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Literature As Per the Poll Manifesto: Political Meddling With Art & Literature

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The National Film Awards and other Awards that the Governments give for literary achievements, are not healthy for a democracy.

Why was, or is there a concept of patronisation of literature, and art by the State, as defined today, or earlier in time by Emperors and Kings? The people in power often defined the ingenious works of people who moved the masses with their creativity to be encapsulated with the ideas of the ruling class, and the ruler in particular.

The Courtiers of the Kings, and emperors often used their creativity to seek approval of the masses, their love, and their loyalty. Even in the recent past, the Americans used their fleet of film writers and producers to seek approval of the American people to further the mandate of the American government. The Nazis used films and literature to penetrate the ideas held by them to the people. The Chinese approve only that content which promotes the Chinese cause.

When we start talking about India, after 1857 to 1947, when the English had placed restrictions on the freedom of press and circulation of literary materials, all the Indians used their pens with a passion that stirred among the people the will and love to die for freedom. The ideas from all hues had great acceptance, and it was the people who collectively decided what must be censored out of the social discourse and what not.

This bred a healthy beahviour among people which led to a collective approval of ideas, and these found mention in the minds of the leaders also. It was a time which was limited in resources and a few people had the ability to read and comprehend for the others in a spirit of sympathy.

Post 1947, the era of Indian politics began, where everyone with a narrow dream of gaining power, gathered people ascribing to their beliefs and used/ abused the pen to create a storm that only worked to benefit them. Indians shared a blended cultural heritage of over 1000 years which produces a unique form of literature, art and ideological scripts that have a deep impact in every aspect of human life that touches creativity like music, art, architecture, literature and designing.

The Indian state which guaranteed the freedom to propagate information and right to culture, did not do much to protect the people becoming a prey to the doctored house of information, ascribing to a narrow outlook. In a failed attempt to provide the people with better lives and better information we created a tool to serve the ends of the State by entangling the institutions that were meant to nurture and produce creators within the framework of the political democracy, keeping the people’s interests aside.

We see the State penetration in Historiography, media, literature, films, and art. Why is it that centrally funded institutions like Sahitya Akademi, National School of Drama, ICCHR and a few more, are often persecuted, because they often deliver confronting set of ideas that the ruling party wouldn’t approve of? Have we even wondered why did Padmavati create such a furore all over, the Censor board actually edited the entire movie, eventually destroying the imagination of the creator!

The current or the past regimes have had everything to do with the films, filmstars and writers, along with media persons have shared the political space for years and still do. The communication through the works  of literature is often used to propagate the set of ideas one has, but in a democracy if only one side of the idea is being allowed to germinate, how will the people be well informed, without being exposed to the other side of the idea?

Does the State Endorsement of Literature help in the evolution of the people? The National Film Awards, became another reason to object the Nehruvian policy of state endorsement of literature, because there may be a halo of autonomy given to our cultural institutions and artists, but it surely does not mean that they are free to create with spontaneity. The State when becomes the arbiter in creativity, the creative capacity get scuttled. This may be one of the reasons why we have been faring not so well on the global counts of creativity.

There were awardees who gave up their awards in 2015 while they were protesting against the actions of the State, and now there were awardees who did not accept their awards because our President Ram Nath Kovind did not present them. The awards that were being distributed, would have had more meaning and weight if someone like Javed Akhtar, Steven Spielberg or some other man with literary accolades would have been the one presenting it.

The Indian State does not act when some people with high minds get killed at the hands of extremists, like Gauri Lankesh and MM Kalburgi, and when people vandalised the sets of Padmavati, though when it comes to creating their own fleet of writers and filmstars they allure them by giving them State Sponsored Awards!

This is the right time when we must collectively think about what do we want us to be entertained with, and how the galleries of creativity be renovated in India. The State must not be the arbiter in literature and creativity.

It has been years since we have been fighting over some or the other issue, while we neglect the bigger picture. The bigger picture that we see is making India a nation, solving the problems that people face in their day to day lives.

In these situations, what can serve our ends best is, high creativity by our artists, which must never be dictated and patronised by our politicians in power, because as and when they come and go, the courtiers change.

We may, even for a moment try to accept all the fetters that we have on creativity in India, will never yield in free creation, but will we be able to live with a dead people?

Two movies made recently that were aimed to make society more aware of the need to evolve were  ‘Toilet-Ek Prem Katha’ & ‘Padman’, these movies sent a clear message to the people to accept the new things that help people improving their lives. This was again not state sponsored but when the State begins to offer awards, this becomes a mouthpiece for the State schemes. There was another movie Nayak, that happened to define the ideal leader, which is to be found everywhere. Taare Zameen Par told people about the possible presence of a psychological disorder that may make a student run away from studies. My Name Is Khan, declared that if anyone is a Muslim, that doesn’t mean they are terrorists.

Thus, we may use literature to promote the dream of a Utopian India, which may all start with an idea, but the State will never stop endorsing literature, and there will never be a free society to choose the free concepts from the alleys of the creative mind till we become susceptible and tolerant to new ideas.

We need to provide actual autonomy to the institutions working in the field of Art, Literature and Culture, where they get the freedom to choose their own leaders, and propagate the idea of India, without the State meddling in with the bodies and their potential to create. The creations thus, will have a better connect with the masses, and they will mould the masses with a better understanding and responsibility towards the nation.

It shall therefore be an endeavour of the people to induce self-censorship to tell the people who are at the creating end of the society to know what finds resonance with the people, and in turn a welfare state must focus more on welfare rather than using its mandate to articulate the media, and the films.

Prelude to Poll War-2019: Demeaning the Democracy

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How clearly this graffiti reflects the opinion of the common man. Credits- gettyimages.com

All the people who are worried about the independence of Judiciary in a system that has been established under the Constitution; and all those people who people believe that the current regime is undermining the judicial independence, there is a serious question to be considered, whether the hype and the drama that has focused the Supreme Court serves as a prelude to the poll battle of 2019.

We have all been witnessing the bizarre turn of events after a flawed judgement in the Loya case, and is now stuck on the appointment of Chief Justice KM Joseph of the Uttarakhand High Court as a judge of the Supreme Court.

The Judiciary, per se is not being undermined in the general opinion. The author has this belief backed with the opinion of the famous jurist Fali Nariman, who said that the government was well within its purview to return the recommendation of Justice Joseph, while the appointment of Ms. Indu Malhotra was approved.

It is true that these systems are governed by conventions and not by laws, as they ensure the independence of judiciary. The current regime tried to push the NJAC bill, so as to bring the appointments under the purview of the elected governments, but then, the SC struck it down. It may be said that the government is trying to give the judiciary some tough time over the appointments, but in this case, if the collegium, that comprises of CJI Misra, Justice(s) Chelameshwar, Gogoi and Kurian Joseph, returns the name of CJ Joseph, then that will be a final word, because the Judiciary has the final say. If, after the re-affrimation by the Collegium, the government tries to interfere in his appointment, then that deserves to evaluated. Moreover, the government has also provided reasons for questioning the recommendation.

The matter of impeaching the CJI over whims and fantasies of some leaders from the Opposition, as well does not warrant much of attention as it was a simple move aimed to gather political mileage. The Congress, which has its own record of meddling with the judiciary, has been trying to portray itself as the torchbearer of the democracy, which is not well suited. There are host of other issues which might be used to corner the government other than such illusory issues that do not exist.

The media is giving the issue undue publicity while they should be focusing on the real issues like unemployment, healthcare, and social reforms that are the need of the hour, among others.

There is not a real crisis over the independence of the judiciary, and the government cannot demean the Constitutional institutions so easily, because, it may be a possibility that the 2019 elections throw BJP into oblivion, which makes all the officers of the President discharging their duties free from all sorts of political pressures.

This is the prelude to the poll war of 2019. Having said so, the sole reason remains, that the Congress, is unable to unearth any scams so far, the pro-people (the author may have opinions to the contrary) and economic initiatives have support from the people. With the North-East voting for BJP and the Karnataka in the poll fray, lack of issues, and the Congress’ divide and rule tactic has further aggravated its divine right to the rule India.

The Independence of Judiciary in danger, and faulty EVMs, only aim to project Narendra Modi as a dictator in the making, which may help the Congress carve some space for itself in the political discourse. Thus, the exercise of abusing the Judiciary for political advantages must be brought to an end immediately.

This further makes the author wonder whether the Opposition and particularly Congress believes in the mantle of Rahul Gandhi, or it is a mere credulous show of panic by them and a stunt to reach out to people.

The freedom of institutions is a well thought of agenda, but needs certain well conceived methods of challenging the same under the Narendra Modi regime. The BJP or the Congress, both have the same agenda, and they have made the people suffer in theirown ways so far. While trying to gain power in 2019, they must ensure that they don’t demean the institutions established by the force of law, and alienate the citizens from the law.

 

Supreme Court: SOS PLEASE!!

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Goddess of Justice in Danger in India

The day when Justice Chelameshwar held a press conference with four other judges of the Supreme Court, only to disclose that there was something very seriously wrong with the apex court, it had taken the power corridors in New Delhi and elsewhere by surprise.

The author had posted an article stating how devastating to the democracy was the move.  Nothing seemed to have bothered Justice Chelameshwar from giving further controversial remarks against the post-retirement postings taken by judges, but two days ago, Justice DY Chandrachud did something that is not being criticised by the author, but as a citizen of India, it is being analysed as a positivist would. The simple man with a simple conscience seems to be able to comprehend the basic events that take place around us, thus from the Right to Privacy highs,we are at the lows of Tehseen Poonwalla PIL.

We remember Justice Loya’s death on 1st of December, 2014. It is that fateful year that brought Narendra Modi led BJP to power, and the same year Mr Devendra G. Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Justice Loya was working on a case where a hardened criminal, his aide and his wife were allegedly abducted and shot by the Gujarat Police in separate encounters. There happens to nothing peculiar about the matter that Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauser Bi and Tulsidas Prjapati died in encounter,  except the fact the BJP supremo Amit Shah was the Home Affairs minister in the Gujarat government back then and the Police was to obey his orders if nothing else, meanwhile if a hardened criminal is killed by the Police using unconstitutional means, we brand it as good for the society. Yet, the brother of Sohrabuddin, approached the Court against the misuse of power by the Government.

A brief timeline of the case would be good for us who are unaware of it:-

Nov 26, 2005: Sohrabuddin killed in a fake encounter

Nov 28, 2005: Kauser Bi killed

Dec 28, 2006: Prajapati killed in Chapri village

Jan 12, 2010: Supreme Court hands over case to CBI

July 23, 2010: CBI chargesheets Amit Shah as prime accused

July 25, 2010: CBI arrests Shah

Oct 29, 2010: Gujarat HC grants bail

Sept 27, 2012: SC transfers trial from Gujarat to Mumbai

April 8, 2013: SC clubs Prajapati case with Sohrabuddin case

The case that began in Gujarat was transferred to Maharashtra, with the effect of a Supreme Court order which mentioned due to the circumstances prevailing a Gujarat a free and fair proceedings may not be conducted there. At the same time it also said that it shall be ensured that only  one judge conducted the entire probe into the case. It is worth noting that Mr. Amit Shah spent 10 months in jail.

Amazingly, after the case was handed over to the court of CBI Special Judge, Mr. JT Utpat, was the sitting judge, he was transferred midway because he wanted Mr. Shah to appear in person before him, and that is when Mr Loya took charge. Justice Loya had the will to deal with the case, the files of the case ran over 10,000 pages, and was now linked to the country’s second most powerful man, Mr. Amit Shah.

There is nothing ever reported against Judge Brijgopal Loya in the local media that could prejudice us against his conduct. Which brings us to the conclusion that he had a clean service record. There is no information available about his public statements about the case as well. So we now come to the day when he died under conspicuous circumstances which the Court deems was a natural death.

In the evening of 30th of November, 2014, he was in Nagpur to attend  marriage of a colleague’s daughter, with two other judges. They were staying at a government guest house there, but accidentally there exists no record of the room where they/he had stayed. The Caravan reveals that Mr.. Loya had a talk with his wife about successfully having attended a marriage in the evening.

On the 1st of November, 2014, this gentleman was dead. Though the hospitals and police blamed myocardial infarction as the cause of death, but the chain of events that are revealed by the Discreet Inquiry of the Maharashtra State Investigation and the findings of the Caravan report are in-congruent, and conflicting.

This case gained traction only after the Caravan on 20 and 21 November 2017, published a cover story compiled by Niranjan Takle, who investigated the entire story and built a picture through his construction of chain of events which was not very simple and ‘natural’, as the Police had declared the death of Loya to be ‘natural’.

After the death of Mr. Loya, Judge MB Gosavi was appointed in his place and he happened to acquit Mr. Amit Shah of all the charges and the case was closed on the 30th of December, 2014 . Justice Utpat was transferred after he tried to bring Mr. Amit Shah to appear in person before him, while Mr. Loya exempted him from personal appearance, he was known not have been disposed towards Mr. Amit Shah, though he was committed to the case.

On 24th of November, 2014, Judge Loya’s security was lifted up, and he was roaming without escorts, and dealing with a high profile case. This is thought provoking, though the report by the Caravan brought to the fore many such events that were hinting at some mischief being committed behind the scenes, thereby all the parties to the Tehseen Poonawalla case had approached the Supreme Court under the PIL jurisdiction.

This is my question based on common sense, India is a country governed by law, when the law for investigations is very simple and clear, how is it possible that the State Intelligence Maharashtra, conducted a detailed inquiry without actually recording the statements of the victims, was it trying to bring out the truth or just fulfilling a formality? This is the layman idea behind all of the renowned Senior Lawyers throwing their weight behind the case through a PIL. Nobody intended to demean the judiciary or politicise the issue, as the BJP has been claiming over and again!

Justice Chandrachud gone through the submissions made by Advocates Mr. Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaisingh, and Pranshant Bhushan among others for the Petitioners, Advocates Mr. Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi for the Respondents.

The judgement delivered on Thursday was one that actually applies to the use of the word justice as an irregular proverb. India and elsewhere, there have been occasions where press reports have been the basis of historic decisions being rendered by the Courts and the Legislators also. The case that the SC decided thus,was not based on innuendos, surmises and assumptions of some suspicious man, but was based on the hard work of an individual who wasn’t hired by the opposition for ulterior motives,  which is known as investigative journalism.

The Petitioners had prayed that the Court order the case to be inquired afresh by a SIT, which would have actually taken pains to examine the witnesses, relatives, and the other people involved in the incident, which should have been a part of the discreet enquiry,and it would still have been discreet. The discreet enquiry that the Maharashtra government had ordered just deals with the investigation in a summary manner, based on the report of the Caravan and was discreet in excess. It is believed that in order to be discreet they got confused with what is the difference between going discreet and going obscure.

The Petitioners produced ample evidence to support their claims based on common sense which was not helpful for the Court to smell anything out of the course, and think but they relied on the documents produced by the Maharashtra Government. The chain of events, the discrepancies in the investigation report,  would convince any sane man that there is something wrong, or the state machinery is not to be relied at all for being excessively lethargic and inaccurate, if that is Justice Chndrachud meant to acknowledge.

Further, when Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad was lashing out at the role of lawyers in the evening that before national media, we may not expect him to think rationally as he is after-all a politician who has a colleague’s career at stake when Senior Advocates use the law to keep the citizens of this country informed, and safe. He could have chosen his words carefully instead of attempting to threaten and rebuke the lawyer community, as he incidentally is one himself. Which is enough evidence to prove that somebody got alert.

The impeachment motion moved by the Congress against CJI Dipak Misra is not well timed, though there is something not very good about him, as there has been a problem in appointing new judges that have been recommended by the Collegium, there is a flaw in allotment of cases, and there are verdicts like Tehseen Poonawalla, still there needed to be more time for the people to know that the Highest Judicial officer, is not well aware of his responsibilities.

The judgment is not worth the applause that the right-wingers are attaching to it, and the censure that the centrists are trying to effect is not well timed. The system has to be people friendly and not politician friendly. Judge Loya may never find justice and Sohrabuddin, who cares, he was a criminal.

Annihilating the Woman Abusers: Kathua, Unnao and Amethi

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The Rapes in Unnao, Kathua and the Immolation

We have seen in a series how people have tried to abuse women on one pretext or the other. In the recent history, Visakha happened, that changed the outlook towards women at workplaces, then happened the heart lamenting Nirbhaya, which taught us that all the girls who go out with young gentlemen in the night are not to be branded as prostitutes. The Nirbhaya incident also made all of us think about the safety of the numerous lovely young ladies we know, and the government passed certain amendments that altered the age limit for trying the juveniles and changed the IPC as well. This did not happen to bring an overall end to the offences against women, but yes, the awareness about the issues and the reporting has led to a movement in support of the victims.

We as people, tend to blame the rise in the incidents of rape on the lack of effective policing, and ineptitude of our leaders, which are contributing factors but not the only cause of the same. Even some of the most deep psychological impressions that we are brought up with are the starting point of victimisation of women. The precedence of a male over the  females is the point of genesis which relays to the mind of the perpetrator that being born as a male, he has an inherent right to reprimand, manhandle, and offend a woman. We  often tend to attach the honour and pride of our social existence (identified by clan, community, caste and etc) with the chastity, and person of our sisters, daughters and mothers. While Indian women like PV Sindhu, Navjot Kaur, Mary Kom, Chanda Kochhar are promoting the brand India globally, the horrifying incidents like Kathua, Unnao and Amethi show the dark side of the Indian feminism and women empowerment.

The author happened to be asked by a German visitor once,  why is there hardly a woman Prophet or saint in the world. The answer simply lies in the presence of numerous checks, and barriers that our women have to pass through in this patriarchal society to establish themselves. Even today, what a man might achieve in a series of 5 effortless years, a woman may take more to do the same while trying to tackle the society at the same time. This is not just the trait of the eastern countries but even in the western countries we find these follies a prevalent.

Womanism is not to be described as a narrative of showing how equally competent a woman can be while doing the things that a man may do, but how competent a woman can be while dealing with the patriarchal nihilists who react in the name of clan, caste, creed, and community and what all not, while at the same time shouldering the responsibilities of the roles attached to women. It will be a bad world after all to live without the lovely women we live with, like our mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, and not to mention our spouses, while they are busy doing the man of the hour episodes.

The child who was raped in Kathua, and the people who came out in support of the incident citing sectarian views about the Bakerwals versus Hinduism, were no less than the Taliban extremists who slaughtered educated women in Afghanistan, just because women are not to be educated! It is another folly that these people were patronised by people in high offices like the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Bar association and the BJP MLAs, who happened to come out in full support of the incident and evangelized the atrocity by deploying the ‘Hinduism in danger’ jargon to the masses.

Again in Unnao,where an MLA was accused of raping a young lady, had found some support from the AG before the Allahabad High Court, which ordered the MLA to be taken into custody while rebuking the AG, the Yogi Adityanath led government acted in the right direction by  expelling the MLA concerned. With the CBI conducting an enquiry in the matter, things will come out soon.

Then comes Amethi, the constituency of our Yuvraj Rahul Gandhi, where over a family brawl pertaining to property, the brother-in-law/ uncle happened to immolate his elder brother’s wife and his daughter, just to show him how dangerous he is, and that his brother should refrain from offending him. Again the victims happened to be women who wouldn’t have offered much resistance to the perpetrator and neutralise his opponent instantly. What a poor show of human emotions!

The Mehbooba Mufti government in J&K took stern measures against the BJP MLAs who had supported the rape of the Bakerwal girl, and PM Modi declared that none of the offenders of the rape will go unpunished. There are several states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bihar that have made rapes of minors punishable with death under the POSCO Act, while the rest are just living with status quo. Though the Supreme Court ordered the lawyers in J&K to refrain from any activities that may cause obstruction to the investigations being conducted by the police, the lawyers put the entire community of barristers to shame by siding with the accused. The Bar Council must initiate a probe and put to test all the lawyers involved in the outrageous act.

The change that we expect may be brought in place when we declare in strict terms that all those found guilty of rape shall be castrated( which is the norm in many Shariat Jurisdictions) or hanged till death, but the effects would be only deterring in nature. We must not forget that how our justice delivery system and police establishment functions.

Coming to the bigger picture the general psyche of the society has been the sole reason because of which many crimes against women have been perpetrated, and movies like Pink and Lipstick under my Burqa highlight the same. Even our leaders who are expected to be narrate the social discourse with a sense of responsibility and far-sightedness often tend to forget the above, and land up in stirring up the hornet’s nest by giving statements that are not conforming to the growth and development of the modern society. If we need to fight crimes against women, we will have to do a lot of groundwork, which will in time bear the fruits, while our leaders must also learn to do the right talk. The moral values, and culture will never be downgraded because women wear western dresses and behave like friends with men, and are not raped to show down upon some class of persons as the prestige of the people does not lies with the chastity of their daughters as seen through the lens of conservationists but with the safety and empowerment of the girls as seen through the bare eyes of a modernist.

Thus to annihilate the nihilist who draws his moral strength from the discourses of religion, caste, creed and community will have to be dealt with in a spirit that makes the nihilist think of their own daughters, sisters etc before they try to think of anything about any other woman.

 

Kasam apni janmabhumi ki, Haryana mein agli sarkar AAP ki banegi: Delhi CM Kejriwal

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After being in news for his range of apologies in Defamation cases, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal formally announced that his party would fight the 2019 assembly elections in Haryana.

Kejriwal added that AAP was ready to work for a Delhi-like miracle in Haryana. Making noise for his official political entry to Haryana in a well-attended rally in Hisar on Sunday, the Delhi CM said he wants a “new Haryana” in which old parties and leaders have no place. “Kasam apni janmabhumi ki, Haryana mein agli sarkar AAP ki banegi aur jo kaam koi bhi party nahin kar payee, vo Kejriwal karega Haryana mein (I am taking a pledge at my birthplace that the AAP would form next government in Haryana and Kejriwal would do what other parties have failed to deliver in their regimes),” the Delhi chief minister Kejriwal said in his 30-minute address. The Delhi CM offered to give an alternative to the people of Haryana who have given enough chances to other political parties in the last 50-odd years.

Demonstrating his achievements in the national capital to improve conditions of government schools and state-run hospitals, Kejriwal said he has thought of the same revolution in Haryana. Throwing an emotional card about his roots in Hisar, Kejriwal remembered names of the school and college where he had studied and the institution where his father used to work during their stay in Hisar. The Delhi chief minister also accused the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government of troubling social fabric of Haryana by generating caste-based divisions and blamed the former Congress governments for corruption.

Kejriwal, in his aggressive “Haryana Bachao Rally”, said that he is hopeful his party would even break Delhi’s record by winning the highest number of assembly seats in Haryana in 2019 assembly polls.