Why Hindutva victory in India

As expected the Hindu nationalist Bharathiya Janata Party won the Indian Parliament election. The victory was much bigger than expected and the chief architect of the victory, the controversial leader Narendra Modi will soon take charge as the next Prime minister of India. In this post I am trying to enumerate the reasons for such a verdict by World’s largest democracy.

 

Image

1. The Congress party led alliance which ruled India for last 10 years was massively unpopular due to many reasons. Corruption,inflation,slow economic growth and indecisiveness in major policy matters with multiple centers of power paralyzing the Govt were the main reasons for its unpopularity.

2. The opposition party, BJP and its allies decided on Narendra Modi as their leader to fight the elections very early. This gave a head start for Modi and he utilized it properly with well organised campaign tours throughout the country.

3. Almost all the business houses backed Modi fully as they were unhappy with slow growth in infrastructure and difficulty in getting  clearances for their projects. They believed Modi will be much more friendly to Corporate needs..

4. Massive propaganda directly -through mass media ads and billboards , through social media using paid workers and non paid volunteers,-and indirectly using mass media run by friendly media houses helped in projecting Modi as a man of development, eclipsing his real image as a divisive leader. It is said that BJP has spend around 1000 million US dollars in the last 3 months of election, almost double that of rival parties.

5. Last 20 years saw increasing urbanization and industrialization of India, which resulted in blurring of caste lines and backward classes, especially the OBCs, coming up socially and economically. RSS, the mother organisation of all Hindu nationalist social and political organisations including the BJP was traditionally popular only with upper caste Hindus in West and North India. With the change in the society, more and more lower castes began to join Hindu organisations. Modi could sell his development rhetoric to a large section of  Hindu backward castes aspiring to climb up the social ladder. Propaganda machine of the RSS was also able to label Congress party as more friendly to Muslims than Hindus, though the truth is actually the reverse.

 
6. Anti Hindutva votes where divided. Although 65% of voters did not vote for BJP alliance, it was able to get 60% of Parliament seat. Lack of a credible National level opposition helped BJP. The new anti Corruption party, AAP did show some promise, but their small resources where spread too wide to have any real impact.

Thus the huge victory of Modi’s BJP need not be seen just as a victory for Hindutva revivalism. Hindutva element is there for sure, but it’s role in getting this much votes and seats is minimal. It’s more of a negative vote against corruption and utter lack of leadership of the Congress dynasty. People voted for those who displayed leadership and belief in themselves. That is why along with Modi, 3 regional leaders Jayalalitha, Biju Patnaik and Mamta Bannerjee got such a thumping victory. It’s also a vote for stable government, which people believe can give a boost to economic growth of the country and their purses.

 Hindutva Government in India is a big setback to its secular polity. At the same time the people’s verdict should be respected. Let us hope the new government will not permanently scar the secular fabric of the country and at the same time improve the living conditions of millions of poor Indians regardless of their religion.

Advertisements

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

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

Ban on anti Diabetes medicine Pioglitazone irrational

The recent decision taken by Indian Health Ministry to suspend the manufacture and sale of Pioglitazone, a medicine that is widely used to reduce blood sugar in Diabetes patients is a very short sighted move.
Pioglitzone belongs to a group of anti diabetic medicines called Glitazones and was approved in 1999 in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It reduces blood sugar primarily by reducing insulin resistance. Beyond the effects on glucose metabolism, pioglitazone has positive effects on fat metabolism and blood pressure too. This makes pioglitazone treatment effective beyond sugar control in Diabetics.
Like any other effective medicine, Pioglitazone sometimes can cause side effects in some patients. This includes weight gain, edema, worsening of cardiac failure, increased risk of fractures and slight increase in chance for Urinary bladder cancer.
In 2011 the news of slight increase in risk of bladder cancer resulted in safety review of the drug by both European Medicine Agency and FDA of USA. After reviewing all the studies of the drug, both EMA and FDA opined that benefit versus risk balance of Pioglitazone remains positive and allowed continued use of the medicine in selected patients. As of now there is no prohibition for prescribing this medicine in any of the countries of the World except France. More over Pioglitazone is prominently cited to be used as a second or third line drug in Diabetes in recent guidelines of scientific societies like American Diabetes Association, European Association for Study of Diabetes and International Diabetes Federation.
India has nearly 70 million people suffering from Diabetes. A vast majority of them are from economically weaker sections of the society. As most of Indian Diabetic patients are not covered by health insurances or Government Health schemes, they have to shell out large sums of money from their pockets for health care.
Ever since its launch in 1999, Pioglitazone has proved to be a very effective and cheap medicine for reducing blood sugar.
Unfortunately in a surprising move the Government of India in a Gazette notification dated 18th June, 2013, has suspended with immediate effect, the sale and manufacture of all formulations containing Pioglitazone.
No Scientific society in India has recommended such a measure. A recent review article in Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism said:
“Clearly more studies are needed, probably focused on the Indian population. It is also important that physicians recognize the early signs and symptoms of cancer including bladder cancer. At the same time, it is important to recognize the benefits of pioglitazone and use it judiciously in appropriate patients who would benefit from the use of this drug”
Instead of making the drug available with caution and black box warnings like the European Union and USA, Indian Government has suddenly suspended the use of an important and very beneficial drug. Absence of Pioglitazone as a treatment option in Diabetes will severely affect sugar control in a large section of patients. More and more people may have to switch to logistically difficult and costly therapies like Insulin or Gliptins.
Let us hope that a sustained pressure on Government from medical scientific societies, patient groups and Civil society may ensure that this useful medicine will remain in armamentarium of clinicians.

Links
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2012/04/17/dc12-0413
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193778/
http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/news/2011/10/news_detail_001368.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c1
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm266555.htm

Some thoughts on Obama Victory

This was one of my tweets on hearing about victory of Barack Obama for a second term as President of USA-

“Racist” #USA elected a black as their President for second time When will ‘casteless’ and ‘secular’ India elect a Dalit or a Muslim as it’s PM?

Many a time our blood boil thinking about discrimination in foreign societies. But we fail to realize what is happening around us.

Several years ago, in late 1980s, I happened to meet a White South African. I started talking about Apartheid and could realize immediately that he was uncomfortable discussing that.I began to push him hard to a corner saying how can you say you are civilized…..

Suddenly he retorted. “For centuries your caste system made a quarter of your citizens untouchable and the discrimination is continuing. So how can you question me?”

I was speechless.

Farce of a Democracy?

Jaipur Literary Festival cancels Rushdie video link due to threat from fanatics. When will these ‘blind’ followers realise they are being used by Islamists and the Govt for political reasons?

and

If every one who is ‘ blindly’ supporting Salman Rushdie had supported M.F.Hussain, his works could have been fearlessly exhibited throughout India.