Tuesday, 6 September 2011

BJP loses moral high ground on corruption to Congress

Why should the BJP oppose Lokayukta in Gujarat?
Is there much difference between BJP and Congress when it comes to Corruption? The answer may vary as per a person's perception and his/her liking for either of the parties.

But for the last few months, BJP had got an upper hand over Congress. The ruling party was cornered due to scams. The huge corruption in Commonwealth Games had put the UPA on the defensive. The spectrum scam involving DMK and Congress had worsened the situation for the party.

With Anna Hazare's agitation, the BJP got another shot in the arm. Corruption had become the national issue. Congress seemed incapable of handling the situation. But no sooner did the Governor in Gujarat appointed a Lokayukta, the BJP was crying hoarse.

The fact that Narendra Modi government had not appointed a Lokayukta for seven years is ample proof of the state government's reluctance in establishing an anti-corruption ombudsman. However, when as per the Gujarat state act, the Governor appointed the Lokayukta, the BJP leaders went on staging protests.

The manner in which the party has made it an issue from street to President's House, has once again showed it in extreme poor light. If Modi administration is clean, why should the BJP be wary of a Lokayukta? Unless of course, its leaders are as corrupt as Reddy brotherss of Karnataka. Most of the major states have the institution.

With CBI arresting the Bellary brothers--the Reddys--for illegal mining and stashing away huge wealth, the focus is back on Karnataka. The BJP that had an advantage over Congress has once again lost it. As its ex-MPs are sent to jail by court in Cash for Vote scams, the party can only curse itself for mishandling the situation.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Anna Hazare: Anti-Corruption Crusader or Elitists's pawn!

Four months after Anna Hazare's movement had fizzled out due to allegations of RSS infiltration and the fiasco surrounding yoga guru Baba Ram Dev's entry into the scene, the veteran has once again taken centre stage in Indian politics.

The septuagenarian is sitting on a fast at the Ramlila Ground for a week. As support for him grows across the country, the centre seems to have lost its way. UPA leaders are at their at loss how to contain the rising tide of anger against the UPA government.

With citizens laying siege at the residences of ministers and MPs, clearly the Anna phenomenon has taken the nation by the storm. With Sonia Gandhi away, Congress leaders are having a tough time devising a strategy to check he frenzy.

Anna Hazare hasn't got adequate support from some sections including Dalits and Backwards. But his team has made it up with active support of the print and electionc media and the vocal middle-class, which have the capacity to make or break any movement.

There is criticism that the 'civil society' is dictating terms. That they are autocratic and don't tolerate dissent. That those who are against it are readily termed 'anti-national' or less patriotic. That this movement is starting a new trend which will subvert authority of democratic institutions.

Fears have been expressed that Hazare who had earlier praised Narendra Modi and who didn't take stand on a wide range of issues has been used as a pawn in the so-called fight against corruption which aims at weakening constitutional authorities.

Even activist Arundhati Roy has cricitised Anna's methods. She says that he may be a Gandhian but his ways are not. In an article published in The Hindu, she drew comparison with Maoists, saying that Team Anna also wants to take over power without any regard for constitution or electoral process.
Urmila Matondkar endorses Anna

Roy has said that while 10,000 people protesting at Koodankulam don't get five minutes on TV, any demonstration that is supported by the top layer like the current agitation at Ramlila Maidan is given extensive coverage by the news channels.

Anna magic has surely caught the ruling party by surprise. It is not just man on the street or the activist, celebrities including Bollywood actors are supporting his mass movement. In fact, it has become a sort of fashion to root for Anna.

But the tone and tenor of the protesters worry intelligentsia. While a section condemned the government crackdown and its refusal to deal with Anna, there was a feeling that the self-righteous attitude of Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and the team that 'Either you are with us or against us' is wrong.

Interestingly, Congress has said that the campaign comprises anarchists, fascists and maoists. It is also being alleged that the right-wing groups are using the Anna movement to appropriate the jingoistic Hindutva line in Indian political mainstream.

There is a campaign on facebook to portray Anna's movement as casteist. It is alleged that the team is working to protect the interests of the Upper Castes. Parallels are being drawn with the Ram Mandir movement and the Mandal agitation, both directed against underprivileged sections.

On the contrary, Anna's supporters have said that it is a historic moment and it's time when a strong law could be enacted through people's pressure. They claim that it is a smear campaign that is directed against them to weaken the movement.

With government losing its confidence by the day, Anna Hazare's moment has surely arrived. It is to be seen if the Centre manages to take steam out of the agitation or the anti-corruption drive will succeed in getting the government nod on its Jan Lokpal bill.

It's only after the bill that one may ask, what next! And will the all powerful Lokpal under whose ambit comes every institution, bring the much needed transparency to this country and in process get us rid of the menace of corruption which we encounter in our daily lives.

Time will tell.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

RSS bid to take over Anna Hazare's movement backfires, helps scam-hit Congress

Gandhian Anna Hazare's movement against corruption evoked an unprecedented response from across the country, particularly, the middle-class and youths.

But just when the Congress-led UPA government was appearing to be cornered and the party think tank was worried as to how they should deal with this surge of popular emotions, something unexpected happened.

One after the other, controversial personalities linked to RSS seemed to take over Anna's movement. From Uma Bharati to Ram Madhav, almost everybody in the Hindutva Parivar was keen to reach Jantar Mantar and offer its solidarity to Anna's 'Aandolan' on the Lokpal bill issue.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev who is known for his pro-BJP and Hindutva links seemed to be taking over the agitation. The growing Saffron presence was visible not just in the form of posters and banners at the venue. But, the slogans chanted at the 'dharna' were also turning right-wing and in accordance with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's ideology.

Anna may be a naive person. But the statements, particularly, his praising Narendra Modi, was the final nail in the coffin of the movement. Modi himself hasn't appointed a Lokayukta in Gujarat for years. And everyone knows that there is a problem with his acceptability over the issue of post-Godhra riots.

So Anna fell in the trap. The campaign that had taken along a vast majority of Indians including the young generation and the generally apathetic middle-class was now losing its direction. When activists said that 'everybody' was 'welcome' in the 'fight against corruption', it signalled a clear Hindutva takeover.

Poor Anna lost his credibility. The central government that was on the backfoot was no longer as shaky. After all, there seemed chinks in the agitation. The secular Indian was worried, as he had seen VP Singh's anti-corruption fight leading to a parallel rise of right-wing that caused the demolition of Babri Masjid.

One after the other, the corruption cases ranging from 2G spectrum case to CWG (Commonwealth Games) mess had put the Congress in an embarrassing position. Anna Hazare's fast had stirred citizens, led to public anger and had shaken the government.

Surely government agencies must have been doing their best to discredit Anna and his movement. They had failed so far. But RSS' over-activism gave the government a shot in the arm. It made the government's job easy. Soon came the statements from all corners

The sudden allegation of nepotism over the presence of Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant Bhushan by Ramdev were even more surprising. Narendra Modi's statement that Anna would be targeted for praising him and later the CD row, led to even more confusion.

What was turning into the most powerful mass movement in recent Indian history was killed. The surprising (and immature) role of RSS and its political front BJP is all the more surprising in the entire episode as the movement was eventually going to help the BJP.

So will the BJP explain it?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Sex Scandal in JNU: The trend of circulating pornographic MMS, video clips

Say No to porn MMS

A dangerous trend of circulating pornographic MMS clips has caught on among youths and even the middle-aged professionals in India.

The recent JNU scandal in Delhi highlights how young girls and boys get carried away and shoot their own private moments which later turn not just embarrassing for them but can also put them into jail. But the 'culture' of circulating MMS has acquired alarming proportions.

It's much easier than carrying the blue film cassettes or even X-rated CDs as umpteen films can be kept in your cell phone. But little do people realise that even sending the clips in a serious criminal offence in India.

Sheer luck if no one complains but if you are unlucky and there is a police complaint about a porn clip forwarded by you, it can land you in prison for years as the Information Technology (IT) Act is much more serious about such crimes than you can ever imagine.

The MMS scandals have ruined lives. Ironically the cases of youths blackmailing girls with the clips taken in the past are getting reported from all over India including small towns also. However, there is little the authorities or the government has done to create awareness.

As St Valentine's Day approaches, take a vow that you will not store any sexually explicit image in your cell phone and avoid forwarding or sending any Multi-Media Service (MMS) clip that has a sexual content.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Injustice Vs Investment: Can Gujarat riots be forgotten, role of Narendra Modi forgiven?

Almost a decade has past since the post-Godhra carnage took place in Gujarat. Much water has flown down Sabarmati since the riots and though the horrors haven't been forgotten, there are now voices that Indians must look ahead of Gujarat riots.

Even editorials in mainstream newspapers have recently lauded Deoband rector Maulana Vastanvi for his statement that under Narendra Modi's rule, the state was going on a path of progress and the minorities are also tasting fruits of development and prosperity.

It is becoming fashionable to praise Gujarat's booming economy. But to suggest that investment can wipe off the stains of bloodshed is ironical. Chief Minister Narendra Modi does deserve to get credit for his success in bringing investment in Gujarat but has he taken interest in ensuring justice for riot victims?

Leave aside rehabilitation, justice or compensation, the Gujarat government hasn't even shown any remorse for the 2002 pogrom, which was nothing short of a genocide. If it was an aberration then there should have been efforts to get financial help to victims of violence.

*Rioters remain free, victims remain in relief camps

*State didn't take responsibility of rehabilitation and relief to riot-affected

*Administration remains helpful to rioters

*Upright officers are targeted or given punishment postings

*Muslims framed under draconian POTA during post-Godhra riots remain in jails

*Writers, poets, artists don't have freedom to speak and are persecuted

*Criticism of state can lead a person to jail or registration of false cases

*Muslim-dominated areas in Ahmedabad, Surat and other cities remain under-developed

*Government remains inattentive towards need for hospitals, educational institutions in Muslim localities

*Fake encounters have stopped but witnesses are pressurised, harassed

*Even journalists who dared to speak or expose are hounded

Though industrialists ranging from Rahul Bajaj to Ratan Tata are falling for the success story of Gujarat, one can't overlook the fact that today Gujarat that fashions itself as a sort of state-within-state is not adhering a bit to principles of justice for its citizens.

The horrors of Gujarat and the blot of communal riots may have been washed off, had the state government taken some steps to resurrect itself. For Chief Minister Narendra Modi, it is not possible to acquire a pan-Indian acceptability unless his administration proves that it is just and not biased against Muslims, Christians and other underprivileged groups.

The report of Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has once again confirmed that the anti-Muslim pogrom had the support of state ministers. The Gujarati entrepreneurship is well-known and this is the reason for shining Gujarat. Time and again the Supreme Court has to step in to stop the injustices.

And investment can't overshadow injustice. Just that Congress can't escape its responsibility for the 1984 mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi even after 27 years, BJP and its Chief Minister can't wipe this stain.

As Chief Minister, he could have stopped the riots. Or in later years, his administration could have provided a healing touch. But there has been no signs of sympathy. Rhetoric apart, in a climate of hate and fear with no signs of remorse, it is impossible to forget the riots and forgive the perpetrators.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

RSS must come clean on its members' terror links

After Aseemanand's arrest and the reports of RSS pracharaks, members and ex-functionaries' involvement in crime and terrorism, it's time the 'nationalistic' organisation takes a hard look at the affairs within the Sangh.

The BJP leaders are naturally in an unenviable situation as they can't speak against their mother organisation but it is a fact that calling the arrested persons as rogue elements or radical fanatics on the fringe who had been ousted is no longer an excuse.

One after the other, cases of Hindutva terrorism show that the involvement of RSS members and it is a cause of concern for every citizen. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh  (RSS) has grown too big and its leaders should come clean on why serving members like Sunil Joshi, Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra, Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma are arrested for Ajmer, Mecca Masjid Hyderabad, Malegaon and Samjhauta Exress blasts.

Blaming Congress is no long-term solution. If RSS is a patriotic group, it should shed light on the fact how these ultra-patriotic members of the Sangh are taking to terrorism and that too in our own country. India has suffered enough in the name of terrorism, either by self-styled Islamic militants or Hindu extremists.

Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has admitted that there were extremists in Sangh but they were forced to leave the organisation. Isn't it serious that radicals hell-bent on creating terror managed to get into the Sangh's fold. The RSS must not close its eyes. It has to do lot of soul-searching else its reputation will be harmed irreparably. 

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