(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s happening in the United States but it concerns all of us. President Donald Trump has passed an executive order to “censor” Social Media. If it passes the legal test, the current immunity enjoyed by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp etc would be stripped bare. If they lose freedom, what chances you and I have on our “freedom of expression?”
A background is in order. Trump showed his contempt for mail-in ballots in case the due November 3 Presidential election keeps the voters indoors due to Corona Virus. He tweeted: “no way…mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantial fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be robbed, ballots will be forged and even illegally printed out and fraudulently signed…” He followed it up with another tweet, mentioning it would be “rigged elections.” Twitter censored it, stating “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.”
Trump was livid. He termed it selective censorship. Twitter, the president said, was making “editorial decisions.” In essence, it doesn’t make Social Media a neutral platform. They are publishers, like other media houses and must come under regulations.
“They’ve had unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences…We cannot allow that to happen…in these moments, Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform – they become an editor with a viewpoint,” said Trump, adding his comments don’t exclude other media platforms such as Facebook, Google etc.
Is Trump wrong? Probably not. What Twitter censors by Trump would look extremely scandalous if Twitter was owned, say by a Chinese company. How can Social Media censor views on local election process, that too of the US president, when there are legitimate grounds for his comments? The New York Times in 2012 had reported “fraud” in postal ballots. Washington Post is on record for stating that “no one questions the mail-in ballots have much higher rates of not being counted.” Twitter’s action does curtail “freedom of expression”. Social Media today has the power to shape truth in the image they want. Democracy won’t have the diversity it preens upon.
Trump’s order aims to turn Social Media platforms as regular publishers. It means they could be bogged down by lawsuits. It could, and should, flag down racial and religious bigotry; terrorism and pornography etc. But Social Media giants ought to have no role in censoring people’s opinion. More so, political opinions. Trump has accused twitter of “doing nothing about all of the lies and propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democratic Party (i.e. his rival Joe Biden).”
It could well be that Trump’s executive order falls flat on legal count. But Social Media giants can’t have unbridled freedom. They are being hauled up, for instance, in Europe and Australia; the latter quite close to labelling Social Media platforms as media outlets. They derive commercial benefits on disseminating news content. Their usage of people’s data has long been in regulators’ crosshairs. There are wide-ranging antitrust probes against them. They are no innocent bystanders.
Twitter presently is asserting its power to “curate” the content So, tomorrow, if the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi was to say that Congress can’t hold a candle to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); or that Mamata Banerjee is supporting Jihadi elements in Bengal; or that he is worried about attacks on Sadhus; or that he is surprised to learn that below Babri Masjid remains of a temple has been found, could Twitter “fact-checks” and blocks those tweets? Is Twitter now the new “arbiters” of truth? And if they think they are, shouldn’t they be deemed as media houses and suitably brought under legal purview? Who is to say they are being neutral and not biased?
In the Indian context, just imagine the size we’re talking about. Between Facebook and WhatsApp, there are 700 million users. YouTube has 265 million users: twitter 14 million. It’s an enormous power to wield if the Social Media giants choose to be the arbiters of truth as they see it. If tomorrow, the Indian government follows Trump’s example, how would we react? In the name of “freedom of internet” would we be helping or breaking the India we know?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
A new twist to the Ayodhya saga could still come about if the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board or other prominent Muslim bodies refuse the offer of a 5-acre land for a Mosque construction as compensation to the demolished Babri Masjid, as directed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Indian state to allot a 5-acre plot to assuage the feelings of Muslims, retain communal amity and put a lid on a simmering dispute between the two communities which had lasted for decades.
But within no minutes of the judgment being announced, most prominent Muslim parties and leaders, including the intransigent Asaduddin Owaisi, expressed outrage over the idea that a land in compensation could be accepted by their community.
“We don’t need a 5-acrre land as a donaton…don’t patronize us,” said Owaisi in his first reaction to the reporters.
Kamal Faruqui, a member of the AIMPLB, said even if the government gives 100-acre land, it’s not enough. “Is this justice,” he bristled in dissatisfaction.
UP Sunni Waqf Board, who are designated as a body which would get the 5-acre land as compensation by the government, has announced that it would not challenge the SC judgment though it has reservations on the ruling. Still, it hasn’t clarified if it would accept the 5-acre land when it comes about in three months time.
A one-page statement by Zufar Faruqi, chairman of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, read thus:
“We welcome and humbly accept the verdict of the honourable Supreme Court.
“I as chairman of the UPSCWB make it clear that it will not seek any review of the Apex Court’s order or file any curative petition, hence any statement in this regard by an individual, lawyer or organization which mentions that the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board will go in review is not our line.”
However, there is no mention to their stance on the proposed 5-acre land awarded for a mosque.
So far a nation of over a billion Indians have shown remarkable restraint following the emotive judgment with both Hindus and Muslims refraining from aggressive posturing or violent reactions. The reaction of India’s vituperative media too has been remarkably toned down, neither triumphalism or dejection marking their coverage though a directive by the Centre in this regard surely played a critical role.
Millions of Hindus, who waited for this verdict for decades, put a lid on their celebrations all across the country. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cautioned restraint in the days leading up to the judgment. So was the reaction of Indian prime minister Narendra who cautioned his ministers and party members to refrain from any chest-thumping on the positive verdict for the Hindus.
Indian state had feared for the worst as police had fanned out in districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and paramilitary forces were called out in Ayodhya, ground zero of the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. This, along with aerial surveillance, is still on to prevent any communal incident.
Still, if the Sunni Waqf Board rejects the offer of a 5-acre land by the government or is opposed by other Muslim bodies and leaders, it could vitiate the atmosphere of amity and peace and provide a fresh flashpoint to the dispute.
Admittedly, accepting the offered land wouldn’t dear the Sunni Waqf Board too to their Muslim audience, especially the clerics and hardliners who are fundamentalist in nature.
India’s liberal and secular brigade is already upset at the verdict and reactions from Pakistan are stoking insecurity among Indian Muslims. Any confrontational stance would add fuel to the fire.
(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).
I conversed with Mahatma Gandhi in dreams last night. I was in heaven with a collection of his thoughts and words—“India Of My Dreams”—and spotted the Bapu in a corner spinning khadi wheel. He looked healthy, probably because the sinful Indian Express and The Hindu are barred from heavens. I touched his feet, squatted in front and opened the book which, truth to tell, pleased him. My subject was his views on Hindi language and I had bookmarked his specific utterances on the matter. I read on:
“I have the greatest faith in the Dravidians someday taking up Hindi study seriously. If an eighth of the industry that they put in mastering English were to be devoted to learning Hindi, instead of the rest of India, remaining a sealed book to them, they will be one with us as never before…The Dravidians being in a minority, national economy suggests that they should learn the common language of the rest of India than that the rest should learn Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malyalam in order to be able to converse with Dravidian India” (Young India 16-6-’20)
Bapu, do you realize the folly of your words? That how profitable it is for local forces to keep the rest of India a sealed book for its audience? Sure, the Commie rags play their part: They never mention that Adi Shankracharya was a Dravidian; that a host of CBSE schools which teach Hindi are run by DMK/AIDMK leaders. If I was to make your words known to them, your statutes or framed images would be blackened or put to fire.
“Little does anyone know that almost all the Tamils and the Telugus living in South Africa can carry on an intelligent conversation in Hindi.” Young India (16-6-’20).
Again Bapu, how does it matter? Even Latin is compulsory in schools in England. But this is whataboutery. The ground reality is, a famous actor (Kamal Haasan) promises burning fields in his state if Hindi was introduced in the curriculum.
“Bengal and Madras are the two provinces that are cut off from the rest of India for want of knowledge of Hindustani on their part. Bengal, because of its prejudice against learning any other language of India…” (Young India 2-2-’21)
Sure Bapu, Bengal and Madras remain cut off from rest of India to this day. Sure, Mamata Banerjee cries “Bengali pride” from rooftops. Sure, DMK leader Stalin (never mind he has a European and not a Dravidian name) has given a call for agitation against Hindi later this week. I only hope you were more discreet. Just imagine if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to quote you on the subject?
“A knowledge of English opens up intercourse only with the comparatively few English-knowing Indians, whereas a possible knowledge of Hindustani enables us to hold intercourse with the largest number of our countrymen. (Young India 2-2’-21)
Bapu, they are doing well as it is. They pay income-tax for rest of India. It’s another matter most of it is recovered with interest from the Centre when Chennai drowns in flood once every two years. Most of its population reaps the benefit of Centre’s SC/ST schemes. Why bother?
“If we were not living in artificial conditions, the people living in the South will not consider the learning of Hindi as a strain on them, much less a superfluity…. If it is to be for and of the starving millions, of the illiterate millions, of the illiterate women, of the suppressed ‘untouchables’, Hindi is the only possible common language.” (Young India, 18-6-31)
Sorry Bapu, they do speak for starving millions and “untouchables” when the Elections are around. They also speak about illiteracy admittedly though only of Muslims. I am afraid it’s nothing less than “imposition” you are suggesting. All you would do is to produce South Indian versions of Nathuram Godse.
“The cry of “mother tongue in danger” is either ignorant or hypocritical. And where it is sincere it speaks little for the patriotism of those who will grudge our children an hour per day for Hindustani. We must break through the provincial crust if we are to reach the core of all- Indian nationalism. Is India one country and one national or countries and many nations.” (Harijan, 10-9-’38)
Bapu do you realize the monstrosity of your outreach? Do you realize you echo every syllable of BJP/RSS on nationalism? Who would now celebrate October 2 as your 150th birth anniversary in Dravidian India? How long do you think Congress would keep owning you up?
Bapu had long stopped spinning his wheels. He was staring me, long and hard. His spectacles had cracked. The poor goat of his had started bleating. He looked around—none of his favourites, Nehru or Azad, were in heaven. Sardar Patel was a neighbour but had long disowned him for betraying him with India’s prime ministership. The likes of Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh were never enamoured of him. Gurudev Tagore had long turned sceptical of him. I felt sorry for the great man. The entire Congress party rode on his shoulders for close to a century. They mouthed platitudes on his every birth anniversary. Political leaders made a beeline for Rajghat on his death anniversary. His beaming face adorns nation’s currency. Yet they have shunned his ideology. Gandhi is not for defending; he is an ATM to encash for the dynasty.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Should we start with the message or the messenger?
Let’s begin with the messenger first. I bet none of you know who are 49 signatories who have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on minority lynchings. It’s not in your newspapers nor in established magazines such as Outlook and India Today.
Just a coincidence? Or a plot?
I somehow dug up the list of 49 eminent personalities. Over 40 are from the state of West Bengal, including Aparna Sen and Goutam Ghose who have been questioned by CBI on Ponzi schemes. The rest, such as Shobha Mudgal, Ramachandra Guha, Adoori Gopalakrishnan, Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam are known Leftists. Madam Mamata Banerjee has come out in support of this letter though your newspaper wouldn’t have mentioned it. Telegraph India? The known Leftist rag from Kolkata? Oh, you must look for its Epaper today. Or curl up your lips by looking at this image of their front page below.
I am not “rubbishing” the messenger to “kill” the message. Human lives are above ideology. Blood has no religion. Not for these worthies though. They could only see Muslim blood. Or they would have followed Anand Ranganathan or Swati Goel Sharma and known of hundreds of cases against Hindus and Dalits; or educated themselves on the pieces from OpIndia which lists 50 hate-crimes by Muslims in recent times; and a dozen “incidents” against Muslims which turned out to be fake.
Yet, they are quoting factcheker.in as their source when the website is epitome of lies, mischief and propaganda. They have a problem with the word “urban naxals” (made famous by Vivek Ranjan Aghinotri) who they view as “dissenter” but the nation as “subversive” and a threat to India’s sovereignty. They view “Jai Shri Ram” as a “war cry” but Islamic terrorists blowing themselves up with “Allah O Akbar” on the lips is our sheer imagination.
Yet, these worthies deserve our time. Just to exhibit how the “Deep State” works. Let me list 10 questions which must prod the conscience of neutral Indian citizens:
- Why we don’t have the list of 49 in public domain?
- Why the headlines have tried to give it a Pan-Indian intellectual “uprising” hiding its essentially Bengali flavour?
- Why this discourse omits crimes against the Hindus?
- Why known Hindu intellectuals—Rajiv Malhotra, Subhash Kak, David Frawley, Dr Koenrad Elst, Francois Gautier–are never invited in Express Adda or TV debates?
- Could you remember anyone of them reacting to vandalizing of Durga Maa Temple in the heart of Capital recently?
- Why politicians such as Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, Mamata Banerjee or Yadavs are never outraged at the crimes against the Hindus
- Are NGOs a part of this nexus? At 31 lakhs, the NGOs in our counry are double the number of schools; 250 times the number of government hospitals. We have one NGO for 400 people as against one policeman for 709 persons.
- Where were these intellectuals, newspapers and politicians and NGOs when crimes against Muslims and Dalits were far worse in UPA’s 10 years than it has been in Modi’s five-plus?
- And if these intellectuals, newspapers, politicians and NGOs are working in complete sync, ensuring what we read and what we don’t; what stops us from terming them as a “Deep State” within India?
- And if this “Deep State” exists, it just can’t be ideology. (More so when Left is as good as politically over in India). Who does this “Deep State” belong to? CIA? Saudi money? Commie funds? Or all of them put together? Or deep pockets of imperialism masquerading as Liberal Order?
The dangers are obvious. As the divide between Hindus and Muslims grow deeper; the spin-off could begin with lives lost or India divided, 1947 revisited. With people at war, India would get terminally weak. Those plotting it would be happy beyond words. Those who want Hinduism crushed would be over the moon.
Hindus of course can’t match them in propaganda. They are deep-rooted: The “Deep State: have their artistes, intellectuals, historians and media planted everywhere around us. They have a ready audience at home and abroad. The narrative would stay with them in foreseeable future. This has been a project of decades. The monster can’t be slayed overnight.
Sure it needs response. An organized response. Democracy is one tool which has rolled these worthies into the ground. But we are putting too many eggs in one basket. Democracy can be subverted (Why do you think they cry so much on EVMs?). We have also seen how technological giants, such as Google, Twitter, Amazon etc promote such Break-India forces. Our culture is still a binding force but when “Jai Shri Ram” is turned into an abuse, it’s only a matter of time before it implodes. India is young and they are easily brain-washed (All those with teenagers at home would identify with this issue).
Frankly, Hindus need a George Soros to combat these forces. Those who don’t know him, should do it now. He fronts Liberal Order; Hindus need one of their own. It’s unlikely BJP or RSS would be of much help in terms of funds or a commitment for decades. But Hindus would be increasingly under siege and only an organized structure, and not stray organic counter-voices, could set them free.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
On a day when every mainstream national daily has lauded the message of “peace and brotherhood” in the Shoba Yatra at Hauz Qazi to douse communal animosity, Indian Express has chosen to flare it up.
Times of India clapped the “peaceful procession”; Hindustan Times extolled Muslims in reinstalling temple idols and even The Hindu put “communal harmony on show” in its headline. But you read Indian Express and it seems they were at a different event than the one being covered.
Beginning with its headline – “On day 3 BJP MPs visit, VHP leader says: Can turn Hauz Qazi, Ballimaran into Ayodhya” – to its content, Indian Express has insinuated “saffron terror” in the form of massive Hindu turnout and speeches by a couple of insignificant entities. Still undone, they inserted a completely unrelated mention with these words: “The issue also figured on the latest cover of the RSS mouthpiece Organiser, with the headline #Temple Vandalism Perils of Minoritarianism.”
Every reader who has read Indian Express today (July 10, 2019) would carry the impression of Saffron intimidation. A reader would fear impending communal riots in an area where Hindus and Muslims have lived cheek-by-jowl for generations. A reader would interpret the presence of 3 BJP MPs as a tacit acquiescence by the party leadership.
And what could be the consequences? Hindus and Muslims gulping this poison within them, and not just in Hauz Qazi. A temple vandalized here; a mosque desecrated there, riots erupting; lives lost, police and security overcome by mobs, government in limbo and the unrest in India bringing in sharks from Western shores at the smell of blood in the pool.
Is this what Indian Express wants? Don’t they know that its 10 days to the horrible event and Hindus haven’t even picked up a stone? Aren’t they mindful that sensible Muslims of Hauz Qazi are coming out in droves to ensure no communal rupture erupts in the vicinity? Can’t they lend an ear to the temple priest who says “Today’s event (Shobha Yatra) was organized to stand up against such people (who desecrate a religious place.) We want to cohabit with all other communities.”
To be sure, newspapers seek different angle to make themselves distinct. Someone might choose to highlight Rahul Gandhi and his biggest win in 2019 polls from Wayanad, Kerala while others might find his ousting from family bastion Amethi, UP bigger news. Someone might droll over BJP’s remarkable Lok Sabha show in Karnataka; others might dwell on how Tamil Nadu and Kerala have shut the door on them in South.
But today’s Indian Express is not an interpretation. It’s insinuation. An insinuation, which could trigger something far more sinister. Which could affect our generation, our next generation, the unity of this country, the future of India. Another Partition; another horror; another vivisection.
This issue of vandalized temple is high on the mind of millions of Indians. What next? How would it play out? Am I in a safe neighbourhood? What do I do about my daughter who returns from college to our deserted lane late in the evening? Or my son who is back only when the dusk falls on the fields in Moradabad?
Those who want an “akhand bharat” (United India) want Hindus and Muslims to live in peace and amity. Those who want a “dismembered India” want Hindus and Muslims to tear themselves apart. Today, I see Indian Express standing with the latter. It would be difficult for them to convince me that their report wasn’t projecting the fear of fundamentalist Hindus—when the rest of mainstream media has lauded the restraint of Hindus.
Am I overreacting to a “small incident” in a “small lane” at the backdrop of a “minor incident”? Didn’t World War I begin only because a prince (Archduke Franz Ferdinand) was assassinated on the streets of Sarajevo; that a stray protest in Tunisia could herald “Arab Spring”; that Soviet Union would come apart only because Ronald Reagan, a continent apart, had made arms race too prohibitive; that a “Euromaidan movement” could bring down a Ukrainian government; that American revolution could begin because the elites had refused to pay taxes?
Its time Indian Express opens itself to scrutiny. The governments and the press bodies would have their own reasons to shrink from hauling them up. But they owe an answer to Indians and their country. Come out and debate this issue with me in an open forum. When the country’s future depends on Hindu-Muslim relations, Indian Express can’t seek warmth in the glow of, god forbid, torched homes and burning pyres.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Every anniversary of Emergency in India (June 25, 1975) and worn-out clichés on muzzling media, despotic Indira, state repression and the complicity of judiciary begin to do rounds. Now a senior journalist Arun Anand has done a piece in Indian Express edits which deserves everyone’s attention.
Two takeaways from Anand’s piece would bring a silent chuckle on the faces of millions who are relentlessly resisting and overthrowing the Tukde-Tukde gang inch-by-inch in the last half-a-dozen years. Those on the other side of the divide, the Congress-Left-Sickular “ecosystem”, would surely be squirming in discomfort.
Anand quotes from an article, “The Empress Reigns Supreme”, published in August 1976 in The Guardian: “…Pro-CPI (Communist Party of India) journals in India are being given some latitude by the censors because the party is in favour of even stronger measures to suppress the non-communist opposition.” Communist leader Sitaram Yechury, a savvy Twitterati who short of blaming BJP for everything but cataract in his eye, surely deserves a forward of this piece. A reaction from him though is a long shot.
The same article goes on to state that the Indira government was pressurizing King Birendra of Nepal to hand over some of the RSS members who were running the underground movement against the Emergency from Nepal. The article, quoting a source, said: “…Kathmandu will never hand over to the Indian government members of the RSS, banned by the Gandhi regime shortly after the promulgation of Emergency.” So please be easy on Rahul Gandhi, the RSSphobia is in his genes.
The article has some interesting anecdotes on the fate of foreign journalists present in India when the Emergency was declared. Anand informs us that the correspondent from The Washington Post was expelled from India within four days of the draconian imposition. The correspondents from The Times (London), Daily Telegraph, Newsweek and Far Eastern Economic Review didn’t budge and hence had to leave the Indian shores. They fell foul of the “Press Censorship Guidelines” issued by Information & Broadcasting ministry, headed by Vidya Charan Shukla. The BBC had to shut its office in 1975. Accreditations of many foreign journalists were cancelled. One, KR Sundar Rajan, was even detained under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
Christopher Sweeney, a correspondent for The Guardian and The Economist, gave an account of his ordeal thus:
“…I came under obvious suspicion within days of my arrival in the country…after arranging meetings by telephone, odd characters would turn up to observe who I was seeing each morning, others would be waiting in red sarees in the entrance of the Delphi hotel. People I spoke to openly would be later stopped and questioned. At least twice my hotel room was broken into and searched…
“When I complained of the continued harassment by the Government agents and asked Mr Haksar (A.N.D Haskar was the chief government spokesperson) to explain why it had been necessary to organize breakings to my hotel rooms, he replied that unless I left the country as soon as possible, there ‘would be a further prospect of physical inconvenience’.”
Don’t you now sympathize with Lutyens Media who dug themselves deep under the soil to avoid the searchlight of The Emergency? I mean poor guys what could they have done but wag their tails? Don’t you have decency to shame them now, 40-odd years hence, for the sins of their predecessors? Isn’t there a mountain of material to shame them on their own sins?
Anand is matter-of-fact on the Emergency but unwittingly he has held forth a mirror, be it on Congress, Left or Indian media—the order of the “ecosystem” is more or less same to our day. The only difference is unlike today, the foreign press of those days was singing paeans in praise of RSS.
Sample a piece titled “Yes, there is n underground” published in The Economist:
“The shock troops of the (underground) movement largely come from Jana Sangh and its ideological affiliate, the RSS, which claim a combined membership of 10 million (of whom 80,000 including 6,000 full-time party workers are in prison).”
So, the Communists supported the Emergency and RSS resisted it tooth and nail. Delicious, isn’t it.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised “sabka vishwas(everyone’s trust)”in his oath ceremony. Within a fortnight his government has announced 5-crore scholarships—50% reserved for girl students—over the next five years. There are “bridge courses” for drop-outs. Madarsa teachers are to be imparted modern, scientific training.
It’s the most significant decision taken in favour of Muslims—who are main minority–in independent India. Yet Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Asaduddin Owaisi, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti—whose lifeline is Muslim votes—aren’t taking note. Our English mainstream media only took perfunctory note. The Hindu ignored the news completely.
The basic primary education of Muslims in India is distributed between madarsas, maktabs (religious schools of mosques) and Urdu-medium schools, the last one accounting for a whopping 50% of Muslim students. The drop-outs are alarming in higher education: It’s ratio was only 4-5 per cent in 2017-2018, that too largely due to Muslim-dominated institutions such as Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). There are only 4.9% teachers from the community in higher education.
When education doesn’t enter from the front door, jobs fly out of windows. Government jobs, public sector banks, public sector undertakings, corporate India all become out of bounds. Without jobs, living standards, health, control-on-population suffer. The downward spiral continues generation after generation.
What have the governments done to alleviate the educational malaise of Muslims in India? Under the Congress regime various exercises were taken: Gopal Singh Minority Panel Report (1983), National Sample Survey report, Programme of Action under the New Education Policy (1986), revised NEP (1992), Sachar Committee Report (2006) etc. But all these remained on files only: Nothing happened; the stock of Muslims remained in a free fall.
Congress isn’t alone. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is no better. In his nearly five-years of term in Delhi, nothing has materially changed for Muslims. No growth in jobs in Delhi Metro, Delhi Police, fire department etc. All these parties do is to sell hope and fear to Muslims: a bait which nearly always worked.
Let’s look at Sachar Committee Report. In 2004 General Polls, Congress had 141 seats to BJP’s 138—an advantage of a mere three seats. The coalition politics seated Congress in the Centre. An important input wasn’t lost on Congress: Muslim voters had played a major role in its victory. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh didn’t mind making a shocking communal statement: Muslims have the first right on India’s resources. Sachar Committee was formed within months to pin down the reasons and draw a roadmap for socio-economic growth of Muslims. Again, all on paper with little intent.
These are the same forces who stoked Muslims’ fears on Modi’s arrival at the helm. Can’t you see there is no Muslim candidates in polls? Don’t you remember Gujarat riots? What about Babri Masjid? Why there are no Iftar parties thrown by BJP? Every stray lynching, every stray remark was woven into the narrative.
Against this optics, the substantive proof of work on the ground was ignored. One isn’t even talking the obvious of gas, toilets, houses, health, loan benefits etc. Or the raised Haj subsidy. That hike in aids to educational institutions is meaty. Former Chancellor Zafar Sareshwala of Maulana Azad Urdu National University says that Modi government even released the withheld aid of UPA government with a substantial hike of its own. The ramped up budget of Minority Affairs ministry is eye-popping. That jobs for Muslims in Central government have doubled in last five years. No Hindu-Muslim riot has happened in Modi era. Why, even RSS is hosting Eid-Milan parties.
Triple Talaq Bill is a symbolic, if not a seminal measure in freeing one half of Muslims into shaping the growth of their family, society and nation. The corollary of lower population is an obvious benefit of an educated, empowered women force. Modi government is seeking the three Es (Education, Employment, Empowerment) for millions of Muslims in India.
This is a good moment for Muslims in India to take stock of reality on ground: (a) There is no protest from so-called Hindutva hardliners on Modi government’s latest measure in favour of Muslims; (b) On the other hand, none of their so-called “saviours” have applauded this boon to their community. A hard-look would show them who stand for Progress and who for Propaganda.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Millions of Indians mourn such tragedies. But those vocal, be it on print, web or TV, view it from religious prisms: The divide is between Muslims-unsafe vs. Hindus- wronged. Politicians and media profit, not the nation.
The question today is: Can India afford to be divided along the communal lines? If it comes to pass, who should be held responsible? Could India as a nation then survive?
We have a prototype answer to all these questions. India was divided along the communal lines in 1947; Those who created divisions, in this case British, were responsible; India lost its’ eastern and western limbs in its quest for survival.
Do we want a repeat of it in the near future? If not, how this slide need be stopped? Should another round of Partition, at the cost of millions killed, raped and displaced, must happen again?
It all begins from those who set the narrative. British did it in decades leading to the independence: Assembly elections were held along the communal lines: Muslim candidate for Muslim constituency. Then began the chorus: what would happen to minority Muslims once we leave the Indian shores. Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah were thus armed to severe India of its limbs. The resultant tragedy of Partition has few parallels in human history.
India has survived another Partition thus far. But the same narrative is reappearing: Muslims are insecure; their culture, language and religion is in danger; majority Hindus would be the oppressors.
If it were the British who fed this narrative in pre-independence era, its media and break-India forces which is fanning the fire in our times. As oppressor Hindus was the theme before the Partition, so is the theme in our times.
Occasionally, the likes of Sadhvi Pragya and Giriraj Singh play into the hands of such forces. At times, “saffron terror” is cooked up like it nearly did in the tragic 26/11 in Mumbai. Lynchings become part of leitmotif to stoke fears of oppressive Hindu majority.
Celebrities and cinestars jump in to serve their eternal desire of being in news. Writers and scientists sign petitions in orchestrated campaigns. Data, like Lokniti-CSDN, survey how many Muslims and Christians have voted for BJP; Castes are divided into sub-castes and further sub-castes as Mayawatis, Akhilesh Yadavs and Lallu Prasads feed themselves fat on its harvests. Important magnets, like Western media and prized economists, all are part of the ecosystem which want India to go up in flames.
Hindus and Muslims do have different language and culture. But both are Indians. And a majority do see themselves as Indians. The minority are Asaduddin Owaisi who incites with the call of Karbala or Niranjan Jyoti who divides with “ramzada” vs “haramzada” quip. Hang them out to dry. As you do with the despicable dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies who are at the beck and call of divisive forces (read casteist, Left and dynastic parties); and foreign-funded NGOs
Let this be a checklist for Muslims:
- We have always been made to feel insecure even as more people greet us on Eid than those who abuse us; (b) That there is no word as “minority” in Indian constitution, all are Indians; (c) That if “secularism” means denying a Muslim destitute woman (Shah Bano) her rights and reversing the judgment of Supreme Court, then such secularism must be exposed; (d) That if Hindu consolidation has happened around emotive Ram Temple issue, it was stoked by Congress and not BJP/RSS; (e) That for every Akhlaq, Pehlu and Junaid, there are tens and dozens of Hindu victims at the hands of Muslims which go unreported; (f) That if BJP doesn’t opt for a Muslim candidate, it doesn’t matter as long as the elected representative is fair to everyone in his constituency: be it roads, electricity, toilets, gas, health, education, all is available to Muslims as it is to Hindus; (g) That if Muslims are economically backward, it’s not because of Hindus but perhaps the reason lies in lack of scientific temper in Madarsa education; and less than fair freedom to women.
Let this be a checklist for Hindus:
- Indian constitution doesn’t favour Muslims; it allows them to run their institutions THEMSELVES not by the government; (b) If Muslims are subsidized for Haj, so are Hindu pilgrims provided for in magical Kumbh melas; (c) True, Indian history is distorted and neither Congress nor Left intellectuals have been fair to Hindus but it’s no excuse to substitute that anger against a common Muslim; (d) True, a dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies only report crimes against Muslims, often hoax, but they have been left thoroughly exposed in the last five years; their credibility in tatters thanks to a vigorous social media; (e) Congress and Left, two parties who stoked fears in Muslims and Dalits, are today the outcasts of Indian political system; (f) That Hindu consolidation must not happen at the cost of Muslim alienation: that we don’t want new nations in Bengal or Kerala or Tamil Nadu and its’ attendant costs; (g) That for every Zakir Naik and Burhan Wani, there is also a Muslim boatman who gives up his life but saves tourists from drowning in Jhelum in Srinagar.
We have a choice to make if want to be Hindus or Muslims or Indians. We ought to ask ourselves if we don’t mind another Partition and its horrific cost. We ought to boycott a Naseeruddin Shah or a Kamal Haasan; A Javed Akhtar or a Shabana Azmi; A Swara Bhaskar or a Prakash Raj who are selective in their outrage. The same ought to happen to a Niranjan Jyoti or Asaduddin Owaisi. We ought to outcast a Shekhar Gupta or a Rajdeep Sardesai; a Sagarika Ghose or a Barkha Dutt if the only crime they see is against Muslims; We need to stop an Indian Express or The Hindu from entering into our drawing rooms if all they can see is crime against a Dalit or a Muslim.
These are small forces. Pygmies in front of a nation of 1.30 billion. Should these handful be allowed to decide if we stay together or apart? Would you blame them if tens and thousands of us are butchered and raped in Partition 2.0?
Muslims need be confident this is their India too. Before you blame others, you must ask if your education and matter of equality to women etc need a relook. As Maulana Azad once addressed them: You can’t be drowned and defeated by anyone else but yourself. Don’t hide behind the cloak of “minority” and “secularism”. Don’t seek privileges; you are no different than any other Indian. Rely on self. Those who speak for your safety and stoke your fears, couldn’t care less for you.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Smriti Irani is a formidable opponent. You don’t need Rahul Gandhi to tell you. Anybody who has engaged her in the Parliament, TV debates or open public forum would swear in the name of Allah. Barkha Dutt won’t deny it nor would Rahul Kanwal. You could also ask Rashid Alvi (who? Well Congress). Or a collective opposition who were not safe even in their trenches as she rumbled in Parliament a few seasons ago.
In the above instances, Ms. Irani was dealing with hardened ideologues and masters of deception. Politicians who cook facts quicker than maggi noodles. Journalists, those cloak-and-dagger assassins, without a trace of blood on their pen. Yet they froze like rats do when bathed in car flashlights. You don’t test the depth of a river with both feet, do you.
This is a woman who is just not a prima donna in front of cameras. Away from limelight, she walked hundreds of miles in countless visits to uproot the Prophet of Amethi. Door to door, ear to ear, shoulder to shoulder, in grime and dust, scorching sun or raining heavens, lending ears and shoulders in equal measure or corner of her saree to sponge the tears of wailing widows.
When Ms. Irani speaks, it’s difficult to say if her Hindi is better than her English. When words in chaste Urdu are effortlessly slipped in. There is a flow and rhythm, snarl and contempt all constructing a perfect mosaic. You are confronted with a holistic picture, its’ edges secured in the frame of clinching facts. When she performs, it’s often better than her words. It makes material difference to the recipients; and not just aesthetics to its listeners.
We have no evidence where Ms. Irani cut her teeth in the unforgiving world of public gaze. To an unknown, a TV actress would be a guess too wide off the mark. It’s like somebody telling you he outran an audi. That she was an Alice looking for her Wonderland in a Miss India contest once. That she also once donned checked blue shirt and trousers with apron to greet us in a McDonald cap in Bandra, Mumbai.
Yes, she worked in McDonald once. Clearing tables and sweeping floors. All for a princely Rs 1,800 a month. We wouldn’t have known it but for a textile council securing her Provident Fund employee certificate from McDonald and toying with the idea if its’ auction could come to the aid of a group of women artisans. McDonald was a refuge when she was still nursing her rejection for an air hostess job. She was told she “lacked a good personality.”
This is a woman who has made her own destiny. She prised open the door of TV soap operas and her main lead in “Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi”(Because a mother-in-law was also a daughter-in-law once) is a TV legend like few have been. Apparently her talent was no less than her looks for she was deemed best actress for five straight years. She was a female superstar, if ever there was one, of the small screen.
Maybe stardom helped Ms. Irani in political arena. Maybe not for she was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in her childhood itself even though she joined BJP formally in 2003 only. Her grandfather, a member of the RSS, must have been an early influence. As would have been her mother, Shibani Bagchi (a Bengali) who was a Jana Sangh member. Her father, Ajay Kumar Malhotra, hasn’t anything political known about him. Thus there are no rough edges here: She is an ideologically rounded person. She is married and has three kids and pictures of a happy family are aplenty.
Leaping through the ranks, Ms. Irani became national secretary of BJP in 2010. The same year she was heading her party’s women’s wing: BJP Mahila Morcha. Next year, she entered Rajya Sabha as a parliamentarian from Gujarat. Early in her career, she took on Kapil Sibal of Congress in the 2004 General Elections from Chandni Chowk constituency in the Capital.
In Narendra Modi’s two cabinets, Ms. Irani has held various portfolios. An educated guess is that she has moved between portfolios, particularly in the case of Information and Broadcasting Ministry, because of her combative working style. She is eminently capable of ruffling a few feathers. We all know Narendra Modi would rather have his team concentrate on developmental work than lock horns in public with dimwits. She has relatively quiet and non-controversial ministries of Women and Child Development and Textiles in her latest brief. But all of us know, Ms. Irani would dominate the coming decades of Indian politics. In defeating Rahul Gandhi, she probably has caused the biggest upset not just of 2019 Polls but in an entire generation. Just 43, here is a woman who is a role model for not just millions in her gender but many more in rather ruthless, largely men’s arena called politics.