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Pranayam was Never so Painful

June 5, 2011

(Please see an update made at the end of this post.)

I am watching the fog of tear gas shells descend on Ramlila Maidan on the live television feed on my computer. What was supposed to be a ‘yoga camp’ led by Baba Ramdev, and the fully-funded-free circus of his so-called ‘indefinite hunger strike’ against ‘Black Money’ has now turned into a tear-gas purgatory. It is midsummer, but inside that big tent it looks like a particularly foggy-smoggy night in a Delhi midwinter. It must hurt like hell, in the nostrils, in the lungs. With every breath that Ramdev’s disciples take (and how well they know the art and science of heavy breathing) their eyes must sting. Pranayam was never so painful. I hold my insomniac breath as I sit watching, riveted.

Crowds are running helter-skelter. I can see an atmosphere of total chaos unfold before my eyes. I can hear the NDTV correspondent/commentator say, “the police have not as yet hit anyone with sticks, but some supporters of the Baba have started pelting stones and bricks.”.

There is still no sign of Baba Ramdev. The NDTV voice says, it seems “he has been whisked away”. He asks someone who is referred to as a ‘senior aide’ – “kya baba ko leke gaye” (“has Baba been taken away”) – the man answers saying he does not know. The Baba has left the Shivir (camp).

Ramdev came into our consciousness from nowhere, like Narad-Muni descending on hapless and puzzled mortals in the epics. He made his way into our TV screens, urged us to rub our fingernails and suck in our abdomens and steadily occupied the void, the lack of imagination, the absence of vision that tears right through our collective social, cultural and political space. He built his empire, pushed his dope, made his deals and caught us in the vice-like grip of an ‘asana’ (posture) that refuses to let go our minds.

He played with the Congress, he played with the BJP and the Sangh-Parivar, and while on the stage with Anna Hazare he hobnobbed with the naive liberals and do-gooders too myopic to see the Frankenstein that they were manufacturing.

A few days ago, we saw the obscene sight of four senior ministers, including Pranab Mukherjee, the de-facto number two man in the UPA cabinet,  kow-towing to this charlatan (what else can we call a man who says he can cure cancer and AIDS with Pranayam / Breath Control) at the Delhi airport.

Then, over the last two days, we witnessed the farce of negotiations, the slime and sleaze of the UPA being countered by the irrational grand-standing (“this is a systemic change” – as if a minor tweaking of double taxation avoidance treaties with Switzerland and Mauritius is the cornerstone of a social revolution in India) double-speak (“No, the PM should not be under the purview of the Lokpal” followed by “No, I never said that”, “the government has met 99% of our demands”, “we will now end our ‘tap’/meditation”, followed by – “no i never said that”) and chicanery of the Ramdev camp, constantly nudged along by the cloak and dagger departments of the RSS and the BJP. Even the so-called mainstream left, smarting from its humiliation in West Bengal, wanted a piece of the action. The gerontocracy of the CPI thought it fit to dignify this pathetic circus as a peoples’ struggle. The CPI(M), comatose, has so far chosen to stay silent. And now, finally, as tonight turns to morning, we are seeing the obscene sight of heavy handed police action, that will scar the memories of all those who walked into Ramlila Ground at Ramdev’s whistle.

We even saw what threatens to become the ‘purloined letter’ – the note Kapil Sibal said had been drafted by Ramdev’s aide which commits to end the ‘fast’, which then prompted the greatest playground huff and turnabout in history that I have seen, as Ramdev angrily denied having ever made any such commitment, which in turn precipitated the crisis that resulted in the tear-gassing of the Ramlila Ground campsite.

And then, all hell broke loose.This government effectively handed the gathering storm of the resurrected zombies of the till now dead far-right that is collecting around Baba Ramdev the stick with which they will beat their drum for the coming days, perhaps for the coming months, perhaps (I sincerely hope not) for coming years.

Just when the idiocy of the Ayodhya movement had seemingly died its definitive death, here we go again.

The same trade-mark Congress dithering – Indira & Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao style – first build up the fascists, talk to them (covertly, if not overtly), give them the issues and the platform, and then panic. Remember Bhindranwale, remember Shah-bano case, remember the ‘unlocking’ of the door of the Babri Masjid. And now watch the circus get going at Ramlila Ground.

Nothing suits fancy-dress fascists, especially of the morally righteous variety that Ramdev represents better than the patina and glamour of martyrdom. In one stroke, the UPA government, with the aid of the Delhi Police, has offered them that halo.

I can now see a man wearing blue fatigues (Rapid Action Force?) carrying a man in saffron robes, holding a tricolor flag, a Ramdev clone,  as if he were carrying a sack of potatoes past a large backdrop featuring a pantheon of ‘patriots. A stoic Savarkar smirks on the plastic surface of the backdrop as blue man and saffron burden careen past him, with the ‘sant’ kicking the air, like a petulant child.

The NDTV voice (Vishnu Som) says - “some reports say that Baba Ramdev has been whisked away by a helicopter…upward from 30,000 people were there…who took the operational decision ?” Who indeed?

Tejas Mehta, an NDTV correspondent, is speaking to some more people, a young man says – “this is like Jallianwala Bagh” (any fool can see that it is not, the police have not fired live bullets – but of course, now the righteous right will go to town saying exactly this sort of rubbish). A woman says, “the police crushed women at one’ o clock at night”, (she is probably right, there seems to have been unseemly pushing and shoving) the correspondent asks – “was there stone throwing?” – they say, “no, there was no stone throwing”.

Suddenly one young man seizes this opportunity to make his piece to camera, he hyperventilates the words ‘Shahid’ (Martyrs) and ‘Kurbani’ (sacrifice). We will hear a lot more of these words in the coming days. And everytime I hear them, I feel sick at the pit of my stomach, because I know that they are the clarion calls of a creeping authoritarian consensus that always feeds off the pasturage of beaten and bludgeoned people.

Two months ago, I had written on Kafila:

…The current euphoria needs to be seen for what it is – a massive move towards legitimizing a strategy of simple emotional blackmail – a (conveniently reversible) method of suicide bombing in slow motion. There is no use dissenting against a pious worthy on a fast, because any effort to dissent will be immediately read as a callous indifference to his/her ‘sacrifice’ by the moral-earnestness brigade. Nothing can be more dangerous for democracy. Unrestrained debate and a fealty to accountable processes are the only means by which a democratic culture can sustain itself. The force of violence, whether it is inflicted on others, or on the self, or held out as a performance, can only act coercively. And coercion can never nourish democracy….

…The tragedy that we are facing today is that the legitimate public outrage against corruption is being channeled in a profoundly authoritarian direction that actually succeeds in creating a massive distraction. [Link]

I feel no pleasure in having the suspicions that I had then being confirmed. The first act of this tragedy/farce was performed on Jantar Mantar with Anna Hazare as its central character – to the fanfare of television. Then we had an intermission marked by some variety entertainment, fake or not so fake CDs, ego battles and backroom intrigue. Now, that interval is over, the second act has begun and the acrobat called Ramdev appeared on stage, performing his contortions, playing to the gallery, setting the stage for a hairy-happy-clappy fascism that brooks no doubts about itself. Ramdev, like all fascists, loves talking about ‘revolution-kranti’. He has himself photographed triumphantly in front of Bhagat Singh’s statue in Delhi, with a bronze ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ flag billowing sculpturally behind him, and it makes it to the front page of yesterday’s Indian Express. He is all image, all costume, all ready for the show.

But no, this is not Tahrir square. Not yet. No matter what television tells you. And nor are homophobic hysterics who call for death sentences at every provocation the likely agents of democratic transformation. Corruption is only their fetish. Tomorrow it will be something else. As Hartosh Singh Bal of Open Magazine remarked recently on a discussion in Times Now, Ramdev had demanded a war against Pakistan in the wake of 26/11. Tomorrow, Ramdev, or someone like him, may well go on hunger strike again, demanding a war, or that homosexuals  be castrated or sent to prison or (like in Iran) sentenced to death for ‘corruption’. When corruption becomes a fetish, then anything that anyone chooses to call corruption will do as the catalyst for any number indefinite feasts unto death. (These fasts are actually feasts, and should be called – ‘Amaran Mahabhoj’ not ‘Amaran Anashan’. He is not hungry, he is eating us alive.)

A city where you cannot rent or buy the tiniest bit of shelter, without paying unaccounted for cash cannot pretend that its citizens are clean, no matter how often they vacuum their nostrils at their Baba’s bidding. A society where shopkeepers and traders smirk when you ask for a bill or a receipt cannot play-act at ethics, unless it wants to perform a charade. A country where every land deal, every dam, every road works and flyover, every arms deal is lubricated by kickbacks cannot afford to be selective about its villains. It cannot outsource them to Swiss bank accounts, pretending that the only villains were politicians and foreigners. Ramdev, and the entire ‘India Against Corruption’ movement talk a lot about a corrupt state (and no doubt it is a corrupt state) but they have nothing to say about the crony-Capitalists who actually run the show. They gun for the Rajas, the Kalmadis, the Hasan Alis, the Kanimozhis and the Marans, but the Tatas and the Ambanis who serve the volleys in the same game are passed over in silence. Perhaps there is a special asana – a pose that marks a great step forward in hatha-yoga as well as raja-yoga, especially attuned to selective hearing, selective vision, selective attention, selective chagrin, and selective menus for how and when and for what to stay hungry?

Ramdev talks a lot about the “…crores of rupeers stashed away in foreign accounts”, and yet, he purveys ‘remedies’ for cancer and AIDS against hard cash – cash which comes his way through television appearances, corporate donations, endorsements and gifts. His business enterprise is built on this enormous exercise in fraud, on wilful, knowing mischief with a society that is sick to the core and desperately needs healing. And he, of all people, has the temerity to talk as if the colour of his money were as spotless as the milk he wants children to drink so that they can grow ‘oh so gora-fair and lovely‘.

This is the savior we have given ourselves on this tear-gassed midnight. This is the lila unfolding on Ramlila ground as a battalion of Keystone Kops and a regiment of Saffron Scamsters contest the shape and meaning of our future.

I am sad, angry, and my laughter is black and bitter with rage. And if I were in Ramlila Ground, instead of being awake writing this, I am sure there would be tears too. Tear-Gas can make them come, easily.

Meanwhile, NDTV tells us that Baba Ramdev has been found, dressed in drag (what a wonderful bearded lady he would have made). He is in police custody. He will be escorted, ‘externed’ to Haridwar.

*

UPDATE : Sunday, June 5, 2011, 10:12 PM

Since I wrote this post this morning, a lot has unfolded on television. The clowns of the government circus are in a huddle with the ringmistress, wondering how to wipe the egg off their faces. The holy fool is back in his nest. And the chorus of civil and uncivil society is singing its dirges.It now transpires (this was revealed by Devendra Sharma, a close Ramdev associate, on live television, on NDTV) that the Ramdev Camp had indeed written the ‘letter’ stating that they would end the ‘fast’ soon in response to their ‘understanding’ with the government – something that the Baba then disavowed angrily, calling Kapil Sibal a ‘cheat’ for having let the cat out of the bag. Devendra Sharma, shamelessly admitted that this unseemly pirouette and counter-pirouette was a ‘tactical necessity’ – comparing it to ‘Shivaji’s ruses with Aurungzeb’. Leading Barkha Dutt, the anchor of the programme to ask whether or not the Ramdev camp could now be held liable for ‘cheating’ its own constituency and the public. I think that this would be the logical question to ask, even if it was first asked by Barkha Dutt, for whom I hold no brief.

I’d like to say a big thank you, readers, for all your responses, both appreciative as well as critical. We need a serious debate on what ‘black money’ and the darker recesses of the world economy are. I hope this can be a forum for that.

A clarification does need to be made at this hour. I had written, while dawn was breaking, – “The CPI(M), comatose, has so far chosen to stay silent.” Since then, the CPI(M) has released a statement, and it is fairly sensible. Brinda Karat, CPI(M) spokesperson, has been vocal, robust and clear on television about how she and her party view the matter – they have held both the government and the Ramdev camp responsible for this mess – and have (correctly, to my view) deplored the draconian and uncalled for police action. I think that is commendable. Those who read this blog regularly know that I am a very harsh critic of the CPI(M), (I am also very glad that they lost the elections in West Bengal and Kerala) but, I do believe that when a party, or a person, (regardless of whether or not I agree with them, and clearly, I don’t with the CPI(M), or with Brinda Karat on most issues) does take a correct stand, they should be acknowledged for having done so, especially if they have been criticised for not having done so. To do anything else would be irresponsible.

94 Comments leave one →
  1. Abhishek Srivastava permalink
    June 5, 2011 4:57 AM

    Hats off to the timing and commitment of this piece….at 4.38 a.m…. fine analysis apart…

  2. Babbu permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:14 AM

    Every Indian, has a right to protest peacefully. Baba Ramdev, irrespective of weather you agree with him or not, has a right to protest and fast unto death, if he may so desire.

    Today, the sonia/manmohan/kapil-sibal government, launched a most vicious, lieful, thuggish mid-night attack on a peaceful protest and dug its own grave. The place had reporters so the government cannot lie so easily. I just canot fathom about what was the need of this despicable attack.

    This is criminal and thuggish conduct by the government. A violent and brutal midnight crackdown on Indians, who had just come to demand stringent laws against corruption.

    • Uma permalink
      June 5, 2011 2:33 PM

      Strange bedfellows in politics. Stranger in “Civil Society”. Homophobes, charlatans, gay activists, right wing fundamentalists and left liberals. Where were you during Post Godhra Gujarat? 48 hours back when 4 people including a 6 month old died in Bihar in police firing? Thuggish attack on peaceful women and children? Oh I forgot, protests against starch factories dont change your life but corruption leads to a loss of your own money! Moral corruption and bankruptcy at its worst – As the author has stated, various news channels showed the events live and by their admissions, stone pelting and waving of sticks, baseball bats etc happened before police intervention. Anarchist blackmailing methods of raising and attempting to settle such issues are incorrect and any government must enforce the rule of law. He has had a history of breaking law to his convenience. If you see him as your leader, I assume you are a homophobe who believes yoga will cure AIDS.

      • punch permalink
        June 7, 2011 12:08 PM

        And what were you doing when 24 street dogs in Mumbai was mercilessly butchered.

  3. desi permalink
    June 5, 2011 6:40 AM

    Dude,
    You seems to be a typical commie/converted christian.
    Just sitting and watching TV, you can comment about how Ramadev baba is fascist, his yoga is BS etc.
    The Vatican would be mighty pleased with your comments. They can sponsor free trip or give you washing machine etc.
    Keep on throwing stones at people who want to do something.
    What is your contribution by the way for making the country better?

    Sonia with her Italian connections can get you a job in Italy. Starting learning Italian ….

    Gratze

    • mini-desi permalink
      June 5, 2011 12:10 PM

      Dude,

      You seems to be a typical Savarkari/congenital fool.

      Just sitting and watching PC, you can comment about how Shuddha baba is commie (You should check whether he considers that an insult), his analysis is BS etc.

      The Mussolini would be mighty pleased with your comments. They can sponsor free trip (a sponsored trip is free you know) or give you thrashing machine etc.

      Keep on throwing stones at people who write lengthy analytical posts and post them on a public forum, only to have you come around and defecate in the open.

      What is your contribution by the way for making the country better? No, Shrimaan Desi Ji, NO. Defecating on the internet DOES NOT count as a contribution, as it isn’t biodegradable.

      Anyone with their worldly connections couldn’t get you a job anywhere. Starting learning manne…

      *Badhbo*

      • Zafar permalink
        June 5, 2011 7:26 PM

        The word you are looking for is blogdegradable. Please feel free to popularise it.

      • Junaid permalink
        June 5, 2011 7:39 PM

        Agreed. Shuddha baba is not a commie, he is as commie as a congressie charlatan can be. Everything he writes about Politics is to justify Congress government. You just need to read closely to know that. Desire to sleep in the government’s bed gives him monetary benefits as anybody’s guess. But CSDS does get a lot of money from organizations related to Delhi government. So a murderer like Geelani is welcome but not Baba Rambev. Now Give me a stone.

        • June 5, 2011 9:31 PM

          Junaid, (or whosoever you may be) thank you for your comment. A few clarifications.
          a) I am not a baba
          b) I have never said I am not what you call a ‘commie’ (you don’t have to be a member of the moribund organizations that write ‘communist’ on their signboards to be one, you have to consistently maintain a communist, internationalist, non-statist position which stands by the interests of working people all over the world, and hopes and works towards a classless, stateless society. I try to do all of the above. I suppose that makes me a communist. I have no problems accepting that, knowing fully well, that it also means that I take an attitude of personal responsibility (as part of my personal ethical life) for the unforgivable crimes against humanity by regimes that have called themselves communist, be they in the erstwhile USSR, China, Cambodia, or for that matter in West Bengal.
          c) I may or may not be a charlatan (that is a matter of perception and can neither be proved, nor disproved) but I find your suggestion that I am what you call a ‘congressie’, laughable. I have publicly stated my utter contempt for the stupidity of the Congress party and its current government, and have never made any bones about how corrupt I think it is – please read my post on the Anna Hazare phenomenon for confirmation.
          d) I am not an employee, or faculty member, of the CSDS, so I do not understand what your point about CSDS is about in this post. I have been associated with the Sarai Programme at CSDS as a consultant in the past. And I think CSDS, like several other research institutions has some very intelligent and interesting people. But that does not mean I have any formal relationship with CSDS
          e) as far as I know, CSDS does not get money from ‘organizations related to the Delhi government’.
          f) I don’t know which Geelani you are talking about. The Geelani I know personally, Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, lecturer in Arabic at Zakir Husain College, is not and has never been a murderer, though he has had attempts made on his life.

          • drrb permalink
            June 6, 2011 12:16 AM

            From ur reply it is clear that u dont belong to any group.But it seems u r a Bengali and that explains every thing.So much budboo coming from ur blog itself shows what a stinking personality u could be.Only Bengalis are rotten so much.So is the case with ur NDTV guys.

            • June 6, 2011 7:06 PM

              Sorry to butt in, but why do we get personal with writers, just because they state their views openly?
              It would be so nice if our debates were not personal, but focused on the issue at hand. Personal attacks are not a valid form of arguing :)

    • Nisha George permalink
      June 5, 2011 3:15 PM

      Dear Desi,
      I think that Shuddhabrata Sengupta has written a beautiful article.He has called a spade a spade.
      Is it not strange that in our country where, with very very few exceptions everybody has been involved in something corrupt- Part of the ‘fees’ to the driving instructor gets you a license, policeman lined up to cach hapless motorists to gt their ‘weekend’ tip, downloading movies and books illegally from the internetDoctors who get paid trips to countries by pharmceutical companies inreturn for pushing drugs taht a hapless and poor public does not need.
      Look around you and at yourself and tell me that you don’t see corruption rampant.Is it only the people in power? Is’nt it all of us?
      Then tell me does it not seem strange to be ‘waging this war against corruption’ Maybe it should acknowledge that we are all corrupt. Then does it not seem strange to ask for the death sentence.Then we should all die.
      I think no man is a ‘God’ Baba Ramdev included.I have very little regard for a man who does not for all apearances practice what he seems to be preaching.If you don’t believe in western ways why own a mansion in switzerland?Is all your money milky white?Anna Hazare has atleast walked the talk.
      And lastly I feel sorry that you called the writer a commie / converted christian.Wee are all individuals with freedom of thought and speech.By calling him racist names for disagreeing
      with the way you feel does not speak too much of you. And every commie/ converted christian is an individual with different views not an undifferentiated mass. I hope you meet a ‘commie/ converted christian’ who touches your life!
      Best wishes.

      • drrb permalink
        June 6, 2011 12:30 AM

        What looks so beautiful for u is smells so offensive for others.Ur reply is again a typical convert style.When did Ramdev claimed to be God? If u can have a westren style lifestyle and thinking in India, what is wrong for Ramdev to have a hjouse in west? The way u r justifying corruption shows ur converted values. If Ramdev has asked for death sentence,does it mean Govt has to resort to violence? There are thousand ways to prove that his concept is unrealistic.One of the simplest being The Govt asking people on a website How many are in favor of death sentence for corruption. That might have left Ramdev as a fool in public view.The author has crossed all limits of decency and used his blog to insult not only Ramdev but all readers.This type of arrogance is typical of converts and pseudo intellectuals.People know who are funding this type of journalism.Before expecting respect from blogging community the author should learn to respect them.

        • June 9, 2011 5:07 PM

          What is a “typical convert”? what is his/her style? and who decides what is a typical convert?
          And there r converted values too? Isn’t that taking stereotyping too far?

          And who is deciding the “limit of decency” set for the author? Isn’t he entitled to his views on his blog? Or are we in 1984 already?

          Man… am scared!

  4. Aarti permalink
    June 5, 2011 7:39 AM

    Perhaps we get the revolution we deserve? No Spring or Jasmine for us. Just this plastic lotus !

    • Dr.Mohan Rao permalink
      June 8, 2011 7:51 PM

      I love this metaphor. No doubt the plastic lotus is made in China – like the Narendra Modi masks are.
      Mohan Rao

  5. Ammu Abraham permalink
    June 5, 2011 8:41 AM

    “NDTV tells us that Baba Ramdev has been found, dressed in a sari (what a wonderful bearded lady he would have made). He is in police custody. He will be escorted, ‘externed’ to Haridwar. ”

    Maybe Ramdev is a Closet Cross-dresser? About to storm the South as a devotee of the Goddess? One only wishes that this would encourage him to wear a sleeved blouse and spare us the sight of his hirsute underarms.

  6. Ravi permalink
    June 5, 2011 9:18 AM

    Suddha, you gave expression to my anger. Struggle against corruption has taken form of witch hunting.

  7. Kasturi permalink
    June 5, 2011 9:32 AM

    Dear Suddha, Thanks for writing this. We have had enough of the mutually reinforcing tango of the sickular Congress and the Right wing (BJP and RSS).

    Do take a look at this: http://www.studentsyouthagainstcorruption.org/ The CPIM might be comatose and the CPI might make silly declarations equating Ramdev’s to a “peoples’ stuggle” (!!!), but the students and youth of the radical left have embarked on a broad platform based mass movement, identifying neoliberal policies facilitating corporate plunder as the root of “corruption”, as is signified in their movement logo. This is a welcome positive assertion from the left.

    • drrb permalink
      June 6, 2011 12:48 AM

      The left in India has long become the fountain head of corruption and the mouth piece of capitalists.Every body knows the how much money NDTV and its neosecular Bengali mafia is minting at the cast of castigating whatever that is Indian.The root cause of backwardness, communal hatred and all things negative about India have taken origin from Bengalis and destroying the whole country.How else can anybody explain the 19 crore population of Bengalis( worse than Mosquitoes)? the so called leftism is nothing but self degradation and communalism.

      • June 7, 2011 8:30 PM

        Kindly note that “left” does not necessarily refer to a particular political party. Left ideals will stay alive as long as there is inequality in society :)

  8. June 5, 2011 10:04 AM

    Discussions about corruption in India seem to head for two kinds of responses by people- One is opposing corruption relying more on the strength of vast masses organized along the lines of class ; this would perhaps look forward to a successful future in effectively combining the parliamentary and extra parliamentary struggles to be able to replace the bourgeois, semi feudal state apparatus with a truly democratic socialist sovereign state.

    The other however, seems to be not just more visible and enjoying substantial support from the middle classes, but is also characterized by a tendency to instantly condemn all democratic traditions and calling for ‘summary justice’.
    There seems to be a systematic method employed by the right wing in which fascists and bigots would like the constitutional mechanism frustrated or subverted, as has been demonstrated earlier in episodes leading to the demolition of Babri Masjid and in the Gujarat violence against Muslims. Similar patterns have emerged in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Chattisgad ,West Bengal and Hariyana where Muslims, Christians, Migrant workers , Adivasis , Dalits, subsistence farmers or women were selectively kept out of the protection of the laws which should have been available to defend against the aggression by the right wing hordes or the state itself. This kind of frustration of the rule of law by the right-wing or by a lawless state machinery has proved to be even more dangerous than the challenges to the state by the anarcho- militarist maoists .

    It may be noticed that even the self proclaimed apostles of peace and non violence, for example, some of the leading campaigners of the anti corruption movement have gone on record calling for hanging to death the ‘corrupt’! This, more than anything else, seems to generate a critical mass of anger just needed to topple the system. We also note that the Khap chieftains of Hariyana have also started their journey to the Ramleela maidan to offer their support to the ongoing crusade against corruption led by Baba Ramdev through
    a high profile fasting.

    Unless the masses all over the country are critically politicized to see through these abhorrent games of the ruling elite and in glove with a fascist right wing , there is a possibility that the hardcore of the latter will prevail upon a weak administration resting on the degenerated four pillars of a bourgeois parliamentary system viz; the elected legislature, executive, supposedly independent judiciary and the press .
    [originally published as a face book note]

    Ideological and other forms of class struggle alone would perhaps help; the left should not only expose the sinister frauds played in the name of corruption combat, but also unite to take the cudgel of people’s struggles by themselves without any vacillation or ambiguity about the fundamental understanding of corruption as a manifested product of capitalistic relations of production.

  9. Pearl permalink
    June 5, 2011 11:17 AM

    Don’t hate Ramdev simply because he wears saffron. If he is corrupt, the likes of Sibal, Digvijaya and Sonia are not lily white either. The only reason the UPA wins because the BJP is not an acceptable alternative for many because of its communally divisive politics. The right to protest peacefully is a democratic right. Will one have to read out the constitution now?

  10. Chintan permalink
    June 5, 2011 11:28 AM

    No surprises here – your worries are same as two months earlier post. Not a single line on a positive suggestion. No focusing on the issue and only focusing on the characters. Trying very hard to sound “see I told all of you that”.

    Can you please answer
    – what is bigger blow to democracy – Baba Ramdev and Anna holding the Government to “ransom” through their democratic protests or the Government forcibly removing protesters who were carrying out peaceful demonstrations
    – what according to you is the way forward –
    a) hope that Congress will pass the bill or
    b) vote them out and hope that the next Government will
    c) dont worry about corruption and black money
    d) national debate (I could never figure out what else is these movements of Baba and Anna pericipitating if not national debate) with the intelligentsia to ensure that we come out with a perfect solution to a burning problem even if it takes us 60 more years

  11. June 5, 2011 11:50 AM

    And the writer of this piece has put it all as tersely, as effectively and as accurately as possible.
    An entertaining show by baba, dangerous consequences for the country.

  12. Sanjiv Sharma permalink
    June 5, 2011 12:30 PM

    I think this is quite a shameful article. He is almost confirming with the NDTV the prime media. The videos uploaded before this article was even more shameful. Shekhar Gupta and party are calling Ramdev nut case. I just wonder people who roam in the alleys of power which is extremely repressive are any less nut case? I think the problem with this pseudo-intellectual civil society is that they are totally uncapable of accepting that there is another civil society which is outside their domain. Question is not that we agree with Ramdev or not. And as far as fascisim etc. are concerned I unable to differenciate who is less fascist, left/right. Who is more cynical I don’t know. When someone bluntly supports nationalist agendas of extreme right groups of Kashmir that person also chooses his pranayam!

  13. Amit permalink
    June 5, 2011 12:42 PM

    How can a fast be termed as a fascist exercise? Just because a yoga guru starts it? I thought people had right to protest peacefully no matter how silly and idiotic their causes may be. Is a protest only valid when someone fashionable, complicated pronoun spewing bimbo like Ms. Roy leads it. I guess, rest of us lesser mortals are stupid, communal, right-wing RSS types if we protest. Cool.

  14. ooh, on the other hand permalink
    June 5, 2011 12:54 PM

    I did not support Ramdev as he demanded too simple solutions and some of his ideas deserved to be dismissed.But the way this govt. has handled his fast and the police action will only make him more popular and his future agitations will get more support. Where is the left in all this.The left cannot think beyond its aversion to saffron, nor can emerge as a credible alternative.So BJP may gain from such campaigns as it makes the right noises and at least talks of getting back black money from abroad.Left has no agenda on these issues and will blame neo-liberalism while non-party left intellectuals will be writing in EPW and Kafila expressing their discomfort on the rise of Ramdevs and Anna Hazares in this society.
    But the civil society is bothered more about deeds than about words. Hence it will largely support Anna Hazares. The broad support to Ramdev across India is a proof for this.

    Communalism is evil but to oppose it and support ‘secular’ corruption is not a good option. I think the support for Ramdevs and Hazares will increase because they talk of issues which people think are important.Many may end up supporting BJP despite having reservations against its agenda and its past record because supporting congress or the ineffective left is as good as supporting Kalmadis,Kanimozhis,Rajas.Raja or Yeddiyurappa- people may choose the lesser evil. So all these campaigns against corruption may also result in more support for BJP across the classes not just the middle class.But that party is not in a position to capitalize on this.

  15. ooh, on the other hand permalink
    June 5, 2011 1:05 PM

    ‘ Ramdev, and the entire ‘India Against Corruption’ movement talk a lot about a corrupt state (and no doubt it is a corrupt state) but they have nothing to say about the crony-Capitalists who actually run the show. They gun for the Rajas, the Kalmadis, the Hasan Alis, the Kanimozhis and the Marans, but the Tatas and the Ambanis who serve the volleys in the same game are passed over in silence’

    Crony capitaism cannot survive without from powers that be. In 2G case corporate honchos have also been arrested. In any case India Against Corruption is not a corporate PR exercise.It has given no clean chit to Tatas or Ambanis.

  16. June 5, 2011 1:13 PM

    Right from the days of ‘demolition mobilizations’ to the Gujrat pogroms there seems to be a continuity in the process by which the right extremists try to usurp power or hold on to it.
    The only difference this time seems to be that the issue happens to be a genuine one,unlike in the past..But when they repeatedly demand summery justice like putting to death the corrupt, the signs are ominous indeed!
    ” Democratic mobilizations” looks to be anything but that, when not seen in isolation with similar things in the past, were equivocal ism by the parivaar has been a rule than exception. .

    • June 5, 2011 1:31 PM

      Right from the days of ‘demolition mobilizations’ to the Gujrat pogroms there seems to be a continuity in the process by which the right extremists try to usurp power or hold on to it.
      The only difference this time seems to be that the issue happens to be a genuine one,unlike in the past..But when they repeatedly demand summery justice like putting to death the corrupt, the signs are ominous indeed!
      ” Democratic mobilizations” looks to be anything but that, when not seen in isolation with similar things in the past, where equivocalism by the parivaar has been the rule than exception. .

      • punch permalink
        June 7, 2011 12:19 PM

        You commies are so out of touch with reality and grassroots. Is this what you discuss and analyze all the time. No wonder you are so outdated.

  17. suresh permalink
    June 5, 2011 2:20 PM

    @Amit

    How can a fast be termed as a fascist exercise?

    From Dr. Ambedkar’s speech to the Constituent Assembly in 1949:

    If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

    I have taken the above from here.

    I don’t particularly like Arundhati Roy’s views, but with all due respect she has not indulged in emotional blackmail like Anna Hazare and now, Mr. Ramdev. She has not said to the government “Do what I say; otherwise, I will go on a fast unto death.”

    I was particularly incensed by Arvind Kejriwal’s interview to Karan Thapar. When Thapar asked him why he did not contest elections, his response was “Suppose I don’t want to contest elections?” In other words, I want to change the system and the government should do it because I (rather, a few of us who are all unelected) say so. If this is not fascism, what is?

  18. June 5, 2011 2:55 PM

    A typical verbal diarrhea on part of a ‘sick’ular brigade.

    -Arvind K.Pandey

    http://indowaves.wordpress.com/

  19. naveen jankar permalink
    June 5, 2011 4:04 PM

    the government has no doubt taken a very bad step, however funnily the yoga teacher baba tried to avoid martyrdom. the public is confused how to go about supporting a satyagrahi/ revolutionary who refuses to take any beatings. on the other hand, how does anyone, other than undeservedly rich businessmen, dealers, bureaucrats and career politicians, justify voting for the Congress for the last 60 years, after this?

  20. Bipin Trivedi permalink
    June 5, 2011 4:05 PM

    Today govt. barbaric act to crush down peaceful violence of Baba can be described as unofficial emergency same as in 1975 Indira Gandhi crushed down Jayprakash Narayan movement and declared official emergency and that was black day on Indian democracy. So, now Sonia Gandhi (of course she is super PM) following the same path to turn down peaceful protest and we can describe this as grey day of Indian democracy.
    Shrud politician (khandhe rajkarni) manage to take baba in trap and able to make him fool and innocent (comared to shrud politician) baba become fool.

  21. June 5, 2011 4:34 PM

    Will stealing electricity amount to theft of public asset? If yes, guess what will be the punishment for this act of corruption according to Ramdev’s criteria!
    On last March 29 &30, there was a yoga class organized in Thiruvananthapuram at Poojappura maidan by Baba Ramdev, Swabhiman Trust , Kerala Chapter. The Kerala State Electricity Board Officials found out that electricity was being stolen by the organizer from the main supply line passing by. The KSEB promptly cut off the supply and filed a complaint with the police, for theft of power. On being questioned by the police, the anti corruption crusader had reportedly argued that such (unauthorized) draw of power was a common practice in other parts of India. However, the KSEB and the Kerala Police were in no mood to be convinced of this wisdom, and an amount of Rs 24,000 had to be remitted with the Section Office, KSEB, Poojappura, before the complaint was ultimately deferred by the KSEB.

  22. a worried student permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:04 PM

    I feel that the government has handled this Mr Ramdev situation very badly. He being the yoga master (not that I have anything against that fact) has the government bending over backwards. The sycophancy portrayed by the government was shameful. Now they take decisive action which back fires and ends up promoting his cause further. And now they stay hushed, not commenting on what has taken place.

    It is alright to have peaceful protests against something, or someone. But I feel that playing with the emotions of the people to further ones personal/political agenda is unfair. Ramdev Baba, by taking the moral high ground and representing moral righteousness, already has the majority of the public in the pal of his hand. And then he plays with their sympathies as if its play dough. Sculpting it to whatever form he pleases.

    I was a staunch supporter of this entire anti-corruption movement when Anna Hazare, a very charismatic leader and (as far as I know) a person who walked the talk, was heading it. But with leaders like Mr Ramdev, I am disillusioned and I don’t know what to believe or stand for.

    I had hoped that the Jan Lokpal Bill would be passed, if not exactly as drafted but atleast in an acceptable form. But i don’t see that happening with the government refusing to bring Members of Parliament into its purview.

    And I also do not understand, what constitutional methods could possibly be used against this corruption that is rampant. It would be better to have solutions to go along with the problems isn’t it.

  23. suresh permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:31 PM

    And I also do not understand, what constitutional methods could possibly be used against this corruption that is rampant. It would be better to have solutions to go along with the problems isn’t it.

    There are no easy answers. Yes, corruption is rampant. And unfortunately, constitutional methods are slow, infuriating and frustrating. But once you legitimize non-constitutional methods, then you are asking for trouble. Where does it stop? A military coup? It is worth remembering that every military coup in our neighbour Pakistan was legitimized on the grounds that the civilian government was incompetent and corrupt.

    There is wisdom in what Dr. Ambedkar says. If we are to be a democracy, then we have to accept constitutional methods — the methods legitimized by our own constitution — no matter how frustrating it can get at times. Presumably this is unacceptable to the likes of Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and co. I am frankly very scared of these “civil society representatives.”

  24. a fan permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:34 PM

    Mr.Sengupta,
    With all due respect Sir, if i could, i would kiss you right now..
    you have put it all so precisely..
    one thing i am still wondering is how come the RSS and BJP did not see this coming? they scripted the demands for Ramdev and gave him a platform to pursue his political ambitions. but what made them think that he will stick to the script once he has all of that!!

    • Bhochka permalink
      June 5, 2011 7:00 PM

      He is the script.

      With him at the symbolic helm of the anti-corruption crusade, the RSS and the BJP have what they’ve missed for many years – a campaign that feeds upon genuine grievances that are widespread, that come from different sources, and that are growing, but without a language or programme to unite them. First Anna Hazare, and then Ramdev, gave these grievances that consistency. Once corruption could be seen as a matter of bad individuals doing bad things, rather than the glue that actually holds a highly unequal and exploitative society together, the only direction the campaign could move was towards the Hindu right, because such a vision is, above all, compatible with theirs. Social-movement activists and lawyers who chose to ‘tail’ Anna Hazare were unable to shift the course of the campaign towards a wider social critique, and so you have this circus. The government did what it does – responded brutally, cruelly, and ham-handedly – and so now we have a nightmare situation where the two forces sustaining this charade – a corrupt and morally bankrupt state, and charlatans like Ramdev, appear as opponents in this phoney war.

      Shuddha’s first piece, on Anna Hazare, anticipated all this. At that time the shape of this ‘crusade’ was much less clear, and it was possible for any number of progressive people to hope that, since genuine frustrations and grievances buttressed the campaign, that it could be pushed in a leftward, inclusive, and democratic direction. Those who believed in chopping off the hands of the corrupt, however, understood the direction of this movement much better – it was their movement, and the rest were temporary passengers without an agenda of their own to enforce upon it.

      It doesn’t matter whether Baba Ramdev sticks to the script he’s been given, or starts writing his own lines. He cannot write any that will not ultimately serve the RSS and BJP’s need for some kind of parasitic hook on to popular grievances. They can give him what he needs – muscle and organization. And he can give them what they need – his devoted followers, his assiduously marketed martyrdom, his Patanjali Yog Peeth, and the Scottish island that he bought not so long ago.

  25. ooh, on the other hand permalink
    June 5, 2011 6:28 PM

    This is with reference to comments by Suresh citing Ambedkar. Dr.Ambedkar wanted changes in the Hindu Law.Nehru supported him but there was resistance to the changes. Nehru did not invoke his authority to push it. Frustated with the resistance and Nehru’s refusal to push it, Ambedkar quit the cabinet.The changes were not abandoned and were enacted within few years of his quitting the cabinet.
    Today all over the world civil society swears by method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha as weapons against the state as they are non-violent methods of protest and resistance.This is not a pancea but this works well in most cases.
    Ambedkar had problems with Gandhi and Congress and hence made that sweeping statement. So taking that an axiomatic truth is an exercise is delusion.

    • suresh permalink
      June 5, 2011 11:40 PM

      Today all over the world civil society swears by method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha as weapons against the state as they are non-violent methods of protest and resistance.

      I don’t think so: do you have any evidence to support your assertion? And please don’t quote out of context. Dr. Ambedkar himself acknowledged that there may be a case for such methods when there is no constitutional outlet. (So don’t invoke Arab spring, Tahrir square etc.) But our constitution, whatever its limitations, does allow for elections and a method for amending it. The problem with Anna Hazare and others is that they don’t want to use these methods. To quote Kejriwal, “Suppose I don’t want to stand for elections?” That, I am sorry to say, is no answer.

      Ambedkar had problems with Gandhi and Congress and hence made that sweeping statement.

      There is no doubt that Ambedkar disliked Gandhi and Nehru. That does not invalidate the point that he is making. As a matter of fact, I think that Ambedkar’s dislike for hunger strikes and the like sprung partly from being at the receiving end of such emotional blackmail from Gandhi over the demand for separate electorates in 1932. To those enamoured of such methods, I would like to remind them that this can come back to haunt you. If you can use emotional blackmail against others, then others can also use the same tactic against you when they do not agree with you. Nehru’s government discovered this quite early when Potti Sriramulu went on a hunger strike in 1951 for the creation of a separate Andhra state from the existing Madras Presidency. Ambedkar, I think, is quite right in warning us to stick to constitutional methods.

      I also dislike hunger strikes because of its implicit threat of violence. The threat seems to be “If I die, then be prepared for a lot of violence.” I am not an expert on British India but in some instances at least, I think the British feared the violence that might break out if Gandhi died. It is worth noting that when Nehru’s government allowed Potti Sriramulu to die, violence did break out in the Telugu speaking areas of the Madras Presidency. It was the violence — and not the hunger strike itself — that forced Nehru’s government to concede the demand for Andhra and more generally accept the principle of linguistic states. I do not doubt that in this case too, what the government fears greatly is the violence that might break out if either Anna Hazare or Ramdev is allowed to fast unto death. With Ramdev and his occupation of the Ramlila grounds, you also have a law and order problem given his capacity for theatrics.

      Hopefully, at some stage, our “civil society” advocates will realize that such tactics can be counter productive and that it is better to use constitutional methods, even if these are slow.

  26. Khare permalink
    June 5, 2011 8:10 PM

    The action taken at midnight by police against Indian may appear and correct just to some (pseudo)intellectuals who believe what NDTV correspondent or lemon news shout all day. It is evident that these Chanels are aslo bought up puppies. I think It is time for the Arjun to shed his impotence and rise to pick up him arms and fight. He (sons of India) should now fight and punish those (who have stuffed up billions in foreign lands) who ( obviously who holds remote control) have been disrobing their own mother(land) in front of entire world. It is now a Dharm yudh where no intellectual will be able to remain neutal, every one will have to take a side and fight. Yes you are free to decide for your self.

    • suman kumar permalink
      June 6, 2011 10:00 AM

      There are so many problems in the life. A civilized person always solve these problems up to his limits. So , many people(mainly ruling party) thinks that BABA has no right to raise issues
      ie. cur corruption , forefeet black money in favor of nation and so on.
      For a moment we assume it happen then there is no difference between Ms Sonia Gandhi and Ms Menaka Gandhi.

  27. Anupama permalink
    June 5, 2011 8:24 PM

    Please go on writing, Mr. Sengupta, if only for me. Do you know, I haven’t watched television (except for tennis and cricket) for over ten years…and I don’t miss it. I don’t miss these televised tamashas or brain-dead “P2C”s pretending to be reportage. I don’t miss the spectacle of ignorance and the complete loss of any kind of subtlety, complexity or self-analysis (though I wonder if we ever had it as a culture). Please can you wrangle a column in one of our major “dailies” – more people need to read you – even if intelligence, irony, syntactical precision and a literate style are no longer in demand in this increasingly stupid country, in which no one reads much anymore. Don’t give in yet to bitterness and rage – you have many readers like me who have often thought what you think but have perhaps never expressed it so well. Could you please write something that analyses why middle-class Indians increasingly seem to prefer the convenient sound byte to the well-reasoned debate, and anything at all to a good book? I connect all this Ramdev nonsense to the increasingly disrespectful attitude to academic excellence, or any kind of excellence for that matter…”Gold is the only God they worship”. Keep writing.

    • drrb permalink
      June 6, 2011 1:03 AM

      Reffering to ur motherland as stupid country shows what a stupid u r. learning a bit of english or movining with pseudo intellectuals does not make u a respectable individual.Dont forget that this stupid country only has given u the things u r proud of.No other country in the world including ur commie china or christian west ever gives so much freedom of speech.Just as the author feels so much Budhboo from the safron venue, much more offensive smell is emitted by ur type neointellectuals albeit through their hatred for fellow countrymen.over the decades my observation shows that ur type of people are the greatest corrupts and ready for anything for gains.

      • skeptical Indian permalink
        June 9, 2011 9:35 PM

        I agree with you Anupama….Love for your motherland does not mean blind adoration of a fetish object….One must be open to self criticism and all nuances of an argument must be explored….The public discourse in this country has been very disappointing…ALL political parties included……The Congress as usual has been its RETARDED self…..The Right, mark my words, will use this for their next ascent to power…..We will probably get an illthought out, ill designed piecemeal legislation….and the real issues affecting this country…displacement, exclusion, hunger, poverty, inequality will be pushed to the background….

  28. D. Bhattacharjya Tato permalink
    June 5, 2011 8:32 PM

    Are you sure that Ramdev and Co. is not doing a paid-in-advance job for the government? I really feel that they must be cooking up something else, now and here. Like signing a couple of business treaties or privatizing AIIMS…. or something more heinous… By the way besides AIDS and cancer cure, Ramdev can also turn homosexuals into heterosexuals and of course the other way round (as he claimed during 377 debates)… I hope the guys who attacked and air-lifted him last night would retain their sexualities. It must be an hours journey from Delhi to Dehradoon… a lot can happen!

  29. Aruna permalink
    June 5, 2011 9:33 PM

    Pranayaam can actually cure cancer. The rest is suspect.

  30. Indian Sherlock Holmes permalink
    June 5, 2011 10:15 PM

    If it was some Muslim ‘spiritual leader’ and his followers, or some Christian ‘spiritual leader’ and his followers, instead of Baba Ramdev and his followers, who were given such a high handed treatment by the state, you and all the other countless ‘secular’ activists and intellectuals would have been crying hoarse about genocide and ill treatment of minorities. Will you dare to put on your website such vulgar videos about a Christian or Muslim ‘spiritual leader’?

    I am not surprised by your support to the high-handed state brutality on an unarmed crowd protesting peacefully. Human right activists in India are now concerned only about the rights of Evangelists, Jehadis and Maoists who financially prop up the likes of you.

    Baba Ramdev may be a fraud and criminal as the Congress alleges. If so, the ruling party should ask the law enforcement agencies to bring him before the law. In India everybody has a right to go on a peaceful agitation, even religious leaders have that right. Now, allegations a raised against Baba Ramdev that he is an RSS man. So what? Is RSS a banned organisation? Does RSS has no right to launch peaceful agitations. Remember Baba Ramdev was not raising a religious issue. He was raising a genuine, serious, national issue.

  31. chintan permalink
    June 5, 2011 11:58 PM

    Thank god someone else thinks like me AND has the additional literary prowess to express their thougts so lucidly.
    As everyone already knows, the source of corruption and black money lies in our archaic laws. However, its strange that all remedies proposed by various groups focus on determent but not the root cause! Punishments via the Lok Pal will only create another center for corruption, its a matter of 8-10 years.
    As for ramdev, I wish I had his businsss accumen! And probably after a month or two, he will wish he had the political accumen of a peon in the Lok Sabha! He talks about black money, but barely pays any taxes himself. imaagine the service tax the country could have earned from the yoga camps he takes so much money for. Its a service at the end of the day, isn’t it?
    Great article!

  32. June 6, 2011 12:00 AM

    I do agree with the author here, ramdev erred in his drama a bit though… he lost a wonderful opportunity to become even more revered….
    My view on this:

    http://ruhisonal.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/baba-you-got-it-all-wrong/

    • joe permalink
      June 6, 2011 6:03 AM

      This is the right time to reflect(in a purely caretesian way) on the previleges associated accorded tomystified terrain of yoga -pranayama discourse, and its help in enriching the coffers of hindutva. After all cartesian side of the dialectics has its sure applications.

  33. Pradip Doshi permalink
    June 6, 2011 3:05 AM

    An abuse of pen & intelligence. Perverts try to draw the attn by writing something which the world does not endorse. Not showing respect, abusing/branding anyone without knowing and assuming supreme authority on any subject is inherited arrogance of convent educated. Well you have not to worry whether your writing is rational & true, you should feel to pat your own back for penmenship at the end of a weird written piece.

    I am not a politician, not attached to any political party, not a follower of Baba Ramdev but my mother taught not to throw tantrums on strangers or least who have better influence than your ownself. Your mother might have taught you the same but you have washed it out with some booze.

    With due apology, writers like you are a nuisance & doing great deal of dis-service to the society.

  34. joe permalink
    June 6, 2011 6:12 AM

    The postmodern defence of the likes of baba , smacks of fatalisitc denial of subjectivity.Their claim that the pathetic plight of Indian poor lacking medicare and failure of modern medicine , necessitate his existence is dangerous.They forgets that hoodwinking of the poor, and a fusion of science and irrationality, led to Hitler.

  35. Sohail Hashmi permalink
    June 6, 2011 11:14 AM

    Thank You Congress , first of all for providing legitimacy to a dubious sadhu and a quack who claims he can cure aids and homosexuality with his stupid breathing exercises

    and then for a ham handed operation that has given a lease of life to the BJP that was on a life support system.

    The Congress has shown once again that it can always be relied to do something that even a fool will not attempt.

    • June 7, 2011 1:38 PM

      About congress and its attrocities…u said it correctly. PLEASE WRITE MORE. THANKS

  36. Sunny Joseph permalink
    June 6, 2011 11:23 AM

    Seems to me that Shuddha has lumped Ramdev’s ‘fast’ with Anna Hazare’s. The two are different, even though it’s apparent that Ramdev wanted to ride piggyback on Hazare’s popularity, but then chickened out when confronted by the police. He would’ve done himself a big favour if he had courted arrest. That would have been really embarrassing for the UPA.
    A sidenote: Interesting to see that Ramdev sought Mayawati’s permission to fast in UP. From when we Indians require official permission to fast? Hunger is imposed on several millions anyway.

    • June 7, 2011 1:23 PM

      very correctly stated the background of mr. ramdev….why he avoided the court arrest ??

  37. Rajesh Sen permalink
    June 6, 2011 11:52 AM

    In a democratic country like India you definitely have the right to express your views. But please don’t make mockery of yourself by lauding CPI (M) for and Brinda Karat for speaking in the line which you personally feel is correct. You must give away the feeling that your views are always correct and everyone should and must agree to that.
    Without only criticizing please be wise enough to give a route map of how corruption can be evicted and how black money can be brought back.
    These are all my personal view, hope you will publish them.

  38. Khare permalink
    June 6, 2011 1:54 PM

    The route map had been laid long ago. It has been here for long.The only need is to folow it in a disciplined manner by all. only words and words will not help. Every one has to think, and meditate before voicing . studying the route map thoroughly is also required. Above all falling back to truth and being disciplined is all that is required of those who can not study the Map. Faith in truth only give them reason to be disciplined. We as Indians must go back and search for our roots, understand ourselves, and act as per our Dharm.

  39. Doesn't matter permalink
    June 6, 2011 2:18 PM

    I read the first few comments. Sometimes, people say its good to keep a dialog going. Sometimes I don’t see the point of doing so cause the issue at hand is lost and what ends up happening is the person who raises the issue ends up needing to justify their stance. I think this is a brilliant article, raises important questions (we sure as hell have stopped understanding the importance of questioning). A lot of the initial criticism is directed towards the writer’s ‘Bengaliness’, ‘Leftness’. Somewhere, these descriptors as identity markers need to stop. I can only wish that we start seeing beyond identity, toward action/argument/rationale itself.

  40. Anya permalink
    June 6, 2011 2:52 PM

    A nice and well written article by Shuddhabrata Sengupta. Only thing I would like to add are:
    1) I watched the whole so called crackdown live in TV and none of the 20 odd news channels picked up any major Lathi Charge except for a mild one which lasted about 5 minuts when Ramdevs supporters started throwing stones. The Police were in fact very restrained and politly asking people to move out.
    Most people in this forum have only watched the highlights on news the next day even that has not shown any lathicharge. Had there been a lathi charge all news channels would have had a field day showing those clips.

    2)Another thing that is very clear from news channel clips is that when the police went to detain Ramdev was sleeping and he was woken by his aids, he speaks to the police officer and then to evade them runs to the edge of the stage and tries to rally the crowd, in the meantime the police approach him and one of his aids says something in his ears and he jumps down into the crowd. Note in the video two of his aids have climbed half way onto the stage to help him jump.

    3)Questions were raised as to why the police didnot wait till morning to detain him! Any person with some common sence will know that it was the best time as the crowd would be far less than in the morning and that most of them were sleeping. If Rambev had peacefully courted arrest no one would have been hurt but he chose to jump into the crowd and instigate it.

    4) Now after reaching his ashram he clames ( like a seasoned politician) the police were going to detain him and then kill him in an encounter. This statement shows either he is very stupid to believe that the cops would kill him after detaining him in front of National TV or he is smart enough to use such propaganda to further his Political ambitions.

    5) Finally his biggest lie, First he says the letter ( realised by Kapil Sibbal) was pressurised out of him on the pertex of getting the PM’s approval. I am sure he nor we are stupid enough to belive this. His lie was nailed when Devinder Sharma a very close associate of Ramdev admitted on TV that they had indeed written the letter as a tactical move but had no plans of keeping their promise.

    6) At his press conferance at his Ashram when jounalist’s asked him some tough questions with facts he immediatly gave some wage reply and finished the press conferance. Aurnab from Time Now was heard saying there he runs when the tough questions come in.

    Some of the demands of Ramdev were to incorporate capital punishment for the corrupt, abolish Rs 500 and 1000 notes, Bring back Black money from forign Banks etc. Firstly China has the death penalty for corruption and many people are hanged there every year for corruption yet China is ranked much above India in Corruption.Secondly it is not a very easy task to abolish Rs 500 and 1000 notes and any way it would not serve the purpous as tthere are many ways to convert black 500 & 1000 notes to 100’s. Finally by thinking that by Declaring black money as National asset it would come back to India I would say it is easier said than done. Does ramdev not understand there are soverignity and legal issues related with forign banks. These are nothing but filmy ideas.

    Finally I feel laws are ment to be made by parliament and not through blackmail. If we feel the government is not acting we are free to change it. India is a Democracy and the government is elected by the people. If one is not happy with the government then dont vote for it. These so called activists should stand for elections come back with a majority and then make reforms rather than saying that politicians are bad. A few lac people out of the 120 billion coming for a rally doesnot give you the legitimacy to black mail the government.

    • punch permalink
      June 7, 2011 12:26 PM

      I dont know why you took such trouble to write this long comment. All this was told already by congress spokespersons. You could have just pointed to a link instead of wasting yours and others time.

  41. Prashant permalink
    June 6, 2011 2:58 PM

    Excellent post, Shuddha!
    Very embarrassing for Indian women that a bearded baba can think of attempting to pass himself off as a woman.. and actually almost succeed!

  42. unohu permalink
    June 6, 2011 3:50 PM

    yeh sab log bechare aurangzeb ka naam is sab me kyun ghasit laa rahein hai. And to those yelling “Shahid” and “Qurbani” — silly ghair muslim, tricks are for kids.

  43. June 6, 2011 5:21 PM

    incidents and events had been overrated for long, resulting in an unnecessary slugfest….
    baba, fighting for a righteous matter garnered support from the predominantly middle and lower middle class, giving this contest a class dimension as well….

    Then, the government which seemed to possess intelligent and aware people turned out to be the biggest morons and sycophants, dealing with public like they would have done with a crowd demanding a new state or something.

    They all screw up so that both the camps now have valid points against the other and thus the country retracts into a dark pit, slave to TRP and lots of mudslinging by the country’s high and mighty. and that indirectly causes a lot of frayed nerves throughout the country!!!

  44. Sanjiv Sharma permalink
    June 6, 2011 6:37 PM

    Question is not whether Babaji is right or wrong. I am deeply disturbed the way the author jumps into the criticism of Babaji in his article while taking the opportunity of government crackdown on the crowd. I am shocked and surprised at the tone and the urgency of the language to show how wrong Babaji is. Babaji can be totally wrong. If this article had been an intellectually worked out article on how and where he is wrong in a different time I won’t have mind it. But this article shows complete insecurity of the representation of intellectual community doing mockery of the person. I am sorry to say that this article completely exposed the emptiness of the intellectual community if the author chooses to represent that or if we choose to see him as a fragment of the intellectual community. Instead of out and out condemn of the violence, author is almost trying to support the government by trying to say that how Babaji is a joker and how he tried to cheat the government. I didn’t know author was such a lover of the government.

    The language of joker, circus doesn’t serve but shows the arrogance of the writer while total inability to engage with the problem of rootedness of such proto-religious (as I believe there nothing seriously religios in Babaji’s rhetorics) antics. In Delhi we had always seen advertisements of Babajis solving cancer by identifying cancer germs. We always laughed at it. If someone says homosexuality is disease let his say that. What is the anxiety to call him joker? I believe the anxiety is to prove how right I am and how wrong he is! It is the anxiety of insecurity. To be honest I am deeply concerned how and where these babaji/Hazare are successful in capturing the imagination of the larger public. And this the high time we engage with this seriously rather than using arrogant terms like jokers/circus.

    Author chooses to almost replicate NDTV and celebrates at every corner where he gets opportunity. Whereas only one line would have been enough for the whole event saying that “though I completely disagree with Babaji and dislike his types, but I vehemently condemn the violence of the police”. But something that restricts the author to be so straight forward is shocking and makes me doubtful of his stability of mind and force me to suspect his suppressed fascist ambitions. I am scared.

    • punch permalink
      June 7, 2011 12:31 PM

      “To be honest I am deeply concerned how and where these babaji/Hazare are successful in capturing the imagination of the larger public. ”

      Actually according to the commies joker babaji has captured the imagination of only the middle and lower middle class, the kulak class and above. Only commies have the exclusive right of capturing the imagination of the larger public. In the commie la la nverland safforn and revolution are like oil and water. Revolution is when you can see bearded people wearing skull caps and throwing stones.

  45. allwyn r permalink
    June 6, 2011 6:54 PM

    Hey guys,
    Calm down everyone, in our day to day life do your best. do not take or try to bribe anyone for your personal works. If you can survive with this then congratulations there won’t be any black money in any swiss bank. Nation begins with us. Baba or RSS or Sonia or anyone else is just playing with us. We have to change our day to day life. Blaming others is easy but following in our own life is most difficult part. Try doing this allthe best

  46. Taha Amin Mazumder permalink
    June 7, 2011 5:21 AM

    Oot of blue, why a baba? And the later part of his salwar-suit satire — along with the BJP endorsing and RSS jumping into the farce, and the baba’s retaliating statement on Sonia Gandhi — has given the issue a clear momentum — that it is, indeed, a Ram(dev) Leela. I think Subhrabrata has made it too clear in his beautifully written piece for others to swallow the truth. And, that’s why, may be these sarcastic remarks are pouring in. However, I personally think that this is the most articulate and beautifully written piece on this entire issue. No personal grudge or statements, but I think teh country is going back gradually to the square..and the people are caught between the devil and the deep sea.

  47. Taha Amin Mazumder permalink
    June 7, 2011 5:32 AM

    Please read this report: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110607/main2.htm

  48. Rahul Roy permalink
    June 7, 2011 11:58 AM

    Shuddha…my comment is not so much about what transpired at Ram Lila Maidan but I think the Ramdev issue reveals the dangers of what got set through the Anna Hazare protests and the subsequent formation of the Lok Pal Bill Drafting Committee. Have been wondering what the implications are of a bunch of self appointed civil society representatives taking on the task of framing laws along with the government. The questions that trouble me are as follows:

    1. What is the basis for a small group of non governmental individuals to take on the mantle of representing ‘civil society’? If show of strength by attracting numbers to a protest become the basis for representation then I am afraid we are facing extremely bleak times as was evident from the what transpired through the Ramdev circus. What this essentially means is that if a group can collect large enough protesters in Delhi they can bypass all democratic institutions of decision making. I don’t think democracy is made out of just the freedom to protest and of expression but through the mechanics of a coordinated functioning of peoples will and institutions. The governments and political parties desperate to control these institutions may subvert this relationship but for the civil society to start hammering at this foundation provides a dangerous breach for anti democratic forces to squeeze in and take charge.

    2. I am aware that it will be pointed out that non governmental representation is part of policy making and processes of law making. My argument would be that in most of these cases the non governmental people are representing other democratic institutions like trade unions, business associations, etc. Therefore these non governmental representatives are answerable to their constituencies. In the case of the Lok Pal Drafting Committee the ‘civil society’ representatives are self appointed and answerable to none. We are to have faith in them because they are believed to be incorruptible and have proven their honesty through their involvement in ‘just’ causes. How dangerous this can be was clearly demonstrated by the murky negotiations between Ramdev and the government representatives. In my view self righteousness cannot replace politics and that is precisely what the Anna Hazare and his group has been doing ever since they appeared on the TV screen. How can I take seriously a panel that has a self righteous Arvind Kejriwal and a permanently emotional Hegde asserting that what happened at Ram Lila Maidan was akin to the Jalianwala Bagh episode?! These are not just foolish statements but dangerous because anti democratic forces the world over revel in anachronism and historical wrongs. My expectations from the Kejriwals and the Bedis are not much but I am truly disappointed with the Bhushans not reading the political implications of becoming party to this Committee and thereby providing a window to the Ramdevs to dictate who should be punished how in this country. There is a great sophistry of language going on at this point — ‘we support the cause of anti corruption but not Baba Ramdev’, ‘we will talk to him and then decide whether we will sit on a hunger strike with him’, ‘he has a right to raise issues of corruption but why is he allowing communalists to use his platform’. The fact of the matter is that the Anna group has got itself tied in knots. If tomorrow Ramdev gets more people than them at Jantar Mantar will he be included into the drafting Committee? The route they have followed to park themselves every week behind the thick walls of the North Block can arguably be followed by anyone else. Instead of politicising the issue of ‘corruption’ by expanding the meaning of the term and demonstrating the hollowness of the governments claim that they are interested in doing something, instead of lobbying with a counter bill and building a public opinion on it, they have opted for a moral and self righteous claim to be part of the drafting committee.

    3. Finally, I would assert that Anna and his group are dangerous because they have provided an opportunity to the Hindu Right wing to resurrect itself by whittling down the issue of corruption to bribery. The phenomenon of the creation of informal labour, misuse of state institutions, parcelling of land and resources to global conglomerates, abysmal health care, the use of state machinery to organise communal pogroms, the eviction of adivasis from their villages are just some amongst a range of corruptions that stamp our democracy but what we are told to believe is that unaccounted funds lying in tax havens and bribery are the two most important issues of corruption. With the blessings of the Hazare group and UPA 2, we are being gifted the second coming of the Hindu Right. The last one was because of another hotch potch movement that went by the name of –Total Revolution.

  49. Raji Raouf permalink
    June 7, 2011 12:39 PM

    How true that despite all our claims to modernity we are still somehow mesmerized by a hairy speaking creature which contradicts itself every two seconds.
    Sure, the govt was wrong in dealing with the Swami right from the beginning. Sure, the Govt is as corrupt as the Swami or more. But shit happens. And in cases such as these, they are bearable. The stench will wash away within the weekend.

  50. June 7, 2011 1:11 PM

    all these corruption and black money should end 4 the gud future of our country.

  51. hoity-toity permalink
    June 7, 2011 6:37 PM

    There is a lady called Rajbala lying in a Delhi hospital who will probably be paralyzed for life because of the police action in ramleela ground. No one talks of her.
    We all know how political parties gather crowd for their rallies. Anna and Ramdev’s movements have at least atrracted sponteneous support and participation from an otherwise skeptical people who often wouldnt even come out to vote.

  52. Sunny Joseph permalink
    June 7, 2011 6:59 PM

    Like other left-leaning intellectuals, Shuddha has taken a predicable view of the protest. The following piece by Shiv Visvanathan captures it far more accurately, and is less ideologically biased:

    http://ibnlive.in.com/blogs/shivvisvanathan/2943/62459/listening-to-ramdev.html

    Excerpt: ” We talk of participation as an empowering word but we are contemptuous of crowds who participate in protests. Many people at the rally were hinting at a simple and poignant truth. They said we want to participate but we want to participate in categories we are comfortable with.”

    • Taha Amin Mazumder permalink
      June 8, 2011 2:52 AM

      Thansk Sunny for providing us with the link to the Shiv Visvanathan piece. It’s a good socialogical overview of the entire issue. but I perosnally think it’s lacking in-depth analysis of the issue vis-a-vis the not-so-temporal and farsighted analysis of the socio-religious connotation attached with the problem. Who said we Indians, both urban and rural, are intelligent enough to understand the inner-psyche of our leaders — be a politician or a baba.

  53. Azygos permalink
    June 8, 2011 3:30 AM

    * Please preach constitutional methods and Ambedkar’s grammar of anarchy to maoist sympathizers.
    * Please preach the illegitimacy of civil society members in legislation to the National Advisory Council, which is currently framing a most egregious communal violence bill.
    * At the end of the day, Ramdev;s 2% percent vote swing in favour of BJP can propel them to power.. That is what is making the pseudo-commie nervous. Afterall corruption is tolerable, communalism is not, right?

    # His business enterprise is built on this enormous exercise in fraud #

    Absolutely slander. Millions of people who have benefited from yoga certainty inspire some credibility. In such large samples, you can’t credit it all to placebo. Do some genuine research which I know is beyond your intellectual comprehension.. Where is Ramdev offering complete cures for HIV and cancer? His belief in yoga might be a bit too far fetched but has he charged any money or given false assurances regarding the same Substantiate your allegation by producing multiple witnesses, i.e. HIV and cancer patients who have been ‘duped’ by Ramdev. Yes, he unfortunately considers being gay a disease but so do millions of conservatives throughout the world.. In over 30 Muslim countries, homosexuality is a punishable offense.

    As for the island in question, it was gifted to him by his followers. Baba Ramdev does not fornicate with women, sleeps on the floor and eats a most spartan meal and yet he is subject to such vituperative outburst. Contrast with commies of JNU who will write the more egregious trash against Hindus all for the sake of approbation from their Western masters and yet are upheld as paragons of virtue and truth.

    • June 9, 2011 4:48 PM

      “Contrast with commies of JNU who will write the more egregious trash against Hindus all for the sake of approbation from their Western masters”

      Kindly substantiate your claim with some empirical/statistical evidence.
      Kindly define “trash”
      Kindly explain who/what is a “western master”

  54. Azygos permalink
    June 8, 2011 3:52 AM

    btw, is stone throwing on jawans a constitutional method? Or cooking up stories of mass graves. And killing of Hindu saints like Laxmananda Saraswati?

    Man, people like Shuddhabrata Sengupta just lack a conscience. There is no problem with you being allergic to saffron, but at least be credible with your assessment. Why did the govt maintain the pretense of bringing back black money in front of the Supreme Court when it receives a severe tongue lashing from the latter in the Hassan Ali Case. Consider the irony, to arrest one Hassan Ali, it takes 6 months! Why didn’t the govt. just publicly proclaim that it wasn’t possible for them to bring back black money. Period. Why all this rigamarole of lacking magic wands and hats. Ramdev is not a superman, he could not have forced himself into the Ramlila Maidan if he lacked permission for the same.
    Ramdev wanted to expose the govt.’s insincerity on the issue – to call it unconstitutional or blackmail requires a leap of logic and reasoning,

  55. illuminati_illuminator permalink
    June 8, 2011 5:14 AM

    Ramdev’s demand of death penalty in lieu of corrupton sounds autocartic in peripherals of democracy and demonitizing the denominations of 500 and 1000s too sounds absurd in the current GDP. However bringing the PM and the CJI under the ambit of Lokpal is one demand where he unintentionally demanded to the greater good. Atleast now, there would be more of Bofors or Hawala unveiled in our future where the guiltys’ irrespective of their position would be facing their consequences. Anna started the cause form the scratch when corruption was blatant, Ramdev sensationalised with impostorus dilemmas to hover us. what now? to be a critique to other’s initiative — or to be a silent observer ?? the choice is ours!!!

  56. Sunny Joseph permalink
    June 8, 2011 2:35 PM

    Btw, interesting to see that the govt is questioning the credentials of the civil society members on the grounds that they are unelected and do not represent the people — while the govt itself is led by a PM who has not been elected — nor did he or his wife voted during the recent assembly elections in Assam.

  57. June 19, 2011 12:21 PM

    My word, Shuddha, you are REALLY angry about this! And this Ramdev frenzy is “sound and fury, signifying nothing…” which most of us are able to recognize. Yes, there is corruption, and of course, the “righteous right” will use the crackdown just as it uses everything else, but the common wo/man is not easily fooled…

  58. September 28, 2014 11:11 PM

    Peculiar article, exactly what Iwwas looking for.

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