Monday, November 21, 2011

Run away from Indian Flag

Though Indians got their freedom on 15th August 1947, Indian Flag is still not free.  It is chained with sanctity, incarcerated by tradition, guarded zealously by peevish Indians whose only claim to greatness is their orthodoxy and antiquity.  Though Naveen Jindal fought to set Indian Flag free, allowing ordinary Indians to raise the flag, it still remains inaccessible to the common man.

After coming back from living abroad, it was my dream that one day I will keep the Indian flag high and big at my workplace.  Hearing that a common man can now raise the flag even at nights, we raised the Indian Flag on the 15th August and decided to keep it aloft on a tall mast for all times to come, brimming with pride.  That lasted just one day. 

The next day the police swooped onto us and asked us to remove it – they were not aware of the new flag code nor do they want to hear it from us.  When I checked the flag code and recent updates, it says that if you intend to keep it up in the night, then it should be ‘well-illuminated’.  Now, there enters the subjectivity – ‘well-illumination’.  What does that mean? The police, which was bent on denying this right to us, has an upper hand there.   Since he doesn’t want the flag up there, he does not agree that it is ‘well-illuminated’.  Try arguing with the local police what ‘well-illumination’ means. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wake Up, Telangana

We will not get Telangana.  We won’t get Telangana because we are not qualified to get Telangana.  No state will be given to those people who don’t even know how to fight for a separate state. 

Naïve Telangana

Telanganas can be generalized into a category called ‘naïve’.  Three hundred and fifty lakh naïve people are led by equally naïve leaders.  We believe in things too easily – sometimes bordering on foolishness.  Long ago we believed that Gentlemen’s Agreement will be honored.  It was not to be.  Time and again, we believed in various promises made by New Delhi.  They were not meant to be. 

For the last two years, we have been ‘manipulated and managed’ by the efficient political craftsmanship of New Delhi in cahoots with equally clever Seemandhra leadership.  Continuously and forever, we believe there will be decision made in the next few days.  Nothing happens. 

A committee after committee, a meeting after meeting, a consultation after consultation!  Our own leaders stand up on the podium to tell us that they have ‘information’ that a favorable announcement will be made in the next two days.  No such announcement comes.  We are told that we will get a decision after Srikrishna Committee Report, then after Assembly elections in four states, then after this festival, that festival and so on.  We fall prey to all their machinations hook, line and sinker.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Declaration of State of Telangana

The concepts of human rights, human dignity, self-rule and self-determination are quite modern.  Such concepts did not exist in the ancient world. Even if we were to find a glimpse of these concepts discussed in philosophies and texts of the ancients, we do not necessarily see its implementation as a comprehensive and extended practice to actually alter the lives of the people.

For thousands of years, man was born as a slave or subject and died as one.  Most of these slaves and subjects, sometimes even the landlords, did not possess any rights.  And the worst part is- most of them did not even realize that they possessed certain rights that are not necessarily ordained by their monarch.

Their assets, their property, their worth, their produce and even their self-respect, was up for grabs by their landlord, their king or an invading king or a marauding dacoit. Security was an expensive commodity.  The monarch provided meager security that was not even assured, and in return usurped all their rights. 

It took many centuries of struggle in certain parts of the world to come to a realization that man had certain ‘inalienable’ rights, which even the most powerful monarch could not take those away from him. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

I am the Movement...

[Original Contribution by Dileep Konatham].

As a Telanganite:
  • I will not lose my cool when someone talks negatively about Telangana Movement.
  • I will not get agitated by anti-Telangana "news" in the regional and national media.
  • I will not respond to foolish questions on why Telangana is needed.
  • I will not condemn my leadership on frivolous issues.  This will only dilute our cause.
  • I will not get swayed by anti-Telangana propaganda. 
  • I will not unnecessarily denounce my leadership in public. 
  • I will not lose heart when any of the agitations fail to attain Telangana.  I understand that an agitation is only a battle.  The war is won after many battles.
  • I will stand by the current Telangana leaders as long as they fight for Telangana.
  • I will strive to unite all Telangana forces to strengthen our movement.
  • I understand that Telangana is a just demand based on sound logic and facts.
  • I will approach my leadership and provide constructive feedback.
  • I will rise above caste and religion for Telangana.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Andhra Pradesh is not a ‘marriage’

While describing the merger of Telangana and Andhra State in 1956 that resulted in formation of Andhra Pradesh, we tend to use metaphors like calling it ‘marriage of unequals’, or describing it as ‘an innocent girl married to naughty boy’.   Nehru purportedly said that this ‘marriage’ could be annulled through a ‘divorce’ at any point of time in future.   While such comparisons make poetic sense for the sake of driving a point, there is a danger when people start taking these analogies quite literally.   Right now, such comparisons are encouraging some Seemandhra politicians to seek alimony from Telangana or compensation from New Delhi for the loss of Hyderabad.  They should realize that any talks of compensation for the loss of Hyderabad as if it is ‘alimony’ will be quite disastrous for Seemandhras. 

When Gujaratis claimed Bombay because they had invested heavily into the city, no compensation was provided to Gujaratis for the loss when Bombay eventually became part of new Maharashtra.  No such compensation was given to Andhra State when Madras was retained by Tamil Nadu.  There was no discussion on ‘alimony’ because no one seriously considered them to be real marriages.  Back then, people were sensible enough to admit that such poetic references cannot be taken literally.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Telanganas will not let go of Hyderabad

It is the foolishness of New Delhi and the arrogance of Samaikhyandhra proponents to suggest that Hyderabad may be centrally-ruled or be the joint-capital of two new states.   This proposal comes from a gross misunderstanding of the current sentiment of Telangana people both by New Delhi and by the Samaikhyandhra leaders.   All these days when Telangana agitations did not spillover into something what would be described as ‘uncontrollable’ or ‘violent’, these detractors got smug about their ambivalent and lackadaisical handling of the issue.  They started to believe that they can continue to ‘contain’ this people’s movement for years, and if needed, for decades, through tactics of delay and evasion by setting up meetings and consultations while suppressing the agitations through repressive measures.  They started to characterize the movement and its leaders as capable of barking but not biting.  They concluded that as long as they allow these leaders to continue to bark, the movement will never bite.  Therefore, New Delhi (like United States) allows Seemandhra (like Israel) to continue to occupy, control and rule Telangana (like Palestine) forever and forever while the resources and lands of Telangana continue to be used and colonized by Seemandhras.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

It was Anna, not Janlokpal Bill

Arvind Kejriwal, one of the activists behind the Janlokpal Bill, in his interview to The Hindu said, “People wanted the JLB”. 

That is a patently wrong assumption to derive from the popular anti-corruption movement that we witnessed in India over the last few weeks.   Most people who showed up at the Anna Hazare Movement gatherings in various cities of India have not read Janlokpal Bill created by these activists.  They do not know that these activists are bent on pushing their version of the bill onto Indians riding the popular mood than sitting down to discuss and debate the issue with others.  Many Indians came to show their support to Anna Hazare who, according to them, is fighting the corruption in India.   These people wanted to express their solidarity with any anti-corruption campaign, not necessarily the Janlokpal Bill.   Kejriwal himself admits in the interview:

When we conducted referendums on the JLB, we used to try and explain its contents to people. But they said they did not want to understand the details. They just wanted to put a mohar [stamp] on Anna.

Kejriwal and his gang of activists are using Anna Hazare to promote their version of the bill which is not very different from the bill proposed by the Government, except that these activists want sweeping powers to one single body without any accountability.  If people were to read various versions of the bill, they would get confused because they all look very similar, except that the devil is in the details.  Looking at the bill proposed by the government, it seems as though Government of India is as keen as these activists to root out the corruption; so why all this hullabaloo and tamasha, one may ask?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Say No to Janlokpal Bill

While we can all celebrate the huge outpouring of the otherwise indifferent youth of India onto the streets triggered by Anna Hazare Movement, and become happy that this movement has singlehandedly woken up the apathetic Government of India to take up the battle against corruption quite seriously, let’s not go overboard and accept Janlokpal Bill.  The draft bill from these activists, the self-appointed guardians of Indian society, whose elitist speeches and attitudes find their way into the provisions of the bill, is as dangerous to India as the corruption itself, if not more.  In trying to fight one disease, let’s not install it with another.  If we adopt the bill imposed by these activists, we may be introducing a deadly cancer while attempting to fight the common cold.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anna is not India, India is not Anna

Kiran Bedi, one of the ubiquitous supporters of the current Anna Hazare Movement, in her overenthusiasm, said, ‘Anna is India. India is Anna’.  Little did she realize the significance of that statement!  Back in the heydays when Indira Gandhi was riding absolute power, her supporters chanted, ‘Indira is India. India is Indira’.  Now, we reflect upon that period as a national ignominy when she took over the country in an iron grip, imposed Emergency, stripped Indians of their rights, and put hundreds of her political opponents in jail.  To those who know history, such a chant from Kiran Bedi that ‘Anna is India’ reeks of ignorance or arrogance - both of which are quite dangerous given the popularity of the Anna Hazare Movement.

While discussing Arundhati Roy’s article (that appeared in The Hindu), I commented that it is a serious concern that the supporters of Janlokpal Bill do not include Dalits and Muslims.  If Anna Hazare has to make this an all-encompassing movement to be deemed ‘Indian’, he has to make sure these other groups support his cause, or be contended that he represents only a certain section of Indians.   A lady responded to my comment:
In what way does the Jan lokpall Bill not favor Dalits or Muslims? Do they not want a corruption-free govt?

The implicit assumption in the above question is: “If you are not with us then you are against us”, which seems to be the moot point of Arundhati Roy’s article against Anna Hazare Movement.   Many editors of the print media have openly disagreed with Janlokpal Bill.  Aruna Roy, a noted RTI activist, does not support Janlokpal Bill or the Anna Hazare Movement.  Can we conclude that these people do not stand for anti-corruption? 

The validity of Anna Hazare Movement

Why Anna Hazare Movement makes sense?

All of us who believe in a vibrant democracy should be happy with the current mass participation in the Anna Hazare Movement.  A democracy that whips up a public debate, which brings an all-pervading malaise into the foreground to make it topic of the day, making everyone in the country to sit up and take notice of an issue that concerns us all, definitely makes a healthy nation.  Anna Hazare Movement has singlehandedly challenged the Government of India, woke it up from its slumber – you could practically see our beloved Prime Minister waking up from his eternal nap to give a speech on the Independence Day. 

The Anna Hazare Movement has moved the current administration to sit up, shed its apathy towards corruption, and has created a sense of urgency to get the Lokpal Bill passed in the Parliament.  The subject got undivided attention even from the President of India who devoted some valuable time on the topic of corruption in her nationwide speech on the Independence Day.  Today the media consistently talks about corruption as if it is the newly discovered cancer.   Anna Hazare already got his victory when he mobilized thousands of youth across the country to come out and protest over a cause that is not entirely selfish.  Indian youth who do not pay much attention to the social and political issues have embraced this cause.  The movement gives the youth of the nation a motivation to participate in the political affairs of their country.  This is all for some good, one can hope.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our response to the ‘Response from CSDS’

You may want to look at our initial article, followed by response from CSDS.

[Reprint of the response to Yogendra Yadav of CSDS].

Looks like Yogendra Yadav and his CSDS is pulling a Manmohan on us.   When CSDS says: “Such an impression arises partly from a misreading of the survey findings,” we would like to point out that our objection to the survey is not just the results or its interpretations but the means and methods employed in the survey which according to us are clearly biased and fraudulent.  The question here is ethicality and validity of employing a person who has publicly professed his loyalties to a cause that is in essence anti-Telangana to conduct a survey within Telangana on an issue that dwells upon creation or non-creation of Telangana.  

The flimsy and intellectually dishonest response from CSDS tends to insult our intelligence.   We are not ready to buy their specious argument that: “Our survey clearly shows that within the Telangana region nearly two-thirds of those who have an opinion support a separate state.”  Our contention is that it is highly improbable that 27% of the people of Telangana would have no opinion on an all-pervading issue which affects them on a daily basis, especially when the figure for the same question is only 10% in Seemandhra where there are no on-going agitations as intensive as in Telangana.  It is like saying 27% Iraqis living in Iraq are either ignorant or carry no opinion on the subject of American invasion of Iraq, while only 10% are ignorant in the nearby Iran.  

Opinion Poll in Andhra Pradesh: Response from CSDS

CSDS has responded (Our allegations are at “Opinion Poll in Andhra Pradesh: Not funny anymore”).  The response is reprinted below.  CSDS has admitted to the following:
  1. CSDS employed P Narasimha Rao who is honorary convener of Samaikyandhra JAC. 
  2. Most of the investigators that went into Telangana are from Seemandhra.  
  3. It is ‘possibly an error of judgment’.  CSDS ‘would therefore carry out an independent verification of these survey findings and report the findings to the public within the next two months’.
 [Response from CSDS reprinted]

Clarification on Telangana related findings of the State of the Nation Survey by the CSDS

The publication of the findings pertaining to Telangana in the CNN-IBN State of the Nation Survey undertaken by the CSDS and presented by The Hindu has evoked strong interest and intense reactions, natural in a passionately contested issue like this one. We have been accused in some quarters of carrying out a flawed exercise biased against the movement for a separate Telangana.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Opinion Poll in Andhra Pradesh: Not funny anymore

By Sujai and Dileep

The Secret Chapter of Srikrishna Committee Report gave step-by-step instructions to subvert the genuine people’s movement of Telangana.  It advised the Government to use the media outfits to manipulate the news and opinion in order to suppress the movement in Telangana.

The recent survey from two national media outfits CNN-IBN and CNBC-TV18 in collaboration with Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) throws open the question if indeed there is anything called fair media in this country.

To the question asked: People have different opinions on the issue of a separate Telangana state.  Some people say that Andhra Pradesh should be bifurcated into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, while State should be trifurcated into Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rayalaseema.  Others say that Andhra Pradesh should continue as a united State.  What is your opinion on the issue? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

India turns 64: Some notes

  • India and Pakistan got the status of Dominion within Commonwealth of Nations when they became independent.  India became Indian Union and Republic in 1950.  Pakistan became Islamic Republic in 1956.
  • India adopted a new constitution, world’s lengthiest, on 26 January 1950, the 20th anniversary of Lahore session’s Declaration of Independence of India.  It took 3 years to draft the document
  • India celebrates its Independence Day on 15th August, while Pakistan celebrates its on 14th August.  Lord Mountbatten unfurled Pakistan’s Flag in Karachi and then came to New Delhi that evening. 
  • Hindu astrologers did not accept 15th August since it was considered inauspicious – a compromise was struck by choosing the midnight hour.  Though secular in its constitutional framework, India remained Hindu in action.   On 15th August 1947, Nehru was crowned by Hindu Brahmins as is customary for kings and monarchs. 
  • Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, referred to as the Mahatma, was on a fast on the Independence Day and was not present in New Delhi.  He was in Calcutta. He was sad that India got partitioned.
  • India made Lord Mountbatten its first Governor General.  ‘…few men in any country, cerntaily no foreign rulers, have been honored with such affection and respect’. Gandhi, Nehru and other prominent Congress leaders insisted on parting with Great Britain on good terms.  Jinnah appointed himself the Governor General of Pakistan. 
  • Jinnah died on 11th September 1948, about a year from the Independence Day.  He was suffering from tuberculosis which was a closely held secret known only to his sister and personal doctor.  They say history would have been different if his health condition was known to the public. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why the issue of Reservations remains a contentious issue?

Times of India, in its editorial column, asks, ‘Why is reservation still such a contentious issue?’  The column is discussing the current debate arising out of Prakash Jha’ film Aarakshan, which was banned by three state governments – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.   Instead of just laying out an opinion on the legality of the ban, the column goes onto discuss the issue of reservation.  It writes:

Have we failed to break out of the mindset favoring a divisive caste-based quota system?  Rather than forging unity, quotas today are a tool of vote-bank politics and a potential trigger of a social conflict.

The column expresses the same opinion which the most upper-caste and the elites hold in this country.  The topic of reservations remains a contentious issue, not because it is divisive or because it is a potential trigger of social conflict, but only because this topic is never discussed or taught in the right way in this country.  The debates that arise on TV shows are devoid of rationality, and instead it is full of bias and prejudice. 

Even the liberals amongst the upper caste and even the elite amongst the lower castes are squeamish when it comes to the topic of reservations. They continue to look at it as a tool that provides social crutch rather than social justice.  Reservation is seen as a system that introduces division rather than a system devised to bring equal opportunity.  Nobody bothers to ask why unity involves domination of one group of people over others? Reservation is seen as a trick employed by the politicians to secure vote-banks instead of being seen as the greatest and the most successful social experiment in the history of mankind that has emancipated hundreds of millions of lower classes out of subjugation in less than hundred years, overturning domination and discrimination that lasted nearly two thousand years. Most of the urban elite see reservations as anti-merit and anti-excellence system, while nobody bothers to point out that a society cannot strive for excellence without being inclusive.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Telangana 86: Democracy shuts its doors on Telangana

05 August 2011

Today, in a landmark speech, the Home Minister of Indian Union, P Chidambaram, set a new and dangerous precedent in the annals of Indian democracy.  His speech urged the two warring parties, the bully and the victim, to resolve the issue on their own and offered no intervention from the Government of India.  He said, quite emphatically, that it is not his ministry’s responsibility or the responsibility of the Government or the Parliament to intervene to resolve the issue of Telangana, and left the contentious issue of nearly sixty years to be resolved by the victims in Telangana by convincing the bullies of Seemandhra. 

This day marks a new chapter in the history of Independent India.  It deviates markedly from all earlier precedents where Union Government took the responsibility of resolving the regional disputes when they arose.  When Telanganas were being targeted by the Nizam’s forces the Government of India intervened by sending police to disarm Nizam and annex Hyderabad State into Dominion of India.  When Andhras of Madras State rose up in protest citing domination of Tamils, Nehru’s government intervened to create a new state for Andhras.  When Maharashtrians fought for a separate state, Article 3 was invoked to create two new states.  In numerous occasions, the Union Government and the courts of India intervened to settle the riparian disputes that arose between the states. 

Today, the Home Minister of India has abandoned such a practice and sought refuge in nonintervention, saying it is not their responsibility to provide a solution to a regional dispute.  The Government of India made it clear that they don’t have anything to do with the current dispute over formation of Telangana.  In essence, New Delhi orphaned Telangana without providing any recourse to justice.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Telangana 85: Say NO to Telangana Talli

In our euphoria to restore our history and our identity we have been discarding everything that was imposed onto us in Andhra Pradesh by the Andhras.  One such idol we discard is the icon of Telugu Talli, an unmistakably Hindu lady with jewels and bhindi carrying Hindu symbol of devotion in one hand.  She looks no different from contemporary images of a Hindu goddess.  Telanganas replaced Telugu Talli with Telangana Talli, who doesn’t look any different from Telugu Talli except some small variations.  Once again she is distinctly Hindu lady.  Any casual observer will pass her for a Hindu goddess.  

Continuing the same exercise of discarding Seemandhra symbols, Telangana leaders are ready to discard the official state song Maa Telugu Talliki, which is a devotional song sung in most official programs, celebrations, government offices, schools, across the state.   The argument from Telanganas is the same – it is an imposition of Andhras onto Telanganas.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Key to Telangana: Article 3, Part 2

In the previous article titled ‘Key to Telangana: Article 3’, I discussed how Article 3 of Indian Constitution makes it clear that the Indian Parliament is the sole authority on making a decision on a new state.  The involvement of the State Assembly is confined to only presenting ‘its views’ within a certain specified period of time.  Indian Parliament is not obligated to follow on the views of State Assembly.  If the State Assembly votes negatively on the bill, or if the State Assembly does not express its opinion within the specified period of time, it could still be introduced in the Parliament after the expiry of the specified period.

Providing this clarity on Article 3 was necessary for the on-going struggle in Telangana because most of the Indian Cabinet ministers have been distorting the original definition, purport and intention of Article 3 and started to play games with Indian people saying that it is mandatory for Andhra Pradesh State Assembly to pass the resolution before it can be taken up by the Indian Parliament. 

Not only did P Chidambaram, Home Minister of India, make the biggest blunder when he asked State Assembly of Andhra Pradesh to pass the resolution on formation of Telangana, other Cabinet Ministers kept repeating the lie.  Veerappa Moily, Indian Minister of Law and Justice, says:
“How can Telangana be formed (like this). There is a procedure involved. The Bill cannot be taken up Parliament till it is passed by the Assembly. We have to create an atmosphere which cannot be created by confrontation. It has to be created by trust.”

When the Law Minister in the country starts distorting the legal system of the country you should strongly suspect if we can still trust the current leadership in this country to resolve this issue.  The distortion was played up so much that entire Indian media, now even the international media, started to parrot the same lie.  The lie has been repeated so many times that it is now passed on as truth. Till now, no serious journalist or columnist did his own research to find fault with the Cabinet Ministers’ comments on this issue.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Telangana 84: Political parties are not representatives of the people

The current UPA political leadership has completely distorted Indian democracy and misinterpreted Indian Constitution, the consequences of which are dire for the future of this nation.  There is an urgent need to correct the wrong perceptions that have been floated in the last two years – there are many of them.  One such instance is where the political parties are being recognized as legal democratic representatives of the people.   For the last two years, UPA political leadership has cited lack of unanimity or consensus within recognized political parties in Andhra Pradesh to stall any decision making on Telangana. 

Repeated references to apparent division of opinion within political parties, that there should be consensus within each political party, that not all political parties are in agreement, comes from our wrong understanding of role of a political party in Indian democracy.   Because of this wrong understanding, we tend to address the issue by looking for wrong solutions which are not even required in the first place.   Trying to get unanimity amongst all political parties is a foolish endeavor to start with, and it can be achieved only in dictatorships or on those issues which are considered universally applicable, but is never possible on contentious issues where people are starkly divided.  If we seek unanimity on all contentious issues, no bill will ever be passed in the Parliament, and no decision will ever be taken.

Such wrong understanding of Indian Constitution and Indian democracy has to be combated expediently.  Many Telanganas are falling prey to this argument right now.  Instead of rejecting the questions posed to us, and instead of exposing the utter chicanery in the underlying assumptions, Telanganas are trying to defend themselves by answering the questions. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Telangana 83: Political Movement has failed

Know thy adversary

For a long time now, we in Telangana believed that the sole reason why Telangana is not formed is because of the opposition from Seemandhra leaders supported by Samaikhyandhra movement. Therefore, we expressed our ire and anger at these bodies and institutions.   We continue to do so even now.  However, there is a gradual realization that the most important reason why Telangana is not formed is because of the apathetic and obdurate Central Government in New Delhi. 

It is the UPA political leadership which is the main reason why Telangana is not formed.  The notion that Seemandhra leaders and Samaikhyandhra agitators are throwing the spanner in the works is being meticulously exaggerated and used as a pretext to drive something what UPA political leadership wants – to keep the issue in the storage, if not cold, but in lukewarm status, till a time arrives when a massive political mileage can be obtained from resolving the issue (or from non-resolving the issue). UPA political leadership has no sincere interest to resolve the issue now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nixon, Indira and Lokpal Bill

Indians should know about Watergate Scandal, because it is an interesting story, with lot of lessons to be learnt.  It is a story of a country and its people which fought to defend its democratic institutions from various encroachers; sometimes the encroacher was the President of the country. 

Richard Nixon

In the early 1970s, United States of America was rocked by Watergate Scandal.  On 17 June 1972, few men were arrested for breaking into Democratic Party’s office in Watergate Complex. These men were there to plant bugs in the opposition party’s office with the consent of President of United States,
Richard Nixon. These men were later convicted for attempted interception of telephone and other communications against wiretapping laws.

When the complicity of the President of United States was discovered and published by sagacious and committed journalists of Washington Post and New York Times, the people of United States, who were educated to value and defend their democratic institutions rose up in genuine anger.  Nixon tried to stall the proceedings by invoking special privileges of a President.  The court ordered Nixon to hand over the tapes which established his involvement.  The eventual prosecution and hearings found Nixon guilty of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.  When the House of Representatives started formal procedures to impeach Nixon, he resigned.  His political career was over.  That’s how Nixon paid the price for subverting the much cherished institutions of United States of America.  He remained a disgraced President (though later day historians feebly attempted to resurrect his former image). 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

M F Husain: Nude Saraswati

Many modern Hindus who have never seen old temples or never been to a museum identify with only one version of Saraswati - a sari-clad and jewelry-decked, modest and serene lady, who resembles more of a conservative Indian male chauvinist’s idea of a virtuous woman.

I do not know exactly when such a version has come to prominence, but it is clear that as soon as the pictures of gods started entering ordinary family man’s homes, the deity started to become conservative.  By the time Ravi Verma painted his Saraswati, it looks like such modesty was already an attribute of a Hindu Goddess.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Venal Journalism in India

Modern secular democracies who define themselves as ‘free’ nations have not come about just like that.  It was a tortuous journey of nearly thousand years where the common man fought against the powerful regents and institutions who believed they had a divine mandate and hence divine right to rule over the people with absolutism.   Regents or the Religions manifesting as the State was the most powerful enemy of the common man for millennia, ready to strip him of his rights at the pretext of protecting him from imagined threats. 

 A modern nation defined and built institutions to protect the common man from the tyranny of the state, ensuring there were enough checks and balances to protect democracy from being subverted by the State or the powerful groups.   The role of independent media was crucial to ensure democracy was protected from being hijacked by these vested groups. 

And yet, we see an ominous trend in India where the media houses, instead of making an independent investigation, instead of conducting a free debate, instead of checking the powerful groups from usurping the freedoms of the common man, have start aligning themselves with the State and the powerful lobbies, acting as their mouthpieces, engaging in subversion of democracy.

Understanding why M F Husain might have painted Nude Hindu Gods

Many people ask this question:
Why did M F Husain NOT paint Muslim icons in nude? Why did he paint only Hindu gods in nude?

To start with, I believe that answering such a question is a foolish exercise. Artists do lot of things which ordinary people cannot comprehend or understand.  Picasso and Dali did lot of bizarre things.  It is a pointless exercise to try to understand the motives of an artist or a poet.  But since M F Husain’s paintings of nude Hindu goddesses has allegedly ‘hurt’ so many Hindus in India and abroad, we might as well waste some time to understand why he might have painted Hindu goddesses in nude, but not Muslim figures in nude.

Before you read this further, let me make it clear that no explanation that I provide here would give the actual reasons why he painted Hindu gods in nude, and this exercise is only an attempt to make those Hindus understand who are otherwise quite rational and liberal in outlook but have the same nagging question as the one above.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Scrap the Insane Laws, Immediately

Now that MF Husain died in exile, some Hindus are breathing a sigh of relief.  When he was alive, Husain was a pain in the neck, an irritant, whose existence made Hindus uncomfortable; because it made them face some awkward truths which, according to them, were best avoided. 

Is Hinduism a great religion? These Hindus tout, ‘yes, it is’.  Then how come it is threatened by a puny artist and his art?  Is Hinduism tolerant and liberal? These Hindus say, ‘yes it is’.  Then how come some nude pictures of their goddesses by a contemporary artist become such a big problem when thousands of temples in India blatantly depict gods and goddesses in explicit nudity, some of them positioning these gods in perversely sexual acts?

Now that MF Husain is dead and gone, these Hindus conveniently excuse themselves from answering these uncomfortable questions.  Many Hindus who hounded Husain when he was alive are now ready to make amends by calling him a great artist.  They want to let bygones be bygones.  They want to see this as a ‘closed chapter’.

That’s where I find this whole ‘lets-forget-this-and-move-on’ charade dangerous.  I believe that NOW is the right time to face those awkward truths and ask uncomfortable questions because they have far-reaching consequences on how we are going to define this supposedly free nation.   Few years from now if we have done some good parenting, another Husain will be born in India who will do something more outrageous by taking a position which will make us even more uncomfortable.  What will India do then?  Will it hang him, or force him into exile?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why I believe India can improve

Today, I went out for tea with two young engineers from my company.  After tea, we took some chewing gum.  One engineer took the wrapper and was about to throw it on the ground.  I stopped him, and pointed out to the nearest garbage can.   He went to the can and dropped it, but since it was windy this morning in Bangalore, the wrapper flew and fell outside the can.  He smiled and said, ‘Well, at least I tried’. 

After that we were crossing the street.  I told him, ‘Let me tell you a story’.   I told him this story which happened many years ago when I was living in US: 

I was at a movie theater and I saw a father tell his son (must be two years old) to throw his trash into the trash can which was about 10 meters away.  The son started walking slowly towards the trash can, reached it and put his trash on the can.  He turned around and walked back towards his father.  But the minute he turned back, the trash fell out onto the ground.  The son didn’t know this.  When the son came back, the father pointed out to his trash on the ground and asked his son to go back and pick it up.  The two year old kid walked back picked up the trash and put it in the right place this time and walked back.  The father lifted his son and hugged him; and they left.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

MF Husain Dies: Intolerance Wins, India Loses

A nation that calls itself free should hang its head in shame if it cannot be home to people who harbor and express unpopular ideas and opinions, however controversial or egregious those opinions are.  MF Husain, a famous artist born in India, died in exile in London as a Qatari citizen.  Hounded and targeted by the new generation of Indian Hindus who could not fathom why we are a proud nation, MF Husain left his home country never to return again. 

A basic requirement of a free nation is that it should allow expression of conflicting and dissenting ideas. And those who express those ideas should be protected from persecution, even when the targets are sacred symbols of majority or minority groups.  A nation can be considered to be free only when it allows its strongest dissenters and critics to live within enjoying the freedom like any other.  A country like United States shall remain a great free nation as long as Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore continue living there without fear of persecution.  But even the most free of the nations succumb to the pressures of the majority and turn tyrannical. 

History is fraught with victories of tyrannical intolerance where individuals were targeted for an expression that did not conform to the mores and standards of the majority.   Galileo Galilei was house arrested, and was asked to shut up and renounce his belief in the Copernican Solar System, just because the majority Christians led by the Vatican found his ideas disagreeable.  He escaped being burnt at stake by a whisker. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Anna Hazare will fail!

Two days ago, lakhs of urban middle class Indians have come onto the streets in a show of support for Anna Hazare’s victory against Government of India when the latter conceded Anna’s demand to form a committee with some civilians in it.  While this outpouring from these yuppie Indians looks good on TV and internet campaigns, I ask myself some basic questions.  Are we really on our way to root out corruption with this show of support and introduction of Lokpal Bill?  Are we about to change the system?  Unfortunately, the answer I get from myself is a big No. 

To give a perspective, imagine a rally or a fast taken up by a Gandhian to stem out casteism from our lives.  We may see a similar response from many Indians who are ‘fed up’ with casteism in this country.  We may naively believe that such rallies and fasts may be the first step towards extirpating casteism from our society.  But the reality is that casteism is so deeply entrenched into our system that a mere fast or rally will not make a dent in its solid structure.   At the most, such rallies and fasts combating such deep-rooted problems will have a symbolic value.  I don’t underestimate such symbols.  I believe they are quite important.  But it would be unrealistic to believe that a single legislation or law will somehow curb casteism from this country.   The same holds true for corruption. 

To all those yuppie Indians who actually believe that this event from Anna Hazare is going to actually bring any change, here is the bad news – nothing is going to change.  I write this not out of cynicism but with a sense of realism to exhort the anti-corruption activists to do much more than what they are currently doing if they are really serious about the cause.  

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Anna Hazare: Lessons for future

Anna Hazare, a noted ‘Gandhian’ and an activist, who has earlier played a role in fighting for Right to Information Act has taken up fast to bring more teeth to Lokpal Bill, an instrument to curb the corruption at highest offices in this country.   Many urban middle class Indians have come forward to support him in this cause.  Relay hunger strikes have sprung up in many cities in India.  Artists and intellectuals lent support.  It is heartening to see so many yuppie Indians coming out onto streets to voice their opinion against corruption.  Not many movements in the recent history have seen the urban middle class coming out of their secure careers and gated communities to take the streets in protest on a universal and overarching cause.    At the most, the urban middle families are known to fight for their selfish needs like parks for their kids, or against reservations for lower castes, or for stopping the government from demolishing their illegal houses. 

A phenomenon like this, where urban middle class across the entire country has participated and expressed opinion on the streets or on the internet for a cause that is not just selfish but helps even the common man should be celebrated as truly historic.  But some hard questions remain, as to how long they are willing to fight, and will they be perseverant  enough  to reach a logical end.  Or is it just a one-off incident and phenomenon where they got attracted to the event because they do not know enough details and hence got carried away by the mere symbolism that sounded deliriously romantic and heroic like in movies where one man takes on a mighty nation and ends corruption once and for all.  Are they participating in it to fight their own guilt of apathy towards the country around them? Does this cause seem to have a lofty goal where their mere participation can be recollected and remembered as their one-time participation to erase their years of apathy? Do they know what they are in for?  Do they know how long it will take to actually achieve the desired results? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Revealed in Chapter 8: Formula on how to subvert democracy in this country

In a landmark judgment that reveals the dangerous trends that Indian democracy is currently taking, a High Court Judge has asked the Home Ministry to disclose the contents of the ‘secret’ chapter of the Report from Srikrishna Committee which was commissioned to prescribe solutions to the Telangana Movement in Andhra Pradesh.   This judgment by L Narasimha Reddy is peppered with the contents from the infamous Chapter 8 -which formed the underlying basis for recommending Option 6 of ‘keeping the state united’ against the wishes of Telangana people.  

The esteemed Judge after reading the contents of Chapter 8 writes “that the Committee travelled beyond the terms of reference in its endeavour to persuade the Union of India, not to accede to the demand for Telangana...”

The Judge observed: “if one has any doubt about the hidden opposition of the Committee for formation of Telangana, that stands removed with this note”.  

The secret note blatantly recommends ‘managing’ the media by influencing it through government sponsored advertisements, ‘softening’ the political parties by giving its members positions in the government, disciplining the ruling party members to toe the line against the wishes of the people, and making pre-emptive arrests of innocent people in the region to curb the movement.   Any sane reader would conclude that this note attempts to subvert democracy and all its cherished institutions in this country. 

Under the title, ‘media management’, the secret note starts off observing that the electronic channels and newspapers could be used for “molding the public opinion”.  It writes: “The equity holders of the channels and the entire Print Media are with the Seemandhra people.  The main editors/resident and sub-editors, the Film world etc. are dominated by Seemandhra people.  A coordinated action on their part has the potential of shaping the perception of the common man.”  It recommends ‘managing’ the editorial opinions, the headlines, and the content. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Guest Article: “Andhra State Is Born in a Womb of Violence”

[Original Author: Dileep Konatham.  Edited and modified by Sujai with author’s permission. The much awaited and well-researched article from Dileep Konatham in its original form is now available at Mission Telangana.]

Andhra State and Andhra Pradesh are two different states though the confusion is deliberately introduced by the Seemandhra history writers.  The struggle for a separate Andhra State picked up momentum as soon as India got independent.  Both Tamils and Telugus were not ready to compromise on the Madras city.  Potti Sriramulu undertook fast-unto-death for Andhra State with Madras as capital, and it has nothing to do with formation of Andhra Pradesh, and yet on 1st November of each year, Andhra Pradesh State government carries out full-page advertisements on that day commemorating Potti Sriramulu’s contributions.  After Potti Sriramulu’s death on the 58th day of his fast, all hell broke loose.  The whole region burned for the next few days.

What Got Andhras their State? Violence or Sacrifice

History books in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere tell us that Andhra state was formed due to the ‘sacrifice’ of Potti Sriramulu. But, unprejudiced analysis of newspaper reports and published books tells us a completely different story.  Here’s what Time magazine wrote about what happened after Sriramulu’s death:

A wave of hysterical emotion swept Andhra territory. Students, youths and workers, led by Communists, attacked Indian government property, cut telegraph wires, damaged railroads, burned rail cars and stoned fire engines, looted railroad restaurants, hoisted black flags of mourning over government buildings. Police, firing on rioters, killed seven and wounded forty. A 13-year-old boy attempted to halt a moving bus by standing in its path, and was run over and killed.

At week’s end Prime Minister Nehru, responding perhaps as much to the violence as to Sriramulu’s nonviolence, announced that his government had decided to establish Andhra state.