Why I do not want Modi to become India’s Prime minister

It is Parliament election time in India. The right wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the front runner and is assured of getting more seats in Parliament than other political parties. According to the opinion polls BJP lead alliance may get close to absolute majority. BJP is projecting Narendra Modi as the Prime minister. So if the opinion pollsters are right he will be Indian Prime minister by end of next month.
As the title of the post suggests I do not want Modi to be Indian Prime minister.
Let me try to explain rationally why I do not want him as Prime minister or BJP as the ruling party.

1. As an atheist and a rationalist I do not want a right wing political party founded on religious and national pride to rule my country.
BJP is a political party based on Hindutva ideology. It is the political wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS.

What does RSS stand for?
“The Hindu culture is the life-breath of Hindusthan. It is therefore clear that if Hindusthan is to be protected, we should first nourish the Hindu culture”.

No rationalist can support politics based on religion.

2. BJP being a religion based party stand for many irrational things. See some of these excerpts from BJP manifesto.
“Ram Mandir: BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya”

“Cow and its Progeny: In view of the contribution of cow and its progeny to agriculture, socio-economic and cultural life of our country, the Department of Animal Husbandry will be suitably strengthened and empowered for the protection and promotion of cow and its progeny. Necessary legal framework will be created to protect and promote cow and its progeny.”

Ram is a Hindu god and Cow (not buffalo or goat) is a considered as sacred in Hinduism.
How can a rationalist support them?

3. BJP’s PM hopeful Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat when a genocide like situation happened. Gujarat riots were the most violent of all riots of 21st century in India. More than a thousand were killed, a large majority being minority Muslims, including a Member of Parliament. The riots occurred after the burning down of a railway coach and death of around 60 people who were a part of Viswa Hindu Parishad’s (an RSS affiliate) pilgrimage tour. The cause of the fire is still not clear, but probably occurred after a skirmish between Muslim vendors and RSS activists at the Godhra railway station.
Before starting of any enquiry, even before a first information report was filed by local police, Modi reached the site of tragedy and declared it is a conspiracy. He said:
“It (burning of the Sabarmati Express) was a pre-planned act. The culprits will have to pay for it. It was not communal violence. It was a violent, one-sided, collective act by only one community.”

A very irrational and dangerous statement deliberately made to instigate violence on minority Muslim community.
The following days saw large scale violence against Muslims all over Gujarat, with the Modi controlled Police not being much effective in protecting the life and property of citizens.
How can a rationalist support such a person who deliberately instigated violence in name of religion? He becoming PM can result in further riots and deaths of innocent lives. It is true that in India, most political parties indulge in tactics which may promote religion based violence. But the main instigator was always been RSS and its affiliated organizations, because majority religion always benefits from religious divide of society.

4. BJP being a religion/nationalism based party has its own distorted view of history which is in much variance from the actual history.
Here is what historian D.N Jha has to say about distorting history by Hindutva forces:
“The quest for India’s national identity through the route of Hindu religious nationalism began in the nineteenth century and has continued ever since. In recent years, however, it has received an unprecedented boost from those communal forces which brought a virulent version of Hindu cultural chauvinism to the centre stage of contemporary politics and produced a warped perception of India’s past. This is evident from the indigenist propaganda writings which support the myth of Aryan autochthony, demonise Muslims and Christians, and propagate the idea that India and Hinduism are eternal.”
Can a rationalist support a political party whose core ideology is based on distorted history?
5. BJP being a faith based political party staunchly supports god men and women, who fool the naïve believers by selling spirituality. Leaders in spiritual business like Sri Sri Ravisankar, Baba Ramdev and Mata Amrithanandamayi support BJP and BJP supports them strongly. Rationalists who question these god men are many a time physically assaulted by BJP cadre.
6. RSS, the force behind BJP is a men’s only club holding medieval patriarchal values. For RSS, role of women in society is only as good mothers and wives, nothing else.
I can come out with many more reasons for not supporting Narendra Modi, but these are the core issues.
I will conclude by saying a vote for Modi/BJP is a vote for a faith/hyper nationalism based Government which will actively promote divisiveness in society, irrational beliefs, patriarchy and distorts history.
That is why I do not support BJP/Modi.

Links
RSS
BJP Manifesto
History distortion
on Gujarat riots

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An evening with the one and only Taslima

The other day we met the one and only Taslima Nasrin! Yes me and my wife were able to meet her and had a wonderful few hours with her.
She hardly knew us apart from a few interactions on social media, but welcomed us with warmth and love, and a sumptuous lunch!
We did not talk much about big subjects, like freedom of expression for writers, religion or feminism. Instead we talked about food, illnesses in her family, her own health, Minu her beloved cat…..day to day mundane topics. As we ate, talk was about how Bengalis eat, first concentrating on veggies, touching fish and meat last……all separate ….without mixing. She looked pleased when my wife reminded the scene in her book “French Lover” in which there was a comparison between eating habits of Europeans and Bengalis. She lamented that her cook in Delhi did not know how to make Bengali fish dishes, and she had to do it. She explained she was busy shopping last evening for preparing this lunch for us in the nearby Bengali market. She seemed to be happy meeting friends, cooking for them, anxious about her dishes, disappointed if we did not consume much, repeatedly asking whether the food has become too cold (as we were very late for lunch). She, I felt, yearned for an ordinary life of a human being which is being denied to her by intolerant goons.
photo
While waiting for us, she had put the picture of the dining table with all the dishes on twitter and she got a lot of retweets and positive mentions about how good a hostess she is.
“If I wrote a logical valid point against religion and patriarchy I get so many negative comments, but people it seems are happy seeing me as a hostess and cook” she said with a smile!
Yes, the World wants Taslimas who cook and host, not Taslimas who speak out the truth.
photo (1)
Taslima Nasrin was a victim of plain speaking, of having courage enough to speak out the fact that the King is naked.
She spoke against intolerant misogynist religion and about the cruel oppression women face from Patriarchy. She wrote the truth about everything that happened in her life in plain and simple language. She wrote about childhood sexual abuse inside the four walls of her house, her love, the betrayal, syphilis, her work as a doctor and a writer, her marriages, her relationships with friends, both men and women, the sordid hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to judging a woman, awards and the abuses she faced from the society.
Islamists and politicians hungry for votes made her a hate figure, a grave threat to religion and family “values”. Fatwas for killing her came out and price was put on her head. She was pushed out of her country Bangladesh first, and then from the Left ruled Indian state of West Bengal. Her press conference in Hyderabad was disrupted by intolerant rowdies led by MLAs and was almost killed in that violence.
Now she is living under intense security at a safe house, with severe restrictions in her movement inside the country in this supposed to be liberal secular republic of India. She has not been granted Indian citizenship and is facing an uncertain future. She is welcome in Western Europe or USA, but hates to live anywhere else other than the Indian subcontinent. She is not an escapist or a coward, running away because of threats. She very well realise that her sphere of activity should be Indian subcontinent, the dark world of religious intolerance and oppressive patriarchy, than much more liberal West.
When we were about to leave, she was generous enough to give us several of her autographed books, and invited us to come for a longer stay.
As we finally bid good bye to Taslima and Minu, I felt ashamed of living in this World where religious/Communalist bigots have a free run to sow hate and incite violence, while a true Humanist Secularist is prevented from sowing the seeds of reason by being confined to the four walls of her house.

Taslima Nasrin’s official website

A report on the heinous attack on Taslima at Hyderabad

A report on hounding out of Taslima from CPM ruled West Bengal

Are we becoming increasingly intolerant?

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Another Cartoon is under the hammer of our intolerant society. This time it is an old cartoon which when published 60 years ago did not raise any eyebrows. Cartoon of the famous cartoonist Shanker was reproduced by NCERT in it’s much appreciated Class 11 text book. Now it has been made controversial by vested interests and was ordered to be removed by Education Minister. Unfortunate thing is not only RPI (the supposedly pro Dalit party) but MPs of all political parties (from Left to Right) were united in getting it removed.
The cartoon was shown to highlight the time taken to write the most voluminous Constitution of the World. The text below it explains that each clause was deliberated at length by the members of the Constituent Assembly, amended rejected or approved as per majority opinion in a most democratic and reasonable way.
The cartoon only depicted the newly independent Country waiting impatiently and expectantly for the most important document ever produced in India.
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Now a Parliamentary committee has been formed to look into all NCERT Text books.
While teaching my daughter I was always amazed at the quality of NCERT Social Sciences text books of recent years. The high calibre was the result of team effort of a large number of people. Will this intolerance see an end to good quality learning materials for our students?
The intolerance of our MPs to such harmless cartoons is a shame for World’s largest Democracy

Related articles
Kafila post
History of drafting of Indian Constitution

Hats off to Team Anna

Anna Hazare has agreed to break his fast tomorrow morning. This came about after the Loksabha unanimously agreed to include 3 important issues raised by Team Anna in the Lokpal Bill.
Is this what Team Anna wanted?
No, they had demanded that the Janlokpal Bill should be passed by the Parliament in this session itself.
So is this really a victory for Team Anna. They have said that it is a partial victory
True, it is only a partial victory, but I am sure no one among Anna’s team would have really believed that the Janlokpal bill will be passed in this session of Parliament. Their hard posturing, in my opinion was for strengthening their hand during negotiations and they did negotiate hard with a direction-less faltering Government.
I am saying ‘Hats off to Team Anna’ due to their following achievements.
Janlokpal movement Achievements:

1.They brought topic of corruption to center stage
 By their continuous hard work and help from the media they were able to put spotlight on Corruption for a prolonged period of time.
2.They made all political parties take a stand on lokpal
None of the political parties had a clear stand on lokpal. This movement forced them to take a clear stand.

3. Made sure that we will have a strong Lokpal against corruption and judiciary accountability Law soon.
Without this movement’s constant pressure the Lokpal Bill would have been hibernating again in cold storage for another decade.
4. Proved there is space & need for political activism beyond political parties & that it can be effective.
 UPA 2 was reeling under corruption in the Center and most States. BJP was no different in states ruled by it. The Principle Opposition being a sectarian Hindutva oriented one made Congress over confident. Left Parties living inside their ideology-jail were ineffective.Thus Indian Polity became stagnant with political parties in a deep freeze.
Team Anna was able to churn the stagnant political climate in India. They proved that there is space of political activism in India and for that one need not form a Political Party.
 5. Proved there is still scope for non violent mass movements & fasts in India if the issue raised is important to all.
 Indian freedom struggle was one of the least violent of mass movements in the World. Thus we have a history of creating and sustaining such non violent struggles. But sadly in recent years most of our agitations were violent resulting in street fights and arson. Team Anna now proved that even in 21st century there is role for Gandhian style struggles and fasts. They proved that such a struggle for a popular and just cause creates so much credibility problem for the Government that they will have to mediate and address the issues involved.
Today I am not trying to enumerate the numerous faults and drawbacks of this movement. According to me they are not that significant compared to the achievements.
This is only a small step in making our country a better and more just place to live in, but a very important step.

Should India talk with Pakistan?

The decision by the Indian Government to proceed with the Foreign Secretary level talk with Pakistan has not been widely welcomed in India. Many in India believe that such ‘talks’ are useless exercise as the terror attacks on India directed by Pak based terror networks are continuing, with the Pune blast as the most recent example. So let me try to answer in the Indian point of view the question ‘Should India talk with Pakistan?

In recent years the number of terror attacks that take place in Pakistan far out number that which take place in India. The men behind these attacks are the same, representing the fundamentalist Islamist ideology. The Pakistan army is trying hard to recapture the territory lost to the Taliban. An ideological war is going on between the moderates and the extremists. Under International and Indian pressure Pakistan is prosecuting some of the accused in the 26/11 terror attack.

The terrorists in Pakistan are trying their level best to ignite hate against India, because then only they will receive good support from Pakistani public. So for the Islamist terrorist an India which will not talk with Pakistan, which will not allow Pak players to participate in IPL, which will humiliate Pakistani Government and people again and again is the India they want to see. Only if India behaves like that they will get more money and support from both the public and the Government of Pakistan. Only then they can defy ban orders and organise more and more big anti-India public meetings. Only then they can propagate their anti-women, anti-modern Islamist fundamentalism among Pak public.

An India which will talk with Pakistan, which will deal with it as a an errand younger brother, which will increase the cultural and person to person contact with Pakistan, which will assure the Pakistani public that it do not have any intention to destroy Pakistan is an India which is a nightmare for the terrorists.

Does India gain anything by not talking to Pakistan? Nothing I can think off. Will India suffer more by talking to Pakistan? Will there be more terror attacks? No is my answer.

So in my view we should talk with Pakistan at all levels.

This does not mean we should surrender our principled positions. This does not mean we should give lot of concessions to Pakistan. This does not mean we should give away Kashmir to Pakistan. This does not mean we should withdraw Armed forces from the border. This does not mean we should lower our vigil against terrorist attacks.

The non-Islamised civil society of Pakistan is India’s first line of defense against terror attacks. . We should support and strengthen it.

The World March for Peace and Nonviolence to begin on Gandhi Jayanti Day

A World march for Peace and Non-violence is scheduled to begin on Gandhi Jayanti day this year.
The World March will begin in New Zealand on October 2, 2009, the anniversary of Gandhiji’s birth, declared the “International Day of Nonviolence” by the United Nations. It will conclude in the Andes Mountains (Punta de Vacas, Aconcagua, Argentina) on January 2, 2010. The March will last 90 days, three long months of travel. It will pass through all climates and seasons, from the hot summer of the tropics and the deserts, to the winter of Siberia. The American and Asian stages will be the longest, both almost a month. A permanent base of a hundred people of different nationalities will complete the journey.

The march is organised basically by the World Humanist movement. through one of its organisation World Without Wars[WWW].

WWW subscribes to and promotes the “Humanist Document” whose main points are:

Condemnation of physical violence, whose maximum expression is war, and of all other forms of violence: economic, racial, religious and sexual.
Affirmation of freedom of thought and diversity of beliefs for all human beings.
Development of science and all knowledge at the service of life.
Recognition of personal, ethnic, racial and cultural diversity throughout the world.
Affirmation of the equality of all human beings.
Considering the human being as the central value and concern.

The main objectives of the World March are

To denounce the dangerous world situation that is leading us closer and closer to nuclear war, which would be the greatest catastrophe in human history – a dead end.



To give a voice to the majority of world citizens who want peace. Although the majority of the human race opposes the arms race, we are not sending out a unified signal. Instead we are letting ourselves be manipulated by a powerful minority and suffering the consequences. The time has come to stand together and show our opposition. Join a multitude of others in sending a clear signal, and your voice will have to be heard!


To achieve: the worldwide eradication of nuclear weapons; the immediate withdrawal of invading troops from occupied territories; the progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons; the signing of
non-aggression treaties among nations and the renunciation by governments of war as a way to resolve conflicts.

To expose the many other forms of violence (economic, racial, sexual, religious…) that are currently hidden or disguised by their perpetrators; and to provide a way for all who suffer such violence to be heard.

To create global awareness – as has already happened with environmental issues – of the urgent need to condemn of all forms of violence and bring about real Peace.

Details of the march like the route and the mode of transportation can be found here

You can endorse the march and learn about what you can do to help by clicking here.

In Kerala veteran singer Padmabhushan K J Yesudas is the ambassador for the World March for Peace and non-violence.

Let us all endorse this noble cause and make Peace and non-violence a reality.

Is there a ‘Kashmir’ in China?

Recently Mr.S.Gurumurthy wrote an article in the New Indian Express comparing India’s Kashmir problem with that of Islamic insurgency in China. The article titled ” A tale of two Kashmirs made me think about the different aspects of the problems faced by two of the World’s most populous Nations. Here are some excerpts from the article [in orange]and my thoughts [in black]about it.

That China too has its Kashmir and problems with Islamist separatists identical to India’s Kashmir is not widely known. ‘Xinjiang’, actually pronounced as ‘Sinkiang’ for postal purposes, is China’s Kashmir. Xinjiang actually shares borders with Ladakh in India’s Kashmir. But unlike Kashmir it is not a small area. Its size is 1.8 million sq km; almost one-sixth of China; half as much as India. India’s Kashmir measures some 2,65,000 sq km. Of which some 86,000 sq km is under Pakistan; some 37,500 sq km under China; the balance, 1,41,000 sq km, is with India. The disputed part of India’s Kashmir, some 1,45,000 sq km, is less than one hundredth of Xinjiang. So China’s Kashmir is physically 100 times bigger than India’s and therefore its problem too is bigger. Yet many do not know about it.


Here Mr Gurumurthy is claiming that as the area of Xinjiang is physically 100 times bigger than the area of Kashmir the problem of insurgency is/was also bigger. Is this true? Gurumuthy has not given any such indication in his article.

Let us look back at the history of the origin of Kashmir conflict.
The Kashmir Conflict arises from the Partition of India in 1947 into modern India and Pakistan. Both the countries have made claims to Kashmir, based on historical reasons and religious affiliations of the Kashmiri people. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, which lies strategically in the Northwest of the subcontinent, , was a princely state with a majority Muslim population,ruled by Hindu King,Maharaja Hari Singh, under the paramountcy of British India. In geographical and legal terms, the Maharaja could have joined either of the two new Dominions. The Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten urged the Maharaja, to determine the future of his state before the transfer of power took place, but Hari Singh delayed his decision.. In October 1947, Pakistani tribals with help of the Army entered Kashmir intending to liberate it from Hari Singh’s rule. Unable to withstand the invasion, the Maharaja signed The Instrument of Accession with India.

The resulting war over Kashmir, between India and Pakistan, lasted until 1948, when India moved the issue to the UN Security Council. UN Security Council passed Resolution 47 on April 21, 1948. The resolution imposed that an immediate cease-fire take place and said that Pakistan should withdraw all presence and had no say in Jammu and Kashmir politics. It stated that India should retain a minimum military presence and stated “that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations”. At that time, the Indian and Pakistani governments agreed to hold the plebiscite but Pakistan did not withdraw its troops from Kashmir thus violating the condition for holding the plebiscite. India also did not want a Plebiscite. Plebiscite never happened and the dispute is continuing.

Xinjiang never had similar history. There was never a partition of China as it became independent like the way that happened in Indian sub continent. Several Chinese dynasties had ruled over the area.Many a time local leaders had declared independence but their attempts were short lived.After Chinese revolution and making of Xinjiang an autonomous province of People’s Republic no other Country made any claim for the territory. Sporadic separatist protests were there but were put down by the autocratic Government with an iron hand.
So to say that China’s Xinjiang ‘problem’ is similar to and is much bigger than India’s Kashmir conflict is according to me not true.

Yes, China does have problems with Islamist separatists, extremists and terrorists. But it has, by diplomacy and action, ensured that it remains an internal problem, unlike India, which has on its own made Kashmir an international issue. China has also changed the religious and political demography of Xinjiang by ensuring that 41 per cent of the province’s population is non-Muslim.
Instead of working to change the demography in favour of India as China has done, the Indian government could not even prevent the expulsion of
Hindus from the Valley. While Xinjiang is half filled by Han Chinese, Kashmir has been cleansed of Hindus. The result is that India has to defend Kashmir with the army instead of the people.

An issue becomes International when there is a dispute between two Nations that could not be solved bilaterally. So the Kashmir conflict was always an International issue. India did take it to the UN with the belief that UN will readily uphold India’s rights to the territory of Kashmir.That did not happen and in retrospect the decision to take it to UN may have been wrong. But to say that India’s action was the sole reason for the issue becoming International is far from the truth.In case of Xinjiang there was only an internal separatist movement.So chances of it becoming International was/is less.

China did change the ethnic and religious demography of Xinjiang so that the Han Chinese became a dominant force. They could do it deliberately because of the autocratic functioning of the Chinese Government. They do not have democracy nor the Judiciary is independent of the Government.In contrast India had a functioning democracy almost all the time after Independence expect during the Emergency.

When the Kashmir Constituent Assembly ratified the Indian Constitution and the union to India,Article 370 was a pre-condition for such ratification.Any violation of fundamental rights assured by our Constitution could be questioned in our Courts.So deliberate changing of demographics is not possible anywhere in a country like India,more so in Kashmir.But the whole article never mentions this important difference between India’s Kashmir and China.

Actually India is trying to defend Kashmir with the help of secular and moderate Kashmiris with Army protecting them,unlike in China were Han Chinese from other provinces are displacing the Uighurs with the help of brute force of Chinese Army. Which is better?

Should article 370 be repealed? As per the current constitutional provisions it can be done only with the concurrence of the Kashmir Government. If there is such a concurrence it will good to repeal it for proper integration Kashmir to India.

Had India followed the policy the Chinese adopted in Xinjiang, conquering Kashmir back instead of contracting under Article 370, which prevents Indians in other places from migrating to the Valley, today Kashmir would have demographically integrated with India. We would be dealing with internal riots occasionally like China does; but we would not face or fight wars with Pakistan and with terrorists every day.

May be Gurumurthy,who is a well known opponent of Emergency Rule of 1975-1977 must have lost his belief in Democracy. He wants India to conquer Kashmir back without the consent of its inhabitants. Will conquering really integrate it to India,or increase the support for separatist movement? Will it prevent wars with Pakistan or increase the chance of war? Will it reduce jihadi terrorism or increase it? Gurumurthy seems to be deliberately closing his eyes to the reality.