Humour tastes funny these days – Ravi Shankar

Yogi Adityanath

Powerful people do not like to be ridiculed. It pricks their sense of self-importance and omniscience. – Ravi Shankar

Cracking up over jokes is being replaced by governments cracking down on humorists—although not an exclusive saffron habit. Journalist Prashant Kanojia was whisked away by the police for tweeting about a woman who proposed marriage to Yogi Adityanath; the post suggested that the sadhu has a secret crush. The Supreme Court ordered his bail, and the Uttar Pradesh government got egg on its face and Kanojia became a hero of freedom of speech. Nobody bothered to notice that his tweet was not even remotely journalistic in nature. But the woman became a news story and the more-loyal-than-the-king UP Police shut down the channel that interviewed her. It also arrested the journalists, thus creating two more heroes of press freedom.

The Guru of Gorakhpur is not the first leader to weaponise anger against humour. Such backlash has nothing to do with education and class. In Karnataka, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy locked up two men for dissing him and his son online. Last month, a BJP worker landed in the soup—read jail—in Kolkata for posting a Mamata meme. In urbane Naveen Patnaik’s Odisha, journo Abhijit Iyer Mitra was sent to statesville for making a temple joke. The UPA Government tried to censor the internet to block ugly Sonia-Manmohan memes. The age-old debate is back. Are Indians too pompous to have a sense of humour? Are our politicians too power-drunk to tolerate dissent? The answer is in Trishanku situ.

Indian journalism, with its liberal ethos and disregard for authority, was a colonial baby that came of age during the freedom struggle when the British government shut down papers and jailed journalists. This inheritance of protest is the soul of the Indian press. Fear entered newsrooms during the Emergency when the censor was the editor-in-chief. Self-censorship made its debut. The collaborator-journalist genus arrived as the harbinger of things to come.

The Indian politician changed too. The lofty pride of the freedom fighter was slowly replaced by arrogance of power, criminal muscle, dodgy education, caste clout, communal colour and crass insensitivity. From the noughties on, television has been stoking the vanity of both preening and sulking politicians. Then the social media, the scourge of information, arrived with abuse and fake news. Powerful people do not like to be ridiculed. It pricks their sense of self-importance and omniscience. Latitude in humour, like in other seminal forces of democracy, is divided by the invisible longitude of propriety. Indian satire’s role models like Birbal and Sanjay ribbed rulers, sailing close to the edge without ever crossing it. Humour in the right hands is a savage weapon to expose flaws of leaders. But gratuitous repartee like Kanojia’s tweet is just an attention-seeking device.

Having said that, authority can afford to be merciful. How a powerful leader with a massive mandate takes a joke in his stride reveals the true nature of democracy. – The New Indian Express, 16 June 2019

» Ravi Shankar is a cartoonist and columnist in New Delhi.

UP Police Cartoon


 

Charlie Hebdo attack must not be reduced to free speech grandstanding – Offstumped Report

French President Francois Hollande (2nd R) is surrounded by heads of state including Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L), Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (4thR) Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (3rdR) and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) as they attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris January 11, 2015. French citizens will be joined by dozens of foreign leaders, among them Arab and Muslim representatives, in a march on Sunday in an unprecedented tribute to this week's victims following the shootings by gunmen at the offices of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the killing of a police woman in Montrouge, and the hostage taking at a kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes.     AFP PHOTO POOL PHILIPPE WOJAZER        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)

OffstumpCharlie Hebdo attack is neither the product of too much “free speech” nor of too little speech. It is the product of an ideology that is antithetical to the very idea of how the rest of the Civilized World can conduct itself inspite of the many mutual contradictions and differences. – Offstumped

Picture this scenario.

Two armed men enter a building.

They single out individuals in the building and shoot them point-blank.

The armed are overheard raising religious slogans.

The armed men then walk out of the building barely challenged.

Now do a simple Thought Experiment on how this incident would be reported. Perhaps in 9 out of 10 cases the primary narrative to emerge out of an incident of this kind would be the horror of Terror and the ideology that inspires it, rationalizes it, legitimizes it and shelters it.

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo, French Satirical Weekly Magazine in Paris, saw a different narrative dominate.

Even as the first news updates trickled into Twitter you had a narrative of “Free Speech” emerge with British Prime Minister David Cameron one of the first to make the Paris Terror Attack about “free speech”. As further details emerged about Charlie Hebdo’s legacy of provocative caricature and past attacks on it the “free speech” narrative on yesterday’s terror incident solidified. By the time the full details emerged on the victims and the fact that they were singled out by name by the attackers, the overwhelming narrative across both Social Media and Mainstream Media was one of “Free Speech” with a curious spectrum of reactions. At one extreme were those who were sharing and circulating Charlie Hebdo’s most offensive cartoons and at the other extreme were those pixelating images and cautioning against hurting sentiments with some even wishing “Rest in Hell” for the dead cartoonists.

Somewhere in the middle was a silent majority trying to sort for itself what exactly went down in Paris.

Free SpeechIt was interesting though how conventional stereotypes and labels crumbled yesterday over the question of “Free Speech”. In a bizarre role reversal and convergence you had some to the “Right” keeping company with Left-Libs counseling caution on publishing the “offensive cartoons”. On the other hand you had many cutting across ideological moorings taking an absolutist stance on “free speech”. Then of course you had the opportunists who ensured they scored brownie points with either camp by publicizing some mildly offensive cartoons while staying clear of the most offensive ones.

In all this heated “free speech” debate for and against publicizing the cartoons it was perhaps lost on everyone on how the Islamists had managed to induce an element of Self-Doubt into the rest of Civilized World  –

Were we somehow at fault?

Were we to blame?

Did we bring this upon ourselves? 

Did we provoke this?

This is a good reason why the dominant narrative to emerge from yesterday’s incident should not have been about “Free Speech” but about the fundamental nature of Islamist Terror.

Making the entire debate about “free speech” is self-defeating for the rest of the Civilized World for there is no universally accepted standard on what exactly is “free speech”. We can have perfectly democratic, rule of law based societies from India to the United States each with its own notion of what constitutes “free speech” and to what degree it is Constitutionally Protected in each society.

Flag of JihadBy making this a “Free Speech” issue we have allowed the Islamists to exploit a fault line in an otherwise united stance against their brand of terror and their world view that remains antithetical to the rest of the Civilized World. The choice of Target in Paris of the Jihadists was thus a clever tactic with the intention of exploiting the inherent contradictions on the question of “Free Speech”.

The War on Islamist Terror cannot be won from the pulpit of “Free Speech”. It cannot be won by indulging in “navel gazing” on where each of us “Rule of Law” based Societies stand with reference to an absolutist notion of  “Free Speech”.

We, the “Rule of Law” based Societies,  are not the Problem.

They, the Islamists, are the problem.

It is perfectly possible for a Rule of Law based Democratic Republic to both exist and endure without having to subscribe to someone else’s notion of “Freedom of Speech” – absolutist or restricted. The defining characteristic of all Civilizations is the social contract that preserves the fabric of  all civilized life – Trust. Invariably every one of these social contracts entails some trade-offs and compromises on some Freedoms. We gave up some Freedoms so we could Trust each other enough to mutually co-exist and to Trust the State enough to protect and guarantee that co-existence.

The defining fault line in this War on Terror thus is not about Freedoms but about what makes the Civilized World possible.

Islamist Terror of our times is neither the product of too much “free speech” nor of too little speech. It is the product of an ideology that is antithetical to the very idea of how the rest of the Civilized World can conduct itself inspite of the many mutual contradictions and differences.

Unless we conduct the War on Islamist Terror with this clarity, there is little hope of winning. – Niticentral, 8 January 2015

» Offstumped Report is a Digital Persona for aggregating commentary by Niti Central Staff. Information, facts or opinions expressed through the Offstumped Report may have been authored by one or more staff members of Niti Central.

Islamophobia

Pussy Riot: Putin’s penal colony is as brutal as was Stalin’s gulag – Alec Luhn

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Alec Luhn“The Russian Orthodox Church has served as a linchpin of this banning trend. On the same day that the State Duma passed the controversial ‘gay propaganda’ law in June, it also approved a blasphemy law outlawing public actions that offend the “religious feelings of believers”. Orthodox activists have … attempted to disrupt art exhibitions and performances, including a show by Pussy Riot supporters at a Moscow theatre in August 2012.” –  Alec  Luhn

Pussy Riot members in a holding cage before their trial in July 2012.She has been forced to endure 17-hour working days, eat rotten food, and watch her fellow inmates made to perform humiliating punishments. These are just some of the conditions the Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova claims to have endured in an open letter this week, which announced her decision to begin a hunger strike in protest against her treatment in a prison system that human-rights advocates say hasn’t changed since the days of the Soviet Gulag. Today, she was placed in solitary confinement.

Tolokonnikova and fellow Pussy Riot punk-band members Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison for a 40-second performance calling on the Virgin Mary to “kick [Russian President Vladimir] Putin out” in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in 2012. [See video below] Samutsevich was released with a suspended sentence after an appeal, while Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were sent to penal colonies in October. Their sentences, which critics have said are politically motivated, will be up in March 2014.

In her letter, Tolokonnikova demands that administrators stop violating human rights in her prison camp in Mordovia, where she works sewing police uniforms. She said the women sleep only four hours a night, and that prison officials use older inmates to mete out punishments, forcing prisoners to stand in the cold, not eat their own food or go without bathing.

Mordovia Prison Camp“I refuse to participate in slave labor [sic] at the camp until the directors of the colony begin to follow the law and treat women inmates as people rather than cattle,” she wrote.

Tolokonnikova also appealed to Russia’s human-rights commissioner and to the Investigative Committee, asking the latter to open a criminal case against Yuri Kupriyanov, the deputy head of her prison colony, for threatening to have her killed. According to Tolokonnikova, fellow inmates also threatened her with violence, saying they had the sanction of the colony’s directors.

The chairman of the  denied the claims of threats and a 17-plus-hour work day in the Russian government’s official newspaper.

The Mordovia branch of the Investigative Committee announced that it will open an investigation into Tolokonnikova’s claims that she was threatened. In addition, Maria Kannabikh, a member of the Public Chamber and the chairman of the Public Supervisory Commission on Places of Confinement, said she would travel to the camp this week to investigate the claims and meet with Tolokonnikova and the wardens.

Pytor VerzilovPrison officials fired back, filing a complaint that Tolokonnikova and her supporters were seeking special privileges. According to the press service of the Mordovia penitentiary system, her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, and her lawyer, Irina Khrunova, said they would complain to the Investigative Committee that Mr Kupriyanov was threatening Tolokonnikova if he didn’t assign her to work in an art studio instead of the sewing workshop.

Prison authorities said they had moved Tolokonnikova into solitary confinement for her own safety, the state news agency Interfax reported today. But Ms Khrunova told the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets the move would expose Tolokonnikova to retribution from prison officials.

Fellow Pussy Riot member Alyokhina went on an 11-day hunger strike in May, claiming that her penal colony in the Perm territory was cracking down on security to turn inmates against her before her parole hearing. She ended the strike after the crackdown was reportedly lifted. Both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were denied parole in July.

Vladimir PutinTolokonnikova’s letter received both praise and condemnation, again displaying the deep fissure between the conservative majority clamouring that the girls had violated a holy place and the liberal intelligentsia calling for leniency. Polling by the independent Levada-Centre showed that 27 per cent of respondents said they disliked the Pussy Riot members in August, up from 17 per cent the year before. The percentage of respondents who felt sympathy for them remained at 6 per cent.

A petition on Change.org calling for Tolokonnikova to be moved to another penal colony and assigned to different work had almost reached its goal of 25,000 signatures as of this afternoon.

The Pussy Riot trial was seen by many as part of a Kremlin crackdown on dissent that has since continued with the conviction of the opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, in a politicised trial in July, and the ongoing prosecution of people present at a Bolotnaya Square protest against Vladimir Putin’s re-election in May 2012. Laws have been passed labelling non-governmental organisations that receive money from abroad as “foreign agents” and banning “homosexual propaganda” – a vague term for behaviour that is deemed to promote homosexuality.

Patriarch Kirill & Dictator PutinThe Russian Orthodox Church has served as a linchpin of this trend. On the same day that the State Duma passed the controversial “gay propaganda” law in June, it also approved a blasphemy law outlawing public actions that offend the “religious feelings of believers”. Orthodox activists have beaten gay-rights activists at rallies and attempted to disrupt art exhibitions and performances, including a show by Pussy Riot supporters at a Moscow theatre in August 2012.

Archpriest Vsevolod ChaplinPublications such as the newspaper Vedomosti have supported Tolokonnikova’s action, and Pavel Durov, the founder of the Russian social network VKontakte, called on users to spread the news of her letter. But many internet users echoed church officials in arguing that Tolokonnikova is getting her just deserts.

“When God punishes a person, he ends up in a very unenviable position, losing his health and sometimes even his life,” archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the most prominent spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, wrote in a post on the website Ekho Moskvy decrying Tolokonnikova’s refusal to confess her guilt.

However, deacon Andrei Kurayev, an Orthodox priest known for his independent position, wrote on his LiveJournal blog that the letter was not about Tolokonnikova’s suffering, but about the degradation and “torment of thousands of women in prison”.

According to statistics compiled by New York University professor Mark Galeotti, the mortality rate in Russian prisons and pre-trial detention centres is twice as high as in US prisons, and it has been rising. In 2012, 4,121 prisoners died in prison or pre-trial detention in Russia while the total number of inmates was about 731,000.

A visitor takes a picture of the artwork entitled "Travesty" by Altunin at an exhibition at the Muzei Vlasti in St. Petersburg.Olga Romanova, a journalist and the head of Rus Sidyaschaya, an organisation for wrongfully convicted prisoners, said that Tolokonnikova’s account of prison conditions was true to life. She said the mortality rate has been increasing due to the cruelty of the guards, the prevalence of disease, and the deteriorating Soviet-built penal colonies. The infrastructure of the penitentiary system and the behaviour of the guards have remained unchanged since Gulag times, she added. — The Independent, 24 September 2013

» Alec Luhn is an American journalist based in Moscow. He has written for The Nation, the Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Moscow Times, GlobalPost, the Wisconsin State Journal and Russian Life, among others.

See also

  1. A Putinist history of Pussy Riot – Israel Shamir
  2. Russia’s Putin-Kirill regime criticised for sending Pussy Riot to brutal gulag prisons – Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

VIDEO: Multiculturalism and its demographic denouement – White Rabitt

Hitler Didi’s shameless arrogance – Ravi Shankar Etteth

Ravi Shankar Etteth“Political pulp queen Mamata Banerjee presides over a reign of state terror that could put Queen Mary I to shame—in 16th century England, Marian persecutions against Protestant leaders earned her the name Bloody Mary. Not many are drinking to Banerjee these days, but intoxication with power has changed her image from avenging angel to Hitler Didi. A few painting exhibitions or sonnets aren’t going to hide Madame Hyde. The bloody-mindedness of Bengal’s Mary was evident when she dismissed the death of student Sudipto Gupta in police custody as a “petty” and “small” matter.” – Ravi Shankar Etteth

WB CM Mamata Banerjee“This crown gives me a feeling of power! Power! Forgive me a cruel chuckle. Heh-heh-heh.” Prince John in Robin Hood (1973).

Very little is original in the world. Atavisms are the bookmarks of history. Successive generations find tyrants, dictators and sadistic emperors of the past more interesting than virtuous and wise kings. More books have has been written about Adolf Hitler and Tamurlane than Harischandra. Asoka would’ve been just a footnote but for the fact that he slaughtered thousands in battle before going vegetarian. Penitence is scriptural while tyranny is a bestseller.

Political pulp queen Mamata Banerjee presides over a reign of state terror that could put Queen Mary I to shame—in 16th century England, Marian persecutions against Protestant leaders earned her the name Bloody Mary. Not many are drinking to Banerjee these days, but intoxication with power has changed her image from avenging angel to Hitler Didi. A few painting exhibitions or sonnets aren’t going to hide Madame Hyde. The bloody-mindedness of Bengal’s Mary was evident when she dismissed the death of student Sudipto Gupta in police custody as a “petty” and “small” matter.

Sudipto GuptaThe week after Gupta’s killing, the Trinamool Terror used an attack on her and her ministers in Delhi by alleged SFI activists to provoke lumpen sentimentality. Irony is lost in the battle dust of politics. Banerjee checked herself into a private hospital—presumably not trusting any of her own government hospitals she is fond of visiting and humiliating senior doctors—and lost the advantage again after TMC goons ransacked Kolkata’s Presidency College, assaulting students and professors.

Banerjee has imprisoned students and academics for tweets and Facebook posts; jailed a farmer for inquiring about TMC policies; and labelled a journalist a Naxalite for asking an inconvenient question. The only reason she can, perhaps, still win elections is that in West Bengal, there are no lesser evils and people have long memories.

After the Emergency, as cases of police brutality stumbled out into newsprint, revelations of a student’s death in police custody became a cause célèbre in Kerala. The murder of Rajan—branded a Naxalite sympathiser—lost K. Karunakaran the chief ministership. For the time being, Banerjee faces no such danger. History gives tyrants a long rope, on which many innocents are hanged before retribution sets in. What makes someone like Banerjee a dictator in a democracy? It’s politics, stupid.

Mamata Banerjee & Manmohan SinghIn an age of coalition politics, survival strategy silences the inner voice. The Congress was wooing Banerjee with a carrot and a stick—support and funds—as it contemplates a scarecrow existence in the harvest of pre-poll calculations. The first time her tendency to blackmail a coalition surfaced was in 2000, when she walked out protesting a fuel price hike. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ignored it, and she withdrew the resignation without an explanation. In 2011, she quit the NDA taking to the moral high ground after a sting-op revealed corruption in the coalition, but hardly any attempts were made to appease her. But then, Manmohan Singh has neither Vajpayee’s stature nor political courage.

Politicians treat the people like excrement. In drought-ravaged Maharashtra, deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar arrogantly asked, “If there is no water in the dam … should we urinate into it?” “Short dresses and short skirts worn by women … instigates young men,” said Chiranjeet of the TMC, which is led by a woman who said rapes rise as the population rises. “Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark”, was the pearl flung by Botcha Satyanarayana, Andhra Congress chief, Ajit Pawar the Pisseron the Delhi gangrape. A Haryana minister said cellphones corrupted women. The excuse given by Karnataka ministers caught watching porn on their cellphones was that they were investigating a video of foreign tourists misbehaving at a rave party. A Samajwadi honcho declared that he has instructed PWD officials that if they work hard, they can steal a little but cannot behave like dacoits.

The politician in his hubris insults the intelligence of the people who bring him or her to power. But then, doesn’t every nation get the leaders it deserves? – The New Indian Express, 14 April 2013   

» Ravi Shankar writes for The New Indian Express. Contact him at  ravi@newindianexpress.com

 

Katju the Clown: The PCI chairman can’t be impeached but he can be criticised – Krishen Kak

Justice Katju for Nobel Prize

Krishen Kak“Katju may fancy himself an Abou Ben Adhem, but there can be no doubt that he is not displaying political neutrality or any kind of uncompromising impartiality. There can be no doubt that the standards the PCI expects from the Press are not to be expected from its current Chairman. There can be no doubt that he is using his statutory identity to play partisan politics. Professional ethics would require him to resign first. Unfortunately, the PCI Act has no provision for impeachment of its Chairman, because Katju’s is a fit case for impeachment.” – Krishen Kak

Press Council of IndiaMarkandey Katju was a judge of the Supreme Court of India who, after retirement, was appointed chairman of the statutory Press Council of India. As PCI Chairman, Katju is predisposed to making pronouncements not only pertaining directly to the Press, but pertaining also to a number of issues of general public interest, including homilies to elected chief ministers on the due performance of their duty.

But what about Katju’s own duty? In December 2012, Katju declared “90 per cent of Indians are fools”.

PCI National Awards for Excellence in Journalism!Sent a legal notice by two young students, he promptly backtracked using the tired excuse that he had “been misquoted in the press reports” (PCI Chairman misquoted? O tempora!). Katju then, confusingly, went on to admit “but it is true that I have said that 90 per cent Indians (not all) are fools.”  He continued with an elaborate obfuscation of not meaning what he had said – he wished to clarify that he does not regard Indians as inherently stupid or foolish. ‘It is only at present that large parts of our people are foolish…..’  He said what he did because ‘you see I made that statement not to harm the Indian people, whom I love, but to benefit them’. The truth is sometimes bitter, but sometimes bitter medicine has to be given to an ailing person. [1]

Elsewhere, the same month, he said of us that “‘you people are a bunch of idiots… I say ninety per cent of Indians are fools. You people don’t have brains in your heads’…  Katju said he was saying harsh things to make the countrymen, whom he loved, to understand the whole game and refrain from making fools of themselves”.[2]

He clarified the duty he has assigned to himself. He sees himself as India’s Solon. Less charitably, he has been called our National Know-All (on the lines of our National Bird, National Animal and other assorted National What-have-yous). He declaimed: “In our sastras it is written: Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam (Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth). I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today requires that we say Bruyat satyam apriyam (Speak the unpleasant truth).

“When I said that 90 per cent Indians are fools I spoke an unpleasant truth…. When I called 90 per cent of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80 per cent poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives.

But this is possible when their mindset changes, when their minds are rid of casteism, communalism and superstition, and they become scientific and modern… Being modern means having a modern mind, which means a rational mind, a logical mind, a questioning mind, a scientific mind”.[3]

Accordingly, Katju has his own blog, titled Satyam Bruyat, through which he enlightens us Indian fools and idiots (whom he loves) with his “unpleasant truths” about us. One of these “unpleasant truths” which greatly exercises his learned mind is a shadow on his horizon named Narendra Modi. Katju inveighs against Shri Modi with such visceral hatred that one suspects he does so only to prove his loyalty to those who provided him with a cushy well-paid perk-filled retirement job – and angle with them for another one when his term gets over in 2014.

“Mr. Modi’s claims about development were false. The living standard of the common people was still abysmal… The time may come when the people of the State would themselves realise that the development about which Mr. Modi boasts a lot was of no use to them… ‘There is no way in which the blot on Mr. Modi’s name due to the 2002 Gujarat riots can be wiped out,’…. On Mr. Modi’s third successive win in Assembly elections, he said everyone knew how polls were fought and won these days”.[4]

This warning to us fools and idiots obviously did not achieve the effect that Katju hoped for, because he’s now published his opinion that Shri Narendra Modi is … well, as good as being a murderer, at

Katju is entitled to his opinion as a private citizen, but he expresses them occupying a statutory position (which is identified at the end of his article). This certainly gets the attention that opinions of lesser Indians do not. His article makes certain claims (italicised below) about which, perhaps, he will allow a “fool” and “idiot” to comment –

  • The killing of nearly 2,000 Muslims in 2002 in Gujarat.

This is a figure bandied about by foreign agencies and our secular activists funded by them.  The (Congress) Government of India’s report for the post-Godhra violence is 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims killed in Gujarat [5] Or perhaps Katju does not believe his own government!

  • The truth today is that Muslims in Gujarat are terrorised and afraid that if they speak out against the horrors of 2002 they may be attacked and victimised. In the whole of India, Muslims (who number over 200 million) are solidly against Mr. Modi (though there are a handful of Muslims who for some reason disagree).

This “truth” explains Gujarat Muslims voting for the BJP (and not the Congress or anyone else) in numbers enough to give the BJP an overwhelming majority through elections, the freedom and fairness of which no one has challenged, not the losing parties, not the Muslims, not the Election Commission, no one except Katju with a sour-grape “everyone knew how polls were fought and won these days”!

  • India is broadly a country of immigrants. 

This is notwithstanding all the scientific evidence to the contrary.[6]

  • The killing of thousands of Muslims and other atrocities on them in Gujarat in 2002 can never be forgotten or forgiven. All the perfumes in Arabia cannot wash away the stain on Mr. Modi in this connection… It is also said that Mr. Modi had no hand in the killings, and it is also said that he had not been found guilty by any court of law. I do not want to comment on our judiciary, but I certainly do not buy the story that Mr. Modi had no hand in the events of 2002. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time when horrible events happened on such a large-scale. Can it be believed that he had no hand in them? At least I find this impossible to believe. 

Apart from the lack of faith Katju reveals in his erstwhile Supreme Court colleagues, an Indian does not have to be a “fool” or “idiot” to note that this could apply with even greater force to late Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress Party and the killing of thousands of Sikhs. Yet Katju appears never to have questioned the continuing silence over this of People Like Him (neither “fools” nor “idiots”), and why the Sikhs are still crying for justice.

  • To my mind development can have only one meaning, and that is raising the standard of living of the masses.

Certainly. Perhaps Katju could advise us “fools” and “idiots” about our national political parties with an effective record here. Does he mean Congress that has dominated the Indian polity for most of our Independence has been instrumental in encouraging casteism (votebank politics), communalism (1984 anti-Sikh; Christian evangelism; Muslim appeasement; Muslim illegal immigration that the Supreme Court calls  “external aggression”), and is now popularly considered as heading the most corrupt government in free India’s history?

  • I appeal to the people of India to consider all this if they are really concerned about the nation’s future. Otherwise they may make the same mistake which the Germans made in 1933.

Katju calls the people of India “fools” and “idiots” and then “appeals” to the “fools” and “idiots” to agree with him?

Well, the National Know-All has spoken. He knows he knows what is best for us Indian “fools” and “idiots” and “the nation’s future”. Indian “fools” and “idiots” can only reply through the ballot box.

Here are the five characteristics of a fool – haughtiness, bad mouthing, uncontrollable anger, strongly held views, and intolerance of opinions held by others:

  • murkhasya pamcha chihanaani garvo durvachanam tathaa / krodhashcha drudhavaadashcha paravaakyeshvanadarah [7]

To paraphrase Edmund Burke, a big mouth and a small brain go ill together.[8] Readers can decide for themselves who really is the fool here. And Katju may not have to wait till 2014 to see whether his eloquence has swayed those whom he considers mentally backward.[9]

Katju clearly considers himself mentally forward.[10] Doubtless he will be familiar with three Sanskrit sayings:

  • naminti phalino vrikshaa namanti gunino janaah

The branches of a tree laden with fruit bend downward just as the highly cultivated persons bow down out of respect to others.

  • aathmachitram na jananti parachidranusarinah

They know not their own defects who search for the defects of others.

  • sampurnakumbho na karoti shabdam ardhoghato ghoshamupaiti nunam / vidvaan kulIno na karoti garva gunairvihinaa bahu jalpayamti

A fully filled water pitcher does not make as much noise as a half-filled one. A virtuous and sage person born in a good family is free of pride while those devoid of good qualities keep babbling like the half filled water pitcher.

The Press Council requires that the Press “scrupulously adhere to accepted norms of journalistic ethics and maintain high standards of professional conduct”. It informs us that “Parliament embarked on a search for a meticulous formula which would ensure uncompromising impartiality and fairness in the selection of Chairman…. The Council has been adorned by a galaxy of distinguished judges, eminent editors, leading newspaper owners and managers, well-known working journalists and leaders of journalistic movement and renowned litterateurs, lawyers and educationists… The Council got its direction from them and amply benefited from their vast knowledge and wisdom”[11]

Katju notes that “almost every section of society is regulated. Lawyers are a free profession, but their profession is regulated inasmuch as their licence can be suspended or cancelled by the Bar Council for professional misconduct. Similarly the licences of doctors, chartered accountants, etc, can be suspended / cancelled by their regulatory bodies. Judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court can be impeached by Parliament for misconduct. But the media claims that no action should be taken against it for violating journalistic ethics. Why? In a democracy everyone has to be accountable”. [12]

So, in our democracy, to whom is the PCI Chairman accountable? No one. What’s sauce for other geese is not sauce for this gander!

Katju may fancy himself an Abou Ben Adhem, but there can be no doubt that he is not displaying political neutrality or any kind of uncompromising impartiality. There can be no doubt that the standards the PCI expects from the Press are not to be expected from its current Chairman. There can be no doubt that he is using his statutory identity to play partisan politics. Professional ethics would require him to resign first. Unfortunately, the PCI Act has no provision for impeachment of its Chairman, because Katju’s is a fit case for impeachment.

In his main article under discussion here, Katju makes a reference to Kristallnacht. Katju belongs to a community that already suffered its own Kristallnacht (pogrom) and is now refugee in its own country. And if Katju ever spoke out against those who, in Radha Rajan’s words, “emptied the Kashmir Valley of all Hindus”, this appears a well-kept secret.

Katju prides himself on his rational mind. A cuttingly perceptive comment was made by another young student – “but if all the sycophants will act rationally, who will feed the poor and hungry Italians?”[13]

Who, indeed!

The bruyat satyam apriyam is that Katju wants us fools and idiots to continue doing so, who else? – Vijayvaani, 20 February 2013

Notes

  1. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/students-force-markandey-katju-on-backfoot-over-fool-remark/1043177/0
  2. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/reunification-of-india-pakistan-only-solution-to-kashmir-katju/article4180005.ece
  3. http://m.indianexpress.com/news/the-90/934145/ .  The only examples of superstition he gives are from Hinduism. He makes no reference to the superstitions of a parthenogenetic birth, flying horses, and other such “miracles” essential to Christianity and Islam – http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/2012/12/mreply-to-young-students-tanaya-and.html – and it doesn’t need rocket science to understand why.
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/to-national/modis-development-claim-phoney-says-katju/article4233437.ece .
  5. http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?Itemid=109&id=843&option=com_content&task=view ; http://expressindia.indianexpress.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=46538 .  He also believes that “upto 1857 communalism was almost non-existent in India” – http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/2012/12/mreply-to-young-students-tanaya-and.html . He needs to familiarize himself with the research by S.R. Goel on Hindu temples and Koenraad Elst on negationism.
  6. http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/genetics-aryan-debate.html ; http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/7/42 ; http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=6468762 See also http://folks.co.in/blog/2012/04/18/a-european-look-at-the-aryan-myth/ ;  http://folks.co.in/blog/2012/12/15/indo-europeans-origins-1-the-200-year-old-question/ ; http://folks.co.in/blog/2012/12/18/indo-europeans-2-natural-history-of-languages/ ; http://folks.co.in/blog/2013/01/01/indo-europeans-3-noahs-animals-march/ .
  7. http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?p=25998 ; http://www.destinationinfinity.org/2011/04/06/selected-sanskrit-proverbs/
  8. N.S. Rajaram (webmail), who also comments on Mr Katju’s “response to Modi’s electoral success: `everyone knew how polls are fought and won these days’ so do away with elections and bring back Emergency Rule by the family who gave Katju this job…. At least Modi got where he is by getting elected by the people; Katju by polishing the right people.”
  9. “80% of our people are poor, which is largely because of the mental backwardness of most (not all) of us” – http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/2012/12/mreply-to-young-students-tanaya-and.html
  10. “A well-read and erudite person.  He is loved by young and old for his erudition and vast knowledge of diverse subjects including law, literature, philosophy, jurisprudence, social science, history etc.” – from his official bio-data at http://www.presscouncil.nic.in/HOME.HTM .
  11. http://www.presscouncil.nic.in/HOME.HTM – its “History” page.
  12. http://indialawyers.wordpress.com/tag/press-council-of-india/
  13. Thus, for example, http://www.dailypioneer.com/home/online-channel/top-story/127537-bribes-necessary-part-of-doing-business-globally-berlusconi.html ;
  14. http://www.dailypioneer.com/home/online-channel/360-todays-newspaper/127977-probe-who-is-the-family-bjp.html; “When Manmohan Singh attended the Euro Economic Summit he generously announced a $12 billion gift to protect the Euro! Who was the main beneficiary? You guessed it – Italy, on the verge of collapse after the meltdown in Greece… ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME” – N.S. Rajaram (webmail).

See also

» Krishen Kak is a retired IAS officer. He lives in New Delhi.

 

Katju & Diggy & Madam

“India must do more for Tibet,” says Dr. Lobsang Sangay

Lobsang Sangay“Making a fervent appeal, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Dr Lobsang Sangay pointed towards the 99 incidents of self-immolation in Tibet since 2009 and said the situation is ‘grave and extremely serious and deserves attention and support of the international community.'” – DNA

Close on the heels of China promising reforms in Tibet but appointing a “hard line” governor, Losang Gyaltsen, the exiled community of the Himalayan plateau has launched a solidarity movement appealing India and the international community to intervene against continued repression in their homeland.

Making a fervent appeal, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Dr Lobsang Sangay pointed towards the 99 incidents of self-immolation in Tibet since 2009 and said the situation is “grave and extremely serious and deserves attention and support of the international community.”

Human rights are equally important as business is if not more,” he said. When asked by DNA what he wants from the Indian leadership, Dr Sangay said India has done the most for Tibetans and they would forever be indebted to New Delhi, but right now “we are nudging it to do a little bit of more.”

Janphal YeshiSangay’s comments come against the backdrop of India trying to go an extra mile with China to settle border disputes and improve relations.

Describing Tibet’s importance for India and the region from various angles, including ecology, he said, “It (Tibet) ought to be the core issue of the Indian government for its national security.”

Indicating that China has termed Tibet a core issue in its discussions with India but the same has not been reciprocated, he said, “When it happens, please speak frankly and forcefully.”

He deplored the Chinese designs for creating fissures within Tibet by trying to dissect a culturally, geographically and linguistically single region.

On a query whether Tibetans need to be more pragmatic while dealing with China when countries are engaging positively with the second strongest economy of the world, Sangay reminded the media that despite against all hopes the Soviet Union got disintegrated, the Arab Spring came and Aung San Suu Kyi too won freedom. – DNA, 30 January 2013

See also