(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I once heard Salman Rushdie say: “I might be indifferent to religion but if it acts as a balm to billions, who am I to quarrel with.” This is a perfect position for both atheists and non-atheists; believers and non-believers. devotees and rational. If you can’t help or console humanity, a majority of whom are without power or hope, the last thing you ought to do is to hurt the faith which allows them to live by.
The only set who wouldn’t agree to this position are artistes. They are a different breed. They argue, they question, they debate and we all feel it’s for our advancement. There is no harm if dogmas are revisited. A faith reformed is a faith purified. It’s rationality. The problem occurs when your are not out to cleanse the faith. It’s to use your art to abuse the faith. Messenger, instead of message, becomes your target.
Unfortunately, it pays. More in the case against the Hindus than say Muslims or Christians. If you take liberty against Muslims and their faith—dare even sketch a portrait of Prophet Muhammad—it’s unlikely you would see the next day. The retribution is swift. Charlie Hebdo isn’t the sole instance. But against the Hindus—you could slap at their Hanuman; call a “kutiya” (bitch) a Savitri; term “Chitrakoot” as “Paatal Lok”; show them genocidal—and its’ artistic license. Worse, it ensures raving reviews and 10-serial contract with the new beasts in town: The Over The Top (OTT) platforms.
The OTT platforms are your Netflix and Amazon; Voot and Hotstar etc. The stream straight into your living rooms. There is no censorship. It doesn’t come under the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certiication) or the Cinematograph Act of 1952. Profanity passes off as gritty dialogues; sex scenes are watched together by both father and daughter, one skirting his eyes, the other holding her breath; a young kid bemused why the “uncle” on the screen finds a young boy in his mirror-image so tempting.
This is my third piece on the matter. One was on Leila, last year, a futuristic tale of Hindus in ethnic cleansing. The second was Paatal Lok which filled me with disgust. Now it’s on Chippa where an old man is narrating how his grandma once slapped “Hanuman” and the latter “sar jhukai. dum dabai, ae bhaaga (bowing his head, tail between his legs, he scampered for safety). All three have been streamed on Netflix in rapid succession.
Twitteratis this morning were outraged at Chippa. Predictably, excuses came up: “Langaurs in Bengal are called Hanumans”; or “A specie of monkeys in India is called Hanuman.” Rebuttals came that “if so, why a man is seen kicking a kid while reading Hanuman Chalisa in Chippa;” or “If true in Bengal; why use this truism for rest of India?” Surely, two million Hindus of Bengal isn’t the same thing as 1000 million other Hindus in rest of India.
It’s easy to understand the motive. Such artistic liberties secure a platform, ensure good reviews and probably a 10-series contract from an OTT outlet. Guaranteed profits. Secured careers. Unlike Muslims, Hindus are unlikely to walk into the Mumbai office of Netflix and spray bullets. Their impotent outrage on the social media—for no mainstream media gives a hoot to Hindu sensibilities—actually drives up the viewership. India’s OTT market would be worth $5 billion in 2023, as per Boston Consulting Group. Netflix has reported a 30% hike in their viewership during these pandemic months. Be pretty sure also they are not taxed either by the Indian government.
Not that Information and Broadcasting ( I & B) ministry hasn’t stirred. Just before lockdowns, a notice had gone to these OTT platforms in March to standardize their code of conduct and set up an adjudicatory body. China, France, Singapore all enforce it. However, in a meeting which the minister Prakash Javadekar summoned in his office, to abide by the rules of the Digital Content Complaint Council (DCCC), predictably, Amazon Prime refused. Netflix asked for extra weeks to firm up their mind. Others, such as Hotstar, Voot etc have come on board.
The OTTs hiding behind censorship is a joke. It can’t overrule what the courts in India find outrageous in light of the Constitution. You can’t be promoting religious violence or show barely-concealed pornography in the name of artistic licence. And if you could, dare and do it against Islam. You know as well as I do, you won’t. Between money or a hole-in-the-chest, the choice is not too difficult.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I am in the middle of writing a book on World History where I show strands where the reality is vastly different to the narrative we have been fed through newspapers and academia. My compass is big, covers all continents, and this endeavour would take up my four years by a modest estimate.
One of the problems I am confronted with is references. Most books I pick have references which appear untrue. For instance, Pyarelal Nayyar, the personal secretary of Mahatma Gandhi mentions an incident from Second Boer War (1899-1902), quoting Natal Mercury where the date is before the event happened. It’s not typo, there are several such instances.
We are not talking of biases here. That is given in most cases. You pick facts and incidents to your liking. My issue is with “creating” those facts and incidents. People in social media, newspapers, TV channels are doing it all the time. These “fakes” are repeated, read or seen by millions and shape people’s opinions—and actions.
This is the background in which I want the present issue of journalists in India being hauled up be seen. Two prominent names, Sudhir Chaudhary and Arnab Goswami, are such. The are perceived to speak the Centre’s line and it has put them in crosshairs of opposition states. In Himachal Pradesh, 14 FIRs have been filed against five reporters. This is likewise in UP, Gujarat, West Bengal, Rajasthan and in many other states. Indian Express is moving heavens on one of their reporters facing action for what Delhi Police believes to be “fake news” on Tablighi Jamaat’s head, Maulana Saad. Is media’s freedom a thing of the past?
There are no clear-cut answers and there would never be. None of us can expound an opinion and say: Yes, that’s it. How can journalism survive if State is the Big Brother watching them all the time? How would State function if media is like an ass in a pottery shop, to borrow a metaphor from Aesop’s fables.
None of us would deny that State is prejudiced; and media is biased. Or that we don’t live in the world of corporate media. Power and money, the two essential evils, are working all the time to grow bigger today than they were yesterday. It could only be at the cost of citizenry, the sheep to be sheared, Where are the arbiters in this toxic, noxious air?
There could be many arbiters but let’s begin with judiciary which has the final word. What do they go by with? Our Constitution doesn’t provide freedom to press as an enshrined Article. Most of it is presumed under Article 19 (1-a). This is the Right to Freedom of speech and expression to individuals. This is Liberty, the root of democracy. Ideally, media shouldn’t be interpreted from this prism. Unlike individuals, media is a “watchdog” for public interest which gives them privileged access to men and matters.
Yes, there is Press Council Act of 1978. It’s to ensure freedom of press as well as pull up media if untruthful. In essence Press Council is just a talk shop. Most members are hand-picked. Editors’ Guild of India and News Broadcasters Association (NBA) are no better. Their credibility is zilch. In essence, it’s a Big Boys Club who keep public interest out of their rounds of drinks.
Ombudsman, a neutral voice of credibility, was once deemed an important self-regulatory organ, to keep the content truthful. It has been a joke on us for last two decades if not more.
Then there are unseen arbiters, we the readers, the citizens, the suckers. Both the State and media would prefer us to be blindfolded, to be goaded into alleys of their own mischiefs. We don’t get the truth from either; yet we tilt one way or the other. An irony: Those who can’t do without us, have little of our interest on their minds.
The time has come to draw a line in the sand. Ambiguity must give way to well-defined laws. Journalists must follow the time-tested dictums: Present both sides of story; name your source who wish to be quoted or don’t use it at all. I agree it’s not possible in political reporting but don’t let a good story come in the way of a patient’s good who is on a ventilator.
I also know it’s easier said than done: your editors are mostly handpicked by your employers to serve their business or political agenda. That “little journo” on the desk, the sub-editor, also is prone to rejig your story in a manner which could induce a saucy headline and cause you embarrassment next morning. I doubt if there is any reporter who hasn’t muttered a swear to an editor/sub-editor on the final output.
State, on their part, must not allow mischief by press. But it also shouldn’t use the long arm of law to settle personal scores or come down on an investigative story. Mostly, States should limit itself to denying a news or offering a clarification. Or be a mouthful like Trump is to despicable US media. But state action or imprisonment isn’t on. Individuals could evoke defamation suit: Like Sonia Gandhi should have done against Arnab Goswami. It was shameful to involve a state machinery for her personal score.
Press is the breath of democracy: All you need is a strong filter. Putting a lid would suffocate it to death.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi could sense a long road ahead. He is under attack from all corners, both at home and abroad. From civil rights activists to media; from foreign parliaments to Congress; Presidents to Islamic leaders. All are baying for his blood. And have declared him enemy of Indian Muslims.
It of course is not true. There is nothing in Citizenship Act which is anti-Muslim. There is nothing in NPR which wasn’t there in its’ previous exercise in 2010. NRC, if it happens, is too far out. But what does Modi do? Should he allow the events to overtake him? Or should he follow the time-table his government has set for the exercise? Should he compromise or should he stay firm?
Let’s evaluate what Modi gains if he softens his stance. Let’s say he scraps Citizenship Act or puts it in abeyance. Would he gain the support of Indian Muslims? Would shameless Indian media applaud him on his statesmanship? Won’t we read headlines in Western press such as “Power of people foil a bigot dictator’s pogrom”? Would Iran and Turkey; Pakistan and Malaysia hail him? The answer is NO.
Let’s also evaluate the fallout at his own side of the fence. He could appear weak to his millions of his supporters and lose their support. He could hurt his “raj dharma” by which he professes all too often. He has often said powers would come and go but India remains. Should he be true to his oath to the “Constitution” to do what he believes is best for the Republic? For which he has been chosen by 1.30 billion people of this land?
Now let’s consider the eventuality in case Modi decides to stay firm on his decision. Let’s take the domestic and foreign fallout separately; though both in reality feed on each other. If Modi stays firm and presses ahead in the muddied waters, there could be: (a) More riots across the country; (b) Indian and Western Media would only intensify their anti-Modi coverage; (c) A few state governments could refuse to implement CAA; (d) Kashmir would burn now that winter is in retreat; (e) And even judiciary could buckle under and pass a stricture against him.
Again, what do you think Modi should do? Compromise or stay firm?
From above synopsis, it’s apparent that Compromise wouldn’t help him a wee bit. Or his government. Or India. Or Future governments. A weak Modi now would give a template to anti-India forces to pursue in years to come. Future leaders may also not have the energy, vision or selflessness of a Narendra Modi.
It would be a severe blow to Hindus who are in dire need to be in touch and in sync with their heritage of language (Sanskrit), culture and religion. A Hindu revival is what the world doesn’t want. A revival of Hindu ethos is what could save this world. A blow to it would only embolden the Islamist powers. Besides, history won’t judge Modi kindly if he succumbs to pressure. And what he would say as explanation???
Further, suppose the CAA and NPR throw up unaccounted for illegal migrants/infiltrators on our land. Could they be sleeper cells? Jihadists? Terrorists? Putting your and my life at risk? Would those who are championing “human rights” and “democracy” and “constitution” come to our help? In such an eventuality, who would we all end up blaming for?—Modi of course.
There is simply no going back, Mr Modi. People have given you mandate to run this country on their behalf for five years. Parliament has given you sanction. Supreme Court would judge you by the Constitution. Nothing else matters. States powers which put populism ahead of India, dismiss them. Jihadi Islamists, political leaders and their organizations who whip up Indian Muslims into arson and violence, book them. Media, which is unbridled and peddles fake news, suspend them. Western Media could take a walk. Don’t give a hoot to what a few foreign powers say. Ignore the garbage of a European Parliament or a United Nations Human Rights Council.
What would happen at the most? There might be a dozen more calibrated riots. A United States could slap you with sanctions (though it won’t as long as Trump is in power, hopefully till 2024). Military intervention is out of question against a serious nuclear power like us. Are you worrying about your reputation Mr Modi? Playing ball to anti-India forces wouldn’t spruce up your reputation. Indeed, it would break into splinters the hearts of millions of your followers.
You have four-plus years remaining in your second term. Use it with full conviction. Without fear of consequences. That’s what Bhagwad Gita says too. A weak Modi would lose all he has gained so far. It would hurt him, country and billion-plus Hindus. It won’t be the right homage to our suffering souls of a thousand years.
Ironically, a weak Modi at this stage won’t help the cause of Indian Muslims either. The anger of Hindus would bubble forth. The society at large could be prejudiced against Muslims. Muslims could be further ghettoized. They could also be expecting more entitlements. They could be further radicalized. It could be ripe for a ISIS or a Hizbul Mujahideen to make further inroads. Remove their fear by actions. Withdrawing CAA would only confirm their worst fears about you.
(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.
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.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I am a little intrigued by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s prolonged silence since protests and strikes filled our newspapers from headmast to imprint line even if on ground it occupied only a dozen maidans and gullies of our immense country.
I am also a little perplexed why BJP is dead-stone cold on the virulent Western protest and even on the staged marches which are being taken from Cape Town to Canada (yes, yes, Prakash Javedkar has whispered his displeasure).
Mamata is being typically outrageous in Bengal; Pinaryi Vijayan is comically taking referendum in Kerala assembly; Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra is picking every destitute child from the street and posing with a straight face, Uddhav Thackeray is comparing JNU to 26/11 and Kamalnath is commenting on prime minister Narendra Modi’s parentage. The sidekicks like Yogendra Yadav and Sitaram Yechury are only finding time for the Left students in their alma mater. The Shekhar Guptas of the netherworld are swooning over a mercenary Deepika Padukone. Bollywood, meanwhile, has come out of their ivory towers and are squatting on Mumbai’s grimy streets in their Gucchis and Armanis.
I can understand if you the readers are bewildered on what’s causing this outrage. Some days it’s police which is doing too much; On other days it’s police which is doing nothing. Some days students’ violence in campus (JNU) is being seen as India being overtaken by fascist forces: On other days, students in Bengal doing worse violence are being hailed for staking their lives to keep “democracy” and “secularism”alive. The swords on CAA, NPR and NRC have been sheathed for the moment. But be assured, it’s only the lull before the storm. It’s clear as crystal that anarchists, riding the two wheels of political lust and youths’ naivety, want to run over the Modi government.
In its’ nearly six years in power, the Modi government has done everything by the book (Constitution). Even on an issue as emotive as Ram Janmabhoomi. So far, the people it is in conflict with, was playing by the same rule. But now the matrix of the game has changed. Order is up against anarchy. We know the roadmap of Anarchists. How do you think Order should respond?
First, Order can’t abandon the governance it has been entrusted with by the majority of 1.3 billion people in this country. It can’t pass the CAA in the Parliament and then develop cold feet. Or abandon the NPR and NRC which is to distinguish between the real and fake citizens. It can’t be hostage to whim of a few.
What worse could happen? People would hit the streets, logjams, violence, bad press etc. (Police and para-military forces would do what they need to do). Urban youth could be alienated. Communal divide could be stoked. But why not trust millions more who are unseen and unheard but support your move?
I suspect BJP has worked out its way forward. It won’t be frozen into inaction. Policies would be formulated, legislation made and implemented. Law and order issues would be handled by law and order agencies. Let the ideological battle be settled by the people of this country. A hands-off approach actually seems a very smart move.
Let’s look at political and propaganda mafia. Both clearly want to spew so much poison that people of this country turn against the ruling dispensation. So they could seize control of political levers of the nation. But both are living in fantasy. These political parties—let’s take Congress and Left for example—don’t constitute more than 4-5 dozen seats in the parliament. Newspapers such as Indian Express don’t count more than a lakh in readership. English readership is heavily outnumbered by Hindi and regional press. It might feel good to see yourself mentioned in Western press and US democrats boardrooms. But it doesn’t win you elections. It won’t win you elections. All you do is to get trapped in your own propaganda. If nothing then learn from Donald Trump and Boris Johnson who you had given up as dead and who won such an emphatic mandate from the nameless and faceless.
It’s these nameless and faceless who would make a choice. Not a perfumed elite. That’s why you see BJP is not worried. That’s why it would do what it has to do. Left-Liberals-Bollywood could sing and create its national anthem. They could hope on an organic students’ protest in a few campuses. But it’s a minuscule and doesn’t speak for the majority of youth. BJP would have its own version of Hum Dekhenge.
Most importantly, all this has brought the threat of break-India forces alive to the Hindus of the nation. It would keep Hindus on their toes—and united. By stepping back, Modi dispensation is actually asking the silent majority to be aware of the danger it faces. The majority now knows exactly whom it is up against. The majority always had the numbers. Now it is infused with a new will. It has come about because Modi, that political animal, has chosen to be silent.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
The first of 36 Rafale jets of the first batch was acquired on Tuesday. It was a seminal day, not just because India acquired a massive defence shield but also since it coincided with Vijaydashmi or Dusshera, the day which Indians have celebrated as the win of Good over Evil for centuries now.
Somehow, matters which warm the hearts of millions of Indians causes heart-burn amongst a few who are well-identified now. “The Hindu” mocked the celebrations with “Wait-Its-Due-Only-Next-Year” front page headline; the (Rajdeep) Sardesais and Ghoses (Sagarika) and Dutts (Barkha) were silent as if in a funeral and so were the Gandhis: Priyanka is showing off her Hindi skills on twitter and Rahul Gandhi, well, he is heard less these days than even his brother-in-law. Yet, one of Congress’ leaders, Sandeep Dikshit, couldn’t hold back and reflected the grumpiness of this brigade: “Why link the acquisition (Rafale) in a religious context,” he contended.
Dikshit was upset that defence minister Rajnath Singh had done a “shastra puja” of Rafale which involved putting lemons in front of its wheels, placing a coconut on its nose and drawing an “Om” on its side cheek. In Dikshit’s book, it was a religious assertion, an assertion of Hindutva, and a “secular” state indulging in communalism. (Err, Mr Dikshit, your thoughts on the then prime minister Manmohan Singh, choosing the day of Sonia Gandhi’s birthday–December 9, 2006—to declare that Muslims have the first right on the resources of the country. Was it secular?).
Understandably, it found echo amongst the young and impressionable. So here it is, an attempt for rationale to prevail over outbursts:
“Shastra Puja” is a routine marker with our armed forces on new inductions of weaponry. It happened when MiGs, Jaguars, Tejas, practically every new addition, was made to the Indian Air Force. Every ship which slides off keels is always launched with coconut-breaking ceremony. Even the Supreme Court has said that “Shastra Puja” doesn’t impinge on secularism.
The induction of Rafale happened on the 87th anniversary of Indian Air Force. “Vijaydashmi” might’ve been coincidental and not necessarily the reason for choice of date.
It’s a flawed approach to view “shastra puja” as an assertion of Hindu identity. As it would be to view the reading of “kalma”as Islamic when Tejas was inducted on July 2, 2016. When soldiers are greeted with garlands and tilak on return to their villages, is it communal? Besides, placing of lemons in front of tyres, applying “Om” on its steering and breaking a coconut in front of the vehicle are common actions millions of us do before a newly bought vehicle reaches home.
But trust our spoilsports to keep taking the matter to absurd lengths. A twitterati argued thus: “But buying a car and doing all this is personal. Whereas in Rafale was an act by the ruling government. Don’t they know that India is secular and state and religion must not cross each other’s path?”
First thing first. India wasn’t a secular state to begin with. This happened when our Constitution was arbitrarily changed by a chaffed Indira Gandhi during the Emergency without the consent of the lawmakers of the Parliament. There are various articles in the Constitution—like freedom of propagation of own faith for monotheist religions like Islam and Christianity—which can’t be termed secular.
Now, if the Indian state indeed is “secular”why does it interfere and control Hindu temples? As writer and scientist Anand Ranganathan points out : Governments of five southern states control 90,700 temples; TN Temple Trusts own 478,000 acres of land. Tamil Nadu state government alone controls 36,425 mutts: It gives them billions of rupees. By a rough estimate, the total revenue earned from temples by state government till now would be somewhere between Rs 10-15 lakh crores.
Is this secularism? That Tamil Nadu government has a temple in its logo is secular? If you want religion should be out of bounds for the State then the State should also keep out of religion.
Famous Indologist David Frawley has posted a YouTube video where the “war-cry” of various battalions are mentioned. For Gorkha Rifles it’s “Jai Maa Kaali.” Rajput Regiment exhort with “Bol Bajrangbali ki Jai”; Rajputana Rifles with “Raja Ram Chandra Ki Jai.” For Dogra regiment, the full-throated call of “Jwala Mata Ki Jai” is the motivator; Jammu & Kashmir infantry enjoin with “Durga Mata Ki Jai.” So it is with Naga regiment (Jai Durga Naga); Bihar regiment (Jai Bajrang bali) and Kumaon regiment (Kalika Mata Ki Jai). Yet these traditions would be communal in the eyes of pseudo-seculars.
On a different note, the in-your-face “Shastra Puja” hasn’t gone unnoticed to the discerners. A confident Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is no longer embarrassed in asserting the cultural identity of the nation. And to hell with those who portray it as tyranny of the majority, communal Hindutva and minority-in-crisis narrative.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
You are subjected to five essential lies on Jammu and Kashmir. Please use the below Primer if your teenage daughters, coffee friends or a stranger in transit try to shame you on celebrating the new status of Jammu and Kashmir. Who knows, inadvertently, you might be creating new foot soldiers to take on the Break-India forces and its stooge media. So here it is:
Abrogation of Article 370 is illegal:
Article 370 comes under part XXI of the Constitution of India which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.”
Article 370 was not incorporated when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession on October 26-27, 1947. It came a full two years later in October 1949 at the instance of Sheikh Abdullah, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution.
Indeed, Article 370 became operative only in 1952.
So give a resounding kick in the butt to those who say that Jammu and Kashmir agreed to become a part of India only after it was assured the special protection of Article 370.
A bit of history won’t hurt you either.
India’s law minister, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar was firmly opposed to Article 370. This is what Dr. Ambedkar said to Sheikh Abdullah (as quoted in Dr. BR Ambedkar, Framing of Indian Constitution, by Dr S.N Busi):
“Mr Abdullah, you want India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains…but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir…To give consent to this proposal would be treacherous…I cannot betray the interests of my country.”
A full decade on, even Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was conceding in Parliament on November 27, 1963: “Article 370 is part of certain transitional, provisional arrangements. It’s not a permanent part of the Constitution.”
Next year, a private member’s bill sought the abrogation of Article 370 in the Parliament. It received a near-unanimous support. Prakash Vir Shastri had moved the bill in the Lok Sabha. Among supporters were stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and K. Hanumanthaiya, a senior Congress leader.
Hanumanthaiya had then pointed out that fellow MPs, irrespective of party affiliations, had wanted the abrogation of Article 370 to be made into law. He had said: “To go against or to anything against this unanimous opinion in this House is to disown constitutional responsibility in a convenient manner. Article 370…stands in the way of full integration.”
Out of the 12 MPs who opposed the abrogation of Article 370, seven were from Congress, many of them stalwarts, including Inder J. Malhotra, Sham Lal Saraf, HV Kamath and Bhagwat Jha Azad.
And by the way, how come abrogating Article 370 is illegal when the Bill wa passed by two-thirds in the Rajya Sabha and four-fifths in the Lok Sabha this month?
Who benefitted from Article 370? Obviously, the common people of J& K didn’t. The Shia community, Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Gaddis, other Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled castes and people living in Ladakh and Kargil didn’t. Nor did Kashmiri women who made the mistake of marrying a non-resident and couldn’t purchase or transfer property to their children.
Now, with its abrogation, a total of 106 Central Laws will now be extended to J & K. A load of benefit schemes would come the way of local citizens. Prevention of Corruption Act, Land Acquisition Act, National Commission for Minorities Act, Right to Education Act etc would become applicable.
Why Not Remove Special Status of North-East States Too
This again is an argument forwarded by mischief-makers relying on your ignorance. Tell them that Article 371 (a) to (j) for North Eastern and other states are SPECIAL and not TEMPORARY provisions. That is to protect the development of a particular region for particular tribes. These being special provisions are permanent in nature. They are not temporary as Article 370 was in J & K.
Basic Rights to Kashmiris Are Being Denied:
Restrictions in the form of suspension of internet or even mobile services occur every year in the Valley on Independence Day, Republic Day and Eid for the last 30 years! Durations of these restrictions have been far longer in the past.
Do you know the extent of clampdown in the Valley when it suffered a long spell of violence in 2010? What were the conditions during the long spell of unrest during the Amarnath land agitation in 2008? Why was Farooq Abdullah government (before 1984) was termed as Curfew Government?
Between 1990-1996, the Valley remained under curfew on an average 300 days in a year! It was largely under Governor’s Rule between 1990-1996.
Was it not a clampdown in the Valley when Mobiles were introduced in India in 1990s but not in Jammu and Kashmir? (It came about only in 2003 under the Atal Behari Vajpayee government).
Why was there no outcry then?
Now let’s look at the ground conditions in Jammu and Kashmir at this very moment. Activist Rahul Pandita spent 10 days in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and this is what he wrote in Times of India this Sunday:
“I went around in a small car with a local number. I had no curfew pass. There were barricades but security forces could be convinced to let go, as we did several times.
“District Commissioner Srinagar had issued 161 passes to local journalists (while you kept hearing on your TV sets that journalists were unable to go anywhere).
“On Eid (no less), the government took more than 60 journalists on a chopper ride over Srinagar. (Despite stringent restrictions, many reached their neighbourhood mosques).
“Security was totally removed from downtown Srinagar between 4-7 p.m. Boys came out, they painted a little graffiti, but they did not indulge in clashes (Hey, BBC and Reuters, read that).
“Spoke to cross-section, families of policemen, from Shia community and other silent ones who say they are ok with Article 370 abrogation.”
Political Arrests Are Unprecedented:
A reality check.
Sheikh Abdullah was in prison for more than a decade. And he wasn’t under house arrest like the present Valley leaders are. He was packed away to Kodaikanal not by Modi but by Pt. Nehru.
Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was kept under house arrest for 44 days without any chargesheet or FIR in Kashmir Valley. Have you heard of any outcry of human rights violations on Mookerjee?
And what’s the definition of these political leaders of Kashmir Valley who thrive on elections which see only a sample of 8-10 per cent voters’ turnout? It allows them to make it to the Lok Sabha, to the state assembly, to form state governments, generation after generation, to perpetuate their dynastic rule?
And if so upset by political detentions, shed a tear for those who are detained in Jammu too!
Demography would change; Kashmiri culture would vanish
Well, when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of Valley on gunpoint, the demography change didn’t matter to the champions of these pseudo-seculars.
(Ironically, when Assam is trying to weed out the outsiders to save the local, indigenous culture, these pseudo-seculars are in support of the infiltrators. So guys, make up your mind: You can’t be resisting outsiders in one state and supporting outsiders in another!).
Does Kashmiri culture imply that they remain in a state of poverty and unemployment generation after generation? Isn’t the aspiration of a largely young population—70 per cent are below 40— is for real? Don’t they know that every year, in the civil services exam, you have a topper or someone in the Top 20 from the Valley? That about 30-40 Class 12 pass-outs from terror-affected districts qualify in the IIT-JEE exams. That at least 50 people qualify for the NEET exam, the all-India entrance for medical colleges?
(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).
Critics are bemused; fans dismayed as Congress goes on a political ventilator. Vital organs (top leaders) and arteries (regional leaders) are giving up. Deep coma of a few decades, beckon. Can it survive?
When the patient is in ICU, it allows surgeons to do what is best. The trouble is these surgeons—Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra—can’t pick up the tools on the table. All surgical tables have three types of instruments: (a) Cutting instruments like scissors, surgical blades, knives etc; (b) Grasping or holding instruments like forceps; and (c) Retractors, to hold the tissues and look at malaise which is beneath. Our surgeons, however, can’t feel a twitch in their frames.
One of the surgeons did make his move early. Rahul Gandhi resigned and resigned while an assortment of assistants wailed and vowed to prevail against his resolve. Priyanka Gandhi-Vandra was beholden to this virtuous man who was her brother. Mamma darling, meanwhile, pursed her lips and awaited for the inevitable offer to land on her shoulders which age and illness have slumped. What next?
Enter Congress Working Committee (CWC). This is the club of the comatose whose prime office-bearers are no other than our three surgeons. The rest are made up of walking corpses, ghosts too benign to affect a single voter and vultures who despite cleanest of clothes, trimmed beards and dyed pates, are only for interface with a servile media.
Thus our surgeons and this august club are interchangeable. The club would only do what the surgeons ask them to do. So this club could accept the resignations of Scindias and Deoras but would dither on Rahul Gandhi. It would never say no to flying resignations in the room from Telangana, Goa or Karnataka. Maybe both the surgeons and the club should quit and replant a new setup.
Easier said than done. The precedent itself is sobering. It was once attempted in 1992, the first Congress’ organizational elections in two decades. Narasimha Rao emerged as the party president. A new CWC and All-India Congress Committee (AICC) were constituted in Tirupathi. New office-bearers and committees were constituted for two years. However, two years later in 1994, nobody quit. No fresh elections took place. The posts and its occupants were given an “indefinite extension.”
So fresh organizational elections within the Party would fool no-one. It might encourage factionalism and multiple splits to occur. Young Turks already have their hat in the ring and are smelling blood in the pool. Older ones—sample Ashok Gehlot who says Rajasthan wanted him as CM—are drawing whatever strength they could from the imbeciles like them. Nobody is losing sight that four assembly elections are slated within next few months.
Meanwhile there are practical issues too. In case both Rahul Gandhi and CWC go in a limbo, who strikes alliances and keeps regional dissidence in check? Kerala and Tamil Nadu might not be immediate issues; but what about 16 other states where they have been hammered like nails into the wall. Even the loyalists like Navjot Singh Sidhu are making public their resignations to the Congress president Rahul Gandhi: the same man who once promised to quit if Gandhi lost in Amethi.
The dark clouds of Karnataka are portending something far more sinister. This is model which would replicate itself in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan soon. MLAs would quit and the nebulous hold of the Party would be evident. The same routine of assembly Speaker holding firm, “sticking” to Constitutional values, Supreme Court nudging him to the inevitable collapse, would occur.
Another step and Congress is off the cliff. A few self-serving individuals have driven the Grand Old Party to its moment of truth. It’s a sitting duck to the winds of change. It lied on Rafale and economy and the poor didn’t buy their “Nyaya” lollipop. It ranted and railed against Narendra Modi and it didn’t work. It’s cry on “democracy”; “idea of India” and “secular values” only earned snides. That’s why the patient is left with its final few breaths. It could be born again but for that it has to die first. The point is who pulls the plug?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Nobody is imposing Hindi anywhere. Two Union Ministers, both of Tamil origin—Nirmala Sitharaman and Subrhmanyam Jaishankar—have clarified so in their mother tongue. No less than Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, the force behind the draft of the New Education Policy (NEP), has rubbished such an interpretation. It’s time all the political parties in Tamil Nadu, and in Bengal, let go on the hysteria. The Hindu and Indian Express too can stop rolling in the filth.
All hell broke loose when reports came in last week that the NEP has proposed making Hindi mandatory along with English and the regional language of choice in schools across India. All parties in Tamil Nadu, including DMK, the Congress, the Left, Kamal Hasaan’s Makkal Needhi Malyyam, MDMK and AIADMK, bristled with aggression and promised to hit the streets. In Kolkata, they actually did with the Bangla Pokkho civil society group shouting slogans against the “unfair imposition of Hindi” skipping over potholes on terrible city roads. For good effect, they also burnt the pages of the NEP draft policy.
The Centre has been swift in clarifying on its no-imposition-of-Hindi stand. As NEP committee chairperson Kasturirangan—literally the horse’s mouth—says, “the policy envisages that every stage learns one language from another state.” In other words, you could be in Tamil Nadu and learn Tamil, English and any other regional language of your choice.
The reasons for a new NEP policy are sound. The last one occurred a quarter of a century ago. Much has changed in between. The social, political, economic, cultural reality is different from those times. Migration within India has increased manifold in millions. Language cannot be allowed to remain moribund. For a person living south in Chennai and seeking employment in Mumbai and Delhi, a basic understanding of Marathi or Hindi could only help. Say, he is seeking a job in advertising or film industry in Mumbai. Won’t Marathi or Hindi be a bigger help to him? Won’t it help him in his social and economic mobility? And vice-versa?
The bigger paybacks are no less important. Language is communication and understanding only betters if two people could do it without resorting to Google translate. A communicating India is a growing India. Many classics and literary forces, as good as any produced in human history, have a limited bandwidth because one language, only a few kilometers apart from another, is Greek to its listeners. To understand the breadth of this logic remember that India has 780 languages. No less than 22 languages are listed in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
But raising the spectre of a powerful Centre imposing Hindi suits regional chauvinists and their vote-banks. DMK in Tamil Nadu, and its allies, reaped a rich harvest on this seed in the 2019 General Elections. As many as 37 out of 38 seats went to this grouping. It’s the separate “Dravidian” identity from the “Aryans” of North which launched dozens of careers in down South; overflowing their coffers and unleashing unbridled reservations in the Southern states. In Tamil Nadu, for instance, the reservation is up to a whopping 69% in favour of backward communities. The fiat runs across all spheres be it jobs or medical studies.
Hindi must not be imposed on rest of India and it won’t be. Howsoever the case in its favour remain strong: Almost 52 crore or 44 per cent of India speaks Hindi; nearly 62 crore speakers worldwide which makes it third most spoken language behind the Mandarin and English. India is a land of hundreds of languages, customs and cultures and it is the diversity which makes it unique. A universal umbrella would be a great assault on the federal character of its republic.
So the anxiety in Tamil Nadu or in Bengal is nothing but rumour-mongering with Lutyens Media being a willing accomplice. How come no other state or its politicians have a problem with the draft of NEP? Why hide the fact that it’s just a draft and the New Education Policy would solely be guided by the feedback it gets from the rest of the country? Why speak the language of anarchy when the intent is one of unity?
(P.S: Studies though say that Tamilians who can speak Hindi are 50 per cent up in 10 years across Tamil Nadu. The current preference for CBSE, ICSE schools has led to students preferring Hindi as optional language even in Tamil Nadu. The popularity of Bollywood movies could be another reason).