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.