Politics in the name of faith

So the RSS at the centre supports the women entry at Sabarimala, but many footsoldiers of RSS (including the online ones) do not. BJP at the centre supports the cause but BJP in the state opposes it (the BJP state chief has openly said that this is a political shift in favour of BJP). Hindutva’s long time poster boy Rahul Eswar fights for the cause but Hindutva and RSS ideologue T G Mohandas fights against it. The ex-VHP and now IHP head Pravin Togadiya who has a rift from the parivar (but not from its core ideology) is against it and challenges the BJP government at the center to issue an ordinance against the verdict. SNDP general secretary was against the protests one day (a stand that he shifted twice since then in a matter of a couple of days) but BDJS, the political wing of SNDP and led by the secretary’s son, is protesting.

And then there are some Christian and Muslim organizations, parties and people against the verdict, not because the secular values have hit them all of a sudden, but a strategy well in advance so as to protect their own patriarchal practices if a similar verdict is issued against practices of their respective religions.

All these drama happens in Keralam, however. It is obvious what their common goal is with this theatrics, right after we as a state and community have shown the world some great examples of humanity, survival and co-existence at the time of the floods, and now that the upcoming elections are a priority. Yet many are left confused about which side they should pick and fight. One must be a total idiot not to see these political games in the name of faith but unfortunately that is what happening.

The case for Uniform Civil Code

I think the case for a uniform civil code is valid. The only thing that worries me about it is that it is now put forth by BJP, whose leaders and their parent organizations have majoritarian and sectarian agenda to their politics. However, that is no reason to oppose it vehemently.

USC with regards to core practices of societal life like marriage and inheritance etc would be beneficial to people, especially to women and those who want less interference of clergy and community leaders in their lives. But it cannot happen overnight because it involves questioning so many religious, tribal and community practices across different religions.

Many of the sanghis and minorities seem to think that it affects certain practices of minority religions alone. But these practices are prevalent among many tribes, sects and communities among the majority religion as well. Which could be why the RSS’s Golwalker was one of the early opponents of USC. Which leads to the question why BJP, the Golwalkerish political offshoot, is proposing it now and that is the question concerning a large section of the minority as well.

But that is also the reason why minorities should actively engage in discussions about USC and take it forward to ensure that it doesn’t tread on the BJP/Sangh politics. This should be seen as an opportunity, if the minority concern is not to protect their dogmatic religious interests but the Sanghi agenda.

I support the uniform civil code unless convinced otherwise. And I think the process of implementing it should involve taking cues from similar laws in other, progressive countries and also gain the faith of community/political leadership and alleviate the doubts of common man before passing it as law. But it shouldn’t take forever to do that.

Hindi-India Bhai-Bhai

There is a peculiar thing about Rashmi Bansal’s book “Take Me Home” that introduces twenty small town entrepreneurs in India who made it big. Though the book is in English, she plugs in Hindi quite often with English translations in brackets. Sometimes long sentences and some times short words, like “sewa (service)”. Not just that it breaks the flow of reading for non-Hindi readers but adds an extra effort in reading. Mind you, this does not happen in chapters were she talks about entrepreneurs from other states, say like Kerala. Not a single word of Malayalam and it’s translation given.

A couple of days ago I watched an interview with a rather new politician who promised to be different. You know, the one who wears the muffler. This was on a national English TV channel, the questions were being asked in English, and the man is capable of speaking English, yet every answer he gave was in Hindi. You gotta give it to Rashmi Bansal here for she at least gave the English translation along, but here there were no subtitles.

I wonder what it is that makes people like this writer and politician plug in a language that is not spoken or read by a large chunk of people in India. Whom are they addressing, really? Or who, they think, is worthy of their address?

I want Modi to win

No. I am not going to post that in Modi’s Gujrat the average daily wages is Rs. 129 while it is Rs. 493 in Kerala. Or that Wikileaks themselves have made it clear that the BJP’s official campaigners used the name of Julian Assange to bat for Modi as an ‘incorruptible leader’ in a fake Twitter message. Or about the gender violence in Gujrat as published by Open Democracy.

Why should I, while you – the so-called ‘non-partisans’ – are in search of reasons to like him despite the many myth-busters doing the rounds? Why, when the finance experts among you – while admitting that the statistics can be played out – bats for him with finance jargon?

I would rather play myself a Yesudas. I will tell you the stories of harmony, one god, one religion and all that. And how music can heal you. I should do that because in Modi’s India, I will be saved with all that good talks and not lose a fan in the name of my politics (with a most recent example of that lady who befriended me after hearing a song of mine and later quit accusing me of my ‘secular meter coming down’). Why should I be worried? The Sangh or Modi will definitely not rake up much of the Hindutva issues in their first term. In the next term, probably their first target is going to be Muslims and I am not a Muslim. Their second target could be the evangelical Christians and I don’t belong to one. Their third target could be the Dalits but though I would be proud to call myself part of a tribe who fought the oppression, I am not categorically a Dalit. I belong to a Church who, while the Christians were being burned and killed, said that Communism is a greater threat than Hindutva – simply because their educational business or their belief business was at threat. The same church who are as Hindutvavaadis as the real Hindutvavaadis in the name of ‘nativity’ while they seldom admit that their approaches are being labeled as a way to convert the natives by the Hindutvavaadis.

I want Modi to win. Really. I want him to be the prime minister. I know for certain that he can’t deliver what he promises. I know for certain he will not be a prime minister even for my class, the middle class, but for the Adanis and Ambanis, but I want him to win. I know for certain that he would blame his inefficiencies on the political alliances and compromises but I still want him to win. Because you deserve him. India deserves him so badly right now.

I want Modi to be your prime minister.

Meanwhile in Delhi…

The writer was searching for ideas to write a new book. By the time he had already used the themes he knew best – the upper/middle-class, elite educational institutions and middle-class romance – and didn’t know what to write next. He had no idea that Writer’s Block would be such a big deal. Happens to all great minds, he told himself. Yet, the pain was unbearable to him. ‘Help me god’, he prayed. ‘ Please do something like you did in my novel’. There was no answer. But just as he moved to grab a cup of coffee to serve the late night internet time, the phone rang.


‘Hello Ketan’, said the Dolby 5.1 voice on the other end.

OH.MY.GOD! Is this really happening? I never thought that something like this could really happen!’

‘What’s happening?’

Nothing. I’m just stuck with ideas. I’ve run out of topics to write. Tell me please, what can I do? What can I do?’. The writer was on the verge of breaking into tears.

‘Stop being a sizzy, Johnny Fontane.’


‘Nevermind. Open your eyes Ketan, and look around. What do you see?’

I see Arnab Goswami on TV!

‘You’re so hopeless, Ketan. Look around again.’

I see Arundhati Roy!

‘Bingo! Tell me now, what do you think you should do when you have nothing to write?’

Write about politics! Oh my god, I’ve never been clearer!

‘I know that part, but what do you plan to write about politics?’

Liberalism, Maoism, India-China friendship?

‘You’re being hopeless again, Ketan. That territory is already occupied’.

Hmm… How about going just the opposite side? Towards the right of the politics?

‘Well thought. But your fanboys are from urban India and they don’t know yet if they are on right, center or left.’

Now I’m confused!

‘Just like thy fans Ketan baby, but that’s okay. I will give you an idea. Write about something that is political yet you won’t be straight political, something so populist and appealing to the middle and elite class yet you will touch an emotional note with the rest, while ensuring you poke nose into someone more famous than you for a bit of TV time and in the effort you also get in the company of powerful people’.

Wow, that’s a lot to do, god! Is that even possible?

‘Like I said, look around you, boy. What do you see? Now don’t tell me the name of that Arnab fellow again or am gonna put you straight in an interview with him!’

Fair enough. Okay, I see Narendra Modi.


I see Amartya Sen and he is saying something about Modi.


If I write against Sen and support Modi, I will be even more popular and mine and Modi bhai’s target audience is almost the same!

‘Dumb, dumb boy. How do you then relate to the other class?’

Hmm… so should I speak on behalf of young Indians in general than myself?

‘Just because you have put an old photo of yours in that blue T everywhere from your book covers to Twitter background, doesn’t make you look young or the youngsters’ representative (get that T changed, BTW. You have Photoshop these days, you know).’

Then I will probably write against Sen saying he doesn’t know what the poor India wants.

‘Poor, of what kind?’

The ones who can’t attend a decent college or get a decent job?

‘And you know them because… you’ve spent your academics in IIT/IIM and then you got a job as an investment banker in Hong Kong and you stayed there for 11 years?’

But who’s going to think about all that? This is young urban India that we are talking about!

‘Super cool. You’re smarter than me.’

Kai Po Che! Gotta hang up now. Twitter time!


And so the writer began to tweet.


Of puppies and the Men-behind-the-drivers

The puppy is silly. He makes his passage not knowing that the next car on the road might just hit him. He may not have realized that the next car could be ‘the’ car. The car comes and it hits him hard and crushes him under the wheels. There is a driver. And there is a man behind the driver. He is asked by someone, “do you regret what happened”? Plain question. The answer could be a Yes, or No. But the man opts to draw an analogy instead. He does not say that ‘I should have hit the brakes before it happened, but I couldn’t’ or ‘I wish I could save the puppy’s life but was unable to do so’. He also does not say that it was the puppy’s problem altogether which could have revealed what he thought of the puppy’s action. Rather, he puts the analogy of another puppy.

The question of whether the driver or the man-behind-the-driver regrets what happened still hangs in the air. Even the person who asked the question doesn’t seem to have noticed that.

Ref: http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2013/07/12/interview-with-bjp-leader-narendra-modi/

“Notes from a beautiful city”

More from a game that cost 90,000 crores to a country that has more than 70% of it’s population below poverty line, with not even 10 percent in return for the money spent, made us look ridiculous during it’s final preparation stage, took out the right of the city’s inhabitants to live in the city and hid it’s own citizens behind huge posters.

Shame on you, austerity wallahs!

Tampered Machines, Tempered Masters

A group of scientists and technologists did a research and found out that contrary to the claims of Election Commission of India (of India’s EVMs being “perfect” and “infallible”), the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) are easy to tamper with. Their technical paper (PDF link) details the process they have done to prove their point, with a real EVM. But rather than ordering a detailed inquiry and a fix to those EVMs, the Election Commission arrested Hari K Prasad, one of the researchers, to have stolen an EVM. The research website says “in 2009, the Election Commission of India publicly challenged Prasad to demonstrate that EVMs could be tampered with, only to withhold access to the EVMs at the last minute.

As per the research website, the device was given by an anonymous source which itself raises questions about the security of these machines. And what exactly should we say about an independent researcher being charged for stealing the machine while the more important questions he raised about the credibility of EVMs are muted? The technical paper (PDF link) also claims that Hari Prasad “was approached in October 2009 by representatives of a prominent regional party who offered to pay for his technical assistance fixing elections. They were promptly and sternly refused.

Disguised as democracy

In my post about Prof. Joseph’s hand-chopping incident, I had written about the intrusion of religious elements into the liberal, democratic and political spheres of Kerala in disguise. I think this is more dangerous than the Hindutva politics because Hindutva politics is there on the surface for everybody to see. Hindutvavaadis thrive on anti-minority sentiments and extreme Hindu-nationalist views, and everybody knows that. Hindutavavaadis never hesitate to boast upon their beliefs (except for the grooming campaigns of Narendra Modi these days), but on the other side, the hard-core Islamists chose to play different. When they learned that terrorism and an extreme Islamist movement is a growing concern in the public, they put on the mask of liberal activism and tried to play more left than the Left. While the Left in Kerala has left itself to be rotten, there was an empty space in the field of activism that was available for others to occupy. And the Islamists were quick to fill in that space. It is said that ‘even the BJP is Leftist in Kerala’. So the best way to get public acceptance was obvious – be more left than the Leftists.

The first step in that direction was taken long back – starting with media. A prominent Malayalam weekly and news daily is owned by such a group. They invited the prominent figures in the socio-political-liberal sphere to write for them and made a mark. Then came their student/youth organizations. They started campaigns and agitations on several issues – Capitalism, Globalization, Bourgeoisie, Western Imperialism, Environment, Development, Human Rights etc. When they shouted slogans against America and Israel, their tones were sharper than the Communists. When they talked about freedom of speech for M F Hussain, they kept mum on the threats and Fatwas issued to Taslima Nasreen. When they talked about Imperialism and Human Rights, they never talked about the Islamic imperialist countries and the grave human rights violation in those countries.

When Madani was released from jail, he also played the same political card. Madani was smart. He saw the possiblity of a wider political spectrum and thus included “Dalits” in his come back. The term “Dalit” had already become a fine selling point of all political parties by then. Madani also banked upon the same “anti-imperialistic” politics of the other Islamist organizations.

But people failed to notice it or chose to ignore. And our socio-political leaders kept taking part in their meetings and that image has been used to boast upon their public acceptance. And now the final step – Jamaat-e-Islami is forming a political party in Kerala. And what is their declared obective? Their Wiki page says, “Establishment of (Islamic) way of life in all aspects of life“. And their core doctrine? “the Divine Being is solely Allah, there being no God except Him, and that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger“. Tell me how it is different from the dream of a Hindu nation proposed by the Sangh Parivar.

Now we have a number of such “political parties” and “activist organizations” in our public sphere. And the news of bombs and detonators being placed in the public spaces and people being hacked in the name of religion is increasing day by day. Even though some of the socio-political leaders and intellectuals have turned a blind-eye towards such developments, the consolation is that there are people like Hameed Chennamangaloor who have been voicing against these groups openly since a very long time. And publications like Mathrubhumi weekly having open debates about this as cover stories. But that is not enough. People have to stand up and say, we don’t want an Islamic or Chrsitian version of BJP or Sangh Parivar. We don’t want religion in our political space. We don’t want that one God or multiple Gods and their doctrines to rule us, instead the secular ethos envisioned by the founding fathers of this country. We want to keep our democracy in place, how much shortcomings and failures it has.

I don’t know…

I don’t know whom to believe any more.

Some say that Maoists are fighting for the tribals because of the abuse they face by the corporates and government. Maoists seem to be a group of people fighting for a cause.

But then I see Maoists killing people, jawans and civilians alike, and that makes me think how can such a group of killers ever fight effectively for a just cause.

Then some activists, including some ex-Naxalites, sign a press copy saying that they condemn the heinous acts of Maoists. They say that both the state and Maoists are abusing the tribals. They say that the fight against the mining industry was born even before Mao himself. And if Maoists have any sincerity in the matter, they should first fight the mining corporates than just plainly taxing them for business.

I don’t know. The picture that I get from all these is of the state and its politicians who make way for some corporates to function smoothly because there is big money for everyone to make in those thick, dark layers of land. And a set of killing machines who kill people to overthrow a corrupt system to replace it with another more centralized and violent system in the name of revolution. And a state-sponsored militia that fights/kills/abuses it’s own people.

I don’t know whom or what to believe anymore. But I do know that I should thank God that I was not born a tribal. For, at the end of the day, they are the ones who are most suffered, abused and wiped out of history that we, rest of the people in this land, keep making. I should be happy that I am not one of those unlucky tribals. But then that darn line keeps ringing in my head:

and by that time no one was left to speak up.