Dadri Lynching and the idea of Hindu Raj project

4 Oct. It is a spine-chilling incident – the Dadri lyncing.

On 28 September 2015, all hell broke lose in Greater Noida of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. The North Indian state has more people on its territory than most of Europe put together. But not peace and prosperity.

The most troubled state of India has seen many a communal riot inflamed by unscrupulous political parties. In the recent past, it experienced a major conflagration in September 2013, after a sanitation was killed in early September. Before that in June of the same year, a dalit (SC) girl was gang-raped, and tension erupted.

Later in late August, two upper caste (Jats) Hindus were killed, besides a minority community man and a police. That gave a definite twist to the incident. Politics took control of the fragile situation, in stead of law and order taking the control. The right wing political outfit (which now rules at the Centre) BJP called for a ‘bundh’ (forced closure of the state) and rioters had a  field day. Army was called in to enforce law and order, but not before at least 19 minority community members lost their lives to fake-revenge killings. Such a large scale of massacre and deployment of army had not been seen since 1992, when the BJP veteran LK Advani led a divisive Rath Yatra demanding the construction of a Ram temple on the Babri masjid site, and his band of unemployed youth climbed to top of the 16th century mosque, and demolished it. And India witnessed one of the biggest and nation-wide riots since Indo-Pak partition, 1947, that ripped the country apart eternally.

In this state of Uttar Pradesh, which has a history of volatile peace and tensions between upper castes and lower castes as well as caste Hindus and minority Muslims, there is an elected government, led by a young, inexperienced, incompetent Akhilesh Yadav (son of the former SJP supremo and MP Mulayam Singh Yadav, who still remote-controls the UP politics). And, true to its history, not just UP social bonds are volatile, even politics and law and order situation are equally volatile.

But that state is extremely important for any politician in India. The state alone sends 80 MPs to the Indian Parliament – more than any two biggest states put together. Hence, every politician wants to fish in these troubled waters.

It is no doubt that even sleeping Indian politicians have an eye open on UP.

According to media reports on Sunday 04 Oct, Vishal, the main accused son of a BJP legislator in UP forced a Dadri temple priest to announce that Mohammad Akhlaq had beef stored in his house.  With this all hell broke lose. A mob of around 200 people attacked Akhlaq’s house and started beating him up.He was murdered in cold blood in the one-sided attack. His younger son Danish was critically injured, and is still battling for life in a hospital. His elder son is serving the Indian air force.

The police -seemingly- have sent the meat found in the house for testing. God alone knows where – the state does not seem to be having testing facilities (remember Sunanda Puskar’s testing? Had to be sent to the USA!). In truth, it happened to be mutton, and not beef!

Unfortunately, in India, it is alright to kill helpless human beings, but not cows! Not even sick cows. That is the state of sickness and blindness.

The UP state administration has been slow to take any action. The central government led by the vocal Narendra Modi, has remained completely dumb. Not a word. Or, rather, a BJP MP and minister Mahesh Sharma (with a record for communal incitement) called it an ‘accident’, giving a clean chit to the blind mob, allegedly incited by a BJP leader’s son.  Rajnath Singh, the Union Home Minister accused his political opponents of giving it a communal tinge, when actually it is a communal attack on a helpless family. Another BJP MP openly justified  the attack on Akhlaq. Yet another fire-brand VJP leader and MP Sadhwi Prachi, known for highly communal, utterances, justified the killing in crude words, unbecoming of any civil society. But no action has been taken against anyone, so far!

In the neighbouring state of Bihar (with 45 Parliamentary seats), there is election for State Assembly beginning this week! And you can guess, who is the beneficiary if communal riots are engineered! After the September 2013 communal riots, UP electorate was completely polarised, and Narendra Modi won 72 out of 80 Parliamentary seats (well maneuvered by BJP’s current  national president Amith Shah).

Nearly after a week, politicians have started visiting the bereaved family. Including the BJP minister known for communal utterances – Mahesh Sharma. Congress and Aam Admi Party have now woken up. But the villagers have blocked any non-BJP politicians as well media persons from entering the village.

Social media is rife with debate on food habits. Should a majority community impose its food habits on minorities? What right does anyone have to impose any restrictions as along as they don’t violate constitutions?

For some, cow is an animal to be worshiped – never mind they drink its milk (depriving its calves of the mother’s milk) But for most in the world, cow is an animal like any other – goat, pig, chicken, and fish. They rear cows, use all the products it can afford, and finally slaughter it for food (though not the kindest of deeds, according to me! I don’t eat beef or pork). In this enterprise, why should anyone dictate terms to others?

Religion should be a private affair, not a tool to impose on others. Unfortunately, for many of my country men and women, religion has more to impose on others than practice its spiritual and altruistic tenets. As a result, cows, cats, rats, and dogs become more important and human beings are sacrificed out of hatred for one another.

There is the larger project of these right-wing politicians and engineers, who are called sangh parivar. There is a sense of dis-ease and frustration among some upper caste. The education and empowerment of  Scheduled Castes, Tribes, women and backward castes, has taken the power out of the upper castes. They don’t have free slave-trade, which was imposed and sanctioned on religious grounds, in the past. Hence, the erstwhile powerful castes feel a sense of helplessness and keep attacking minorities (primarily Christians who have taken education as their mission)

Now that the Constitution of India has prohibited caste practice, the same project is being revived through various pseudo-cultural and political machinery. The BJP, which currently rules the country, being the political wing of the Sangh Parivar, it has come a blessing to the saffron wing. As as result, you can see the emboldened sanghis running riot all over, creating tensions and terror in some cases.

The bigger project includes the Hindu Rashtra (an exclusive Hindu Nation), where the communal, brahmanic rule of Manu is imposed. It is to replace the democratic process and the Constitution which guarantees it. In it included are construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya (on the site of Babri masjid), imposition of uniform civil code (like an Iran or Saudi Arabia), imposition of a dead language called Sanskrit, resuscitation of guru-kula system of education which gave absolute control to the guru, and many others.

Let me clarify: Hindutva does not mean Hinduism, which most of us appreciate for being all-inclusive. Hindutva is an exclusivist, radical, intolerant religious view and ruling of everything, much like the Islamisization of the East Europe or Middle-Far East.

Talking about the Hindutva Project that killed Mahtma Gandhi, the first Home Minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel (a fellow-Gujarati of Narendra Modi) said, “But don’t forget, so had Hitler’s Nazis and the fascists under Mussolini. It (RSS or mother of the Sangh Parivar) is a communal body with a totalitarian outlook. .. Hindu Raj… that mad idea.” (Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, February 1949)

Paath Shaal (Hindi)

The 2010 Hindi remake of the Marathi film by Milind Ukey was supposed to be an interesting film. But it could not make me feel any better about our Bollywood films!

Written by Ahmed Khan, Paathshaala (School) is about a well known Saraswati Vidya Mandir school. All seems to be going on well with SVM, though little is known about it, till Rahul Udyavar (played by Shahid Kapur) arrives on the scene. And then everyone is after this chocolate hero – from young female students to the all-young faculty!

The urbane English teacher starts teaching music to the school kids at the behest of another pretty-looking nutrition faculty (played by Ayesha Takia). The much feared but admired Sahay (Nana Patekar) is the principal. But the moment the management puts its foot down and demands that the school make money and be in the news like the near by Maruthi School (contrived TV reality shows, tv competitions for kids, and all the hype), Sahay seems to fall in line.

The now-united and dedicated Rahul, Anjali and their colleagues will have none of it. They resist the attempts at dehumanising commodification of children through the media publicity. And, what more, they win in!

Though value-wise, the film is not a bad idea, in terms of presentation, it is total wash out.After all, isn’t art all about “packaging” – articulation!?

I wish, I could compare it with To Sir with Love starring Sidney Poitier! Though, the two are like chalk and cheese.

Airtel told to withdraw ‘misleading’ 4G ads

finally, there seems to be some action against those who tend to mislead consumers. ASCI – the advertising watchdog of India has taken the matter seriously about ‘false’ or ‘exaggerated’ claims.

The ASCI decision came on a complaint filed by a consumer whose identity could not be determined.

The ASCI decision came on a complaint filed by a consumer whose identity could not be determined.

New Delhi: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has sent a notice to Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s largest telecom services provider, asking the firm to withdraw its 4G speed challenge advertisement on grounds that it is misleading.

“The claim in the ad, ‘Airtel 4G is the fastest network ever’ and ‘If your network is faster, we will pay your mobile bills for life’, is misleading by omission in the absence of appropriate disclaimers in the print, TV, hoarding advertisements. The advertisement contravened Chapter 1.4 of the code,” said the notice, a copy of which was reviewed by Mint.

“We have advised the Advertiser to withdraw or to modify appropriately the said advertisement before 7 October 2015 or seek a review of the decision. If you continue to see the advertisement after the due date, kindly bring the same to our notice,” the ASCI notice added.

The ASCI decision came on a complaint filed by a consumer whose identity could not be determined.

Chapter 1.4 of the code says that advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or omissions.

“Advertisements shall not contain statements or visual presentation which directly or by implication or by omission or by ambiguity or by exaggeration are likely to mislead the consumer about the product advertised or the advertiser or about any other product or advertiser,” the code states.

An Airtel spokesperson confirmed that the company had received the notice.

The company will take up the issue with the ASCI.

“We are engaging with ASCI to provide them with the technical data in support of our advertising claims and are following the prescribed process to schedule a review of the said issue. We are confident of getting a favourable response from them,” the company said in a statement on the notice.

“4G technology is proven to deliver the fastest Internet experience, and the same has been accepted globally. As the only commercial providers of this world-class technology in India, our advertising campaign revolves around the 4G promise of fastest Internet speeds and features a set of claims that are based on rigorous test conditions,” the statement added.

A senior official at ASCI said the notice was not binding as yet and the firm would get some time to appeal the decision.

In May, ASCI issued notices to Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone India as well as to Airtel for their 3G advertisements. In the case of Idea, ASCI said that its advertisement of Idea Internet Network was found to be misleading by ambiguity as it led consumers to believe that through Idea Internet Network (IIN), a student can avail of the same level of education (economics and biology) as is being provided in a college.

“There is no data to support that the subjects being referred to in the advertisement are being made available for formal education,” ASCI had said.

Similarly, the case for Vodafone India Ltd’s advertisement claiming “Fastest 3G Network” was also not substantiated adequately and was misleading by ambiguity, ASCI said. In the case of Airtel’s 3G ads, ASCI found that the claims of being “India’s Best 3G network” and that “Airtel gives 122% faster download speeds than other 3G networks” were not adequately substantiated.

Airtell asked to withdraw misleading ad

Another shame in Mangalore – Moral Policing on the rise

Mangalore cops throw women out of party after alleged Bajrang prod

  • Sudipto Mondal, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
  • Updated: Sep 27, 2015 19:36 IST

Police sources said the crackdown was necessary because underage revellers were dancing but denied that only women were asked to leave.

Mangalore police forced women dancing at a discothèque of a three-Star hotel to leave on Saturday night, allegedly at the behest of the Bajrang Dal, a right-wing organisation accused of pushing radical Hinduism and moral policing.Police refuted the allegation, saying the organisers of the party at the hotel did not have necessary clearances.

Still, the Bajrang Dal’s Mangalore-based state president Sharan Pumpwell praised police for their prompt action and said activists of his outfit were waiting outside

during the raid. “Police went inside and asked the girls to leave. We thank Mangalore …. (read further)

Moral Policing in Mangalore – September

PRaxis-2015: the summit that made me a tweeter!

26 Sept. #PRaxisMysore.

That’s the hashtag.

Amit Prabhu has been always a dear friend to me since 2000, when I joined St Aloysius College Mangalore. He was still a student. He was known and much sought after for conducting quizzes in Mangalore.

Later, when I went to Pune for my Ph.D. in Cinema, I caught up with Amit at Shivajinagar Vidya Bhavan Church, when he attended Sunday masses.

Even since, we have been in touch. Or, rather, Amit has been in! Wherever he went, Amit made it a point to connect.

When he launched PRaxis in 2011, that rare international event, he had wanted me to be present, though I was not a PR executive, or not even a keen PR industry follower/ teacher. When he oranised the second PRaxis in Lavasa, he insisted that I attended. But by then, I had reached the UK.By the way, these two editions of PRaxis, he conducted, while still based in Chicago, working for Edelman!

And PRaxis stands for Public Relations and Crisis Communication Strategies! Some of my current first year Mass Communication (Masters) students learned this yesterday!

When I returned to my country at the end of 2013, Amit was back to India, too. He told me, the next edition of PRaxis was planned in Agra, next to the ever-romantic (and the ill-maintained) Taj Mahal. He made arrangements for my travel! I could not say no to Amit. And that changed my perception about PR industry. I saw over 360 PR executives in action in Agra! Met good many of them, and developed those contacts.

This time, it was the fourth. Much before that I  had whispered in Amit’s ears that I wanted my students get a good chance to participate and be a part of it in various capacities. Amit told me the implications. But ended saying, he would not say ‘no’ to me! And he kept his word.

He made it possible for sixteen of my students to attend this year’s PRaxis  in Mysore – that is #PRaxisMysore. And what a difference it made to my students!

While Jisa Mathew won the early bird prize (to begin the day with, on 25/9), she was outside the hall, at the registration desk. On the second day, another student of mine won one more prize; once again, she was at the desk, doing her duty. Good for them.

Amit had already announced a contest for tweeters – an opportunity to win an iPad. It was enough for me to be there. iPad was not necessary for me to tweet. I would tweet irrespective of the contest.

But it was because of the brotherly bond and affection that I have for Amit, that I decided to tweet a bit more. And started. And it went on till my cell battery died!

When today, the Social Media team announced the analytics of tweeting, I was surprised – the PRaxis was trending in the southern level on 25th. And on 26th, it was trending at the national level, with over 8,000 tweets in less than 21 hours! It’s a massive achievement.Moksh said, our reach was 40,000K! God!

Then the top twitterati of the Summit: one with 95, another with 96, and third was Yours Truly with over 100 tweets!Something for a man, whose hobby is not tweeting! (there were two more – one with 200+ and the winner with 300+ tweets)

It was quite impressive – over 100 tweets!? And I continued tweeting after the announcement too; so in all, the tweets must have reached 125-150. It is a big number.It is nice to be  a part of this event!

Not to speak of the twenty-minute sessions and panels! Great learning for me and my students.

The Times Group now says journalists’ salaries will be linked to their Twitter activity

Official accounts but views expressed must be ‘personal’.