छिमेकी

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Posts Tagged ‘Narendra Modi’

The City of Happiness

Posted by chimeki on December 1, 2016

Dear Mr. Turnbull,

I am very happy to write to you and I am sure you too are happy there.

Ever since the Emperor has declared showing disgust, pain, remorse, sympathy and all such old human feelings a crime we all have become very happy.

Let me confess to you that initially I was quite unsure of this Royal Proclamation and I thought this wouldn’t work. But one day when my son got a good beating from the Spread Happiness Armed Force for showing disgust while standing in the long ATM queue, I realized that this one is a coup. I can’t tell you how happy I am today to see my initial inhibition proved wrong.

I learnt that your mother passed away last week. I am glad happy to hear that. And I am sure that she must have died happily. Your father must have been very happy man now and her happy demise would have added to his happiness. You too must have been very happy too to see your mother gone who, you told, loved you very much.

How is your son? Has he got a job? Here, my son is still hanging around happily without a job since the lockout. His wife, overcome with happiness, has filed for a divorce and left the house happily. I am much old now to tell my grandchildren how fortunate they are to live in this happy time where they don’t have to go to schools as I have no money to pay fees and buy them books.

'Instant Christmas happiness! ?1.'

Now I learn that the Emperor has ordered to prefix Happy with every citizen’s name and soon we will be issued new Aadhar Cards. So Mr Turnbull, are you ready to be called Mr Happy John Turnbull. I am sure you are. And I am so glad happy too that I will be called Happy Joe Smith. In our neighborhood people have already started adding Happy in their nameplates. There is nothing better than being happy all the time.

Oh God, I was about to forget telling you that I have bought a pair of smileys. My wife and I wear it all the time. First I thought, this plastic smile wouldn’t work but when the shopkeeper told me that even the ministers of our Emperor wear it all the time I decided to try them. You know what the shopkeeper even changed my 2000 rupee note which I was not able to use since my bank issued it last year. Now my wife and I put the smileys on our faces all the time. Only when we have to speak or eat we get them off but never for longer. Anyway we don’t have much to share these days. In our city this thing is a hit. On roads and on metros every second person is seen wearing it. Wearing it is good for the jaws too. The strain that comes from smiling all time is gone. I read in the newspaper the Happy Times that soon our government will be selling it through the PDS in subsidized rates. What an idea. I just want to forewarn you that don’t sleep or go in front of the mirror with it for you will think yourself an intruder.

At last we have seen happiness. I wish my parents were alive today to see this happy time. I am sure they would have died with this overdose of happiness.

Hail the Emperor,
Happily yours,
Happy Joe Smith
Happy Homes
Happy Street No. 2
The City of Happiness

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Posted in Ordinary People in Extraordinary Time, The King and the Courtiers | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Emperor Teaches Swimming

Posted by chimeki on November 29, 2016

‘You can do it. You can. Move your hands fast. Faster.’

‘Bubble bubble bubble bubble’.

‘Now flap your feet. Flap fast. Faster.’

‘Gulp gulp gulp gulp.’

‘Now breathe. Breathe. More breathe.’

‘Bubble bubble bubble bubble.’

‘No no. Not like that. Breath from your mouth. See. Like this. Yes. Innnnhale, Exhaaaale. Innnnnhale Exhaaale.’

‘Gurgle gurgle gurgle, burble burble burble’.

‘No no. Don’t drink the water. You may drown. Just breathe from your mouth. Like this. See. Yes yes.’

Silence.

‘Ok, now turn on your back and do backstrokes.’

Silence.

‘See, he is floating. He has learnt to float in water’, the emperor said.

‘I think he too is dead, His Majesty,’ said the almost bald minister feeling the pulse of the old man.

‘Ok now you can imagine. He was 70 but didn’t know swimming,’ the emperor said.

‘I am appalled, His Majesty’, the other minister replied.

‘Shameful’, the almost bald minister added.

drowning1

‘But I am not’, said the emperor, ‘I knew it he would drown. The rulers of yesteryears never cared for our people. They never understood what people wanted. They only wanted to rule them. But I am not yesterday, I am today. I am not a ruler but a servant.

‘Yes yes, the ministers said in chorus.

‘I want to learn from people. I want to know what they feel. And I want to teach them how to swim.’

‘Mashallah mashallah’, the ministers cried looking at sky where chandelier swung left and right.

‘Can anyone tell what people think about me? What is the result of our recent survey,’ the emperor asked.

‘The result is 100 per cent,’ the almost bald minister said, ‘the survey conducted with TheEmperorApp tells that people are happy about what you are doing’.

‘Good good.’

‘All three who participated in the survey including His Majesty, His Majesty and His Majesty say that your style of teaching is perfect’, the other minister added.

‘Of course of course.’

‘And they say swimming is good for health and everyone must know how to swim so that we can make our nation great again like it was in Lord Rama’s time.’

‘You all must have learnt by now that I don’t want to be remembered as a ruler but as a great teacher.’

‘Ameen Ameen’, the ministers said in chorus.

‘I will teach everyone swimming. There is no art or exercise or recreation greater than swimming. And no man worth his salt can disagree with what I say standing on this podium.’ The podium creaked from the emperor’s weight but he didn’t care. ‘Only those who know swimming have right to call themselves people of this land.’

‘Long live His Majesty, Long Live the great emperor,’ resounded the voice of the ministers. People showered flowers and sprinkled scented water.

‘Next,’ the emperor ordered. The minister threw one more into in the pool.

‘Take a deep breath and flap your feet and move your hands. Fast fast’, said the emperor and turning to the almost bald minister asked, ‘I am sure your wife knows how to swim’.

‘Yes, His Majesty.’

‘Good. Bring her here tomorrow I will teach her to fly.’

 

 

Posted in Ordinary People in Extraordinary Time, The King and the Courtiers | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Narendra Modi in Nepal

Posted by chimeki on April 29, 2015

Courtesy: Business Standart

Courtesy: Business Standart

It takes centuries to build a national identity and less than few months to lose it completely. This is a lesson that the people of Nepal are to learn very soon. Nepal, because of its geo-political location, has been always a place of political and diplomatic maneuverings for the regional powers but never before was it done so openly and brazenly as it is being done now.

Under Narendra Modi India has become dangerously assertive in Nepal. Since he took over as the prime minister of India he had made it clear that India would actively involve itself in the affairs of South Asia. The method would vary country-wise. In Nepal, he is trying to launch a powerful assault on the Nepali identity by evoking the Hindu identity. Interestingly, there is a complete lack of concern among the Nepali politicians and academia who, until recently, would jump the gun over anything they perceived as a threat to Nepal’s sovereignty and nationality.

While he talks Gandhi and secularism to his Western audience, his regular conjuration of the Hindu identity in Nepal has become a matter of serious deliberation among the concerned Nepal watchers. Post 2002 Gujarat communal carnage, Mr Modi projected himself as the man of development in India and abroad, but for Nepali people, he has become a religious zealot, a crusader who felt it his duty to make them conscious of their religion.

Mr Modi has betrayed his obsession with Nepal quite often in the last few months. His fixation with Nepal is hardly a secret now. In his first visit to Bhutan he mistakenly referred the Bhutanese parliamentarians as the Nepali law makers. Later he praised Nepal in his maiden Independence Day speech to the nation.

In between these two references he toured Nepal and offered prayers in the Pashupatinath temple. The photograph where his forehead is smeared in the temple’s holy ash created a sensation in the country. Even the hardcore nationalists saw it as a signal from India to have a good relationship. When he spoke in the Nepal’s Constitution Assembly, the first head of any state to do it in recent memories, he repeatedly evoked shared Hindu identity by the people of the two countries.

Taking the step further, he planned a road trip to Nepal in November this year to attend the 18th SAARC Summit. Thankfully it didn’t happen. Mr Modi’s itinerary included Janakpur, a town considered to be the birth place of Ramayan’s Sita, Muktinath and Lumbani. He had plans to address the people in all the three places.

Nepal and Identity:

Birth of Nepal as a nation-state coincided with the expansion of the British Raj in India. In the south of Nepal, the two powers constantly disputed over trade and border issues in the last and the first decades of the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally, in 1814 the more than two-decade-long tension culminated in a fully fledged war. The Anglo Nepalese War of 1814-16 in which Nepal suffered a humiliating defeat sealed the fate of Nepal for more than a century and a half. That defeat also made Nepal extremely conscious of its existence. Over the years Nepal’s foreign policy and relationship were moulded with a specific aim of protecting its existence. That was the reason, many believe, Nepal whole heartedly supported all British moves in Asia and the world.

During the first war of Independence in India in 1857, Nepal played a very crucial role in reestablishing English supremacy in the region. Then Prime Minister of Nepal Jung Bahadur Rana, who established the Rana autocracy or Ranacracy in Nepal, personally led the Gurkha army to crush the armed uprising in Lucknow and other parts of Northern India. Karl Marx called Jung Bahadur Rana ‘the English dog-man’. Even after the rebellion was thoroughly crushed, the Rana regime continued to aid the British establishment in India. Thereafter, the Ranas would not allow any anti-British activities from Nepal. In the following years Nepal was the source of a large number of Gurkha recruits and slaves for the English rulers. The successive Rana rulers continued to aid the British with Gurkha soldiers in the missions in Burma, Afghanistan, China, Malta, Cyprus, Malaya and Tibet. In the two world wars more than 2 lakh Gurkha soldiers fought along the British lines. During World War II there were 112000 Gurkha soldiers in the British Army, the highest ever.

Post British rule in Asia, precisely after India got freedom, when India’s new rulers set the task of assimilating as many independent states as possible into India’s fold, Nepal had to wake up to the new political reality. The hastily concluded Peace and Friendship Treat of 1950 with the new Indian government has signs of a desperate attempt by the then Nepali rulers to switch loyalty. Although the Rana rule ended soon after the treaty was signed, the treaty remained in effect. It still is. Since then this treaty is the core around which Nepali politics moves. The political trend in Nepal is that every political party would criticize the treaty when she is in opposition or leading an armed movement and go mum as soon as it would come to power or become part of the system.

The suspicion for India grew after Sikkim became the 22nd state of India in 1975. Many in Nepal saw it as a forceful annexation. This event added a new word in the Nepali political lexis, Sikkimikaran or Sikkimization. The merger made Nepali people more attached to their Nepali identity.

In the coming years, this attachment to identity first developed into cynicism and then transformed into socialism. The socialists in Nepal become the flag bearer of sovereignty and Nepali identity. This transformation happened due to the recognition and support Nepal got from the socialist China. China offered Nepal an olive branch to stand on its own, for itself against its mighty southern neighbor which, for many Nepalese, had followed the British legacy of expansionism and assertion.

Since 1950, there have been many attempts, deliberate or unintentional, to dilute the Nepali identity by the Hindu fundamentalists from the both sides of the border. Like today many Indian leaders had tried to influence Nepali masses by evoking common religious belief in the past too. However, Nepal for long remained unmoved from these assaults. In the last 60 years, Nepal has successful defied the Hindutva agenda of blending Nepali identity with the larger Hindu identity. Nepali people had always challenged the hegemonic rhetoric of its southern neighbor. Also, whenever they felt that the leaders or the kings couldn’t be trusted in safeguarding the sovereignty of the country they had come out to protest. Often these protests have led to big political changes.

On the other hand, the kings too found it necessary for their own survival to keep the Nepali identity separate from the broader Hindu identity. Often they fuelled nationalistic sentiments to check growing Indian interventions in the country’s sovereign affairs. The first king of Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah warned his subjects from crossing the border and mixing with the Indian population. Later, the Rana rulers consciously chose not to be seen as an extension of India. However, from the second half of the 20th century, the idea of state-sponsored Nepali nationalism was challenged by the new and more inclusive form of nationalism i.e. socialist nationalism.

Nationalism(s) in Nepal

From 1950, there emerged contesting views of nationalism in Nepal. One view reflected the state sponsored top-down nationalism based on national pride centered on the Shah Monarchy and Hindu (not Hindutva) ideals while other view advocated bottom-up nationalism based on class unity of the marginalized and toiling masses. The former was intrinsically anti-woman, anti-dalit, anti-religious minorities and also against the people of Tarai (plains) known generally as the Madheshi. The latter view defined nationalism in Nepal’s context as the unity of all the exploited people and demanded restructuring of Nepal based on the principles of socialism and democracy.

After a prolonged struggle the people of Nepal succeeded in uprooting the monarchy in 2008. The first Constituent Assembly saw the largest number of representation of hitherto suppressed minorities, nationalities, gender and castes. It looked as if Nepal was on the threshold of resolving the contradictions it had been in since the emergence of modern Nepal. However the first Constitutional Assembly failed to write a constitution in the stipulated time and had to be dissolved. The second Constitutional Assembly, which came into existence in November last year, is not as representative as the first. The number of women, dalits, Madheshis and other marginalized communities and minorities has come down to one third of the previous number. Nevertheless, the people still hoped for a better Constitution than they had previously.

However, things have been changing fast in Nepal since the Baratiya Janta Party came to power in India. This has also coincided with the weakening of the nationalist consciousness among the Nepali people. Nationalistic feeling subsided because people feel cheated by the nationalist leaders. There is a feeling that the leaders cultivate nationalistic sentiments to further their self interests. It is not long ago when the Maoists were seen as the watchdog of national sovereignty. But they too proved to be the same old wine with a new label. It was during the premiership of the Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai that Nepal signed the worst bilateral trade agreement, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), with India. Several studies have already proved that these agreements have always harmed the interests of the weaker economies. Besides, the Maoists have shown reluctance to speak on India’s growing intervention in Nepal. In the name of pragmatism, they dared not offend India’s goodwill.

Not long ago the Maoists would stop Indian motor vehicles from crossing to Nepal calling it the right of sovereign people. There were nationalists who burnt posters of Indian film stars and politicians they thought had hurt the Nepali sentiments. These leaders are now completely silent over the most ill-timed intervention by the head of India. The passivity is bound to cost Nepal very much.

The question of nationality is still relevant for the neo-colonized countries and nationalities. Although, it is considered an obsolete idea to emphasize on nationality and identity at the cost of the larger class question nevertheless the weakening of socialist movements across the world and rising assault of capitalist imperialism has made it inevitable to fall back to the Marxist line which, along with the class question, addresses the question of nationalism in the newly colonized or neo-colonized countries of the world. For these nationalities, as Lenin would see in various forms of struggles, the nationalist or identity struggle is a process of crystallizing the class struggle. In the last decades of the last century, the socialists in many countries of the world creatively blended the Marxist class line with the issue of nationalism and were not only able to win over the large masses of people but also sustain their power for a longer period.

The Maoists in Nepal must remember Lenin’s warning when he said, “The bourgeoisie ‘want’ to curtail the class struggle, to distort and narrow the conception and blunt its sharp edge.”  Narendra Modi seems to be doing exactly this. He is trying to blunt the edges of the volatile class struggle in India and Nepal with a narrow nationalistic sentiment based on Hindu supremacy. The nationalists in Nepal, including the Maoists, must remember that nationalism is ultimately an idea. It cannot be saved, by stopping foreign goods and vehicles from crossing the border, shutting cinema halls playing foreign movies and other such rituals, useless the idea itself is saved.

V.S.

(Published at Sanhati.com on December 13, 2014)

Posted in India, Nepal | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

That wasn’t funny Mr Modi

Posted by chimeki on September 1, 2014

modi_japanMy friend Laxman knew better than most of us what bullying was. His father worked in Pahalwaan’s fields, a small time landlord of our town with a penchant for bullying people dependent on him or weaker. Pahalwaan also ran a tea shop. The tea shop was the place, where grown up people of our locality met and talked.

When Laxman was 13, Pahalwaan asked his father to send him to work in his shop after school. Laxman’s work was to wash dishes and server tea. Seldom, we would go to the shop to meet Laxman. Due to the work, he had become irregular in the playground where we used to play in the evenings.

Many a time, we saw Pahalwaan and other bullying Laxman. Pahalwaan would hold his ears and role them. ‘ye dekho Ganapati ka chuha’, one day we heard him mocking Laxman. Often, we too would become part of that regular dose of fun. We were too young to understand how Laxman was taking it. Later, we too started doing the same with Laxman. The tallest and the heaviest of us would caught hold of Laxman’s ears and make him Ganapati. We would laugh holding our pants. Those giggles cost Laxman too much. He started avoiding us. One Monday, the day Pahalwaan kept his shop closed, Laxman didn’t come to play. For he was the most sought-after player, the curiosity was obvious.

When his absence became regular, we knew something was wrong. One Monday we went to meet him in his house. We found him playing with his sisters. He couldn’t convincingly tell us why he stopped coming to play. He just said that he had lost interest. Sometimes after, he left school too. His father told our teacher that Laxman cried every time he was told to go to school.

Soon we forgot Laxman. I don’t know how is he now but I know that it was bullying of Pahalwaan and us that took him away from us. Who knows what he would have become had we not bullied him? After all he wasn’t lacking anything. Only thing that had saved us from suffering the fate of Laxman, perhaps, was that we survived Pahalwaan’s bullying. By bullying Laxman, Pahalwaan had set a trend. He had made Laxman a clown for others too. Now there is no Laxman in our town but Ganapati. Often people see him dancing in the processions against crowd cheering, ‘wah Ganapati, shabash’.

I have lived and relived Laxman a thousand times. His fate is a realization for me what bullying can do. It breaks children’s confidence. In India, there are many Laxmans who are bullied every minute for sadist pleasure of mentally sick people. When PM Modi, held the ears of the boy in a temple in Japan and made fun of him I was taken back in time. I saw myself standing in front of Pahalwaal’s shop watching Laxman being bullied. Although, it was happening seven seas far, I could recognize everyone there. I saw Raju chacha, Hari bhaiya, Vinod, Abhishek and I laughing aloud. Laxman too was laughing but has tears in his eyes. I know, like then, this time too he won’t forgive me.

V.S.

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In Nepal PM Modi failed to break with the past

Posted by chimeki on August 6, 2014

Courtesy: Business Standart

Courtesy: Business Standard

Despite beginning his speech in Nepali, acknowledging Lumbini as Gautam Buddha’s birthplace and reuniting Jeet Bahadur with his family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit was an absolute failure in terms of everything India wanted to see him achieve. People in India as well as Nepal expected from PM Modi that he would break with the old tradition in India-Nepal relationship where Nepal always has to play younger brother role and usher it in an era of equality opportunity. Sadly, as at home he couldn’t deliver abroad.

His maiden speech in the Constituent Assembly of Nepal was worst ever speech by a visiting head of any country in any host country. It was more of a sermon than a clear cut diplomatic statement, which every one rightly expected.

PM Modi was expected to fill the holes which consecutive Indian governments had dig in in Indo-Nepal relationship but he, like his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh, ended up adding more!

Narendra Modi did well to begin his speech in Nepali but failed to keep the momentum. Initially it appeared that he was one who was free of big brother syndrome, which Indian leaders generally carry, but two-three sentence later he shed his mask of humility and started coaching Nepali parliamentarians on his favorite topics: religion, history, management and mostly importantly himself!

What India badly needed in Nepal was an image makeover. For whatever India does in Nepal is always seen with suspicion. Suspecting everything India does in Nepal is the default setting in a Nepali mind. So PM would have done better if he would have come out of his election mode and talked business. After all he wasn’t there to influence voters!

The first blunder that Modi made was to unnecessarily evoke gods to describe Nepal’s relevance. Doing that, he ignored the feelings of non-Hindu population of that country. He wasted many minutes of his 45-minute long speech to explain how his coming from Somnath and winning election from Kashi (Varanasi) brought him closer to Pashupati (Nepal)! Further he wrongly claimed that 125 crore Indians want to visit Pashupatinath temple!

In his enthusiasm to impress or impress upon Nepali parliamentarians, half of whom are Communists, he forgot to minus Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and other minorities of India and Nepal from that number who are barred from entering the elite temple. In the gate of the temple it is written in bold, ‘Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premise’! Moreover, even Nepalis do not relate themselves to Pashupatinath. It is Gautam Buddha who is the real national symbol in Nepal. Ask any Nepali there, the first thing he would like a tourist to see in Nepal is Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha. PM Modi would have done better by congratulating Nepal on becoming a secular democratic country.

It is again a diplomatic blunder to try teaching leaders of host countries what they should be doing. In half of his speech he did this. To add on to it, he told the members of the Constituent Assembly that they didn’t know what they were actually doing! He spoke as if those men and women didn’t understand the meaning of constitution writing. Once he even said, ‘you think you are doing this but actually you are doing that’.

The PM would have really done well had he talked about the process of Indian constitution writing. It was an opportune moment to remember Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, and the challenges he had to overcome to write it. And, also what features of Indian constitution played important role to keep India stable and on the path of social justice. It would have definitely given the Nepali law makers some food for thought. But our PM ignorantly mixed modern constitution with the ancient Hindu texts! Rather suggesting them to have saintly and priestly mind, he could have suggested them to have scientific and rational attitude.

It makes one wonder if our PM really don’t know anything beyond the Ganges, gods, Hindu religion and of course himself. He didn’t once mention any great Nepali leader or literary figure. Compare his speech with the US President Barak Obama’s in the Indian Parliament and readers can easily spot the differences. President Obama spoke about Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He evoked both to highlight the importance of equality, human dignity and social justice. In contrast PM Modi could only stereotype Nepalis as shedding blood in India’s wars and belonging to the country of Lord Pashupatinath. President Obama genuinely recalled the roles of his predecessors in building relationship with India. PM Modi, in contrast, negated the roles played by the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, IK Gujral and others in bringing India and Nepal closer. It wouldn’t have left bad a taste had he talked about Jayaprakash Narayan, Chandra Shekhar, VP Singh and other Indian leaders who always associated themselves with Nepal’s democratic movements and who Nepali people still fondly remember. But no, Modi can’t do this. His ego is too big to see anything beyond himself. With this attitude, Modi will never achieve what he intends to achieve. He can never be the South Asia’s leader he aims to become and who the region badly needs.

V.S.

Posted in India, Nepal | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Indian electoral results will impact on minorities in South Asia

Posted by chimeki on June 10, 2014

saarcWith Narendra Modi’s ascendance to power in India the long feared political transformation of South Asian politics is complete. South Asia today is in the grip of majoritarianism. Most of the eight SAARC countries are governed by political parties that do not have a good record of safeguarding minorities’ rights.

Only Nepal and Bangladesh can be said to be not openly aligning with their countries’ majoritarian politics, however, the change in the biggest neighbor can drift the political pendulums of these countries too to the extreme right. A situation has emerged where there is no place in the South Asian region where the rights of its minorities are not prone to tampering. This is a dangerous phenomenon in a region as diverse as South Asia.

Like a double-edged sword, in South Asia, the Modi victory in India will work two ways. In Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka fundamentalists will get further  justification for consolidation on religious lines.

In Nepal, it will boost the morale of religious chauvinists who were feeling defeated and dejected in Republic Nepal. The BJP, in the past, had openly supported the Monarchy in Nepal hence monarchists and fundamentalists will certainly try and renew channels of communication with New Delhi. Even before Narendra Modi was sworn in , voices seeking a referendum on monarchy and the declaration of Nepal as a secular country have started making noises.

Nepal had benefitted economically during the previous BJP led NDA government, and as a corollary rightist parties and godmen had enjoyed considerable clout in Nepal. During that period the RSS affiliated Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had become hyperactive in the Himalayan country. Even after King Gyanendra suspended the Nepal government on February 1 2003, VHP supremo Ashok Singhal was instrumental in giving the coup legitimate cover. In return, Gyanendra allowed the VHP to propagate its communal agenda. At the time the government of India fully supported the VHP in Nepal.  In September that year Nepal saw the first ever communal riot in the capital city of Kathmandu after 12 Nepali nationals were killed in Iraq by Islamic militants. Religious zealots attacked mosques and properties of Muslims.

Today, Nepal is passing through a very critical time. It is writing a constitution which will guide its future actions. However, religious zealots in Nepal clearly see an opportunity in the Indian election results to place obstacles in the way of efforts to establish Nepal as a secular and democratic nation.The change has already started showing. Two days after the Indian Lok Sabha results were announced the Nepal government accepted the demand of the Pashupatinath Temple priests for 17 per cent share from the income generated by special offerings in the temple. The priests had been agitating for a month for this.

Moreover, the royalist and religious forces have considerable presence in the present Constituent Assembly. The Rashtriya Prajatantra Party – Nepal and the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party have emerged as the 4th and the 6th largest parties with 37 seats in 601 member assembly. In the last Constituent Assembly together they held only eight seats.

Under Modi, the BJP may play wise by not openly supporting the disreputable monarchy but it can certainly, like the previous NDA government, use its ‘Gandhi’ Ramdev and other RSS backed affiliations to work on that direction. Ramdev enjoys a considerable popularity amongst the monarchists in Nepal. In India his Bharat Swabhiman Trust has been working with people of Nepali origin for many years. The trust has been successful in depoliticizing the Nepalese and blunting aspirations for secularism amongst them.

V.S.

(First published in the Citizen on 25 May 2014.)

Posted in Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s time to get back to basics for the Congress

Posted by chimeki on December 12, 2013

Now that the election results of four states are out, the Congress party needs to rethink its strategy for future. The mandate is anti Congress and there is no reason to think otherwise. The first thing the Congress should do immediately is to change guard and bring new faces at the helm of the affairs. It means it is time that the party President and Vice President are given rest and let other take the responsibility. There is no harm in thinking in this line. No individual should be above an institution as old and as big as the Congress. Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi can contribute to the party by saving in their respective constituencies.

Besides this makeover the party should let its regional satraps decide. In other words they should be allowed nature ambitions. A political party in a parliamentary democracy cannot grow or live if it stops its leaders from cultivating ambitions. The Congress since Indira Gandhi had suppressed the culture of competition.

During its initial days after independence, there was a culture of competition in the party. Leaders could speak their minds without fear. Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Vallabhabhai Patel, Kamaraj, and others were never afraid to suggest contradictory and often opposite opinions. Many a times, leaders of stature of Nehru and Patel had to give up on the pressure of the party. Even, during the party’s presidential election Nehru and others never had an easy go. They competed to remain relevant. After Nehru’s death, the principle of collective leadership was further emphasized and acted upon. In India After Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha narrates how then Congress President Kamaraj discussed the issues of succession with then chief ministers and members of parliament. After Lal Bahadur Shastri’s sudden demise, the same method was applied.

But Indira Gandhi changed the whole system collective leadership in the party upside down. It wasn’t less than a coup d’état. She made the party a family’s business.  It is true that the Gandhis have played an important role in keeping the Congress together but the opposite view also holds the truth that the most revolts in the party were against the Gandhis’s leadership! If during Indira Gandhi things had begun to fall apart, it has aggravated during Sonia Gandhi’s reign. The follow up of what Indira did is what we see now! Sonia Gandhi has never been much accommodating to the idea of openness in the party. Though she had for the better part of her reign has kept herself low profile but she has also, simultaneously, didn’t allow other leaders to be seen as equal! Like in open economy, competition and greed are the locomotives of a parliamentary party.

Compare this state with the other national party BJP the difference is obvious. With all its faults, it has let its members and supporters grow ambition. This had led to the growth of leaders with immense potential and mass appeal. Leaders like LK Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Murli Manohar Joshi, Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje, Raman Singh, Uma Bharti and other are the result of such competitive spirit. Kill this spirit and the BJP will be in tatters.

This equally applies to other parties as well. Those refusing to abide by the principle of inner party competition had faced, facing and will face the fate of the Congress. Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party, AIADMK and even Mayawati’s BSP will find it difficult to challenge this proven law of parliamentary democracy. They either have mend their ways or perish. There is no mid way.

Coming back to the Congress, it is urgently need for it to let regional and national leaders take the lead in its affairs. Let them compete and prove their worth. The more people have eye on the top seat the better. Without giving them opportunity to grow the party is in the suicidal mode. The Gandhis cannot always carry the party on their shoulders. They don’t even have strength required to do so now. It wouldn’t be inappropriate to suggest that the Gandhis have come close to their journey and what is the better way to honour them by making one of their folks the president of India!

V.S.

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Bigotry: Shivraj Style

Posted by chimeki on October 11, 2013

shivraj

Shivraj Singh Chauhan

In Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is everywhere. He is in railway stations boasting clean platforms, at bus stops priding on Bus Rapid Transits, on the hoardings across roads, and in public conveniences. There is no place in Bhopal where one can slip out of his gaze. Big Brother is Watching You!

Hardly, one steps out of Bhopal station first thing comes to notice is Shivraj Singh big boastful picture explaining one of the his numerous yojanas (schemes). Literally, he has yojanas for every section and class of society. He is taking elders on pilgrimages through Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana (Chief Minister Pilgrimage Scheme). He is educating the girls through Ladli Laxmi Yojana and later getting them married through Mukhyamantri Kanyadaan Yojana!

You name a section and he has yojana for it. For young and educated unemployed he has created Mukhyamantri Pichada Varg Yuva Swa-rojgaar (self employment) Yojana. For those who can’t afford medical expenses he is running a Free Pathology Checkup Scheme.

A careful study will reveal that hardly any scheme with Mukhyamantri prefix is new.  All were there. He prefixed Mukhyamantri and made people celebrate them. Supporters of welfare state would not mind this, however, Shivraj’s passion for these schemes is enough to give them shivers down their skins.

Shivraj is a magician.  From Bhopal he makes everyone believe that all is well in Indore and from Indore it looks other parts of state are flourishing! A Bhopali is seen singing paeans of Gwalior and an Indori falls short of words for glorifying Jabalpur’s development!  The road in Damoh is pathetic but according to Shivraj, in one of those hoardings of course, good roads have reached everywhere in Madhya Pradesh.

Under his careful gaze, Madhya Pradesh is being transformed into a replica of some imaginative medieval Hindu state which his supporters claim existed in the place where the state stands today! His party-men want to rename Bhopal as Bhojpal on some mythical Hindu king who is said to have ruled there. Since long he has been promoting ‘Vedic’ language Sanskrit with a passion of a crusader and now intends to introduce the Gita in Urdu to madarsa students. The farce doesn’t end here. He legitimizes dowry through his Mukhyamantri Kanyadaan Yogana instead of fighting it roots and branches. All his yojanas are shrewd attempts to saffronize the whole society.

If Gujarat under Modi is a laboratory of hardline, militaristic and chauvinistic Hindutva, Madhya Pradesh under Shivraj is an exercise in saffron bigotry.

jabalpur

Warnings on the rocks read: couples seen together will be beaten and their procession will be taken out! (photo: V.S.)

The CM hardly utters a word on industrialization and creating employment. The young either migrate or commit suicide. Madhya Pradesh’s major four cities have the highest suicide rates in India according to National Crime Record Bureau. Jabalpur, once a flourishing industrial hub of the country, leads the chart with 572 suicides in 2012. The administration, as anywhere else, blames ‘domestic’ problems and deteriorating ‘family system’ for the rise in number.  The fact of the matter is the main cause of suicides is increasing unemployment. The anger, rising from it, either results in self destruction or is channeled or managed to fuel hatred among weaker sections of the society. In 2011, Madhya Pradesh recorded, the highest number of rape cases at 3046.

Although, Shivraj is not solely responsible for the state’s complete collapse nevertheless his indifference towards it makes him doubly dangerous. He is an emperor who plays fiddle while his state is awaiting eruption. While Nero was acting unconsciously, Shivraj does it knowingly. Nothing is there in his tenure to suggest that he is concerned about the development of the state. Only thing he seems to care is implicit indoctrination of youth with religious chauvinism and anti-minority hatred making an easy catch for the RSS. In return, the Sangh guarantees him continuous support.

Jawaharlal Nehru in his Towards Freedom wrote about Fascism that ‘their way had been to mobilize mass support for one program and then to utilize this for an entirely different purpose (365).’ This is in cruel display in the BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh. The anger of people against unemployment and deteriorating condition is being utilized for ‘an entirely different purpose’. They are trained to distrust neighboring countries, see them as enemy and if need be, be ready to attack them.

The people are also given ‘classes’ in moral policing. They bully couples where ever they get to see them. Warnings, like, ‘boys and girls if found together will be beaten’, ‘their procession will be taken out’ and of other such exemplary punishment are written everywhere couples may have chance to be together. Valentine’s Day is the most feared day for the state’s youth. The warnings are issued well in advanced in local newspaper and cable channels and couples receive harsh treatment, in full public gaze, if seen together on that day. In this Bajrang Dal ruled state the police is a mere spectator.

Shivraj’s brand of Hindutva is not less dangerous for the society. What Narendra Modi failed to do, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is doing without coming under any scrutiny what so ever. This ‘benevolent’ looking Chief Minister has made religious bigotry, national chauvinism and Fascism a ‘national mission’. Unlike his Gujarati counterpart, he has made a dangerous and medieval idea acceptable to whole society without risking to put a drop of blood on his hand.

An MP Tourism jingle suggests ‘MP Ajab Hai (MP is strange)’. It equally fits on its CM too.

V.S.

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Mulayam’s PM Dream

Posted by chimeki on September 15, 2013

Photo Courtesy: Oneindia

Photo Courtesy: Oneindia

We know an India politician is eager to become prime minister when he starts fancying riots, blood and killings. It is up to social scientists to see why the road to India’s top seat is so soaked in blood! In 1984 Rajeev Gandhi walked on the Sikh corpses to climb the south of Raisina Hills. In 1990s LK Advani and AB Vajapayee rode ‘rath’ over people to bring their party to power and in 2002 Gujarat CM designed a riot and set his goal for future.

Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh is the latest example such politicians who are calculating their chances of becoming Prime Minister in 2014. Hence Muzaffarnagar riot!

The Muzaffarnagar riot is a case wrapped in many complexities and layers. For the BJP it is a polarizing plot by which it intends to consolidate its lost share of votes among the most Hinduised voters. For the Congress it is an opportunity to cover anti-incumbency factor. But it is Samajwadi Party who wants to exploit it the most. Its head, Mulayam Singh, dreams to ride on it to 7 Race Course.

Mulayam Singh’s calculation tells him, and rightly so, that in the absence of clear mandate post election, the coalition he intends to head will need support of one of the two big parties. In case the parties which are or were closer to the BJP such as Shiv Sena, AIADMK, TDP and JDU perform better, he will need the BJP to make them support his candidacy while it gives it outside support. This is why he wants to prove the BJP’s that its interests are secure under his rule.

Mulayam’s calculation isn’t without base. BJP’s patriarch LK Advani in a blog entry a year back wrote, ‘a non-Congress, non-BJP Prime Minister heading a government supported by one of these two principal parties is, however, feasible. This has happened in the past also.’ Advani might have developed his wisdom due to ‘M’ factor but it had given Mulayam Singh a good reason to dream about the coveted seat. After all it will be Advani who will have to present his case in the RSS’s court!

This was exactly why Mulayam praised Advani saying, ‘he never lies. He always speaks the truth.’ A month later he sympathized with his suffering during partition and said, ‘ …Advaniji is an honest person, he has suffered a lot during the country’s partition and has spent a life in hardship.’ Mulayam conveniently chose to forget that not all those who suffered during partition changed into hatemongers. To name few, former Prime Minister IK Gujral and even Dr Manmohan Singh had to suffer during partition.

This warming of relation demanded more than just few words of praises. In past two years Mulayam have given many such sureties. Since the SP has come in power there is no dearth of such proves. According to media reports, more than 3 dozen riots have been recorded in UP in last 2 years.

The above scenario is also true in its opposite. The cozying up of Mulayam and Advani is also a master stroke of the BJP’s old guard who too eyes the coveted chair. Advani has good reasons to believe that the NDA which is now almost nonexistent can be put together if BJP emerges as the biggest party and the partners refuse to join if Modi is forwarded by the party. In Advani’s name other party will can claim to do their bit to stop ascension of Modi. This will also give them opportunity to join BJP led government without looking anti minority! Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar have already drawn their lines and Mamta is sure to come on board.

So we are here at Muzaffarnagar witnessing murders and arsenic while two of our politicians dream of being our Prime Minister.

V.S.

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Their Modi

Posted by chimeki on March 29, 2013

Their-ModiNarendra Modi presents himself as a leader India needs, a leader who can deliver. His rhetoric of development and corruption free India has taken over every sane voice. ‘Don’t remain hooked up to past, move forward’, he suggests. His supporters sing his praises. They see in him panacea of all ills that India is seen to be suffering from!

All his supporters are not bearer of fascist Hindutva ideology. Eighty per cent of them are not anti-minority or Hindutvawadi but they are disillusioned with the existing system, which is unable to give them employment and corruption free society. Even in Germany, less than five per cent people who supported Hitler were anti-Jew to the extent to demand their extermination or secondary status for them (see Ali Rattansi’s Racism). The Hindutva forces, today, are harnessing the Indian youth’s anti-establishment feeling to further their fascist agenda. Hence, targeting Modi for 2002 genocide alone, though it is one of the most important issues that cannot be ignored, will not work. Similarly, the Congress and other Right wing parties will never be able to undo Modi’s ‘spell’ of development for they too are sailing in the same boat, using same development and corruption free rhetoric.

Ultimately, it falls on the Left to undo Modi and show people the way out. It is the Left’s historic responsibility to lead the country out of this mayhem. Yet, for Indian Left it is a hard nut to crack. It is so because it has not yet clearly defined its relationship with the country’s bourgeoisie. It is frozen into time when the bourgeoisie was seen a progressive force. That idea is passé. Indian capitalist development has reached that point. Now it has become a reactionary force which can go to any extent to completely hijack the economy, even if it means to support fascist forces.

Hence it is the responsibility of the Left to expose the corporate maneuvering as the activists of the Occupy Movement have done in the Western countries. The Occupy movement across Europe and the US is an outcome of the efforts that the activists have put tirelessly to expose big business houses. In the area of popular art too, the exemplary documentaries like,  Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story by Micheal Moor and movie like Syriana by Stephen Gaghan have shown the true colors of big corporate houses and how they manipulate governments for their gains. Now, due to popular pressure of course, even James Bond (Quantum of Solace) has been forced to see his villains in big corporations. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Indian bourgeoisie too is a part of world capitalism. The havoc it is associated with in the most exploited countries of Asia and Africa should be debated endlessly. It would be a big mistake to see it differently.

Accordingly, India’s Left should expose corporate corruption to combat the Modi myth. He is a blue eyed boy of Indian corporate world. They present him as a trophy. Instead of concentrating on Modi alone, the role of corporate that is funding him should be exposed. The Left should work to develop a movement similar to the Occupy movement. Only a movement of that scale and vigor can expose Indian corporations and simultaneously defeat ‘Modism’ which is nothing but the obsolete 20th century bourgeoisie national chauvinist ideology.

V.S.

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