IAMC Weekly News Roundup - October 30th, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 30th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Action Taken on Complaint Against JNU Professor’s Criticism of BJP, Modi on TV (Oct 27, 2017, The Wire)

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development is now acting on a BJP parliamentarian’s complaint against a JNU professor for comments made on TV in July. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a professor of political science, had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that he should have visited Palestine as well when he went to Israel. According to the Telegraph, Chenoy also referred to the Gujarat “genocide” and called the BJP “anti-Muslim” in his comments, which lasted less than four minutes.

After the telecast, Satya Pal Singh, a former police officer who was elected to the Lok Sabha from UP and became a minister of state in the HRD ministry last month, filed a complaint with parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar on July 6. According to Singh, Chenoy had made “anti-India” comments. Formerly a Communist Party of India member, Chenoy joined the Aam Aadmi Party and campaigned against Modi in Varanasi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. …

This is not the first time the government and its supporters have been accused of trying to silence those who disagree with them by labelling them as ‘anti-national’. This labelling has been used by the Centre several times in the context of university protests – including in the case of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula and Jawaharlal Nehru University students and teachers during their protests in February last year.



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Babri Action Committee denies meeting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar over Babri Masjid dispute (Oct 28, 2017, Business Standard)

The Babri Action Committee on Friday denied reports of Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s meeting them to solve the Babri Masjid dispute.

Speaking to ANI, Haji Mehboob, a member of Babri Action Committee, said, “Long back one of Ravi Shankar’s mediators called saying he wants to talk with me and I welcomed it. Maybe he had a conversation with the Hindu representatives but he never talked with us nor had he sent us any message.”

“If he wants to talk to us we will talk as we do not any issue in having a conversing and solving the issue,” added Haji Mehboob. This denial came hours after reports of Sri Sri’s efforts to find an out-of-court settlement to solve the decade long Ayodhya dispute surfaced.…



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Tories disown firebrand Hindu activist after Commons visit (Oct 26, 2017, The Guardian)

Senior Tories have distanced themselves from a firebrand Hindu activist invited to speak at the House of Commons last week, after it emerged he had been jailed at least five times in India for stoking religious tensions. Tapan Ghosh, the founder of Hindu Samhati, a controversial activist group based in India’s West Bengal state, spoke at an event in the UK parliament last week.

Ghosh has gained notoriety in India for his incendiary rhetoric about religious minorities in the country, especially Muslims, who he has claimed are “all jihadis”. He has also justified the persecution of Rohingya refugees and told his followers earlier this year that “1 million white English children may have been the victims of Muslim rape gangs”.

His travel to the UK and appearance at the event, which included meeting several Tory MPs, raise questions over how much scrutiny is paid to the activities of Hindu nationalists in the UK compared with those of Muslim or Christian hardliners.…



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‘Am Going To Die’, Woman In Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ Case Says On Camera (Oct 27, 2017, NDTV)

In a fresh video released to the media by an activist, Akhila Ashokan, or Hadiya as she prefers to be known, is heard pleading with activist Rahul Eashwar to help end her confinement. “Get me out of here. Today or tomorrow, I am going to die. I am sure about this. My father is getting angry, I can make out. He pushes me, stamps at me,” says the 24-year-old Hadiya in the video recorded in August.

Hadiya has been living with her father after the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage to Shafin Jahan, 27 in May this year and ordered her to return to live with her parents in Kottayam. Outside the house, policemen stand guard round-the-clock to make sure she does.…

Activist Rahul Eashwar had met the woman and her family in August and had earlier released one video excerpt of his conversation. He released another part this week. “While I am a Hindu activist, I believe Hadiya’s voice must also be heard”, Mr Eashwar told NDTV, adding that he would be handing over the entire footage to the court.…



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Faridabad lynching: Junaid Khan case judge says senior law officer helping accused, seeks action (Oct 30, 2017, Indian Express)

The judge of the trial court hearing the Junaid Khan murder case has sought action against a senior government lawyer for allegedly helping persons charged with killing the 15-year-old. In an interim order on October 25, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Faridabad, Y S Rathore said that Additional Advocate General Naveen Kaushik was assisting the counsel of the main accused, Naresh Kumar, in cross-examination of prosecution witnesses. As per court records, the judge said Kaushik was “suggesting questions to be put to the witnesses” at two hearings, on October 24 and 25.

“This act of Mr Naveen Kaushik, Additional Advocate General Haryana amounts to professional misconduct and is against legal ethics and highly unbecoming of an Advocate, particularly because he is a Law Officer in the office of Advocate General, Haryana,” Judge Rathore said on October 25.

Stating that it is a sensitive case in which “according to prosecution case, one boy of minority community was killed during the quarrel in a train over sharing of seats with passengers of majority community after the deceased was allegedly abused on religious lines”, the judge said in case Kaushik appears along with the defence counsel, “it will send a wrong signal and will also create a feeling of insecurity amongst the victim party and will adversely effect the aim of the court to conduct free and fair trial”.…



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Modi doled out huge concessions to Gujarat tycoons by “creating” mechanism for legalised corruption: Ex-BJP CM (Oct 30, 2017, Counterview)

Starting with 2005, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chef minister, created a well-oiled mechanism, under which he made top tycoons to fund, and also politically support, his well-publicized festivals and business meetings, including the biennial Vibrant Gujarat world business summits, and in return doled away huge concessions to them.

Calling it “legalised corruption”, former BJP chief minister and industries minister under Modi in 2001-02, Suresh Mehta, who resigned from BJP in 2007, told media in Ahmedabad that this unique “Gujarat model” took shape starting with an August 5, 2005 government resolution (GR), which allowed state officials to open a separate account for the money received from business houses and use it in festivities.

“In complete violation of the Constitution, which bars any funds to be used for official purposes if they are not permitted by the legislature, the GR formed a committee consisting of ministers and government officials, which at its two formal meetings on August 16 and 22 asked district collector, Kutch, Pradeep Sharma, to open an account with State Bank of India (SBI), where the funds received for the first such festival, Rannotsav, held later that year, was kept”, Mehta said.…



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Hardline Hindu nationalists campaign against Taj Mahal (Oct 30, 2017, The Guardian)

Times are tough for India’s monument to love.… Critics of the Taj Mahal are also growing increasingly bold. In past months, religious nationalists in the Hindu-majority country have stepped up a campaign to push the four-century-old Mughal monument to the margins of Indian history. One legislator recently kicked up a national storm when he labelled the tomb “a blot”.

Resentment at the fact the country’s most recognisable monument was built by a Muslim emperor has always existed on the fringes of the Hindu right. But those fringes have never been so powerful. Attacks on the monument, a lifeline for its home state of Uttar Pradesh, have grown so loud that last week the state chief minister – himself a critic of the Taj – was forced into “a day-long exercise in damage control”, one newspaper said.…

It was hoped that Adityanath’s about-face on the monument and his official visit last Thursday would mark the end of this latest storm. But the day after, the history wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a leading Hindu nationalist umbrella group, publicly called for Muslims to be banned from praying at the Taj site.…



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Protests in Kerala over saffron books in schools, circular calling for a tribute to Sangh leader (Oct 26, 2017, Scroll.in)

Kerala is battling twin controversies over the alleged saffronisation of education in the state. The first controversy erupted last week after it came to light that the Vidya Bharti Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s education wing – was circulating books in government schools that allegedly distorted historical facts. Parents and political parties protested, saying the texts were Right-wing propaganda and a deliberate attempt to create communal tension.…

There are nine books in all in the Malayalam language for students of Classes 4-12, priced at Rs 50 a piece. Each book has nine chapters: Mother India, Valiant sons of Mother India, Indian way of life, India’s cultural heritage, Inspiring Indian epics and history, Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam (the world is one family), India’s scientific tradition, General knowledge, and Vedic mathematics. Included in the books are a current political map of India and a cultural map of the country with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan a part of it.

The texts for Classes 4-7 mainly contain questions and answers that students are expected to memorise. The Hindutva agenda becomes more obvious in the books for Classes 8-12. For instance, this is a paragraph from a Class 8 book: “Pushpak Viman in Ramayana may be a fictitious vehicle, but Bharadwaj Maharshi had written a book [on] aeronautical science in which he had introduced the aerospace scientists who lived before him.” (Bharadwaj Maharshi was a vedic sage and scholar). The text makes no mention of the Wright Brothers, who invented the first powered aircraft in 1903.…



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Ram Nath Kovind’s praise of Tipu Sultan leaves Karnataka BJP red-faced (Oct 25, 2017, Live Mint)

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday praised Tipu Sultan while addressing the Karnataka assembly, leaving the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) red-faced after opposing plans by the state government to celebrate the life of the 18th century Muslim ruler.…

The words of praise for Tipu Sultan come when the state BJP and Siddaramaiah-led Congress government have locked horns over celebrating the life of Tipu, one of the first rulers to resist the British East India Company.…

Senior BJP leaders tried to downplay the statement, as the state unit stood isolated in its campaign against Tipu Sultan. R. Ashoka, BJP leader and former home minister of Karnataka said that it was the fault of the Congress, who “gave the speech to the President”.…



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Brahmin priests demand expulsion of Dalit recently appointed to temple post in Kerala, suspend protest amid criticism (Oct 30, 2017, New Indian Express)

A hunger strike that was announced yesterday by All Kerala Santhi Kshema Union (AKSKU), an organisation of Brahmin priests in Kerala, demanding the expulsion of a recently appointed Dalit priest, has been called off, amid criticism.

Malayalam media portals on Sunday reported that AKSKU, with the support of Yogakshemasabha – a Namboodiri Brahmin welfare association, would stage an indefinite hunger strike before the office of Thiruvalla Devaswom Assistant Commissioner from Monday morning, demanding that Yedu Krishnan, one among six Dalit priests appointed by the Kerala Government, recently, be fired.

Reports said that the AKSKU had accused Yedu Krishnan of starting the routine temple rituals late and going absent without leave, and not leaving anyone else in charge. It was decided that AS Krishnan Namboodiri, General Secretary of the AKSKU would start fasting from 10 AM.…



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Opinions and Editorials

Discernible anger against BJP – By T R Ramachandran (Oct 25, 2017, Free Press Journal)

The prestige connected with winning the ensuing assembly elections particularly in Gujarat being Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state cannot be undermined. Till Monday last, he had already visited the state at least thrice this month making big ticket announcements with emphasis on developing its coastal belt. He spoke of giving the country a transport system of the 21st century for meeting the needs of ‘New India’.

The Congress had reason to feel upbeat having scored an impressive victory recently wresting the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab. It is being seen as a confidence booster ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The outcome of a bye-election is by no means a definite indicator of the country’s mood. The invincibility of Modi at the hustings may have, however, been dented.

The BJP-led NDA cannot brush aside the widespread disenchantment among the people. While the dates for the poll in HP has been announced, the election schedule in Gujarat is awaited. Not announcing the election dates simultaneously for HP and Gujarat has whipped up an avoidable controversy. At least two former Chief Election Commissioners have expressed consternation at the delay in announcing the Gujarat poll dates.…



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The cow menace – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Nov 10, 2017, Frontline)

Raju, a 23-year-old Dalit youth of Malhendi village in Shamli district of western Uttar Pradesh, is a living symbol of what the metamorphosis of the benign cow into a menace of multidimensional proportions can do to a humble farmer. Raju, who was released from jail a couple of days before Deepavali, would be able to tell you how the cow, more specifically the stray and abandoned one, has become an agrarian hazard, a law and order threat, a political provocateur, a victimiser nonpareil, all rolled into one. Raju’s life since the last week of September is a dynamic testimony of this.

He spent two weeks in jail on account of these assorted roles that the cow has acquired. Raju has just one plea: save me from the cow and the political-administrative machinery of the government which has converted this docile animal into one capable of perilous forays affecting everyday life, especially in rural northern India. Raju lays stress repeatedly on the role of the political-administrative machinery in aggravating the situations. He is certain that it is the politico-administrative machinery’s moves and manoeuvres that have converted this docile domestic animal into a menace, as perceived by people across the cow belt—Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Raju’s encounter with the metamorphosed cow led to a chain of precarious developments in the last week of September, when he set out on a farm-related errand, which included collection of fodder for a relative’s buffalo. As he passed by the small field owned by his family, he noticed that stray cattle had destroyed the crop and the fresh seeds kept for sowing. He had heard about similar damage done in the fields of other farmers by stray cattle.…



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Aadhaar overkill: Originally conceived as an empowerment tool, it is disempowering citizens now – Editorial (Oct 30, 2017, Times of India)

After months of pestering customers to mandatorily link bank accounts with Aadhaar numbers by December 31, the deadline has been extended till March 31. Where bank accounts are linked with PAN, and PAN is seeded with Aadhaar, the government demand for Aadhaar-bank account linkage of PAN holders becomes redundant. Technology can do this coupling instead of the constant badgering for Aadhaar numbers, which is plain annoying for those not availing benefits like cash transfers, subsidies, pensions and scholarships.

Threats of suspension of bank accounts, where people save their hard-earned money, for non-compliance under Prevention of Money Laundering Rules add insult to injury, particularly considering that the Aadhaar Act 2016 has no provision making enrollment compulsory. No different is the insistence on Aadhaar to verify mobile connections, when the government should instead be trying to enhance mobile connectivity. The fear of local SIM cards falling into terrorists’ hands fails to take note of facilities like international roaming, prepaid cards, or satellite and internet telephony.

Unique identification was originally sold to citizens as a way to efficiently deliver welfare benefits without duplication and pilferage by intermediaries. In the last couple of years, however, it has grown into an all-encompassing Leviathan even as there has been little progress on welfare. On one hand we have central and state governments conceiving uses for Aadhaar in everything from property to death registration, hailing ambulances to getting rations. The enthusiasm has rubbed off on the private sector too, with three-year-olds requiring Aadhaar for nursery admissions and job opportunities tied to Aadhaar submission.…



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Ripples of discontent – By Venkitesh Ramakrishnan (Nov 10, 2017, Frontline)

Notwithstanding the public posturing of dauntlessness, there is general agreement within the echelons of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar led by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) that the revelations brought out originally by the news and analysis portal The Wire on the amazing growth of the business ventures of Jay Shah, BJP president Amit Shah’s son, have aggravated the political troubles facing the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government.…

The Wire’s story says that Temple Enterprise, a company owned by Jay Shah, recorded a turnover increase of 16,000 times in the year following the election of Modi as Prime Minister and the elevation of his father as party president. This astonishing growth, according to the website, was recorded in the very filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). In concrete terms, this meant an increase in revenue generation from a mere Rs.50,000 in 2014-15 to over Rs.80 crore in 2015-16. The RoC records, as reported by The Wire, also revealed “that in the financial years ending March 2013 and 2014, Shah’s Temple Enterprise Private Ltd engaged in negligible activity and recorded losses of Rs.6,230 and Rs.1,724 respectively”. However, “in 2014-15, it showed a profit of Rs.18,728 on revenues of only Rs.50,000 before jumping to a turnover of Rs.80.5 crore in 2015-16”.

The report also said that the “astonishing surge in Temple Enterprise’s revenues came at a time when the firm received an unsecured loan of Rs.15.78 crore from a financial services firm owned by Rajesh Khandwala, the samdhi (in-law) of Parimal Nathwani, a Rajya Sabha MP and top executive of Reliance Industries”. It went on to add that “one year later, in October 2016, however, Jay Shah’s company suddenly stopped its business activities altogether, declaring, in its director’s report, that Temple’s net worth had ‘fully eroded’ because of the loss it posted that year of Rs.1.4 crore and its losses over earlier years”.…



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Roll it back – Editorial (Oct 24, 2017, Indian Express)

The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan proposes to step beyond the ambit of custom, and even beyond the Constitution. It seeks to convert its ordinance of September into criminal law, imposing prior restraint on the investigation of state judicial and government officers, and even barring their identification. Investigation is the cornerstone of the law and order machinery, and restraint amounts to supporting misuse of official powers.

The police are under the command of the executive, which can hold off sanctioning for six months, by which time the issue would have faded from public memory – with a little help from the accused. The bar on disclosing identity attacks the freedom of the press, which can’t report anything concerning an accusation against an official – even its very existence. The curbs apply not only to corruption charges, but to the whole gamut of crime, down to rape and murder.

Had such a law been in force earlier, the media could not have reported, in Rajasthan, on official collusion in Lalit Modi’s escape or the wrongful allocation of mining rights in the Aravallis. And if Rajasthan’s law inspired Central legislation, no scam would ever be reported, nationwide. Insulation from the law can only breed impunity.…



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Hindutva’s attempt to polarize ‘God’s Own Country’ – By Ram Puniyani (Oct 25, 2017, National Herald)

Earlier this year, BJP President Amit Shah had launched ‘Jan Suraksha Yatra’, a two-week program to highlight the death of RSS workers in Kerala. Many BJP dignitaries (twelve Union Ministers and five Chief ministers) participated in this. The one who made big news was Yogi Adityanath. The slogan of Amit Shah was that the CPM had been indulging in political violence, which led to the death of RSS workers in Kannur- Kerala.

He wanted to draw the attention of people to Jihadi-red terror in Kerala. Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of UP, was offering advice to Kerala about health care and administration. This did reflect his audacity as we have recently seen the death of number of children in Gorakhpur hospital due to lack of oxygen. The chief minister of such a state offering advice to Kerala is among many ludicrous acts of Yogi, as Kerala tops in the welfare indices in the whole country.

The whole propaganda unleashed by the BJP is reflective of the pattern of their politics. The statistics shows that during last seventeen years, the number of political deaths in Kerala are as follows: those dying from CPM-85, RSS-65, Muslim League and Congress-11 each. Kannur has seen the worst of rivalry between the CPM and RSS, in which on frequent intervals the political workers have been killed from both the sections. Shah’s attempt to show that it is RSS workers alone who are being killed is fake breast beating.…



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