Showing posts from January, 2018

Paying the price: The likes of Godse and his ilk still rule the roost, systematically destroying the idea of India

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Exactly seventy years ago on 30 January 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. On his death, in an impromptu and highly emotional radio address to the nation, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India said, “the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.”
Nehru went on to add, “The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented something more than the immediate past, it represented the living, the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom”.
Nehru thus voiced the sentiments of millions of Indians- then and perhaps e…

Promoting 'Hindi ' (and Hindu) globally? Equal treatment of all languages is essential in a pluralistic society

Sheshu Babu
India is a complex nation with varied culture and multiple languages. India has the second highest languages(780) after Papua New Gunea (839), according to Wikipedia. But according to , there are as many as 880 languages in2016 (Total Languages in India -- Past and Present , September 10, 2016). Article 343 deals with official languages.  Estimates of the 2001 census suggest that about 41.1% of total population speak Hindi. The Eighth Schedule lists 22 official languages .( There are many dialects of Hindi.
Recently, India's external minister said that the United Nations (UN) should adopt Hindi along with other official languages of UN ("India wants Hindi as official language",, Jan 3 2018) and is ready to bear Rs 400 crore as expenses.  But as Shashi Tharoor rightly asked in Parliament ( What would be the purpose of making Hindi as an official language of the UN? Out of six languages, only tw…

Need to do as much as possible to make our world a more humane, just, equitable, loving, peaceful place

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 21 January 2018 I complete two full years since I left Ahmedabad and reached Beirut, to work here with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the MENA Region. Looking back at these two eventful years, I realise that there is much to be thankful for: I have learnt and received much in my interactions with the refugees and the displaced. I think I have grown as a person: a bit more spiritually and perhaps in maturity too. I have had much opportunity to read and study; reflect and write on a whole range of issues. There have been several meaningful engagements. All this and much more!
It has also not been easy; definitely not smooth sailing, but I never expected it to be so! There have been several challenges and even some difficulties on various fronts. The contributory factors are often complicated: perceptions differ, and not everything is black and white. I certainly have my own failings and shortcomings. There is also the awareness that when one asks sensiti…

Why three years on no American CEOs have found India a fit destination for their money...

By Rajiv Tyagi*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his trip to the US in 2015, met with CEOs of companies with a combined worth of 4.5 trillion USD, more than twice India's GDP. The main takeaway from the trip was that India needs to work on infrastructure and ease-of-doing-business issues and laws that corporates find too restrictive. Many expressed their worry about Internet censorship and Government snooping, some about corruption and the bureaucrat-politician nexus and others about India's business laws.
These are all points anyone could have told Mr. Modi; he did not have to travel to ask CEOs of companies in the US. There are however, other points that no CEO or head of state will ever say in public...
When we wish to invite billions of US Dollars worth of investment to India, we have to ensure that we project an image of a scientifically driven society, of a nation driven by the rule of law, by a judiciary that can be expected to deliver impartial judgments without bribe…

Pretending to be saviour of Bengalis, Mamata Banerjee fails to gather support even of Bangalis living in Assam

By Nava Thakuria*
For many people in eastern India, Bangladeshi means Bengali. It indicates that everyone living in Bangladesh must be a Bengali. But in reality, Bangladesh is a tiny neighbouring nation bordering West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura with a secular identity comprising various ethnic tribes. The populous country is however dominated by Muslim population where almost everyone speaks Bengali language.
The people of Assam somehow maintain a strained relationship with the Bengali people, even though some of the distinguished Bengali personalities immensely contributed for the growth of Assamese language and culture. One can remember the contributions of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Ashutosh Mukherjee, Prafullachandra Ray, Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Annada Sankar Ray, Rajmohan Nath, Padmanath Bidyavinod, Bibhubhusan Choudhury, Arun Purkayastha, Arun Guha, Hemanga Biswas, Baidyanath Mukherji, Basanta Kumar Das, Arun Chanda, Amalendu Guha, Nanda Benarji, Pulak Banerji, Rabin…

Facebook reaction to question on impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education is politically motivated

AIFRTE statement condemning the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook by ABVP student against Prof K Laxminarayana, University of Hyderabad, and partisan and criminal inaction of the University authorities:
The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) strongly condemns the abusive and threatening public reference on Facebook to senior Prof. K. Laxminarayana of the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad by a student, Kaluram Palsaniya alias Karan Palsaniya belonging to the ABVP, at the Department of History of the same university. Claiming to be a critique of an examination paper set by Prof. Laxminarayana for the elective option Economics of Education, the intemperate response of the ABVP student in fact targets a specific question on the impact of 'privatization and saffronization’ on higher education.
However, there is more to the highly politically motivated reaction of this student. Prof. Laxminarayana had published a critical analysis of the Justice …

I have a dream... that one day racism, xenophobia, jingoism, casteism, pseudo-nationalism, gender bias will be a thing of the past

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
It was Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States on January 15. Many would have truly celebrate his memory and the rich legacy, which he has left all. Not many will forget his memorable speech ‘I have a dream’ on 28 August 1963 during that famous ‘March on Washington’. That speech, with those immortal words, is regarded as the defining moment of the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King (MLK) was a committed disciple of Jesus and he never fought shy of that; besides he was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his twin doctrine of truth and non-violence. The spirit, the vision and legacy of MLK, belong today to the whole world.
If MLK were alive today, he would still be deeply concerned about what is still happening to his people; he would be even more concerned at the ‘state of affairs’ all around him. Given his passion to set things right, he would tell the world that he is still dreaming…and he would loudly and boldly say:
I have a dream
That o…

Bhima-Koregaon clash: There is hegemonic appropriation, or rather misappropriation, of the concept of nationalism

By Adv Masood Peshimam
There is always the good narrative dominantly favoring virtues of Peshwai Raj but battle lines drawn at Bhima Koregaon between Britishers and Marathas with the significant inclusion of Mahar regiment create an exception. Sometimes there is the historical twist to display glass as diamond. The Bhima-Koregaon clash between Britishers and Marathas is not seen in the context of British-Maratha war. It is the culmination of the outburst of the Dalit anger against the tyranny unleased over the Dalits or the backward caste people. The Britishers created the Mahar regiment from the people who suffered worsening plight at the hands of Peshwa or the prevailing socio economic conditions. The Dalits suffered the worst suppression and oppression. The Britishers were ready to take the advantage of the exacerbated relations between Marathas and the Dalits or the Mahars.
The battle at Bhima-koregaon was fought between the Britishers & the Marathas in which Marathas suffere…

Attack on Bhima Koregaon: As 2019 polls approach, BJP/RSS will seek to polarize people on caste, communal lines, create civil strife

By Umar Khalid*
I went to Maharashtra as I along with other activists and intellectuals were invited to come there. I along with others was a guest there. And I would remember fondly the love and support that I received in Pune and Mumbai. I would remember the resilience and enthusiasm of the people I met and their resoluteness to fight Manuvaad and centuries old casteist tyranny. I would remember the immense inspiration that I felt, when we paid homage to Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule in Phule-wada, Pune. And, no I will not let two days of media trials by a few TV anchors, who are more of professional howlers, spoil these wonderful memories. I will not let their criminal cacophony and mindless vilification of me, Jignesh & others shadow my beautiful memories of Maharashtra.
The state of Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country is at a critical juncture today. On the one hand are forces in power who want to push our country back to many centuries and on the other are pe…

Challenging compacts: Towards a more effective, practical engagement with migrants and refugees

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 14 January 2018, the Catholic Church will observe the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme this year is “Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting and Integrating Migrants and Refugees”; Pope Francis in his message highlights “the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking”. He makes a passionate plea for more meaningful commitments from every section of society and challenges all for a more proactive response to the cries of the migrants, refugees and other displaced.
The historic ‘United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants’ was held in New York on 19 September 2016. It was the very first time that the UN General Assembly had brought together Heads of State and of Government to develop a blueprint for a more effective international response to perhaps the single most important crises of modern times, which affect millions across the globe today.
The outcome of that watershed meet was ‘The New York Decl…

"Abuse" of power by Chief Justice is destroying Supreme Court's image, subverting the course of justice

Statement by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), India's top legal rights organization, on issues raised by four Supreme Court judges at a press conference in Delhi:
CJAR salutes the four senior judges of the Supreme Court for taking the extraordinary step of publicly apprising the people of this country about the distressing state of affairs in the Supreme Court. The Judges have formally informed citizens of a dangerous pattern which was becoming visible – of the Chief Justice abusing his power as the master of roster in selectively assigning important and politically sensitive cases to particular benches of junior judges of his choice, in an arbitrary manner, without any rational basis.
This would have a serious long term impact on democracy and the future of our republic.
Though the senior judges did not mention it, but it is clear that the assignment of such cases to certain junior judges was for achieving a particular result, which in most cases can b…

Kejriwal government is adamant not to build Qaumi School for the poor despite Delhi High Court order

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
It seems that even at the order and behest of the High Court of Delhi to sanction land and building for the beleaguered Qaumi School that was razed to the ground 42 years ago during the infamous Emergency in 1976 and is running in tin sheds, the Kejriwal government and its Directorate of Education is not interested and concerned at all since they do not invite me, who is the petitioner, considering me to be a persona non grata, as stated in the meeting today. When Mr Anshu Prakash, the Hon’ble Chief Secretary asked the Director Education, Ms Saumya Gupta about my locus standi as petitioner, she said that I had none!
Last time also when the meeting was conducted under the then Chief Secretary, Mr MM Kutty, no postal, telephonic or any other intimation through email etc. was sent to call me as petitioner. However, by default, I came to know about it through the Principal, Qaumi School, an invitee, and attended it. In this meeting, I called a spade a spade and sta…

EVM-bluetooth mystery: What happened in Porbandar? How did BJP get 210 votes each in Memanwada's 3 polling booths?

By Amaresh Misra*
What happened in Porbandar?
On 9th December 2017, during the first phase of polling in Gujarat, there was a prominent, EVM-Bluetooth scare.
Arjun Modhwadia, the Congress candidate from Porbandar Vidhan Sabha in Saurashtra, told the media that, "we detected...EVMs at three polling booths at Memanwada, a Muslim-dominated area... connected to external devices through Bluetooth...when the Bluetooth of a mobile phone is turned on...a device named 'ECO 105' is shown as available..."

Electoral bonds will help ruling political party consolidate its position at the cost of the citizens of this country

By Vivek Kaul*
In the budget speech, the finance minister Arun Jaitely made in February 2017, he said: "Even 70 years after Independence, the country has not been able to evolve a transparent method of funding political parties which is vital to the system of free and fair elections."
He further added: "An amendment is being proposed to the Reserve Bank of India Act to enable the issuance of electoral bonds in accordance with a scheme that the Government of India would frame in this regard. Under this scheme, a donor could purchase bonds from authorised banks against cheque and digital payments only. They shall be redeemable only in the designated account of a registered political party. These bonds will be redeemable within the prescribed time limit from issuance of bond."

Thanks Ambrose! It is not easy to live against the stream. You have shown that it should and can be done

A tribute to Fr Ambrose Pinto SJ (KAR) who left this world on 3 January 2018 *** ByFr Cedric Prakash sj*
Early this morning, when I received a WhatsApp message from my Provincial Fr Francis Parmar saying that you were no more, I was too stunned for words. I knew you were sick, very sick - but I really did not expect you to go so soon. There was much more that you still had to do here on earth. But then the Lord knows best and calling you home so quickly is, I guess, His way of saying Well done good and faithful Ambrose...!” It is also a message to those of us left behind, that we must carry on with the valuable legacy you have left us.
There are innumerable messages on social media and several emails too, with rich and emotional tributes to you: all of them unanimously saying how much you have contributed to this world and how you will be greatly missed. Many have written about the profound and positive impact you have had on their lives. I have been reading and re-reading many of these …

Hell would have descended had Constitution been drafted by Hegde or his ilk. Mother India survived as Ambedkar drafted it

Award-winning Kannada novelist and Dalit public intellectual Devanur Mahadeva writes to Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde Minister Hegde, saying India survived because "Ambedkar and not you wrote the Constitution". Text of the letter:
Union minister Mr Anantkumar Hegde ji, it is frightening to have to listen to the words you have spoken at Kuknoor in Yelburga taluk. “Those who are unaware of their parentage are the ones who call themselves secularists,” you say deridingly. Now we have to make you aware of your own parentage. It is hatred that is your father, intolerance your mother, illusion your ancestry, falsehood (mithya) the source of your knowledge. I think this should be enough.
What hurts me even now, whenever I remember it, is Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP’s leader, being in an insensate state. Similarly, George Fernandes, a part of the NDA and who comes from a socialist background, is also in an insensate state. It then seems that precisely because leaders like these ar…