IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 9th, 2017

by newsdigest on January 20, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review

Communal Harmony

Muslims offer fruit juice to Hindu devotees during festival (Jan 6, 2017, Times of India)

Murders, attacks on innocent youths, communal tension and hate speeches might have made Ullal in Mangaluru a sensitive region. However, there are instances that make the region famous for communal harmony too.

On Friday, Muslim brethren in Ullal showed an exemplary gesture that herald the message of communal harmony. While members of the Hindu community were celebrating annual festival at Sri Ullalthi Dharma Arasara Temple, Uliya in Ullal, Muslims in the region welcomed devotees by offering fruit juice. Muslim brethren not only offered soft drinks to Hindu devotees, but also extended festival wishes.…

The initiative was well-praised by people in general and the police department in particular. Usually, police department is at the receiving end whenever incidents of communal clashes and murders report in Ullal. Deputy Commissioner of police (crime) M Sanjeev Patil posted the pictures of Muslim brethren distributing fruit juice to Hindu devotees at the temple premises.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/56378488.cms

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‘Modi has to go’: Post-2002 Gujarat riots, Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted then CM to step down (Jan 7, 2017, First Post)

…All the killing and pillaging in Gujarat had given Vajpayee a bad name, the more so because Gujarat had a BJP government in place, with a chief minister who had reportedly not risen enough to the occasion to rein in the violence. Vajpayee was blamed for his failure as PM to get rid of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who reportedly shouted back at a Muslim leader on the phone for seeking help after a mob had gathered outside his house. Some hours later, the Muslim leader was lynched, and Modi is alleged to have asked the police forces to let the violence continue. At that moment, Modi seemed to be the villain who brought a lot of shame to the central government.

Modi had also dared to publicly snub Vajpayee at a press conference where he was seated alongside the prime minister. The reporter wanted to know Vajpayee’s message for the chief minister in the wake of the riots. In controlled displeasure, Vajpayee stated that Modi should ‘follow his Rajdharma’. He explained that Rajdharma was a meaningful term, and for somebody in a position of power, it meant not discriminating among the higher and lower classes of society or people of any religion.…

Three days before his foreign tour in April, when Vajpayee visited the Shah Alam camp in Ahmedabad, which housed 9,000 Muslims displaced by the riots, he was deeply touched when a woman told him that he alone could save them from the hell that their lives had become. Now, on the flight to Singapore, Vajpayee was worried he would expose himself to more humiliation while outside the country. His grouse was: why am I being paraded abroad at such a time? Shourie suggested that the PM speak to Advani, who had by now become the deputy prime minister, about the possibilities of salvaging the situation — it could even mean replacing Modi. But even after the ‘pep talk’ with Shourie, Vajpayee appeared cheerless.…

http://www.firstpost.com/politics/modi-has-to-go-post-2002-gujarat-riots-atal-bihari-vajpayee-wanted-then-cm-to-step-down-3191210.html

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Demonetisation: 35 per cent job losses, 50 per cent revenue dip, says study by largest organisation of manufacturers (Jan 9, 2017, Indian Express)

In the first 34 days since demonetisation, micro-small scale industries suffered 35 per cent jobs losses and a 50 per cent dip in revenue, according to a study conducted by India’s largest organisation of manufacturers.

The study, conducted by the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation (AIMO), has also projected a drop in employment of 60 per cent and loss in revenue of 55 per cent before March 2017. The AIMO represents over 3 lakh micro, small scale, and medium and large scale industries engaged in manufacturing and export activities.

The study stated that almost all industrial activities have come to a standstill, with the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) sector worst-hit. “While AIMO understands certain immediate repercussions of such a bold step (demonetisation) by the government, it did not anticipate or was prepared for such a jolt to industries even after one month,” said the study.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/demonetisation-35-per-cent-job-losses-50-per-cent-revenue-dip-says-study-by-largest-organisation-of-manufacturers-4465524/

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Watch: BJP Delhi Chief Manoj Tiwari Mocking People Queuing Up Before ATMs (Jan 3, 2017, Huffington Post)

In an undated news video clip, Bhojpuri superstar-turned-politician, Manoj Tiwari, who was recently appointed president of the Bharatiya Janata Party unit in Delhi, is seen making fun of people compelled to stand in long queues at ATMS following the Modi government’s decision to scrap the ₹500 and ₹1000 notes.

The video clip, tweeted out by a Bahujan Samaj Party handle on Tuesday evening, shows Tiwari sitting around a table with several people including Sudhanshu Trivedi, a national spokesperson for the BJP. Tiwari, who represents the North East Delhi constituency, tells the others how he had belted out a song to boost the morale of people standing in a queue, and then goes on to mock them.

“I said desh bhakt hain kataar mein. Everyone started smiling…they said we will keep standing till the 30th,” Tiwari said in jeering tone, while the others started laughing.…

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/01/03/watch-bjp-delhi-chief-manoj-tewari-mocking-people-queuing-up-be/

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BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj booked for ‘population control’ remark (Jan 7, 2017, Indian Express)

An FIR has been filed against controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sakshi Maharaj on Saturday for his remark on population control. A case has been registered in Meerut under section 298 of IPC, among others. Earlier on Friday in Meerut, Sakshi, in a veiled attack on the Muslim community, blamed them for the population explosion in the country.

He said, “Those with four wives and 40 children are responsible for the population increase in the country. Hindus are not responsible for the increase in population,” he said. He added, “Strict laws are required in this country if we really want to curb population. Parties need to rise above politics and take decision for the sake of the country,” he added.

The controversial remark by the MP in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh drew strong condemnation from opposition parties. The Election Commission sought a report from the Meerut district administration while the BJP distanced itself from the statement.… Congress leader KC Mittal said Sakshi’s speech is “offensive” as it is based on caste and religion and goes against the recent Supreme Court judgement.…

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/bjp-mp-sakshi-maharaj-booked-for-population-control-remark-4463703/

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How Justice JS Verma’s Hindutva judgment is often misinterpreted by BJP (Jan 3, 2017, Inuth.com)

The Supreme Court’s verdict that seeking votes in the name of religion is illegal—is undoubtedly a big blow to all those political parties and politicians, who thrived on this practice. However, the recent judgement of the apex court also brings us the memory of the 1995 ruling, in which a bench headed by Justice JS Verma had defined ‘Hindutva’ ‘as a way of life’.

The apex court ruling gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena a considerable legal ground to justify their ‘ultra-nationalistic politics’. The BJP owe its rise to the 1995 Supreme Court ruling as it concluded that Hinduism and Hindutva in election campaigns was actually fine despite Section 123(3) of the Representation of People’s Act prohibiting the use of religion during election campaigning.

After Justice JS Verma defined Hindutva as a way of life, political parties contesting polls on Hindutva plank got a point to defend themselves by saying that they were seeking votes on the basis of (concept of) way of life and not on religion.…

http://www.inuth.com/india/politics/how-js-vermas-hindutva-judgment-is-often-misinterpreted-by-bjp/

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Chhattisgarh HC issues notice to govt, police over ‘fake encounter’ (Jan 7, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Chhattisgarh high court on Friday issued notices to the state government and top police officials in connection with the alleged fake encounter of a person, claimed to be Maoist, in Kondagaon in November last year.

The Bilaspur bench of the court issued notices to state chief secretary, director general of police, inspector general of police (Bastar) and SP Kondagaon on a petition filed by the wife of the deceased, Bal Singh Sori, and local Congress MLA Mohan Markam.

Satish Verma, counsel of the petitioners, told Hindustan Times that the officials have been asked to respond to the notice within four weeks.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chhattisgarh-hc-issues-notice-to-govt-police-over-fake-encounter-of-maoist/story-UKqqKq0aEKPWYDKcovN1qO.html

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‘It’s easy to brand any Muslim a terrorist’: Exonerated ‘terrorist’ Irshad Ali (Jan 9, 2017, Siasat)

It does not take much to brand any suspect as a terrorist. But it can take years to ascertain the veracity of the allegations. The media, as well as society, don’t wait for any trial to pass their verdict. However, there is hardly a whimper if the accused if finally proved innocent after years of judicial struggle.

Few can recount the horror of facing false charges of terrorism as well as Irshad Ali. A driver by profession, Irshad is lucky to have survived the ordeal he faced for years.

His story is that of an unjust system, a society with a religious bias that does not think twice before labelling a citizen a criminal and a terrorist. This inept system simply incarcerates people when it fails to justify this discrimination.…

http://www.siasat.com/news/its-easy-brand-any-muslim-terrorist-exonerated-terrorist-irshad-ali-1104916/

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Fazal murder: Internal strife in RSS led to ‘revelations’ (Jan 3, 2017, Times of India)

A key evidence, which pointed to the role of RSS activists in the murder of NDF (now PDF) leader Muhammad Fazal had surfaced, thanks to the internal strife within the Sangh Parivar in Thalassery.

It has been learnt that Parivar activists themselves handed over the audio clip of a conversation between RSS worker Subeesh and another party worker to the police. In the audio clip, Subeesh speaks of the entire operation which culminated in the murder of Fazal in 2006. He repeated it in his confession later to the police when he was arrested in a case related the murder of a CPM worker a few months ago.…

Even before Subeesh’s revelation, the Crime Branch had received an anonymous letter stating the role of the Sangh Parivar in the case. Later it became known that it was written by a Sangh Parivar leader from Kannur.…

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/56320246.cms

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Indian police accused of raping women in restive Chhattisgarh state (Jan 10, 2017, The Guardian)

The Indian government’s human rights watchdog has accused police of raping and beating at least 16 women from tribal communities in Chhattisgarh, a central state racked by a 50-year Maoist insurgency.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said there were 20 alleged attacks still to be investigated, but that in 16 cases the “human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel”.

It was investigating a report published in the Indian Express that police had committed abuses against women in several villages in Bijapur district during an operation against rebels in October 2015.…

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/10/indian-police-accused-of-raping-women-in-restive-chhattisgarh-state

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Mumbai University bars bearded Muslim student from boxing event (Jan 10, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The University of Mumbai (MU) pulled out a Muslim student from a boxing competition because he refused to shave off his beard.

Sayyed Imran Ali is a national-level taekwondo and kick-boxing player and a second-year BCom student at GR Patil College in Mumbra. When he reached University Sports Pavilion in Marine Lines for his match last Monday, the university officials told him that he won’t be allowed to compete unless he shaves off his beard.…

Imran Ali, a Mumbra resident who sports a goatee, said he was unaware of the rule as this was his first competitive boxing. “I have been participating in kick-boxing, karate and taekwondo competitions at the state and the national level for the past seven years. My small beard was never an issue,” said the boxer, who runs a martial arts training centre in Mumbra.…

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/mumbai-universi-bars-bearded-muslim-student-from-boxing-event/story-BxY7wI4i4hAALqJ2z0s5NN.html

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Opinions and Editorials

The decline of Modi – By A.G. Noorani (Jan 20, 2017, Frontline)

…Just half-way through his term in office as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi faces disenchantment to a high degree. Demonetisation only served to remind the people of lapses they had overlooked. He hugely personalised demonetisation. The gamble failed. The slide downwards has begun. The Emperor has no clothes on him.

Modi’s hysterical performances reveal his panic at the wide public disenchantment in the wake of his quixotic decision on demonetisation of Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 currency notes on November 8. This was the first major test of his mettle and he has been found wanting. Slogans, his favourite ploy, do not help (vikas, vishwas, et al). People want answers; they demand accountability for the havoc he created. But the concept is foreign to him.

He has deployed every trick in the book to build himself up as a mass leader, above the party (Bharatiya Janata Party) and even its parent (the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh), and above institutions, Parliament and the judiciary. His technique was continuous electioneering, doling out slogans, impugning the integrity of critics and opponents without a thought for accountability to Parliament. He began by going over the heads of Cabinet colleagues to civil servants (vide the writer’s article “Modifying Democracy”, Frontline, July 11, 2014). He is now reduced to embarking on a course of cheap demagogy. It will not work.…

http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/the-decline-of-modi/article9456807.ece

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The Cost of India’s Man-Made Currency Crisis – Editorial (Jan 9, 2017, New York Times)

Two months after the Indian government abruptly decided to swap the most widely used currency notes for new bills, the economy is suffering. The manufacturing sector is contracting; real estate and car sales are down; and farm workers, shopkeepers and other Indians report that a shortage of cash has made life increasingly difficult.…

But the swap was atrociously planned and executed. Indians had to line up for hours outside banks to deposit and withdraw cash. New notes have been in short supply because the government did not print enough of them in advance. The cash crunch has been worst in small towns and rural areas. The amount of cash in circulation fell by nearly half, from 17.7 trillion rupees ($260 billion) on Nov. 4 to 9.2 trillion ($135 billion) on Dec. 23, according to the Reserve Bank of India.

No economy can lose that much currency in a few weeks without creating major hardship – certainly not one like that of India, where cash is used for about 98 percent of consumer transactions by volume. And while a growing number of people have debit cards and cellphones that can be used to transfer money, most merchants are not set up to accept such electronic payments.…

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/opinion/the-cost-of-indias-man-made-currency-crisis.html

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How BJP used the Gujarat co-operative bank sector to ‘re-monetise’ its funds – By Charu Kartikeya (Jan 6, 2017, Catch News)

It is becoming increasingly clear that while ordinary citizens were forced to endure endless agony over their hard-earned money following demonetisation, BJP used its position in power to manage its own money quite conveniently. Between early days after demonetisation and now, several reports have surfaced that point out how the party may have converted old notes worth hundreds of crores into new ones without attracting any scrutiny.

First, reports of BJP leaders knowing about demonetisation in advance came out. Then it was reported that the party indulged in a massive land-buying spree in many states, using cash. Now, much evidence is coming to light that indicates that BJP may have used co-operative banks run by its own leaders to keep its money safe.

An investigation done by The Hindustan Times has pointed out that cash deposits in 285 district cooperative banks (DCBs) across the country saw a six-fold surge in less than a week after the demonetisation announcement of 8 November. Leading these banks in this unbelievable surge was Amreli Jilla Madhyastha Sahakari Bank Ltd (AJMSBL) in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, whose Chairman is not just a senior BJP leader in the state but also a cabinet minister. The bank’s cash deposits on 7 November were to the tune of Rs 1.3 crore but over the next four working days, the deposits surged to Rs 209.15 crore, a 200-fold jump. How unusually high is this figure for the bank can be gauged from the bank that the highest deposit in the last quarter was a meagre Rs.6.2 crore.…

http://www.catchnews.com/politics-news/how-bjp-used-the-gujarat-co-operative-bank-sector-to-re-monetise-its-funds-1483710659.html

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India: Modi, Money, Minorities And The Year That Was – By John Dayal (Dec 31, 2016, Sabrang India)

The last flicker of 2016 sees an India devalued, its reputation in tatters, its people in pain. It also marks the mid-term of the regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has already reserved his place in the country’s political history as the man whose headlong rush to imagined personal glory has plunged India’s famed foreign policy into a friendless abyss, its development process on a reverse path, its security left fraught.

With a tongue-tied and invisible council of ministers and the Planning Commission shrunk to nothingness, he should be a Dictator. He remains but a caricature of one, seen in advertisements of PayTM, the half-Chinese payment portal, and on TV, both arms semaphoring bile and spite. It is to the sangh parivar headquarters in Nagpur that Ratan Tata and fellow tycoons go when in trouble, and where generals, spymasters, administrators pay court.…

Crops failed as farmers could not get the cash to buy the seeds and the fertilisers. The small vegetable farmers found their harvest rotting on the road for want of purchasers. Patients requiring surgery died in transit as their parents or children pleaded with hospitals. The sight of a former soldier, now old and frail, weeping after he was edged out of a snaking queue at a bank, went viral, as the new phrase goes. He was trying to get his own money, not borrowing from the bank. Statistics cannot assist in visualising those tears. Though figures show that Modi’s claim of eradicating black money is not merely misleading, it is criminally false. His threat to do worse in the new year may be very real.…

https://sabrangindia.in/article/india-modi-money-minorities-and-year-was

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Narendra Modi’s Crackdown on Civil Society in India – By Rohini Mohan (Jan 9, 2017, New York Times)

…The Lawyers Collective, an advocacy group in New Delhi run by the prominent lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, has for three decades provided legal assistance to women, nonunion workers, activists and other marginalized groups, often without charge. In December, the Modi government barred it from receiving foreign grants. The political reasons were obvious: The Collective had represented critics of Mr. Modi’s sectarian record and environmental vision.

Under Indian law, nongovernmental groups that seek foreign donations have to register under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, which prohibits the use of overseas funds for “activities detrimental to the national interest.” Although accountability in the nongovernmental sector is necessary to control malpractice, the foreign funding law is better known as a tool of political retribution than transparent auditing.

It’s not just the Collective that has been punished. The Home Affairs Ministry recently revoked the licenses of around 10,000 other nongovernmental organizations. Even groups whose funding licenses were renewed are worried about the future. “It is activism on thinning ice from now on,” an education activist told me.…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/opinion/narendra-modis-crackdown-on-civil-society-in-india.html

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RSS, BJP and Communal Polarisation in Uttar Pradesh Polls – By Radhika Ramaseshan (Dec 31, 2016, EPW)

In July 2016, when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hosted a week-long annual meet of its kshetriya pracharaks (literally translates as regional propagandists, but the RSS calls them regional minders) at Bithoor, the choice of a small town, 55 km away from Kanpur, as the venue was deliberate. Uttar Pradesh (UP) would be going to polls in early 2017. It was critical for the RSS to message early on that its role would be central and not supplementary and “constructive” towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The element of positivity was required to be emphasised to dispel the doubts and misgivings that persisted about the part the RSS had played in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, arising from certain remarks that the sarsanghachalak (head), Mohan Bhagwat, had made on the reservations policy.…

With the Dalits, the script went awry long before the BJP could regroup their votes. Sensing early on that Mayawati was working hard at recovering those sections of the Dalits, including the Jatavs, who had left the BSP for the BJP in 2014 and adding their votes with those of the Muslims to add up a formidable social combine, the RSS and the BJP worked assiduously on the Dalits. The mobilisation strategies faltered soon enough, because as with the MBCs, for the Dalits too communal polarisation, pitting them against Muslims, had a limited shelf life.…

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/53/uttar-pradesh%E2%80%94vortex-change/rss-bjp-and-communal-polarisation-uttar-pradesh-polls

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Book Review

Fascism: Essays on Europe and India

Author: Ed. Jairus Banaji
Reviewed by: Radhika Desai
Available at: Three Essays Collective, B-957 Palam Vihar, GURGAON (Haryana), 122 017 India. www.amazon.in/
Review:
Hindutva and Fascism (Dec 31, 2016, EPW)

Comparisons between the Sangh Parivar and interwar European fascisms are inescapable. The founders of the Sangh were inspired by, and emulated and adapted, those fascisms (Casolari 2000). The Parivar’s proliferating role in Indian politics also periodically suggested the comparison, whether to politicians such as Indira Gandhi in the 1970s or to intellectuals after the demolition of the Babri Mosque (Sarkar in the volume being reviewed; Ahmad 1993; Basu et al 1993).

Other scholars have questioned the relevance of the comparison (Vanaik 1994; Jaffrelot 1993), though not very successfully (Desai 2016). While political parties have often engaged in similar political tactics – let us confine ourselves to Sanjay Gandhi’s Youth Congress and the 1984 massacre of Sikhs or the Shiv Sena’s long record of union and basti-busting – no party’s activities have so systematically elicited comparisons with fascism as those of the party of Hindutva.…

This mass base did not mean that most Germans actively supported the Third Reich just as Modi government does not mean all Indians support it (Desai 2014). However, Banaji does emphasise that there was a certain “moral indifference” or “passive complicity” (p 218). Today in India, this would include the refusal to use the concept of fascism as a critical part of an understanding of the Modi government for the purposes of opposing it. As Banaji emphasises, the Sangh Parivar’s pogroms in India have already exceeded anything that the Nazis did barring the holocaust. …

http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/53/review-article/hindutva-and-fascism.html

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