BJP does the right thing

When the IAC movement started, BJP was not really made part of the dialog that  happened between Government and Team Anna. I guess Congress thought that it would be better to keep the opposition out of the focus and hence they wont be able to take the advantage of the situation. I wonder why IAC did not work so closely with BJP.

That was a mistake that Congress did. It confined itself into a narrow space and soon the movement turned into UPA government v/s as 72 year old man. BJP and other simply waited in the gallery.

Whether by accident or by plan this has done some real good for BJP. I was very critical of BJP because they did not clear their stand on the issue. I guess they were waiting for the right moment.

Apparently, that moment has come. Arun Jaitley’s speech today has cleared BJP’s stand and that too in a very pragmatic way.

I originally thought, when I was learning my initial lessons in politics, that there were too many controls and regulations which the Government had. And, we thought, when liberalization set in, and we had delicensing taking place, freedom from controls taking place, that the role of Government and the intrusion of Government into various places would come to an end, or, that it would, substantially, decline, and once that happened, we would probably have a much cleaner society as far as corruption was concerned. I must confess that this was the honest belief that even I shared. Of course, this had its own advantages. Delicensing, or, freedom from control, meant that people wanting to undertake economic activity did not have to move around in the corridors of power. To that extent, we did take a step forward.

Arun Jaitley then goes on to give examples of specific sectors where root cause of corruption is government control and discretionary power in the hands of few.

And we have now gone to the extent of saying that if you have an urban project which is more than fifty cores of rupees– and land being costly, most projects would be more than fifty crores of rupees – it will also require environmental clearance from the Central Government. At least, there was one stage, some years ago, not recently, where literally thousands of files used to be pending with the Central Government for environmental clearances because some buildings in some parts of the country have to be constructed.

Government control leads to scarcity of resources and because of which the common man ends up suffering. Jaitley goes on to talk about education sector

 must clarify, I am not an opponent of the whole idea of the society, the private sector, the non-Governmental organisations and charitable trusts getting into the field of education; from school education to higher education, some of them have made a commendable contribution. But, then, in areas where there was a scarcity created, in terms of seats–we know the States where this is happening–unthinkable amount of capitation fee for a single undergraduate or post-graduate medical seat was charged, because we decided to create scarcity of seats. Wherever the scarcity got over, the capitation fee disappeared. But, wherever we created scarcity, we found that this became a major area as far as black money is concerned.

He clarifies BJP stand on Lokpal as

he ultimate authority is with the Government to introduce the law. The authority is with the Parliament to approve the law. They have a right to protest and crusade. But, then, we must neither curtail their right to protest nor must we get so angry with them and say like children that we will not speak to you now. And, it is only when pressure becomes unbearable that we will start speaking to you. Most of these provisions are such that they are workable, or, at least, they can be brought within the dialogue domain and a solution can be worked out rather than create a situation in the society that it appears that there is a confrontation going on between the political system of this country and the Civil Society.

While all the points he makes are the “right things to do” the real challenge for the party to take this to the masses. At this moment the public is not in mood to listen to any politician, the middle class apathy towards politics is at it’s peak, you hear people saying stuff as all politicians are equally corrupt and so on.

At such a point Arun jaitley’s speech will not be qualitatively compared with that of Manmohan Singh, indead people will just brush it off.

There is no single individual left in the party who has a moral authority to talk to people and convince them. People don’t really get convinced with logical arguments, they get convinced with personal charm of the leader along with his moral authority.

As far as BJP is concerned the only man right of the job is Narendra Modi. A person who has silenced his critics with his actions, hated the most by his opponents and yet he moves around without a wound or blot.

I hope BJP is only waiting for the Guj elections to get over.

Party with deifferent to party of diffident

A fiction writer is not someone a political party should pay attention to, I would normally say. If the fiction writer is Chetan Bhagat, I would rather stay away. However Chetan Bhagat in his recent article makes some simple points for BJP’s rejuvenation and I feel BJP must pay attention to it.

I was once into RSS. There was one strong observation I made about them is that, they generally deal in absolute. If you are not with them, you are against them. And as Obi Wan Kenobi would say, only Siths deal in absolute. I think a party acquires this trait once it gets into the hands of lawyers. People like Kapil Sibbal and Arun Jaitley always come up with nonsensical arguments on TV. That kind of argument might work in front of the Goddess of Justice but certainly it doesn’t work with our people.

Leave Chetan Bhagat aside and look for more sophisticated advice from someone who is more respectable, Tavleen Singh. Mere the title of her article points out to the biggest problem with BJP. She asks the question “Does the BJP stand for anything ?”.

When Atal Bihari Vajpeyi was at the helm of affairs, I remember my opinion of BJP was something like below. Yes argument suggesting otherwise may come from some people but then no one can deny that the impression they gave was similar to what I felt.

1. Party with right leaning economic policies. The party looked pro-business, started disinvestment and so on.

2. A party that can take tough stand on national security. This image got a blow after Kandahar hijacks but looking as Manmohan Singh I wonder if he would have decided to declare war if Pakistan had tried to occupy Kargil. Vajpeyi at least got it back.

3. Party that is faithful to it’s principles.

4. Party which promotes clean and competent people. It was BJP that got Shourie, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha into cabinet ministry despite they having a mass base.

When I heard Vajpeyi talking in parliament I could see that he is driven by principles and not opportunism. His decisions reflected that now and then.

Compare it to today’s BJP. It seems like a party with jokers. They spend a lot of time telling us that Congress is corrupt. We all know that we ask “How is BJP any different ?”. Once we ask that question the leadership blames us to be anti-BJP or pro-congress. A trait that the party shares with it’s parent organization. Dealing in absolute when it comes to criticism.

I meet very dedicated and young party workers in Goa and Maharashtra. Whenever I bring up the issue of politics they are very apologetic. The conversation starts with the sentence “I know BJP is not 100% clean..”. Now this is a clear sign that the top leaders have failed their young supporters. Your own foot soldiers don’t believe that the party is clean neither do they believe that you are committed to make it clean.

Each time I see Arun Jaitley, Sushama Swaraj , Advani on television I see that they hunger for power. They have no principles what so ever but they will take the first opportunity to grab power. They do not take a stand on any issue because they don’t know from which side the opportunity might come. The moment you take a stand on some issue some doors are closed for you. If you are driven by principle you don’t care. If you are driven by opportunism you wonder what if “the opportunity to grab the power lies behind that door?”. You try to take an unclear stand.

Tavleen Singh highlights BJP’s failures

When it comes to anti-corruption sentiment in public BJP supported the two idiotic movements headed by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. Could not BJP come up a more political movement of it’s own with a more clear agenda? Couldn’t it see that both Anna and Ramdev are essentially advocating a “statist” approach which is against BJP’s perceived right leaning economic position ? BJP saw a wave and tried to jump on it. #EPICFAIL

The BJP’s reckless support for Hazare and Baba Ramdev is of a piece with the role it has played in Opposition since 2004. It is as if the party’s senior leaders have no political ideas of their own and so are forced to pick them out of newspaper headlines and news bulletins on our 24-hour news channels.

Second, is BJP’s failure to oppose MNREGA. Yeah, it is pro-poor but one can clearly see it is like giving away money from government’s funds to buy votes. Not only it is a stupid scheme it is putting forth a wrong path. Giving our dole. another #EPICFAIL. Why would BJP do that? It feared that if it takes a stand against it, it might lose vote of poor. If the scheme screws up economy, screws up agriculture its okay. All we need is some votes, which too they are not going to get.

If it was genuinely rightist in its economic views, it should have protested vigorously when the Prime Minister agreed to pour taxpayers money into schemes like MNREGA. Even its creators now admit that it has served mostly to spread corruption down to the village level. And, it has created difficulties in the agricultural labour market by handing out dole. This has caused such a crisis that the Ministry of Agriculture itself recently asked that MNREGA be suspended in seasons of sowing and harvesting. Yet, not only has the ‘rightist’ BJP remained silent about the scheme’s flaws, it has allowed it to spread to states it rules.

Third point that Tavleen brings up is the most important one. NAC. National Advisory council is a Sith council set up by the Sith Lord Sonia Gandhi. This an unconstitutional body interferes into all government matters. NAC is powered by whos who of left-secular-liberal lobby that includes Manu Joseph to Teesta Setlwaad (two people were advisors for the recent communal violence bill). The official member list is here. NAC is completely off the media radar. They maintain a very low profile. Most of the people are not aware of it’s existence. NAC drafts laws, it tell PM what he should be doing. In short is a group of unelected people who form policies. BJP should thrown all it’s weight to oppose and dismantle NAC which sadly they havent done.

The National Advisory Council itself is something the BJP should have objected to but never has. From its dubious lawmakers, now comes a food security bill that makes no sense. If it is ever implemented, we might need to start importing shiploads of food grain as we used to do in socialist times when India was famous only as ‘a land of starving millions’.

More puzzling still is the inability of the BJP to speak up even when senior members of the Congress Party have openly declared that Hindutva terrorists are more dangerous to India than the jihadi groups Pakistan sends us. This is so outrageous that political commentators who despise Hindutva, have spoken up but the BJP’s senior leaders have remained silent. So the question that we need to ask is whether the BJP stands for anything at all? Does it have ideas on governance that are different to Congress? Does it have a vision of India that is different to Congress? Does it have a foreign policy that is different to Congress? Does it believe in free markets or a subsidised socialist economy? Does it oppose hereditary democracy?

At least in my case, if BJP wants my vote in 2014 elections they will have to answer the questions mentioned by Tavlee, and that too with absolute clarity and through their actions. Otherwise I would rather like to see Congress coming back into the power and Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime Minister. Under Rahul Gandhi’s completely nincompoop leadership country will travel to a catastrophic destruction at much after pace. After that destruction there will be a hope for a much better future than the B-grade copy of Congress aka BJP can offer us.

 

 

 

 

BJP’s faultlines

Sadanand Dhume is among the few journalists who actually makes a point when he writes something. Indian media overall doesn’t really write about BJP and if it ever writes something it seems as if congress paid them to write it.

In his recent article of WSJ he makes some astute observations about India’s so-called right.

As long as it continues to be limited by a narrow focus on identity politics, and as long as it pursues policies based on opportunism rather than on principle, the BJP will fail both India and itself. [Source]

I think this description of BJP is spot on. BJP’s stand on most of the issues does not reflect their ideological position but clearly reflects their sense of opportunism.

As Dhume explain BJP is probably the only party on horizon that can stand for economic freedom, strong and assertive defense strategy, strong counter terrorism strategy and so on. But party risks this status by supporting Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev and their bizarre ideas.

Probably the BJP leadership thinks that they should not lose an opportunity to build a negative image of congress party in the mind of people. It probably thinks that it should ride the “popular” wave in order to  win elections and that is where the line between BJP and Congress begins to get blurred.

As Dhume continues:

In recent months, for instance, the BJP has attacked the government’s tawdry record on corruption not by demanding less government and fewer cumbersome regulations, but by backing assorted crackpots and activists: from lawyer Prashant Bhushan, to yoga guru Baba Ramdev, to ardent alcohol-prohibitionist Anna Hazare. Mr. Bhushan believes that corruption in India has soared on account of too much liberalization rather than too little. The less said about Mr. Ramdev’s bizarre views on currency valuations and punishment for tax offenders, the better.

BJP in that sense has been behaving like a Kati Patang. I feel the party only reflects the character of its leaders. People like L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley are currently sitting on top. Problem with these people is that they dont stand for anything. Advani made some insane attempts to build his image and in the end made a fool of himself. It is a big question why he is still sticking to his chair.

Arun Jaitley’s case is a bit different. Outside politics he is a very successful lawyer. His political image perhaps only helps him in the private business. He is capable of arguing for a point and two days later he can perhaps put up even more splendid opposition.

Nation expects a lot from BJP. Whatever Vajpeyi started they need to take it forward. The party needs to clearly state that they are FOR more economic freedom, more individual freedom, less and less government interference, more aggressive foreign and defense policy.

In the end, it is not enough just to claim that you believe in something, your belief gets tested only when you are ready to take something on it. In BJP’s case the stake is probably electoral success in short run but it will surely rip good results in long term.

Bharat Bandh

I really wanted to write a Panchatantra Story here but unfortunately I don’t have that much time.

The opposition at central level consisting mostly the NDA allies, Communists and the Muslim parties such as SP and RJD had declared a pan-India strike today (5th July 2010) to protest against rising inflation and especially the petrol prices. The communists however insisted that their strike is separate from the NDA’s call for strike. Something like let us enjoy a f*** but don’t think about marriage. (one night stand in popular jargon).

I haven’t seen television since but it does not require an astrologer to predict that they must have had enough fun out of this pan-India event. However when one Indian state, (which I bet 50% of TV anchors wont be able to spot on India’s map correctly) was facing a severe blockade for 50 days I didn’t hear a squeak from them.

I am upset because BJP chose such a medium to gain popularity. Mr. Advani who probably thinks that every small thing in his life is a major landmark event for the country showed enthusiasm for this strike.

“This may be the first time in history of India’s [ Images ] politics that almost all political parties will participate in the Bharat Bandh,” NDA Working Chairperson L K Advani [ Images ] said after a meeting of the leaders. [Rediff]

I thought RSS brought in Nitin Gadkari to ring out the old and ring in the new. But the Advani and team (Humpty Dumpty, Cheshire Cat etc.) does seem to be getting tired of playing Ringa Ringa Rosy.

BJP’s votebank is educated and urban middle class. Congress’s votebank is the illiterate gullible poor. Since there is no limit to the number of poor in the country congress keeps winning elections. American’s have a famous war strategy “clear,hold and build“.

BJP, in the process of running after poor has only followed congress’ footsteps which eventually made them lose their middle-class vote-bank as well. Supporting reservation, keeping aside important issues like article 370, Uniform Civil Code, mishandling Ram mandir issue, ideological confusion on topic of secularism, support for reservations, supporting entitlement by the virtue of need etc. Each of these stratagems adopted by BJP has made them lose their supporters. In return they have gained absolutely nothing from Congress’ traditional votebanks like Muslims and Poor.

Things like Bharat Band is only going to make the party weaker. Any sensible leader who is in touch with masses will quickly realize that none of the common people is going to like this kind of protest. Everyone wants the inflation to go down, but they also understand that the government has little control over the petroleum prices. People have learned this from past experience.

Now this sensible leader is likely to tell this to the bosses in Delhi that Bharat Band in principle is not good thing for the party. Now, thats what the Humpty Dumpties at top will call “indiscipline”.  He is not co-operative, He is not ready for sacrifice, He is not confident, he does not have enough fire in his belly to he is planning to betray the party. All sort of accusations will be made against that sensible leader. The logic?

The sentence must be executed before it is pronounced.

The sentence must be pronounced before the verdict is settled.

The verdict must be settled before the arguments are commenced.

The arguments must be concluded before the evidence is examined.

The evidence must be examined before it is collected.

And so, “Off with his head!”

That sensible leader will soon lose his weight in the party. His ill-wishers will say “He has betrayed at the crucial moment. It will send a wrong message to public if we fail to make this strike successful”.

From that premise follows the imminent conclusion. The person who will help us make this strike successful will be a good local leader. “leader in need is leader indeed”. A person will suddenly appear with gang of young lads  in each constituency who will destroy a bus, burn an auto rickshaw, force shop owners down the shutters. This person will ensure that the strike is successful. On special occasions he will come to visit Advaniji or the team, touch their feet and express his willingness to contest the elections from his ward.

That person will get a ticket because he helped the party in the moment of crisis. The sensible leader who had advised against the strike will sit at home and watch television.

What could have been other approach?

I don know. BJP had tried all the trick in the book before going for the Bharat Bandh. Twice they met the PM, they held rallies, agitations and so on. Now it will be naive to expect that these tricks will work but the fact that must have bothered party leadership is that the indifference the public showed to what they have been doing. They made public pay for that indifference.

I think BJP should figure out other ways to taking issue to public. These methods should be such that they will strengthen the organization and help identify good leaders. Hopefully they will figure it out. If I get time I will blog about some innovative ways of doing this.

Weekend Re-reading

Came across a very old interview of Dr. Koenraad Elst. A person I admire the most. His intellectual rigor is even better than my other idol Dr. Arun Shourie. The whole interview can be read here.

Q: Let’s put it this way. Going by your own thesis, why has this “Hindu civilisation” failed to produce scholars/intellectuals who respect the tradition of dialogue and accommodation? There is an impression that the RSS volunteers, the self-proclaimed “torch-bearers of this civilisation”, are mostly inward-looking and even their “baudhik pramukhs” are found wanting as far as intellectual rigour is concerned. No wonder, we fail to produce an Edward Said, a Noam Chomsky or even a Huntington!

A: The Indians need not be so modest. Allow me, as an outsider, to have a higher opinion of India’s intellectual performance. Huntington’s notion of a “Clash of Civilisations” was already used by Girilal Jain, who died the year before Huntington gained fame. Have you ever cared to read the works of the late Ram Swarup? He was soft-spoken and avoided hurtful language, yet his observations on the deeper issues underlying the communal problems in India were razor-sharp. The RSS reduces everything to the typical nationalist discourse of “the Motherland vs the anti-national forces”. But there is more to Hindu revivalism than that.

And I would trade Edward Said’s books any time for those of your own Arun Shourie. Said’s “Orientalism” wrongly dismisses criticism of Islam as a colonial ploy. In Belgium alone, there are plenty of Christian refugees from Turkey and Lebanon, and they know who chased them out. Said, however, has become the leading apologist for Islam in the West.

It is, however, true that the RSS has failed to produce great minds. But then that may not be the job of a mass organisation. On the other hand, it is indeed a glaring failure of the RSS that it never produced a serious analysis of the very problems which led to its creation, apart from some sweeping nationalist slogans about “anti-national forces”. This has to do with a choice made by KB Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar against intellectual activity and in favour of mindless activism. But this mistaken party-line of the RSS matters less and less, because there is more and more Hindu self-organisation outside the Sangh Parivar framework. The “shakha” gatherings are becoming obsolete as a form of mobilisation. Hindu civilisation has always functioned in a decentralised manner, and now the “Hindu awakening” (announced so often at RSS forums) is taking place through informal networks, for example, the internet. The movement is reverting to decentralised forms of mobilisation, after the RSS interregnum of boy scout-type uniformity and centralism.

Congress, Communists and other media people have criticized RSS of so many things but none of them comes up with pertinent criticism as by Dr. Elst.

Also, I always get astonished to see all my favorite authors cross refer each other and sometimes use similar language. Elst had invoked Alice In Wonderland long before Shourie did in his classic piece after BJP defeat in 2010.

“The question is”, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master-that’s all.”

A lot of ink has flowed over the question how to define Hinduism.  There is no other religion for which the question of definition is so difficult.  A Roman Catholic could be defined as a person who is baptized by a priest ordained within an apostolic succession going back to Jesus, and who accepts the Nicean Creed and the authority of the Bishop of Rome.  A Muslim is defined by the Muslims themselves as one who has affirmed the Islamic creed: that there is no god beside Allah and that Mohammed is Allah’s prophet.  A Buddhist is one who has taken the triple refuge into the Buddha, his teachings and his community.  But there seems to be no accepted definition of a Hindu, neither one sanctioned by Hindu tradition nor one on which the scholarly community agrees.[Source: Who is a Hindu?]

Elst blew up the tantrums and stratagems of all the secularists, Islamist and communists on the Ram Mandir debate. Today it might me completely taboo to say anything in support Ram Mandir partly because the opponents are in power and some due to the weakness of it’s proponents like BJP.

In India, political incidents frequently pit Hindu nationalism, or even just plain Hinduism and plain nationalism, against so-called “secularism”. In practice, this term denotes a combine of Islamists, Hindu-born Marxists and consumericanized one-dimensionalists who share a hatred of Hindu culture and Hindu self-respect. What passes for secularism in India is often the diametrical opposite of what goes by the same name in the West. Recent events in the Ayodhya temple/mosque controversy confirm the disingenuous character of Indian secularism.

Dr. Elst compares the Hindu revivalism against the so called secularists and if you have your eyes open it is not difficult to see that he has a very strong point. But most of the people dont wish to see.

Genuine secular states have equality before the law of all citizens regardless of religion. By contrast, India has different civil codes depending on the citizen’s religion. Thus, for Christians it is very hard to get a divorce, Hindus and Muslim women can get one through judicial proceedings, and Muslim men can simply repudiate their wives. The secular alternative, a common civil code, is championed by the Hindu nationalists. It is the so-called secularists who, justifying themselves with specious sophistry, join hands with the most obscurantist religious leaders to insist on maintaining the present unequal system.

Likewise, legal inequality in matters of temple management, pilgrimage subsidies, special autonomy for states depending on their populations’ religious composition, and the right to found religious schools is defended by the so-called secularists (because it is invariably to the disadvantage of the Hindus) while the Hindu nationalists favour the secular alternative of equality regardless of religion. In India, sharia-wielding Muslim clerics whose Arab counterparts denounce secularism as the ultimate evil, call themselves secularists. Just as the word deception differs in meaning from its French counterpart déception(= disappointment), the word secularism has a sharply different meaning in Indian English as compared to metropolitan English.

He speaks about the Hindu view and Muslim view of temple in Ayodhya.

We could look at the Ayodhya affair from the Hindu angle. The contentious site is a Hindu sacred site, it is not a Muslim sacred site, so it should simply continue as a Hindu place of pilgrimage and be adorned with the appropriate architecture.

We could look at the Ayodhya affair from a Muslim angle. Of course Ayodhya is not sacred to Muslims. It would amount to blasphemy to claim any sacredness for Ayodhya: Allah is everywhere so He doesn’t need sacred sites, and to the extent that any place on earth can be called sacred, it is Mecca, not Ayodhya. Yet, Muslim warriors have performed their duty of iconoclasm, replacing an idolatrous temple with a mosque. This creates a clear new situation under Islamic law: once a mosque, always a mosque. Muslims should fight to re-conquer the site, and in case Hindus manage to rebuild their temple, a well-planned bomb attack should remedy that anomaly.

Koenraad Elst is a rare scholar who has observed the temple issue very closely without taking sides of any stakeholders. Today both Congress as well as BJP will deny that it was Rajiv Gandhi who had the most pragmatic approach towards Ram Mandir.

One such secularist, a modern man ready to deal with the matter pragmatically, was Rajiv Gandhi. He allowed the Hindus to prepare for the construction of a new temple with the ceremonial laying of a foundation stone (shilanyas) on November 9, 1989. He pressured the Chandra Shekhar government, which was dependent on Congress support, into organizing the scholars’ debate about the historical evidence, in the full knowledge that the temple party would win such a debate hands down. The thrust of his Ayodhya policy was to buy off Muslim acquiescence with some of the usual currency of the Congress culture: maybe nominating a few more Mians as ministers, banning a few Islam-unfriendly books (hence the Satanic Verses affair), raising theHajj subsidy, providing cheap loans to the Shahi Imam’s constituency, donating government land for some Islamic purpose, things like that. Meanwhile, Hindus would get their temple. Muslims would have scolded their leaders for selling out, Hindus would have lambasted theirs for cheapening a noble cause with such horse-trading, but in the end, everybody would have accepted it.

Congress and Communists have criticized Elst to be a RSS man. Elst on the contrary happens to be a strong critique of both BJP and RSS.

The anti-intellectualism of the Sangh Parivar is a sufficiently serious problem to warrant a closer discussion.  The situation on the ground is that RSS men seldom sit down to do any thinking, but are always on the move.  As a US-based Hindutva activist told me: “When I make a phone call to an RSS office-bearer in India, he will most often not be in the Delhi office, not in Nagpur or another town, but somewhere on the way.”  And the wife of a BJP stalwart told me: “Being on the way from one place to another is a status symbol among RSS men.”  With all this physical locomotion, little time and occasion is left for concentrated mental work.

The Sangh has a basic commit ment to India and to Hindu culture, but beyond that, its ideological position is hazy and undeveloped, and therefore mal leable in the hands of ideologically more articulate forces.  It has been more influenced by dominant polit ical currents and intel lectual fashions, often emanating from its declared enemies, than one would expect from an “extremist” movement.  Like in the Congress and Janata parties, quarrels within the BJP are never about ideology.  As ex-insider Balraj Madhok writes in a comment on the Gujarat quarrels: “Personal differences rather than ideolog ical factors lie at the root of the rifts within the Sangh Parivar.”

To an extent, the BJP has its lack of ideological sophis tication in common with all non-Communist parties, most of all with Congress.  A few recycled old slogans, a picture of its long-dead leaders, some material presents for the voter (ad hoc food subsidies, writing off farmers’ loans), and there you have a complete Congress election campaign.  Mutatis mutandis, the same is true for most parties.  The simple slogans on the outside are not the summary of a profound and complica ted programme too esoteric to trouble the voters with (as in the case of the Communists).  The surface is all there is to it, at least as far as ideology is concerned. [Source]

Today, Dr. Elst is not so active. He retired from his role as India watcher long back for reason not known. He also suffered from a rare heart disease which has not restricted his activity.

Dr. Elst has written many books only few of which can be found on bookshelf of any reputed bookstore. However most of his books can be found for free on http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/books

CAG reports on IFFI

Manohar ParrikarBhagwan ke ghar der hoti hai ander nahi. so goes the adage. But in the Andher Nagari of Goa, where the Choupat Raja Digamber Kamat is ruling, there is both der as well as andher.

Mr. Manohar Parrikar who is largely responsible most of the good things in Goa that exist today, was summoned by CBI on April 16, 2010. An FIR was filed by Mavin Gudinho (Congress Legislator) with local police but when the case was handed over to CBI he withdrew it.

Why would Mr. Mavin Godinho do so? Answer is simple. Mr. Parrikar had unearthed the multi-crore power rebate scam done by him. I am not aware what happened to that scam and the inquiry involved in it. Had Mr. Parrikar been in power possible he would have been behind bars.

Navhind Times reports that the CBI’s assertions against Mr. Parrikar as ascertained from the questions he had to face were based on the 2005 CAG report.

Why of all Mr. Parrikar is held guilty? There can be two reasons

1. Mr. Parrikar in his capacity as a chief minister was the chairperson of Goa Infra. Dev. Corp. which was the nodal agency responsible for building necessary infrastructure for the film festival. The additional secretary budget was holding the managing director position.

2. Mr. Parrikar was part of the committee formed to make policy decisions for IFFI. But there were more people on it. Who exactly?

The Core Committee comprised the Chief Minister, Ministers for Urban Development, Health, Town and Country Planning, Revenue, Tourism and Art & Culture, Shri H. Zantye, MLA and Government Officials being the Chief Secretary, Secretary to the Chief Minister, Principal Director Information,
Publicity & Films and the Managing Director, GSIDC. All other Ministers and the Chairman Kala Academy were special invitees.

CAG generally advises government on the matters that involve spending of money. Irregularities are brought to the notice of government and government has to respond to them over which the CAG also comments in it’s final report.

CAG has noted down several points where irregularities were observed in the execution of pre-IFFI works. CAG has not blamed any specific person but only the company  (GIDC ).  While we read through the notes it must be noted that government had only 6-8 months to build all necessary infrastructure and it was achieved in that time frame.  CAG report is here.

Bidding for Multiplex construction

3 bids were received.

Adlabs 3 screens 16 crores

INOX 6 screens 21 crores

PVR 34 crores

20% weight-age was given to the technical competency and 80% to financial bid. The consultant appointed was HOK Canada Inc. After the committee saw the presentations based on HOK’s advice the bid was awarded to INOX. HOK also suggested that  the screens should be 4 but the total seating capacity should be same as quoted. INOX reduced the original bid by 1 crore because of one less screen and renovated old GMC for 2 crores. This was despite the fact that there was major original rework in the construction design. The superstructure was changed from RCC to steel.

CAG’s contention is that the clause for renovating old GMC was removed without changing the bid amount. The government’s reply to the same was that, the change in superstructure based on HOK’s suggestions resulted into extra cost and the multiplex was shifted away from old GMC hence the clause was dropped. The government’s explanation in this case is acceptable given that government had not time to renegotiate the price based on the the minor modifications.

The show stopper here however is ICICI bank. This bank was a special invitee by government to give their expert advice on financing multiplexes. CAG notes that ICICI bank advised that a “World Class” multiplex costs Rs. 2000 per square feet.  CAG also notes without any references that multiplexes in other cities were built in 6 crores. I searched google to find the truth in this claim. Those who didn’t get the joke try searching for price of an ordinary office space in Goa.

ICICI Bank, who were special invitees for giving their 

professional advice on the cost of multiplexes financed by them, had informed

the Company that the cost of a world class multiplex would be around Rs.2,000

per square feet. Accordingly, the cost of a multiplex of 30,000 square feet would be around 6 crores.



Kala Academy’s Exceeded budget



Kala academy renovation was estimated by consultant Uttam Jain at Rs 24.18 crores. The contract was awarded but the budget exceeded by 9 crores. which is 41%. Jain was paid Rs. 1.5 crores for making this estimations. Though the CAG is silent on why this could have occurred probably because of acceptable replies from government has problem with not issuing a separate tender for the additional 9 crores. Isn’t the pressing deadlines could be the reason?

But Goan news reporters are overenthusiastic. For them things are crystal clear. Goan Observer reports



Unity Infraprojects Ltd. will be conferring the Infrastructure Award on Shri Manohar Parrikar for giving them Rs 24 crores to convert the toilet in the Old Kala Academy into an state-of-the-art Art Gallery. The award will bear the legend “ United we can loot and plunder the Government of Goa.” Simplex will be inaugurating the new bridge from the special IFFI jetty at the Kala Academy to the official residence of the Chief Minister in Altinho. So that the Chief Minister does not get caught in traffic jams on his frequent trips to the Kala Academy and the tarted up old GMC complex which houses the offices of the Entertainment Society of Goa.

What work did the company actually do? If one can trust their word for it here it is for a curious mind. Notable point is that CAG has not casted doubt on the figure itself, his only contention is that the government lost competitive advantage of bidding while exceeding the budget by 9 crores.

What happened in 2006?

Let us see what happened in 2006 when Mr. Pratap Singh Rane was the Goa CM.

Let us see what CAG has to say.

The ESG approved (September 2006) the proposal of EMA for engaging popular artists for various events like opening and closing ceremonies, concerts, etc. at a total fee of Rs 4.92 crore subject to the EMA generating sponsorship of the like amount. The actual expenditure on artists’ fee was Rs 5.05 crore as compared to the expenditure of less than Rs one crore spent on the artists for IFFI 2005.

Artist’s ? Who Artists? See what government had to say.

The Department stated (July 2008) that the increase in expenditure on artists cost was that the artists were internationally renowned, and charged a huge premium. The reply is not tenable as the huge expenditure on artists and low sponsorship resulted in extra burden of Rs 2.05 crore on public exchequer. [Source]

Internationally renowned? If you can find any in the entertainment event list of that year please let me know. Do not get fooled by the name Bony M. Its just a group name.

Conclusion

Certainly IFFI 2004 was not executed in a flawless manner with everything bang on. Budgets were exceed is the only conclusion one can draw. Mis-appropriation of funds can be claimed only if money was spent without taking it through required scrutiny and procedures.

The artist’s 5 crores fee in IFFI 2006 is one prime example, where EMA got paid Rs. 5 crores for giving a service which was exactly same (rather inferior) as previous year only to cost Rs. 4 crores more.

Mr. Parrikar built all the necessary infrastructure within the required time-frame and without any wastage of money. One can not ignore that CAG has nothing to say about the beautification exercise, procurement of additional busses, renumeration given to IFFI artists and so on. Where as when it comes to IFFI 2006 it is compelled to note that even procurement of television sets had a major scandal in their. TV sets were purchased but they were not of the  brand given in the tender.

Also both IFFI 2006 and 2005 involved unnecessary self-promotional advertisements that’s cost around 1.5 crores. The event management company (EMG) was responsible for this. But the leaders were not sure if their photos withe leading actresses and actors would be published in newspaper or not hence they employed publicity department and ESG to publish advertisements worth crores.


Book Review: We must have no price…

We must have no price

I have read almost all the available books by this eminent author and each time ha has not failed to amaze me. Sometime he makes me feel that reality is far more thrilling and challenging than the fiction.

But out of all the articles I have read, the series he wrote after BJP’s electoral defeat seemed to be the best. He analysed with depth and truthfulness the problems that affect any political party over a period of time. He is a polymath and still none of those political labels are applicable to him.

In this recent book which is based on the lectures he delivered and essays he wrote, he de-constructs some of the major problems that are posed before our nation. From climate change to our foreign policy he writes elaborately arguing with razor-sharp logic and without the fear of offending anyone.

He asks “Why India does not have any option when attacks like 26/11 occur?”. So true. We are left with either Conventional War or Diplomacy. Former is not possible today and we are not good at the later. India needs to develop options against China and Pakistan. He tears off Manmohan Singh’s “Trust but Verify” policy to show that it is nothing but a lie.

He cites the two-party agreements between countries, he de-constructs how and why exactly the specific words were put into it and how Manmohan Singh’s mistakes gonna cost our nation a good price.

He also writes on India’s Tibet policy which will scare and anger any patriotic citizen. But to do justice to this topic one must read his “Are we deceiving ourself again”. He makes several suggestions with respect to India’s China policy.

His essay on our climate policy is something new. He had briefly touched this topic in the book on Governance. Controlling climate change through industrial and other man-made pollution requires government intervention, unfortunately our government is not good at anything, it always spoils the situation. Irrespective of whether or not the dooms day predictions are correct or wrong, it is in the interest of India to continue to reduce pollution.

He argues that this not necessarily means curbing the growth. Instead it will force us to manage more effectively the resources at our disposal. For example one contributing factor to CO2 emissions is the fire in coal mines which is certainly avoidable.

He concludes the books by the same articles that were published in Indian Express, though these are a bit more elaborate. Shourie is one man who is honest and truthful. He posses the intellectual capabilities to deconstruct for us the lesser intelligent people the complexities of world of government policies. He does it beautifully.

He shook Government like those of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, He was among first few people to recognize the threat Islam possessed to the nation, he did not with the stupid arguments that usually come from RSS camp but with logic and honesty, his work was not criticized but deliberately kept out of public discourse.

We need more people like him in our country. People who have no price are actually priceless.

Ayodhya and Underlying Issues.

As promised, I am going to write more on the Ayodhya issue. I realize it is embarrassing for most of the young people to even talk about the topic and if you are a Hindu you are expected to be even more apologetic about the destruction of so called Mosque by the so called Hindu fundamentalist.

Indian media which is as usual devoid of any intellectual pursuit portrayed the whole Ram Janmabhumi Movement as a movement conspired by a few to gain votes. Thats a simple hypothesis and hence most of the people especially from my generation are likely of fall prey to. But the movement was lot more than this. It was not a conspiracy of few but a few tried to gain from the movement that had rose from masses. It is unfortunate, shameful and disgraceful that the leaders who lead it one day are now turning their face away. They have not only disowned their own responsibility but they have actually killed the movement.

1. The mosque or just a structure?

Had the case been that there was a very popular mosque sacred to million Muslims. Where Muslims offered prayers and one fine day some Hindu fundamentalists destroyed the structure by applying pure force, I would have understood the whole contempt for those who destroyed the structure. After all we are in process of building a law abiding society why should some group destroy other people’s sacred sites?

“But why do you refer to it as a mosque at all? Where is the mosque, my friends, when the namaz is not performed? When for forty years idol worship is going on there, what kind of a mosque is it? That is just the temple of our dear Ram.”[1]

Now I am not quoting Mr. L.K. Advani here I am quoting V. P. Singh. The structure that was destroyed on 6th of December 1992 was in fact a temple inside. There were idol of Ram inside and people flocked their to offer prayers everyday.The idols appeared inside the structure in 1948. A pujari offered prayers every day though the structure was kept locked.

Who opened the locks? MR. Rajiv Gandhi ordered to open the locks. He started his election campaign from Ayodhya. He had already conceded too much to Muslims in form of Shah Bano case and Stanic Verses Ban. Once the locks were opened VHP began demanding that a temple be built on the site as the structure is a temple for all practical purposes.

The government began to work. V.P. Singh devised the three point formula that the structure will be shifted brick by brick to another place and Hindus would bear it’s cost. Government would acquire the land and hand it over to the Shilanyas Committee. VHP, BJP and RSS agreed. They promised that they will not touch the structure, they promised to pay for shifting the whole structure.

And then what happened? Here in Shourie’s words.

Then came a stormy meeting of Muslim leaders with V P Singh. And so around 5 pm V P Singh let it be known that he had changed his mind. What was the “disputed structure became the “disputed land”. And all lands, the titles to which were in dispute before the Allahabad High Court were now to be taken to be covered by the expression “disputed land”.

As nothing was to be done to disturb what was “disputed”, this change meant that nothing could be commenced anywhere, not even at the spot where the shilanyas had been done.

“But once Government acquires the land,” the law officer of the Government explained to him, “all disputes about its titles would end. There is thus no reason for going back on what has been agreed — about commencing construction.”

“Then I won’t acquire the land,” said V P Singh.[1]

V.P. Singh indeed acquired the land. But instead of prior agreement between him and VHP he did not made any distinction between the disputed structure and non disputed land. This left both L.K. Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpeyi as losers in the eyes of their supporters because these were the two men who were responsible for maintaining peace and solving this matter peacefully. It was because of them that their supporters believed that this matter can indeed be solved peacefully.

People like Mulayam Singh Yadav saw this as an opportunity. If somehow they could jeopardies all move by Hindu leaders such as AB Vajpeyi and L. K. Advani, and instead build a mosque there they would have become eligible to the vote bank of Muslims. Thus the secular class of India which today claims that Babari Structure destruction was a heinous crime back stabbed moderate leaders like Advani and Vajpeyi to appease some factional Muslims leaders.

There wasn’t a mosque in first place. It was a temple. The structure however old was used as a temple for all practical purposes. The demand that it should be erased or respectfully moved to another place was denied in the most disgraceful way to make people like Sayyed Shahbuddin happy.

2. The Demolition

Two wrongs can not make one right. Indeed if Muslims destroyed the temple, destroying the mosque is not a solution. If it was there are over 2000 Mosques waiting for destruction. But then when the one wrong is performed it needs to be punished condemed and it should be made clear that such an act is not tolerable.

If at all India was secular and if the secularists were not Muslim appeasers, they had a brilliant chance to do so with Ayodhya. Had they built a temple over the Ramjanmabhumi it would have not only killed BJP’s upsurge but it would have also sent a strong message to increasing fanatic Muslim demands .

Any ways. The secularism faltered on those line and the structure was demolished. That resulted into BJP’s rise and it sent Islamic leaders on back-foot as they should have been.

The underlying demand and frustration of Hindu community was not an artificial one. Nor it was conspired by “a few” as the liberhan tries to portray it. Instead, it was because untill India got it’s independence Hindus were unexplainably at the receiving end. Not only Islam tried hard to destroy every good thing Hindus built, Islam even cut the nation into tow parts. After independence the government of India failed to even recognize that Hindus indeed suffered because of Islam.

By denouncing the valid claim of the masses. By terming it not just communal but heinous and national shame, they only hurt Hindus further.

What happened that day:

Even VHP leader Ashok Singbal tried to stop the activists, until they threatened to pull off his dhoti. Anti‑Hindutva spokesmen want us to believe that this was all theatre, but it was genuine (as was Murli Manohar Joshi’s jubilation). A small Hindutva faction had prepared the demolition, deliberately keeping the leadership in the dark about it.

If the Indian media had meant business, they would have found out and told you within a few days just who engineered the ‘Kar Seva’. Instead, they chose to spurn the scoop of the year and stuck to the politically more useful version that the BJP did it, somewhat like late Jawaharlal Nehru’s attempt to implicate Veer Savakar in Nathuram Godse’s murder of the Mahatma.

Most BJP leaders (Kalyan Singh being the chief exception) dealt with the event in a confused and insincere manner. The gradual BJP retreat from Ayodhya was completed overnight, and the party was reduced to waging its subsequent election campaign with colourless slogans like ‘good government’.

3. What is to be gained by building a temple?

Nothing. Temple is merely made up bricks and mortar. The question that whether there really existed someone like Ram is debatable. But the movement was no supposed be about the physical structure of some building. It was about undoing the wrong of past.

This is for those people who say things like “Will building a temple solve unemployment in Hindus?” Shouldn’t we have different priorities? At a superficial level it might appear as true. But underneath there is larger goal which BJP should have tried to achieve. Ram Janmabhumi should have been only a step forward.

The spineless leadership and ignorant second tier leaders like Shushama Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Vainkayya Naidu buckled up under the secularist/communist propaganda to downplay the whole movement and kill it.

4. Islamic damage to Hindu psyche.

The Ram Janmabhumi movement was the begging of process of that undoing of damage inflicted by Islam on Hinduism. No one else but Koenraad Elst puts it in the best possible words.

Some diehard Hindus activists demand that all the thousands of mosques built on top of destroyed temples, be handed over to the Hindus. They think that would be a physical undoing of the historical wrongs. Well, that is a very crude way of doing justice to Hinduism. It overlooks the fact that these stone structures are but the outermost layer of the real harm done to Hindu society. There has been a loss of vast territories — they may be claimed back, but that would hardly be any less superficial. Far more fundamental is the moral damage that has been done : the loss of self-confidence, the unprecedented and harsh enmity within Hindu society (internal enmity and bitterness typically occur in powerless groups), the boot-licking attitude among the Hindu intelligentsia, the negative self-image (e.g. Hindu caste inequality vs. Muslim brotherhood). The moral damage again is partly due to a loss of knowledge and memory : the Hindu education system has been destroyed, and the Hindus are helpless in the face of concerted efforts to disinform them and destroy their soul.[Source: Ayodhyaa and After by Koenraad Elst Voice of India publication]

5. BJP’s grand failures

BJP’s grand failure lies in the fact that it could not convert Ram Janmabhumi movement into a grand Hindu reconciliation. The movement had united Hindus across cast and creed. It failed to address their problems and genuine concerns to gather Muslim votes. BJP had not need to be “Hindu” in order to do this.

BJP should have been “truely secular” and worked hard towards the secular lies that Congress and Communists have perpetrated especially to degrade Hindusim. But they failed at every level. Except for few intellectuals like Arun Shourie, Govindacharya and another few it was more concerned about acceptance in Muslim community.

Let me quote Elst again.

So, the more fundamental concern should be the reviving of Hindu consciousness, both in a spiritual and in an intellectual sense. Of all the politicians involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, how many have ever taken parliamentary initiatives to revive Sanskrit education, to give more chances to the teaching of the Hindu cultural traditions, to abolish the discrimination against teaching Hindu religion in state-subsidized schools? How many have taken a look into the systematic distortion of history that is being broadcast by all the official media including the school curricula, and taken the official media including the school curricula, and taken initiatives to counter it at the intellectual or political level? It seems that all these Hindu campaigners needed a crudely physical issue like the bricks in Ayodhya in order even to get reminded of their responsibility to Hindu society.

If we check BJP’s track record, there hardly anything that BJP did different from Congress. That explains why people successively decided to vote for congress.

6. Arguments in History

Now that BJP is fully on back-foot and media completly under control of them, both Congress and Communists are getting up their long formlated arguments that there was never a temple on that site and hence it was never destroyed. Historians like Romila Thapar has romaticised that even Somnath Temple was not really destroyed. These people have even destroyed evidence by using their power.

Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup Arun Shourie and Koenraad Elst took pains to document these cases. And remind you none of these are RSS men as the secular media often Quotes them. Arun Shourie in his book Eminent Historians exposed Marxists historians like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib in a fashion that they had to hide their faces. They are not lifting their head up again in th Congress era.

Ram Swarup’s book Hindu Temples What happened to them ( a very rare book) documents over 2000 cases where mosques were raised by erasing temples. No historian has yet come forward to refute even a single claim. Most importantly he uses the Muslims scholar’s texts as the proofs.

7. The Path Ahead

I do not think issue of bricks and mortars at a particular place is important. But it should be symbolic of a larger issue. The issue which should lead entire Hindu society to look within, to unite, to rediscover it’s own glorious history and culture and of course to defend it’s beautiful culture from the Islamic and Nehruvian Invasion.

A lot was expected out of BJP. But as of today it is paralysed and continues to exist as Congress’s B team. The convoluted history and facts are running in the vein’s of Indian society making it even more difficult to bring the facts in light. Islam, the religion of peace continues to inflict wounds on our nation but we are more happy it believe that these are few misguided and politically or economically motivated individuals doing it out of frustration. It is easier to accept this fake argument than hard-hitting reality.

Elst wrote 5 years ago

This purely secular posturing worked well in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, but it may prove to be yet another “cheque which can be cashed only once,” especially considering the BJP’s recent loss of credibility regarding governance.

The party’s best chance of a meaningful survival now lies in the adoption of a better‑considered Hindu agenda, not focused on dead buildings but on consequential  political reforms.

The path ahead seems to be dark. India’s survival was possible for so many centuries purely because of it’s adaptive, open and tolerent culture. May be for last one or two centuries we started calling it Hinduism. Several factors today are destroying this culture. Islam remains the biggest threat and Congress the second largest threat. But we should also put parties like BJP which buckle under the pressure and make these values obsolete are an equally dangerous threats.

Today most of ever, political notions are based on labels. Muslims Christians and Communists are secularists by the virtue of their existence and Congress remains the sole certification authority. BJP is tring hard to qualify it self by proving itself secular to congress. This is never going to happen. In the process BJP will become more and more like Congress and Monotheist religious groups.

Optimist in me believes that this phase too will pass just like all previous ones. The cynic in me tells me that God his own designs of destruction.

Ayodhyaa: A cursed Kingdom?

In my opinion whole Ram Janmabhumi Babari Masque issue remains a shame for our judicial framework and concept of secular government. It takes 20 years to deliver a dud report on the whole issue itself is a testimony that no one actually cares about the justice. The generation that was actually behind the movement is forgotten and the younger generation is rarely aware of the issue.

Unfortunately the only thing we are told about the issue is that few Karsevaks destroyed a mosque claiming it was the birth place of Lord Rama. Indians have shown capability to remember historical facts for a very long time but then whether or not there existed a Lord Ram and whether or not he was born at that very same place can certainly not be proven. Destruction of a building irrespective of what that structure was and what was the motive of the people behind the structure was is an act of vandalism that needs to be punished.

Liberhan’s report on the issue remains a dud. But it points out some important facts. Merely the list of people it mentions shows that it was a mass movement. The kind of political leverage that BJP derived from the issue indicates that the issue in fact had a support of large Hindu mass. However the politically correct media and pseudo secularists always claimed that this was a conspiracy of a few people. L K. Advani and Bajrang Dal and RSS and other few to polarize the nation based on religion and gain votes.

It is true that polarization did happen and people responsible for the same should have been punished. But then why shouldnt Hindus be given their plausible demand of building a temple there? The structure in fact though architecturally a mosque, it was being used as temple for all practical purposes right from 1949. Hindus flocked to Ayodhyaa for centuries for pilgrimage where as no muslim went to this mosque for any significant reason. While the place had some special sacred meaning for Hindus it had no special importance for muslims.

The roots of this destructions were actually in Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to open the locks of the temple. Clearly this move was in accordance to Congress’ law of parity. Gandhi had just changed the consitution to overthrow supreme courts correct judgement in favour of Shah Bano. He declared tha  locks of the site to be opened. The presence of locks or their absence had no implication in temporal sense. But it made muslims feel that Rajiv is favouring Hindus.

Over years Congress had bestowed the leadership of muslim community to fundamentalists such as Sayyed Shahbuddin. They knew how to take advantage of such situations. Every time government tried to make some concession to Hindu community they would shout foul and in return to keep them quite government will give them some ministry, a house in Goa or increase the Hajj subsidy.

So when the muslims led by some of the most fundamentalist among them, cried foul, the congress government could have very easily kept them quit by these methods. Which did not happen. Because every one wanted this issue to escalate. And rest is history.

As long as the issue was alive it gave birth to several good things. The Marxist historians wrote imaginary histories to support illegitimate Muslims claims such as “there was no temple in Ayodhyaa”. There was no destruction of any temple there. RSS VHP never had any intellectual base. They were caught unaware in this propaganda and they lacked support to refute this.

It was made to appear that BJP and co. have unearthed some imaginary issue. Sita Ram Goel came to the rescue and later Mr. Lal. These two historians of rare breed refuted all Marxists claims in such an away that I haven’t heard these people talking on the issue again. In fact Sita Ram Goel documented cases of 2000 temples that were destroyed by muslims. No one has yet refuted even a single instance from his book.

Whats the point in talking about things that happened few hundred years ago some would argue. Ignorance of history is what Indian are happy to live with. But in this particular case, Hindu claim on the land is old yet continuous. The muslim argument however is more of arrogance and notorious.

We as a nation  failed to build a system where we could legally do what is just and correct. Our secular institutions tried to be politically correct and search for parity even when sufficient evidence was brought before it. It was our failure and we are paying a price.

To end we will see what Sir. Naipaul had to say

(P): The people who climbed on top of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young people clad in jeans and tee shirts.

(N): One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The jeans and the tee shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. You can?t dismiss it. You have to try to harness it.

Hitherto in India the thinking has come from the top. I spoke earlier about the state of the country: destitute, trampled upon, crushed. You then had the Bengali renaissance, the thinkers of the nineteenth century. But all this came from the top. What is happening now is different. The movement is now from below.

Part 2 : BJP and Ramjanmabhumi

Home | Experts’ Opinion | Sir V.S. Naipaul

 

About Sir V.S. Naipaul

The wanderer who writes of cultures in upheaval. Trinidad-born author V.S. Naipaul, 69, who was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize in 2001,writes eloquently about cultures in upheaval, describing at first hand the loneliness of the refugee. He has often been described as a man without a country despite having lived in Britain for nearly half a century. Author of more than two dozen books and already showered with literary prizes; his life and art have been a series of journeys as he has sought to find a niche in several worlds. The outspoken author, who famously said he is without rival, has increasingly courted controversy in latter years, recently attacking the work and reputations of distinguished authors.

Naipaul, who gained a knighthood to become Sir Vidia, has sharply criticised what he saw as backwardness and corruption in his native West Indies and elsewhere in the developing world from India to Africa. But in his books An Area of Darkness and India: A Wounded Civilisation Naipaul showed distaste for what he thought was intolerance, fanaticism and self-satisfaction there. In 1971, he became the first non-British author to receive Britain’s most valuable literary prize for fiction, the Booker Award, for his 11th novel In a Free State. V.S. Pritchett, once called him “the greatest living writer in the English language”. We bring to our readers a very valuable interview of Sir V S Naipaul on the Ayodhya issue.

Interviews

The basic ethos of the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement is to restore the honour of the Hindu Samaj (society) and Hindu culture. It is not just an issue of bricks and mortar. The renowned Vidiadhar S Naipaul has very tellingly expressed this, when he said:
What is happening in India is a new historical awakening ?. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Given the response received from the masses in India and other places in the world for the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi movement, Shri Rama is clearly at the heart of our civilization and a major unifying force. There is no section, no region, of the Hindu Samaj that does not exhibit a deep attachment to Shri Rama. This empathy is strongly exhibited not only in other lands where Hindus have settled, but also where the indigenous people accepted Hindu culture, as in the entire Southeast Asia.

To understand the true ethos of the entire Rama Janmabhoomi Movement, it would be pertinent to quote Shri Vidiadhar Naipaul, the great thinker and litterateur whose literary genius, ruthless objectivity and deep perspective of history has been acclaimed the world-over.He was interviewed by Dilip Padgaonkar published in the Times of India, on 18th July, 1993, under the caption “An area of Awakening”, and again by Rahul Singh published in Times of India on 25th January, 1998 under the caption “Hindus, Muslims have lived together without understanding each other?s faith”, and by Sadanand Menon published in The Hindu under the caption “The truth governs writing”. The portions of the three interviews relevant to this point are reproduced below:

“An area of awakening”

Interview by Dilip Padgaonkar
The Times of India,
18 July 1993.

Padgaonkar (P): The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rise of Islamic nations in Central Asia, the Salman Rushdie affair, similar harassment by fundamentalists of liberal Muslim intellectuals in India: all these factors taken together persuaded some forces to argue that a divided Hindu society cannot counteract Islamic fundamentalism.

Naipaul (N): I don?t see it quite in that way. The things you mentioned are quite superficial. What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi used religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause People who entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would earn individual merit.

Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history. Romila Thapar?s book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history, which in substance says: there is a higher truth behind the invasions, feudalism and all that. The correct truth is the way the invaders looked at their actions. They were conquering, they were subjugating. And they were in a country where people never understood this.

Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalizing of India. Because of the nature of the conquest and the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before.What is happening in India is a mighty creative process. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on, especially if these intellectuals happen to be in the United States. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

However, we are aware of one of the more cynical forms of liberalism: it admits that one fundamentalism is all right in the world. This is the fundamentalism they are really frightened of: Islamic fundamentalism. Its source is Arab money. It is not intellectually to be taken seriously etc. I don?t see the Hindu reaction purely in terms of one fundamentalism pitted against another. The reaction is a much larger response?. Mohammedan fundamentalism is essentially negative, a protection against a world it desperately wishes to join. It is a last ditch fight against the world.

But the sense of history that the Hindus are now developing is a new thing. Some Indians speak about a synthetic culture: this is what a defeated people always speak about. The synthesis may be culturally true. But to stress it could also be a form of response to intense persecution.

(P): How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?

(N): Not as badly, as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country (that) he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country. In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere.

In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Rama, which was two or three thousand years old.

Trust Vote: Trust Lost and Gained.

 

Needing something is sometimes like a parachute. You need them only once and if they are not there for you at that time, you never need them again. – Dilbert

 

The nation and media is debating if UPA will survive or not. They call it a Trust Vote. Trust? Isn’t it ironical to use that word with our politicians and system?

 

The trust vote is called to prove that the PM and his cabinet has faith of majority of MPs who claim to represent the people of this nation. Majority MPs => Majority people.

 

Forget about majority. Do we really trust our government? For last 60 years the system that we have developed, is it something we can put our trust into? How many of us run to Government Hospitals if we can afford a good private one? How many of us send our children to government schools?

 

We fear our on politicians, police and judicial system. The system that was meant to protect us and especially the poor class has turned into a system that won’t change and give encouragement to oppression and crime.

 

A system that encourages reservations under the name of equal opportunity, protects fundamentalists under the name of minority, allows Bangladeshi to settle in our land for personal gains.

 

A system that has failed miserable in having good educational infrastructure for our bright minds, to give us chaos free roads, planned cities, water safety is a far away while we struggle to provide water even in cities.

 

Look at our PM. He is defending himself against a trust vote. But what does he stands for? Congress is not even considering him as PM candidate for next elections, Rahul will be their candidate. The party itself doesn’t trust him.

 

Our country has reached to a point where the system and politicians have lost trust of the most important part of democracy “The people”.

 

After this trust vote many will become richer by a few crores. There will be a hell lot of ‘what if’ analysis. The common man will get back to work on his scooter next morning. And the people in pune will have to face the load shading as usual.