India & the sex selection conundrum

Let us agree to go beyond billboard exhortations to ‘love the girl child.

 

What is the remedy to female foeticide in India

There is nothing to disagree about the thesis of the article. The girl child is precious and vital for the well-being of our nation. The girl child is not doing very well in spite of all that we are doing for her.

It is not just the poor girl child who faces trouble, but the rich ones too.

The authors, Farah Naqvia and K.Shiva Kumar, suggest that we need a

, a national communication strategy is key to a national policy response, and this must rest on acknowledging two things — one, behaviour change communication is a specialised field whose expertise must be harnessed, and two, the nature of reproductive decision-making in India is changing along with immense changes in the Indian family structure. A communication strategy needs to identify primary targets (decision-makers) and secondary targets (decision supporters), and reach them through strategic media platforms — traditional, conventional and new media. As for the core content of messages, a lot can be said, but for now let us agree to go beyond billboard exhortations to ‘love the girl child.’ And recognise that the girl will grow up to be a woman one day.

We feel, instinctively, that billboards are not very useful. But then, what is? How does one bring about change in culture, values and deep-rooted systemic ills?

 

What if Tebow were Muslim: Indian Edition

Tim Tebow is an American football player who made news because he knelt and prayed before a game. He was made fun of by night show hosts and other liberal media outlets tried to point out the Christianizing of sports. We have a very different set of values than the US. We believe in live and let live. If an Indian player makes a public display of his faith, very likely it would be talked about in a respectful way.

[quote style=”1″] what if Tim Tebow were Muslim? He’s not. So maybe it doesn’t matter. There is no way to separate the man and the religion. Some people praise him for it, others recoil. When this happens, avid defenders of Tebow invoke freedom of religion. But as Tebowmania makes its way into politics, sports, religion and the everyday life of the mainstream United States, it is important to think about how we approach religion in this country. How we approach religious freedom in this country. Do we accept freedom of religion, any religion? Or do we accept freedom of Christianity? Salon [/quote]

Tim Tebow is an American football player who made news because he knelt and prayed before a game. He was made fun of by night show hosts and other liberal media outlets tried to point out the Christianizing of sports. Christian preachers across the US spoke in glowing terms about Tebow’s faith, and fundamentalists like Pat Robertson used the incident to blast the anti-christian bias in the liberal media.

Everyone agrees, though, that if it were a muslim player who knelt to pray in the US, it would be the conservatives who would speak derisively and liberals would just wait for a conservative to say something racist and then harp on about the anti-minority Bias.

The most important take away for me, however, was that for Americans, the right to make fun of people’s convictions was as important as having those convictions. And that the media believed that derisive/satirical humor was a great way to deal with public displays of religion..

Free speech, religion and secularism have been in the public debate in India of late. What began as a reaction to the stringent and draconian IT Bill later spilled into the realm of politics and religion with Kapil Sibal’s recent posturing over content that “hurts sentiments”.

We have a very different set of values than the US. We believe in live and let live. If an Indian player makes a public display of his faith, very likely it would be talked about in a respectful way. The commentators would say something like “and here is Tim praying before he begins, and lets hope his prayers are heard because his team needs all the help it can”.  Sure,there would be religious extremists of every kind to condemn it, but for the common Indian, used to seeing religious icons in government offices, public transport and even schools, it would just be something to respect about the person.

But the audibility of extremists is increasing.

One measure by which I make this assertion is observing the successful vilification of the word “secularism”.  This, was achieved/is being achieved by a propaganda techniques called  Name Calling. Repeatedly using a word in a negative context or with a negative connotation leads to devaluation of the word or the idea, makes people wary of it, and can lead to complete destruction of its meaning. Since no propaganda technique is used in isolation, combined with cherry picking data (related to card stacking) about how the congress has mis-used secularism in India ( it has) to garner muslim votes, the very desire for secularism is being challenged and subverted. Which (coincidence? ) is what the Hindu supremacists desire, a return to the “Indian” way of dealing with minorities (of which Subramanian Swamy gave a great explanation of).

If an Indian muslim player were to kneel in prayer, to most of this country it would mean nothing special, it definitely wont get him called names by mainstream media, nor would there be any one of significance speaking of it. There would, however, be muslim preachers who will use this as a message of  fervor,  and many more who would make comments about ” that secular player” doing “secular things”.

Here is the interesting thing,  Not everyone understands or even sees the damage that is intended or the religious prejudice behind the usage. What is most saddening is that many of them have deeply secular values and latch on to this bandwagon because :

  • The power of Assertion (another propaganda technique) keep saying something over and over, it will seem like the truth.
  • They know nothing about Muslims, other than the cherry picked data about violence, oppression etc. Most Indians grow up in areas where people of other faiths are not common. In spite of my having grown up and lived in 4 states in India, i have all of One Muslim friend. the rest are Christians and Hindus. My knowledge of the Muslim world comes from stories handed down in the family (mostly how we are better than “them”), the news papers and now, the internet. A casual glimpse through various sites that talk about Indian muslims will tell you that the majority of information out there is written either by conservative/fundamentalist muslims, or Hindus. The voice of the progressive, secularism loving Muslim is buried under a lot of noise.
  • Desire to be part of the “cool kids” ie. the  bandwagon effect . I‘ve been hearing about a Hindu resurgence for the last 10 years. I have no facts to show if it really is happening, or what it means, but in spite of that, i believe it. In fact, most people do, and once a critical mass of people believe in something, it becomes easier to accept more without evidence and easier to recruit minds.
  • Disgust for Congress’ behavior.  This is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It does not take too much digging to realize that right from the beginning, secularism was used first as a protectionist strategy and later as a vote banking technique by the Congress at the center (individual states show a different picture). With the exposing of how deep and wide corruption runs in India, and with the growing discontent with it, everyone who hates the “rule” of Congress is left with little choice.
  • The linking of nationalism with anti-secularism. Religion touting political parties have always also linked nationalism with Hinduism, and so with the expected rise in patriotism (money coming in, lack of progress, increasing corruption etc.), there is an inadvertant clubbing of the secularism-bashing with nationalism.

One thing that contributes to the bowdlerization of Secularism is the way the liberal voices in India handle the conservative ones- with a patronizing, disdainful tone. We think that these “fringe” elements will never have any effect on “intelligent” Indians and that “most Indians” would not believe such crap. perhaps its time we wake up and smell the rotting roses.

The end effect is that instead of developing a moral sense to look for real secularism and promoting it, we are moving into times when a religious alternative to secularism (which, clearly is an evil thing, right?) is being introduced.

So today, if Tim Tebow were a Muslim in India, the majority would cheer him, a small group would beatify him, but here would be more people and louder voices that call him a  sikular Indian   than ever before. These voices continue to rise aided by the concurrent  increase in volume of the muslim fundamentalist, and hastened by government policies that care only about gaming the system for maximum profit.

Is that in itself a bad thing? How did we become a secular nation? Do we have alternatives to western ideas of secularism? What is this secularism anyway and is it any good?

These questions will be part 2. thank you for reading.

Book Review- Transforming Capitalism by Arun Maira

Transforming Capitalism by Arun maira, review by Dr. Anand Philip[dropcap style=”3″]T[/dropcap]he last decade has seen a rise in philanthropic businesses and big businesses investing in the society. The worldwide depression brought on by the wall street, stricter laws about environment, and the rise of laws about corporate social responsibility have contributed to this. There is also a growing awareness among businesses large and small that screwing over people and the environment is bad business in the long run.
Arun Maira, in his book Transforming capitalism, improving the world for everyone, makes the case that

  1. Capitalism, if practiced laissez-fair, is harmful for everyone involved.
  2. Businesses can and should do the right thing from a moral point of view when dealing with people and
  3. People/businesses with a lot of money should see themselves as custodians or stewards of their money and resources and so should help people with it.

Arun Maira is a journalist, for a large part of his life he was a business manager. Over the past decade, he has written in most of India’s top business magazines, as well as in the magazine Civil society about the various ways in which businesses can, do and should help people beyond the narrow confines of material profit. This book is a collection of these articles. This is probably why, though the book is divided into four sections, a clear progression or continuity cannot be felt in the writings.
This is not a progressive apologetic, this is not a case for marrying socialism with capitalism either, this is a cross section, through the writings of someone who has been in the field long enough to know what he is talking about.

What I like about this book the most is that instead of preaching or a prescriptive style of writing Maira exhorts. he points to what is happening, suggests gently and with authority that instead of formulas both sides have, what is needed, foremost is dialogue open, honest and constant dialogue. this behavior is quiet uncommon in columnists these days who are eager to preach, eager to repeat over and over how their ideas are the best and why the world will go to the dogs if they don’t follow their brilliance.

It would be foolish to think that leaders of environment killing or people-hurting businesses don’t realize that what they are doing hurts people, but a fundamental belief, a one in the free market ( and some healthy greed) keeps them and everyone down the chain chained to their course. They believe that the free market, which enables everyone to take part equally in wealth creation and ultimately in the pursuit of ones happiness without the state directing what one ought and ought not to do is the best way to eradicate poverty. And lets face it,free market creates wealth. Anyone who has lived through pre and post liberalization India can attest to this.

But what apologists of capitalism often forget to preach is that when it comes to creating wealth for the ultra poor, the trickle down effect is often like eating leftovers from a rich mans table. with our new humanist understanding of human rights, I don’t think it is acceptable anymore to knowingly let people suffer based on one’s belief in the market. The non-profit groups or the civil society who typically are the champions of the poor operate under a completely different set of beliefs. To many of them the idea of making profit for the sake of profit is abhorrent. And practically all of them believe that human beings cannot be trusted to do the right thing in an unregulated system. Their idea of regulation of course is not peer regulation but strict almost socialist regulation. What Mr. Maira does very well is explain why both sides of this divide need to have a sustained conversation that helps us achieve the goals of alleviating poverty,social justice etc.

To me this is probably not a book written for the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. This is also not a book for someone who has been following the social business/enterprise sector for the last few years. This is the book for the MBA student or the new manager, for the young Indian who wants to enter the markets but still stay good.

A recent survey showed that the worlds highest number of social businesses or socially minded businesses of the last few years have started in India. This is a clear sign that a lot of young people in this country are interested in doing good and Mr. Maria’s book can serve as a good starting point showing that it can be done.

The only worrying thing is Mr. Maira’s adoption of Gandhian ideas about wealth and businesses.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Top Criminals in Indian Hospitals

Criminals in hospitals Image by murplejane

Ten years inside hospitals gives you a great instinct to pick out criminals. Oh yes, there are a lot of them in the hospitals. Here are the greatest offenders and how to deal with them.

The Poor:

They can’t afford the services, yet they come. They never do what we ask them to, want multivitamins and “saline” and never come when we ask them to. They are dirty, and don’t pay even if they can afford it. Definitely deserve the long waiting times and getting sidelined for “paying” patients.

The old:

Slow, stubborn and forgetful, they can never come to the point. If they have bellyache, they start with the time they stubbed their toe back in 67 and the time they met a white doctor who gave them a red liquid for the belly ache. Definitely deserve the patronizing behaviour that we have perfected; don’t pay attention, just nod, agree and give them something for symptomatic relief. Talk loudly, most of them are deaf.

The very rich:

Scum of the earth, just the worst people in India. They walk around like they own the hospital and treat us like we are beggars. Clearly they deserve to be robbed. Such sense of entitlement, such low respect for the profession. Keep changing doctors, want results yesterday, stingy. Definitely deserve the over charging and the excessive tests, they ask for it.

Women:

90% of their problems are psycho somatic and they create such a fuss about the rest 10%. If you are a guy, they wont let you touch them, if you don’t, and get the diagnosis wrong, they curse you. In the labor room they wont push when they need to and scream like a banshee, as if it’s an elephant coming out. Never open their mouths if their husbands hit them, so we can’t do anything. Definitely deserve being given antidepressants for the vague symptoms and the slaps on the labor table.

Villager:

You can smell them from a mile away. Sure they work in the fields and have animals, but can’t they buy soap? or at least some chap perfume? many of them are rich but pretend to be poor, they don’t change their clothes and treat the women so bad. if you are a girl then you’ve had it, your old man wont spend a penny on you. Depending on the case, definitely educate them about taking bath and sending their girls to school.

Prostitutes and homosexuals:

Why can’t they just say it? how many times will I have to “guess” their tendencies and do the right test?  I mean I am a professional, trained to deal with them in a professional way, then why can’t they just open up? They hem and haw and beat around the bush and never tell you what’s really going on. As if they can fool anyone. Anyway, poor women, forced to live like this, sometimes I feel sad, but I have to do my job and I can’t care for emotions. For them always do STD panel, even if they complain of head ache, they actually mean something else, so no point in asking if you should do it, they will just say no.

Criminals in hospital Woody allen being chased by a gorilla

Image by JohnMcNab

 

Surely, I am joking. Right? How can an educated, cultured professional hold such beliefs. These show the beliefs of a micro minority, right? No lessons to be learned here, just how some people can’t be cured by education. Correct?

Jhansi Ki Rani by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

I grew up in Gwalior and every morning on the way to school we passed by the statue of Rani Lakshmibai, popularly known as Jhansi Ki Rani. Rani Lakshmibai is one of the most remembered leaders of the rebellion of 1957.

On May 10, 1857 the Indian Rebellion started in Meerut forcing the British to focus their attentions to the hotspots of rebellion, leaving Lakshmi Bai, a widow, was left to rule Jhansi alone. During this time, she was able to lead her troops swiftly and efficiently to quell skirmishes breaking out in Jhansi. Through this leadership Lakshmi Bai was able to keep Jhansi relatively calm and peaceful in the midst of the Empire’s unrest.

Up to this point, she had been hesitant to rebel against the British, but her hesitation finally ended when British troops arrived under Sir Hugh Rose and laid siege to Jhansi. She rallied her troops around her and fought fiercely. An army of 20,000, headed by the rebel leader Tatya Tope, was sent to relieve Jhansi and to take Lakshmi Bai to freedom. However, the British, though numbering only 1,540 were better trained and disciplined than the raw recruits, and these inexperienced soldiers turned and fled shortly after the British began to attack.Three days later the British were able to breach the city walls and capture the city. Lakshmi Bai escaped by jumping from the wall at night with her son and fled from her city, surrounded by her guards, many of them women.

The Rani decamped to Kalpi along with her forces where she joined other rebel forces, including those of Tatya Tope. The Rani and Tatya Tope moved on to Gwalior, where the combined rebel forces defeated the army of the Maharaja of Gwalior after his armies deserted the rebel forces. They then occupied a strategic fort at Gwalior. However, on the 17th of June 1858, while battling in full warrior regalia against the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in Kotah-ki Serai near the Phool Bagh area of Gwalior, she died. The British captured Gwalior three days later. In the British report of the battle, General Hugh Rose commented that the Rani, “remarkable for her beauty, cleverness and perseverance”, had been “the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders”

Today, a majestic bronze statue showing her charging atop her horse graces Gwalior in a prominent spot.

Her story, if you were to look at the bare facts, is not very encouraging. She lost a battle that was heavily in her favour, ran away from her city as it was being taken and then was killed right after her only victory. But for some reason, her short but powerful attack on the British crown did not die out with her. She has inspired folk tales, songs, poems and continues till date an archetype of the fierce Indian  women who played a crucial role in the independence wars.

She was immortalised for modern India by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s poem, reciting which still gives me goose bumps. It is like the indefatigable spirit of Rani Lakshmibai has possessed the words.

You can find the whole poem here. quoted below are some of my favourite parts.

सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी,
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी।
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

….

लक्ष्मी थी या दुर्गा थी वह स्वयं वीरता की अवतार,
देख मराठे पुलकित होते उसकी तलवारों के वार,
नकली युद्ध-व्यूह की रचना और खेलना खूब शिकार,
सैन्य घेरना, दुर्ग तोड़ना ये थे उसके प्रिय खिलवार।
महाराष्टर-कुल-देवी उसकी भी आराध्य भवानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

हुई वीरता की वैभव के साथ सगाई झाँसी में,
ब्याह हुआ रानी बन आई लक्ष्मीबाई झाँसी में,
राजमहल में बजी बधाई खुशियाँ छाई झाँसी में,
सुभट बुंदेलों की विरुदावलि सी वह आयी झांसी में,
चित्रा ने अर्जुन को पाया, शिव से मिली भवानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

….

रानी गई सिधार चिता अब उसकी दिव्य सवारी थी,
मिला तेज से तेज, तेज की वह सच्ची अधिकारी थी,
अभी उम्र कुल तेइस की थी, मनुज नहीं अवतारी थी,
हमको जीवित करने आयी बन स्वतंत्रता-नारी थी,
दिखा गई पथ, सिखा गई हमको जो सीख सिखानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
यह तेरा बलिदान जगावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी।
तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

Here is a translation of the first verse,

The thrones shook and royalties scowled
Old India was re-invigorated with new youth
People realised the value of lost freedom
Everybody was determined to throw the foreigners out
The old sword glistened again in 1857
This story we heard from the mouths of Bundel bards
Like a man she fought, she was the Queen of Jhansi

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the poem by attempting a translation, sorry non-Hindi speaking readers.

Information in this article is adapted from Wikipedia, the awesome Free encyclopaedia

Rage Rage Rage

Rage is the dominant emotion on the Internet. India seems to find new things to be angry about every day, and often multiple times a day. There is corruption, poverty, injustice, Maoists, communalism, educational fraud, freedom of speech, the list goes on.

Rage Rage Rage India rage
The full range of rage

Rage is usually caused by inaction/improper action of others. Because we know we deserve better, we want better and better is achievable, but not happening. Twitter gives you a very good snapshot at the anger phenomenon. Like restaurants change the dish of the day, following twitter trends will tell you what the in thing to be angry about is. Meta tweets about how twitter is all about getting angry, bitching and complaining about the state are not uncommon. We are angry, we know we are angry and that makes us angrier still.

Expressing your rage makes other angry, it gives you the opportunity to lash out, vent, feel better. It makes you feel like you are doing something.

Rage is justified, to some extent and it is definitely a result of very real stimuli. There is much injustice around us, much incompetence and a lot of unnecessary suffering. We feel helpless, cheated and small, in the face of the various rage makers, be it bureaucracy or poverty.

But we all know that rage leads to; mostly, more rage, clouding of good judgment and action that is hasty, too forceful and often misplaced. This, of course leads to more frustration and venting, and the cycle continues.

We need to graduate from harmful rage, of course. Here is how.

Markers of “bad” rage

Cynicism – you’ve made up your mind that nothings gonna get better, and there is no use trying, so why are you frothing at all?
Violence, in speech or action we’ve tried this a lot in India havent we? Has it changed anything? Small petty victories, at the cost of formation of bigger deeper enmities and fault lines.

Get good rage

Action: angry about giving a bribe? Owe up, decide that next time you wont. Learn how to not give bribes. Angry at how the road near your house is always dug up? Do something about it, small things, like what these guys did.

Positivity: Not to be confused with naivety. Things are getting better and with good action, co-operation and will, things can get better still. What you do makes a difference. Fight the negative thought that develops after you read about corrupt doctors who do genitoplasty on girls to “convert them” to boys. Realize that for every corrupt doctor there are ten activists willing to fight them, they need support and encouragement.

Follow sites like The Better India learn about the good things that are being done. People who have been able to use adverse circumstances to their advantage have all common beliefs, traits. They don’t give up and they keep pushing for better. Stop the rage, get happy.

How do you think we should handle anger? what are your outlets? And has rage ever struck you are harming you?

PS: Other, legitimate forms of rage must be preserved and promoted, of course. introducing Rage series Mallu rage, Tam Brahm rage , Gult rage and Kannada rage.

Note: Sometime last week i realized that there was a lot of contempt and anger in my tweets, both were crippling me. Both are things I can do without. SO I decided that while there are many people and practices I have problems with, I would not use contempt to express dissent. The next thing I want to tackle is rage, tougher to get rid of because it feels so right, but if overdone it is a liability, a disability and a thorn in my flesh. Hence this post.

Childhood sexual abuse awareness month- april 2011

Child sexual awareness month

A bunch of concerned bloggers are spreading awareness about various aspects of Childhood sexual abuse using blogs and twitter. I am really happy to see so much concern, as well as the positive response they are getting. click on the image above to find out more, and follow them on twitter because they are tweeting fantastic info about how to deal with/identify/talk to your kids about sexual abuse.

follow CSAawareness on twitter.


From their site.

Child Sexual Abuse is a topic which is rarely discussed in India thanks to the social stigma and cultural taboos associated with it. Nonetheless, research does show that over 53 per cent of our children, across SECs, geographical locations and age groups report some degree of sexual abuse.
The CSAAM April 2011 is an effort by a group of bloggers, both parents and non parents, to bring this topic to the fore, to generate discussion and awareness and remove the shroud of silence that covers it.

Images of the Original Constitution of India

Cover page of the Constitution of Indiaa

The Preamble to the Constitution of India
The Preamble to the Constitution of India
Satyameva Jayate- The national emblem the four lions
The national Emblem Of The republic of India
First Page of the Constitution of India
First page of the Constitution of India
Signatures of some of the Founding fathers on the Constitution
Signatures of some of the Founders of the Constitution of India

Images are from a scanned copy of the Photolithographic reproduction of the original constitution of India. Courtesey World digital Library

Description

This book is one of 1,000 photolithographic reproductions of the Constitution of the Republic of India, which came into effect on January 26, 1950, after being approved by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949. The original of this elaborate edition took nearly five years to produce. It is signed by the framers of the constitution, most of whom are regarded as the founders of the Republic of India. The original of the book is kept in a special helium-filled case in the Library of the Parliament of India. The illustrations represent styles from the different civilizations of the subcontinent, ranging from the prehistoric Mohenjodaro, in the Indus Valley, to the present. The calligraphy in the book was done by Prem Behari Narain Raizda. It was illuminated by Nandalal Bose and other artists, published by Dehra Dun, and photolithographed at the Survey of India Offices.

Calligrapher: Narain Raizada , Prem Behari
Contributor: Ambedkar, Bhimrao Ramji (1891-1956)
Illuminator: Basu, Nandalāla (1883-1966)

Jai Hind

26th January 2011: India’s 62nd Republic Day

The (Indian) Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950.

A republic is a state under a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, retain supreme control over the government.

Take a moment to read some of the best about Republic day and what it means

Are we republicans or democrats : Harsh gupta on the Republic of India.

http://swaraj.nationalinterest.in/2008/09/07/republicans-or-democrats/

You can download a pdf copy of a photolithographic reproduction of the Constitution of India from the World Digital Library [PDF]. Pages from the book are shown below.

January 26 was selected because it was the day the Purna Swaraj declaration (Declaration of the Independence of India) was promulgated by the Indian National Congress at Lahore in 1930. In fact, the Congress had then asked the people of India to observe January 26 as Independence Day. Moreover, Republic Day is also about the Indian constitution, which was a wholly Indian enterprise.

Republic Day, on a date we ourselves chose, ought to be the more solemn occasion — a day of promises to make and pledges to keep.

If Independence Day is about the remembrances and retrospection, Republic Day ought to signify how we can preserve and improve the fate of the country, and how that task falls upon us, each one of us.

You could read more at Pragmatic Euophony on the Republic day

And as the author suggests, remember that the Republic day is for renewing the fire inside to fight for a free, equal and truly republic-an India.

You could take up this year to learn more about how the problems in india can be solved, and I would say there is no better book than Breaking free of Nehru, and no better company than the Freedom Team of India to keep.

To a Free India.

Jai Hind

The Art and Craft of insinuation- A reply to Swapan Das Gupta by Imrana Qadeer

The day the eminent lawyer Soli Sorabji told the listeners of a TV programme in no uncertain terms that the interpretation of the term sedition in the case of Binayak Sen belonged to a bygone era and is no more legally valid, there were others who were trying to preach otherwise. One of these assertive voices came from journalist Sawapan Das Gupta (SD ji) who chose to tell us “How Binayak Sen became a cause celebre”; while, in the same paper and on the same day, economist Amartya Sen said that the verdict “smacked of political motivation” (TOI Jan 9th, 2011). Thus we hear two sets of voices, one giving reasons for the fallibility of the verdict and thereby questioning the wisdom of the Sessions judge, and the other asking us to have blind faith in the judicial process and not use our reason nor raise doubts about it.

One may ask, if the debate around Binayak Sen is a fabrication of the minds of a handful of cause-hungry intellectuals, then why has it spread so wide? Why has SD ji too joined it and is now emphasising the “image make over”of Binayak Sen? Is he just angry that Binayak Sen, “did not fit the (read ‘his’) mental image of a dangerous man”, or, is he now contributing to theory by introducing such innovative categories of social analysis as bearded men, men without jhola, and men who sport both? He perhaps thinks that through this rude, flippant, and callous articulation (which he well recognises), he will add some weight to the judgement and thereby contain the emerging trend where the judiciary is being questioned and accountability demanded of it, because it is unable to show that it respects the law that it practices.
Let us look at the game SD ji is playing.

According to him Binayak Sen’s crime is:
(a) shaving off his beard (that amounts to destruction of evidence!);
(b) transforming from a relatively unknown activist (only known to the unknown of Chhattisgarh);
(c) choosing to highlight the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act in a state that is “the rotten apple”; and
(d) being deserving of defence by Amartya Sen (who is chided for his “arrogance”).

Since SD ji is not inclined to look at the “technical issues” such as the evidence, the authenticity of legal procedures, or the interpretation of conflicting evidence and evident failure to establish association – all of which makes the judgment unfathomable – he unilaterally acquires the right to assert that “to assume that any alternative perspective implies a bent and biased system is rash”.

The story of Chhattisgarh is no secret. It is best told by its HDI rank, based on achievements in health, education, income, and gender development, where it is ranked among the worst performing States. To address these critical issues the State can think of nothing better than to set up an Army training centre there that would “naturally” require heavy security measures. Is this the alternative perspective that SD ji is hinting at? Where it is natural and justified that judges should be influenced by the seriousness of the overall situation? And where the basic principle of justice, that the more severe the punishment the more careful should be the assessment of evidence, can be easily belied?
Such a perspective attempts to reduce the gap between reason and unreason by making light of the goings on in States like Gujarat and Chattisgarh. It values the glamour of annual Prabasi winter meets, but disapproves of NRIs going beyond the set boundaries to see and experience their own country. It is a perspective that, in its effort to influence “the young and impressionable” thinking people, attacks all liberal intellectual thought attempting to protect a judicial system, and all institutions that represent the liberal dimension of Indian democracy, which is gradually curtailing all rights and freedoms.

SD ji says nothing about all this but he does claim a wide following amongst those who disagree with the perception that there is a concerted programme of expropriation, “governed by the political first cousins of those who administer Gujarat, heavy-handed policing, law of the jungle, capitalist iniquity and the brutal suppression of tribal rights”. He altogether misses the point that majority assertion and reasoned arguments are two different domains, and that he has failed to offer any reason for the susceptible to shed their understanding and join his ideological brand of paranoia. He also misses the point that undermining criminal law amounts to undermining of constitutional provision of fundamental rights. The lower courts cannot be callous towards principles and procedures of justice just because correctives are possible at higher levels of appeal.

SD ji dubs all those who disagree with him as unthinking and providing “unintended” legitimacy to Maoist insurgency. One may be grateful for his generosity in using the word unintended, but will he tell us which India does he cherish? – the one where people have a right to demand reason from governing structures or one where rules, however unreasonable, must dominate?

Imrana Qadeer is a retired Professor From the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU

This Post is in reply to Swapan Das Gupta’s Article in Times of India How Binayak Sen became a cause celebre