December 08, 2018

Why Rahul Gandhi is displaying his Hinduism?

Rahul Gandhi's 'Hinduism on Display and RSS-BJP's Hindutva Is a display of religiosity the same as 'soft Hindutva'? Ram Puniyani Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the nation did say that he is a Hindu; at the same time he went on to say that religion is a private matter for him. His greatest disciple Jawaharlal Nehru was a rationalist agnostic, who laid the foundations of secular India where matters related to religion were supposed to be dealt with at social or personal level. Nearly six decades after the death of the first Prime Minster of India, matters have drifted beyond imagination. Nehru’s great-grandson who began his political career with no signs of public display of religion, today is making a clear public display of his religiosity. From stating that he is a janeudhari (one who wears the sacred thread) Shiv Bhakt to visiting temples by the dozen, or making the pilgrimage to Mansarovar. With him as president of Congress, its Madhya Pradesh unit planned a Ram Van Gaman Pad yatra, and is promising a gaushala (cowshed) in each Panchayat. Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons are questioning all these moves, as if their monopoly in such matters is under threat. The result is that there are critics labeling Congress politics as being soft Hindutva. These signs, in the party of Gandhi and Nehru, are disturbing at one level. Still does it mean that Congress is abandoning the path of secularism, the path outlined in our Constitution; of religion being a matter of people’s personal choice, to be dealt with by individuals-communities on their own? Is the Congress trying to walk the path which the RSS-BJP have pursued to gain power, the path of political polarisation of communities along religious lines, the path of divisive politics, the path of abandoning material issues while creating a haze of emotive ones, like Ram Temple and Holy Cow-beef? After its defeat in the 2014 general elections, the Congress party's A.K.Antony Committee gave the report that the major cause of its defeat was the popular perception that it is seen as a pro-Muslim party, and thereby automatically it is regarded as being anti-Hindu. This came in the background of tireless propaganda from the RSS-BJP stable that the Congress has been appeasing Muslims, etc. That propaganda has been mixed up with the lie that Jawaharlal Nehru was the descendant of a Muslim, and that the Congress is not interested in taking care of the interests of Hindus, etc. The argument was also put that the Hindu BJP is on one side and godless secularists are on the other. To unearth the roots of this lie, we have to go back much further. As the Indian National Congress came to be formed, it represented rising India – as the umbrella organisation of all Indians it had members from all the communities of India. This was manifested in people like Pherozeshah Mehta and Badruddin Tyabji as its initial presidents. Right at that time the progenitors of the future Hindu Mahasabha-RSS ideology, a section of Hindu landlords and communal elements, started saying that the Congress was appeasing Muslims. As we go further, RSS-trained Nathuram Godse accused Gandhi of emboldening Muslims, due to which they had demanded Pakistan and got India partitioned. It is on this misunderstood plea that Godse killed the father of the nation. With independence, some policies needed in a democracy to preserve matters related religious minorities, permitted them under the Constitution to have their own educational institutions. This, along with the Haj subsidy, which as such was a subsidy to Air India, acted as a potent weapon in the hands of the RSS Combine to propagate the falsehood of 'minority appeasement'. Such propaganda got a further boost when the Congress in a grave mistake overturned the verdict of the Supreme Court in the matter of Shah Bano and passed a ‘Muslim Women Protection Bill’. This opened the floodgates of propaganda of ‘appeasement of Muslims’ being done by Congress. It was a grave error of judgment, mostly forced by conservative Muslim elements’ protests against the Shah Bano judgment, which had granted her maintenance after divorce. The role of the Congress in controlling communal violence lapsed into inefficient handling of riots, and it was actually biased against Muslims and Sikhs in particular. The Congress' role in opening the gates of the Babri mosque, under conservative Hindu pressure, and then helplessly watching the demolition of the Babri Mosque, were pathetic political blunders. All said and done its effort to maintain a secular poise had holes which could not halt the march of Hindutva, Hindu nationalism. Today, political discourse is being dictated by Hindutva politics, politics being conducted by the RSS-BJP. Not only the Congress, even Mamata Bannerjee has lately shown the tilt towards displaying such religiosity, by sanctioning subsidised electricity for Durga Puja pandals and by participating in the Ram Navami festival. So question is whether what the Rahul-Gandhi led Congress is pursuing is soft Hindutva? No way. It is an unwanted tilt in the display of religiosity, an attempt to try and undo the illusion of being pro-Muslim, and to undo the image of being godless secularists. Hindutva politics is based on the Brahmanical hierarchy of caste and gender. It aims to gradually do away with secular democracy and bring in a Hindu Nation. To combat this, what is needed is the adoption of an inclusive concept of Gandhi’s Hinduism, where the values of pluralism and diversity have greater importance. It is surely a sign of regressive times that the Hindu nationalist discourse is getting the better of the Indian nationalist ethos. How can the RSS Combine terms of debate be countered – of a 'Hindu' RSS-BJP versus a ‘pro Muslim, godless secularists’? The display of religiosity is a reaction to what the terrain of discourse has become. What is important now is to take up the issues of marginalised sections of Hindus like farmers, the oppressed castes and women the victims of patriarchy. The Congress took up the role of leading the movement of freedom from British rule in yesteryears. Now it needs to assume a similar role, in freeing the nation from the caste hierarchy, communalism and patriarchy.

December 06, 2018

What is the Ram Temple Really About


India: emboldening of cow vigilantes - shocking attack on police in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr

The Times of India, December 5, 2018


Lawless UP: Bulandshahr attack on police follows a systemic emboldening of cow vigilantes

The shocking attack on police in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district by a mob protesting alleged cow slaughter highlights the extent to which cow vigilantes have been emboldened. Trouble began after locals from Mahav village allegedly found cow carcasses in a nearby forest. This led to a right-wing protest against the police which went out of control. Subsequent violence saw Syana station officer Subodh Kumar Singh being killed after he took a bullet to his head. There was police firing and an agitator also died, as the mob set several vehicles on fire and torched the Chingrawati police outpost.

The mayhem follows from a culture of impunity that cow vigilantes have come to enjoy in states like UP, where police often don’t even prosecute their crimes sincerely. What the Bulandshahr episode exposes is that the monster is running wild now and can hardly be controlled by any political masters. Meanwhile, from Mohammad Akhlaq to Pehlu Khan, most victims of cow vigilantism are yet to see the light of justice with their cases proceeding at glacial pace. In fact, those accused of killing Akhlaq are out on bail and one of them has even announced his intention to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. In an atmosphere where vigilante groups feel emboldened to take the law into their own hands, Bulandshahr shows them turning on the law itself.

This will worsen conditions for an already ailing cow economy. For a country with the highest population of cattle in the world, slaughtering of unproductive animals or disposing of carcasses ought to be routine activities. But encouraged by BJP politics, vigilantism has really hurt the trade in cattle – which employs lakhs of people. Reports of unproductive cows roaming the countryside and becoming pests for farmers exemplify a worrying breakdown of the cow-centred animal husbandry sector.

And UP appears to be at the heart of the problem. The state’s huge unemployed youth population not only provides foot soldiers to cow vigilante groups but security here also remains in a shambles. The Yogi Adityanath government’s so-called encounter killing drive highlights a police force and a political leadership that have run out of ideas to fix broken systems. Instead, their ham-handed approach is making the law and order situation worse. Perhaps Adityanath would do well to heed opposition advice to campaign less outside his state and focus on his UP chief minister’s job.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.

December 03, 2018

Voices of Dissent: When Art becomes anti Natioal

Harmony of Music and Politics of Silencing Ram Puniyani Banning of books, opposing cricket team and singers from Pakistan is not very new in India. We had seen the banning of Satanic Verses, digging of cricket pitch in Wankhede stadium in Mumbai to oppose the Indo-Pak match, the disruption of the gazal program of Ghulam Ali in Mumbai amongst many others. The intensity of this intolerance has grown by leaps and bounds in the recent times. The music program which has been targeted this time is that of S M Krishna, the renowned Carnatic musician. His program was organized jointly by Airports Authority of India and SPIC MACAY. The organizers got the threatening messages as to how come they are organizing a program of an anti India person, an Urban Naxal, and a bigot who sang about Jesus and Allah! As it was postponed by AAI, Krishna showed his availability for the program on that date, which Delhi’s ruling AAP party picked up to host. Program was well attended not only by music lovers but also by those who are opposed to the politics, which is trampling the liberal democratic ethos of the country. The attack on the Krishna concert, in a way, is the continuation of the politics which we have seen in the recent past. These attacks came in the form of ‘Award Wapasi’ (returning) which was the first major resistance to the intolerant acts which had led to the murders of Dr. Dabholkar, Com. Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Around this time beef lynching took its first victim in the form of Mohammad Akhlaq and that’s when Uday Prakash and then Nayantara Sahgal returned their well earned honors to be followed by nearly fifty other literary figures, film personalities and scientists. During this period we also saw the attack on the dalit aspirations leading to the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. On parallel level the attack on JNU was orchestrated. At JNU the masked men who shouted the slogans have not been caught while Kanhaiya Kumar and company was targeted. The word anti national was thrown up. The aim was very clear, it was to create and enemy image of those who are critical of this Government. Same way all those disagreeing with the ruling dispensation are being called as anti National and BJP’s well oiled troll army is the new form of aggressive foot soldiers adding on to the Bajrang Dal types. Krishna is an outstanding musician who has not only been contributing to the Carnatic music but has also voicing his opinion against the politics of sectarian nationalism and growing intolerance. In the true traditions of music he sings Gandhi’s favorite Bhajan (Vaishnav Jan to), sings about Jesus and Mohammad. As such music is essentially based on the prevalent cultures, which are not bound by any narrow boundaries. It is only from last few decades that creative artists are being questioned and targeted on the ground of religion. Whole of Indian culture has been an intermixing of traditions coming from different religions. The peak point of this has been seen in our medieval times in particular, when Hindus and Muslims both contributed. While the peak of this syncretism is expressed in Bhakti and Sufi traditions, our food habits, literature, art and architecture have all evolved through these interactions. Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘Discovery of India’ underlines this aspect of our culture. As per him there are layers of culture intermixing and influencing each other. When cultures meet they interact and evolve into better forms. They have their own distinct signature even while changing themselves and that’s what is called, ‘salad bowl’. Some do believe in ‘melting pot’ model where the original distinctions get merged into a uniform whole. India is fairly unique in having these different components of ‘Salad bowl’ contributing to the richness of the land. While bhakti saints have an appeal cutting across religious boundaries, those visiting Sufi saint shrines are not just Muslims. In the field of literature the devotional songs of Rahim and Raskhan dedicated to Lord Shrikrishna are amazing. The Hindi film and television world is a living testimony to this interactive culture. One cannot forget the brilliant Bhajans (devotional songs) sung by Mohammad Rafi, Man Tarpat Hari Darshna ko aaj (Baiju Bawara) or ‘Insaf ka mandir hai ye (Amar). There is a long list of these inter religious cultural expressions. The contributions of Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan match those of Ravi Shanker and Shiv Kumar Sharma to give just one example. In current times music maestro A R Rahman, on one side is composing ‘Piya Haji Ali’ and on the other is composing ‘Shantakaram Bhujanagshayanam’. If Krishna is singing about Jesus and Mohammad, that is just so much natural and inspiring. This precisely is the core essence of creative artists. The bigots cannot see beyond their narrow prisms and cannot tolerate the natural interaction in the positive light. This is what the Taliban do, and this is what the Christian fundamentalists assert. Taking a cue from the trolls succeeding in postponing AAI SPICMAY concert, other trolls are also showing their aggressive teeth. After the cancellation disguised as postponement another organizers planning to host the program in Mysuru Kuvempunagar have pulled out on similar grounds as they got a warning that hosting Krishna will be like denigrating Hindu Dharma! One admires Krishna who in the face of these aggressive reactions is holding his ground and believes that music does not knowborders of nation, region, religion or language. As per him music should soar across the world and captivate all humanity. Says he; “The troll army has the underlying patronage of people in power. I have been trolled for a long time for my social position, my perspectives on politics, and my disagreements with the BJP regime. I believe in every art form. Allah, Jesus and Ram make no difference. It is a multilingual and multi-religious country.” Salute to the brave soul, brave Indian!

December 02, 2018

RSS Fund Raising - Coin coin mein Ram

Donations for temple in Ayodhya: Coin coin mein Ram
Since 1992, at Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya, cash is being collected for Ram temple. 9 am to 6 pm, without a break, Kumar and a ‘reliever’ keep account.
Written by Lalmani Verma | New Delhi


November 29, 2018

Hindi Article- Mumbai 26/11 A decade later

मुंबई में खून की होली के दस साल - राम पुनियानी 26 नवंबर 2018 को मुंबई पर मौत के सौदागरों के क्रूर हमले के दस साल पूरे हो जाएंगे। हर तरह के हथियारों से लैस ये दस लोग मुंबई के तट पर उतरे। वे भले ही टी शर्ट और जींस पहने थे परंतु उनकी मानसिकता अत्यंत दकियानूसी और पुरातनपंथी थी। वे जेहाद की अपनी समझ से प्रेरित थे। मुंबई महानगर, जो एक समय अपने समावेशी और उदार चरित्र के लिए जाना जाता था, पर इस हमले ने देश ही नहीं वरन् पूरी दुनिया को झकझोर दिया था। यह हमला बारीकी से योजना बनाकर किया गया था और हमलावरों को नियंत्रित करने वाले लोग सैकड़ों मील दूर थे। जिन लोगों ने ये हमले किए, उनके दिमाग में यह बिठा दिया गया था कि हिंसा, नफरत और आतंकवाद ऐसी चीजें हैं, जिन्हें खुदा पसंद करता है। इस हमले के बारे में कई बातें बहुत साफ हैं। इन लोगों ने समुद्र के अधबीच, गुजरात में पंजीकृत मछली पकड़ने वाले एक जहाज पर कब्जा किया। वे मुंबई के तट के नजदीक पहुंचे और फिर छोटी-छोटी नौकाओं में सवार हो गेटवे ऑफ़ इंडिया पर उतर गए। अपनी पीठ पर बैकपैक लादे हुए इन लोगों ने मुंबई पर कहर बरपा दिया। वे पांच हिस्सों में बंट गए और अपनी कुत्सित हरकतों को अंजाम दिया। छत्रपति शिवाजी ट्रेन टर्मिनस और मुंबई की प्रसिद्ध ताजमहल होटल में उन्होंने जो कुछ किया, वह अब इतिहास का हिस्सा है। उन्होंने अंधाधुंध गोलियां चलाकर निर्दोष लोगों की जान ली। उन्हें इस बात की कतई परवाह नहीं थी कि उनकी गोलियों के शिकार होने वाले लोग किस धर्म, जाति या देश के थे। इस हमले में 126 लोग मारे गए, जिनमें से 98 सामान्य नागरिक थे, 14 पुलिसकर्मी और 14 विदेशी। इनके अतिरिक्त, 327 लोग गंभीर रूप से घायल हुए। इस हमले में तीन शीर्ष पुलिस अधिकारी मारे गए। इनमें शामिल थे हेमंत करकरे, जो महाराष्ट्र पुलिस के आतंकवाद-निरोधक दस्ते के प्रमुख थे और जो मालेगांव, हैदराबाद की मक्का मस्जिद, अजमेर दरगाह और समझौता एक्सप्रेस में हुए बम धमाकों की जांच कर रहे थे। पिछले कई दशकों से मुंबई पर आतंकी हमले होते रहे हैं। इनमें से पहला हमला 12 मार्च 1993 को हुआ था। इस दिन मुंबई के विभिन्न इलाकों में हुए 23 बम विस्फोटों में 257 व्यक्ति मारे गए थे। ये धमाके बाबरी मस्जिद के विध्वंस के बाद हुए थे। इसके बाद, 2 दिसंबर 2002 को मुंबई के उपनगर घाटकोपर में एक बस में हुए बम विस्फोट में दो लोग मारे गए। इसके पीछे था गोधरा के बाद हुआ मुसलमानों का कत्लेआम। 2003 में 13 मार्च, 29 जुलाई और 25 अगस्त को भी आतंकी हमले हुए। 11 जुलाई 2006 को पश्चिम रेलवे की एक लोकल ट्रेन के फर्स्ट क्लास के डिब्बे में विस्फोट हुआ। इन सभी घटनाओं की कोई न कोई पृष्ठभूमि थी। शुरूआती धमाके मुंबई में 1992-1993 में शहर में मुसलमानों की बड़े पैमाने पर हत्याओं के बाद हुए। धमाकों की दूसरी श्रृखंला, गुजरात कत्लेआम के बाद हुई। इसमें सबसे विचलित कर देने वाली घटना थी करकरे की मौत, जो मालेगांव बम धमाकों की जांच कर रहे थे और जिन्होंने इन धमाकों और साध्वी प्रज्ञा सिंह ठाकुर के बीच की कड़ी, एक मोटरसाईकिल, को ढूंढ़ निकाला था। प्रज्ञा सिंह ठाकुर अब ले. कर्नल प्रसाद श्रीकांत पुरोहित के साथ मालेगांव बम धमाके प्रकरण में आरोपी हैं। उनके स्वामी दयानंद पांडे और मेजर उपाध्याय के साथ संबंध भी सामने आए हैं। जिस दौरान करकरे इस घटना की विभिन्न कड़ियों को जोड़ने का प्रयास कर थे, उस समय हिन्दू द्रोही और राष्ट्रद्रोही होने के आरोप चस्पा किए गए थे। शिवसेना के मुखपत्र ‘सामना‘ ने उन पर कटु हमला बोला था। यह दिलचस्प है कि करकरे की मौत के बाद, गुजरात के तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री, जो अब देश के प्रधानमंत्री हैं, ने मुंबई पहुंचकर करकरे की पत्नी को एक करोड़ रूपये देने की पेशकश की थी। करकरे की मृत्यु के बाद, अल्पसंख्यक मामलों के तत्कालीन केन्द्रीय मंत्री एआर अंतुले ने इस घटना को आतंकवाद के साथ कुछ और का नतीजा बताया था। उन्होंने यह स्पष्ट नहीं किया था कि ‘कुछ और‘ से उनका क्या आशय है। इन हमलों से यह भी सामने आया कि आतंकी संगठन कम उम्र के नौजवानों के दिमाग में किस प्रकार का जहर भरते हैं। अजमल कसाब, जिसे जिंदा पकड़ लिया गया था, ने अपने बयान में बताया कि आतंकी संगठन, रंगरूटों को बार-बार बाबरी मस्जिद के ढ़हाए जाने का वीडियो दिखाते हैं और उन्हें यह बताया जाता है कि भारत में लगातार मस्जिदों को ढ़हाया जा रहा है और इसका बदला लेना ज़रूरी है। इसी से प्रेरित हो उसने बंदूक उठाई। अलकायदा और उससे जुड़े संगठनों के लड़ाकों के दिमाग में भी इस्लाम के कट्टरपंथी सलाफी संस्करण के सिद्धांत ठूंसे जाते थे। उन्हें यह बताया जाता था कि जो लोग इस्लाम में विश्वास नहीं करते, वे काफिर हैं और उन्हें मारना जेहाद है। और यह भी कि जेहाद करते हुए मारे जाने वालों को जन्नत में स्थाई रहवास का परमिट मिलेगा और उन्हें 72 हूरों के साथ अनंतकाल तक आनंद करने का मौका भी प्राप्त होगा। इस त्रासदी का एक पहलू भारत और पाकिस्तान के रिश्तों से भी जुड़ा हुआ है। संसद पर हमले के बाद, आपरेशन पराक्रम के अंतर्गत, भारतीय सेना को पाकिस्तान की सीमा पर जमा किया गया था। वाजपेयी के नेतृत्व में एनडीए सरकार, संसद पर हमले का बदला लेना चाहती थी। अंततः इस कवायद का कोई नतीजा नहीं निकला, सिवाए इसके कि देश के करोड़ों रूपये बर्बाद हुए। 26/11/2008 के हमले के बाद, केन्द्रीय गृहमंत्री और महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्री को इस्तीफा देना पड़ा था। केन्द्र सरकार पर यह जबरदस्त दबाव था कि वह पाकिस्तान पर हमला कर दे। एनडीए सरकार के विपरीत, यूपीए-1 सरकार इस दबाव में नहीं आई और अब ऐसा लगता है कि उसने परिस्थिति का सही और बेहतर ढंग से सामना किया। भारत पर आतंकी हमलों के पीछे पाकिस्तान की सेना का एक हिस्सा और आईएसआई थे। पाकिस्तान के खिलाफ किसी भी तरह के सैन्य आक्रमण से वहां की प्रजातांत्रिक ढंग से चुनी गई जरदारी सरकार का कमजोर होना निश्चित था। यह प्रसन्नता और संतोष का विषय है कि भारत में आतंकी घटनाओं की संख्या में तेजी से कमी आई है। यह स्पष्ट है कि इस तरह की घटनाएं अलकायदा-छाप आतंकवाद का नतीजा होती हैं, जिसके मूल में है कच्चे तेल के मूल्यवान स्त्रोतों पर कब्जा जमाने की साम्राज्यवादी देशों की लिप्सा। 26/11 को याद करते हुए हमें यह सुनिश्चित करना होगा कि हम इस घटना को साम्प्रदायिक चश्मे से देखने की बजाए उसे सही परिपेक्ष्य में देखें। यह भी साफ है कि पाकिस्तान के प्रति हमारी नीतियां संतुलित होनी चाहिए। हमें लगातार इस बात के प्रयास करने होंगे कि ऐसी घटनाएं न हो सकें। पाकिस्तान को नेस्तोनाबूद कर देने की कोरी धमकियों से कुछ होना जाना नहीं है। (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)