A Day in Ranthambhor

It was a hot summer morning in Ranthambhor National Park. Inhabitants had gathered around watering holes. Peacocks were trying to entice females. They had spread their feather widespread and strutting around.

DSC01756

But deers around them had other worries. There was a rumour that a sambar deer has lost his life. In this era of social media, it is hard to hide bad news.

 

 

DSC01759

Deer was murdered. Dead body was lying on a dried river bed. No body knows who did it, but people had some idea. A leopard was seen sleeping  on rock nearby.

DSC01723

Without proof you cannot accuse anyone in even in a jungle. Problem was compounded by absence of scavengers like Hyena and Boars. Some said hyenas only worked at night. So most residents had to live with the smell of rotting body. Meanwhile a sambhar deer family decided to leave the park altogether. If there is no justice, why live in the park?

DSC01818

DSC01824

DSC01859

So deers decided to call a meeting. A lot of members came. There were boars, crows, cranes and even a crocodile. It was decided to make a petition to the king.

DSC01781

King was nowhere to be seen. One cub was seen sleeping in the shade.

DSC01811

King himself was seen walking on a trail. He appeared to be weakend by the heat. King was in no mood to dispense justice. Last seen, was king lying on his back by water side on his summer cottage.

DSC01853

There goes justice down the tube for residents of Ranthambhor national park.

 

BRD Hospital Death and Enigma that is Dr. Kafeel Khan

Recently, as many as sixty children died in BRD hospital of Gorakhpur.As the news of tragic death of sixty children in BRD hospital of Gorakhpur appeared on national TV and from there sank into national consciousness, heroics of another gentleman Dr. Kafeel Khan emerged. Dr. Kafeel Khan was head of pediatrics department of BRD hospital. According to reports, Dr. Khand had made superhuman effort to save children. He went out of his way to purchase oxygen cylinder by spending his own money. He borrowed truck and volunteers from Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) to procure oxygen cylinders. His team of doctors and interns worked on patients using ambubag.

However, as situation evolved Dr. Kafeel Khan was suspended along with principal of BRD medical college Prof. Rajeev Sharma. It was alleged that Dr. Kafeel Khan apart from having a chequered past, was running his own clinic and he was stealing oxygen from BRD hospital for his private business. All his effort to procure oxygen cylinder was aimed at replacing cylinders he had taken from the hospital.

As Dr. Khan’s suspension came to light, many people argued that because he was a muslim, he was an easy target for suspension by right wing BJP lead government. Without absolving government in delaying release of payment to hospital despite repeated reminders, without denying that there may be an element of bias in suspension of Dr. Kafeel Khan, can we look at the issues at hand from a different angle?

  • If one gets out of Hindu Mulsim narrative, it may be possible to look at suspension of Dr Khan because he was the head of pediatrics department and not because he was a muslim. Principal of the college, Prof. Rajeev Mishra, a Hindu, was also suspended /resigned. Both head of department and principal of college are much closer to ground zero. So they must accept their responsibility.  If chief minister who is sitting in Lucknow can be asked to resign, those who are running the hospital and paediatric ward can also be held accountable.

 

  • Kafeel Khan’s past is immaterial and has no relevance to BRD death. Like many of his peers in BRD, and many other government run hospitals, Dr. Khan ran a rival clinic / hospital. This is illegal but a widespread practice. What is important is did he steal from hospital for his private business? Investigation by a TV channel has shown that many private clinics running from staff quarters use supplies meant for poor patients of BRD hospital.

 

  • BRD hospital does not supply oxygen from cylinder. It supplies liquid oxygen kept under pressure in a reservoir using pipeline. Why Dr Kafeel was in a hurry to collect cylinder when there were enough cylinder in the hospital, according to hospital staff.

 

  • It is also a matter of curiosity how did DIG of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) give out his men and his truck at the request of a civilian. No matter how urgent the situation may be, paramilitary forces do not act without explicit instruction from the powers that control them.

 

  • According to report, Dr. Khan had used Ambubag to pump air into patients. Now ambubag does not supply oxygen but ambient air. If ambient air was good enough in seriously ill patients, why would hospital invest in oxygen? May be Dr. Kafeel was using best available option under his control in a desperate situation. According to report he had brokendown at the loss of life. Alternatively, did Dr. Kafeel tried to cover his track by showing that he had done everything he could to save patients.  Did he also use friendly journalist/s to sing his praise? If all these innuendos are proven to be correct, the act would be construed as diabolical.

 

  • Did Dr Kafeel or Prof. Sharma apprise CM of the dire strait of oxygen supply, earlier or during the time chief minister visited on 9th Aug?  Could principal and head pediatrics department have convinced the chief minister and health minister to release money earlier? A chief minister, all said and done, can only act on what he is informed of. I doubt chief minister has time or understanding of complexity of running a big hospital, even professional CEOs do not.

 

  • It is important to note that money had actually reached the hospital on 7th of Aug. It was released on 11″th of Aug? An electronic transfer hardly takes 30 min depending on network.

 

  • According to report the bill was pending since Nov 2016. Who was in power in Lucknow then? In this whole episode only person that is intact a soft target is supplier of oxygen. A business man whose bill of 50 lac rupees remain unpaid for more that 8 months is expected to supply oxygen for free. Otherwise he may risk having a criminal case is filed against him.

BRD Hospital Death, A Few Observations

Recently, as many as sixty children died in BRD hospital of Gorakhpur. As National Media camped in Gorakhpur, a few facts emerged and many questions arose. Gorakhpur in Eastern UP is the place from where sitting chief minister of UP has won as many as four parliamentary elections (from 1998 to 2017). Despite that Gorakhpur remains a dirty township with uncollected garbage strewn all around.

Gorakhpur and sorrounding regions of Eastern UP are endemic to Japanese encephalitis. Also known as brain fever, Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito borne disease. Disease spreads during monsoon season, when mosquito breeds on marsh lands and ponds. Pigs and birds like herons and storks are reservoir for the virus. Virus spreads through mosquito. Disease can ben controlled by taking appropriate measures like providing clean water, proper sanitation and controlling mosquito breeding. Pictures of dirty open drains, uncollected garbage, lack of basic sanitation may suggeste that despite electing a leader election after election, nothing much has been done to improve situation in Gorakhpur.

Incidence at BRD hospital demonstrates the sorry state of affairs in Indian healthcare. People travel 200 km or more, some from adjoining districts of Kushinagar and Deoria and even from adjoining country of Nepal, to reach BRD hospital for treatment. BRD hospital has dedicated ward for treating encephalitis patients including those with Japanese encephalitis. These patients have very little money. Definitely they do not have health insurance. Otherwise why would they land up in BRD hospital? According to pictures shown on TV, dogs roam in pediatric ward, children with feeding tube stuck through their nose take bath outside by a dirty drain. A reporter asked a father “why are you bathing your child in this dirty place?” “Where else can we go?” came the reply.

Then comes corruption. Most doctors do private practice. They probably take away hospital resources that include precious medicine, surgical supplies and medicines meant for poor. Several news report have suggested that the principal and head of pediatrics department were hand in glove in corruption. Head of pediatrics department was member of purchase committee. He would not clear any purchase without commission and share his loot with his principal.

The apathy shown by government has been discussed extensively. Noted journalist Mr. Sharath Pradhan has written how government and chief minister must accept responsibility of death as ministers sat on repeated reminders, a total of eight from April till August of 2017. This definitely reflects very poorly of the government. According to some report, dues to oxygen supplier was pending from Nov, 2016. For some unknown reason, dues were not cleared. Yogi government had come to power in April of 2017. May be Yogi knew about the state of corruption in the hospital and that is why he refused to release fund for liquid oxygen that was purchased during tenure of past government. In hindsight it was a grave error. May be Yogi government was incompetent and inexperienced.

There is also report that health minister wanted his own vendor to supply oxygen. As a result he did not clear the bill.

Is it fair to expect a non technical chief minister to understand gravity of oxygen shortage in a hospital? To apprise him of the acute distress, there is local hospital administration.  Did the hospital administration fulfil their responsibility? Apart from writing a few letters, why did the principal not approach health minister or chief minister for dues? Chief minister had also visited the hospital in recent times. Why was urgency of the matter not brought to his notice? As per report if the money was released on 7th of Aug, 2017 why did an electronic transfer took four days? It should not take more than 30 minutes with proper internet connectivity.

Government has initiated a police case against supplier of oxygen gas. A dealer whose 50 lac rupee was pending for more than 6 months, a dealer who had written 8 letters to recover his due, is expected to supply free oxygen. Is this not another instance of government high handedness and incompetence? Is the oxygen supplier only soft target in the whole shoddy mess that is BRD hospital and health ministry of UP government?

It is important to discuss  sorry state of healthcare in India. Sanitation and hygiene are poor. Living condition atrocious. Poor patients travel 200 km to avail hospital facility only to face institutionalised corruption and misery. Definitely, situation in BRD hospital did not happen in last four months. This has been a practice since long and the tragedy has only pointed finger into eyes of people that govern the state. Unless drastic improvements are brought about many more BRD hospital like situation may erupt anytime. Provide affordable medical insurance, open primary healthcare, create many more hospitals that are affordable, clean, and humane. Create municipality that clears garbage, cleans up drains such that easily avoidable diseases can be prevented. Bashing Yogi may help create brownie point, but will not solve issue.

  1. No country for children : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUdX-UCVuGU

India At 70 : Many Questions, Very Few Answers

As India reaches seventy as a free democratic nation, we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to feel sad about. Like one fly is enough to discard a pan of milk, any incidence of corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, narrow-mindedness makes all our proclamations about our achievements sound so hollow.

At this moment, one incident come to my mind. One is observation of an All Star Basketball player from the US, who was visiting India. I quote what he thought about India during his limited stay, “It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience. You see cows in the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road, a million cars and no traffic violations. Just a bunch of underprivileged people there and they want to learn how to play basketball. That s— was really, really dope to me”.  The basket ball player was Kevin Durant. For me he is a neutral observer, and not necessarily an Indophile. He is used to certain standard of governance in his native place. To his unaccustomed eyes, India appeared very odd may be dysfunctional. Subsequently, Kevin Durrant has been forced to apologise for his statement. When it comes to money, individual opinion becomes so insignificant. We may castigate Kevin Durrant as a privileged, pampered American. We may point out several social evils of America. But we cannot deny what Kevin Durrant felt while on his trip to India.

Around the same time I read an article written by Mr. Akaar Patel, a very well known journalist and writer. At the 70th anninversary of Indian independence, I had expected a more nuanced appraisal from Mr. Patel. Alas, it came out as an hagiography of congress party and its leaders and a brutal indictment of BJP and Indian right. At the time when Mr Patel was so effusive about contribution of leaders of Indian freedom fight, read leaders of congress, we must ask why any average non indophile, like Mr. Kevin Durrant, sees India in such a different light?  If this is the state of affairs after more than 50 years of congress rule, if this is the state of affairs at the 70th independence day of the nation, then certainly Mr. Patel is disingenous when he wrote his piece on leaders that gave us independence and ruled us for greater part of our freedom. Mr. Patel should explain despite a beautiful picture he painted, does job of a leader end with independence or one has to steer new born nation by formulating policies and administering them without fear and favour? Mr. Patel must explain, why India looks so shoddy to a neutral observer? Why India has 600 million very poor people? Why did a very poor country like India not unleash creativity of captains of industry?  Why did India nationalised banks and unleashed licence raj? Finally, India did not liberalise her economy in 1991 out of a grand dream, but because she was bankrupt. All because of faulty policy, practice of nepotism. practice of an entitlement culture by our policy makers. Happy seventieth birthday mother India.

Dakshineswar Temple, Where Every Dust Particle is Holy

Dakshineswar is a small town in north 24 pargana district of West Bengal. Located in the north of Kolkata, today Dakshineswar is a suburb of Kolkata. It is here, Rani Rasmoni of Jan Bazaar royal family had built a temple complex in 1855. Built by the river Ganges, with temple of mother Bhavatarini (other form of mother Kali) occupying centre of place, the complex had other temples, of Shiva, and Radha – Krishna, around a central courtyard.

Rani had hired Ramkumar Chattopadhyay as the head priest of Kali temple. Along with Ramkumar also came his eccentric or some say crazy, brother Gadadhar Chattopadyay. Gadadhar had only one desire in his life. That was to see mother Kali in real life. Such was his intoxication that Gadadhar would plead with mother Kali to reveal herself. Gadadhar felt his human life was futile without a vision of mother, so he tried to end his own life using mother’s kharga (sword). Finally, Gadadhar was blessed by mother kali.

Here in this temple complex and around it, crazy Gadadhar emerged as Thakur Sri Rama Krishna. He attained ultimate spiritual experiences pursuing vaishnava, tantra, vedanta practices. He attained both savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhis. He also practiced islam and christianity and had visions of the prophet and Jesus.

The room where Sri Rama Krishna had spent his time has been preserved. Just behind the room of Shri Rama Krishna is the small room in Nahabat where holy mother Sri Sarada Devi lived for more than a decade. The place was also frequented by future direct disciples of Sri Rama Krishna and Holy Mother Sarada Devi in the monastic order of Rama Krishna Math and Mission. Lumineries like Narendra Nath (Swami Vivekananda), Rakhal Chandra (Swami Brhmananda) and many others used to frequent the temple complex to see Sri Rama Krishna and Holy Mother. Many of theses young men were blessed by Sri Rama Krishna here and had experience of the ultimate.

Today, as I go to Dakshineshwar and stand in front of mother Kali, I get goosebumps. Hardly less than two hundred years before Sri Rama Krishna used to stand here and cry, cajole, plead with mother for a Darshan. On this holy premises, so many sleepless nights Sri Rama Krishna must have spent seeking a vision of the divine in his god intoxicated state. For a devotee, every inch of the Dakshineswar temple complex and beyond is blessed with touch of Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sarada Devi. Dust of this place is holy and air sacred.

Anil Kumble was Treated Poorly

We wish well to Indian cricket team. Let them win many tournaments, both at home and abroad. Let us hope and pray that the team ICC championships. Question arises how cricket administrators treat past great players who take up responsibility of coaching the team. Despite an attempt to clean up the way cricket administration works in India, we seem to be seeing the more of the same old story where power rules over performance.

Anil Kumble was hired as coach of Indian cricket team in 2016. He was selected based on presentation made about his vision for Indian cricket team. At the time of selection, Anil Kumble had made a presentation for two years, keeping in mind impending away from home tours. Yet, Kumble was given a one year contract. Under Anil Kumble as a coach, when Team India played 25 international matches and won 17 with 68% winning percentage. Anil Kumble had 70% winning percentage in 17 tests played. Anil Kumble was not allowed to test his ideas as a coach in foreign soil. In any other place, Anil Kumble probably had got an automatic extension, at least for another year.

Yet the strange ways the Indian cricket adminsitration works, BCCI asked for application for selection of a new coach. Though, Anil Kumble was allowed to reapply. All this happened when India was playing in Champions trophy in England. After Indian team lost in the final, Anil Kumble resigned. As per media reports, Kumble was informed that captain and players were not happy with Kumble’s style of functioning. Though Wriddhiman Saha, a team India player, has stated that dressing room was not tense when Kumble was coach. Apparently, players wanted more easy going and player friendly coach. It emerged in news media that captain Virat Kohli had wanted someone like Ravi Shastri as coach of Indian team.

Ravi Shastri had been Director of Indian cricket team from Aug, 2014 till April, 2016. Under Ravi Shastri, Indian team played 67 international matches with 52% winning percentage. In 2016, Ravi Shastri had also applied for the position of coach of Indian Team. Apparently, Ravi Shastri was not very happy for not being selected. He had lashed out at Cricket Advisory Committee, read Sourabh Ganguly, for ignoring his candidature.

Now, Ravi Shastri has become head coach of India. He has got a great salary, 7.5 crore. Shastri got bowling consultant of his choice. He now wants to return his favor to Sachin Tendulkar by appointing him as a batting consultant. Captain Kohli and Team India should be happy that they got a coach of their choice. A coach who is also fun loving. Poor Kumble, so out of sync with machinations of modern cricket.

There is no denying that captain should have a say in coach selection. Because captain has to get along with coach. My problem is why treat Kumble so badly? Kumble is a gentleman and legend on his own right. Does he have to be fun loving to be a great coach? Was there any flaw in coach’s strategic and tactical thinking? Wriddhiman Saha, a member of Team India, does not think so. Team performance for one year does not suggest that there was anything wrong with Kumble’s style of functioning. If captain did not like the coach, should captain also not take a few steps to correct his attitude? Did someone high and mighty played games to bring back Ravi Shastri? Was champion’s trophy final lost to show Kumble the door and bring in Shastri? By the way under Shastri’s directorship India lost in semifinals of cricket world cup in fifty over and T20 over formats. At least Kumble too team to final. Oops! Kohli did.

Dokalam Face off : India Must Hold Ground

For sometime now Indian and Chinese armies are standing eye ball to eye ball, in the Dokalam plateau of Bhutan. The main dispute was China wanted to construct a road on Dokalam plateu. Any such road will allow them to mobilise military hardware easily incase of a confrontation. The areas is in the tri junction between China – India – Bhutan. Legally, the area falls under territory of Bhutan. China, of course, thinks otherwise. The area also has Indian interest because any development in the area may have potential to cutoff Indian North East from the Indian mainland. Besides, India is dutybound to protect Bhutan incase of any security threat.

Predictably, the facing off of two armies has generated a lot heat and dust. China has threatened to dismember India of its territories in the North East as well as in the North West. China has promised to eject Indian soldiers by force and give India a defeat more embarrassing than India suffered in 1962. India so far has remained unusually quiet but firm in her resolve not to allow Chinese to undertake construction in the Dokalam area.

There has been much analysis about Chinese motive, Indian stand and potential danger of provoking an army that is numerically larger, technologically superior, and a nation economically richer and well developed interms of infrastructure. Besides, trauma of 1962 defeat is very raw in Indian minds. Noted journalist Mr. Prem Shankar Jha wrote that the standoff between India and China should be sorted out through discussion. Mr. Jha went to extra length how Chinese authorities may not be on the know of what is happeining at Dokala. How a private Chinese company is building a road in the area. How Bhutan should be left to sort out its own issues with China. How, vastly unprepared and underprepared Indian army soldiers are used as a cannon fodder in front of a vastly superior Chinese army. All points raised by Mr. Jha are valid. However, Mr Jha should also note that Indian diplomats are saying all lines of dialogue are open. It is China that is asking India to unilaterally move out before coming to discussion table.

Sometime in life, even the weakest of the weak has to take a stand. Otherwise, his ability to stand up with head held high becomes difficult. Time and again China has dictated has insulted Indian leaders. May be their perception of India as a weak chaotic, poorly administered country has bolstered this view. Consider the following points :

  • Chinese army intruded into Chumur region of eastern Ladakh when President Xi was being hosted by Prime Minister Modi. This may mean President Xi has no control over his army. Or President was well aware of designs of his forces. In either case any discussion becomes futile.
  • China regularly destroys bunkers that they think will harm their security position. Yet, China wants to construct road in an area that India considers sensitive for her security. Yet, China is building road through Jammu and Kashmir, which is an area of dispute between India and Pakistan. Now China claims, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are disputed areas between India, Pakistan and China. By this analogy, China can claim New Delhi to be part of China, because Chinese embassy is an sovereign territory of China based in Delhi.
  • China has not settled border dispute with India. China claims Arunachal to be part of China. China has occupied Tibet using force. Forget about disputes on south China sea with other countries. All these have been done based on historical evidence. That way, India can claim Tibet to be ours, we can claim Bay of Bengal belongs to us. China does not acknowledge MacMohan line, but wags an 1890 Sino British treaty that Bhutan was not part of as the basis of their claim on Dokalam plateau.
  • China has armed Pakistan with nuclear weapon to contain India on her Western Border. The fact that China has stopped India from becoming a member of Nuclear Supplier Group, a member of security council, and spurned Indian request to condemn global terrorists based in Pakistan, should be considered as an indication to their intention.

By virtue of its superiority, China can capture and claim Indian territory in a fight with India, but battle will be bloody. If conventional war does not work, then unconventional war will have  to be fought where superiority of armed forces come to nothing. If most powerful army always won a war, then America would have captured Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq etc. Russia should have been ruling in Afghanistan.  I hope this never comes to a situation where bullets are fired. But if provoked repeatedly, then even the weakest has the right to protest.  If India does not standup then what is the point of having an army?

  1. As China changes border script, India can’t afford to back down: https://t.co/uix7pC62BN

Mob Lynchings Must Stop

 

Slide1Young Junaid was out shopping for Eid. On his way back home, he was stabbed to death on a local train. Junaid was a muslim. He was mocked for his faith. His skull cap was trampled upon. Finally he was stabbed, thrown out of the train. He died in his brother’s arm at Ballabhgarh station along Delhi Mathura line.

Was Junaid killed because he was a muslim? Or a fight over seating space in a crowded local train turned violent leading to tragic loss of life? Reports have appeared of extremely crowded railway compartments where people jostle for seating room. Where frayed temper is more a norm than exception. Could this have been the reason for Junaids murder, where his minority status was flaunted as an insurance against a brazen act? It is not unusual in this part of the country where people move around in groups and pick fight with the perceived weakest prey.

Of late, many incidences of mob lynching of muslim men have come to light. It started with beating and subsequent death of Pehlu Khan. Subsequently, several such instances have been reported in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. Coincidentally, all these states are ruled by BJP.

Data has emerged that between 2010 and 2017, 28 people have lost their lives in mob violence. Of which, 24 (87%) are muslim men and 97% of such incidences have happened after Modi lead government took charge at the cente. This data has been quoted by all main stream news papers. This data was invoked in televised debates.

Protests, under the name #Not in my name, were organised in different cities of India. Civil society groups, media houses, and journalists vocalised, spread and participated in the protest against mob lynching of muslims. Common citizens, students and left leaning political groups also participated.

Supporters of government believed that protests were organised as an effort ot embarrass Modi government, that was celebrating its achievements after its three years government. Others commented that the protests were selective in nature. Because, killing of Hindus, read right wing cadres of RSS and BJP, in opposition ruled Kerala and West Bengal did not find mention in the protest.

Questions have been asked of the veracity of data and validity of Varshney Wilkinson data and conclusion arrived thereof. Because, data covers only reports that appeared in English language news papers. Did English language news papers start to record incidence of lynching only after Mr. Modi took charge? What happens to reports in vernacular language papers? Vernacular language have a far greater reach and cover loacl issues in much greater detail compared to English language dailies? Why reports in such dailies were ignored?

BJP as a party has distanced itself from the acts of vigilantism in the name of a cow. Prime Minister had condemned the act. In an interview last week, Mr Nitin Gadkari said every criminal act of lynching and every irresponsible statement of cow vigilantes cannot be attributed to BJP. After all, no senior member of parliamentary board has endorsed such a view.

Problem is probably exactly that. No member has spoken at the right moment condemning the incidence strongly enough. Such a silence has been construed as endorsement by vigilantes. At no moment I am denying that equally large number of crazy people also exist among other communities. A case in point being recent riot in West Bengal’s Basirhat district. It is also true, many lynching deaths involving Hindus are not reported. Still a government must work towards maintaining law and order in the country. That is why they are elected. Corruption free governance and crime free governance are not mutually exclusive. One phone call from prime Minister and home minister should be enough to enforce law and order by state governments. If not, probably government has lost moral authority to govern.

 

 

 

Ceding Political Space

I was reading an article by Mr. Salman Anees Soz. Mr. Soz is son of Mr. Saifuddin Soz, a congress member of Rajya Sabha from Jammu and Kashmir and minister of water resources in UPA I. In his article, Mr. Salman Soz had lamented if BJP wins power in 2019, there will be demise of multiparty democracy in India. There will be one party rule. Constitution of India will be changed. India will become a Hindu rashtra, instead of current secular state.

Fears of Mr. Soz that BJP is likely to win 2019 general election is probably correct. Mr. Modi enjoys unprecedented popularity. He is considered hardworking and honest. Repeated campaigns have been made to potray Mr. Modi to be a dictatorial person, a communal leader, a follower of facist ideology. Many have attacked inability of Mr. Modi to fulfil his campaign promise. Still, popularity of Mr. Modi has not been dented.  It is possible that Modi lead BJP is doing some work at ground level. Without which so many victories would not have been possible. Though  a lot can happen in remaining two years, it is still a safe guess that Mr Modi may lead BJP to another electoral victory.

With majority in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and a chosen president at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, BJP may be in a position to get constitution amended and get many controversial laws passed. Hindu Rashtra may be part of one such agenda. Though BJP has officially distanced itself from a conclave organised in Goa towards creation of a Hindu Rashtra by 2023, BJP chief minister of UP has no problem with the idea of a Hindu Rashtra. Already, chief ministers of BJP ruled states have decided to meet to discuss Hindu Rashtra in a conclave in Goa. What will be consequences of such a state on minority population, specially muslim minority population, is anybody’s guess. As a harbinger of Hindu Rashtra, nation wide ban on cow slaughter law is being brought forward. Activity of cow protector vigilante groups has increased all over the country. People can lose life for storing, carrying and eating beef. Certain segment of Indian citizens are being targeted as cow killer and beef eaters.

Even if dire predictions of Mr. Soz becomes a reality, most likely it will become, I would have no doubt in my mind whom to blame for such a predicament. It will not be elected BJP lead NDA government but Mr. Soz’s party that is Congress lead UPA? india had given at least 50 years to congress party. Nation went bankrupt during their rule. Scam after scam had surfaced during congress rule. So much so common public have become desensitized to the extent that no one now considers anything less than 100 crore rupees to be a loot. Congress party has become dynastic. Leave aside supreme leader of his party, Mr. Soz himself thrives on family legacy.  Same is true for many of his esteemed colleagues, who form the inner coterie of his supreme leader. Party has no compunction joining hands with utterly corrupt and dynastic leaders from all across the country. Yet leaders like Mr. Soz cry of loss of democratic principles in india! If anything, Mr. Soz should look in the mirror first thing in the morning, and ask question “are we responsible for ceding political space to BJP by being dynastic, nepotist and corrupt?” He may find his answer.

Politics of Lynching

Two lynching incidents have occupied media space recently. One being lynching of a deputy superintendent of police in Srinagar. The other being murder of a young boy for being muslim.

Police man was killed right outside a mosque at the time to evening prayer. Killed outside abode of god at the time of his prayer! Sounds horrible, but it happened. Perpetrators this time were his fellow believers. Many theories are floating around to explain the incident, which include,

  • the officer was a police man
  •  police officer was there in the mosque to assassinate Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
  • police officer’s life was taken to avenge death of ISIS terrorist Zakir Musa.
  • Most sinister theory doing the round is DSP was killed because he was suspected to be a Kashmiri Pandit.

A few days later, a muslim boy was killed on a train. Incidence happened hardly 100 km away from New Delhi. Boy was out shopping, with his brother, for Eid. On his way back he was attacked. Some said dispute was over sharing a seat. The dispute spilled over and assumed communal dimension. Boy’s skull cap was thrown on the ground. His beard was pulled. He was taunted for being a muslim. Eventually he was killed. It can be argued that the incidence was more criminal than communal. It cannot be disputed that an innocent life was lost.

Of late the incidence of violence against muslim citizens is on the rise. It started with lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq on charges of storing and eating beef. Then Pehlu Khan was killed on the suspicion of being a cattle smuggler. There have been many more such instances all over India, some are reported others are not reported. Many explanations have come up to explain such tragic incidence:

  • such incidence used to happen earlier also. They are now being reported more often.
  •  such reporting is related to anti Modi and anti BJP bias of left leaning main stream media.
  • killing of Hindu Indians go unreported in media in opposition ruled states like Kerala, West Bengal etc.
  • no heart bleeds when Kashmiri pandits are thrown out of their home in Kashmir valley as part of ethnic cleansing.
  • More cynical would suggest spurt in report of minority killing has increased to defame India and to derail Modi – Trump meeting in the USA.
  •  Lynching death of DSP of Srinagar Mohammad Ayub Pandith will also find proud place in the armamentarium of arguments.

There are others, who argue that

  •  incidences, like killing of young Junaid, are direct result of propagation of pro Hindu ideology of ruling dispensation.
  • several groups, that would otherwise remain in the fringe, have become emboldened.
  • some are attacking people who are in the business of cattle trading. Some are targeting people for eating beef.
  • Killing of young boy Junaid will often be cited from now on to beat right wing politics and politicians. It would be argued that relentless discourse on Hindu persecution and muslim patronage have made average Hindus insecure.

May be there is truth to support each and all arguments. Whatever may be the theory behind the twin tragedies, it cannot be denied that two lives have been lost. The departed souls are of muslim Indians. The tragedy happened in the holy month of Ramadan just a few days before Eid. In our all encompassing hatred we forget the family members who are struck by the catasthrope. Think of helpless father, grieving mother, bereaved wife and orphaned children. A mother who lost her son just before Eid to senseless violence. Only a person devoid of any human emotion, will not have moist eyes and a heavy heart.

Can governments at the centre and state absolve themselves? There has not been one word of condemnation from our leadership. No body had tried to visit the bereaved family and share their grief. Our leaders can express grief at the loss of life in distant lands. What about tragedies at home? Does these not count? A leader who proclaims a smallest accident under his leadership, disturbs him. Why so much silence when young lives are snuffed out? God give our leaders some heart.

NDTV, CBI Raid and Press Freedom

Slide1

Is Indian media under pressure to toe government line? This was a question that came up recently, when CBI raided premises of promoters of NDTV. This incidence followed another event, where a spokesperson of ruling party was ejected from a live TV debate. Are these incidences related? Does this indicate that an undercurrent of tension existed between certain TV channel and ruling party, which culminated in CBI raid or vice versa?

The TV channel under discussion is NDTV and its promoters Dr. Prannoy Roy and Mrs. Radhika Roy. NDTV had covered exhaustively Gujarat riot of 2002. The then NDTV reporters Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt had telecast live from different districts of Gujarat. Narendra Modi was then chief minister of Gujarat. Many had accused Modi of complicity in Guajarat riots. Though, Mr. Modi had given his version of investigating agencies, though courts have given a clean chit to Mr. Modi, the blot on Mr. Modi remains in the minds of people who do not like his politics.

During congress lead UPA rule, from 2003 to 2014, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai and Ms. Barkah Dutt were awarded Padmashree. May be recognition was for journalistic excellence, but doubt remains if the award was infact a reward against a political adversary. This suspicion of association of NDTV,  its senior journalists and congress party is further strengthened when a conversation between a corporate lobbyist Ms. Nira Radia and Ms. Barkha Dutt emerged in public domain. It emerged that Ms. Barkha Dutt had agreed to convey congress ministers a request from an alliance partner about a specific ministry. Later on the same ministry got embroiled in a multi crore rupee scam, (one lakh seventy six thousand crore rupee, to be exact). Such incidence and associaitons may indicate that NDTV and its journalists were favorably inclinded towards ruling congress dispensation of the time. This NDTV becomes by association a congress channel. In an article published in Caravan Magazine, further suggest that during UPA rule, NDTV had raised hundreds of million dollars from abroad by floating shell companies. Nothing illegal about the act, except NDTV management refused to disclose who contributed towards this fund. This may raise suspicion if ill gotten wealth acquired through scam during UPA rule had found its way back to India through NDTV. Thus the accusation against the channel becomes one of money laundering.

Many journalists had protested against CBI raid on NDTV promoters. Explanation that NDTV was not raided, but its corporate office was raided for financial irregularity, did not cut ice. Critics have pointed out that apparently freedom of press indicated freedom of NDTV promoters to do things at their will. Because more serious infringements on journalists where a journalist was shot dead or a journalist was burnt alive, violence against journalists in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, or interference with functioning of a prominent TV channel in Andhra Pradesh did not find any mention in the press club demonstration. Such acts of omission indicate that noise against press freedom is a noised created by selected but important people. Such noise may not have any direct link to ground reality of press functioning in India.Given the insinuation of possible association with political ideology and political dispensation, should NDTV really cry foul on freedom of press?

  1. Journalists Under Attack in Many Parts of the Country. Why Was Huge Press Club Turnout Only for “Our Prannoy”: https://t.co/kEfoxRkZVm
  2. Against fraud or against freedom Mr. Roy: https://t.co/tMr421DhAN
  3. New Indian Express Journalist Attacked, Cameras Destroyed as CPM Hartal Turns Violent in Kerala : https://t.co/N3VifDuROw