Friday, January 19, 2018

January 20, 1948. Mahatma Gandhi's speech at his prayer meeting, where an attempt was made on his life

NEW DELHI, January 20, 1948
Source: CWMG, Vol 90, pp 464-467

Gandhiji was carried in a chair to the prayer meeting. As the microphone was not working and Gandhiji's voice was feeble the substance of his speech was repeated aloud by Sushila Nayyar.

The first thing I would say to you is that I hope that those who have signed the document have signed it with God as witness. There are still voices being raised in Calcutta expressing the fear that what has happened here may all be a show. If the people of Delhi and the refugees who have come here stand firm, then whatever may happen outside I am certain they will be able to save India as well as Pakistan. Delhi after all is an ancient city and what is achieved in Delhi is bound to have an impact on the whole of India and Pakistan.

If you read carefully what the Sardar has said in Bombay you will realize there is no rift between Pandit Nehru and the Sardar. They may talk in different ways but they do the same thing. They cannot be enemies of the Muslims. I have no doubt that one who is an enemy of the Muslims is also an enemy of India. Let us realize the truth of this. Elsewhere in the world they have already realized this except perhaps in America where Negroes are still lynched. There are a good many white men there who do not consider this repugnant. They have no shame in their hearts. But elsewhere people do not approve of it. They consider it barbaric. Our own newspapers have described the acts of American whites as barbaric. Though Americans are so much given to reform, they still indulge in such behaviour. We assume we are better people and cannot do such things. And yet, think of what happens here. I would therefore ask your categorical assurance that irrespective of any injustice perpetrated here or elsewhere, you are not going to seek revenge privately, but will leave it to the Government to deal with. If this at least is agreed to, people can move about freely.

I told you it was possible I might go to Pakistan. But I shall go to Pakistan only when the Government invites me as a friend of the Muslims as well as Hindus and the Sikhs. Of course the doctors insist that I must first recoup from the effects of the fast which may take another 15 days and that during the next 15 days I cannot go anywhere or eat anything solid. I can only take liquid diet which may be milk or fruit juice. Milk can of course sustain a man all his life.

I may tell you that Panditji is a man who will do everything for the refugees. If there is only one dry bed available he will offer it to a refugee to sleep on and himself go without sleep. He says there is no room left in his house and still people keep coming. He is our Prime Minister. He has visitors, some of them Englishmen. Is he to turn them out? And still he says that he will spare for the refugees one or two rooms or whatever he can. If other ministers as well as the army officers follow his example no one will be left unhappy. I congratulate Jawahar and I congratulate you on possessing such a jewel. I am told that wealthy people such as Birla will also do something in this direction. After all when the Prime Minister can do such a thing, why cannot the others? Thus vigorous efforts are being made to alleviate the distress of the refugees. Let us learn from this that we shall not treat Muslims as enemies.

I have a letter. In fact it arrived on January 16 when my fast was in progress. I am told some wicked people forged a great quantity of currency notes and started selling them to the poor. I humbly request the forgers not to indulge in such activities.

At this stage there was a loud explosion. Gandhiji remained unruffled and said to Manu Gandhi, who was visibly shaken: "Why did you get so scared? Some military personnel must have been taking training in shooting. What will you do if someone really comes to kill us?" He tried to pacify the people and resumed his speech when order was restored. It was later discovered that a guncotton slab had exploded about 75 feet away from where Gandhiji was sitting and that it was part of a conspiracy to assassinate him. The conspirators had planned to divert the attention of the people by the explosion. Their original plan to throw a hand-grenade from a servant's room behind the dais having failed, they mixed with the crowd. After the explosion Digambar Badge was to dash to the dais and throw a hand-grenade at Gandhiji, but his courage failed at the last moment. Six of the conspirators, viz., Nathuram Godse, Narayana Apte, Vishnu Karkare, Gopal Godse, Digambar Badge and Shankar Kistayya, escaped in a waiting taxi but Madanlal Pahwa was apprehended. 

More details on the assassination - which succeeded on January 30, 1948

NB: In his February 27, 1948 letter to Nehru on Gandhi's assassination, (vol 6 of Selected Correspondence of Sardar Patel; edited by Durga Das) Patel held that "it was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that hatched the conspiracy and saw it through" (p 56).

In the same letter, reflecting on the problem of identifying RSS members, he wrote "in the case of secret organisation like the RSS which has no records of membership, no registers etc., securing of authentic information whether a person is an active member or not is a very difficult task.." (p. 57)

Can they not find some honest livelihood? I must at the same time warn the poor not to be taken in. They must not for ever remain simple and gullible.

I have a wire from Lahore, from the President of the Kashmir Freedom League. He says: Highly appreciate your magnanimous gesture for Hindu-Muslim unity. Kashmir is the root cause of the present tension and a stumbling-block in the way of any rapprochement. Must receive top priority if peace actually desired. Withdrawal of aggressive Indian troops from Kashmir and handing it over to whom it rightfully belongs to is the only satisfactory solution of the problem.

The wire distresses me. If there is no settlement over Kashmir, does it mean that things must continue in their present state? Must Muslims be enemies of Hindus and Sikhs and must Hindus and Sikhs be enemies of Muslims simply on account of Kashmir? Besides, I do not agree that the armed force our Government has dispatched to Kashmir has committed aggression there. The armed force was sent in response to the appeals of Sheikh Abdullah, the Premier of Kashmir, and the Maharaja. It is true that Kashmir should go to whom it belongs. In that case all those who have gone there from outside, be they Afridis or any other, should get out of Kashmir. I cannot object to people in Poonch revolting but I object to their rebelling in order to grab the whole of Kashmir. I can understand it if every outsider leaves Kashmir and no one interferes from outside or sends help or complains. But I cannot understand it if they say that they themselves will remain in Kashmir but that others should get out.

And to whom does Kashmir belong? Right now I shall say it belongs to the Maharaja because the Maharaja still exists. In the eyes of the Government the Maharaja is still the legitimate ruler. Of course if the Maharaja is a wicked man, if he does nothing for the people, I think it is for the Government to displace him. But so far no such eventuality has arisen. If the Muslims of Kashmir say that they do not want the Maharaja, that they want to accede either to India or to Pakistan, no one can complain. I have just emerged from a fast. I am enemy of none. So how can I be an enemy of Muslims? Let them come and convince me of my error.

A Muslim gentleman of Gwalior has sent me a telegram from Ratlam. In it he says: We Muslim inhabitants Jahangirpur, District Ujjain, Gwalior inform your honour that on 15th and 16th instant our village was surrounded by a Hindu party who beat us severely. Several injured,  one died. Our crops and houses destroyed. Officer of State not taking any action. We are in danger. Kindly arrange urgently. It was sent on the 15th or the 16th of January when my fast was going on. If this is true I must tell the Gwalior Hindus that they are going to undo the achievement of Delhi. The correspondent says that those running the administration were of no help to them. But how can this be? If this happens in any part of India, then it is a matter of shame for the Government and for all of us. I hope matters in Gwalior will be put right.

I see from the papers that all the Rajas of Kathiawar - there are more than two hundred of them- have met together and decided to merge all their States to form one large State which will have an assembly of its own. 1 If this is true, it is a great thing. I must congratulate all the Rajas of Kathiawar on this step. In Bhavnagar the Maharaja has handed over all power to the people and has himself become a servant of the people. I congratulate him on this great step.

[From Hindi] Courtesy: All India Radio. Also Prarthana Pravachan-II, pp. 323-7

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Masha Gessen Is Worried About Outrage Fatigue

Interview by 

Your book “The Future Is History” traces the lives of intellectuals following the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Vladimir Putin. What do you make of the political climate in the United States, which feels particularly hostile to intellectuals and experts right now? The basic idea of the book — that a people robbed of the tools of self-understanding find themselves at a dead end — actually has relevance to this country. Not that I think Americans are at a dead end, but we should be cognizant of that danger.

So I can imagine you weren’t enamored of the term “alternative facts.” I get really nervous when impossible phrases are created. In academic circles, the idea of fixed facts has been problematized for a long time, so that in itself doesn’t disturb me. The postmodern project was to get a better understanding of facts by questioning whether we can have them. Now we’re confronted with a nihilistic project of just saying there’s no such thing as facts.

Based on what you know about the Russian government, do you believe there’s going to be evidence of collusion between this president and the Russian government? I have doubts that the investigation will be able to produce definitive evidence of sustained coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. It’s a lot of wheeling and dealing, a lot of freelancers and subcontractors — it’s really mostly people trying to make money. There’s no strategy. Will they be able to show that the government funding was for hacking the Democratic National Committee? I don’t think so. I don’t think that Donald Trump is capable of holding a thought for more than three seconds, so how can we possibly imagine that he actually had some sort of sustained relationship that had an articulated strategy behind it?

So much has been made of Trump’s affinity and respect for Putin. What do you think Putin thinks of Trump? I think that he feels disappointed. Putin really assumed that once Trump — who had such clear admiration for him — was elected, it would be convenient for Trump to change the relationship with Russia profoundly and instantly. On a larger scale, I think that it’s very difficult for Putin to deal with an unpredictable interlocutor, because he has always been the madman on the international stage. Weirdly, I think it would have been easier for Putin to deal with Hillary Clinton, who would have been tough but very consistent.

In your essay “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” your third rule was that institutions will not save you. What do you make of United States institutions in the last year? A lot of what we think of as democratic institutions are informal ones, like the White House press briefing. There is no law that guarantees press access to the White House. Communication was lessening during the Obama years. There was every reason to suspect that Trump was going to create an adversarial relationship and that people were going to be faced with the impossible dilemma between sort-of-complicity and access.

At the same time, there’s a strong pushback to that: It feels like a big news story drops every weekend. The question is how sustained and effective this pushback can be over the course of four or eight years. Institutions function in relationship to one another, so when you have an institution that is being destroyed, the system begins to tear. A great example of that is the travel ban — the reason the judiciary was able to act so quickly was that civil society, which is also an institution, had sprung into action. The whole democracy depends on its existence. We’re seeing civil society fatigue with the different iterations of the travel ban, which is basically the exact same travel ban all over again, and that’s what I’m really worried about. Gradually, the fatigue is starting to stick.

Articles on ideology in East Europe

Two lectures on time and ideology: January 23 and 24

NB: For those interested, I am presenting two lectures next week, one on Tuesday, January 23 at IIT, Delhi; and at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC), on Wednesday, January 24. The details are given below. DS

International Conference, The Present of the Day 
January 22-23, 2018; 09:30 AM to 05:30 PM
Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Delhi
in collaboration with ICSSR and Institut Français, Delhi
Event Venue: Senate Hall, First Floor, Main Building
Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Delhi
For more information visit:
Those who wish to attend may register here:

My presentation is on January 23. My presentation is at 10 am

The title and abstract are as follows:

In Time to Come: ideological existence as escape from the present

Abstract: The public consumption of ideology manifests three things: the secularisation of theodicy in the form of the nationalisation of God/ deification of the Party; the replacement of the supra-sensible realm by the Future; and the semantic cum moral erosion of language via radical alterity. The essence of ideologically-sustained life is a relentless attempt at mastering the past on behalf of a hoped-for glorious future. The ramifications are nothing short of the annihilation of truth, life and time. The submersion of existence into dream-like transience stabilises the universal sovereignty of capital. Ideological alchemy transmutes humans and natural life into resource material for the future, enabling capital to inhabit the present.


Moving Image: Open Form, a six month course in filmmaking (MIC)
Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC)
Sri Aurobindo Society, Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg, Adchini, New Delhi
24 January 2018 Wednesday 11.30am
Creative Documentary Course (CDC) classroom, ground floor

After Discourse

Abstract: The appearance of the term 'post-truth' is another step toward the ongoing dissolution of meaning. The long-standing rebellion against truth has now become a means whereby the problems confronting humanity are dismissed by resort to relativism, linguistic dodges and the conflation of knowledge with opinion. The domination of the public sphere by ideology has rendered all this acceptable to sizeable sections of the intelligentsia and public. The academic fascination with 'multiple narratives' versus 'grand narratives' has contributed to a situation wherein there are no standards of meaningful speech whatsoever. Is speech about ecological catastrophe and nuclear contamination not a 'meta-narrative'? The very ubiquity of 'narrative' (words like 'account' or 'version' have gone out of use) is a result of the popularity of 'deconstruction' in disciplines related to literature and media. 

Having politically abolished objectivity and truth in favour of 'multiple narratives', the protagonists of deconstruction are now faced with Presidents who deny climate change and Prime Ministers who speak of rhinoceri being culled to make room for Bangladeshi infiltrators. But if everything is interpretation and perspective, how may we contest anything anyone says? 

Scepticism is a necessary corrective to dogmatism, but if there are no normative foundations upon which to make moral judgements, if all we have is permanent scepticism, why and how should we act at all? Why is it desirable to resist domination rather than to accept it ? Radical alterity and exclusive identity have undermined first principles such as truth and goodness - principles that lie at the heart of human speech. If cultural, communal ethnic identity is permitted to supervene human identity, the very possibility of communication - the basis of social life - is destroyed. 

Ours is an age of ideology. Ideology is a means of escaping the present; it enables the submersion of everyday existence into dream-like transience. Ideologically-sustained life is a relentless deferral of presence on behalf of a hoped-for glorious future. If the criterion of truth is not agreement with reality, but agreement with the spirit of a nation, class or caste, we are left with neither knowledge nor wisdom, but an activist recipe for endless conflict and linguistic chaos. Ideology denies the inherent value of thought; it weaponises the mind. The preoccupation with the future and the endless dissolution into multiplicity are both expressions of contemporary nihilism. The ramifications are nothing short of the annihilation of truth and life.  

Juliette Jowit - Europe's microwave ovens emit nearly as much CO2 as 7m cars

Popping frozen peas into the microwave for a couple of minutes may seem utterly harmless, but Europe’s stock of these quick-cook ovens emit as much carbon as nearly 7m cars, a new study has found. And the problem is growing: with costs falling and kitchen appliances becoming “status” items, owners are throwing away microwaves after an average of eight years, pushing rising sales.

A study by the University of Manchester worked out the emissions of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change – at every stage of microwaves, from manufacture to waste disposal. “It is electricity consumption by microwaves that has the biggest impact on the environment,” say the authors, who also calculate that the emissions from using 19 microwaves over a year are the same as those from a car.

“Efforts to reduce consumption should focus on improving consumer awareness and behaviour to use appliances more efficiently. For example, electricity consumption by microwaves can be reduced by adjusting the time of cooking to the type of food.” Each year more microwaves are sold than any other type of oven in the EU: annual sales are expected to reach 135m by the end of the decade... 
read more: 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Some information for Israelis (and the rest of us)

NB: Amidst the fanfare of the Israeli Prime Ministerial visit to India, and the especial warmth being displayed towards him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it may be of interest for Israeli citizens to know the ideological roots of India's current ruling dispensation - DS

Briefly put, it's simple: their icon, V. D. Savarkar, the hero of the Hindu nationalists, was a staunch admirer of Hitler and the Nazis. So were the top figures of the Rashtriyya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; or National Volunteers), the mother-organisation of the BJP. These are facts that this spokesman of the BJP, does not care to place before his readers. And since the two PM's have visited Mahatma Gandhi's famous Sabarmati Ashram, let it be known that soon after Modi's government came to power some members of his party and its ideological allies were celebrating the memory of Gandhi's assassin. Savarkar was one of the prime accused in the assassination case and was let off on a technicality. He also made an infamous peace with the British imperialists. Since January 30 will mark the 70th anniversary of Gandhi's assassination, I leave it to readers with a knowledge of the history of fascism and Nazism, to reflect on the irony of what is transpiring in India just now.

Savarkar was being quoted approvingly by the Nazi press in 1939. The founder of the RSS, K. B. Hedgewar, was part of a meeting in 1934 where the desirability of a Indian fascist dictator was discussed. The following citations are from a research article by Italian historian Marzia Casolari, in EPW, January 22, 2000, entitled Hindutva’s Foreign Tie-up in the 1930's. See especially pp 221 to 224. Here is a quote from the conversation: I have thought out a scheme...  that provides for standardisation of Hinduism throughout India...But the point is that this ideal cannot be brought to effect unless we have our own swaraj with a Hindu as a dictator like Shivaji of old or Mussolini or Hitler of the present day in Italy and Germany...But this does not mean that we have to sit with folded hands untill (sic) some such dictator arises in India. We should formulate a scientific scheme and carry on propaganda for it..

Here is VD Savarkar speaking approvingly of the Nazi's persecution of Jews in 1939
A Nation is formed by a majority living therein. What did the Jews do in Germany? They being in minority were driven out from Germany. (Speech at Malegaon, October 14, 1938). 

In December 1939, on the occasion of the 21st session of the Hindu Mahasabha, he said: 'the Indian Muslims are on the whole more inclined to identify themselves and their interests with Muslims outside India than Hindus who live next door, like Jews in Germany.'

Let it also be recorded that the first Indian translation of Mein Kampf was in Urdu, by Inayatullah Mashriqi, founder of the para-military Khaksars. After a trip to Cairo in 1926, he visited Germany and met Hitler, whom he took to be a kindred soul. He returned to India in 1931 and organised the Khaksar militia (khaksar means humble) on an Islamic nationalist platform. In 1940 the Khaksars had a series of confrontations with the police. After a jail-term he made peace with the authorities; and shifted from an antagonistic to a deferential stance toward the Muslim League. Despite ideological differences, there were immediate similarities between the Khaksars and the extreme Hindu nationalists of the RSS. [For more on Indian Islamo-fascists see my article on Indian fascism, esp the paragraphs linked to footnotes 39 and 40]

Here is M.S. Golwalkar, the second leader (after the founder) of the RSS, in 1938: To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic races - the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here...a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." (In We, or our Nation hood defined)

And here is Savarkar on the Munich Agreement in which the Sudetanland was annexed by Hitler: 'the Hindu Sanghatanists in India hold that Germany was perfectly justified in uniting the Austrian and Sudeten Germans under the German flag. Democracy itself demanded that the will of the people must prevail in choosing their own government. Germany demanded plebiscite, the Germans under the Czechs wanted to join their kith and kin in Germany. It was the Czechs who were acting against the principle of democracy in holding the Germans under a foreign sway against their will...Now that Germany is strong why should she not strike to unite all Germans and consolidate them into a Pan-German state and realise the political dream which generations of German people cherished.' (Savarkar papers, misc correspondence January 1938 May 1939); also published on November 30, 1938 by the Nazi daily, the Volkischer Beobachter

On March 25, 1939 the Hindu Mahasabha issued the following statement:
Germany’s solemn idea of the revival of the Aryan culture, the glorification of the Swastika, her patronage of Vedic learning and the ardent championship of the tradition of Indo-Germanic civilisation are welcomed by the religious and sensible Hindus of India with a jubilant hope. Only a few socialists headed by Pandit J Nehru have created a bubble of resentment against the present government of Germany, but their activities are far from having any significance in India. The vain imprecations of Mahatma Gandhi against Germany’s indispensable vigour in matters of internal policy obtain but little regard insofar as they are uttered by a man who has always betrayed and confused the country with an affected mysticism. I think that Germany’s crusade against the enemies of Aryan culture will bring all the Aryan nations of the world to their senses and awaken the Indian Hindus for the restoration of their lost glory. 

(Milan Hauner, India in Axis strategy: Germany, Japan and Indian nationalists in the Second World War, 1981, p 66) 

A brief history of Indian fascism may be read here:


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Christine Cole - Four tough actions that would help fight the global plastic crisis

The environmental impact of plastic is finally receiving the attention it deserves. This is partly down to the BBC’s Blue Planet II highlighting the problem of ocean plastics. But it’s also because the Chinese government has recently imposed quality restrictions on the import of recyclable materials, in an attempt to address domestic concerns over pollution and public health.

Beijing’s move in effect closes down the export of recyclable plastics, paper and other materials from the world’s richest countries. The UK, rest of Europe, US, Australia and others have for a long time been dependent on China to take the poor quality materials that they collect and do not have the infrastructure or capacity to use themselves. Until more recycling plants are built to deal with it domestically, the UK faces a build-up of plastic waste.

Other countries in Asia will continue to accept some of the lower quality materials, but this is a temporary fix at best. Sending plastic to India, Vietnam or Cambodia instead of China may limit the amount that has to be stored, placed in landfill or burnt in the UK, but it does nothing to reduce the overall amount of plastic. We cannot simply rely on the actions of concerned individuals. What’s needed goes beyond reusing plastic water bottles, stopping using plastic drinking straws and taking reusable bags to the supermarket. Here are a few suggestions: read more:

More posts on plastics

Mexico: 500 years later, scientists discover what killed the Aztecs

In 1545 disaster struck Mexico’s Aztec nation when people started coming down with high fevers, headaches and bleeding from the eyes, mouth and nose. Death generally followed in three or four days. Within five years as many as 15 million people – an estimated 80% of the population – were wiped out in an epidemic the locals named “cocoliztli”. The word means pestilence in the Aztec Nahuatl language. Its cause, however, has been in questioned for nearly 500 years.

On Monday scientists swept aside smallpox, measles, mumps, and influenza as likely suspects, identifying a typhoid-like “enteric fever” for which they found DNA evidence on the teeth of long-dead victims. “The 1545-50 cocoliztli was one of many epidemics to affect Mexico after the arrival of Europeans, but was specifically the second of three epidemics that were most devastating and led to the largest number of human losses,” said Ashild Vagene of the University of Tuebingen in Germany. “The cause of this epidemic has been debated for over a century by historians and now we are able to provide direct evidence through the use of ancient DNA to contribute to a longstanding historical question.”

Vagene co-authored a study published in the science journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. The outbreak is considered one of the deadliest epidemics in human history, approaching the Black Death bubonic plague that killed 25 million people in western Europe in the 14th century – about half the regional population. European colonisers spread disease as they ventured into the new world, bringing germs local populations had never encountered and lacked immunity against.

The 1545 cocoliztli pestilence in what is today Mexico and part of Guatemalacame just two decades after a smallpox epidemic killed an estimated 5-8 million people in the immediate wake of the Spanish arrival. A second outbreak from 1576 to 1578 killed half the remaining population. “In the cities and large towns, big ditches were dug, and from morning to sunset the priests did nothing else but carry the dead bodies and throw them into the ditches,” is how Franciscan historian Fray Juan de Torquemada is cited as chronicling the period. Even at the time, physicians said the symptoms did not match those of better-known diseases such as measles and malaria.

Scientists now say they have probably unmasked the culprit. Analysing DNA extracted from 29 skeletons buried in a cocoliztli cemetery, they found traces of the salmonella enterica bacterium, of the Paratyphi C variety. It is known to cause enteric fever, of which typhoid is an example. The Mexican subtype rarely causes human infection today. Many salmonella strains spread via infected food or water, and may have travelled to Mexico with domesticated animals brought by the Spanish, the research team said. 

Salmonella enterica is known to have been present in Europe in the middle ages. “We tested for all bacterial pathogens and DNA viruses for which genomic data is available,” and salmonella enterica was the only germ detected, said co-author Alexander Herbig, also from Tuebingen University.
It is possible, however, that some pathogens were either undetectable or completely unknown.“We cannot say with certainty that S enterica was the cause of the cocoliztli epidemic,” said team member Kirsten Bos. “We do believe that it should be considered a strong candidate.”

Monday, January 15, 2018

Medical Council of India bribery scam: Prashant Bhushan sends transcripts - says probe CJI // H. S. Giani: Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion // Death of Judge Loya: Uncle Shrinivas wants a probe

NB: An RSS functionary has denounced the public protest of the four SC judges as a 'political conspiracy', and for 'poisoning the waters' by undermining the Indian peoples faith in the judiciary. This is a richly ironical statement for an organisation whose core beliefs require the promotion of hatred and enmity towards selected sections of the Indian public. Their accusations of 'love jihad', 'beef-eating', 'anti-nationalists' etc., have polluted India's polity and caused numerous deaths over the past three years since their man assumed supreme executive power in Government. Some material may be read hereAnd as January 30, 2018, will mark seventy years of Mahatma Gandhi's murder, we can refresh our memories regarding the communal hatred behind that crime. (Incidentally, there is a libel case pending in the SC regarding accusations of their involvement). 

But let us leave their history aside. Since they claim to be opponents of corruption, why has their government not undertaken an inquiry into the suicide note of ex CM of Arunachal in 2016? 

The note contains numerous instances of judicial corruption, and accuses personages from both the Congress and the BJP of perverting the course of justice. Why the thundering silence from the RSS/BJP on this burning evidence? Why has there been no inquiry? Why are the op-ed writers keeping silent? I find it dismaying that a learned commentator who wants us to 'carefully parse out the issues' has chosen to bring up the lack of 'justiciable evidence' of the CJI's wrong doing, while at the same time completely passing over the implications of Kalikho Pul's suicide note. Not to mention the MCI bribery scam. If high judicial officials are to adjudicate allegations concerning themselves, of course there will be no justiciable evidence, because they will not allow it to see the light of day! 

Here's a quote from HS Giani's article below: "The Chief Justice of India ordered the next senior-most judge of the Supreme Court of India, not to list the case which touched on allegations of impropriety against himself, before the top five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court of India. And for this purpose, the Chief Justice broke up the Constitution Bench that afternoon..."

Where are all our conscience keepers hiding? Why are their 'eyes wide shut'? Is all this an example of 'faith in the judiciary', or of a cynical cover-up of criminal actions? DS
(NB: The above story was in a prominent place in the IE portal, and has disappeared from view in the past 40 minutes. It's still on the portal, but you can't see it, you have to look for it. DS)
Just over two months ago, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra locked horns in the Supreme Court after Bhushan demanded that the CJI recuse himself from the Lucknow medical college graft case. The CJI refused to do so and Bhushan stormed out of the court.
Now he is back with a new complaint against the CJI in the same case and has sent copies of it to the four “rebel” judges, Justices J Chelameswar, R Gogoi, K Joseph and M B Lokur.

A copy of the complaint was also sent to Justice A K Sikri. Signed by Bhushan, as Convenor of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, the complaint calls for an inquiry against the Chief Justice by either three or five senior Supreme Court Judges for what are described as “various allegations of misconduct.”

The complaint alleges, “The CBI FIR makes allegations that the entire conspiracy and planning was to bribe and influence apex court judges who are dealing with the case of Prasad medical Trust. This Bench was clearly headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. In these circumstances, he was an interested party and could not have dealt with this case either on the judicial side or the administrative side by way of assigning a particular Bench to hear this case…while at this stage there may not be conclusive evidence of Justice Dipak Misra’s involvement, the circumstances listed definitely warrant a thorough investigation…”.. read more:

Harpreet Singh Giani: Caesar’s wife, it was said, must be above suspicion
History tells us that after Publius Clodius Pulcher was prosecuted for gaining admittance to Pompeia’s house with the intention to seduce her, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that “my wife ought not even to be under suspicion”. Received wisdom tells us that Caesar found it irrelevant that Pulcher was acquitted of the charge. He believed that it was impermissible for Caesar to remain married to anyone remotely connected with a scandal.
Contemporary wisdom has taken the idiom and turned it on its head. Contemporary wisdom decrees that just because she is married to Caesar, his wife must be deemed to be beyond any suspicion. Her status as Caesar’s consort places her above and beyond suspicion. To suspect her, would be to suspect Caesar, unthinkable and blasphemous.

It used to be the integrity of the individuals that gave an institution its dignity and respect. If the leadership of an institution was trustworthy, the institution would be trusted. If the successors were unfit, the institution was distrusted. The reputation of the institution was rightly transient, being as good or as bad as the persons who controlled it. Today, we are told that securing a place in a historically-venerated institution entitles a person to be absolved of all his sins, he or she must be elevated to Godhead and regardless of his personal qualities or fallibilities, he must be deemed to be beyond doubt and unamenable to scrutiny. The institution is now the protector of the virtue of the man, rather than the other way around.

The Supreme Court of India is just one of the institutions making up the Indian constitutional system. In conjunction with the legislature and the executive, the judiciary is equally responsible for preserving and perpetuating the rule of law within the country. Despite their enthusiasm and unbridled optimism, the Constituent Assembly that gave us the voluminous 1950 Indian Constituent could neither predict, nor provide for every eventuality or challenge that an inchoate and unfolding future held. Yet the document they produced was crystal clear in the division of powers – the legislature was to make the law, the executive to enforce it and the judiciary to adjudicate any disputes. India never understood the boundary that separates the executive from the polity, or the legislature. But that is a lament for another day.

Successive generations of ignoble legislators had conspicuously failed to address the emerging gaps in legislation and this resulted in gaping voids in our legislative schema. While the Constituent Assembly had men and women from the learned professions who understood the nuances of juridical and legal drafting, lamentably today the Parliament and legislatures provide retirement sinecures for actors, sportsmen and others, who possibly could not be expected to legislate for the nation.

Conveniently, though inappropriately, the judiciary has repeatedly stepped in and backfilled the legislative voids. These unwarranted and unwholesome forays by the judiciary into the domain of the legislature were tolerated and even welcomed, from the great reliance the nation placed on the integrity and scruples of those who sat on the Supreme Court bench in the early day. The initial transgressions were properly out of dire necessity and expressed by those judges as temporary measures, in anticipation of responsive legislative action.

This has degenerated now into a system where using the optimistically-sounding phrase “Judicial Activism”, the Supreme Court has trampled recklessly even in those areas which are taboo even for the Parliament… read more

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland. By Kurt Andersen

Forty-eight hours ago, after watching Oprah Winfrey give a terrific, rousing feminist speech on an awards show, millions of Americans instantly, giddily decided that the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee had appeared. An extremely rich and famous and exciting star and impresario—but one who seems intelligent and wise and kind, the non–Bizarro World version of the sitting president.

Some wet-blanketing followed immediately, among the best from the New York Times Magazine writer Thomas Chatterton Williams in an op-ed headlined “Oprah, Don’t Do It.” “It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act,” he wrote. “Indeed, the magical thinking fueling the idea of Oprah in 2020 is a worrisome sign about the state of the Democratic Party.”

Despite the “magical thinking” reference, neither Williams nor other skeptics have seriously addressed the big qualm I have about the prospect of a President Winfrey: Perhaps more than any other single American, she is responsible for giving national platforms and legitimacy to all sorts of magical thinking, from pseudoscientific to purely mystical, fantasies about extraterrestrials, paranormal experience, satanic cults, and more. The various fantasies she has promoted on all her media platforms—her daily TV show with its 12 million devoted viewers, her magazine, her website, her cable channel—aren’t as dangerous as Donald Trump’s mainstreaming of false conspiracy theories, but for three decades she has had a major role in encouraging Americans to abandon reason and science in favor of the wishful and imaginary.

Oprah went on the air nationally in the 1980s, just as non-Christian faith healing and channeling the spirits of the dead and “harmonic convergence” and alternative medicine and all the rest of the New Age movement had scaled up. By the 1990s, there was a big, respectable, glamorous New Age counter-establishment. Marianne Williamson, one of the new superstar New Age preachers, popularized a “channeled” book of spiritual revelation, A Course in Miracles: The author, a Columbia University psychology professor who was anonymous until after her death in the 1980s, had claimed that its 1,333 pages were dictated to her by Jesus. Her basic idea was that physical existence is a collective illusion—”the dream.” Endorsed by Williamson, the book became a gigantic best-seller.

Deepak Chopra had been a distinguished endocrinologist before he quit regular medicine in his 30s to become the “physician to the gods” in the Transcendental Meditation organization and in 1989 hung out his own shingle as wise man, author, lecturer, and marketer of dietary supplements… read more:

An ex-CM commits suicide in 2016, alleging corruption in the high judiciary - no probe. A senior judge in a sensitive case involving a political heavyweight dies a mysterious death. His family thinks it might be murder & India's pliant media covers it up. What Does the SC Judges’ protest mean for this situation?

NB: Between 1939 and 1941, some 100,000 German men, women and children (prisoners, mental cases, alcoholics), were killed by a group of German doctors under the direction of Dr Werner Heyde, neurologist, at the University of Wurzburg. The means used were lethal injections, poison gas and starvation. Some of the doctors had written false death certificates and co-operated with the authorities to keep the actions a secret. These persons were tried in 1960 in a Hamburg court, and acquitted on grounds of being unaware of the illegality of their actions. One of their elder colleagues had this to say of them: 'It is true they have a head but its too close to their arse, because they have no backbone': Paraphrased from J P Stern, The Fuhrer and the People, 1992; p 192. 

Fortunately some of our senior judges have shown exemplary courage. They deserve our thanks - DS

NB: The public protest of four senior SC judges is unprecedented and marks the most massive crisis in Indian justice since the Emergency. The criticisms being levelled at the judges are ironical. One op-ed writer says they have crossed the line. How would he describe a situation wherein the CJI insists on hearing a case allegedly involving himself; refusing an applicant the right to speak his arguments, and moreover, permitting the advent of sympathetic lawyers into the court to shout at applicants? When the CJI reiterates that he is master of roster, accuses applicants of forum shopping; and then uses that to indulge in what appears to be bench fixing, who exactly is crossing the line here? Read more about the events of November 10, 2017 here

When the mysterious death of a judge in a case with grievous political implications is not assigned to any of the senior judges, and sought to be hushed up, who is crossing the line? A former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court has asked for this to be investigated, yet the bulk of our media and commentators refuse to pursue the matter - what line is being crossed and by whom? 

The biggest scandal that has been quietly buried both by the Government and the pliant media, is that of the suicide note left by Kalikho Pul, ex-Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh in 2016. 

Pul alleged that brokers approached him in the run up to the Supreme Court’s July 2016 verdict (on the viability of his government) demanding large sums of money in order to ensure the judgment went in his favour. The latest version of the note implicates politicians from both Congress and BJP in rampant corruption. Page 23 refers to relations of SC judges asking for large sums of money to secure favourable verdicts. The BJP government proclaims its commitment to fight corruption from the rooftops - why is it refusing to probe these extremely serious allegations? Why is the suicide note not being treated as a dying declaration? Why is  the press silent?

One prominent journalist writes: 'whatever the system’s flaws, it is better than having the politicians mess with it.' Were they not messing with it a long time ago? What did it mean when the elevation of Gopal Subramaniam was 'borked' by Mr Modi's government immediately upon coming to power? Another says the protest will make it easier for the government to manage the judiciary. What was happening before the press conference? Was not the government meddling with justice? Why was the judge dealing with the 2006 fake encounter cases in Gujarat transferred when he pulled up Amit Shah for non-appearance? Here are a few examples of what the governments actions in the first weeks of coming to power in 2014. Why do we hear nothing about the Vyapam case in Madhya Pradesh where over 40 possible witnesses have died since 2013? Why the silence regarding reports linking the Sangh Parivar to Vyapam? Who threatened the retired judge Jyotsna Yagnik? Did not the Public Prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case Rohini Salian, protest the Government meddling that obliged her to resign? The move to get the SC to hear the case on Loya's death is seen by some as a means to get it out of the Bombay HC. If this is the case, is this not a grave misuse of authority? 

Messrs respected op-ed writers, what is is all this if not blatant messing with the criminal justice system? Why are most of you trying to pull the wool over our eyes? DS

Here are some recent comments. I shall add new comments when they appear:
Harpreet Singh Giani  Caesar’s wife, it was said must be above suspicion
Watch: What Does the SC Judges’ Statement Mean for the Judge Loya Case?

Loya Case the Tipping Point, Four SC Judges Say Democracy Is in Danger
‘Black Day for Judiciary’: Legal Fraternity on Unprecedented Move by Four SC Judges

See also
Ajmer blast case: Two including a former RSS worker get life imprisonment

Very short list of examples of rule of law in India
The law of killing - a brief history of Indian fascism