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Billboards and Booze – Celebrating Indian democracy: Sajan Venniyoor

April 12, 2014


What is the purpose of a political ad?

The page-killer print ad, the giant hoarding, the radio jingle and the TV spot do not serve to inform or educate the public, but only to impress them. These are peacock tails, gambling on the handicap principle that reliable signals must be costly to the signaler, and cannot be afforded by those with less worth. They are public displays of political virility, the media equivalent of a baboon’s red butt which signals the animal’s potency not just to the female but to the entire tribe.


Appealing to a target audience

Last month, DNA newspaper reported that the Congress is ‘buying endless radio air time in Mumbai promoting the Rajiv Awaas Yojana, the UPA’s flagship housing scheme.’ Read more…

Some Myths About Muslims

April 12, 2014

Received via Shankar Gopalakrishnan

As the 2014 elections begin, the time has come again to state the obvious. In the context of massive propaganda campaigns, the subtle use of stereotypes, and the fact that both the Western and the Indian media share certain basic biases, many people end up believing in a range of myths about the adherents of the world’s second largest religion. This is a quick attempt at exposing those myths.

Myth: ‘Muslim’ countries are never secular. Muslims do not tolerate minorities in ‘their’ countries but demand minority rights in other countries.

The world’s largest Muslim majority country is Indonesia (total population approximately 25 crores, larger than Pakistan). Indonesia is a secular democracy. Indeed, its population is almost a mirror image of India’s – 88% Muslim, 9% Christian, 3% Hindu, 2% Buddhist, etc. (as compared to India, which has a population that is 80% Hindu, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3% Christian, etc.) Indonesia’s national slogan is “Unity in Diversity.” Yes, Indonesia has occasional riots and bomb blasts, but so does India.

In reality the majority of Muslim majority countries in the world are secular. Several large examples include Turkey, Mali, Syria, Niger, and Kazakhstan. Despite having Islam as ‘state religion’, Bangladesh’s government is also secular in law. The same is true of many other countries. Only six countries in the world claim to use Islam as the basis of their law making – and their total population is roughly the same as the population of Indonesia, Turkey and Kazakhstan combined. In other words, the vast majority of Muslim majority countries are secular, and the vast majority of Muslims live under secular governments.

Myth: Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims.

Read more…

Muslims Will Consider Supporting AAP, if it Offers Concrete Programme for Them: Jamaat-e-Islami

April 10, 2014

An Interview with the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Amir (National President) MAULANA JALALUDDIN OMARI conducted by MISHAB  IRIKKUR, MOHAMMAD RAGHIB and ABHAY KUMAR

Amid the talk of communal forces emerging stronger, India is going to polls. The fear of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is perhaps more felt by the Muslim minority than anyone else. The “secular” Congress—charged with corruption and misrule—does not seem much energetic and confident at this moment. At this crucial juncture what strategy should the largest religious minority community of the country adopt in the upcoming General and assembly elections? What are the options available for them? To learn about this and more, Mishab Irikkur, Mohammad Raghib and Abhay Kumar interacted with Maulana Jalaluddin Omari, the Amir (national president) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) last week at its New Delhi headquarter. The seventy-nine year old Amir–who is an Islamic scholar and author of dozens of books–spoke on a host of issues such as elections, politics, the social and economic problems of Muslims, reservation, framing of innocent Muslim youth on terror charges etc. The JIH—which came into existence soon after the Jamaat-e-Islami had split into two separate organisations at Partition–is one of the most influential Islamic organizations among Muslims that mainly does “intellectual” work and carries out welfare activities as well. The excerpts are as follows.



What are the major concerns of Muslims ahead of the upcoming elections?

Omari: Our Constitution does not discriminate any citizen on the basis of caste, colour, religion, region, sex etc. It has also given minorities some special rights related to their personal laws and culture. Muslims, therefore, should vote to power those forces, which are committed to upholding democracy, secularism and the principles of Indian Constitution. At the same time we should defeat the parties which are opposed to diversity. The very language of cultural assimilation is a threat to the spirit of our Constitution and interests of people. Read more…

Bombers for a Cause ?

April 10, 2014

Bombs always make news – even when they do not explode.

Terrorists of various stripes as well as criminals know it very well. And they time their actions accordingly.

Bombs – even if they do not explode – or even when they cause symbolic damage have an added traction for the politicos of the right. They pay rich dividends.

It is one of the easiest things to stigmatise, terrorise a community, a people. In an ambience where all such anti-human acts are projected as handiwork of the ‘other’ it takes very less time to polarise the ‘us’. It is common knowledge that the vitiation of atmosphere is so immediate and complete that all talk of harmony and composite heritage can just evaporate in a fraction of a second and the saner elements within can suddenly find themselves on the margins.

Kagal, a town in Kolhapur district, was witness to such an incident, where the police discovered a bomb making factory in the Lakshmi Hill near MIDC area. The culprits involved in this action could be nabbed before they could ‘operationalise their bomb’.

The gravity of the situation could be understood by the fact that police could bust this criminal module on the eve of Narendra Modi’s proposed rally in that area. It has arrested four youths who were involved in the operation. While Ajinkya Manohar Bhopade(22) and Aniket Bhivaji Mali(22) belong to Chokak village in Hatkananagale, Nilesh Babanrao Patil (20) is from Male Mudshingi, in Hatkanangale and Anil Popat Kharase (26) hail from Kabnur-Ichalkaranji in Hatkanangale. Patil and Kharase supplied material for bomb making and Bhopade – who has a diploma in electronics and Mali – who works as wireman have been arrested for making bombs. Read more…

If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em: Ayesha Kidwai

April 8, 2014

AYESHA KIDWAI on FeministsIndia

Ayesha Kidwai on the need for Left-Secular people to take sexual harassment seriously when it comes home to “us”.

The burning question is why Mustafa and Joseph have done this? Are they misogynistic ‘supporters’ of Tejpal or fearless worshippers of fact and intrepid journalism? While the latter question may be good for an author’s self-image, and the former one can be dismissed as presupposing too tidy a critique, the real issue is a general failure amongst the professionals to come up with an adequate response to what the changed mood in the middle class demands. Mustafa and Joseph’s failures are just repeats of ones that we have witnessed over and over again, and each profession has plunged into a crisis when a colleague has been accused: How does a ‘senior’ professional approach the fact that some young woman has gone and complained about something that wasn’t even a grievance just a few years ago? After all, it is ”her’ word against ‘his’ and we know him; and while he may have his faults, he has done so many good things, and he is above all, secular. In any case, why are these outsiders, this “bunch of feminists” getting so involved in these matters (which are always so stippled with grey when seen from our side)?

For an outsider feminist like me, the answer is obvious: no one but this bunch knows what to do when a complaint is made from within one’s own kind. When the complaints have been made from within academia or within the judiciary, it is this bunch that has fought for them to be addressed, protested and thwarted the misuse of hierarchical power and its machinery of slander and intimidation, and reminded their professions that the ideal of equality must first be expressed in the creation of conditions conducive to its access. In doing so, they have imbued the phrase “let the law  take its own course” with substantive meaning.


Know Your NaMo

April 7, 2014

Not very many people – living outside Gujarat – know that Narendra Modi, the Parivar’s ‘PM in waiting’ also happens to be a ‘passionate writer, poet and a lover of culture..’ and how ‘[d]espite his busy, .. schedule, ..devotes time to ..writing, interacting with people on social media etc.’ ( We are also told that he has been writing ‘since he was young.’

Let me admit at the outset that this poor penpusher was rather unaware of Modi’s writing prowess apart from one of his initial attempts to pen a book called ‘Karmyog’ which had miserably backfired. It was basically a collection of his speeches to IAS aspirants and had to be withdrawn rather unceremoniously as it ‘glorified untouchability’. (

Coming back to Mr Modi’s writing skills recently I came across a series called ‘Modi and His Mentors’ ( where the would be PM of this country has talked about many of those people who impacted his life in very many ways. Read more…

मर्दवादी और असमान सामाजिक व्यवस्था में स्त्री प्रतिरोध – ‘हाईवे’: धर्मराज कुमार

April 6, 2014

Guest Post by धर्मराज कुमार

वर्त्तमान परिदृश्य में हमारे इर्द-गिर्द जितने भी विमर्श मंडराते नजर आ रहे हैं उन सबके के आक्रामक शुरुआत को सोलह दिसंबर की बलात्कार की घटना से जोड़े बगैर नहीं देखा जा सकता है। इसमें कोई शक नहीं कि उस रात को दहला देने वाली घटना तक को कई खांचों में रखकर देखा जाता है। उदाहरणस्वरूप, आलोचना के तौर पर यह भी कहा गया कि निर्भया अभिजात वर्ग से आती थी इसलिए उसके बलात्कार ने पूरे देश की राजनीति को झकझोर कर रख दिया। जबकि उसी दरम्यान दिल्ली के करीब हरियाणा में कई दलित और सामाजिक रूप से प्रताड़ित लड़कियों और महिलाओं का निर्ममता से बलात्कार किया गया और मारकर फ़ेंक दिया गया और जिसका आज तक कोई अता-पता तक नहीं है। इससे भी इंकार नहीं किया जा सकता कि दिसंबर की घटना के पहले भी अनगिनत बलात्कार की घटनाएं हररोज हो रही थी और उसके बाद भी हो रही है। मगर कभी भी किसी विरोध ने इतना विकराल रूप धारण नहीं किया जिससे देश की राजनीति को हिलानी तो दूर उससे आजतक न्याय प्रक्रिया में गति तक आ सके। इसके कई कारण हैं।
मेरा उद्देश्य उस तरफ ध्यान खींचना कतई नहीं है। मेरा उद्देश्य है मुख्यधारा में इन मुद्दों से जुड़ती सवालों को उठाये जाने की तरफ ध्यान ले जाना। मैं बात कर रहा हूँ मुख्यधारा में चल रही फिल्मों और उससे जुड़े सवालों के ऊपर। फ़िल्म समीक्षा की दुनिया में ऐसा कम ही देखने को मिलता है जब कोई फ़िल्म अपनी रिलीज के बाद एक चर्चा का विषय हो या विवाद का हिस्सा हो। बल्कि तमाम विचारधारा से जुड़े लोग जब किसी फ़िल्म के ऊपर अपनी प्रतिक्रिया जताने लगे इसका मतलब है कि ऐसी फिल्में लोगों को संवाद करने के लिए विवश कर रही हैं। Read more…


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