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Sunday, 29 January 2012

After Madhya Pradesh now the Karnataka govt introducing Gita in School

From: Deccan Chronicle
Gita: From home to school?
First the government allowed the Swarnavalli Maha Samsthanam Sonda of North Canara district to give discourses on Bhagvad Gita in schools to “enlighten” students. When faced with violent protests by student organisations in Kolar, Haveri and other places, it quickly assured them that attending the discourses was optional. But it has now gone a step further and wants to make the Gita a part of the state syllabus. Accusations that the ruling BJP was trying to saffronise state education while ignoring many of the real problems besetting it have been flying thick and fast since Chief Minister D.V.Sadananda Gowda announced on Sunday that the government was ready to make Gita a part of the syllabus.

Many feel the move could boomerang. Dr. S R Keshava, an economist and professor at Bangalore University (BU) warns that if the government goes ahead with its plan to introduce the Gita as part of the syllabus it could affect the secular nature of society and lead to demands for study of other religious books too in schools. “I do not want to diminish the importance of the Gita. It is respected the world over. But I cannot support making it a part of the curriculum. Tomorrow the government could come under pressure to introduce texts of other religions too,” he says, wondering what the need is to go down this controversial path when the state's students are struggling to make a mark in national admission tests and Karnataka’s contribution in the fields of science, technology, research and development is nowhere near satisfactory. “Also government schools dont have enough students. The state should be trying to find a solution to these problems, instead of talking about introducing the Gita in the curriculum,” Dr Keshava argues.

Senior officials of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) too do not support the idea of making Gita a part of the syllabus as they fear it could lead to divisions among children from different backgrounds studying in state schools. “What we need is upgrading of the syllabus to prepare students for future challenges at a time when the education sector is undergoing rapid changes. But the state government has failed to tackle this. We still don't have answers how to prepare students for the Central curriculum, how to increase the enrollment in government schools or introduce the Right to Education (RTE) Act," points out an officer.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Love Jihad hate campaign: Kerala police lodges case against Hindutva website

By Abdul Basith MA
Thiruvananthapuram: With the facts behind the ‘Love Jihad’ finally being officially out, as the cyber cell of Kerala police have now registered cases against the hate campaign organised by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti through its website Cyber cell with the help of cyber forensic department have started probing into the details regarding the activities of the website and the ones behind it. At present an FIR has been registered without naming any suspects.
The cyber cell sought details from the service provider Yahoo, on the website and the ones who registered this site. Besides Hindu Janajagruti Samiti’s site, cases under section 153 were taken against other five websites as well on similar charges for pressing on with the hate campaigns even after the Police reports and court terming it baseless. The cyber cell said that details will be sent to the central agency as well because investigations need to be carried out beyond the Kerala, Karnataka region.

The website seems registered by a north Indian named Margaret Krishna and now investigations are mainly focussed on him. The police sources said that the site carried out those hate campaigns targeting the Muslim youths even after the court rejected all those allegations based on the Love Jihad. The website besides seemed like making obvious attempts to deny Sanathan Sanstha’s involvement in those series of blasts including Ajmer and Malegaon and its contents featured articles and editorials propagating Hindutva ideologies of Sanathan Sanstha.
The site highlights campaigns and programmes organised by extremist Sangh organisations like Sri Ram Sene, VHP, RSS, Hindu Maha Sabha and Shiv Sena. The website featured hate campaigns hurting sentiments of other religions. The website contained fake intelligence reports with the intension of accusing terror on a specific community and this website through its contents seems to have played a vicious role in the campaign against MF Hussain as well.
The site had earlier published fake posters and notices under the name of Popular Front of India [PFI]. The pretention was that, they are exposing the Love Jihad carried out by Muslim organisations in Kerala and Karnataka. Based on this PFI had earlier registered a complaint in the cyber cell. With the news spread regarding the case taken against the website, the contents and pictures regarding Love Jihad were soon removed from the website but were later restored.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The BJP in Karnataka is fanning communal fears to consolidate the Hindu vote

From Thehelka,
EVER SINCE the BJP government in Karnataka started crumbling from within, following the unseating of BS Yeddyurappa from the chief minister’s post, the state has witnessed subtle attempts at raising the communal temperature.

In the past, the attempts were crude — like desecrating religious centres. On New Year’s Eve, a Pakistani flag was hoisted at Sindagi town in Bijapur district, leading to communal tension in this Muslim-populated area. When the flag was discovered in the morning, several Hindu organisations called for a bandh. A prayer hall belonging to the minority community was stoned. Five days later, the police arrested six alleged Sri Ram Sene members on charges of hoisting the flag to create communal tension. While Sene chief Pramod Muthalik has denied that the arrested men belong to his outfit, JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy pointed a finger at the BJP-RSS.

Whichever Hindutva group they belonged to, there seems little doubt that communal politics is becoming more Machiavellian. The flag could have been aimed at hinting at the supposed secret loyalty of Muslims to India’s arch-rival. In Mangalore, RSS leader Prabhakar Kalladkar has been openly giving vitriolic statements against the Christian community.

If Yeddyurappa breaks away from the BJP and forms his own party or joins another, the party is unsure of retaining the Lingayat votebank. With B Sriramulu also forming his own party, the loss of the backward class vote is also looming large. Communal tension could consolidate the Hindu votebank. Even former Bajrang Dal state president Mahendra Kumar says, “The hoisting points to the desperation to divide voters on communal lines. Since the BJP is politically dead in the state, it has resorted to its old strategy.”

Certainly, the silence maintained by the state government about the incident was eerie. In an earlier incident, Home Minister R Ashok had called a press conference and blamed the radical Muslim outfit Karnataka Forum for Dignity. This time, he did not issue any statement. Nor did any senior BJP minister, including Industries and district in-charge minister Murugesh Nirani visit the place, giving room for more suspicion. As Congress MPH Vishwanath puts it, “What is the government doing? Stringent action should be taken against the accused. If the act was done by Muslims, the government would have made it an issue.”
In spite of a string of violent attacks on innocent people, the Sene continues to operate in Karnataka with impunity. On 17 December 2011, Muthalik and Sene activists went on a rampage at the Bangalore Central College and attacked Niranjan BR, director, directorate of correspondence courses and distance education, for the delay in conducting exams.
With cows dropping dead, and more likely to die due to neglect, TN is poised for a leather revolution

Muthalik shot to fame during the infamous pub incident in Mangalore on 24 January 2009, when 40 Sene men attacked women customers, claiming they were denigrating Indian values. During the probe, the police also found out that Sene had links with the perpetrators of the 2008 Malegaon blasts. Incidentally, at a Dharm Jagruti Sabha in 2009, Muthalik had claimed, “Malegaon was a jhalak. A lot more is possible if every woman picks up bombs like Sadhvi Pragya.”
Since then, the Sene’s name has cropped up in the Hubli blast (2008) and communal clashes in Mysore (2009). “We have arrested Muthalik for abetting the throwing of a pig carcass near a religious school that led to clashes in which three people were killed,” Mysore Police Commissioner Sunil Agarwal had then said.
Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Bajrang vigilantes cry cow-slaughter, beat, humiliate Muslim trader

From Indian Express
A Muslim cattle trader’s son was beaten and part of his head, one eyebrow and half his moustache shaved off by alleged Bajrang Dal workers in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh after he refused to give them money to allow him to ferry cattle which the attackers alleged were meant for slaughter.

Police rescued the 25-year-old victim, Anish Aslam Kureshi, but charged him with unlawfully transporting cattle for slaughter under a state law for preserving cattle, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. A sessions court in Chhindwara ordered his release on bail today.

His attackers, whom the police identified as Bajrang Dal workers, were also arrested, but were charged with minor offences. They were released almost immediately by the Bichhua police station.

On December 22, a tough new Madhya Pradesh anti-cow slaughter law providing for seven years in jail for eating beef, empowering police to carry out raids on mere suspicion, and putting the burden of proving innocence on the accused received presidential assent.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Muslim and Catholic groups question secular credentials and tactics of the Anna Hazare movement

Indian Express

Minority groups question secular credentials

Mumbai : A day after Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal met Muslim community leaders here seeking their support and trying to dispel the impression of the movement’s “RSS links”, Muslim and Catholic groups questioned their secular credentials and tactics.

While the Catholic Secular Forum slammed Anna Hazare’s decision to protest outside the residences of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra said that while they were also against corruption, the activist’s ways were “like Hitler”.

Gulzar Azmi, general secretary of the Jamiat, said Hazare was undermining the authority of Parliament. “We do not support the movement and feel that the Bill should be debated in Parliament and then passed... No one should dictate terms,” said Azmi.

He also questioned the threat to protest outside houses of leaders who do not agree with them.

“These are tactics Adolf Hitler used... Team Anna is forgetting that they got Parliament to debate a Bill which was in the pipeline for more than four decades. It is now time to step back and let Parliament function,” said the Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra leader.

A few members of the community who met Kejriwal too said they had not committed to support the movement. “All we did was speak to him about certain issues,” said Farid Shaikh, president of the Bombay Aman Committee.

Catholic Secular Forum general secretary Joseph Dias said Hazare must clarify allegations that he backed Hindutva and questioned his decision to protest outside Sonia and Rahul’s houses.

“The Congress alone cannot be blamed for corruption. Why doesn’t Anna speak out against Narendra Modi, B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP...? He has not demonstrated against attacks on minorities,” said Dias.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Activists of Hindu right wing arrested for hoisting Pakistan flag

From Newzfirst

SINDHAGI (KARNATAKA) - Sindhagi Police of Bijapur district in Karnataka have arrested six people alleged to be associates of right wing Hindu outfit in connection with hoisting Pakistan flag on the flag post at the mini Vidhana Soudha premises - which houses the offices of the tahsildar and government departments.
Police have arrested, Rohit Ishwar Navi (18), Sunil Madivalappa Agasar (18), Arun Vagmore(20), Rakesh Siddaramaiah Mata(19), Mallan Gowda Vijay Kumar Patil (19) and Parashuram Ashok Vagmore (20), all are alleged to be members of student wing of Sri Rama Sene.
The flag was allegedly hoisted on Saturday midnight during New Year celebration in the Sindhagi, a small town 60 km away from Bijapur district headquarters. Subsequently, the town was turned tense resulting series of protests by Hindu right wing outfits across the state, alleging it as an act of men belonging to the minority community.
Moreover, surprisingly, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal and other saffron groups had observed town-bandh protesting the hoisting of Pakistan flag. In an effort to exploit the incident, several local political leaders of BJP too had entered the scene by holding processions and cleaning exercise of flag hoisted area.
Now these arrests have exposed the ugly face of right wing Hindu groups, who have been in forefront of protests, say the people.
The same kind of incident had taken place in Bijapur town three years back, but police have failed to book the culprits so far.

MP law: 7 yrs in jail for eating beef, cops can raid on mere suspicion

From Indian Express
Cow slaughter is now a serious offence and could invite a jail term of up to seven years in Madhya Pradesh.

Cow slaughter is now a serious offence and could invite a jail term of up to seven years in Madhya Pradesh. Consuming, keeping or transporting beef of any cow progeny will invite the same punishment. A police official not below the rank of a head constable — or any person authorised by a competent authority — has the power to enter, inspect and search any premises “where he has reason to believe that an offence (under this Act) has been, is being or is likely to be committed and take necessary action’’.

These stringent provisions will be notified after the Madhya Pradesh Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Bill, 2010 received the President’s assent on December 22.

Citing public interest and communal harmony, the BJP government argued that existing legislation provided for only a three-year jail term for cow slaughter and had several flaws. The state government amended it in July 2010 and sent it to the President. The new provisions will enable authorities to punish transporters, their employees and drivers with jail terms from six months to three years.

The Centre felt that raiding premises merely on the assumption that an offence is “likely” could be misused and recommended that such power be limited to cases when an offence had taken place or was taking place. The amended legislation has disregarded the recommendation.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

'BJP trying to convert Madhya Pradesh into Hindu state'

From TwoCircles
Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled Government in Madhya Pradesh is trying to convert the state into a Hindu State. Many steps taken by the State Government amount to subversion of Indian Constitution.
The above was the gist of a number of speakers who concurred over the issue. They were expressing their views during a workshop on "Communal political agenda" held on the occasion of release of two books authored by eminent thinker Subhash Gatade here. The two books were titled as the " Safforn Condition" and " Godse's Children". The workshop was jointly organised by National Secular Forum and People's Research Society.

                 Eminent thinker Subhash Gatade's two books being released in Bhopal
The speakers expressed serious concern over State Government's decision to allow Government employees' participation in the RSS activities. They suspected that through the teachings of Geeta State Government was trying to convert Government Schools into Saraswati Shishu Mandirs'.
Subhash Gatade speaking at the release of his books said: "Communalism poses a very grave threat to the integrity and stability to our country". He stressed the need of united struggle against communal forces which are bent upon to destroy the secular fabric of Indian polity.
Talking about the content of the two books L. S. Herdenia, National Convener of National Secular Forum, said the two books throw light on the current socio political and cultural conditions in the country.
Before the release of the two books Deepak Bhatt of the PRS introduced Subhash Gatade. Bhatt said that Subhash Gatade besides being author and thinker is also an activist dedicated to the cause of Secularism.
The speakers who expressed their views in the workshop included former IAS officer Man Dahima; Ibrahim Quershi, former Cabinet Minister and former Chairman of Madhya Pradesh Minorities Commission; social activist Dr. S. M. Hassan, Trade Union leader M. M. Sharma; eminent lawyer Sajid Siddiqui, Dr.
Rahul Sharma, Yogesh Diwan, women activists Zulekha Bi and Upasna Behar. Dr. Uday Jain, former Vice Chancellor of Rewa University, was in the chair

Monday, 2 January 2012

Witnesses in India no longer take oath by holy book

From The Telegraph
A myth about Gita in court
Witnesses in India no longer take oath by holy book
New Delhi, Jan. 1: The Bhagvad Gita may have been at the centre of a court case in Russia but the holy book has long ceased to be part of judicial proceedings in the land of its conception.
In India, courts have done away with the practice of having witnesses take oath by the Gita or any other sacred text before giving evidence, contrary to what is depicted in movies.
“That’s all Bollywood,” says lawyer Santosh Paul who began his practice in Bombay High Court before shifting to Delhi High Court. “I haven’t seen this happening in my lifetime.”
A Siberian court had last week rejected a petition to ban a commentary on the Gita in the Russian Federation. In India, there was a time when witnesses did have to swear by the sacred book of his or her religion. It was supposed to make them speak nothing but the whole truth.
The practice had later formalised into a system in the Mughal era, with Hindus swearing by the holy water of the Ganga or the Bhagvad Gita, and Muslims by the Quran.
The tradition continued well into the British era as India’s colonial rulers were cautious about disrupting established traditions. “It’s an old, imperial thing. It was assumed that a person who swore by the Gita or the Quran would speak the truth,” senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said.
But that ended in 1840, when the imperial rulers tried to introduce a more uniform system of taking oath in the name of God.
A law was enacted to abolish these forms of oath in trial courts and enabled Hindus and Muslims to give evidence on “solemn affirmation”. This act was extended in 1863 to the high courts. The Indian Oaths Act, 1873, consolidated this position.
Some imperial-era courts, such as Bombay High Court, however, had rules that permitted non-Hindus and non-Muslims to take oath by their own religious books till 1957.
A Christian had to swear by the New Testament, a Jew by the Hebrew Testament and a Parsi by the open Zend-Avesta with his shoes on. A Hindu or a Muslim could just solemnly affirm their statements in the presence of Almighty God.
This practice of non-Hindus and non-Muslims swearing by the religious books of their religion, however, ended in 1969. After the Law Commission, in its 28th report, suggested a revamp in the Indian Oaths Act, 1873, a law was passed introducing a uniform system of taking oath all over the country.
Under the 1969 law, which is still in force, witnesses can swear by a universal god without referring in any way to any particular religious denomination.
“I do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” was the format prescribed.
No child under 12 needed to take such an oath. The only possible remnant of the Gita now in Indian courts is a Sanskrit inscription atop the Supreme Court building inaugurated in 1952.
It says “Yato Dharmahstato Jayah”, which loosely translated means victory lies with those on the side of dharma, the lines attributed to Gandhari in the Mahabharata.
In the epic, Duryodhana and her other sons were so desperate to win the war against the Pandavas that they sought Gandhari’s blessings on every single day of the 18-day war.
But Gandhari was careful to hedge her blessings with: “Let victory lie with dharma.” The Pandavas won the war.
“Now, inside courts, the Constitution is the only holy book,” a senior lawyer said.

Saffronisation of Education underway in Karnataka?

From IBN Live

Dwarakanath sees saffron conspiracy

BANGALORE: Strong comments were made against the State government’s decision to close down schools which do not have enough students on Monday at a meeting organised by the Save Government Schools Forum.
The speakers at the meeting called the move ‘a Saffron conspiracy to enslave Dalits.’ “When the Aryans came here, they had two ways to dominate over the others. One was to severely handicap the Dalits. The other way was to snatch away knowledge from them. The government is taking the second way by closing the schools, so that Dalits and other backward class children are deprived of education,” said former chairman of Karnataka State Commission of Backward Classes Dr C S Dwarakanath.
Dwarakanath delved into the circumstances surrounding the decision taken to close down the schools. “We have to look at several things before talking about the closure. The Sangh ideology is very evident. The new syllabus for class 5 is highly saffronized. The RSS concept of Akhand Bharat is back and Dronacharya becomes a hero in the Ekalavya story - a subliminal attack on the oppressed classes,” he said.
“The entire education system is in the hands of the Sangh today. So much that the Higher Education Minister V S Acharya, who is a doctor, spoke in favour of Made Snana. Besides, everything is planned in a phased manner. We must realise that there is no science and English subjects in rural areas. This is their way of oppressing the Dalits,” said Dwarakanath.
The Actual Reason?
Dwarakanath opined that the move to close the schools was a means to empower the Ashram Schools that are currently admitting the children of the nomadic tribes. “Everybody knows the relationship between spiritual mutts and the BJP. Most of the Ashram Schools are run by the Mutts, and we can only imagine what they learn there. The closure is an aim to merge the schools with the mutts, so that the government can inject more funds, and infuse saffron ideology into the children,” he said.�
‘Planned Conspiracy’
Providing a historical perspective to the deprivation of education to Dalits, senior advocate in Karnataka High Court and human rights activist S Balan said, “Look at it historically. Calls for free and compulsory education have been made by Jyotiba Phule, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and also by Dr B R Ambedkar. All their calls have fallen on deaf ears. From 1991 till now, we have seen mass commercialization of education, which is reaching only the privileged,” he observed.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Karnataka: Attack on a Church in Mangalore

From: The Times of India

Mangalore prayer hall attacked

MANGALORE: A group of about 10-15 miscreants barged into the compound of Hebron Assembly, Pentecostal Church of God at Haleyangady, about 40km from here, on Wednesday night, hurled stones and damaged its window panes. They also broke open the kitchen door of the pastor's house, adjacent to the hall, and damaged utensils.

Police commissioner Seemanth Kumar Singh who visited the spot told TOI that a few persons were taken into custody on Thursday for questioning . He said no arrests have been made till now.

"None of the persons inside the house were assaulted as they had secured themselves in a room,'' said pastor ID Prasanna. The pastor came ten minutes after the incident. But his mother Deena Kamala , wife Sarah, their daughter Prerna and son Abhishek, his brother Harry Wilson and brother- in-law Anand Kumar were at the house at the time of the attack.

"As soon as the miscreants entered the prayer hall compound and pelted stones, the family members ran into the house and bolted the door. The miscreants tried to break open the front door but could not succeed,'' Prasanna said. "No prayer meeting was being held in the hall at the time of the attack,'' he said.

In 1996, the prayer hall had installed three CCTV cameras at the entrance, verandah and inside the hall _ after receiving threats. Police have taken the CCTV footage.

Crib torched

MANGALORE: A huge Christmas crib at Thumbe Darkhas near here was set on fire by miscreants on Wednesday. The crib was a collective effort by about 30 families in that area, and was put up before the house of Regina Lobo on land belonging to Valerian Fernandes at Darkhas on Thumbe-Benjanapadav Road. SP Labhu Ram said a complaint was registered and investigations are on.

Not everyone with a cause is Gandhi

From Thehelka
Anna Hazare shone as the rising star in a corrupt country, but his sheen has dulled, and his crusade has made him The Biggest Loser Of 2011

I WAS AT my dapper debonair best, though behind that deceptive façade, I was nervous. A multinational bank honcho poured a penetrative look into my curriculum vitae. I expected a hard-hitting interview, for which I had adequately rehearsed with standard prescriptions to intractable global financial woes. “If you have a choice for dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?” asked a grumpy baritone. This one I was least prepared for. And yet the answer came instantaneously, Mahatma Gandhi. An extraordinary man whose moral authority could temper religious conflagrations, restore sanity amidst madness even as he inspired a non-violent civil disobedience movement against the British Empire. Gandhi was my poster-boy.
I would later claim to witness the celluloid version of the Father of the Nation at my alma-mater, Fergusson College, Pune, shooting for Sir Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning film Gandhi. There would never be another Gandhi, I had always thought. But then at Jantar Mantar in April this year somebody said another was born. Incredulous! I stretched to see this alchemist. It was a man from Ralegan Siddhi, who goes by the name Anna Hazare, and was spearheading an agitation for an anti-corruption legislation. I could not smell jasmine, but Hazare’s bold call was music to my ears. That was alas, it seems now, almost too many moons ago.
Corruption is a universal factor. Easy to make it an issue; keep hammering it, make it into an anti-establishment outburst because it is easy to generate popular goodwill. Team Anna thus launched a well-orchestrated assault, perfectly timed, and scripted with an appropriate sound byte impact and unrelenting intensity. But tragically, what started as a social crusader’s battle for cleansing corruption soon assumed a diabolical political form. I wondered how our modern Gandhi fell into this game? Or was it a premeditated ploy?
It was the Ramlila that took the cake and the chocolate factory. Ramlila’s ridiculous demands have probably remained the least discussed aspect, when in fact it was an outstanding PR trick on an unsuspecting nation. The demand to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill (Team Anna’s version) within 10 days sans any deliberations, debate was outlandish and ludicrous. Lokpal Bill is a complex legislation of great importance with serious ramifications on our democratic structures and institutions. Yet, it formed the fulcrum for Team Anna’s future experiments. No sensible government could grant the Bill with a bullet-on-your-temple blackmail, worse an outrageous expectation. Every statement uttered at Ramlila was seismic cloaked in self-righteousness. But by December the veneer had cracked; at MMRDA recently. Even as parliament debated the Lokpal Bill, the crowd had become size zero.

UNDER NORMAL circumstances a forthright of constructive debate based on a common agenda for the nation would result in reconciliation, not progressive deterioration. The Lokpal debate got subsumed by complex spins and yarns resulting in public disillusionment, food for thought for those who believe in instant stardom based on an exaggerated notion of self-importance. The bjp, masters of gridlock, would use every tactic in the book to gerrymander and charm the rising middle class using Team Anna as their unofficial brand ambassador. Political opportunism was amplified in practically every move be it in the Hisar bypoll or repeated references to occupants of 10, Janpath. The Anti-corruption protest had turned into an anti-Congress campaign. By now, I was not the only one wearing a confounded expression. Hazare became strident, impertinent and often, nasty.
Eventually, Team Anna got tangled in their own verbal inconsistencies. The travel expense vouchers scam, discounted farmland acquisition from the UP government, delayed financial settlement with government employers, and controversial remarks on Kashmir. Confusion reigned. Sounds can bite, you see. Issues usually get camouflaged amidst obstreperous outbursts; FDI in retail being a classic case of a self-goal. Hazare snubbed Wal-Mart too. India is in love with noise and worse everyone is in love with their own voice. India is not listening to each other. And that is where the problems really begin. The downfall of the Anna movement was inevitable. When Hazare made a second appearance at Ramlila, Mahatma Gandhi had made a noticeable disappearing act replaced by political billboards. What one saw was a hip-hop, pop-culture mixed with political nonsense. The movement had become just a moment.
Corruption is an emotive issue, it has greatly demoralised Indians, but Team Anna’s efforts to turn it into a narrow-minded political movement using the middle-class as its forerunner (ironically the biggest beneficiaries of liberalisation) defied common sense. They remained stuck on a core ‘constituency’. Comparisons with Tahrir Square were made, but Team Anna forgot that India is aspiring towards political sophistication; it has overcome its teething troubles. Coalition politics, for all its negative connotations, is Indian democracy at its best.
Despite the resolute gloominess that passes through for considerable periods, India ends the year with hope of a turnaround, the much needed positive bustling optimism. We maybe a noisy democracy, but tranquility would finally emerge from within. 2012 is the year, the Mayan’s declared as the end of the world. But for India I suspect it is the beginning of a more aware, vibrant and involved nation. Falter and fail we still might, but our imperfections should never weaken our resolve. And as the experience of the Arab Spring showed, after the initial brawl and energetic clapping, shouting and dancing, what often follows is stunned disbelief at the emptiness. Team Anna rode a gigantic wave, followed by a humiliating crash.
By the end of the year, it was not just public disenchantment that robbed the transitory Gandhi of his façade, but sensing his own human vulnerabilities or pure inability to live up to demanding high standards. Hazare had drifted away from that cherished anti-corruption goal. In a sense, that defined the year’s most calamitous downfall. To earn the tag of Gandhi, by itself is an achievement deemed improbable, and to lose that within a course of a mere eight months, for Hazare that was an extraordinary failure. Several would anoint him with accolades for bringing corruption to the centrestage. Ironically, Anna Hazare is 2011’s biggest loser.
As we enter a new year, maybe that’s the biggest lesson for us all; fifteen minutes of fame maybe good for an individual, but not necessarily for a country. And yes, in a year of Bollywood sequels and remakes, Gandhi remained unique.
Sanjay Jha Executive Director Dale Carnegie Based in Mumbai.

The duplicity of a saffron brigade

From Thehelka
Ram Puniyani argues that the BJP’s gameplan to be the perfect opposition party has dampened its political stand and portrayed the party as a confused political entity

THIS YEAR was very eventful as far as the political arena is concerned. Anna Hazare’s movement, the government trying to bring in FDI in retail, a Bill for rationalisation of fuel price and the deletion of Ramanujam’s essay in the University text were few of these. In many of the Bills related to FDI and the rest, which were brought up for discussion in parliament, BJP chose to oppose bills that UPA wanted to pass. It is intriguing, why a party (BJP), which stood for the FDI during its days in power, opposed it now? Logically such policies should have gladdened the hearts of BJP as it was an unfulfilled dream of the nda. The shrewdest move on BJP’s part was its fullhearted support to the Anna Hazare movement and tread cautiously in the parliament. It is taking full advantage of Anna’s anti-Congress stance while engaging with the Bill in the parliament. This forkedtongue attitude of BJP is part of its character. BJP works toward building its electorate, either with the RSS or on its behalf. It has to come to power by all means, fair or foul, to pave the way for an RSS agenda of Hindu nation. Its core agenda is totally opposed to the concept of democratic norms prevalent in the country today. Inherently, the BJP had been totally opposed to the state intervention in the economic matters, despite the fact that the public sector was the basic essentiality for India, as private capital was not substantial in quantum at that time to lay the foundation of economic growth. The BJP and its predecessor the Bhartiya Jan Sangh had been sounding clear opposition of state’ role in these matters. Now since UPA is also following many policies, which BJP wanted to implement, irks BJP around and changes its stance. It does smack of opportunism and it seems that what dictates its public stand most of the times are the electoral contingencies of the time. If it supports the government on these issues it would be sound to toe the government line and would lose the electoral advantage in the coming elections. Apart from the turnaround in the economic policies, its shrewd managers have taken a very ambivalent stand on Anna’s draft after a façade of totally upholding Anna as the person, his movement and his idea of the Bill as the desirable one. As such BJP has a long tradition in these matters of opportunism. It exploded the bomb in 1998, and tilted the foreign policy supporting the US. But when in opposition it again turned around and took contrary positions.
IF WE go back, we see the same ‘clever’ stance in the matters of the Mandal commission implementation. It did not have the courage to speak against the Mandal commission, to which it was deeply opposed, as that would have alienated it from a large section of voters. So to skirt around the issue, it went in for the Rath Yatra, bypassed the Mandal issue and tried to give confusing signals to the electorate. As a culmination of the Rath Yatra, Ram Janmabhoomi movement, it went on to undertake the criminal act of the Babri Masjid demolition. The BJP asserted that Babri Masjid is a blot on the Hindu India. Let’s note that while taking the oath, it swears by the Indian constitution, a secular India, while operating on a political chess board; it keeps Hindu India as the reference point. This demolition brought it to the seat of power in the centre. After grabbing power, being in the government it did not build the temple for which it had demolished the masjid and had unleashed the violence that followed. When in opposition it promises to build the temple, when in power it finds excuses and wriggles out of the commitment on which it came to power. So what is the real BJP? Is it for the principles of a particular type or is it a party of Hindu Rashtra, using the democratic space merely to enhance its electoral power? The dilemma of BJP is that it is a political party operating in the electoral arena, in the democratic space, but at the same time to work for abolition of democratic space when in power. So far, it could not come to power without its non-Hindutva allies. So it has used the opportunity of being in power to communalise the education and state apparatus, to give more opportunities for the RSS progeny (VHP, Bajrang Dal, ABVP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram to infiltrate into the state apparatus). The duplicity of BJP has a deeper agenda. It is not just a party of the right wing. It is a party of ‘religious right wing’. The right wing parties aim at the status quo in the society. The religious right wing parties not only aim to maintain status quo but go further and try to reverse the process of social change which has taken place due to the liberal space. The right wing parties may be principled, however wrong those principles may be, while the religious right wing groups are totally bereft of any qualms about principles as they are out to use the democratic space for the bringing in of the fundamentalist regime over a period of time.
Ram Puniyani is a communal harmony activist based in Mumbai.