Category Archives: Politics

The Historical Circus

The Great Indian Carnival is here! The election fever has become an epidemic, turning everyone( including yours sincerely) to a part-time political commentator.We,Indians, have a penchant for drama and humour( not wit, we have exiled that long ago) and the conversations are taking such turns that even Comedy Nights with Kapil now seems serious discourse!
I was tempted into one such conversation with an ardent supporter of BJP who is not generally known as an idiot!That person wrote:
“And we(the members of the political party i m supporting) are not communists, capitalists, fundamentalists or any such crap……We are just humanists…….”
It was intended to shut me up and indeed, I shut up,albeit, with watery eyes.
While the comment itself was comical, the implications were almost, if I am allowed to use the term, sinister.It showed the complete lack of knowledge about even the A B C D of politics!It shows that in the conundrum of elections and parliamentary politics, a new class is in the rise that is politically motivated but politically illiterate and political illiteracy never bode well for any country and any party!
A question has been hurled at all non BJP supporters, time and again, that “congress is so corrupt, so bad, so dynastic.Why don’t you all speak against it?Why are all your energies channeled to bash BJP,or to be more precise, bash Modi?”
This question has an inherent misconception! It accepts, prima facie, that a non supporter of BJP has to be a supporter of Congress, if not of Congress, atleast CPI(M).While this may be true in some cases, a sweeping generalization in this respect undermines political intellect of the accused!Most of the people who, in what ever power they have, are ardent critics of BJP are also equally critical of Congressi politics and the hypocrisy  of  CPI(M).If today we speak against BJP, it is because BJP trying and is infact successful to some extent, to create a huge support based on concocted facts and falsification of history.Our hatred of Modi is not generated from any personal grievance or from the fact that we don’t like his 56 inch chest.It has more reasons to it. For a long time, BJP has been urging us  to forget Gujarat 2002, let us forget it,for the time being.They have also been urging us to agree to the pseudo-development of Gujarat, let us accept even that,for the time being.But what about the dangerous misogyny of Modi, refer to his ‘Dehati Aurat’ comment,Delhi rally? What about his comments regarding Bangladesh and Pakistan, refer his Silchar rally?What about his support to the most hateful perpetrators of linguistic massacre, refer Silchar rally again?What about the shameless flaunting of environmental laws in Gujarat, no monitoring of air pollutants, effluent treatment laws disregarded, CEPI index of Vapi,Ankleshwar shunned away? and the list can go on and on..
BJP has got a problem with history, a big problem in fact.India has a long tradition of heterodoxy of faith and politics.In this complicated tresses of history, to find an historical sanction of its acts, BJP has no other way, than to opt for selective amnesia.Not long ago, if my memory serves me right, there was an article in The Hindu where a person had tried to stoke the pride of Hinduism by stating that in the last forty-five years, the most prestigious moment for the Hindus were the defeat of Pakistan in 1972 war.The next day, there a letter pointing out to certain facts that in 1972 war, the Chief of the Army Staff was a Jew, the Commander in Chief a Sikh,the people for whom the battle was fought mostly Muslims,so  there wasn’t anything to be proud of exclusively by the Hindus.This is not a stray incident.All round, in the conundrum of 2014 elections, we have seen history being twisted and molested as per convenience.The recent attempt of BJP is to yell at the top of their voice to prove that they are secular.They have been repeatedly trying to convince the informed that the secularism prevalent in Gujarat(?) is the only true form of secularism.Selective amnesia again!.No , I am not talking of 2002,it has been invoked sufficient number of timesand rightly so.What I try to draw your attention to is the fact that BJP is an arm of the Sangh Parivar.One cursory glance through their website and publications is enough to dispel any of BJP’s claim to secularism.Infact Dr. Mohan Bhagwat of RSS commented at a rally in Guwahati that “Hindutva is the only way for global welfare.” He has also said what he means by Hindutva:the sanatan dharma. RSS clearly has the stand in favour of declaring India as a Hindu country.How can this outfit, or any off-spring of this outfit be secular!
Do we remember the last time NDA govt was elected to the lower house?They had invented the Indus-Saraswati Civilization.By selective omission and inclusion of certain passages they  had almost said that the Vedas were written by those who inhabitated the Indus-Saraswati Civilization.There was a clear attempt at rewriting the history that shall provide a legitimacy to their brand of fundamentalist Hindutva.Because the existing history of the sub-continent with its numerous strands of ideas interwined, numerous schools of thoughts co-existing, cannot but oppose the overwhelming saffron paint that BJP uses to colour everything.Good or bad, right or wrong, India’s history is the history of tolerance and discourse and tolerance doesn’t suit BJP. Tolerance doesn’t lend legitimacy to their act of ghetto-ing the muslims in certain localities of Ahmedabad, tolerance doesn’t provide legitimacy to the way they speak of developing the minorities( Doesn’t these claims of working for the good of minorities remind one of the  “White Man’s Burden” of Kipling?) The case of text book howlers still continues in Gujarat-the epitome of development as claimed by the BJP.Do we remember the time when ABVP goons coerced the university authorities to exclude the essay of A K Ramanujan “Three Hundred Ramayanas” from the academic syllabus?Do we remember how Penguine decided to pulp the copies of Doniger’s Hinduism because of threats by a far-right outfit?
The way things are going, soon P N Oak will be potrayed as the only authentic historian and all dissenting voices, the voices which ask questions that,history says ,create knowledge, shall be pushed in a closet because dissention is not something that RSS-BJP-VHP is good at handling.

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Rants

“Bandhugon!desh ekhon ghabheer sankat er sammukhin”(“Friends! Our country today faces a serious threat!).

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” etc. etc. can be aptly quoted from the book of Dickens to describe the pre-poll atmosphere of fervent excitement. Every single political party starts their verbose speech with the above quoted line and goes on their own way to describe what,they think,is the most serious and primary issue plaguing India, a country the love for which can not be proved until they yell their lungs to the bursting point. The issues do present a colorful platter.

There is an old man from the West, white beard and Nehru jacket and a perpetually raised index finger. He thinks that the biggest problem is that he is not he the Prime Minister and the solution is that he should be the Prime-Minister. His love for his motherland is so profound that he decided to complete the unfinished task of Alexander and brought him to the bank of Ganga( may be even forced him to take a holy dip).Also to his credit is his paramount hatred for the Islamist neighbours that by no means can be agree that Taxila( the ancient seat of learning) can exist in the present day Islamist nations!

Now let us focus to the young man of Indian Politics. India is the land of Markandey rishi.So here, a man of 43 can very well be considered as a youth icon, especially so if he has the grand pedigree! To this man, everything thing under the sun is a problem. The solution is RTI, women empowerment and any other acts which are the products of the most infertile parliament in Indian history. Unlike the old man, he has taken recourse to science and can often be founds making statements about escape velocity and number of mosquitoes in Bundelkhand.

There is another party this time, which has baffled many political specialists, the man with the Gandhi cap and muffler! An almost Vini Vidi Vici situation, this party, has given a new dimension to the existing political scenario. With the only flagship agenda of anti-corruption and an anarchist approach to government(!?!), they have definitely created a turbulence in the otherwise stagnant situation.Problem:Corruption.Solution:AAP ko pata h.

If the first two constitute the main dish, the third is the pickle while the rest of the political parties and the bankrupt Left can be equated with the variety of chutneys that accompanies an Indian thali.

Okay, in the above paragraphs, I have tried my hand at political-party bashing, which is a quite in-thing for intellectuals to do and I am trying really hard to get included in the bracket of intellectuals! It gives such a clever aura and glitter to whatever one says, doesn’t it?

On a serious note,the truth is that we are afraid,we are tensed, we are worried.

We are afraid not because Narendra Modi can be very well accused of state-sponsored killings in Gujarat,not because he is intolerant, not because he is a proponent of crony capitalism, not because he encourages moral policing, these are rather tractable problems when compared to the hero worship that is surfacing centered around him. The new band of Modi followers have been created who poses Modi as the solution to all problems, economic, social, political and anything else.The slogan raised is “Har Har Modi!Ghar Ghar Modi”!Modi is a man and definitely not a common man.Being a politician,a public figure, he should be subjected to the harshest possible scrutiny because criticism-both just and unjust are important in the check and balance that is imperative for a functional democracy.But making Modi a larger that life figure is taking away the right of criticism from people,taking away the right to be heard from the dissenting voices.A din is created such that nothing can be heard other than what they choose to yell,what they say is right, what Modi says is law! A dangerously aggressive attitude which is absolutely demeaning to the freedom of expression and detrimental to democracy which India so proudly flaunts.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” This line of Voltaire can be accepted as the tenet of freedom of expression which forms a cornerstone of democracy,because democracy also means right to information,right to dissention,right to criticism.And this is under threat. The Modi wave that is,they tell, sweeping the country reminds one with fear and pain about the rise of Hitler.The election of Hitler to Reichstag was through a perfectly constitutional election,but it had paved the way for the most painful and hated period of human history,it had raped humanity.The NSDAP spoke of pan-Germanism and extreme nationalism.The BJP speaks of Hindutva and extremely nationalism. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that the then Germany demamded a man of iron to restore itself and build an empire.A book called ‘Moditva’ has already been published. Doesn’t it sound like the claim that Modi makes everyday that the feeble leadership has weakened India and now it is time we chose a man of iron to strengthen it?This is why we are afraid.We, of all our neighbours have been successful to maintain our democracy.Our democracy is definitely not the best form of government, we are torn by problems, scarred with diseases, but still, in the given situation this is the best we can have. Modi,with his fervent and blind band of followers, pose a threat to the very fabric of democracy in India.Modi’r rise can herald an era of fascism in India!

Rahul Gandhi, the “prince” of Indian politics. All that one is reminded, apart from that fiasco with Arnab Goswami, is gimmick, gimmick and gimmick! One day he tears an ordinance, the other day he condemns a comment by his own party member. This bares the situation of the Congress party where “the boss is always right”.RaGa is so apt at creating mess out of nothing that a firm is required for his image recovery. Not a single sensible line can be heard from him about the important issues. Talk about corruption, he tells RTI.RTI just makes the government bound to inform us about certain things, if we want to know. We all know about corruption, we don’t require an RTI for that. But how do we prevent corruption? There are a bunch of laws to combat corruption,they say.Indeed,there are,but what about the implementation? With all their RTIs and whatnots, UPA has successfully created a plethora of scams which will not be easy for the next government to attain. Did RTI stop them then? Did RTI stop the Congress to safeguard Virbhadra Singh? Did RTI prevent Congress from protecting Ashok Chavan? It did not!
He barks out empowerment at every single chance! What the hell does empowerment mean when the politicians refuse all accountability to people! What does empowerment mean when getting the barest amount of justice makes us run from pillar to post!What does empowerment mean when existing laws are not implemented and the politicians continue to tantalize the people with promises which, even if implemented, are ineffectual.
The recent gas pricing formula! The trade is within India and the prices are fixed in dollars.The prices are going to be doubled from April and Congress does nothing, Modi, with all his words and fury,says nothing. The cost of production is 1USD per unit while the proposed price is 8USD/mmbtu. What does the Prince and the Messiah do?They do nothing because the people are expected to tow whatever line they want them to. The way things are going, even the façade of being pro-people that the parties used to don is falling off. The raw lust for power makes us cringe with hatred and fear, and still we cannot do anything.The entire political scenario is a situation where common people are shunned, cast aside, days in and days out. The seething anger of people goes unseen, the cries go unheard.
But yes, sometimes, these frustrations do get an expression, like they did in Delhi elections, like they did in spontaneous participation of people during the Delhi rape case, like they did in the Lokpal movement in Ramleela Maidan. The viability and success of the protests can always and should be questions but one has to agree that these movements relieved us of the helplessness that we feel. One also has to agree that these movements, the win in Delhi election has shown that without any definitely ideology, a mass movement can achieve its mass character but can never sustain the momentum. Either it fails, or it ends in the labyrinth of electoral politics where the end can even negate the means, like the case in Delhi. The zeal of Arvind Kejriwal couldn’t counter lack of political pragmatism. The spirit of changing the ‘system’ got defeated by the existing political machinery. This indicates how fickle any change is unless it is deeply rooted in some ideology. This also shows that over the years, the way in which our parliamentary politics have degenerated bit by bit, changing the facia is an extremely difficult task. We have seen that a few good men cannot change the rules of the game, a few honest men in politics cannot purge it of corruption. History tells that nothing has ever happened without the participation of people and nothing can happen that way.
What is the way out? That needs to be searched. Whatever it is, we cannot let a communal fascist regime to start in India, our democracy, however tattered it is, is a better option. We cannot let the dynastic prince fool us with his verbose lectures that signify nothing. We cannot let all mass movements share a fate as lamentable as that happened, the travesty in name of people’s hope and government. We need to find a way out, we need to understand that the solution to these problems can come up only in the form of protracted and continuous struggle of people that is fueled not by just some immediate wrong done to us, but in the form of continuous ideological struggle.

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