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Archives for : July2017

Modi in Israel: I am aghast as an Indian, ashamed as a secular Jew

This is not foreign policy, but a continuation of the communal marginalisation of minorities.


There has been a long-standing demand among Zionists, Jews dedicated to a homeland for the Jews scattered throughout the world. After World War I, the British government sent Lord Balfour in 1917 to grant the Zionists a part of Palestine as the holy land of the Jews.

Lord Balfour gave the Balfour declaration to the Jewish banker Lord Rothschild to pass it on to the Zionist leadership. However, this action had no ratification from the League of Nations.

Britain had no right to give the land to the Zionists who themselves had no right to it. Interestingly, the Balfour declaration stated that there should be no violation of the religious or civil rights of the non-Jewish peoples. The Zionists violated that condition, as they violated virtually all agreements they were party to.

In 1947, there was the UN Partition Plan dividing Palestine between Israel and Palestine. There were few decolonised countries who were members of the UN. India opposed the UN Partition Plan and did not accept the creation of Israel.

This was followed by the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, where the “Nakba” or terrible disaster led to the expulsion of over 7,00,000 Palestinians from Palestine. They and their ancestors were never allowed to return to their homeland.

Also in 1948, the Zionist gangs including the Irgun and Stern gangs attacked friendly Palestinian villages like Deir Yassin in which hundreds were killed. The Zionist gangs and their underground army, Haganah, bombed the King David Hotel in Palestine, killing the UN envoy Count Bernadotte.

From 1948 to the attack on the Suez Canal in 1956, to the 1967 Palestine-Israel war, then the 1973 war, and finally the assault on Gaza by Israel some years ago, in which 2,200 Palestinians were killed including 550 children, the imperial wars have continued. More than $1 billion of damages including the destruction of Gaza resulted.

These wars are punctuated by a serious of assaults on Palestinian civilians as the Zionist machine occupies more and more Palestinian land.

Lately, an extreme right-wing Zionist Knesset (Parliament) member Yehuda Glick has warned the Palestinians that their actions could lead to the destruction of the holy Al-Aqsa mosque. This has led to a series of knife attacks by Palestinians incensed by the threat to the holy shrine. Many of the Palestinian revolting have been shot dead.

flag-embed_070417080431.jpgIndia opposed the UN Partition Plan and did not accept the creation of Israel. Photo: Reuters

The world has not stood still. As many as 78 resolutions have been passed by the UN on the Palestine-Israel question. They have been vetoed by the US and its allies. There are many more Jews in the US than in Israel. The occupation of Jerusalem continues. Palestinian civilians continue to die. There are few secrets the world over about this occupied land.

So why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi going to this brutal and criminal country? Why is he becoming the first Indian PM to visit this racist and imperial country?

There are many Jews like the linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky, the famous international jurist Richard Falk, and Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (who had to leave Israel in 2008 and is teaching in the US) – all of them reject the Zionist and racist creation of Israel.

Therefore, why is our Prime Minister so keen to go to Israel? In the last important Israeli visit to India by former president and veteran leader Shimon Peres, senior BJP leader LK Advani reportedly asked Peres for suggestions on how to deal with Kashmir. Peres, a very wily leader, suggested that India should populate the Kashmir valley with non-Kashmiris.

The increasing tempo of attacks and lynchings shows the Prime Minister’s inadequate response to rising communalism. What better exposure than Israel for the BJP to show the way to suppress minorities and all those who do not accept the diktats of the NDA?

This is not foreign policy, but a continuation of the communal marginalisation of minorities. As an Indian citizen I am aghast. As a secular Jew, I am deeply ashamed.

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Mumbai -To justify demolition, BMC declared members of a settled community the ‘vagrants’

GBGBA will refute the report

Mumbai | 05-07-2017: A Dalit community living on the pavement near Kalina-Vakola flyover has faced countless demolition in a period of 30 years. Latest demolition happened in March this year before the arrival of Prime Minister and President in Mumbai to attend a media conclave. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in order to ensure that the poverty remain unseen to the PM and the President’s convoy which was to pass by Kalina-Vakola flyover, removed the shanties from the pavement making each member of the community homeless.  The shanties were replaced by small trees fixed in a pot so as to avoid chaotic view of the demolition site to the passer-by. Each member of this community possess those ration cards which are given to homeless persons. These ration cards are eight to nine years old.

The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan brought this case of demolition to the notice of Maharashtra Human Rights Commission in April. The Commission had taken the matter as suo-moto and sought the response from BMC. Yesterday, during the hearing, BMC submitted a report to the Commission. The municipal corporation in its report has declared this community as ‘vagrants’ and has apparently shrugged off its responsibility to rehabilitate the evicted people.

The title of vagrancy can be given to a community settled temporarily at a place for a short period of time but surely not to a community as old as the one near the Kalina-Vakola flyover. Almost all the children there are enrolled in BMC’s local school. Each member of this community is locally employed however, informally. Income of the members of this community is not regular, they sometime work on sub contracts of BMC as sweepers or drainage cleaners and sometime even forced to beg on the streets in the absence of work.

As per the data of 2011 census, Mumbai has 57, 416 homeless population. Keeping Supreme Court’s, National Urban Livelihood Mission’s (NULM) guidelines in mind and the number of homeless population in Mumbai, 125 homeless shelters are required in the city. However, as per BMC’s own admission, there are no night (homeless) shelters in Mumbai as per NULM guidelines except for the seven night shelters which were constructed before the SC and NULM guidelines were issued. The currently available homeless shelters have an inadequate capacity to accommodate a huge homeless population of Mumbai. Neither the fund nor the space is an impediment in constructing the homeless shelter for the poor homeless people but the willingness of the government. A fund of more than Rs. 100 cr. Is lying unused in the Maharashtra Government exchequer in the name of homeless shelter. BMC cites the unavailability of space for constructing homeless shelter in Mumbai but on the other hand government, many a time has dug out a space in the heart of a city even for privately owned projects.

GBGBA will file a response to BMC’s report on the next hearing before the Commission exposing the irresponsibility and the wrong facts of the report.


As the BMC never sent for to water the trees planted on the pavement, the evicted person are now taking care of the trees they could save from getting dried after they had come back and settled on the pavement again.


RTI_No Night Shelter 

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India – Toilets Yes, But Where is the Water for Basic Hygiene?

When people are poor and unable to meet even basic daily necessities, maintaining hygiene becomes a secondary issue. Bathing regularly is more like performing a ritual, neglecting its basic function of maintaining cleanliness.

This situation prevails in most parts of rural India. The issue of survival and basic sustenance holds much deeper value than building bathrooms. The logic is simple: why should I waste my limited resources on building a bathroom when I don’t even have money to make my daily ends meet?

It is a sad truth that the issue of bathing has never been considered a problem grave enough to be discussed, even by women. It is strange that although women understand that secure bathing spaces are important not just for maintaining privacy but for the greater goal of cleanliness, they have never talked about it much. They have either accepted it as a tradition that has been carried out through generations or accepted the fact that there are more important things in life other than stressing upon bathing.

This brings us to an important question: What are the opportunity costs of not maintaining personal hygiene? Putting it in simpler terms it means the costs that women have to bear in terms of mental, physical pain and monetary loss when they are exposed to unhygienic conditions.

In a typical rural setup, where there are limited financial resources and a lot of mouths to feed, prioritizing of needs comes into play. Women are more likely to face health insecurities than men, so it is far more important for women to seek medical care. But in such situations where they face the risk of infections, they forgo the decision to visit a doctor, as doing so would mean additional resource strain for her family. So for her, the opportunity cost of choosing medical care would mean losing out on her family’s needs.

For them feeding their family, educating their children and making their home a better place to live is more important to them than their health. It is because of this that in many parts of the country, women still go and bathe outside but fetch water to their homes so that their daughters can live comfortably.

Against this background, a pilot research study was conducted in Chamrabaad village of Bokaro district of Jharkhand, where a small sample of 29 women was interviewed about bathing practices and the consequences it has on them. The sample was chosen randomly on a voluntary basis. Data thus collected has been classified, analyzed, interpreted and conclusions are drawn. The major conclusions emerging from the study are as follows.

Of the total sample, approximately 44.8% have never gone to school, 31% have studied up to Class 10th and only one out of the sample is pursuing her studies after Intermediate. More than 95% of the women who were interviewed took bath on a daily basis and used soap or other cleaning agents, whereas 100% reported that they took bath regularly during their menstrual cycle.

Out of 29 women who were interviewed on a one-on-one basis, only three bathed in closed spaces that were makeshift arrangements with thatched roofs and walls. Most others took bath in ponds that were less than 1 km away from their houses. It was observed that even in better off households, women visited the ponds for bathing purpose as there was no water available in the spaces created in their homes.

Around 75% of women took a bath in the pond within 1 km from their house. Only a minority group of 6% took a bath near the well but even they did not have a closed space. All the women took a bath wearing clothes.

It was also observed that majority (73%) of the women use cloth that can be recycled for protection during menstrual cycles. Most of the women, around 72%, clean the cloth where they take bath. It was unfortunate to acquire the information that they wash their used cloth during the menstrual cycle in the same source where they were taking bath.

Only 3.4% women reported to disposing the napkin safely with other wastes, while 17% said that they dumped the napkin in the same pond where they took bath. “We place the soiled napkin in between the fingers of our legs, and while we dip inside the water to take bath, we release it then and it sinks down to the ground,” a 13-year-old girl said. “If you search the bottom of the lake, you will find the whole bed covered with napkins,” said the mother of a 15-year-old who uses sanitary napkins.

Talking with a middle-aged woman in a village in Jharkhand, she confessed that she still goes to a nearby pond to bathe, but ensures that her daughter has a secure and private space for bathing. She accepts that her health can’t get any better as she is old now, but her daughter who is young needs to maintain hygiene as that is of utmost importance. The respondent says that when she was young, there were lots of financial restraints. But now things have changed for better and now they can even think of building a closed space near her home only for her daughter.

The second point, which should be made clear, is that having a disease or an infection not only affects a woman physically but also financially. The concept of opportunity costs comes into play again when we see it in terms of daily wages. Women in rural India are mostly engaged in fieldwork. They either work on their own lands or as farm laborers. In both situations, missing a day’s work can mean missing on their wage, which can be either in the form of cash or kind.

Mostly it is seen that women are paid for their labor in kind, which implies that being absent from their work would make them miss on their daily food. As women have time and money as scarce resources, they choose to work and earn their living rather than wasting it all on seeking treatment. They might try to postpone the treatment or tolerate the pain without compromising on their duties as a laborer.

The third point to remember is the innate trait of women to remain silent. This culture of silence is highly prevalent in rural India. Not only do they not speak up against any medical condition, which they face, they do not even voice their opinion against basic facilities, which are lacking from their life. For example, the need for secured bathing spaces is felt by all the women who either bathe in ponds, rivers or near hand pumps.

However, when asked if they had ever expressed their discomfort to their husbands, most of the women confessed that though they were not comfortable bathing in full public view they hardly ever told their husbands about it, because for them, bathing was a very trivial issue. One of the women said, “We can’t take so much time to bathe, we all have work to do and for a two-minute bath we cannot bother our husbands and ask them to build us a bathroom.”

For a woman in rural India, the opportunity cost refers to the benefit she could have received in the form of medical care, which she chose to give up, to take another course of action that would benefit the whole family. Financial constraints act as barriers that force a woman to prioritize her family’s need in favor of hers. This brings us to an important question: Is economic well being the answer to everything?

Hypothetically speaking, will building bathrooms ever be on the list of a rural Indian household after taking care of their basic roti, kapda and makaan? After emphasizing on the issue of building toilets, it is now time to give bathrooms its due importance.

(Meghna Mukherjee is with the Centre for Development Research, Pune. VillageSquare)

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Can Data Tell Us Whether Lynchings Have Gone Up Under Modi, And Should It Matter?

People protest against the recent cases of mob lynching of Muslims who were accused of possessing beef, in New Delhi, India, June 28, 2017.

People protest against the recent cases of mob lynching of Muslims who were accused of possessing beef, in New Delhi, India, June 28, 2017.

When official stats aren’t good enough





When BJP President Amit Shah said that there had been more lynchings during the UPA government than during the Modi government‘s rule, he was echoing a debate that has raged on Indian social media over the last week–do we have data to show that lynchings are on the rise, or is this a liberal media conspiracy?

First, here’s what the official data says. India does not record “lynchings” or “mob violence” separately, but does record incidents of communal riots, promoting enmity between people on the basis of religion, and communal incidents.

The first two come from the National Crime Records Bureau, a collection of FIRs from across the country. In addition to being subject to data recording issues–for example, the NCRB operates on the ‘principal offence’ principle, meaning that only the “most heinous” of all offences relating to one incident is recorded. The NCRB also runs with a time lag; the latest data is for 2015.

The NCRB only began to record “communal” riots separately from 2014 onwards; the data shows that that number of communal riots declined from 1,227 incidents in 2014 to 789 such incidents in 2015, along with an overall decline in the total number of riots over the few years before that.

HINDUSTAN TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGESCitizens hit the streets in support of the campaign ‘Not In My Name’ against lynching of a Muslim teenager Junaid, in Mumbai’s Carter Road.

Similarly, the NCRB only began to record “promoting enmity between different groups” from 2014; those cases rose from 336 to 424 between 2014 and 2015, but we know little about the period before that.

Finally, the Ministry of Home Affairs records “communal incidents”, which it publishes annually. (This number, by the way, differs substantially from the number of communal riots recorded by the NCRB, and the MHA does not have an answer for why this is so.) These numbers do not show any substantial increase post-2014 either.

For lynchings or mob violence, specifically, then, media organisations and interested individuals have turned to news sources; the data journalism website IndiaSpend did an analysis based on a Google search of English news websites, economics writer Rupa Subramanya‘s analysis created a dataset from news reports, and on Twitter, scientist and writer Anand Ranganathan sought to point out that as many news reports on lynchings in 2013 existed as those on lynchings in 2016.

Are analyses based on news reports worthwhile? To be sure, there is scholarly pedigree to the enterprise. Political scientist Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of Political Science and International Studies and Social Sciences and the Director of the Brown-India Initiative at Brown University, with Steven Wilkinson, assembled a dataset on Hindu-Muslim violence between 1950 and 1995 based on news reports in the Mumbai edition of The Times of India. That dataset, publicly available, is widely regarded as a standard in the field and has been replicated many times over. For the current question, Varshney says this:

“The first question we’d need to ask is–are there better alternatives? The answer to that is no, for government statistics are wholly unreliable both because the process itself does not generate faith in the accuracy, and the category construction is bizarre,” says Varshney. What we are then left with is newspapers, he says, and while realising that newspapers too will not be accurate, in a competitive atmosphere, newspapers are unlikely to be as unreliable as government statistics.

“Forget issues of bias and political control, sometimes an important story may be dropped for as random a reason as ‘the paper looks too depressing today'”

What’s key, however, is that such an analysis cannot merely involve a literal search of a selected newspaper or set of papers. In Indonesia, for example, where Varshney and his colleagues have just concluded an even more ambitious dataset of violence, the researchers used national, regional and local newspapers. For these datasets, an important step was triangulation–randomly selecting some large riots and cross-checking with local knowledge centres: NGOs, knowledgeable activists, in-depth local reports. In a riot dataset, large incidents drive the overall results, says Varshney–large riots need special investigation. “At the end of it, what you would realistically hope to achieve is statistical reasonableness rather than statistical precision,” Varshney says.

  1. Ram, former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, agrees that in his experience, “one can safely assume that every serious lynching would have been covered by the news media, some more reliable than others”. Such an analysis, however, would need to involve a wide enough search and be done systematically and scientifically, he added.

HINDUSTAN TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGESCitizens protest in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

However, some within the media sounded a note of caution. Two senior Delhi-based journalists, who asked not to be named, said that institutional issues in newspaper journalism can make them unreliable on occasion. “Forget issues of bias and political control, sometimes an important story may be dropped for as random a reason as ‘the paper looks too depressing today’ or ‘we need an important figure in the government to come give to our event,” one of them said. “The paper is shutting editions in non-metros and giving very little focus to reporters who are not in Bombay or Delhi,” a former senior editor with another newspaper said. “Having worked inside the paper, I would not trust it to be counted on as a newspaper of record,” he added.

Defects in news reporting is something Ranganathan frequently points out himself on Twitter. Then why use news reports now? “It is not an ideal method, certainly. But it is the only option, given the non-availability of such data from NCRB,” he says. “Then again, it is worth pointing out the obvious–that not only there would be bias in the data collected thus, projecting such data as an answer other than to prove hypocrisy or to allay a selective argument would be foolhardy,” he says.

And then there is the question of whether we need data to answer the question at all, or whether with anti-Muslim sentiment being fanned by members of the ruling party, a sense of impunity about mob violence against Muslims–and the resulting fear and insecurity among Muslims and those who worry about them–is to be expected. Yes, says Ram — even if it is early days, it would be good to have data, if obtained properly, to pin the phenomenon down. “There is no doubt that many members of the ruling party have fanned anti-Muslim sentiment, and it is to be condemned unequivocally,” says Ranganathan. However, given the defects that he sees in the analysis of the most recent incidents–the data is not normalised and is a relatively small number–Ranganathan believes that “it would be unwise to link scaremongering/hate speeches/anti-community sentiment, with the actual occurrence of the crime itself in this case.”

There is an ethical answer and a social science answer,” Varshney says. “The ethical answer is that even one life lost this way is too big a loss and there is no particular reason to establish trends if, according to our observational judgement, the chilling, gruesome and ominous quality of the violence must be highlighted. Precise stats, however important in a social science framework, are really quite besides the point in such reasoning. But the social science approach would look at broad trends and broad departures from it and this might require more data, and might give different insights. Both modes of inquiry are justified and necessary,” he says.

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Harbhajan Singh – Proud of Indian Women Cricket Team – lekin mujhe nahi lagta ke revenge ki baat honi chahiye #IndoPak

Harbhajan Singh: We are proud of our girls, lekin mujhe nahi lagta ke revenge ki baat honi chahiye

Harbhajan SinghHarbhajan Singh
Our women in blue are doing us proud in England at the ongoing ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. Riding high on confidence, their three back-to-back wins in the series have raised our expectations and hopes of bringing the trophy back home. While the nation is rooting for the team and applauding its daring skipper Mithali Raj, ace spinner Harbhajan Singh is no exception. After India‘s massive victory over Pakistan on Sunday, Bhajji shared his thoughts with us, on our dashing women squad. “I want to wish them all the luck, going forward. They have won three out of three games and I want them to continue with their great work. Hopefully they will bring the cup back to India. That will be a very very proud moment for all of us.”

The cricketer, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, also stressed on how games should be looked at purely as games, instead of portraying them as rivalry or revenge. Many perceived India’s win on Sunday as a revenge of sorts for Kohli and his team’s loss in the Champions Trophy Final against Pakistan.

One of the tweets read, “Revenge is best when served by Indian women’s team! Well played girls, you have made us proud #INDVSPAK.” Bhajji said, “It’s great that we won and we are proud of our girls, lekin mujhe nahi lagta ke revenge ki baat honi chahiye . This win has nothing to do with revenge whatsoever. The other day (Champions Trophy final) Pakistan played well and they won. On Sunday, our team played well and we won. Game ko game hi rehne doh. Let’s not get into revenge and other issues .”

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India – Are EVMs Sitting Ducks?

Advanced democracies have banned them as they are tamperable, so why is the EC adamant on proving this wrong? And do citizens have the right to know the correct election results?

~By MG Devasahayam

India’s Emergency era just completed its 42nd year. This was how civil rights stalwart Rajni Kothari had described the state-of-affairs during that period: “It was a state off-limits, a government that hijacked the whole edifice of the state, a ruling party and leader who in effect treated the state as their personal estate. It was the imposition of a highly concentrated apparatus of power on a fundamentally federal society and the turning over of this centralised apparatus for personal survival and family aggrandisement. It was one big swoop overtaking the whole country spreading a psychosis of fear and terror….”


Under the brunt of such onslaught, India’s institutions and instruments of democratic governance—Legislative, Judicial and Executive—were running in panic. Though caused by an autocratic prime minister, it had the backing of a presidential mandate issued on June 25, 1975: “In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 352 of the Constitution, I, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, President of India, by this Proclamation declare that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of India is threatened by internal disturbances.”

#WTFnews" data-image-description="<p><a title="View user profile." href=";sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE-g806XQTNcSOPguo7A6AtPjsvrg" target="_blank">Sugandh Juneja</a> [1]</p> <div> <div> <div>Issue Date:</div> <div>2013-12-15</div> </div> <div> <p>Iron ore mines in Goa also concealed facts to get environmental clearance, shows report</p> </div> <p><img title="Goa has incurred a loss of Rs 35,000 crore because of illegal mining (Photo: Sugandh Juneja)" alt="Goa has incurred a loss of 35,000 crore because of illegal mining" src="" width="457" height="305" /></p> <p>SEVERAL mines in Goa fudged data in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) to get clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), shows an analysis by Gujarat-based Centre for Environment Education (CEE). Several others did not provide crucial information on land use pattern, water resources, biodiversity and air quality in EIA, it shows. Concealment or providing false information in EIA contravenes the EIA Notification 2006. Though CEE is yet to make the report public, its executive summary is available with Down To Earth.</p> <p>In 2011, following public demand, the Goa government asked CEE to assess the quality of EIA reports of 105 operational iron ore mines. CEE was also asked to examine whether the projects complied with environmental clearance (EC) conditions and took adequate steps to implement environment management plan (EMP) to mitigate the impact of mining. CEE experts analysed 95 mining projects and visited 17 mining sites between 2011 and 2013.</p> <p>The CEE analysis comes as a blow to Goa’s mining industry, already under fire from Justice M B Shah Commission. The commission was set up by the Union Ministry of Mines in 2010 to look into illegal iron ore and manganese mining in the country. In its report submitted to Parliament in September 2012, the commission stated that Goa incurred a loss of Rs 35,000 crore due to illegal mining. Following this, the state banned mining and MoEF kept all ECs for mines in Goa in abeyance.</p> <p>The summary of CEE report says that while going ahead with mining, hardly any leaseholder followed the process of public hearing adequately. Only one of the 96 projects assessed held public hearing at the project site. This when the EIA Notification states that the hearing should be conducted at the project site or as close to the site as possible.</p> <p>To avoid seeking clearance from the National Board of Wildlife, leaseholders fudged distance of mine lease boundary from protected areas, notes the summary.</p> <p>Because of mining, air pollution, water pollution, water turbidity and siltation of streams have increased in the state. Mining has also resulted in declining groundwater table and reduced agricultural productivity. Yet, these aspects were not discussed in the EIA reports, notes the summary. It further notes that EMP implemented by the mine leaseholders were inadequate to mitigate these impacts, particularly abating air pollution, waste dump management and managing traffic burden due to truck movement.</p> <p>Earlier, Madhav Gadgil, the ecologist who oversaw the analysis, had said in his draft report, that mining waste is turning into a major problem in Goa. So far, MoEF has granted ECs to 182 mines in the state with an annual production capacity of 70 million tonnes. For every tonne of iron ore mined in Goa, three tonnes of waste is generated. This translates into 200 million tonnes of waste earth annually. “It is necessary to consider the cumulative environmental impacts of such a huge turnover of soil in an ecologically sensitive area like the Western Ghats,” Gadgil said in his draft. Besides, EC granted to a mining project allows dumping mining waste outside the mine lease area, whereas the Indian Bureau of Mines, which approves the Mine plan, does not allow this. Gadgil thus suggested that leaseholder should seek separate EC for dumping mine waste outside the lease area.</p> <p>CEE recommends establishing local committees to monitor whether mine leaseholders are complying with EC conditions. It also recommends capacity building of government departments to provide a mechanism whereby the state government may first review the EIA report and ask for revisions before passing it to MoEF for review. The consultant preparing the EIA report be held responsible for the data, states the summary.</p> <p>“Mining in Goa shows the way EIAs are being conducted. We need to make the clearance process transparent and accountable,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment. “We also need to make local communities stakeholders in the clearance process,” he adds.</p> </div> <hr /> <div><b>Source URL:</b> <a href=";sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHxP5ceqmx8tSuuXhj3oTZKXXqerg" target="_blank"><wbr />content/data-fudged-mining-<wbr />clearance</a></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-29248 size-full td-animation-stack-type0-1" src="" sizes="(max-width: 1064px) 100vw, 1064px" srcset=" 1064w, 300w, 768w, 1024w, 100w, 218w, 696w, 612w" alt="The integrity of EVMs was challenged in 2009, when the most articulate opposition came from those aligned to the BJP. Photo: UNI" width="1064" height="730" />
The integrity of EVMs was challenged in 2009, when the most articulate opposition came from those aligned to the BJP. Photo: UNI

This time around, there is no such proclamation, yet institutions are running in panic. Parliament passes harsh laws as Money Bills; Reserve Bank “demonetises” the currency, throwing people on the streets, “voluntary” Aadhaar is being thrust down the throats of everybody through executive diktats and sedition is slapped at the drop of a hat.

But it is the sense of panic prevailing in the Election Commission of India (ECI) that should alarm those who believe in India as a democracy. Article 324 of the constitution vests with the ECI the task of superintendence, direction, control and conduct of elections to the parliament, state legislatures and the offices of President and Vice-President. Elections being the backbone of democracy, ECI becomes its bone marrow.

The panic is reflected in the ECI writing to the Union law ministry, seeking powers to act against those questioning the poll panel’s credibility through “unfounded allegations”. ECI has reportedly sought amendments to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to empower it to punish anyone who is disobedient or discourteous towards its authority. The matter is currently under consideration with the law ministry. Strangely enough, the ECI has cited the example of the Election Commission of Pakistan, which can initiate contempt proceedings against anyone sullying its image. What an icon of democracy ECI has chosen to emulate!


It all started when complaints of tampering of EVMs surfaced during the recent assembly elections in UP, Uttarakand and Punjab. ECI dismissed the allegations as baseless, speculative and wild. To drive home the point, it challenged the political parties to prove that the EVMs are tamperable and set the date as June 3, 2017. This came to be known as EVM “hackathon”.

ECI held the “challenge” with only two small political parties—NCP and the CPI (M)—attending the event. It had got 14 EVMs for use during the challenge but refused to give the access code or share the memory and battery number of the machines. In the event, the much-hyped “challenge” turned out to be a damp squib.

Are EVMs Sitting Ducks?Even then, the ECI had armed itself with a stringent mandamus in favour of EVMs and a gag order against its criticism from the Uttarakhand High Court. This order verbatim was reproduced in the press release issued by the ECI on May 20, soon after the controversy broke out.

Unilaterally certifying that EVMs are not hackable and tamperable, the order went on to say that EVMs use some of the most sophisticated technological features. The judges barred all political parties, individuals, media and even social media networks from criticising the use of EVMs because “it is the duty of the courts to preserve, promote, nurture and maintain the independence of constitutional bodies and to insulate them from unhealthy criticism since otherwise the foundation of democracy would be weakened”.


Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi claimed a one-sided victory in the non-event and declared that the issue of tamperability “stands closed”. He invoked the Uttarakhand HC order and warned that in the event of any party violating the order, the “EC will take an appropriate decision”. Not content with the protective shield provided by the High Court, the ECI now wants contempt powers for itself!

Be that as it may, the integrity of EVMs has been challenged from the time they were introduced in 1999. It flared up in 2009 soon after the UPA’s victory in the parliamentary elections. The most articulated opposition to EVM came from those aligned to the BJP. The grounds on which EVMs were thrashed were: the whole world has discarded similar EVMs; use of EVM is unconstitutional and illegal; EVM software and hardware are not safe; EVMs are sitting ducks; insider fraud, storing and counting are concerns; ECI is clueless on technology and there is trust deficit.

Dr Subramanian Swamy chipped in and took the matter to the Delhi High Court and then the Supreme Court. The ECI responded with the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail solution which facilitates the voter to physically see the printout of the vote cast by him.

ECI’s core technical argument that EVMs cannot be hacked or tampered because these are stand-alone equipments and not “networked” has been nailed by the German IT expert, Dr Ulrich Weisner, who had taken the EVM case to the German Federal Supreme Court in 2009. According to him, the NEDAP (NV Nederlandsche Apparatenfabriek) voting machines, now banned in the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany, are not networked either. They are similar to the Indian EVMs, and need to be connected to a configuration device before the election, but work stand-alone with no connection to the internet or other networks during the election and the counting phase.

Someone with access to the machines can replace the implanted software with any software, including vote-stealing software and a chess programme. Weisner also counters ECI’s claim of “non-tamperability”, saying that this can only refer to “by-user-operation-via-keys”. But someone who has sufficient access to opening the machines and replacing software or hardware can implant virtually any functionality, including vote-stealing that is only activated under certain circumstances and would not be spotted in tests.

The ECI and our courts are totally obsessed with the technology arguments without any concern for the democracy aspect of elections wherein a vast majority of voters are ordinary citizens without any knowledge or understanding of technology.

Under the paper-ballot system, voters could examine and check the accuracy of the ballot-paper, candidate’s name and symbol and verify whether it has been correctly marked. In case of electoral dispute, physical reconstruction of the vote for authentication is possible. Vote counting was open and transparent.

Voters at a poll booth. Photo: UNI
Voters at a poll booth. Photo: UNI

Under the electronic voting system, all that voters do is to press a button and hear a sound. They have no idea whether the vote has been registered and if so, to which candidate. During counting also, there is no transparency because EVMs are just plugged in and counted on the computers.


The ECI had full control and supervision over the manufacturing of ballot-boxes, printing of ballot papers, their dispatch and counting of votes. But it is not so with EVMs that contain two EEPROMS (Electrically Erasable and Programable Memory) inside the control unit in which the voting data is stored and can be manipulated from an external source.

The manufacturers of EVMs—Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru, and Electronic Corporation of India Limited, Hyderabad—are not under the control or supervision of the ECI. These entities share the confidential software programme with Microchip of the US and Renesas of Japan to copy it on to micro-controllers used in the EVMs. When these foreign companies deliver micro-controllers fused with software code to the EVM manufacturers, neither the manufacturer nor ECI officials can read back their contents because they are locked.

Elections are not an exercise in technology display, but accurate recording of the democratic will of the electorate to their satisfaction. The German Federal Supreme Court acknowledged this by pointing out two major flaws in the EVM. First, these machines did not provide for recording the votes independent of the vote storage module and enabling the respective voter to check his ballot. Second, the essential steps in the ascertainment of results by the voting machines also could not be verified by the public.

The German Court laid down basic democracy principles against which EVMs were to be tested: (1) All essential steps in the elections are subject to public examinability (2) Ordinary citizens should be able to check the essential steps in the election act and in the ascertainment of the results reliably and without special expert knowledge.

On these counts, EVMs fail. Given the shenanigans of EVMs, advanced democracies have abandoned them. By sticking to these machines is Digital India going to be a Digital Democracy? The jury is out!

—The author is a former bureaucrat and arm

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More ‘Mera Modi Mahaan’: Politics behind Vadnagar being turned into a tourist destination



First, Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said the tea stall at Vadnagar railway station, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to sell tea as a kid, would be developed as a tourist spot.

Then, a day later, he retracted the statement, saying though there is a plan to develop the railway station as a tourist destination, there is no particular proposal for the tea stall.



But it’s not the station or tea stall itself that matters. By turning these everyday things into tourist destinations, the agenda is clear: to give a larger-than-life image to Modi, and make his hometown Vadnagar a prominent spot in India.


This is not the first time there has been an attempt to promote Modi as ‘mahaan’. The process has been on ever since he shot into prominence after taking over as Gujarat Chief Minister in 2001, and his coronation was soon followed by the anti-Muslim riots post the Godhra train burning incident in 2002.

Many people in his home state point out that since then, there have been various ways to market him socially – to the extent that he becomes a personality at par with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, at least in Gujarat.

As Gandhinagar-based veteran journalist RK Mishra puts it: “On one side, there is an attempt to completely erase the legacy of Nehru, and on the other, there are such steps to create cult figures like Modi. Everything he does or everywhere he goes, it is ensured that there is a huge tamasha preceding it as well as around the event, just to build a larger-than-life image of him.”

Who can forget the manner in which comic strips called Bal Narendrawere promoted ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The 45-page comic book showed Modi in his childhood performing heroic feats like rescuing a drowning boy, swimming in crocodile-infested waters, serving tea and food to soldiers going to war in 1962, taking on school bullies, helping his father sell tea, acting in theatre, strategising his team’s kabaddi win and saving a trapped bird. The author is yet unknown.

There were two other comics as well that had hit book stalls across the country at that time – Kahani Narendra Modi Ki and Bhavishya Ki Asha Narendra Modi.


In fact, just before the 2014 polls, Modi folklore had dominated the narrative in his hometown of Vadnagar. People had started visiting this sleepy town, once it started making headlines ever for being the hometown of the potential Prime Minister.

Everyone in the town seemed to know him or some member of his family. The locals were more than eager to take the visitors on a guided tour of the town, including the temple where he prayed and the Sharmistha Lake, where he swam despite the infestation of 40-odd crocodiles.

The locals did not tire of telling the people that the crocodiles there were scared of humans and swam away to the other side or plunged into the deep. Ironically, no one comes up with an explanation on the behavioural change in crocodiles 200 km south of Vadnagar near Vadodara, where there have been regular instances of the reptiles attacking humans.

A priest at Hatkeshwar Mahadev temple in Vadnagar town was quoted by the papers saying that young Modi was a regular visitor, and even at that point of time when he flew past he temple by helicopter, he asked the pilot to lower the altitude and circumnavigate the temple three times.

Then, of course, the entrepreneurial skills of Gujaratis was at full display when the apparel store that stitched Modi’s clothes went on to make a killing while marketing ‘Modi kurtas’ and ‘Modi jackets’, charging enormous amounts for the brand.

Yet another example is the auction of the pin-striped suit that Modi had worn during US President Barack Obama’s visit to India. The suit had been purchased by a Surat-based diamond merchant Hitesh Laljibhai Patel for Rs 4.31 crore, and the money was announced to be used for Modi’s campaign to clean the river Ganga.

Observers say this was like the organisers of Gandhi’s historic Dandi Salt March auctioning homespun clothes on the way, but with a stark difference.


Locals also point to the episode of Modi’s followers building a temple to him in Kothariya village on the outskirts of Rajkot city.

The temple had reportedly come up on land donated for a temple of ‘Bharat Mata’. A Modi idol was placed alongside that of ‘Bharat Mata’, with his followers claiming that he is a divine person.

The local administration had removed his idol after he had expressed disapproval, saying this was shocking and against India’s great traditions.

A section of people in Gujarat, particularly the minorities, still shudder, recalling how the majority had created an image of Modi as the ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ after 2002, and that there was no remorse from him, his government or his party.

“The same thing is happening again, but the slogan has been changed from ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ to ‘Bharat Hriday Samrat’. This is going to continue not only till the forthcoming Gujarat polls, but right up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” says a senior mediaperson and political observer based in Ahmedabad.



This reporter is compelled to recall the circulation of a pamphlet by Modi supporters during the inaugural function of the newly-developed Vastrapur Lake in Ahmedabad.

The lake was being inaugurated by Gandhinagar MP Lal Krishna Advani, at a time when voices were being raised against Modi within the Gujarat BJP.

The slogans that greeted Modi were ‘Dekho dekho kaun aaya… Gujarat ka sher aaya!’ (Look who is coming… it is the lion of Gujarat!)

The pamphlet bore the headline ‘What will be gained if Modi is removed?’

What followed were the points that played up Modi’s image. Some of these points were:

· Modi has never organised an Iftar party in the month of Ramzan.

· Modi got a portrait of Veer Savarkar in the state Assembly building.

· Modi performed pooja for Lord Shiva and organised Shiva’s Tandav Nritya to mark Independence Day at the stroke of midnight on 14-15 August 2003.

· Modi did not wear a white Gandhi cap while unfurling the national flag at the Independence Day ceremony in 2003, but wearing a black RSS cap.

· While the leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) paid obeisance at the Dargah of Salim Chishti in Ajmer before the Parliamentary elections of 2004, Modi sought the best wishes of sages after taking a dip in the Kshipra river during the Kumbh Mela at Ujjain.

At the height of the dissidence against him, this pamphlet proved that Modi’s will to not compromise his ideology prevailed over every other thing.


Coming back to Vadnagar, it needs to be underlined that there have been efforts of late to promote this town as a tourist destination. Sources say that tour operators run services to this town off and on, where besides showing other things, they promote it as ‘Modi’s birthplace’, just like Porbandar is promoted as Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace.

Reports say that excavations in the recent past have revealed a Buddhist monastery near the town belonging to the 2nd-7th century AD. These reports also say that Vadnagar finds a mention in the records of Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang as Onan-to-pu-lo (Anandpur) during his visit in 641 AD. He mentions that the town had 1,000 Buddhist monks.

It is based on this that announcements have been coming about promoting the place as a Buddhist tourist destination, although very little has been done on the ground.

“Instructions have been given to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to find out more on this issue,” says a senior journalist belonging to the area.

Hence, Culture Minister Sharma saying ‘station’ or ‘tea stall’ hardly makes any difference, because it is all about Modi. “What is the relevance of Vadnagar Railway Station in today’s context except for the narrative of Modi having sold tea there?” points out a political observer at Ahmedabad

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Why Left Liberal Media Houses will lose the Battle of Consitutional Morality


By- Debjanee Ganguly


Because they are the only ones engaged in it.


Let me state it as clearly as this, the beef ban is not a debate to be fought on grounds of constitutionality. The debate is not whether the beef ban is constitutional but in whose interest is the ban. The question is not which community is being targeted but which community wants the ban. The issue rests on public morality where the public is the majority community. One must shift away from arguing about minority rights guaranteed under the constitution because no one is really playing by ‘the book’.

When we pose it such, the ‘secular’ cloak of the right-wing falls. The right-wing news anchors uphold the constitutionality of the beef ban by stating that it does not per se target any community but only those who are eating beef. Even before the beef ban became an official policy of the government, the mob had lynched to death Mohamed Akhlaq on the suspicion that he had beef in his fridge. A rumour sparked a moral panic among the Hindu community of Akhlaq’s village.


Essentially this was a crime of public morality being upstaged rather than a violation of constitutional morality. Of course the mob violated the constitutional rights of the family but the heinous act gains social and local sanctimony because it adheres to public/majority sentiments. The legitimacy of the violence is evident in the act of draping one of Akhlaq’s killer’s coffin in the tricolor flag. It is evident in the act of BJP politicians paying homage to the accused.1

Therefore is a waste of time to fight the battle on the terrain of constitutionality when public morality is all that matters. But media houses are choosing to look at it from the lens of the victims of the ban. They are engaging with a ‘hurt’ mob in a language that is totally alien to them, that of democracy and freedom. And they are miserably failing to understand why the mob violence continues unabated. Surely it must be the ‘kalyug’ because nothing else really explains the madness.

The law, media house and the viewers.

The constitution and the laws of the land are alien to most of us. We are scared to tread into the terrain of law, because the law for most of us is the tool of the state to punish and not to protect. A minuscule percentage of the population really believes that the constitutional laws are a guarantee against the local laws of the land. Most of us do not know the difference between the two. The hegemony of the local goondas prevails.

Media house debates are the closest we can safely get to investigating the constitutional law. All the ‘facts’ of the case are laid out to the viewers and the panelists and a feeling of oneness with the world is packed in those few words, “We the People” or “the nation wants to know”. We become one big investigative family, where the judge and the advocate is the news anchor.When media houses become the para-legal domain of ensuring justice, fairness, equality and all those values that are enshrined in the constitution, we have a problem. The fact is the media has its own biases. No news anchor is devoid of their value positions. But they do debate on line of neutrality and objectivity.


Given that certain news channels air a certain ideology, the viewers most often turn to their own ‘trusted’ news channel. Yellow journalism seems to have swept the news market and fake news is driving people to lynch the usual suspects. There is nothing ethical or constitutional about news anymore. It will be a welcome change if the media or the government flashes a disclaimer, “viewers discretion is advised” before the airing of any news.

Media houses and the beef ban debate

The left-wing or liberal intellectuals will pose the question of beef ban on the constitutional right to freedom of expression and the like. They will question the double standards of the government to persecute Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection but not persecute the mob lynchers who hacked the victims to death. They argue on grounds of law and constitutionality that the government is being un-constitutional and is representative of majority interests. They argue that the right-wing party is out to suppress the voice of the marginalised or the dissenters. While all of it is true, it does not seem to spark a debate in the public domain.

What does the government do? It takes out a bill on illegal trade of cattle.

The liberals will badger the government on and on about liberal values and the law of Ambedkar. All to no avail. Right-wing panelists argue that the majority interests and sentiments regarding the cow must be respected. It is here that the liberals must take the cue and state that the law in fact is operating for the majority. But they foolishly fall back on the argument that the constitution is made to protect all communities including minorities. The point is lost once again as the liberals speak on behalf of the victims and their rights without pushing to limits of the right-wing panelists by questioning the majoritarian politics or public morality. They miss the bus to force an admission that public morality is not always the right way to go.

Following which they fail to question the neutrality of the cattle trade ban. But the liberals choose to instead harp on minority victimization rather than vilifying the majority for what it is, a dictatorship of the majority! Rajdeep Sardesai only ends up being a Muslim apologist. And is the public not up to their gills with such type? Now this type of media house law politics makes it easy for the right-wing media houses to escape the debate unscathed. The right-wing news anchors argue that the beef ban is not targeting any community. It is a bill on illegal practice. They argue that the victims just happen to be Muslims or Dalits. Arguing in this manner there is not a dent on the secular identity of the ruling party. They argue that they are only representing the wishes of the majority. The majority being those who want to protect the cow, also known as the patriot. And that this is an open category, for there are many in their definition of the who do not like beef consumption.

The right-wing anchors cloak their biases in neutrality of patriotism and national spirit. This type of cloaking closes the gap between the constitutional morality and public morality. The debate is closed preferably with the national anthem playing in the background. The issue is skirted via the constitution which is apparently is reflective of the majority/patriotic interest. Thus right-wing media houses use the constitution to their advantage. Arnab Goswami ends up being the national/patriotic upholder of the law as the public knows it.

Hindutva and the liberals

The first type of media house does not let the audience reflect on public morality.By talking in the language that is alien to the masses, they alienate/isolate themselves even further. They make the masses feel fools for not being able to understand why their sentiments are in fact worth questioning. What is wrong with having a Hindu party? What is wrong with Hindutva? The crowd does not understand the moral panic within the liberals about Hindutva. So what if India is proud of being a Hindu nation? It does not mean that they are attacking the minorities. Hinduism is a peaceful religion (unlike some Others we know), and can co-exist with other religious minorities as well. After all, as Raveena Tandon says, Hindutva is all about wearing a saree, which is a traditional Indian dress. She later goes on to state that the liberals are free to tag her as a ‘sanghi’ for being a blue-blooded Hindu.2 Her tweet (for which she has apologized for provoking communal sentiments!) holds the key to the frustration of the liberals who cannot understand why the country is so willingly going to the cows.

The liberals and the intellectuals have failed to bridge the gap between tradition and modernity. They feel that with the constitution in their right hand and the left hand in their pocket they can reach out to the public. They believe that the masses who fought the British will fight ignorance and age old traditions with a scientific and modern rationality all through ambiguous laws and articles and schedules that do not penetrate the epithelial layer of the average person. The average person is tired of hoping that an independent India is going to solve their socioeconomic woes. The constitution and its values have few takers at the grass roots where the local hegemonic powers dominate. Constitutional morality is willfully rejected by the political elite who survive by breaking the law. And for much of the middle class Hindu household, the language of the law is tough, it is intimidating and it is always making the majority feel bad without knowing why they should feel bad. Moral codes built around public sentiments and traditions on the other hand are easier to understand, relate to and apply.

Therefore for the liberals to be now arguing about constitutional rights of the individual in terms of beef eating does not hold any water, in the opinion public. Instead they should be questioning the ‘hurt’ sentiments of the masses and the moral codes that exist at the local level. They should ask themselves. How is it that after the barbaric act of lynching, the villagers still came out in full support of the accused? How is it that they became the ‘patriots’ of the nation while Akhlaq was criminalized for a crime he did not commit? The sentiments must be investigated thoroughly and then perhaps liberals can come to the question, is it a crime to eat beef? Is it not a greater crime 2  to lynch a person to death? Is it not the job of the law bearing bodies to deliver justice and not the duty of the mob? What happened to the constitutional law of the land?

Hindutva is an ideology that is built around a twisting of facts and figures. Hindutva is premised upon fascism. Culture and moral codification is one of the key elements towards the same. It is not just about beef eating, it is about feeling insecure about wearing the saree. It is about a moral panic within the majority that the Muslims are going to take over any minute in terms of population and culture. Hindutva is an ideology built around fear and hatred. And the majority is as much doomed as the Other if they allow the local hegemonic law to become the moral keepers of the nation. First it was the Muslim, later they came for Dalits who were skinning a dead cow. Tomorrow it will be the woman in the Hindu household and the next day they will come for any ‘dissenter’. Public morality should never be given the scope of setting the moral code of the land. Unfortunately the government has just done that by introducing a bill to prevent illegal cattle trade as an appeasement offering to calm the public/ majority. The number of incidents of mob lynching has only spiked since then.


Resentment and identity politics

Resentment is a strong feeling. It is a feeling that currently is deciding the public mood. It is causing anger among the majority Hindus who feel that the Muslims who cannot be like Hindus/Indians must leave for Pakistan. It is a feeling that is popular among the minority who suddenly find that they are having to prove their patriotism/ nationalism at every turn, sometimes at the cost of their religious identity. The Hindu and the Indian have merged under BJP rule. The Dalit and the Muslim have been sidelined.

With the rot in the agricultural economy becoming harder to ignore, dwindling urban sector jobs, the BJP failing at every point on its agenda, the government is festering this communal sore to divert the minds of the public. It is nurturing this resentment among the Hindus who feel that with the BJP in power, their golden era has finally come. The Ramrajya of jobs and a full stomach will be realized soon, once the Muslims are out of the country (we need the Dalits!). The ‘sickular’ Congress can keep their constitutional values jargon to themselves. Minority appeasement in the language of constitutional morality will no longer be tolerated by the majority. Gou Mata must be protected from the villains, her/our time has come!


Ask yourself. Why should Raveena Tandon feel bad or insecure about flaunting a saree? Why should the majority feel bad for a beef eater? Oh! They are not pro-violence. They will condemn the mob-lynching vociferously. Let the law of the land take its course and punish the guilty. But it is also one’s patriotic duty to protect the mother of the nation, the cow, even at the cost of arrest. Thus they become martyrs to the cause of the nation.

It is the duty of the left liberals to tease out the Hindu from the Indian. To question this merger and bring out the anxieties of the majority. It is their task to unpack the moral panic among the majority that is making them easy tools of the politicians. Instead they will shroud their arguments in the language of right to eat and tolerance. They will not engage with those who see these policies as not an aggressive Hindutva with horns but only a pro-majority sentiment. They will not engage with the minds who have read and been brought up on Vedic texts interpreted by the local goonda. For if one really read the texts closely, vegetarianism was not the cult of the great and mighty Hindus, and they also fed on beef.3

The key is to challenge the farcical stilts upon which the Hindu dream is built. The key is to go back to the Vedas and reveal to the public that their ideals are a not so much built on fairness and equality as much as on twisted facts. To hell with the constitution, first let’s talk of the Ram Rajya and the casteist, patriarchal society that India was in the Golden Vedic age, in a language that will relate with the audience. People will turn off your channel, they are doing so anyway.

Give viewers bitter truths and shout it as aloud as Goswami, and you will give them a headache and a nagging thought. Do not make them go to bed feeling bad for being a Hindu and wearing a saree. Do not make them resent that the anchor was once again just taking the side of the minority community.Make them feel bad that the Vedic era has no mention of the Vedic dasi. Make them feel bad that they have been fooled into thinking that Hindus never ate beef! But the liberals will not do that.


And people will go to bed with the same feeling of persecution politics. Every community ends up feeling persecuted. Surely it is one’s patriotic duty as Arnab da, paralegal, semi-judge, says, to protect the cow and the constitution. Or was it only the cow? Or the constitution? Who cares? Where’s the difference?





3 B. R. Ambedkar, ‘Did the Hindus never eat beef?’ in The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, vol. 7, (Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, 1990, first edition 1948) pp. 323-328. Compiled by Shamsul Islam in


Debjanee is a research scholar at the Centre for Political Studies in JNU

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Cops offload 45 Gujarat Dalits at Jhansi rly station for taking 125-kg soap to protest UP CM’s “anti-Dalit” behaviour

Cops surround Dalits at Jhansi railway station

By Our Representative

About 45 Gujarat Dalits, carrying 125 kg soap, with imprint of Gautam Budhha on it, have been offloaded at Jhanshi railway station. Travelling by Sabarmati Express, which they boarded with the soap on Saturday evening, the Dalits had planned to take the soap and deliver it to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, telling him to “clean up” his views on Dalits.
“The yellow coloured soap is a replica of the type used by ordinary Dalits in Gujarat to take their bath. We had planned to deliver it to Adityanath in protest against his government’s despicable behaviour of giving soap and shampoo to Dalits, asking them to come clean before he met them at Kushanagar in UP this May”, said one of the Dalits on board with the soap.

A cop taking photo of 125 kg soap for Yogi

“The cops were following us ever since we boarded Sabarmati Express in Ahmedabad on Saturday evening. They first checked each one’s identity card and then took is to boarded us to sit in separate compartments. At Jhansi, we found, there was a big police contingent waiting for us. It forcibly asked to get down from the train along with the soap”, the participant added.
Soon after the Dalits were offloaded, they first sat on dharna, refusing to go with the cops. However, after an hour, they were all taken outside the railway station to a government guest house in Jhansi, where the police officials told them that there was a “threat” of a possible attack on them, hence they were asked to get down from the train.

Outside Jhansi Railway Police station

Well-known social activist Martin Macwan, founder of Gujarat’s biggest Dalit rights NGO, Navsarjan Trustdisplayed the 125 kg soap in Ahmedabad on June 8, saying, “We want to tell Adityanath that he has insulted Dalits. It is an insult to the memory of Gautam Buddha, too, who 2500 years ago accepted a manual scavenger, Sumit, as his follower, thus becoming the first person in India to reject untouchability.”
“And it is an insult to Kushanagar, where the Buddha acquired Nirvana”, Macwan, who is winner of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000 for his fight for Dalit rights in Gujarat, had further said.

Huge police contingent at Jhansi to stop 25 Gujarat Dalits

Two academics, Pravin Mishra and Suman Kaur, engraved Gautam Buddha’s image on the soap as a reminder to Yogi that he needs to cleanse himself from within instead of asking Dalits to “come clean” to meet him. The soap’s weight equals the 125th birth anniversary of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, who fought untouchability all his life.

A second soap taken to be delivered to the UP chief minister was a smaller one with Gautam Buddha engraved on it by Ramesh Sarvaiya, one of the four young Dalits who was severely flogged by hand of cow vigilantes in Una on July 11 last year on suspicion of cow slaughter, though they were skinning a dead cow, a hereditary occupation.
The soap was being taken to Lucknow under the banner of Dr Ambedkar Vechan Pratibandh Samiti, or Stop Selling Dr Ambedkar Committee, which ran a fortnight-long programme across Gujarat towns in June demonstrating against elected Dalit representatives of BJP and Congress, seeking answer on what they had done for their welfare.

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Mumbai #NotInMyName Protest -They came for the India they loved!

The Preamble to the Constitution of India defines the country as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.

Over the last few months, this definition has been under attack as self-appointed gau rakshaks attacked, and sometimes lynched, people they suspected had beef in their possession.

When a 17-year-old boy was stabbed to death on a train because an argument over seats turned ugly, and because he belonged to a certain religion, the country rose in protest.

#Not In My Name, said ordinary citizens, as they took to the streets to reclaim the India they believed in.

Text, photographs: Uttam Ghosh/

Video: Hitesh Harisinghani/


It began with a Facebook post, as Delhi-based documentary filmmaker Saba Dewan called for a protest against the series of lynchings in different parts of India.

These lynchings were carried out by self-styled gau rakshaks against those they believed had beef in their possession.

Mumbai, and 12 other cities, responded to Dewan’s call and protests were held simultaneously on the evening of June 28.

At Carter Road, a popular Bandra promenade that attracts Mumbaikars of all ages and from all walks of life on a daily basis, a group of people – most of whom did not know each other — gathered to make their collective voice felt.

They were armed with banners that were hand painted, or made of flex, to protest the manner in which the idea of a secular India was being destroyed.

Four days later, on July 3, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan organised a larger protest, teaming up with members of the Left parties, Prakash Ambedkar’s Republican Party and other political parties.


Forty organisations, comprising nearly 5,000 people, came along for the march that began at the Veer Kotwal Udyan in Dadar, central Mumbai, and wound past PortugueseChurch before ending at Chaitya Bhoomi.

The residents of the area had been witness to the red flags of the Communist movement earlier, but what they saw on July 3 was different.



This powerful imaginary letter was read out at the Delhi protest by Mohammad Assaruddin in memory of his 17-year-old friend, Junaid, who was killed by a mob when he was on his way home to Ballabhgarh after shopping for Eid in Delhi.

Sagar Gorkhe from the Kabir Kala Manch and Laxman from the Republican Panthers sang revolutionary songs as they led the #Not In My Name rally.

Also spotted in the rally were young school girls who let their posters do the talking.



Shrujana, an artist, wore a cow mask, inspired by Sujatro Ghosh’s photoseries wherein he’s been photographing women wearing cow masks and walking around Delhi, to highlight the need for making the streets a safe space for women and not just cows.

Sujatro plans to take his project in other cities as well.


Gerson da Cunha: The slogan-shouting did not call for violence

I went to the protest gathering at the KotwalGarden opposite Plaza Cinema, Dadar, as did 5,000 other people.

A police inspector lent me a friendly arm so that I could safely cross the street and find a way into the heart of the demonstration.

It was all orderly and the slogan-shouting, when it began, was neither fierce nor calling for violence.

It was just as well, because one of the themes of the event was ‘Nafrat Ke Kilaaf Insaniyat Ki Awaaz (Yes to Humanity, No to Hate)’.

The gathering drew from, and was supported by, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Lal Nishan Party, the Bastar Solidarity Network, several Dalit organisations and left-of-centre formations.


IMAGE: Gautam Bengal, a well known artist — he has done a series of drawings on Mumbai’s Irani cafes — children’s book illustrator, animator and author of 1/7 Bondel Road: An Endearing Short Story Collection lent one of his artworks for use in the protest.

Shouting slogans, holding aloft banners of many colours and escorted by the police, they made their way to Chaitya Bhoomi, the resting place of Dr B R Ambedkar.

I had to bow out of the march.

There was no doubt that this several-thousand strong gathering was driven by emotion against what is happening: lawlessness by self proclaimed cow protectors and attacks on Muslims.

It would have been strange if the event were not also used to gain political mileage.

It was.

But at least a third of the crowd was made up of citizens with no party affiliations, just people deploring the crimes being allowed to happen by permissive administrations in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, among others.

A well produced, blood-stained leaflet carried a grim list — 38 persons dead or injured, of 33 were Muslim names.

Gerson da Cunha is Mumbai-based advertising doyenne, stage and film actor, social worker and author.



Age was not a factor when it came to participation.

Neither was language.



Some messages were succinct.



In the end, they all were one, united by a cause they all believed in.

Dolly Thakore: They just wanted to say, enough was enough

The smart, young on-duty policeman, who came to help a senior citizen out of the car and guide him through the gate of KotwalGarden set the tone of the gathering — helpful, polite, cooperative, respectful, accommodating.

And this spirit carried through the two kilometre walk to Chaitya Bhoomi.

The crowd started at some 300, and swelled to 5,000, as the serpentine slogan-chorusing, orderly procession wound its way from Dadar’s Plaza Cinema, via ShivajiPark, on to Cadell Road, and finally Dr Ambedkar’s resting place.

The 5 pm office-returning vehicular traffic stopped in deference, allowing the procession to cross the intersections at traffic lights.

Some even lowered the windows of their air-conditioned cars.

At one such stop, a fellow protestor invited some BEST travellers to join in, and four passengers promptly alighted and shared in carrying the ‘Not In My Name’ handmade banners and posters.

There was a substantial presence of writers, filmmakers, artists, activists, lawyers, theatre practitioners, singers and musicians, whom one recognised and hugged, walking alongside hundreds of students, teachers, shopkeepers, hospital staff, mothers with babes-in-arms and housewives.

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IMAGE: Delhi-based artist and sculptor Dhrupadi Noor sent her painting, ‘Tribute to Junaid’, for use during the protest.

Many unknown faces joined the march as it progressed, each with a smile and a nod, as voices rose in unison and response to the cheerleaders.

The touching gesture of sharing water bottles, and sometimes even juices bought from the stores along the way with complete strangers, expressed the rally’s spirit of solidarity and equality.

Residents from adjacent neighbourhoods joined in as the march surged forward.

Cameras were in evidence without being intrusive.

A few television interviewers did thrust their microphones to get the proverbial bite, but none were aggressive or impolite.

The double-storeyed buildings on either side of the road brought out many residents who waved and housed some camera crew on their first floors.

All watched in empathy and respect for their fellow citizens, who had braved the erratic weather (the rain stayed away though many came prepared with raincoats and umbrellas).

All seemed oblivious of these discomforts.

Some gently stirring speeches and songs were voiced under the huge archway and shadow of Chaitya Bhoomi. But no political leaders were recognisable among them.

Before the sun sighed into the sea, some of the marchers broke away, filled with peace and calm at having shared in a huge emotional moment.

Dolly Thakore is a well-known Mumbai-based theatre actress.


#Not In My Name

The rally ended at Chaitya Bhoomi Anand Patwardhan (in blue) addressed his fellow protestors. As did political leaders like Prakash Ambedkar and Prakash Reddy.




Filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee too made his voice heard (do watch the video above).

As did Rossi D’Souza and the Kabir Kala Manch who shared their feelings through music.


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