Wednesday, August 24, 2016

India and the Sub Nationalism Debate

India and the Sub Nationalism Debate
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is on boil, the Nero’s of Delhi durbar are playing ‘Vade Matram’ orchestra, and in that cacophony making the noise of regional and linguistic exclusiveness sound a whimper.

The current rulers of Hindustan have unleashed a region of terror using pellet guns over unarmed people and feel happy that they have found solution to tame such human resistance.

They may be in for a surprise if the same situation erupts up in as many as 14 other locations in the country, all waiting to have a distinct entity of its own.

If that happens, will the Nero’s of Hindustan continue to play ‘Vade Matram’ orchestra to defuse any such crisis or give it a realistic thought address such genuine aspiration of the people?

The answer is difficult because a policy paralysis has gripped the current dispensation and its arrogance and ignorance is apparent in dealing with the situation of carnage and rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government's hard-line approach has so far taken 68 human lives.

The tinder box is simmering below the surface in as many as 14 locations of the country; four in UP, three in Assam, two in Bihar, one each in Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. All of them are carving for separate identity and human resistance is waiting to be ignited.

In India, since 1956, the reorganization of states has been happening from time to time, but the sore point is, efforts in this direction is made when there is a huge people’s movement built and many  have to give blood to the cause.  We have seen this with regard to the creation of Jharkhand, Uttrakhand and Chatisgarh states. All of them came into existence after long drawn out human protests.The people’s movement in these states are littered with blood and only after a long struggle the government has succumb to their demand.

The same can be said about Telngana, where people’s movement goes back to 1970 and even earlier, but the statehood was possible only in 2014, when the government finally relented to the people’s aspirations.

The fundamental point here is why the successive governments are peeve over the creation of the new states which could be based on the geographical, linguistic or cultural entities? Why the government is stifling the natural growth of a particular region and acting shy to its developmental goal? There are no logical answers to it and it’s beyond comprehension for ordinary mortals to gauge the Nero’s mind.

We all know the orchestra of 'Vande Matram' was the swan song during the freedom struggle; it served its purpose well, and got us independence. However, after 69 years of independence, the relevance of this brand of nationalism is now being questioned. How long the demand of sub nationalism under larger umbrella of nationalism can be bottled up?  

India has become much stronger over the years and this does not mean that this issue can be wished away by appealing to nationalism and maintaining peace under the shadow of the gun. It is seen in the people’s movement in Jammu and Kashmir that is showing the searchlight and pricking many minds and this could be the proverbial lull before the storm.

India’s is an administrative maze and no one had comprehended it better than the colonial rulers of Hindustan. When they established the contours of Indian administrative set up, linking localities with blocks, blocks with subdivisions and subdivision with districts and districts with a province, they established the modern edifice of governance in India.

Given the colonial nature, the British rulers were keen to have an administrative setup in place for governance and had no interest in the developmental demand of any geographical region, linguistic or cultural entities.

Thus British efforts to reorganize the Indian states on governance plank though kindled the nationalistic aspirations among the people but in the process subsumed sub nationalistic sentiments that has long been nourished from time immemorial. The colonial created imbalances continued to drift as so, even 70 years after independence.

The states like Uttar Pardesh (Northern Province) and Madhya Pradesh (Central Province) are colonial legacies. These states do not have any rational basis, if we apply the yardsticks of regional, linguistic and cultural entities as the basis of formation of states. Even though there is huge necessity to reorganize them to address their developmental goals, they are allowed to continue as so in the independent India.

In fact, in the last general assembly election of UP, Ms Mayawati, the BSP chief had suggested creating at least four states from this linguistically, culturally and geographical diverse landmass of Uttar Pradesh. However, her words of wisdom were seen as a cry of someone who has lost the election.

Going by the facts on records, the pending demands for the creation of new states in UP are for ‘Harith Pradesh’ in the areas of Western UP, ‘Awadh state’ in the areas of central UP, ‘Purvanchal’ in the eastern UP and the ‘Budelkhand state’ in the areas bordering UP and MP.

In the eastern state of Assam, as many as three people’s movement is simmering. The first is Karbi Anglong, second is Kamatapur state, and third the Bodoland state.

The Karbis living in the central part of Assam in the autonomous districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao that are put in the sixth schedule are demanding a separate state.

Similarly, the Koch Rajbhongshis demand for Kamatapur state. Here, protest is for granting Cooch Behar the status as Kamatapur state is heard quite often.

It may be recalled that in 1949, Cooch Behar merged with India as C category state. In 1956, all the C category regions got Union Territory status and some even got statehood later, but Cooch Behar's regional identity was extinguished and some of it's district was given autonomous status within Assam.
The demand for the Bodoland state is heard through violent noises for a long time now.  The Bodos want their present sixth schedule territorial autonomous council area in Kokrajha region that covers four districts of Assam to be made a separate Bodoland state. The consistent denial of their demand is fuelling armed rebellion there, which controlled by the counter insurgency methods.

In Andhra Pradesh, after the creation Telangana, there seems to be a quite atmosphere, but the demand for the creation of Rayalaseema state is very much on the cards. The distinct regional identity here wants to be nurtured from Tirupati and not from Amravati.

Similarly, in Gujarat, the demand to create the Saurashtra state is pending for long, so is the demand for Vidarbha state in Maharashtra.

In Karnataka, the demand for Kodagu state is simmering for long and so is the cry for the Gorkhaland state in the northern regions of West Bengal. The creation of Kosal state in Odisa is too hidden below the surface, waiting to be ignited.

Bihar is another case of linguistic and geographical incongruity. Here the demand for the creation of the Mithlancal state based on common Maithli language is long overdue.

Similarly, the Bhojpuri language and common culture that forms a vast tract of linguistic and geographical landmass between UP and Bihar, too nurses the aspiration for the creation of a Bohjpur state.


In sum, the reorganization and reconstruction of the distinctive regional identities poses a huge challenge to the country. The successive governments have tried to keep a lid on them harping to maintain a national identity. It is time debate whether such policy is doing more harm than good to the national cause.

If right steps are taken by the government in such direction and bottled aspirations are carefully opened, it can pre-empt the situation that we now witness in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Witness to the working of the lower judicial system in India


 Witness to  the working of the lower judicial system in India
Syed Ali Mujtaba

I have been witness to the functioning of the lower judiciary in the district court of Shiekhpura, Bihar and was appalled with the way things are there. The court premise is a world on its own and the working of the lower judiciary at the premises of the district court gave me the impression that it is a big thug house.

There are two sets of people I found roaming around. One the aggrieved ones, who have been subjected to some sort of injustices, and had come to seek legal remedy, the other ones those who are preying on them and ready to rob of their money by hook or crook.

In these two sets one is of foolish people and other is of crooks that think are intelligent. They intelligent there go by the adage that as long as foolish live, they wont go hungry.

To me money was raining that premises. The aggrieved one has no option than to cough off money and those preying on them are ever ready to live on it.

The earning of a clerk in the judicial court maybe not less than thousand rupees a day, while the ‘peshkar’ who is the in charge of the office and considered to be close to the judge could be much higher in daily terms.

Most of the aggrieved are first timers and are being fleeced left write and centre. The lawyers are biggest thugs in such system. Most of them who cannot write a straight sentence but some how got the degree to wear black court are making a killing by charging extra ordinary fee and giving all kinds of hope.

In this system the judges too are hand in glove. They have a habit of prolonging the cases for many years. In the end some even demand a price for writing the judgment.

The main sufferer in this system is the litigant who has to run from pillar to post and has to empty his pocket each time he visits the court. It appears there is little reform happening in such sphere of activity.

The most puzzling thing is from where the reform process has to start. Every one seems to be happy trying to live in that system. There appears to be a perfect balance being established there. No one wants to stick its neck in such challenging task.

The other thing that disturbed me was to find the handcuffing of the criminals when they were brought to be produced in the courts. It seems that the practice of British Raj is still continuing there even today.

I found the criminals just like dogs being handcuffed and tied with a rope and taken to the courts and the police personal. Most of the so called criminals were over aged and the law for senior citizen does not seem to work here.

 Most of them look to be victim of enmity and by their face did not looked hardened criminals. Most of them were poor who cannot afford legal help.

The over burden of the cases in the court and the long time being taken in the disposal of the cases were denying justice to such criminals, most of them booked for petty crimes.

The human dignity was definitely being denied to such criminals and they were treated like animals. I wondered where NGOs were and other such organizations that work on such issues are hiding in that part of the world. There seems to be hardly anyone raise their voices and push for reforms.
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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar and recently had visited his native place Shiekhpura and based on his observation prepared this report. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tales from Secular India- Unity in Diversity Remains Impregnable Fort


Tales from Secular India- Unity in Diversity Remains Impregnable Fort
 Syed Ali Mujtaba

There lives an old man called Ishaq Baba, in the village Barai, in Sheikhpura district of Bihar. He is about 80 years old but still leads a very active life. It’s more than 30 year’s o so he uses to ply,

‘Tonga’ or horse cart from Shiekhpura to Chewara and back and forth.  As a result he is a popular face travelling on that part of the world. Several generations has seen this ‘tongawala’ in this format of life and had been ferried by him at some time or other.

Ishaq Baba is a devout Muslim and never misses the daily prayers even while at work. It uses to be a common sight that at the call of the praying time, he will park his Tonga under a tree and spread his turban on the road and bowing down facing the west to pray while his passengers waiting for him to finish his prayer.

Ishaq baba is also known for his peculiar gait. He is 6 feet tall and has athletic looks. Except for his black glasses he remains in all white looks. He sports a white beard, wears white ‘lungi,’ a white shirt and covers his head with a white turban.

The young man though is uneducated but has seen several decades of time and all the seasons of life. He is now leading a retired life as his sons have grown up to fend him and he need not work anymore.

This time on my trip to Shiekhpura, my native place I caught up with Ishaq baba and engaged him in lively conversation to gather his thoughts of the passing time.

I began asking him to comment on the communal situation or more precisely about the Hindu – Muslim relationship around him. He was candid that, the situation on the ground is really disturbing but then its long years of cohabitation that is disallowing the social fabric to rupture.

Ishaq Baba narrated a true story to make his point. ‘Once I was travelling from capital Patna to Shiekhpura and had taken a bus that dropped me at Biharsharif, as it was going somewhere else.  I had to catch another bus to reach my destination and I was walking on the road chanting Allah Hoo, Allah Hoo, towards the next bus stand.’

‘As I was in myself, unmindful of the world when I heard the sound of some females yelling ‘molvi saab’, ‘moli saab’, that broke my thoughts. I turned back to find a bunch of village females with children trying to catch my attention.’

‘I stopped and asked them, what the matter is, one lady told me that they are from Shiekhpura and know him very well enjoying his ‘Tonga,’ ride several times. They all were in tears and needed my help as they had caught a wrong bus and were offloaded on the way. They wanted to return home but did not know way to catch the bus or train,’ Ishaq baba said.    

‘Without asking any further question, I told the ladies to follow him and need not worry and feel safe.  We walked a mile to reach the bus stand and I asked the females to sit under the shed as he will go to look for the bus that may take them ‘home,’ the young man continued his narration.

‘Even before I could do so, one crowded bus arrived on the boarding place, with its conductor shouting ‘Sheikhpura’, ‘Sheikhpura.’ I approached the conductor asking him whether he can provide seats to   the women and children accompanying him.’

‘As I was talking to the conductor the women with me too got near to the conductor. The conductor tried to trick the women, saying get inside the bus and they may find the seat along the way. I told the ladies not to board this bus in this hot weather and they may be in great discomfort since it will be very claustrophobic inside.’

‘Even before the females could make any judgment, the conductor, tried to convince them with the ‘slur,’ against me that deeply hurt me inside.  The conductor said; ‘mothers, will you believe me or the words of this Muslim.’

‘His words left me in rage and even before I could gather strength to retort back to that manly beast, to my surprise, I was stunned to find that one of the female, got  more infuriated than me, and in her rage, gave a tight slap on the face of the conductor.’

Abusing the conductor with choicest abuse, the lady said, ‘you don’t know who he is? He is like my father and we are her children who have grown up seeing him. How dare you can speak ill of him.’
 ‘When the conductor tried to get manly with her, the lady dared to touch her, and shouted to book him on rape charges with several witnesses around.

‘As the crowd started assembling and the brawl looked to get uglier, the conductor preferred hasty retreat from the scene signaling the driver to move there. My eyes got moist and tears rolled on my cheeks, the women who were equally overwhelmed consoled me seeing my plight,’ Ishaq baba said.

‘After wiping out my emotional outburst and I again asked the females to go and sit under the bus shed. I then walked to the parking area, where the buses were parked and located a bus that was to leave for Shiekhpura. I boarded that bus and spread my turban to hold the seats for the females, and sat on other seat to accommodate the rest.’

‘When the bus reached boarding area I yelled at my acquaintances to get inside and have their seats. The ladies sat on the seat were on I had my turban spread and the children sat next to me and some even on my lap as we hit the road to get home.’

‘When the bus reached Shiekhpura, all the females had their own wings as they knew now how to go and where to go. My acquaintances did so but not before encircling me and touching my feet. It was emotional moment for me,’ Ishaq baba concluded his tale.

I promised Ishaq Baba, that I will put this story for a larger audience, because such stories do not find space in media these days. The lesson I could draw that there are such stories happing reminding the secular nature of India and the concept of Unity in Diversity remains an impregnable fort.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar and recently had visited his native place Shiekhpura. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Tales from Secular India Azhar, Banvari and Rabani….

Tales from Secular India  Azhar, Banvari  and Rabbani…. 
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Interfaith relationship or Hindu-Muslim relationship is a topic that often remains in circulation for wrong reasons. However, there are stories of communal harmony that are happening silently and re mains unreported by the so called vibrant media.

Recently I traveled to my native village ‘Manay’ in Chakandra, Panchayt Chewara Anchal of Shekhpura in Bihar. I like to chronicle my first hand account of observation of peaceful coexistence that is being practiced in that part of the world.

There is a Muslim priest named Hafiz Azharuddin who is in charge of the mosque in the Manay village. He is about 20 years of age and his job is to call give ‘Azan’ or call for prayers five times every day. After that he lead the prayers those who come to the mosque to pray.

Hafiz Azhar gives the first call for prayer at dawn called ‘Fajir’, second in the afternoon called ‘Zohar’, then evening called ‘Asar,’  the dusk prayer called ‘Magrib’ and finally  the night prayer called ‘Isha.’

Azhar has become Hafiz or the one who has memorized all the thirty chapters of the holy Quran by heart at the age of 16. Since then he has taken up the job of pesh-imam or priest at the mosque in Manay village.

Hafiz Azhar also runs a ‘Madarsa’ in the mosque teaching the Muslim boys and girls to read Quran and the way to pray. He has made a number of children to read the entire chapters of the holy book.
Hafiz Azhar, is a popular figure in the entire village. Every one seems to be friendly with him and they respect him for being a priest.  Every evening during the dusk prayers, a number of Hindus will be seen lining up outside the mosque, with a glass of water, that Hafiz Azhar, would ‘pooh’ after reciting some verses of the holy Quran.

This water will then be carried to the sick person in the house and would give for medicinal purposes. It is said that such faith healing medicine brings relief, therefore people queue up to the mosque each day.

The other side of Hafiz Azhar is, he is also a cricketer and member of the village cricket team. He is star batsman of the village team and no matches are played without him.
Hafiz Azhar’s date of birth coincides with the reign of the iconic Mohmmad Azharuddin who captioned Indian team.  The guess is, this village priest, when he was born, was named after the cricketing legend.  

The village boys usually line up in front of the mosque to take Hafiz Azhar to play the matches that happens in the empty paddy fields during summers.

During the afternoon or evening prayers, if the match is going on, the boys will take Hafiz Azhar on the bike to the mosque to perform his religious duty. The cricketer will have a bath and then call the ‘Azan,’ lead the prayer and again change to cricket gears to be back in to the play ground.

 ‘If the match finishes, early then I am relaxed for the prayers but then sometimes when it prolongs, I have to perform the duel task,’ said Hafiz Azhar smilingly in a leisurely conversation.

Well this is a fine example of interfaith harmony working on ground. The Hindu zealots may like to rupture this harmony through their bigotry, but it appears denting such peaceful coexistence is not an easy task.

The counterpart of Hafiz Azhar, in the village Manay is Pandit Banvari the Hindu priest at the temple. He is a pious man and commands respect from all the people in the village. He is highly religious but equally a secular person.

The 72 year Hindu priest begins his day at the dawn when he takes bath at the village pond and then enters the temple and does its cleaning and other religious activity.

I engaged Banvariji in a conversation on Hindu – Muslim relations. I asked him what he thinks about this subject. He was candid saying its too deep bond and cannot be broken easily.

‘Here Hindus pray to the local deity (devta) called ‘Miaji’ who is a Muslim and on ceremonial occasions they sacrifice goats in this devta’s name.’

‘Even this temple is built on personal land and money given by the Muslim landlords of the village’, Banvariji said giving examples of communal harmony.  

 He goes on; ‘the Harijan locality in this village is on the personal land of the Muslim landlords. When they lived far away from village, they were chased away by the thieves and it’s the Muslim landlords who gave them shelter and allowed them to make houses on their land. Even they constructed the village road that connects with the main road at Kamalgarh on their personal land.’

I drew Banvariji’s attention to the caste and religious based politics practiced in Bihar and asked him what he thinks about BJP’s brand of politics. He said, ‘I do not endorse the religious exclusiveness idea of politics. This may work for short term gains, but its results in long term could be freighting’, Banvariji who reads the daily Hindi newspaper said.

I asked Banvariji, about the last assembly election in Bihar and the reasons of the defeat of the BJP and the victory of the caste based parties like RJD and JDU.

‘Actually the last assembly election was a referendum on supremacy of religion over caste Banvariji said and added; ‘the BJP had put every thing on stake to establish the supremacy of religion, they put every thing on the electoral mat, even their ‘langot’ (inner wear) for winning the election. The results, proved them wrong and they had to run showing their back.’

The other tale in this series is of Gulam Rabbani who was a contestant at the gram panchayt election that was being held. He was a candidate for the ‘Mukhiya’s post.

This is the most coveted post in the local body election because there is about 5 crore rupees of fund that the government gives to each Mukhiya for the doing the development activities of the villages in the Panchayat.  No wonder, the battle for the lions share for Panchayt head is fiercely fought.

There were fourteen candidates for the ‘Mukhiya’ post and among them was Gulam Rabani.  Rabani is a highly popular candidate who has been contesting this post many times unsuccessfully. This time too he tried his luck but failed.

However, the most spectacular part about Rabani is he is highly popular among young boys who have not even reached the voting age.  Once Rabbani comes to the village, the young lads runs out of the village to greet him. They carry him on their shoulders to give him an entry like a celebrity in the village.

The young boys will gather around him and  shout the slogan; ‘Rabani – Rabani - bijli (electricity), paani (water) – Rabani, - thanda  panni ( cold water) – Rabani – Rabani  – our beloved leader Rabani- we all love Rabbani’, and so on...

It’s quite a spectacle. I have never seen such kind of enthusiasm for any candidate and all that seem to be selfless, without any material gains. I asked Rabani the reasons of his popularity among the youth.
He said, ‘I am the only candidate who work 24x7 365 days a year. Whenever anyone calls me, I am there on the spot. When this village had problem of electricity because its transformer got conked off, I took immediate steps to get it replaced, Rabani said when he came to me for canvassing.

He goes on; when there was scarcity of water in the village I got the hand pumps installed in each of the locality of the village. Now they drink the cold water from the hand pump and can take bath. They all like me because no one bothers to visit the village till the next election, Rabani concluded his boasting.

The sad news is, Rabani has lost the election again. The candidate who won had more numbers of his caste vote. Rabani undoubtedly was the most popular candidate but elections are not won on sheer popularity as other factors too count as well.

However, the fact remains is that characters like Rabani, reminds nature of Indian society that is based on communal harmony. Its people like him who are holding the flag of secular India aloft.

Well these are some tales of silver linings in the otherwise growing atmosphere of communal strife in India. These anecdotes are pointers that interfaith harmony is still being practiced in some parts of India.

Such positive stories needs to be told to remind that peaceful co existence is the only way to make India internally strong and move forward.

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Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar and recently had visited his native place Shiekhpura and based on his observation prepared this report. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

About: Syed Ali Mujtaba PhD

     Syed Ali Mujtaba PhD
1-  Current Position: Dr Syed is currently working as Head of the Department Visual Communication at Gurunanak College Chennai. He last worked as Principal, National College of Design, Chennai. www.ncdindia.com. Previously, he worked as Head of Department for Media Studies at  several institutions in Chennai; Media Arts and Science College (MASC), SSS. Jain College, Vels University, Manipal University etc. He has been visiting faculty at number of institutions in Chennai.
2-     Teaching career: Syed has been a full time media faculty for about ten  years now. He has taught papers in Journalism, Mass Communication, Visual Communication and Film Studies etc. 
3-     Education: Syed is MA, MA, M.Phil, and PhD & NET. He has bachelors and Master degree in History from AMU Aligarh, MA Journalism and Mass Communication from Alagappa University. He has taken M.Phil & PhD from School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
4-     Distinction: Syed has qualified National Education Test (NET), conducted by University Grant Commission, India.He was a Jeffeson Fellow in 2003. 
5-     Journalist Career: Syed spent about fifteen years in active Journalism working for several media organization in India and abroad. Hs career is spread over to print, television, internet and radio. As freelance he continues to write for several newspapers, news syndicates and websites and magazines.
6-     Jefferson Fellow: Syed earned the prestigious Jefferson Fellow media award at East West Center, Hawaii, in 2003.
7-     Documentary Filmmaker: Syed has made two documentary films. “Beyond Empires,” for Lamppost Media USA and “Making a Difference” on the street children of Chennai.
8-     Author:  Syed has authored two books, “The Demand for Partition of India and British Policy 1940-45,” Mittal Publisher (2002) and “Soundings on South Asia”, Sterling – New Dawn Publication (2005). He has contributed a chapter each to four edited volumes. His research papers have appeared in several reputed journals in India and abroad.
9-     Travel: As a Jefferson fellow he has travelled to several cities in the US, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore. He was in UK to pursue doctoral research. He was in Thailand twice to attend media conferences He also visited Nepal for academic purpose.
10-  Affiliations: Syed is a member of International Federation of Environmental Journalist Association (IFEJA) and Association of British Scholars, Chennai chapter. He is also member of East West Center Hawaii, Chennai Chapter and  member of Indibloger..
11-  Social Network:  Syed is the founder and moderator of South Asia Contact Group.  He can be searched at Google, U tube, facebook, twitter etc.
12-  Blog: http://mujtabas-musings.blogspot.com/. He is member of Indibloger.com
13-  Extracurricular: Syed was in the Aligarh Muslim University’s Football team.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cows are holy in India not Harjans

Cows are holy in India not Harjans

Traveling in a passenger train from my native place Shiekhpura to Gaya in Bihar last Saturday, I found some Harijan folks boarding the compartment at Nawada station, well there is Naveda in Texas too!

They were actually 6 of them, three men, three women and I think 6 or 7 kids, all below ten years of age. They sat on the floor of the compartment not because there was no seat but m
ore I guess because of their habit of squatting on the floor.

The kids stood on the widow, looking for the passing scenery enjoying the train ride. These folks were escorted by a contractor who was taking them to Ayodhya to make bricks.
 I was watching these people and hearing the foul language of the contractor who was loud and abusive at them.  The way he was talking, it seems that, these bunches of people were not human but herds of animal whom he owns.

I was tempted to talk to my fellow passengers and found that the contractor was representing some brick kiln chimney in Ayodhya and he was taking these laborers from Bihar on contract to work there to make bricks.

These folks will be put up in makeshift shed and have to toil day and night to make bricks. I saw a complete despondency on the faces of these folks, telling me about their uncertain future.

There are many promises being made by this contractor and we hope that we get enough food to eat and some place to sleep, said one of the laborers. While the adult were in a state of uncertainty, the faces of the children were brightly lit.

Looking at the passing meadows mountains and rivers, the kids with blowing noses were giggling and discovering the world. They seem unaware of their situation and just wanted to enjoy their travel.

I asked one of the folk, which caste they belong, one answered majhi, another answered mushar, the lady summed it up we are Harijan. I asked which caste the contractor belongs, Rajput was the reply.

The caste equation has not changed even, 68 years of independence and the lives of the Harijan remains the same.

A procession of memories was jogging in my funnel. I was recapping the Gandi vs Ambedkar debate and the Poona pact of 1932. I was contemplating, had Ambedkar left Gandhi die, perhaps the lives of these folks may not have been the same!

Well, I felt pity at the fate of my fellow travelers but at the same time I was incensed at the behavior of that contractor. In a country where Cows are made holy, human being are treated even worst then cattle.

My travel experience comes at a time when, government of the day has passed a bill on the atrocities against Harijan amendment bill 2015 in the Parliament. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Narendra Modi is no more a 'Holy Cow'

Narendra Modi is no more a 'Holy Cow'

Syed Ali Mujtaba

Prime Minister Modi’s personal human character has come to fore on the silence of the killing of the Kannada writer, scholar and rationalist Dr MM Kalburgi (77), the Dadri beef incident, and blacking of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a BJP luminary and LK Advani’s aid, in Mumbai.

The tech savy PM who shouts loud from his back mouth through his twitter handle, chose to shut it up for a long time on these many issues of Indian concern.

He tried to break silence after a very long time expressing regret but that was too little and too late. Perhaps it was the fear of the backlash that may dent his popularity prompted him to do so and made him open his gob.

It seems to Mr Modi, his Hindu identity is more important than his human identity. He tacit support to Hindutva zealots is explicitly clear in many cases. His seem to condone their blood thirsty activity and prefer to soft paddle them, when they are on prowl. He has done this during the Gujarat riots and is doing this again.

The question is raised do we need insensitive, inhuman Prime Minister who acts blind to the assaults being made on the very idea of being an Indian?

It seems a silent campaign is built in the country that is questioning Modi being a holy cow that needs not to be worshiped blindly. Some are even thinking about him as an unholy cow that has stopped giving milk, and is left with only its excreta value.

This campaign is led by the independent writers who are returning their awards in hordes feeling ashamed to see India going down the gutter with Hindu communal forces ruling the roost.

There are two narratives at work right now in India. One led by Nrander Modi who is talking about development, foreign investment and building global image of the country taking it to the Security Council with veto power.

The other is the forces among the Hindu religious identity who are shaming India and have become the enemies of peace and development of the country.

The current government is vocal of the first idea but at the same time it is giving the impression that it is tacitly supporting the activities of the Hindu zealots.

The two narratives appear to go hand in hand. The daily newspaper is the best place to have an account of them that they are running in tandem. It appears a huge effort is being made to make the twain to meet.

The question remains how both these forces can coexist? How can development take place in a country when there is internal turmoil?

India has become a global shame with the recent chain of communal events in the country. First, killing of a rationalist, then lynching of a Muslim over beef eating controversy, and then blackening of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, playing host to a ex Pakistani Foreign Minister.

Where all this will end up? Where our Prime Minister Mr Modi is taking our country? His hype of development that is built by the media remains in paper only and the ground reality is quite different.

How can India grow at 7.3 percent, when its agriculture sector is in peril? More than 50 percent of the Indians are directly associated with agriculture which contributes 15 percent to the economy.

There is utter neglect by the current government of the farm sector. Cotton crop in Punjab is gone to dust due to whitefly and spurious pesticides. Farmers are committing suicide in Punjab.

In Maharashtra it is Nana Patekar and Akshey Kumar, who are coming to the aid of the farmers and not the government.

Modi’s ‘make in India’ is a non starter, his skill development project is ridden with corruption, and his Swatch Bharat campaign is just a talk shop and has not found its feet.

With two consecutive monsoon failures, the agriculture sector slowing down India’s growth rate, the diehard Modi followers are in a soul searching mission, asking, are they worshiping a "hawabazz."

The captains of Indian industry who all along have been backing Modi for his out of box economic solutions are rethinking their stand.

With external economic factors restricting the FDIs flow into the country, there is all probability that the 7.3 per cent growth rate is not going to hold ground and may slip still further down, in such case the "baniya" logic ruling roost, why to worship a false god who can give no money!

The writing on the wall is clear. The countrymen have to make some hard choices. Whether it may like to sacrifice their core values of the very idea that makes them an Indian?

Whether they may like to sell the core Indian values for few crumbs of material gain and move ahead in the path of development.

Or whether they want pluralism and inclusive growth, even if it means having to live with the Hindu growth rate, till the country regains its inner strength.

These are the battle of ideas that is embattling every Indian. It’s a mental game in which every sensitive Indian is engaged in right now.

As choices for getting narrower, their resentment is growing louder that Modi is not a holy cow.

[The writer is a senior journalist based in Chennai can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]