Sabrimala

A brilliant cartoon undone by Vijayan’s Kerala

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Pinaryi Vijayan’s Left government (LDF) in Kerala uses its two hands differently: One wears a velvet glove for Christians and Muslims; the other a baton for Hindus.

The latest evidence was on Wednesday when under the state government’s pressure the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi withdrew its award to KK Subhash who had drawn a brilliant cartoon in a vernacular magazine on alleged rapist, former Bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakakal.

The state government took the step on the objections of Christian clergy and browbeat Akademi into submission, notwithstanding Akademi is an autonomous body and that the essence of Indian Constitution is freedom of speech and expression.

The cartoon (see the picture) is a brilliant work of art. Mulakkal is depicted a rooster trampling the police cap, propped up by his supporter MLA PC George and an approving PK Sasi of the CPI(M) who himself has been accused of sexual harassment. Both the bishop and Sasi are wearing the same headdress, implying “cock” of the same feather. A beaming bishop is upholding the crosier (staff) strapped by a pink-coloured lingerie while a bunch of nuns are running for cover. The cartoon’s caption– “Vishwasam Rakshati” (Your Faith Will Save You)–is the knockout punch.

This one cartoon is enough to know everything concerning Mulakakal and the alleged over a dozen rapes he committed on a nun for two years (2014-2016) while he was Bishop of Jalandhar. Kerala Police sat on the case for months before a public outrage left them with no option but to knock at the door of Mulakakal. Vijayan’s government, by transferring investigating police officials, played its role of a laggard to a perfection.

Now let’s look at the Sabrimala episode. Armed with the Supreme Court mandate, Vijayan’s government used every trick in the world to make sure adult women could sneak through into the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ayyappa and assault the faith of millions of Hindus. It caused consternation not just in Kerala but also helped a Hindu consolidation in rest of the country.

Vijayan’s government had no qualms if it hurt the Hindu sentiments. It brazenly slams BJP and RSS but has open doors for radical Muslim groups, SDPI and PFI. It’s because Hindu voter today is divided between Congress, Left and BJP in the state. Left projects itself as the non-Muslim pole in Kerala and reaps a rich dividend (though the winds are changing as just a single seat in the 2019 General Polls has been its worst show in Kerala).

Vijayan, much like Mamata, faces assembly test in 2021. With Congress on a high, CPI (M) can’t afford to lose out on Christian votes. Almost 20 per cent of Kerala is Christian but the real numbers far exceed this dry statistics. Christians are the richest and most powerful minority in Kerala which dominates fishing and jewelry business. The faith is also deep-rooted: Over 1000 churches in the state are a pointer.

The united Christian voice in Kerala is in complete contrast to divided Hindu affiliation in Kerala. This, when Hindus historically have often suffered in this coastal state. It were Hindu rulers who welcomes Christians when they first came to the its’ shores in 52 AD. It were still Hindu rulers when Muslims took the sea route and became son-in-laws (Moplahs). These were the same Moplahs who killed and raped thousands of Hindus in 1920s. Or Tipu Sultan, who by an edict destroyed Hindu temples and killed tens and thousands of Hindus.

Who can forget the devastating changes in the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act 1950 in 2007 which in one stroke passed over the Devaswom Board, and thus cash-rich Hindu temples, into the controls of state governments to loot at will. They didn’t even bother to consult Hindus despite 70 Hindu organizations shrieking in protest.  It’s Devaswom Board which control the income from Temples.

(The trick is ingenuous: Income of several thousand crores goes into Devaswom Board bank accounts as fixed deposit. The government never pays back on these FDs. That’s how Kerala government “controls” the temples. Sabrimala too is milking cow for Kerala government. Temples, and sale of hard liquor, are two major source of revenue for Kerala. Beat that.)

Today Hindus are declining alarmingly in Kerala. From 69 per cent in 1901, it declined to 55% in 2011 census, a 14 per cent erosion. That Muslims and Christians have an improved demography by 10 and 4 per cent in the same period which points towards the role of conversion in such a decline. Muslims and Christians are concentrated in the north and south of Kerala. Muslim (26.6%) presence in the state is the fourth highest in the country behind Jammu and Kashmir (68.3%), Assam (34.2%) and Bengal (27%). Experts predict that by 2061 the state would’ve more Muslims than Hindus.

We know that Communists hate religions. It’s because the more people are alienated from their culture and beliefs, the better chances they have to grab power. Since Hindus are majority in India, their best hope is to align with Muslims and Christians.

(P.S: Lutyens Media erupted in anger when a scribe was arrested for “disreputing” Yogi Adityanath of UP recently. As against one in UP, 119 such arrests have been made for criticizing Vijayan in Kerala. Dear Lutyens Media, why no noise?).

 

How has Sadhvi Pragya replied to letter served on her?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

This was Friday. Hostages, a web-series thriller on Hotstar, is disrupting my home. I keep running to the door whenever the bell is pressed because my wife is glued to the screen, watching one after another of the eight-episode series of five hours. “What if in the end you are told it was only a dream of the protagonist and nothing of the sort happened. What if she wakes up in a sweat and says, sorry guys and gals, it was just a dream,” I blurted to my wife at the end of my patience.

“What if” in entertainment is the password for $100 million business. A viewer is hooked: “What if” the villain succeeds; “What if” the girl chooses her boyfriend over her husband; “What if” the panchayat forces the girl to marry her rapist; “What If” our hero is unable to save his family as tsunami hits his town.

Rarely are we disappointed with outcome. The end never betrays our expectations: Girl does remain with her husband; the villain never succeeds, rapist meets justice and our hero miraculously survives tsunami with his family. Even though movies are predictable, we spend money and hours and watch it again and again.

Politics in a way is also entertainment. More so in the Season of Polls. Politicians and Media are like its’ producers and script-writers. Events are created, star-cast assembled, emotions are heightened and the suckers again are the consumers—in this case readers and TV watchers.

Star-cast choose themselves on their own.  With Rafale issue on the edge, and The Hindu turbo-charged by god knows who, country was on the edge. Heroes are villains and villains are heroes.  Those for Modi know he is clean. Those not for Modi know he is corrupt.  How the end would play out in Supreme Court?  On its judgment—“What if”– rests the fate of 2019 General Elections.

Rafale, The Hindu, Supreme Court,

Then comes the sexual assault charge against the Chief Justice of India.  Again hero is villain and villain is hero.  Those for Gogoi, know it’s fabricated. Those against Gogoi, know he is framed.  The country is hooked: “What if” the CJI’s office is deactivated? Won’t it affect Rafale?

For years, the matter of Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship issue is in public domain. “What if” he indeed was a British citizen?  The matter acquired political tones when Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sought an official explanation from the Gandhi scion.  He was given a fortnight to reply—months have passed on since then.  The nation again had its heroes and villains: but it was a joke.

Or Sadhvi Pragya. She utters words in praise for Nathuram Godse. The secular forces give a lesson in ferocity to Islamic State (IS):  To hell with her. Bury her. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visibly hurt on national television. “I would never be able to forgive her,” says the anguished Prime Minister. The party seeks an explanation from the firebrand leader.  Heroes and villains play out again.

Nathuram Godse, Islamic State, Mediation,  Ayodhya, Ram Mandir, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Balakot,

I am sure you haven’t forgotten the “mediation” team on Ayodhya. Would this team be able to succeed or thwart the attempt on Ram Mandir? Media and secular forces see one of the mediators, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar , as potentially dangerous.  Those in favour of Ram Mandir see hope in him. Again, cardboards of heroes and villains are cut.

Think about 100s of scientists and cinestars coming out in support of one or other political ideology; the debate on whether 300 terrorists were killed in Balakot or not; whether Supreme Court would favourably rule on the re-petition on Sabrimala – all had the nation divided in its heroes and villains. Pure entertainment, wasnt it.

Now the elections are over. Why bother if Rafale was corruption or not; if Rahul Gandhi has replied on his British citizenship issue or not;  if Sadhvi Pragya has explained satisfactorily to the letter served on her. Ayodhya can wait till 2024. Sabrimala? On the backburner till 2024.

I tell this all to emphasize what the sucker they make us out to be. All this looks so stage-managed. Outrage. Anger. Despair. Democracy in danger. The secular fabric of India torn to shreds. Elections over, everything over.  Wait till the next elections. Again, the recorded events are played out.

So relax. Make friends and not enemies for that’s exactly what politicians and media want us to be: at each other’s throat. Have a laugh on the concocted issues. They mean nothing to them so why lose your sleep? Wait till the bugle of Delhi assembly elections start blowing in February next year.  A few seasonal new issues would emerge and fade with the same monotony. Democracy you said?  I call it entertainment. Okay, black entertainment.

 

Sorry Justice Chandrachud, I don’t trust judiciary

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

All too often we hear our honourable judges speak about the “trust” the people of the country have in the institution of judiciary. I am one of the people and unfortunately, I lack complete trust in judiciary, one of the four founding pillars of our democracy.

My angst today is on reading in Indian Express the contents of an alleged letter Supreme Court judge, Justice DY Chandrachud wrote to his colleague Justice Bobde who is heading a three-member in-house panel, presently hearing a sexual complaint charge against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

Before I discuss the content of the letter, I must point out my unease over such leaks which appear to happen by design than any act of intrepid journalism.  Readers would recall a fortnight ago, how the letter of ex woman-staffer against the CJI reached almost at the same time to four news web portals, three of whom are identified with pro-Left leanings. All of these websites prepared almost the same questionnaire for CJI Ranjan Gogoi to answer and sent it to the latter around the same time!!! So much for coincidence.

Then look at how events unfolded. If you pay heed to events of last fortnight, you would learn a great deal how our democracy is sabotaged. First a charge is made. Then the CJI says there are “bigger forces” at work…that it’s a conspiracy to deactivate the office of the CJI.” He also asks media to show restraint. Supreme Court also takes note of a lawyer alleging he has proof that it’s a plot to neutralize CJI. On viewing the lawyer’s content, SC judges are so alarmed that they summon chiefs of Police, CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in private chamber even as the hearing is on!!! A three-member panel is appointed under the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP). The woman-complainant shows no trust in the panel and quits.  The panel, meanwhile, continues its deliberations.

This entire episode has two sides: One, of the woman-complainant and whether she is being given fair hearing or not. Two, of the “plot” which could “deactivate” the office of CJI as part of a larger “conspiracy.” Let’s call the two sides of story as Story A and Story B.

Now readers, do tell me if you have seen our newspapers discuss Story B at all. The “conspiracy” angle has already been given a quiet burial. For our newspapers, it’s a dud issue. All their energy is on Story A which could be genuine but could also be a part of a “plot.” What if this entire episode is meant to subvert Indian judiciary?

The next logical question is: why certain media houses are so palpably partisan in this case? Or are they themselves a part of the “conspiracy”? Edits are written almost every day. Why no lens are trained on CBI, Police and ED who are probing the “conspiracy” angle.  Why “news leaks” are not emerging from these probing agencies as they are “managed” from the hallowed precincts of Supreme Court judiciary?

Now let’s cast a look at Justice DY Chandrachud’s letter which Indian Express has got hold of. In the letter, as per Indian Express, Justice DY Chandrachud demands a full court in the sexual-complaint case; not only suggests retired women judges in an expanded court but also who these three ex-judges should be; apparently going for judges who are “apolitical and above board”. Justice DY Chandrachud’s letter “was not an individual view but conveyed the sense of disquiet among judges of the apex court after informal consultations with more than 17 judges,” as per Indian Express.

Indian Express reveals that Justice Chandrachud in his letter has raised fundamental questions “for the reputation of the Supreme Court…because people repose `trust in us’ as we are `fair-minded’ and “even-handed.”

Sorry Your Honour. Trust comes with conduct. Neither did I find the press conference of four SC judges last year an action of inspiring “trust” nor does it help that your letter appears to be an act of interference in the functioning of an ongoing three-member panel probe. I have no problem when you dissent on the scope of “Aadhaar” or give a verdict in favour of women devotees in Sabrimala Temple case but this is trespassing in your fellow judges’ domain and functioning.  I am not sure if your attempt “for the reputation of the Supreme Court” actually has ended up damaging it. Your father, retired Justice YY Chandrachud, the longest-serving Chief Justice of India, once was part of the SC bench which abrogated the right of life under the Emergency. I hope future jurists won’t view your present “letter” as a seminal moment in India’s judiciary.

As an aside, I ask readers to read a few reports of Vibhor Anand, a young Supreme Court lawyer, who in his various twitter threads has claimed that judiciary is “fixed” and that appointments of judges in both High Court and Supreme Court are managed at the behest of corporate lobby.  Our judiciary is in dire need of a clean-up. But how do you bell the cat which has all sweeping powers in the form of the Collegium they themselves operate in an opaque manner? 

Why Indians have short memory and how it puts their lives at risk

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Brahma Chellaney, a trusted voice, laments in Hindustan Times today that Indians suffer from a short memory.

He cites three instances around the macabre 26/11 attacks in Mumbai which lasted four days.

One, that nobody remembers Tukaram Omble, a junior police officer who held the barrel of Kasab’s AK-47 on to his chest to make sure it hits only him and his other colleagues could swoop on the Pakistani terrorists unharmed.

Two, that all the 10 Pakistani terrorists were wearing red string wristbands for Hindus that Pakistan-American David Headley got for them from Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple. But for Kasab’s confession, the narrative of “saffron terror”, peddled so in Manmohan Singh’s government as witnessed in 2006-2007 blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express, would’ve received another heavy coat.

Three, that the Kartarpur Corridor had its cornerstone laid on the 10th anniversary of 26/11. One could imagine Pakistan’s generals and politicians doubling up in mirth at Indians’ absence of memory.

I bring all this up to drive home a larger point. People don’t remember because in-your-face newspapers decide that for you. They decide what you remember and what you don’t. Often what they hide is more relevant than what they choose to reveal.

So they ensure you remember “Karkare” because Pragya Sadhvi has taken his name—and never Tukaram Omble.

That you remember Modi, Shah, Yogi Adityanad as divisive and not Omar Abdullah who has given call for two Prime Ministers in the country. Or that Mehbooba Mufti has warned “Hindustanis” they would be wiped out from the history books.

That Rahul Gandhi could lie  on the shoulders of Supreme Court for his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” agenda but you wouldn’t know a thing why Rahul Gandhi himself is on bail in the National Herald case. That Rahul Gandhi’s shady deals with evidence is in public domain; India’s finance minister (Arun Jaitley) subsequently held a press conference on the matter but not a line is to be seen in any mainstream English daily of the country.

 

That Supreme Court could induce “mediation” on the matter of Ayodhya but not in equally contentious “Sabrimala” issue.

That the settlement of Rohingyas is a human rights issue but not 5 lakh Hindus displaced from Kashmir.

Not  a word on same Rohingyas, at least a lakh of them, and how they are settled in Jammu when under Article 35A other Indians can’t buy property in J&K.

That stopping Bangladeshi infiltrators is a human rights issue but allowing persecuted Hindus from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan is an attempt to erode the cultural compass of a state.

That even after helping a Muslim and a Dalit to become the President of India, BJP is an anti-Dalit party and not Abdullahs and Muftis who have refused voting rights to lakhs of  “Valmikis”, brought from Punjab on that explicit promise in 1957 to fill the post of “safai karamcharis (sweepers)” on strike.

That why RSS is a communal organization and not SDPI or PFI, identified as a terrorist network by National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and who are in alliance with Congress in Wayanad where Rahul Gandhi is contesting.

That BJP is a threat to institutions such as judiciary, RBI and CBI but not Mamata Banerjee who allows investigating CBI officers to be manhandled and forcibly kept in a police station. Or Congress who invokes impeachment of the Chief Justice of India and called the army chief a “goonda.” Or when Mamata doesn’t allow opponents to hold public rallies in Bengal.

That a police officer killed in Uttar Pradesh points to the deteriorating law and order situation in the state but spate of murders in states like West Bengal and Kerala is par for the course.

That EVMs, VVPATs or Aadhaar are a threat to people’s rights and democracy but not the lies of Congress and AAP leaders who refuse to take up the challenge of Election Commission and yet indulge in an event in London to show how “EVMs” are hackable—and fail miserably in that.

That Amit Shah’s son has made “millions” in crooked deals but the three-year-old Devansh, grandson of Chandrababu Naidu, somehow has assets of nearly Rs 20 crores and still not worth readers’ attention.

That Congress could promise “nyay” and Rs 72,000 in poor’s pockets without a single reader being told that it’s not feasible, that Congress hasn’t delivered on most of their promises in 70 years; and that Rs 72k annually to poor would be pick-pocketed from the middle class and would easily put our inflation into double figures.

Why there is no credible book on the macabre tales of The Partition?  Why the mention of Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Lal Bahadur Shastri or Sardar Patel wouldn’t produce more than 50 words from majority of us? Why the torture suffered by Veer Savarkar in “kaala paani” in Andamans is no memory while Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in “home-like” prisons was such a sacrifice? Why Nathuram Godse and his book on his trial subsequent to Mahatma Gandhi’s murder why banned for more than 20 years? Why not a single copy of Niyogi Commission’s report on the menace of “conversion” by Christians is available anywhere?  How come Kashmir Valley, which had only 3 districts to Jammu’s 6 districts, were brought on par to the extent it has 46 seats to Jammu’s 37?

One could go on endlessly. But the narrative is the same: Lutyens Media and Leftist websites work on an agenda, brainwash readers and do it with impunity because the counter-narrative—run primarily by Swarajyamag, OpIndia and NewsBred—is only recent. Unless more such forums mushroom; unless readers are questioning, until the laws of the land haul these newspapers up for their lies and manipulation, unafraid of the so-called “Freedom of Press”refuge to these miserables, Indians would continue to have short memory and the repercussions would be grave.

 

 

 

 

 

Attn. Faye D’ Souza: for a lesser communal tweet, a star chef was sacked in Dubai

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.”

Another one:

“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.

We can’t leave India to our politicians or professors

The smugness on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s face as if Messiah of peace between India and Pakistan, as he made way for Kartarpur across Wagah border, really got my goat up. Surely he knows Imran Khan is just a dummy; that terrorism both for Khalistan and Kashmir (or for Kabul) is our neighbour’s export, that for Vajpayee’s bus initiative we got Kargil. All this is not for India. This is to nurture his own constituency with an eye to be Punjab’s next chief minister. It would all suit Pakistan and Khalistan donors but not India.

But then why blame Sidhu? I read today Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Left are ok but not Congress. Mamata, for whom Durga Puja is not a priority and who equates BJP with Taliban; Akhilesh who sees BJP as the biggest danger to democracy; Mayawati who terms Modi as anti-poor; Left’s Sitaram Yechury who calls Modi as the looter of India, are all okay now. All this might win Modi elections. But what about India? What about millions of Hindus who see a threat in these forces and view Modi as their saviour?

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are making overt gestures to be seen as essentially Hindus. They support the agitation against Supreme Court verdict on Sabrimala; have desisted in backing Sidhu on Kartarpur; Sonia sports a tilak (how ludicrous can it really get) in election rallies; and Rahul Gandhi shows his janau to everyone when none of his previous four generations ever wore it.  All this is for political dividends and certainly not India.

Shiv Sena are now agitated on Ram Mandir. Uddhav Thackeray and his army reached all the way to Ayodhya. Till recently, millions of workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, most of whom are Hindus, were anathema to them. Now they can go thousands of miles to support a long-cherished dream of Hindus. The idea is to cut the plank which could help BJP in 2019 elections. Did you really think it was for Hindus or India?

Once in a while we are suffused with hope. Arvind Kejriwal was once such in 2014. He evoked Gandhi; wore muffler and slippers and took on the high and mighty of this land. Now he cartwheels around Mamata and Mayawati. He has made sure if another Kejriwal emerges he would have no chance of gaining people’s affection.  

But then who thinks for India? The ones who bring their garbage in the name of newspapers to our verandahs; the police or judiciary who give a damn to our urgency; the bureaucracy who are nothing better than glorified clerks afraid to put signature to anything meaningful; the NGOs most of whom are forward soldiers of foreign funders or the academia who trade pen for cheques?

Do you think you and I care about India? We would crib about thousands of issues in our air-conditioned rooms but never take that one step towards an agency. What did you last do about the filth in your neighourhood? Or the menace of wild dogs who could mount a concerted attack if you step out in pitched darkness? What do we personally do to reduce pollution or energy-usage? The horror that our schools are for our children? Taught by teachers who equate education with their salary slips? When did we last visit a village where 80 per cent of India still lives?

Politicians, media, judiciary, policy, bureaucracy, civil society and we as individuals are all too many words and too little action. It can’t work; it won’t work. India is stretching itself thin. Almost 18 per cent of world’s humanity is sitting on a volcano of lies and manipulation. The righteous impotence of me right vs.you wrong; your religion vs. my religion; those charlatans who take past quotes out of context and plaster the edit pages; the newspapers who pass on socialites and film actresses as our new Plato and Socrates. Writers have a role if they are impartial and neutral and appeal to reason or logic. Not when it is sold to someone else’s good. As readers we must take the pen out of their hands and give them shovels to dig their own graves.

Indians now need to be real stakeholders if India is to survive. We need to look at issues both personal and impersonal though the line is often blurred.  Personal would involve making our politicians, judiciary, police, media, bureaucracy accountable. Impersonal would mean larger issues such as those of farmers, joblessness etc.. We need citizens’ charters who audit our institutions like accounting firms do to their clients. We need to force our way into decisions our politicians take or the decisions our judiciary delays—for all other reasons except to the benefit of a common man.  We need to show them our anger is no longer limited to our drawing rooms. Trust me, we the faceless would have the attention of thousands of eyes and cameras if we stop them at their gates and demand an answer. Our inertia is our weakness and the only strength they have.

India can go wrong any moment. It could be an ecological disaster or a hostile nuclear-armed neighbourhood. It could be the lava of a largely young nation which frustrated at lack of jobs or coma of our judiciary could bury us all under a thick carpet of violence and breakdown. We surely can’t leave it to our politicians and professors.

Deepawali defiance has a grave message

We all know Supreme Court was mocked disdainfully by the citizens on Deepawali as firecrackers dinned in our ears till wee hours next day. There was no adherence to time slots; no indulgence by stealth; a few selfies in social media of individuals standing over the bomb-scraps as a hunter would over a sprawled killed tiger.

This was a serious matter. The vaporous, poisonous air of the Capital was unlikely to get better. The long arm of law loomed big. Spending the Festival of Lights behind a cold, bleak and dark lock-up isn’t quite one’s idea of an adventure. Yet here were citizens thumbing their nose in disdain; preferring faith over law.

Police, it would appear, had given up on enforcement long before it was breached by millions. How do you patrol lanes and streets; verandahs or terraces? Only when fellow residents complained about violating neighbours, did the cops reluctantly hauled themselves up for action. Ignoring a breach was tantamount to risking their own jobs.

The citizens apparently have drawn a line in the sand. They risked legal censure, incarceration, a possible blot on their careers. But let nobody, not even the supreme judicial whip of the land, come between them and their faith.

Even Lutyens’ media couldn’t ignore the masses’ contumacy. Hindustan Times made it a lead story of their edition aptly headlining “Ban Goes Up In Smoke…”. The Times of India too made it the day’s biggest headline, “Most Flout…” The Hindu noted in headline: “Supreme Court restrictions on crackers violated.”

Indian Express was another matter. It chose the story of stray arrests over people’s defiance.  Not a line in their front-page story mentioned of grave violation of Supreme Court order by the masses. All they did was to report how many were booked for violation of the ban across the country.  As if to warn its readers that they would be literally playing with fire next year; as if to engulf them by a sense of fear.   What ought to have been a moment of reflection for them, or judiciary for violating people’s faith, was lost in the enthusiasm to show the punitive arm of the state.

Indian Express ought to have paid heed to their former editor Shekhar Gupta who slammed the judiciary for coming between the people and their faith. In trying to enforce what is un-enforceable. “Do you really see police in our various states entering households, arresting and prosecuting people,” wrote Gupta, admittedly in the wake of Sabrimala, no different from Deepawali in legal crosshair.

So complex, traditional and long-held are the beliefs of millions that Supreme Court is best adviced to leave citizens alone on the matter of religion. Upholding the Constitution on gender equality and grave societal matters is one thing; wading into centuries-long faith is quite another. One shouldn’t come at the cost of the other. And as we know from last year, banning firecrackers didn’t help the Capital’s poisonous air. The known reasons—stubble burning, construction, sand-debris bearing trucks, car emissions—remain unattended. That sends the wrong message of being selective in fight against pollution. More so when the ban, barring a small window of two hours, was not for Delhi NCR alone but covered the entire country.

All this does is to undermine the authority of the judiciary. Judiciary against citizens has only one winner. More so when whispers start gaining volume that Hindus are under a sustained attack on their faith and practices in their own land.

Deepawali, a joyous festival, is second to none in a Hindu calendar, carrying an ethical lesson on good lording over the evil in the form of their supreme deity, Ram. Tragically, the news in newspapers is about seizing of firecrackers, violations and arrests, with the same sense of foreboding as bomb-attacks in our cities, seizures of cache of rifles, machine guns or handcuffed terrorists. It’s a classic case of solutions being worse than the malady.