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A hollow symbolism

BJP projects itself as pro-Dalit by making Ram Nath Kovind its presidential candidate. It won’t work

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Ram Nath Kovind

Symbols are, or may become, representations of statements and mindsets when used in politics. They can both energise and enervate. In commerce, they represent a brand which may stand for different attributes. Unlike in politics, since the objective is commercial gain, they cater to some attribute of excellence in terms of quality and durability. For those to whom price matters, the two attributes which determine choice are: Quality and affordability. The poor have little space to make choices. They have to make do with what is offered.

When a party proposes a candidate for the highest office in our republic, what are the attributes that we should be looking for? The person nominated must, at the outset, represent the ethos that underlies what our nation stands for: A liberal, inclusive, tolerant India; not a divisive, intolerant, exclusive India. In addition, the face of the republic must have the gravitas to attract attention beyond our territorial contours. The republic must command respect in every quarter.

Tokenism breeds cynicism. Had Ambedkar been in our midst today, he would have been an ideal candidate, not because he was a Dalit, but because he opposed caste and bigotry, as being contrary to the constitutional values we wish to nurture. His conversion to Buddhism was a revolt against a caste-ridden hierarchical structure that bred inequality and intolerance. He himself was the victim of such intolerance and was deeply moved by its constant manifestations within our culture.

I am worried that the candidature of Ram Nath Kovind will be projected as if it represents the empowerment of Dalits. The BJP, which has historically been anti-Dalit, will now use the caste of their nominee to seduce Dalits into believing that the party is pro-Dalit because of this symbolic gesture. Not that Dalits will be taken in. The image of Amit Shah breaking bread in a Dalit home in Naxalbari and earlier in a village in Varanasi, are all indications of tokenism in which symbolism is all that matters. The Opposition should take this opportunity to expose the BJP.

It should highlight recent events in which Dalits have been targets of violence. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the main culprits in crimes against Dalits. Data from Gujarat shows that such atrocities make up 163 per cent of all crimes in the state. It is also reported that in Gujarat 95 out of 100 suspects for crimes against Dalits are acquitted. Besides, 52 to 65 per cent of all crimes in Rajasthan have a Dalit as victim. Please ask what is the track record of the Governor of Bihar vis a vis the rise of such incidents in Bihar.

The other two states where the BJP is in power have hardly come off with flying colours. The inhuman thrashing of Dalits by gau rakshaks at Una, and the silence of the prime minister hardly match the BJP’s symbolic concern for Dalits. What is the response of the BJP to the 50 families in Sehore in Madhya Pradesh seeking permission for euthanasia from Shivraj Singh Chouhan after their land was occupied by musclemen? The killing of two children in Faridabad in 2015, despite the deployment of police in the area, shocked everyone.

Please seek Rajasthan’s response to the incident in May 2016 when three Dalits were crushed under a tractor in district Nagaur. The tragedy surrounding Rohith Vemula’s suicide (January 2016) who said “My birth is my fatal accident” is evidence of the wanton infiltration of casteist politics in universities. His crime was that, as a member of Ambedkar Students’ Association, he opposed the death penalty to Yakub Memon, and condemned the ABVP for objecting to the screening of the documentary Muzaffarnagar baaqi hai in Delhi University.

The ABVP allegedly roughed him up and complained about him to Minister Bandaru Dattatreya for his “anti-national” activities. The then HRD minister, to whom the complaint was forwarded, obliged, resulting in the vice chancellor of Hyderabad Central University suspending him and depriving him of seven months of fellowship. The recent show of strength of the Bhim Sena at Jantar Mantar, protesting against atrocities committed in Uttar Pradesh at the hands of Thakurs, is evidence of Dalits continuing to be victims of intolerance and violence. All this sits rather uneasily with the symbolism of anointing a Dalit as president.
Voicing objections to the recommendations of the Ranganath Commission that both Muslim and Christian Dalits be included in the Scheduled Caste categories, Ram Nath Kovind, in 2010, is reported to have said “Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation”. If he made that statement, he needs to assure the minorities that, when and if elected, he will stoutly defend the values of the republic. If he made no such statement, he must issue a clarification forthwith. Otherwise, it will make the minorities feel very uneasy. The real aliens are those who promote the culture of violence, contrary to our constitutional values.

Given the fact that every 18 minutes a crime is committed against Dalits in India and the conviction rate in prosecutions is less than 6 per cent, the office of the president will be under constant pressure, now that a Dalit will be occupying it. This is particularly so when every morning we are informed of yet another gory attack against Dalits. It is well-nigh impossible to overnight bring about a social transformation, eliminating practices and transforming mindsets embedded in a caste-ridden society. I hope this government is aware of the danger that lies ahead. This is a great opportunity for the prime minister, if he genuinely cares for Dalits, to rein in the elements who believe that they can target Dalits with impunity. The gau rakshaks will have to be swiftly dealt with.

Yogi Adityanath must be advised to go to Dalit homes without sending them soap and shampoo in advance and without ensuring for himself a comfortable environment before he meets them. The government will have to change its policy and support their adequate representation in the civil services and the demand for reservations in promotions. Will Modi have the courage to do this? Tokenism and genuine concern for a caste cannot go hand in hand. In commerce, a brand which cannot deliver will lose value. We can ill afford to have the office of the president be exposed to such a possibility.

The writer is a senior Congress leader and former Union minister.

(Credit: This Aricle is published on Indian Express Dated 1/07/2017)

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Kim’s message: North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons

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North Korean Kim Jong un

As North Korea announced that it will cease nuclear weapons and missile testing is considered as a major boost to the upcoming meeting between Supreme leader Kim Jong un and US President Donald Trump.

But Kim’s statement has also made it clear that North Korea is only freezing the testing of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles but shows it clear intentions of not giving up the production of warheads or nuclear program or eliminate its existing arsenal .

while Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera of Japan at the Pentagon and discussed ways to further strengthen the U.S.- Japan Alliance, positively noting the increasing role the Japan Self-Defense Force is playing in regional security, including UNSCR enforcement and mutual asset protection operations.

Recognizing the threat posed by North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs, Secretary Mattis and Defense Minister Onodera has affirmed the importance of close cooperation among the United States, Japan, Korea and other like-minded nations in providing credible military backing to the maximum pressure campaign.

Additionally, the ministers finally agreed to continue enhancing the alliance capability to deter and respond to any North Korean aggression.

Mattis also discussed the recently released U.S. National Defense Strategy, and welcomed Japan’s determination to similarly review its National Defense Program Guidelines by the end of this year, the statement said.

Both leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued progress on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including recent efforts to realize the permanent location for a field carrier landing facility, the statement said.

Trump will find it difficult to persuade Kim to dismantle the entire nuclear arsenal of North Korea in exchange
for sanctions relief and compensation as Supreme leader takes the nuclear weapons program as a matter of pride.

Main aim of International community is to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear missile programmes since the early 1990s but in 2017 it tested an H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

North Korea is seeking to replace 1953 Korean War armistice with a peace treaty and the most significant issue for Kim is to lift the sanctions which is hurting DPRK’s economy.

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arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Modi’s Kashmir strategy boomerangs : Youth radicalised, Army faces heat

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ARMY POLICE STATION JAMMU KASHMIR
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is grim and both the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and the Modi government at the centre has failed to put an end to the killings and violence in Kashmir, increasing radicalisation of youth who are taking up arms rather the crisis has deepened after the kathua gangrape came to light and the manner in which lawyers of the bar council and BJP ministers shielded the accused.

Against the backdrop of the increasing violence in Kashmir, the Indian Army has concluded it would prioritise bringing radicalised youth to the mainstream through a “collective approach” and convince militants to “shun violence and gun culture”. The issue of conducting de-radicalizing exercises along with counter-terror operations in the Kashmir Valley was discussed during the ongoing biannual Army Commanders’ Conference amid reports that Islamic State ideology was molding new-age militants in the state.

Director General Staff Duties Lt Gen AK Sharma said the priority is to conduct counter-terror operations to minimise collateral damage and de-radicalisation of youth who appear to be getting influenced by Islamic State ideology amid heightened violence in the Valley.

But after four years in power at the centre, Ministry of Defence under Modi government has decided to set up a Defence planning committee with National Security Advisor as its head.The DPC will prepare national security strategy, strategic defence review and doctrines; international defence engagement strategy; roadmap to build defence manufacturing eco-system; strategy to boost defence exports; and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.

Apart from internal situation in Jammu and Kashmir, there have been over 650 ceasefire violations in the state in 2018  that have claimed 31 lives, including 16 security personnel.

Moreover, the operations of the armed forces have also been obstructed by the locals in Kashmir.Modi was handed a peaceful Kashmir but his policy has created a mess in Kashmir.The similar policy is being implemented across India where minorities (Muslims, Christians ) are being attacked, Dalits are being lynched and ghastly incidents of rapes in Surat, Unnao and kathua (in which BJP ministers supported the accused) have taken place and the prime minister’s leadership is missing miserably.

But it appears BJP made it a point to change the demography of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by coercive action and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of BJP, has made strong inroads in the state since the formation of BJP Government at the center.

“There has been an unprecedented growth in our Shakhas across the country in the last six years. As on date, there are more than 57,000 Shakhas,” said Dr. Manmohan Vaidya, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh (head of Media & Publicity) of RSS.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP used the surgical strikes by the Army to garner political dividends in Uttar  Pradesh elections by putting up posters showing Pictures of army officers which violates army rules, traditions and military ethos.

Modi lacks the leadership quality that’s why he politicised military operations and did not realise the consequence will be borne by the Army at the borders.

The Army has been defamed by the government as it has to work on the directives of the political ruling party at the centre, and the killings have only increased and there has been a trust deficit between the Army and the public.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently met Prime Minister and is learnt to have told that the situation is precarious with people getting killed regularly and requested to find ways to put a stop to this while also asking to urgently initiate the dialogue process to address alienation among the youths.

Modi has apparently no strategy to bring peace in Kashmir where armed forces are bearing the brunt of his unrealistic policies and Kashmiris are adopting Wahabism culture due to the harsh restrictions imposed by the government such as internet bans, blocking social media sites and section 144 and curfew.

Mehbooba Mufti has requested repeatedly to the Centre to initiate the dialogue process with all stakeholders including Pakistan but Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s special representative to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for talks, was a very late approach of the Modi government.

It seams as if appointing Dineshwar is a lip service to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir as Centre’s interlocutor had expressed his concern about the trend of local boys joining the ranks of guerrilla outfits.

Mufti must understand that BJP has a tendency to defame its regional political allies in various states and this applies in Jammu and Kashmir too.The annual report released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday has revealed a startling number of killings that took place in the year 2017, in the state.

According to the report, in 2017, there were 342 violent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 80 armed personnel, 40 civilians and 213 militants were killed. The report stated, “The year 2017 also witnessed a 6.21 percent increase and 166.66 percent increase in the number of terrorist incidents and fatalities of civilians respectively in comparison to the corresponding period of 2016.”

After the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani, the protests were handled sternly and the protesters turned to stone pelting. The most alarming situation was witnessed when students, particularly schoolgirls were throwing stones at security personnel convey a deeper problem inside the Valley.Due to the heavy-handed approach by the government, the number of homegrown militants have swelled post-July 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has transformed Kashmir to a volatile situation where Kashmiris which form an integral part of India, feel alienated and Armed forces have to protect our borders from infiltration and due to politics by the political parties even unarmed mob targets them. In the current scenario, security personnel and the Kashmiris are bearing the brunt.

 

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Modi deliberately omits to mention ‘rape’, refuses to recognise culpability of BJP men

During his programme ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ Modi cunningly diverted the actual and direct reply regarding the incidents of rapes of minor girls in India, saying, violence against women an evil of not just the individual but also of society.

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PM-Modi-London-Bharat-Ki-Baat-sabke-sath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now trying to give moral advice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi not to politicise the rape cases that has sparked outrage across the country and abroad but he forgets that women’s security is very much a part of governance and he himself reminded the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi during UPA II tenure of ensuring women’s safety.

After four years, Prime minister Narendra Modi is being greeted with protests at home as well as in London due to his wrong policies and the rise of sexual violence against women, particularly two brutal rapes…

Angry people of Indian origin held placards reading “Modi go home”,“we stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed”, “Modi stop killing minorities” and “Justice for Kathua rape victim” demonstrated outside Downing Street and British parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Whenever Modi is on a foreign trip his PR and election management team always prepare an interaction with Indian diaspora, businessmen and students and make it a point to stream it live for the domestic audience back home and is used as a perfect campaigning tool.

PM Modi has done numerous editions of Mann Ki Baat but has never addressed the real problems of the people of India.As people in India and abroad demand action from him particularly on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Modi condemned the “incidents” and promised justice to “ Indian daughters” although he refused to use the word “rape” and but has failed to recognise the culpability of his own supporters.

It seems Modi has forgotten the principles of governance. Modi was elected on the basis of his promises of providing
jobs, prosperity, transparent governance, financial well being for the middle class and the most important national security including ensuring the dignity of Indian forces that he made during 2014 Lok sabha elections.

Rather people of India are stunned to witness the type of divisive politics, hatred among the communities, financial emergency by imposing limitations on cash withdrawal from personal savings, increase in rape cases and accused enjoying political power or patronage, higher taxes on Middle-class people and costly education.

In May 2017, two Muslim men suspected of stealing cows died after being attacked by villagers in the northeastern state of Assam, according to local police.

In June, about 20 men beat four Muslims on a train in the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, fatally stabbing a teenager and seriously injuring two others.

Mohammed Akhlaque was beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015 over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow.

It appears Narendra Modi has connived with the BJP leaders.Hindu fundamentalists of different Hindutva groups
that Prime Minister will speak good narratives that shows him as secular but BJP leaders and other groups
can pursue the divisive politics to lure voters and fulfill the agenda of RSS.

BJP lawmaker Sanjay Patil in Karnataka has provoked outrage with his comment that the May 12 state election is “not about roads and drinking water but about Hindu-Muslim incidents”.”I am Sanjay Patil, I am Hindu, this is a Hindu Rashtra (nation) and we want to build the Ram temple”. he said.

This is not the first time that a BJP lawmaker has given a statement to polarise the country during election time.
BJP members have been promoting Hindu ideology which led to increase in attacks against Muslims and other minorities according to the Human Rights Watch.

A group of UK based Indian students and alumni Union (NISAU) UK, together with 19 India-related societies at leading UK universities, submitted the letter dated April 14 ahead of the Indian PM’s four-day visit to the UK,asking him to take “extraordinary measures” to ensure justice in rape cases reported in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

The PR team of Modi made it a point that the group of UK based Indian students who asked Modi to act against rising sexual cases against women were denied permission to attend the event of the British Parliament, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ in London.

It is significant to mention that the National Indian Students and Alumni The University of Oxford India Society, London School of Economics India Society, University College London Indian Society, Imperial College London Indian Society and University of Birmingham Bharat Parivar are among the 19 signatories of the letter alongside NISAU UK, one of the UK’s largest Indian student organisation

The group claimed on Wednesday its signatories were being ‘pressurised to retract’.

In these four years of his rule, PM Modi has been consistently inaugurating the schemes and projects to lure voters
and not equipping the Army with sophisticated weapons to safeguard the Indian soldiers rather they are being defamed in the name of politics played by the PDP-BJP coalition government and the peaceful Kashmir has been transformed into a volatile state.

During his programme ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ Modi cunningly diverted the actual and direct reply regarding the incidents of rapes of minor girls in India, saying, violence against women an evil of not just the individual but also of society.

He said, “we always ask our daughters about what they are doing, where they are going.We must ask our sons too. The person who is committing these crimes is also someone’s son. He has a mother too in his house.”

Modi deliberately omits to mention the work ‘rape’ and culpability of BJP leaders and members in the heinous crime.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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