January 30, 2015

How India Is Assassinating Gandhi’s legacy | Arun Gandhi

The Progressive - 30 January 2015

Editor's Note: The author of this piece is Mahatma Gandhi's grandson.

On Jan. 30, 1948, my grandfather Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the great Indian leader and champion of nonviolence, fell to an assassin’s bullets. Indian society has recently faced a sustained assault by people of the same ideological ilk as the man who fired those fatal shots.

India’s drift away from Gandhi’s ideals of nonviolence and respect for religious pluralism has been steady over the last few decades. However, events since the national election that made Narendra Modi in charge of the country last May have shown that what is now taking place is a brazen assassination of the Mahatma’s legacy.

Matters have come to a point where Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, has been praised by a member of India’s Parliament belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A Hindu extremist organization has plans to celebrate the assassination and install the assassin’s statue in various parts of the country.

Prime Minister Modi––who since assuming office has both been accorded a warm welcome by President Obama and played host to him in India––was long banned from entering the United States. This was because of a horrific pogrom in 2002 that happened in the state of Gujarat (Gandhi’s home province) while he was in charge.

Clearly, his electoral victory has emboldened supremacist groups across the country. This is because Modi and the ruling party’s ideological roots lie in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a vast ultranationalist outfit that positions itself as a service organization but seeks to dismantle India’s secular polity in order to impose a Hindu state on India’s religiously and ethnically diverse populace. (My grandfather’s killer also belonged to this group.) The writings of the organization’s ideologues, their sustained majoritarian and anti-minority rhetoric, and the policy positions of the outfit’s political wing (the party currently governing India) have made this amply clear. Moreover, the entity and its offshoots have been implicated in mass violence against minorities over the years.

The group has spawned a closely knit mesh of organizations. This grassroots network has always been against my grandfather’s philosophy.

Modi’s views on minorities, secularism, and pluralism have been largely shaped by the RSS, whose ideology he has openly endorsed. Modi has proudly stated: “I got the inspiration to live for the nation from the RSS. . . I owe it all to the RSS.” Since Modi’s party has come to power, it has engaged in cynical posturing: praising Gandhi in public, while simultaneously seeking to demolish everything he stood for.

It is not surprising that minorities in India now feel a rapidly shrinking space for religious freedom. Hate campaigns against minorities include bizarre theories of Muslim youth luring Hindu girls as a form of “love jihad.” A number of churches have been attacked in and around the country’s capital. There have been group conversions under duress of minorities to Hinduism, an affront to India’s secular Constitution. It is a measure of the sheer audacity of Hindu sectarian outfits that they are actively seeking funds to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. And there have been incendiary statements by ruling party officials. A cabinet member, for instance, used expletives to refer to minorities.

Mahatma Gandhi once said the quality of democracy should be judged from the way minorities are treated. On the 67th anniversary of his assassination, I shudder to think of what lies ahead for India’s minorities. The land the Mahatma fought so hard to free from British colonialists is now hostage to a divisive and hateful ideology.

Arun Gandhi is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and the author of several books on poverty, politics and nonviolence. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

Fight against Hindu nationalism & stand up for Secular India - An appeal from People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism


Young India Says 'Yes' to Military Rule, 'No' to Inter-Religious Mingling: Survey [NDTV report]

Written by Nikita Niraj Arora | Updated: January 23, 2015

Mumbai: A survey of high school and college students from 11 cities has revealed that about half of them would prefer military rule over a democracy. But perhaps what is more is that an astonishing 65 percent 'agree' that boys and girls from different religions should not mingle.

The survey also threw up other shockers. While more than half of the students surveyed believed that women 'provoke' men with the way they dress, close to half of them say women have no choice but to accept violence.

The survey, conducted by Children's Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA), a Bengaluru-based NGO, covered about 10,000 high-school and college students from 11 cities across the country.

On the question of democracy, 50 per cent of the respondents preferred military rule to democracy. The same number insisted that migrants should go back 'home'.

"The state the country is in, we need an authoritative leader. We need someone who tells us what to do", said Soumitra, a student.

However, there were other who held the opposite point of view. "I am disappointed. We will be the future generation, driving the country in different fields. We have to go to our roots and eliminate these things," said Tejashri, a student at the Welingkar Institute.

The findings of the survey are symptomatic of the times, according to Manjunath Sadashiva, director of CMCA. "This shows that the youth does not have a critical appreciation of the liberties and freedom one enjoys in a democracy. It shows the cynicism and disillusionment with the political scenario, but doesn't justify the preference for an authoritarian government or military rule," he says.

"Our society is going to be further fragmented. Social tension is going to increase, and not decrease, if these youngsters are not equipped with necessary skills, attitudes and values to live in a multi-culturual democracy," Mr Sadashiva added.


January 29, 2015

India: Baba Ramdev's has some 'Son Dev' medicine for our society drunk on patriarchy

Ramdev's pharmacies selling medicine to help bear male children

Vishav Bharti, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

Updated: Jan 28, 2015 09:56 IST

Despite the Prime Minister Narendra Modi choosing Haryana to launch his ambitious plan for protection of girls, pharmacies owned by the state's brand ambassador, Baba Ramdev, are selling 'medicine' which claims to help women give birth to sons.

Divya Pharmacy, a chain of shops owned by Ramdev, continues to sell ayurvedic medicine called 'Putrajeevak Beej'. The medicine, sold with another product 'Shivling Beej' contains 'Putrajiva Roxburghii', which is useful in infertility and also used as an aphrodisiac.

Although the packaging of the medicine does not clearly mention that it is beneficial for bearing a male child, yet that is a common perception created by its salesmen. Even some websites that sell products made by Ramdev's company make the same claim.

"According to ayurveda this herb helps in achieving a baby boy, but this is a matter of research. But people in India say this medicine is very effective in getting a baby boy," claims a website www.ramdevmedicine.com, which sells all Ramdev products overseas.

Upon queries made at various outlets of Divya Pahramcy in Chandigarh and elsewhere, it was found that the medicine is indeed sold as something that helps in bearing sons. Divya Pharmacy sells a 200 gm packet of 'Putrajeevak Beej' for Rs 30. However, attempts to get a formal response from the pharmacy yielded no result.

Its customer care service said it won't be able to comment on the issue. However, Anil Bhardwaj, a vaid (physician) posted at the Divya Pharmacy in Sector 38, said the medicine is sold only for infertility.

"We don't endorse, if anybody is selling it with claims that it will help to get them a baby boy," he said.


India: legal action planned on Information and Broadcasting Ministry advertisment - Justice Rajinder Sachar

The Statesman, 29 Jan 2015

legal action planned on i&B ad: sachar
omission of ‘secular’, ‘socialist’ criticised
shocked over govt act

I am shocked by the mischievous and deliberate omission of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from the Indian Constitution’s Preamble used in the customary advertisement. It was a treason to the Constitution...
Justice Rajinder Sachar
New Delhi, 28 January
The People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) is contemplating legal action against the controversial advertisement issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Republic Day, Justice Rajinder Sachar today said, and rubbished the government's defence that the controversy was ‘uncalled for”.
“I am shocked by the mischievous and deliberate omission of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from the Indian Constitution’s Preamble used in the customary advertisement,” he said.
“It was a treason to the Constitution...It was an unpardonable negligence...The government should not act naive,” Justice Sachar told a gathering of intellectuals at Jamia Millia Islamia.
He added that it was “deliberate mischief to test the waters”. “The right-wing lobbies in the various ministries are every now and then creating such controversies only to see the people's reaction,” he said, and appealed to political parties as well as rights groups to take the issue seriously. “If we do not stand up now, we will not be able to speak in future”, he said. “Is not Prime Minister Narendra Modi betraying the Constitution he took oath of?” he asked.
The I&B Ministry defended the ad pointing out that the words socialist and secular were not part of the original Preamble. Justice Sachar said the Prime Minister should take some lessons from President Barack Obama's speech at Siri Fort auditorium in which he made a plea for religious tolerance. “Instead of rejoicing at Obama's invitation, Modi should hang his head in shame that a foreign dignitary reminded him of the Constitution he was supposed to follow in letter and spirit,” he said. He added that it was not a general comment. “The reference to Article 25 of the Indian Constitution was directly aimed at the Narendra Modi government,” he said. “Although it was an internal matter of the country, yet Mr Obama's speech must be taken seriously by Mr Modi given the majoritarian nature of his government,” Justice Sachar said.

India: Hindu Mahasabha plans to install Godse statue in temples on 30 january 2015 ?

The Hindu (Meerut,January 29, 2015)
Hindu Mahasabha to install Godse statue in temples
Mohammad Ali
Bust of Nathuram Godse at the central office of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, in New Delhi. Photo: V. Sudershan
Bust of Nathuram Godse at the central office of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, in New Delhi. Photo: V. Sudershan 
The Hindutva outfit is in touch with saints and temple trusts across the country for the purpose.
Don't be surprised if you come across a statue of Nathuram Godse, the killer of the Mahatma Gandhi, in the temple in your vicinity. After its attempt to install Godse statues at few identified places in Uttar Pradesh was foiled by the State Police, the Hindu Mahasabha plans to install them in the premises of temples across India.
The Hindutva outfit is in touch with saints and temple trusts which supervise hundreds of temples, assured it of their support.
At present the outfit is quite determined but tight upped about how it plans to install statue of Nathuram Godse on January 30, the day Godse shot dead Mahatma Gandhi.
The Hindutva outfit has decided not to publicise its programmes of the installation of the statue after it felt "too much media coverage" became an "obstacle" in its work.
After its public announcement to build a temple for Godse in Sitapur district and install a Godse statue at an identified place in Meerut, the Uttar Pradesh police sealed the two places. While treating the issue as serious problem for law and order the State police also plans to invoke section 144 of the IPC at the two places.
As per the revised strategy, the outfit will first install Godse statue across the country and will then inform the media in order to avoid possible crackdowns by the Uttar Pradesh government and possible roadblocks posed by the other State government in the country. UP because
According to senior functionaries of the Hindutva group, they met several group of saints during the recently concluded "Magh Kumbh mela" in Allahabad.
"After we announced about our plans the government sealed the place. We don't want unnecessary attention. We would rather focus on competing the job at hand," he told this correspondent.
According to a senior Hindu Mahasabha leader who didn't want to be quoted because of the sensitivity of the issue, Godse statue might soon be seen within temple premises across the country -- to start with, in temples in the Hindi speaking States like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.
"We met hundreds of saints during the Magh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad who assured us of their support and now we are planning to install statues in temples with the support of these saints," said the outfit leader.
"We have a dedicated set of youths who are brimming with nationalistic fervour and who are ready to put Godse statue at the Raj Ghat at the cost of getting arrested but we don't want to work like that. We just want to spread the message of 'Akhand bharat' (unified India) which was the main mission for Nathuram Godse ji," added another.
He clarified that the statues won't necessarily be in the main part of the temples so as not to equate Godse with the Hindu Gods.
"After some serious thinking and discussion with saints, we decided that as mark of respect to Godse we can install his statues somewhere in the premises of temples. We do have statues of great Hindu reformers and great men in temple premises," maintained the Hindutva leader.
While justifying the proposed move, the Hindu Mahasabha leader said: "Godse was no less than any other greater because he sent across the message of unified India and protested against the division the country by Klimt Gandhi".
The Hindutva group has ordered about five hundred statues from artists in Jaipur. It also plans to inaugurate and launch small libraries which would provide literature highlighting Godse's "point of view about unified India and correct sequence of events as far as Gandhi's killing is concerned".
The public announcement by the outfit to install a Godse statue and subsequent well reported bhumi pujan in Meerut for the statue, had resulted in its leaders being booked under various sections of the IPC.

India: Modi Led BJP govt minister says let the nation debate whether the words “socialist and secular” should remain in preamble of constitution


Let nation debate Preamble: Ravi Shankar

The Narendra Modi government on Wednesday jumped into the controversy created by the remarks of the Shiv Sena earlier in the day that the words “socialist and secular” should be dropped from the Preamble to the Constitution.

Union Telecommunications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad indicated that the government wanted a debate on whether the words should be in the Preamble.

“We do not need these words to be a secular country; even without them we are a secular country,” Mr. Prasad said.
Introduced in 1976

Pointing out that the two words were introduced in the Preamble in 1976 during the Emergency, Mr. Prasad told presspersons: “What is wrong if there is a debate on these two words. Let us see what the nation wants.”

On whether the government would continue to use the original Preamble for official purposes, he said that was the plan.

Mr. Prasad was responding to questions on the controversy over the Information and Broadcasting Ministry using a watermark of the original Preamble in two Republic Day print advertisements.

Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore had on Tuesday described the controversy as “uncalled-for,” and pointed out that the same picture had been used in official advertisements earlier also.

Underlining the fact that the founding fathers of the Constitution had not included the words “socialist and secular” in the original Preamble to the Constitution, Mr. Prasad sought to draw a distinction between Jawaharlal Nehru’s understanding of secularism and that of the Congress now.

“Was Pandit Nehru’s understanding of secularism less than that of the present-day Congress leaders,” he asked.

To this, Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said: “No other party has a doubtful integrity clause on secularism like the Bharatiya Janata Party and that is the reason this has become an issue.”

He pointed out that the 42nd Constitution Amendment was with “retrospective” effect.

As for Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s remark that his party welcomed the omission of the two words — even if it was inadvertent — the Congress maintained that this only proved that the 1950 Preamble had been chosen for the advertisement with a clear agenda. “And, to test waters.’’

Describing the omission of the two words from the Preamble used in government advertisements as a “sacrilegious insult” to the ethos of the Constitution, Mr. Surjewala demanded an apology from the government and a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his position and understanding on “secularism and socialism.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Raut had said that India had never been secular.

“Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray and before him Sarvarkar always said that if Pakistan was carved out after Partition for Muslims, then the rest of the country is a Hindu Rashtra. The Shiv Sena has always believed in this,” he said.