Last updateSat, 16 Jun 2018 7am


Politics of Iftar - The Flawed Approach to Communal Harmony

In a diverse multi-faith, multi-ethnic country like India, communal outreach and exchange of ideas between communities is both expected and accepted. Such outreach becomes more meaningful and effective when all the parties involved appreciate these initiatives and reciprocate in equal measure.

Hindus as the numerical majority in India have always been at the forefront of such initiatives which is a testimony to India’s culture of plurality and tolerance. However, such initiatives lose their relevance when manipulated by politicians for their vested interests and appeasement of minorities. This becomes more pronounced around major festivals like Eid and Christmas and one can see almost all political outfits from both sides of the political spectrum throwing Iftaar parties. Even the office of the President of India who is supposed to rise above symbolic gestures usually associated with politicians, has not remained unaffected by this trend. Till last year, President Pranab Mukherjee had arranged such parties at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which used to be a must-attend event for politicians of all hues.

Fortunately, we now have a Prime Minister who has steered clear of such symbolism aimed at appeasement. In a clear departure from the trend, President R N Kovind has also stated his intention not to host Iftaar gatherings keeping in view the secular nature of India’s Constitution. Not long ago, during NDA rule, President A P J Kalam had declared his resolve of spending the entire Iftaar budget, quite a substantial amount by any estimate, on charity instead of a lavish feast for politicians. The irony of the so-called right wing political dispensation and its associated Presidents upholding secular values while left wing parties undermine it, cannot be missed.


Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi and the Indian National Congress: The Fight of a Rebel Democrat

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Former President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee with Mr Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghchalak (Chief) of RSS, at the graduation ceremony of RSS recruits at the
RSS Headquarters in Nagpur

The recent controversy over the former President of India Pranab Mukherjee’s historic address to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s volunteers in Nagpur, on June 8, 2018, brought to the fore an old wrangling within the Congress party, that between the loyalists of the Gandhi Family and other senior leaders. Many loyalists of the Gandhis launched into diatribes against Mr Pranab Mukherjee for his decision to attend the RSS event and address the Sangh volunteers.

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pranab 3As per reports, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi “ordered Tweet against Pranab Mukherjee for RSS Visit. On a cue many congress leaders, including his own daughter and president of Delhi Mahila Congress, Ms Sharmistha Mukherjee, tweeted against this move of Mr Pranab Mukherjee. Congress MP and the most trusted aide of Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Ahmed Patel also tweeted expressing his disapproval.


Hindus and the Mirage of Constitutional Patriotism

The latest buzzword after the speech of former President of India, Pranab Mukerjee, is ‘constitutional nationalism’. The term constitutional nationalism or constitutional patriotism is derived from the German word Verfassungspatriotismus that originated in post-war Germany, promoted by political theorists like Karl Jaspers, Dolf Sternberger and Jürgen Habermas, who promoted the idea as a protective means to ensure political stability to maintain peace in Germany. Among its basic ideas was that people should form a political attachment to the norms and values of a pluralistic liberal democratic Constitution rather than a national culture or cosmopolitan society. In Europe’spost-national democratic states, countries where multiple cultural and ethnic groups converged in the last decades for livelihood and better means of living, this idea attempted to re-conceptualise group identity with focus on the interpretation of citizenship as a loyalty that goes beyond individuals' ethno-cultural identification, and thereby forge loyalty towards the land of choice rather than the land/culture of origin of immigrants.

Mr Mukherjee’s advice looks sagacious and timely in the context of the controversy surrounding his address at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, however it is erroneous given the unique historical context of India which has been a veritable melting-pot of ethnicities and religious groups over the centuries and comprises within its milieu a mindboggling diversity. Acceptance of diversity was never a problematic prospect for Indians where cultural ‘uniformism’ was never an imperative. What however India required in its present form as a modern nation-state was a commitment to the civilisational ethos that permits such coexistence.


The Papon Imbroglio

Once again as ever so often, social media went on a tizzy on Friday (21st February) as a live footage of singer Angarag Mahanta, better known by his stage name ‘Papon’, appeared on Facebook which caught him grab the face of one of the minor participants of a reality show in which he appears as a ‘mentor’, kissing her squarely on the mouth.

The unsettling video soon went viral drawing outrage from all quarters at the unseemly act. In the video, the 41-year old singer is seen applying Holi colour on some of the participants, among them an 11-year old girl, whose face he grabbed practically smothering her, and then in a shocking move caught her chin turning her face towards him and kissed her on the mouth. Carefully studying the unblurred versions of the video, it is possible to see clearly from the girl’s flummoxed expression that she was highly uneasy and aghast.

A complaint against the singer was filed with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights by Supreme Court advocate, Runa Bhuyan, under POSCO act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) for ‘inappropriately kissing a minor girl’, and as sharp reactions started pouring in from all over at the unsavoury video sequence, the singer hurriedly issued a justification from his Facebook account trying to clear himself. 


Kar‘natakam’ – The Electoral Drama In Karnataka

Kar‘natakam’ is a witticism (‘kar’, which means, to do, and ‘natakam’, a drama) doing rounds in social media groups, a statement on the spectacle of electoral drama being played out during the run-up to the legislative assembly elections in 2018 in the State of Karnataka in India.

The lively electoral donnybrook is often dubbed as a ‘celebration of democracy’, the battle rink of political ideologies. But with each passing day we witness politics stoop to new lows. Politics has never been an arena of the idealistic and manipulation and power play are intrinsic to the game, has been so since time immemorial. In recent times however we see even the bare veneer of value-based politics on which parties were supposedly founded has been abandoned, all but reduced to unprincipled wranglers of illicit means. This debasement was to be witnessed in its full nakedness in the campaign for the shortly concluded Karnataka elections.

From the time that elections were announced on March 27, all major parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal – Secular (JDS), Indian National Congress (INC), began their pitch to gain an upper hand in the campaign. Parties fielded candidates on considerations of caste, creed, religion, money or muscle power, several of them with cases of corruption and criminal records against them, all but considerations of capability and integrity. There was an unabashed show of opportunistic politics with as many as 30 of the seats being allotted to people who had jumped across the party lines and switched loyalties to different parties just before the election. Since the election code of conduct came into effect, Rupees 81 crores in the form of cash, 65 crores worth other incentives and a further 25 crores worth of liquor were seized, meant to buy votes in favour of some parties. According to the Election Commission,the value of seized goods and cash far exceeded that in the 2013 elections. And according to some projections even these seizures amounted to merely a drop in the ocean compared to the actual amount of money estimated to have been in circulation during the campaign. Obviously political parties have found that siphoning off State funds from the system meant for development works and using it to enrich themselves and as doles to the impoverished, disempowered, unconscious masses to buy their votes and remain in power, a far more profitable enterprise.


AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT ROSARIO A Campaigner Against Religion As Mafia

Born in a Catholic Christian family of Mangalore, Robert Rosario was instructed from early childhood in the Christian dogma and earnestly believed in it until his youth. But as he observed the workings of the church more closely and examined the Christian doctrine objectively, he found that there was no relationship between religion and morality. The ‘only true path to God’ claims were but a contrivance to keep political power concentrated with the clergy and control the laity, a design that was and continues to be achieved by the most nefarious means. Since then, Robert Rosario has campaigned indefatigably to create awareness among the community and in the country at large about the dubious activities and machinations of the Christian church and their nexus with evangelists.

He also went on to emphatically expose how the church acts as a subversive institution by fanning elaborate propaganda of persecution at strategic points, by spreading false stories and creating a fear psychosis in the minds of the Christian community, deliberately fanning unrest and ferment against the Indian establishment, especially the role of the Mangalorean Church in this. He has also worked towards bringing out in the open one of the church’s most hideous faces, its historical role in the horrifically cruel persecution and genocide of native Indians, the fact that Indian Christians today are the progeny of the victims of this flagitious oppression of a people and awakening in them a sense of connect with their true identity, tied to the land and civilization of their ancestors.


Declaration of Ceasefire in Kashmir During Ramzan and India’s Official Policy of Wilful Abdication of Sense

Following a suggestion of the Mehbooba Mufti government, the Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday directed Indian security forces to halt operations in J&K during Ramzan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, “to facilitate the peace-loving Muslims in the Valley state.” While the statement from the ministry clarified that “the forces shall reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people,” the reasoning for giving in to the request of the Jammu & Kashmir Government (GoJ&K) ought to be scrutinised.

Needless to say, Mehbooba wholeheartedly welcomed the ceasefire for the period she termed “Ramadan” using the Arabic word (the Indian word being Ramzan), but did not reciprocate with any safeguards from her side that Muslims in her State too would eschew violence. And with good reasons. But before we go into those, let us explore what could possibly be the grounds for the government at the Centre to yield to her wishes, just a couple of days after Defence Minister Sitaraman stressed on the “need to be firm with terrorists.”


Was the concession preceded by any positive gesture from the Kashmiri Muslims or GoJ&K? Not even ten days are past since an innocent Indian tourist was killed by a stone-throwing mob of Kashmiri Muslims in Narbal, Budgam. Even if the scores of military personnel routinely killed and maimed each month by stone-pelters are nothing more than numbers for them, did BJP at least ensure that the culprits who killed 22-year Thirumani are arrested and face prosecution? On the contrary, the J&K CM announced amnesty for them without a murmur from their coalition partners in power at the Centre.