Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hon Judge don’t preach, ugly can’t be beautiful

Hon Judge don’t preach, ugly can’t be beautiful
Syed Ali Mujtaba

The statement made by former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas, praising Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its style of functioning as an organization is debatable. Notwithstanding the right of freedom of speech, the comments made by the learned judge are disturbing.

It’s more so, because K T Thomas belongs to a Christian community that has suffered at the hands of the RSS and yet he has engaged himself in an image building exercise of an organization that’s essentially is fascist in character.

There are few salient features of K T Thomas's statement. The former judge do not like that the RSS be held responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He is of the view that the RSS is not an anti minority organization. He thinks the RSS is a well disciplined organization worthy of admiration. He goes on to praise the RSS for opposing the national emergency and gives it credit for fighting for the restoration of the fundamental rights.

One may like to discuss these comments one by one as each of them sounds contentious. However, before doing so, let’s have the details of his statement.

The former judge wants the ''smear campaign'' against RSS being responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi to end. “Just because the assassin was once an RSS worker does not hold RSS responsible of the crime,” he says.

The smear campaign that the RSS was responsible for Gandhi’s assassination is unjustified, he has reportedly said and added that the organization was ''completely exonerated'' by the court.

K T Thomas defended the RSS acts of omission and commission by posing a question, "Can the entire Sikh community be responsible for Indira Gandhi’s assassination?”

He also took exception to the propaganda that RSS is an anti-minority organization, saying such vilification campaign is "baseless."

The learned judge then goes on to say; "I am a Christian. I was born as a Christian and practice that religion. I am a church going Christian. But I have also learnt many things about RSS."

The former apex court judge says, he became an admirer of the RSS in 1979 when he was posted as district judge of Kozhikode. This is because RSS is a disciplined organization that believes in the philosophy of simple living and high thinking.

He goes on to eulogise the RSS, saying; during the national Emergency of 1975, RSS was the only non-political organization that fought against its proclamation. "We owe very much to RSS for sacrificing many lives for regaining our fundamental rights," he reportedly said

Initially, when I saw this PTI report, I thought of ignoring it with the logic let hundred flowers bloom, but then, when the same copy started circulating on the internet, I felt this should not become a gospel of truth.

The statement made by K T Thomas, becomes noteworthy because the person is not only a former Supreme Court judge, an upholder of the constitution, but also belongs to a minority Christian community. Now, lets dissect each of his statement one by one.

First of all, the Judge wants us to forget that assassin of Mahatma Gandhi was not an act of the RSS but of a lunatic who was its former member. He does not like to accept the fact that the lunatic man was indoctrinated by the radical ideology of the RSS that drove him to commit that heinous crime.

Court's may exonerate the individual or an organization for want of facts, but can anyone force to make up their mind based on the courts judgement. So, no amount logic can convince the people of this country that RSS was not behind the assassination of the Mahatma Gandhi.

His second observation, that RSS is not anti-minority is also untenable. Since last 64 years, the anti minority conduct of the RSS is very well documented. Time and again it’s being held responsible for breeching peace in the country. This organization takes up well orchestrated campaign against the minority community and polarizes the society on communal lines. Very often, the minority community is pushed to the wall and is forced to react and that takes the form of communal riots.

The lessons learnt from the communal riots are the story of provocation from the RSS cadre and the reaction from minority community. Since the act of the former is well planned, the reaction comes unguarded, making the minority community vulnerable. They fall into a well laid out trap and become victims of the circumstances, loosing their lives property and honour in the process.

K T Thomas, takes pride in being a practising Christian and an admirer of the RSS. He goes on to issue a good character certificate of the organization whose record of anti Christian community is numerous. The gruesome murder of Graham Stain at the hands of RSS sympathizer is still etched in our memory.

Its common knowledge, that believer of the Christian faith in Orissa and Karnataka had suffered immensely in recent times at the hands of the RSS cadre that held them responsible for conversion. Can the entire Christian community be responsible for the act of few Christians?

His comment on RSS opposing the national emergency of 1975 and fighting for the restoration of fundamental rights is also far fetched. Any one who has lived during the period of emergency can vouch that a cross section of the society has opposed that high handed declaration tooth and nail. Giving credit to RSS for opposing emergency, is tantamount to making heroes of a tribe of murders.

K T Thomas says that RSS is a well disciplined organisation worthy of admiration. I find a parallel to it in the admirers of the Nazis, that’s also, had been hailed as a well disciplined organisation. However, does that exonerate it from the charges of the “Holocaust” against the Jews?

The sole purpose of the RSS is to divide the country on communal lines. Its modus oprendi is to mobilize the gullible masses of the Hindu faith by instilling in them the fear of threat from the minority community.

I feel pity about the ex judge who relishes an organization, that bellies the essence of the Indian constitution. RSS is well known for its advocacy of the supremacy of the Hindu faith and the subservience of other faiths to it. Isn’t it a diabolic thinking?

I feel no amount of sweet talking can build the image of the RSS. There are certain fundamental issues that go against it. It does not tolerate religious pluralism, secularism, socialism and democratic values that’s being cherished by every Indian.

So no amount of the advocacy of the RSS by whomsoever can make it a perfect organisation. There is an uncanny feeling that Mr. K T Thomas has chose to make the comments for some gainful reasons. There are more to his statement then what the eyes can read.

An appeal to the voices peace and harmony to stand up against such purposeful statement and advice to Hon. Judge, better not preach the ugly can’t be made beautiful.

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Planet, People and Profit Key to Environmental Campaign

Planet, People and Profit Key to Environmental Campaign
Syed Ali Mujtaba

“Planet, People and Profit are the three Ps that are central to the issues related to the protection of the environment. The profit or consumerism is the villain of the planet that’s getting spoiled by the people indulging into mindless consumerism,” said Mr.Jayaprasad, National Secretary, Service Civil International (SCI) India, at the youth workshop on Climate Change in Chennai, India.

Indian Community Welfare Organization (ICWO) with the support of Service Civil International (SCI) Italy and KMGNE Germany organized the day long workshop on August 6, 2011.

“Youth volunteering can be a medium for intertwining northern and southern campaigns on issues related to climate change because youth want to change the world,” said A.J.Hariharan , Secretary, Founder of ICWO.

Another speaker, Devanayyan, Director of Tholaizhmai Human rights organization passionately appealed for environmental friendly practices among the youth asking them to make it a part of their daily lives.

“Its necessary that youth need to focus on the environmental issue, because over a period of last 5 years, nearly 125 lakes has disappeared in Chennai and the space is occupied by concrete structures,” he said.

Students from Madras Christian College, Madras School of Social Work, Hindu College, Mohammed Sathak College, volunteers from Service Civil International SCI and international youth from Italy, Germany, Australia and USA participated in the workshop.

The workshop focused on the waste management, issues and made certain recommendations like massive balloons should be banned, use of fire crackers to be reduced, introduction of mobile toilets, to encourage people to volunteer to clean up toilets, cleaning up the streets. segregated dustbin should be kept in the streets, creating awareness on usage of waste bins, having the recycling bins with color coded baskets, usage of paper cups, use of cotton bags should be practiced, noise and smoke free festivals, fine those who throw the waste on the streets or spit on the roads, unnecessary use of horn on roads, ban on cremation of dead bodies on the river bed, encouragement of electrical cremation, less usage of electricity, use of cycles as mode of transportation, tree plantation to be encouraged, importance of self awareness in reducing the impact of climate change.

Some participants expressed their desire to pass on the message of how to tackle the issue of climate change discussed at the workshop to their family, friends and schoolmates. Some volunteered for starting an environment club or recycling project in schools and colleges. A pledge taken to make this world sustainable for the future generation

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average (e.g., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change may be limited to a specific region or may occur across the whole earth.

The issue of Climate Change is a key element of the contemporary interconnections between North and South of the world. It involves the entire planet. The most affected countries are those of the Southern hemisphere, while in the North the majority of Co2 is produced as well as other gases responsible for global warming. It is therefore essential to deal with this issue in a holistic way and to train the youth in order to implement innovative strategies and campaigns against the causes of Climate Change.

The momentum of environmental campaign was further buttressed by organizing a cycle rally at the Marina Beach Chennai on August, 8 2011. The title of the rally was “Grounding Our Future” to stop global warming.

A large number of participants from social work department Stella Maris College, Mohammed Sathak College, Hindu College, Presidency College, C.N.P.T. Poly-Technical College and Volunteers from USA, Australia participated in the cycle rally.

Global warming is caused by green house gases, which trap in the sun’s infrared rays in the earth’s atmosphere, which in turn heat up the earth’s atmosphere.

These green house effect warming is called as global warming. The effects of green house effect are visible more prominently in the recent years, with number of natural calamities on the rise in the whole world. The global warming has happened in the past few years and is evident from the rise in mean temperature of the earth’s atmosphere.

The fight against global warming cannot be in isolation and it needs collaboration of different stakeholders, corporate houses, NGOs, CBOs, along with general public.

Many people and governments are already working hard to cut greenhouse gases, and each of us can help in this endeavor. In addition to reducing the gases we emit to the atmosphere, we can also increase the amount of gases we take out of the atmosphere. Plants and trees absorb CO2 as they grow, “sequestering” carbon naturally. Increasing forestlands and making changes to the way we farm could increase the amount of carbon we’re storing.

Some of these technologies have drawbacks, and different communities will make different decisions about how to power their lives, but the good news is that there are a variety of options to put us on a path toward a stable climate.

This is the first time a workshop on climate change and a cycle rally on environmental issues focusing youth was organized in Chennai. The main objective of the workshop is to enhance the youth capacity to promote volunteering as a tool to endorse sustainable life styles. The idea has to be developed further and enriched by the exchange of ideas of the people living in other areas of the world how they are dealing with such global issues.

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

Changing Face of Bihar

Changing Face of Bihar A talk by Syed Ali Mujtaba
Report on ORF interaction in Chennai dated 25 January 2011

Bihar is one of the most under-developed States in India. Be it the political anarchy or recurrent floods in one part and droughts in the other, Bihar has always remained in news for wrong reasons. Taking heed of the recent positive developments in the State, the Chennai Chapter of Observer Research Foundation organised an Interaction on the 'Changing face of Bihar', on January 22, 2011.

Dr. Syed Ali Mujtaba, Director, School of Mass Communication, Vels University, Chennai, presented a detailed profile of Bihar, explaining the political history and the ground realities in the State. A native of Bihar, he enumerated the wave of change that has been sweeping across the State in recent times, inter-mingling facts and figures with anecdotes and personal experiences. He listed construction of roads across the State as among the top achievements of the present Government of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and said that in a State where no roads had existed for decades, it also helped the ruling coalition NDA (National Democratic Alliance) to win re-election the previous year.

Dr. Mujtaba elaborated the changes in different fields with relevant examples. The administrative sector witnessed tremendous changes, ranging from the better functioning of Government offices to the introduction of new technologies. New laws have been passed, making it mandatory for Government employees to declare their assets. He noted that surprise-checks and raids have brought down the incidence of corruption to some extent. Reports about kidnapping for gain and murder too have reduced considerably. At the local-governance level, both the panchayatiraj system and municipal corporations have been revived and are active. He also pointed to the vast improvement in tax-collections of the civic bodies.

Dr. Mujtaba was of the opinion that the life of the people in Bihar has improved in different ways. According to him, the increased connectivity attained by construction of roads and popularisation of mobile phones have revolutionised life in Bihar. The primary education, especially for girls, is given a lot of importance than ever before. The strict implementation of Centrally-funded schemes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, providing noon-meal, uniforms and books have all contributed to an increase in the enrolment of students. A number of new Government hospitals have been built and the existing ones are being modernised at a fast pace, said Dr.Mujtaba. He also appreciated the State Government for taking initiatives to construct public toilets in rural areas, to improve the health and sanitation of the people.

Dr. Mujtaba attributed the reasons for the backward status of Bihar to several factors, like landlocked geographic location, historic neglect of the peripheral regions, political instability and the complex socio-cultural matrix of the State. For him, the downfall of Bihar from one of the best governed States in the 1950's to one among the least developed States of today revealed the extent of poor governance in the interim. None of the regimes after the first Chief Minister Srikrishna Sinha, who was in power for close to 15 years, could continue development activities initiated at the time. The average term of a Chief Minister was less than a year, until the Rashtriya Janata Dal came to power in 1990. Despite promising change, the party became known for poor governance, he said.

Pointing out the complex social matrix of Bihar and the consequent caste politics as a major reason for the political instability, Dr. Mujtaba said while there was a constant tussle between the forward and backward castes, Muslims numbering around 17 per cent after the creation of Jharkhand, remained king-makers. Though the recent Assembly polls witnessed developmental agenda replacing caste and related equations, he said that the power structure had changed only in the ballot paper but not at the societal level. There only the rich and influential mattered, with caste playing a dominant role, based on individual regions.

Dr. Mujtaba admitted that Bihar faced enormous challenges and it would definitely be a tall task to resolve them. The strong resistance from the influential land-owners came in the way of much-needed land reforms. Naxalism posed a grave threat to the security and stability of the State. Natural disasters like rampant floods and droughts that affect more than half the population demanded immediate remedial action of a permanent nature. According to him, the higher education sector needed a total revival. The police force also required thorough modernisation. Issues like curbing criminalisation of politics and employment-generation must also be given high priority. He expressed confidence in the present Government in its attempt to deliver the basic needs of people like road, water, power and jobs.

Charing the session, Mr. N. Sathiya Moorthy, Director, Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter, outlined the complexities of Bihar politics and drew attention to the dynamics of Centre-State relations in the case of Bihar. He remarked that the changing face of Bihar was a heartening fact and also reminded that Bihar has a long way to go in terms of development and modernisation.

During the interaction, participants discussed several significant issues. The need to train a second-line of political leaders in order to sustain the achieved level of development was also stressed. The relative legitimacy of successive elections in Bihar, the role of the Election Commission and the extent of caste politics in the 2009 Assembly polls were discussed. The need to emulate lessons from the Bihar model of development was also raised during the discussion.

(This report is prepared by Neethu S Thottammariyil, II MA, International Studies, Stella Maris College, Chennai)