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Gau Rakshaks not listening to Modi is a matter of concern: Former VP Hamid Ansari

The Jinnah portrait was just an excuse. It’s been there for a long time. The gentleman who objected to the portrait was a member of the AMU Court for three years. What did you do about it?”

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Hamid Ansari

New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) There has been a rise of vigilantism in the country and if “gau rakshaks” (cow vigilantes) are not listening to even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then it is a matter of concern, says former Vice President Hamid Ansari.

“Modi is a strong leader. He is the unquestioned leader of his party. If his words are not being listened to, that’s a matter of serious concern. No need to say that there are people in his party who are defying him. I am not drawing that conclusion,” Ansari said in an interview with IANS ahead of the release of his latest book “Dare I Question”.

This book is a compilation of speeches that Ansari made on different occasions on different themes. He said he has explored various issues in the book such as what is it to be an Indian, what is Indian nationalism or why do we call ourselves plural, secular, democratic.

The former Vice President created a flutter recently when he said in the foreword to the book that the remarks of Modi at the farewell function for Ansari last year that his views were conditioned by his long career as a diplomat in Muslim countries and as a person who has dealt with minoities (as a member of the National Minorities Commission) were a deviation from tradition on such occasions.

While asserting that intolerance is indeed rising in society, he underlined that it cannot be said that the communal divide emerged only after the Modi government came to power as it has been there for very long.

“Intolerance has been there in our society for a long, long period. But I think if the level of water rises you don’t notice it at first and it begins to rise higher and higher. Then you notice it. That’s what is happening,” he said.

“Yes, there has been a rise of vigilantism. It has been written (about) nationally as well as internationally. International newspapers have reported that there has been a rise in it. I can’t put a precise date (as to when it was noticed first)… different occasions, different places. It has been going on for many, many years,” he told IANS.

There have been incidents of attacks and lynchings of people belonging to the minority community suspected of cow smuggling or in the name of eating beef in some states.

Has it risen after Modi government came to power?

“No, no. Every government has been guilty of failures. Every time there has been a communal riot anywhere, it is a manifestation firstly of intolerance and secondly of failure of administration.

“You see two people can always have a disagreement. Two bicycles can collide on the road and there will be exchange of hot words. But what takes a small disagreement into a communal riot requires thinking and planning. And wherever there is such planning, there is failure of law and order,” Ansari said.

Asked if he is particularly indicting the state governments headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for rising vigilantism, the former Vice President said: “Look, I am indicting the government of the day wherever it is. Whether it happens in Assam, Kerala or Punjab. It doesn’t matter. I am not targeting political parties, I am targeting administrations.”

Commenting on critics and trolls on social media tagging him as an “ungrateful Muslim” post his remarks in a TV interview just a day before his demitting office that there has been a rising sense of insecurity among the Muslims, Ansari pointed out that it was not for the first time that he had said as much.

“Ungrateful to whom? This is my land. I am an equal citizen of this country. I am an equal stakeholder of this country and I have been so for centuries. Where is the question of ungratefulness? Gratefulness or ungratefulness comes only if you are giving me something and I am receiving something. It is my right. I have my rights, I have my duties,” Ansari said.

Asked if the incident of Hindutva goons barging into Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) when he was there to attend a function on May 2 happened with the local administration’s connivance, Ansari said he would desist from drawing such conclusions but stressed that the Jinnah portrait there was just an excuse to create disruption.

“I don’t draw that kind of conclusions. But I do know I was invited there, and there was disruption. The function could not take place. The senior police officer in the district next day admitted that there was a failure of arrangements and that he is going to inquire into it.

“I am not drawing a conclusion that there was a connivance of the local administration with the miscreants. But I see it as straightforward fact of failure. Now why that failure took place, let the inquiry find out.

“But yes, the Jinnah portrait was just an excuse. It’s been there for a long time. The gentleman who objected to the portrait was a member of the AMU Court for three years. What did you do about it?” Ansari asked.

On the demand by rightwing politicians to end the minority status of the AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia, Ansari said that as the matter is being heard in the Supreme Court, he, and others, should not comment on it.

“Let the court’s opinion come, we will see after that. The Acts of Parliament are there which created these institutions, the debates in Parliament are there as to what was the intention behind setting up these institutions. All this will be discussed threadbare in the Supreme Court and the court will decide,” he said.

As the next Lok Sabha elections are nearing, it is pertinent to examine the present government’s achievements and failures. While Prime Minister Modi used to bitterly attack the Manmohan Singh government over an “absence” of a tough policy on Pakistan, has the present government evolved a consistent policy on Pakistan after four years in office?

Ansari, who was a career diplomat, replied: “We have zig-zagged on Pakistan to the best of my knowledge. We have gone like a pendulum from one extreme to the other. If that is policy, then there is a policy. What can you do about it?”

He added that while India’s traditional policy of non-alignment adopted under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was “fine” and earned the country respect in the world, India’s neighbourhood policy has deteriorated in recent years.

“Our neighbourhood policy at the moment seems to be under some stress. People who are knowledgeable about it have written about it,” he said.

Is India doing enough to counter China’s growing influence?

“Successive governments have been very conscious about it. China is a big neighbour. And we have relations with China, different kinds of relations — political, cultural and even military relations. Both countries understand that we have problems also, we have positive relations as well,” Ansari said.

(Asim Khan can be reached on [email protected] )

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Projecting Rahul as PM candidate is conscious effort by BJP: AAP

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Modi Rahul

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) believes that the BJP is consciously trying to position the 2019 Lok Sabha election as a Rahul Gandhi-versus-Narendra Modi affair for its own convenience.

AAP leader and chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said the projection of Rahul Gandhi will only harm the opposition.

“Projecting Rahul as PM candidate is a conscious effort of the BJP to position this contest as Rahul-versus-Modi as it suits them,” Bhardwaj told IANS.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said, was choosing its opponent according to its convenience.

“If they choose Mayawati or Mamata, there is a problem. Rahul has never been a minister or a Chief Minister,” said the MLA from Greater Kailash constituency who is a known confidant of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The BJP was creating a perception in which Modi will be seen as a stronger candidate in the battle for prime ministership when his opponent is Rahul Gandhi.

“The perception created about Rahul is to ensure that if there is a contest between Rahul and Modi, Modi will be a stronger candidate,” he said.

But the projection of Rahul Gandhi suits the Congress, he added.

“The Congress is also liking this positioning as it suits them. Their leader is getting the limelight.

“However, this positioning will not suit the opposition’s fight against Modi and the BJP. Projecting Rahul as PM will be a loss for the opposition,” he warned.

He added that for the last three months, BJP leaders, including Modi, were attacking Rahul Gandhi. “Attacking Rahul by taking his name is BJP’s poll strategy.”

Taking about the contest in the national capital, where the AAP is in power, Bhardwaj said the Lok Sabha battle would be between the BJP and AAP.

“The fight in Delhi is between AAP and BJP. Congress will not get a single seat. Their vote percentage may go up, but they will not win seats.”

Bhardwaj also said that the AAP was not part of any opposition alliance. “The party has no plans of giving support to anyone in 2019. Also, there is no plan for any kind of alliance or understanding with the Congress. This is very clear,” he added.

Speaking about AAP’s preparations for the Lok Sabha polls, he said the party had appointed “prabharis” (in-charge) for five of Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha constituencies in June.

“The remaining two will be appointed very soon. Within a week hopefully. It is very likely that they will also be the candidates.”

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP bagged all the seven seats in Delhi. The AAP came stood second in all constituencies and the Congress finished third in six and in fourth spot in one constituency.

The AAP swept the later, February 2015, Assembly elections, winning 67 of the 70 seats. The BJP won three seats and the Congress none.

(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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M Karunanidhi: A colossus in Dravidian politics

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Chennai, Aug  7: Muthuvel Karunanidhi was one of the last links to the Dravidian movement that ushered in the rise of backward classes in politics and the end of Congress rule in Tamil Nadu five decades ago on the plank of social justice.

A five-time Chief Minister, the 94-year-old Karunanidhi, who strode the public life of Tamil Nadu like a colossus, also played a key role in national politics when he aligned with Indira Gandhi in 1971 and reaped rich rewards in elections.

But he staunchly opposed the Emergency of 1975-77 during which his government was dismissed on corruption charges. He was banished to the opposition ranks till the death of his friend-turned-foe and iconic film hero M.G. Ramachandran or MGR in December 1987.

Under Karunanidhi, the DMK occupied a prime position in the UPA governments at the Centre in 2004 and 2009 and earlier in the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpyee, an alignment that surprised many given the party’s Dravidian moorings.

He was a wily politician who succeeded his mentor C.N. Annadurai or ‘Anna’ as Chief Minister in 1969 and kept a stranglehold on the party and government. He remained the President of the DMK for nearly 50 years, a rare feat in any democratic country.

Always sporting dark glasses, which became his trademark identity, and in later years a yellow stole, which critics said was against the atheism he preached.

With the death of his arch rival J. Jayalalithaa in 2016 and his departure now, Tamil Nadu is left with a void.

Born in Tirukkuvalai in the erstwhile Thanjavur district on June 3, 1924, Karunanidhi was a multifaceted personality — journalist, playwright, script writer — whose fiery dialogues as an iconoclast in films unleashed changes in Tamil Nadu’s social scene.

He joined the Dravidian movement as a teenager under the tutelage of the late social reformer ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy and Anna.

‘Kalaignar’, as Karunanidhi was called for his proficiency in arts and literature, fashioned theatre and cinema in a way that gave a fillip to the Dravidian movement and the rise of DMK as a major pole in Tamil Nadu.

Karunanidhi’s political fortunes rose when Anna broke away from the DK to float the DMK in 1949. The box office hit of Tamil movie ‘Parasakthi’ for which he wrote the script and a ‘rail roko’ agitation in Kallakudi near Tiruchirapalli made him known throughout the state.

He ascended to the DMK throne and the Chief Ministership following the death of party founder Annadurai in 1969.

Karunanidhi had the party in his strong grip till the end despite presiding over two major splits and being out of power continuously between 1977 and 1989.

Born in a poor Isai Vellalar (a backward caste) family, he was named Dakshinamurthy by his god-fearing parents Muthuvel and Anjugam. He later changed that to Karunanidhi, a Tamil name shorn of any Brahminical or Sanskrit tinge.

He also took part in the anti-Hindi agitations of 1937-40 and published a handwritten newspaper ‘Manavar Nesan’ (Friend of Students) and later formed the first student wing of the Dravidian movement, Tamil Nadu Manavar Mandram.

The anti-Hindi agitation was revived by the DMK in 1965, leading to massive anti-Congress sentiments amid much violence.

Karunanidhi also published ‘Murasoli’, a monthly which grew to become a weekly and the DMK’s official daily. Last year it celebrated its platinum jubilee.

He contested his first Assembly election in 1957 from Kulithalai successfully and since then has not lost any of the 13 elections he contested.

His fortunes gained further strength when the DMK won the 1967 elections and Annadurai made Karunanidhi the Minister of Public Works.

After Anna’s death in 1969, Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister. He led the DMK to a landslide win in 1971.

Bad times started soon after. Perceiving the popularity of movie hero and party leader MGR as a future threat to him, Karunanidhi began sidelining him and ousted him in 1972.

MGR floated the AIADMK that took power in 1977. He cultivated the Congress well — sharing liberally the Lok Sabha seats while retaining his hold on the Assembly — to effectively consign the DMK to the opposition benches.

DMK’s fortunes revived in 1989 when it won handsomely assisted by a split in AIADMK, with one faction led by its founder’s widow Janaki Ramachandran and the other by Jayalalithaa.

However, in 1991, the DMK government was dismissed in the wake of heightened activities in Tamil Nadu of Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers whose vocal supporter he was. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by a LTTE suicide bomber in May 1991, the AIADMK under Jayalalithaa swept to power.

The DMK suffered a second split in 1993 when Karunanidhi saw fiery speaker Vaiko as a threat to his son M.K. Stalin’s ascendancy in the party and expelled him.

After that it was a see-saw battle with people choosing DMK and AIADMK alternatively. In 2006, the DMK was voted back to power for its populist promises.

In 2011 Karunanidhi promised more, but the DMK lost the battle. In 2016 too, it suffered the same fate.

A staunch opponent of Congress and its dynastic rule during earlier days, Karunanidhi later changed tact and paved the way for his progenies’ progress within and outside the party.

He brought his sons — through his second wife Dayalu – M.K. Alagiri and M.K.Stalin — into the party. Alagiri became Union Minister while Stalin was declared the political heir. However Alagiri was dismissed from the party later for anti-party activities.

Karunanidhi made Kanimozhi, his daughter by his third wife Rajathi, a Rajya Sabha member.

After the death of Murasoli Maran, his nephew, conscience keeper and the party’s face in Delhi, Karunanidhi got the former’s second son Dayanidhi Maran a Cabinet post in the central ministry in 2004 and 2009.

With coalitions becoming the norm at the Centre, the DMK started siding with BJP and Congress to get cabinet berths.

It was the Sarkaria Commission which first stamped Karunanidhi as corrupt in the matter of allotting tenders for the old Veeranam water project.

Though Karunanidhi was jailed several times during his long political innings, what shocked many was his midnight arrest by the Jayalalithaa regime in 2001 on corruption charges.

His wife Dayalu and daughter Kaimozhi were questioned by the CBI over corruption charges.

When the Sethusamudram Canal Project got mired in controversy, Karunanidhi shocked the nation by wondering aloud whether Lord Rama was an engineer to build bridge across the sea.

Karunanidhi donated his home at Gopalapuram to a trust to convert it into a hospital for poor after his and his wife Dayalu’s lifetime.

Karunanidhi is survived by his two wives Dayalu and Rajathi, sons M.K. Muthu, Alagiri, Stalin and M.K. Tamilarasu and daughters S. Selvi and Kanimozhi and grandchildren.

 

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Tagore and translations: Why his works hold indomitable influence in literature

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TAGORE

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) A progressive writer, visionary, a social thinker, a philosopher, an educationist – Rabindranath Tagore was a polymath. And it is this vastness that fascinated author Radha Chakravarty to take translate Tagore’s writings from Bengali to English.

As of today, Chakravarty is credited with translating eight works of the Nobel Laureate including “Essential Tagore” (with two others), “Gora”, “Boyhood Days”, “Chokher Bali”, “Farewell Song: Shesher Kabita”, “The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children” and others.

August 7 is Rabindranath Tagore's 77th death anniversary

Tagore and translations: Why his works hold indomitable influence in literature

Chakravarty had no formal training in Bengali. Her father had a transferable job which took her to different parts of India apart from West Bengal.

“But Tagore always remained as an influence at our home, no matter where we were. It was my grandfather who used to read out stories of his, that is how I started knowing about him,” Chakravarty, a Professor of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies in Delhi’s Ambedkar University, told IANS.

Chakravarty, the wife of former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, recollected her first encounter with Tagore’s writing was “Sahaj Path”. However, it was “Kabuliwalah” that drew her closer to the writer.

“I couldn’t realise how and when Tagore became a part of my life. I started reading more and more of his writings. What captivated me more was his choice of simple language and clarity in thought and approach,” she said.

But what really made Tagore a part of her life was the emancipation of women in the 19th century that reflected in his writing, which was not so prominent in the works of other writers, Chakravarty explained.

“His characters – be it Binodini of “Chokher Baali” or Labanya of “Sesher Kobita”, all had a distinct identity who tried to break societal norms and stood up for their freedom of expression, they had a question in their mind, they were rebels in their own way,” she noted

However, it was not Tagore that Chakravarty translated first.

“While teaching English literature in Delhi University I was simultaneously doing research work on many other Indian literary figures. I was approached by an upcoming publishing house to do a translation. And the first book happened which was a compilation of the works of 20 contemporary authors,” she said.

“Chokher Bali” was her first translation of a Tagore work and what appealed her to take it up was the enigmatic personality of female protagonist, Binodini.

“The character has multiple layers in her. The book was far ahead of time. The characters challenged the convention and family bounds. This further inspired me to take up his works and translate,” she stated.

Talking about translation, Chakravarty said that it acts as a major medium in strengthening cross-cultural bonds, adding that the scenario in the literary space has changed quite a lot compared to what it was few years ago.

“Now the publishers are welcoming it, which earlier was not there. The publishing houses would never show much eagerness in printing a translated work; it would take quite some effort to convince them, but now it is changing,” she added.

While translations on the one hand take regional literature to the world, Chakravarty highlighted on the several factors that need to be considered before taking up a literary work, particularly maintaining the ethos and values of the original writing.

“The time period of a book matters lot. The book talks about a scenario which existed in 19th or 20th century but the translated work will be read by 21st century readers. Therefore, the language has to be simple which can connect to the contemporary readers,” she explained.

Chakravarty pointed out that a linguistic barrier will always exist when it comes to translating from one language to English or from any other vernacular language, adding that translation is interpretation rather than mechanical transformation.

“Translating certain terms are often difficult like some expressions or words associated with culture or traditions which don’t have any alternative. There is a dilemma on how to put that in English. This is often pretty time-consuming,” she commented.

Although the non-translated words are always defined in summary, Chakravarty added that the certain original words bring in a different flavour to the translation.

“If something is left unexplained it adds mystery and generates curiosity among the readers to know what that particular word would mean. It pushes your imagination and in the process one gets a chance to learn a new word as well,” she said.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

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