Friday, March 27, 2009

Why not Mayawati?

While going through what TV Channels,Newspapers and Blogosphere are saying about the coming General Elections one can easily recognise a strong bias against the Bahujan Samaj Party leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minster Mayawati. Even liberal feminists do not seem to be happy with the possibility of her rising to the position of Prime Minsiter. Some of the comments I read in Blogosphere include:
"Only over my dead body can Mayawati become Prime Minister"
"My friend said he will jump down from the 10th floor if she became Prime Minister"
" Let us hope Mayawati will loose and thereby the Caste politics end"
' Her house in Delhi is so huge.It is almost a Palace"
There is also similar but less intense bias against regional Parties.
Why is it so? Is Mayawati the worst politician India has seen? Is she [or the BSP] the most divisive force in Indian politics? Is she the most corrupt Indian leader? Is she the worst dictator India has ever seen?
I was confused.
Now let me make it clear.I am not for or against Mayawati. But when there is so much bias against one leader,that too a woman I am appalled.We in India is supposed to have democracy and not feudalism. She is the undisputed leader of a Party which was democratically elected by the electorate of biggest State of India.[If Uttar Pradesh was an Independent Country it will be the 6th biggest Country on the basis of population]
She cannot boast of a pedigree.She is not well versed in English and is not highly educated.Her rise in politics is on her own,fruits of her own efforts. She may be corrupt,dictatorial and casteist ,but that should never be the reason for bias against her as all her opponents are the same. There may be a difference in degree,that is all.
Then I read the op-ed article by Seema Mustafa in the New Indian Express and was relieved to see some one else is thinking like me. Here are some excerpts:[in blue italics]
"It is interesting how the elite suspect, ridicule and demonise those who do not fall in the same special category.
And how the concept of the ‘other’ is created, placed into a stereotype and then used to foment hatred. This is done the world over, with the rich and the powerful being more influential than the poor and the marginalized. It is also done for individuals and political parties that fall outside the acceptance parameters of the elite and currently this prejudice is very much on display in India.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati is facing the brunt of elite intolerance with the English media — print and electronic — reflecting this in more ways than one.........

Mayawati is corrupt they say. And while it is difficult to prove whether she is or not, what about the corruption of those who are in power today and who were in power yesterday? It is true that she flaunts her wealth and those who are acceptable to the elite do not. But was not money made in major transactions by the top politicians in power, either directly or through their sons and daughters? The political grapevine is well aware of these people, with the amounts received in bribes, and the businesses run under benami names known. But this is not spoken of as it involves those that the elite regard as their own, and pass over with a general “oh, all politicians are corrupt”. But there is no vilification of the individual, as there is of Mayawati (or for that matter there was of Lalu Prasad) with the BJP and the Congress being able to easily hide the money spinning ‘enterprises’ of its top politicians from public view.

Mayawati is autocratic, they say. But is the Congress dynasty democratic? Is decision making in the Congress taken by the few or the majority?........
Let me add. Is RSS who decides the major policies of BJP democratic? Can a BJP leader defy the RSS and stay in the Party?

Mayawati is casteist, they say. But is that a crime? Particularly, if the caste is the poorest of the poor, the untouchables who have been discriminated against for centuries? If by being in power, she can ensure that the Dalits are more secure, (a police lathi has not beaten a Dalit to pulp since she came to power) employed and get respect and dignity is that a problem? And are not the BJP and the Congress casteist?
The Casteist nature of BJP is well illustrated in the Budget proposals of Karnataka Government for this year. Congress was always trying too woo various castes including the minorities since Independence to hold on to Power.In case of Mayawati she was able to bring together the Dalits and the Brahmins along with Muslims and form a unique winning combination. Her political acumen has to be complimented.

Mayawati has been in power now twice, she has been in politics now for several years. Has she presided over violence in any part of UP? Like the BJP has, and the Congress has — in Gujarat, in Delhi, in Mumbai, in Karnataka, in Punjab, in Assam, in Orissa, it is a long list. And here one is not talking just of the central governments, one is talking of the state governments of these parties when they were in power. Is the Christian feeling more secure today under the BJP coalition government in Orissa? Or is the Muslim living without fear in Andhra Pradesh under a Congress government?

This is not to say that Mayawati will be the best prime minister. Or even to say that she will be a good prime minister.
This is to say that she will be as good a prime minister as BJP’s Lal Krishna Advani or Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi.
And that if they have the right to lead this country, so does she. She does not speak English well, she does not wear a new sari every day, and she does not have the finesse that makes the elite comfortable.

But she is a Dalit woman who has fought through the prejudice of caste, gender and class and has done so peacefully without the BJP’s violence or support from a dynastic right to inheritance.
It is time for the elite to shed its prejudice and intolerance, and realise that India is best represented through the regional parties. And that if these did not exist, violent struggles would have broken out in different parts of the country as the deprived are learning to recognise their rights and are not willing to be shackled and silenced by a two-party system that does not meet their aspirations and does not recognise them as equals. It is true that everything is not perfect, far from it, but at least the presence of regional parties has been able to open the valve of discontent and give people alternatives that are important and crucial to the strengthening of Indian democracy ".

Bravo....... I cannot resist myself from standing up and applauding Seema Mustafa.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Army's Sopore probe report raises new hopes in the Valley

Two civilians were killed and one seriously injured after troops of Rashtriya Rifles allegedly opened unprovoked fire at a group of people in Bomai area near Sopore in north Kashmir on February 21,Saturday evening. After the incident massive protests erupted in the area.Reports reaching here said that troops of 22 Rashtriya Rifles opened indiscriminate fire, allegedly without any provocation, on a group of people who were part of a festival of a revered Saint’s shrine in Bomai.

Locals said that there was no firing from any side. “The Army firing was totally unprovoked and they opened fire at unarmed civilians who were engaged in a gossip” said Manzoor Ahmad a resident. Those who died in the incident have been identified as Muhammad Amin Tantray and Javaid Ahmad and Firdous Ahmad Khawaja was injured.

Such incidents of civilian deaths by Army firing was not new in the Valley.Many a time those involved are not punished. But with a popular elected Government in office the people of Kashmir expected some thing better.

The Chief Minister Omar Abdulla shaken by the incident and the protests it provoked ordered an enquiry by District Magistrate.

District Magistrate’s report said that the firing on February 22 was carried out by the Army in ‘panic’. It also contends the Army’s claim that there was a crossfire by saying that there is no evidence of militants being present on the spot.
This report of which has already been shared with the Army, said Army jawans were searching a bus in Sopore when they noticed some suspicious movement. The jawans opened fire in panic resulting in the death of two innocent civilians, it said.

The Army ordered an inquiry after initially denying its involvement. Now the Army's inquiry report is out.
A Junior Commissioned Officer and two soldiers were on Friday March 20,indicted for “various lapses” in connection with a firing incident at Bomai in Sopore. Army court of inquiry headed by a brigadier held the three belonging to 22 Rashtriya Rifles accountable for “various lapses,”. Disciplinary action had been ordered.

A visibly relieved Omar Abdullah said, “Army probe report is transparent. It is the fastest probe that has been conducted in the valley. I have kept the promise made to the people of the valley. Army has promised that strict action will be taken against the jawans.”

He also said that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which has been in force for nearly two decades in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, will come to an end during the tenure of his government.

The Kashmiri people like Omar Abdulla is happy with the transparency and speed at which the inquiry was conducted. This raises new hopes of Peace.

A pleasing sight for the World

"Nothing has been more encouraging in cricket in recent weeks than the sight of Ashwell Prince and Imraan Khan opening the innings for South Africa.
It’s not so long ago that they had no right to choose their government, live where they liked, marry their sweethearts or play cricket for their country. They were second class citizens at the beck and call of the white
Now they were able to strap on their pads after the Australians had been dismissed for a paltry total and walk out together to face the
fury of the visitor’s new ball attack.
Indeed they were so eager to get underway that they strode to the centre several minutes before the fieldsmen and stood surveying the scene till Ricky Ponting led his men out

This is how Peter Roebuck described the sight of 2 non-white openers going out to bat for South Africa in the Second Cricket Test against Australia.

I was not fortunate enough to witness this historic event on TV. But I could very well understand the importance of the event.

It was in 1970 that ICC[International Cricket Council] suspended Cricket ties with South Africa after tremendous pressure from India,West Indies and anti-apartheid movement. [African Nations and Asian Nations under the leadership of India threatened to boycott the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh to be held in July 1970.]
ICC voted to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely because of its government's policy of apartheid, an overtly racist policy, which led them to play only against the white nations (England, Australia, New Zealand), and field only white players. This decision excluded outstanding players such as Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Mike Procter from partaking in international Test Cricket. It would also cause the emigration of future stars like Allan Lamb and Robin Smith, who both played for England, and Kepler Wessels, who initially played for Australia, before returning to South Africa.

The apartheid system - which saw South Africa ousted from the British Commonwealth in 1961, excluded from sporting events and subjected to trade sanctions in the 1970s and 1980s - started to come apart in 1985.
That year, non-whites won limited constitutional rights and interracial marriage was permitted.
President P W Botha resigned in 1989 and his successor FW de Klerk repealed all apartheid laws by 1991 but only whites could vote and segregation continued. ICC allowed the re-entry of South Africa in to its fold in 1991.
A new constitution enfranchised all South Africans in 1993 and Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president in 1994.

Since then South African Cricket was largely dominated by Whites even though a controversial quota system was present to include more non-white players. Now the non white players seems to assert themselves as they shed the burden of Apartheid. Imraan Khan played only because Graeme Smith was injured but with Ashwell Prince,Hashim Amla and Makhaya Ntini playing well the need for quota system will soon disappear in South African Cricket.

Four of South Africa's top six batsmen in the current Test match have brown skins. Had Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the tall left-armer glimpsed in Australia, not been recovering from knee surgery, the majority of the team would have come from previously repressed communities. In the 1990s, South African teams led by Kepler Wessels and Hansie Cronje often did not include a single non-white player.
Although the job is by no means complete, owing to wide discrepancies in facilities, it is a remarkable achievement. And it has been effected without a bloody revolution. The rise of the current crop confirms that the game is rising in all groupings — only the Anglo-Saxons have fallen back, largely because many have moved to England or Perth. It will take more than a few bombs in Mumbai and Lahore to defeat cricket's cosmopolitan ideal.

The election of Barack Obama as the U.S President and the sight of the new non-white opening pair of South African Cricket makes us believe that the struggle against racism lead by among others,Mahatma Gandhi,Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela is nearing its final victory.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

BJP worried about the falling mask?

The mask of BJP is falling apart,that too so close to a General Election. This time the great grand son of Jawaharlal Nehru,Varun Gandhi tried to be more 'Hindutva' than his fellow party men.
Also the media is [again] under attack for broadcasting the video of Varun Gandhi's 'Hate speech'. What did he say?

At an election meeting in Banderkheda in Pilibhit Varun Gandhi said “This is not a hand [Congress symbol], it is the power of lotus [BJP symbol]. It will cut the head of …” He concluded with “Jai Shri Ram.

”While “Jai Shri Ram” was his battle cry at roadside meetings or assemblies, some of the other slogans used were Gau hatya rukwana hai, Varun Gandhi ko jitana hai (cow slaughter must stop, Varun Gandhi must win) and Varun nahin yeh aandhi hai, doosra Sanjay Gandhi hai (Varun Gandhi is like a storm, he is another Sanjay Gandhi).

Interesting reactions from Sangh Parivar and Varun

Varun Gandhi said that the tapes of his speech aired by some channels were “doctored” and there was a “political conspiracy” to defame him.It seems that Mr. Gandhi planned to address a press conference at the party office. But permission was not given.Following this, Mr. Gandhi addressed select media representatives at his mother Maneka Gandhi’s residence.

Communal remarks by Varun Gandhi, were strongly criticised by the party’s two Muslim faces – Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – but some other leaders preferred to say that they had not heard the speech, which was was telecast by several channels.

Mr. Hussain said he had conveyed his strong protest to the senior party leadership, including party president Rajnath Singh and its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani.
A few leaders in the party admitted that this, added to the fact that so far the BJP has cleared only two Muslim candidates, would certainly push back Mr. Advani’s attempt to present the BJP as the “true secular party” with others like the Congress and the Left being “pseudo secular.”

Mr. Naqvi did not deny that Mr. Gandhi used unacceptable language against Muslims, but said that this was because of his past “Congress culture,” although he was not able to say when Mr. Varun Gandhi was with the Congress, for he has been with the BJP well before he reached the age of contesting the Lok Sabha polls.

Mr Naqvi must have been mentioning the Congress legacy of Varun Gandhi.

Why Varun was given the Party ticket by the BJP? Must be just to cash in on his Nehruvian legacy. So it is ironic that the same legacy is blamed now.

The Shiv Sena has come out strongly in support of Varun Gandhi.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna on Wednesday, the Sena even expressed its admiration for Varun’s father Sanjay Gandhi, saying if he was alive the Congress would not have been so wishy-washy on the issue of fundamentalism in the Muslim community.
The editorial says that Mr. Varun Gandhi, was indeed speaking the truth.
Waxing eloquence on Mr. Gandhi, the editorial observes that the young man is a forceful reminder of his father. It is like Sanjay Gandhi is reborn and speaking through his son. The Bajrang Dal and Viswa Hindu Parishad has also come with statements supporting Varun.

This opinion on Sanjay Gandhi is interesting because the Jan Sangh[old BJP] was a part of Janata Party in 1977 while it succesfully fought against the Indira/Sanjay Gandhi dictatorial Emergency regime.Mr Advani was part of that struggle.What is his opinion now about the actions of Sanjay Gandhi?

BJP is confused and is trying to gauge the mood of the voters. It wants to put some distance between Varun's hate speech and itself so that the Party is acceptable to Secular Hindus.At the same time in secret like Shiv Sena,they must have loved the speech and must be proud of the fact that the Great grand son of Nehru has really become a 'proud Hindu'.

Reports compiled from 'The Hindu' of March 18th and 19th.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Christian clergy playing politics again in Kerala

Various denominations of the Christian church organised a prayer meeting and a protest meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday March 15th against the alleged persecution of the church by the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala.

They maintained that the government was making concealed attempts to destroy the unity of the church and distance believers from the clergy.

Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop Susaipakiam, who addressed the protest meeting, said the church was being persecuted indirectly. Cases had been filed against church-owned colleges, he said. The Archbishop said that believers should vote for those who respected the Constitutional provisions and pray for an end of the persecution.

Speakers at the meeting referred to various measures of the Education Department, including the controversial textbook prescribed for seventh standard.
The programme was jointly organised by the Catholic Church, the Church of South India, the Orthodox Church, and the Jerusalem Mar Thoma Church.
There was allegation that the Government had pushed the state’s education sector into a crisis. It took exception to the reported proposals to hand over the control of schools to local bodies, stop prayers, remove religious figures from schools, and make teachers attend training classes on Sundays.

Things had been hurtling towards a flash point since Andrews Thazhathu, Archbishop of Thrissur, threatened to launch a “second liberation struggle” to free the church schools from the hands of the “authoritarian political leadership”.

Church versus the Left

The battle between the Left Front and the Church dates back to the first Left Government in the State in 1957. Kerala had a large number of schools and Colleges run by the Church. As they were the only educational institution available in many remote areas the Government before and after independence used to give working aid to the schools and Colleges.Many other caste and religious organisations like the Nair Service Society also were running such Aided Institutions.

Even though a big part of funding including the salary of the teachers were from the tax payers money, Government never had any control over the administration.Huge amount was taken as bribe by the management for appointing not so qualified teachers.
The Left Government with the learned academician Joseph Mundasserry as the Education Minister tried to get some Government control over the appointment of teachers in Aided Schools.
The infamous vimochana samaram ["liberation struggle"] organised by the Church and Nair Service Society and supported by the Congress and Muslim League in 1959 was against this step by the EMS Ministry. Citing poor Law and Order situation Nehru dismissed the Left Government.This was the first time the article 356 of the Constitution was used to dismiss an elected State Government.

Since then no Left Front Government was brave enough to touch the issue.Since all communal organisations belonging to all religions were together in siphoning off tax payers money no real protest was raised.
The current Left Front Government with a record majority in the Assembly is again trying to put these institutions under some Government control. The Government was also trying to get some public control in to the money-making self financing College Industry.This is being opposed strongly by the Church and other communal organisations.
This allegation of 'persecution' by the current Church leaders is because of their fear of huge economic lose if the Government had some say in the administration of such Institutions.

Church and Lok Sabha elections

There were also brazen attempts by the Church to influence the selection of Congress Candidates from some constituencies in Kerala.A letter reportedly sent by the Varappuzha Archbishop to Congress president Sonia Gandhi recommending Hibi Eden for the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat has stirred up a wave of protest in the political class as well as church circles.

Sebastian Paul, current MP has termed the Archbishop’s recommendation as “inappropriate and unbecoming of his office.”
“It’s an affront on Kerala’s tradition of democracy and secularism,” Mr. Paul said. “The Archbishop has clearly strayed from his spiritual role by asking a political party boss to field a specific person as the candidate.”
Some days ago the Thrissur Archbishop had come out openly supporting Tom Vadakan's candidature from Thrissur.
A sane voice
Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, has said that it was not right for the Thrissur archbishop to call for the candidature of Tom Vadakkan in Thrissur in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Asked for his response to the issue of the church backing Mr. Vadakkan in Thrissur, he said that though he had nothing against Mr. Vadakkan it was not right for the archbishop to support his candidature and ask people to vote for him. “It is a decision for the people to make” .

Such voices of sanity are rare from the Christian clergy of Kerala, some of whom had openly supported and prayed for the accused clergymen in Sister Abhaya murder case.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is mainstream media victimising Hindus?

Many are seen complaining that mainstream Media is against Hinduism.Many others have the opposite view.They feel Islam is the number one enemy of the Media. Some also feel that media is against Christianity. What is the truth? Let me try to explain my view.

Many Hindus [I think]feel Hinduism is under attack when Sangh Parivar's agenda is attacked by the media.They some how believe in the Sangh propaganda that attacking it is same as attacking Hinduism. Same is true of followers of other religion.When the sordid and murky happenings inside the convents are exposed,some Christians believe that Christianity is attacked. When Jihadi madrassas producing terrorists are attacked by the media many Muslims feel their religion is under attack.

As an organisation, mass Media which includes newspapers,magazines,TV Channels etc are established primarily for 2 reasons. Main aim is to make profit to the owners. At the same time the owners will try to propagate their point of view [politics and or religion]. So no Media is neutral.They basically try to make maximum money by selling the owners politics.Wise owners will try not to push their point of view too much so as not to jeopardise the profits.

As a reader in Kerala the National Newspapers which I follow are The Hindu and The New Indian Express. The Hindu is evidently anti-BJP while the Indian Express is pro-BJP. That is their political view. But they try to convey news in a neutral fashion so that the Circulation is not affected much by their political bias. But no one can say that The Hindu is anti-Hindu or Indian Express is anti- Islam. Religion is usually not attacked in pages of these newspapers.

There are many Malayalam Newspapers. Most popular are Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhoomi. Manorama is a pro-Church and anti-Left newspaper. Mathrubhoomi have multiple owners, most prominent is a Janata Dal leader who is now with Left Front.Many others are close to Nair Service Society. So Mathrubhoomi many a time do not have a fixed bias.
Now let me examine the National TV News Channels that I see namely,NDTV,Time Now,CNN IBN and Headlines Today. All the National News Channels handle the National Parties, BJP and Congress with due respect. But most of the regional Parties are dumbed as corrupt, opportunistic or chauvinist. The same is true for the National Parties but that fact is conveniently forgotten.This respect of the News Channels to Congress and BJP may help them to get some favours from these Parties.
NDTV obviously have a soft corner for Congress.Like wise Headlines Today favours BJP.Times Now and CNN IBN do not seem to have fixed bias.None of the four attack Religion as such.Any way they do not attack Hindu religion.Some times I feel,their anti terror rhetoric turn in to anti-Islam bias.

So there is no logical reason to believe that Mass Media as a whole is against Hinduism. Mass Media represents several political view points which is not against any religion.
Why then there is a cry of victim hood from some Hindus? Such a cry of victim hood is carefully propagated through a whispering campaign orchestrated by the Sangh Parivar.They want all Hindus to believe that attack on Sangh Parivar's divisive policies is an attack on Hinduism.Thus they believe that sufficient pressure can be put on the media to prevent reporting of the truth.
Similarly many Christians and Muslims believe the same when media attack some practises of the Clergy of their religion.
Such unreasonable attack on mainstream media helps only the Communalists.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Irom Sharmila, the Iron Lady's fast continues

On the eve of the International Women’s Day, Irom Sharmila, or the ‘Iron lady of Manipur’, who has been on a fast unto death since November 2000, was released from judicial custody March 7 evening. The “Iron Lady” undertook her fast unto death against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) after troops of the Assam Rifles gunned down 10 civilians at Malom near Imphal airport on November 2, 2000. She is undeterred and has pledged to carry on her agitation against the black law which gives troops sweeping powers to kill even on suspicion and still have immunity from prosecution. She has been surviving on forced nasal feeding at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal East for the past eight years.

“While the whole world will be celebrating International Women’s Day, no one will know that in a land called Kangleipak, where the land is very fertile and there are so many resources and the people are very friendly, and the wind blows very sweetly, the women of the land are facing so much oppression,” a lady journalist in Imphal quoted Sharmila’s words.

“I am determined to continue my fast. I am convinced that people are with me and with their support our dream will come true,” a news report quoted Sharmila as addressing a large crowd that had gathered to greet her.

It may mentioned here that last year, too, she was freed earlier at the end of the jail term, but was put behind bars again after she refused to call off the hunger strike. Sharmila has been booked under Section 309 IPC for attempts to commit suicide. The offence is one that can be bailed, but she has been in jail after refusing to apply for it. The maximum jail term for the offence is one year.Every year she is released after the expiry of her term and rearrested soon after, sometimes within 24 hours; that’s has been the pattern for the past eight years.

It is worth mentioning that while Sharmila is waging this unequal battle against the Indian state, many of her dear and near ones have stood solidly behind her. Irom Sakhi,the 75 year old mother of Sharmila has not seen her daughter since she blessed her on the momentous day 8 years ago when she decided to undertake her fast. Irom Sakhi, with tears in her eyes told a correspondent : "It is just possible that my getting emotional on seeing her may weaken her resolve. And I do not want that my daughter lose in this battle, which is for the betterment of humanity".

Armed Forces Special Powers Acts

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) is considered to be one of the more draconian legislations that the Indian Parliament has passed in its 45 years of Parliamentary history. Under this Act, all security forces are given unrestricted and unaccounted power to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed. Even a non-commissioned officer is granted the right to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so in order to "maintain the public order".
The AFSPA gives the armed forces wide powers to shoot, arrest and search, all in the name of "aiding civil power." It was first applied to the North Eastern states of Assam and Manipur and was amended in 1972 to extend to all the seven states in the north- eastern region of India. They are Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, also known as the "seven sisters". The enforcement of the AFSPA has resulted in innumerable incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape, and looting by security personnel. This legislation is sought to be justified by the Government of India, on the plea that it is required to stop the North East states from seceeding from the Indian Union.

There is no doubt that a large number of armed opposition groups operate in Manipur and elsewhere in the North East and that they have been responsible for gross human rights abuses. Yet, unlawful law enforcement only begets contempt for the rule of law and contributes to a vicious cycle of violence. The unusual form of demonstrations by some members of the Meira Paibis who stripped themselves in front of the Kangla Fort on 15 July 2004 was an act of desperation to protest against the systematic denial of access to justice.

The strength of any country claiming itself as “democratic” lies in upholding the supremacy of the judiciary and primacy of the rule of law. It requires putting in place effective criminal-law provisions to deter the commission of offences against the innocents and punishment for breaches of such provisions while exercising executive powers; and not in providing the arbitrary powers to the law enforcement personnel to be law unto themselves. The AFSPA violates basic tenets of criminal justice system in any civilized society. First, it provides special powers which tantamount to awarding heavier penalty to the suspects than convicted persons would get under normal court, a clear violation of the cardinal principle of criminal justice system.

A reckless approach towards human life and liberty in the last 45 years under the AFSPA has been counter-productive and caused alienation of the people in the North East. The review [and if possible repeal} of the AFSPA is overdue for many reasons cited above.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We don't need your advice Mr Musharaaf

Indian Muslims are capable of solving their problems... We don't need your advice.. Don't try to alienate Indian Muslims by your remarks, here or in Pakistan."
This blunt message was conveyed to former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf by a prominent Muslim leader Mehmood Madani at a function inIndia.
Madani, member of Rajya Sabha and leader of Jamat-e-Ulema-i-Hind, made it clear to the Pakistani leader that he or his country need not bother about the condition of Muslims in India.
"Don't start your politics of Pakistan from here," Madani told Musharraf after the latter claimed that Muslims in India were alienated and suggested that this was one of the reasons for terrorism here. Virtually rattling the former Pakistani military ruler, Madani said,"Pakistan ki jitni total population hai , us se zyada population haiIndian Muslims ki . (Population of Muslims in India is more than that total population of Pakistan). You should be knowing this.
" When Musharraf said he was aware of it, Madani said, "If you know this,then you should also know that Indian Muslims have the capability to solve their problems. We don't need your advise. Don't try to alienate Indian Muslims by your remarks, here or in Pakistan."
A stunned Musharraf, who was in New Delhi to attend the India Today conclave, was left visibly upset and did not seem to know what to say in response.
Mr Madani's passionate rebuttal of Mushraaf will surely help in countering the false impression in many that Indian Muslims are looking towards Pakistan for help. This also indicate how hollow is the Pakistani claim that it represents the voice of South Asian Muslim community. In this context we should also remember that Bangladeshi voters did defeat pro-Pak political parties by a big margin in recent elections.
Mushaaraf tried to do what he knows best.To incite and cause unrest. History will surely judge him as one who tried his best to destabilise Pakistan.
Why such a dictator,the cause of Kargil war was invited by India Today Group?
A delegation of Pakistani leaders [not dictators] are in India from March 1.
Why none of those leaders who promotes peace and talks in a sane voice were invited?
Read excerpts from their speeches here 1 2 3 4

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Union of House Wives?

On the eve of International Women's day an unique event occurred in Kalpetta,Kerala.
A trade union for housewives to fight for their rights was formed under the auspices of various women’s organisations on Saturday,March 7th. The Union plan to fight for their demands including minimum wages and a pension scheme.

Social activist V P Suhra, who inaugurated the launch of the new organisation, said the union would be “another milestone in the struggle for women across the globe”.

“In the present world, the struggles of women are not limited to women’s own issues. They are in the forefront of all agitations on issues regarding environment, justice, equitable distribution of natural resources and countless other social issues,” she pointed out.

Kerala always in forefront of progressive movements have one more such unique distinction. How far such movements will get wide acceptance among women remains to be seen.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hats off to Justice Srikrishna

Justice B.N. Srikrishna, retired Supreme Court judge, has blamed lawyers for behaving as “hooligans and miscreants” and provoking the police to resort to a lathicharge on the Madras High Court premises on February 19.

A report of what happened in Madras High court can be read here.

In his interim report submitted to a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Srikrishna said: “In my view, the circumstances facing the police on the fateful day without doubt justified quelling the unruly and rioting mob of lawyers by use of force, but the police went beyond what was permissible use of force.”

The incidents that transpired over the last month or so “make it clear that the lawyers seemed to be under the impression that, because they are officers of the court, they are immune from the process of law and that they could get away with any unlawful act without being answerable to the law enforcing agency. It is most unfortunate that the soft policy adopted by the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court and its administration sent out clearly a wrong message that encouraged and emboldened the lawyers into becoming lawbreakers," the report said.

'The Hindu' in its editorial welcomed the Justice Srikrishna report.

By honestly placing in context the violent incidents involving the police and the lawyers in the Madras High Court on February 19, Justice B.N. Srikrishna provided the Supreme Court with the necessary perspective to deal with a delicate situation. Faced with a group of agitating lawyers who wanted to project the disproportionate use of force by the police against lawyers indulging in violence as an executive vs judiciary ‘constitutional’ issue, the Supreme Court needed to know the whole truth. In his interim report, Justice Srikrishna did his best to present just that. While detailing the background of the ugly events, he pointed to the meetings and demonstrations inside the premises of the High Court from November 2008 by lawyers owing allegiance to the cause of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The “soft policy” adopted by the Acting Chief Justice and the administration of the Madras High Court, he noted, emboldened lawyers to become law-breakers. In the days leading to the February 19 incidents, sections among them indulged in activities that amounted to criminal offences — on the pretext of taking up the Sri Lankan issue.

Many thought that the Courts and its committee will side with the lawyers and blame only the Police and the Government. Justice Srikrishna by rightly pointing out that lawyers were primarily to be blamed showed that nobody is above law,even the lawyers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Advani on Dr Ambedkar. Masking History for votes?

NDA’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on Sunday accused the Congress of adopting tactics which “ensured” defeat of Dalit icon and architect of the Constitution, Bhimrao Ambedkar in post-Independence polls.
“After Independence, when the first government of the country was taking shape, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru gave priority to give berth only to Congressmen in it. But Gandhiji advised him to include scholar leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Dr. Ambedkar in the government,” Mr. Advani said addressing the BJP’s Scheduled Caste Mahasammelan here.

“Though Dr. Ambedkar was later made chairman of the committee formed for framing the Indian Constitution in which he had ensured that all sections of society are protected, Congress at the time of elections adopted such tactics which ensured his defeat in the polls,” Mr. Advani claimed. “Unhe Congress ne parajit karvaya (He (Ambedkar) was defeated by the Congress),” Mr. Advani charged. Mr. Advani also termed the “incidents of disrespect shown by the Congress towards Dr. Ambedkar the party’s political vendetta against the Dalit messiah.”

Let us read some history and see whether how much truth is there in what our Prime ministerial candidate was saying.
What is the truth? Let us see what Rajni Kothari a prominent scholar says in his book 'Caste in Indian Politics'

"The era of cooperation [between Congress and Ambedkar] ended in fall of 1951 just before India's first General election.Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet primarily because of lack of support for Hindu code Bill for which he as a law minister was responsible....... "

Hindu Code Bill of 1951
Hindu Code Bill prepared by Dr Ambedkar and fully supported by Nehru was enivisaged to give equal status to Women in Civil Laws.The bill raised the age of marriage,upheld monogamy,gave women the rights to divorce,maintenance and inheritance and treated dowry as women's property.
There was strong opposition from the conservative sections of the society including the Hindu Maha Sabha,Jan Sangh and the RSS. They were of the opinion that the Bill will destroy the age old Hindu tradition and Hindu way of life.Conservative Congress leaders like the then President Dr Rajendra Prasad also opposed it. He opposed some of the provisions in the bill and wanted to postpone the consideration of the Bill till the next Parliament.It is interesting to read the correspondence between the President Prasad and Prime Minister Nehru here.
Fearing that the Bill may not be passed in Parliament and even if passed the President may send it back,Nehru decided to postpone it. Ambedkar was angry and resigned from the Ministry.
Another reason for his resignation was he wanted to activate the cadres of Schedule Caste Federation before the General Election.

Elections in 1952
Thus Ambedkar participated in the 1952 elections not as a friend of the administration[Congress] but as a bitter opponent.

Ambedkar contested under the banner of Scheduled Caste Federation.As per Rajini Kothari in the above book, "Congress had kept a seat vacant for Ambedkar until the last moment,till it came to be known that his Party entered in to an alliance with Socialist Party. Ambedkar was defeated by another Dalit from Congress Mr N.S. Kajrolkar from the Bombay North Constituency."

Though Ambedkar was defeated, Congress graciously offered him a Rajya Sabha seat which he accepted.He remained an Independent M.P till his death in 1956.
Nehru made the Hindu Code Bill a big election issue, won a massive majority in Parliament and passed the Bill as four separate acts in 1956.

Now let us once again go back to Mr Advani's statement.
Did Congress defeat Ambedkar in elections?
Yes true but only a half truth. It was Ambedkar who resigned from the Cabinet,refused Congress ticket,mobilised Dalits under the banner of Schedule Caste Federation, contested against Congress and was defeated. Even then Congress gave him a Rajya Sabha seat.Advani will never mention all the other truths as they are inconvenient for getting Dalit votes.

Was Jan Sangh supporting Ambedkar? The irony of the fact is that Jan Sangh's opposition to Hindu Code Bill was one of the reason for postponing the tabling of Bill,which in turn resulted in Ambedkar's resignation. Now Advani the leader of BJP,the new avatar of Jan Sangh is shedding crocodile tears in the name of Ambedkar. What a hypocrisy!!!

Sangh Parivar and Ambedkar
The true attitude of Sangh Parivar towards Ambedkar is well depicted in the former BJP Minister Arun Shourie's book 'Worshipping False Gods'. At the same time they do not want to loose Dalit votes by openly campaigning against Ambedkar.
BJP was always a master of such deceptions.
But it is difficult to hide history behind the saffron mask.