The big joke – Indian Democracy

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it” – George Orwell

Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh; they all spoke the truth and paid the price for it with their lives. Their only crime was to show the mirror to a society used to living in a system poisoned by caste divides, hate crimes and communal violence.

Gauri was a Kannada journalist known for fiercely voicing out her opinions against the increasing violence by the extremist Hindutva groups and overall majoritarianism practiced by the Hindu organisations in the country. Like Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi, Lankesh also never backed out of speaking up for the exploited and underprivileged sections of the society.

And then, this voice was silenced on September 5 when unknown assailants murdered the bold and courageous journalist in cold blood. Sadly, the list doesn’t end with Lankesh. At present, the Indian democracy is going through a crisis. The sole right to express dissent with the policies and ideologies of our political leaders is being snatched away from the common man.

Not only does criticism invite shaming and hatred from online bullies, things have gone as far as people simply being killed as if equality and freedom are just words meant to mock the largest democracy in the world.

But, it seems that the ones living in their high rise offices and travelling in their luxurious flights seem to have forgotten the power that lies with the Indian public. The massive outrage after Gauri’s death makes one believe that all is not lost yet; in-deed times have become dangerous for any voice that dares to disagree but these threats are only going to strengthen our resolve in protecting our country.

As long our people don’t let these threats silence our freedom and expression, they can’t take away the soul of our nation for which Gauri and many others laid their lives. Long Live Indian Democracy.

Source – The Guardian

Image Source – PTI


Another Voice stifled: Senior Journalist Gauri Lankesh Shot dead at Bengaluru residence

Prominent Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by  three unidentified assailants while she was entering her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar around 8pm on September 5.

According to M.N. Anucheth, DCP (West), her body was found on the verandah of her house. The neighbours said that they heard multiple shots being fired at her after which she collapsed and died on the spot.

Lankesh was the editor of weekly Kannada bulletin- Lankesh Patrike. She is well-known for her critical acclaimed work that often lambasted Hindutva extremism, caste system and the current government. She had come under fire previously for her criticism against Sangh parivar.

The Press club has strongly condemned the murder and thousands of people including prominent journalists like Sagarika Ghose, Rajdeep Sardesai etc have gathered to protest the rise in violence against journalists for speaking their minds.

Several politicians have to social media to express their shock and angst over the killing. BJP State Chief BS Yeddyurappa, terming the murder ‘inhuman’ and ‘barbaric’ tweeted that the law and order situation in the state has completely collapsed.

Investigations are on but the police is yet to check the footage from CCTV installed on her porch. Her funeral will be conducted as per the Lingayat customs.

Lankesh, an agnostic, was a fiesty, independent voice of journalism that has been silenced with bullets.

Sources: The Hindu, The Wire

Image Source: Facebook- Official page of Gauri Lankesh

Sanatan Sanstha accuses RSS for taking country to a new low

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Sanatan Sanstha a radical Hindu outfit, alleged for the murder of rationalist Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Govind Pansare, believes that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is not enough “spiritual”  for the establishment of “Hindu Rashtra” and has taken the country to a new low.

In June 2015, a mouthpiece of the Sanstha, “Sanatan Prabhat”, published a report, titled: “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ani Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) yanchya karyatil mukhya bhed (Main differences between RSS and HJS, a wing of the Sanstha)”.

In the report in Marathi, founder of Sanstha, Jayant Athavle said, “RSS has 40 lakh volunteers but because they do not perform sadhana (spiritual exercise), over the last 68 years, they have taken the nation to a new low, step by step, across all spheres. On the contrary, over the next five years, HJS will get 4-lakh sadhak-karyakarte (spiritual activists). These activists will perform sadhana and start a religious revolution to establish a Hindu Rashtra… in the next three years. This means, eight years from now, in 2023, we will establish a Hindu nation.”

The RSS circulated this report to distance itself from the Sanstha. A senior functionary of RSS in Pune said, “This article is nonsense. The Sangh Parivar is playing its role in nation building by running about 1.5 lakh social service projects across the country. That is real sadhana. Anyway, this is not the first time (the Sanstha) has written against us.”

 In past also both RSS and Sanatan Sanstha have clashed on several occasions. Few months ago, the Sanstha opposed the chemical conservation of idols in some temples of Kolhapur. But the VHP supported the move criticizing the Sanstha for creating a “negative image” around the Hindutva.

Recently where RSS supported the idea of civic authorities of not immersing the Ganesh idols in rivers but Sanatan Sanstha opposed it saying that it is not in accordance with “dharma shastra”. Sanstha members also tried to stop people who were immersing the idols in water tanks.


Marriage is not a child’s play!

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For the past few months, India has seen a sudden uprising of various right-wing forces, highly conscious of ‘protecting’ the culture of the country. With the BJP making its presence felt in every possible way, the right-wing Hindutva forces including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Samiti and Vishwa Hindu Parishad makes it to the headlines every other day. To the extent that one is not quite surprised by the statements released by the members of both the organisations on religion and ‘culture’.

It’s the month of February and ‘love’ has always been one of the heated subjects for these ‘protectors of religion’.

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha declared a few days ago that “couples caught celebrating Valentine’s Day in public will be married off”. Probably because love has to ultimately end in marriage, marriage being the most ‘purest’ form of love? Probably because a married couple has the potential (Read: obligation) to produce n number of children so as to take Hinduism forward, as some right-wing Hindutva forces see it? Do they stop at this? No. Recent reports say that social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp will also be monitored to ensure that couples do not post ‘I love you’ and if they do, to get them married.

And what happens if one is a non-Hindu? Never mind, sprinkle holy water over yourself, convert to Hinduism, get married, produce children, and then what?

As Valentine’s Day and its related controversies gain momentum, the youth of the country has something else to say.

The Hindu Mahasabha’s declarations are being mocked on social media with citizens posting statuses and making jokes. One such status that went viral was a meme-like post which said: “the best way to marry your crush would be to ask her to meet you for sometime on 14 February, wait for ‘Hindutva dudes’ and Celebrate!”

Of course, Dad is going to be thankful to the Hindutva groups for saving him the trouble of organising his daughter’s wedding, right?

Faking News published a satirical piece on how gay couples are excited by the announcement.
These are just one in a hundred posts on social media that ridicules the Hindu Mahasabha’s statements. Sarcasm is the inherent emotion.

Does anyone understand sarcasm here?

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The ‘ache din’ of Hindi language?

The past week saw a huge debate erupt as the Prime Minister of the country decided to promote Hindi as the Government’s official language on all social media interfaces. During a session with SAARC leaders, Narendra Modi consciously made use of our “raashtrabhaasha” and in his meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, Modi chose to opt for Hindi as the language of communication. He seems to be explicitly pronouncing a paradigm shift in the language discourse of the subcontinent. Language is not an innocent exercise of uttering well framed sentences as it is portrayed to be. It is a framework of intense power networks and a political manoeuvre.

Is this move by the newly elected right wing government an insidious attempt at imposing Hindi as the binding language across the nation? Is it an unwinding mechanism of the otherwise elitist use of English in the nation? Or is it merely a nationalist affirmation of one’s cultural heritage. In a post-modern world, where hegemony of structures and Meta narratives has seen erosion, the issue becomes a complex one. The BJP Government has been in quite a debacle over its right wing hindutva stance. In a situation like this, is the move to promote Hindi a wise one is what one needs to explore.

Picture Courtesy – The India Express

Suffering from a colonial hangover even after 67 years of independence, Modi’s Hindi rhetoric might signal the end of a hegemonic control that English has enjoyed in our country. The hierarchization of Hindi as standing below English could have been one of the reasons for the Prime Minister’s decision. Modi’s new agenda could be seen as exemplifying his connection to his motherland, an attempt to assert the same. As a denial of Eurocentric stereotypes, the decision could be a way to reclaiming a shared past. In one his tweets, Mr. Mukhtar Naqvi, states that there is “need to dispel the perception that only English-speakers in the country were intelligent”.

However, the issue has faced the flak of many.

India has 22 official languages, in sync with its rich cultural background. But only 40% of India’s population speaks Hindi. In the face of cultural diversity of speech and mind, Modi’s move has been criticized by politicians and the common man alike. Jayalalithaa Jayaram, chief minister of southern Tamil Nadu state wrote to Mr. Modi on Friday asking him to make English the official language as the “push for Hindi is a highly sensitive issue and causes disquiet to the people of Tamil Nadu.” Shobha De, in a Times of India article, has launched caustic remarks at Modi’s decision, asserting that the there will be many to accuse his sarkar of ‘ullu banaoing’ the nation if he pushes Hindi down their throat.

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The idea of a nativist approach to counter a nation obsessed with English may not work in along term scenario. Asserting an Indian identity can be achieved without forcing government officials to use a language they might not be comfortable with. Language has been used not only as a weapon of mass mobilization but also as a tool to dominate and suppress the disenfranchised. Language is a means to communicate and strengthen culture, but in a country that enjoys linguistic richness the problem becomes far too complicated. For many, the move comes as a disavowal of other languages spoken in the country, a legitimate reason for concern.

For a leader who still carries the baggage of post-Godhra riots, the decision seems to have awakened a tinge of fear in the common man. Anti-Hindi sentiment has a long and rather ‘bloody’ history, especially in states like Tamils Nadu. Even though the country needs a patriotic fervor to move on, the latest move of Narendra Modi may or may not work towards achieving the goal of ‘ache din’ coming.