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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blog by St Xavier's student on anti-Modi email controversy

(Meghnad Bose is about to complete his BA in mass media at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He is deeply interested in two realms of perennial controversy - politics and journalism - and is likely to choose between the two as his profession.)

(NDTV) The Principal of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai has landed himself in the eye of a storm. The letter, as the media has already told you, sharply criticizes the Gujarat model of development. It also takes a positive stand on the Food Security Act and the Rojgar Yojana, schemes implemented under the decade-long rule of the Congress-led UPA. It should be noted that the email also speaks against the UPA government for its role in not tackling environmental degradation.

But I am no expert on politics and I will leave the pros and cons of political schemes as matters best judged by you, the voter. My fundamental grouse today is the intense criticism my Principal has drawn, including a complaint against him by the BJP to the Election Commission, and the intolerance to free speech that such behaviour is an indicator of.

The college is a partly government-funded educational institution.  Thus, one might argue that the principal should have refrained from making such "politically coloured" statements. In response, I'd request you to ponder over the following train of thought.

Father Frazer Mascarenhas has questioned the paradigms of development that political parties are highlighting in their election campaigns. Anyone with a reading list that goes beyond will tell you that Gujarat hasn't been the best performer on social indicators. Similarly, anyone who hasn't been living under a rock over the past year or two will tell you that the questionable change of guard at the Environment Ministry resulted in a slew of clearances in favour of industrial development in decisions that are likely to harm our ecology.

Without getting into either of the debates, I will ask you one question instead. As an educator, does Father Frazer have the authority to ask his students to keep these factors in mind as he encourages them to go out to vote? Tomorrow, if a party has a clear policy against the safety or interests of women and is basing its poll plank on the same, will Father be within his rights to question that?

Superficial neutrality is a major drawback of our education system. We graduate from the best schools and colleges without reading a single word about the anti-Sikh riots of '84 or about Gujarat in 2002 in our textbooks. Or about the realities of Dalit discrimination across our country. Most of us are ignorant of the religious violence that engulfed Kandhamal in 2007/08. Why? Because, we are told, these are political matters that are best kept away from our minds.

But here is why Xavierites are defending a Principal  who they have had  differences with over a dress code and other issues of autonomy.

The college has always provided space for debate and discussion. Opposing viewpoints have clashed in the canteen in as much measure as they did in the classroom.  Analytical reasoning and critical thinking have been encouraged. As the Economics students who have been taught by a particularly left-leaning professor would testify, neither have they been reprimanded nor marked down for having and expressing viewpoints which contradict the professor's at right angles. Instead, those arguments have been the starting points of many a riveting conversation about the state of our economy and our politics.

We haven't been indoctrinated against the establishment or any political party; our faculty has encouraged us to view different perspectives before coming to reasoned conclusions.

In the age of media bombardment, are we really "influenced" as much as they claim? If you disagree, I'd suggest you find out yourself by signing up to Facebook or Twitter. Though Father Frazer might consider starting a blogspot instead of using the official college website next time.

Kejriwal asks Arnab Goswami: Are You a Journalist or a Modi Propagandist? The Nation Wants to Know!

AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal has asked certain questions to Times Now Editor Arnab Goswami asking why Arnab is behaving less like a journalist and more like a Modi propagandist.

Arvind also asked if there was some kind of deal between Arnab and Modi and the amount of advertising money Times Now as received from BJP and Modi.

Arvind also asked if Arnab will question Modi on Snoopgate.

The question is #WillArnabAnswer?

Tamilnadu: Muslim-Dalit equation puzzles Dravidian parties

(Sudipto Mondal, Hindustan Times) Vacant blue chairs that greeted BJP president Rajnath Singh at his rallies in Thanjavur and Nagapattinam last week were a telling comment on the NDA and its alliance partners in Tamil Nadu. Even pro-BJP senior leaders of local parties could not salvage the rallies.

Barring the Congress and the communists, no party in the state — not even the DMK or the AIDMK —has ruled out an alliance with a prospective NDA government headed by Narendra Modi. Yet, the panic among the Dravidian parties started much before Singh’s disastrous rally.

This panic is most evident in the 10 constituencies of south Tamil Nadu where Muslims, Dalits and Christians form the bedrock of every political calculation. The Indian Union Muslim League, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamat and smaller denominations of Muslims, Christians and Dalits here have given a call to boycott parties that support Modi.

The BJP’s PM nominee is in fact the first north Indian politician after Indira Gandhi to have become a reference point for all political parties in the state. 
“This has made all his open and tacit supporters to cleverly articulate their position vis-à-vis NDA,”
says Kombai S Anwar, an academic and writer.

Jayalalithaa, who supports temple construction at Ayodhya and a uniform civil code, has attacked Modi’s development model. NDA partners DMDK, PMK and MDMK have also been circumspect.

The S Ramadoss-led PMK does endorse a uniform civil code but refrains from attacking Modi on the Hindutva issue. The Vijaykanth-led DMDK praises the ‘Gujarat model’ but openly attacks the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. And Vaiko’s MDMK justifies supporting the NDA by pointing to the UPA’s failure to resolve the maritime border issue with Sri Lanka.

Sources close to MK Stalin and Kanimozhi confirm that the DMK will have no problem siding with a Modi-led NDA.
“As long as you have Jayalalithaa in state government, we need a friend at the centre. Because Muslims are our core vote base, we are treading carefully,”
a Delhi-based DMK ideologue says. Even the BJP has made efforts to reach out to Muslim fishermen by projecting itself as the only party that can resolve the complications posed by Sri Lanka.

The key, it appears, lies not with the Muslims, who seem to have made up their minds, but with Dalits – a 2008 report says they face 100 forms of untouchability – who form another sizeable segment.
“Failure of the Dravidian parties to contain casteist vigilante groups has kept the Dalit electorate fragmented,” says Dalit writer R Stalin.

Varanasi: Fearing loss, Modi unleashes goons at his political opponents and critics?

Apparently fearing a loss in Varanasi, Narendra Modi according to media reports have unleashed his goons who are attacking all his political opponents and critics. The first incident was that Somanath Bharti, former Law Minister in Kejriwal’s AAP cabinet was thrashed to pulp allegedly by RSS goons. Somanath Bharti, was on his way to be part of a TV news panel when his car stopped and he and his driver dragged out from his car and thrashed brutally..

Meanwhile, Kavita Krishnan, noted CPIML leader and renowned feminists reported in social media that she had to leave a TIMESNOW panel discussion fearing violence. She confirmed that Varanasi now had Modi goons freely walking around creating fear and threatening violence

Participants of panel discussions are being threatened and violence unleashed on them. The intention is to control information flow and to prevent any negative publicity which can adversely affect the electoral prospects of Modi in Varanasi...

While it is easy to dismiss all TV anchors and journalists as paid by Modi to report favourable opinion on him, many simply cow down after being physically intimidated. Sagarika Ghose, Dy Editor and wife Rajdeep Sardesai was reportedly ticked off by her management (Mukesh Ambani owns TV 18 where CNNIBN is a part) not to negatively tweet on Narendra Modi.  Read our archive: Why CNN-IBN's Sagarika Ghose may no longer criticise Modi Click here.

Noted journalist Hartosh Singh Bal was terminated by OpenMagazine for his anti-Modi editorials and stories. He is presently editor of Caravan magazine.

Siddharth Varadrajan, former editor of TheHindu and a strong critic of Modi had his home broken into and his caretaker threatened. He wrote this on Facebook about the incident:
“Four thugs recently beat up the caretaker of my flat in Delhi. The incident took place near our home, with the thugs saying, 'Tell your sahib to watch what he says on TV.' They also issued a threat to my wife, Prof Nandini Sundar, about her Chhattisgarh case. We don't know who they are, but it's clearly aimed to intimidate. The caretaker is recovering. While the police have been helpful and are reviewing neighborhood CCTV footage, I am making this incident public on the advice of friends who believe it may serve some deterrent value.”
Imagine this kind of fascism unleashed even when Modi Sarkar even had not endorsed by the electorate. Can you imagine the havoc if God forbids they do grab power?  If this is the low they can stoop as an opposition force, don’t fool yourself that they will respect the verdict of the electorate if they are voted out. Also don’t fool yourself that minorities are the only one who would be the receiving end of a Modi Sarkar. All the above victims were Hindus. And you could be next on their list...
"The RSS itself is a religion of its own. They don't care about your caste or Hindu family background. After all, they got Gandhi killed who was a devout Hindu all his life. And their youth wing ABVP killed Professor Sabharwal in 2006. For the RSS, if you criticise their toxic ideology even once, that's enough for you to become their sworn enemy."
- Sushant Taing in Facebook - 

So be careful with your vote