Romanticising Extreme Left

I was watching a debate on “The Buck Stops Here” program of NDTV. The program was debating recent student protests in JNU and government crackdown. One of the participants Prof. Apoorvananda of University of Delhi had written a very poignant piece in Indian Express calling “Umar Khalid My Son“. 

Prof. Apoorvanand wished he had a son like Umar Khalid. While praising the idealistic rebel inside Umar Khalid, who had chosen a life of hardship and rebellion instead of a cushy job, Prof. Apoorvanand supported young students questioning idea of India and demanding azadi for Kashmir. Prof. Apoorvanand also said that India cannot hold on to land of Kashmir without any Kashimiri in it.  

One cannot but be moved by heart wrenching sentiment expressed by Prof. Apoorvananda. Many well meaning people of good intention think along the same line. A very similar sentiment was expressed by Arundhati Roy many a time in open meetings. Prof. Apoorvamand’s thoughts were not very different from that of Ms. Arundhati Roy, who has ultra left leaning.

India has earned its freedom after a lot of struggle. At the time of partition, Kashmir became a part of India when Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir agreed to be part of India. But most Kashmiris being muslim, Pakistan claimed Kashmir to be part of its own territory. Since 1947 the debate is continuing, amid several wars and ongoing insurgency. Question then is valid, can India retain Kashmir without Kashmiri people wanting to be any part of India?

I would like to consider the following points:

  • Unlike many nations in the world, India is a very heterogenous country from the point of view of religion, language, ethnicity etc. To give voice to maximum number of people in decision making, India has opted for democracy and a constitution. Constitution gives us right to free speech. We can certainly debate the idea of India. Can we raise slogans encouraging break up India? 
  • It is an academic idea to have a country without border, its time definitely has not come. Borderless state is not a geopolitical reality. From a purely ideological point of view, if we let Kashmir be free, what would be the fate of Hindu Kashmiri’s who were evicted from their land, from their home and hearth. This was an act of ethnic cleansing, undertaken to increase population of muslims in the valley.
  • What happens if Jammu and Ladakh decides to stay within India, while Kashmir valley decides to secede? This option may not be acceptable to Kashmiris. The whole idea of border less state will then fall apart. What if Pakistan occupies Kashmir after India makes it azad? What will happen to Indian border?
  • If we accept a borderless state, should we not agree to wall less home where everything is open to all. We do not. Same argument goes for states. We guard our borders. People lose lives to protect our limited freedom within our state boundaries.
  • In his article, Prof. Apoorvanand eulogised ideological pursuit of Omar Khalid and belittled career pursuit. Money making and career pursuit may be abhorrent to idealists, only a self sufficient individual can help others, if they choose to, and a self sufficient nation can take care of its citizens. To be fair, no one heard India’s moralistic preaching while begging for aid from the world.
  • Followers of left leaning ideology, of which Omar Khalid is a member, most certainly Prof. Apoorvamand also subscribes to the same ideology, believed in taking from the rich and giving to poor. India has practiced this philosophy for sixty years, we know how we have been able to help our fellow citizens.


JNU Protest, Left Hypocrite, Right Stupid, Administration Biased

India is split down the middle over arrest of JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar. Left parties, left leaning academicians, student bodies, civil society are ratcheting up public opinion over  attempted at saffronisation of Indian academic curriculum, over intolerance in India, over attempted homogenisation of plurality of Indian society.

As a common Indian who gets goose bumps every time national anthem is played, I have the following to say:

  • Slogans raised at JNU cannot be projected as part of JNU’s culture of debate. If someone is chanting “Pakistan Zindabad”, “Hindustan ke tookde honge”, “Hindustan ke barbaadi tak jang chalegi”, “Afzal ham sharminda hain, tere katil zinda  hain” etc. is no ordinary slogan. Such slogans is prelude to inciting violence. 
  • As a bastion of free speech, if JNU accepts pro-Afzal slogans, are allowed on the ground of free speech, then why did JNU students block Ramdev from addressing student community?
  • Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest, as it appears in all likelihood done wrongfully and charge of sedition applied unnecessarily, must be condemned. Kanhaiya Kumar has got unprecedented support so far. There is also report emerging that certain TV footage that showed Kanhaiya Kumar protesting was doctored. 
  • Lawyers that beat up JNU students, teachers, and Kanhaiya Kumar must be held accountable for their actions. These people are no patriots. Neither are these people nationalists. These lawyers are pure hooligans. Their act is more reprehensible because lawyers are officers of court.
  • Delhi police had not covered itself in glory. Police must show more zeal to arrest lawyers. These men are not patriots, they are misguided nationalists. Was Kanhaiya Kumar arrested and jailed based on false information? If so, such action is another black mark of Delhi Police and must be investigated and condemned. 
  • Group that organised protest at JNU included at least ten people.  One member, Umar Khalid, has openly said he is against Indian occupation of Kashmir. Umar’s father used to head SIMI. Umar Khalid along with his friends Anirban Bhattacharya, Riazul Haq and Rubina Saifee belongs to Democratic Student Union of India, a group believed to be close to  CPI Maoist group. Group has other members who had planned and organised the meeting. Umar, according to intelligence sources, had planned to take the function to 18 other universities.
  • Arundhati Roy and other sympathisers of Naxalite movement have openly demanded freedom of Kashmir from Indian occupation. Arundhati Roy also was very critical of Afzal Guru’s conviction and execution.
  • Delhi University Professor S A R Geelani, one of the organisers of Pro Afzal Guru protest at Press Club of India, has also been arrested on sedition charge. Prof Geelani was acquitted by supreme court of India of charges of plotting attack on Indian parliament. Link between JNU protest and Press Club protest must be investigated for any deeper motive.
  • Those who claim why police entered JNU campus instead college administration sorting out issues, forget that at Hyderabad University administration had taken action against students that lead to suicide of Rohit Vemula and subsequent protest. It seems students following certain ideology, have decided they will protest no matter what government and/or administration does. 

Protests have started appearing at regular interval, especially before parliament session, after BJP has come to power. Same left leaders, left leaning civil society members, news anchors and editors that are upset at the suicide of Rohit Vemula, those who are frothing at their mouth at arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, are totally silent about killing of BJP – RSS activist in Kerala.  Why such double standard?

First Day at Boarding

This was the first evening of his life, when he was all by himself. Bibhu was sitting in his hostel room. His uncle and cousin had left.  In a room meant for four, he had two other room mates, who were out there somewhere. His hostel building was known as Baani Bhavan, newest among different hostel buildings and allotted to youngest students. 

He was not sure what he should do. This was the first time he was alone. He was was not particularly homesick. Yet, memories of his days at home came back to him. His mother’s letter on his maths test score and how disappointed his father was. Walking down to the bank of Ganges with his cousin in the evening. Stopping by an eatery to eat fried snacks. His favourite was daal-vaada. He wished he could go back.

He was woken up from his thoughts by his room mate Nirmal. You are sitting here all by yourself? Come meet others. A gang of ten students, lead by Prosoon entered his room. Prosoon was leader of the gang. Unlike the rest, Prosoon looked more mature atleast two year older than the rest. Bibhu later learnt Prosoon has been in class six for two years. This would be his last year in the school if he cannot clear class six.

So you are the new boy? Where are you from?”
Kanpur.”
Kanpur huh! How far is it from Nagpur?”
I don’ know“.
Six inches, see”. Prosoon put his index finger of his palm on his nose and the little finger on his ear, see. Every body laughed. 
Hey Bishu, show our new boy how dogs in this campus cry,

Biswajit, was from Dhanbad. He was more than  ready to oblige. He lied on the ground on his back, flapped his arms and legs and made noise of a scared dog wailing. A few other boys joined him in making noise. Atmosphere was light in the room. So many boys, between 10 and 14 year of age, laughing, chatting and generally making noise. This being early days, students were not allotted to teaching groups. Next day was a Sunday, so no school. There was a relaxed atmosphere, all around. He appreciated the effort of his class mates made to welcome him as one of them. Thus started his new and long journey through boarding school.

Campus Protests Spontaneous or Manufactured

All through 2015, India was boiling over intolerance issue. Writers and scholars were returning their awards. There was a feeling India had become intolerant after BJP had formed government at the centre. Any thought that such a protest could be manufactured was scoffed at. Though time and again it emerged that many a times, the issues were judged even before investigation was over. A typical case was rape of an elderly missionary in West Bengal. The blame was directed at BJP, RSS and bigger sangh parivar activists. However, reality was different when investigation was over and police arrested the actual culprit. History repeated itself, during Delhi election. When cases started popping up about vandalising of minority institutions. Many a cases were found to be regular law and order problem. But blame was directed at BJP and right wing parties.

This brings to question, is there a systematic plan to create an issue and then drag BJP into it? Many such issues were timed with parliament sessions, such that functioning parliament, read Rajya Sabha, can be obstructed demanding answer from none other than prime minister.  It started with changing director of IIFT, Pune. Admitted, choice of Mr. Gajendra Chauhan was wrong. But will students decide who will become head of a government funded institute? Government has repeatedly said Mr. Chauhan would not decide academic issues, he will be an administrator. An institute that had not have a convocation in last 15 years, it is strange that students are protesting against appointment of an administrator. The protest is being backed by left leaning unions and film makers like Anand Patwardhan, a known Modi baiter.

Then came suicide of Rohith Vemulla at Hyderabad Central University. The boy was member of Ambedkar Student Association that organised protest against hanging of Yaqoub Memon, a convicted terrorist. We have heard slogans like, “kitne Yaquob ko maroge, har ghar mein Yaquob paida hoga“. Yaquoub Memon was convicted by court of law. Mercy petition of Yaquoub was rejected by President of India. Why blame BJP and RSS for Yaquoub’s hanging? Like organising beef festival, Yaquoub Memon hanging was a calculated ploy to wave a red rag infront of ABVP to incite them to do something stupid? Apparently,  the ploy worked. ABVP protested. Rohith Vemula and his friends had a scuffle with ABVP students. Authorities took action. Rohith committed suicide, left   backed student unions, AISA and SFI, went for a strike demanding sacking of HRD minister. 

Students aligned to the same ideological and political formation, went to protest outside RSS headquarter. Video footage exists to suggest that protesters, mainly female university students and/or party workers, used obscene language against police, against prime minister in a totally unprovoked situation. Their protest was illegal. No permission was taken from police. When protestors broke police barricade, police used force. Students were beaten up. The video footage went viral across social network and TV channels. No body showed obscene behaviour of students. Definitely police should have been more restrained as a professional force. At the same time, one must mention that protestors were obscene, uncouth and not washed in milk and honey. Question that begs an answer is why JNU students were protesting outside RSS headquarter? Was it part of a deliberate ploy to provoke RSS – BJP and Sangh? Ploy succeeded and government and administration came out looking insensitive and intolerant.

Then came protest in JNU. Students wanted to celebrate death anniversary of Afzal Guru. A person who was convicted by supreme court of India on the charge of plotting attack on parliament of India. Afzal Guru had admitted in a TV interview that he was helping the group that was responsible for attack on Indian parliament. Subscribers to certain ideology and belief, are convinced that Afzal Guru was innocent. Afzal Guru was executed during UPAII rule. Why rake up Afzal Guru execution issue now? Students and protestors chanted “Pakistan zindabad”. On Indian soil, in Indian capital “Pakistan Zindabad!”. Protestors chanted India would breakup, and protest would continue their till India is disintegrates, “Bharat ki barbadi tak, jang chalegi, jang chalegi“. Video footage of the event shows that both men and women were chanting slogans. No one tried to stop them. Is this not intolerance?

Question arises, can a function in a University Campus be organised without student union being aware? When president of student union was arrested, political parties, left and congress, and left leaning social activists claimed political vendetta. It is amusing to even suggest that because ABVP did not win JNU student union election, government is trying to derecognize JNU. Who is behind university campus protest all over? There is a concerted effort by left and congress to rake up issues using their proxies. They put forward students, use them and when action is taken by authorities, they claim atrocity, they claim freedom of expression is violated. Teachers union of Hyderabad Central University resigned over government interference. Teachers union of JNU, demanded unconditional release of student union leader.  This is intolerance of a different kind. But definitely a clever a ploy.

Games People Play

Tapas-kaku walked into his jethoo’s residence one evening.  Tapas- babu made himself comfortable, claiming he had good news. But he will divulge his information, only after his mouth was sweetened. Tapas-kaku was younger brother of Manas-kaku, who was working in Kanpur.  It was Manas, who had given information about the residential school, set up by missionaries of Rama Krishna Order, near his native village. 

After formalities of tea and snacks were over, Tapas-kaku announced, it was essentially because of his effort the boy had got admitted in the boarding school. “He essentially did not make the admission list. I talked to the principal and hostel super to get his name on the admission list” he said smugly. 

He had come to Calcutta to take the admission test in Rama Krishna Mission Siksha Mandir. He was staying at his jethoo’s place at Metia Boorooj, in Garden Reach locality beyond the dockyards of Khidirpore. His uncle had rented a two room place in the first floor of a house. He had been to the school, some 50 km away from Calcutta by bus, with his jethoo and mejo dada to write the admission test. 

If he was embarrassed at the revelation of Tapas-kaku, he did not betray any emotion. So he will be going to boarding school soon, he thought. He went shopping with his jethoo, and mejo dada to buy his stuff that included school uniform, utensils, shoes and sandals, toiletries etc. 

All new stuff! Are you going to sasur bari (in laws), brother?” joked his didi.
His jethi ma quipped, “Thakur-po (an address to husband’s brother), seems has a lot of money to waste, sending his son to boarding school! Looks like, we have not raised any kid.” 
It is none of your business. Fuli, will do what he wants. Don’t speak rubbish in front of the kid”. Jethoo admonished his wife. Jets was really fond of his kid brother. He did not want to hear anything against him. Both of them grew up together, after their mother passed away.

On the fateful day, they boarded a bus to babu ghat so that they could get seat for the 2 hour long journey. Those days taking a taxi would normally cross the mind of most people. A personal car was beyond imagination. After settling him at his room, jethoo and media dada left. As he was getting acquainted with his room mates, warden of the hostel walked in with a list. Warden looked at him, asked his name, then warden gave him his young life’s firs surprise, “you are the boy who came second in admission test?” 

Coming second at admission test? Really! He thought he did not make the grade. Did some one not had to pull a string to get him on the list? Did Tapas-kaku not say this so loudly in his jethoo’s house? Why would he lie? What did he gain? Many questions would run past his young mind. Little did he know that this was his first real life lesson of hideous games adults play at some one else expense. 

Startup Culture and Classless Society

Tragic suicide of Rohit Vemula has brought to focus discrimination dalit and minorities face in India. Bee line of politicians to Hyderabad Central University campus to show solidarity with protesting students have grabbed TV hours. India has been trying to remove discrimination based on caste, creed and religion since 1947. Strange that more than 60 years later, we are still trying to draw attention towards it. 

We all know discrimination exists, we do not know how doe we remove discrimination that is deep seated in our minds. We have been trying to change peoples mind for last so many years. We have created affirmative action in academic institutions and at work place. Yet students commit suicide. Politicians are now asking for reservation in work places that are not run by government. 

I think more we try to create reservation, more entrenched discrimination becomes. Why not create a system where dalits, minorities and disempowered have financial security? Once people have financial empowerment, they will never feel discriminated. Even if they do, they would not care. I think, by pushing a culture of entrepreneurship, Modi government may veer us towards a country where discrimination will be minimised if not eliminated.  When government of the day will start encouraging entrepreneural effort without any discrimination, then every Indian with an idea may have a chance to succeed. A start up entrepreneur will not have to beg for job, they will actually have opportunity to create a job. Who knows a dalit may employ a person from upper caste. Only with economic freedom we may dream of moving towards a classless society. 

Miracles Do Happen

I think we should send him to a boarding school” said mother.
He is hardly ten year old, can he cope?” his father said. 
School is enrolling students from class six upwards, aren’t they? Our son will not be the only young child there?” mother had her answer ready.
Still, he is very young. Can you stay not seeing him for six months?” said father feebly.
Have to do. He must learn Bengali. In this god forsaken land, he is forgetting his mother tongue. Send him to a boarding school in West Bengal.” Mother said with finality.

He was studying in Sammilani Bengali medium school in class five in Kanpur. He was certain after writing his maths test that he would not make the passing grade. His mother was also teaching in the same school. She would unlikely to take very kindly, her son flunking maths test. Mother had a nasty temper. Make her mad, she did not mind getting physical. Once at it, she would not stop with a slap or two. Her temper would flare with time and she would use anything that she could get her hands on. So he needed a miracle badly. 

Sadly, only person who could save him was also not there. His daadi. Didn’t she tell him that lord Krishna saves those who call him in distress. He listened to Prahlad? He rescued Draupadi from angry Durbhasha, did he not? Why should Krishna not save him? Is he not in distress? So snuggled under his quilt he was praying earnestly every night since writing his maths test, “Oh lord Krishna, Oh savior of all, see to it that I get at least 30 marks out of 100 in maths”. In his mind he could not fathom how after answering 25 marks, he could get 30. But his grand mother had taught him that if asked earnestly, god can actually do strange things. 

Next morning, when father asked him what he thought about going to boarding school, he felt Lord Krishna had really answered his prayers. He readily agreed to his fathers proposal.  At least he would be spared the beating in near future. Moreover, he would get to ride Toofan express all the way to Calcutta. There were so many things to see. So many stations, so many towns and villages. His first long step away from home, little did he know his journey had just began.

Controversy Chasing BJP

Recently I read a poll, conducted by ABP – Nielson, on Modi governments performance. Popularity of Prime Minister Modi is still high. Many still believe Prime Minister is working hard to make a difference. BJP may still win on its own, if election is held now. 

BJP in many states, specially where the party is in opposition, is not covering itself with glory. Being a resident of Delhi, I think central government is unnecessarily interfering in Delhi government’s activity. If Delhi is to remain under central guidance, why have an election? Would BJP behave in a similar way, if state government was run by BJP? Why does central and state BJP leaders not respect peoples verdict whole heartedly? AAP has its problems, but being a party that rules a small state, the party corners most of the sympathy.

Then comes Presidents rule in Arunachal. It may be true that congress failed to manage its party. Yet it is naive to believe that BJP had not fished in troubled water and not engineered the trouble. It is not clear why governor of the state organised a house meet in the bar of a five star hotel, no matter what was the impediment? It is not clear, why did the governor did not ask for a head count in the assembly which would have straightened out if ruling party had the number or not?

I had mentioned in an earlier post that BJP is not able to manage its alliance with PDP in J&K. BJP is unable to manage its alliance in J&K. It can be argued that BJP has acted responsibly, it is the PDP is not willing to play by the rule after Mufti sahib passed away. Yet when a partnership fails, both partners get their share of blame. In this case, BJP has to take the blame for at least in part for new leadership of PDP not willing to share a relationship with them. 

I do not know what is causing BJP to make mistakes after such a huge majority? Is it arrogance, inexperience or simply foolishness. BJP is managing to unite opposition against it. Is BJP is simply not accustomed to be in opposition? They had shown it when they repeatedly blocked parliament during UPA II. The same phenomenon is coming to haunt BJP now that the party is in power. BJP may think truth is with them, but even most bitter medicine has to be coated to avoid bad taste. BJP seems to be missing the point. While central governemtn may be functioning with good intent, local level BJP leaders are not on the same page.