Monday, August 19, 2013

Monstrous propagandists

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

As the reach of web world is being recognized and realized across the political spectrum, the hate mongers have also started working on their agenda. Political debate must confine on the principles and policies of political parties and their performances but unfortunately now the personalized nature of targeting is being done by the multi-headed propaganda machinery of the Sangh Parivar. These offshoots may or may not be registered but every day, you will find a new ‘national’ organization preaching us to be united and fight against corruption and false ‘secularists’ who do not speak against Muslims.

Muslims are the favorite target of the Hindu communalists because it gives them the strength to spread their vicious agenda. They know the compulsion of ‘Hindu secularists’ who hails from the upper caste-class segments and have at their heart of heart the feeling of Islam being a problem. It is this class who feel that Muslims cannot be secular and Hindus are ‘too’ ‘liberals’. I have been forced feed on this issue of Islam many times that I am too ‘liberal’ to Muslims and too harsh on ‘Hindus by many of my secular-humanist friends.  It is not just the ordinary souls but academically sound people too have the same idea. One of them once said that a Muslim cannot be secular to which I countered as which religious person can be secular. The person further argued that Quran cannot be a secular book and I responded how Gita or Ramayana can be different then. To this, he suggested that Gita is a secular book, it does not spread animosity and that great scholar like S.Radhakrishnan and others around world actually spoke highly of ‘Gita’. I asked him to read the analysis of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Periyar and I realized the deep contempt for them. The whole issue then reached to reservation. And unfortunately on the issue of reservation the attitude of Muslim elite who may look secular, Hindu elite, Communist elite, and Humanists elite look the same. It is disgusting how there are are point of convergence in India among the elite masquerading to follow different ideologies and yet find their common convergence in looking down upon the Dalits and rarely speak against the caste atrocities.

My point is not the glorification of Islam but definitely a legend like M.N.Roy looked to Islam in a different way in India and wrote ‘The Historic Role of Islam’. Yes, the role of Islam in India was of social change and bringing a voice of dignity to many of the marginalized. And therefore, the secular humanist breeds in India have two varieties. One who lead ‘Muslims’ through fighting for their rights particularly during the communal disturbances but does not bother to speak about the ‘internal’ issues of the community which actually are very useful in strengthening the stereotype that the Hindutva’s thugs have created about them that everything that they do is ‘appeasement’.  So, India considers ‘not speaking’ as an appeasement while a majority of the community languishes in poverty. The issue of Pasmanda Muslims is out of bound for the ‘seculars’ at the moment. The ‘seculars’ represent ‘tolerant’ Hindus who feel that India has suddenly being communalized and hence the conceptualization and myths being built up around ‘Hindu tolerance’ which is farcical.

It is important therefore to visualize what is invisible and how media plays with names and stereotype thing very similar to what the Bombay films did long back. A Brahmin in any of the Bombay film would always be poor but honest and hardworking while a Dalit or a black as ‘kamchor’ or a cunning caste-ist gangster. People with disability and dark skinned were to be laughed at and look down upon in contempt. The media story is dirtier here and need to be analysed. How they create ‘identities’, make hero of a ‘community’ and create ‘villain’ of others.  Durga Shakti Nagpal is clearly a name which helps media to promote the idea of ‘honest’ officer, ‘meritorious’ who is upright and has taken on the ‘Bhatis’ who will definitely an OBC. The problem is that there are numerous other local mafias who may be Sharmas , Tyagis, Aggarwals and others but they will not be in the ‘hit list’. Similarly, when a blast occurs anywhere, it is the people related to Islam or Muslims whose name is chanted from the very beginning quoting extraordinarily on those ‘home ministry’ or ‘intelligence’ reports which are nothing but thoroughly communalized but at the same point of time when Pakistan does the same tactics, parade Indian national or a Hindu as a terrorist then our ‘nationalism’ wakes up. You  can make it from the arrest of Abdul Karim Tunda and the way he is being ‘projected’ despite the known fact that our own ‘Tundas’ in Pakistan would be treated as ‘nationalist’.

The communal Hindutva agenda has many facets and one need to understand it deeply. They are hand in glove with crony capitalists and hence media shamelessly and nakedly coming in their support. Now, media because of its very nature cannot really chant Sangh’s anti- Muslim rhetoric’s openly hence playing with the story indirectly. For that perceptions are developed carefully and news is built in a way that does not show you propagating the ‘Hindutva’ but demolishing all those who stand against the communal fascists. So, an Arnab Goswami will scream for the right of Durga Shakti Nagpal and ask question on behalf of ‘India’ as why is she not being instated but the fact is does the state government has right about her or not. Can she decide about things on her own? So justify her act, we will bring stories of that she ‘demolished’ a temple too but nobody asked her anything. That shows the ‘Hindu’ ‘tolerance’. Then, we ‘break’ the story of a Muslim MLA’s father in Rajasthan and how he is engaged in ‘anti national’ activities and an ‘honest’ officer has been shunted just for taking him. It means that every transfer needs to go to Arnab Goswami’s table first for clearance otherwise he will scream on TV and call Madhu Kishwar for ‘justification’.

In this country, the bureaucrats never actually treat people as ‘sovereign’ but mostly as servant. Anybody, who is working with the government institutions in this country, is a my-baap of the ordinary citizen. There is no doubt that the Uttar-Pradesh government has mishandled the Durga Nagpal’s case but just to make her a demigod the media is showing its true colour. This trend is turning into other farce which media has tried to create in the past five years. After the Anna-Kejriwal farce, they went to every sound bite by him who also fizzled out. For a long period we found that the notorious Subrahmanyam Swami is the ‘model’ for our media and they lapped up each word that he spoke against the Gandhis and Muslims. If Amartya Sen has to be condemned then bring frustrated Jagdish Bhagwati whose only problem with Sen is his Nobel Prize.  Is this the job of the media to discredit the political institutions and boss over us through unaccountable arrogant bureaucratic institutions?

Yes, the political leadership is going through crisis but it reflects our society. We need to protect our democracy and change the social system to make it more equitable. Democracy can’t be strengthened if we discredit the entire process of democracy and allow the supremacy to be non-elected unaccountable bureaucratic classes in India who have developed contempt towards democracy. It is ironical that the classes which glorify Indian democracy abroad have deep contempt towards it and to understand that we must revisit the post mandal India when the political parties have been mandalised. 

A decision on August 7th, 1990 for the acceptance of Mandal Commision report by V P Singh’s government jolted the entire nation. They tried to create anarchy in the country but failed. The upper caste forces have persistently tried to create anarchy in the country whenever their hegemony is challenged. Mandal was the biggest threat to them. Mandal’s biggest contribution may not be the rising number of OBC bureaucrats but the growth of the new leadership which emerged. As the demand for fair representation grew, the apprehensive caste forces used all the tricks to thwart that change process and ensure that some areas remain out of bound for the majority of this country, just in the name of ‘merit’.

India’s parliament is the best representative of Indian people. No other Indian institutions really represent people of India and what is the merit of the ‘selection’ process of these unaccountable ‘meritorious’ ‘experts’ in media, judiciary and academic world. Most of the appointments are done through connections whether they have political, bureaucratic or media itself. Was there a national examination organized for getting some one into Times Now or NDTV ? What was the process of appointment of Arnab Goswami or Rajdeep Sardesai ? How did Chandan Mitra got ‘Pioneer’ and haven’t we forgotten a former chief justice appointing his sister as judge of high court and attempted to bring her to Supreme Court just before he retired. Find out the family history of those who are donning our judiciary? Are there no other meritorious people in this country except those selected? These are the very similar process in the universities and colleges who have thwarted every attempt to bring diversity inside their campuses in the name of ‘merit’. 

We talk of transparency for everyone. Yes in the name of transparency create anarchy, make people fight with each other. None will ask the food bills of Ambanis or Amitabh Bachchan as they have ‘fundamental right’ to spend money of their choice as the billions and trillions they have is ‘their money’ but if Sonia Gandhi organize a party then file cases. What about Arnab’s party and the high society parties organized by the Jain brothers of Times of India. Can we seek RTI for many newspapers whose circulations are not even thousands yet their budget is in crores? How are they running their empire? 

So, news is being created here very carefully. It is created to discredit some and make other benefit. Nobody is shouting when Modi government discriminate against Sikhs and decide to throw them away from Kutch, in Gujarat. These are the people who developed that region as a wonderful place but now Modi’s Gujarati nationalism and pure business sense feel that these people should be thrown away but no hue and cry, no campaign to save people.

Soni Sori’s is languishing in Indian jail. The policeman who butchered her, violated her, tortured her has got presidential medal. Her husband died of torture. Soni Sori is a tribal so our heart doesn’t melt for her. Crime against her does not melt the heart of these women who were in Jantar Mantar. Yes, we make a rape victim as ‘symbol’ of bravery because she happens to be an upper caste but the woman who fought for her right, for her people, is languishing in Jail. None ask question to Indian state. Nobody seek inquiry. No court issue any warrant. No government fall, no heart-break, no dharnas, no tears, nothing moves. Why the nation does not question the state’s brutality? Is Soni Sori not a woman? Is she not a citizen of the country? Yes, the argument they would give is that she is a Maoist but then the jailed persons too have right to defend themselves.

The Hindutva propaganda machinery is expert in distorting facts as over centuries they have expertise in lies and deceits. The analogy is selective and so are the campaigns so that the fence sitters are influenced. The Madhya Pradesh government ordered Gita to be taught in Madarasas and we find justification. ‘Muslims and Christians can teach their religious books in their schools then why are Hindus denied to teach their holy-books in their schools’, they say. The problem is that RSS and Sangh Parivar have very cleverly converted all the government and national institutions as ‘Hindu’ institutions and hence when the minority institutions teach their values, they counter it that we too have a right to do so. Secondly, Madarasas are not Hindu institutions but Muslim religious institution but the tragedy is that such fascist imposition are being ordered in the name of ‘culture’ of tolerance and there is no hue and cry by those who have been speaking.

A number of Hindutva leaders have been caught on various scandals but that does not become an issue and therefore it is clearly visible that media is fighting the battle on behalf of Sangh Parivar today. Fortunately, the people of this country know very well the brahmanical nature of media and hence have learnt the tricks of the game. Now the news is coming clearly how and why a big staff at a famous news channel is being shunted just to make way for more saffronised journalists to be recruited who can campaign for Modi and his team.

It will be deeply disturbing if media remain unaccountable in the name of freedom of expression propagating the business interest of companies and hiding facts from the people. Political class must reflect on themselves as the goons and musclemen will only discredit them further. We desperately need political statesmen today who can rise up and speak without their own narrow sectarian interest. The middle classes may enjoy the mocking of political class who anyway can be changed but who will seek accountability from these loudspeakers who are spreading lies and spreading hatred. The day political system in India collapse, the fascist communal forces will take away all our liberties and this ‘free’ media will never come for our rescue that time. We have seen their criminal silence on Soni Sori, on Kashmir, on AFSPA and hence it is time that people must change their polity. Politicians are bad, they are corrupt ( but media men are not holy cows and many of them have turned ‘successful’ politicians too) but sweeping generalization will be dangerous and secondly if idea of India has to survive fighting against communalism and sectarianism is no less importance then fight against corruption. Do Indians really love those who fought against corruption. who are the role model? Will they love VP Singh, RamSwroop Verma, Narendra Dev, Madhu Dandwate, Ramdhan, Indrajeet Gupta, Manik Sarkar and many like them who lived their life in honesty? There are hundreds of political workers silently committed to their work without media galore but the past 20 years have degenerated political system because of media reach and we have film stars, business tycoons, media monarchs jumping in the political bandwagon and enjoying the power. It is a challenge. The biggest challenge is to expose the corrupt crony media and its unaccountable power. If India has to be saved from fascist communal onslaught, the people must understand and expose the role of these crony journalists who have nothing but khaki shorts underneath and their disinformation campaign against the poor and marginalized. If politics became the symbol of change even if it might have been negative at many places, the media, judiciary and academia are the biggest obstacle to social change and propagandist for status quo. They are simply pushing their casteist, communal agenda in the absence of a political consensus on major issues of saving the democracy. Democracy is endangered today as it will only create more problems and isolation for the marginalized and those who believe in freedom of expression and political thoughts. We must be careful of those propagandists who are using this political vacuum to strengthen their sinister fascist designs.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Looking beyond Hyderabad for the growth of Telangana

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Telangana is set to become the 29th state of India. After much dilly dallying the Congress Party finally approved the formation of Telangana state but before that it had a lot of heart burn among people. New ideas were floated for inclusion of Ananthpur and Kurnool into the new state against the wishes of the Telangana people.  The biggest issue was Hyderabad where a lot of conspiracy theories were working such as declaration of joint capital or union territory, however, it is good that the centre decided to give 10 years period for Andhra Pradesh government to function from Hyderabad and after that it will become the capital city of Telangana alone.

Hyderabad is undoubtedly the heart of Telangana but over the period of time it has grown multifold and attracted loads of foreign investment. Today, it has become a cosmopolitan city like Bombay, Banglore and Delhi.  It is already developed and will attract more funds and investment. Political leaders who are   against the division of Andhra Pradesh have their huge properties in the city and hence they are resisting the bifurcation. The fact of the matter is that Andhra leaders would never have bothered to division of the state had it not been the issue of Hyderabad. There are other issues such as sharing of river water resources but that does not affect the politicians more than the status of Hyderabad where they have invested in everything right from real estate to business and entertainment industry. The grim reality for them is that Hyderabad cannot become joint capital as it is situated in the heart of Telangana and distance of any Andhra city would be nearly one hundred fifty kilometer to say the least. In such a situation, the state cannot be run smoothly whose capital is surrounded and situated at the heart of other state.

The protest by the Andhra Pradesh leaders and people are highly unnecessary and show one thing that those enjoy fruits of power do not want to share it at all. The merger of Telangana with Andhra Pradesh state was never complete and the ‘gentlemen agreement’ was neither respected nor implemented. The feeling was that state continued to neglect the Telangana region. The fact is that Telangana had more resources than many other parts of Andhra Pradesh but it is also a reality that none of the Telangana city was as developed like Vishakhapattanam, Vijayawada, Tirupathi, Guntur, Kurnool etc.

The reality is that Hyderabad was the focus and the realtors actually wanted that only. In the past 30 years, since we adopted the so-called ‘economic liberlisation’ policies, the focus of most of the states have been to develop the capital cities along with a few other cities and ignore the vast rural towns and villages. While the cities are modernizing themselves with cosmopolitanism the villages are sought to be strengthening the caste identities. A majority of these areas remain undeveloped despite the grave fact that the leadership of the states are still controlled by the rural caste elite and their continued interest have been to keep villages subjugated in their own contradictions while enjoy the ‘maharaja’ life in the capital cities. In the name of Andhra, actually a few cities got developed but the maximum amount came for Hyderabad. We all feel proud of a ‘Jewel’ but that is feudal. What does it mean that the people living in capital city are more pampered and become ruling class, with more facilities as not just the political leaders, bureaucrats, businessmen, media and academia also hails from these parts and hence rural towns do not get our attention?

During the Nizam period too, Hyderabad was the symbol of his ‘prosperity’ and hence his entire focus was on that resulting in wide scale of superstition, poverty and feudalism among his subjects in places like Gulbarga, Bidar, (now in Karnataka), Medak, Nizamabad and Adilabad etc in Telangana, Aurangabad and other regions of Marathwada  which are now in Maharastra. The Muslims who were picked up to lead the Nizam’s government as well as army and other services never really were the son of the soil but always hailed from outside the country. The development that time was uneven resulting in a huge gap between towns and cities, rich and poor. Moreover, the conditions of the most marginalized people like Dalits, Aadivasis, and even Muslims Dalits was worst off. The impact of that regime continued as the political class has just changed but the ‘subject’ remain the same. That is why the condition of Dalits and even Muslim Dalits in these regions is a matter of great concern and the fruits of development have not reached them. Their socio-economic conditions remain difficult and being used by religious parties to use their own ulterior political agenda. The Hindu communalism was gaining ground in this region as the power elite realize that it is the best way to counter ‘Muslim’ parties like MIM of the Owaisies who feel Hyderabad is their traditional fiefdom. Therefore, the rest of the people in the Nizam’s period became victim of his ‘lavishness’ for Hyderabad which was considered to be one of the best cities, most prosperous among Indian princely states but the conditions of people in remote regions of Nizam’s regime was worst and that is impacted their socio-political conditions even today.

A very similar situation is arising now. The political class has been focusing on capital cities and use different tactics to bring people into their ‘false’ nationalistic vision. Some time it is the ‘others’ who are responsible for your plight and when you become leader and questions are raised about the leadership qualities then some other issues will crop up. So till now, the Andhra leadership were to be blamed though there were many from Telangana region who were ministers and hence they cannot be absolved from their acts of omissions and commissions in various governments of which they were part of. The point here is that the fight for Telangana cannot be confined to Hyderabad. 

It is very much part of the state and it has required infrastructure which is a very positive things. For our political class, the Nizam has already built up huge palaces and other luxurious things hence they will have no worry about the residences, secretariats etc of the new state. So, we will have democratically elected Rajas, Maharajas to rule the state. The point is that now Telananga and Andhra need to focus on their multiple cities and rural populace. Let the capital cities remain the seat of assembly but let them not become hub of everything which is happening. If everything has to happen from Hyderabad or other capital city then 20 years later, people will have nobody else to blame except to themselves. Hyderabad was already developed and will develop any way but the focus need to be on the heart of Telangana’s rural populations who have been denied and who were the real ‘warriors’ of this movement. As this movement for separate state has raised hopes, it is basically not for the people of Hyderabad but for the people of other regions who have been kept away by the power elite. The power need to go to them, understand their issues and problems and implement the policies like comprehensive land reform, people’s access to water and forest resources. The development of a people is not just ‘investment’, real estate and capital cities but more of the people who have struggled for long. They felt betrayed by others but now they need justice. Will our leaders show some statesmanship as their real test lies ahead.

In the olden days, the capital city, the palaces, the wealth of the kings and queens were synonymous with the people of those states. Living in those feudal days, we have become habitual of being proud of the ‘wealth’ of our ‘political class’. We walk around the cities and feel proud of the loot of people’s resources. If Rajasthan has some of the best palaces today which we appreciate, I can assure you, the result is the deeply feudal system of that state. What is the human development index in Rajasthan today? Has social equity found a way there? And probably that is a reality of all those states which were ruled by Rajas and Maharajas. We feel ‘proud’ of them and defend them according to our ‘ideological’ or ‘religious’ locations and they have become instrument of spreading vicious political agenda of the communal forces too but the fact remain that most of these Nawabs, Rajas were feudal and enjoyed lavishly slaughtering their own people in deep poverty and superstition.

The British regime was different in working as they focused on developing institutions and not buildings alone which the princely states were not fond off as King was the law unto himself. We can find the difference between the two regions of Andhra Pradesh itself. The Andhra part which was part of Madras Presidency had more colleges and institutions and in the Telangana region, we do not have much except development of Hyderabad only. Anyway, my attempt is not to discuss the difference between the princely States and former British dominions but a reality that it is time now we get out of those notions of ‘nationalism’ which revolved around one political family, religion and capital cities and their development.

The people of India have paid heavy price for these kinds of nationalism which has resulted in uneven development and unbreaking of our social system which is iniquitous. The leadership of the Telangana state will have to show more maturity because till date they have blamed the Andhra lobby but now they will have to work on their own. The blame game must end but the fact is for politicians it never ending and that is the tragedy of India.

One hopes that the government of India will be sincere this time and will not succumb to any pressure. This is rather unfortunate and very manipulative when you see Andhra lobby trying its best to scuttle the process even today. India cannot be strengthened if the issue of one state should be decided by someone else. Since independence, the issue of Kashmir in India has been a political hot potato for non-Kashmiris. It became our ‘symbol’ of secularism for Congress and for BJP and Hindutva it was like loss of India’s might but what is disturbing is none ask the Kashmiris what do they think? Similar situation is in Nagaland, Meghalaya, Darjeeling and elsewhere. The problem with the corrupt political class is that they ask the question of division outside those areas which have nothing to do with the issue except to ‘fancifully’ claim it is ‘India’. What will a person in Kolkata speak about Darjeeling or Gorkhaland issue? Why should Mamta Banerjee seek answer from Bengali population of Kolkata and not from people in Darjeeling? It is the same tactics of the ruling elite when we ask Telangana question to people in Andhra and Seema Andhra region. When Telangana people have for the past five year with their persistent demand have rejected to be in the state of Andhra Pradesh, why is the political class not ready to respond positively? And here lies the colonial mindset of Indians. Yes, we are happy to colonize people and feel happy to showcase it.

In the coming days, when the information technology reaches homes, when education changes our minds, these questions will further disturb us. We are a huge country and every nationality here is seeking answer. Some of the areas have not been developed and other feel different culturally. India will have to respond to them. It will have to sit with those people who feel betrayed and ask questions and not those who enjoyed the fruits of their colonialism. It is time we change our perception as it will be counterproductive and create further divisions and hatred among people. Let us learn some lessons from not just the struggle of Telangana but also from the mess created by an absolutely shameless political class whipping up passions of people against it despite known fact that the unification of two different regions actually never happened mentally. It is better for everyone to separate peacefully, respect each other and not stick together for the sake of a ‘unified’ family, fighting daily and blaming each other for every fault. No state can run on uncertainty and strike every day. It is time to go on work and build our regions brick by brick without living in concealed hatred. Let the people focus on their work, cities, towns and people who laid down their lives for the state of Telangana rather than focusing too much on Hyderabad which is already developed and is not the same what it was during Nizam’s regime. The infrastructure that was developed during that period remained the same and the population might have grown ten times more and hence it is crumbling. Hence, it is important that Hyderabad be relieved from burden of ‘hope’ and ‘despair’ of the new states so that focus of both the new states is more on their populations and towns which deserve attention from the power now.