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2831SACW - 10 June 2014 | Pakistan: terrorists attack Karachi Airport / India: Hindutva-capitalism takes p ower ; Protect Constitutional and Democratic Rights / Madness / Washington’s Iron Curtain In Ukrai ne

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    Jun 9, 2014
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      South Asia Citizens Wire - 10 June 2014 - No. 2824
      [since 1996]

      1. Pakistan: Civil society condemns terrorists attack on Karachi Airport
      2. Joint Statement by Pakistan citizens groups, on the Invitation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend Modi's oath-taking Ceremony
      3. PIPFPD India welcomes Pakistan Prime Minister attending the swearing in ceremony of Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister designate, on May 26, 2014
      4. Babar Ayaz: Secularism and conflict management in Pakistan
      5. Minority and the mob: Pakistan's deathwish hatred is the Ahmadi community
      6. India: Can NaMo do a Harper | Subhash Gatade
      7. Them Again in India | Chetan Bhatt
      8. Gandhi on secular law and state | Anil Nauriya
      9. India's Nuclear Doctrine: Up for a Makeover? | Sukla Sen
      10. India administered Kashmir and the Article 370 - Select articles
      11. India: Maharashtra police to crack whip on those who ‘like' offensive Facebook posts
      12. India: Another publisher forced to censor textbooks
      13. India: Protect our Constitutional and Democratic Rights to Free Speech and Expression — Statement by Concerned Citizens
      14. India where sexual violence is now part of our new normal | Ratna Kapur
      15. India: Badaun Outrage - Preliminary Report of a Fact-finding Team
      16. India: Statement by concerned IT professionals from Pune following hate crime by Hindu Rashtra Sena
      17. India: Assault by Rajasthan Government on the leading Gandhian Institution, the Rajasthan Samagra Sewa Sangh - Statement by Concerned Citizens
      18. Prominent Indian singer Shubha Mudgal intimidated and threatened in California - Statement by SAHMAT
      19. Video of Zohra Segal : Celebrating her 101st birhday | Women Speak Channel by Anhad
      20. Draft Statement at Third ITUC World Congress 18-23 May 2014, Berlin
      21. A Nightmare Materialises In India: Hindutva-capitalism takes power | Praful Bidwai
      22. Sandeep Bhushan - How the television news industry scripted the Indian elections
      23. “Worse than Reagan”: Meet the violent chauvinist now leading India, Narendra Modi | Elias Isquith
      24. India: Statement on 2014 General Elections by People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S.)
      25. India: Boko Harami's and Nigerian crisis - A Discussion on Rajya Sabha TV

      ::: FULL TEXT :::
      26. Pakistan: A vigilante state & society | Babar Sattar
      27. India: Resisting Modi through mass struggles | Praful Bidwai
      28. India: The 'Discreet Charm' of the BJP | Sumanta Banerjee
      29. India: BJP's emerging structure of power | Ranabir Samaddar
      30. Jordan Piper's Review of Andrew T. Scull. Madness: A Very Short Introduction
      31. Pakistan: Worse Than We Knew | Ahmed Rashid
      32. Tightening The U.S. Grip On Western Europe: Washington’s Iron Curtain In Ukraine | Diana Johnstone

      The Pakistan Peace Coalition [PPC], Pakistan Civil Society Forum Sindh Chapter and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research [PILER] have vehemently condemned the terrorists attack at the Karachi Airport Sunday night, which continued till Monday afternoon, resulting in deaths of 18 personnel of law enforcement agencies including Airport Security Force, Rangers and Police, as well as killing of 10 terrorists.
      In a joint statement, the civil society organizations regretted the loss of lives of personnel deployed at the Airport who fell victim to the terrorists’ offence against the biggest airport of the country.

      Coming as it does in the wake of India's invitation to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as the new Prime Minister of India in New Delhi on 26th May, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson's statement re-iterating that “Pakistan wants uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue with India to resolve all the issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir', and the assertion that “It will be a mistake to let this opportunity go; we need to see beyond today”, is most welcome.


      One school of thought wants to prove that Islam gives space to establish a secular polity, while the other says that it does not because Islam gives a complete code of life which includes the management of the state under ‘Sharia'

      Nations trapped in the cycle of fate can't resist a recurrent deathwish even when they know it is a deathwish. Turks can't live down their primal hatred of Armenians, and become Turks only when they collectively hate them. Iranians have the same kind of emotion about the Bahai. Once Germans hated Jews and killed a lot of them to post their “greatness” to the world. Pakistan's deathwish hatred is against the Ahmadi community. It lives as a nation only if it kills Ahmadis and ceases to be a nation if it stops killing them.
      Pakistan's “greatness” as a nation was asserted soon after it had its first real constitution, in 1973. The second amendment inserted into it — to remove the “flaw” of the original text — apostatised the Ahmadi community, a sect which controversially thought its founder a “prophet without a book”.

      by Subhash Gatade
      All those people who are familiar with the stigmatisation and terrorisation of a people and a community in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 attack can recount many such stories of miscarriage of justice, innocents being lodged in jail for years together and the tragedies which befell their families. The case of Mahel Arar was unique in many ways in the sense that because of the tremendous uproar in the Canadian society over this issue, Stephen Harper, then Prime Minister of Canada sought public apology for the ordeal which Maher went through and for the role played by Canadian officials in the whole affair. All the six were arrested for their alleged support to the terrorists who died in the Akshardham terror attack. It was September 25, 2002 and the famous Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad came under attack. It is time that PM Narendra Modi, decides to do a Harper.

      by Chetan Bhatt
      Given the emphatic victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP in the recent Indian elections, should secularists, human rights activists, liberals, feminists be worried? While the BJP win is based on about 31% of the popular vote, the democratic mandate by the Indian electorate is a powerful one and, for the first time in its history, the BJP can govern India without being unduly constrained by coalition partners. How can secularists and human rights activists oppose this kind of democratic mandate?

      Gandhi and Nehru had differences. But they had strong mutual synergies on vital issues.

      by Sukla Sen
      The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the then main opposition party in India and widely tipped to emerge as the largest party in India's sixteenth parliamentary election, released its election manifesto 1 in New Delhi on April 7 last, the day the nine-phase election stretching from April 7 to May 12 commenced. . . . the page 39 of the 42-page document has attracted attentions of the commentators, both within the country and also abroad. Never mind that the issue is really not a hot topic in this election. The section is captioned: 'Independent Strategic Nuclear Programme'. Evidently, the issue dealt with therein explains the extent of interest, in certain limited circles, triggered by it.

      Following the victory in 2014 elections will the Narendra Modi led govt. move to alter the nature of the relationship India has with Kashmir and modify the article 370 of the Indian constitution. A selection of articles from the Indian media are posted below to understand the issues involved.

      In an attempt to contain protests over objectionable posts on a social networking site about Chhatrapati Shivaji, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, the Maharashtra police have decided to take action even against those who 'like' the controversial posts.

      Another case filed by the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (SBAS) against a textbook published a decade ago has resulted in Orient Blackswan (OBS) — a publisher specialising in academic books — undertaking a pre-release assessment of books that might attract similar reaction.

      No democracy can claim to be one, unless freedom of speech and expression are guaranteed by statute and where the state machinery works to ensure compliance not only in the behavior of government, but of its citizens. The curbing of expression with threat and through terror, increasingly more menacing, should be condemned and stopped, if our country is to become a mature democracy. Indeed, the expression of varied and differing opinions strengthen the political discourse and empowers people to make informed choices. In the last fortnight there has been a resurgence of attacks to curb the right to free speech and expression of Indian citizens who did not share the euphoria, hope and enthusiasm associated with recent election results.

      The brutal rape and lynching of two girls in Badaun should shock the collective conscience of all Indians, regardless of their class, caste, religious or ethnic background. But does it?

      A fact-finding team, comprising Rajan Singh (Actionaid), Ram Kumar (Dynamic Action Group), Ramdular (National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights—NCdhr), Neetu (Humsafar Support Centre for Women), Shubhangi Singh (AALI) and Shilpi Aggraval (SAKAR Sanstha, Bareilly), visited Katra Sahadatganj village in Dattaganj Block in UP’s Badaun district where the abduction, gang rape and murder of two minor girls allegedly by three brothers Pappu Yadav, Avdesh Yadav, Urvesh Yadav, sons of Vir Yadav, and two police constables Sarvesh Yadav and Chatra Pal on May 27, 2014 night rocked the country. This is a preliminary report of the fact-finding team. A detailed report is being worked upon and would be ready in a few days.

      We, the undersigned express our deep shock at the gruesome incident of hate crime reported in the city of Pune earlier this week. A 28 year old IT professional Shaikh Mohsin Sadiq was thrashed to death by a group of people suspected to be connected with a radical Hindu outfit called Hindu Rashtra Sena.

      In a shocking and arbitrary exercise of power on the 7th June, 2014, the Jaipur Development Authority, directly under the Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, sealed the complete premises of the Rajasthan Samagra Sewa Sangh which had been in existence on its own land since 1959. They threw out all the residents and their belongings, cancelled the allotment and took over their land.

      SAHMAT strongly condemns this incident in California where a pro-Modi supporter of Hindutava threatened Shubha Mudgal at a concert, for her vocal and public opposition to the Hindutva forces.

      19. VIDEO OF ZOHRA SEGAL : CELEBRATING HER 101ST BIRHDAY | Women Speak Channel by Anhad
      Anhad has put together this video on Zohra apa using footage from various Anhad programmes where she participated.


      by Praful Bidwai
      The Lok Sabha election has produced what was easily the worst conceivable outcome by giving an outright majority to the Bharatiya Janata Party under a man who is widely believed to have been complicit in mass killings of Indian citizens belonging to one faith, and who even 12 years on has not been fully exonerated by the country's legal system despite its compromised, semi-functional nature, and vulnerability to diabolical manipulation. Make no mistake. Despite a limited (31 percent) national vote, Narendra Modi's victory is the result of a Rightward shift in society, and the triumph of Hindutva combined with neoliberal capitalism.

      History will judge the just concluded elections as republican India's first intensively televised elections. Never have close to four hundred news networks (they equal the number of entertainment networks, such is the saleability of “news” in our culture) in a bewildering variety of languages and dialects communicated political messages from an equally bewildering array of politicians and political actors across the country. But, equally, never have so many news networks dished out the same fare: Narendra Modi. The Narendra Modi persona, for good or for bad has been largely a television media construction, amplified by saturation-point coverage of the leader, spread out over more than six months—staggering and almost unprecedented, even by global standards.

      by Elias Isquith
      Earlier this month, India, the largest democracy in the world, held its national parliamentary elections. As was widely expected, the result was a clear and potentially epochal victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the country's leading right-wing party, and its leader, the pugnacious, nationalistic and neoliberal Narendra Modi, whom the Economist — in a somewhat unprecedented anti-endorsement — recently described as “a man who is still associated with sectarian hatred.”

      The Loksabha election results of 2014 surprised everyone. They are beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ardent BJP and Modi supporters, and worse than the worst scenarios imagined by BJP's political opponents. Even though these elections results are singularly stunning, phenomena like these have diverse reasons. A comprehensive understanding and meaningful response require that all these reasons be dispassionately explored and evaluated.

      A discussion on the origins and political implications of Boko Haram movement in Nigeria

      ::: FULL TEXT :::
      by Babar Sattar
      (Dawn, 2 June 2014)
      DO you judge a society by how it treats its mighty or its vulnerable? What do you call a state that serves the powerful and not the weak? What distinguishes a civilised society from a jungle if survival of the fittest is the rule in both? What is the purpose of having morals, ethics and law if these codes neither protect the frail nor bind the aggressors? If our state unravels it will be due to obvious answers to these rhetorical questions and not due to our fiscal deficit.

      Have our ‘so-called’ progressives become self-loathers? Don’t bad things happen in large countries everywhere? Can a small intolerant and violent minority in the society define the sane majority as well? When disciplined passengers at a foreign airport transform into an unruly mob the moment they descend on Pakistan, isn’t the ‘system’ to blame and not the individuals?

      Who is to argue that a state or society is doomed forever? Pakistanis are an industrious lot excelling as expats in developed countries. Can’t Pakistan do well too if it adopts a functional ‘system’? Of course it can. But where will such a ‘system’ come from? Are the agents of change within our state or society today wiser from past mistakes and focused on building institutions as opposed to degrading them further?

      Something very sinister is happening in Pakistan. As a society we are losing our moral compass; our ability to distinguish right from wrong in daily life (in a non-maulvi sense). And in this polarised state, self-righteousness, bigotry and vigilantism has come to define not just societal reactions but those of state institutions as well. Consequently, state institutions are undermining not just their own credibility but also state legitimacy.

      Dr Mehdi Qamar, a US-based cardiologist visiting Pakistan for a week, was shot 10 times and killed in Rabwah last week. Dr Qamar was Ahmadi. If you are an Ahmadi in Pakistan you are fair game. The majority of us have made peace with the fact that because of your faith, the hard-liners amongst us might kill you. Now that we are running out of Ahmadis, we have moved on to Shias. Dr Faisal Manzoor, a fellow Abdalian, was shot dead outside his clinic in Hasanabdal last month. Everyone says he was a great guy. Tough luck that he was Shia.

      Last week, during an exchange with an educated, well-travelled and prosperous relative, the conversation turned to Pakistan’s state as it always does. In the context of growing militancy he volunteered that killing Shias might be a tad extreme, but they are mischief-makers with divided loyalties and do ‘deserve’ some of it. This 70-year old, non-violent, generally likeable man, it turned out, was comfortable, if not happy, with the persecution of Shias in Pakistan.

      Last week, Farzana Parveen, the three-month pregnant 25-year-old, was hacked in full public view outside Lahore High Court by her father and brothers. She had married of her own will. Farzana’s husband (a middle-aged man who strangled his first wife to death and was released after serving only a one-year prison term because his son forgave him as his mother’s legal heir) claims that his marriage became a matter of ‘honour’ when Farzana’s family didn’t receive the money it demanded.

      Some are outraged that the police didn’t respond in time. Is our police force even designed to respond to ordinary citizens? Saqib Jan, a 22-year-old, was killed on May 9 (his throat slit in a neighbouring house) and FIR No. 168 was registered in Thana Wah Cantt. The distraught mother is running from pillar to post to have the police pay heed and arrest the killers. There has been no progress. How do you tell her that she (or Saqib) isn’t significant enough for the state to care?

      Having transpired right outside Aiwan-i-Adl, Farzana’s gruesome murder is mocking our criminal justice system. The irony seems lost only on those who sit in the hallowed chambers of justice. The Lahore High Court had ruled back in the ’90s that women who marry someone of their own choice bring their parents into disrepute and don’t deserve the court’s sympathy. The CII insists that parents can marry off little girls and any law prohibiting child-marriage is un-Islamic.

      The view that women are chattel is thus shared by the state and society. When the video of the Taliban flogging a woman in Swat was released, guardians of our moral virtue cried conspiracy. Last week, Noor Hussain, a 75-year-old Pakistani immigrant, was sent to jail for 25-years for beating to death his 66-year-old wife in Brooklyn. She cooked him lentils when he wanted meat. Is it a lie that a majority amongst us is OK with men beating their wives, even if beating them to death is a tad extreme?

      There will be no reprisal for the killing of Faisal Manzoor, Mehdi Qamar, Farzana Parveen or the 17-year-old from Muzaffargarh who self-immolated after being gang-raped in March this year. This is not because there isn’t enough outrage. There isn’t enough outrage because our culture and we allow for the vulnerable being slapped around (or killed in the process) and minorities being persecuted (or killed).

      Tailpiece: The honorable Supreme Court has sought guarantees from the government that no citizens will be starved under its watch. Who will seek guarantees from the Supreme Court that no citizen will be meted injustice under its watch?

      The writer is a lawyer.

      by Praful Bidwai
      (The News, 7 June 2014)

      [Resisting Modi through mass struggles] As Narendra Modi chooses his team of advisers and top bureaucrats, some commentators are appealing to him to follow proper appointment procedures, adopt the dharma of inclusion, and “reach out” to the 69 percent of the electorate who didn’t vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party – and especially assure Muslims that they should feel safe under him despite the 2002 Gujarat pogrom.

      These commentators are unpardonably naïve in asking Modi to do the opposite of what he stands for. If Modi wanted to send a message of conciliation to Muslims, he would have long ago mourned and expressed sincere regret for the 2002 killings. He hasn’t done so, and defiantly says there’s nothing to apologise for: “If I’m guilty, I should be punished, but I won’t say sorry.”

      While canvassing, he wore every type of headgear, including a Sikh turban and an Arunachali hat with horns and petals, but pointedly, and repeatedly, refused to don a skullcap!

      The Modi government’s moral apathy towards Muslims was even more eloquently conveyed by the sole Muslim in the cabinet, minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah, through her first public speech declaring that India’s Muslims are too numerous to be a minority; that term best applies to Parsis – India’s wealthiest and most educated community.

      This makes nonsense of the idea of protecting the rights of underprivileged religious-minority groups against majoritarianism, the ministry’s liberal-democratic rationale.

      Modi has shown no respect for settled democratic conventions in making appointments. Thus, instead of choosing someone with scholarly gravitas, interest in academic pursuits, or a deep understanding of the challenges education faces in India, he allotted the weighty cabinet-rank human resource development portfolio to former actress Smriti Irani who has shown no interest in or aptitude for education, and who filed contradictory affidavits about her educational qualifications, which may be a criminal offence.

      Worse, Modi used the ordinance route to override the Telecom Regulatory Authority Act, which bars the TRAI chairman from ever holding government office. This public-interest bar – enacted, ironically, by a BJP-led government in 2000 – is meant to prevent favouritism and promote impartiality, and should have been respected.

      Modi was in a rush to appoint former TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra as his principal secretary. He refused to wait for parliament to convene and amend the act. The ordinance violates the Supreme Court judgement in a 1987 case, which says the ordinance power “is to be used to meet an extraordinary situation and cannot be allowed to be perverted to serve political ends”.

      Misra’s is clearly a political appointment. He is no ordinary bureaucrat. He was until recently on the executive council of the Vivekananda International Foundation, a well-funded Right-wing think-tank located in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave.

      VIF (www.vifindia.org) is an offshoot of the Vivekananda Kendra, started in 1972 by Eknath Ranade, former RSS general secretary. VIF played a crucial, if silent, role in Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption protests beginning 2011. It runs several security- and foreign policy-related and “historical and civilisational studies” programmes.

      VIF’s website carries hysterical pro-Hindutva and ultra-nationalist articles. One article describes US scholar Wendy Doniger as someone who delights in “denigrating Hinduism. Most of her own and her students’ dissertations/books … have often been described as pure pornography…” Doniger’s book on Hinduism was recently pulped – setting a nasty precedent of successful intimidation by the RSS-sponsored Shiksha Bachao Andolan, since carried over.

      VIF’s director is former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval, now appointed the National Security Adviser. As I discovered during a television debate a few years ago, Doval belongs to a school of policing that believes “in shooting first and asking questions later – that’s the only way to deal with terrorists”, real or imagined.

      Doval rationalises fake ‘encounter killings’ and advocates a militarist approach towards Maoists – regardless of legality and human rights consequences. He calls for a hard line against India’s neighbours, including friendly Bangladesh, who he believes, are bent on subverting India’s security.

      Many VIF leading lights discount the potential for peaceful coexistence between India and Pakistan. India, they demand, should stop being overly “generous” towards its neighbours in economic cooperation, trade, visas, even water-sharing.

      VIF, with other pro-Sangh Parivar outfits such as Deendayal Research Institute, Niti Central, Public Policy Research Centre, Friends of the BJP, Centre for Policy Studies and Rashtriya Seva Bharati, will provide policy inputs to Modi.

      Under their influence, we are likely to witness a well-orchestrated campaign to shift India’s foreign, security, economic, social and cultural policies rightwards, in keeping with Modi’s own orientation, but with disastrous consequences.

      It’s hard to see how the feeble and demoralised parliamentary opposition can resist this onslaught. Many regional outfits like the Samajwadi Party buy into the BJP’s paranoid ultra-nationalist premises and hardline approaches.

      Where does that leave the recent elections’ greatest losers – the Congress, the Left, the BSP and the Aam Aadmi Party? The first two have suffered their worst-ever defeats, winning respectively 44 and 12 Lok Sabha seats (including two Left-backed independents from Kerala). The AAP, which showed great promise in December, has come a cropper, winning only four seats, all in Punjab.

      These parties face an existential crisis. The Congress still deludes itself that the Gandhi family will somehow rescue it. The family refuses to own up to its leadership failure. Yet, no one demands that the party frees itself from this millstone and start afresh.

      Unless the Congress rebuilds its base among the Dalits, Adivasis, lower OBCs and the urban poor, by agitating for their livelihood rights, it’s likely to go into steep, possibly terminal, decline – especially if it loses the coming assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, as seems likely.

      The Left’s base has been eroding everywhere, especially in its former bastion West Bengal, where it won the same number of seats (two) as the BJP. Its leadership should have responded to this with alacrity; several heads should have rolled, and the Left should have returned to vigorous mass activity instead of doing “politics from the top” based on unstable, sterile electoral alliances.

      Unless the Left urgently corrects course, updates its programmatic perspectives, and develops a mass-based mobilisation strategy by taking up issues like healthcare, food security, employment, education and defence of people’s livelihoods threatened by predatory industrial, mining and water and power projects, it too will be doomed.

      The solution lies in radical, painfully critical introspection, abandoning the democratic centralism organisational doctrine which prevents healthy debate, and joining grassroots struggles. This is a tall order, but the Left has no soft options.

      As for the AAP, it must reinvent itself not as a political party, but as a political movement which offers new forms of participatory activity not narrowly focused on corruption or “crony capitalism”. The AAP must practise what it preaches – transparency, political honesty and inner-party consultation. It’s the lack of these that aggravated the AAP’s crisis, leading to Shazia Ilmi’s and Yogendra Yadav’s resignations, and to Arvind Kejriwal’s discrediting as an egoistic, unreliable leader.

      The AAP must not shy away from ideology. It must link ‘crony capitalism’ to communal-neoliberal authoritarianism. The BJP embodies all these and is the main enemy. Rather than concentrate excessively on the coming Delhi Assembly elections, the AAP must join a broad-based national campaign against neoliberal Hindutva-capitalism. That’s the way forward.

      The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and rights activist based in Delhi.

      by Sumanta Banerjee
      (Economic and Political Weekly, June 14, 2014)

      With the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh parivar's poster boy in power at the centre, India seems to be heading for a political order in which the social psyche will be marked by the following three traits: (i) thick-skinned insensitivity to problems that are outside one's own domain of immediate, or group interests; (ii) herd mentality of sticking together to defend those interests through a variety of mental shortcuts; and (iii) smooth-skinned hypocrisy to demonstrate one's respectability.

      Finally, the Sangh parivar’s poster boy has made it. In the electoral market of a multilayered public demand, and a multi-cornered contest, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could sell Narendra Modi as the sole winnable candidate by launching an advertising campaign which projected him as a consumer item that appealed to the various layers. He charmed his way from his traditional Hindu conservative base in the cow-belt to the new urban generation of careerist youth, from the aspirant middle classes to the profit-seeking corporate sector, which were all mesmerised by the buzzwords “Gujarat model”, “development”, “governance”. Will Modi’s shelf life last beyond the next five-year period, during which he will have to cope with the demands made by these various competitive layers of the BJP’s vote bank, for their respective pound of flesh? Will his opponents succeed in mounting an effective resistance – both on the floors of the house and in the streets – to dislodge the BJP government in the next Lok Sabha elections?

      It is also necessary to remind the Modi-maniacs that their leader has gained the support of only about 32% of the total electorate – and that also concentrated in certain areas of central and western India. The rest of the 68% who did not vote for Modi were divided along different political loyalties, and could not be brought together under a unified opposition canopy that could have swept away the “Modi wave”. But while blaming the first-past-the-post system as an imperfect mechanism for failing to represent and do justice to the actual constellation of opinions at the ground level, let us not underestimate the tenacity of the Sangh parivar’s political outfit, the BJP, and its foot soldiers in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in making use of this same system to reach its goal. It had unitedly (unlike its political opponents) followed a game plan of steadily making its way into Parliament, with the ultimate objective of capturing power.

      Parliamentary Voyage

      Let us look at the Sangh parivar’s historical tally in parliamentary elections. Right from the first general elections in 1952, when its then political wing, the Jana Sangh, won three seats, it managed to increase its number to 22 in 1971-72. In the years that followed, the Jana Sangh rode piggyback upon the anti-Congress coalition politics that was initiated by Jayaprakash Narayan, and the anti-Emergency underground campaign during 1975-77. In the 1977 general elections, it joined the anti-Congress alliance of the Janata Party (which swept the polls by winning 298 out of 542 seats) and won 93 seats in the Lok Sabha – a dramatic leap from its earlier performance – making it the largest component in the Janata coalition. But the Jana Sangh’s umbilical cord with its parent RSS became a bone of contention in the Janata Party, with the socialists and ex-Congress members demanding that the Jana Sangh should give up its “double membership”. The internal bickering within the Janata government led to its fall. After the failure of a series of experiments in opportunist alliances to form a government at the centre, the seventh general elections in early January 1980 brought back the Indira Gandhi-led Congress to power. The Janata Party won only 31 seats, out of which the Jana Sangh’s share was 16 – a climb down from its tally of 93 in 1977. Following this defeat, the Sangh parivar elders decided on a new stratagem.

      In April 1980, they gave their political outfit a facelift by renaming it as BJP – an amalgam of its old Jana Sangh members and a few deserters from the defeated Janata Party. The new party claimed that it was the authentic representative of the ideas of both, the socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and the Jana Sangh ideologue Deendayal Upadhaya – thus trying to bring within its folds a larger following. Its electoral ambitions were however frustrated with the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, on the sympathy wave of which Rajiv Gandhi rode to power in Delhi that year. The BJP managed to win only two seats in the new Lok Sabha – a throwback to 1952. But thanks to the Congress government’s dismal record (marked by the Bofors’ pay-off scandal), the opposition could again knock together an alliance, win the 1989 elections and form the National Front government. As in the post-Emergency scenario, during the 1989 elections again, the BJP jumped on the anti-Congress bandwagon, and won 86 seats. Since then, there has been no looking back. Even after the 1991 elections which brought back the Congress to power – again on another sympathy wave following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination – the BJP increased its tally to 120 seats.

      In 1996, its number went up to 161 in the Lok Sabha, but its efforts to form a government were frustrated by two successive United Fronts which took over the reins with Congress support. The BJP’s next opportunity to capture power in Delhi following a mid-term poll in 1998 – which gave it 182 seats in the Lok Sabha – ran into foul weather, when after 13 months, its Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had to give up after losing majority. But it came back with a vengeance in the elections which took place a year later. It had in the meanwhile struck up alliances with a number of regional parties, which enabled it to gain 296 seats under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), while retaining its own 182 members, and form a government at the centre. It survived for five years, but its record was tarnished by the BJP-run state government sponsored massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and by exposures of corruption at the centre which gave the lie to the BJP propaganda of a “Shining India”.

      It faced a humiliating defeat in the 2004 elections, when the number of its seats was reduced to 138, and then further to 116 in the 2009 Lok Sabha. Its phenomenal turnaround within five years – in capturing power at the centre as a single party without the need for depending on its partners in a nominal NDA – speaks of a changing configuration of sociopolitical forces in India during the recent past, as well as the BJP’s ability to manipulate them in its favour. This history of the ups and downs in the journey of the BJP deserves serious examination by political ideologues and commentators, economists and sociologists, as well as ground-level activists of political parties and social movements.

      BJP’s Odyssey – a la Luis Bunuel

      But apart from that sociopolitical analysis, there can also be an alternative cultural perspective that may be useful for understanding BJP’s political odyssey. In the history of political changes, at times, creative writers had interpreted the changes in a more meaningful way than that provided by contemporary combatants on behalf of one political perspective or another. Poets, dramatists, novelists – who were described by Shelley as the “unacknowledged legislators of the world” – had often come up with allegories that had been more prescient than all the political columns in newspapers. I am trying to understand BJP’s electoral quest for power, in terms of a parallel literary discourse that I find in two such allegories – one in the form of a film, and another as a play.

      Let me start with the film – which is known as The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, made by the eminent and controversial director Luis Bunuel in 1972, satirising the pursuit of power by the Western upper-middle classes. The Sangh parivar’s electoral journey over the last half a century to reach the portals of the Indian Parliament as guests, and today as hosts, resembles the itinerary of the characters in Bunuel’s film – a coterie of ambitious and unscrupulous couples seeking positions of guests or hosts, in the five-star dining ambience of Paris. Their longing for a convivial space to be together, is a metaphor for the nouveau-riche bourgeoisie’s search for sharing power at the top. Bunuel exposes their mendacity (in hiding their crimes), and snobbery and prejudices (against their menials) behind their “discreet charm”, through sequences of dinner parties which somehow or other always get interrupted. One couple hosts a dinner, where the guests arrive, but they themselves are not prepared (remember the BJP’s abortive experiments in 1996-98?). They then go to an eating joint, but find themselves being refused whatever they order (remember the BJP’s humiliating experiences after the 2002 killings in Gujarat, when for some time it was looked down upon as an “untouchable” in Indian politics?). This is followed by a series of similar lunch and dinner parties, which never fructify – just as the BJP’s electoral adventures in the years that followed till 2014. The bourgeoisie in Bunuel’s film is an assortment of respectable looking dubious characters – a gun-toting diplomat from a Latin American banana republic, two French couples who make money by dealing in drug-trafficking with the help of this diplomat, a minister who orders his police to release them after they are caught. They look like anticipatory parodies of the present-day politician-smuggler-criminal cabal of our Indian nouveau-riche classes who, among others have brought Modi to power.

      In Bunuel’s film, the main narrative of the search for a dining space (a metaphor for political power) by the French bourgeois couples and their friends, runs parallel to another narrative – their fears and sense of insecurity that are depicted in a number of dream sequences in the film, where these paranoid characters feel scared of being punished for their various nefarious activities. They suffer from nightmares of being killed by unidentified assassins, or arrested by the police. They remind us today of their counterparts among the present BJP leaders and Members of Parliament (MPs), many among whom face criminal and corruption charges, and who should fear punishment. But unlike Bunuel’s film which ends with the characters walking silently along a deserted road towards an uncertain destination, the present Indian political scenario begins with the triumphant arrival of these BJP MPs at their destination along a road crowded with a phalanx of supporters ranging from big business houses of the Tatas, Ambanis and Adanis to intellectuals like Jagdish Bhagwati, Meghnad Desai and Andre Beteille, from the urban jet set to the rural farmers.

      However, behind the “discreet charm” that is exuded today by a triumphant BJP and its prime minister, who is making the right noises to impress his domestic constituency and the global community, there looms large the shadow of the nightmarish record of violent communal polarisation that the party and its Sangh parivar parents had introduced in Indian politics – beginning from the pre-Independence period, moving on to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 under the leadership of the supposedly moderate Lal Krishna Advani which led to one of the worst communal riots after Independence, and then on to the genocide in Gujarat in 2002 under the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s patronage. But these riots and the nightmares that continue to haunt their victims are being discreetly glossed over by the new government with a package of populist illusive promises of jobs for the youth, and firm assurances of profit for the corporate sector investors. In an economy marked by the squeezing out of the traditional manufacturing sector by the newfangled high-tech service industries, Modi’s utopia of development may turn out to be a dystopia filled with well-skilled zombies manning those industries, and the laid-off and retrenched workers from the manufacturing sector joining the lumpen-proletariat and filling up the ranks of the Sangh parivar’s foot soldiers to suppress all protest.

      Metamorphosing Indian Culture

      In a more insidious way, the BJP government may concentrate on its long-term strategy of mutating the pluralistic ethos of our society into a hegemonic order of Hindu nationalism (epitomised by the slogan of “Hindu Rashtra”). As during Murli Manohar Joshi’s stewardship of the human resource development ministry in the previous NDA regime, the present minister may also get institutions like the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) rewrite history textbooks for students with a distinct bias in favour of Hindutva, and pick up academics of the Sangh parivar to head research institutions like the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla and other such centres for higher studies to prevent independent-minded scholars from researching in topics that do not suit Modi’s agenda. At the ground level, now that the BJP is in power, its foot soldiers and moral police will enjoy full liberty to suppress all expressions of dissent in the cultural arena (whether by forcing the banning of books, or vandalising exhibitions of paintings, or disrupting musical and theatrical performances – destructive acts which were allowed even by Congress-ruled governments in Maharashtra and Delhi during the last several decades).

      In fact, the assault had begun even before Modi’s swearing in. In BJP-ruled Goa, a 31-year-old engineer, Devu Chodankar, was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, and the Information Technology Act, for his comment on Facebook (during the run-up to the Lok Sabha campaign) that a “holocaust” would follow if Modi became the prime minister (IANS report, 24 May 2014). In Bangalore, on May 25, a 24-year-old MBA student, Syed Waqas, was arrested on the charge of circulating derogatory MMSes against the prime minister-designate Narendra Modi (The Hindu, 26 May 2014). The new central government’s message is clear. Any citizen challenging the prime minister can be hauled up under some provision or other of the various draconian laws that decorate our statute book.

      Curiously, however, despite this notorious record of the Sangh parivar’s violent suppression of dissent – whether in the public arena, or in the academic world (e g, the ransacking of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune in January 2004 after the publication of James Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India), and in the cultural venue (e g, vandalisation of M F Husain’s painting exhibitions) – quite a number of well-known intellectuals, both inside India and abroad, have fallen for the “discreet charm” of the personality of Narendra Modi, who is a dedicated member of the stridently Hindu nationalist RSS. Meghnad Desai, the Labour Party peer from London is all for Modi, hoping that he will provide a “decisive leadership”. The eminent economist Jagdish Bhagwati is publicly craving for the position of Modi’s advisor (The Times of India, 26 April 2014). What is even more disappointing is the statement (made on 25 April 2014) by a liberal-humanist sociologist like Andre Beteille, who expressed the hope that the BJP should come to power. One can understand their frustration with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s failures. But how can one explain their switching over to the BJP – and that also to Narendra Modi of all persons?

      Epidemic of ‘Rhinocerosis’ – a la Eugene Ionesco

      Let me try to explain this acquiescence by our intellectuals in the BJP’s game plan, through another literary allegory. It is a play called The Rhinoceros, written by Eugene Ionesco in 1959. It explores the mentality of those who succumb to fascist authoritarianism by rationalising their choice. The play begins with a scene where the hero sits with his friend in a café, when suddenly they spot a rhinoceros in the street. At first they dismiss it as a hallucination. But soon, news comes pouring from all parts of the town of the sight of more rhinos. It turns out to be a new epidemic called “rhinocerosis”, where people are willingly turning themselves into rhinos (like the name of the disease rhyming with it – “cirrhosis”, which is brought about by the willingness of addicts to alcohol). At the end, in the rhino-populated town, only two human beings remain – the hero and his lover. In the last scene, even his lover decides to turn herself into a rhino. She defends her decision, by arguing that the rhinoceros has a beautiful smooth skin and erect horns, among other virtues! As she deserts him to join the family of rhinos, the hero is left alone in his room. He picks up a mirror, looks at his face in it, and says: “I want to remain human”.

      Needless to say, Ionesco was describing a social psyche that is manipulated by the ruling powers into accepting a single homogeneous political order – where all citizens should look the same. He chose the symbol of rhinoceros to represent three major traits of such a social psyche – (i) thick-skinned insensitivity to problems that are outside their own domain of immediate, or group interests; (ii) herd mentality of sticking together to defend those interests through a variety of mental shortcuts; and (iii) smooth-skinned hypocrisy to demonstrate their respectability. Under this order, individuals are persuaded to think what the others are thinking (which is shaped by the media and other means of pressure), say the same things, and justify why the change is necessary.

      Thanks to the verdict given by one-third of our voters under a skewed electoral system, we may be heading for such a political order. While ensuring obfuscation of past misdeeds (like the 2002 Gujarat riots), the BJP is training the middle-class youth into a thick-skinned generation of selfish careerists, gathering the other classes into a herd with the idea of a unitary Indian identity (marked by the symbols of Hindutva and based on a glorious past – again harking back to the Hindu heroes of Indian history), and employing the smooth-skinned economists and bureaucrats to implement the neo-liberal model of development, which Modi had dangled as a carrot to woo the voters. But the rest of the voters, who are in the majority, can still be protected from the epidemic of “rhinocerosis” – if only the liberal, secular and left forces get their act together.

      Sumanta Banerjee (suman5ban@...) is a long-time contributor to EPW and is best known for his book In the Wake of Naxalbari: A History of the Naxalite Movement in India (1980).

      by Ranabir Samaddar
      (Daily News and Analysis, 4 June 2014)

      The BJP’s electoral dominance points to the reappearance of earlier political patterns

      The present time has a strange quality to it. It reminds you of the past instead of prodding you to look to the future. Something happens and we look to the past for analogy, lesson, mourning, or celebration. Our time is regressive; we do not have to be reactionary, but it is good to be aware of its specificity.

      So with the unprecedented rise to electoral power of the BJP and its leader Narendra Modi, are we reminded of something of the past? In this context, some will of course refer to the post-Indira Gandhi assassination elections handing a massive majority to the Congress, or the general election results of 1977. We witnessed similar results in state elections also in various states. One may also say that the law of the index of opposition unity will now come back. By simple logic, any bloc getting nearly 40 per cent of the votes will reach the mark.

      The present situation, however, recalls a more fundamental similarity with the structure of power in the past. To elucidate the similarity briefly: India cannot afford to have an absolutely centralised structure of power, and whatever form of power may emanate from Delhi must have equally emphatic delegated layers to it. Thus, the imperial system must have the designated regimes and zones of local powers with respective functions over the lives and deaths of the commoners.

      Except for the last one hundred and fifty years, the Indian state was never the centralised one with which we are familiar today. There were always regional kingdoms, cumulative indigenous changes at local levels reflecting a wide variety of commercialisation, formation of social groups, and political transformations, and different rates of expansion of organised State power. And, whenever powerful and determined kingdoms threatened to overwhelm the entire region and turn into an empire, the stakes became high and led to the formation of alliances to protect regional autonomies. Imperial power in pre-British times depended on many subsidiary alliances, and the decline of empire meant in the first place the instability of those alliances.

      Social groups in many places became classes, as happened with the Jats in the sprawling countryside of northern India. The commercialisation and political identity of major local groups went ahead together. Besides the sovereign power, there were other varieties of power. In times of the decline of the sovereign power, the confederal nature of state politics would be clearer – but even in the high times of imperial power and glory, it was evident that beyond some designated matters, power devolved in a variety of ways, and alliances played a big role. Regional viceroys were crucial in maintaining the subahs, which would have to be given relative autonomy sooner or later. Else the imperial army would spend year after year in the area to control rebellions and lawlessness.

      Alongside the transformed remains of old royal systems whether in the north or in the south, a range of local powers existed largely outside the imperial and royal systems, which had been built on the rich produce of the valleys and the plains. Only lightly touched by the mainstream of imperial and royal political culture, these were regions and localities based on local economies. In some cases, the local princes acted as protectors of local peasantry against the all-consuming, all-imposing sovereign of Delhi.

      Of course, there is a strong line of thinking that the modern State changed all this. The State is now irrevocably centralised. The relative autonomy of the regional kingdoms and the subahs is gone forever.

      Yet, the counter question can be: do not the results of the votes this time tell us that the present situation exhibits symptoms of the reappearance of the earlier patterns of power, best described as a combination or a co-existence of the centralised and capillary forms? As then, now too there are palace coteries; now also the State seeks to extend its dominance by restructuring local forms of power and establishing new ones; community divisions are used in the interest of power; and now also the absorption of the ‘fringe’ economies and polities in the ‘mainstream’ causes enormous discontent and rebellion. The suggestions to federalise sovereignty in view of the permanent characteristics of the Indian state system remain valid.

      Mark out, then, the new fault line in the political structure. On the one hand, we may have a strong Centre bouncing back on the basis of a massive electoral majority, right wing republicanism, Hinduism, ruthless developmentalism, and the active support of the corporate class. On the other hand, entrenched and strong regional leaders appear as protectors of their respective peoples. After all, the entire eastern coastal belt from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu with the additions of Kerala and Telengana has, on the whole, retained faith in their respective rulers. If you add to this the factor that the BJP got nearly a 100 seats from only two states – UP and Bihar – you get a sensible scenario.

      One may ask then: What is the secret of the staying power of the regional leaders? Of course, the easy answer will be that in each case we find a combination of strong personality, party structure built around the unquestioned leadership of one person, local, that is, state-based identity, and stability of local economy. But besides these, there is one more factor – the populist policies of these state governments. And unlike the administration at the Centre, the state administration is closer to the people and therefore has more capacity to deliver. Against rising prices, shrinking public expenditure on social security, rampant inflation, unbridled corruption, and uncontrolled forces of globalisation, for the people of the states, populism remains the best defence.

      There are two points of anxiety in this scenario. First, as of now, none of the political forces has the political wisdom to bind these federal forces into a front and erect a platform of democracy. Second, these regional leaders have attained their unquestioned status by decimating the opponents internal to their states. There is no dialogic trend in the states, which could have made their respective positions stronger on the basis of alliances with other forces within their states.

      The author is Director, Calcutta Research Group

      Andrew T. Scull. Madness: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. xvi + 134 pp. $11.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-19-960803-4.

      Reviewed by Jordan Piper (Leeds Trinity and All Saints College)
      Published on H-Disability (June, 2014)
      Commissioned by Iain C. Hutchison

      This book forms part of series by Oxford University Press, described as stimulating ways into new subjects. The book may be concise, but it contains a wealth of detailed information written in an engaging manner. No previous knowledge of the subject is required and the reader is quickly drawn into the book.

      Scull begins the first chapter by stating that madness is something that has always frightened and fascinated society. He asserts that the use of the word “madness” is now unacceptable. It is therefore interesting that he chooses this word as the title of the book, perhaps to attract interest and create an immediate reaction. The fear of mental illness continues to the modern day and Scull writes that this has always been so. The treatment and management of those with mental illness have changed throughout the ages, but society's fear has not. There are impactful and thought-provoking statements throughout the book. Scull is constantly challenging the reader to consider the subject.

      Scull concentrates on madness in the Western world, from the ancient Greeks to the present day. He remarks that there is no single diagnosis to separate the sane from the mad, a fact which goes some way to explain society’s fascination with it. Indeed, it could happen to us all and thus people are afraid of it. Early depictions of madness are found in Shakespeare and continued as a theme in literature. William Hogarth’s (1697-1764) paintings included depictions within Bedlam. Scull sets the scene with some early descriptions of the lives of the insane, for whom care was provided primarily by the church or the family.

      The mass confinement of the insane within asylums is described with much derision, including the public visiting Bedlam where the inmates could be viewed as though in a zoo, the Victorian attempts to cure madness through experimentation, and the mentally ill murdered during the Nazi holocaust. Scull is critical of the asylum era. He describes it as “utopianism” in the United States where there was a “cult of curability” in the 1820s and 1830s (p. 46). The mania for asylum-building occurred all over western Europe and North America. The optimism was present throughout Europe and it is apparent that many thought this would end the social problem of madness. This period culminated in the eugenic movement, “the ‘science’ of good breeding” (p. 62). Legislation was introduced in many American states which forbade the mentally ill to marry, and later enforced sterilization. Such science was built upon by Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), who orchestrated the mass extermination of the mentally ill--those with “useless lives” (p. 64).

      The treatment of mental illness progressed during the nineteenth century. Scull states that the German doctor Wilhelm Griesinger (1817-68) linked research and teaching when he became the director of a Zurich asylum in 1860. It was believed that there was a link between brain disease and mental illness, but research into this led nowhere. The treatment of patients with hysteria as a biological condition changed with the work of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who tried to find meaning in madness. The twentieth century saw the development of the lobotomy and electric shock therapy. Egas Moniz (1874-1955) won the Noble Prize for medicine in 1949 for use of the lobotomy. Again, there was much optimism that a solution had been found, but by the 1960s this operation was seen as brutal and barbaric and was almost completely withdrawn from use.

      The final chapter describes the change in treatment from incarceration in the asylum to control through medication and the development of psychoanalysis. The experiments on patients who had no civil rights is a reminder of the eugenics movement. Scull concludes the chapter by identifying the current situation where psychiatrists prescribe Prozac rather than counseling, while there are those who would have benefited from the limited support and care of the Victorian institution but have been cast out. The legacy of this will obviously continue to evolve.

      The illustrations are well chosen and impactful. Scull has chosen to include, among others, a photograph of the staff at Hadamar Nazi death camp smiling at the camera; a picture of John Norris, a man incarcerated at Bedlam so that he could not move more than a foot; a doctor about to perform a transorbital lobotomy (using a mallet and small ice-pick device) at the Western State hospital, Washington, in 1949; and a twentieth-century advert for Thorazine, one of the first antipsychotic drugs. Scull also includes paintings from John Everett Millais (1829-96) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Reference is made to the appearance of mad women in Victorian literature, for example Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847) and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1859). The depiction of madness in art and literature through the ages is a useful accompaniment to the history told by Scull whereas the photographs and illustrations provide a frighteningly real insight into the past.

      The book is incredibly well researched and is an excellent gateway to the subject. The sources used are vast. The only criticism is that Scull’s obvious derision and often sensationalist rhetoric can distract from the facts. He does not make any allowance for the benefit of hindsight and the book is a scathing description of the ways the mentally ill have been treated. Academic interest in the history of disability is growing at a steady pace and it is likely that one day it will be equal to the history of gender and race. Reading this book would be a huge benefit to students of disability history and medicine or those who have any interest in the subject. The book gives the reader much to consider and may even change their perception of those with mental illness.

      Citation: Jordan Piper. Review of Scull, Andrew T., _Madness: A Very
      Short Introduction_. H-Disability, H-Net Reviews. June, 2014.

      This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
      Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

      by Ahmed Rashid
      (The New York Review of Books, June 5, 2014 Issue)
      The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001–2014
      by Carlotta Gall
      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 329 pp., $28.00

      A pro-Taliban rally in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, circa 2002

      During the Afghan elections in early April I was traveling in Central Asia, mainly in Kyrgyzstan. I wanted to inquire into the fears of the governments there as a result of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. W<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)