(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
The very headline demands a comparison. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had his own view of India, not the one he shared with his mentor Mahatma Gandhi. Views on science was one thing, Hindus were another. Gandhi’s India was more than just Hindus, often at its cost. Nehru’s India could do without Hindus. For their own reasons, almost a century they shared between them (1869-1964), never made Hindus a political question. Hindus, “the bloodiest story in human history” as historian Will Durant put it, remained unattended.
Indira Gandhi didn’t burden herself with the weight of ideology. Power was all that mattered. Two notables which she is credited with, probably owed little to her. The liberation of Bangladesh was an Indian army’s gift. Indeed, New Delhi held back the permission to storm Dhaka well beyond the expiry date. The storming of Golden Temple, and clearing of Sant Jarnail Bhindranwale and his proverbial 40 henchmen, was the outcome of her own experiment which went horribly wrong. Between the imposition of the Emergency and her butchering of Constitution–“secular” and all–it’s difficult to say which was worse.
Rajiv Gandhi, the reluctant politician, was terrible on Sri Lanka’s Tamil issue. He paid with his life in the end. He also apparently had a blood-streak in him which his velvety profile hid well. Ask the survivors of 1984 Sikh Progrom, it’s justice in perpetual limbo. He also carried on the tradition of Muslim appeasement which under Mahatma Gandhi had cost India its western and eastern arms. He upturned the Supreme Court verdict on Shah Bano which had granted the divorced woman the right to alimony. Sharia Law had trumped democracy. India was rightly perceived to be a soft state by fundamentalists. It gave wind to separatists in Kashmir.
Thereafter, terrorism became the headlines. Hindus were shown the chimera of independence as lakhs of them were driven out of Kashmir Valley. Atal Behari Vajpayee favoured peace with Pakistan and got Kargil in return. Vajpayee was no ordinary leader though. He made India nuclear. It was a game changer in India’s security doctrine. Vajpayee also did bold reforms in education and infrastructure.
Manmohan Singh was an economist at the service of politicians. He was a dummy prime minister, an accidental one, who turned a blind eye to scams dancing -under his chair. Pamphleteers give him credit for opening up the Indian economy. In essence, he only carried out the dictates of his prime minister Narasimha Rao who didn’t belong to Nehru-Gandhi clan. His has been a pursuit of power, of communal bias— “Muslims have the first right on India’s resources” – and between visits to hospitals, he is presently panting for a Rajya Sabha seat.
In all these pre-Modi years, India wrestled with hunger, wars and terrorism as its three key moments. In the 60s, India was without food. Wars bloodied its earth virtually every decade. Terrorism brought death to cities after 1990. Mumbai’s 26/11 was as big a psychological scar to India as battles of Panipat from Babur to Ahmed Shah Abdali. Rich made the best of licence raj; poor couldn’t even enter a park. Police and bank accounts were out of bounds. Subsidies were for the middlemen. Entrepreneurship a sin and a road to suicide. Mandal Commission–oh we forgot VP Singh–created regional satraps in Mayawati and Yadavs on the plank of Dalit politics.
Modi now has completed six years in office. His both terms secured with a resounding vote from 1.35 billion Indians. He chose demonetization against black money and Indians became friends with the digital world, an offshoot nobody had foreseen. India took halting steps towards one-tax regime in Goods and Services Tax (GST). India’s unseen people today have electricity, cylinders, health coupons, bank accounts, direct subsidies, Mudra loans and gifts of sanitation etc. These benefits don’t choose Hindus over Muslims.
Yet, this is not what makes Modi India’s greatest prime minister ever. It’s about vision–which is not ideology–where he seems to be up against the world. He dreams of a safe, prosperous and united India but not at the cost of Hindus. It upsets a hell of a lot of people.
Let’s begin with Kashmir. He has restructured the former state which was manipulated by Nehru-Gandhi clan to ensure Kashmir Valley always wins. In due course, it became a personal fiefdom of Abdullahs and Muftis. Now the assembly seats, whenever elections are held, would see a balance in proportion to size and population. There is not an ounce of evidence to suggest it is against Kashmiri Muslims. But there is plenty to suggest it would hurt the entrenched regional dynasties who had turned a blind eye, if not aided and abetted, the terrorism from across the border. Muslims in Kashmir Valley were in pits in all these years. They could only look up.
An impartial history would judge Modi as an Indian who saved India’s borders which Prithvirajs, Gandhis and Nehrus couldn’t do in a thousand years. Kashmir was a lost case. In 2047, it would’ve been hundred years to that thorn. It was not a matter of if, but only of when, India would become the rest of Kashmir. In the age of Islamic State (IS) and its known cahoots in India this was given. My children, and their children, and their children, have been blessed with that one ring of security which is Modi’s offering at Mother India’s feet.
Then, we have Ram Janmabhoomi. This was hanging fire much beyond our independent years. Nothing had been in doubt: That the Babri Masjid had been built over a temple; that it was a mosque in disuse; and that mosques are routinely removed in Saudi Arabia. Yet, Hindus were denied a home for their supreme deity in their own land. Modi has managed it without resorting to unconstitutional norms.
One half of India’s 200 Muslims, their womenfolk, had a constitutional disadvantage due to a practice which isn’t objected to by Sharia Law even though the Holy Book probably doesn’t sanction it. A husband could take away his wife’s investment of her life and career in him by simply pronouncing triple talaq. This was slavery within homes. It hurt Muslim women, their kids, the family, the society and the nation. The Triple Talaq Act 2019, which had been approved by Supreme Court but stuck in Parliament on numbers, was finally enacted within days Modi assumed his second term. This was the first definite step towards Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which is desired by the Constitution.
It’s said Muslims are unsafe in Modi’s India. Lynchings are cited as proof. I remember so clearly the early days of Modi’s first term when this word was repeated ad nauseam. A few scribes and newspapers worked in lockstep on this agenda. You couldn’t pick up a newspaper where “lynching”, real or fake, wasn’t mentioned. Lynchings have always happened in rural India where cows are wealth and people would give life to protect them. It’s no different to how anti-CAA and now migrants have been picked for propaganda though they couldn’t care less for Muslims or poor.
This anti-India lobby of journalists, politicians and their foreign handlers see an existential threat in Modi. He is a Hindu in thought and action but they would rather portray him as anti-Muslim. It’s easy to sway millions of Muslims for most are uneducated and poor; and have a latent fear of Hindu’s rise. This frenzy would again be on us once Corona Virus recedes in the background.
Modi’s position is secure in history. His real test would be coming four years. Anti-India lobby, which includes Jihadis, Communists and imperialist forces, won’t give him a moment’s respite on Muslims. Modi is a nationalist and nationalists are always a threat to these global forces. I predict an anarchy on streets where police would be immobilized. Any action they take would have screaming headlines and images in next day’s daily. It in turn would bring pressure groups such as the United Nations, European Parliament, George Soros etc. into play. Police would freeze; the anarchy would bring in violent mobs in a bid to overthrow him. This is a script I am reading it out to you in advance. How Modi responds, we would see.
We haven’t touched how painstakingly Modi has invested his time and energy to be a world leader of considerable respect. Or how, if we beat Corona, he would invite books of gratitude. He doesn’t part with national coffers easily which is a leeway we must grant to a Gujarati. But the sum is always greater than the parts and it’s the whole which makes Modi the greatest ever.
This is a piece about a cartoon and an anchor. Both are interchangeable: a cartoon could be an anchor; an anchor could be a cartoon. Both could invite ridicule and stay unrepentant.
On Friday (January 4, 2019) Times of India published a cartoon (see picture above). It mocked Hindus for stopping menstruating women enter Sabrimala temple. A priest is seen invoking Gods to “do away” with “menstruating unclean women.” Gods asks “With retrospective effect?” The priest says “yes.” Next, “poof” the priest is smoked out of existence (since all of us come from a woman’s womb).
We would come to this mis-information on “Sabrimala and menstruating women” in a bit. First, I would like you to look at the picture again. This has been retweeted by Faye D’ Souza of Mirror Now with apparent glee: “Teeheeheee.” Now look at the black circle I have made at the end of the picture: The time it shows is 8.31 p.m. The date: January 3, 2019: the evening before Times of India went to print.
Having been an ex-Times of India guy, I know how it works. The editors think of an idea and call up in-house cartoonist/illustrator to sketch it out for the morning’s editions. Faye D’ Souza apparently came to see it in the evening itself and couldn’t control her “teeheeheee.” The pretences to neutrality dropped around her like clothes. She couldn’t wait for the morning—she needed to tweet her “teeheeheee” moment rightaway.
“Teeheeheee” is “Ha Ha” in dictionary. It means uncontrollable joy. Utter joy, as Faye D’ Souza must have seen, at the “stupidity” of Hindus. That Faye is a Christian, it carried communal tones. Times of India might have been the original “communal” instigator but Faye was no less in her contempt for Hindus. She is lucky she is in India where Hindu majority are tolerant beyond belief. A Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar was sacked by his hotel employers in Dubai for his “anti-Islamic tweet” recently. JW Marriott sacked Kochhar on fear of hurting “local” sentiments—and their profits–in the Islamic state. Kochhar’s tweet–admonishing actress Priyanka Chopra for ignoring Islamic excesses in India—was honey compared to Faye D’ Souza’s poison-dipped tweet.
Anyway, what caught my eye was a surgical tweet by the editor of OpIndia, Nupur J. Sharma: “Don’t think people who believe in virgin birth should be talking about menstruating women. No?” (image below)
Some scholarly tweets were no less devastating. A tweet handle (see image below) quoted The Bible (The Book of Leviticus: 15: 19-30) to show what Christianity thought of menstruating women.
Another tweet quoted The Book of Ezekiel 36: 17 (Hebrew Bible), to stress the point of how Christianity viewed menstruating women (see image below).
I checked up on Islam. This is what it says on menstruating women doing prayers: “It is haraam for a menstruating woman to pay both obligatory and naafil prayers, and they are not valid if she does them. She does not have to do a particular prayer unless she was pure or became pure with enough time to perform a complete rak’ah, in which case she has to do the prayer, whether it is at the beginning of the time for it or at the end.”
“In al-Saheehayn it is also narrated from Umm ‘Atiyyah that she heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Let the girls who have attained puberty, women in seclusion and menstruating women go out – i.e., to the Eid prayer – and witness good and the gathering of the believers. But let the menstruating women avoid the prayer place.”
The above instances above are not meant to say that menstruating women are unclean. It’s that most religious texts have a similar opinion on them. It now brings me to the “Sabrimala and menstruating women” bit and the “misinformation” propaganda on it.
The Sabrimala deity Ayyappa has other temples at Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu, Achankovil where he exists as a child, as a married person with a wife and as an ascetic. There is no restrictions on entry of women in these temples. In Sabrimala, Ayyapa is present in the form of Naishtika Brahmachari (celibacy). According to the rule of Naishtika Brahmacharya, its practitioners besides celibacy are also required to maintain absolute restraint over all their senses—including non-contact with women, especially of reproductive age.
One of the beauty of Hinduism is that at it allows everybody to follow whatever route or faith they believe it. The truth is one but the routes are limitless. It has millions of gods because a devotee could choose his own way for “moksha.’ Hinduism thus accords a similar space and respect to Islam and Christianity.
To hold Hinduism as practicing gender inequality is a rotten propaganda. All rituals must be done with your wife beside you. Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, Maheshwari are all manifestations of how Hindus treat its women. All its gods are shown together with their wives—Sita-Ram, Shankar-Parvati etc. Why, it’s even Mother India (Bharat Maa) when Hindus mention their motherland. “Vandematram” is another one proof.
It’s been nearly 48 hours. Neither Faye D’ Souza has issued an apology or deleted her tweet. Times of India too hasn’t shown a remorse on the offensive cartoon. This impudence flourishes because majority Hindus of this country are liberal to a fault.