& occasionally about other things, too...

Thursday, June 09, 2022

The Great Hindu Civilization: Pavan K. Varma's Looking Glass World


Pavan K. Varma’s The Great Hindu Civilization – Achievement Neglect Bias and the Way Forward must be read in the context of the rapid degeneration of India from a Constitutional secular democracy to an autocratic state where the only democratic feature is periodic elections; all other Constitutional provisions that made India the largest democracy in the world are being allowed to erode rapidly by the ruling Hindutva establishment.

The advocates of Hindutva, the political ideology of Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claim with fervour that following Narendra Modi’s electoral victories in 2014 and 2019, the Indian nation has been reawakened from a deep slumber, and has entered a phase of true Hindu renaissance.

And that it is time now for the Hinduism to reclaim its rightful place at the top that it has traditionally and legitimately occupied; to obliterate the influences of the ‘Islamic marauders,’ and the British colonial rulers. These ‘aliens’ subjugated the Hindu mind and emasculated the Hindu civilization for a millennium. What drives these bhakts up the wall is that even in the first five to six decades of an independent India, the Nehruvian ideology of secularism continued to dominate academic and public discourse, leading to further marginalization of the Indian civilization’s Hindu ethos.

For these bhakts, there is no distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva – they are the same, or at best two sides of the same coin. Violence is their preferred mode of discourse. The hatred fomented by the bhakts has driven India to the edge of the precipice, periodically culminating in violence against the religious and caste minorities. The state is complicit in these diabolical shenanigans, as it allows the Hindutva forces to slowly but in a determined manner, take control of all the apparatus of statehood that was created to ensure democratic rights to the people.

Read more 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Knowing Fraser...

The Book of Malcolm: A review and remembrance of Fraser Sutherland

Fraser Sutherland died just over a year ago in March 2021. His contribution to the world of Canadian literature consists of a few books of poetry, prose, fiction, and nonfiction. From common friends, I learnt that he had an amazing knack of annoying influential people in the literary world, which is why he never got the recognition he deserved.

His frankness was motivated by his strict rules about writing and writers. In his last poetry collection Bad Habits (Mosaic 2019), he says, “Somehow a good writer has to work aslant to the existing order. For a writer to be popular, to win prizes, to be feted by the media – those to me are grounds for suspicion. If the trappings of public success, however welcome, began to descend on me, I’d start to suspect myself.”

Read more: https://www.thebeacon.in/2022/04/18/the-book-of-malcolm-a-review-and-remembrance-of-fraser-sutherland/

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

An Appeal to India’s Constitutional Institutions

 Collective appeal

In the wake of alarming developments in India, senior journalists and media persons from all over India, have issued this Collective Appeal to all Constitutional Institutions in India. We request you to give it the widest possible coverage on media and social media platforms.

The Names of all Signatories are listed below

In the Face of Orchestrated Hatred, Silence Is Not an Option

An Appeal to India’s Constitutional Institutions

As journalists and media persons from all over India, we make this Appeal to all Indian institutions to step in and uphold their constitutional mandate in the wake of open calls from various quarters for attacks on India’s religious minorities, especially Muslims.

The concerted amplification of hatred has been growing over the past years and months, as has the attendant advocacy of violence. Sometimes, the occasion is an election, at other times it is a political gathering, a so-called ‘dharam sansad’, or a controversy over clothing. or even the screening of a movie.

These calls for violence – which have been widely reported in the media – have been met with a cold and calculated silence from the country’s top leaders. Months before, we saw systematic hate being propagated against Muslims under the pretext of Covid-19, including calls by legislators for their socio-economic boycott. Disturbingly, the term ‘corona jihad’ was fabricated and amplified by sections of the media establishment.

Calls for violence or the socio-economic boycott of a community clearly do not enjoy the constitutional protection of free speech. And yet, the political executive – both at the level of the Union and in several States – appears unwilling to discharge its constitutional obligation to act. The police either take no cognisance of those inciting anti-minority violence or register cases under disproportionately mild sections, which strengthens the perception that such offenders are above the law.

Against this backdrop, the President of India, the Chief Justices and other Judges of the Supreme Court of India and the various High Courts, the Election Commission of India, and other constitutionally provisioned and statutory bodies are constitutionally obliged to ensure that these calls for violence do not translate into something unimaginably worse. Since sections of the media have also allowed themselves to become conduits for hate speech, the Press Council of India, the News Broadcasters & Digital Association, unions and associations of working journalists, and all media-related bodies need to respond urgently to the crisis at hand.

Since December 2021, well-synchronised calls for the annihilation of Muslims have been made, beginning with a religious meet in Haridwar that month. Muslim women and girls have been systematically targeted in 2021 and 2022 through social media platforms, including the pernicious Bulli Bai App. The ugly controversy over the hijab in Karnataka has resulted in Muslim women in different parts of India being harassed and humiliated.

During the election campaign of February and March 2022, we saw the repeated appeal to divisive hatred and the stigmatising of Muslims and other minorities, with ‘star’ campaigners from the ruling party unashamedly breaking the law to seek votes in the name of religion. The Election Commission of India, which is statutorily bound to ensure that such practices do not corrode the integrity of elections, has not shown the required autonomy and independence from the political executive to act.

Most recently, the screening of ‘The Kashmir Files’ – a film that cynically exploits the suffering and tragedy of the Kashmiri Pandits by using their plight as a pretext for the promotion of hatred against Muslims – has seen orchestrated attempts inside and outside movie halls to incite anti-Muslim sentiment. Attempts have been made from the highest levels of government to stifle fully justified criticism of the film and of the violent reaction it is generating by claiming there is a “conspiracy” afoot to “discredit” it.

When all these events are taken together, it is clear that a dangerous hysteria is being built up countrywide to push the idea that "Hinduism is in danger" and to portray Muslim Indians as a threat to Hindu Indians and to India itself. Only prompt and effective action by our constitutional, statutory, and democratic institutions can challenge, contain, and stop this disturbing trend.

India today stands at a dangerous place, with the founding values of our secular, democratic, and republican Constitution coming under flagrant assault from prejudiced ideas, acts of prejudice, discrimination, and violent incidents, all planned and orchestrated as part of an anti-constitutional political project. That we have seen elected officials and others who have sworn an oath under the Constitution amplifying some of these multiple and connected instances of orchestrated hate through acts of commission and omission, with sections of the media assisting this project, makes the situation even more urgent. 

That is why it is both urgent and crucial that India’s constitutional institutions, and especially the President, the higher judiciary, and the Election Commission, discharge their mandate under our Constitution and that the media perform their responsibility to the people of India by asserting their independence and speaking truth to power.

N. Ram, former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu & Director, The Hindu Publishing Group

Mrinal Pande, Senior Journalist and Writer

R. Rajagopal, Editor, The Telegraph

Vinod Jose, Executive Editor, Caravan

R Vijayasankar, Editor, Frontline

Q. W. Naqvi, Chairman & MD, Satya Hindi 

Ashutosh, Editorial Director, Satya Hindi

Siddharth Vardarajan, Founder Editor, The Wire 

Siddharth Bhatia, Founder Editor, The Wire 

MK Venu, Founder Editor, The Wire 

Aziz Tankarvi, Publisher, Gujarat Today

Ravindra Ambekar, Director, MaxMaharashtra

R.K. Radhakrishnan, Senior Journalist

Deepal Trivedi, Founder Editor: Vibes of India, Gujarat

Hasan Kamal, Senior Journalist & Columnist, Inquilab

Teesta Setalvad, Co-Editor, Sabrangindia 

Javed Anand, Co-Editor, Sabrangindia

Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Review of Arts and Politics 

Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times 

Kalpana Sharma, Independent Journalist

Aunindyo Chakravarty, Independent journalist

Saba Naqvi, Independent Journalist

Dhanya Rajendran, Editor in Chief, The News Minute

Shabir Ahmed, Senior News Editor, The News Minute

Anirban Roy, Editor, Northeast Now, Guwahati

Dhiren A. Sadokpam, Editor-in-Chief,The Frontier, Manipur 

Tongam Rina, Journalist, Arunachal Pradesh

Monalisa Changkija, Editor, Nagaland Page