Vice-President Hamid Ansari speaks only for Muslims – R. Jagannathan

Hamid Ansari

R. Jagannathan“The real tragedy is that Ansari has reduced himself to a spokesman for his community rather than the Vice-President of all of India. And this is not the first time he has done so. In September last year, he made a specific plea to give Muslims reservations in jobs, when the constitution does not allow quotas based on religion.” – R. Jagannathan

The Vice-President of India, like the President or the Prime Minister, represents the whole country—all the people, and not just some of them, or the community he or she comes from. Unfortunately, the Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari, has sometimes been talking like a spokesman for Muslims in India. This is not his job.

On 2 April, Ansari must have raised hackles all around when he called on the Supreme Court to reflect on how minorities can be protected from majoritarianism and clarify “the contours within which the principles of secularism and composite culture should operate with a view to strengthen their functional modality and remove ambiguities.”

He also wondered aloud, without any sense of irony, whether Indian democracy may not be better served with a “more complete separation of religion and politics”—when this is precisely what Muslim organisations oppose. Throughout India’s journey from 1947, Muslim institutions have opposed a uniform civil code, the triple talaq and several other things. Recently, the Jamiat-e-Islami-e-Hind had the effrontery to tell the Supreme Court it had no business looking into triple talaq, a simple gender rights issue that should have nothing to do with religion. Nor has he spoken aggressively against the Haj subsidy, something that directly brings the state into a religious activity.

Mylapore MLA R. Rajalakshmi, Secretary HR & CE M. Rajaram (second from left) and HR & CE Commissioner M. Kalaivanan (right), are in the picture.Also, is Ansari unaware of recent history, where Hindus have been ethnically cleansed from two neighbouring countries, and also from a Muslim majority state in India (J&K)? Majoritarianism, if it existed, would never have allowed the majority community to be cleansed from one of its states. Ansari also didn’t stop to think whether India’s brand of secularism is impacting Hindus more than Muslims, where states directly control major temples (Tirupati in Andhra, Siddhivinayak in Maharashtra, and Sabarimala in Kerala). The state directly controls thousands of temples in the south, and even in some places in the north. Nor does he even seem aware that courts happily intervene in Hindu religious practices, but never those of Muslims or Christians. The constitutional protections given to minorities to run their own religious and cultural institutions excludes Hindu institutions in practice.

It is possible to take a more charitable view of Ansari’s speech, but given the context in which he asked for these clarifications, it is obvious that he is only talking about Muslim concerns when the state is run by the BJP, which has obvious links to Hindu organisations.

At the outset one must make it clear that the Sangh Parivar has not helped matters by making “nationalism” a big issue, especially its narrow view of it, including the need for Indians to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” or “Vande Mataram.” The beef controversy was not only avoidable, but needed opposing. What people will eat, wear or speak cannot be imposed from above, whichever be the party in power. This statement applies equally to narrow definitions of secularism, where the Sangh alone is designated as communal, excluding many parties that are caste-based or based on support of minority communities (as in Hyderabad, Assam, J&K, Kerala and elsewhere). “Sickularism” is as bad as narrow nationalism.

However, Ansari has shown that he too is not above sectarian thinking from the way he is voicing the concerns of Muslims to the exclusion of the so-called majority.

Consider his various other statements, made at the 16th convention of Jammu University:

He said “any public discourse on India being a ‘secular’ republic with a ‘composite culture’ cannot overlook India’s heterogeneity…. A population of 1.3 billion comprising over 4,635 communities … religious minorities constitute 19.4 percent of the total…. Our democratic polity and its secular state structure were put in place in full awareness of this plurality. There was no suggestion to erase identities and homogenise them.”

Muslim mother with son on JanamashtamiOne must ask: who is seeking to erase plurality? It is not the Sangh or the BJP government, despite the outlandish statements made by some members of the Sangh on “Bharat mata ki jai”. It is interesting that till some time ago, the Left used to proclaim India’s “composite culture” in order to deny its Hindu underpinnings; now Ansari is rubbishing the whole idea of a “composite culture” and says India is about “4,635 communities”.

Then he contradicts himself by referring to 19.4 percent minorities, as though they are some solid block that needs defending from the remaining 80-and-odd percent majoritarians. If India is a composite of 4,635 communities, we are all minorities and Hindus are not one solid phalanx of religious unity. There is no majority or minority. And certainly a Muslim population of 180 million cannot by any stretch of imagination be called a minority.

Ansari also failed to look at his own community’s efforts to erase plurality, with organisations like the Tabligh seeking to weed out any traces of Indian influence in Islam—worship at dargahs, veneration of pirs, etc. In Tamil Nadu, where Muslims were till recently more Tamils than Muslims, there is a concerted effort to Wahhabise them.

Elsewhere too, Muslims are learning to grow beards to emphasise difference rather than common citizenship, and even something as basic as “Ramzan” is being Arabised as Ramadan in some quarters. Ansari’s silence on this deliberate effort to separate Muslims from Indian syncretism is eloquent.

If attempts to homogenise Indians are reprehensible, surely attempts to homogenise Muslims are equally reprehensible?

Ansari also said that the “three accepted characteristics of a secular state were liberty to practise religion, equality between religions in state practice, and neutrality or a fence of separation between the state and religion.”

Muslims and Hindus play HoliThere is no bar on anyone practising any religion in India. So the first point exists in India. The second, equality between religions, does not exist, because Indian politicians have used the rights of minorities under Articles 25-30 (to run their own institutions without state interference) to ring-fence minority institutions but Hindu institutions have become personal fiefs of politicians to run their rackets. We have made a mockery of Article 14, which guarantees equality before the law, by excluding Hindu institutions from the right to administer their own institutions. And some laws primarily apply to Hindus. A recent case in point is the Bombay High Court decision to force the Shani Shingnapur temple to give women the same rights as men (…) to enter the sanctum sanctorum. But the same is not explicitly applicable to the Haji Ali Dargah or other mosques.

And then Ansari made this remark: “The difficulty lies in delineating, for purposes of public policy and practice, the line that separates them from religion…. The ‘way of life’ argument, used in philosophical texts and some judicial pronouncements, does not help … identify common principles of equity in a multi-religious society. Since a wall of separation is not possible under Indian conditions, the challenge is to develop a formula for equidistance and minimum involvement. For this purpose, principles of faith need to be segregated from contours of culture since a conflation of the two obfuscates the boundaries of both.” (italics mine)

Since it is obvious that only Hinduism describes itself as a “way of life”, Ansari’s target is clear: he wants the state de-Hinduised. Not objectionable in itself, but Ansari seems to want not only separation of state from religion, but also culture from religion. This is the only interpretation one can give to his statement that “principles of faith need to be segregated from contours of culture since a conflation of the two obfuscates the boundaries of both.”

Can faith really be hermetically sealed from the culture in which it grows? Is there no such thing as Indian Islam, where elements of local culture are inextricably mixed with elements of Islam?

Is Ansari a closet fundamentalist, who wants his faith to be untainted by local culture?

In fact, he contradicts himself again when he uses a quote from Left historian K. N. Pannikar, who said: “Whether India developed as a melting pot of cultures or only remained a salad bowl is no more the issue. The crucial question is whether Indian culture is conceived as a static phenomenon, tracing its identity to a single unchanging source, or a dynamic phenomenon, critically and creatively interrogating all that is new.”

This Pannikar observation was meant to tell Hindus to stop looking only at their past for identity validation, but Ansari seems to want to retain Indian Islam is a pure state that has nothing to do with local culture. Does he want to deny the right of Islam in India to Indianise by “critically and creatively Reservation for Muslimsinterrogating all that is new?” If Muslims want to sing Vande Mataram, as A. R. Rahman did, would Ansari think this is an unwarranted mixture of culture and religion?

The real tragedy is that Ansari has reduced himself to a spokesman for his community rather than the Vice-President of all of India. And this is not the first time he has done so. In September last year, he made a specific plea to give Muslims reservations in jobs, when the constitution does not allow quotas based on religion.

Ansari has to make up his mind whether he is just a Muslim or the V-P of India who happens to be a Muslim. – Firstpost, 3 April 2016

Nehruvian secularism has compelled some citizens to think in a communal way – Madhav Nalapat

Prof M.D. Nalapat“True to the tenets of Nehruvian secularism, during the period when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister, the UPA passed legislation such as the Right to Education Act (RTE), which placed the entire onus of providing free education for citizens deemed needy by the state on only those private schools run by Hindus. Those run by those of other faiths were given exemption from such an obligation. This individual knows a Muslim educationist of impeccable secular credentials … who converted a school into a “minority” institution to escape the onerous burdens imposed by the RTE. Perpetuation of Nehruvian secularism has driven many citizens to think in a communal way. Of course, such a fault is deemed to be so only in the case of the “majority community”, while those in the minority are considered “secular” even if undilutedly communal in their outlook and activities.” – Prof Madhva Nalapat

Religion & PoliticsIf “secularism” gets used in occasional discourse as a term of abuse, the reason is that it has never been officially practised in India for centuries. Jews and Zoroastrians came to India during what may be described as “Vedic” times, and there is no record of any discrimination against them, rather they were ensured equality of status with other inhabitants of the subcontinent. And from almost the time of the revelations made in the Holy Quran, Muslims came to parts of India and settled down peaceably, unlike the larger groups that came much later and which succeeded in subduing much of the local opposition to their takeover. Given that “secularism” means the equal treatment of all citizens, irrespective of the faith to which any of them owed fealty, this showed that this very concept was implemented in practice by rulers during ancient times. Incidentally, during that period, caste had yet to degenerate into the “madness” flagged by Vivekananda, a ritualistic system, which based itself on birth rather than merit as the source of position and privilege. This post-Vedic and ossified caste system moved away from the earlier practice of each individual entering a caste only by virtue of the work he or she did, rather than from birth. A corollary doctrine was that the caste system, which thus evolved, was “horizontal” in nature rather than the later “vertical” form. In other words, there was equality within society for those of different castes rather than a hierarchy based on birth that so enervated subcontinental society that it succumbed to invaders from outside. Needless to say, neither during the Mughal nor the British period was secularism practised. During rule by the former, those belonging to the invaders’ faith were given preference, while in the latter period, in cities across India, the land and assets of temples which still remained after the depredations of Mughal rule, were seized by the colonial state. Those Hindu places of worship placed in the custody of the state during the time of the British Raj remain so to this day, despite the six years when A.B. Vajpayee was Prime Minister of India, and constitute an obvious and massive violation of the core secular principle of equality of treatment of citizens of all faiths.

Nehru + Gandhi in 1942Mahatma Gandhi regarded Jawaharlal Nehru as his successor, and it must be assumed that the Mahatma, with his immense intellect, must have known precisely what the mindset of Nehru was towards the economy and society. Indeed, the younger person made no secret of either, speech-making and writing prolifically over the decades that he worked alongside the Mahatma. Hence, it is likely that Gandhiji approved the unique definition of secularism evolved by the individual he bestowed to the nation as the first prime minister of post-colonial India. This was that there indeed was discrimination based on faith, but this was done only in the case of the “majority” i.e., the Hindu community. Even those historians in thrall to Nehruism would find it difficult to argue that Hindus oppressed Muslims during Mughal rule and belaboured Christians during the two centuries when the British were in charge of most of the country. This is in contrast to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, who, indeed, suffered gross forms of discrimination during the post-Vedic but pre-Mughal period of this country’s history. However, such lack of Hindu culpability did not prevent Nehru and his successors from maintaining a system whereby Hindus were denied the same right of ownership of their places of worship as was enjoyed by those of other faiths, besides other forms of relative discrimination. The divide between communities caused by Nehruvian policies is what is responsible for the occasionally toxic nature of communal relations across all too many parts of India these days.

St. Stephen's College, DelhiTrue to the tenets of Nehruvian secularism, during the period when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister, the UPA passed legislation such as the Right to Education Act (RTE), which placed the entire onus of providing free education for citizens deemed needy by the state on only those private schools run by Hindus. Those run by those of other faiths were given exemption from such an obligation. This individual knows a Muslim educationist of impeccable secular credentials (and it must be said that such moderation is representative of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, as it is among Hindus, Christians and Sikhs), who converted a school into a “minority” institution to escape the onerous burdens imposed by the RTE. Perpetuation of Nehruvian secularism has driven many citizens to think in a communal way. Of course, such a fault is deemed to be so only in the case of the “majority community”, while those in the minority are considered “secular” even if undilutedly communal in their outlook and activities.

The people of India deserve better. They deserve to benefit from actual secularism, which is a system whereby the state is wholly neutral between different faiths and does not discriminate between them in any form. Only such a system would be true to the syncretic—or “Indutva-vadi”—ethos of India, which is a blend of the Vedic, the Mughal and the Western, with each strand present in the cultural DNA of each citizen of this fortunately moderate country. – Sunday Guardian, 29 November 2015

» Prof Madhav Das Nalapat holds the UNESCO Peace Chair and is Director of the Geopolitics and International Relations Department at Manipal University, an international private university headquartered in Karnataka. He is also the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

Nehruvian Secularism

Secularism of Congress

Upholding Secularism, Pluralism and Free Speech: A JNU Manual – Abhinav Prakash

Jawaharlal Nehru, JNU Campus, New Delhi

CPIM) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury addressing students at JNU New Delhi

Abhinav Prakash Singh“Such was the terror unleashed in the JNU campus that Hinduism was virtually non-existent in public life there until the late 90s and driven underground even in the personal realm. … Newcomers are seized upon by the comrades and slowly indoctrinated. Young B.A. students are made to sit in the ‘discussion’ where Hindu deities are ridiculed and abused. … It is to be noted that no such discussion is ever done with regard to Islam or Christianity, which are instead praised to the skies by the atheist and Islamist comrades.” – Abhinav Prakash

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Logo The English media is again on a hysterical overdrive about freedom under threat and supposedly “rising intolerance” in India. 

In this cabal, they have been enthusiastically joined by the legions of liberal warriors emanating from the Left citadel of the Kremlin on the banks of Yamuna: the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). 

The people of India are being bombarded with the incessant sermonizing about secularism, freedom of expression, virtues of free debate—with left-liberals posing as the guardians of these ideas in these “turbulent times.” 

It is therefore imperative to bring forth their own record on such matters. And so, what example can illustrate this better than the case of JNU, where these forces have reigned supreme since its inception? 

In the JNU campus, the much-vaunted secular ideals vanish in thin air with the constant abuse and harassment of Hindus and their religious beliefs. 

Open ridicule of Hindu deities is the favorite pastime of the liberal-progressive comrades in comfortable cahoots with the Islamists. 

Alien interpretations are foisted upon the Hindu traditions and beliefs. These are then made the pretext of calling for the annihilation of Hinduism in a thinly concealed violent language. 

In fact, such was the terror unleashed in the JNU campus that Hinduism was virtually non-existent in public life there until the late 90s and driven underground even in the personal realm. 

Hardly anyone dared to keep a murti of her deity in her room. People took special care to not to sport kalava—the sacred thread around the wrist, or tilak or be caught visiting the temple outside the campus. 

It was simply unthinkable to publicly celebrate any Hindu festival in the JNU campus. Even the Bengali students had to go out of the campus to CR Park to celebrate Pujo. They always were careful to wipe out any traces of worship before entering the campus. 

This strangling silence was broken with the beginning of the celebration of Durga Puja in a hostel room in the Periyar Hostel in late 90s. It was made possible due to the growth of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which provided some modicum of protection to Hindus from the usual targeted violence of the cadre of the left parties. 

Even then, when the Durga Puja was first celebrated at a public place in 2001, the then Islamist Dean of Students, M. H. Quraishi, stood in the front of the Durga Puja Pandal and exhorted the Leftist and Islamist legions to break the havan kund and throw the murti and pandal out of the campus. 

This was foiled as they had grossly underestimated the growing Hindu unity due to the resentment against the unabated, unrelenting religious persecution. Seeing the fast assembling crowd of Hindus, the Communist and Islamist paper tigers simply fled and Quraishi was so terrified that he hid in the home of a Hindu warden of the nearby Kaveri Hostel. 

However, this anti-Hindu communalism has continued till date. 

Newcomers are seized upon by the comrades and slowly indoctrinated. Young B.A. students (of the School of Languages) are made to sit in the “discussion” where Hindu deities are ridiculed and abused. They are made to feel embarrassed for worshiping stones, trees and harbouring superstitious beliefs. 

Hindu students, especially from the SC/ST or OBC backgrounds are mentally harassed for being Hindu and sometimes, are aggressively pressurized to boycott Hindu festivals and throw the picture or the murti of their deity, they may have, into the dustbin. 

It is to be noted that no such discussion is ever done with regard to Islam or Christianity, which are instead praised to the skies by the atheist and Islamist comrades. 

Wahabbism is quite strong in the campus with the active patronage of the Left parties. 

This year, a Shia student contesting elections in the School of Language from ABVP was violently threatened by the Islamists who wanted to thrash him on the spot for simply saying that hysteria over ghar wapsi is hypocritical as even Quran calls for spreading Islam. 

And a few days later, candidates of all Left parties condemned these “anti-Islam” remarks and “Islamophobia” during the presidential debate. 

AISA at JNUAnd in 2014, when a Muslim girl contested the elections for the post of president, cadres of the uber-red All India Students’ Association (AISA) went to Muslim students with her picture with her Hindu boyfriend and fiancé asking them not to vote for her as she is no longer a Muslim. 

But the actual workings of secularism and pluralism can be seen from the example of a simple hostel election last year. 

In 2014, in the election for the post of the president of Sutlej Hostel, there were only two candidates. One was a Kerala Muslim and other a Bihari Hindu. 

Typically, hostel elections are the local affairs of the concerned hostel and both the candidates were anyway not from any party. But the Left parties especially Democratic Students’ Front (DSF) (a breakaway Students’ Federation of India (SFI) faction) converted this into an election for secularism. It simply means that the Muslim candidate must win, which he did. 

To the utter shock of the people, Left cadres went around shouting the slogan “Secularism Up Up! Communalism Down Down!” 

And what did this victory of “secularism” really mean? The newly elected president and the majority Muslim hostel committee immediately tried to ban the upcoming Diwali celebration because of “financial and political issues” but in its magnanimity allowed Hindus to celebrate it by “taking permission from the concerned authorities.”

The notice was withdrawn when Hindus united and challenged him to dare celebrate Eid or Ramzan in the hostel in the future, which of course became an issue of much hue and cry about “fascists threatening the secular fabric of the campus.”

Actually, no Hindu festival passes without an abusive poster calling for its ban and threatening Hindus with annihilation along with the choicest of abuses. 

And when such abuses are challenged, shouts emerge from the rooftops that “freedom of expression” and “secularism” are under threat as Hindus have dared to talk back. 

MahishasurThe Left’s commitment to “debate and discussion” was on full display during the Mahishasura Day controversy. It was started by the AISA-spawned AIBSF, and when this bogus-racist construct was challenged by various organizations they were dismissed as anti-Dalit, fascist and Hindu communalist even when Dalit and Tribal forums too opposed it. 

The combined strength of the Left parties ensured that no platform or avenue was available to question this phony construct. Their standard reply to any academic challenge even to the basis of such constructs—for example the Aryan-Dravidian theory—was choicest of abuses like “you bloody barbarian Hindus … why are you afraid of re-interpretation of history?” “You are fascists, killers of Muslims in Gujarat,” “you are naturally unfit for any dialogue,” etc. 

This then is the hard truth of the Left’s commitment to free speech and the pretense of any “debate culture” in its intellectual citadel of JNU. 

In fact, for the Left, freedom of speech is always a one-way traffic. 

In November 2005, they disrupted the speech of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh because they were opposed to his visit in the campus. We were told, “an advocate of neo-liberalism has no right to speak.” 

The former Prime Minister could only continue when police forcibly removed the sloganeering students from the venue. 

In August 2008, the then US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Richard A. Boucher, had to cancel his visit to the American Studies Division in the School of International Studies due to a brute display of mob power by Left parties. 

We were again told, “an agent of US imperialism has no right to speak.” Mr. Boucher was supposed to speak on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal but as Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy enlightened the “masses” that “It was not prudent on part of the administration to invite Boucher for the lecture at a time when the nuke deal is a debatable issue and pending before the Nuclear Suppliers Group.” 

In April 2014, the Ambassador of Israel was invited to interact with the students of the West Asian center of School of International Studies. The Ambassador of Israel has never been allowed to enter the JNU earlier as the administration was always threatened with violence by the Left and Islamist cadres. 

This time, they failed to get wind of his visit and the event passed without any incident. 

However, later, the Left parties went about the systematic demonisation of the Professor involved and went hysterical over this “unethical and despicable act.” 

Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) warned the administration against any act of dealing with Israeli authorities and its institutions in future. 

We were again told in so many words “Who has the right to speak?” And even when rumors of the possible visit of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi spread after his speech in SRCC, Delhi University, the Left parties began mobilising its cadre to stop Modi from setting foot inside the campus. 

In 2001, when JNU decided to start a Sanskrit Centre, Left parties tried their best to scuttle it by force. In earlier stages, they would simply demolish the walls of the under-construction center at night. 

Instead of putting out a reasoned opposition, if any, they used to mock “will JNU now produce panda-pujaris?” Never mind the fact that the JNU had an Arabic Persian Centre and Left parties fall over each other to ensure that more and more madrassas are recognised by the JNU for admission to ‘any’ course. 

Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Left parties decided to campaign for Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi. They used the name of the JNUSU despite written opposition from at least ten councilors. No debate was allowed, no deliberation was done and no resolution authorising the use of the JNUSU platform in favour of a candidate was passed. 

Last year in September, in the first council meeting of the newly elected JNUSU, a resolution was presented to condemn the Islamic State and Boko Haram by 12 councilors. 

All Left parties closed ranks to block the resolution simply by abstaining from the vote. Again no debate, no discussion. No rationale was given as to why they refused to condemn jihadi groups when they were passing resolution after resolution condemning the Indian State and the ‘fascist’ government and calling for self-determination by Kashmir and North-Eastern States. 

And this year,when the ABVP won a central panel seat as joint secretary, the very first comment from the JNU president and other members was that they don’t consider him a member of JNUSU! 

The only OBC member of the panel is being treated as an untouchable who is kept out of any deliberation and talked about in a derogatory manner. Here is a sample.

The ABVP is the largest party in the campus and the only non-Left party but no space is ever ceded to its viewpoints in any debate or general body meeting. 

The resolutions or point of order put forward by its members in any school GBM or JNUSU meeting is not only never read but it is told to them on face that it’s the prerogative of the chair and it wont be read—“Do whatever you want!” 

It seems that the only time the Left remembers free speech and ‘debate culture’ is when they have to defend Hinduphobia, racism and abuse of Hindu deities. 

Speakers and xenophobic pamphlets openly calling for the annihilation of Hinduism and destruction of India as a political and civilizational entity are welcome but ambassadors of states and prime ministers of India are not. 

“Kremlin on the Jamuna” as Wikileaks described it, has failed to fulfill its stated purpose of “tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth.” 

And it’s an infinite tragedy for India that such people still preach democracy, liberty and tolerance with a straight face. – IndiaFacts, 29 October 2015

» Abhinav Prakash is a research scholar in economics from JNU. His interests span the social issues, politics, history, economics and religion.And one day he hopes to grasp the reasons behind rise and fall of civilisations.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at JNU

Durga Puja at JNU

 

 

Prashanth Poojary is no Akhlaq and Moodbidri is no Dadri – Pradeep Thyagaraja

Prashanth Poojary

Pradeep Thyagaraja“Incidents like Dadri put India’s delicate yet unique plurality at risk, as per the Indian Secular Media. But incidents like Moobidri don’t.” – Pradeep Thyagaraja

As per the Hindu calendar, we have just concluded the Pitru Paksha for the year 2015. While in most of the families, the sons and daughters were offering shraadh for their deceased elders and ancestors. The unfortunate family of Poojary had to perform the funeral rites for their 29-year-old son, Prashanth Poojary.

From past one month we have seen the widespread coverage of a Muslim man called Aklahq who got lynched by a Hindu mob for allegedly stashing beef at his house in a far-flung village called Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. We have also seen many political parties approaching the bereaved family assuring them all the facilities, cash compensations, etc. Many film fraternities and Secular journalists have written open letters, Facebook posts, tweets expressing their concern over the growing dissent in the country. Surprisingly, we have also seen PETA activists asking Hindus to stop prying in others’ food practices . Even the President and the Prime Minister has come out, addressed the media and expressed their condolences and have appealed for harmony among the communities.

Unfortunately, Prashanth Poojary ‘s murder didn’t get such coverage in the national media. Can there be a more unfortunate life than that in which the parents outlive their children?

What really happened

Prashanth Poojary belongs to a humble Hindu family, which runs a family business of selling flowers in Moodbidri, Karnataka. 29-year-old Prashanth Poojary was also involved in the organized efforts and operations to stop illegal cow slaughter and smuggling of cows. As per a report in a popular print media paper,  Prashanth Poojary was “guilty” of being the member of Bajrang Dal.

As per the reportage, the “alleged” murder of Prashanth Poojary took place like this:

“According to the information, six men in two motorcycles came to the market around 7 AM, to the place where Prashanth Poojary and his father regularly sells flowers. They attacked Poojary with sharp weapons and fled the spot.”

We must prudently look into the selective reporting of such incidents and their choice of words. They were very apprehensive in not revealing the religion of those “alleged” perpetrators. Prashanth’s father gave the names of the “alleged” attackers to the police. Yet, the police didn’t reveal the names of the “alleged” offenders neither they’ve shown progress of any kind as far as the case is concerned. Bajarang Dal’s regional convener Sharan demanded the police to take necessary action. Alok Mohan, the Additional Director-General of Police, assured the public that they are on the trawl of offenders and they will be arrested soon.

VHP and BJP protests

Addressing the press meet in Moodbidri, VHP district president Jagadish Shenava exposed some shocking facts to the public while demanding 25 lakh rupees as a compensation for Prashanth Poojary’s family.

He said, “From past two years in the state, groups like SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) and PFI (Popular Front India) goons have been involved in anti-national activities, cattle smuggling, slaughtering of cattle, love jihad to disturb the harmony among the communities”.

He also alleged that, “The Congress government in Karnataka has withdrawn many cases that was lodged against PFI and SDPI in which they were allegedly involving in the terrorist activities. Since the case withdrawal, the incident of cow smuggling and slaughtering has increased”.

VHP also said that, they will raise funds of 10 lakh rupees for Prashanth’s family. Karkala BJP MLA Sunil Kumar has urged the state government to give a compensation of 25 lakh. BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel also demanded a compensation of 25 lakh rupees to the family of Prashanth Poojary. He also hinted that, the Congress leaders are behind the incident. He criticized the district minister P. Ramanath Rai of Congress for being silence on the issue.

Eyewitness of the murder found dead

Sixty-six-year-old Vaman Poojary, who was an eyewitness of Prashanth Poojary ‘s murder died under mysterious circumstances. Vaman Poojary was a tender coconut vendor that owns the shop right next to the flower shop of Prashanth Poojary.

Circumstantial evidences also reveal that Vaman Poojary was traumatized upon witnessing murder of Prashanth Poojary and he wasn’t conversing with anyone since then. He probably would have been facing threats to his life too. But according to the police, Vaman Poojary “may” have committed suicide for reasons unknown.

Dadri vs. Moodbidri

Our media has no qualms in declaring the religion of the mobs that “allegedly” attacked Aklaqh of Dadri. Even the CM of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal went ahead and called the attackers Hindu. Would he or the media follow a similar standard while reporting Prashanth Poojary’s incident? No.

The attackers became “alleged attackers” and their religion, names, etc. Well … they were concealed like they are always concealed in similar cases!

Incidents like Dadri put India’s delicate yet unique plurality at risk, as per the Indian Secular Media. But incidents like Moobidri don’t. – The Frustrated Indian, 18 October 2015

» Pradeep Thyagaraja is a Technology Specialist at Bengaluru.

Weeping Cow

The double standards of our civil society – Balbir Punj

Balbir Punj“Is it not ironical that the Leftists of various hues arrogate themselves the leadership of secular and democratic values while their record on these counts is dismal? During the fateful years preceding Independence in 1947, the Communists actively worked with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the British for the creation of Pakistan—a country whose foundation was wedded to theocracy and has subsequently emerged as a petri-dish of terror in the region.” – Balbir Punj

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiThe daylight killing of Karnataka scholar M. M. Kalburgi in Dharwar is an act that deserves downright condemnation from the entire civil society. Surprisingly, most of those leading the charge against the evil deed represent ideologies and organisations that usually endorse violence in the name of social justice and demand leniency for those who are convicted of heinous crimes such as murders and bomb explosions. One cannot recall even one of them raising his/her voice when octogenarian Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati’s frail body was riddled with bullets on August 23, 2008, in the deep forests of Kandhamal district of Odisha. His murderers broke open the door of the toilet when he was busy with his ablutions.

What was Swamiji’s fault? He had spent a lifetime serving the poor tribals in the remote forests of the backward state, helping them save their ancestral faith and identity from those who believe in buying souls in exchange for a loaf of bread, or use the tribals as fodder in their war against the state of India on behalf of their foreign masters (read China).

Brinda Karat (CPI-M)On September 30, 2013, nearly five years after the dastardly assassination of the 82-year-old highly revered Swami and four of his disciples, seven persons—all Christians—were convicted for the hate crime. The Swami and the string of institutions he used to run were major irritants to both the Maoists and the Church which are active in the area, pushing their respective agendas. Even as this column is being written, a prominent multi-edition South-based English daily this morning (Sept. 4), has carried an edit page article by a top CPM leader in which she has termed the judgment in the Swamiji’s murder case “atrocious”.

Defending those convicted, she says, their “crime is that they are Adivasi, they are Dalit, they are poor and they are Christian”. See the contradiction. While hell is being raised over Kalburgi’s murder, a campaign is simultaneously on to secure the release of those found guilty of killing the Swami and four of his devotees. Should those claiming to be speaking on behalf of civil society attribute motives to the judiciary? The conviction followed professional investigations by the police and went through the due process of law, which provided enough opportunity to those found guilty to defend themselves. Kalburgi’s murder was surely an un-Hindu act, and those who committed it deserve no sympathy whatsoever.

The law should take its own course and the guilty must certainly be made to pay for it. However,  can there be double standards in such cases? Should the ideology and faith of the victim and perpetrator colour the response of civil society to such sordid crimes?

Godhra Train BurningDo we remember what the first reaction of the ‘secularists’ was when 59 kar sevaks returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya were roasted alive by a mob fired by religious zeal at Godhra on the fateful morning of February 27, 2002? It’s a matter of eternal shame for them that in their initial reaction, they sought to blame the victims for their fiery end.

One multi-edition English daily (which claims to have the highest circulation and readership in the National Capital Region) carried an editorial the following day which said that the kar sevaks had brought upon themselves their horrible fate with their highly ‘provocative’ action of visiting Ayodhya and raising slogans hailing Lord Rama!

After the UPA was voted to power in May 2004, within four months (September 2004) its Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (an icon of ‘secularism’ ) appointed an inquiry into the Godhra episode headed by Justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee. In tune with the ‘secular’ line, the Banerjee committee held that it was an “accidental fire”, implicitly absolving all the criminals of their heinous deed. Later, the Gujarat High Court declared the formation of the committee ‘unconstitutional, illegal and null and void”. The high Court further termed the committee’s formation a “colourable exercise of power with malafide intentions”.

Generally, the intellectuals and activists who are guilty of such double standards belong to the Left, and they lay exclusive claim to secularism. It is because of such intellectual dishonesty on their part that violence against political and ideological opponents is central to public discourse in Kerala and West Bengal, the two states in which the Communists have enjoyed a dominant position over the past three decades and more.

Jinnah with MountbattensIs it not ironical that the Leftists of various hues arrogate themselves the leadership of secular and democratic values while their record on these counts is dismal? During the fateful years preceding Independence in 1947, the Communists actively worked with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the British for the creation of Pakistan—a country whose foundation was wedded to theocracy and has subsequently emerged as a petri-dish of terror in the region.

Coming back to Kalburgi’s murder case, one should not hazard a guess either about the identity of the murderers or their motives till the police investigations conclude. However, killing someone for his/her views is alien to Indian traditions and philosophy.

The New Encyclopaedia Britanica says, “In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. It is axiomatic that no religious idea in India ever dies or is superseded; it is merely combined with the new ideas that arise in response to it.

Hindus are inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and are doctrinally tolerant, allowing others—including both Hindus and non-Hindus—whatever beliefs suit them best.”

Muhammad bin Qasim was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born and raised in the city of Taif (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Qasim's conquest of Sindh and southern-most parts of Multan enabled further Islamic expansion into India.Where is the scope for any violence in such a pluralistic tradition? Distortions in the system crept in following the arrival of Islam (Muhammad bin Qasim in early eight century) and the Christian clergy led by Saint Francis Xavier  (in 1542) as invaders. The entry of foreign inspired Communist ideology, with its concepts of “class enemies and wars” in the 1920s, further added to this creed of intolerance and bigotry.

In the past century, global history was stained in innocent blood by Stalinist excesses in the name of exclusive claims to Marxist-Leninist ideological purity in Russia and eastern Europe, and Nazi-fascist atrocities on ethnic grounds on Jews in Germany.

History may repeat itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce. But the lesson of self-proclaimed revolutions, whether in the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat or of the monopolists of purity in the name of religion, is the same: unity through diversity of thought and respect for it is the best bet to real and sustained democracy in action. – The New Indian Express, 4 September 2015

» Balbir Punj is a Delhi-based commentator on political and social issues. E-mail: punjbalbir@gmail.com

The pathology of the rich white American family – Chris Hedges

Chris HedgesRich white families are also the most efficient killers on the planet. This has been true for five centuries, starting with the conquest of the Americas and the genocide against Native Americans, and continuing through today’s wars in the Middle East. Rich white families themselves don’t actually kill. They are not about to risk their necks on city streets or in Iraq. They hire people, often poor, to kill for them. … Rich white people wanted endless war for the benefit of their arms industry and got it by calling for a war on terror. Rich white people wanted police to use lethal force against the poor with impunity and to arrest them, swelling U.S. prisons with 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so they set up a system of drug laws and militarized police departments to make it happen.” – Chris Hedges

George Bush and Saudi KingThe pathology of the rich white family is the most dangerous pathology in America. The rich white family is cursed with too much money and privilege. It is devoid of empathy, the result of lifetimes of entitlement. It has little sense of loyalty and lacks the capacity for self-sacrifice. Its definition of friendship is reduced to “What can you do for me?” It is possessed by an Dick Cheney, George W. Bush & Donald Rumsfeldinsatiable lust to increase its fortunes and power. It believes that wealth and privilege confer to it a superior intelligence and virtue. It is infused with an unchecked hedonism and narcissism. And because of all this, it interprets reality through a lens of self-adulation and greed that renders it delusional. The rich white family is a menace. The pathologies of the poor, when set against the pathologies of rich white people, are like a candle set beside the sun.

There are no shortages of acolytes and propagandists for rich white families. They dominate our airwaves. They blame poverty, societal breakdown, urban violence, drug use, domestic abuse and crime on the pathology of poor black families—not that they know any. They argue that poor black families disintegrate because of some inherent defect—here you can read between the lines that white people are better than black people—a defect that these poor families need to fix.

Peddle this simplistic and racist garbage and you will be given a column at The New York Times. It always pays to suck up to rich white families. If you are black and parrot this line, rich white people are overcome with joy. They go to extreme lengths to give you a platform. You can become president or a Supreme Court justice. You can get a television talk show or tenure at a university. You can get money for your foundation. You can publish self-help books. Your films will be funded. You might even be hired to run a company.

America Hate Black PeopleRich white families, their sycophants opine, have tried to help. Rich white families have given poor people numerous resources and government programs to lift them out of poverty. They have provided generous charity. But blacks, they say, along with other poor people of color, are defeated by self-destructive attitudes and behavior. Government programs are therefore wasted on these irresponsible people. Poor families, the sycophants tell us, will not be redeemed until they redeem themselves. We want to help, rich white people say, but poor black people need to pull up their pants, stay in school, get an education, find a job, say no to drugs and respect authority. If they don’t, they deserve what they get. And what the average black family ends up with in economic terms is a nickel for every dollar held by the average white family.

Starting at age 10 as a scholarship student at an elite New England boarding school, I was forced to make a study of the pathology of rich white families. It was not an experience I would recommend. Years later, by choice, I moved to Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood when I was a seminary student. I lived across the street from one of the poorest housing projects in the city, and I ran a small church in the inner city for nearly three years. I already had a deep distaste for rich white families, and that increased greatly after I saw what they did to the disenfranchised. Rich white people, I concluded after my childhood and Roxbury experiences, are sociopaths.

Roxbury, Boston 1974: Black student about to be stabbed with US flag pole.The misery and collapse of community and family in Roxbury were not caused by an inherent pathology within the black family. Rich people who treated the poor like human refuse caused the problems. Layers of institutionalized racism—the courts, the schools, the police, the probation officers, the banks, the easy access to drugs, the endemic unemployment and underemployment, the collapsing infrastructures and the prison system—effectively conspired to make sure the poor remained poor. Drug use, crime and disintegrating families are the result of poverty, not race. Poor whites replicate this behavior. Take away opportunity, infuse lives with despair and hopelessness, and this is what you get. But that is something rich white families do not want people to know. If it were known, the rich would have to take the blame.

Michael Kraus, Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner, social scientists at the University of California, did research that led them to conclude that the poor have more empathy than the rich. The poor, they argued, do not have the ability to dominate their environments. They must build relationships with others to survive. This requires that they be able to read the emotions of those around them and respond. It demands that they look after each other. And this makes them more empathetic. The rich, who can control their environments, do not need to bother with the concerns or emotions of others. They are in charge. What they want gets done. And the longer they live at the center of their own universe, the more callous, insensitive and cruel they become.

The rich white family has an unrivaled aptitude for crime. Members of rich white families run corporations into the ground (think Lehman Brothers), defraud stockholders and investors, sell toxic mortgages as gold-plated investments to pension funds, communities and schools, and then loot the U.S. Treasury when the whole thing implodes. They steal hundreds of millions of dollars on Wall Street through fraud and theft, pay little or no taxes, almost never go to jail, write laws and regulations that legalize their crimes and then are asked to become trustees at elite universities and sit on corporate boards. They set up foundations and are admired as philanthropists. And if they get into legal trouble, they have high-priced lawyers and connections among the political elites to get them out.

Percent of adult males incarcerated by race and ethnicity (2009).You have to hand it to rich white families. They steal with greater finesse than anyone else. If you are a poor black teenager and sprint out of a CVS with a few looted bottles of shampoo, you are likely to be shot in the back or sent to jail for years. If there were a Olympiad for crime, rich white families would sweep up all the medals; blacks would be lucky to come within a mile of the first elimination trial. I don’t know why black people even try to compete in this area. They are, by comparison, utter failures as criminals. The monarchs of crime are rich white people, who wallow in their pilfered wealth while locking away in prisons a huge percentage of poor men of color.

Christopher ColumbusRich white families are also the most efficient killers on the planet. This has been true for five centuries, starting with the conquest of the Americas and the genocide against Native Americans, and continuing through today’s wars in the Middle East. Rich white families themselves don’t actually kill. They are not about to risk their necks on city streets or in Iraq. They hire people, often poor, to kill for them. Rich white families wanted the petroleum of Iraq and, by waving the flag and spewing patriotic slogans, got a lot of poor kids to join the military and take the oil fields for them. Rich white people wanted endless war for the benefit of their arms industry and got it by calling for a war on terror. Rich white people wanted police to use lethal force against the poor with impunity and to arrest them, swelling U.S. prisons with 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so they set up a system of drug laws and militarized police departments to make it happen.

George W. Bush & Tony BlairThe beauty of making others kill on your behalf is you get to appear “reasonable” and “nice.” You get to chastise poor people and Muslims for being angry fanatics. You get to spread the message of tolerance with a cherubic smile—which means tolerating the crimes and violence of rich white people. Compare a drive-by shooting in Watts with the saturation bombing of Vietnam. Compare a gangland killing in Chicago with militarized police shooting a person of color almost every day. No one else knows how to churn out corpses like rich white people. One million dead in Iraq alone. And the rich and powerful kill staggering numbers of people and never go to prison. They can retire to a ranch in Crawford, Texas, and paint amateurish portraits of world leaders copied from Google Image Search.

Donald TrumpThere is no decadence like the decadence of rich white people. I knew a billionaire who in retirement spent his time on a yacht smoking weed and being catered to by a string of high-priced prostitutes. The children of rich white families—surrounded by servants and coddled in private schools, never having to fly on commercial airlines or take public transportation—develop a lassitude, sometimes accompanied by a drug habit, that often leads them to idle away their lives as social parasites. Mothers never have to be mothers. Fathers never have to be fathers. The help does the parenting. The rich live encased in little kingdoms, one guarded by their own private security, where the real world does not intrude. They are cultural philistines preoccupied with acquiring more wealth and more possessions. “Material success,” as C. Wright Mills wrote, “is their sole basis of authority.” They meld into the world of celebrity. And the organs of mass media, which they control, turn them into idols to be worshiped solely because they are rich. Public-relations specialists manufacture their public personas. Teams of lawyers harass and silence their critics. Acolytes affirm their sagacity. They soon believe their own fiction. 

Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1965 wrote what is known as the Moynihan Report, or “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” The report concluded that “at the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family.” The oppressed were to blame for their oppression. Social programs alone could not save the poor. The report offers a classic example of a neoliberal economic model repacked as an ideology.

Police guard Greek ATMsThe pathologies of the rich will soon drive us over an economic and ecological cliff. And as we go down, the rich, lacking empathy and understanding, determined to maintain their privilege and their wealth, will use their Praetorian Guard, their mass media, their corporate power, their political puppets and their security and surveillance apparatus to keep us submissive. “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been discovered, because it was properly executed,” Honoré de Balzac wrote of the rich in his novel Le Père Goriot. 

Bertrand Russell QuoteThe rich executed a coup d’état that transformed the three branches of the U.S. government and nearly all institutions, including the mass media, into wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. This coup gives the rich the license and the power to amass unimaginable wealth at our expense. It permits the rich to inflict grinding poverty on growing circles of the population. Poverty is the worst of crimes—as George Bernard Shaw wrote, “all the other crimes are virtues beside it.” And the ability of a rapacious power elite to let children go hungry, to let men and women suffer a loss of dignity and self-worth because there are no jobs, to abandon cities to decay and squalor, to toss the mentally ill and the homeless onto the streets, to slash the meager services that give some hope and succor to those who suffer, to lock hundreds of thousands of poor people in cages for years, to wage endless war, to burden students with crushing debt, to unleash state terror and to extinguish hope among the least fortunate exposes our wealthy oligarchs as the most dangerous and destructive force in America. – Truthdig, 17 June 2015

» Chris Hedges, whose column is published weekly on Truthdig, has written twelve books. He is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City, and has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He currently lives in Princeton and teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey. In 2012, Hedges notably sued President Barack Obama after the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration appealed, and the decision was overturned. In 2014 the the Supreme Court denied to review Hedges v. Obama. The act still allows for presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus. 

Black church burning in the USA

Black Church Fires June 2015

Friedrich Nietzsche Quote

The charade of the church attacks – Abhijit Majumder

“The meltdown of the great church attack story was reported in trickles — a single-column story here and there, a passing byte. No channel had a debate on it or stood corrected. Nobody asked who jumped the gun, who tarred the nation’s image, or who created the communal discourse in the first place. International media, too, seemed to be a part of this collusion of silence. Apart from creating baseless fear among minorities, what the media and intelligentsia have achieved is to further erode their own credibility. Social media has time and again shown the mirror to the mainstream in the last couple of years on matters of biased reportage and poor fact-checking.” – Abhijit Majumder

St Sebastian's Church, DelhiThe fire that started at the St Sebastian Church in Delhi’s Dilshad Garden on December 1, 2014, had caught on to national media by January and was raging internationally by February. 

The narrative was the same: Minorities are under siege in India, churches are being attacked, nuns raped. 

Narendra Modi’s critics asserted on social media that their dark clairvoyance had come true: With him heading the government, the violent Hindu right wing fringe had become the mainstream. 

“Church leaders have speculated that the Hindu far right might also be behind the church attacks,” the New York Times wrote. 

US President Barack Obama too swiftly took to the pulpit: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith.” 

Ex-cop Julio Ribeiro to boxer Mary Kom to former Navy chief Sushil Kumar spoke about growing fear and insecurity among Indian Christians. 

And then, it all started unraveling. 

Sushil Kumar IsaacWhile a special investigative team is looking into the Dilshad garden church fire, pesky children were found behind the Jasola church stone-throwing, short circuit behind Rohini crib burning, a drunken dare behind Vikaspuri vandalising, and a burglary at Vasant Kunj church. 

A church which was attacked in Hisar was an illegal construction. However, it was perhaps the only communal one among recent church attacks, with the accused planting a Lord Hanuman idol inside it and blaming the priest of dodgy conversion attempts. 

The Navi Mumbai church attack grabbed headlines till it was found to be the handiwork of gamblers exacting revenge for church authorities setting the police after them. 

In West Bengal, mainstream and social media suspected Hindu fundamentalists behind the rape of a 72-year-old nun till the accused, Bangladeshi Muslims, were tracked down and arrested. 

Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroAnd now, a jilted Muslim lover has been arrested for the attack on an Agra church, belying earlier claims that it was a communal incident. 

Disbelievingly, almost disappointedly, those who strung together a neat narrative of intolerant India watched each bead of untruth explode. Ribeiro even admitted to exaggerating the threat to Christians. 

But the mainstream media, which so enthusiastically spotted and reported a trend, did not report a fraction as comprehensively how it was never a trend in the first place. 

The meltdown of the great church attack story was reported in trickles — a single-column story here and there, a passing byte. No channel had a debate on it or stood corrected. 

Nobody asked who jumped the gun, who tarred the nation’s image, or who created the communal discourse in the first place

Mary KomInternational media, too, seemed to be a part of this collusion of silence. Apart from creating baseless fear among minorities, what the media and intelligentsia have achieved is to further erode their own credibility. 

Social media has time and again shown the mirror to the mainstream in the last couple of years on matters of biased reportage and poor fact-checking

One can’t shrug it all off as trolling. But here is the real danger: If a communal attack actually takes place (we know what happened to Graham Staines or Arul Das), mainstream media reports could be taken with extreme scepticism. 

The truth could get buried in the ashes of past lies. The bigger danger to the minorities is not from their perceived enemies but their irresponsible champions. 

Bias and lies breed anger, and often harden the stance of otherwise liberal, tolerant people. And it is never wise to keep announcing the arrival of the wolf. – Daily Mail, 25 April 2015

» Abhijit Majumder is a journalist and the Managing editor of Mail Today.

Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVDCardinal Archbishop  Baselios Cleemis

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