Sunday, October 25, 2009

‘Love Jihad’ controversy rages in India

‘Love Jihad’ controversy rages in India
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Indian mass-media insinuating reportage under the suggestive heading “Love Jihad” is yet another example of bad journalism in the largest democracy of the world.

The term ‘Love Jihad’ was used by local media in southern state of Kerala to label inter-religious relationships, allegedly aimed at converting women to Islam, has done more harm then good to the multicultural Indian society.

These sort of inter-religious marriages have been taking place throughout India since several thousands years both ways. There had been thousands of Muslim boys and girls who have taken Hindu spouses and Vice-Versa. Some have changed their religion other live without any change in religion in a state of matrimonial bliss. Indian constitution allows and legalizes inter-caste and inter-religious marriages aiming at greater integration of Indian society.

The usage ‘Love Jihad’ was coined by the local press when two Hindu girls, both MBA students, married two Muslim boys Shahen Shah and Sirajudheen, natives of Pathanamthitta village in Kerala, apparently on their own wish as were adults. These girls were living with their husbands, when their parents filed habeas corpus in the Kerala High Court.

The girls, in response to the summon appeared in the court wearing traditional Muslim Burqa and reportedly asked the court’s permission to live with their husbands, as they would not be able to live according to their religious faith when with parents.

The court however turned their request and sent them to live with the parents, directing the parents to provide all help for the girls to follow their new religion.

A twist in the tale emerges when the girls were presented in the court next time, where they retracted their early version and said that the boys had forcefully converted them to Islam.

A hell broke loose and local media lapped this up with screaming headline ‘Love Jihad’ on the prowl. It was on the basis of the confessional statements of the girls and due to media trial that the two Muslim youth were arrested on charges of having feigned love and marriage to convert to the Hindu girls to Islam.

The Kerala High Court while considering the bail applications of Shahen Shah and Sirajudheen, the two accused in Love Jihad controversy ordered inquiry into the matter. The court asked the state police to submit a report on the occurrence of compulsive religious love based conversions that have taken place in Kerala during the last three years. It also raised questions like to find if there was a movement called “Love Jihad” functioning in the state

The police after initiating an inquiry submitted its report to the court where it said that it has found no organization or movement in the name of “Love Jihad” functioning in Kerala.

The report submitted by Mr Jacob Punnoose, Director General of Police, in the Kerala High Court, says no evidence has been found regarding the functioning of any such organization dealing with forced conversion in the state.

The report further says that there was no evidence for such activities getting funds from abroad and no proof for such activities being connected to counterfeiting, smuggling, and drug trafficking and terrorist activities. It found no evidence for such activities going on in other parts of the country.

The report further reiterates that except for the two cases under consideration in the court, there have not been any cases regarding forced conversions based on love. The police had registered complaints and were actively investigating the matter in the two cases mentioned.

The report submitted by the DGP mentions that there have been allegations from many corners that such activities were going on in the state for the past few years but after investigation it was found that there are no reasons to suspect the existence of concerted attempts to force girls into conversion.

As evident that there was enough juice in the story and the local media went gaga with damning headline of ‘Love Jihad’ never considering the consequences such reportage would have on the society, especially if such story is put in the garbage bin by the court and the police.

In related development, Shahen Shah and Sirajudheen, the accused boys, have decided to withdraw their bail applications submitted at the Kerala High Court as they reportedly felt were not sure of getting justice in the prevailing circumstances. They are widely hunted by the media in the “Love Jihad” controversy and may not lead normal life if they come out on bail.

The ‘Love Jihad’ story is a glaring example of irresponsible journalism that’s going on in the country particularly at the regional centers. The media instead of highlighting the fact that the girls in question could have easily told the judge in their first appearance that they had undergone forced conversion, but instead asserted were convinced converts but later retracted their version, is something that’s intriguing and needs to be investigated. Instead, it simply tried to peddle the gig “Love Jihad” to sensationalize a simple story that had a human face.

It’s a fact that such biased reportage crops up with impunity in the country and until and unless, some mechanism is evolved to check them sternly, Indian society may continue to be poisoned by such irresponsible journalism.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

On Sat, 24/10/09, prasanth lal wrote:

From: prasanth lal
Subject: Facts about Love Jihad
To: syedalimujtaba@
Date: Saturday, 24 October, 2009, 4:09 AM

On your article about "Love Jihad" looks like you have conveniently ignored certain parts of Kerala DGP's report also you have given factually incorrect information. Kerala DGP said that though there are no organisation called "Love Jijhad"- ofcourse its a media coined name- there is scope for suspicion that an organized racket is working towards "loving women and converting them " to Islam and this matter needs to be further probed. DGP clearly said that, "from different sources he has confirmation about the existence of such a racket and hence it need to be probed. Now, if you look at the cases, both the MBA students from kerala was going through a conversion process in a center in Malapuuram. On a separate incident a girl from Mangalore was also eloped with her muslim BF and was going through same process in the same center. (Rings a BELL????) Its all organized and the boys are getting financially rewarded from middle eastern sources. Have you heard about the "Coptic Christian conversrion" scheme in Egypt in 80s and 90? It was well documented and reported that a saundi funded proffessional organisation was paying Egyptian men to convert Coptic Crhistian girls in Egypt after pretending to love them. Ofcourse, you are biased hence would be closed to the facts. You might even argue that 9/11 was a hindu/jew conspiracy.. ... may allah save your ilk.


My dear reader, I thank you for reading my article and caring to write to me your reactions. I don’t want to reply to you on the impression you have formed about me and also what I have conceptualized about you, but let me first tell you, my article was not on the details of the story but on the evils of sensational journalism, a profession to which I belong, and I feel I must speak against such irresponsible representation. It was the journalist in me that was dominating but I guess the readers mind got carried away my name. Well I really can not do much about this, as everyone has freedom of choice and to form opinion.

Now coming to the content of the story, I based my submission on the DGP’s report that was the actual findings and the conclusion.. In journalism there is no place for MAYBE and so there is no need to highlight what remains in the relearn of conjecture and suspicion. The DGP clearly says that there was no evidence to prove that such thing is part of organized crime and this closes the argument. His conjectures s it is does not have any locus-standi. I get the impression that you are more carried away by the DGP's conjuncture then his actual findings. Well again I don’t have any issues on that as you have freedom of choices.

In modern age no one can impose ones faith on other. The girls in question were not minor and uneducated who can be tricked. They were adult and have chosen to go into the wedlock on their on sweet wish. Same holds true of the change their faith that was out of conviction rather than forced conversion. If they were forced tp change the faith, they could have filed a case under Sections 304B and 498a that empowers women specially those who are married. However, it seems when they went to the parents, they changed their stand perhaps were brainwashed and forced to retract from their earlier stand. This is matter of investigation and truth will come out once the case is disposed. Any conclusion drawn on this again is a matter of choice.

I write this because this diabolic design of the RSS are making rounds for long and poisoning the Indian society. There were similar reports from Bhopal where a Muslim youth married a Hindu girl and it created a furor in the society. It was seen as part of the 'love jihad theory. However investigation later revealed that it was concocted story spread by the Sangh Privar that prey on the Hindu sentiments to create WE verses THEY divide.

I wonder why does not the RSS and its subscribers take up the case of “love jihad” and frame Sharukh Khan, Amir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Mansoor Ali Khan, Naseeruddin Shah Etc into this conspiracy theory. I wish if that happens it will be a party time for media 24x7. If I remember rightly, there was a diktat from the RSS that Hindus should refrain from seeing movies where a Muslim acts as a heroes. If any one has taken this seriously, the Bollywood hunks may by have been out of business by now.

Well the purpose of my article was to expose the fallacies of non ethical journalism and also to set the records right as many reports have tried to highlight the conjecture part of the DGP’s report, underplaying the facts of his findings. It was also to debunk the make believe theory that demonize Muslim community and unleash a reign of terror against innocent Muslim youth ( read Rizwan's case) who are smitten by love, the gospel Bollywood preaches day in and day out.

As I have written, inter religious marriages are happening in the country from time immemorial. The only difference now is its process has accelerated due to the modernization and westernization of the society. The age of communication revolution has facilitated the process of meeting and interaction with the cross section of the society, and the freedom of choices to pickup a partner has increased many fold. Today;s youth are not ready remain under the shackles and ready to break any boundaries. This has to be accepted as a reality of the contemporary Indian society. Those who construe such development as organized crime, are sick persons, and need counseling how to grapple with the stark realties of time. - SAM

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Journalists to discuss issues of ‘Climate Change’

Journalists to discuss issues of ‘Climate Change’
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The UN convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009 (the COP15), negotiations on a post 2012 agreement have greatly intensified. However, there is absolutely no consensus even within and between industrial countries on these issues, while the divide between industrial and developing countries has grown wide.

In addition to commitments on targets and deadlines for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), issues such as adaptation, technology and finance are also on the table.

It is with this objective International Federation of Environmental Journalist (IFEJ) are meeting at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, October 28-30, 2009, to participate in a media Congress on the theme “Bridging North-South Differences in Reporting Climate Change: Journalists’ Role in Reaching an Agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen.”

Although in recent years climate change has received a great deal of coverage in the media, particularly following the 4th assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, there are major differences in the way the media in the global North and South report climate change.

For example, the New York Times recently carried a long article on what is popularly known as “the Asian Brown Cloud”, which describes how poor women are using inefficient cook stoves which pollute the atmosphere and cause global warming.

Instead of blaming poor consumers around the world for worsening the global situation, such media exposure can help find ways of solving both problems at one time.

The ethical issue of industrial countries being responsible for global warming while developing countries face the brunt has still not received the media attention it deserves in some developed countries, even while some industrial countries are now calling upon big emerging economies like China, India and Brazil to cap their emissions by the time UNFCCC meets in Copenhagen this December.

Furthermore, media attention in the North, which often sets the agenda for the rest of the globe, particularly with global news channels, has by and large been confined to the mitigation of greenhouse gases through a range of restrictions, market mechanisms and the like. It has largely ignored reporting on adaptation, which will affect countries in the South far more adversely.

Developing countries are already reeling under the impacts of droughts and floods. The risk of communicable diseases emerging with climate change is, again, first felt by developing countries.

South Asia has received scant attention in the reporting on climate change in the North and, for that matter, other countries in the global South.

In South Asia, as many as 210 million people directly in the Himalaya and 1.3 billion downstream in the Indo-Gangetic agrarian belt – one-fifth of the world’s population - are already facing the threat of the receding glaciers which will eventually lead to crippling droughts.

In terms of numbers of people affected in one region, this is the largest number anywhere in the world. One can add several tens of millions living in the low-lying coastal areas of Bangladesh, who will have to be evacuated as ocean levels rise.

It is expected that media can play a seminal role to bridge this divide by providing information on global, regional and local issues. For instance, the action developing countries take to mitigate and adapt to climate change at home – as part of their global commitment or as ongoing development activities – can be reported much more comprehensively to counter the impression that developing countries have been reluctant to take steps to restrict their greenhouse gas emissions.

Similarly, media can analyze trends and issues to help opinion-makers like parliamentarians, government officials and NGOs in both the global North and South aware of the complexities of the problem and come to a more reasoned conclusion, based on such analysis. Furthermore, the role of the private sector in addressing such issues also needs to be highlighted.

The IFEJ Congress in New Delhi promises to be a humble step in bridging the gap that exists on this issue between North and South. The participants in Congress come from both industrial and developing countries and will be able to air their viewpoints and this may lead to greater insights into this most crucial problem affecting the entire planet.

The Congress is supported by Denmark, the COP15 host country. The Society of Environmental Journalists in the US, which has some 1,900 members, is also collaborating with IFEJ in organizing this Congress. The IFEJ was formed in Dresden, Germany in 1993 and this seventeen year old body now has journalists from some 70 countries as its members.

The Congress, which will be held concurrently with the 5th CMS VATAVARAN – Environment and Wildlife Film Festival 2009, will also be followed by an exciting six-day all-expenses-paid field trip to Leh in Ladakh from October 31 to November 5, offering journalists an exclusive opportunity to film, photograph and write on Himalayan glacial melt.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He is participating in the New Delhi media Congress; “Bridging North-South Differences in Reporting Climate Change: Journalists’ Role in Reaching an Agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen.” He can be contacted at

Monday, October 19, 2009

A bike journey with a social message

A bike journey with a social message
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai, Oct 19, 2009: A young technocrat on an all-India trip to voice the issues of the marginalized met people living with HIV/AIDS and other most vulnerable section of the society, in this southern metropolis today.

Prabhu S, a software engineer who has covered over 6500 kilometer journey on his bike to reach Chennai interacted with people living with HIV/AIDS and those most vulnerable to it, like sex workers and sexual minorities, who welcomed him and shared their stories of success amidst the challenges.

“Over 200 million Indians live on less than one dollar a day, yet many of the country’s youth are oblivious to this reality,” says this young social worker who has embarked on a three week journey across India to sensitize ‘generation next’ to the critical issue of poverty and lack of access for poor families to education, jobs, health and housing.

“It is unfortunate that while rest of the world knows so much about India’s poverty levels, my generation seems to be oblivious to those living below the poverty line,” says Prabhu, who seems determined to nudge this grim reality of the country.

During his 6,500 kilometer bike ride, Prabhu meet HIV positive single mothers, HIV positive children, urban poor, railway kids, orphans, women who are fighting for land and livelihood and spoke to them of their rights to be counted as citizens.

“Having covered quite a bit of the country and meeting people from a variety of communities, I am shaken by the number of issues that need to be addressed,” says Prabhu.

“I am also struck by the strength and persistence of the people who face such struggles in their daily lives,” he adds.

The young social worker has urged the government to help those communities, which are the most invisible and marginalized having no access basic rights like food and social security schemes etc.

He cited the example of Transgender Welfare Board that has been functional since almost two years but lacks basic citizenship rights like identity cards and food and livelihood rights.

For this trip, Prabhu joined hands with an NGO to highlight the issue of poverty and struggle of communities living with it.

“I learnt about it from the Internet, while searching for NGO’s working with the poor and found their national reach and rights-based approach very appealing,” adds Prabhu.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Celebrating a Colorful Diwali with a difference

Celebrating a Colorful Diwali with a difference
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai, Oct 16, 2009: Diwali, the festival of light has never been as colorful to me like today. As memory serves, I have always celebrated this Hindu festival with my friends amidst sound of fire crackers, lights and mouth watering sweets and other delicacies.

Today was different. I was with over 200 children infected and affected by HIV who had gathered for a fun filled colorful Diwali celebration along with their parents on the lawns of a hotel in the city.

Children were entertained with a variety of cultural programmes. A special musical event was performed by Isai Mottukal, a musical group where most of the singers were young children that gave a scintillating performance. There was also a dance number by a transgender group and a hip hop dance and a comedy performance to provide recreational support.

The excitements of HIV infected children showed no bounds and were seen dancing and clapping their hands. They were on cloud nine, when sweets and crackers were distributed to them.

“This is a great day in my life and I was so happy to see my other friends, I want to become a doctor and I know I will soon be a doctor to serve the society” said Raja, one of the children who had come for the programme playing with light stick.

Tamil Nadu trust for Children affected by HIV/AIDS” (TNTCAA) in partnership with the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, organized this celebration.

Chennai Corporation Mayor Mr.M.Subramaniam, TANSACS Project Director S.Vijayakumar, Bimal Charles, APAC Project Director, in order to show their solidarity for the cause participated in the programme.

There are approximately 7500 children living with HIV in Tamil Nadu. In addition to this there are orphan children who have lost either one or both the parents to HIV. In order to address there issues, the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society along with the Government of Tamil Nadu, formed Tamil Nadu trust for Children affected by HIV/AIDS (TNTCAA).

This trust is the first of its kind in the entire country that ensures safety, security and protection of children living with HIV. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has allotted Rs.5 Crore for this trust and efforts are being made to reach out to the private and corporate organizations to mobilize more funds.

“This is a celebration and expression of the children’s gratitude to the Chief Minister who initiated a Trust for the orphaned and vulnerable children” said Mayor Chennai Corporation Mr.M.Subramaniam in his speech.

“The objectives and the goal of the trust has been conceived with the support and inputs provided by the officials from the respective departments, Networks of people living with HIV, Medical officers and NGO representatives,” he said.

The trust will cater services to HIV infected children between the age group of 5 to 18 support their education, nutrition, health and financial support. The trust provides an opportunity for the children by giving proper education and shelter so that it will enable them to compete with other children.

“The upliftment of the infected children is not possible until these children receive the social recognition,” said the Chennai Mayor adding that “this celebration is an effort taken by the state AIDS Control society, to prevent the stigma and discrimination that is exists in the society towards the HIV infected.”

The Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control is also providing support through the Community care centers to support these children in education, nutrition and health, the family environment and social security.

It is running 35 anti-retroviral therapy centers in Tamil Nadu covering all the districts. So far over 35000 HIV positive people have undergone treatment at these centers including 2784 children. TANSACS has requested those interested can fill in the application for the programme and submit it to the District Collector in order to benefit of this programme.

According to AJ Hariharan, Director of ICWO, a NGO working on several social issues, Chennai city alone needs a supply of 11,111 condoms a day, 3, 33,350 in a month, and 40,00,200 in a year, as an interventionist measure to overpower the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Tamil Film Actors and Journalist at Loggerheads

Tamil Film Actors and Journalist at Loggerheads

Syed Ali Mujtaba

The furor between Tamil Nadu's film industry and local media over a sleaze story, which led to the arrest and subsequent release of a journalist, has opened up a virtual Pandora's box of issues.

The story alleged that many south Indian actresses were running sex shops in the city, invited a strong reaction from south Indian film chamber leading to the arrest of B. Lenin (43) news editor of Tamil daily Dinamalar, which in turn triggered instant protests from the journalists.

The editor though was released on unconditional bail within forty eight hours; this episode has opened up a Pandora box of issues. However, before going into them, let’s first look at the sequence of events that brought the journalists and the cine stars on a collision path.

All this started with the arrest of Tamil actress Bhuvaneswari running a sex shop with many female models from various states. Bhuvaneswari has acted in many Tamil and Telugu films and also in many TV serials. She was earlier arrested in 2002 for prostitution but was released for want of evidences.

However, this time police made some elaborate arrangement to bring her into its dragnet. The anti vice squad of Chennai police executed a sting operation on the basis of secret information received.

The squad sent a policeman as decoy in civil cloths to strike a deal with Bhuvaneswari who handed her the agreed amount after doing some bargaining. The decoy was then taken to a house in posh Adayar locality that housed two female models from Mumbai.

The decoy alerted the anti vice squad which swooped on the house and arrested the actress under the sections of Immoral trafficking Act of Tamil Nadu. They confiscated her mobile phone and memory chip having details of her clients.

The anti vice squad presented the confined girls before the magistrate and sent them to the government rehabilitation home in Mylapore locality of the city.

The Tamil daily ‘Dinamalar’ as a follow up to this news published a report saying the arrested actress in police custody has confessed of involvement of several popular Tamil and Telgue actresses engaged in sex service.

The newspaper claimed that Bhuvaneswari had given the detailed list of top Kollywood and Tollywood actresses involved in this business. The newspaper said the police officials were shocked looking at the Bhuvaneswari’s list that had some of the top actors, politicians and even policemen visiting actress of Tamil and Telgue cinema involved in this unlawful act.

According to the newspaper the names of the actresses involved in sex service and running sex shops are; Seetha, Nalini, Anju, Shakeela, Manjula Vijayakumar, SriPriya and Namitha and others. The daily added that even some of the married actresses too were involved in this profession.

According to the newspaper, Bhuvaneswari reportedly told the actresses charged somewhere Rs 10,000 (S$300) and Rs 100,000 for sexual favors and this may even increase this amount on their mood and clients paying capacity.

The arrested actress reportedly claimed having substantial evidence against those she named and added having evidences in support. She also claimed some top police officers were her customers and alleged giving her enough trouble, some even cheated her many times on payments.

Though the newspaper quickly retracted the October 5 report, and carried a regret note, it brought an avalanche in the Tamil film industry. Leading stars including South Indian Film Artistes Association President and Secretary met Chennai City Police Commissioner and lodged a FIR against the newspaper.

They also convened a protest meeting in which they made inflammatory speeches against the media and, according to reports, the profession of journalism itself. This led to the arrest of the news editor under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Women Harassment (Prevention) Act.

The arrest evoked a sharp reaction from various media outfits that held a protest meeting. More than 200 journalists attended a emergency meet where video clippings showing speeches made by some actors at the South Indian Artistes Association meeting were screened.

The journalists staged a road agitation demanding the release of the news editor saying the arrest was totally uncalled for as there was no need for custodial interrogation when the material needed to make out a case was the news report published in the daily.

They said the editor of the newspaper had already expressed regret for the report and invoking the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Harassment of Women Act, instead of the usual defamation law for arrest under a non-billable section, showed that the police had acted under some pressure.

This episode is an eye opener in many sense and few lessons could be drawn form of it. The first and foremost the subject of improving the quality of media professional manning various outlets, more particularly the regional press.

There is little doubt that the publication of the names and photographs of prominent public figures based on confessional statement is not good journalism. The report as it was published clearly offended those associated with the cine world and went against ethics of good journalism.

This issue can be addressed through having good Journalism schools and the message of ethical journalism could be hammered to the working journalists through training and workshops on this issue.

The second aspect is that of infringement on the rights of expression and the muzzling of the freedom of press. The use of criminal law mechanisms to arrest the news editor reminded the dark days of National Emergency of 1975. The arrest was arbitrary and entirely unnecessary. The law enforcing agencies could have mediated in such disputes and pacified both the sides to avoid any confrontation. Their acting in a high handed manner do not auger well for Indian democracy.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He has done a detailed survey profiles the grey world of sex workers in Madras.He can be contacted at


Monday, October 5, 2009

Indian democracy eaten by termites of family rule

Indian democracy eaten by termites of family rule
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The present kind of dynastic politics is nothing new to India, as common men have been used from time immemorial to the rule by kings who would groom their sons and daughters to ascend the throne. What we see today is a return to the times when kings and queens ruled the Indian subcontinent.

The large section of Indian population who are still not well educated, do not understand the basic concept of democracy and they think that such hereditary succession to the throne is nothing unusual or unethical.

The magic of pedigree work in India because an established name in politics is the political equivalent of a commercial brand. From educated to the illiterate, from rich to the poor, everyone appears to fall under the spell of the aggressive marketing of the brand image.

There are hardly any politicians in India whose other family members are not in politics. With parent being the political leader, it is easier access for the family members to get the party’s ticket than a non family member.

In the case of several political parties today, sons, daughters, niece and nephews of top political leaders take over the reign of the party early in life. They are groomed by the older politicians and are launched into the political scene by well orchestrated strategic media campaign, portraying them as “yuvraaj”. Media help in grooming the image of the family members of the politicians in India.

There appears to be a general feeling amongst section of population that someone from a political family has the right connections and resources to get things done. It is obvious that such ideas stem from ignorance.

It is true that political competence does not come about by conventional education alone, but it certainly does not come by mere acquaintance or association as well. A competent political leader’s wife, son or daughter need not be equally competent.

It can be welcomed, if political heirs are capable enough to provide quality leadership to the country but the overall experience shows that under the control of families over political power, the institution of democracy is taking a big beating.

Right from the local self government to the national level, political dynasties are everywhere enjoying the fruits of power and prestige. Once patriarch succeeds in attaining political power, he does not want to lose his bear clasp over it and lets his near and dear ones to come in the line, so that the power would not go outside the family lineage.

The king maker parent will never lose his sense of power by projecting his son or daughter, as the face of the future ensures a lifetime of political clout for himself. The dynasties ensure that the door to the top slot is available to none but to the family members alone.

Instead of an open and transparent political party being accountable to the public at large, the political parties in India are close family structures that breed corruption. They ensure that no outsider of the family and insider in the party dares voice dissent.

The control of political parties by families inevitably lead to several undesirable consequences, such as money power, muscle power and caste factors playing in the electoral process.

The family politics is not only increasing corruption but also making the government biased, towards a particular section, caste and region to which the family belongs, to get more votes.

Family rule provide greater possibility of producing crooks who will loot the country and its people for their own personal gain, as it is evident in many cases now.

Political families have made India a make believe kind of democracy. Citizens who are more talented and have more enthusiasm to work for the public cause but with less family background, find it hard to compete in the elections, let alone make it to the assemblies and parliament.

The menace of political families is comparable to that of termites eating into the roots of the huge tree of democracy depriving of nutrients of fresh political thoughts.

If this present trend of dominance by political families in Indian democracy would continue, we will have the emergence of a political caste-a sort of brahminical caste. Indian democracy will cease to be participatory and it will cease to be a way of empowering people.

The continuance of political dynasties indicates that Indian society has not yet become free of feudal mindset. With the casteist, feudalistic mindset, the Indian public continues to vote for families instead of ideologies. It would not be possible to undo the political dynasties in Indian democracy without changing this mindset.

A cursory look at the family trees of politicians will make it clear that politics is a family business in India. Let us face it, politics in India is a business.

While much fuss is made about money’s influence on politics, another form of privilege, blood or marriage s taken for granted. It is extremely distressing that one billion plus population is being controlled by a few families today.

With the reigns of power largely in the hands of family members who manage to get into power without having the quality of mind or merit, there is a serious doubt regarding the future of Indian democracy.

If the present scenario is allowed to continue, each state will become “a princely state” ruled by the dynasties of political leaders who promote their own kith and kin and the public will become mere spectators.

Elections would be made a mockery by the entry of incompetent or business minded family members. Several of them without the knowledge or vision would not care to represent anyone once they would get elected to assemblies and parliament.

The assumption that a member of political family need not have any record of service to the nation to get into power is an insult to the concept of democracy.

The only way out is that the people should raise their voice. The public awareness is the panacea to treat the nearly sick but apparently healthy institution of Indian democracy.

Media provides hopes. There is strong concept of citizen journalism being built in the country. This is perhaps the purest and deepest form of journalism, which can improve the quality of public thinking towards improving the quality of democracy in this country.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at