Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chronicling the Hindutva Threat

Ram Puniyani

(Book under Review: The Saffron Condition, Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neo Liberal India by Subhash Gatade, Three Essays Collective, New Delhi, Pages475, Rs 500)

The phenomenon of rise of Hindutva politics, the politics of RSS and its affiliates, has posed a severe threat to the democratic polity of India, to the rights of Minorities and dalits. This politics becomes grossly visible in the form of outbursts of violence. But that’s just the superficial part of the phenomenon of Hindutva or for that matter of any politics in the name of religion. Its invisible part is creeping communalization of our system, bureaucratic, judicial, media and education.

 There is an onslaught on our liberal plural values and cultural ethos as they emerged through the freedom movement. Subhash Gatade in this compilation of his articles, written over a period of time takes this threat head. He begins with the superficially visible phenomenon of a violence and then takes us deeper to the real politics which is the agenda of Hindu right. He warns us time and over again that Hindutva is a reaction of section of society to the rise of democratic values, to the rights of minorities and dalits in particular.

Popularly it is perceived that RSS came up to counter the Muslim communalism. The book tells us that its anti Muslim stance is just a face of RSS politics. When one digs deeper one sees that formation of RSS is a reaction to the rising dalit assertion against the Brahmin hegemony which in turn was the accompaniment of our feudal land relations. This is the point of crucial importance. To see RSS politics just as anti minority one, leaves out the core part of the deeper agenda of Hindutva formation.

 The core part of this agenda relates to suppress the rights of dalits, to suppress the concept of ‘rights’ as such. This point comes over and over again in the book as Gatade deals with contemporary issues related to the dalits on one hand to the issues like state harassing the Human rights activists like Dr. Binayak Sen. So unless the anti-communal, secular movement takes these points into consideration the struggle for a secular-democratic society will remain an impossible dream.  The point that RSS-Hindutva politics is a Brahminic counter revolution needs to be kept in mind, while outlining the strategies for plural democratic society, is the major undercurrent of the book.

One can point out that while this analysis has its merit, we also need to explain as to why a large section of middle classes form the fulcrum of this counter revolution. The explanation of this lies in the neo liberal economic phase of the country. In this phase the middle classes suffer from an ‘existential anxiety’, making them embrace the Hindutva ideology as this ideology or of any political ideologies basing themselves on religious identity. Such politics stands for status quo at various levels. The books’ emphasis on the rise of Hindutva politics in the neo liberal era deserves appreciation, as unless we focus on deeper process of society and nation we will not succeed in deciphering the nature of divisive politics in the name of religion. The book also tells us the import of judgments like the ‘Hindutva as a way of life’ and the Ayodhya verdict going off tangents from legal angel and basing itself on the faith, assertively imposed on the society. The essays in the book elaborate that the ‘Right’ has become ‘center’ and that’s where the crux of the matters lies. So the issue just does not remain whether BJP, the political child of RSS, is occupying the seat of power at the center or not, the issue becomes the all round percolation of the right wing ideology becoming a part of communal common sense.

Gatade also takes up the Soft Hindutva of Congress, which has been a supporting factor for the rise of RSS politics. Congress supposedly secular, is hardly able to uphold the secular values, leading many to think that it is other side of the coin of communalism. While conceding that Congress, particularly after Gandhi-Nehru has committed blunders after blunder while dealing with threats posed by communal politics, its nature has to be properly understood. While theoretically a secular party, it has compromised time and over again when the crunch come. Still, no party in India can be equated or compared to the BJP, the poltical child of RSS. BJP as the upholder of Hindutva agenda has been proatviely promoting Hindutva, while Congress has not been able to protect the secular ethos in a forthright manner. It is a matter of conjecture whether it will be able to gather strength to stand up more strongly against the communal forces. The themes relate to Saffronization of Neo Liberal state, Logic of caste and state of Human rights, The book is a compilation of the prolific writings of the author who seems to have been burning the mid night oil to keep our consciousness alive to the threats and challenges faced by our republic. It is a must for the scholars and concerned citizens.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Class 9student, crushed to death in India by a train:

Ghaziabad, Jan 29 (IANS) A Delhi government school's Class 9student, sporting mobile phone ear plugs, was crushed to death by a train near Sahibabad railway station in Ghaziabad Saturday, said sources in Government Railway Police (GRP).
Kaushlendra Pal, 16, a student of a school near Minto Bridge in central Delhi, was killed after a train ran over him in the afternoon, said a source.
He was walking from his home in Sahibabad village towards the Sahibabad railway station when he put on his ear plugs and started talking to a friend on his mobile phone.
He could not hear the Garibrath Express approaching him. The train, heading towards Anand Vihar in Delhi from Kolkata, knocked him down and crushed him.
The student, who attended evening shift classes in the school, died on way to hospital.
"No complaint has been given by the boy's family so far. We shall register a case on our own," a GRP official said.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Assembly Elections 2012 Schedule
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Friday, January 20, 2012

M.P.: Path Way to Hindu Rashtra

Ram Puniyani

Recently (December 2011) M.P. Government’s Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Act (Bill for Protection of Cow Progeny) got the Presidential clearance. As per this act punishment for slaughtering the cow or its progeny, transporting them to slaughter house, eating and storing beef, is punishable with a fine of R 5000 and prison term up to seven years.  States like Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh already have laws against cow slaughter, while Orissa and Andhra Pradesh permit the killing of cattle other than cows if the animals are not fit for any other purpose.

There are minimal restrictions in other states and none in Nagaland, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Kerala. Surprisingly  beef consumption in India is double the combined consumption of meat and chicken, not only that India is also the third largest exporter of beef, As per the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization UN (FAO) report titled Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch says the largest consumed meat in India is beef. The per annum consumption of beef in India is 26 lakh tons, as compared to 6 lakh tons of mutton and 14 laky tons of pork.

While the right wing Hindutva parties make no bones about their assertion that a total ban on cow slaughter is their aim, the Congress too has time and again played the cow protection card especially in the north.

In BJP ruled or ruling states the legislations are tougher already, but the one in MP beats them all in its ferociousness and potential for targeting minorities and Adivasis in particular. As per this Bill anybody consuming or storing or intending to violate the law can be apprehended by head constable upwards. The onus of proof is not on the prosecution but on the accused. It will have lot of logistical problems to prove as to how does one say that the meat being consumed is not from cow but from buffalo or other lesser animals? This draconian bill brought in the name of faith of Hindus is a direct manipulation of the food habits of large section of poor Indian population, Adivasis, Dalits and Minorities (Muslims and Christians) for whom this is an affordable source of proteins. It is also an attempt to intimidate the Muslim minorities.

Through word of mouth propaganda, and the sustained campaign through literature, small pamphlets etc. , the perceptions like ‘cow is holy for Hindus, Muslims eat it, it’s an insult of Hindu faith and that Muslims are violent because they eat non vegetarian food/beef’ has become part of the ‘social common sense’.  When BJP led NDA came to power at Centre for 13 days, in 1996, the Government tried to pass the bill against cow slaughter. Cow has been part of the identity politics of RSS affiliates, Hindu right, Hindutva in India. Even during freedom movement many a riots were instigated around the issue of cow slaughter. This has been a part of propaganda, and Gau Raksha Samitis (Cow Protection societies) are dime a dozen, which maintain Guashalas (Cow sheds). This is done at social level by RSS affiliates and followers.

While Ram Temple issue was the main point of onslaught on democracy, Cow issue has been always on the stand-by so far. Gradually the intensity about cow protection and the myths built around cow are becoming more intense. The MP Government’s Bill is yet another step in this direction. As such MP Government has been communalizing the state by the religio-cultural mechanisms. There are multiple ways to communalize the society. Identity based issues, are the major ones’. Communal violence is the ghastly outcome of identity politics. In MP from last couple of years with the current BJP Government, the slow and subtle Hinduisaion of state is in progress. Even the predecessor of Shivraj Chauhan, Uma Bharati had converted her official residence in to a Gaushala for all practical purposes. Lot of things have been started around the divinity of cow. Marketing of cow urine as a medical remedy for diseases, chain of shops selling Cow urine drink and other products are on the upswing in the state. In addition one sees that the state government has introduced Hindu ritual of Surya Namaskar (worshipping the Sun God), Government has introduced Gita Sar (Essence of holy Hindu book Gita) in the schools, introducing Bhojan Mantra (Hindu meal prayer) in schools, collected information about Christians in the state, has introduced most of its welfare schemes in the name of Hindu Gods- Goddesses. Like Ladli Laxmi for girl child welfare, Anna Prashan for Children’s nutrition programs. Many an accused of Hindutva terror attacks were taking shelter in MP. Many a Kshmiri students were harassed in MP. The capital city of Bhopal, founded by a Mughal Nawab Dost Mohammand Khan is intended to be changed to Bhojpal after the Hindu King Raja Bhoj.

This silent communalization of state has escaped the notice of national media to some extent. Most of these steps of the Government are not in tune with the spirit of Indian Constitution, which respects the personal choices about faith and food and keeps the state policies away from the religious veneer and content. The schemes started by the BJP Government are a sort of intimidation to minorities and is pushing them to the status of second class citizens. In MP we are witnessing yet another pattern for marching towards the goal of Hindu Nation, the gradual and sustained intensification of anti minority policies in the name of promoting Hindu culture. This is unlike the phenomenon in Gujarat where communalization was intensified through violence. The paradox in MP is that all these practices showing intolerance to the sentiments and needs of minorities are done while blowing the trumpet that Hinduism is the most tolerant religion    

Issues in Secular Politics
II January 2012
Response only to ram.puniyani@gmail.com

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why is India Poor?

Published on: May 9, 2011

Poverty in India is widespread in India with 410 million people living under the estimated poverty line set by the UN at $1.25 a day, 100 million more than previous estimates. 75% of the poor are in rural areas, most of them are daily wagers, self-employed householders and landless laborers. The conditions of the poor in certain parts of the country are believed to be even worse than those in sub-Saharan Africa. India is believed to account for one-third of the world’s poor, with daily earnings of less than $2. Even though the GDP growth of the nation stands at 7.2 percent, only 1 percent of the total GDP is directed towards healthcare spending, according to an Oxfam report. A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) found that 77% of Indians, or 836 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees (approximately USD $0.50 nominal; $2 PPP) per day.
The poor and hungry have simply disappeared off  the economic radar screens. Except for setting up a  panel on nutrition, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh  is busy battling the economic downturn. Like his  predecessors, barely a day passes when he is not  seen hobnobbing with the industrialists. If  successive governments had devoted just a fraction  of the effort that has gone into propping up trade and industry into fighting hunger and malnutrition, India would not be showing such a dismal ranking in the 2008 Global Hunger Index — a shameful 66th from among 88 hungry countries.
Why is India poor?
India is poor because of the  greedy fox pack of  businessmen, industrialists,  politicians, corrupt  government officers,  selfishness of people who  think of only themselves. I  am saying this because  these so called gentlemen  who have the power and  wealth to bring a change to  the poverty line of India,  actually don’t do anything  about it. Some of those people have deposited their black money in foreign banks, a sum that is larger than the country’s foreign debt. The biggest comedy out of this is that the black money of these thugs is many times more than the annual budget of the Central Government. This huge amount has been appropriated from the people of India by exploiting and betraying them.
Some Indians just love to visit Switzerland every year. If someone wants to know why, take a look at the following statistics:
Swiss Bank Association report 2008 details bank deposits in the territory of Switzerland by nationals of following countries:
Top 5 countries:
India——————$1891 billion
Russia—————-$610 billion
China—————–$213 billion
UK——————–$210 billion
Ukraine—————$140 billion
Rest of the world —$300 billion
If Swiss Bank alone is holding $1.8 trillion, then how much money is lying in other 69 Banks? How much have they deprived the Indian people? This money is the result of sweat and blood of India’s people. The wealth generated and earned after putting in lots of mental and physical efforts by Indian people must be brought back to our country.
With that money we can provide free education to all, eradicate poverty, we can totally change India.
But the F****** MONEY is simply lying and sleeping inside a bank locker. I have no idea what those fat butts are going to do by keeping that money in the bank.

“India has become poorer because India has become richer!”

In today’s economy, people are struggling because those who have the money and means to do anything about it don’t care. To the big businessman it’s in their minds that by increasing prices on everything, they can profit off from their customers. Yet the rich keep getting richer who cares if it hurts someone else they loose their home or family because the price of everything is so damn high. If the rich really wanted to put people in the poor house, just make everything so expensive that only the rich can afford it. Business folk are getting richer making us poor blue collar working folk poorer buying their products. Those cheat crocs will not stop until every nickel comes out of our piggy bank….
If the riches keep on stashing the black money and products, “the rich get will richer and richer and the poor get poorer to starvation and to death”.

But why is that?

First let’s take a look at why the rich get richer. The rich have their money working for them. So, they don’t need to work in order to make money. Their investments provide them with capital gains or passive income. The rich focus primarily on “capital gains” and “passive income” instead of “earned income”. The rich are constantly creating and building assets with the money they have. They create or build more assets to provide them with more sources of passive income. The rich don’t need to worry about layoffs or taking days off because they don’t work for their money. Remember, passive income is the key to becoming wealthy. In addition to this if the rich does not pay taxes and stash the money, they can get more profit. Because of this missing taxes there will be a hike in all basic commodity price which will affect poor and make them starve to death.

The poor on the other hand focus too much on “earned income”. The main source of income for the poor is “earned income”, and it usually remains the same amount for a long period of time. In the meantime, the expenses of thepoor generally increase over time. A new child  comes along, medical bills need to be paid, gasoline  prices keep going up, taxes go up, etc. And while all  this is happening, the amount of money from a poor  persons earned income remains that same. That’s  why the poor get poorer. The make barely enough in  earned income to cover their expenses. The rich on  the other hand make well more than enough in passive income to cover their expenses.
The community which has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles.
- Plato

Monday, January 16, 2012


Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. This four-day festival of thanksgiving to nature takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil" and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) during the season when rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) are harvested.

Mid-January is an important time in the Tamil calendar. The harvest festival, Pongal, falls typically on the 14th or the 15th of January and is the quintessential 'Tamil Festival'. Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us grain. Tamilians say 'Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum', and believe that knotty family problems will be solved with the advent of the Tamil month Thai that begins on Pongal day. This is traditionally the month of weddings. This is not a surprise in a largely agricultural community - the riches gained from a good harvest form the economic basis for expensive family occasions like weddings.

The First Day

This first day is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honor of Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Homage is paid to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.

The Second Day

On the second day of Pongal, the puja or act of ceremonial worship is performed when rice is boiled in milk outdoors in a earthenware pot and is then symbolically offered to the sun-god along with other oblations. All people wear traditional dress and markings, and their is an interesting ritual where husband and wife dispose off elegant ritual utensils specially used for the puja. In the village, the Pongal ceremony is carried out more simply but with the same devotion. In accordance with the appointed ritual a turmeric plant is tied around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offerings include the two sticks of sugar-cane in background and coconut and bananas in the dish. A common feature of the puja, in addition to the offerings, is the kolam, the auspicious design which is traditionally traced in white lime powder before the house in the early morning after bathing. 

The Third Day

The third day is known as Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cows. Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and then are worshiped. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centers. The resounding of their bells attract the villagers as the young men race each other's cattle. The entire atmosphere becomes festive and full of fun and revelry. Arati is performed on them, so as to ward off the evil eye. According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Basava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, Basava announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Basava, banishing him to live on the earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day with cattle. 

The Fourth Day

The Fourth day is known as Knau or Kannum Pongal day. On this day, a turmeric leaf is washed and is then placed on the ground. On this leaf are placed, the left overs of sweet Pongal and Venn Pongal, ordinary rice as well as rice colored red and yellow, betel leaves, betel nuts, two pieces of sugarcane, turmeric leaves, and plantains. In Tamil Nadu women perform this ritual before bathing in the morning. All the women, young and old, of the house assemble in the courtyard. The rice is placed in the centre of the leaf, while the women ask that the house and family of their brothers should prosper. Arati is performed for the brothers with turmeric water, limestone and rice, and this water is sprinkled on the kolam in front of the house.