Category Archives: Gujarat
(This was written on 11/11/12)
I went shopping in Manek Chawk, Tran Darwaja (three gates) area of Karnavati (Ahmedabad) today. In American parlance this would be called downtown.
It was a veritable sea of humanity and vehicles of all shape and color. Traffic was so intense that pedestrians were vying for a foothold along with scooters, motor bikes, bicycles, rickshaws, cars, tempos and everything else on four wheels. There were shouting match a galore and nilly willy I got in an argument with a motor bike driver who found fault with us hapless pedestrians; when he kept telling me to move to the side, when there was really no side to move to, I had to ask him, if he wanted me to walk over his and other drivers’ heads or would he be rather satisfied by driving over all of us. At times I thought, no matter how much I tried to be careful, a wheel was going to run over my foot. Fact that this is Deepawali time, did not help the matters.
It was interesting to see a hawker shouting sale of a Rs. 80 items for Rs. 60 and exhorting this as the last day of the sale. I have no doubts that were I to go there tomorrow, he would be still repeating that same, last day of sale pitch!Similarly a footpath vendor from whom I bought artificial flowers claimed that it was his “Boni”, meaning it was the first sale of the day while he had already sold to two customers in front and ahead of me! This is Karnavati and this is Bharat- as the song goes, I love my India.Another interesting facet of this “free” enterprise is that a majority of vendors and shopkeepers are Muslims but the buyers are mostly Hindus. As a matter of fact this area is known to be a Muslim fortress for ages. Same people who kill each other during riots, do the business amicably in peaceful times. It is a human paradox.
In Your Hands Lies future of Bharat- Vote Today, Vote Wisely, Vote BJP
Today Gujarat goes to poll. This is a momentous day.
It is not the question of whether BJP will win or not
It is not the question of whether BJP will get more seats than in 2007 or not,
It is not the question of whether Narendra Modi will be reelected as Gujarat Chief Minister or not
It is not the question of whether a strong showing in this election will propel Narendra Modi towards candidacy for the position of Bharat’s Prime Minister or not
All of the above questions are important but not as important as the question,
Will this election determine if our nation would get rid of Congress culture once and for all or not?
2300 years back, Pandit Vishnugupta took a vow not to tie his “shikha” until he had uprooted the Nand Dynasty from the soil of the kingdom of Magadha. He achieved this objective and established Maurya Empire, making Chandragupta Maurya its king. We know this Vishnugupta as Chanakya.
Today, you, the Gujarat voters have the historic opportunity to be the Chanakya. You can hasten throwing of Congress culture lock, stock and barrel in to Hindi Mahasagar a la Chanakya style.
- To achieve real freedom for Bharat,
- to end minority appeasement,
- to end mollycoddling of terrorists,
- to end rampant Christian conversion,
- to end losing the Northeast, Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamilnadu
- to end selling off Bharat to Western Imperialism,
- to end strikes at the roots of Hindu ethos and culture,
- to end uncontrolled loot to the tune of trillions of rupees of national exchequer,
- to end division of Bharat by use of caste and religion,
- to shake off the death grip of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty on the body politics of Bharatmata,
You the voters of Gujarat have to start a hurricane to wipe off Congress from its roots in Gujarat.
Let that turn into a tidal wave of Tsunami by 2014 that will destroy Congress from across the land of Bharat
So would the Congress be uprooted and destroyed from Gujarat in 2012 election, in turn leading to its banishment at national level in 2014?
Now, that is the question that this election poses and also offers an opportunity to act.
Do not fail Bharatmata today and on December 17. In your hands lies the future of Bharat. Vote anti-Congress, Vote for Narendrabhai’s BJP.
Forward this to your friends; if needed, translate into Gujarati.
Thank you and Jay Hind
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
Edison, NJ, USA
I was in Gujarat for approximately two and a half weeks around Deepawali time. My travels took me to interiors of Saurasthra region and North Gujarat but this blog is not about my experiences there, though they could become subject of a future blog.
Here I want to talk about my interaction with a Muslim shop owner in Karnavati, tha tis, Ahmedabad. Whenever I am in Bharat, I am a loyal customer of a laundry, owned by a Muslim person. All these time, I had never discussed with him politics because one is always on his guards when it comes to Muslim vis-a-vis BJP. However, this time it was different. I was at the laundry just after Deepawali when commerce in all of Gujarat comes almost to a standstill for full five days! I was lucky that this laundry was open. As the owner, Ganibhai and I looked at the deserted road which otherwise is a tidal wave of two wheelers and four wheelers, Ganibhai commented on the stillness of time and tranquility. I reminisced about my college days in early sixties and told him how this was a dirt road at that time. That led to a talk about the development in Karnavati. Ganibhai praised the all-round development, not only in Karnavati but also in Gujarat. he asked me if I agreed with him, based on my limited exposure. Then, he surprised me when he said, it was all due to the leadership.
Ganibhai at his Laundry
Cautiously I probed. I asked was it not true that Muslims had a distrust for the leader, that is Narendra Modi? Ganibhai said: “One has to forget what had happened (reference to Godhra and post Godhra riots) and move on. Fact was that Narendrabhai had done wonderful work for all. I asked, “how so? ” Ganibhai: “Before (Modi’s development), where we live, there were dens of gamblers and illicit liquor; our children were becoming hoodlums; there were so many without work. Today men earn honest money, even though they may be hawkers on the street. Our girls now aspire for education and some of them come in the first ten in Board examinations.” So what about Congress? Ganibhai: “They have used Muslims as pawns:” I asked him if that meant he was going to vote for BJP. His answer was an emphatic Yes and for a good measure he added, “I am a BJP man.”
I came home digesting what I had heard. I realized that up until now I had heard stories of Muslims coming on board with BJP from BJP leaning friends only. But today, I had heard it from the source. I decided that I should write a blog on this and for that I needed Ganibhai’s photo. So, next day I went to the shop and explained to him that I was going to write an article on Gujarat election from USA and wanted his photograph. He was very glad to hear that and I clicked away.
Thank you, Ganibhai.
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
I was in Gujarat for a few days around Deepawali holidays. As a casual observer, I could see big billboards in Karnavati (that is Ahmedabad) put up by the Congress party to sway voters against Narendra Modi’s BJP government in the upcoming elections. I have reproduced a few of them here.
This is the height of negative and misleading propaganda by a party that is known for expertise in dirty deeds. Of course, anyone with commonsense would be able to see through this misinformation.
For example, one advertisement says, in Gujarat 29% people do not get clean drinking water. But that would also mean that 71% do get it!- Not a bad record in a country where there is acute water shortage.
First picture below cries out that 16,50,000 families are without affordable homes. It gives an impression that this is all BJP’s doing and as if when Congress ruled, all these 16,50,000 families had affordable housing!
Second picture has become a sort of poster child of Congress’s lies. It shows a malnourished baby and then goes on to give figures of malnourished babies in Gujarat. It is a different matter that these figures are from 2007 and things have improved a lot after that. But reason this has become an embarrassment for Congress is that it has come out that the photo is from a Tsunami relief camp in Sri Lanka!
After seeing all those billboards that concentrated on all the negatives, engineer that I am, I came up with an equation.
Gujarat Congress = Gutter Inspector
A gutter inspector can only see and smell sewage; he is oblivious to colorful flowers that might be around the landscape.
I am positive that Gujarat’s astute populace will throw the Congress and its minions like the Gujarat Parivartan Party in the gutters of history in coming elections.
2 Sept. 2012
Hanging out with NaMo late into Friday night — Kanchan Gupta
It’s this insight that has made him look at Gujarat with a critical eye and come up with the assessment that Government works in this State because of the quality of leadership at the helm. His initial interest was limited to checking out Gujarat as an investment destination, but while doing that he realised what makes the State different from others. And from there began an engagement between him and Gujarat which resulted in Friday night’s Google+ Hangout with Chief Minister Narendra Modi that will be talked about and remembered for a long time for multiple reasons ranging from the Internet highway getting jammed by the traffic of millions of people trying to log in for the show (it’s a miracle that YouTube weathered the unexpected turnout so well) to the stunningly candid manner in which a popular leader spoke to young Indians at home and abroad (it’s amazing that a man who is demonised by our biased media as an arrogant, uncaring politician is, in real life, a caring and inspiring leader).
Narendra Modi and the Muslim votebank
9 July 2012
Before, if ever, Narendra Modi becomes India’s prime minister, he will have to break the stranglehold of the Muslim votebank on Indian politics. His sadbhavna yatras (goodwill missions) to win the confidence of Muslims are good as far as they go. However, even hundreds of such yatras will not take him even an inch closer to the throne of Delhi. Hindus, and Hindus alone, can propel him to power at the Centre, if they choose to.
For BJP’s central leadership, Narendra Modi poses a dilemma: he is viewed as a great asset and also as a great liability. Modi’s popularity crossed the borders of Gujarat long ago. He emerged as a national leader on the back of resolute leadership, efficient administration and a clean image. He enjoys a good deal of support from the RSS, which in BJP is a trump card.
With ears close to the ground, easy accessibility and a sound track record of delivering on promises, Modi has acquired a measure of credibility and charisma which none of the BJP’s central leaders possess. Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh have also earned popularity on similar strengths, but neither appears to be keen, as of now, to play a leading role at the Centre. Modi is a different case. BJP bigwigs cannot ignore him or his ambitions.
However, if Modi is selected to command BJP forces in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, many BJP leaders will have to forget their ambitions and rein in their lust for power. The pull of such lust should not be underestimated.
These leaders want Modi to campaign for the party, not only in Gujarat, but also in other states where his presence can make a difference, while expecting him to confine his own ambitions to Gujarat. Modi is unwilling to oblige them, unless he could augment his own political capital by campaigning outside Gujarat. He wants to be the commander, not a foot soldier. This subtle tug of war is slowly becoming visible and will emerge out in the open by the time of the Lok Sabha election.
It is equally certain that if BJP selects Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, it will have to forget not only about the few (if any) Muslim votes it gets, but also about allies who are mortally scared of annoying Muslim votebanks. Therein lies the rub. Barring the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena, all other parties in the NDA are enamoured of the ‘secular’ label. The hypocrisy of leaders like Nitish Kumar is infuriating. By insisting that the NDA candidate for prime minister must have a ‘secular’ image, he is playing to the green gallery while trying to keep a powerful rival off the field. The ploy is too transparent to be missed, but, unfortunately, it threatens to work.
Muslims are naturally amused to watch the game. In their view, their security (actually, political clout) lies in keeping out of power any party or leader who enjoys any credibility – real or fake – among the Hindus. And if Hindu leaders can articulate that position for them in as many words, so much the better.
This is a decisive moment, not just for the BJP or NDA, but for Hindu society. The modern Hindu intelligentsia has failed to grasp a basic fact: clout, influence, power or authority is central to human relations. Power that is not exercised eventually wears off and vanishes. Hindu intellectuals rarely examine any issue, development or trend in terms of Hindu influence or power. For most of them, such an exercise is weird and anti-secular if not anti-national. They think it is beneath them to indulge in it. Hindu society has paid, and continues to pay, a heavy price for this failure of its intelligentsia.
In the post-independence period, Hindus have never asserted primacy of their civilisational identity at the political level. They have never claimed to be the essential national society, the fulcrum of the polity around which every institution and organization must arrange itself. In contrast, Muslims realize the centrality of power in relations with non-Muslims. They can and do use their votes as an effective political weapon. I do not criticize Muslims for doing so, just as I do not applaud Hindus for neglecting power equations in post-independence India.
Hence it is that Hindus have become political orphans in the only country they can call their own. Hence it is they are still maligned for Gujarat riots ten years after the event, while the original provocation (burning alive of 59 Hindus by a Muslim mob without any provocation) is all but forgotten. Hence it is that heartrending tales of Kashmiri pundits, who have suffered far greater atrocities for much longer, hardly ever evokes any sympathy at all from any political party – not even the BJP. Hence it is that Hindus can speak as Dalits, Adivasis, Jats, Yadavs, Kurmis, Lingayats, Reddys, Vanniars and Nairs, but not as Hindus. Hence it is that 12 per cent Muslims, without uttering a word, can frighten mighty Hindu politicians into rejecting anyone with Hindu credentials…
In the pre-independence period, a con game was played in the name of nationalism. Only that party, that leader was national (and could speak for the whole country) which was not opposed by the Muslim League. In this reckoning, the Congress was an organization of Hindu banias, but the Communist Party of India was a national organization. After independence, the same game is played in the name of secularism. Only that party, that leader, that programme or proposal is secular which is not opposed by Muslims. The name has changed, participants have changed, but the game remains unchanged. And so does its objective: to keep the Hindus on the defensive.
How history repeats itself! Congress is now saying about BJP whatever Jinnah used to say about Congress in 1940s: that it is a party of Hindu banias, that Muslims can never expect justice from it, that if it ever came to power then Muslims will have to fear for their lives and so on. Again the object is the same: to use Muslims as political pawns to delegitimize and checkmate nationalist sentiments.
Narendra Modi has the power to break this game. Without a single Muslim vote, without making any special or specific gesture to Muslims, he has swept assembly elections, not once, but twice, in Gujarat. He has demonstrated that if Hindus stand solidly behind any leader, he does not have to flatter Muslims. This is why he is regarded as a mortal enemy by most Muslims, all brokers of Muslim votes, and all parties hankering after the Muslim votebank.
If Modi can replicate at the national level what he has done in Gujarat, it will decisively break the stranglehold of Muslim votebanks on Indian politics, breathe a new self-confidence in Hindu society and force a rethink among Hindu politicians in non-BJP parties. Muslims will become just one of the many groups in Indian politics and thus join the national mainstream.
Whether Modi is interested in attempting this feat, whether BJP will give him an opportunity to make such an attempt is, of course, another matter. His sadbhavna yatras have aroused speculation that he, too, may be craving acceptability among circles that want BJP to shed every trace of Hinduness. As to BJP, it does not deserve a single Hindu vote as of now as a party of Hindu nationalism. But that does not affect the position outlined in the earlier passages.
If the BJP really regards itself as a party of Indian nationalism, it should distance itself from those hankering after the 12 per cent votebank and announce Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha election.
The author is Executive Editor, Corporate India, and lives in Mumbai
Not ‘Secularism’ again
Posted online: Sun Jun 24 2012
Now that the Chief Minister of Bihar has dragged ‘succularism’ into the political discourse, it is time to deconstruct it so that we can end this pointless debate once and for all. I have deliberately misspelt the word because when said in Hindi that is how it is usually pronounced. It is a hard word to write in devnagri and the Hindi and Urdu equivalents do not quite mean what secularism has come to mean in the Indian political context. It is a foreign word that evolved in a European context when the powers of the church and the state were separated. In India, since none of our religions were led by pontiffs who controlled armies, or had vast temporal powers, we had no need to make this separation.
But, the word secularism is used in India more than almost any other country. Why?
Well, because when we entered our current era of coalition governments, political parties of leftist disposition found it convenient to keep the BJP out of power by saying they would only ally with ‘succular phorces’. The BJP became a pariah after the Babri Masjid came down and so whenever someone like Nitish Kumar wants to hurl abuse at the party he is in alliance with in Bihar, or one of its leaders, the ‘secularism’ debate gets revived.
Currently, he appears to be positioning himself for prime minister in 2014 and seems to believe that he will only be in the running for this job if he can eliminate Narendra Modi before the race begins. He is not alone in this endeavour. On my wanderings in Delhi’s corridors of power last week, I ran into journalists and politicians who went on and on about how Modi could never be prime minister because of the violence in Gujarat in 2002.
They said pretty much what the Chief Minister of Bihar, and his cohorts, have said which is that the prime minister must be a man who is ‘clean and secular’. So how do we explain Rajiv Gandhi? How should we understand why he was given the biggest mandate in Indian parliamentary history after justifying the pogroms that killed thousands more Sikhs in 1984 than Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002? Were Indian voters un-secular when they gave him more than 400 seats in the Lok Sabha?
If there were still a chance of major communal riots in the future, there may have been some point to reviving this talk of secularism. But, there has not been a single major Hindu-Muslim riot since 2002 despite Muslims from next door having been responsible for the worst terrorist attack on Indian soil in 2008. Before 26/11, there were other attacks by Islamists on Hindu temples, commuter trains in Mumbai, stadiums in Hyderabad and bazaars in Delhi. None of these ugly acts of violence caused riots. Our 24-hour news channels have made communal riots impossible and the average Muslim has begun to understand this. I noticed this while travelling in Uttar Pradesh during the recent elections.
So let us stop this silly talk of secularism and communalism and start demanding from those who want to become India’s next prime minister that they tell us what they can do for this country.
Here is my own list of questions.
What will the next Prime Minister do to end the licence raj that prevents the education system from achieving its full potential? What will he do to fix our broken public healthcare system? What will he do to make sure that every Indian has enough electricity to at least light a few bulbs and run a ceiling fan in his home? What will he do to create new jobs for the estimated 13 million young Indians who enter the job market every year? What will he do to revive the Indian economy? What steps will he take to ensure that India becomes a fully developed country by the middle of this century?
When I heard Aung San Suu Kyi’s address to both houses of Britian’s Parliament in Westminster hall last week, what impressed me was the clarity with which she spelt out her vision for her country. But, throughout her speech, something kept bothering me and by the time she finished, I discovered what it was. What bothered me was that I could not think of a single Indian leader who could make such a speech.
The Indian political landscape today has become a desert in which only the stunted progeny of stunted political leaders bloom. We need our political parties to throw up real leaders and we need a political discourse in which real political problems are discussed.
So can we stop fishing ‘secularism’ out of the dustbin of history and holding it up as a shining ideal? Its relevance faded a long time ago.
Follow Tavleen on : Twitter @ tavleen_singh
June 29, 2012
Defining ‘Secular’: The war rages on
It was Nitish Kumar who lit the fuse on the amorphous word this time. He did that last week by warning that his party, the Janata Dal (United) would accept only a ‘secular’ prime minister. His target was clearly Narendra Modi, said to be the likely choice of the BJP for that post. Why the Bihar CM’s bouncer to his ally BJP should have been bowled at the time it was is a separate subject for debate.
The issue is that Kumar was wrong in not realising that:
Even after 10 years of investigations, Narendra Modi is still innocent of the charge of being personally responsible for the post Godhra riots of 2002. Even Supreme Court judge Ajit Pasayat, (now retired), who orally alluded to ‘Nero fiddling while Rome burnt’ during a hearing on Godhra did not have evidence to put down that remark in his written judgment.
Amidst the decade-old demonisation of Modi unleashing a ‘Genocide’ against Muslims, nobody has explained why, of the total 1044 killed in those riots, 254 were Hindus.
Modi fielded 247 Muslim candidates on the BJP card in Gujarat’s civic elections of October 2010, and, more unbelievably, 118 of them were victorious. Would a ‘communal’ chief minister do that ‘secular’ act?
Even after Indira Gandhi got the word ‘Secular’ into the Preamble of the Constitution of India with the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976, our nation is not secular. Take a look below
‘Dr Ambedkar made it clear in Parliament that he did not believe our Constitution was secular because it allowed different treatment to various communities and the legislatures could frame separate laws for different communities.’ (‘Reforming The Constitution’ UBS Publishers Distributors Ltd, 1992, edited by Subhash C Kashyap, an eminent Constitutional authority.)
In the above book, Kashyap writes, ‘Where there is discrimination between man and man on the grounds of religions… where the administration of places of worship can be entrusted to Government Officers… where even fundamental rights are demanded and conceded on grounds of communities, it is a cruel joke to talk of secularism.’
The Indian nation as a whole is itself not ‘secular.’ Unknown to almost our entire political class, the Preamble of the separate Jammu and Kashmir State Constitution, November 1956, does not proclaim J&K State as a ‘Secular’ State, courtesy Article 370.
Come now to Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief who was provoked by Kumar’s remark to talk of dharmanirpeksh. He too was wrong in not realising that the word dharmanirpeksh does not denote the adjective ‘secular.’ The exact Hindi word for ‘secular’ is panthnirpeksha, coined, at the behest of Indira Gandhi, by Lakshmi Mall Singhvi, (1931-2007), a literary figure and an altogether very versatile personality who was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1998… He said the word ‘secular’ should more appropriately be translated as panthnirpeksh. He argued that dharma, the fundamental duty, is the foundation ethic of the Indian nation and of every walk of life, and the very foundation for the section called Fundamental Duties of Citizens being part of Mrs Gandhi’s Constitutional amendment. Panth, on the other hand, meant religion. That is how the word panthnirpeksh to denote ‘secular’ got into the Hindi version of the Preamble of our Constitution. It is, therefore, a shame that dharm continues to appear in Articles 15, 16 and 25 of our Constitution’s Hindi version with regard to ‘Prohibition of discrimination…,’ ‘Equality of opportunity…’ and ‘Right to freedom of Religion’ respectively in the English version.
Below is another true story.
In 1977, the Janata Party government introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill wherein one clause sought to define the word ‘Secular’ as ‘equal respect for all religions.’ The proposal was passed in the Lok Sabha where the newly elected Janata Party was dominant, but was rejected by the Congress majority in the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress should no longer object to that definition suggested 34 years ago. Why? Because in a lecture delivered on June 9, 2007, at the Nexus Institute, The Hague, Sonia Gandhi herself proclaimed that ‘India is a secular country. The term secularism means equal respect for all religions.’
Let me end with a poser. A political party represented in our Parliament from 1952 till now says in its website that among its aims is ‘To secure and protect the rights and interests of the Muslims and other minorities in the state.’ Which is that party? And can it be labelled as ‘secular?’
Published Date: Jun 29, 2012
SIT report uncovers the murky world of anti-Modi cottage industry, where cops, journalists, NGOs, politicians are in nexus
(our Thanks to DeshGujarat.com and Japan Pathak)