Outlook India 2016-02-15

In The Dark Of His Troubles

Rohith Vemula’s is a tragedy turned into farce—ironically by those very people who, after his sad demise, claim to speak for him and of his travails as a Dalit. The ‘secular’ narrative is simple, suitably twisted to fit its ideological gameplan and divorced from facts. According to them, Rohith was a Dalit fighter against oppression by the elite castes—by the evil, elite-caste dominated Sangh parivar (forget that of all parties, the BJP has the most SC/ST MPs), by the parivar that swears by the Manusmriti (how many Hindus have seen a copy of it?). The impression given is that Rohith was persecuted to the ext­ent that he was forced to take his life. Running this insidious hate campaign, the ‘secular’ pack seems to have three objectives—pit Dalits against the rest of Hindu society, paint the Sangh parivar black, and prove that Modi’s regime is intolerant and anti-Dalit. To meet these malicious ends, they went on the warpath with some selective facts and half-truths.
Outlook India 2011-10-03

Is Anything More Corrupt Than A Govt Buying MPs?

During a recent meeting in Ralegan Siddhi, Anna Hazare’s team decided to renew its fight for probity in public life. One could say it is also time to judge the impact of his campaign on the system, asking some relevant questions. Has the first, “successful” phase of the movement really touched the collective conscience of ‘civil society’ and affected the attitude of the ruling establishment towards corruption? Or is its influence superficial? Stripped of hyperbole, the real achievements of the movement are modest. Nothing has changed for the better on the ground. Our venal rulers continue on their course, smug as ever. Otherwise, the two whistle-blowers, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Singh Bhagora, former Lok Sabha MPs (both of the BJP), would not be behind bars for exposing the cash-for-votes scam of July 2008, and their third comrade, Ashok Argal, would not be facing arrest.
Outlook India 2011-06-06

A Chennai Overture

One factor pertaining to the recent assembly elections that every analyst has commented upon is the virtual eclipse of the Left, particularly in West Bengal, which a Left coalition ruled for 34 years without a break. As for Tamil Nadu, the focus has been on how the people have cut the DMK and the Karunanidhi family to size. Lost in the hullabaloo over the rout of the DMK and the Left is J. Jayalalitha’s invitation to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to her swearing-in ceremony, a recognition of his growing stature both within the BJP and outside it. Jayalalitha’s AIADMK, it must be remembered, has the Left parties as its allies in the Tamil Nadu assembly, and for the Left, Modi is like a red rag. But she has preferred to ignore this, and invited Modi even though the BJP was not her ally and had in fact fought the Tamil Nadu elections on its own.
Outlook India 2010-10-11

Pretty Prose And Guns From Cloud Cuckoo Land

It’s difficult not to admire the perseverance and passion of Arundhati Roy, writer and born rebel. More so when she packages her attacks on the basics of the country—she projects the Indian State as an enemy of the people—in beautiful English prose. In her 18-page essay, The Trickledown Revolution (Sept 20), she wails: “Sometimes it seems very much as though those who have a radical vision for a newer, better world do not have the steel it takes to resist the military onslaught, and those who have the steel do not have the vision.” So, after denouncing corporations as the devil incarnate, the Indian State as a lackey of these capitalists, and describing the government’s operation to curb the violence in the Maoist-affected areas as “a war on the people”, and giving everyone else, including the Maoists, a dressing down, Arundhati plays god for all anti-nationals—from Kashmir to Manipur to Dantewada—who have waged war against civil society.
Outlook India 2010-07-05

Counting Backwards

We are trapped in a caste cage 60 years after independence, but we still seem eager to lock ourselves further—in the divisive politics of caste. So intense are the feelings across the political spectrum for reintroducing a caste-based census that most parties (except caste-based ones) are divided on the issue. Every politician who supports caste enumeration swears that caste is a reality in our country. True, that reality cannot be denied. But the question is whether we want such divisions to gather strength. Don’t we want an Indian identity that’s beyond caste to evolve? Look at what cricket has done for us. Do we have quotas in our cricket team? Or look at Bollywood. Nobody asks what religion or caste the big stars or directors belong to. Nobody even cares where they come from. Open competition in Indian cricket and Bollywood has resulted in the best talent coming to the fore—as Indians first and last. So it’s not as if Indians do not look beyond caste; they do, and indeed feel proud about what could be called a pan-Indian identity.
Outlook India 2006-03-13

The Two-Regiment Theory

It’s by now a settled fact that the UPA government, at the instance of the Rajindar Sachar committee, tried to seek a Muslim headcount in the armed forces. The unprecedented opposition though has the government resorting to speaking with a forked tongue now. On the one hand, it denies the entire move while on the other it rationalises the exercise in the name of "secularism". The idea of ‘dividing’ the armed forces on communal lines was inspired by a book, Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India by Omar Khalidi, a professor of Hyderabadi origin who teaches architectural history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Excerpts from the book were part of IUML president G.M. Banatwala’s memorandum to the Sachar committee. Khalidi had also advocated, in an interview with The Times of India, a reorganisation of the districts in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam to create "compact Muslim zones" where their culture and rights could be "safeguarded". In other words, he’s playing ‘Pied Piper’ Allama Iqbal to a future Jinnah (ironically, he even has a Muslim League president by his side). It’s no surprise then that he suggests increasing the Muslim presence in the forces—it stems from the same mindset of Islamist consolidation.
Outlook India 2004-06-14

Grace Marks, Please

I cannot agree with Vinod Mehta when he says that Vajpayee’s personality is no match for "the Byzantine complexity of contemporary Indian reality where class, caste, ethnic and religious loyalties change every 200 kilometres" (Outlook, May 24). If that were the case, would anyone qualify, considering the failure of almost all media pundits and modern psephologists to catch the undercurrent of resentment (or is it apprehension?) against the government of the day. The same which the analysts said (post-results) has expressed itself in the rout of the NDA government. Now if the Indian reality is so complex, how did you jump to the conclusion that it’s a question of governments losing elections rather than the opposition winning it? What makes you say the BJP choosing to focus on Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin was a mistake? The complexity lies in the fact that there is no single explanation for the kind of results we have seen. What rationale can explain the incumbent government winning in Orissa but losing in Kerala? The TDP government in Andhra loses and the Congress wins but in neighbouring Karnataka it is the turn of the Congress regime to lose with the BJP emerging as the largest party, though short of a majority?
Outlook India 2004-04-05

Mughlai Paranthas

How did relations between Hindus and Muslims evolve over the centuries following Mohammad bin Qasim’s invasion of Sind in 711 AD? Did the invaders have just imperial motives? Were they interested only in India’s phenomenal wealth, and not in bringing the vanquished under the flag of Islam by sword? These are questions that are important for understanding what led to the creation of Pakistan, and the complex relationship between Hindus and Muslims in the subcontinent. The Hindu-Muslim relationship is a complicated one, with interwoven layers of cooperation and confrontation. The secularists, which include communists of various hues, have repeatedly tried to simplify the phenomenon. In the process, the communists supported Jinnah’s demand for a theocratic Pakistan and have twisted history by selectively picking incidents and details to paint a rosy picture of Hindu-Muslim relations before the advent of the British.