Guest Post by PRAN KURUP
Who is more dangerous for India – Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi? This is a question that India needs to answer. But a recent article titled ‘Arvind Kejriwal: The most dangerous man in India’ has ventured to supply a one-sided answer to this question. The title is as catchy as it is misleading if not subversive. The ensuing ‘analysis’ is sadly not borne out by facts but relies on obfuscation and rhetoric. The tragic outcome is that many pertinent facts have been buried beneath the rubble of unsubstantiated allegations and sinister accusations. On the whole the article is an anti-Kejriwal diatribe disguised as an intellectual treatise.
While conferring on Modi the respectable halo of a “firebrand Hindu nationalist”, the writer goes on to indulge in pure speculation and sweeping generalizations about Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.
Here are some samples:
“Kejriwal spent his time in office preening for the cameras.” Read more…
Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR
Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002 are among the darkest spots in India’s post independence history. Like all other communal killings in the country, they too were similar in the mechanics of their violence. Connivance of the top state authorities, active role of elected politicians, police and bureaucratic indifference, a cornered and hapless minority, and participation of ordinary folks in violence and looting, all elements of the process of communal killings almost reached the point of perfection in these two pogroms. So much so, that they indeed were not contained, but played themselves out fully, till the time killers and looters got tired, or when nobody was left to be killed, and nothing remained to be burnt and looted. All those who talk, think, write or make claims about civilisation in India, should take a few moments off to come to terms with these two events. Victims of these pogroms too, like of other communal killings in the country, continue to wait for justice. Collusion of investigative agencies, protective shadow of state power and judicial lethargy has meant that prime movers behind these killings have remained beyond the arm of justice. In fact, particularly in these two cases, the political fortunes of parties involved in killings witnessed an unprecedented boom. Congress party under Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 returned with the largest ever national mandate to Lok Sabha; and the BJP under Narendra Modi has successfully decimated all political opposition in Gujarat, and is now eyeing central power under his leadership. Read more…
Guest post by UZAIR BELGAMI
I have been reading around of late and was surprised to see that there are actually still some people who think there is still a chance that Narendra Modi will not become PM of this country in 2014. Hah! Must be those minorities, or those Secularists, or those Communists who are saying and thinking this – all are Pakistan-lovers, Leftists and anti-nationals. I felt it is necessary I deal with these people through this article, in order to deal the ‘final blow’ before the elections. Read more…
For several months, I have been hearing Narendra Modi’s campaign speeches quite regularly, paying attention to his themes, rhetoric and imagery. As expected, he has vigorously attacked key political opponents — the Nehru-Gandhi family, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav. But a systematic silence has also marked his campaign. Quite remarkably, Hindu nationalism has been absent from his speeches.
This is the opening paragraph from an article by an important US-based Indian political scientist, Ashutosh Varshney. This article, published in the Indian Express on 27 March 2014, under the caption “Modi the Moderate” has been now followed up by another piece in the same newspaper that somewhat modifies the earlier position, this time by “Hearing the Silence”. Strange that he did not hear the silence in the first instance, even after having listened to Modi’s speeches closely (‘paying attention to his rhetoric and imagery’). Not that he did not ‘hear the silence’ then. He did, but just two weeks ago, identified the silence as being about Hindu nationalism. In the second piece, the silence is apparently about minority rights. How did he read the silence as one thing two weeks ago and as just the opposite two weeks down the line? What exactly was he reading?
Intellectuals generally take words very seriously. Words in their insularity, words in their most manifest meanings. But really, do words mean anything in and of themselves? One line of argument that derives from within the ancient Mimamsa tradition, for example, would argue that meaning lies in the way words are chosen, arranged and formed into sentences. There is something that happens in this process which Mimamsa scholars call ‘akanksha’ – or the expectation that this arrangement within a text generates in the reader of the text. The meaning that a text produces then, is a matter of a complex negotiations between the text and the reader – the bearer of akanksha. And since the reader is never one but many, the expectations that the text generates in different readers could arguably be many. Read more…
VIVEK SHARMA on FaceBook
If elections have been called the ‘dance of Indian democracy’, the number staged in Mewat recently could well be one of the most vulgar yet. Evidently, the Executive has done the tango with the choreographers. The question now is: will the dance break records at the box-office or will it crash?
Last week Mewat demonstrated at the hustings how a people could be swindled in front of the half-shut eyes of the world’s largest democratic state. Beyond the squeaky clean Nirvachan Sadan on Ashoka Road, the supra-institution of the electoral process flounders in muddy waters. Its grassroots representative, the presiding officer on the last polling outpost, is conceivably either a stooge of the system or just too afraid of it. Mewat stands testimony.
Even in this day and age, women did not cast their vote in Mewat. Why not? The argument forwarded by one of the ostensibly independent election observers of the Gurgaon Parliamentary constituency – after the AAP team made their complaint – was, they are politically blind. After all, through the mustard-wheat harvest season in Mewat which coincided with the elections on April 10, the women worked in the fields while the men smoked hookahs and sipped on chai discussing politics. Women harvested, tended the cattle, ran the hearths, and raised the long train of children born to them practically every other year. With a life so busy where is the time to exercise their most basic right of casting their vote?
But in fact, not only did women not vote – nor did the youth, the poor and all those placed lower in the social pecking order. And the reason is simple. They did not vote because were physically prevented from reaching the polling stations. Read more…
Guest Post by SIDDHARTH NARRAIN
The Supreme Court, in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment delivered today has recognized the legal and constitutional rights of transgender persons, including the rights of the hijra community as a ‘third gender’. In judgment of immense breadth and vision, Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri have brought hope and a promise of citizenship to a community that has largely been outside the legal framework.
NALSA filed this petition in 2012. In 2013, this matter was tagged together with a petition filed in the Supreme Court by the Poojaya Mata Nasib Kaur Ji Women’s Welfare Society, an organization working for kinnars, a transgender community. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a well-known transgender rights activist from Mumbai also intervened in this case.
In this piece, I will point to the highlights of this judgment and why it will go down in history as one of the most rights enhancing decisions in the Court’s history. I cannot but remark on the irony of this judgment being delivered just a few months after Koushal, in which the Supreme Court recriminalized LGBT persons and upheld the constitutionality of section 377 of the IPC. The Court acknowledges this, but makes it clear that while it recognizes that section 377 is used to harass and discriminate against transgender persons, this judgment leaves Koushal undisturbed, and instead focuses specifically on the legal recognition of the transgender community.
A two judge bench (Radhakrishnan and Sikri, JJ) of the the Supreme Court has delivered a judgment in National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India which recognizes transgendered people as a third gender. We will follow this post with a more detailed analysis of the judgment, but for now the operative part of the ruling
129. We, therefore, declare:
(1) Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as “third gender” for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament and the State Legislature.
(2) Transgender persons’ right to decide their self-identified gender is also upheld and the Centre and State Governments are directed to grant legal recognition of their gender identity such as male, female or as third gender.
(3) We direct the Centre and the State Governments to take steps to treat them as socially and educationallybackward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments.
(4) Centre and State Governments are directed to operate separate HIV Sero-survellance Centres since Hijras/ Transgenders face several sexual health issues.
(5)Centre and State Governments should seriously address the problems being faced by Hijras/Transgenders such as fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies, social stigma, etc. and any insistence for SRS for declaring one’s gender is immoral and illegal.
(6) Centre and State Governments should take proper measures to provide medical care to TGs in the hospitals and also provide them separate public toilets and other facilities.
(7) Centre and State Governments should also take steps for framing various social welfare schemes for their betterment.
(8) Centre and State Governments should take steps to create public awareness so that TGs will feel that they are also part and parcel of the social life and be not treated as untouchables.
(9)Centre and the State Governments should also take measures to regain their respect and place in the society which once they enjoyed in our cultural and social life.