IAMC Weekly News Roundup - November 9th, 2015 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – November 9th, 2015

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi suffers embarrassing setback on eve of UK visit (Nov 9, 2015, Independent)

Indian voters decisively rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in a crucial regional election billed as a referendum on his leadership, held amid growing criticism of his government and on the eve of a high-profile visit to the UK. Mr Modi personally addressed more than 30 rallies in the populous and impoverished state of Bihar during the bitterly fought campaign, but his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was routed by a “Grand Alliance” of opponents, winning just 53 seats out of a possible 243.… The defeat in Bihar was the BJP’s biggest electoral setback since coming to power, after losing in the capital Delhi earlier this year. The election was played out against the backdrop of a fierce debate about rising intolerance in India, a country that prides itself on unifying diverse religious and linguistic groups under a secular democratic umbrella.…



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Global media finds BJP’s debacle in Bihar a setback for Modi (Nov 9, 2015, Indian Express)

The rout of the BJP-led alliance in the crucial assembly polls in Bihar is the “most significant domestic setback” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, global media commented today, saying it shows that his vote-winning abilities were on the wane.

BJP’s failure to win the election in Bihar is seen as indication that Modi’s appeal to voters has begun to wane, the Guardian said in its report.…

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency also commented that Prime Minister Modi’s ruling BJP suffered a “major jolt in a key regional election in the eastern state of Bihar, in what was perceived as a referendum on his economic programme.” Quoting experts, the report said, the “result of Bihar polls clearly indicate a personal blow to Modi as he was the face of the party in the election campaign and it was a referendum on his developmental agenda.”



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Former Indian PM expresses concern over rising religious intolerance in India (Nov 9, 2015, Shanghai Daily)

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday expressed concern over rising religious intolerance in his country after a spate of attacks against Muslims, leftwing activists and minority people.

In a function marking the 125th birth anniversary of former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Singh said the country is deeply concerned at the “blatant violation” of right to freedom of thought, belief and speech and termed such incidents as an “assault to nation” by extremists.…

Describing the assault on Muslims and leftwing activists by extremists as “an attack on the nationhood,” the former prime minister said everybody “in their right mind” has condemned with the strongest terms such actions.…



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Extremism, Intolerance Not an Expression of a Religion Called Islam, Says Ansari (Nov 6, 2015, New Indian Express)

Urging for greater religious tolerance and communal harmony in society, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who returned from a five-day visit to Indonesia late on Thursday night, said extremism and intolerance in any form does not have or find expression in the spirit of a religion called Islam.…

He stated that communal amity and religious tolerance had constitutional import and were core values enshrined in Indian society, and there was no question of debating on them.…

The vice president said India’s commitment to plurality and religious tolerance is “self-evident”. “It is written down in the text of our Constitution as the Fundamental Rights. No political party says that intolerance is their agenda; everybody’s agenda on tolerance is the same. I am talking about the proclaimed agenda. If there is a shortcoming on this, then that is another matter,” Ansari said.



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Arundhati Roy returns award in protest against religious intolerance in India (Nov 5, 2015, The Guardian)

Novelist Arundhati Roy has become the latest literary figure to return a top Indian national award in protest against the growing violence and “horrific murders” by rightwing groups in India. Roy and two dozen Bollywood figures have added their voices to those of artists, scientists and historians in expressing alarm at a series of violent incidents and attacks on intellectuals, following the landslide election victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in India last year.

The writer, famous for her Booker prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things, said she was returning her 1989 National Award for Best Screenplay in protest against the growing culture of fear and censorship fostered by the government, who encouraged the “lynching, shooting, burning and mass murder of fellow human beings”.…

Many of those protesting have also criticised the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the BJP for not speaking out against religious attacks, saying their silence has encouraged Hindu hardliners to justify the attacks and assert Hindu superiority.…



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ABVP activists threaten to kill filmmaker in Jamshedpur for making documentary based on communal riot (Nov 9, 2015, One India)

A budding filmmaker in Rajasthan’s Jamshedpur district was threatened to be killed by activists of right-wing student body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The independent cinematographer who received the intimidation was identified as Kumar Gaurav. The 18-year-old director has miffed a number of fringe outfits active in the region through his documentary Curfew which highlights atrocities committed against minorities during a deadly communal clash in Jamshedpur in July this year.

In the documentary, Gaurav uses the raw footage he captured during the communal riot which shows members of radical groups, armed with sword went on a rampage targeting the members of Muslim community. The shops which were owned by Hindus were sparred, however, if the rioters identified the ones owned by Muslims, it would be either be burned off or ransacked.

Here is the threat which Gaurav received by a member of ABVP on Facebook. The saffron goon allegedly threatened to kill him for trying to show Hindutva workers in negative light.…



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Dadri incident monstrous, BJP ‘anti-Muslim culturally’: UK-based academic (Nov 6, 2015, One India)

Leading UK-based academic Lord Bhiku Parekh has described as “monstrous” the recent lynching of a man in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh on suspicions of eating meat. Describing BJP as “anti-Muslim culturally” Professor Parekh said the party is trying to turn “Muslims as culturally Hindus”.

Participating in a discussion on the ‘State of Indo- British Ties’ at the Royal Overseas League here last night, he said “Indian politics has been sadly marred by identity politics and caste-based politics”. [Dadri lynching wrong, perpetrators should be punished: Amit Shah] “Dadri incident is monstrous – for lynching a person for eating beef,” he said.

Participating in the discussion ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit next week, former Foreign Secretary Krishnan Srinivasan described the incident as “minuscule”. He said the bane of Indian parties is that they are always fighting elections and during the elections, BJP turns itself to its core group – RSS. Describing the trouble creators as “lunatic fringe”, he hoped Modi will check these elements and come down heavily on them.…



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Police dept worst violator of human rights, says SHRC member (Nov 8, 2015, Deccan Herald)

Law and order issues are too vast, but the performance and attitude of the Police department in managing them is unsatisfactory. The Police department is the worst violator of human rights in the State, said Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC)?member C?G?Hungund, here on Saturday.

He was addressing the gathering during the inaugural function of a training programme on human rights, organised by JSS?Law College. He said that a majority of the complaints filed with the commission were against police personnel, government organisations and officials.…

Hunagund accused the government of not appointing chairperson for the State Human Rights Commission. The commission is functioning without a head. After S?R?Nayak’s retirement, three years ago, the government has not appointed a head. Meera Saxena, a retired IAS?officer, is acting as chairperson of the KSHRC.…



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Facilities in two minority areas below par: Panel (Nov 9, 2015, Times of India)

Health and education facilities in two minority dominated pockets of the city are below par, states the latest report compiled by Delhi Minorities Commission.

In its annual report 2014-15, the commission has highlighted the health and education status of south Delhi’s Okhla and Mustafabad in east Delhi.The report was recently submitted to Delhi government for consideration, said commission secretary K K Jindal.

Okhla, which consists of a dozen minority-dominated colonies including Zakir Nagar, Batla House, Noor Nagar, Gaffar Manzil, Shaheen Bagh and Abul Fazal Enclave has just two government dispensaries to take care of its 6-7 lakh residents. The report states that while the area has no allopathic health centre being run by South Corporation, there are ayurvedic and Unani dispensaries at Sari Julena and Taimur Nagar.Okhla also does not have any maternity home or facility for women and child care, it said.…



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NHRC notice to Gujarat government over separate Anganwadi for Dalits (Nov 9, 2015, IBN)

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the Gujarat government over the issue of a separate Anganwadi for the Dalit children in Hajipur village of Patan district. The Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that there are two separate Anganwadis, one for the children of Dalits and the other for the children of other castes, in Gujarat’s Hajipur village.

The report stated that a three-year-old Dalit girl, who was lost in conversation with her four-year-old neighbour friend, walked towards Anganwadi no. 160 but was stopped at the gate and asked to go to Anganwadi no. 159 that was meant for Dalits. Anganwadi no. 160 is meant for the children of Patidars and Brahmins.

“The contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of Dalits,” the Commission observed as it issued a notice to the Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Gujarat calling for a report within two weeks. According to the NHRC statement quoting the report published on November 5, in the village of about 2,000 people, Patels and Patidars constitute nearly 70 per cent of population. The 40 Dalit houses are spread over two mohallas of the village.…



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Opinions and Editorials

A Rebuke to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Editorial (Nov 9, 2015, New York Times)

During a national election in India last year, Narendra Modi promised “development for all.” As prime minister, he has yet to deliver big economic improvements, but in the meantime, members of his government and political party have shredded his promise of inclusion by inflaming sectarian tensions. Now, voters in the country’s third most populous state have sent Mr. Modi a message: Put an end to the hatemongering.

Poisoning politics with religious hatred is bound to squander the country’s economic potential at a time when India should be playing a bigger and more constructive role in South Asia and the world. India’s history is filled with examples of religious and caste-based violence that set the country back. Those conflicts subsided during India’s rapid economic growth, but many Indians now fear a resurgence.…

Voters in Bihar saw through the B.J.P.’s attempts to divide them. They, like most Indians, are looking for leaders who will improve their standard of living. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India but has grown fast in the last 10 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is credited for cracking down on crime, building roads and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.…



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Narendra Modi: the divisive manipulator who charmed the world – By Pankaj Mishra (Nov 9, 2015, The Guardian)

In 2005, when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the wealthy Indian state of Gujarat, local police murdered a criminal called Sheikh Sohrabuddin in cold blood. At an election rally in 2007 for the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP, Modi assured his citizens that Sohrabuddin “got what he deserved”. What should be done, he asked, to a man found possessing illegal arms? The pumped-up crowd shouted back: “Mari nakho-mari nakho!” (Kill him, kill him!)

The lynch mob’s cry was repeated in a village near Delhi last month as zealotsbeat to death a Muslim farmer they suspected – wrongly – of keeping beef in his house. While Modi makes a triumphant visit to the UK after more than a year as India’s prime minister, the Hindu supremacists are, as the novelist Mukul Kesavan wrote last month, in “full hunting mode, head up and howling”. In recent weeks, activists and scholars have been shot dead amid a nationwide campaign against “Hindu-baiters” that targets secular intellectuals and “westernised” women as well as public figures with Muslim and Christian names, and western NGOs such as Greenpeace.

The assassinations follow months of violence and intimidating rhetoric by Hindu supremacists. A range of public figures, from Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s biggest star, to India’s respected central banker, Raghuram Rajan, have spoken out against the rising tide of sectarian hatred. More than 40 of India’s most distinguished writers havereturned their awards to the Sahitya Academy, the national literature academy. Many others, including artists, scholars, filmmakers and scientists, have since joined the protests, which reached boiling point after Hindu fanatics lynched at least four people in connection with beef-eating.…



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The Mirror States – By Pranay Sharma (Nov 16, 2015, Outlook)

Two questions are being asked by those who worry about the state of the nation: One, is the idea of a liberal, secular, forw¬ard-looking India where all feel safe and free under increasing threat from loonies? And two, is India in grave danger of becoming a ‘Hindu’ Pakistan if the madness goes unquestioned and unchecked by those who have been given the mandate to do so?

At first sight, that comparison might seem entirely misplaced and out of proportion. To some, it might even appear needlessly provocative, even anti-nat¬ional. After all, India is a giant, throbbing democracy with its pillars, despite having taken occasional hits, being very much intact. Elections take place freely and fairly. The judiciary fearlessly tells the executive where to get off. The military has no role in civilian life. The media is free. The voter is wise. Et cetera.

Still, when the President of the republic and the Vice-President have to remind citizens of what we cannot afford to lose six times in two months; when everybody from actor Shahrukh Khan to banker Raghuram Rajan and entrepreneur N.R. Narayana Murthy to investment firms joins scientists, historians and academics in a growing clamour to a return to the country’s fundamentals, when TV debates ‘tolerance’ every night, it shows that something is probably going woefully wrong.…



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I am returning my award because I’m ashamed of what’s happening in India – By Arundhati Roy (Nov 6, 2015, The Guardian)

Although I do not believe that awards are a measure of the work we do, I would like to add the National award for Best Screenplay that I won in 1989 to the growing pile of returned awards. Also, I want to make it clear that I am not returning this award because I am “shocked” by what is being called the “growing intolerance” being fostered by the present government. First of all, “intolerance” is the wrong word to use for the lynching, shooting, burning and mass murder of fellow human beings.

Second, we had plenty of advance notice of what lay in store for us – so I cannot claim to be shocked by what has happened after this government was enthusiastically voted into office with an overwhelming majority.

Third, these horrific murders are only a symptom of a deeper malaise. Life is hell for the living too. Whole populations – millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians – are being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come.…



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Hindutva’s stick – By A.G. Noorani (Nov 27, 2015, Frontline)

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray deserves kudos for exposing the hypocrisy of the Sangh Parivar, of which his own party is a member, albeit a small and noisy one. On October 22, he said at the Sena’s annual Dussehra rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park: “They should first announce that this country is a Hindu rashtra and impose the uniform civil code”…

The advocacy of a uniform civil code is an integral part of this ethos. It is not motivated by a desire for reform but by a lust for uniformity in the Hindutva mould. Men who have no sympathy for Muslim women whose husbands, brothers and sons were killed by the goons of the Hindutva brigade, without so much as a rebuke by the Parivar chief, are not inspired by lofty considerations. Their target is Muslim Personal Law, and they want to erase it from the statute book because it signifies Muslim identity.…

In 1979, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) opposed the establishment of the Minorities Commission and insisted that a Human Rights Commission would suffice. This is because, fundamentally, it rejects the very concept of minorities. The demand for imposition of a uniform civil code has figured in every election manifesto of the BJP, and earlier in the manifestos of the Jana Sangh. The approach is totally at variance with the one adopted by genuine reformers of high credentials as secularists. The universally respected Romila Thapar leads this school. In her recent lecture in Mumbai she advocated a persuasive approach.…



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Of Generals, Dogs And Politics – By Oliver D’Souza (Nov 10, 2015, Countercurrents)

There is no doubt that General V K Singh’s use of the word ‘dogs’ in connection with the death of two Dalit children in Haryana is reprehensible, even a crime under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. Being a Union Minister and a former Army Chief, a lot of sensibilities and civilities are expected of him.

What is even more shocking is how a person whose credentials include being a former Army Chief could be so wanton, reckless and uncircumspect in using such language. Surely, this is not something he has done during his tenure in the army and risen to head it. If he had, he would have been court-martialled. Moreover, if that was the kind of essential genus he was made of, even without such open indsicretion, he would not have made the grade to become a General.

So what went wrong with the General and how did he metamorphose from an officer and a gentleman to someone who referred to Dalits as dogs and ended up having a FIR registered against himself?…



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