Tuesday, March 29, 2016

All of a sudden everyone is anti-national

I have not seen so many anti-nationals in my lifetime.  It’s like raining traitors this season in India.  All of a sudden, there are traitors and anti-nationals everywhere in this country.  Like how the enemies of the State suddenly came onto the scene from within in various countries of Europe in early 1900s, like in Germany, and in Italy, there are enemies of India everywhere from within India.  These enemies of India come in the form and shape of protesting Dalit students in university campus, they come in the form of ordinary farm worker who ate beef, and they come in the form of journalists and editors. 

Sedition cases, those used by the British Empire to incarcerate the freedom fighters of India, are springing up everywhere like it’s the Spring Revolution of Tunisia.  This country is geared for witch-hunting.  All of a sudden each of us is asked to prove our patriotism.  To do that, we have to chant a devout slogan for a Goddess.  Otherwise we are traitors who will sent to Pakistan. 

And how do these traitors look? They look just like you, the ordinary people, they are your nice neighbors.  Oh! Don’t be fooled! They are all traitors, they are all anti-nationals, as the Hindutva leaders tell you.  They come in the form of liberals, the seculars, the communists, the socialists, the SCs, the STs, the OBCs, the Muslims, and the Christians. They come in the form of students, the teachers, the professors, the journalists, the editors, the book writers, and the movie makers.   They are everywhere.  They are the enemies within.  And amidst all these anti-nationals, there is only one patriot.  He wears a Khakhi uniform or wears a tilak. And he owes his allegiance to Hindutva ideology.

And there is only one prescribed and sanctioned expression of love for your country.  You have to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.  Anything less, you are traitor.  ‘Jai Hind’ won’t do.  ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ won’t do.

And there is only form of patriotism.  The Hindutva form of patriotism.  Every other form of patriotism is nothing but sedition.   The Brown Shirts did it in Germany, the Blackshirts did it in Italy, and the Bolsheviks did it in Russia.  Now it is the turn of Khakhi Shorts in India.
After World War I, the defeated nation of Germany started to find enemies within the country.  Once the bereaving nationalists, feeding on a desperate need to claim superiority of their race and nation, started looking, they started to find enemies everywhere.  The Jews, the Communists, the Gypsies, the intellectuals, and the liberals.   The innocuous neighbors suddenly became enemies of the State. 

Today, in India, we see the same frenzy.  The great nation, the super power, all of a sudden has become weak.  Because it has enemies within.  The nationalists want everyone to prove their patriotism.  Chanting a certain slogan, eating certain food, wearing certain clothes, have now become a test of patriotism.  The witch hunt is on.  It has started with hunting down the students and the universities.  Next, it is your turn and mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bharat Mata Ki Jai – Does it have religious connotation?

On the controversy surrounding Asaduddin Owaisi’s refusal to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, Bharka Dutt of NDTV asks Owaisi, ‘Why would you say NO to a slogan which does not have a religious connotation - that simply describes the country to be a motherland?’

When I Google Searched ‘Bharath Mata’ in Images, this is what I get.  These are the first few results.


Why I won’t say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’?

Another controversy is now brewing across the country.  Asaduddin Owaisi, MP from Hyderabad, said that he won’t say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. He insisted that he won’t chant this slogan even if someone puts a sword on his neck.  


Owaisi says he is a patriot, but not a nationalist (the way RSS defines).  Mr. Rakesh Sinha, the other commentator, says that a person who doesn’t say, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ cannot love his country.  Whereas Owaisi asks, do you have a problem if we say, ‘Hindustan Zindabad'? [He later said, 'Jai Hind' on TV]

This raises fundamental questions about how we view our country.  What is India to each of us?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Should we not protest against Supreme Court Decisions?

During the course of JNU row many have contended in TV debates and online discussions that ordinary people in India do not have a right to protest a Supreme Court Decision.   One anchor even asked a JNU student leader, ‘Do you think you know more than the Supreme Court judges that you could protest their decision?’

Most Indians tend to think that a protest against Supreme Court decision should not be allowed.  However, in most mature democracies, including India, people have protested against Supreme Court decisions.   There are many examples.  But here I describe a notable one.

When Abraham Lincoln was the President, the US Government passed 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to US Constitution to emancipate Black people in that country, giving them equal rights.  For about twenty years they enjoyed this freedom as equal citizens.  However, a Supreme Court Decision (Plessy v. Ferguson 1896) reversed most of these amendments thereby creating Jim Crow laws that implemented ‘separate but equal’ doctrine.  Blacks were segregated, lynched, and denied voting rights.  Basically, the Black man was not treated as equal citizen.

It took major protests of 1950s and 1960s to reverse the Supreme Court decision of 1896.  People came out in thousands to protest these laws.  Martin Luther King is one of the leaders of this Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Is this ‘freedom of speech’?

Smrita Irani, Minister for HRD, in her speech in Lok Sabha, while referring to a pamphlet on Mahishasur Martyrdom Day that described Goddess Durga as ‘sex worker’, asks, ‘Is this freedom of speech?’

She then asks, What is this depraved mentality?’

She believes that a group which celebrates Mahishasur, and describes Goddess Durga as ‘sex worker’ is mentally depraved and she believes such a group should NOT be allowed to express their opinion.  She questions everyone else who is supporting JNU students:  Freedom of speech, ladies and gentleman. Who wants to have this discussion…? I want to know.’

This is where Hindutva gets it wrong.  Not only do they do not understand the concept of India, they fail quite miserably when they try to define Hinduism for all of us.  Each time they try to bring a new section of Hindus into their fold enforcing conformance in their definition of Hinduism, they alienate some other section of Hindus.

Smriti Irani is bang on in reflecting the true prejudices of Hindutva proponents when she accuses the group identities that have distributed the pamphlets, in her own words, “SC, ST and minority” students of JNU.   Isn’t this the same allegation levelled against Hindutva groups? That they are against the interests of SC, ST and minorities in this country?

Today I woke up in the land of Taliban

You know there is something grossly wrong with a nation when it books a man on ‘sedition’ for demanding ‘freedom from casteism’, and books another man for ‘defacement of property’ for offering ‘reward to kill a real person’.

Today I woke up in the land of Taliban – the fear that I expressed many times over the last many years.  ‘Look, I said so!’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The fears that I expressed about this nation are slowly turning out to be true. 

Talibanization of this country is now picking up pace.   Nationalism is hijacked by one group, one ideology, who now portray every other group, and every other ideology as ‘anti-national’.

Long ago, I wrote (in 2007):


First they came for the Sikhs, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Sikh.
Then they came for the Muslims, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Muslim.
Then they came for the Christians, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Christian.
Then they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Liberal Hindus, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a conservative Hindu.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.