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..!

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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.