New Age Islam
Fri Oct 23 2020, 11:05 PM

Current Affairs ( 4 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Indian intelligence experts attend global meets to tackle IS threat: New Age Islam’s Selection From Indian Press, 5 October 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

5 October 2015

Indian intelligence experts attend global meets to tackle IS threat

By Neeraj Chauhan

British Sikh Men Working To Stop Inter-Faith Marriages

By Sunny Hundal

Choking In the Capital

By Siddharth Johar/ Armin Rosencranz

Creaming the People: Caste-Based Reservations Need To Be Recast For The Sake Of A Fairer Society

By Chetan Bhagat

Who Killed Murtaza Bhutto?

By Khaled Ahmed

Poor Leadership Taking a Toll On Afghanistan

By Hiranmay Karlekar |

Misquoting RSS Chief’s Quota Quote: Media’s Straw Man Fallacy

By Anish Gupta/ Aaleya Giri

Dadri Reminds Us How PM Modi Bears Responsibility for the Poison That Is Being Spread

By Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Why the death in Dadri affects the national project under PM Narendra Modi

By Tarun Vijay

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Indian intelligence experts attend global meets to tackle IS threat

By Neeraj Chauhan

Oct 5, 2015

NEW DELHI: Wary of the threat posed by Islamic State in the sub-continent, intelligence experts are attending back to back meetings in different countries to discuss strategy to deal with the menace.

Director general of National Investigation Agency - Sharad Kumar, recently represented India at a special meet in Holland where issues related to Islamic State's influence here, sharing of intelligence on youngsters joining or planning to join the outfit, de-radicalizing them, preventive measures, role of civil society and NGOs in educating against terrorism and need for a stricter law were discussed.

Sources say that most of the 240 delegates from about 70 countries, affected by the threat of Islamic State, who met in Holland on September 23-24, favoured having a strict law to deter youngsters and curb IS' ability to reach out to them on the internet.

When contacted, Kumar refused to comment on his recent visit.

A week before deliberations in Holland, three Indian officials, deputed by ministry of home affairs, went to Istanbul to attend Interpol's meet to review challenges and strengthen regional and international responses to the threat posed by Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs), as most of the 15,000 IS fighters are from foreign countries. About 35 countries had participated in the meet. In Istanbul, an officer said, "the sharing of actionable inputs between counter-terrorism agencies, databases, understanding modus operandi of the terrorist recruiters and facilitators and giving access to interrogation details of captured suspects was discussed".

Similarly, five officers from intelligence bureau, MHA and other agencies had separate interactions few weeks back with investigators in Turkey—hard hit by IS activities for the reason that it shares its border with Syria---in which sharing of intelligence was agreed upon.

Having a go-ahead from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Indian officials are also having a series of meetings with several other countries like Australia, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Canada and United States etc to increase cooperation on anti-terrorism with each other.

"The IS members and other terrorists outfits like Al-Qaeda are increasingly radicalizing and inciting individuals in most of the countries, mostly on the internet, to leave their homes and become foreign terrorist fighters. The use of internet and social media for recruitment is a serious concern which is included in these talks. Many countries have pointed out that those who are joining Islamic State or other organizations have used fraudulent identities for the jehadi purpose. It is a herculean task to watch every traveler but every country including us are trying to monitor suspicious persons," said a senior government official.

The Intelligence Bureau and Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), since last year, have been actively focusing on restricting penetration of IS in India. Agencies like National Investigation Agency and other anti-terror bodies are also contributing in the effort.

According to figures shared by intelligence agencies, about 17 Indian youths have so joined Islamic State in Iraq and Syria out of which 7 have died while 10 are stilling fighting there. About two dozen youngsters have been prevented by Indian agencies from joining the outfit and de-radicalized while about 13 Indians in UAE, out of which 8 were recently deported, have made attempts to join IS.

A senior officer said "The number looks small but there are possibly many more who we have not been able to trace yet."


British Sikh men working to stop inter-faith marriages

By Sunny Hundal,The Independent

Oct 5, 2015

It was meant to be the happiest day of their lives - a celebration of modern multicultural Britain at the biggest Sikh gurdwara (temple) in the Western world. On 7 August 2015, in west London, a British Sikh bride and her Polish Christian groom sat together and absorbed the religious blessings at their wedding ceremony. She wore a cream and red dress, while he wore a red turban, in keeping with Sikh traditions.

But that morning, 20 uninvited men were determined to put a stop to the wedding. They stormed upstairs to the main hall and demanded that the priests end the ceremony, hurling insults at people who objected. One of them told a priest that, if their demands weren't met, he would get 1,000 of his friends to come to the temple within the hour. The police were called and eventually the couple were forced to proceed into a hurried ceremony, while the protesters watched and took pictures of them to publish online.

This was not an isolated incident. The next weekend an interfaith wedding in Lozells, Birmingham, nearly turned into a mass brawl after protesters tried to stop it and, again, the police had to be called. The following weekend, another wedding in Coventry only managed to go ahead after some negotiations with the disrupters. In each case, the bride was a Sikh woman and the groom a non-Sikh man.

Under the media radar, such disruptions of interfaith marriages at Sikh gurdwaras have become worryingly commonplace across Britain. In July 2013, a Sikh woman and her Christian husband in Swindon were locked out of their own wedding by 40 protesters, who afterwards posted a gleeful video online of the bride's mother pleading with them to stop. When the BBC Asian Network looked into the controversy that year, its reporter met a family who'd had their windows smashed as a warning about an upcoming marriage. Most were too afraid to say anything in public.

But not Sim Kaur. One of the very few Sikh women willing to speak about her experience, she says: "Our gurdwaras are run by men and the protesters are all men. All the cancellations I've heard about have been of Sikh women marrying non-Sikh men or men not born into the Sikh religion and I doubt that's a coincidence. I do believe it's a faith issue, but it's also about gender and race."

Her wedding to her partner, Sam, was disrupted earlier this year, even though he had made an effort to learn about Sikhism and adopted Singh in his name, under guidelines laid out by the Sikh Council UK, an organisation set up in 2010 to deal with issues affecting the Sikh community in Britain and Europe. "Isn't it better," she asks, "that we teach our partners and their friends and family about this ceremony and invite them in, rather than building a wall and creating a divide?"

Sikh radicalism is rarely debated in the media. British Sikhs - who number about 400,000 - are largely seen as a model minority who aren't embroiled in controversies or plagued by extremists as Muslims are. But scratch the surface and there are signs of a growing divide between the liberal and more conservative Sikhs here, and the controversy around interfaith marriages goes to the heart of the problem.

Until I posted several videos of wedding disruptions to my Facebook page last month, there seemed to be barely any debate about why they were happening. Immediately, I was subjected to a torrent of abuse and threats, but also heard from dozens of Sikhs (mostly women) who had faced a similar kind of intimidation. Most British Sikhs I have spoken to feel shocked and embarrassed that weddings in the UK are being disrupted in this way, but are usually too worried about the backlash from fundamentalists to say so openly - and it is a very British phenomenon. The controversy has barely affected India, home to 90 per cent of the world's 20 million Sikhs, where interfaith marriages (especially to Hindus) are common.

One might, then, conclude that this issue was about race and the diaspora - but the experience of North America, where nearly a million Sikhs live, says differently. Amardeep Singh, associate professor at Lehigh University in Philadelphia, says that they have a more relaxed approach there, largely because there aren't such concentrations of Sikhs as there are in London and Birmingham. "Sikh communities in the US are so suburban and spatially dispersed. Most of us commute some distance by car just to reach the nearest gurdwara."

In the UK, then, we seem to be dealing with people who believe they have sufficient density of numbers to preserve some kind of cultural purity if they cleave to the example of the Sikh homeland (where, in fact, such fundamentalism is rare). However, those who support the disruptions say they are not opposed to interfaith marriages per se, but are only trying to enforce religious guidelines.

In 1950, Sikh scholars and priests in India agreed on a code of conduct, after multiple attempts, to define what it meant to be a Sikh and what obligations should be placed on followers. It stated that the Sikh wedding ceremony (the Anand Karaj) could only take place between two Sikhs of the opposite sex.

Shamsher Singh, of the National Sikh Youth Federation, says it objects to this religious ceremony being appropriated by non-Sikhs. "They can have prayers inside the gurdwara, they can have part of the function inside a gurdwara, just not the religious ceremony. That's reserved for those of the Sikh faith."

Others say this attitude ignores Sikh history. Amandeep Madra, co-founder of the UK Punjab Heritage Association, says that, until recently "Sikh traditions were highly pluralistic, with a willingness to learn and coexist with other concordant traditions. This is one of the most culturally appealing aspects of Sikhism in a modern, multicultural world. However, there has always been a more fearful voice that is threatened by the danger of being assimilated and indistinguishable from others."

So the rise of Sikh fundamentalism in the UK isn't just an attempt to enforce rules: it is also the expression of a worry among young rank-and-file males that Sikhs are becoming too integrated. To them, it is profoundly disturbing that a recent poll of members by City Sikhs, a 6,000-strong organisation representing professional Sikhs in the UK, should show an overwhelming majority in favour of gurdwaras allowing interfaith marriages.

To understand this, one must look to the history of Sikhi [the Sikh faith], the youngest of the world's major religions, founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the late 1400s. He was the first of 10 gurus (teachers) who left behind their collective wisdom in the holy scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, also known as "The Living Guru". In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji decided to give Sikhs a visual identity to distinguish them from others. From then on, the Khalsa (baptised) Sikhs were required to carry five articles of faith at all times: uncut hair, a sword, comb, clean clothes and a metal bracelet. A large proportion of Sikhs remain unbaptised, freeing themselves from one or more requirements - they are usually called sahajdari, which could translate as "slow adopters" - but they still practise the religion in other ways.

Since Sikhi was founded, its adherents in India have faced persecution from Mughal emperors, Hindu kings and the British Raj. Thirty years ago, thousands were killed by Indian troops in an anti-separatist attack on its Golden Temple, and in the pogroms that followed the retaliatory assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Among some, this has led to a defensive mentality - exacerbated by worries that the religion is being diluted as new converts come into the fold - and this is what lies behind their radical puritanism.

So, while many Sikhs are integrating into British culture, others gravitate towards religion as their main primary identity. Shamsher Singh is one. "We're dealing with complex issues of identity," he says. "The intersection of our sense of self with coloniality has created this hybrid, stateless individual that struggles at every juncture with validation and having to constantly justify their beliefs and the practice of their religion to a Westernised audience. I'm living in an age where individuals on the periphery, with tenuous links to the community, are telling those of us who have committed to the Sikh way how we must interpret and practice Sikhi."

Many worry that such attitudes will eventually shrink the community here, not strengthen it. Pippa Virdee, a senior lecturer on South Asian History at De Montfort University, says: "There has generally been a greater assertion of what it is to be Sikh in the last 10 to 15 years. That identity has become exclusive and serves to exclude people who see themselves as Sikhs but may not be practising. Increasingly, I feel we are told - often by men and by so-called leaders of the faith - what is a good Sikh. This will serve only to alienate people."

As I can attest. After I posted videos of wedding disruptions, I was personally threatened and slandered on Sikh websites. People made up lies about me and I was accused of being a "traitor". And my experience wasn't rare. Two years ago, Kamalroop Singh, a turban-wearing and fully baptised Sikh, had his car windows smashed after he criticized Sikh fanaticism on a web forum. The incident left his children terrified and his wife ended up having a miscarriage, which the couple attributed to the stress. It wasn't the first time he had been threatened and such incidents aren't uncommon, he says. "They [Sikh radicals] really are just thugs who use the religion as their justification for intimidation and violence." And last year Dr Gurnam Singh, principal lecturer at Coventry University, had to stop presenting a show on the Birmingham-based Sikh Channel after signing an online petition to stop "radicalization of young, British-born Punjabi/Sikh males".

And it is males at the heart of this issue. Many Sikhs see the bid to stop inter-religious marriages as an attempt by men to control Sikh women and stop them from marrying "out". This sexist mentality surely has its roots in the (60 per cent Sikh) state of Punjab, which has among the lowest ratios of women to men in India due gender-selective abortions, infanticide, neglect of girls, rape and dowry-related murders. In some areas there are just 300 women to 1,000 men. There are laws against gender selection; there is an increasing number of educational campaigns; there are even media "stings " in which doctors are filmed helping parents to abort female foetuses. Yet the ratio of girls to boys under the age of six has continued to decline.

Some Sikhs see the sexist attitudes in Britain and ask why there is an obsessive focus on interfaith marriages here when the larger Sikh community faces far more pressing problems. "If they so love Sikhi, why not question the high rate of female foeticide within the Sikh community as a hindrance ... rather than attempting to bar non-Sikhs from the marriage ceremony?" asks writer and journalist Herpreet Kaur Grewal.

Meanwhile, this controversy isn't going to go away soon. The 2011 British Census found that 1.8 per cent of Sikhs (7,600 people) identified as white, while 1.2 per cent (5,000) identified as mixed-race, and it's likely a large proportion of them do so through marriage to Sikhs, rather than conversion. If those numbers grow, and as some grow more liberal, the differences with more radical Sikhs will grow starker.

Jonathan Evans, who calls himself Jonny Singh, emailed me about his experience of moving closer to Sikhism after his marriage to a British Sikh woman. "If my wife and I were forced to abandon our Anand Karaj like couples in the UK are being forced to now, would I have felt the same about the vision of Sikhism as I do now?" he asks. "As humans we are shaped by our experiences. I would never have become a Sikh if I was not married in the gurdwara."


Choking In the Capital

By Siddharth Johar/ Armin Rosencranz

October 3, 2015,

With the average citizen of New Delhi living in conditions unfit for humans, the Central Pollution Control Board of India either has its facts wrong or is feeding lies to the media

In May 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world, closely followed by other Indian cities, namely Patna, Gwalior and Raipur. In all, 13 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, according to the report, are in India.

The conclusion about the national capital being the most polluted was reached by measuring and comparing the ambient air pollution (AAP) levels of cities around the world. The ambient air pollution report of 2014 revealed that New Delhi had the highest concentration of PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in size).

AAP is a measure of the presence of fine particulate matter suspended in the air. These are a complex mixture of organic and inorganic substances in solid and liquid state.These fine particulates enter the blood stream and lungs of humans and pose major health hazards. The most dangerous fine particulates are 10 microns or less in diameter (PM10). According to WHO standards, the level of PM2.5 should not exceed 10 micrograms per cubic metre. As per the WHO report, New Delhi led the charts with a whopping concentration of 153 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre. With these numbers, air pollution levels in New Delhi left behind many of the world’s most economically powerful cities including New York, London, Singapore and Moscow which have a PM2.5 score of 14, 16, 17 and 22 respectively.

What is as outrageous as the high amounts of these particulates is the fact that a day after the WHO revealed its findings, the Central Pollution Control Board of India (CPCBI) denied them, citing low rainfall and arbitrary site selection for measuring PM as reasons for the high levels.

Official Indifference

Not only is the average Delhi citizen living in conditions unfit for human beings according to the international WHO standards, but the one organisation empowered with the task of controlling the pollution levels either has its facts wrong or is feeding lies to the media to control public outrage. The CPCBI would be better off issuing warnings and guidelines for citizens of the city to minimise the health hazards facing them on a daily basis.

Those suffering direct consequences of this polluted air are inevitably the persons who call New Delhi their home. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-profit organisation, estimated the risks an average Delhi resident is exposed to and discovered that levels of air pollution are at their peak during the mornings and nights. Also, average pollution levels were found to be up to eight times higher on the city’s roads. Persons suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems are at greatest risk from inhaling the polluted Delhi air.

The Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, conducted a study comparing the respiratory health status of children studying in Delhi with children studying in rural areas and smaller towns of India. Children from Delhi were found to suffer from lung damage, eye irritation, headache, nausea, palpitation fatigue and breathing problems twice as much as children from other places. Children are clearly more vulnerable to air pollution than adults. Their bodies have higher oxygen demands, which means they inhale more air. Also, as their lungs and immune systems are still developing, they are more vulnerable to inhaled pollutants. This study of teens and pre-teens revealed that children living in Delhi are at an extremely high risk of developing permanent respiratory problems. Though the study was commissioned by the CPCBI, no steps were taken after it to counter the effects of pollution or to make the citizens aware of the results. Even the schools surveyed had no idea until recently of the findings.

Generation Compromised

This indicates the appalling conditions in which the next generation of Delhi’s citizens are growing up and the lax attitude of the government agencies responsible for ensuring the citizens’ health. What is the purpose of rampant development for a bigger economy when the next generation will not be healthy enough to enjoy the fruits of such development? Recently, the European Union instructed its diplomats based in New Delhi to install air purifiers in their residences and offices to mitigate the harmful levels of air pollution. The U.S., Germany and Japan have even considered reducing the tenures of diplomats in New Delhi to reduce their exposure to the city’s polluted air.

Imagine a future where people stop visiting New Delhi due to its polluted condition; a future in which the rich and privileged sit with air purifiers in their houses and cars, and put on gas masks connected to oxygen cylinders when outside, while the poor and middle class are left to suffer the toxic environment.

There are a few things that must be handled today for a better tomorrow. These include pollution control and pollution checks of all factories in New Delhi and the relocation of any factory within metropolitan limits. The growing number of automobiles in the city can be reduced by increasing the taxes; using the odd and even number plate rationing system, which halves the number of vehicles in the city on a daily basis; scaling up public transport projects and; strong and strict action against polluters. Parking garages can be set up at the outermost metro stations to encourage people to use the metro wherever accessible.

Immediate and strong action by the government is crucial to save the more than 1,000 babies born in New Delhi every day from the fate suffered by their predecessors.

(Siddharth Johar is a recent graduate of Jindal Global Law School, and Armin Rosencranz is a professor at Jindal Global Law School.)


Creaming the People: Caste-Based Reservations Need To Be Recast For The Sake Of a Fairer Society

By Chetan Bhagat

October 3, 2015,

In India, we stay away from certain issues in the name of political correctness. Sadly, those are the issues that most need attention. One such contentious issue in India is caste-based reservations. While often dormant in people’s minds, it doesn’t take long for the issue to flare up again. Patel community protests in Gujarat are an example. They attracted so many people that the state government had to ban internet and SMS services to contain the wildfire. While protests may have stopped spilling over on the streets for now, the issue remains in people’s hearts.

You cannot ban the internet every time. If at all the protests had a lesson, it is that the current reservation policy, although well intentioned when it was formulated, needs a relook. This is exactly what RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat suggested when he asked for a review of reservation policies so they become fairer.

Of course, his comment was seen as a political mistake. It may help consolidate the anti-BJP dalit vote in Bihar. Hence it is no surprise that nobody from BJP or any other party actually concurred with the RSS Supremo’s view.

However, we must factor in the longterm interest of the nation. We must also have a reservation policy that best achieves the primary objective – to have a fairer, more equal society. We must also accept that reservation is a short cut. It is a stopgap, artificial albeit quick way to create equality in society.

It doesn’t create opportunity. It simply takes opportunity from someone deserving and hands it to another, purely on the basis of birth. In doing so it divides society, fosters mediocrity and de-motivates the talented. Hence, reservation is neither victimless nor costless to society.

Around 50% of enrolment in central government educational institutions as well as government job placements is reserved for OBCs, SCs and STs. OBCs have a concept of creamy layer, where families with incomes of more than Rs 6 Lakh per annum cannot be eligible for reservation benefits. This does not apply to SCs and STs.

Historically, and in parts of India even to this date, people from backward castes have been denied opportunity and discriminated against. However, this sentence was valid even in say, 1965. Has nothing changed in the last 50 years? Haven’t these same reservation policies, which were meant to create a fairer society, achieved their goal to a certain extent? Of course things have changed.

One National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes study reveals that SC candidates (not including ST/OBC) comprised around 1% of Class I (the more elite) government jobs in 1965. This share of Class I jobs had increased to 10% of total Class I jobs by 1995. The number is probably higher in 2015.

This dramatic rise of the share of people from backward communities in top government jobs shows the reservation policy has been successful. However, do note that children of these high-grade SC/ST officers still get reservation benefits. This feudal upper class within the SC or ST category will inherit the benefits of growing up in an affluent environment from their previous generations and also be eligible for a quota like any other below poverty line SC/ST candidate.

The cream in the creamy layer is only going to get thicker, denying benefits to the truly needy. The solution lies in linking reservation benefits to something more quantifiable as an indicator of denied opportunity – income.

Household income is a pretty good indicator of whether a child in that house would have had the opportunity to study for an IIT or prepare for IAS as much as a middle and upper class student. It also seems fair.

What is wonderful about having economic criteria is that as per capita incomes rise, the pool of people eligible for reservation will automatically decline. We may even see a day when we won’t need reservation at all.

Today technology allows us to measure, track and monitor household income like never before. Imagine an India where your caste was irrelevant, only your talent mattered, and if you were born to a poor family, you would get help to develop your talent. That seems like a much fairer India than now, where a list of castes gets reservation, and so-called upper castes kill themselves to fight for the leftover seats.

Some argue that reservation is not only for economic uplift but also to increase the social status of a caste. But a better solution is to eliminate the caste system.

Don’t use it in government. Let society look down on people who enquire about someone else’s caste. If we can make it illegal to make disparaging comments about people from the northeast or backward castes, why not make it illegal to talk about caste?

Most of the world operates very well without caste. Surnames just need to be names, they don’t have to place you in society. What use is the caste system today anyway?

Enough has changed and the time has come to recast reservations. Modern technology allows us to do so. If we don’t do it, the youth from who we steal opportunities in the name of fairness won’t like it. You don’t create fairness by doing something unfair.


Who killed Murtaza Bhutto?

By Khaled Ahmed

October 3, 2015

September 20 was the anniversary of the assassination of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, the elder son of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The former president of Pakistan and the Pakistan People’s Party’s “co-chairman”, Asif Ali Zardari, currently located in the UAE, spoke on his brother-in-law’s death and said: “Murtaza Bhutto had dedicated his life to struggle against dictatorship; he witnessed the cruelties meted out to his mother (late Begum Nusrat Bhutto) and sister Benazir Bhutto (before she was assassinated) and was mysteriously targeted in 1996 in Karachi. Later, the police officer tasked with the investigation of the murder was also mysteriously assassinated.”

Hardly anyone missed the irony. Murtaza’s widow and children have not ceased accusing Zardari — and an allegedly complicit Benazir — of killing him. Unsurprisingly, Ghinwa Bhutto, a Lebanese exile who met Murtaza in Damascus, issued her own, more detailed statement on the anniversary from the Bhutto home district of Larkana in Sindh, pointedly naming names and asking for an investigation into the unsolved killing: “We have not forgiven Murtaza Bhutto’s assassins.” As chairperson of the PPP (Shaheed Bhutto), she went into the details of police officers she thought had carried out the hit just outside Murtaza’s house in Karachi: “Shoaib Suddle, Wajid Durrani, Shakaib Qureshi, Shahid Hayat and Raheel Tahir, who handled the Murtaza Bhutto murder case, should speak up now and tell the truth about who was behind the conspiracy.”

Everyone in Pakistan understood she was pointing the finger at Zardari himself. She named the police officer who was killed later to silence him. She then delivered the punch-line: “Who had ordered General (retired) [Naseerullah] Babar to launch the mop-up operation [in Karachi], who killed Benazir Bhutto, and how much was paid to the parliamentarians to make Asif Ali Zardari president of Pakistan?”

Ghinwa met a divorced Murtaza in Damascus when he was on the run from General Zia-ul-Haq. His first wife was an Afghan, the mother of his daughter Fatima, whom he had in tow at their first meeting. Fatima Bhutto was a gifted child, traumatised by the unfolding Bhutto tragedy: Grandfather Bhutto hanged; uncle Shahnawaz, Murtaza’s younger brother, “mysteriously” killed in France; father Murtaza shot multiple times; and aunt Benazir “mysteriously” assassinated in Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, where Pakistan’s first PM, Liaquat Ali Khan, too had been assassinated in 1951. Murtaza seemed to ape Che Guevara, organising a terrorist outfit, al-Zulfiqar, which became a reason PM Benazir Bhutto didn’t want him to return from exile.

Daughter Fatima narrates her trials and tribulations as a child of the Bhutto clan in her book Songs of Blood and Sword (2010). Returning from exile despite Benazir’s advice to stay away, Murtaza settled his family in his Clifton Road house in Karachi, together with his mother Nusrat Bhutto, whose dementia added to her dilemma of standing in the crossfire between her offspring. Murtaza was soon in jail, thanks to PM Benazir Bhutto, after he flexed his muscles at the local bureaucracy. Benazir rang Fatima, inviting her to accompany her to South Africa to meet the latter’s favourite leader, Nelson Mandela. But she had to refuse on account of what the family was going through: “I am not going with you while you are imprisoning my father.”

According to Fatima, Murtaza would call Zardari “Chor” and his sister’s government “Ali Baba aur chalees chor”, which caught on in Pakistan among people who were sick of Zardari cutting into all projects in the private sector for his “10 per cent”. When Murtaza would go on about Zardari’s misdeeds, his mother Nusrat would try to stop him: “Stop, please! They are tyrants, they’ll hurt you,” writes Fatima. Was Nusrat on Murtaza’s side? Fatima says she was the mother and tried her best to be neutral between Benazir and Murtaza. But she didn’t like Zardari. She tried to ignore the ambition of her daughter, nurtured by her father to be his successor, against the legacy that strictly belonged to the son in the oriental mind. Nusrat pretended to run the party as the top leader after Bhutto’s hanging; then things changed. As soon as Murtaza came back, Benazir ousted her mother from her honorary post. “She was terrified that her mother might try to overturn her decisions and welcome Mir into the party fold,” a party loyalist noted.

It was September 19, 1996, when they came for him. “Many of Karachi’s most notorious police officers… were present at the scene that night. [Former inspector general] Shoaib Suddle, was there as was Zeeshan Kazmi, a notorious torturer within the Clean-Up team, Wajid Durrani, who led the shooting at Al-Murtaza on 5 January, was stationed by the roundabout and his position would become significant as the night progressed. Rai Tahir, Shahid Hayat, Shakaib Qureshi, Masood Sharif — then head of the Federal Intelligence Bureau that reported directly to the Prime Minister’s office — were all said by witnesses to have been on the cordoned-off road that night.”

She concludes: “My father had been shot several times. His face had been hit, his beautiful smiling face… The last shot. Papa’s autopsy showed; was fired into his jaw at point-blank range; it was fired, forensics confirmed, by a gunman standing over him as he lay down in the police car.”

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’


Poor Leadership Taking A Toll On Afghanistan

By Hiranmay Karlekar

03 October 2015

The Afghan forces alone cannot be blamed for the fall of Kunduz; there were other factors at play. In most places, the troops remained besieged within the district capitals, while the Taliban ruled the countryside

The fall of Kunduz, an important city in northern Afghanistan, on Monday, was more a defeat for Afghanistan’s North Atlantic Treaty Organisation -trained Afghan Army than a victory for the Taliban. A report under the heading, ‘Taliban Fighters Capture Kunduz City as Afghan Forces Retreat’, by Joseph Goldstein and Mujib Mashal in The New York Times of September 29, quoted a security official as saying on the condition of anonymity, that the Taliban numbered 500 in the city, and mentioned a district Governor, Mr Zalmai Farooqi, as estimating that the Government had 7,000 men in the area. The problem was not the lack of security forces, Mr Farooqi stated, but the absence of good leadership.

For over a year, the Taliban had been slowly spreading their tentacles in Kunduz Province, of which the city of Kunduz is the capital. The New York Times report cited above quoted Mr Mohammad Yousaf Abyoubi, head of Kunduz’s Provincial Council, as saying that the Taliban controlled 70 per cent of the Province outside the city. Yet, he added that the Government neither launched an offensive nor sent in reinforcements.

It was not that the Government in Kabul and the United States’ military in Afghanistan did not know. For a year, The New York Times report states, local officials had been expressing alarm over the Taliban’s advance but some Afghan and Western officials had been dismissing these.

Typical of their complacence/ignorance was a remark in May, by the American commander in Afghanistan, General John F Campbell, quoted in Joseph Goldstein’s report in The New York Times (September 30) under the heading “A Taliban Prize, Won in a Few Hours after Years of Strategy.” The General, according to it, had said in response to a question about the Talban’s military strategy, “If you take a look very closely at some of the things in Kunduz and up in Badakhshan, they will attack some very small checkpoints.” He added, “They will go out and hit a little bit and then they kind of go to ground” and then said, “so they’re not gaining territory for the most part.”

One should hardly be surprised, if all this had convinced the defenders that they had little chance of receiving help and reinforcement and, hence, there was no point in their sticking their necks out. As a result, the local police fought the Taliban in some places, in the others, the latter advanced unopposed. Otherwise, Afghans, known for their courage in combat, would not have fled. The point needs to be made because they have showed much better mettle elsewhere.

Consider the case of Kabul, where the Taliban mounted three attacks on August 7. The targets were the Ministry of Defence’s military intelligence headquarters, the Kabul Police Academy’s training facility, and an American and coalition forces military base, camp integrity, just north of Kabul’s international airport. While the attacks, which left 65 dead and 240 wounded, provided an alarming example of the Taliban’s striking power, it also showed the Afghan forces in a favourable light.

In none of the three instances could the Taliban breach the defended perimeters. The casualties occurred mostly outside and, besides one American soldier and eight military contractors and Afghan police cadets; they were civilians, mainly passer-by.

The attacks, however, raised certain questions. The fact that the Taliban could breach Kabul’s outer security ring and strike at the Ministry of Defence’s military intelligence headquarters and the Kabul Police Academy’s training facility, suggests possible internal complicity without which, these could not have happened. It is not just the Kabul attacks. How is it that the Afghan forces, which had a bad year in 2014, when they suffered heavy casualties, have fared worse since the beginning of this year?

In most places, they have remained besieged within the district capitals — rarely venturing out for patrolling — while the Taliban have increasingly dominated the countryside. One cannot blame the troops alone. Joseph Goldstein’s report under the heading, ‘Afghan Security Forces Struggle Just to Maintain Stalemate’, in The New York Times of July 22, quotes a retired Afghan Lieutenant General, Abdul Hadi Khalid as saying, “Units get surrounded, and we don’t send them support, so they are killed.”

Lieutenant General Khalid’s statement underlines the general disarray in Afghanistan’s military establishment. Logistics are poor. Soldiers are often unable to send money home from their pay. Medical supplies are in short supply; reinforcements seldom arrive.

The resultant demoralisation is heightened by the fact that air support, which played a major role when American troops were deployed, is now very rarely received. It is one thing to argue the that Taliban have been gaining ground without ever having it, and another to expect troops used to heavy air support when they fought alongside Western coalition forces, to do virtually without it now.

Such a state of affairs appears hardly strange on recalling that Afghanistan has not had a confirmed Defence Minister for about a year now. The incumbent, Mr Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, serves in an acting capacity as the effort to confirm him was defeated by the Afghan Parliament on July 4, when he received 84 votes against 107 required. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani’s persistence with Mr Stanekzai, a close confidante, whose performance as Defence Minister has by no account been effective, has been a source of tension, as has been his policy toward the Taliban and Pakistan.

He has sent officer cadets to train in Pakistan, shared information with it and helped hunt down Pakistani terrorists who had taken refuge in Afghanistan, including six involved in the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Pakistan has given nothing in return.

President Ghani’s reported willingness to undertake constitutional amendments that would guarantee the Taliban a share of power, and give its clerics the authority to roll back progressive features of the country’s post 9/11 life, has alarmed Afghanistan’s ethnic minorities inhabiting its northern and western regions that had led the resistance to the Taliban before 9/11— as well as youth and women’s groups. These have also raised questions about his seriousness about fighting the Taliban, which in turn is stoking the fear of an inevitable eventual Taliban take-over of Afghanistan and undermining the military and civilian administration’s resolve to defeat the Pakistan-sponsored and supported militia.

Can Mr Ghani be made to change his policies? Can a more widely-accepted and competent leader replace him? Can the Afghan military pull up its socks? What will be the United States’ role after Kunduz? A great deal will depend on answers to these questions.


Misquoting RSS Chief’s Quota Quote: Media’s Straw Man Fallacy

By Anish Gupta/ Aaleya Giri

03 October 2015

We should first review if the reservation policy has really benefitted the vulnerable or not. If the answer is yes, then the review is necessary to bring those who are yet not benefited within the ambit of benefit. If the answer is no, then the review is necessary to make changes in the policy and explore other options to benefit the dalits

The recent debate surrounding the interview of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to RSS mouthpieces, Panchjanya and Organiser, to eulogise Deen Dayal Upadhaya’s “integral humanism” as part of their foremost ideologue’s birth centenary celebrations substantiates how “contextomy” or “quoting out of context” provokes controversy.

The term “contextomy” was coined by journalist Milton Mayer to explain how Julius Streicher — the editor of the infamous Nazi tabloid Der Stürmer in Weimar-era Germany — to awaken anti-Semitic sentiments among the journal’s “working-class Christian readership”, often published abridged quotations from Talmudic texts. The quotations in their edited form seem to encourage greed, slavery, and ritualistic murder. Contextomy, a common practice of misrepresentation in contemporary mass media, can have huge influence on the public. What is more harmful is that the effects of such distortion can stay on even after the public is exposed to the original “in context” quote.

What we say is not exactly what others understand. Often we see, hear and understand things as we want to and not as they are. Studies say the most common errors people make in formulating their perceptive are misrepresenting views we want to refute and misrepresenting the nature of the problem we are addressing. The former is generally called “the Straw Man Fallacy” while the latter is called “False Alternatives” or “False Dilemma”.

“Attempting to discredit a view by criticising a weak version of it or the reason given in support of it” is “Straw Man”. Whereas “misformulating a problem as a choice between two (or more) alternatives, when there exist other alternatives that have not been considered” is a “False alternative”. False Alternatives is basically a problem of oversimplification.

For instance, Voltaire is often mistaken saying, as claimed in the book Friends of Voltaire (1907) by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (“Je désapprouvece que vousdites, mais je défendrai à la mort votre droit à le dire”) But what he actually said was “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too” (from Voltaire’s Essay on Tolerance).

Often statements of influential people are misrepresented by the media, perhaps to meet political agenda or to create controversy and turn an unexciting event or a comment into breaking news and sell it.

It has been claimed that Obama believes in wealth distribution. The quote which went viral, “I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure Government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution.” (Senator Barack Obama remarks at Loyola University, Chicago, Oct 19, 1998)

What he exactly said “in context”, “I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralise delivery systems in ways that foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities?”

How Mohan Bhagwat was quoted?

Following the statements of Mohan Bhagwat given in the interview, the national dailies seem to have misconstrued the entire episode and thus presented the discussion before the public with controversial headlines, “the RSS Sarsanghchalak demanding review of reservation policy”, “End reservation policy”, “Social review of reservation policy”, “Bhagwat’s take on reservation”, “Aarthik aadhar par hi mile

(reservation shall be based only on economic basis)”.

What did Mohan Bhagwat exactly say?

The first question, related to reservation, asked to Mohan Bhagwat by the interviewer was: In political science it is taught that pressure groups make democracy vibrant. Panditji believed that we need to take care of each other’s interests and move forward. How you see agitations such as demand for “One Rank, One Pension” or reservations from the integral humanist perspective?

In response, Mohan Bhagwat said, “I do not think that integral humanism has negated the role of interest groups. Interest groups are formed because we have certain aspirations in democracy. At the same time, we should remember that through interest groups we should not strive to address those aspirations at the cost of others. We should have integral approach of welfare for all. It is sensible to realise that my interest lies in larger national interest. The Government also has to be sensitive to these issues that there should not be any agitations for them. From the integral humanist perspective, the thinking that the Government is different from us should be altered. For instance, you need a fan on fast speed while I don’t want it at all, still we can both agree to have a fan on lesser speed. Harmonisation of interests is possible with this perspective. We can move forward with synchronisation and not struggle. My interest is in collective interest, should be realised by both, the Government and society. This balance is required from both sides. In fact, they are not two sides but just parts of the integral whole. Everyone should realise that suppression and oppression of one section by the other is against the interests of all. That should be the approach we need to inculcate.”

Neither the question and nor the answer has anything to do with revocation of reservation. In fact what Bhagwat talks about is “integral humanism” which can be achieved through “synchronisation and not struggle”. Bhagwat is against suppression and oppression of one section by the other.

The second question, concerning reservation, that Bhagwat was asked, “You said integrity and honesty are the main parameters. Do you see any such policy initiative, undertaken or suggestive, which is in tune with integral humanism?”

Bhagwat replied, “The reservation for socially backward classes is the right example in this regard. If we would have implemented this policy as envisaged by the Constitution makers instead of doing politics over it, then present situation would not have arrived. Since inception it has been politicised. We believe, form a committee of people genuinely concerned for the interest of the whole nation and committed for social equality, including some representatives from society, they should decide which categories require reservation and for how long. The non-political committee like autonomous commissions should be the implementation authority; political authorities should supervise them for honesty and integrity.”

Evidently Bhagwat believes that the reservation for socially backward classes is in tune with “integral humanism”, provided it is implemented without any political motives. He is not against reservation; he is against the politics done over it. Hence he has suggested to form an apolitical committee to examine who needs the facility and for how long.

Amid the on-going Patel quota tumult in Gujarat and the upcoming Bihar election, the politicised “out of context” representation of what exactly RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has said during the interview has aroused many questions.

What is Mohan Bhagwat’s view on reservation?

Mohan Bhagwat, on September 8, 2014, during a book launch event, said, “We support reservation. Till the time there is inequality in society, reservation is needed. To bring up those suffering from this inequality as equals, we need reservation. But there should not be any politics on that”. He added, “For 1,000 years, those people for the benefit of the country tolerated the injustice. The reasons for which they tolerated, those reasons are no longer here now as we have gained our Independence. Now our duty is to bring them up as equals. To bring them as equals, if for 100 years one has to tolerate injustice, let be it.”

In the same event while recalling the ideology of Deen Dayal Uphadhyay, he said, “The mentor of Jan Sangh, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, used to say that if one has to bring everybody as equals, then those who are above the ordinary masses should bow and extend their hands to the underprivileged. Through each other’s cooperation, everybody can become equals. If those who are privileged do not bow or bend, those below the line cannot come up.”

But unfortunately nowhere the statement finds mention, no headline was made. Image of a person or an organisation if often constructed through either emphasising or ignoring some facts. Can we really ignore the media bias against the RSS? Living in a democratic country we all have a right to have our own ideology and form our own opinions. We may or may not believe in the ideology others believe in but our education and intellect do not encourage us to be judgmental. Without evaluating a statement within a context how can we comment on it?

Perhaps the image of RSS as an anti-Dalit and anti-backward organisation is being promoted through the media with an ulterior motive. Given the upcoming Bihar election, any news suggesting RSS as an upper caste Hindu organisation which is against the reservation policy would definitely benefit the Opposition parties.

Why are we scared of reviewing reservation?

The term: reviewing of reservation: used by Bhagwat has been misused to generate controversies especially by the Congress and its allies. However, review of reservation is not synonymous to revocation of reservation. The people belonging to the backward section, given their traumatic past history of exploitation, oppression and social ostracism, are not able to compete with the upper class people until they are provided equal opportunity. Education is interrelated with occupation which in turn determines the economic condition of the people. An economically stable person can access all the facilities available be it education or healthcare. Since it is only through education and occupation one can achieve social, political and economic equality the policy of reservation was formulated to safeguard the rights of the backward people.

However while implementing the policy, many loopholes remained there. When the policy of reservation was implemented, it was assumed that all castes falling under a particular category, be it SC or ST, were homogeneous and the people within that particular category were educationally, socially and financially equal. But the fact that even within a particular category there are differences — social and economic —has been overlooked.

For instance, SC category includes Bhangi (Valmiki caste) along with Meghwal, Dhobi, Nut, Turi and Khatik. Curiously the Valmikis, considered lowest in social hierarchy, were meted out similar behaviour as the other well-offs within the SC receive from the upper caste people. One who is oppressed tries to oppress others in some form or the other. Similarly Meena tribe is included within the ST category along with Bhil, Garasia, Kuki,and Mikir tribes. Jat, Yadav and Kurmiare considered OBC which also includes Luhar, Mallah and Manihar.

Though SC, ST and OBC are given reservation and thus safely segregated from the higher castes, but the faulty implementation has left Valmikis to compete with Chamars, Bhils to compete with Meenas, and Luhars to compete with Jats. This recalls a situation when a lamb is saved from a tiger but left in front of a wolf. The lamb has to die in any case. The very assumption of hundreds of castes within a particular category being homogeneous is faulty. This is one of the fundamental reasons why some castes have remained as they were 100 years back while some have flourished. Even after 68 years of implementation of the reservation policy the social and economic gap between different castes could not be wiped out. Even within ST hardly a Meena dines with a Bhil and within SC a Chamar hardly keeps any social relation with a Valmiki.

The review of reservation on the basis of socio-economic profile of different castes and individuals, as suggested by Bhagwat, would definitely help uplift the poorest among the comparatively socially backward castes.

Why shouldn’t we identify deserving categories?

The other strand of the statement “decide which categories require reservation” drew flak from most of the media houses. While the creamy layer has criticised the review of reservation, the vulnerable groups have openly supported the suggestion. An article in The Hindu published on September 24, 2015, two days after the comment of Bhagwat on quota, reads that “Dalit sub-castes seek reservation review”. An association of most vulnerable caste in SC category, the Valmikis (sanitation workers) in north India, while citing data from Government committees, argue that they have been swamped out from the benefits of quotas by the better-off leather workers’ caste. Even the retired bureaucrat and president of Rashtriya Dalit Bachao Andolan OP Shukla, who belongs to the Valmiki community, said, “What is wrong in saying that reservation be reviewed? Everyone has a right to know what each caste got in these 68 years. We welcome this effort by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.”

If the re-categorisation is done on the basis of socio-economic status of a particular caste, the really deserving people would be benefited while the socially and economically well-offs would have to give up the benefits they were enjoying so far. Perhaps that is what irks them and hence they are against any such move.

Why shouldn’t we estimate a period?

The third aspect “how long” was misrepresented by critics to construct an impression that Bhagwat wants to revoke reservation. Every policy of the Government is based on the cost, the long-term benefits and the estimated period of completion of a project. The Government’s inability to estimate the period within which the problem of inequality will be solved indicates that the policy is not effective. How can a policy without a definite aim and time period bring the desired result? How can such policy help in the development of a society?

We should first review if the reservation policy has really benefitted the vulnerable or not. If the answer is yes, then the review is necessary to bring those who are yet not benefited within the ambit of benefit. If the answer is no, then the review is necessary to make changes in the policy and explore other options to benefit the Dalits.

Thus Mohan Bhagwat’s suggestion of commencing a review of the reservation policy, and setting up of an apolitical committee to examine who needs the facility and for how long if analysed within the context does make sense.

Anish Gupta and Aaleya Giri teach Economics and English respectively at Delhi University. One of the writers belongs to OBC.


Dadri Reminds Us How PM Modi Bears Responsibility For The Poison That Is Being Spread

By Pratap Bhanu Mehta

October 3, 2015 9

If you wanted an example of how vile, nauseating and morally odious our public discourse has become, you need look no further than Tarun Vijay’s ‘Death in Dadri’ in these pages (October 2). Mohammad Akhlaq’s death is a tragedy. It exemplified the depths of the barbarity that lurks behind the veneer of our civilisation. Vijay’s words, and those of many in the party he represents, have given that barbarism full rein in the highest circles of power. It is astonishing that this piece was meant to distance Hinduism from violence. It instead represents the way in which violence is inscribed into the self-appointed votaries of Hinduism. Vijay has accomplished the astonishing feat of even making apology look almost homicidal. The sentiments he represents are now becoming the moral common sense of our public culture. The article gives full display to the moral twistedness of what passes as BJP thinking. First, enunciate a seemingly moral claim that leaves the door open for a deeper barbarism. “Lynching a person merely on suspicion is absolutely wrong,” Vijay informs us with all sincerity. It is almost as if lynching is fine so long as it is not based on mere suspicion. It is saying, in effect, that if Akhlaq had actually been guilty of eating beef, it would have been fine to lynch him. Second, there is the canard: You people who eat beef, or oppose the ban, you are responsible for the death of Akhlaq. You are the provocation, you are the extremists. This confusion will leave anyone petrified. Vijay clearly does not understand the idea of rights. He also equates differences as tantamount to provocation to murder: If I don’t eat beef because of my religion and you do, or if I hold the cow sacred and you don’t, I have the right to treat you as a provocation. He clearly does not understand the limits of offence in a liberal society: You cannot take offence at what others do pursuant to the exercise of their rights. You have the right to persuade them to do otherwise, but you do not have the right to coerce them. Third, there is the drawing of false equivalences. What is the crime of secularists? They did not protest when Tika Lal Taploo was killed by jihadists. This is false as a description. On even the vaguest understanding of secularism, any murder is wrong. But even if, for argument’s sake, we grant Vijay more rope to strangle Indian civilisation with and admit certain political inconsistencies in the positions of some groups, does that make them liable for murder? Evidently it does. “The secular brand of communalism is more lethal sometimes than the bullets of violent people,” Vijay intones. And then there is the final canard: Liberal Muslims never stand up for Hindus. The list of falsehoods could go on: Seculars don’t care for Dalits, as if most of society does. “Fanatic regions in our neighbourhood… have become barren lands, devoid of the flowering of any kind of creativity.” Perhaps Vijay should read more novels, watch more television and listen to more music from our fanatic neighbourhood. It might reassure him about their creativity. It will certainly calm his soul more than the asinine and creative pronouncements on history and science that his ilk from the RSS trots out. But a country that is now murdering or threatening rationalists, where power and violence is hollowing out all sense of value, is hardly in a position to lecture about “fanatic neighbourhoods”. One could go on. But the likes of Vijay have made the atmosphere so suffocating that you know this is a fool’s errand. The issue is no longer facts or morality. There is a strange alchemy that turns even good things into the opposite: Vegetarianism is an excuse for violence, tradition is an excuse to assault freedom, ideas are an excuse to curb debate, disagreement is an excuse for provocation, and facts are an excuse for mendacity. It is as if the nation is acting out the violent convulsions of a deranged being, with no calm light of reason, or compassion, or values to restrain it. The question of whether these are fringe elements is practically irrelevant. These elements are highly consequential. Such morally odious speech comes from the highest levels of government. The minister of culture, for example, whose praise for A P J Abdul Kalam was accompanied by a congenital suspicion — “despite being a Muslim” — and who described Akhlaq’s death as an “accident”, prefigures the moral blindness that Vijay represents. Saying that these views do not represent the majority is cold metaphysical comfort to those being killed and threatened. No one had expected this morally odious part of the BJP — and it is part of the BJP — to vanish easily. But there was the hope that opportunism would tame fanaticism, that the need to take India into the 21st century would have enough momentum to overcome many of these nasty folks. Vijay himself seems to acknowledge this. He seems to think Akhlaq’s killing can derail Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda, as if only an instrumental reason should make us worry about this death. But the truth is that a lot of nasty people within the BJP and the Sangh Parivar are feeling empowered to the point of shamelessness. No one in the party is willing to signal an intolerance of the intolerant. The blame for this has to fall entirely on Modi. Those who spread this poison enjoy his patronage. This government has set a tone that is threatening, mean-spirited and inimical to freedom. Modi should have no doubt that he bears responsibility for the poison that is being spread by the likes of Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and Vijay — whether through powerlessness or design is irrelevant. But we can be grateful to Vijay for reminding us that the threat to India’s soul emanates from the centre of power, almost nowhere else. It is for that centre, and Modi in particular, to persuade us otherwise. The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and contributing editor, ‘The Indian Express’ (This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘The party and its poison’)


Why the death in Dadri affects the national project under PM Narendra Modi

By Tarun Vijay

October 2, 2015

Relatives mourn the death of farmer Mohammad Akhlaq at his home in Bisara village on Wednesday. Villagers allegedly beat Akhlaq to death and severely injured his son upon hearing rumors that the family was eating beef. (Source: PTI Photo)

The daughter saw the bigger picture. She sounds like the mature one among all those who are grabbing this opportunity to dissolve this incident into the bigger issue and make it political. She has been asking us: Can her father be brought back if proved innocent? Being the father of a daughter, I can feel the pain in her eyes. Mohammad Akhlaq shouldn’t be dead.

Lynching a person merely on suspicion is absolutely wrong, the antithesis of all that India stands for and all that Hinduism preaches. Violence of this kind in a state like UP affects national goals. India is on the path to rediscovering itself through an all-inclusive development mission, whose success depends on how fairly we can make every Indian feel the confidence of being a co-traveller.

The buzz that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created the world over needs a convergence of minds — no matter which party or ideology you belong to. Akhilesh Yadav is as much a part of this project as any other state leader. Better governance in his state helps this project; bad governance derails the principal objectives of our nation. Daughters are precious for this journey.

But I wonder why there was no outcry from the secular media and leaders when Tika Lal Taploo was killed by jihadis and his daughter was left alone in this world. The secular brand of communalism is more lethal sometimes than the bullets of violent people.

The violent reactions of the Dadri kind must remain an aberration. They raise a question for so-called liberal Muslims: Have you done anything to show Hindus that you stand with them when they are assaulted by the Andrabis? Muslim silence on Hindu woes is often taken as support for intolerant Islamists.

In many parts of India, cow slaughter is a serious offence. But it should be handled via the lawful path that the Constitution has provided us.

Sadly, secular celebrations of “beef festivals”, as well as the provocative butchering of a cow in a bazaar for political mileage, have pushed a society that worships the cow as mother to question the real motive of the seculars.

The Modi phenomenon has taken the world by surprise. The world is looking at India with awe and appreciation like never before. Should we allow emotive religious matters that concern our personal beliefs to derail what we have achieved through painstaking struggle? The UP government should take serious note of this.

In no society and in no era has extremism ever succeeded in providing an atmosphere for growth that encompasses the arts, education, agriculture, science, technology and, of course, poetry. Look at the fanatic regions in our neighbourhood. They have become barren lands, devoid of the flowering of any kind of creativity.

It’s a tribute to the collective efforts of our leaders from various parties and ideologies that we have been able to nurture the best human values in spite of severe challenges and obstacles. Before pointing fingers at others, we must ask why beef exports involve some of the richest and so-called high-caste Hindus. Most gaushalas are in bad shape, with the honourable exception of those model centres for cow protection run by VHP and RSS workers.

Thousands of cows are pushed into the slaughterhouses of Bangladesh every day. Cows can’t fly. And pray, do we feel the same pain or enthusiasm for correction when one of our daughters, a Dalit, a promising and honest deputy superintendent of police from Tamil Nadu, R. Vishnupriya, dies in mysterious circumstances? Have

you ever witnessed Parliament being stalled by honourable members to force a discussion on atrocities against Dalits? Should the “two-glass system” or the “two-crematorium system”, prevalent in many parts of the country, make us revolt?

Former RSS sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras had said that if untouchability is not a sin, then nothing is a sin.The RSS has ceaselessly been working among Dalits to bring them to the mainstream of social and economic life through thousands of projects. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Gayatri Pariwar’s Pranav Pandya and the Swaminarayan sect have all spoken out against caste-based discrimination. Still, why don’t we feel enthused to practise what our acharyas have told us?

The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP and member, National Executive, BJP