Goodbye Atal ji

A Brilliant orator, an Excellent public servant, an Impressive poet, an Exceptional parliamentarian and an Outstanding Prime Minister;
Sh. Atal Bihari Vajpayee breathed his last at 5.05pm on 16 August, 2018.
A tearful tribute to the people’s Prime Minister.

 

सच कहूँ तो कभी सोचा नहीं था,
किसी नेता के लिए मेरी आंखे छलक जाएंगी.

राजनीति “गन्दी” और नेता “बेईमान” हैं, अक्सर ऐसा सुनता था,
लेकिन यह बातें अटल जी के समक्ष अदृश्य हो जाती थीं.

चौथी कक्षा में जब कविता-उच्चारण में प्रथम स्थान मिला,
तो मुख्य-अतिथि ने पुछा कि क्या बनना चाहते हो,
तो अनायास ही मुँह से निकला, “अटल जी जैसा”.

1998 में मात्र एक वोट से सरकार गिरने का आपका भाषण अभी भी कानों में कौंधता है, जो आधुनिक भारत के लिए गीता का सार है:
“सत्ता का खेल तो चलता रहेगा
पार्टियां आएंगी जाएंगी
सरकारे बनेंगी बिगड़ेंगी
मगर ये देश रहना चाहिए”

अटल जी जैसा ओजस्वी वक्ता, सादगी और विनम्रता से परिपूर्ण देशभक्त,
राजनीति के क्षितिज पर सूर्य बन हम युवाओं को प्रेरित करेगा.

पोखरण में परमाणु परीक्षण और कारगिल युद्ध का अदम्य साहस,
देश-निर्माण में आपके “अटल” परिश्रम के “अनुभव” को भारत की पीढ़ियां याद करेंगी.

शक्तिशाली एवं समृद्ध भारत की नींव रखने वाले; भारत-रत्न, काव्य-श्रेष्ठ राष्ट्रनायक को एक कृतज्ञ राष्ट्रवासी का कोटि-कोटि नमन.

 

Image Courtesy: DNA India
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Stop being a Crybaby, NDTV

Central Bureau of Investigation carried out a raid on 5 June 2017 at the residence and offices of the Roys, the chairpersons of New Delhi Television (NDTV) Network Limited. The searches were conducted in Delhi and Dehradun in accordance with bank frauds of ₹396 crore committed by Prannoy Roy, his wife Radhika Roy and a private company. Roys took ₹396 crore loan from ICICI bank to shell company RRPR Holding (Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy) showing NDTV assests. ₹21 crore and ₹71 crore were then diverted to the bank accounts of the husband-wife duo respectively.

 

Some facts that need to be highlighted:

  1. Most of those questioning as to why a 9-year old case is being brought to light now don’t know that the Roys are under close investigation by government agencies for contraventions of tax laws and laws involving foreign money since mid-2000s. This case of ₹396 crore to NDTV is against them being a wilful defaulter.
  2. Those claiming that it is the Central government’s vendetta politics, there is a surprising twist here. The case would have never seen the light of the day had the 2G Spectrum Scam would never have been unearthed. When the investigation on the Aircel-Maxis deal in the 2G Scam started in 2012, it was found that even NDTV was also a party to it. Recently the offices of ex-Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son, Karthi Chidambaram were raided due to their alleged connection with Maxis and the “illegal approval” of money transfer. The case has been slapped on NDTV under Prevention of Corruption Act.
  3. In 2013, Sanjay Dutt, director of a financial-services firm Quantum Securities who owned around 125,000 shares in NDTV, had filed complaints with Enforcement Directorate and Directorate General of Income Tax alleging that that NDTV and its promoters had violated a number of laws. In January 2015, Dutt had filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court against Enforcement Directorate and Directorate General of Income Tax Investigation alleging that both agencies failed to act on his complaints. It was on the orders of the Delhi High Court, that the Enforcement Directorate, in November last year, had slapped a show cause notice to NDTV for flouting foreign exchange regulations while bringing foreign investments to the tune of ₹2,030 crore between 2007-10.
  4. Such is the reputation of the media group, that Sree Iyer, an inventor with 37 patents in the areas of Hardware, Software, Encryption and Systems has written a book NDTV Frauds,  which has been published and is an Amazon Bestseller.
  5. Talking about the “honest” voice of journalism, the channel, incidentally has been facing financial crunch after the Congress lost power in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Due to the lowest TRP among the genre of Business channels, NDTV Profit has already been taken off-air. During the quarter ending 31 December 2016, NDTV had reported a consolidated revenue loss of ₹18 crore following a dip in advertising revenue. The losses have reached a stage where the channel has put its assets on sale.
  6. Talking about “independent” voice of journalism, NDTV came under severe criticism for its coverage on the terror attack at Pathankot airbase. In November last year, the inter-ministerial panel constituted by I&B Ministry had ordered one-day ban on the channel. Neither the ban was executed nor did NDTV apologize for the coverage.

 

Dramatic Reaction by intellectuals:

  1. The National Editor of The Indian Express, Mr. Praveen Swami went on to say that the raid was “barbaric” and a “defining moment”! His colleague and another media intellectual Tavleen Singh went to the point saying that India should oppose every CBI raid! To readers who don’t know, CBI conducts raids throughout the week. Until, it gives Media some TRPs, they never get highlighted. How may have been a defining moment? Did CBI raids become a “defining” moment when the Indira Gandhi or M Karunanidhi was out of power? They couldn’t even stop them from coming back in power! How is a raid on a businessman/ executive/ politician/ film star defined as Law Enforcement and that on a media house as an assault on democracy?
  2. Ravish Kumar, the highest authority on Freedom of Expression is supposedly the most vocal journalist against this raid. But it is a case of opportunism that this freedom is evoked when their fraud is probed.Ravish Kumar has time and again raised serious allegations on media houses. Isn’t it ironic, that when people or law enforcement sing the same tune, they are considered “biased”? Why aren’t the phrases like “Godi Media” used when the channel toed the line of congress during UPA rule of 2004-2014? The screen of NDTV was blackened when NDTV was banned for a day (which never happened) and a new term was coined “Baago mei baahar hai!” The same anchor was tight-lipped when his brother was embroiled in sex racquet and sister in corruption charges.
  3. The next in the line of intellectuals is Barkha Dutt for whom; Burhan Wani is the son of a poor schoolmaster; for whom Osama Bin Laden was a loving husband, a caring father but not a terrorist; for whom killing of Army men is justified by gullible Kashmiris or that of CRPF men by Naxalities.Or it is Nidhi Razdan who still holds PM Modi responsible for 2002 riots when even the Supreme Court has given him a clean chit. Cannot stand 90 minutes of investigation by the same CBI which investigated then CM of Gujarat for 9 hours and consequently 9 years straight?

 

The Way Ahead:

The channel which has been the champion of “Let the law take its course” slogan should let the law function this time too. Instead of playing victim card like Tarun Tejpal, the Roys should go to the court and prove CBI wrong. If Vijay Mallya escaped from Indian law enforcement, doesn’t mean that it is a free-pass for all law breakers. If they have done nothing wrong, then there is no need to be scared. Fight the case on one side and highlight the wrong-doings of government on other side. Expose the vendetta of the government, if there is one; or else stop being a crybaby!

NDTV should remember that it one among 15 lakh registered companies in India, involved in business and not an “institution of India”. Doctors get their licenses revoked if they indulge in malpractices and government servants face suspension if caught in corruption. There are some standards set for becoming a teacher or a lawyer, but only connections to become a journalist. But media houses like them never face any action for failing to abide by the standards or doing PR work or even manufacturing facts. (Remember Neera Radia tapes?)

We do need institutions that can act as watchdogs in a democracy, but that institution cannot be built with the arrogance that you proudly possess. That institution has to have the relationship of mutual respect, trust, and accountability with the public. Had NDTV been doing their job, atleast people from their own fraternity would have supported them.

Hence, their treatment as any other business is not the problem, their irresponsible prerogative is.

Humaari Aukaat

Today marks an important day in the history of Independent India. Not that this has not  been experienced before, it has been a countless number of times; but today we are again reminded of the position a common man holds in nation of billion plus citizens – “Humaari Aukaat”, as put by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. After days of one-sided war of words, Air India has been forced to lift ban on MP Ravindra Gaikwad after the Civil Aviation Minister wrote to the Air India management.

INCIDENT:

On 23 March 2017, while travelling from Pune to Delhi, Ravindra Gaikwad, the Member of Parliament from Osmanabad Lok Sabha constituency of Maharashtra was accused of hitting a 60-year-old Air India employee with his shoe 25 times and attempting to throw him out of the plane.

When Mr Gaikwad’s flight from Pune landed in Delhi, he refused to get off the plane for nearly an hour. The lawmaker was reportedly upset about travelling economy when he has an open business class ticket that he is entitled to as an MP. The morning flight he took was all-economy, but that failed to mollify him, where he allegedly tore the employee’s shirt and broke his spectacles.

This act led all of the Indian Airline companies to impose a No-Fly ban on him.

AFTERMATH:

Mr. Gaikwad had absolutely no remorse over hitting the Air India staff member. Rather he accused Air India as guilty of poor service and that the manager who he thrashed should apologize to him and not the other way around.

If this wasn’t enough, the Shiv Sena launched a scathing attack on Air India for banning their MP. “Who is this Air India? Who is their CMD? Uski aukaat kya hai? (What is his status?)” said Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, addressing the media inside the Parliament. He further threatened that the party will stall operations of Air India in Mumbai and Pune, following which security was increased at these airports.

After about a week, he wrote to Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapati Raju, stating that he regrets the incident, but stopped short of accepting guilt. Instead, he said investigations will reveal the truth as he won’t apologize to the staff or airlines and requested Mr. Raju to lift the restrictions imposed on him by various airlines.

And Air India was today forced to lift ban on the goon MP due to the pressure by Civil Aviation ministry.

MY PERSPECTIVE:

The whole process has definitely shown that a common man holds no status – Aaj aukaat pata chal gayi iss desh ke aam nagrik ki.

As for the answer of “aukaat’ jibe, the CMD of Air India, Ashwani Lohani holds four “engineering degree equivalents” in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering and Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering from Institution of Engineers, India; and has successful run of the ‘Fairy Queen Express’, the world’s oldest working steam locomotive as his achievement. He has also served as DRM, Delhi Division; Director, National Rail Museum; Chief Administrative Officer, Rail Alternate Fuels; Commissioner and Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and Chairman & Managing Director India Tourism Development Corporation.

On the other hand, our “honourable” MP Mr. Gaikwaad is the same man who tried to force-feed a Muslim caterer during the fasting month of Ramzan. He has various criminal charges against him which include voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servants from duty, criminal intimidation and rioting among others.

But the bigger question that needs to be answered is that, why do we, the common citizens, forget our status?

On every election, citizens like me enthusiastically go out to choose our representatives. We flaunt our inked finger on social media for the representatives, who we feel will stand up for our causes and will help in solving our problems. Many-a-times we forget their corruption scandals, their muscle-game or even their indulgence in anti-social activities, giving them another chance for improvement; but incidents like these remind us that after all, we are common public – with Aukaat only during elections and not otherwise.

If Shiv Sena is to be blamed, why should BJP be spared? Why the party with largest majority in the lower house is is mum on the whole issue? When the same party is in coalition with the accused in the state from where the MP belongs from. But then the Congress has practised the same in the past and regional parties are also living up to the expectation of making VIP culture relevant. And this is not a first incident; neither will it be the last. We stay maintain our calm when staff at Toll Booths is beaten, or when our leaders justify rapes with Ladke hain galtiyaan ho jaati hain remark or when roads are closed for VIP movement.

We always stay in our Aukaat. If our leaders could also stay in their limits, will these incidents ever happen?

But we see it and then forget it. We never question. Because,

We, are the People of India!

Crossing Limits: AISA, ABVP, Media, Gurmehar

The past few days has witnessed another episode of student protest, similar to that of JawaharLal Nehru University (JNU) on 9 February 2016. This time, the venue has changed to Ramjas College, the rest remain the same. What started with scuffle between Left-affiliated AISA (All India Students Association), SFI (Students’ Federation of India) and Right-affiliated ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) – something which not uncommon in student politics – has snowballed into the issue of Nationalism and recently to rape threats being issued to Gurmehar Kaur (who wrote an open letter against ABVP). Subsequent take on the whole matter by Media and Political parties has made the issue murkier. I tried understanding it, by going over views of different people and did some decoding on an individual level. I may be right or wrong, but I have formed my opinion after taking into account all the parties involved.

INCIDENT:

Ramjas College had invited JNU students, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid for a seminar by the AISA and SFI students. The students of ABVP students were against this seminar and they complained the organisers to cancel it. When it was NOT called off, the peaceful protests turned violent with AISA and ABVP members fighting. Amidst the crossfire, a twenty-year old girl Gurmehar Kaur was caught, where she was protesting against ABVP. Gurmehar Kaur is a daughter of Captain Mandeep Singh, who was martyred in 1999 Kargil War. This sparked anger against her, asking if she supports the India-divisive ideologies of Khalid and Rashid. This has moved a step further where she was issued rape threats for speaking against nation.

As of today, we stand at exactly the same timeline, where we were, during the JNU episode of February 2016, where the students were shouting for breaking India into pieces; which led to face-offs on Nationalism.

AISA, SFI:

There are some simple questions that I would like to ask these Student-Wings. How come they are reminded of all the Azaadi (Independence) movements after Modi Government came into being? “Brahman-waad se Azaadi” (Independence from Casteism), “Gareebi se Azzadi” (Independence from Poverty); was the poverty or caste system reinforced in 2014? Or are these those slogans, a twisted version of those that were originally chanted- “Kashmir maange Azaadi” and “Bastar maange Azaadi”?

AISA, SFI, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid should make their stand clear, as to what they are fighting for? If they don’t believe in the idea of India, how come they are demanding their Right of Freedom of Expression? Any citizen has the right to call them an anti-national if they advocate pieces of India. Having a different set of ideologies for prosperity of people is NOT wrong, but anything that disturbs the core ideals of the Constitution or the Idea of India should be shamed at every level.

Also, if Umar Khalid and his team want a positive change, why do they never protest Burka or Triple Talaq? Never raised a question on Child Molestation, Uniform Civil Code, pending cases with Judiciary, or as basic as strict law enforcement to curb Delhi’s pollution? But then these issues never get the attention from Media or people, so they get conveniently ignored.

I agree that there are rape accusations on some Army men in Kashmir and Naxalite areas. But does this give them the power to brand the whole Army as rapists? The same Army men, who get to eat substandard food (BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav’s complaint), give their duty in most difficult of the terrains, stay away from their family for our protection and help people (2014 Kashmir floods and skill training centres for youth); are subjected to stones, branded rapists and other such senseless comments by some political and student-wings. Be it General VK Singh or General Rawat, the army heads have always been on their target.

AISA and SFI should ask themselves if they really are working for the upliftment of the society, should they be giving mileage to those who raise slogans for “Bharat tere tukde honge, inshallah” and “Kashmir ki Azzadi tak, Jung rahegi”.

ABVP:

Since, the country is currently in the wave of Right-Wing, so why not fish in troubled waters. How can anyone, who goes against them, be termed as an anti-national? They need a basic course in English to understand the difference between anti-national and anti-establishment.

Moving ahead, it is alleged that some members issued rape threats to a girl. It is NOT ONLY about Gurmehar Kaur but for every girl; not only in Delhi but across the World. No one, from any party or race or region, should have the guts to issue a rape threat or blackmail the person of opposite/same gender on the pretext of rape. And this is not on the moral grounds that I’m saying; I’m saying on the legal grounds which bestow me a Right to put that person behind the bars, a right given to me by the same country for whose honour some people are ready take honour of a girl.

However, it is a welcoming move by the ABVP by naming those culprits and lodging a formal complaint in Maurice Nagar Police Station.

GURMEHAR KAUR:

She is the daughter of a martyr of 1999 Kargil War, who came into spotlight after she wrote an open letter against the ABVP. She herself is unaware, how she is being used as a pawn to further the agenda of Left parties. These are the same parties which distrusted the Indian Army and wanted proofs of Surgical Strike.

The rape threats that were issued against her are TOTALLY WRONG. No one can or should justify these remarks. Anyone, from a common man to The President of India, if ever, makes such a threat should be seriously dealt with, via legal route. On a positive step, the Government of India has ordered the Delhi Commission for Women and Delhi Police to provide protection to the girl. It will be a welcoming move by the DCW and DP, to catch the culprits who issued such threats as early as possible. The remarks made in public or cyber-bullying offenders should be punished, irrespective of the party or the influential group they are affiliated to.

Everyone should also appreciate the way in which the twenty-year old put forth her opinion. Her mode was totally non-violent, as against those who are violently accusing her.

But Gurmehar Kaur herself is wrong on some accounts.

First, her remark that it was the 1999-Kargil war that killed her father and not Pakistan. Any sane person can understand that she was talking about perils of War. But that sane person will also know that India has always been dragged in the War, be it in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. She should understand that; when a nation attacks another nation, it is called Violence but when the other nation indulges in counter-attack, it is called Self Defence. Even now when our soldiers are being martyred, it’s not due to War but to save our country from those who try to infiltrate it again and again. And surprisingly, they happen to be Pakistanis and are funded by ISI. Can Indians really afford to let militants from across the border invade our nation and kill thousands of innocents? She has the right to speak her mind but she should not allow anyone to take advantage of her opinion. (Remember – Bharat tere tokde honge?).

Captain Saurabh Kalia was not killed in war. He was heading his routine patrol along with 5 other men on 15 May 1999 on our territory. His patrol party was ambushed by Pakistani soldiers (not war soldiers). They were abducted and taken to the Pakistani side (not war side). They tortured them for days in peace time. They burned their bodies with cigarettes, pierced their ear-drums with hot rods, punctured their eyes before removing them, broke most of the teeth and bones, fractured the skull, cut the lips, chipped the nose, chopped off limbs and private organs besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures. It all continued for 22 days. And then one day, they were shot dead. Not in war time. It was all peace time. Their skeletons were handed over to their parents. In peace time. So, war did not kill them. Pakistan did.

Second, when she got a rape threat, her immediate reaction would have been to file an FIR against Cyber-bullying, instead of marching off straight to NDTV studio. Also, asking Ram Subramanium, who is a member of AAP’s social media team to answer her tweets, gives an uncalled-for political angle to the issue.

Third, her support to Umar Khalid, Shabnam Hashmi, Kavita Krishan and John Dayal raise a serious question on her credibility. Mr. Dayal is the same person who advocates a separate country for Dalits and whose website Dalitstan.org was found so offensive to the internal security of the nation that even “secular” Congress banned it. Shabnam Hashmi and Kavita Krishan are anti-India, anti-Hindu and habitual liars, known for twisting facts. As for Umar Khalid, he is a strong voice of dissonance on Kashmir issue and wants its liberation from Indian state. When you organise a seminar with these people and share stage with them, there are questions bound to be raised on your intentions.

CELEBRITIES:

I feel celebrities are free to take any side they want, without them getting branded as Nationalists or Anti-Nationalists. As for all the tweets that I came across or Facebook posts, no celebrity has justified rape threats for Gurmehar Kaur. The views expressed by Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda, Phogat sisters, Javed Akhtar or others have been directed to anti-nationals, which have been very intelligently made as a narrative against Gurmehar Kaur or in support of ABVP.

Lack of education has nothing to do with Freedom of Expression because Freedom of expression works both ways (as stated by some celebs). It’s not that it is applicable only to those who feel they are entitled to that freedom, but when they are opposed by the same freedom, they start crying foul. Everyone has the right to express – their opinions regarding war and voice against violence but no context of that war history should find Pakistan’s narrative naive and witty. If you can’t stand for the freedom of expression of others, and try to discriminate them on the basis of their “literacy” or their “nationalism”, you are no different in bigotry and hypocrisy. If you are truly a person who stands for freedom of expression, then let everyone express that freedom.

Stand for Gurmehar Kaur’s freedom – vilify those animals who issue rape threats and not those who share a different opinion, as well as stand for Yogeshwar Dutt’s freedom who despite being “illiterate”, disagrees with her viewpoint and finds wit in it.

MEDIA:

The media is here to gain TRPs and make money. Simple and Straight. Since, most of the channels get funding from the Left and are mostly owned by Congress (with exceptions of few of the ruling-BJP), their motive is to present the views disseminated by their funding bosses. Apart from DD News, all other News Channels have lost their credibility today. Be it Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Rana Ayyub, Ravish Kumar, Nikhil Waghle, Dibang or Rohit Sardana. The selective highlighting of the facts makes them untrustworthy. While the matter of Akhlakh’s lynching over Beef issue was prominently highlighted, they maintain their silence on the murder of MM Kalburgi and deaths of BJP-RSS workers by Left groups in Kerala and West Bengal.

The bias of the media towards the Left side has irked up the Right Wing and now they have also taken the matter up with full vigour. The journalists during such turbulent times will definitely visit all those politicians who are known for their inflammatory speeches. You can notice that Owaisi brothers, Sakshi Maharaj, Sitaram Yechury, Azam Khan, Arvind Kejriwal, Digvijay Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sanjay Raut will by-default take centre-stage to fuel the fire. Even more appalling is, how some Media houses, in order to protect Gurmehar Kaur are openly abusing Phogat sisters. While restraint at these times should be practiced, media ensures that the issue doesn’t die before giving them the required viewership.

POLITICAL PARTIES:

They are the biggest beneficiaries whose agenda is helped by the Media groups. No party is averse to getting gains from their student wings. Hardik Patel from Gujarat’s Patidar Agitation was initially brought forward by the Congress to counter the BJP, and is now used by Shiv Sena to expand their base in PM Modi’s home-state. On similar lines, Kanhaiya Kumar’s episode was initially forwarded by Left parties and after he was released on bail by Delhi Sessions Court was used by Congress to attack the government on the Right of Freedom of Expression. Ex-HRD minister Smriti Irani’s jibes and recently the unfortunate comparison of Gurmehar with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim by MP Pratap Simha has helped BJP to project its image as “harbingers” of nationalism. While Congress is using these tactics to revive itself in national politics, BJP is trying to change itself from Hinduistic to Nationalistic image.

Rohit Vemula’s suicide from Hyderabad University, Saba Qadri who was denied a flat in Mumbai for being a Muslim or Jasleen Kaur who falsely implicated a boy on charges of molestation at traffic lights. All of them were used as pawns in the bigger game of politics by the Mayawati-led BSP, Kejriwal-led AAP or Lalu-led RJD and now have faded into oblivion. It helped RJD to become the largest party in Bihar Vidhan Sabha, it is helping BSP for Uttar Pradesh 2017 elections and will help AAP to project itself as an alternative to BJP.

Gurmehar Kaur will sadly have the same fate, where she will be soon forgotten by the parties that are now, either with her or against her.

PUBLIC SENTIMENT:

Some stay neutral while some maintain their support or anger against a particular ideology. Conforming to Left or Right-ideology is not wrong, but speaking against the sovereignty of the nation is. If standing up for your nation’s dignity brands you as a BJP-RSS agent, be happy to be so. If standing up for a girl’s dignity brands you as an anti-national, be happy to be so. If you believe no one has the right to call you an anti-national, this doesn’t make you a nationalist by-default, until you deal with those voices that threaten to break the nation into pieces. To defend your ideals, you don’t need to belong to a particular ideology (Left or right), but you can stay Centre too.

One should not forget that there is a difference between Freedom of Expression and Treason. The responsibility of terming someone an anti-national doesn’t rest with ABVP or BJP, it rests with every citizen. The Constitution gives us the Right to criticize the Government, not the Country. You can hate BJP-ABVP, but you love the country; let it be known. You love BJP-ABVP, but hate the violent protests; let it be known. Remember: “The World suffers, not because of deeds of bad people, but the silence of good ones.

CONCLUSION:

The whole end to this issue is practising restraint and staying in their limits, be it the ABVP, AISA, Media or Political parties. Gurmehar Kaur has full freedom to express her opinion and no one should question it; until it is against the nation or done to gain any publicity. The Media should stop giving footage to the likes of Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, who are already out on a bail on sedition charges. The student-wings should focus only on issues pertaining to the students, and don’t use them as launch pads for their political career.

Last, but not the least, all the political parties should maintain their cool and iron out the wrinkles in the opinions in a constructive way rather than getting violent. Let the ideas clash, not people.

And a piece of advice to celebs and social media-warriors. If you don’t understand an issue or know what is happening, DO NOT GIVE YOUR OPINION. As someone has rightly said –

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubts!”

Jai Hind..!

Left and Right Wing Politics

A general question that baffles most people, when they read politics is the ideologies of the Left-Wing and Right-Wing. The spectrum of Left and Right-Wing is basically the set of beliefs that are practiced by the individuals having an inclination towards betterment of the society; the people can be politicians, community workers or social entrepreneurs. These principles help an individual or an organisation to formulate a strategy on which they plan to work for a progressive state.

RELIGIOUS MEANING

In terms of religious connotations, since most of the people were right-handed, right side meant being positive, while left was considered negative. The terms like righteousness and leftovers developed due to this mentality. In Buddhism, out of the two-paths, the right-hand side leads to Nirvana. In Christianity, the Son is at the right-hand side of the Father and in The Last Supper, the favorite of the Lord, the apostle John is sitting to His right, and not left.

HISTORICAL MEANING

The history for this segregation takes us back to 18th century Europe, specifically in France which was on a brink of a revolution. The French society was divided into three estates (like the Indian Caste system): First Estate (Priests and Clergymen), Second Estate (Nobility and Warriors) and Third Estate (Workers).  In the decade of 1780s, even though France was indulged in nine years of war, yet the French monarch increased taxes only on the third estate, to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the Royal family as well as the two estates. This led to large-scale food shortages and riots.

In order to fix the situation; in 1789, months before the revolution, Louis XVI convened a national assembly of these three estates. The Meeting of the Estates as it was termed; the representatives were made to sit in a set pattern. The third estate members who opposed the monarchy [workers] were made to sit on the left of the King while the first two estates who supported the monarchy [Clergy and Nobility] were made to the sit on the right, given the religious connotations – right is superior, left is inferior.

The French Revolution witnessed the third estate members (seated to the left) to be anti-establishment, while the first and second estate members (seated on the right) worked on protecting the establishment. They eventually threw out the monarch, the religious authorities and the nobles.
Since then, left wing meant throwing the establishment and right wing mean protecting the establishment.

EVOLUTION OF MEANING

From the times of French Revolution, the Left became a symbol of change, while the Right became a symbol of order or preservation.

Since both religion and business is to do with preserving the existing, both groups often allied together. Rapid change was bad for both business & the church. World over, religious and business conservatives thus got into an uneasy partnership even if they both despised each other. They were also more likely to be patriots/nationalists, because nation is an identity that is at the core of stability. They are much more likely to be aggressive in preserving the symbols – flag, history, Constitution, anthem etc.

Since, the left was the side from where the workers came; it traditionally was much more towards equal rights and about spreading of wealth. Most often, leftists hated both religions and businesses. Thus, they voted for governments that put tight clamps on both – such as Communist China & Soviet Union.

MODERN MEANING

The definitions of Left and Right have changed over time, and depend on country and party. But, from a broad, broad perspective, Left-wingers will include the communists, feminists, anarchists, egalitarians, secular, atheists like Stalin and Mao. And right-wingers will include the fascists, neo-Nazis, religious fanatics, monarchists, racial supremacists and fundamentalists like Hitler and Mussolini.

Left wing beliefs are usually progressive in nature, they look to the future, aim to support those who cannot support themselves, are idealist and believe in equality. People who are left wing believe in taxation to redistribute opportunity and wealth. They believe in equality over the freedom to fail.

Right wing beliefs value tradition, they are about equity, survival of the fittest, and they believe in economic freedom. They typically believe that business shouldn’t be regulated, and that we should all look after ourselves. They believe in freedom to succeed over equality.

The intermediate stance is called centrism and a person with such a position is a moderate or centrist. Even though there are many extremists on the either side, most of the politicians are moderate or centrists. They are segregated as:

  1. Centre Left: They believe in working within the established systems to improve social justice.
  2. Radical Centre: It is defined as idealism without illusions. Most radical centrists borrow what they see as good ideas from left and right, and then meld them together. Most support market-based solutions to social problems with strong governmental oversight in the public interest.
  3. Centre-Right: They believe in building progressive societies by promoting capitalism.

 

BELIEFS ON CORE ISSUES

1. Economics

LEFT: Central planning via governing structures, a welfare state, nationalization of economy. Income equality; higher tax rates on the wealthy; government spending on social programs and infrastructure; stronger regulations on business and subsidies.

RIGHT: Capitalism, social and economic hierarchies, economic freedom, decentralized economy, lower taxes and less regulation on businesses, reduced government spending, balanced budget, less dependence on subsidies and welfare assistance.

2. Society

LEFT: Progressiveness, Counter-Culture and belief in Internationalism.

RIGHT: Important to defend Tradition, Moral Order and national interests.

3. Global Trade

LEFT: Anti-free trade. They don’t values profits if they come at the cost of violating laws of social equality and levelness. They rarely lay down the red carpet for multinationals and private players.

RIGHT: Pro-free trade. They make sure that the policies they draft ensure good amount of profit to the nation even if some of the parameters of social justice are compromised on the way.

4. Minority Rights

LEFT: Extra Protection and privileges

RIGHT: Everyone is equal

5. Crime

LEFT: Several people on death row were innocent and have been exonerated. The justice system is not perfect and it would be wrong to kill an innocent person. It is inhuman to take a life, even that of a murderer. It’s not so much about how heinous the crime is but how much the defendant can afford to spend on lawyers.

RIGHT: The death penalty is an effective deterrent against crimes, especially crimes of a heinous nature. The alternative — life in prison — would only mean spending taxpayer money to keep them confined, fed and provide healthcare services to them. Victims and their families deserve justice; often they can only get closure when the perpetrator is put to death.

EXAMPLES OF CENTRE-LEFT and CENTRE-RIGHT

  1. India: Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).
  2. UK: Labour Party and Conservative Party.
  3. France: Socialist Party and National Front.
  4. USA: Democratic Party and Republican Party.
  5. Australia: Australian Labour Party (ALP) and Liberal Party.
  6. Pakistan: Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and Jamaat-e-Islami.
  7. Germany: Die Linke and Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
  8. Canada: Liberal Party and Conservative Party.
  9. Poland: Civic Platform and Prawo-i-Sprawiedliwość (PiS).
  10. Netherlands: Socialist Party and Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV).

 

INDIAN CONTEXT

The BJP would thus be called centre-right in their ideology, while the Congress would be called centre-left. At the extremes will be the Shiv Sena/AIMIM (on Right) and the CPI(M)/AAP (on Left).

After Narendra Modi’s victory in 2014, it has become convenient to lump the BJP and the Sangh parivar as right-wing forces, when the reality is that their views reflect a wide variety of positions on political, social and economic issues. Also, the Congress is not totally to the left of the BJP on many issues.

In India, the “right-wing” Bharatiya Janata Party has market-friendly economic thinkers like Arun Shourie and Subramanian Swamy and yet it also has Lal Krishan Advani, who is suspicious of the entire American financial model. In between, stands Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is not allergic to capitalism or the free market but is also reluctant to abandon the country’s public sector units.

The same might be said of the “left-wing” Indian National Congress. Some of its members like Shashi Tharoor and Capt.Amarinder Singh might have much more in common with Arun Shourie than their own leaders of yesteryear who advocated control of the commanding heights of the national economy.

CHANGING IDEOLOGIES

People don’t remain on the same side throughout. When he was younger, Stalin fought on the side of the revolutionaries since he wanted to change & get the power. However, as soon as he got the power he became the establishment against which others had to fight; changing his ideology from Right to Left. In some sense, almost all leftists transform into a totalitarian establishment. No one wants to give up power, while everyone wants to take power.

In Indian context, it was India’s “liberal” Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru who introduced curbs on free speech and a “conservative” thinker like Vinayak Savarkar who argued against untouchability and the caste system. Dr. BR Ambedkar was a strong votary of capitalism and free markets, but most of the parties which now worship Ambedkar would be reckoned to be broadly to the left of the political universe. The Congress party itself advocated a mixed economy, building a middle path between state and private capitalism. The BJP, in its earlier avatar as the Jana Sangh, had stronger positions against state interventions than in its current incarnation.

CONCLUSION

These are the basics of that one needs to know about Left and Right politics. In a healthy society, both left and right ideas are needed. It’s a lot more complicated than this, and the definitions are dependent on era, party, leader and country. But the core tenets of the ideologies remain more or less the same.

Rebels of Congress-pur!

Like Gangs of Wasseypur kept fighting between themselves to grab power, the same is the case with political parties in Punjab. After the tickets have been denied to some prominent faces, they have decided to fight as independents. The rebels are from all the heavy-weights in Punjab, be it Congress or Shiromani Akali Dal or Aam Aadmi Party. But my focus (and many Punjabis will side me on this) is on the Congress, which is facing threat directly from 19 rebels. The issue of factionalism is even more important to be resolved as this was the second reason behind Congress’ defeat in 2012 State Assembly Elections, the first one being Manpreet Badal’s People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) that took up the anti-incumbency vote-share. 15 rebels from Congress cut into its vote-share, thereby helping Akali Dal to win.

The number of rebels from these parties includes 19 from Congress, 5 from Akali Dal and 1 from AAP. All these rebels have decided to fight independently. One can imagine how badly these rebels can spoil the prospect of Congress coming to power in Punjab. Apart from these 19 independents, 5 rebels are fighting on tickets of other parties, prominent being Apna Punjab Party (APP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Reasons:

  1. The infighting increased, after about a dozen candidates from Akali Dal joined Congress.
  2. Amarinder Singh’s “One Family, One Ticket” formula.
  3. Been out of power for nearly 10 years and having a bright chance of making a comeback, many candidates wish to win in the anti-incumbency wave.

 

Successfully convinced:

Initially, the number of rebels was 30, but Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) was able to convince 11 and bring the number down to 19. Some of the prominent names include:

  1. The Congress heaved a sigh of relief as the Barnala family agreed to beat retreat. Harpeet Kaur Barnala, wife of Gaganjit Singh Barnala, withdrew her nomination as an Independent from the Dhuri She had filed her papers after Congress refused to give the seat to the Barnala family in favour of youth candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy.
  2. Rumal Chand from Bhoa
  3. Satinder Singh Chhajjalwaddi from Baba Bakala
  4. Gurpreet Kaur Gagowal and Gurpreet Vicky from Mansa
  5. Balwinder Singh Bittu from Amritsar (South)
  6. Mohinder Rinwa from Fazilka
  7. Gurmail Singh Pahelwan from Ludhiana (East)

Amarinder Singh promised the rebels to award them with chairman or president posts in various government trusts and organisations if Congress comes to power. He also thanked those who had heeded the party leadership’s request to withdraw their papers before the last day of filing nominations, saying it was now the party’s responsibility to take care of their interests. He said he would personally ensure that they are not let down on this count and are accommodated in key positions to take the Congress agenda of governance and development forward after the formation of its government in the state. Yet, it hasn’t yielded any effect on these 19 rebels.

Rebels:

  1. Surinder Mahey, former Jalandhar Mayor who is fighting against Sushil Rinku from Jalandhar (West)
  2. Gurbinder Singh Atwal, who is fighting against Jagbir Brar from Nakodar
  3. Hemraj Aggarwal, who is fighting against Rakesh Pandey from Ludhiana (North)
  4. Ashok Sharma, who is fighting against Amit Vij from Pathankot Sharma, who contested as an Independent in 2012, had polled more than 20,000 votes.
  5. Nimisha Mehta, a strong contender from Garhshankar and a protégé of CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi, is in fray against party nominee Luv Kumar Goldy.
  6. Naresh Puri, who is fighting against Amit Manto from Sujanpur constituency. He had also contested election as an independent candidate in 2012 and secured 27,000 votes.
  7. Tarlochan Singh Soond, who is fighting against Satnam Kainth from Banga He came into limelight after he hurled a shoe at Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
  8. Balwinder Singh Chaudhary, who is fighting against Rajkumar from Chabbewal constituency.
  9. Babbu Ghuman, who is fighting against Arun Dogra from Dasuya
  10. Jagmeet Singh Sahota, who is fighting against Kaka Randeep from Amloh
  11. Maninder Singh Palasaur, who is fighting against Inderbir Singh Bolaria from Amritsar (South)
  12. Sukhraj Singh Natt, is in the fray from Maur Mandi constituency, where he is contesting against Congress nominee Harminder Singh Jassi, who is relative of Sirsa-based religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
  13. Paramjit Kaur, who is fighting against Joginder Panjgrayi from Bhadaur
  14. Congress Zila Parishad member from Talwara, Paramjit Singh, will be contesting against party nominee and MLA Rajnish Babbi from Mukerian
  15. Rajinder Deepa, who is fighting against Daman Thind Bajwa from Sunam
  16. Sham Singh Makror, who is fighting against Rajinder Bhattal from Lehragaga
  17. Darshan Singh Sidhu, a former tehsildar, who is fighting against Ajaib Singh from Dirba
  18. Manjeet Singh Mann, who is fighting against Harjot from Moga constituency.
  19. Amarjeet Singh Gharu, who is fighting against Satkar Kaur from Ferozepur (Rural)

 

Present Scenario:

Urging the rebels to opt out in favour of the Congress nominees and put up a united front to defeat the “anti-people” SAD and AAP, Amarinder said the interests of Punjab and its people were supreme and could not be allowed to be compromised for personal gains. Hitting out at the rebels who refused to heed the party leadership’s request for withdrawal of nomination, despite the promise that they would be accommodated once the Congress forms government in the state, he said it amounted to violation of the party’s disciplinary ethics, which could not be permitted at any cost. Ruling out any “ghar wapsi” (homecoming) for them, Amarinder said he would ensure the trend of forgiveness is brought to an end.

Even after Capt. Amarinder Singh’s stern warning that disciplinary action will be taken against them, the rebels didn’t take back their nomination on the day of withdrawal. The party even suspended 7 of them to send a message, but this has not deterred their confidence to back-out.

Whether they will win or not, these rebels may spoil chances of Congress coming to power, repeating the scenario of 2012.

Six Families that Control Punjab

In the state of five rivers, it is the six families that control the politics in the state. It is the Jats who dominate the political scene, and inter-clan marriages between these six families have ensured that no family is ever completely out of power. Apart from the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the rest have direct or indirect relations with these families – the Royals of Patiala, Badals of Muktsar, Majithias of Amritsar, Kairons of Tarn Taran, Brars of Sarai Naga and Manns of Sangrur have ruled over Punjab since Partition. Be it the government or the opposition, the power is volleyed between these six clans.

The Royals of Patiala

Beginning with the king of Patiala, Yadavindra Singh, who aligned himself with Congress after the kingdom was incorporated into the Union in 1948. The king was a descendant of Phulkian dynasty. His wife, Mohinder Kaur was a former Member of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. He has two sons, Capt. Amarinder Singh and Malvinder Singh. Malvinder Singh is less active in politics, while his brother, former Chief Minister of Punjab and President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt. Amarinder Singh has been declared a Chief Minister candidate again by Congress.  Amarinder’s wife, Maharani Preneet Kaur is a former Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry and former Member of Parliament from Patiala. Their son Raninder Singh is the president of National Rifle Association. He unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha election from Bathinda in 2009 and Assembly election from Samana in 2012. Their daughter Jayainder Kaur is married to a Delhi-based businessman, Gurpal Singh, who is a cousin of Bikramjit Majithia. Former External Affairs minister of India, K. Natwar Singh, from Congress is married to Amarinder’s elder sister, Heminder Kaur.

The Manns of Sangrur

Lt. Col. Joginder Singh Mann was a speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1967. His son, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) supremo and former IPS Officer Simaranjit Singh Mann is brother-in-law of Capt. Amarinder Singh. The former Member of Parliament from Tarn Taran (1989) and Sangrur (1999) is married to Geetinder Kaur, who is sister of Maharani Preneet Kaur. Geetinder assists her husband Mann in managing his election campaign. Both Preneet Kaur and Geetinder Kaur, are daughters of former Principal Secretary of Punjab, Gyaan Singh Kahlon. Mann’s son, Emann Singh is also a politician.

The Brars of Sarai Naga

Jaswant Singh Kairon’s (member of Communist Party) daughter Gurbinder Kaur Rano married Harcharan Singh Brar, the rich young heir of Sarai Naga in Muktsar district and President of Punjab State Congress. HS Brar later became Punjab’s chief minister from the Congress for a brief period, following the assassination of Beant Singh in August 1995. The Brars had two children, Babli Brar and Kanwarjit Singh (Sunny Brar). While daughter Babli lost to Sukhbir Badal in the 1996 Lok Sabha polls in Faridkot, son Sunny Brar was elected MLA in 1977 and 2007. Sunny Brar’s wife, Karan Kaur and Harpriya Kaur are sisters. Harpriya Kaur is wife of Malvinder Singh, younger brother of Capt. Amarinder Singh.

The Kairons of Tarn Taran

Pratap Singh Kairon was a close associate of Nehru and United Punjab’s dynamic chief minister for eight years till 1964. He was first CM of Punjab from Congress. His brother was Jaswant Singh Kairon, thus making Gurbinder Kaur Rano, his niece. Pratap Singh Kairon’s two sons, Surinder and Gurinder were Congress leaders. Surinder Singh Kairon was also a Member of Parliament in 1991 from Congress. The Kairons were traditionally Congress till Surinder’s son and Pratap Singh Kairon’s grandson Adesh Pratap married into the Badal dynasty. Adesh is an MLA from SAD and the minister for food and supplies. He changed the family’s politics after he married Parkash Badal’s daughter, Parneet Kaur in 1982.

The Badals of Muktsar

Originally called Dhillon, the family changed their surname to Badal. The five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is the family patriarch. The Badals head the largest Sikh party: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). He has two children, Sukhbir Singh and Parneet Kaur. While Parneet Kaur is married to Adesh Pratap Kairon of Kairon dynasty, Sukhbir Singh is married to Harsimrat Kaur of Majithia dynasty. Sukhbir Singh Badal is deputy Chief Minister and president of SAD. Parkash Singh Badal’s brothers have also enjoyed power because of him. His brothers; Gurdas Badal managed SAD’s election campaign in Lambi, Gidderbaha and Bathinda, Paramjit Singh Dhillon (Laali Badal) has been a member of Punjab Public Service Commission, Bhupinder Singh Dhillon remained Political Advisor to Chief Minister (1997-2002) and Hardeepinder Singh Dhillon has been a former Transport Minister in SAD government.

The Badal family witnessed their biggest fight, when Parkash Singh Badal handed over the reins of SAD to his son Sukhbir in 2010. His estranged cousin Manpreet Badal quit the party. Manpreet was the Chief Minister’s favourite nephew and son of Gurdas Badal. It was his uncle who inducted him into politics in 1995 on his return home from London University. Manpreet was the finance minister in the Badal government. But differences with his headstrong cousin Sukhbir (political pundits say that Manpreet considered himself to be the heir due to his popularity in the party while Sukhbir had been grooming himself to inherit his father’s mantle since the 1990s) forced him to quit and float his own party, Peoples’ Party of Punjab (PPP). He lost state legislative elections in 2012 and general elections in 2014. In 2016, Manpreet merged his party in Congress and is now contesting on Congress ticket and is touted to be the next finance minister, if Congress wins the elections.

Manpreet Badal is now preparing his son Arjun Badal to step into active politics.

The Majithias of Amritsar

The Badals have close filial ties with the descendants of Ranjit Singh’s ferocious Majithia generals. In 1991, Sukhbir Singh Badal strengthened his political clout by marrying Harsimrat Kaur, the granddaughter of Surjit Singh Majithia, who was India’s deputy defence minister in Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s government in 1952. Harsimrat’s younger brother, Bikramjit Majithia is the president of the SAD youth wing and more importantly, Sukhbir’s most trusted aide. Bikramjit is also the Revenue Minister in SAD government. Surjit Singh’s son and father of Harsimrat-Bikramjit, Satyajit Majithia was owner of the rich Saraya Group and had business interests with Badals in sugar, liquor and aviation sector. This was how, a pro-Congress Majithia family turned Akalis. The Badal-Majithia alliance was a consolidation of both power and wealth.

Call it destiny or irony, history seems to repeat itself. In the 19th century Anglo-Sikh Wars, Patiala sided with the British against Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s forces. The king of Patiala, Ranjit Singh’s General’s descendants and an outsider’s forces are locking horns again in 2017. Punjab elections are merely a process of temporarily shifting the balance of power from one clan to the other.

Let us see, which clan wins this fight!