RAHUL GANDHI at JNU -Some questions

“Dont let these bullies push you around. They are terrified of poor, weak Indian people getting a voice. Question them at every single step.” Thus spoke the Original Wise Man (Rahul Gandhi) at JNU.

I took the sage advice given by Rahul Gandhi. I am not “poor” or “weak” but I am an Indian and I feel a right to question is available to all. Rahul Gandhi being an original thinker will surely agree with this proposition.

Rahul Gandhi did not include himself in the category of “bullies” but the exclusion notwithstanding he can yet be questioned. Rahul, being wise, can have no objection.

And as the question can be raised at every single step I am definitely not late in questioning. Rahul Gandhi is surely man enough to accept it.

Using Rahul Gandhi repeatedly can be tedious and Original Wise Man though appropriate is too long so I will substitute both expressions with the pronoun “you” – an expression which will assume significance for different reasons later in this article.

You asked a question about “who anti-national people are” and answered yourself that they are the ones “suppressing the voice of JNU”. What according to you is the “voice of JNU”?  Is it of the students who eulogise Afzal Guru and pray for India’s disintegration or those who oppose this point of view? Why did you not address this question while dealing with a very pertinent issue of defining “anti-national people”?

You talked about the “real Indian people” but chose not to elaborate about who constitutes this class. Why did you fight shy of developing the concept? Were you afraid of un-personing those who do not share your point of view or are only those people “real Indians” whom you approve and certify. I feel Kanhaiya who is accused, among other things, of shouting anti-India slogans can justifiably  be tried for sedition under the Indian Penal Code. Does that take me out of the category of a “real Indian”?

You said that in “crushing you” they will make “you stronger”. Who is the “you” here and who are “they”? “You” is a pronoun and refers to the ones being addressed. Does it follow only those who listen to you and cheer you are the ones who should be empowered and made “stronger”? Was the free and enthusiastic crowd (the “you”) cheering you (without inverted commas) yelling approval to what you (not the other “you”) spoke a “crushed” people?  I will not cheer you for what you did in JNU but will roundly condemn you. I am part of “they”. Are you suggesting I am for that reason any less Indian?

You also said “they feel fear”.  It is obvious in your scheme of things I am “they”. But I feel no fear when you talk the way you do. I feel disgust. And I feel pain. And while I am not “crushed” – not because you have spared any effort but because my spirit is vigorous than your resolve – I will yet be strong to secure my country which for you is merely a slogan.

If anyone is “terrified” its not “they” (I mean me) but you (not the “you”) and the speech appears only an attempt by you to rationalise for yourself your own rejection. You claim to speak for the “real Indian people who have a voice”. It is a false claim. The real Indian people voted your party out of power. Or is it that you feel they are not “people” or are they not “real people” or that they are a people who should be denied a “voice”? 

There is an essay “In Praise of Folly” which was a attack on certain traditions of the European society and Church in which “Folly “praises itself. “Folly” in that essay is nursed by “ignorance” and has “flattery”, “self-love” and “madness” as companions with “intemperance” as God. I feel you read it for the literal meaning. The essay was meant to be a satire. And being a satire the expression was meant to be different from if not opposite to what was suggested.

Which brings me to the final question. Will we now have an encore? Or do you feel you are not to be questioned!

 

JUSTICE SHAH & AFZAL GURU PARADOX

I was less horrified by the louts of JNU who shouted themselves hoarse for the terrorist Afzal Guru, an arch enemy of India, and wantonly showed extreme malevolence towards the country through slogans steeped in hate in a ferociously savage display of anti-national sentiments than by the comment of Justice A.P.Shah who chose not to comment on this feral display of untamed animosity towards the country and instead rued, and I quote him, “executive let him(Afzal Guru)down”!!

A phrasal verb of “let” the expression “let him down” means failing to support or help someone as they hoped. Its synonyms are disillusioned, disappointed and forsaken. The “executive”, and I presume Justice Shah was referring to the Government of India, thus (so Justice Shah believes) failed to support or help Afzal Guru and in this failure disappointed him (Afzal Guru) who thus felt “let down”.

Now louts (like the howling wailing assortment of Afzal Guru supporters) are proven bumpkins who are known to act like philistines and to expect them to show any intelligence, sense or luminosity would be utterly foolish but a retired Chief Justice of a reputed High Court of the country is judged by different standards for obvious reasons. Or can it?

If Indian government “let Afzal Guru down”, as Justice Shah believes, it would have betrayed its trust. The “betrayal” would entail that India behaved traitorously towards him. And this, in turn, would mean that it violated a compact with Guru that the latter could join in the conspiracy to attack Parliament, kill people, and be exempt from punishment.

This put me in a dilemma. Punishment could only follow prosecution. And if punishment was wrong prosecution could not be justified. Afzal Guru could not have been arrested in the first place! Justice Shah does not seem to support this extreme position. His objection is to the imposition of death sentence.

But here comes the Afzal Guru Paradox – the credit for which goes to Justice Shah. If Afzal Guru was expected to attack Parliament and he acted accordingly as to make his punishment for it an act of betrayal by the government how could he be given any punishment at all be it death or sentence for life the latter being the one Justice Shah was a votary of? There is a contradiction inherent in the comment.

Or does Justice Shah believe Afzal Guru should not have been punished? That is the only way the “let down” comment can be justified. The man then is not a criminal but a martyr. The heroic act of attacking Parliament and the selfless killing of people showed Afzal Guru’s love for India for which he died!!

Is this not what the louts of JNU were contending? The similarity with louts should be embarrassing for Justice Shah. The embarrassment, however, would falsify the comment!

This topsy turvy world reveals a contradiction in the reasoning and the argument of a learned Judge. Can then the noisy yelling and bellowing equivalent of the same be coherent or justified?

If anyone is let down it is our country and its countrymen. First by the delayed punishment to Afzal Guru and now wailing frenzy of the uncouths of JNU and then by the teary-eyed comment of Justice Shah.

 

 

 

 

CRUZ TRUMP and GRAMMAR OF DIVISION

Ted Cruz, in the Iowa victory speech, said his country was built on “Judeo-Christian values” and mentioned the 150 pastors who in the course of the campaign “energised faith”!

I thought USA was salad bowl of separate and coexisting cultures not an assimilative homogenous one like a melting pot and was built upon a civil religion around secular symbols to celebrate a non sectarian creed. The Presidential hopeful, however, feels differently and I am sure he knows his country better than I do. And what is more significant still is that those voting for him share his views.

It is interesting in this context to refer to Trump’s introduction by Rev Jerry Falwell during a visit to Liberty University, Virginia: “In my opinion Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.”

I wonder how this preference for one set of values for another stands with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the American Constitution which not only builds a wall of separation between the church and the State but bars preferring one religion to another. It seems however that the candidates feel they have to pass a kind of religious test to be considered qualified to hold the post of President.

Trump wanted banning of all Muslims into the USA and Cruz showed his policy would have a religious orientation by saying Syrian Muslim refugees should not be permitted into the USA.

I mention this because the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Report 2015 made an adverse mention of “religiously divisive campaigning in advance of the 2014 elections” urging the Indian government to “rebuke government officials and religious leaders who make derogatory statements about religious communities.”  And President Obama had also famously advised India on his visit to the country “against splintering on the lines of religious faith”.

It is apparent what is being preached is not being practiced.

A narrow and sequestered thinking is a blow to multiculturalism – the recognition and preservation of cultural diversity and if multiculturalism is going to be a casualty there will be a consequential absence of an intercultural competence that is not only the knowledge of the beliefs, customs and habits of non Judeo-Christian people but more importantly an understanding of them.

Both Cruz and Trump will be closely aligned to Operation Save America, a fundamentalist organization opposed to abortion, homosexuality and non-Christian religions. I remember the same attitude was responsible for describing Hindu prayers as Abomination which in Biblical terms means forbidden and unclean. Hindus would be false worshipers indulging in superstition and satanism!

World leaders are meant to have cross cultural competence. Only then they can be effective in intercultural interaction. The moral absolutism deriving from the divine commands of one’s religion will impair a reasoned interaction with a contrary point of view because of the a-priori attitude of their dogmatic position. It is an age of interdependence and common rules not insularity or personal preferences.

Cruz and Trump symbolize a form of cultural imperialism which will only enhance not address or resolve international conflict. Limited by their perceptions they will fail to realise the value in cultural variety to be in a position to correctly identify the moral absolutes amongst the diversities around which moral absolutes alone any effective, rational and ethical policy can be structured. Lets hope this election is not of a rabble roused.