Dear Dr. Arun Shourie:
Namaste. A few days back you came down hard on Modi government. You made an uncharitable remark that “The Modi government believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines” and that people have started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.” I didn’t like it but you are an expert on the subject and I am not, so I swallowed it. You further said, “The way to characterize policies of the government is – Congress plus a cow. Policies are the same.” http://m.timesofindia.com/india/This-government-is-Congress-plus-a-cow-Arun-Shourie-says/articleshow/49544316.cms?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=TOI
That was a cheap pot shot and insulting to Hindu sensitivities. Yet, I let it ride thinking that even the best of the people lose balance sometimes in anger and say things that they later regret.
People have surmised that you are frustrated because you were not given a ministerial position in the new government, not even a place in the Niti Ayog. I didn’t agree with that assessment. I didn’t think you were that petty and hunkering after name and fame.
Having known your contribution to BJP and your scholarly and philosophical mind, having read your books, I have held you in high regards for decades, so I did not want to label you as another Modi hater just because of that one interview.
Then came another of your interviews with NDTV. It opened my eyes and changed my perception. I want to pick only a few points from that interview and tell you that Mr. Shourie, you are wrong.
(1) “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is deliberately maintaining silence on incidents like Dadri lynching while his ministerial and party colleagues kept the issue alive merely to win Bihar elections.”. Maybe he is and that is a prudent way; if you had the good of the country at the heart and didn’t want Congress or its proxy to rear its head again, you would have kept quiet too. And why should he comment? Just because it was a Muslim death? Why did you not mention that he should make a statement also on the murder of Prashant Poojary, a Hindu by Muslims? So you are also falling in media trap of labeling Modiji as a PM of Hindus only.
(2) You cited a Pakistani analyst to say that “while the neighboring country was trying to get out of the pit, India was slowly going down its way.” So now, to you suddenly an analyst from Pakistan carries more weight? And is Pakistan really trying to come out of the pit? It doesn’t look like looking at what they are doing in Kashmir.
(3) You have said “the writers, authors and artists were conscience-keepers of the country and their motives cannot be questioned.” Ha, ha, ha! So where was their conscience in 1984 Sikh genocide, in 1989 when Pundits in Kashmir were massacred, in 2002 when 58 Hindus were burnt alive at Godhra in a railway coach when Professor Joseph’s hands were cut by the Jehadis in Kerala? So these guys’ motives cannot be questioned but Modi’s can be?
(4) ” Praising scientists like P M Bhargava and Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy, who have expressed concern over these incidents, you questioned how these people can be called rabid, a term used by Arun Jaitley.” One only needs to do a Google search on Bhargava to see where his ideological loyalties lie. Bhargava has been supporting AAP from the very beginning and has leftist, pro-Naxal leanings. He is not a neutral, ‘oh, so ever gentle soul.’ Mr. Murthy is a Ford Foundation Trustee. Do we need to know more?
(5) ” These people have contributed immensely to the country and those who attacked them have not read a book in the last 20 years. Those who cannot write two paragraphs are sitting in judgement over writers.” This is so absurd an argument that it takes the cake. If we were sitting in judgement of their literary work, the argument would make sense; here we are judging their action of Award Vapasi and political motive behind it, which doesn’t require literary skills but common sense.
Your strident support of politically motivated writers and artists’ return of awards makes it crystal clear that in the last innings of your life, you have thrown away your wicket. You are so enamored with your righteousness that you have lost all sense of proportion. Up until now, I thought that Advaniji was the only icon whom I had held in high esteem and who had failed BJP and the nation at the crucial juncture. Now I know that he is in good (!) company.
I am one of 1.25 billion Bharatiyas. Though I happen to reside away from Bharat, my heart beats for Bharat. I blog, twit and use Facebook. I am not a scholar; I have not written incisive books; I have not been a minister; I have not been a darling of think tanks and conclaves; I am not a speaker; hey, I am not even a member of BJP. Yet, I dare say that Shourie Ji you have lost it. All your lifelong contributions have come to a naught because you have decided to become a tool in the hands of Adharma, i.e., in the hands of anti-Modi, anti-Hindu, and to an extent, anti-Bharat media. It is no different than Bhishma or Dronacharya deciding to side with the Kauravas.
Finally, I can write “more than two paragraphs” and I have read 50 or so book in last twenty years.
May you find peace within.
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
Edison, New Jersey, USA
(facebook: <vicharak1>, twitter: @vicharak1)
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
– Peace and prosperity after bloodshed in Gujarat
(The Telegraph, Friday, March 2, 2012)
It may sound callous, but there was something patently disgusting about the way the media and activists colluded to turn a grim 10th anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat riots into a celebration of victimhood. From star anchors rushing to Ahmedabad to hug victims to the overuse of the photograph of the unfortunate Qutubuddin Ansari pleading for his life, every tear-jerking potential was cynically exploited. What should have been a solemn occasion of remembrance, perhaps leading to a pledge to make sectarian violence a thing of the past, was, instead, turned into an all-too-familiar Indian tamasha, culminating in riotous television discussions.
The reason for this ugly turn of events should be obvious. Ten years after the arson attack on the Sabarmati Express in Godhra became the trigger for murderous violence throughout Gujarat, the issue of ‘justice’ has been transformed into a political blame game. The activists who have doggedly kept the issue alive, despite the apparent lack of responsiveness in Gujarat, have shifted their priorities markedly. The issue is no longer one of securing the punishment of the rioters and those responsible for inhuman conduct, but the political targeting of one man: the chief minister, Narendra Modi.
The unspoken assumption is that justice will be served if Modi can be prosecuted for personally facilitating the carnage. As an additional bonus, the framing of charges against Modi is calculated to ensure his exclusion from the political arena and consequently bring to an abrupt end any possibility of him being in the reckoning for the prime minister’s post. In short, if you can’t beat him, disqualify him.
Had Modi shown himself to be electorally vulnerable, the need to fight him judicially would have evaporated. A Modi defeat in either 2002 or 2007 would have prompted the self-satisfied conclusion that “Gujarat has redeemed itself”— in the same way as, it is proclaimed, Uttar Pradesh redeemed itself by rejecting the Bharatiya Janata Party after the demolition of the Babri shrine in 1992. However, the prospects of the clutch of activists moving on to the next available cause have dimmed following the realization that not only has Modi strengthened himself politically but that the Congress in Gujarat lacks the necessary qualities to mount an effective challenge. Consequently, the only way they see to fight Modi is to remove him from politics altogether.
There is another factor at work. Over the past 10 years, Modi has transformed Gujarat spectacularly. After winning the 2002 assembly elections in a communally surcharged environment, he has deftly shifted the political focus of Gujarat from sectarian identity issues to rapid economic development. Gujarat was always an economically vibrant state and entrepreneurship is deeply ingrained in the DNA of the average Gujarati. Modi has played the role of a great facilitator by creating an environment that is conducive to the double digit growth of the state’s gross domestic product. He has toned up the administration, improved the finances of the state exchequer, brought down corruption markedly and made every rupee expended on government-run schemes a factor in economic value addition. Modi has been the model rightwing administrator pursuing the mantra of minimal but effective governance. His election victory in 2007 wasn’t a consequence of Hindu-Muslim polarization; it was based on his ability to deliver good governance.
Secondly, Modi successfully shifted tack from Hindu pride to Gujarati pride. This meant that hoary grievances centred on sectarian hurt were subsumed by a common desire to take advantage of the dividends flowing from a prolonged period of high economic growth. The popular mentality of Gujarat has undergone a discernible shift in the past decade. In the 30 years since the Ahmedabad riots of 1969, which left nearly 650 people dead in just five days of mayhem, Gujarat had become a riot-prone state.
With its sharp communal polarization, Ahmedabad epitomized that trend. After the 1969 flare-up, there were riots in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Then, after a period of lull, rioting resumed in January 1982, March 1984, March to July 1985, January 1986, March 1986, July 1986, January 1987, February 1987, November 1987, April 1990, October 1990, November 1990, December 1990, January 1991, March 1991, April 1991, January 1992, July 1992, December 1992 and January 1993. This chronology, assembled by the political scientist based in the United States of America, Ashutosh Varshney, in his Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life (2002) tells a story of unending curfews, social insecurity and escalating hatred affecting the two communities. It was a story replicated throughout Gujarat, including the otherwise integrated city of Surat that witnessed fierce riots in 1993.
Since March 2002, Gujarat has been riot-free. Curfews have become a thing of a distant past. What has occasioned this exemplary transformation? The facile explanation, often proffered unthinkingly by secularists anxious to find fault with Modi, is that Muslims have been too cowed down by the sheer intensity of the post-Godhra majoritarian backlash. Such an explanation presumes that riots are invariably begun by a section of the Muslim community — a problematic proposition and not always empirically sustainable.
More compelling is the explanation that factors in the larger administrative and economic changes in Gujarat over the past decade. First, both the civil administration and the political leadership have internalized the lessons from their inability to control mob violence in 2002. The police have been given a free hand to operate without the interference of small-time politicians attached to the ruling party. There has been a crackdown against the illicit liquor trade and the underworld that gained its muscle power from its proceeds. At the helm, there is an unspoken understanding that another riot, with its attendant TV coverage, would extract an unacceptably high political cost. That is why there is special attention paid to curbing Hindu extremism — a phenomenon that will affect Modi most adversely.
The biggest change has, however, been at the societal level. Gujarat today is a society that is obsessively preoccupied with making money and taking advantage of the economic opportunities that have presented themselves. With the end of boredom, a happy present and an appealing future, the belief that riots are bad for dhanda has seeped into society. This is not to suggest that the bitterness of the past has been replaced by idyllic bonhomie between communities. Far from it. Sectarian conflict persists in cities such as Ahmedabad, and less so in Surat. But there is a distinction that Varshney makes between sectarian conflict and sectarian violence. One need not necessarily lead to the other if contained within the parameters of economics and politics. The Muslims of Gujarat don’t possess the political clout they enjoyed earlier under Congress rule. But this has been compensated for by growing levels of prosperity. Those who argue that the economic development of Gujarat has bypassed Muslims should look at the economic empowerment of communities such as the Bohras, Khojas and Memons.
To many, Gujarat’s obsession with economic betterment may seem an expression of denial for the larger societal involvement in the 2002 riots. This may be partially true, since Gujarati Hindus view the post-Godhra troubles as something they don’t want to be reminded of incessantly — a point which the state Congress has grudgingly acknowledged. But it doesn’t distract from Modi’s undeniable success in changing the agenda dramatically in 10 years to the point where hardened Hindutvawadis now regard him as an enemy of the cause.
The riots of 2002 were horrible. But the important thing to note is that 10 years after the butchery, Gujarat is basking in peace and unprecedented prosperity. Now, that is something to celebrate.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
August 05, 2011 11:36:46 PM
If the former Telecom Secretary’s statements are meant to be brushed aside as discredited nonsense, why should a discredited IPS officer be taken seriously?
As it finds itself increasingly beleaguered, the Congress is talking itself into one trap after another. Two recent instances stand out.
In the midst of the telecom scandal trial, Mr Siddhartha Behura, former Telecom Secretary, told the court of a crucial meeting that apparently took place on December 4, 2007. The meeting, Mr Behura claimed, was attended by Mr P Chidambaram, then Finance Minister, and Mr D Subbarao, then Finance Secretary. This meeting decided upon the pricing of 2G licences, he has said. His contention is that he, as Telecom Secretary, only implemented the decisions taken at this meeting. In a sense, he has sought to expand the ambit of culpability.
Responding to Mr Behura’s charge, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal was dismissive. “We have looked into records,” he said, “the records show that there was no such meeting. Neither Mr Chidambaram nor Mr Subbarao remembers any such meeting.” He also warned of “the danger of taking arguments made on behalf of an accused, and treating them as evidence and gospel truth”. Mr Behura, the Telecom Minister added, would attempt to save himself “even on the basis of non-existent facts”.
For all one knows, Mr Sibal may be right. Perhaps Mr Behura is indeed lying and attempting to implicate others in a show of desperation and bravado. If that is the case, the UPA Government needs to oppose him tooth and nail.
Now consider another example. In Gujarat, Mr Sanjiv Bhatt, an officer of the Indian Police Service, has spoken of a meeting at the Gandhinagar residence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi on February 27, 2002. This was on the evening of the Godhra train incineration. Mr Bhatt has alleged Mr Modi asked that Hindus be allowed to “vent out their anger” and wanted Muslims to be “taught a lesson”.
Potentially this is explosive stuff. A police officer is actually saying a Chief Minister asked his administration to back off and allow a state-backed massacre of innocent people. However, the Modi Government has denied Mr Bhatt was in the meeting of senior police officials that the Chief Minister called on February 27, 2002. The then State police chief has refuted Mr Bhatt’s contention that he was in the room that day. Mr Bhatt, it is said, was simply too junior to have attended the meeting.
It has also been established that Mr Bhatt has been in touch with activists such as Ms Teesta Setalvad and with the Congress’s Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly. In e-mail correspondence that is now before the court, he is offered legal support and coaching for his deposition before the Special Investigative Team by Ms Setalvad. He exchanges documents with the Congress leader, Mr SS Gohil, and asks him for a Blackberry phone. He tells another police officer to find out where Haren Pandya, a Minister in the Gujarat Government who was later assassinated, was on February 27, 2002.
The SIT, set up by the Supreme Court to look into the Gujarat violence, had asked Mr Bhatt if Pandya was present at the meeting. Presumably, Mr Bhatt was so engrossed in listening to his Chief Minister that he didn’t notice who else was around. Alternatively, could it be concluded Mr Bhatt wasn’t around himself?
Mr Bhatt has had a controversial career. He faces court cases for misuse of official authority. He has been involved in land-grab cases. In one incident, he was charged with framing a person who had a property dispute with a then judge of the Gujarat High Court. The National Human Rights Commission passed strictures against Mr Bhatt in this matter and fined him for “falsely involving a person in a criminal case … (and violating) fundamental human rights”.
Disciplinary action was taken against the judge as well. The judge appealed before the Supreme Court, but unsuccessfully. The judge’s lawyer, as it happened, was Mr Chidambaram, now Union Home Minister. Today, of course, Mr Chidambaram glosses over that old association and his party praises Mr Bhatt’s “courage”.
Mr Bhatt’s history has led to him having run-ins with the Gujarat Government. He has also been denied a promotion. His career is at a dead-end. Isn’t there enough reason for him to resort to desperate measures and attempt to resurrect himself “even on the basis of non-existent facts”, to borrow Mr Sibal’s expression?
If Mr Behura’s statements are meant to be brushed aside as discredited nonsense, why is Mr Bhatt supposed to be taken so seriously? Does the Congress believe all non-existent meetings are irrelevant but some non-existent meetings are less irrelevant than others?
In another episode, the Jan Lok Pal Bill activists led by Anna Hazare released preliminary findings of a survey they said they had conducted in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency. The survey apparently showed overwhelming support for the activists’ version of the Lok Pal Bill. To be fair this proved nothing. The Hazare-driven Jan Lok Pal Bill is severely flawed and will end up creating a bureaucratic monster.
However, what was worth noting was the Congress’s reaction. Mr Manish Tiwari, the party spokesperson, invited Mr Hazare to contest the 2014 parliamentary election from Chandni Chowk (now represented by Mr Sibal) and essentially convert that battle into a referendum on competing versions of the Lok Pal Bill.
This is an interesting methodology, one that places primacy on the democratic process and reduces all debate to judgement only by the electronic voting machine. It is worth considering whether Mr Harsh Mander can be put up as the National Advisory Council candidate from Madha or Baramati, take on Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, and convert a constituency contest into a referendum on competing versions of the Food Security Bill.
Alternatively, Ms Setalvad (or even Mr Bhatt) could be the joint Opposition candidate from Maninagar in the December 2012 Gujarat Assembly election. This could then be presented as a referendum on alternative narratives on Gujarat in the past decade.
Those two final suggestions may sound facetious and silly. They are; yet no less offensive is Mr Tiwari’s mocking invitation to Anna Hazare to join electoral politics. Indeed, it is the Congress’s sudden belief in the purity and integrity of the political process that is so astonishing. In Gujarat, it has used extra-political means to fight its opponents. With the NAC, it has used extra-political mechanisms to draft and push through legislation. Having built the kitchen, it suddenly can’t stand the heat. How convenient.
HC’s go-ahead for probe into doctored affidavits of Teesta
Ahmedabad, 11 July, 2011
Teesta with husband Javed
The Gujarat High Court Monday gave the go-ahead to police investigation into filing of ‘doctored’affidavits by controversial NGO operator Teesta (Javed) Setalvad on behalf of victims of the 2002riots before various courts.
A single judge bench of Justice M.R. Shah rejected a petition filed by the registrar of a sessions court challenging the order of a magisterial court, which entrusted a probe against former aide of Teesta Setalvad, Rais Khan, and others, to the police.
Khan, formerly associated with Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), had confessed before the various forums and court that he and Setalwad had fabricated affidavits and statements of the riot victims and submitted them before the lower courts and Supreme Court.
Taking cognizance of these, designated judge of Naroda Gam massacre case, S.H. Vora, had asked the registrar of the city civil and sessions court to file a complaint before the magisterial court against Khan and others.
A metropolitan magistrate had subsequently directed the police to probe the case and file a report in 30 days.
However, the registrar sought the high court’s intervention on this, by terming proceedings initiated by the magistrate as ‘erroneous’.
Justice Shah accepted special public prosecutor J.M. Panchal’s arguments.
Panchal, who appeared for the state, had submitted that the magistrate’s order was just, proper and legal.
He submitted that the magistrate had the jurisdiction to order the investigation.
Khan had claimed that the false affidavits of those witnesses and many other victims of the 2002 riot cases were prepared at behest of Setalvad to get the trial shifted outside Gujarat.
He requested the court to summon him as a witness under provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure to prove that the witnesses had falsely implicated him and had lied before the court.