Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where Terrorism hasn’t dropped in, war is being speculated

Where terrorism hasn’t dropped in, war is being speculated. Terrorism has targeted the Indian economy. The paces at which the cities are being transformed into shopping malls, citizens are becoming avid consumers and this has drawn a line of profit and business in the minds of people. In this line, consumerism has become the basis of relationships and hence has divided a specific section of the society. If we look at the chain of cities being victimized, they are namely, Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. Terrorism is proliferating itself to other fast developing cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad as well.

The trend has also enveloped those small cities which are in the race of transforming into a big city. It may be Malegaon or Banaras. Actually, the truth behind the terrorized territory is shattering. A market of terror has been created on these lands and its consumerist nature to spread terror has been prevalent since the last decade. Terrorism hasn’t broken hope in the lives of people. In reality, this hope and life is that of the ‘market’; a market in front of which the biggest of terrors are forgotten rather than being fought. Hence, terror has not struck its chord at places with no markets.

There are numerous cities in this country where terrorism is more like a narrative account. In Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, terrorism is just like shopping malls and chaotic life of big cities where the oxygen of profit is required every now and then. There, confrontation or relating with anyone is more a business driven by profit. However, in Kumaon region, one may realize that only ones personal presence is enough for others to be friendly.

The person wouldn’t care about your pocket. This art is a part of country’s tradition and culture. But developing country’s terror stricken market driven by economic policies has led to creating of an art of trading that tradition and culture among the consumers. In India, two types of understanding of India has raised due to the presence of markets. When for the first time the question of confronting Pakistan on terrorism came up, Kumaon seemingly felt the situation. Kumaon is a region which has never faced terrorism. Kumaon region is famous for its Kumaon Regiment which symbolizes the will of residents to join the Indian army. The list of families having Army as a dream choice for themselves is long. The children of these cities feel happy and proud to see the killing of terrorists by laser guns and bullets.

When these children grow up they tend to understand this business driven by profit and prefer an MBA to hone their market skills. Some children become violent and hence to look different and show their presence in schools and college, take up guns. These kids want things fast. And for parents, the ways which lead to profit seem pleasant.

The feeling of dying for nation is ingrained in the minds and hearts of children of this region since childhood. From Hawaldar to Lieutenant to Colonel, whatever the post may be, these kids enliven them through their fathers and uncles. Now that Pakistan is being held responsible for the Mumbai attacks and war seems apparent, families residing in the mountains are preparing for the consequences. Holidays of the whole Kumaon Regiment have been cancelled. Every one is on duty. No one is presently deployed but a wave has filled up inside the regiment and the families of those in the Army.

This wave is creating a passion and making everyone realize that they have given up because of the market’s terror. These emotions signify confrontation. For the life of big city dwellers this confrontation is not just about carrying candles or demanding justice. This confrontation has a passion for protecting the Nation’s soil. Dying with a feeling of Nationalism gives immense peace. No more does the child now ask his father about his return. Similarly, no father now makes his son realize that he would come home early. A son would love to handle his father’s uniform and gun and the father would inspire his son to take up his gun and join the Army.

It’s normal in Kumaon region that a generation didn’t get to witness war. They retired without seeing any war and even wiping a gun was a big deal. Maximum soldiers from the Kumaon region were martyred not in the Kargil war but in the 1984 Bhindrawala case in Punjab. The families have those memories fresh till date; the decision of sending Kumaon Regiment and the fate of the soldiers inside the Golden Temple. The terrorists were backfired by a planned initiation of the Indian soldiers and the soldiers faced pain of their martyred fellows on returning. No matter how much controversial the Golden Temple Operation was and a line was drawn between various communities of the society, Kumaon never debated Indira Gandhi’s decision on the same. These Kumaonis very well remember the moment of victory of this operation. How did the kids of the brave martyrs raise guns then? The true feeling of patriotism and love for Nation can only be well understood amid these families.

Post Mumbai terror attacks when it was questioned that Police, NSG; Army etc…are not paid properly and are not given proper facilities and that they should be given more salary and competent weapons. The families that lived in the mountains contended that money and facilities are no parameters for instigating passion and valor. Rich people of Delhi and Mumbai should think of cutting their luxuries and promoting soldiers in the Army. The question has been often raised by the mountain dwellers that how relevant is the reason behind developing the nation at this pace? The unity of this nation is being smashed on the name of making money. Obviously, the society would be breached.

Kumaon regiment’s headquarters are at Ranikhet. Standing anywhere in Kumaon one may understand boundaries of China, as the complete Himalayan Range is visible from there. The whole picture of the Indo-China war of 1961 seems clear from Kumaon. The life in mountainous terrain is very hard and when China attacked India, Uttarakhand was very active. At that time weapons used were the ancient 2-piped guns and dandas. The canons were equally ancient and bulky.

Kumaon is engrossed in the memories of war knocked by terrorism. These memories promise Nation’s security but looking at the financial status of Kumaon, many questions have come up. Is the Government’s role to create war conditions? Is the passion and vigour to fight for Nation confined only to the regions immune to market terrorisms? Is the need for leading a metropolitan lifestyle dividing India? Would the coming generation learn Nationalism only through terrorism and wars? Would the election politics engulf regions like Kumaon? Where there is preparation to confront war, terrorism would not dare to approach.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Handicapping politics of Amar- Akbar – Anthony (part 2)

(Continued from part one)

I went to Patna from Delhi to attend the Book Fair. I resided in a hotel next to Gandhi Maidan so that it’s easy to commute between hotel and Gandhi Maidan. From Golghar to B.N. College, the roads were so clamped and congested that it seemed as if the whole city was on roads. As I walked out of the college, I saw the college result pasted on the wall.

I was to go to the Book Fair, hence left from there only. On the way to my hotel, I came across the traffic police office; a structure almost in ruins. The roof was shattered and tattered with dark green algae grown all over the walls. A part was broken. And just opposite to this office was a street with vehicles in bulk. Scooter, motorcycle, tempos and cars were all covered in dust and dirt as if no one had seen them since ages. This filthy bulk of vehicles resting adjacent to Gandhi maidan seemed to have turn into shady public toilet.

Around 25 years back, when the CM of Bihar inaugurated the Traffic Police office, it also gave police the responsibility to teach civic sense to the public. However, the very word ‘civic sense’ outweighed the police. In hurry to attend the book fair or may be amidst the colour of Bihar I realized that on my way to the fair I confronted a rally. They were singing songs shaped up in bollywood music and hence were raising their demands for the basic minimum. The tempo which had the loudspeaker in it carried four ladies and one man. Two ladies carried infants alongside and raised slogans. We reached the hotel somehow crawling with the rally and left for the Book Fair from there as soon as possible. The program was that of a Media Leader and on Saturday, I was the media leader. After describing my all these years in media, the question answer round began. A majority 80% of total audiences were the youth of age group 15 to 35. There questions were mainly regarding the anxiousness, increasing issues and lack of options in Bihar. For the first time in a public meeting in Patna I ever realized that the whole Bihar is silent on the issue of lack of options and opportunities. Before this the reflection of JP’s movement came up as a debate. However, the generation that is facing grave conditions and is striving to create favourable circumstances for it, is totally different from the Bihar till 1990s.

The biggest challenge in front of this new generation is financial security which ensures everything from employment to development and helps meeting the bare minimum. A youth on threshold of life wants to become a part of mainstream; shall only confront lack of options in Bihar. Pretending to be a successful person in spite of being a failure is an art of the big cities. Discarding that, the question of lack of options which comes up in meetings and seminars in Patna is because of the present situations. New situations are placing themselves as options and this has very clearly come up.

How is it possible that keeping Bihar at stake, the Central Govt. keeps itself in power? Not only this, also the politicians of Bihar project that without Central’s help, nothing can happen in Bihar. The older generation has questioned this many times. The present governance is deliberately creating a bad picture of the scene post its term or is it that their presence has brought the society on the verge of extinction.

The righteousness has definitely clashed. The new generation has clearly indicated that the new definition of righteousness and justice will be written with changing time. The questions in front of the younger generation will never be faced by the older ones. Hence new questions will be answered in a newer fashion. The ways will be defined by the governance or politics. Also, keeping the needs of majority section in mind, a social agitation is required.

After the meeting, while checking out the Book Fair, I came across a number of questions from the book lovers. Questions like, why is the number of books in fair declining? Why is the fair culture taking shape? The organizer of Book Fair, Amit Jha, had his own reasons. The craze of book fairs which was prevalent till 2004 has come down a bit now, but Bihar has witnessed a change. Bihar’s circumstances have broken the common man from inside. During Lalu’s time people anticipated better options, which motivated them to struggle. The period of Nitish Kumar completely negated the awareness of options and struggle became a dream. Choosing the best book in a fair is similar to choosing the best couple; which is happening on a same platform. The filmy version of music and dramatization of plays looks similar everywhere. Black magic and painting competition are happening in the same event and venue. What has Bihar become? This was a question that kept me occupied throughout the book fair.

At night, while boarding train for Delhi, I came across various people belonging to different cities, who questioned there regions and didn’t even spare Delhi. While I was leaving the fair, I came across Sudhir Kumar Singh who eagerly asked, “If the police administration, court or the Chief Minister refuses to listen to the masses, what should one do?” I suddenly replied, “Kill them.” He asked me, “Where and when?” I took him along to the railway station.

On the way he told that he belongs to Navada. After his father died, his land was snatched away by the powerful Ramchandra Prasad Singh and Awadh Kishore Singh of the village. The land was taken away by Ramchandra Prasad on the name of distribution and when Sudhir went back asking for his land, he and his brother Balmukund were beaten. Also, a police complaint was made against them. They were fed excreta and even his wife wasn’t spared. I mentioned police and law. Sudhir could not control his tears. He told that no FIR was lodged from his side; the SP and Collector of Navada threatened him to leave as soon as possible. Also, DM Pankaj Kumar and SP Vinod Kumar sounded helpless. Police tore the letter by Human Rights Commission in front of his eyes. He appealed to Nitish Kumar not once or twice but seven times. A promise to take action was made but every time he returned to his village; he was beaten and tortured. Sudhir told that he has three children and he secretly stays with them in Dhanbad as he wants to teach them.

It was time for the arrival of my train and Sudhir was giving details one after another. He told me when he submitted his application to the Patna High Court’s Judge and about his appeal to the CM. He also mentioned how he was threatened to leave Bihar by the SP and DM. Obviously I assured Sudhir that we’ll do something. I still stand by my conviction that we’ll definitely do something but for the first time I realize that the game of changing powers is a game in itself and that the Democracy is at stake here.

Amar- Akbar- Anthony’s handicapping politics

6:30 AM, 13 December, Saturday
Howdah Rajdhani halts at Patna junction. The tussle outside the station clearly showed that there’s no time for rest. But looking at the parking outside, with a gunman in front of every parked car, I questioned myself, why this security?

The driver who came to receive me asked for ten rupees, gave it to the security person accompanying him and asked him to leave in an auto. Driver’s name was Taqdeer who was to take me to the Patna Book Fair. I asked Taqdeer to take the security man along s there was enough space in the car. Taqdeer replied that since it was dawn, so there was no harm. “What harm?” I asked. He replied, “Rajdhani comes at around 4:45 am to Patna; it’s usually dark at that time and driving a car may not be safe, hence I came with the guard”.

A scene of car parking opposite to the station came in front of my eyes. The number of private cars equaled the number of gunmen there. Even before the thought left my mind, the station’s chaos covered me. There were loudspeakers blaring from the nearby Hanuman temple and a mad traffic of rickshaws and tempos honking and creating fuss around. It didn’t seem like morning. No one seemed to be thinking that the morning has not yet begun. And presence of energy instead of yawns made me realize that I can’t rest.

I had planned to rest in my hotel room and then go for sight seeing around 10 am with my wife and children; it was their first visit to Patna. But as I travelled from the station to the hotel it looked as if the old anxiousness no longer existed. The nostalgia took me two decades back. I used to walk in the morning from Rajendra Nagar to Gandhi Maidan. It looked greener before. Amid endless cups of tea, debates were framed and politics was discussed; giving insights was also practiced. However, crowded roads breached my sense of nostalgia; I threw my baggage in the hotel and left to enliven my memories with my family. It was 8:30 in the morning. I left Hotel Maurya for Golghar, on foot. On reaching there, ‘No Ticket’ surely surprised my children but after looking at the pathetic condition of the staircase at Golghar they realized what a ticket could have done. The dustbin and an open toilet in the vicinity caught my attention immediately.

From 1985-1988 this was the place of practice for the street theatre. Various groups practiced here and released their ideology coloured in politics. Even I used to practice here with my street theatre group of 9-10. During that time there was a competition between street theatre and stage theatre, but largely they competed to mirror politics in their ways. Meaning that, scenes of the plays portrayed selfish politics in one or the other way. People related their internal anxiousness to the scenes which were enacted in the play and hence applauded the effort.

And now, that ground appeared more like a dustbin and I couldn’t tell my kids that we once thought of turning it into a theatre. They would have definitely asked, “Why wasn’t the theatre made then?” I think, rather than turning the place into a dustbin it would have served well as a ground. This question would have come up definitely, as Munis Raja made an open air theatre amid trees and landscapes in the JNU campus. And I told my children about this when we once visited the campus. An evening while strolling, Munis Raja, the VC of JNU, saw a group of students performing and hence decided to transform it into a proper theatre. Then questioning Golghar’s ground would have raised a question in the minds of children that whether the VC or the Chief Minister has more powers. And the next question would have been, “If the VC strolls in the campus, so should the CM?” What would have they felt on seeing all this?”

Leaving Golghar from the other side, I saw a daanpeti. I got to know that this peti’s only relation with the Golghar was that, whosoever visited the Golghar, donated, benefitting the nearby temple. Pandit Ramanarayan ji also met. He mentioned about the foreign tourists that donated foreign currency in the peti on passing the Golghar. May be the foreigners thought about doing something for Golghar’s worsening condition.

It was foggy and hence the Ganges wasn’t clearly visible from Golghar. We had to take a rickshaw from Golghar to Collectriate ghat. In the meantime, I explained to my children about the banks of Ganga, facing cleaner vicinity during Chhat Puja. But when we reached the ghat the water seemed so dirty and hence untouchable. However, if one ever felt like touching Ganga’s water, one would have to dirty the feet in the surrounding marsh. Seeing all this marsh around, one wouldn’t even realize that it’s Ganga he wants to touch after all. All creatures, from small poor kids and pigs-dogs were visibly sieving the marsh to find something for themselves.

A used thing can become someone’s requirement; this can be seen and felt on this ghat. Anyone who feels like performing a puja in Ganga has to take a boat, which takes him to a raised platform formed in the mid-Ganga. The boatman revealed that that area is cleaner with more clean water than elsewhere. He offered us to come along. “But even this marsh could be cleaned here”, I offered. On this he laughed and said, “There is an authority (Govt.) this side, but no authority over there”. We left then.

Before going to the book fair, I thought of showing my children the college from which I graduated. B.N. College changed its main gate. The main gate, which was earlier on the Ashok Rajpath; its wall was broken to make a short cut to enter the college. As the time passed, the fissure widened. But never did I think that the fissure would turn into the main gate. As I entered the college I sensed an ideological fissure as well. There was a poster on the wall opposite that read- Raj Thackeray ko faansi do..!

When in the early 80’s caste- based violence took over the whole of Patna University, 6 students were murdered. But no one could ever gather courage to even touch anyone from B.N. College. I know two reasons. First, the students of B.N. College were fiercely united. Everyone tried to breach this unity on grounds of caste, but all their efforts failed. Second, students of B.N. College never supported or opposed any politician.

The 1995 Student movement taught the tactic of confronting Raj Thackeray’s politics. A conversation with the students made me realize that they have the vigour and will to slice Raj Thackeray’s Marathi Manus politics. However, they were also wary of the Amar- Akbar- Anthony or Paswan- Lalu- Nitish politics being played every now and then. This anecdote was given by a B.N. College student only. However, when the question of Bihar’s politics through Raj Thackeray’s land arose, students mentioned lack of options. I never felt that lack of options ever. The conditions that once gave strength to live appeared weak and shattered in the present B.N. College.

I clearly remember that Dr. C.P. Thakur, who contested election in Patna, won by the courage and ideological understanding of the B.N. College students. His speeches were written by the students in college hostel and the immense campaigning was also done by students. I entered the college staff room to meet a Political Science professor. He wasn’t present. It was 11 am; one of the staffers told that he would come around 11:30.

I took my kids to the cycle stand then. It was the only place left untouched; full of cycles, as always. The green alga had grown all over the wall though, there were cob webs and dogs had made it their home. The financial condition of the students studying looked obvious. As my son clicked pictures, some students recognized me and lamented college’s pathetic condition. The eyes were helplessly crying for someone to change the circumstances. This was not the B.N. College I had known. When did B.N. College depend on someone else to do something? Surely, this politics of Amar- Akbar- Anthony has made everyone handicapped and docile.

(To be continued……)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

News channels: anger or business

Early morning, you were surfing the news channels to know the results of the elections in the four states. Who wins, BJP or Congress, is the question in your mind. Will Sheila Dikshit continue her ongoing term of 10 years or will V. K. Malhotra record a win? Will BJP continue to be in power in MP, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh? Or will BJP benefit from the voting in Delhi and MP after the terror attacks in Mumbai?

In Rajasthan, the voting conditions were not favourable due to anger towards the politicians, but a majority came out to vote; now what can this be called? People are full of anger for the ones in power. BJP supports zero tolerance for the terrorist activities. Is it that people are against the BJP’s election campaign and hence have decided to vote? These are some questions which the news channels would take up for analyzing the election results.

Clearly, in the parliamentary system, this is a parameter of democracy which the news channels take up. Recall what all have the news channels shown since last 250 hrs of the broadcast. When Mumbai was burning, MP was voting. A prospective candidate in Tikamgarh was killed in the process and no news channels thought it was important to show that news.

By the intensity with which events happened in Mumbai, it was not even important to show all that. This happened on 27th December. On that fateful morning no news channel showed MP voting; voting which is a sign of the largest democracy. Taj was the centre of news for all the news channels. All the news channels had their cameras directed towards Taj and Oberoi, all the time. This day was also the last day of campaigning for the Delhi elections. No leader had the courage to get down to the streets and campaign for their party in Delhi. In Delhi on the 27th, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Mayawati and Narendra Modi were to address people. These are the leaders who keep on manipulating situations to get into power. But by looking at the pictures of Mumbai blasts on the news channels these leaders may have been thinking what if the angry janta turns into a mob and releases their anger on them. They would have to face the angry janta then. Hence they remained silent. This silence also remained on the voting day in Delhi, i.e., 29th December. However, the bullets had stopped in Mumbai but the anger was already boiling against the politicians. The dead bodies in Mumbai replaced the long queues of willing voters in Delhi. With every picture the news channels were questioning the significance of political disagreement on issues of coalition and terrorism. The section which already belonged to the five star lives and the other aspiring sect had only one question in minds; where do they go now?

This particular section hesitates on voting. However, it’s the same section that is seen promoting voting habits in advertisements. In the country’s politics no politician belongs to this section, the whole Government is this section only. The policies are framed considering their development particularly. Hence they are never considered a vote bank in politics. For the first time a disinterest is visible in them regarding their own requirements however. The Govt. understands this but the question is that why did the terrorist attack on the domain of this section in particular. By this act, terrorism does profit by the political inter-conflict. Above politics and election, a question which comes up is that is the conflict of TRPs a strategy tooled for politics and the five star masses? The angst of the five star classes and the surrounding middle class which wants to preserve everything for the future has trapped them who consider elections as a festival and hence raise the flag of Democracy. News channels or collectively the media propagates its important at this time only, as it is the only possible way of communication. And here its need of cashing through news conceals, as its profit transforms into public interest.

Hence the issues that have been raised due to Taj-Oberoi have become a question mark on the present saga of elective democracy. Media has been a trumpet to the happenings. It has tried to be a mouthpiece of what all is happening. The way it has presented the news has dramatized the event to keep the anger and terror alive in the minds of the people. All this was present during the Mumbai attacks, hence media showed it. The death of respected VP Singh was never made news.

After the Mumbai terror the 250 hr slots were aired on the news channels just to show how a CM of Maharashtra considering Taj a picnic spot, went for a stroll; and how a vice CM made a mockery out of the whole situation. But when you are sitting in front of your TV sets watching the election results, what’s the use of past 250 hrs of rebel and violence.

The news channels strongly despised the Mumbai attacks by saying ‘enough is enough’ and ‘élan-e-jung’ and tried to sympathize with those affected. When these same news channels air election results and declare the winning democracy; will they be considered insensitive towards the Mumbai attacks? How is it possible that people who came together against the politics and terrorism will become passive with the news coverage of elections? The news channels bravely covered each and every minute of terror in their cameras and stood with the Nation in times of pain. Will the same news channels make the public angst passive by covering elections? Will the same old way of reporting the speeches of politicians, the issues etc practiced? And will the same repetitive Raju Shrivastav comedy serials be aired? Will the same people who were on the streets protesting against the terror attacks get lost in the world of comedy? Will this be the scene? If one is to understand the nuances of the reality of this Nation, this all will happen.

If the five star class is considering itself successful enough through this movement brought by the news channels then it’s obvious that the scene would become comical, the way it was post-26/11. And if there a genuine anger inside the people you’ll see anxious people instead of the elected faces and then you may realize that you can’t wait for the next five years.

Mumbai Is My Heart...Not Hindustan

Till yesterday, the crowd that motivated the spirit of the whole society to move forward is saying that they have had enough. From the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai to the drastic rainfall that it faced, including the local trains bomb blasts; nothing could raise the meek voices of people. This time, amid all the glitters many faces emerged. Nothing could stop the wounded city and everyone walked hand in hand.

All of a sudden what astonishing happened after the Taj and Oberoi attacks that shook the whole nation? The number of people who died in the Taj, Nariman, Oberoi and Leopold Café attacks were less than the total number of people ever died in the local serial blasts and the Mumbai rains. Victimized people are scared to an extent that they feel the power of money will have to plead for life the same way like a common man does. The reality of Mumbai is not running away from terror, but confronting it.

Mumbai sell dreams to the people; dreams which make people proud. For the ones who have been living in Mumbai since ages, it is like a sweet song; sweeter than a Pidepiper’s melody. When a Mumbaikar visit his home, he is laden with the stories of Mumbai; the stories which the whole village is deeply interested in and intently wish to listen to. May be that’s why Mumbai rains is never a tragedy unlike Kosi water. Serial blasts never became a terror but a colourful memory in this city of dreams. A majority of Mumbai is aware of the fact that if they ever tried to expose their wounds, the ever moving Mumbai would evict them. Their dreams would not be considered; dreams that render them respect and Taj - Oberoi societal recognition.

No one ever imagined that Mumbai will have to face such terror attacks. It’s like the roots of a fruitful tree which in spite of being unpleasant in looks, give delightful fruits. Roots are preserved. But what if instead of fruits, roots come up, who would want to preserve the unpleasant roots. It’s clear that the terrorized faces are afraid that how the ways of a common man and that of the others meet. Hence the perspective of governing a Nation by considering it two faced, is the target. The question of political framework and responsibility is on target hence other questions have also been raised.

For instance, for the first time to discard the politics, the section came up which supported the two-faced politics of our country. Jamshedji Tata established Taj Hotel in 1903 as he wanted to put forth a colourful picture of an advanced and developed India. Hundred years later it seems that India has kept everything at stake in front of the world. When the Taj was being dreamt of, a dream of creating a Nation also occurred. Today a burning Taj is synonymous to a burning political framework of the Nation. As compared to the whole nation, the geographical situation of Taj – Oberoi is decimal zero. As a trademark of modern India this holds more weight on the cent percent who are a minority actually. However, there are people who want to come under this 5-7 % and their worry lies in the political understanding. Both are confronting each other. This worry did not show when the parliament was attacked. Neither did it show when Delhi blasted two months back. This anxiousness hasn’t rose due to the failure of economic policies which has led to the deaths of some odd fifty thousand farmers. This worry didn’t even pop up during the communal and political violence that ruined spaces between Kashmir and Kanyakumari, Mumbai and Guwahati. In the past 8 years more than hundred crises have taken lives of more than thousands. Even this didn’t raise the agony.

Like always the key to solution was seen as politics; politics that can drive away even the Democracy. The fearful masses standing against terrorism once bowed down under the divisive violence of Marathi Manus. More than anxiety there was peace on their faces as the victims may pose a threat to the Taj and Oberoi. Everyone wants to preserve this heritage so that the prestige remains and the five star cultures didn’t malign. For that it’ll be important to understand the direction and action of politics in the future.

Politics is being provoked keeping in confidence the security personnel. We obviously don’t have a military governance, but Democracy. Democracy is under a security cover and this should be understood. Out of the combined police force of our country, 30% are assigned the VIP security; the security of the ones we choose. It’s 55% in Delhi and 37% in Mumbai. In Maharashtra, an average 15, 000 is spent on the training, salary and other services on a policeman. This amount can be spent in one night by a small family dining at the Taj and Oberoi.

The Taj profits more than the double of what all is spent on the Maharashtra police force annually. 60% of the total police force is paid lesser than a least paid Taj employ. The chefs of Taj – Oberoi earn more than what the Indian Army gets combined. Time when Taj was attacked, everyone from Businessmen to big corporatists, government officials and politicians got trapped. Taj is more a home for a certain class. Hence more protest. If Taj-Oberoi symbolizes a developed Nation then the politics means implementing a theory of profit. Profit means an advanced Nation. Advancement means a cup of tea and a picturesque view of the Arabian Sea.

It’s the result of decentralization that there is a troop of 37.89 lakh in the Army and 38, 67, 902 politicians to play politics. This is the number of elected politicians. If we include Panchayats and Gram Panchayats, the number would go up to more than a crore. Among all the institutions that provide employment, politics is the institution that renders maximum employment. In the decentralization of power, the politics in its defense has denied all the other options of survival and has taken everyone together. Taj and Oberoi has shone in the glitz of politics. Amidst this confrontation we need to wait for an India in which the golden bird sings the melody of the whole Nation and not just Mumbai.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Savarkar teaches RSS, Hindutva

According to RSS, ATS is scripting Panchatantra stories since it’s unlikely according to the RSS that the alleged culprits of Malegaon blasts are the same people who tried to kill Mohanrao Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar. However the way ‘Abhinav Bharat’ is clinging to Hindutva and RSS is moving towards Hindutva it seems that both, the Abhinav Bharat and RSS hold the same views on the Malegaon blasts. And it means that Abhinav Bharat is unable to differentiate between the Hindutva of Malegaon and Hindutva of RSS.

Before even giving a thought over these circumstances it’s important to understand the pasts of both the organizations. The parent organization of Abhinav Bharat was managed by Savakar. He said, “In this Universe, Hindus should have a separate Nation of their own where they can prosper as a Hindu and as the ancestors of the powerful. Hence we should recognize and consider purity, which not only has a religious but also a political aspect.” Savarkar wanted to purify the Hedgewar community and hence wanted to promote his beliefs of a Hindu Nation.

Savarkar kept Hindu Mahasabha amidst Pune and the Konkanastha Brahmins and challenged the British in 1904 taking with him the Abhinav Bharat forward. After two decades, Hedgewar in order to make desirable conditions for Hindus among Telugu Brahmins, emphasized on chastising the Hindus. This was however against Congress. At that time RSS stood nowhere in front of Savarkar. Similarly, the present day Hindu Mahasabha stands nowhere in front of RSS. Savarkar’s daughter-in-law, Himani Savarkar stood for the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2004 talking about Hindu Mahasabha. At that time not only BJP but also RSS were keen in the issue. Himani used to campaign in an auto and the BJP/RSS supporters may have sarcastically commented, “Take the auto’s charge from us if Himani fails to pay.”

That was the same time when BJP had tensions regarding RSS. Hence when Mohanrao Bhagwat took up the responsibility of RSS, everyone looked upon him as Madhukar Rao Bhagwat. Madhukar Rao Bhagwat was not only Mohanrao Bhagwat’s father but also a supporter of Hedgewar and always stood with him. During that time, Madhukar Rao Bhagwat was Gujarat’s regional promoter of RSS and wanted to discard the political aspect and promote the chastising of society. When Mohanrao Bhagwat took over the headship of RSS, the Ayodhya Temple was made a dream. The issue of Swadeshi bowed in front of FDI.

Raising the issue of cow protection in the age of economic development seemed very ancient. The mention of Section 370 became a word of disgrace for some. RSS was totally enchanted with conversions. The issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration wasn’t paid any heed during the Atal Bihari Bajpai Government. In spite of the murder of four RSS workers in the North-East region, the then Home Minister Mr.L.K.Adavni seemed indifferent; which raised questions in RSS. The division of J&K into three and the proposal of reuniting it were declined by the Bajpai Govt. only. And amidst all this, on the terms of BJP the way Indresh Kumar was trying to bring in the Muslims together in the Sangh; created a tension in the Sangh itself. Clearly they did not only see this as a staunch Hindutva of RSS but also the Marathi community, which did not recognize RSS, was more than angry. From 2002 to 2006, a balance and understanding between Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Kisan Sangh discontinued. RSS’ Sudarshan started attending Muslim conferences and functions which instigated these tensions.

The works/issues initiated by RSS in the Hinduvadi Movement in Maharashtra clearly denoted the disinterest of people towards RSS. BJP’s defeat in the 2004 elections weakened the Hindutva agenda of RSS; which they wanted to promote under the BJP Govt. The Marathi lobby that was sidelined in this whole process began to stand against the secular thinking of RSS.

During this time the new generation of Savarkar and Godse, who were initially dissatisfied with RSS, agreed to make Savarkar’s Abhinav Bharat active in the contemporary scenario. This wing blamed the RSS for being an ally of Muslims and an anti-Hindu secular. However, it is not that the Abhinav Bharat formed overnight and targeted RSS all of a sudden. When the question of starting Abhinav Bharat rose in 2006; the old issue of discarding RSS’ Hindutva was raised by the politicians, as usual.

In a meeting in Pune, in the presence Himani Savarkar, a question was raised that RSS never openly talks about issues relating to Hindus; says nothing and take the advantage of the situation. The agenda of the meeting was Shivaji and Lokmanya Tilak, linking it to Savarkar’s philosophy and Godse’s theory gave it recognition. In the meeting the followers of Dharma Samrat Swami Karpatri, Mahant Digvijay Nath and Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopananda were present. The ones who followed their ideology believed that there’s no use taking forward Hindutva in the name of RSS.

It’s also being speculated that keeping BJP in front, RSS is trying to hide its weakness. Hence if a new Hindu Nation is to be made then it’ll be important to overthrow RSS. However, it has been closer to Hindu Mahasabha than the Congress. Till 1937, the conventions of BJP and Hindu Mahasabha used to be held on the same venue. In fact Madan Mohan Malviya addressed both the meetings. That’s why RSS always thought differently from the Congress theory. However, Hindu Mahasabha thought that the Sangh has made itself more or less like congress, after having tasted the power through BJP. RSS has totally declined the theory of a Hindu Nation.

Importantly, the traditions of Brahmins have also raised issues. Like Hedgewar, Sudarshan is also a Telugu Brahmin and hence his capability to head RSS has been always questioned. Hence the Marathi lobby of RSS is apparently promoting Savarkar’s ideology. Its effect on RSS and the present political conditions of India were visible in Sudarshan’s behaviour on the 7th November meeting that took place in Jantar Mantar. Amidst the conditions that differentiated Savakar and Sangh there’s a tension inside RSS that may be they were not going on a right path.

The question is not about the conspiracy of Mohan Bhagwat’s or Indresh Kumar’s murder. Standing in the line of Gokhale-Sathe-Peshwa, the konkanastha Brahmins now want to enliven the structure of Indian economy. This is what Dattopant Thengdi said. However he died reiterating this and no one, neither Bajpai nor the head RSS paid heed. It’s clear that after independence if the supporters want the Abhinav Bharat back then it has a counter view attached to it; which is, the social and cultural theory of RSS promoted by BJP standing in the court of justice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Terrorism, politics and society

6th December 1992, Nagpur, 2-3 PM; police gathered in the open adjacent to the RSS headquarters in Mahal. As the news of Babri Masjid demolition started disseminating from Ayodhya, the RSS headquarter seemed perplexed. Everyone from the Sangh workers to the ones holding even a mere position felt that finally they did what they said. A wave of happiness was felt by everyone for the first time in the streets of Mahal. It seemed that no one had ever felt something of this sort even once after independence.

Mahal has been mentioned here as almost every family is a member of RSS. This happiness was felt for the first time as during two instances; pre and post independence, RSS faced pain and hurt. Savarkar never agreed to the Sangh’s ideology of Hindutva and hence never visited RSS’ headquarters ever. However, he had no problems in meeting with the head of RSS. However, the swayam sevaks in Nagpur always felt that Hindutva was a mere ideology in front of Savarkar’s impactful and bold character.

At a meeting that happened in Nagpur’s cotton market, Savarkar said that Hindutva is not the path that the cultural organizations would be able to drive the nation on. The second time when RSS ached was when Gandhiji was assassinated and RSS was banned. In the afternoon of 6th December, when the police and others were gathering in the open near the headquarters; there was one man who was also there. He was the then head of RSS, Devras.

The place was surrounded by seemingly the whole police force. Journalists were present and all their questions were being answered by Devras. Police hinted Devras’ arrest but owing to his ill health a house arrest was seen as a solution. However during the action time, Devras was suddenly covered by girls and women. Later it was known that they belonged to Durgavahini. There was no woman in the police team hence the house arrest was stopped. The women force of Durgavahini stood there to confront the police.

All through Devras’ conversation with media he hinted that the Babri Masjid demolition was not their first and the last success, but was a part of the strategy. Even if it was looking like a cultural agitation it should be considered a political issue. Amidst this when I asked Devras that why the Durgavahini was used like this when it was supposed to be a house arrest eventually? He replied that Durgavahini will have to understand that tomorrow even they can face these circumstances. Moreover this is a planning in which each and every one will have to contribute. I then asked him that is all this planning being done to develop a political understanding? Devras said, “It’s a cultural struggle not untouched by politics. (Laughs) In order to talk to you people (journalists) Durgavahini has created a way and you should thank them for that.” The women police force reached the venue and after some resistance by Durgavahini, Devras was house arrested.

As a repercussion of the Masjid demolition, people from a Muslim majority area Mominpura decided to hold a protest march. The information of this upcoming rally reached the police as well. After a clash between the police and the rally supporters it was decided that the rally won’t be taken out in the city. It would be confined to Mominpura and half a km from there; also the protest meeting would happen in Mominpura itself. The protest march was taken out in the afternoon, black flags were hoisted and banners were raised.

The moment it reached Mominpura the police ordered the procession to stop there and then and carry on with the meeting there itself. On this the youth reacted violently contending that the police was curbing there freedom to protest against the demolition. The crowd turned violent and broke the barricades. However later they faced lathi charge by the police. In a momentary decision by the then Police Commissioner of Nagpur the police shot the innocents. More that 22 rounds of bullets were fired. 13 died and more than 20 were injured. The ones, who died, died within the premises of Mominpura.

Both the ends of Mominpura were covered with corpses. The police not only stopped the mob on the main road but also in order to suppress the rage intruded the houses of people and mercilessly beat them. The ones who came out were shot dead. It was one of its kind situations for Nagpur as something like this only happened during the weavers’ agitation and once during the dalit movement.

However it was the first occasion when the distance between Mahal and Mominpura seemed as if it were a distance between the borders. This incident at that time got suppressed so that the law and order could be retained. But since that time a tendency of venting out rage over the issue of terrorism and thinking a solution has been very much become visible.

After witnessing what all happened in Ayodhya, the way the Nation and its politics camouflaged itself in saffron; the results can be well seen. Not only this but the Bhagwa become so prominent that country’s majority is finding itself burgled. The Muslims throughout the country fear coming out of their houses. And their way of expression is being used by either Congress or BJP as a tool for their politics.

RSS felt the same hurt within its circle. After Devras they had no head to speak for them under the sun. Devras very well knew the mantra to camouflage a cultural agitation in a political colour. The strategy formulation began happening in closure and the foundation of Democracy began collapsing. All this and more was assumed to be a success and hence a political terror was created.

Amidst this there is a new debate between Sadhus regarding Hindutva. The debate is that Savarkar was big time better than present day RSS; he talked straightly about a big aggression. Savarkar’s ideology is all of a sudden overpowering those organizations which recognize BJP through RSS. It’s obvious that under Savarkar’s theory initially RSS was discarded and now BJP’s facing a similar fate. That’s a reason why Sadhvi Pragya is being made an icon so that a new theory of Hindutva can come up amidst this shattering system. Hence BJP’s Chairman Rajnath Singh and RSS’ Mohanrao Bhagwat are reiterating that a person linked in any way by Indian culture cannot be a terrorist. Similarly Congress is trying to hint the Muslims that even the Hindutva is furthering towards terrorism.

However it’s evident by the sadhu-sadhvi phenomenon that terrorism has nothing to do with the religion. At a political level, if at all terrorism has a religion then a terrorist act carried on the name of religion is not terrorism but something else. After the Babri Masjid demolition on 6th December, Devras hinted the same, saying that Ayodhya is not only synonymous to erecting a temple but also to Hindutva. Discontinuing the rally in Mominpura concluded Devras’ hint. The nation is waving to and fro between this political hint and its result. Save yourself if you can!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saints, Soldiers and Terrorism…

The moment sadhus and soldiers came into the entrapment of terrorism; Muslim terrorism has discontinued. The debate which always started after any terrorist attack keeping in mind the nuances of a “soft State” and the conclusions built upon around Bangladesh, Al Qaeda and ISI; have slowed down now.

Sadhvi Pragya and Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit’s involvement in the blasts has instilled restlessness which gives a message that every Muslim is not importantly a terrorist but every terrorist is definitely a Muslim. There’s no confusion regarding the ongoing debate about the Muslim community and terrorism. The BJP’s and Congress’ view have connected it to the country’s socio-political condition.

The Intelligence Agencies have also agreed that the face of economy has been liked with the Indian society on the name of luxury and this has put the majority section at stake. Importantly, when in the society, money is deciding the values and the Governmental policies, in spite of taking the masses together is going after a section’s profit; the majority is angry. The masses are venting out this anguish in some or the other forms. The Muslim community is the first one to be trapped in this politics, the first reason being their deprived status. The community has its own limitations which the Sachchar Committee report has earlier stated. However the other larger reason is the political situation which has become a profit for the ones in power. The issue isn’t just limited to the vote bank politics where Congress needs to be pampered and BJP needs to be threatened on the name of Muslims. A diminishing line of development and a will to complete it is something that can also be linked with the Muslim community. The Human Resource Department and the UN too understand the nuances in the Indian context.

Coincidently in the last one and a half decade whenever the economy has ascended, the system has apparently weakened. Not only a religion has been hurt but the whole society has got hurt and the sadhus and soldiers have faced suspicion. Also, no one has ever shown the courage to expose and understand whether or not a discussion regarding the same has happened in the Army. However, during A.B. Vajpai’s term the Army’s voice seemed to be so eager to come out in Kargil. The Army has no face. This face didn’t even come up against the recommendations of the salary commission. The economy has dissolved the value of rupee and dollar. Moreover the country didn’t even realize the diminishing sense of patriotism and a soldier’s state of inner conflict. A soldier secures the border and when he confronts the masses he senses the actual state of the country which is apparently in the hands of FDI or foreign investment.

The Bhonsle military school under investigation is one of the first schools which thought about working privately. It was established in Nasik in 1937. A conference of top 7 public schools was conducted on 16th June 1939 in Shimla’s Gorten Castle Committee room. Bhonsle Military School along with schools like Scindhia School, Gwalior; Dally College, Indore; Doon School, Dehradun; Rajkumar College, Raipur and Rajkumar College, Rajkot participated in the conference. The outline of the conference was to promote the functioning of public schools according to the cultural practices in India.

Till now there have been 68 conferences. Every year there are inclusions but the question is that, are the schools established pre-independence have changed after independence? The Bhonsle Military School is from class 5th to 12th and is affiliated to the Maharashtra Board but the way of teaching is still the old Central Hindu Military Education Society’s; which was formed in 1935. It’s hence apparent that the type of foundation laid by these schools has become questionable.

Bhonsle Military School’s students in their debate competitions have been raising questions about the problems the Nation is facing and the solutions for the same. The scenario would have been like that of RSS’ own perspective of a Hindu Nation which is dangerous politically. Sangh and organizations also questioned the nature of Nationalism and Hindutva which were discarded even during Vajpai’s term. So what’s the solution? Even if the Muslim community is completely abandoned, the Hindutva is still so strong that the nation will have to face the consequences.

The Sadhu samaj has so far not believed that RSS has forgiven Advani for supporting Jinnah’s views on Democracy. Regarding Hindutva they have an ongoing debate that Savarkar was all time better than RSS. RSS has always dreamt of a Hindu Nation. At least Savarkar spoke about a straight agitation and struggle and his ideology was even adopted by organizations which recognized BJP through RSS. Under Savarkar’s theory earlier the Jansangh and now the BJP seem to face rejection. That’s the reason why Sadhvi Pragya is being made an idol among the other sadhus; so that a new theory of Hindutva can be created amidst the weakening system of the country. BJP’s Rajnath Singh or RSS’ Mohanrao Bhagwat, both are denying the possibility of any sort of linkage between India’s culture-tradition and terrorism. Congress is using their language to entice the Muslims and projecting that Hindutva is heading towards terrorism. However everyone is indifferent which is creating tension and instigating a feeling of distrust towards the Nation. Hence, in the Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Delhi blasts Muslims and likewise in the Malegaon blasts Hindus are being considered as terrorists. Amidst all this everyone has forgotten that both are in the end, Indian citizens.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chasing Dreams: From Ambedkar to Mayawati and Luther King to Obama

Obama’s victory in the US Presidential elections has created a history in America. It was a dream envisioned by Martin Luther King when in April 1963, Obama would have been 2. Martin Luther King demanded rights and equality in the presence of two and a half lakh people. In his 16 minute long speech, Martin Luther King tried to erase the line of difference between the blacks and white and gave such a voice to world’s human rights struggle that the whole of America realized it. But this is just a dream, as the country that has raised its voice, has itself designed the world.
However, no one including Luther King ever envisaged that such a dream could be made possible in the mainstream one day. After 45 years of giving the Americans a dream, Obama is now ready to create a history. King’s contemporary, B.R. Ambedkar had a similar dream. Seven years before King’s historic speech in 1956, Ambedkar at Nagpur enlightened the masses about Dhammachakra. His goal was to make them ready for a struggle in pursuit of their dreams. A Hindu who proudly considered himself a part of this caste based divided society was questioned by Ambedkar. Not only was he challenging but also he made the then Dalit Samaj strong so that they can stand up for themselves and their self respect. He initiated something which has had effects on the political parties.

The awful struggle between blacks and whites around 1969 in America, around Luther King’s death completely changed the American society. But no one knew that Obama would bring Luther King’s dream to reality. This dream enabled America to register its victory over many decades. Keeping luxury in mind America has implemented the basic policies of food, water and shelter; no body thought so. Just like Bush, Republican McCain’s dream has been first Nation, a Nation with prosperity and peace. This quote however is being raised when America is on a verge of retardation. To raise up the falling markets, the Govt. is depending on people’s money. America’s measures against terrorism have ironically played with its own peace.

Similarly when Ambedkar had dreams of equality and rights and was giving out messages of Dhamma in Nagpur, Mayawati would have been 9 months old. Ambedkar throughout made the dalits realize that they should be in power some day some time. Ambedkar linked education and employment with the self respect of Dalits and inspired them to break the walls of caste and religion which was killing them. Ambedkar wanted dalits to be in the mainstream. He wanted to change the concept and parameters of equality as he could better relate to the agonies of dalits considering the fact that he himself was a dalit. That’s the reason why a clause on reservation was incorporated in the Constitution of India; so that a balance could be achieved between the two circumstances prevailing in the two existing societies.

Like Martin Luther King, Ambedkar never thought that his 20th century dream would ever come true in the 21st century. The base on which a Nation stood began to fall. It’s happened for the first time in American history that a President is starting his politics on an international platform. Till now the stature of the President was considered as the ultimate one. That’s why considering Obama, not only America but the whole world is creating a new dream for itself. Coincidentally, America is on the threshold where its own existence is in trouble. And the ideology which every American was proud of is disintegrating. America ruled the capitalist ideology. Hence, at this point and time, Obama has a larger responsibility than just fulfilling Luther King’s dream. Obama has to create something that no one has ever thought before. However, after 80 years in America’s history has this happened that candidates standing for posts of President and Vice-President are all new.

The world is waiting for something through Obama, however that script is more than just the black-white tension. After Ambedkar’s death there has always been a question that when and how will his dreams come into the mainstream of Indian politics? Through Ambedkar’s ideology and Kashiram’s collective thinking, Mayawati successfully brought the issue into mainstream but when that dream was considered, the politics shattered. When the dream was about to come into reality mode, it became a prerequisite to protect the integrity of Indian politics.

America for the first time in their history had a black President. Similarly, for the first time in India someone like Mayawati came into power and headed a party, being a dalit. Earlier in America, policies were implemented regarding the blacks. Every aspiring President used to bring in some ideas regarding equality in society and others. Politically, division of votes based on racist parameters is being considered as backward. Not only society, but Obama is also being considered as a liaison of Nation. Obama is considered someone who’ll take everyone along with him. Nobody ever thought of breaking into the Obama’s vote bank; not even the Republican candidate McCain. Similarly in India, no one thought of interfering with Mayawati’s politics after she entered politics, rather every political party supported her at every point. Congress- BJP-SP at some time or the other always looked up to Mayawati for help.

At the time when not only the centre but also the states are getting into coalition politics; getting power in UP is not Ambedkar’s dream but is breaking into people’s democracy and trust. Hence, in Indian politics a question regarding Mayawati is reiterated that if at all she comes into power in the centre, she’ll have a goal and a dream to follow; which is unlikely for any other politician. It’s the same as considering the fact that Bush and McCain have no dreams for America, but Obama definitely has. And may be in today’s world the time has come when the dying dreams need to be animated and enlivened.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Student unions united against division politics

It dates back to 1955 when there was a conflict between Bihar Road Transport and the students of Patna University’s B.N. College. The State Govt.’s attitude provoked the students and resultantly the students united and revolted collectively. They formed an eleven member committee against the Govt. This movement was headed by Shahbuddin and every department of the committee had a topper as the head.

The aggression was so strong that when amidst the movement in July, the occasion 15th August arrived; the students didn’t allow the hoisting of National Flag. During the same time Nehru gave a speech in Gandhi Maidan, Patna threatening the action committee formed by the students. He said that this whole committee won’t work in India and that the students should rather go to Germany if they wanted to continue with the same. However, the students were indifferent towards his attitude. Eventually the Govt. had to give up its firmness. Elections happened; the Transport Minister Mahesh Prasad along with three other ministers lost.

Another incident happened in the 60s when Lohiya continuously trapped Nehru in the parliament. He pointed out Nehru’s richness and Nation’s poor state statistically. When in the Parliament Lohiya put forth the facts related to income per person, the Govt. didn’t agree to what he said. According to Nehru the income per person was 16 Anna which on the contrary was 6 Anna according to Lohiya. Lohiya presented the facts about Nehru’s luxurious lifestyle; his dogs being fed meat and his horses, imported food. Only then Nehru agreed on 11 Anna. Lohiya assimilated those facts through a team of BHU students.

Third instance dates back to the 70s when Jayprakash Narayan joined students of Gujarat. Consequentially students from Bihar also joined him. They left college to challenge the Govt. and even Indira Gandhi faced tensions due to the same. In the Bofors Scandal of late 80s when V.P. Singh exposed the nuances of corruption; the students of UP-Bihar united and confronted. This broke Congress and VP Singh became the PM. After that, the whole nation witnessed the aggression caused by the Mandal Commission report. That had confrontational student politics.

However, the biggest movement of all times that the nation ever witnessed was that of the Marathwada University. This happened when there was a huge tension regarding rechristening Maharashtra. The students of Maharashtra still remember the long march conducted from Aurangabad. But since 90s it has become clear that the student movements are no more in vogue among students. In 1991, when Manmohan Singh as the then Finance Minister formulated some economic policies, no one took actions regarding the same. All of a sudden the country began to be addressed as developed and the section that was immediately affected was that of the students. Most of the colleges and universities based themselves on profit. On one hand, the education system became money oriented and on the other objective exams became a new parameter for gauging knowledge. There was no room left for analysis and logics.

The Principal or a VC of some university was considered successful only if he/she could bring some financial profit to the institution. This was when the students were considered as an effective tool of politics. This arena made a student to confront another student and threatened the students of back lagging in case they fail to achieve. The definition of a state changed completely during this period. The then Nation of 1950 now was profit driven. Its meaning was no more than making a
ration card for poor or passports for the rich.

In recent times when the question of Marathi Manus has come up and a threat to Nation’s integrity is visible; can politics be a medium to understand this? Or will politics find a way out of this? This issue needs to be dealt straightly as in a country where due to some politicians world’s largest Democracy gets threatened, it becomes important to know that is politics a solution or is entirely self centered and motive driven?

In 1948, Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister was the first one to take army actions in Junagarh district of Gujarat; when it refused to be a part of India. He even protested against the Nizam of Hyderabad for the same. Ironically, the present Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil belongs to the same state where the North Indians are being traumatized. The question isn’t about the failure of Patil nor is it about him alerting Lalu-Mulayam or Paswan to do something. If one needs to understand the nuances of politics one would see the same pain in the eyes of Deshmukh-Sharad Pawar-Uddhav Thackeray-R.R. Patil as prevalent in the eyes of Lalu-Paswan-Mulayam-Mayawati. In the politics for power either both side are right or wrong. Playing a blame game would only strengthen their political calculations. The students only will have to stand up and that too with complete unity. If at all the student movement decides to come into politics, the politicians will retire for sure. Let’s see where the maiden voice comes from.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A changed face of Mumbai

There’s a gap of four decades between the film Sheher Aur Sapna released in the 60s and Suketu Mehta’s book “Maximum City’. Film Sheher Aur Sapna dates back to the era of Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar. The film portrayed the agonies of people who in search of an employment migrate from Bihar-U.P.-Bengal to Mumbai. It depicted the pain of sleeping inside a pipe, on the rail tracks, under a bridge, over the staircase.

Talking about a migrated labour: at times of leisure films are his only friend and amidst all this if he manages to see some film star in a shooting, he gets filled with immense gratification. On the occasion of Holi, Diwali and Id when he goes back home to Gorakhpur, Chhapra, Darbhanga and Asansol, the stories of glam life of Mumbai are narrated and somewhere down the line he finds himself amidst the Mumbai life. And the dreams of settling in Mumbai in the eyes of these small city dwellers shape up wings for their new generation.

Four decades back Mumbai was not a Maximum City. It was a city of dreams where everyone wanted to be. If in a village someone erected a structure and if Mumbai’s income was linked with it then the building or the haweli was said to be connected with Raj Kapoor-Dev Anand or Dilip Kumar’s style. If on the occasion of Diwali-Id someone’s wife flaunted her new fashion, it was branded to be that of Meena Kumari’s, Vaheeda Rehman’s or of Sadhna’s style. These instances were even more said and remembered while waiting for a beloved. And year after year Diwali passed waiting for some event to happen in the village so that the pain recedes faster.

However after four decades, breaking the old image of Mumbai a new image has emerged which is full of crime and money. The image in which everything ranging from a railway track to the pipes, a dhaba to the under-bridge sarai, are a part of the unfortunate mafiagiri. And everyone is a part of this system. This division and partition has replaced the dreams of Mumbai and a new society is in the making. The enormous money influx is the new limb of this society; the money that can take this society abroad in a moment. This new breed is the 'Underworld’ in which division and partition can make lives.

In the 60s Kaifi Azmi migrated from Azamgarh to Mumbai and in the 90s Abu Salem did the same. In the 90s Kaifi felt that Mumbai was a suffocated place to live and became eager to return to Azamgarh. Mumbai, the city which gave his dreams a reality touch and a name to his own city; after 3 decades became unsustainable. He returned to Azamgarh to give way to his dreams. However in the 90s when Abu Salem’s dream reached Azamgarh, it was routed to Singapore and Malaysia via Mumbai and Dubai.

As the money crossed borders the openness of markets broke the socio-political fabric of the country. The new society was now based on money which is reality and not an illusion. The politics has transformed that reality into a dream. Ambedkar disseminated awareness but didn’t give a political platform where a dream of a transformed and a better society could be envisioned. When Mumbai changed from a dream city to a Maximum City, a dalit Marathi didn’t know about his means of struggle. And all of a sudden a dalit Marathi began seeing himself as a Marathi Manus.

The new game of making money from money has hampered the industrialization process which not only provided employment to the labour but also has maintained their societal existence. Mumbai, including other cities of Maharashtra have faced a closure of more that four lakh small and large scale industries over last two decades. Also, some industries faced inevitable industrial sickness. This made more than fifty lakh people in Maharashtra unemployed. The school going children of these troubled families began speculating regular conflicts at home, which actually materialized. Cotton fabric of Sholapur became history. Four large mills and more than 60 small scale industries supported by these mills, closed. Kolhapur, Latur, Beed, Aurangabad and Vidarbha faced similar situations. The land where these industries functioned didn’t face any problems though as the markets were open for them. Everything got converted into profit. However the generation that faced the crisis was that of the school going kids who when grew up, had nothing to do.

The sources of employment rested on the platform of politics which endangered the political ideology. Political unions formed as a result of agitations and movements succumbed to the influence of big political parties. Bal Thackeray was the one who presented his type of politics garbed in the veil of new politics. The concept of politics as a new form of employment was presented to the new generation, who actually grew learning about the revolutionary movements of Ambedkar-Phule. The differences between a father and a son which came up due to unemployment initially didn’t even stop this new generation from taking this destructive politics as employment.

Shivsena started 22 unions in the 90s. During the 1995 elections the youth was seen campaigning for Thackeray. They raised quotes like “Jidhar bum udhar hum”. However after coming into power Shivsena couldn’t successfully merge the ways of generating employment through politics; so that the game of division and partition can be put to an end. This generation realized that the politics of standing against the power can provide money for their employment. Bal Thackeray lagged behind due to his age and that’s where Raj Thackeray came into scene. Raj Thackeray is the result of that era of politics which has forgotten political confrontation; an era which is retaining power on the platform of money.

When Sharad Pawar formed NCP, he conducted a meeting where people who supported him were given a bag and a new jeep from Mahindra. In that era Pawar was very powerful as a Maratha. He is still powerful but it’s just that others have also become powerful; they have money now. The economy and not Manmohan Singh taught them the art of making money from money. This gave a direction to their politics and power. Hence saying that Congress-NCP didn’t keep a check on Raj Thackeray would be wrong. The politics of confrontation was forced upon the common masses by the Congress-NCP hence there is no point of a legal system coming in. The question is the building up of a state, with a way of living. The reason is that the fire which ignited in Mumbai is now proliferating in Bihar. Mumbai is where partition and division politics can be directly linked with power and Government. Government also needs money to run, which the politicians are gaining by forcing the youth into politics. Hence Raj Thackeray has instigated this pain in the politicians of Bihar and not the workers of Mumbai. For the politicians of Bihar, the new economic model is the complete revolution in itself.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

American Recession and India: Vidarbha's perspective

Owing to this huge financial crunch in the market, big corporate houses are going bankrupt. The aftereffects are visible not only in America, but in India as well. Till yesterday the same formula which was a miracle of financial engineering, is today’s devil. The question isn’t that Bush and Manmohan Singh are trying to implement this formula which is itself a failure in the market. Actually, the true problem is zeroing of thinking.

Socialist theory can’t work. The autocratic Russian trend has given up itself before the market and now the theory of market system is failing. Hence the crisis is far more ahead of the recession. The new paradigm is that of the political system where by giving the thinking on a platter, Democracy will be questioned. But what would be this thinking? If the Indian political system is proud of its working and thinks that it’s different from America, then it’ll become important to understand that the Indian system doesn’t fit in the American scenario. However, both are facing the same kind of problems.

Recession in America has brought suicidal tendencies in people. In India, to bring the agricultural economy on track with the market, suicides are happening since ages. The banking system failed in the US and UK or is apparent because of incompetent lessees; this is happening in India since 1991 on the name of farming, industrial development and a lot more.

Maharashtra is considered as the most developed state of our country. To develop Maharashtra industrially in the 80s, in every district various experiments were done on the name of MIDC. In the same scenario for the farmers, the banking infrastructure led to their deaths. The way economic crisis in America is threatening its citizens; the same horror was faced by the Vidarbha farmers when the Indian and American economies came closer. The economic sphere of both the countries is different, understanding is the same.

In the past 10 years around 22,000 Vidarbha farmers have committed suicide. However, in the same phase Vidarbha has grown richer with hundredfold businessman. The biggest reason behind this is bankruptcy of industries. Bankruptcy is a profit business for industries and corporate. Hingana, 18 Kms away from the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra is the place where the MIDC was established. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation was started in the 80s. Around 200 small and large scale industries were given cheap land and other required infrastructure. By the time the 90s passed, around 90% of the industries declared themselves as bankrupt. The sick industries were given a stamp by the banks which give loans. A good rapport with the bank officials engulfed crores of money. The businessmen who declared themselves as bankrupt didn’t commit suicide. On the contrary, they excelled and even the Govt. didn’t halt. By the end of the 90s, Butibori, a new place 25 Kms away from Nagpur was given to MIDC. This time the land given was meant for around 450 industries. The land in Hingana is now under the captivity of builders.

40% of businessmen became builders themselves whereas 60% of businessmen exploited the land for their personal profits. Hingana’s land was initially cultivated. Then the land was taken away from the farmers on the name of industrial development. Now it has turned into a major concrete forest. The same condition is of MIDC’s Butibori which has been famous not only for its agricultural productivity but also for its orange orchards. The industries are mushrooming at these places. However in Vidarbha the dream of industries cannot be understood with the failing of agriculture. Failing of industries is equivalent to clearing the dues of crores in one go. For instance, Hariganga Alloy and Steel Limited hasn’t repaid a due of around 12.5 crore till date. Prabhu Steel Industry Limited hasn’t paid 9.69 crore and Ravindra Steel has an overdue of 26.31 crore. If we take an estimate of the amount spent by the banks on these industries, it’s around 300 crores. This is up to 31 March 2001. In the past 7 years there has been 200% increase in this overdue.

The RBI’s list of defaulters is unbelievable, according to which the banks have faced a loss of more that 10 lakh crore due to this bankruptcy. Maharashtra’s businessmen class topped the defaulters list with a due of more that 90000 crore. Ironically, none of the businessmen committed suicide when 42 thousand farmers did. During the same time Nagpur was chosen as the international cargo. The land allotted for this purpose was also the agricultural land. Around 500 acres of cultivable land has been covered for this cargo hub. Around 2000 families turned into unskilled labourers from agricultural labourers. 15 Kms away from the main city, the value of this land has increased tenfold.

Nagpur is the fifth state in India in terms of fast development. The cargo hub has created a vision in the eyes of the farmers and has given them a sense that more similar projects will come up. A farmer, whose land has been taken for the cargo hub and the international airport, is happy. A new face of revolution is visible. The farmers are together for increasing the amount of compensation. The old rate of 75, 000 for a piece of land has now become 25 lakhs in the market. Under various projects the rates are somewhere around 50 lakhs per acre. In this situation whether or not the farmers will commit suicide is the question; where farmers know that the agricultural era is on the verge of extinction in the country.

The new time is to be spent under the compensation and relaxations. On roaming in these areas one can know that the residents want information about the PM and the Finance Minister of the country. The culprits behind the suicides i.e. the workers-officers-employees-ministers-police never leave a chance of mentioning Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram. They blame the PM and the FM saying that it was their financial development. India has never had such a famous Prime Minister and Fianance Minister! When a farmer commits suicide, not only his family but the whole village talks about the PM and the FM.

Manmohan and Chidambaram actually do not denote American ideology.
The Indian economy has only given a new mantra of a virtual society inside a true society. The politics is against the autocracy but considers the domination of politicians as Democracy. The concept of making profit at the time of crisis is the brainchild of these politicians. If by using the banking infrastructure, the business class is exploiting the banks, then similarly the politicians play with the lives of the farmers. In Vidarbha, there are 9 ministers from Congress-BJP who develop their own formulas of giving loans. This increases their profit and also makes the farmer a tool for their politics.

The Govt. feared the ICICI bailout. Even the Finance Minister and the RBI came forward to help the private banks. However, making the Govt. banks a victim of politics is far more dangerous than the American system. The Govt. is oblivious. In Vidarbha, 22 rural banks and 16 Govt. banks run under the ministers. In the rural area, in more than 25 public banks the record of loans and bankruptcy are kept by the banks. All this is done by the order of ministers, MPs and MLAs. The banks link themselves for giving loans and establishing industries. The MLAs, MPs and ministers make money out of this and thus accelerate their politics. And the ones for whom the banking system actually works; in spite of getting any aid, their money from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund is taken away and distributed among the powerful.

The Govt. in Delhi took no time in declaring that the money of the bank account holders and investors is safe; but it didn’t care to know if the farmers have got their relaxation money or not. More than 100 crores was given as relaxation money to the Vidarbha farmers, but got distributed from village to village. In Buldhana district farmers are haplessly trying to get the compensation of around 14 crore, but according to the banks the package has been distributed already. The papers have the signs of those who have taken the money. Only those who had Farmers Credit card were given money. Only 10% of farmers have this credit card.

Ironically, after the policy of Govt. to stop suicides came into existence, the number of cases increased from 46 to 58 deaths per month. In the whole year around 150 small and large scale industries got bankrupt in Vidarbha. But the owners of these industries got even more affluent. This took away more than 250 crores from the banks. The question is regarding Manmohan and Chidambaram’s New Economic Model which itself is giving the Democracy a flipside. How can the American recession beat it?

Media, glamour and dreams…

Snazzy clothes, cool sunglasses, flashy bags, a mineral water bottle, groomed hair and painted faces and an anguish in voice; his is how today’s youth can be defined. The anger however, owing to a breach in their trust. The anger for being smothered by their own existence, which can be ignored.

It’s the picture of today’s youth eager to fly freely in the sky. Ironically it’s the same youth who is in search of an employment and whose dreams of ruling the world have been shattered by the present day state of our economy. Almost 850 probationers in Jet Airways, who sometime back represented the open economy of India and had opened the market to an extent that they said people should learn to spend. Market will give the money. They are the same professionals who are now asking for their deposit money back; which is around 50,000 to 1 lakhs. That’s when even more people started coming up asking compensation for their lands.

There was no shine visible on their faces. Nobody noticed the sweaty bodied and torn clothed labourers working and fighting for their causes. These workers were never given attention on a television screen. Seniors in a television house may have disagreements in all the issues, but they definitely agree on not showing the struggle of labourers for their cause. However, this façade is far more beyond the new emerging identity of India and no one wants to see it. In the run for TRPs these faces may even spoil the present brand market.

The aforesaid act of agreement is prominent so much so that if a junior in a TV organization portrays the despised class, they are openly asked to join a newspaper instead. But in the scenario when the glamorous faces have come on the streets; unfortunately these juniors are looking up to their seniors and journalists to support them as this can happen to them as well. Similarly, the same question was faced nine months back when no one wanted to listen to the agony of 25 people who were shoved away from their land.

Market is driving the younger generation and the brand journalists are running their news channels. Here, leaving the track of market means a flipside. No one wants to lack behind, thus when the new generation of professionals got on the streets to protest; the news channels began what they wanted to. When on 15th October at 1.20 PM when this news broke on the TV screens and the “grounded” youth apparently who wanted to fly were seen on roads, all the news channels aired this but none wanted to break the wheel of the sequence already set by the presenters. By the time it was 1.30, all the news channels were showing comedy, satire, fashion and entertainment. There was “Comedy Kamaal Ki”, “Aja Hansle”, “Hansi Ki Mehfil”, “Fashion Ka Tashan” and “Khel Extra”. All were busy making money through this market; the market which when low can ruin lives.

However, these business channels, in this scenario of tension estimated their own concerns and suddenly started advising the Govt. in the direction of bail out. Meaning that, to sort out the Jet Airways crisis, the Govt. should direct its money to the Airways. So that Jet Airways can recover its loss and re-employ its professionals. However, after watching this report on TV none tried to explain to the Govt. that India is ranked no. 66 in famine crisis and that the Govt. should first try to bail out famines.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Around Batla House….

The Batla encounter is bigger in intensity than terrorism and Amar Singh is above the case. The National Integration Council however falls short in front of Amar Singh. And the Council is smaller than Batla house. Who is the most powerful under the terror of Indian Mujahidin? It may be a mystery in any part of the country, but is certainly not one in Delhi. After the fateful Batla encounter, whoever stepped in Batla made the minority realize their power and weakness. It seems that Batla has lost before both. This is the new reality of the Batla encounter.

If Jamia Nagar is being questioned regarding the Batla encounter, a terror of police in Azamgarh is no exception. But the way the incident is being politicized for votes, it can seemingly make and break a government. It is clear that this time Jamia Nagar is on stake. On the board, a knight’s stance or even a pawn’s route would be the same for Jamia Nagar. All this and more is prominent there. Opening ones eyes is all that is required at this point.

No one has the courage to go near Batla House; near the door of flat L-18. However this betting has become a child play now. Police is always around the premises of Batla house. The one who wins the bet has chances to win an ice-cream or a film ticket. There are even rules in this game which include going to the house without being questioned by the police and returning, which in turn is a matter of pride and strength. Hassan Miya claims to have seen kids playing this game over Id celebrations. He had shunned the kids that day, but no one knew that this game would be played with even more interest over the period of time. These days police can be seen patrolling on the entrance of residential area near Jamia University. In this scene if any kid manages to get through Batla House, he becomes the new hero among his friends. Even the youth is in search of their new hero. The debate regarding the ones who were killed in the Batla House encounter has taken a political shape; so much that the youth is looking up to politics.

Irfan greeted Amar Singh on a temporary stage which was erected opposite to the mosque in Jamia Nagar. The youth sect has not been able to digest this fact, till now. Aslam and Sadiq are students of Jamia University and live in the university hostel. They are in search of a hero who can raise their voices and bring up their problems with ease. They can’t bare the distrust shown by any politician who plays a double game with them. They are full of anguish for Irfan. However, they have realized that sects can be divided and politics can be played. But why is there not a Muslim who can build up some courage and speak about the problems of the nation?

They are in search of a hero. Amidst them was an actress who insisted that women shouldn’t be investigated in the absence of a women police. Investigation shouldn’t happen at home. And since then, women police force has been visible around. Even the old people are in the search of their hero. According to Asgar, a sari shopkeeper Sheikh sahib, very well knows how to balance his stance in politics and saris, but doesn’t know one thing that is the tension due to the present situation. When Congress minister, E.Ahmed visited Jamia Nagar; Sheikh Sahib said to him that it’s difficult to get a 9 m long sari and also a real leader of the masses. When someone mentioned Sonia, he said that a leader is like an embroidery; talented and priceless. Whoever comes here calls for more and more politics.

Fortunately even I got a chance to meet Sheikh Sahib. When I mentioned the things being said about him; he retorted in a question, “What do you think, how many people will turn up for the NIC meeting?” I said that in the meeting Azamgarh and Jamia Nagar will be mentioned. On this he smiled at me and said that even I have mistaken it. According to him I was weighing NIC on the balances of Amar Singh. It’s all the politics of votes. He told me that NIC was established by Nehru in 1961 with a purpose of stopping the violence acts caused because of religion and caste. However, the meetings proceeded and the tension too. Though politics benefited from it a lot. According to Sheikh Sahib, NIC’s last meeting happened in 1992. The targets were temples and mosques. No one agreed to a single thing because no one talked about the good of common masses. In the whole conversation the common mass was absent. He then said that on Monday’s NIC meeting Jamia Nagar and Azamgarh will be discussed; Kandhamal and Karnataka will be discussed. And politics will be played in every aspect of this meeting. These many died here and those many died there. What’s the difference? If the number is equal on both the sides, the meeting would be called peaceful. And if the number differs, someone or the other would come out and crib about the need of peace.

Afroz and Rajendra are two property builders who work in partnership. Both talk off the record and talk openly. They say that however it’s off the record but only after the Batla encounter has Jamia Nagar marked a place for itself.

Earlier, when people wanted a property in Jamia Nagar, a lot called for an explanation. But after this Batla incident, the reputation of Jamia Nagar has increased. I straightly asked, “How it is possible; after the incident, shouldn’t less people come here? Afroz said that however it’s off the record; the reality is that Jamia Nagar has become more of a dream abode for people owing to the prevailing conditions in the nation. People, who earn well-eat well but are always paranoid about someone tricking them, come here. Rajendra off the record added that Delhi has become the most favourite residence of Muslims because even a small issue becomes a matter of over-fury here. He then added by saying that media and politics have benefitted their business a lot. When Amar Singh visited Jamia Nagar, media showed that he demanded for a judicial investigation of this case. And interestingly like me, they began marketing. Inadvertently I said that Amar Singh is not marketing, he just mentioned the circumstances. On this Afroz off the record said that Amar Singh threatened to take back the support. And this is self promotion only. The consequences of the Jamia Nagar hype are visible now.

Hamid Ansari from Srinagar came to Delhi to settle a property and when it got settled he said that Delhi is Democratic. It’s secure to buy a house here, no one would encroach. Moreover in Jamia Nagar, no policemen would interfere.
A free gasp of air is here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Why is Sheila Dikshit’s statement dangerous than Saumya’s murder?

A girl in her early twenties came to me and directed a question. She asked, “How can the police-judiciary- govt., imprison someone for 12 years without any crime?” I replied, “Exactly, that’s impossible”. On this she innocently said, “Then what’s the Govt. for?” I said, “The question is not about the existence of the Government. The new circumstances question the existence of the Govt. If there is govt., problems will prop up. Conditions can be worse. We live in Delhi and work here, hence cannot estimate that the very existence of the govt. is dangerous. “Sorry sir, but I don’t think like this. I think that govt. is synonymous to security. It’s a system without which nothing is possible. Everyone should think like this. Congrats for the Goenka Award. I’m in Headlines Today. I’m Saumya Vishwanathan”, she said.

It was 18th April, 2005, 9 P.M. then. I was preparing for ‘Dastak’ which was aired on “Aajtak”. Under TADA, several tribal people from Vidarbha were imprisoned for years and I reported the case, for which I was awarded the Indian Express Award. Out of them, one tribal spent 12 years in jail. And only after the report was shown, the Judiciary and the Human Right Commission decided to free him.

Coincidentally, on 18th April 2005, that tribal man was present on that occasion. He was the same man about whom Saumya had talked once. That was the first conversation I had with her. Generally, anyone from Headlines Today had never talked to Aajtak people about any news. Hence, it was surprising for me. I even mentioned this to the head of Headlines Today, Mr. Shrinivasan, congratulating him for the same.

This conversation came to my mind like a shock on the 30th of Sept when Harpal messaged me early morning… “Just got a call from Rashmi, Saumya Vishwanathan passed away last night after a car accident…her cremation will take place at 3 P.M. at Lodhi crematorium”. It was unbelievable because her picture was right there in my mind saying that no one could ever kill her age, her understanding, her inner conflict and her simplicity.

I still remember that on the 19th of April 2005, Saumya came back to me and said, “Sir, I hope you are not angry with what I said yesterday. I think it’s the system that’s running everything. We can’t avoid it”. I thought that let alone making someone angry, this girl can’t even think of making someone feel sad. I even thought that the way things are going on in our country and the way journalism is taking shape; how being emotional is justified.

Amidst all this when in the evening I got to know about Saumya’s death which was not an accident but a murder; everything from her simplicity to her reason of death came to my mind. The reason behind her death seems unthinkable. May be she was provoked by the killers. However, between all this, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s statement has raised some questions. Sheila Dikshit didn’t even think once before saying that Saumya was just being adventurous at night. Does that mean, a woman should be ready to face any unfortunate circumstances at night and if something wrong happens, the Govt. wouldn’t be responsible for that? Or that the Govt. is unable to provide any protection to the women and that the women should be ready for anything like rape, shooting or whatever?

Since the time when Saumya first stepped into the outside world, Delhi has been under Sheila Dikshit. So why Saumya didn’t learn what Sheila Dikshit wanted to her to learn? When Delhi was facing sealing and the shops on the Gurgaon’s fashion street were being demolished; the women designers were crying and Saumya was emotional. Harpal from Headlines Today told me that the girls were emotional on this issue but still supporting the Govt. for its step.
Everyone wants to see Delhi as Delhi. Saumya believed in the system which she questioned, when the man was jailed for 12 years. She believed that the system hasn’t finished yet and that the youth still believes in it. However, Saumya’s death has raised a question that the world inside the news channels and the world outside are different. And the dream of a developed nation that the younger generation is foreseeing can lead to ones death; that’s apparent. In a country, a friction has always been there in politics or in society only because of the dreams of a particular section.

To call for justice for Saumya there was a meet of journalists and her friends in the press club. A friend of her told that now no one has the courage to sit where Saumya used to sit before. That’s when I thought that the conflict between the two societies which are trying to strive in a single society will arise when the faith shatters. And if, the youngsters lose their faith in the system, the darkness will be darker than ever before.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No one left to speak out…

I can reminisce too much amidst this debate. In 1973, when Rashtrakavi Dinkar was being felicitated the gyanpith Award, he said, “I kept swinging between Gandhi and Marx. I kept swaying between Ravindranath Tagore and Iqbal. However, when I read Eloit I felt what type of poem is it. The effect of circumstances can be to such an extent. Eliot belongs to a world of prosperity where the soul has slept and the body awake”.
However, looking at the present day conditions it seems that both the worlds exist in India. In these two worlds or societies per say, the way Gandhi and Iqbal have turned into a reflection; it’s not required to explain. Dinkar envisioned India as white and red in colour. He believed that a combination of red and white would be the future India. However in reality, the nation’s majority is wrapped around with a thick drape of fog, which is colourless. The other world still wants it to be red-green-saffron. This reminds me of a poem written by Martin Niemoller, titled ‘First They Came’. Here it goes.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

3rd floor Batla House; Jamia Nagar terrorised

Someone knocks the door. Who’s there….a voice from inside comes. The person at the door says, “I’m from Vodafone”. The door opens. They start talking. “I’m from Vodafone and you said about taking a sim card”. The person from inside denies about having said anything of this sort. “Then your friend must have asked for it. Does anyone stay with you? Would you ask him, as the company has given me your address.” The man inside asks his friend about the same, however he also denies having called the Vodafone guy. By this time the other guy is on the door as well. He says, “Now that you are here, you can tell if there’s a new scheme. By the way which address have you been given?”

The well dressed man from Vodafone takes out a paper and shows him. “The address is right; however it seems that someone else from the same building has called you. Around 36 people live in the building; someone must have definitely called you”. The Vodafone guy says, “But the person on the first floor asked me to go on the third floor. Anyways, I’ll look downstairs. Can I have a glass of water?” The man says, “Yes sure, come in.” Both the guys go in. In the meantime, the man from Vodafone calls someone and talks briefly, even before the man comes with water. He then drinks water and leaves by saying that they can call him if they need to buy something from Vodafone.

The door shuts. After 5-7 minutes someone knocks the door again. And this time, the person bangs heavily on the door and orders with full authority, to open the door. The person from inside replies in a similar fashion. The door opens and the whole building echoes of the firing of bullets. Everyone starts panicking and the rest is history. Everyone knows about it, as after that only the dead bodies were seen coming out. The so called person from Vodafone was supporting to get the corpse of a policeman out and later did we come to know that he was a policeman himself. He was from the special cell. And the man he called earlier was none other than Inspector Sharma, who was waiting for a signal. He was the one who fired when the door opened. The boys inside the house also fired in repercussion.

May it be a reality or a story, but what happened, was presented like this on Monday. The reaction on what happened in Batla House became clear when I entered Jamia Nagar. Heading towards Jamia Nagar from Kalindi Kunj, it seemed as if were Sopara in Kashmir. It seemed that there is another Delhi situated inside Delhi, in Jamia Nagar. A place guarded all the time by the Army, so that no one could dare moving ahead. Barricades and the presence of police who never forgets to investigate a pedestrian were imminent.

Interestingly, the Kashmir valley is accustomed to the presence of Army; Jamia Nagar is characterized by a bold conveyance. It’s always busy; both during the daytime and at night. The continuous Army patrolling in Jamia Nagar has broken the old character of Jamia Nagar. In New Delhi, Jamia Nagar is an area with a Muslim monopoly. Students coming to Jamia University stay here and also migrants from small states in search of employment reside here. Entering into Jamia Nagar from Jamia University, it seemed that the Batla incident has instilled an element of suspicion in everyone. Nobody says anything. Everyone seems to have accepted this as a reality of Delhi. The distance between the masses and Army and a rift between the state and the commoners is apparent in Jamia, as now no one can exist or live here on his own.

People from small cities and villages don’t get cut off and come to Jamia, rather they come here with their roots intact. So, there’s no one who gets lost in the fast city life of Delhi and lives a life of a loner. There are numerous of hearsays and stories regarding Batla in Jamia, but importantly the questions are the same. Gradually as you enter Jamia, the number of Armymen reduces and this also ends the amount of suspicion in the eyes of people. Entering this whirlpool like Jamia Nagar would raise questions regarding the cities which are related to migration. People are compelled to come to Delhi. Saraimeer and Mubarakpur are in Azamgarh. Criminal Abu Bashar was from Saraimeer whereas Md. Aftab was from Mubarakpur. Till 80s their families were involved in traditional embroidery work. By the time 90s came, the recognition became that of fake and cheap Banarasi saris and in the last decade Jamia has become famous for its excellent tea. Md. Aftab questions that the advent of machines has made us lack our creativity and talents, but will the new circumstances prevailing in the nation would make us lose our lives? Md. Asif who was from Mehzeen (Kaifi Azmi’s home town) was studying Hotel Management in Delhi. Asif was offered a lucrative job in Sharjah but he refused it, even when his parents wanted him to go. Now his question is….where should he return? He wishes that his address remains India. But here even a Moholla is not considered a part of the country. He returns home at 10 pm every night accompanied by the police. The police examine the things and on protesting; warn of imprisonment. The police rudely questions, “You know how to cook Biryani; so do you also know how to make bombs? Would you make us eat Biryani or blast bombs?

Akhlakh is a Computer Science student. Hailing from Ferozpur he’s also in the glass bangle business. He brings them in wholesale and sells it to the vendors. Coincidently he reached with his Bangles in Jamia Nagar on Sunday. After having looked his stuff and knowing that Akhlakh was a Computer Science student, the first question police asked him was how did he ever courage to come to Jamia after the Batla attack? He had to face a loss of 16 dozen bangles in the course of investigation. The police read all the messages in his cell phone’s inbox and seized the computer for investigation. However when the police got to know that Asif’s uncle belong to Congress and has been involved in making Rahul Gandhi’s U.P. visit a success, then only did they leave Asif. After a silence on Batla incident, Asif mentioned that this has created a rift between Delhi and Firozabad.

In Jamia Nagar, not only people from U.P. but also people from Bihar, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kashmir reside. These are the people who come to Delhi after facing a crisis in their villages/cities. Anyone in khaki can threaten them in Old Delhi however; in Jamia Nagar it’s the threat that protects them. In these circumstances the question is what would be their new abode? When after 5 hrs of search, there was no such person who could answer the reality of Batla without questioning it, I returned to Batla. I saw that the police force was increased as the dead bodies of the terrorists were being brought there.

Coincidently I met the same person, who in the morning of the incident was asking about the details. This time, without even asking he said, “These guys are instigating fear among people. They have blasted the bombs and now are rejoicing. Allah will never forgive them”. Before I could have asked anything, he left and I was amazed. This person changed in just 4 hours time. Are they really not worth believing? When I was just thinking this, I saw a troop of policeman behind myself. Now the question is, is the reality behind Batla a result of terror and fear among people? Isn’t the dividing politics and lack of communication instigating a new form of terror? Who’ll solve it….the question remains unsolved.