Speak Up

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I concede that it is a little late in the day to vent my anger and disgust against the recent rape incidents that has rocked our nation, but the recent polarization and crazy messages floating across the social media questioning this very angst and that also from the so called educated mass is surprising.

These people are questioning this angst and asking where were we when some previous incident happened?? Why such hue and cry now?? Just to answer them, we were there showing our angst then also!! It is just that you are so blinded by the communal hatred and in love with your so called emancipator, to not notice this and yes even if we didn’t protest earlier that doesn’t take away our right to protest now, does it??

It took months and the media scrutiny before The Supreme Leader, the state governments (incidentally both are governed by the party that is in Centre) for some action to happen. They were supposed to be a proactive / decisive and the deliverer from injustice weren’t they??

Action speaks louder than words and it takes a statement full of platitudes by The Supreme Leader for these state governments to take action. Words that should have been spoken much earlier like the birthday greetings that he is so prompt in making to the world leaders on Twitter. Yes he has been elected to power and we expect him to make a statement on such a heinous crime, that’s his job. He does us no favour !!

And yes this issue is about religion and how the nations treats its minorities, be it religious or otherwise and how a party that claims to be the voice of majority has failed them by inaction and delayed response. As a father of eight year olds, my heart bleeds making me want to throw up each time I hear the gruesome and chilling facts that are in the charge sheet. Despite this some of them have the audacity to take my Lord’s name and shout to protect the accused or defend themselves.

Yes I am a member of Congress and yes I will demand action from the Prime Minster as he is answerable to all Indians whether we voted for him or not, despite the name calling by his disciples. What pains is the fanaticism of the educated and the hatred for the minorities that was heard in private conversations which can be seen in not so subtle ways in the social media.

What have we become?? Is this the kind of hatred that we want to pass on to the next generation ??

It is time for all of us to ponder, make informed choices and question what we is being fed to our brains day in and day out.

ये दाग़ दाग़ उजाला, ये शब-गज़ीदा सहर,

(This stained tainted light, this night bitten dawn)

वो इन्तज़ार था जिस का, ये वो सहर तो नहीं

(That we were waiting for, this is not that morning)

 

Uniform Civil Code

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BJP led NDA Government has asked the Law Commission to examine the issues relating to the implementation of Uniform Civil Code. This is the first time a Government has asked the commission which has a advisory role on such a politically controversial legal reform.

Our Constitution under the Directive Principle of State Policy Article 44 states:
“The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

Text quoted below is what Baba Saheb Ambedkar had to say when the issue of adding proviso / amending the above article which was then Article 35 was being discussed by the Constituent Assembly on the 23rd November 1948:
22“In dealing with this matter, I do not propose to touch on the merits of the question as to whether this country should have a Civil Code or it should not. That is a matter which I think has been dealt with sufficiently for the occasion by my friend, Mr. Munshi, as well as by Shri Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar. When the amendments to certain fundamental rights are moved, it would be possible for me to make a full statement on this subject, and I therefore do not propose to deal with it here.
My friend, Mr. Hussain Imam, in rising to support the amendments, asked whether it was possible and desirable to have a uniform Code of laws for a country so vast as this. Now I must confess that I was very much surprised at that statement, for the simple reason that we have in this country a uniform code of laws covering almost every aspect of human relationship. We have a uniform and complete Criminal Code operating throughout the country, which is contained in the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. We have the Law of Transfer of Property, which deals with property relations and which is operative throughout the country. Then there are the Negotiable Instruments Acts: and I can cite innumerable enactments which would prove that this country has practically a Civil Code, uniform in its content and applicable to the whole of the country. The only province the Civil Law has not been able to invade so far is Marriage and Succession. It is this little corner which we have not been able to invade so far and it is the intention of those who desire to have article 35 as part of the Constitution to bring about that change. Therefore, the argument whether we should attempt such a thing seems to me somewhat misplaced for the simple reason that we have, as a matter of fact, covered the whole lot of the field which is covered by a Uniform Civil Code in this country. It is therefore too late now to ask the question whether we could do it. As I say, we have already done it.
Coming to the amendments, there are only two observations which I would like to make. My first observation would be to state that members who put forth these amendments say that the Muslim personal law, so far as this country was concerned, was immutable and uniform through the whole of India. Now I wish to challenge that statement. I think most of my friends who have spoken on this amendment have quite forgotten that up to 1935 the North-West Frontier Province was not subject to the Shariat Law. It followed the Hindu Law in the matter of succession and in other matters, so much so that it was in 1939 that the Central Legislature had to come into the field and to abrogate the application of the Hindu Law to the Muslims of the North-West Frontier Province and to apply the Shariat Law to them. That is not all.
My honourable friends have forgotten, that, apart from the North-West Frontier Province, up till 1937 in the rest of India, in various parts, such as the United Provinces, the Central Provinces and Bombay, the Muslims to a large extent were governed by the Hindu Law in the matter of succession. In order to bring them on the plane of uniformity with regard to the other Muslims who observed the Shariat Law, the Legislature had to intervene in 1937 and to pass an enactment applying the Shariat Law to the rest of India.
I am also informed by my friend, Shri Karunakara Menon, that in North Malabar the Marumakkathayam Law applied to all-not only to Hindus but also to Muslims. It is to be remembered that the Marumakkathayam Law is a Matriarchal form of law and not a Patriarchal form of law.
The Mussulmans, therefore, in North Malabar were up to now following the Marumakkathyam law. It is therefore no use making a categorical statement that the Muslim law has been an immutable law which they have been following from ancient times. That law as such was not applicable in certain parts and it has been made applicable ten years ago. Therefore if it was found necessary that for the purpose of evolving single civil code applicable to all citizens irrespective of their religion, certain portions of the Hindus, law, not because they were contained in Hindu law but because they were found to be the most suitable, were incorporated into the new civil code projected by article 35, I am quite certain that it would not be open to any Muslim to say that the framers of the Civil code had done great violence to the sentiments of the Muslim community.
My second observation is to give them an assurance. I quite realise their feelings in the matter, but I think they have read rather too much into article 35, which merely proposes that the State shall endeavour to secure a civil code for the citizens of the country. It does not say that after the Code is framed the State shall enforce it upon all citizens merely because they are citizens. It is perfectly possible that the future parliament may make a provision by way of making a beginning that the Code shall apply only to those who make a declaration that they are prepared to be bound by it, so that in the initial stage the application of the Code may be purely voluntary. Parliament may feel the ground by some such method. This is not a novel method. It was adopted in the Shariat Act of 1937 when it was applied to territories other than the North-West Frontier Province. The law said that here is a Shariat law which should be applied to Mussulmans who wanted that he should be bound by the Shariat Act should go to an officer of the state, make a declaration that he is willing to be bound by it, and after he has made that declaration the law will bind him and his successors. It would be perfectly possible for parliament to introduce a provision of that sort; so that the fear which my friends have expressed here will be altogether nullified. I therefore submit that there is no substance in these amendments and I oppose them.”

Constituent Assembly member Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad had this to say about Uniform Civil Code: “The goal should be towards a uniform civil code but it should be gradual and with the consent of the people concerned.”

Another member Mr.Hussain Imam said : “I feel that it is all right and a very desirable thing to have a uniform law, but at a very distant date. For that, we should first await the coming of that event when the whole of India has got educated, when mass illiteracy has been removed, when people have advanced, when their economic conditions are better, when each man is able to stand on his own legs and fight his own battles. Then, you can have uniform laws. Can you have, today, uniform laws as far as a child and a young man are concerned?”

The question that Mr. Hussain asked then more than 67 years ago is still relevant today and need to answered before the current political dispensation embarks on a journey to cater to their ideology !!

Jai Bhim

download 5Today is the day India celebrates the 125th Birth Anniversary of The Great B R Ambedkar – Babasaheb !! The legacy that he left behind still continues to guide and steer the political discussion across the spectrum. I wouldn’t delve too much in his achievements as Wikipedia will provide enough of that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._R._Ambedkar . This is about my idea and notions on Him as felt and experienced over the past decades.

Coming from a privileged background and with little awareness about the depravity download (4faced by the millions of fellow citizens my world view and especially that on Babasaheb was eschewed and flawed and having studied in an English Medium Premium Boarding school of India my interactions certainly didn’t help my case. The first time I heard or at least became aware of his legacy was during the Mandal Agitation when schools were closed, students immolated themselves protesting against the implementation of the recommendations of the commission. The sympathies lay with the protesting students and against the reservations.

Luckily for me since, childhood our family didn’t make too much of an issue of the caste or creed that we belonged to, we were proud practising Hindus and that is it. The further breakups of the caste in the four Varnas were bought to the fore only when we studied history in school. download 1Moreover the reading of Arun Shourie’s book Worshipping False Gods in later years further reinforced my opinion on Babasaheb. It was only during my college years in Mumbai in the Nineties that I saw the way people revered him and placed him on the same pedestal as God. Later interactions and reading did help in clearing most of my false notions and face up to reality about the magnitude and life changing body of work for underprivileged sections of the society. The respect grew multifolds when I read some of his arguments made in the Constituent Assembly where our Constitution was being deliberated upon.

I wouldn’t go into the merits of the reservations that he strongly espoused because that has been covered in my earlier blog I support The Reservations !!. I only wish to see that the political class especially the one using his legacy and imagery do not deviate from his ideals and his name is not used to fill their own coffers.

The Dalits whose rights he championed constitute nearly one fifth of the Indian Population as per the 2011 Census against whom in spite of the safeguards crime is committed every 8 minutes with an abysmal conviction rate of mere 5.3 %. In spite of the reservations and educational facilities the dropout rate in higher classes is a whopping 50.1 %. The Government has done quite a bit for them but all this isn’t helpful unless we remove the biases from within. We have miles to go before we achieve what we set out for.

428235_10151189732356717_994702135_nAn incident that i have personally faced in not so distant past is about my Friend and political activist Late Dinesh Tarwadi who belonged to the Valmiki Community. He went on to receive a Political posting with a rank of a minister in Govt of Rajasthan. We used to go on political tours together and attend meetings and eat together. I was told by some of my political well wishers not to roam around with him due to his castes, well luckily for me I was beyond this kind of nonsense and paid no heed to them. The friendship was however sadly cut short by his untimely death.

The real celebrations of Babasaheb will only be possible when the biases are removed from both the sides. As he said “Caste has killed Public Spirit. Caste has destroyed the sense of Public Charity. Caste has made Public Opinion impossible. Virtue has become Caste-Ridden and Morality has become Caste Bound.”

Speak out !!

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Since the Dadri incident the media and the political class across the spectrum has been profusely advocating their beliefs, ideologies and eccentricities to all and sundry, to anyone who care to listen to them. What is about this incident that has shaken the entire country?? Well as well all know it was about religious belief of one religion that was supposedly in conflict with the real/ imaginary dietary habits of another.

The immediate strong condemnation that this incident has received from the civil society was because it was the tipping point against what has been happening across the country. This gave them the reason to vent up the suppressed emotions the people had been holding up since a long time.  This had the cumulative result of open anger, skepticism and the questioning the idea that India was built on.

Ever since the current Central Government had taken over, each action or inaction was scrutinized to see if it was tainted by their party ideology. The scrutiny was justified and some of their colleagues with their absurd actions and speeches did not make the circumstances any easier. From the Love Jihad, to Ram Sene to Ghar Wapasi what they don’t realize that the country has moved on. Only thing that they can garner through these are eyeballs on TV and some random headlines and that is it.

The way the civil society and the writers are speaking up now is the strength of our constitution. Returning awards can be sometimes mere tokenism but it is enough to shake the present government out of its slumber. The Ideas and the principal that are the bedrock of our great Nation are too big to be tampered with any party irrespective of their numerical strength. The gains that they intend to achieve by dividing the society on communal lines can be only limited and will face the laws of diminishing returns.

For me, my religion is personal between me and my God and no one can alter my equation with him, I don’t have to doubt and questions other religions to prove the supremacy of my faith. The constitution guarantees each one of us to practice, profess and propagate ones religion. The fault lays completely at the doorstep with us the moderates, liberal class who don’t speak up when the fringes do unspeakable things in the name of religion. Who would these religious fanatics cater to when the alternate voice of reason is there to counter their false propaganda? Rationalists have paid through their lives to achieve this goal and we absolutely shouldn’t let them down. Let these fringe elements be shown their places in society i.e. in the fringes.

Let this incident not be used to create a fear psychosis in the minds of minority, for if we don’t stand up for them then who will ??. This reminds me of the famous statement and provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_…

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum quotes the following text as one of the many poetic versions of the speech:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Speak out lest they consider our silence as acceptance :

की हमारी बेज़ुबानी जुबां ना होने पाए उनकी …..

Food and Religion

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With the advent of the Jain Paryushan Parv the debate for food habits was ignited all over the country. The closing of the slaughter house for a day is ok but why should a carnivores be denied his pound of flesh. And also there are two sects of Jain Religion namely:  The Shwetambers and the Digambers. From what I understand with my limited knowledge is that the ban is just for the paryushan of the former and not for the latter. Why this differences after all they both follow the same god maybe in their own different ways.

Luckily for me I have grown up in a family where I had the chance to experience both Vaishnavism and Jainisim from close quarters. From my dad’s side came Lord Krishna and Durga Mata and from my mother’s side came Lord Mahvira. So we have celebrated both the Navratri’s and Paryushan with equal measure.

The only part where the religion restricts my food habits now is when I fast for two days during both the Navratri’s and when everything and anything that is grown under the soil disappears from our plates during the Paryushan, which for us would start day after and continue for 10 days and that also to be eaten before the sunset and that is it !!

Having studied in boarding school meat did form a part of my diet, it wasn’t a compulsion and I did opt for a vegetarian food there, but the bowls of meat were easily passed from one table to another. Then there was this Sher-e-Punjab restaurant at Madar Gate, Ajmer whose budget and quality fit into our pockets when we explored the nooks and corners of Ajmer on a Free Sunday.

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I must confess I am a very late convert to vegetarianism, gave it up after reading a book by Maneka Gandhi. Though didn’t follow it completely as don’t have the determination to go completely vegan. I am no card carrying vegetarian and ok with people having their meat. Have friends for whom no eating out is complete without a non-veg dish. Who am I to judge? To each his own, no one becomes a bigger or a lesser person by his diet and it is solely guided by an individual’s beliefs and religion. The deeds and the thoughts can never be dictated by ones diet. You are going to do what you desire and food isn’t going to accelerate that feeling no matter what , Period .

downloadEach religion or sect is governed by its own codes and they don’t necessarily have to be alike. But what each is alike is in its message of compassion, love and brotherhood. There is this beautiful quote from the Film Sunshine which has stayed with me and it says “Never give up your religion. Not for God. God is present in all religions. Religion may not be perfect, but it is a well-built boat that can stay balanced and carry you to the other shore. Our life is nothing but a boat adrift on water balanced by permanent uncertainty. About the people whom you will judge, know this; all they do is struggle to find a kind of security. They’re just people, like us. Therefore you mustn’t judge them on the basis of appearance or hearsay.”