Tuesday, 4 March 2014

We aren't angry over innocents' killings in Kashmir but our Indian blood boils when Kashmiris cheer against us in a cricket match!

When innocents are killed in Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) by army bullets, do we feel angry?

Are we upset when mass graves are discovered or when gang rapes take place in the valley. And yet there is no action against soldiers due to AFSPA.

Most of us are apathetic on these issues and for our media it is no news.

There is no support for justice for them. There is no such rage. But if it is petty cricket match and Kashmiri boys have cheered for Pakistan, our blood boils.

Perhaps, it is these double standards, which makes them cheer for Pakistan. Don't Indians settled in UK, Australia and New Zealand, cheer for visiting Indian team, instead of their countries! Should we feel upset over someone taking sides.

In this case, it is not sure either that how many of these students had supported or raised voice for the Pakistani cricket team in its match against India. We simply rely on one sided version and the hysteria generated by it.

Let us take up the most basic points first:

1. Kashmir is part of India. Surely. But there have been issues and we haven't treated Kashmiris very well in the past. We forget that Kashmiris had the option to join Pakistan but the masses under Sheikh Abdullah preferred to join India, because they believed in secular nation.

What we do? We put their leaders in jail, didn't allow free and fair elections for decades. Governments were toppled and AFSPA makes life difficult for an average Kashmiri. There is hue and cry about scrapping Article 370.

2. We expect them to behave the perfect hosts when we go their for pilgrimage or trips. But Kashmiris are human beings as much as we are. They can also be political. Their youngsters too have raging hormones. They may act recklessly at times. But it shouldn't make us so angry.

3. We may not like it but we mustn't take it as a patriotism test. Cricket match can be no test for loyalty. Our nationalism is not so weak that a mere cricket match can prompt university to take disciplinary action. The irony is that those who talk about patriotism, themselves have dubious credentials.

4. The right-wing groups that are most vocal on such issues are affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which never hoists Tiranga (national flag) on its premises or buildings anywhere in India.

5. But no one questions it. It is not that Kashmir is the sole troubled spot. In other states, there are issues. But when it comes to Kashmir we are over sensitive. We should stop being reactive over such matters. This is almost a non-issue.

We must understand our responsibilities too, rather, than expecting the Kashmiri youth to just play the gallery and prove his patriotism. It will do us a lot of good. It will also help Kashmiris integrate with the rest of India, better, than by sending the youths back home from university.

We need to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris. But what are we doing?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Betraying the Bahujans: Dalit politicians, secular leaders joining hands with BJP ahead of 2014 elections

One after the other, Dalit leaders are now flocking to join the the BJP- led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The final push to get BJP more than 200 seats seems succeeding now as an even the most vociferous anti-brahminism leaders have no hitch in supporting Narendra Modi.

Is plan NAMO succeeding now. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) expected the BJP to use Modi's aggression to get more seats. Once the figure of 200 is crossed, there is hope that finding coalition partners would not be too tough.

RPI's Ramdas Athavale has been with BJP and Shiv Sena for sometime. Udit Raj, who heads Justice Party, and has been a hardcore anti-manuvadi has recently joined the party. Udit Raj's desperation is understandable. 

Despite a long movement, he has failed to get electoral support. In UP, Mayawati is the tallest Dalit leader. No other party or individual stands close to her, as far as Scheduled Caste (SC) votes are concerned. So it is not too shocking.

If these developments were not surprising, the latest is Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan's change of heart. For more than three decades, Bihar-based Paswan, has been a strong Dalit leader. He was seen as a secular leader, who has solid support among Muslims in North India.

But 'secularism' is no longer in vogue now. His decision has surprised Dalit community though he was an opportunist and earlier too served as minister in NDA regime. Clearly, the BJP is marching ahead of Congress, when it comes to forming coalition ahead of Lok Sabha election 2014. 

All these leaders may not bring many seats, but they can change the perception and help the BJP in shedding the image of 'untouchable' party. So BJP is no longer a Bania party with Brahmin, Rajput and middle-class (section of OBC) support? 

The Dalits are joining the BJP and this symbolism may help the party in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. With Congress in disarray and Third Front no longer a strong entity, the BJP campaign seems to be gaining steam, at least, for the time being.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

If Rajiv Gandhi's killers can be spared, then why was Afzal Guru hanged?

The three persons have been convicted for the murder of India's Prime Minister. Yet, the killers of Rajiv Gandhi are going to live.

The Supreme Court has decided to commute their death penalty into life imprisonment. The honourable court's decision is final.

There is no scope for disagreement. But politicians, citizens and activists in Jammu and Kashmir, now ask why 'Afzal Guru' wasn't pardoned.

Was his crime as serious and in the same league. In his case, there was no direct evidence but to satisfy the 'collective conscience' of the society, it was decided to hang him to death.

Even his family was not formally informed about the decision to hang him. It was undoubtedly an inhuman act. His family could have met him a last time before he was hanged. But the government machinery was sure that they had to kill him. Was it a lust for blood?

The signals aren't right. In J and K, it sends the wrong message. Punjab government did it best to save Bhullar from death penalty. The trio--Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, have been spared the gallows. Why? It is not court's decision alone. 

The reality is that the prevailing jingoistic atmosphere where nothing is allowed to be discussed, if it is 'sensitive'.The BJP is the second biggest party. But it was never serious for capital punishment for Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan. It wanted Afzal Guru to be hanged.

While in most cases, the mercy petitions aren't disposed or the convict gets reprieve by PRESIDENT. However, Afzal's death penalty was not commuted. Why? Is it because he was a Muslim? These are really serious questions. The manner in which Afzal was made an enemy of the nation, proves how media and politicians joined hands to kill him.

It augurs bad for the nation when there is such clear difference on case to case basis. Are we a bloodthirsty nation?

Monday, 17 February 2014

Jains officially a religious minority in India: Will Pravin Togadia, a Jain, target minorities now?

Pravin Togadia, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, who has targeted minorities and made extremely inflammatory speeches in the country, is himself a minority now.

Togadia, who is a Jain, has repeatedly made incendiary comments against religious minorities across India.

Once he said that if he became the Prime Minister, he would take away electoral rights from Muslims. Togadia has made public speeches that minorities should be economically boycotted.

VHP is known for being a right-wing organisation but Togadia's fanaticism is unmatched. An interesting aspect is that Togadia doesn't speak about the fact that he is a follower of Jainism. His supporters are active on cyber space too.

Any mention that he is a Jain is quickly removed from his Wikipedia page, citing that 'it is not important in context to the article'. He apparently considers Jains as part of Hinduism, though leading Jain saints and seers, strongly vouch for Jainism as an independent and older religion.

While Digambar Jains generally use 'Jain' as surname, the Shwetambaras who are more in Gujarat, use their caste or original surnames, rather than using the religion. On the movement for giving Jains, a religious minority status, he has remained silent.

Togadia is notorious for his hate speeches but the lawmakers have been soft on him. He has targeted Christians for their missionary activity and for 'conversion' of Hindus. The truth is that Christians convert few people in India, compared to the conversion by Jains in rural and tribal parts of India.

In one Gujarat district, Panchmahal, lakhs of Dalits and Tribals were converted. The sudden rise of Jain population in India in the last two decades shows it. Since the central government has bestowed minority status on Jains, we haven't heard much from Togadia.

Seems he doesn't want to touch the topic. But it is interesting to see if he attacks minorities again, and will someone ask him about his being a 'minority' in India.

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