mein” (O Indians, history wouldn’t even remember you once existed). Omar Abdullah has been similarly bellicose: “If Article 370 is scrapped, J & K won’t be a part of India.”
Such words dripping with violence and blood either bank on jihadis in the Valley, complicity from across the border or the identity of Islam which could work up the 200 million Muslims in other parts of the country. This is the language of the secessionists. And they could openly give a call to arms, defy the Indian state and still whistle a tune under the umbrella of Indian Constitution which has this anomaly of Article 370 and 35A.
Their latest is because the Indian state has deployed 10,000 extra forces in the Valley. They view it as Indian state’s preparedness in the aftermath of impending scrapping of Article 35A. An overwhelming numbers in India wish if it was true. The telltale sign is that J & K is in its second year under President’s Rule which could only extend up to three years. Now or never is a logical premise.
In the name of protecting the “special and distinct culture” of J & K, Article 35A blocks refugees from West Pakistan from becoming citizens of the state; takes away the rights of a Kashmiri women once she marries anyone outside the state; and impedes other citizens of the country from setting permanently or buying property in J & K. Government jobs for them are out of bounds under J & K constitution.
The irony is if “special and distinct culture” is the basis, Article 370 and 35A must be scrapped without delay. Till 1941, Hindus in Jammu outnumbers Muslims in Kashmir Valley. Since Kashmiri Pandits were driven out, its’ this culture which is facing a historical genocide. No less than 532 out of 583 temples in the Valley have been vandalized; 52 have disappeared without a trace. Most Muslims in the Valley have ancestors who once were Hindus, incrementally converted since the rule of Sultan Sikandar Butshikan (Slayer of Idols) in the 14th century.
One of the dishes of Wazwan, a 36-course meal prepared for special occasions, is butt-haak, a spinach preparation, primarily contributed by Pandits. So has been Kahwa, a Kashmiri beverage, prepared by saffron and almond. Kashmiri dress, both of Hindus and Muslims, speak of a composite culture. Many a customs of Muslims in Valley had its origination in Kashmiri Pandits but is now under their exclusive ownership since the latter were driven out by violence.
It’s part of BJP’s manifesto to scrap Article 370 and 35A. Yet it’s also given that they won’t leapfrog the judiciary. Constitutional morality is the hallmark of Modi government. So far the court has deferred hearings at least six times since December 2018. The petitions haven’t been heard since Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took office in October last year. Since 2014, the case has been heard over 20 times. A judgment has been delayed on various excuses such as pending talks by the interlocutor, panchayat or national elections and now the Amarnath Yatra.
But if push comes to shove, Modi government is within its Constitutional right to scrap Article 370 and 35A. It can bypass judiciary. It’s still easier now that J & K is under President’s Rule. A historic injustice is on the cusp of being corrected. Mehbooba and Omar are fire-emitting dragons who are conscious of the scimitar hanging over their nefarious designs. All you need is to call off the bluff of the bullies.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Andimuthu Raja of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) calls it “a dark day for democracy.” Shashi Tharoor of the Congress sees it a bid to remove “the two greatest armours of institutional independence” and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, views it as an attack on “our democratic right to information.”
Serious isn’t it. Who doesn’t know Raja or Tharoor or Chowdhury. I mean we all have heard of 2G licenses, Sunanda Pushkar and “gandi naali (drainage)” slur. They are our much-in-news parliamentarians who today have hogged our newspapers for faking their concern on the amendments to the Right To Information (RTI) Act 2019.
On Monday, Lok Sabha trembled to their din on the amendment to the RTI Act, 2005. As per the amendment, the Information Commissioners (ICs) will have terms and salaries decided by the Centre, instead of being on par with those of Election Commissioners. Tharoor bristled with rage: “Are you bringing this amendment because an IC asked the PMO to reveal the PM’s educational details?” Chowdhary found it an attempt to “keep tab on the Commission and kill its freedom.” NK Premachandran of Revolutionary Socialist Party (never mind if you haven’t heard of him) is convinced the amendment is an attempt to benefit the Central government.
All this for defining the terms and salaries of Information Commissioners?
So, here are the facts. The RTI Amendment Bill 2019 in no way compromises the autonomy or independence of RTI Act 2005. The amendment leaves Section 12(4) of the Act, which ensures autonomy and independence of the Act, untouched. The appointment of Information Commissioners (Section 12.3) is also not tampered with.
Now to the terms and salaries of Information Commissioners. The present amendment bill seeks to amend section 27 of RTI Act 2005 which DOESN’T define the tenure and terms of conditions for the ICs in its present form!!! Does clearing “ambiguity” on RTI Act sound like a “dark day for Indian democracy” to you?
As per the RTI Act 2005, chief information commissioner is equal to Chief Election Commissioner and there by equal to a Supreme Court judge. Similarly, the state Chief Commissioner is equal to election commissioner and thereby equal to Supreme Court judge.
This itself is an anomaly, considering the fact that Election Commission is a statuary body while Supreme Court and Election Commission are constitutional bodies.
The other contradiction is that CIC and state information commissioners enjoy the status of Supreme Court judge but the verdict passed is liable to be challenged in the High Court. The present bill seeks to correct this anomaly. Besides this amendment hasn’t originated from the government alone but also held by several sections of society and judiciary.
For example, the Rajiv Garg vs UOI Supreme Court judgment of 2013 directed that decision be taken on uniformity of service condition of various tribunals. Similarly, the Second Reform Commission in its 13th report of April 2009 also recommended that there is need for greater uniformity in service conditions. The recent judgment of high court of Kerala states that the Chairman and member of the CAT do no occupy the exalted position of the judge of high court merely because they are given the same benefits.
The present amendment merely is enabling legislation which will authorize the government to frame the rules by amending Section 27 and to deliberate upon the tenures and terms of Central and State Information Commission through Section 13 and Section 16 of the RTI Act 2005. The amendment would further streamline and institutionalize the RTI Act and further facilitate its delivery.
BJP sources say that the commitment of Modi government to strengthen the RTI Act is manifest in the fact that it has introduced the 24-hour portal and a mobile App for convenience of filing RTI anytime, 24 hours, 365 days in a year.
The present government has also implemented Section 4 of RTI Act whereby suo motto (on its own) information is now available on all the government websites even without having to file an RTI to seek information.
The leader of the largest opposition party (read Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of Congress) is also a member of the selection committee when there is no recognized member of opposition in Lok Sabha.
And for all this good, Shashi Tharoor calls it a RTI Elimination Bill.
Said a BJP source: “Those who have vested interest in using RTI as a tool of blackmail are making motivated allegations against the RTI Amendment Bill 2019 which are totally unfounded and unsubstantiated.”
Oh is it? RTI as a tool of blackmail? So next time you read screaming headlines in the Indian Express or The Hindu or Times of India or Hindustan Times or any other Indian daily curse the mugger who might have gained behind this charade of “scrutiny” for public good.
Meanwhile, the RTI Amendment Bill was passed with 218 “yes” and 79 “no” in Lok Sabha on Monday.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Railways was in news for different reasons last week. It wasn’t rail-budget (that the NDA government did away with in 2017 after 92 years); any train accident or cockroach in your dinner tray. It was because Sonia Gandhi, the matriarch of Congress, had opened her mouth and become a butt of joke.
Sonia makes few public speeches. But the other day, she spoke in Parliament and accused BJP of clandestinely “privatizing” Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh despite it producing coaches beyond its capacity. Her heart beat for thousands of employees who could be laid off. In perfect sync, All-India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), with 1.4 million members, echoed Sonia’s fears.
Little had Sonia known of the muck it would invite on her own Congress party. Railway minister Piyush Goyal rose in reply and the skeletons of Congress regime began tumbling out. In 64 years, between 1950-2014, Congress had added only 13,000 odd tracks to its network; that Modern Coach Factory produced not a single coach since it was set in motion in 2007; and some unfinished projects in West Bengal date back from the 1970s. We would come to “privatization” bit in a while for a bigger Railways story awaits our attention.
India runs on Railways. Passenger services (11 million passengers per day) account for two-third of its operations; the remaining one-third is freight (6 lakh tonnes daily). In terms of revenue though the role reverses. Freight accounts for two-thirds of revenue. By 2050, India would account for 40 per cent of global Rail activity.
This is just a starter. India is poised to become world’s most populous nation by 2024. Most of it would be young, needing goods and that too in double quick time. India would’ve 829 million Internet users by 2021. It’s a prospect which salivates E-commerce biggies. It also has the government drooling towards its 5 trillion-economy goal. Transportation infrastructure, along with energy, is the biggest economic growth driver for the country. A 7% or 8% growth is impossible without an efficient Railways.
The worry is most of India’s transportation business still runs on land. That’s because our railway tracks carry both passengers and freight. It slows up the goods movement to a crawl. It makes transporters wary; and the investors reluctant. They have good enough reasons too. The account book of Railways show that out of every rupee it earned, 93 paisa was spent just to keep it chugging and alive.
In comes Dedicated Freight Corridor. Demand for rail freight movement is infinite. It’s government’s priority too. Two corridors under construction are expected to be functional over the next two years. The Eastern and Western Corridor covers a total stretch of 3,360 kilometres. The Eastern Corridor stretches from Ludhiana (Punjab) to Dankunj (West Bengal) and the Western one lasts from Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Mumbai) to Dadri (Uttar Pradesh). Visit any of its sites and you would be stunned by the speed of operations in sorting out locomotive and wagon specifications, energy maximization, freight logistics, track safety, commercial and marketing plans and skill-enhancement centres etc.
Freight is a game India can’t lag behind. While inland waterways, coastal shipping, air and road transport are doing their bit, Railways has to be the prime mover to prepare India for its next decade. The matter is not just of economy, it’s of environment too. While jobs and revenue are paramount, the matter of environment is one of life and death.
Fortunately, Indian Railways has pulled up its stocks. Nearly 45 per cent of all our rail nework is electrified today and rest are running on diesel locomotive. No longer we are reliant on steam engines which are run on coal and its fossil fuel lay our environment waste. Most, if not all, of our superfast trains hav electric engines. More and more tracks are being electrified. Varanasi and Chittranjan manufacture all types of railways engines. Coach factories in Perambur, Kapurthala, Raebareli etc produce the compartments on which India runs.
And talk of passengers. Since 2000, the growth of passengers using Indian Railways has gone up by 200 per cent. It would only grow further. India needs more and more short-distance trains which are electric and power efficient. Superfast trains, lampooned by opposition, are critical too.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off India’s first semi high-speed train, Vande Bharat Express, earlier this year. This plush 16-coach air-conditioned, self-propelled train doesn’t have a locomotive. It runs between Delhi and Varanasi with halts at Kanpur and Allahabad. The 780-km long journey is completed in eight hours and slices off three hours from it earlier duration. This is India’s fastest train to date. The looks and interiors of the train have the feel of a commercial airplane. Hold your breath, 130 similar semi high-speed trains are in the pipeline.
Sure, all this needs investment. Government is doing its bid to attract private players (General Electric is already there). Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is being sought. Public-Private Partnership is the need of the hour. Corporatization plan is mooted, like the one of Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company to hive off seven of its production units and associated workshops which Sonia Gandhi mischievously termed as “privatization.” Modernization drive has so far fetched Rs 1.21 lakh crore of investment. Indeed, the estimation is of $190 billion investment by 2050. High-speed trains could save India up to $64 billion on fuel expenses. The diesel cost presently is Rs 15000 crores per annum.
After an existence of 176 years, Indian Railways is getting the attention it deserves. No longer those railway budgets which were only meant to announce schemes and new routes and never saw the light. It desperately needs investment and India is exploring all its avenues. To run it down as “privatization by stealth” is ethical debauchery.