Showing posts from January, 2013

More hooliganism in the name of 'hurt sentiment' - Professor beaten up in Dhule by VHP, Bajrang Dal activists

A month after the communal riots in Dhule, VHP, Bajrang Dal activists beat up a Dalit professor there on Wednesday for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus. The incident took place inside the premises of the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar College of Social Work. A few weeks ago a number of students submitted a written complaint against Professor Pramod Bhumbe to the principal of the college for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Lord Ram.  While the Hindu organisations called for the professor’s expulsion, the administration asked him to submit a written explanation. “We followed the enquiry process. We, as management of the college, apologised to the students on [the] professor’s behalf. The concerned professor also extended an unconditional apology to the students. We even performed a puja in the village Ram temple and made peace,” Prof. R.S. Mahajan, the principal, told  The Hindu . In spite of the apology, a group came to the college looking for the professor.

Tearing Egypt apart

The eruption of protests, violence and civil disobedience in Egypt this month is a replay of the scene in 2011 before the status quo was ruptured, but the current regime’s attacks on women and religious minorities in order to quell opposition is more pervasive than anything seen before ..politically motivated sexual assault of women has gained new momentum under the current Brotherhood regime. First, is the scale of politically motivated sexual violence that we have observed under the Brotherhood’s watch. Second, the pattern of sexual assault suggests that it is undertaken in a systematic, pre-planned way and involves co-ordinated groups of men acting in unison. It is too soon to predict how the current battle between the Muslim Brotherhood-led regime and the opposition in Egypt will end, as  violence escalates  and spreads, claiming 50 lives this week - and counting. There are three major differences between the political scene at the wake of the revolution in January 2011 and


Yesterday, Mamata Banerjee, either through action or inaction, kept at least one of the promises she had made to Calcutta’s Muslim community. Of all the many promises she had made, this one was perhaps the most poisonous: Rushdie will not be allowed into Calcutta. What this ‘promise’ actually says is “ I will use a pseudo-issue to stoke the egos of your leaders, in the gamble that we can shove under the carpet the fact that I have done nothing to improve the condition of Muslims here, which remains worse than the conditions of Muslims in Modi’s Gujarat .” It’s a vile delivery that cuts two ways into the rotting ‘culture’ of Calcutta: it bolsters the obscurantists and fundamentalists of all colours, not just Islamic, while snatching away yet more space of expression from that soft pocket of society we call artists. Dear fellow-citizens, Let’s be clear about this: yesterday, Calcutta finally completed its downfall from the cultural capital of all Asia to a narrow-minded, spirit-crip

Aakar Patel: The SRK example - why Indian Muslims can’t criticise India

The Muslim who objects to something, no matter how obvious and visible, must qualify his argument. Usually the qualification demanded is that he show himself as patriotic. In India, this is a term born out of negative sentiment. To be a patriotic Indian, one is not required to be tax-paying, law-abiding, well-meaning or philanthropic. Patriotism is demonstrated through hating a particular country. The reason the Indian Muslim lives on sufferance is also rooted in this.  You see, the Muslim is guilty of original sin, voting for Pakistan in the 1945-46 elections. He divided Mother India and his generations must carry this burden of Adam. Shah Rukh Khan said this: “I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India. I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation rather than my own country. This, even though I am an Indian whose father fought for the fr

The blue eye of Siberia - photos and film

See photo s: Film: The blue eye of Siberia (18.30, Feb 2, IIC) The Blue Eye of Siberia  (114 min; 1991) Director: Yuri Beliankin   Lake Baikal, the “blue eye of Siberia,” is the earth’s oldest and deepest lake. It holds a fifth of the planet’s fresh water and is home to over 2,500 species of fish and crustaceans. For the indigenous people living along its shores, its cliffs are gods, its creation the subject of legend. But this ancient ecosystem is now endangered by overfishing and industrial pollution, to the point where it would take the rivers feeding the lake up to 400 years to restore it to health


  'Badla nahin, bad-laav chaahiye' - Mahatma Gandhi On January 18, Gandhi ended his final fast. Over a hundred representatives of various groups and organizations including the Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamiat-ul-Ulema who had assembled at Rajendra Prasad’s residence, called on Gandhiji at  11.30 a.m.  Those present included Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, Rajendra Prasad, INA General Shah Nawaz Khan, Hifzur Rahman and  Zaheed Hussain ,  Pakistan ’s High Commissioner. Dr. Rajendra Prasad reported that even those who had some doubts on the previous night were confident that they could ask Gandhiji with a full sense of responsibility to break the fast.  As President of the Congress, Rajendra Prasad said that he had signed the document in view of the guarantee which they had all jointly and severally given. Khurshid, the Chief Commissioner and Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of  Delhi , had signed the document on behalf of the administration. It had b

A G Noorani: How Savarkar escaped the gallows

Immediately after Madanlal Pahwa’s failed attempt on Gandhi’s life on January 20, 1948, suspicion fixed on V.D. Savarkar as the brain behind the crime. Investigations confirmed the suspicion; evidence at the trial court all but proved his complicity. He, however, escaped with an acquittal.  Deputy Prime Minister Vallabhbhai Patel was convinced of his guilt. In 1969, a Commission of Inquiry set up on March 22, 1965 comprising a respected Judge of the Supreme Court, J.K. Kapur, concluded after a thorough probe: “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.” Freedom At Midnight  (1976) by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre contains a wealth of material since they had access to police and intelligence records besides recollections of key surviving players. Madanlal told the police after his arrest that he had met Savarkar before the attempt and also revealed Godse’s identity: “Hindu Rashtra, A Marathi dai

Rushdie banished from Calcutta

Salman Rushdie’s visit to Calcutta tomorrow has been called off at the last minute because of objections raised by the state government and an ultimatum issued by police, sources said. The author was scheduled to be in the city with  Midnight’s Children  director Deepa Mehta and cast member Rahul Bose.  Rushdie, whose novel   The Satanic Verses   has been at the centre of controversies in the country and elsewhere, is in India for the promotion of the film, scheduled to release on February 1. For the last seven days, the main cast of  Midnight’s Children  and the author have toured Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Calcutta was supposed to be their last stop.  From this afternoon, phone calls from police officers and “a senior minister” were made to the organisers of the Calcutta Book Fair, sources said.  The book fair itself was not hosting Rushdie. “We were asked if Rushdie was holding a programme at the fair. We said ‘no’ since we are not hosting such a programme,” said a member

Let’s Avoid Television Wars, or How the Indian establishment succumbed to jingoistic hysteria during the LoC crisis - former Indian Navy Chief

By Arun Prakash If the incipient Indo-Pak crisis of the past fortnight had any lesson to convey, it was that the road to perdition is lined with shrill, hysterical TV anchors, bloodthirsty politicians and a seemingly somnolent national security establishment. In the dangerously incendiary atmosphere that was allowed to build up recently, the last thing the subcontinent needed was a chest thumping xenophobic verbal exchange between the leadership of India and Pakistan – civil or military – because it could have easily spiralled into a ‘patriotic’ war. Fortunately, both nations stepped back from the brink. India and Pakistan can do without another war, because it would render grievous harm to both economies. For India, conflict would mean a serious setback to its ambitious developmental plans; but given Pakistan’s faltering economy and its emerging ethnic and sectarian fissures, it could cause this fragile entity to self-destruct; with immense collateral damage to the neighbourhood. Pa

Muslim scholars challenge Salman Rushdie to debate on Islam

NB: This is a welcome step. Since some of these gentlemen were at the forefront of the storm of intimidatory speeches & remarks about both Rushdie and Taslima, it is for them to arrange the debate, presuming Rushdie accepts the invitation. The first step would be an unconditional guarantee of personal safety to persons who disagree with them.  After all, threats have been issued even this year. The Muslim scholars have every right to criticise and even stage public protests against writers they dislike, but this must remain within the bounds of law, and must never include physical threats and hooliganism on the streets.  Don't they realise that such behaviour undermines the constitutional freedoms that they too, must depend on? Taslima Nasreen has been given asylum in India, and must be allowed to live in a city of her choice, Kolkata if  she likes. Why should anyone oppose her entry into this or that city merely because she spoke her mind about religion? The scholars should

Atrocious violation of citizen's rights: criminal charges by WB police against villager who questioned Mamata

JHARGRAM/KOLKATA: There isn't an easy let-off if one has earned the wrath of chief minister  Mamata Banerjee .  Shiladitya Chowdhury , the villager from Binpur who had "dared" to question Mamata on rising fertilizer prices at a rally last August and was jailed after being dubbed a "Maoist" by the CM, has learnt this the hard way.  Unknown to either Shiladitya or his lawyer, Jhargram police have quietly submitted in court a chargesheet against the villager accusing him for criminal trespassing, attacking cops and criminal intimidation. If proved, the charges can land Shiladitya in jail for up to seven years. However, police seem to have debunked the CM's "Maoist"  theory  and not pressed any charge against him in this regard.  Among the 19 witnesses cited in the chargesheet, eight are policemen, the others are local  Trinamool Congress  leaders and villagers. Sub-inspector Ranjit Singh of Belpahari police station had submitted the chargesheet to his

Ashis Nandy: Interview with Firstpost; SC's dubious remarks; Assaults on free speech growing

NB: This interview is Nandy's explanation of what he meant to say.  I accept his clarification, and see no reason why he should be face legal action for speaking his mind, even if we expect him to do so with a better choice of words. (Many of us remember how much vitriol was spoken by Bal Thackeray, both on the judicial process, as well as about 'communities' whom he disliked, and his expressed pride at the destruction of Babri Masjid. Thackeray was never much troubled by the law). It is a travesty of the criminal justice system that hate-speech on a continental scale goes unpunished, but cases get registered against intellectuals for saying something unpopular. NB Feb 2, 2013: The Supreme Court's statement accompanying a stay on Nandy's arrest is a cause of grave concern. Here is a comment made by a friend on FB:  Honourable judges on the bench hearing the case..  mention "licence" in their admonitory remarks. Seemingly Nandy had no "licence&quo