Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Communal Polarisation : What Will You Say Now?

Ever since NDA government had come to power, there has been an anticipation of a surge of Hindu majoritarianism. True to belief, reports emerged of Hindu groups propagating ideas like Love Jehad, Ghar Wapsi etc. Some BJP parliamentarians even used derogatory language like Ramzaade, meaning sons of Ram, and  Haraamzaade, meaning those who are not sons of Ram. Such attempts were believed to be an attempt towards consolidating Hindu votes in states  which were due for elections. Diatribes against muslims were followed by attacks on christian churches culminating in sexual assault on an elderly christian missionary in West Bengal.

All such acts which were believed to be orchestrated by Hindu right, had cascading effect on the government both nationally and internationally. President Barrack Obama, a state guest in India, preached how India should remain united to progress on the path to prosperity. At the national level, opposition parties had stalled functioning of upper house of parliament and demanded a statement from prime minister of India. One session of parliament was lost because NDA government could not present important bills in Rajya Sabha. In the end, Prime Minister had denounced such act, vowed to protected constitutional rights of all Indians.  Unconfirmed reports claimed that prime minister had threatened to quit unless, right wing fringe elements were reined in by sangh parivar. 

Many prominent leaders of Christian community had meanwhile expressed a sense of insecurity and helplessness. Celebrated police commissioner Mr. Julio Rebeiro, wrote an article in Indian express about he he felt alienated in his own country. Principal of Sophiya College Mumbai, in an interview to NDTV compared India to Nazi Germany. After rape of an elderly nun in West Bengal, vice chairperson of minority commission, Ms. Maria Fernandes blamed BJP and RSS for the ghastly event. According to her, all the attacks on minority communities, including rape of a missionary, could be attributed to religious polarisation initiated by BJP and RSS.

All the while, BJP spokespeople had to urge everyone to wait for police investigation to be over. However, all their appeal went in vain. Now if we look carefully at the issue of BJP mediated minority bashing, the following points emerge:

1. BJP did not gain from minority bashing in Delhi. Infact, it had lost the state by record margin gaining only three seats. Definitely, polarisation effort, if any, did not work.

2. All report of assault on christian church emerged around the time of Delhi election. Thereafter, no report has come about attack on church. One should analyse carefully, who did gain from assault on the Church. Definitely not BJP, because minority community leaders had advised their members not to vote for the party.

3. Of the six or so cases of church vandalism and desecration reported in Delhi, one case was due to short circuit in the building. A second case involved a drunk man who pelted stone at Church building. So far no evidence has emerged that the man belonged to any rightwing Hindu group.

4. One case of Church vandalism in Mumbai, it emerged that a group of people were unhappy at removal of their gambling den. They had suspected a role of church in the act. By the way, even a member of muslim community was also part of the vandals.

5. The ghastly rape of a nun in West Bengal, was carried out by a group of people only two of whom have been arrested. One member of the gang was from Bangladesh. He happened to be from minority muslim community. Another member is a Hindu. There is no report to suggest that the Hindu man subscribed to right wing Hindu ideology.

6. Law and order is a state subject. Why does states not act strongly on people and groups they suspect to be indulging in polarisation along communal and religious lines? Is it because a communally charged cauldron is more beneficial electorally or they do not want to antagonise majority vote bank?

7. Protecting minority rights is not the preserve of a few secular parties. What would successive governments of Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party say about their inability to deliver justice to members of minority community in Hashimpura massacre? Why don't their hearts bleed now? How come after twenty eight years no justice could be provided to families of victims?

I think it is abominable to divide Indians along communal lines. It is important to analyse cause and effect relationship of an event, before jumping into conclusion on communal polarisation.  All those people who felt so offended due to perceived communal polarisation in the country, what will they say now as our understanding improves and clarity emerges? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Satyakams of Today, Keeping Steel Frame of Indian Bureaucracy Intact

A young woman, fresh out after submitting her doctoral thesis, appeared for a job interview at an University in Haryana. Also appeared for the same position was daughter in law of a prominent political family from the state. When the final recommendation went to vice chancellor for his signature of approval, vice chancellor asked for the raw evaluation sheets. Lo and behold! in the raw sheets the young women without any backing had scored maximum marks. Vice chancellor declined to sign the doctored recommendation sheet put forward by university management. Only when the orginal scores and interviewers' comments were incorporated and merit list reconstructed, did the vice chancellor put his signature on the paper.

This was an incidence that happened nearly 18 years before. The vice chancellor was an IAS officer who was looking after administration of the university. This vice chancellor was Mr. Ashok Khemka. No body knew him that time. He was probably less than forty years old. He did not know the people that appeared for the interview.  Most of all, he did not have to antagonize a powerful political family. Yet he did what he had to do as an officer of the university and as an officer of the government of India. This was not the first, and definitely will not be the last. People came to know of Mr. Khemka when he cancelled mutation of a land acquired by son in law of the first family of India.

For his desire to follow the due process of law, Mr. Khemka had to pay a heavy price. Not many people knew, that Mr. Khemka in his 20 years service had been transferred at least 22 times. On an average he stayed in no position more than 6 months. One government of Mr. Chautala had withdrawn his official vehicle. Mr. Khemka walked to office. It would have been so easy for Mr. Khemka to go with the flow, yet he chose to move on, quietly and in a single minded manner.

There may not be many, but definitely a few upright officers nation came to know of when they took on our mighty politicians, corrupt business people and mafia dons. Mrs. Durga Shakti Nagpal took on sand mafia in UP. T A Ravi, Satyendra Dubey, Shanmughan Manjunath paid with their lives for doing their jobs. These people did not have to oppose politician – businessmen nexus. Their salary would still be deposited in their account at the end of the month. Justice Santhosh Hegde was abused by politicians when he, as Lokayukta of Karnataka, initiated investigation on illegal iron ore mining in Bellary, Karnataka. An unpright police officer, Ms. Damayanti Sen, who solved a rape case was transferred to traffic police department in West Bengal.

Many of upright officers cannot even complain. Because talking to press is against the sevice rule. Many suffer in silence, some become callous and depressed and some commit suicide. Many others simply swim with the tide. It is so much easier this way. Get money, get regular promotion, send kids abroad for education and at the end of career retire in the provincial capital. Who cares if a poor man gets his due as per government rule!

I do not know, what drives people like Mr. Khemka. Why do they take on Goliath, knowing that they cannot even complain if beaten up badly or killed. I remember a Bengali novel by Shri Narayan Sanyal titled “Satyakam”. The story was also made into a movie by Hrishikesh Mukherjee with the same title. In the story, the lead character Satyapriyo came from an orthodox Brahmin family. As his name suggested, he loved and followed truth. So in life, when everyone was enjoying life of bribery and corruption, Satyapriya lived and died in penury. Satyapriyo's wife used to be a dancer in the royal court of a princely state.  Satyapriyo had married his wife, against wishes of his grandfather, knowing that she was carrying a child.  Satyapriyo knew that he was not the biological father of the child. Such was the strength and influence of Satyapriyo’s honesty on his wife, that even in the moment of immense grief, she, like Jabal of Chandogya Upanishad, informed her son that Satyapriyo was not his father and he should not light his pyre as per brahminical way of life. Finally, Satyapriyo’s grandfather, performed his last rites and took grand daughter in law and grandchild home. Only victory in Satyapriyo's lonely life.


I think our officers like Ashok Khemka are present day Satyakams. Like Satyapriyo, they are fighting for honesty and truth. This may be a romanticised version of their lonely battle, I think steel frame called Indian bureaucracy is still intact from rust and termites of corruption, because of people like Ashok Khemka and others. Soldiers battle external enemies, Ashok Khemkas fight a more difficult battle. They fight internal enemies, many a time it is difficult to distinguish enemy from friend. God bless them. God bless India.

Tags: Administrative Service, Ashok Khemka, Bureaucracy, Corruption, Damayanti Sen, Durga Shakti Nagpal, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Narayan Sanyal, Santosh Hegde, Jabal, Satyakam, Satyendra Dubey, Shammugan Manjunath, T A Ravi, Chandogya Upanishad

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Land Acquisition Bill : Dare to Dream


In every society, we see battle between different ideologies. One side wants to dreams big and willing to take risk. Other side is risk averse, wants to maintain status quo and looks for short term gain. Same scenario is being played out in Indian political scenario, ever since NDA government has brought amendment to  Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, supreme leader of Congress party, had made a petition to president of India against the bill. In her effort, Mrs. Gandhi was accompanied by opposition members from Left parties, Samajwadi party, Bahujan Samaj party, Janata Dal United, Trinamool Congress, DMK, among others. At the same time, social activist Anna Hazare is promising a long march to Delhi followed by a fast. In his endeavor, Anna Hazare will be accompanied by farmers from all corners on the land. 

Land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement act of 2013 was passed unanimously in the last days of UPA government. It was the first amendement since 1894 land acquisition act that was passed during British rule. Parties that claim to be pro farmer now, slept all through 60 years of independence. The act of 2013 was brought deliberately close to election with an eye to garner farmers vote. No party could dare oppose the bill, lest they were viewed as anti-farmer before election. Farmers, however, did not consider the act beneficial. Otherwise, UPA government would not lose power. In chief ministers meeting, many chief ministers from both NDA and UPA had complained that development becomes difficult if had to comply with clauses of the act. So NDA government decided to amend the act.

Looking carefully at the pros and cons of the amended bill, the following points emerge:

1. Most farmers in India are small farmers. By some estimate, nearly 70% farmers in India till land 0.6 hectare or less. This farming is dependent on monsoon and extremely inefficient. As land ownership gets divided among generations, it may not be possible to support family of farmer by agriculture alone. So son of farmer has to get out of family profession and search for job.

2. Communist rule in Bengal had undertaken land reform. May be lot of first generation farmer getting benefit of land reform had improved. However, looking at macro-economic reality and indices of human development of West Bengal, it appears West Bengal to be one of the less prosperous and developed states. This despite thirty years of uninterrupted left rule in West Bengal.

3. It has been variously argued that government had reduced budgetary allocation to farming sector. Given that 70% Indians live on land, more allocation to farmers would have promoted growth. May be most certainly it would have. But worldwide it has been shown that maximum growth achievable through farming sector is between 3 – 6%, whereas industrialization increases growth by 10% or more.

4. Some people have argued that by reducing allocation to agriculture, and by snatching away land from farmers, government is actually forgetting about the plight of farm hands. As discussed before, farm hands support only 30% of Indian farm land. It has been published in Times of India that over the years, machines have replaced men in farming sector (TOI, Mar 16, 2015 : Machines drive 90% of power in farming). In 1971 – 72, agricultural workers constituted 15% as farm hands. This number has reduced to 5% in 2012 – 13. By contrast, machines which constituted 39% of farm aid in 1971 -72, now play 90% role. 

In the original bill of 2013, any land acquisition would need permission of 70% land owners. In practice, it was believed to be difficult to implement. It may take a minimum of three years to get necessary permissions, provided there is not litigation. Why India needs land, a scarce resource, that too urgently, many had asked.

1. India has a large number of young population. India needs to create jobs for her population rapidly and regularly. By some estimate, India needs to create around 10 million jobs per year, every year. For rapid job creation, one needs to create industry and develop infrastructure where people can be absorbed.

2. India needs to develop her rural infrastructure. Unless villages are made livable and attractive, villagers would migrate to cities in search of jobs. City dwellers will not come and live in villages, unless they find comparable amenities comparable to cities in villages. Villages need to be connected to cities, hospitals, schools etc. needs to be built in villages. This may need land.

3. India needs to decongest her cities. Big Indian cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and others, are bursting at their seams. Unless new cities are created, and existing small cities are developed, big cities in India may collapse. For building new cities, government may need land.

It will be unwise to undermine trust deficit that exists between government of the day, any government for that matter, and citizens. Government takes away land in the name of development, then sells it to builders and land developers at much higher profit. Farmers struggle to get their due price for the land in the name of national growth and development. Mr. Pavan Varma, a Rajya Sabha member from Janata Dal United, wrote in Times of India (TOI, 14th Mar, 2015, Land of the Lost) that people displaced for building  Bhakra Nangal Dam have not yet been repatriated completely till now. 

Mr Varma also wrote about helplessness of any person uprooted from his home and hearth of many generations experiences. There should be no doubt in any body's mind that such an uprooting will be traumatic. It would be responsibility of government and society to deal with emotional trauma of displaced families with empathy and care. 

  • In the land acquisition act a compensation of four times the existing market value of the land is recommended. It would be the responsibility of the government of the day to ensure such disbursal is made in an honest and time efficient manner.


  • Since the price of land appreciates manifold once it is developed, it will be advisable if farmer is made a stakeholder in the future prosperity in and around the acquired land. In short, government and society must make an offer to the affected family that  may be difficult to refuse.


  • It is important to appreciate that emotions and attachment of land cannot be equated in terms of money. However, sons / daughters of families often move away to distant lands like US / Canada / Europe / Australia in search of better livelihood and opportunities. Family elders bid them goodbye with tearful eyes with the hope of better future and prosperity.


I think as a nation, we must ensure injustice is not done to those whose home and hearth is acquired in national interest. All parties must work to create mechanism such that compensation is given to farmers in time. It may be difficult to achieve, but that is where prime minister must stand upto his promise of Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas

http://occassionalmusings.blogspot.com/2015/02/land-acquistion-emotive-issue.html

Tags: Anna Hazare, Bahujan Samaj Party, Bengaluru, Chennai, Compensation, Delhi, Development, DMK, Farmer,  Growth, Janata Dal United, Kolkata, Land Acquistion Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Left Parties, NDA, Pavan Verma, Samajwadi Party, Sonia Gandhi, Trinamool Congress, UPA, West Bengal,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Elected vs. Nominated Whose Idea Should Prevail?

India has been at cross roads of two distinct ideas since national election of 2014. Party that got elected getting popular support wants to build roads, rails, ports, housing, schools, hospitals etc. Yet efforts of elected members are blocked by members that are nominated and occupy Rajya Sabha, upper house of parliament. In Rajya Sabha, political parties with left of centre ideology have majority. Apart from Congress, Trina Mool Congress, Janata Dal United, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party etc, a prominent and vocal member of left of centre parties is communist party of India (Marxist) also knows as CPM. 

Seat share of CPM in parliament has declined from 43 in 2004 to 9 in 2014. Moreover, CPM has been displaced from its seat of power in West Bengal. Yet, nominated members of CPM disrupt parliament and block passage of bills. At the state level, CPM has ruled West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. Of the three states, West Bengal had uninterrupted CPM rule for thirty years, with virtually little opposition. Yet, West Bengal remains one of the backward states from all indices of economic and social development.  Prevailing indices suggest that economic ideas of left do not work and people also are losing their faith on the political philosophy of left.  

Yet, left has assumed the role of national conscience keeper. I was reading an article in a Hindustan Times of March 10th, 2015, where a prominent leader of CPM, Mr. Sitaram Yechury wrote in an op-ed piece titled "Weighing in for private profits". Mr. Yechury proclaimed "The government will seek to use its tyranny of majority in the Lok Sabha to have laws such as the land acquisition law, passed even without permitting the scope for meaningful discussions and deliberations." Strange that member of a party that has been rejected by people of India, a party that cobbles up a majority in Rajya Sabha by using nominated members of other parities,  take such a moral high ground on majoritarism. Infact, role of left is even more unprincipled because by cobbling up an opportunistic opposition, it is preventing elected members from discharging their duties and their promises.

I was reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Rand is a believer of capitalism and individual excellence over community effort. In  her novel Rand described how production of high quality steel and its use in building rail road is stopped by a think tank built by tax revenue. Think tank, instead of pursing excellence, is worried of social consequence  if good steel reaches the market. Poor quality material manufactured by state will not sell and many workers will become jobless. I see uncanny similarity of Any Rand's novel with current Indian political scenario.  Ruling party, with majority in parliament, wanting to create infrastructure and help people pull themselves out of poverty are being prevented by nominated members that subscribe to left leaning ideology. This second group wants to tax rich, forgetting that it is the rich that creates job and employs people.  For the past 60 years, our politicians have been trying to eliminate poverty by taxing rich and giving poor a dole.  Now people have rejected the ideas, at least for next five years. I think, people who have been elected promising to deliver certain things to nation, must be allowed to deliver. Those who do not fight election, should have lesser say in the matter decided by elected members.

Tags: Ayn Rand, Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress, CPM, Kerala, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Samajwadi Party, Sitaram Yechury, Trina Mool Congress, Tripura, West Bengal,



Monday, March 16, 2015

Where Do We Draw the Line?

No sooner had the controversy over telecast of "India's Daughter" settled, another incidence came to occupy collective psyche of the nation. This time rape of a seventy one year old nun in West Bengal. Many Indians who objected to telecast of "India's Daughter" on the ground that it will give India and Indians a bad name should have to think about the latest incidence. We must understand that instead of hiding dust under a rug, we should take the bull by horn.

Several questions arise as a result of the terrible incidence in West Bengal. The state is headed by a feisty chief minister, who not only is a lady, she is a grass roots leader. In spite of this, in last couple of years many cases of rape have surfaced in the state. In the earlier times, honourable chief minister not only belittled hapless victims, she went out of her way to brand victims to be plants  of opposition political parties.  Like many other Indian states, West Bengal too has deep rooted nexus between politicians and criminals. Many a times, state politicians have been alleged to shelter heinous criminals. A bold police officer, who happened to solve a high profile case of sexual assault, was transferred to manage traffic. Under such an environment, it is not unlikely police would not be motivated enough to solve cases of rape, or for that matter any other case.

Many people have argued that in the matter of rape, law and order machinery may have little to do. What is important is position of women in the society and general respect women command in societal structure. In many advanced democracies and developed countries, women are used as commodity in different adult videos, adult magazines and in strip clubs. Yet incidence of violent rape of women is relatively rare in countries like US and in countries of Europe. If such an incidence comes to light, police swings into action almost instantaneously. Once perpetrators are caught, a prompt justice is delivered. In India, our policing is slow. A case in point being inspite of faces of four people being telecast on nation wide TV, it took police more than eight hours to detain these people. No arrest has yet been made. Assume, all accused are produced before the courts, it will take many years before a judgement is actually delivered.

People who leave society in search of higher truth, have always been revered in our society. These people are always put on the highest pedestal available to society. Rape of nun shatters that tradition. Criminals not only destroyed sanctity of a body dedicated to the work of god, they also ignored the fact that the victim was  past her active sexual age. In our depravity and quest for sexual gratification, have we stooped so low that no one is spared be it a toddler or an elderly woman, as long as the object is breathing? A nation that gets petrified at the thought of Nirbhaya documentary been shown to the world, certainly has a lot to think about.

Tags: Criminal, India's Daughter, Nirbhaya, Nun, Politician, Rape, West Bengal, Woman

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Beauty of Indian Democracy

Hardly ten days before, it was so beautiful to see the prime minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, and the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Mr. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed were hugging each other. Occasion was historic alliance between two political parties, from diametrically opposite ends of the political spectrum, to give good governance to the state. Many optimistic observers felt that two parties had put their differences in the back burner for the sake of the people of the state. The state has long suffered because of militancy and more recently due to ravaging flood. Many people were made homeless to face biting cold in winter months. 

Even before the honeymoon had started, chinks started to appear in the marriage. First, chief minister of J&K praised Pakistan, hardliners and separatists for peaceful election in the state. I personally felt, there was nothing wrong in the statement. May be chief minister was trying to sound conciliatory on a big day. His daughter, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti also stood by her father on the reconciliation theory, reiterating her party's position on making peace with Pakistan. She even stressed how people from other side of the border are enamoured by Indian democracy.

One cannot, however, discount the fact that chief minister did not  praise good work of election commission of India. He did not talk about Pakistan sponsored attempt at disruption of election. A security force officer and a police person lost their lives. Above all, people of J&K who had come out in large numbers to vote. Alliance partner of chief minister, BJP had to state this position in Indian parliament amid opposition charges.

The demand to handover the mortal remains of Mr. Afzal Guru, a self proclaimed terrorist, who has sentenced to death in jail, and release of Mr. Masarat Alam, a known hardliner from jail further complicated lives in Delhi. Although it is emerging that BJP was also to blame for release of Mr. Alam, because the state was under government rule. It can be argued that PDP could have warned her alliance partner of the impending fiasco. A silver lining in the matter remains BJP government at centre respected sovreignty of the state in the matter of law of order and did not interfere beyond noise and fury.

Rest of India should let BJP and PDP to peacefully live their married lives for the betterment of state of J&K and India. I  think, BJP - PDP government has to tread the coalition path very cautiously following the narrow path of common minimum program. There are a lot of people disgruntled with the alliance, read congress, national conference, shiv sena etc, ready to pounce on the collaboration and would be more than happy if it breaks. 

BJP - PDP alliance in J&K depicts the beauty of Indian democracy, when two parties from opposite ends of the political divide join hands for greater common good. What a moment when separatist leader Sajjad Lone joining government after getting elected. Right wing BJP and soft separatist PDP compromised their sharp edges to form government in greater common good for the people. This is beauty of India democracy and I am so proud. God bless my India.

Tag : Afzal Guru, BJP, Congress, Jammu and Kashmir, Masarat Alam, Mehbooba Mufti, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, National Conference, Pakistan, PDP, Sajjad Lone, Shiva Sena


Friday, March 6, 2015

Debating Telecast of Mukesh Singh Interview : Manufacturing Controversy!

Editor in chief, Arnab Goswami, of Times Now channel was breathing fire in Newshour debate. Title of debate was “Where’s Sensitivity Now”. The debate revolved around the topic of telecast of the documentary “India’s Daughter” by BBC. 

The channel had invited two speakers to criticize telecast and two speakers to defend the telecast. Broadly, the following points  kept on cropping up, repeatedly:

Was BBC morally and legally correct in telecasting the documentary? 

Would BBC have done a similar documentary on British citizens in prison? 

When BBC did not broadcast a show on royal family of Britain when threatened of legal action, why did it go ahead with the telecast despite a stay order from Indian court?


When BBC did not show burning alive of Jordanian pilot or beheading of prisoners by ISIS, on the ground that it would affect sensitivity of British viewers, why did it discuss in graphic detail Nirbhaya’s rape and disembowelment? 

Why did BBC give out Nirbhaya’s name and photograph? 


Why did the director of documentary not show full footage to authorities? Why did the director violate the accepted pre-conditions before telecast?

Like a bully Arnab would ask a long winding question to opponents of the motion then, without giving them a chance to respond, go to speakers who would be aligned with his point of view and may be by default those of the channel. As I understood the issues, the following points came to my mind:

If we, as Indians, have so much objection to the documentary being shown, why a permission was given to film the documentary in the first place? 

The documentary film was done with permission from parents of Nirbhaya. After Nirbhaya, her parents are the most affected people by the incidence.

I am glad that BBC did not show beheading of prisoners or burning of Jordanian pilot. We should not prey on the misery of people. I did not watch the documentary on “India’s Daughter” myself. Arnab Goswami kept on repeating that the film described in graphic detail what was done to Nirbhaya. Different people who had watched the documentary,  described it to be balanced and poignant with a towering presence of Nirbhaya. I have included twitter feeds of two such people below:

@chetan_bhagat: Documentary ‪#‎IndiasDaughter‬‬ is extraordinary. Moving, thought provoking. Makers have Nirbhaya's parents consent

@sagarikaghose: India's Daughter is neither vulgar, nor offensive

It was said again and again that BBC would not air points of view of convicted prisoners in Britain. Should we equate BBC with British government? If British government does not allow her citizens in prison to be  filmed, they would not give the requisite permission. Once a permission is granted, it is highly unlikely that British government would run to court to block it's broadcast of the film on a flimsy ground.

We should consider two points in favor of postponing the telecast: 
  • The case of Mukesh Singh and others is subjudice. Telecasting the show may prejudice their case. 
  • I also, feel name and photograph of Nirbhaya should not have been revealed in the documentary. In a recent article I read that Nirbhaya's parents do not want to hide her name any longer. So BBC actually had revealed Nirbhaya's name with permission of her parents.
It is still unclear to me why Times Now went all guns blazing against telecast of the documentary? Was it rivalry between media houses where Times group was pitted against BBC and NDTV? We may never know.

I think the documentary, “India’s Daughter” does not make Indians look bad. Ubiquitous incidences of sexual harassment and rape does. In the documentary, if anyone has looked bad it was Mukesh Singh and his lawyers. By their barbaric statements, nation got a glimpse of their state of mind. 


http://occassionalmusings.blogspot.com/2015/03/mukesh-singh-reflection-of-our-mindset.html

Tags: Arnab Goswami, BBC, British Government, Chetan Bhagat, Documentary, India's Daughter, India Today, Indian Government, Mukesh Singh, NDTV, Nirbhaya, Rape, Sagarika Ghosh, Times Now

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mukesh Singh : A Reflection of Our Mindset!

On a cold Dec evening in the year 2012, five men gang raped, disemboweled a young woman in a moving bus. The gang tried to kill the woman and her friend by running the bus over them. A documentary film was made based on an interview given by one of the convicts. It was believed that the interview was done for the purpose of understanding mind of a rapist. In the interview, Mukesh Singh appeared to tell chillingly, may be coached by his lawyer,  that “it was the girl who was to blame for her rape and subsequent death. She should not have resisted the rape in the first place. If rapists get death penalty, in future rape victims would be killed.” 

Indian home minister and members of parliament expressed outrage at the video. According to parliament, it was a conspiracy to show India in a bad light. It was also argued that the director of the documentary had violated pre accepted conditions for shooting the film. Government got a stay order from the court and prevented broadcast of the film in India. However, BBC broadcaseted the documentary in England, US, Canada and may be also in Europe. Documentary, many believed, gave a forum to Mukesh Singh, a convicted rapist, to air his grievance. Documentary, some suggested, contained graphic details of how Nirbhaya was raped. BBC would very likely not broadcast a similar show in England, yet they did not extend the same sensitivity towards Indian audience, which included family members of the victim. Apparently, when threatened of legal action by royal family, BBC in the past did not air a program on royal family, yet they defied Indian court orders. This may show double standard of BBC. 

I did not watched the interview myself. Whatever little I have seen on TV, two points emerged. First, Mukesh Singh threw cold water on the face of people who argued that his death penalty should be commuted and the Mukesh be allowed to reform. At the time of interview, Mukesh showed neither remorse nor any proclivity towards reform. May be Mukesh will reform after long long time, may be in next 30 – 50 years, provided government wants to keep him in jail that long.

Second, at least to me, It appears ridiculous to stop telecast of the interview. If purists thought India looked bad because of BBC broadcasting interview of Mukesh Singh, I think, India looked bad they day Nirbhaya case came to light. India looked bad when it became clear that police were unaware when bus, in which Nirbhaya was being assaulted, was plying illegally right in front of their eyes. Now also, India looks bad every time a woman, a girl, a toddler is raped by men old enough to be their father, uncle, or grandfather. Statements made by Mukesh Singh, made him look terrible and made all viewers very uncomfortable and angry. Mukesh Singh depicted a medieval, barbaric and crude mindset.  In a way, Mukesh Singh showed a mirror to Indian men. I think mindset of people like Mukesh Singh is further bolstered by easy availability of pornographic material that commodifies  women. 

A concerted effort at changing male mindset may be the only way forward. I think government should come out of the mold of moral policing and get involved in actual governance.
Tags: BBC, Governmen of India, Men, Mindset, Mukesh Singh, Nirbhaya, Parliament, Rape, Rapist, Violence

Monday, March 2, 2015

Create System to Tackle Corruption

After the landslide victory of AAP in Delhi, chief minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal declared Delhi will be the first corruption free state in India. The sounded sweet to corruption battered ears of average Delhite. Question is how to tackle corruption? Mr. Kejriwal suggested “if anyone asks for bribe, do not resist. Record the conversation and bring it to me. I shall take action.”

This may sound easy solution to our corruption problem. To me there appears to be at least two issues. Firstly, the idea of recording a demand for bribe may work if it is a surprise move. If it is repeated regularly, either the person demanding a bribe may ensure that there is no recording device nearby or he may not ask for bribe but simply not provide the service he is paid his salary for.

A second problem could be common man may come in from various distinct social strata. From down to street level vendor to rich business people. Different people have different ideas of corruption. Some may think it is corrupt to pay bribe, but not bat an eyelid if they do not declare their income to tax authorities by accepting payment in cash. A young real estate dealer was an ardent fan of Arvind Kejriwal. He dreamt of Arvind Kejriwal kicking him for not participating in anti-corruption movement. However, I was surprised when he offered my a plan where if I put an amount in his business I shall expect to get 30% return. He promised that if I invest the amount, he will return my original investment in cheque and profit in cash. Since we were discussing anti corruption movement of Arvind Kejriwal, I asked him what Arvind will think, if he finds out. My friend from real estate did not answer. My point is, we all have different ideas of what constitutes corruption. Usually, we exclude our own activities from the ambit of corrupt practices. There are a lot many of us like this.

In my view, corruption can only be tackled if we have clear, fool proof system. A case in point is system to acquire passport in Delhi. Government has created a system, I do not know if it was done by UPA or by NDA, that is as close to being transparent as possible. There is hardly any scope of corruption because everything is out there in open. Passport office informs the candidate about his interview date, status of his passport, gives number of ACP in case someone does not get his police enquiry done within 21 days of application.


I think we need many more such systems, where all the rules are explained upfront and made idiot proof. In the absence of such a system, once Kejriwal leaves for national campaign, corruption will be back on Delhi streets. Because all of us want easy money, for which we do not have to work hard.

Tags: AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, Bribe, Corruption, Real Estate Dealer, Passport Office, System