Nuclear Deal and the Tragic End of an Experiment

Prakash Karat’s obduracy has finally been matched by that of Manmohan Singh. While some may claim that the latter has now matured into a politician, it is important to remember that Singh has always been a deft politician of the values that he represents- that of the neo- liberal Right. There is nothing new in this, except that he has now chosen to go break altogether with the Left, his firmest supporters for the past four years.

Continue reading “Nuclear Deal and the Tragic End of an Experiment”

Football in the time of Cholera

The BBC has a report on the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s World Cup victory over Holland, in the backdrop of the oppression let loose by the military junta at that time:

“When they played a game over the speakers, it was very contradictory – because the executioners, those who tortured us, and us the victims both cried ‘Goal Argentina!'” he said.

And we know that they took prisoners out when there were distractions caused by the World Cup and shot them,” he said.

Why BJP govt will succeed in Karnataka

34 000 Hindu temples told to perform worship for BJP govt in Karnataka

This means that all the 34,000 temples that come under the muzrai department will have to toe the government line. Defending his move, Chetty said that as the state was facing a crisis, divine blessings were necessary to maintain peace. He hinted that divine intervention was also being sought to help the young BJP government tide over the fertilizer crisis.

Once the media briefing was over the minister offered ‘prasada’ (laddu) to the reporters like he did on the day of his swearing in.

Each government-run temple in the state gets a minimum tasdik (annual grant) of Rs 6,000. Prior to JD(S)-BJP coalition government, tasdik amount varied from Re 1 to Rs 50,000. Taking special interest in temple issues, Yeddyurappa, who was a finance minister in the coalition set up, earmarked Rs 21.48 crore as tasdik amount in the 2007-08 budgets as against Rs 6.12 crore in 2006-07.

In Bangalore urban district alone there are 1,016 muzrai temples.

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A Politician called Manmohan Singh

One of the ‘selling points’ for the neo- liberal reforms initiated during Narasimha Rao’s years of prime minister- ship was that these reforms were worked out and led by a non- politician- Dr Manmohan Singh. Indeed, his continued projection as a non- politician- and specifically as a professional economist- has been seen to provide a legitimacy for the neo- liberal offensive, though sometimes it has been used by his political opponents to attack his credentials in holding a political post.

Both of these perspectives are flawed, and nothing could be farther from the truth. Manmohan Singh’s professional background as a technocrat cannot be reason enough to see him as a non- politician.
Continue reading “A Politician called Manmohan Singh”

Demandalizing Mandal

When the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report was announced during VP Singh led National Front regime, my first reaction was to oppose it. This natural, even if a knee jerk reaction, was because it did not reconcile with the notions of class and in my view it actually was detrimental to formation of class consciousness. It was not that I was not aware of the caste system or its vagaries, however, I shared the unstated Nehruvian belief that economic development and education would do away with the caste system. The first pillar of belief that fell in those days, therefore, was that education could be equated with egalitarianism and humanism.

My views changed quite dramatically within a few days as opposition to the announcement gathered force and “upper” caste-ism came to the fore. This aroused my first doubts – if this Report is something that is so rabidly hated by those, who I agreed were relatively privileged “upper” caste folks, then something is amiss. What clinched the issue was the intemperate and insulting language the protesters employed against whom they considered to be the beneficiaries- the backward castes but also the scheduled castes who were more easily identifiable because they were already availing the reserved quotas.

In the early days following the announcement, it was difficult to even get hold of the Report. I managed to get a xeroxed copy from a local NGO’s social scientist. What amazed me was the sheer force of the arguments in the report that transformed my views within a few days, if not overnight. So, it is a bit disconcerting that even after nearly two decades, I am not able to find an online version of the Report, because I remember it went much beyond just making the case for reservations. In the process of implementing one of its recommendations, it’s thrust has been diluted, and hence “demandalized.”

However, I have been able to find this 2003 article by SS Gill, who was the secretary to the Commission when it submitted its report and where he points to the bigger picture painted by the Report.

Diluting Mandal

On the face of it, the radical change in the political landscape of the country marks the setting right of ancient historical wrongs. Or does it? In fact, to some extent, the Mandal Commission report was `demandalised’ during the very process of its implementation. Of the dozen or so recommendations, only one pertaining to reservation was picked up, as it had the highest visibility and attracted immediate attention. More far-reaching recommendations regarding structural changes in the land-tenurial system, and institutional reforms for the educational and economic uplift of the OBCs were not even noticed. The attention thus got focussed on the fruits rather than the roots and branches of the tree of affirmative action.

Related Post: Dr Ambedkar on reservations for OBCs

Our Country and Advani’s Life

BG Verghese critically reviews L.K. Advani’s autobiography, “My Country, My Life”…. the life may be his, but the country is fortunately far more than any single individual’s. The title is reminiscent of the individualism propagated during Rajiv Gandhi’s time: “mera bharat mahan” (“my India is great”) which IMHO, would have been more slightly more generous had the “mera” (my) been replaced by “hamara” (our). That is, if at all the slogan was apt in the first place.

Mr Advani has also referred to Satyapal Dang, the CPI leader from Punjab as “the late Satyapal Dang”. The veteran leader has responded by proclaiming that he is still alive, and that though Advani may admire him, it would be most unfortunate if Advani became the Prime Minister.

A few excerpts from the review, followed by a statement issued by Comrade Satyapal Dang.

So where does this leave “cultural nationalism”? Mr Advani describes the 1992 Babri demolition as a “Hindu awakening” and is pleased to cite Girilal Jain’s certificate that “You have made history”. Having taken a bow, Mr Advani describes the day as the “saddest” in his life. Yet he laid the ground for that day with his 1990 Rath Yatra that sowed dragon seeds of hate. The event was followed by a trail of riots that took 600 lives. He lit the fire but blames the wind.

The same with the Gujarat riots, one of the worst blots in India’s record since Independence. Mr Advani commends Modi, but disowns any responsibility as a leading BJP stalwart, Gandhinagar MP and Union Home Minister. He cites the communal count of those killed in police firing to suggest even handedness and promptitude of action, setting aside contemporary evidence of official complicity which continues to this day. Police officers who stood firm were promptly “promoted” and transferred! Speaking over AIR, Mr Modi told terrified victims of the holocaust that if they desired peace they should not seek justice. Nothing more despicable could have been said. Alas, Mr Advani fiddled while Gujarat burned.

Here is the news item with Comrade Dang’s rejoinder as well as Bhai Ranjit Singh, the former Jathedar of the Akal Takht pointing to yet another discrepancy in the book.

In chapter 7 of the book “The trauma and triumph of Punjab” Advani has written “as the late Satya Pal Dang, an Amritsar-based Communist leader whom I admire for his courageous campaign against Khalistan”. Though Advani said that he admire Dang, the latter said it would be most unfortunate if a person like Advani became Prime Minister.

The facts on high profile Nirankari murder given in the book are also distorted, which earned flak from Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, Akal Takht, who spent a long time in Tihar Jail in connection with the assassination of Baba Gurbachan Singh Nirankari. He said Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala was never among the list of 20 accused persons as mentioned in the book. He claimed that there were only four persons arrested by the CBI who were later released on personal bonds.

The former jathedar said it was shocking that Advani did not know the bare facts pertaining to the Nirankari murder case because Giani Zail Singh was not the union home minister when the four arrested by the CBI were released. The union home minister was P.C. Sethi, he claimed.