Monday, 11 November 2013

‘Statue of Unity’ on One Side: Asthi Kalsh Yatra on the Other

Ram Puniyani

In the last week of October-first week of November, we saw two contradictory processes. On one side the foundation stone was laid for the statue of first Deputy Prime Minister of India, Saradar Vallabhbhai Patel, being called as Statue of Unity. On the other side the BJP in Bihar was taking out ‘Asthi Kalash’ (Pitcher of Ashes), of the blast victims in Patna. These victims died while the blasts took place in Modi’s Hunkar rally. While Patel completed the last lag of India’s unity as a nation, BJP combine’s Asthi Yatra Kalsh Yatra has meanwhile taken further the techniques which are divisive, and are an attack on the values of Fraternity ingrained in Indian Constitution. How do we understand the unity of India to begin with?

India’s unity begins with the coming of British. Pre British sub-continent made a journey from the tribal society, to pastoral society to kingdoms of different hues. Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion between kingdoms and the modern nation state. Pastoral society had different logic, while kings were sitting on the top of the structure in which the poor peasant was producing and large part of his produce was going to the king, through the landlord. The poor peasants were semi-slaves mostly at the mercy of the whims of the landlords. For the younger generation, the life in this period can be gleaned partly from the classics of the literary stalwarts like Munshi Premchand in particular. The British in their project to plunder this country introduced the policy of ‘divide and rule’ and so introduced Communal Historiography. This pattern of looking at kings, through the prism of the religion, made the matters worse for us as the kings now are looked at as Hindus or Muslims. And the period when some of the kings were ruling part of the area is called as Muslim period. The Muslim kings, ruled here, lived here and became the part of this soil. While British ruled from their head office in London and plundered the country. There was no concept of Nation-State at that time. Different kingdoms, warring with each other, trying to expand their boundaries on the strength of the sword.

With British, their plunder project led to the introduction of railways, communications and modern education. Whatever be the motives of British, this laid the foundation of geographical unity of India. The India we call today starts taking shape with that. But there is much else which transformed the ‘warring kingdoms’ to Indian state. The British policies led to discontent and the British system also opened some window of articulating the discontent. Unlike the period of Kingdoms, in the Colonial period itself many an associations of the rising classes, Industrialists, Workers and others started coming up. They formed organizations for the first time. And amongst the number of organizations Madras Mahajan Sabha, Pune Sarvajanik Sabha and Bombay Associations are some noteworthy. At the same time Narayan Meghaji Lokhande and Singarvelu started organizing the workers. All these organizations were veering around trade, occupation, work: not religion. These were having people from all regions, all religions. On the material foundations laid by British, these efforts added flesh and blood and ‘Indian identity’ starts taking shape. This is the foundation of the emotional and civilian unity of India, building on the geographical unification.
Bombay-Thane Train 1853 : The First Train Link in India

This foundation of India gets the walls of unity from the anti-colonial, ‘anti-British national movement’. It was the national movement with participation of people of all religion, all regions, all castes, all linguistic groups, women and men both that real Indian identity comes to be rooted in our psyche and in our civilian life. This movement ‘India as a nation in the making’ has been the biggest ever mass movement in the world. This movement was based on the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the principles which became the base of Indian Constitution. This was the Indian unity emerging from opposition to British rule; this was the unity for aspiration of building secular democratic India with composite culture. This led to our freedom with the partition tragedy accompanying it. This was the main structure of Indian unity. Some jobs were still remaining.

With freedom nearly 650 princely states, who were associated with British rule had to make their decision, to merge with India or Pakistan or to remain free. It is here that Sardar Patels’ final contribution of uniting India, as it is today, came as the icing in the cake, the plaster on the walls of National unity. This unity was emotional, civic and national. It included people of all religions that’s’ how Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Maulana Azad, stick together despite their diverse background and different expression of the value and create the Indian nation state. Contrary to the hints dropped by Modi that Patel would have dealt with Muslims better, the approach of the great leaders of Indian freedom movement was overlapping. Patel was the one to give the provisions for minority institutions. Gandhi said about Patel, “I know the Sardar…His method and manner of approach to Hindu-Muslim question, as also several other questions, is different from mine and Pundit Nehru’s. But it is travesty of truth to describe him as anti Muslim.”

This process of emotional, civic unification which began with the formation of various associations went through the freedom movement and found its culmination in the integration of princely states, into the Union of India. The process of unification also began and saw a miniscule process of divisiveness even at that time. This divisiveness began with the religious nationalism of Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS. This group came from the landlords and nawabs (Led by Nawab of Dhaka and Raja of Kashi) and was later joined in by the section of elite educated middle classes in the form of Jinnah, Savarkar and the founders of RSS. While Gandhi and National movement united all, the communal groups spread hatred against each other. This hatred against each other led to communal violence, the worst of which were to be seen in the Calcutta killings, Noakhali amongst others. It was Gandhi, who left the statecraft to Nehru and Patel and went to douse the communal fire.
After some gap, the process of violence began again with Jabalpur violence of 1961. At the root of violence is the hatred of ‘other’, propagated through word of mouth, through shakhas, through school books amongst others. This creates a ‘social common sense’. This ‘social common sense’ is totally negative against religious minorities and acts as the fertile ground on which the communal violence takes place. Various techniques were devised to orchestrate communal violence, pig in a mosque, beef pieces in mandir (temple), killing of cow, music in front of mosque, ‘molestation of ‘our’ women had been the major ones amongst them.

A new pattern has been added to this. After the siege of Babri in October 1990, the tragedy led to death of the kar sevaks. VHP took out the asthi kalash yatra and the yatra left the trail of blood. After the Godhra train burning (who did it is another matter, many theories abound, this article is not going in to that) let’s see how this tragedy was used to divide the community. The dead bodies were handed over to VHP to take out a procession. The mass hysteria was created during the procession. Rest is too well known. Society divided along religious lines. Despite diverse claims ‘division amongst Hindus-Muslim’, is a matter of concern in the country in general and places like Gujarat in particular.
Let’s now come to Kandhmal. Swami Laxmanand is killed. No debate about who did it. The VHP takes out a procession of Swamiji’s body through a long route. Violence against Christians follows. Further perfecting the technique, now after the Patna blasts, whoso ever did it, the dead bodies are being taken out in procession through various routes. Is it to pay homage to the poor victims despite whose death the rally continued, or the goals are to divide the society along communal lines? This is social disunity. Sardar Patel’s statue and life was for social unity, this and other acts of BJP combine are just for the opposite goals. Hypocrisy at its best or worst is at display here. Commemorate the Sardar who united India, not just by merging the princely states, but being the part of freedom movement which was the uniting movement. And also remember unity of India just does not mean the merger of princely states; that was the last phase of unity process. At the same time take out Asthi Kalash, which is aimed to divide the community? Political ambitions have strange ways. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Science versus Miracles: Holding Hot Electric Soldering Iron on the Hand.

B Premanand

The psychic places the hot electric soldering iron across his hand without getting burnt. 

Experiment: 130

Effect: Hot electric soldering iron on the hand.

Props: Electric soldering iron, petroleum jelly.

Method: Smear petroleum jelly on your hand. Take the soldering Iron and lightly place it on your hand over the jelly. It will produce a hissing sound. Then show your hand unaffected by the hot iron.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Modi’s-Abusing History for Political Mileage

Ram Puniyani

The Politics of Modi' parent organisation RSS is based on distortion of history, medieval history in particular. to begin with the projection of kings through the prism of religion, to demonise Muslim kings based on distortions and falsehoods of History, and then in turn spreading hatred against Muslims of today has been the foundation of which RSS built it up. Taking the same method to further lower levels currently Narendra Modi is trampling, distorting the facts of history to project his ideology. In the last week, October 2013, he addressed two meetings and gave one interview which showed the levels to which he can fall to score political mileage.
Nehru, Gandhi, Patel

In Sardar Patel memorial inauguration, Modi said that Sardar Patel should have been the first Prime Minister of India. This was a dig at two major leadrs of freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi and Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. One recall that Mahatma Gandhi, father of Indian Nation, was the one who had the mandate of the whole nation, irrespective of region, religion, gender and caste. It was left to Gandhi to nominate the Prime Minister and he unhesitatingly named Nehru to be the first Prime Minister of the country. There might have been different factors weighing on the mind of Mahatma, as Sardar Patel and Nehru both were his closest disciples. He knew both of them thoroughly, and he made the choice. Patel went on to be the deputy Prime Minister and Home Minsiter, in which capcity he was instrumental in merging over 550 princely states in to Indian Union, a remarkable contribution to Indian nationalism. Nehru as Prime minister laid the foundation of all the policies related to industrial growth, education, foreign affairs and became the ‘architect of Modern India’, India on the path of Industrialisation and education, the foundations due to which today India has been catapulted to be one of the major economic powers in the world.

Surely, in such a marathon enterprise the contribution of his Cabinet colleagues should not be underestimated. While criticism of some of his policies is in order, the credit for trying to take India out of the feudal society, the society of blatant slavery of dominated castes and women, to the society with democratic values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, were also laid under his indomitable leadership. Sardar Patel is being projected by Modi-RSS despite knowing that Patel was deeply committed to Indian Nationalism, staunch follower of Gandhi and a thoroughly secular person. RSS has none of this, RSS-Modi are totally opposed to the values, which Sardar espoused. The first thing which Modi tries to do in this direction is to emotionally undermine the role of Pundit Nehru. He went to the extent of saying in one of the interviews given to a Hindi daily, that Nehru did not attend the funeral ceremony of Patel. This is a total concoction. This blatant lie was immediately exposed as the Times of India, on front page had covered this event and prominently told the readers about the presence of President Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Pundit Nehru on the occasion. It also published the deep condolences of Nehru who said that Sardar Patel has contributed immensely to the process of India’s freedom and making of India. Congress Leader Digvijay Singh has posted the clip of the documentary showing Nehru attending the funeral. Also it was recalled that Morarji Desai in his autobiography Volume I page 271, Para 2 mentioned the presence of Pundit Nehru on the occasion. In the face of this Modi retracted his statement, and usual things about being misquoted etc were dished out.

It is surprising that RSS-Modi are trying to project a person as their icon, who had banned their organization after the murder of father of the nation. In his letter to the RSS Chief M.S. Golwalkar, Sardar Patel wrote, “All their (RSS) leaders’ speeches were full of communal poison. As a final result, the poisonous atmosphere was created in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhi’s murder) became possible.” (Excerpts from Sardar Patel’s letter, in Outlook April 27, 1998) Same Outlook issue tells us that RSS expressed their joy and distributed sweets after Gandhi’s death. One can add that by attacking the choice of Mahatma Gandhi for the Prime ministerial post, Modi is continuing the work of Hindu nationalism’s attack on Indian Nationalism started by Godse. This Hindu nationalist, Godse, attacked Gandhi for insisting on Indian Nationalism and now another Hindu Nationalist Modi is attacking Mahatma for his choice of the Prime Minister. This attempt of Modi to say that Sardar Patel Should have been the Prime Minister instead of Nehru, more than undermining Nehru is a direct attack on Gandhi. Not surprising! As Modi belongs to the Hindu nationalism school of thought for whom Gandhi and his ideology were not acceptable for their strong support for diversity of India. Here they also undermine Sardar Patel who was equally committed to the values of pluralism and secularism of India, in shaping which he contributed immensely. Patel was committed to actualize Gandhi’s dream of secular India, and for this he contributed all his life.

Neetish Kumar in another part of the country; pointed out two major things. One as to how Modi spoke lies about Chandragupta Maurya being from Gupta dynasty, while he was from Maurya dynasty. Second that Alexander came up to Ganges. As a matter of fact, Alexander returned from the banks of Sutlej. Modi displayed his knowledge or lack of it by saying that Taxila belongs to Bihar, while it is in Western part and is currently part of Pakistan. Modi’s these utterances were meant to play to the gallery in Patna meeting. The Patna meeting was called as Hunkar rally, Hunkar means speaking something vociferously and with arrogance, a sign of fascist mind set. Modi also exhorted the audience to ‘weed out’ opponents. This is the mindset of a fascist again who wants to eliminate the opponents. This is what Hitler did, weeding out Jews, Trade Unionists and Communist during his regime. While currently Modi is focusing on political opponents, his ideology of Hindu nationalism has spread the slogan of Pehle Kasai phir Isai. (First the Muslims, then the Christians) So here we are witnessing a dangerous scenario emerging. Attack on Indian Nationalism, by attacking the choice of Gandhi for Prime Minister’s post. A total distortion of history to play to the gallery, Goebbels style. And use of a language which fascists routinely do, of weeding out others.

At this point of time to compare RSS-BJP-Modi with any other electoral formation is dangerous as BJP is a different cup of tea, it is molded for Hindu nationalism, and Modi with his fascist tendencies is unable to conceal his fangs. Those equating BJP-Modi with any other party are doing a fatal mistake, which the country may have to regret later at the cost of loosing democracy. Let’s recall that Hitler also came to power through democratic means. Having once come to power, he was quick enough to abolish democracy and impose fascism through his multiple wings, storm troopers, foot soldiers on one side and the followers of his ideology in different forms, on the other. Warning bells are loud and clear, those wanting to live in a democratic Indian nation need to take it as a wakeup call.


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More