Focus on Aamir Khan

Kuldip Nayar, November 26, 2015


Kuldip Nayar. DH File Photo.
I was present at the function where Aamir Khan, a leading actor, said that his wife had asked him whether they should move to some other country for healthy upbringing of their child. There was no rancour in his tone, only a bit of sadness. Still his remark shook me. Indeed, it shook the entire nation.

Never before had I realised that the things had come to such a pass that even a person like Aamir Khan would think whether they should move to some other country. Lesser persons from the minority communities must be terror stricken.

The return of awards by some 500 (continue reading):…

The Guardian: India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban

Narendra Modi is clamping down on tolerance and freedom of expression. In Britain we have a responsibility to speak out against it, says

he Hindu god Vishnu has several incarnations, many of them human. The latest of these appears to be Narendra Modi. All over India there are images of the man, right arm raised in the benevolent gesture of good fortune. But this strong-but-enlightened-man image hides the frightening and shrill reality of an increasingly Modi-led Hindu dominance of India.

The country’s openness to social and religious minorities (more than 500 million people) and regional differences is at serious risk. Of late, Modi’s regime has effectively tolerated – if not encouraged – a saffron-clad army of Hindu activists who monitor and violently discipline those suspected of eating beef, disobeying caste rules or betraying the “Hindu nation”.

In the UK, people might perhaps be familiar with India’s cricket prowess, atrocities in Kashmir or the recent horrific rape cases. But beyond that, many of us choose not to know. India’s global image now mimics China’s – a rising global economic power with attractive trade and investment opportunities. As a result, business trumps human rights, with little concern, especially on the part of David Cameron’s government, for the rising wave of Hindu tyranny.

All this is good news for Prime Minister Modi, who flew into London today. He won’t be seriously called to account for human rights abuses or systematic thuggery. If there is one thing that has marked the man’s first year and a half in power it is this: he is not a man who takes kindly to scrutiny or criticism. In fact, he has used the very economic agenda that causes Britain to turn a blind eye to his regime’s human rights abuses to muzzle dissent within India.

Modi’s latest move has been the strangulation of Greenpeace India, culminating last Friday with the organisation’s licence to operate being removed. Respect for human rights and environmental organisations is so often a litmus test for the democratic state of a country. Worryingly, the Indian government has been cracking down on all “foreign-funded” charities for the past year, claiming that the national economy is threatened by environmental restrictions and other “un-Indian” activities. Nine thousand NGOs have been “de-registered” in a concerted effort to force out these “nuisance” groups and cast them as foreign enemies.

Of late, many Indian journalists and human rights activists have been harassed and threatened with “sedition” charges: for example, Teesta Setalvad, who still seeks justice for the victims of communal violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002, when Modi was the state’s chief minister; and Santosh Yadav, arrested in September in the state of Chhattisgarh on what Amnesty International believes are fabricated charges resulting from his investigatory journalism exposing police brutality against Adivasis (indigenous people). A few weeks ago, even a musician who sang a satirical song criticising the chief minister and state government of Tamil Nadu over alcohol sales was charged with “anti-Indian activity”.

This alarming erosion of democracy is a slippery slope that may end up targeting not just minorities and “outsiders” but any dissenting “insiders”. What I’ve seen happening is a spirit of fear taking hold, which threatens to silence activists, artists and intellectuals alike. We’ve never known that before.

A Hindu version of the Taliban is asserting itself, in which Indians are being told: “It’s either this view – or else.” A friend told me: “There is huge oppression of anyone who’s different.” Last month, dozens of Indian writers handed back their literary awards in protest, following communal violence against Muslims and attacks on intellectuals.

India is a country of 1.25 billion people, including 965 million Hindus and 170 million Muslims. We have a long tradition of tolerance and, despite differences, have managed to pull our huge country together. But the government’s militant Hinduism risks marginalising other faiths and tearing apart these bonds. Many of us dread what might then happen.

We in Britain cannot bite our tongues any more; we have a responsibility to speak out. And we need to work on at least two fronts: demand that Cameron not make business deals at the cost of human rights, and press Modi to answer for the Indian government’s abysmal rights record; and recognise and support the many Indian citizens, journalists and organisations that are resisting growing Hindu fanaticism and state authoritarianism.

I’ll be joining protesters outside Downing Street today. Following the lead of India’s opposition groups, we have a duty to speak out for the people Modi is trying to silence, precisely because we are free to do so.

This article was amended on 13 November 2015. An earlier version referred to criticism of the state governor, rather than the chief minister and state government, of Tamil Nadu.

The Guardian says India is ruled by a Hindu Taliban


Learning during exam time

18 Sept. Give and take is a must in any walk of life. We can’t live as islands. I experience this day in and day out in my field – higher education. Like most other spheres human endeavour, neither can education function without mutuality.

What best can exemplify this than examinations? Setting question papers and valuations? With more and more colleges going in for autonomy and university status, more and more work is coming their way. Hence, there is more demand on the part of teachers.

Thanks to Prof. Leela Rao, my former professor, who introduced me to this early in my career – as far back as in 2001! Ever since, I have been traveling lending a helping hand, and in return getting people to help me and my College!

It is not just I help others and others help me. This is a time of great learning – how other in the same field go about various stages of education in their institutions.

And then, there is that element of learning from those whom you (intend to/) assess! I get answer scripts and dissertations of students, sometimes, unexpectedly educative! And that is wow! moment.

This year, for now, I am in another university, being a part of the viva voce panel for Masters students. This, probably, is one of my best prepared viva voce! I have spent days and days together reading and re-reading those ten Masters dissertations (some of them 120+ pages!), watching related films, reading novels, watching TVCs, television serials, going through heaps of newspaper/ social media/ internet … data! I only wish I could tell the examinees that I have read their dissertations with great interest and hence, could ask so many questions from so many perspectives, and related one sentence/ para/ page/ chapter with another, and convince my deep appreciation behind it all! That, of course, beyond possibility! Students will (usually) go their feel at that moment!

Be that as it may! It has been a learning experience: any way you look at it – good exams or not-so good exams!

Communal politics and Bihar elections

14 Nov. After a long break, I am back.

The last two weeks have been hectic with holiday programmes – traveling from one place to another and back!

One of the biggest miss was the much hyped Bihar elections, where in our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pitched against the much smaller satraps Nitish Kumar Yadav (JDU) and his former bete noir Laloo Prasad Yadav (RJD). Strange, isn’t it? It was the Prime Minister versus a former Chief Minister with an incumbent Chief Minister!

And what a way to learn the lesson for our beloved prime minister and his party! It has been a total rout: 178 for JDU-RJD-Congress versus 58 for Modi’s NDA (BJP and its allies). It was from the 94 seats in the last Assembly to 58 now! There is a big lesson here – divide and rule communal politics won’t work. Our respected prime minister used every communal, explicitly divisive, and below-the-belt trick to trap voters and defeat the three parties (JDU-RJD-Cong.). But, it only backfired badly.

Now Karnataka is in the grip of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its affiliates. They opposed Karnataka State Government celebrating Tipu Sultan birth anniversary (the 18th century Muslim warrior). It was dirty politics from the Congress government in Karnataka. But the VHP’s way of opposing it was worse still. One of their senior men died during the opposition – nobody knows if the 60-year-old man was killed or died. But all hell broke loose: they accused Muslims, and another poor Muslim boy in southern Karnataka was brutally killed by slitting his throat (he was drinking a tender coconut, near his home in Uppinangady in Dakshina Kannada district)

Consequently, the entire state was shut down by the VHP on Friday (13/11). Dakshina Kannada district was under curfew and Prohibitory orders will be in force till 15/11, and may be extended, given the fragile nature of peace in Karnataka!

Who can save the state and the country from these communal outfits ?

India tops Facebook’s list for content restriction requests – The Hindu

Facebook has restricted access to over 15,000 pieces of information on its website in India during the first six months of 2015 — the highest for any country, following requests from the government and law enforcement

Source: India tops Facebook’s list for content restriction requests – The Hindu

Bihar poll verdict: When several TV channels got their math wrong

Opinion polls have gone wrong in the past. Exit polls too. On counting day of Verdict Bihar, several news channels got their math wrong in calling a BJP win, too soon and too early in the morning.From the beginning to

Source: Bihar poll verdict: When several TV channels got their math wrong – The Hindu