Jai Shree Ram meets Jai Hind…an imaginary conversation with Mamta Banerjee!

 

A person: Jai Shree Ram

Mamta Banerjee: No! Jai Hind

The person: But Ram belongs as much to Hind

Mamta: Hind is more than Ram

The person: Ram is yet part of Hind

Mamta: Not the Hind I imagine

The person: So the mover is your imagination not Hind

Mamta: I have the right to imagine it

The person: Is there a right to deny Ram in it?

Mamta: I am against reducing Ram to a slogan

The person: Can Hind be reduced to one?

Mamta: Hind cannot ever be reduced

The person: Can Ram be?

Mamta: Jai Bangla

The person: Where did that come from?

Mamta: Bangla is part of Hind

The person: Ram is part of Hind too

Mamta: Shut up…One must not mix religion with politics! Jai Ma Kali

 

(A needless case of combative politics and competitive sloganeering)

Godse Haasan and Hindus

“Free India’s first terrorist was a Hindu. His name was Nathuram Godse.” Thus spoke the Oracle Kamal Haasan.

Haasan refers to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in January, 1948.

Utter novices these Hindus! Despite being the first to adopt terrorism they shockingly allowed themselves to be surpassed by those more adept at slaughter and mayhem!  And what have they to show? Only a Nathuram Godse.

Godse was arrested the same day he shot the Mahatma, his trial concluded by November, 1949 and he was hanged within a week of his being sentenced to death. Compare this with the case of Afzal Guru to understand how a terrorist actually uses the legal process? Afzal Guru, despite arriving on the scene much later, was executed almost eight years after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and thirteen years after the attack on Parliament! Being the first does not necessarily mean one is the effective. One can yet be outdone by persons and circumstances as has obviously happened.

And yes Godse, the first protagonist of Propaganda by Deed, could not yet let the idea of assassination take root in India and targeted killing failed to become a popular, potent and irresistible form of propaganda in the country. There was no assassination after the Mahatma! Hindu terrorists just failed to kill for common good unlike the quintessential prototypical terrorists. The first yes but no achievements whatsoever thereafter!

Comparison with the more illustrious terrorists is so stark it is embarrassing. ISIS had a reach over more than 21 countries. Al Qaeda has its foot-prints across several continents apart from being involved in several military conflicts. Lashkar which has ties with both is credited amongst other achievements with coordinated shooting at Mumbai over four days and Pulwama attack on the armed forces. And Jaish is headed by a Global Terrorist Masood Azhar. One cannot also forget the involvement of Christians in ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Bosnian War.

Just look at the Hindus!! After giving the first terrorist to the country Hindus have been cleansed from Kashmir! It is shameful that Hindus are not part of the 800 terrorist cells operating in the country. And none of the districts affected by terrorism in India are dominated by Hindus.

In fact what does the first terrorist which India gave to itself have to show for the impact on the country? India gave to itself the longest written Constitution  in the world declaring India to be a democratic republic and assuring to its citizens justice, equality, liberty and fraternity. The Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949 eleven days after Godse was hanged on November 15, 1949.

A clear case of non sequitur, there is a deliberate use by Kamal Hasan of a charged term “terrorist” to peddle Hinduphobia.

Haasan’s comment reminded me of the attack on the Sari as a conspiracy by Hindu Nationalists! And the intentional removal of the incident of the Mahatma’s assassination from the circumstances which surrounded and followed only to misattribute a role to a community ignoring all exceptions and distinctions relevant to a correct understanding of the issue proves Haasan’s high moral ground notwithstanding living in truth is a capacity he lacks.

There are many firsts to Hindus’ credit. Terror is not in that list. And will never be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A letter to Naseeruddin Shah

 

Dear Mr Naseeruddin Shah

There is more to India than deviance and social problems. The expression of fear that its morals, ideals, ethics and scruples are either debilitated or attenuated is clearly irrational. India’s conscience is and will always be intact.

There are deviants in every society. Villainy, wickedness or malefaction can only exist in an imagined society of perfect quality. There is no such utopia in the world. Not being a utopia does not make a society so distasteful, dreaded or distressing to be demeaned in the way you have done.

There is no mob rule in India. Nor are Indians a fickle crowd. And social norms which define human behaviour are very much in tact. Any kind of verbal abuse which delegitimises our institutions and our culture is inexcusable and is indefensible. India can do without this stigma.

Ours is no tribal or closed society. There is cultural and religious pluralism and accommodation for alternative points of view. We are no dumbed down masses, are alert and alive to our situation, critically understand our circumstances and have never allowed knowledge to become political. Our lives are moderated by the Constitution and the laws and we enforce accountability to wrongs. The moral system which the majority community in this country subscribe too is of moral universalism, an ethic which transcends religion, culture or personal whim. You have assumed the role of a moral entrepreneur and using urban legends have tried to create a moral panic, a role which does not behove you or any other responsible person in your position.

Fear is a primeval emotion. All of us know fear. Phobia is however an anxiety disorder. There is an irrationality to it and a deviance from acceptable individual behaviour. Your phobia is your own making which may require therapy or medication. Treat it. Do not indulge in it nor publicise it to create dismay or dread in others.

The folkways, the ways of living, thinking and acting, which are our perennial guide to conduct and which we consider of central importance embodying as they do the fundamental moral values of our society will make us instinctively stand with your children and defend them should the need ever arise. This is India. And this India does not so act as part of a conscious design but as a visceral reflex to the gruesome and horrifying fictional situation you imagined.

Instead of instilling fear in your children educate and empower them with the India of India which you have forsaken. I as an Indian have always seen you only as the versatile actor who carries a famous name. The fact you are a Muslim never factored in my estimation of you. You have insulted every Indian like me with your comment.

PRIYANKA and KIPLING’S ANIMALS!

Indophobia is often a default position.

Cringing Indians apologetic about their roots re-enforce these phobic attitudes.

Why talk about Mill, Macaulay, the Evangelists and others when we have people like Priyanka Chopra to defame, disparage and denigrate India.

Apologists for Priyanka may say that the episode is a work of fiction but the choice of the storyline reveals a normative bias and subscription to beliefs and values antagonistic to India.

Even if we ignore the fact that the give away of the plot was Rudraksha beads – a demonising of religion reminiscent of Macaulay’s odious comment that all that is hideous, grotesque and ignoble about Hindu Pantheon – on the specious plea that Muslims are portrayed as terrorists too, can we ignore the suggestion in the plot that Kashmir is a disputed territory whose fate legitimately depends upon intercession of a third country and while national interest lies in conceding  that position , those who are opposing it are terrorists?? And what is worse is that the sense to oppose this untenable position on Kashmir is shown to be in Hindus only! Do Muslims believe Kashmir is disputed, that Pakistan has a stake in it and a third country shall decide its fate?

While the producers “inadvertently” stepped into a complex political issue was Priyanka Chopra only in a state of partial parousal out of excitement at performance as Alex Parrish and had otherwise no awareness of the storyline?

Or is she one of Kipling’s animals…Kipling after all had more love for animals than humans in Indian homes and perhaps she must be enjoying being feted as a healthy specimen.

No one can fictionalise India.

Priyanka’s forefathers were the white man’s burden. She and people like her are ours!

 

Right to Privacy – Now Public!

Alan Westin who defined privacy as “the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others” explained that “just as a social balance favoring disclosure and surveillance over privacy is a functional necessity for totalitarian systems, so a balance that ensures strong citadels of individual and group privacy and limits both disclosure and surveillance is a prerequisite for liberal democratic societies. The democratic society relies on publicity as a control over government, and on privacy as a shield for group and individual life.”

It was, therefore, surprising to have the former Attorney General assert that privacy is not a Fundamental Right. Privacy is a guarantee of due process providing an assurance that the government operates within the law and guarantees a fair procedure.

In fact whether the Constitution was read as a textualist would (Justice Scalia defined textulaism as an interpretation “guided by the text and not by intentions or ideals external to it, and by the original meaning of the text, not by its evolving meaning over time”) or whether it was construed as a Living Constitution that favours a broad not a conservative or mechanical approach “not condemning civilized society to remain under the regimen of its barbarous ancestors” the conclusion is inescapable that privacy is in fact guaranteed by the Constitution.

Privacy can be best understood by identifying an “intruder”. N A Moreham,Senior Lecturer in Law, Victoria University of Wellington in a scholarly article on privacy quoted Stanley Ben who described an intruder as one who “fails to show a proper respect for persons; he is treating people as objects or specimens — like “dirt” — and not as subjects with sensibilities, ends, and aspirations of their own, morally responsible for their own decisions, and capable, as mere specimens are not, of reciprocal relations with the observer. These resentments suggest a possible ground for a prima facie claim not to be watched, at any rate in the same manner as one watches a thing or an animal. For this is to “take liberties”, to act impudently, to show less than a proper regard for human dignity.”

Denial of privacy thus robs one of dignity. But the right to live with dignity has been held to be a core constitutional value by our Supreme Court and guaranteed by Article 21. And as privacy is an assurance of dignity the guarantee of privacy cannot but be implicit in the Constitution.

Even otherwise as Edward Bloustein says: “The man who is compelled to live every minute of his life among others and whose every need, thought, desire, fancy or gratification is subject to public scrutiny, has been deprived of his individuality …. Such an individual merges with the mass. His opinions, being public, tend never to be different; his aspirations, being known, tend always to be conventionally accepted ones” Visibility itself provides a powerful method of enforcing norms and as Westin tellingly puts it “naked to ridicule and shame they will be put in control of those who know their secrets.” As Moreham said freedom of expression – again guaranteed by the Constitution – would lose much of its value if people do not have the chance to learn to think for themselves and have anything unique, creative and controversial to express. Similarly freedom of action and belief – also guaranteed by the Constitution – will be lost where one is kept under the spotlight and on the stage in perpetuity robbing life of its spontaneity sparkle and exuberance, pillaging imagination of its resourcefulness, curbing individual genius and even idiosyncrasies, and enforcing conformity.

The right to privacy though unspecified is yet clearly reflected in the language of the Constitution and the existing state of law also clearly showed that the society believed that such a right existed. Merely being alive and alert to this fact even without being activist was sufficient to acknowledge the same.

The utter incongruity of the exercise of constituting a Bench of Nine Judges to decide if Privacy was a Fundamental Right at the instance of the Government which denied the proposition is apparent in the wholehearted endorsement of the decision as a vindication of its stance. What then was the need to rely upon the judgments on M.P.Sharma and Kharak Singh to insist that larger benches of the Supreme Court had held privacy not to be Fundamental Right, insisting that the framers of the Constitution had expressly excluded the right from the list of Fundamental Rights and asserting that the right was merely a common law right – an argument of the Attorney General which sat rather uncomfortably with that of the Additional Solicitor General that the right was recognized in different statutes? It could have been conceded that Sharma and Kharak Singh did not lay down the law correctly, that on a contemporaneous not historical exposition of law the want of explicit inclusion of privacy as a Fundamental Right could not be considered decisive and that a common law right was elevated to the status of a Fundamental Right and clearly emerged from the guarantee of Article 21 and other facets of freedom guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.

Split verdicts often create doubts about verdicts and are open to criticism of policy and expediency trumping law. The Supreme Court spoke in one voice in recognizing the right to privacy. The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court is a momentous moment in India’s legal history decisively showing that existence of the right to privacy as an undisputed reality and vindicating India’s position as a confident, mature and vibrant liberal democratic state.

Amarnath, Terror & Memorial to an Ordinary Indian

One fearless bus driver of Amarnath victims, Saleem Mirza, who saved several lives by continuing to drive till he reached a point of safety despite being under attack was enough to foil the plans terrorists who wanted still larger casualties much as Brigadier Usman, the highest ranking officer of the Indian Army martyred in the Indo-Pak was of 1947 after resisting all pressure to opt for the Pakistani Army was enough to shame the Pakistani Army. The separatists and Pakistanis are yet persisting with the delusion of dismembering India. Every attack on India, however, brings forth the valour of an ordinary Indian and affirms that as a country India will remain indomitable. Every Indian has made himself count against aggression of enemies and artifices of conmen. And it is in this spirit of the ordinary Indian that India resides It is time we raise a memorial to the ordinary Indian and celebrate the everyday humdrum life of our fellow countrymen because it is that mingling, in the shared joys and common frustrations, in our fears and unfulfilled aspirations and in the realisation that India alone is home that India truly resides. The common man remains the crucible of all identities and is the quintessence of the country. We relate to the him, identify with him and will fight to preserve him. He may be a Saleem who save Hindu pilgrims or be a Shail Devi a frail old widow who saved Muslims from marauding mobs. Such memorials can be the sacred spots dotting the country for every Indian to pay homage be developed as tourist attractions and help foster a truly unique Indian identity. This could well be be the modern equivalent of Adi Shankar’s uniting holy spots across India through Jyotirlings, Shaktipeeths and Vishnu Dhams. We have spent a lot of time celebrating differences, It is time there is an acknowledgment of the nationalist identity based on a civic bond and commonalities.

Supreme Court & Justice Karnan – Judging the Judges!

A bench of five or more judges is constituted, under Article 145 of the Constitution of India, for the purpose of deciding a case involving substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. In Justice Karnan’s case it is digressing into areas it need not move to.

It is indeed odd that seven judges should, sitting as such a bench, be ordering medical examination of the person being proceeded against. This is more so because his behavior is not in any manner different from what was known when proceedings against him commenced. Notwithstanding the self-evident deviance and aberrancy he was yet considered, by the very bench, as possessed of sufficient understanding and competence to be served with summons of the case, be heard in his defense and be further directed to file a reply – himself and not through a person taking responsibility for him – to the charges levied against him. If a person can be trusted with the ability to understand the nature of the proceedings and give rational testimony the basic test of his competence is satisfied as not to warrant his medical examination.

Medical tests have been ordered to resolve a lis a court is seized of to ensure, as was felicitously put, that “justice is not compromised to notions of delicacy”. The application of this principle to the case at hand can be the subject matter of serious dispute and in the circumstances of this case Justice Karnan has the right to refuse the taking of the test. More significantly the ordering of such a test suggests that the bench is having second-thoughts of the very propriety of proceedings initiated suo-moto by it. In any event “proved incapacity” – provided it is established in the manner prescribed under Article 124 – is a ground for impeachment not contempt and will, in fact, negate the charge of contempt. Proceedings will have to be kept in abeyance pending resolution of doubts about mental capacity. Inexplicably, however, the Supreme Court not only reiterates that Justice Karnan, the very person whose competence and capacity it doubts, should file a response but further records that should he “not choose” to file “it shall be presumed he has nothing to say.” How can freedom of choice be conceded to one who cannot be trusted with that responsibility and how can his failure to exercise that choice be deemed an intelligent exercise of discretion when an apprehended defective intellect is the reason for constituting the Medical Board?

The Supreme Court has, under the constitutional scheme, a special role in the administration of justice and is obligated to take steps to ensure free and fair administration of justice throughout the country. This explains the unusual step of constituting a bench of seven judges proceeding with suo moto contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan. Curiously the notice issued had not set out the charge against Justice Karnan and the contempt itself is described as “civil” though the reason for the proceedings is not violation of any order the court may have passed but letters addressed to the Supreme Court (which fact is not mentioned in the order issuing notice.)  This discrepancy, however, does not affect the proceedings in any substantial manner as Justice Karnan, on appearance, appeared aware of the reason behind the proceedings and the right to proceed in contempt inhering in a Court of Record, the Supreme Court was exercising power under Article 129 and not under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. It would however have been appropriate if the not made itself vulnerable to any criticism about the manner in which it was proceeding more so because the jurisdiction it was exercising was of contempt and that too suo moto.

Ideally Justice Karnan should have contested the proceedings and presented whatever objections he had in law to the process – which would also served as a precedent checking any future misuse of such a power. His willful refusal to participate should, nevertheless, not have deflected the court from the purpose behind the institution of proceedings to make forays into areas irrelevant to the controversy. The bench would have been better advised to immediately proceed to decide the issue whether in exercise of its powers under Article 129 notwithstanding the bar against “removal” from office except in the manner prescribed by Article 124 (4) of the Constitution the Court could yet order that Justice Karnan “refrain from all handling judicial or administrative work” that is remove his adjudicative capacity which alone could make him act as a judge. Related issue would be whether judges of courts of record could be proceeded against under contempt if they interfered with the legal process (an issue which proceeded sub-silentio in Ramaswami’s case) or exercised power illegally (which distinguished Justice Karnan’s case from Prakash Chand’s case) and the limits of public interest restriction against initiation of proceedings against a Judge of a Court of Record – an issue which will always remain key in every contempt proceedings instituted against any superior court judge. However more than two months have elapsed and Justice Karnan will retire in a few weeks from now!

Even otherwise the question would yet remain how any order passed would be executed. While a method to take action against judges, apart from the process of impeachment, an oppressively cumbersome process made worse by the intrigue and artifice of the political process would be a welcome, making the method work would be the real problem. We will eventually return to the very point from where we started – ordering the withdrawal of judicial work – and the judge remaining defiant – apart from any other punishment devised to suit the contempt – the carrying into effect of which would be fraught with rather dangerous consequences as the judiciary would be bound to take the help of the executive to make any order effective which is bound to compromise its independence.

A public spat between judges with each side ordering medical examination of the other and issuing warrants demeans the judiciary as an institution. The fact remains Justice Karnan is responsible for this situation and by choosing not to appear and contest the notice has shown he is not serious about the allegations made by him being subject to rigorous scrutiny as to show they are not fanciful and frivolous. He is, in the circumstances, clearly liable to punishment but the fact is he is about to retire and more than two months have been spent by the Supreme Court without making any substantial progress only generating adverse publicity ridiculing the judiciary. Moreover we need to proceed with caution thinking out the consequences of any action lest this case becomes a precedent that returns to haunt the judiciary later.

Justice Karnan already stands discredited. Mr K.K. Venugopal’s suggestion of letting him fade into retirement ought to be seriously considered by the Supreme Court. The existence of the power in the Supreme Court has been demonstrated. It may not be worthwhile to exercise it in the instant case.