A need for an archive of authentic Islamic knowledge

islamqa

by Shaikh Aarif Akhtar Hussain

It is time to start archiving all authentic Islamic information online.

Irrespective of who these people are, but there are many who are trying their level best to hide, delete or distort the history of Islam. It becomes the responsibility of every Islamic learning centre to join hands with scholars and Islamic libraries to preserve data of important people and their contributions in the field of Tafsir, Hadeeth, preserving the right aqeedah and speaking out for the right Manhaj.

Today, people online are being forced to read about great Islamic personalities but the information about them is not from authentic sources. Many times these websites pick up information from news channels that are backed up by political parties. Famous websites and other info sites give wrong perceptions about Islamically important people.

It’s just a matter of time that the real truth of the past will be erased and replaced with concocted stories and hidden agendas. We are already seeing it happening today in history text books in schools where the real historical essence of Islam in a particular country is missing and much attention is just being given to monuments, tourism centered historical sites and at most conquering events. The true wisdom of any Islamic historical event is either missing or misquoted.

All like minded Islamic organisations should join hands and develop a true one point online archive where the whole world can access the real and true information of Islam. Starting from Adam (AS) till our current struggle for keeping tauheed and the right manhaj and aqeedah alive.

Remember, information is vulnerable to bad intensions and heretics are everywhere.

Strong Muslim Empires have fallen not by the might of those who fought them, but by the layback don’t care comfort zone of the people who did not bother to strive and stand for the truth. The truth will win, with or without us. But most of us will be accountable for losing the key to a treasure. The treasure of eternal success.

DIET’s Umar Shariff responds to New Indian Express’s Article “Caliphate Radicalisation Rising In India”

caliphate-india

by Umar Shariff

An article was published on the 9th April 2017 by the New Indian Express Newspaper, written by one Rakesh K Singh on the topic “Caliphate Radicalisation Rising In India”.The article talked about the issue of radicalisation of the Muslim youths to join the

The article talked about the issue of radicalisation of the Muslim youths to join the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It also said that the youths were getting indoctrinated by the materials available on the internet to do jihad or join the so-called caliphate of Iraq and Syria. In the course of listing the names of the organisations influencing the Muslim youths, the writer has indiscriminately taken the names of well-reputed institutions and organisations along with some unknown ones of the Muslim community in India. Baseless allegations were laid against those organisations that have on the contrary always been vocal against ISIS and the extremism promoted by the terror outfits.

The list of the reputed organisations that are accused by the writer are:
Niche of Truth (Kerala),
Peace Educational Foundation (Kerala),
Jamiat ul Muflihaat (Hyderabad),
Discover Islam Education Trust (Bengaluru),
Tauheed Educational Trust (Bihar),
Islamic Research and Dawah Centre (Mumbai),
Islamic information Centre (Mumbai)
Popular Front of India,
Jamat-e-Islami Hind,
Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamat
Kerala Nadwathul Mujahideen

The article didn’t make any reference to any content, or any statements made by any government official or the government department. The article didn’t have any proof to substantiate the claim.

Most of the organisations listed by the writer have had a history of working in the field of da’wah and education. Da’wah would mean “propagation of the religion Islam”. And some organisations have been in the forefront to work in uplifting the social and political status of the Muslim community. It is so unfortunate that a well-known newspaper could allow such hate-mongering polarising articles in its reputed newspaper.

The article also has a mentioning of the growth of the followers of Dr. Zakir Naik, by raising concerns over it. Why must Dr. Zakir Naik be feared when the charges against him were all proven wrong, while no connections to any sort of terror activities were proven. And nowhere can anyone find any statement of Dr. Zakir Naik prove him to be a promoter of terror. His past contributions to the Indian Muslims, through his talks and conferences, speak volumes of his mission to spread peace and harmony amongst the people of India. The whole world knows that the media trials were the cause for blemishing the image of Dr. Zakir Naik, that has happened only during the current BJP rule, while most of the TV channels are being purchased by the Ambanis, who serve the interest of the ruling BJP, that is faithful to the RSS ideologies that talks of anti-Islamic policies. Hence one need not be a rocket scientist to connect the dots together to understand the unfolding events that are politically motivated.

Many baseless charges made by the paid and biased media has been clearly exposed by the intellectuals of this country India.

Rakesh K Singh further goes to say that the “Growth of Wahabism-Salafism undermines Indian Islam which is based on Sufi-Barelvi practices that so far have been the most effective counter to radicalization.” He says that the ideology of Wahhabism-Salafism undermines Indian Islam. Can he give any reference to any author or book that can define the newly coined term “Indian Islam”? There’s nothing called the Indian Islam or the African Islam. Islam is one. And the Muslims are one community when they address the political issues, irrespective of their theological and methodological differences within them. The writer is trying hard to divide the Muslims between Salafis and Sufis to weaken the political strength of the Muslims of India. I can recall the statements made by the infamous economist and politician Subramanian Swami who once made a statement that he and his people will divide the Muslims into various factions, and divide the votes to form the government at the central. And it is now evident that all these articles are the manifestation of the vision of the ones like Subramanian Swami who are desirous to become the ruling statesmen of this country, after dividing the Muslims into bits and pieces.

Their purpose of publishing such articles is to demoralise the Muslim organisations, and to frighten the common Muslims from associating with these organisations so that the common Muslims will be disconnected from those who are equipped and trained to guide them to progress and prosperity. The people like Rakesh K Singh are those sold out comic characters who have no self-esteem to carry in their lives to live a dignified life through lawful earnings. They don’t care of spewing venomous ideas into the masses, as long as their coffers get filled by some dirty kickbacks. They are the perfect examples of ‘yellow journalism’ in our times.

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering or sensationalism. And Rakesh K Singh seems to be a club member of Yellow Journalism.

Meanwhile, we from all the organisations that are working to help the Indian Muslims strengthen their brotherhood and solidarity are taking legal actions and peaceful protests against such articles that aim at defaming the leaders of the Muslim community. We will not be bogged down by any infamous human being, while we know that the Greatest One Who controls all affairs is by our side. We rely on Allah, and Allah is sufficient for His slaves.

By the way, we acknowledge that there are various factions and sects among the Muslims. We have been holding dialogues and debates within the purview of the constitutional guidelines that is conducive to achieve peace and harmony by enabling each other to understand the perspectives. We have our differences since ages, but those differences must not let us resort to any violence in the name of religion. Religions must help people to have a strong relationship with the Creator of the Universe. And religions must help people to be well wishers to one another, to help other prosper in this world and the hereafter. If religions don’t work towards justice to all people, irrespective of their religions and nationalities, then they are only carrying the names with hollow philosophies.

Such articles must be condemned by the masses from our community to ensure that these things don’t repeat in the coming days, God Willing. All those readers of this article, who are members of the listed organisations can do your bit by writing to the Editor of New Indian Express and by sharing your thoughts about the discreditable and disgraceful article written by Rakesh K Singh.

Umar Shariff is the President of the Bengaluru-based Islamic organisation Discover Islam Education Trust (DIET).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nasheman.in

Media can convert a hero into villain: Read Dr Zakir Naik’s full statement

zakir naik

Expressing shock over the hate campaign, false allegations and media trial against him in the wake of recent terrorist attack in Dhaka, Dr Zakir Naik, the most sought after Islamic orator, has issued a written statement to the press reiterating that he never supported terrorism or violence in any form whatsoever.

Dr Naik had earlier planned for a press conference on Skype from Saudi Arabia. However, after a few major India TV channels tried to twist his recent statements, the 51-year-old orator, who founded the Islamic Research Foundation in 1991, changed his mind and released the written statement.

Read Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik’s full statement below:

“According to me, the media is the most important weapon in the world. It can convert a hero into villain or even a villain into a hero.

I’m shocked at the media trial on me regarding the recent terrorist attack that took place in Dhaka Bangladesh on 1st July 2016. Most of the clips shown on the television of myself are either out of context, half statements or doctored. So are my statements in the print media.

I would have loved to give interviews whether for television channels or for the print media, but I fear that most of them will not publish it unedited or without twisting it. I came to this conclusion after I had given a few interviews, most of which were unfortunately mutilated and misutilised to serve the vested agenda of the channel or the newspaper.

If time permits, God willing, in the next few days I will give replies to some of the major allegations on video and give it to the media as well as put it up on social media as well as other public platforms so that the original answers are also available if the media misutilises it.

So far not a single official Indian government agency has contacted me for any clarification regarding this issue. It would be my pleasure to cooperate with any official Indian government investigation agency for any information they might require from me.

In conclusion, I repeat what I have always maintained –   I DO NOT SUPPORT TERRORISM OR VIOLENCE in any form whatsoever. I have never supported any terrorist organisations and have mentioned this over and over again in thousands of my public talks worldwide. I STRONGLY CONDEMN anyone taking my statements out of context and using it for VIOLENCE OF ANY FORM.”

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Zakir Naik

Blunders of Modi

Modi

Whenever we start criticizing the way BJP is running the central government, we are accused of being anti-national or a traitor. BJP and its leaders do not know how to talk to people who may even be their well wishers and they react with ferocity.

As a citizen of India, we consider it our duty to point out when the government is making a mistake. When these mistakes can cause serious harm to the country, we try to stop the government from pursuing that harmful course.

We would like to point out five blunders that have been made in the time the NDA government has been in power.

1. Make in India

Make in India is an invitation to foreigners to come and make in India. It tells the world that we Indians are idiots; our businessmen are too stupid to set up businesses; we need outsiders to do manufacturing in this country.

“Oh, you white people! You are the superior race; we beg you to come and teach us how to make stuff in India.”

“Make in India” is the anti-thesis of swadeshi! The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a sister organization of BJP and RSS, is hiding its head in the sand somewhere far away.

We have made rapid strides in technology and manufacturing capabilities since independence. Our engineers have the capabilities to make practically anything and everything; all they need is the opportunity to do so. They have proven it again and again, whether it is making a nuclear weapon or sending a spacecraft to Mars or something as simple as a car. We are one of few countries in the world with the capabilities of designing and manufacturing automobiles. The biggest stumbling block for Indian engineers and entrepreneurs has always been its bureaucrats and politicians. With BJP at the helm of affairs this stumbling block has become larger and more menacing.

BJP came to power on the promise of supporting Indian entrepreneurs, engineers, and businesses; however, the opposite has happened. All over the country, entrepreneurs and industrialists are frustrated; their businesses are sinking, and the Government of India has no time to listen to their woes. GOI has no empathy for our local entrepreneurs. Ask someone who is going through the pains of running a factory in today’s India. I can assure you that he will tell you stories that are so horrible that it will either make your blood boil or curdle. Some public sector banks, following the dictates of the present government, do not even care about their own written commitments and are doing all that is possible (legally or illegally) to throw local businessmen out of business, businesses that were nurtured for decades. The atmosphere for Indian entrepreneurs, industrialists, and businesses has never been more hostile and depressing since independence.

This is an anecdote given by a prominent businessman who desires to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

“In October 2015, IIT Bombay Alumni Association organized Global Business Forum (GBF) at Goa. Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, was present at the GBF. I saw him. No, I did not meet him. My friend, S, who is a batch-mate of Manohar and is a significantly more accomplished engineer and technocrat than Manohar, was also present at the GBF. S put in a formal request for a one-to-one meeting with Manohar. The appointment was granted and S went to meet Manohar. Later I asked S about his meeting. S was furious. He said that he is not stupid enough to discuss strategic technological ideas for national defense in the presence of foreigners. When S went to meet Manohar, there were three foreigners representing global corporations sitting besides Manohar. Apparently, the message that Manohar wanted to convey to all IIT alumni present at GBF was that, look, if you want to do business with Ministry of Defense, you will have to go through one of these white guys first. Manohar, apparently, believes that in the new environment when Modi government is going to outsource defense manufacturing lock-stock-and-barrel on a long term basis to multinationals, the best he can do for alumni of his alma mater is to act as a liaison between the alumni and the new colonial masters. I also attended the Special Interest Group of Make in India at GBF where the loud-and-clear message was that Indian entrepreneurs should learn to pick up small mercies thrown their way by the large global corporations as part of their local content commitments under Make in India.”

Like any Indian, I am aghast, ashamed, and angered by “Make in India.” The insult to the abilities of Indian engineers, entrepreneurs, and businesses is galling and too big to swallow. The red carpet that the Modi government is rolling out for foreigners is in sharp contrast to the treatment that it is giving to Indians. It pains to be treated as a second-class citizen in one’s own country and more so by people who claim to be ultra-nationalists. Surely, nationalism is much more than just singing Vande Mataram, shouting Bharat Mata Ki Jai, and putting up gigantic flags across the country?

2. Startup India

Most people wrongly equate startups with business ventures. There is a difference between being an businessman and being a promoter of a startup. The concept of “startup” is basically an American concept.

In India, the traditional system is a family-based entrepreneurship model. The idea of an investor-controlled startup model is foreign to us. Indian businessmen build businesses with their blood and sweat with dreams of handing it all over to the future generations. The American startup model is based on making a quick buck, converting x to 10x in short time, and retiring (or running away).

GOI has released Startup India Action Plan dated 16 January 2016. The Action Plan defines Startup as follows: “Startup means an entity, incorporated or registered in India not prior to five years, with annual turnover exceeding INR 25 crores in any preceding financial year, working towards innovation, development, deployment, or commercialization of new products, processes, or services driven by technology or intellectual property…provided further that a Startup shall be eligible for tax benefits only after it has obtained certification from the Inter-Ministerial Board, setup for such purpose.”

Without getting involved with all the legal jargon, we can be clear that most new ventures started across the country every year will NOT be eligible to be classified as “startup.” GOI is going to set up a centralized Inter-Ministerial Board (IMB), which will certify a venture as startup or not a startup. No prizes for guessing the hidden under-the-table costs involved for getting the certificate from IMB. For a country of the size of India having a central body for such a certification seems a sure recipe for corruption.

IMB certification is not the only hurdle that a venture has to jump before being certified as a startup. It has to be funded or supported by either a private equity fund or venture capital or some specified government agency. If a technocrat puts in his own or family funds and starts a venture, he/she will not be eligible for being called a startup, thus ruling out the indigenous family-based business model in one stroke.

The Action Plan announced by the Government of India is crafted to ensure Indian businessmen to sell a significant part of their company equity to one or the other sharks (read, Private Equity/Venture Capital Funds). Government will fund the sharks to buy the equity of such startups and to make money from the innovation strengths of Indian innovators. The government support to the sharks is announced to be of the order of about Rs. 10,000 crores.

Why has the government decided to extend the support to various funds which are known sharks and not found it worthwhile to trust public sector banks for this purpose? The government is setting up a “Fund of Funds” to provide financial support to “daughter funds.” There are too many unanswered questions that such a concept throws up. As it appears, in the name of startups, the government is providing budgetary support to a private financial sector outside the nationalized/public sector banks. Since the Action Plan itself acknowledges that startups are prone to failure, this may well finally turn out to be a grand racket, whereby public money lands up in private hands with no accountability and no gains for the country as a whole. There is also the question of regulating the relationship between the sharks and the poor promoter of a startup. Why fund the sharks without any protection of actual innovators and technologists?

According to the champions of the “Startup scheme,” no venture in the history of independent India is eligible to be classified as a startup. Just imagine! Reliance, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Mahindra, Kirloskar, and Nirma DO NOT QUALIFY to be classified as startups according to the definitions and criteria stipulated by government. On the other hand, major e-commerce giants like Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc., did not have any innovation content when they started. All of them are clones of e-commerce companies in USA.
What gets classified as innovation and what gets rejected will be a matter of discretion which will lie at the hands of foreign-owned funds who will say whether they have found the idea worth investing in or not. In other words, we are heading towards East India Company Version 2.0.

Most developing countries have grown their industry on the basis of reverse engineering and small steps in the fields of technology. India is no exception. Instead of innovation, if the government had emphasized technological relevance for the country, it would surely have made more sense. Most technological innovations are small smart steps taken in the course of a long journey. By supporting smart, educated entrepreneurs, government and banks can create an eco-system where innovation flourishes. Instead of the grand Start-up Action Plan, government could have applied its mind to change the mindset of bankers who look only at collaterals and refuse to look at the capabilities of entrepreneurs. Of course, that is not as easy as handing over Rs. 10,000 crores to hungry foreign sharks.

Is the Startup Action Plan based on lessons learnt from global experiences? The concept of startup comes from the USA which is going down in terms of industrial growth. Germany, China, Japan, Israel and South Korea have entirely different entrepreneur eco-systems with no focus on startups. Is it not strange that India is copying a falling giant instead of learning from successes of the rising stars?

There can be no denying the fact that the USA has followed policies which have led in the past 50 years of the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. It is a fact that 1% of USA owns more than 95% of the wealth of USA. This level of inequality has on one hand led to social tensions and on the other is leading to stifling of industry and entrepreneurship of that country.

The Startup Action Plan has gone almost unnoticed by the media which is more concerned on covering sensationalist headlines. Even Indian banks have taken no notice of the Action Plan. Will this blunder be corrected before it destroys us?

3. Smart City

Bhopal is one of the twenty cities chosen for Smart Cities Mission (SCM). No native Bhopali is happy about this. Within the city of Bhopal, opposition to the Smart City Scheme is already building up. Though there is no clarity about what is meant by the SCM, it is seen as an attempt to create islands of ultra-superior infrastructure within the existing cities; thus, we will have ultra-modern islands in a sea of underdevelopment or no development at all. Imagine skyscrapers next to slums.

Creating islands of prosperity with first world quality infrastructure is meaningless. Modi came to power proposing that each Member of Parliament (MP) chooses one village to develop as a model village using his MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) Fund. A few MPs did follow Modi’s proposal, but most MPs soon realized that creating one village with far superior facilities (than all the other villages within one constituency) will be politically disastrous due to reactions from other villages. If a constituency has 2000 villages, a MP who develops only one village risks losing votes from 1,999 villages. No wonder most MPs refused to go with the suggestion of developing a model village and ignoring all others. Translate this model village idea to model city and you get the picture.

A similar situation is likely to unfold in twenty cities of India with SCM. In Bhopal, it is proposed to develop about 2% of the city in the style of Singapore or Paris. It is foolish to think that 98% of the city that is not developed will applaud the development of the 2%. As persons who believe in the politics of taking care of all sections of society, the whole idea of SCM is abhorrent is abhorrent to us.

4. Smriti Irani

The damage done to field of higher education in India by this lady is too enormous to ignore.

While the lady pleases the die-hard BJP loyalists with her fiery speeches and aggressive gestures, on campuses across the country, a significantly large percentage of the students (and even faculty members) refer to her in such insulting words that are largely unprintable. The hatred is, of course, mutual. She has never failed to insult and hurt the most respected of the academic community at every public and private forum. She believes that this country’s education system has been ruined by all those who were stupid enough to get educated beyond secondary school. She believes that the God has chosen her to kick, punch, and be the messiah of this bunch of idiots with PhDs, DLitts, and such other fancy degrees, and if they do not prostrate before her and accept her divine authority, she is fully justified in delivering more kicks and punches.

Let us take one example. From the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, the process of selection of Director for an IIT was carried out in a set pattern.
1. A selection committee chose four or five famous professors. Being shortlisted by the committee was a matter of honour.
2. The shortlisted professors were called to Delhi in a respectful manner.
3. Each professor was called in at a different day and time without anyone of the selected few knowing the other selected ones.
4. Initially, Jawaharlal Nehru himself used to be present in these personal discussions (not called interviews, keeping in view the VIP status granted to the selected professors).

The proud Smriti Irani found the whole system of treating learned professors with dignity and respect, highly objectionable. She insisted that there should be a shortlist of twelve professors for each IIT and the process of selection of directors for three IITs should be combined. At her direction, 36 professors were called for personal discussions all at the same day and time. The earlier respectful approach was dumped and replaced by treating the whole bunch of 36 senior-most professors of the country as a herd of sheep. It would have been easy to stagger the discussions with them over one or two days and call each of them at a separate time. But, that would have deprived Smriti the sadistic pleasure of making them wait whole day looking at each other’s faces with an expression of an embarrassment. To make it worse, the interviews were cancelled twice AFTER everyone had assembled.

The above is just one instance. One has to sit with academicians at any of the reputed institutions of the country to hear similar sad stories of insults and embarrassments. There is no doubt that Smriti is having a great time kicking everyone with a respectable degree. Stories of this sadistic fun are being passed on from senior professors to junior faculty and then to the students. In the process the damage that she is doing to higher education and to the morale of the faculty is enormous.

5. Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley has done nothing. Arun Jaitley can be accused of no wrong except that he has done nothing whatsoever and has only continued in the tracks set by his Congress predecessors.

Arun Jaitley was a nondescript and mediocre lawyer till he was lucky to be picked up to be a Cabinet Minister in the Vajpayee Government. As a politician, he is an expert in playing his cards well. He has always been close to the top guns in the BJP. While he is an expert of knowing which side of the bread is buttered and on keeping the bosses in good humor, his arrogance and egoistic nature will prove to be his own undoing. Is it any wonder that he has never won an election so far?

Arun manages to camouflage his lack of intellectual depth and mediocrity with his impeccable language, style, and mannerisms. Unfortunately, language, smartness, and style can help one only to some distance. In the long run, one needs to perform.

Performance comes from capabilities, knowledge, ability to build and carry a team, creativity and, in politics, by being in touch with ground realities. Almost everyone who has been watching Arun Jaitley for past two years is convinced that he lacks all these qualities.

Modi came to power on the promise of a new economic model and all round economic development leading to prosperity for all. Instead, the country has landed up with a finance minister who has zero knowledge of economics, one who is pushing the earlier government’s anti-poor economic agenda, one who has no new ideas, and one who is not even ready to even listen to new ideas.

The businessmen who funded Modi’s campaign in 2014 would, today, rather not discuss about Modi or politics. They are disappointed, hurt, and feel cheated. Even Indian capitalists feel that the country has been sold out.

Dear Javed Akhtar, good luck pandering to fascism: Asad Zaidi

javed-akhtar

I don’t care to know whether saying ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is my duty or not but it is my right

(Javed Akhtar in his final speech in Rajya Sabha)
He then chanted ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ a number of times.

* * *

Same day Waris Pathan, MLA, was suspended from the Maharashtra Assembly for refusing to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. He apparently did not have the right to not chant it.

* * *

For those who remember the period when the Salim-Javed team ruled the roost in Bombay, Javed Akhtar’s latest rhetorical flourish in the Parliament comes as no surprise. One can only quote ill-fated Mughal ruler Jahandar Shah’s immortal line:

pahunchī vahīn pe khāk jahān kā khamīr thā

Dust rose, flew to other places, to finally settle back at the place of its origin

The loutish duo of Salim-Javed was primarily responsible for constructing the undemocratic ‘angry young man’ avenger figure and the subsequent rise of proto-Fascist cinema in India in the 1970s and the 80s. For the twosome, who still remain unrepentant, there could be no forgiveness. This screenplay and dialogue writing team cynically exploited the political disillusionment and mass social discontent to create a popular demand for authoritarian and extra-constitutional solutions for the problems of the day. Taking the law into one’s own hands and wreaking vengeance were the main characteristics of their hero figures. Theirs was a cinema tailored to fit the needs of Sanjay Gandhi’s brand of politics. It took more than one and a half decade for their stranglehold over the Hindi film to loosen. In the meantime the team broke up. Javed, clearly cleverer of the two, carried on along the same line for some time, looking for an opportunity for a make-over.

The made-up secular icon, litfest fixture, re-formed messenger of peace and amity, and an all-purpose son of India we know today as Javed Akhtar belongs to this late period.

But another transformation may soon be coming. As Allama Iqbal said:

Sitāron se āge jahān aur bhī hain abhī ishq ke imtihān aur bhī hain

Other worlds exist beyond the stars—
More tests of love are still to come.

Asad Zaidi is a Hindi poet. He runs Three Essays Collective, an independent publishing house.

Thwarting out Communal Forces is the way out to ‘Save India’

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by Elyas Mohammed Thumbe

Our nation India has been loved world over because of its diverse culture, religious tolerance and broad based liberty. Democracy and secularism is its very base of existence which strengthens the bonding of country’s integrity. The forefathers of our country who fought for the freedom have laid the foundation for the nation’s unity in diversity.

But, the prevailing destructive condition of our country is the concern of every peace loving citizen of our nation. People are living in a very fearful and insecure conditions because of widespread communal terror. Our history of co-existence and religious harmony is shattered because of the ongoing hate and murders in the name of religion and culture. The tentacles of communal designs have spread over to every grass root which are now curbing the fundamental rights of freedom, rights to eat- speech and even to think.

Unending incidents of killing and burning alive of Dalits and Adivasis in the name of caste and untouchability, killings of Muslims in the name of religion and culture, killings of progressive thinkers in the name of intolerance, killings of RTI activists, attacks on churches, attacks and violence in the name of holy cow, imposing false cases on NGOs, false propaganda of love jihad – forceful conversion – population growth, violent hate speeches, etc. have created an insecure atmosphere in the minds of every citizen in the country. Lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq in Dadri, burning alive of two Dalit children in Haryana and burning of an elderly Dalit in UP, killing of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Rao Pansare, MM Kalburgi, lynching of Shahabuddin in Dimapur, Nagaland are a few of the examples apart from numerous communal riots reported in various parts of the country.

The very terrible aspect of this destruction is invisible protection by the rightist governments to the perpetrators and defending affirmations from the rightist elected representatives. Even when the international community is expressing shock over the prevailing anarchy and insecurity, the Prime Minister of our country is maintaining his studied and calculated silence. Present Indian Prime Minister has the unusual crave of floating dialogue for every matter, but, has never spoken against fascist communal terror. The Prime Minister’s so called ‘good days ahead’ proves to be good day for the rightist agenda. Hence, the self-proclaimed ‘dharma rakshaks’ are creating havoc in the country without the fear of law and order.

A systematic planning of saffronizing the country’s educational system and Indian history are going on as part of the ‘communalization of our country’, hatched by ‘Sangh’. Hate and intolerance are precisely and sensibly inducted in the syllabuses. History of kings and their monuments are treacherously portrayed as anti-Hindu. Imposing so called ‘Sanathan Culture’ in educational institutions are posing a threat to the process of nation building.

Price hike, farmers’ suicides, anti-farmer land acquisition bill, stringent unfavorable labor laws, liberal imperialist FDI policies, unholy economic and military alliance with Israel, uncontrolled mining policies and destruction of Adivasi habitats, etc. are heading the nation towards a great misery. This all blatantly shows that the government at Center is interested in safeguarding the comforts of only rightist designs and corporate agenda.

It is the time now to all peace loving Indian citizens to unite and protect the nation from the clutches of the fascist forces and their communal agenda. Keeping silent and kneeling down in front the destructive elements really helps the perpetrators to continue further with broad impunity. Our nation needs strong resistance against such anti-national elements and we all should unite to fight against this anti-people rule to build our nation on the foundation of peace and love.

BJP’s Bihar Rout

Recent Bihar assembly election is memorable not because of the victory of ‘grand alliance’ but for the humiliating defeat of BJP. Out of total 243 seats, ‘Maha Gathbandhan’, an alliance of JDU, BJD, INC bagged 178 seats and NDA, the alliance of BJP,RLSP, LJP and Manjhi’s HAM diminished to just 58 seats. BJP had a high ambition to form a government in Bihar with a scheme of grabbing Non BJP states one by one into its parlor. It had worked out many tricks to gain caste based votes in Bihar. Clasping Dalit backed parties like HAM LJP and RLSP did not fetch votes to NDA.  Prime Minister NarendraModi himself rallied many times in Bihar wherein he announced a special package of whopping Rs.1.25 lakh crores. BJP leaders used diverging cards like ‘Holy cow’ and ‘Pakistan’. Like in Loksabha, this time too, NDA had used the media profusely to impress the voters. In spite of playing all types of tricks, gimmicks and caste politics this assembly elections witnessed the destruction of BJP and its allies in Bihar. ‘Modi Wave’ proved to be a ludicrous myth.

Surprisingly BJP is slowly losing its base in Gujarat and MP as well. In the Panchayat election held in Gujarat in the month of November 2015, it has lost its 21 district Panchayat out of 31 districts and Congress gained majority of seats. In BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh too, the party has been losing its grip to Congress.  Out of 8 Municipal Committee election BJP lost in 5 local bodies. The bye election held in Ratlam Parliamentary constituency in Madhya Pradesh in December, BJP lost its seat.

By assuming power at the Center with an unprecedented majority, BJP with its RSS ideology has vested all its efforts to design BJP rule in all states in the country.  Bihar election result is a very clear indication that the people in the country have absolutely disappointed by the communal and corporate rule by the BJP. Bihar assembly election result proves that the communal politics will perish if the secular parties unite. However, the result is not an indication of popular governance by the JDU, RJD and INC, but it was peoples’ united decision to vote them in the absence of a strong alternative, to defeat communal BJP. Bihar election strategy will be likely to become a key strategy for these parties. BJP’s defeat has also devastated the sensation of ‘superman’ which was built around Modi. Yet, the ‘grand alliance’ model in Bihar has inspired all secular parties to unite and to stay on to anti-BJP alliance movement throughout the country.

The secular parties like Congress, JDU, JDS, RJD, NCP and CPM though their ideologies are based on secularism and socialism, have miserably failed to act upon it in their rule. There are several instances wherein some of these pseudo-secular parties established ties with communal parties for the sake of power. They do not follow what they preach. Dalits, Minorities, backward communities have faced series of agony during their regime. Present backwardness, poverty, hunger, fear, etc. are the result of the partisan and pro-capitalist rule by these so called secular parties. Hence, alternative secular parties like SDPI should be grown up in the country to get the share in power.

Mandir Politics to lure Voters

It was ‘Ram Janma bhoomi Issue’ which was polarized the Hindu votes in favor of BJP to gain power at the Center. As a result BJP won and increased its number of Parliament seats in the 1989, 1991 and 1996 Loksabha elections whereas in 1984 election it got only 2 seats. The self-proclaimed ‘Ram Janma bhoomi’ issue created a sentiment of religious fervor in Hindu community to support BJP for the construction of ‘Ram Mandir’ at the site of Babri Masjid. Rathyathra, shilayathra, etc. were militant, masculine and anti-Muslim in nature. Demolition of Babri Masjid was a ghastly incident and a black dot in the history of democratic secular India. This conspiracy and barbaric act triggered waves of violence between Hindus and Muslims erupted all over the country, killing over 2,000 people and created a clear division between the two communities.

Now, Vishwa Hindu Parshad (VHP) is raking up the same issue of ‘Ram Mandir’. It has been stacking stones and doing pujas in the vicinity of Babri Masjid site. Fresh lots of stones meant for construction of ‘Ram Temple’ arrived at the office of the VHP in Ayodhya and ‘Shila Pujan’ (prayer of the stones) has been performed. Meanwhile Mahant Nritya Gopal Das said that there was a “Signal” from the Modi Government that the temple will be built “now”. The other VHP & RSS leaders are trying to keep the issue live in the minds of people by issuing statements and making propaganda of the subject of building Ram Mandir.

The “Babri Masjid – Ram Janma Bhoomi” case is still pending in the Supreme Court and there is a prevailing order of maintaining status quo. However, in the context of assembly election of Uttar Pradesh scheduled in 2017, VHP under the protection cover from Modi led BJP government at the Centre is igniting religious sentiments in Hindu community through such mischievous acts.

We should be very cautious in expressing our concern in this matter because an immediate outburst will accelerate the publicity and motif of BJP and Sangh nexus. It is the very idea of BJP/VHP to infuriate the Muslims in this matter and to enrage them to come to the streets paving way for the communal outfit to orchestrate riots aimed at polarization of votes. BJP is in a desperate move to capture power in UP assembly through any sort of venomous political game and gimmicks.

It is to be noted that the BJP and Sangh nexus has steered hundreds of communal clashes in UP during these 3 years of Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party government through fabricated and flimsy reasons. Creating insecurity in the minds of Hinds, igniting religious sentiments and creating image of savior of Hindu Sanathan Dharma is the malicious strategy of these right wing nexus to win upcoming assembly election of UP in 2017.

Corruption with ‘Clean’ Certificate

Delhi CM Arvind Kejrival and BJP MP former cricketer Kirti Azad have made strong allegation of corruption on the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in connection with DDCA (Delhi District Cricket Association) scam. There is a lot of melodrama in this connection as the CBI raid on CM Arvind Kejriwal’s office without any notice or genuine reason really raised the eyebrows of the opposition parties. Arvind accuses that CBI is playing buffoons at the hands of PM Narendra Modi. His allegation on CBI and PM, that the raid was nothing but to trace some documents in connection with the DDCA scam. The raid without any authenticity ridiculed the dignity of a high office of democratically elected body which compelled CM Arvind to call PM Narendra Modi as a ‘psychopath’.

In spite of BJP’s own MP’s allegation with proof and appointment of an enquiry commission by the Delhi Government to enquire in to the DDCA scam and role of Jaitley in it, PM Narendra Modi instead of ousting him, has declared Arun Jaitly as a clean man like L.K. Advani. This partisan policy of PM and BJP is mockery of the democracy.  Tainted ArunJaitly is still continuing in his portfolio shamelessly whereas BJP MP Kirti Azad is continuing to make strong allegations on him with confidence. BJP ideologue Ram Jethmalani’s outburst and support towards Kirti Azad also really symptomatic.

In another incident, the criminal complaint lodged by BJP leader Subramaniyan Swamy led to summon Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi to a local court against allegation of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now defunct daily National Herald. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, AICC treasurer Moti Lal Vohra, Gen. Sec Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda the other directors of Young Indian Ltd(YI), a company incorporated in 2010 which took over the ‘debt’ of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald. The allegation on them was that they have conspired to cheat and misappropriated funds by just paying Rs.50 lakh by which Young Indian obtained the right to recover Rs. 90.25 crore which the AJL had owed to the Congress Party.

Sonia Gandhi and Congress leaders were playing lot of sentimental drama and alleging on Central BJP government that this is nothing but political vengeance. Sonia Gandhi’s assertion ‘I don’t fear’ really echoes in the ears of common people in the country as why should she fear as she is encircled by political power and capability. Congress Party’s statement saying Sonia Gandhi is innocent is really ridiculous. During Congress regime thousands of youths belonging to Muslim, Dalit communities and Adivasi were pushed into jails under the draconian law UAPA for no crime committed by them and hundreds of riots were reported across the country making lives of thousands miserable. Now the congress leaders are shedding tears for the fate of their leaders. One can imagine how many thousands of parents and family members of those innocents would shedding tears for their jailed innocent sons.

Juvenile Justice Act

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is a proposed Act of the Parliament of India. It aims to replace existing  Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, so that juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, can be tried as adults.It was passed on 7 May 2015 by the Lok Sabha amid intense protest by several Members of Parliament. It was passed on 22 December 2015 by the Rajya Sabha as well.

There was a hue and cry across the country against letting free of a gang rape accused due to existing JJ Act. It was the concern over the age of the perpetrator accused in the horrible gang rape case in Delhi in December 2012 in which one of the perpetrator was 6 months short for age of 18 when the offence happened. In this case, a maximum punishment can be given for a juvenile is 3 years confinement in a juvenile home.

The new Juvenile Just Bill 2015 will allows the judiciary to try the accused of heinous crimes aged from 16 to 18 under Indian Penal Code. The matters should be presented to the Juvenile Justice Board on a case by case basis, which will decide then based on an assessment of the mental state of the child as whether the crime was committed with or without an understanding of its consequences.  Based on this assessment, the juvenile offenders will be treated under either IPC or the JJ Act.

There is strong resistance from several organizations and activists saying that the decision taken to amend the act was emotional, irrational and unscientific. They won’t find any justification in reducing the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 for sending them to jail. They stress to understand the psychology of the youngster, their hormonal changes and their emotional upheavals during the age of growth when he is neither a child nor an adult. Those who are opposing the JJ Act argue that the adolescent need therapeutic treatment and on the contrary imprisonment would make close proximity with criminals which may lead to treat them as their role models.

There is also a concern about the atmosphere where the child is living is the factor behind creating mental status and character. Poverty, exploitation, crime, lawlessness, obscenity, lack of education, family factor, media influence, etc. are the factors of influence on the minds and character of the child. The opinion is that the government has to rethink its policies and schemes as instead of toughening the juvenile law it should enact to protect the child and its mental growth.

Global Warming

Global Warming is the increase of Earth’s average surface temperature due to effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth. This is a type of greenhouse effect. Too much of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is acts as a blanket, trapping heat and warming the planet. Burning fossils fuels like coal, oil and natural gas for energy or cut down and burn forests to create pastures and plantations, carbon dioxide accumulates and overloads our atmosphere.

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat of our time, endangering our health, economy and national security. Extreme weather, sea level rise, imbalance in ecological system, increased cyclonic activity, and changes in ambient temperature and precipitation patterns, have affected or are projected to affect the subcontinent.

Impacts of global warming on climate of India

The effect of global warming on the climate of India has led to climate disasters as per some experts. India is a disaster prone area, with the statistics of 27 out of 35 states being disaster prone, with foods being the most frequent disasters. The process of global warming has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of these climatic disasters. According to surveys, in the year 2007-2008, India ranked the third highest in the world regarding the number of significant disasters, with 18 such events in one year, resulting in the death of 1103 people due to these catastrophes. The anticipated increase in precipitation, the melting of glaciers and expanding seas have the power to influence the Indian climate negatively, with an increase in incidence of floods, hurricanes and storms. Global warming may also pose a significant threat to the food security situation in India.

According to the The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, if the process of global warming continues to increase, resulting climatic disasters would cause a decrease in India’s GDP to decline by about 9%, with a decrease by 40% of the production of the major crops. A temperature increase of 2° C in India is projected to displace seven million people, with a submersion of the major cities of India like Mumbai and Chennai.

 Floods in India

India is the most flood distressed state in the world after Bangladesh, accounting for 1/ 5th of the global deaths every year with 30 million people displaced from their homes yearly. Approximately 40 million hectares of the land is vulnerable to floods, with 8 million hectares affected by it. Unprecedented floods take place every year at one place or the other, with the most vulnerable states of India being Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Gujarat, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. The climatic history of India is studded with a very large number of floods, which have wreaked havoc on the country’s economy.

Other climatic disasters in India – Droughts: Of the total agricultural land in India, about 68% is prone to drought of which 33% is chronically drought prone, receiving rainfall of less than 750mm per year. This is particularly the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The World Record for Drought was in 2000 in Rajasthan, India.

According to researches, unabated global warming will lead to exacerbation of the droughts, cutting down the water availability in the plains of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. India’s initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC) on Climate Change projects that Luni; the west flowing rivers of Kutchh and Saurashtra are likely to experience acute physical water scarcity. The river basins of Mahi, Pennar, Sabarmati and Tapi are also likely to experience constant water scarcities and shortages.

The Indian economy is considered as one of the fastest growing major economies. However, the country is plagued by climatic disasters that continue to wreak havoc on its economy. As a result, majority of the people of India continue to live in poverty, with malnutrition and diseases corroding the society. In this light, a comprehensive mitigation and adaptation plan needs to be drafted and implemented for better preparation and response to such climate disasters that are generated as a result of global warming.

India should act to control the global warming coping with International measures.  While taking steps to control emissions, the government should protect welfare of the people as the measures should not affect the economic growth, alleviation of poverty, industrial production, etc.

 CONCLUSION

The people of our country is struggling in the hands of communal BJP government. Instead of giving good governance for the welfare of all people of the country irrespective of cast creed color, it has the essence only in establishing saffron interests and corporate welfare. It’s proud and prodigy lies especially in the promotion of the Vedic and Brahminical ideology. At one side the BJP leaders speaks about development of all and on the other side they spew venom on minorities and Dalits.  Learning tough lessons from the election result of Bihar, the BJP may embrace new tactics to garner votes in the coming elections in the country. Obviously, inspiring from the success of Muslim Rasthriya Manch (MRM) floated by RSS, it is now preparing to form Isai Manch (IM) to deceive and exploit Christian community as well. SDPI is reaching  out to the people to create awareness and unite them against these communal forces and their evil design of divisive politics.

The age old pseudo-secular parties like Congress, RJD, JDS, SP, BSP, JDU, etc. have miserably failed to fight against communal forces and communal parties. Their mild voice and even sometime silence encouraged the communal parties to grow to such an extent. These so called secular parties including CPM have done nothing to the welfare of poor people, farmers, labors and rural folk during their rule. Corruption, nepotism and hooliganism are the work force to these parties. Dynastic politics and upper cast hegemony are the controlling powers in these so called secular parties which is a mockery of democracy.

Party with Unique Features Solution to the Problems of India

Our country is respected the world over because of its diverse culture, religious tolerance and for its democratic traditions. The illustrious leaders of our country who fought for the freedom have laid the foundation for the nation’s unity in diversity. The country exists because its people believe in peaceful coexistence. But, at present, fear and suspicion have started to spread like a dark fog all over the nation. Communal terror is threatening peaceful co-existence and religious harmony.  Screams of anarchy and insecurity has been increasingly heard in the country. While the citizen are protesting against the wave of intolerance, the ruling parties just showing insensitivity.

Efforts to destruct secular values in educational system, killings of Dalits in the name of cast, lynching of Muslims in the name of beef, killings of progressive persons for questioning and criticizing the cultural shibboleths and beliefs, attacks on Christians in the name of conversion, killings of RTI activists, false cases on social and rights activists, nerve-wracking price hikes, farmers suicides, anti-farmer land acquisition bill, anti-labour laws, rampant corruption, etc. are widespread in the country. The ruling parties are not taking these issues as serious and just indulged in cast based politics and thus insulting our constitution and democracy.

After the demolition of Babri Masjid, Muslims and Dalits maintained distance from powerful political parties and started identifying and voting the regional secular parties like SP, BSP, RJD, JDU, NCP, JDS, etc. However, these regional parties instead of empowering the poor and the downtrodden communities, they exploited them for their selfish benefits.

SDPI is the alternative for all these political parties. ,whenever any sort of anti-constitutional and anti-people moves are adopted by the governments or by the opposition parties, be them in states or at the Centre. It is committed to protect the welfare of every citizen irrespective of his/her caste, creed and color. We have been inspired by the support of the people all over the country. As a political party we stand on our feet and through Campaigns across the country we are geared up to thwart out the communal forces in our county with the support of Masses. SDPI is committed to change the country as a welfare nation and believes that people’s welfare itself is nation’s welfare. Let’s struggle till Dalit atrocities, Caste Discrimination and Attacks on the Weak come to an End in our beloved Country.

Elyas Mohammed Thumbe is the National General Secretary, Social Democratic Party of India.

Paranoid Nationalism Doesn’t Make Us Secure: Admiral Ramdas

Admiral Ramdas. Photo: IE

Admiral Ramdas. Photo: IE

by Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas

I have been a proud member of the uniformed fraternity for nearly forty-five years before retiring as Head of the Indian Navy in 1993. The present turbulence in our top academic institutions together with continuing manifestations of mob violence, totalitarian behaviour and intolerance, impel me once again, to speak up and share my concerns through this open letter. My two recent letters to the President and Prime Minister have not elicited more than a routine bureaucratic response. I am well aware that I may be one of the few from the fraternity of retired military veterans who continue to take public positions which might not always be in support of government policy. However, I see this is both a right and a duty of a former serviceman and a citizen like myself. I am well aware that serving members in uniform cannot express themselves as per the service conduct rules. However, we veterans out of uniform certainly can and must. If people like myself are quiet today, my grandchildren will ask me “If not you then who”, “if not now, then when”, Thatha?

I refer to the train of events that began with the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in December 2015 and continues till today with the unresolved JNU saga. The unprecedented entry of police into the Campus, the ensuing high decibel, high voltage “trial by media”, and subsequent student arrests under serious charges ranging from sedition, anti nationalism and terrorism, has hit headlines across the country. This has created an avoidable polarisation of views thanks to the entire episode having been handled with a lack of sensitivity and blown into a full scale crisis where students are being demonised and conspiracy theories abounding. Thousands of students and civil society groups as well as journalists, have been out on the streets of Delhi taking out some of the biggest, peaceful rallies seen in recent times.

Looking Back

Let me briefly rewind to my personal profile so as to better understand where I am coming from.

I joined the fledgling Indian Navy in January 1949 – barely 16 months after we gained our independence. It was a time of great expectations, big dreams and opportunities. The selection for entry into the Armed Forces of a resurgent India at the end of the sustained struggle against British colonial rule, was heady indeed for a young fifteen year old. Those 45 years in the Navy provided me a panoramic view of events that have unfolded across the world stage. And certainly I had a ring side view of events in an India that had been traumatised by the unprecedented brutality and slaughter of partition – the scars of which linger on in my personal and our collective consciousness on both sides of our borders.

Brick by brick, step by painful step, leaders and citizens together created and built a vision of a new and a free India. This vision, the product of long and tough debates within the Constituent Assembly, sought to encompass the huge and often conflicting diversities that had to be accommodated within the framework of a path breaking Constitutional document. Incorporating the often divergent views of an impressive range of thinkers and visionaries, the Indian Constitution firmly rejected a narrow, exclusionary monoculture in favour of a revolutionary definition of nationhood that was inclusive, confident and transformative under the guiding hand of Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

Armed Forces and the Nation

The Armed Forces of this newly independent nation were an equal part of this combined effort of nation building in a variety of ways -trained as we were to conduct ourselves with discipline and professionalism combined with compassion and a sense of our common humanity and purpose.

The unspoken and sacred credo has been that those in the armed forces will remain a-political. Indeed we forgo many of the normal rights as a citizen, enshrined in the Constitution when we join the Armed Forces. The accepted practice of honouring the principle of political control over the armed forces has been followed without exception ever since independence. However, the quid pro quo of this arrangement, unwritten as it is, implies that the government of the day will discharge its responsibilities towards the people [including the military] with honour and integrity.

After retirement each of us uniformed persons reverts to being a citizen of India, with all the implications of rights, duties and responsibilities that citizenship implies. The Regulations Navy/Army/Airforce are no longer in force. Whether in or out of uniform – we veterans have valued our right to vote – the hall mark of our democratic polity. Exercising our vote does mean that each of us would also choose a particular political position or perspective. The four decades of service in a maturing yet turbulent democracy most certainly impacted my political thinking post retirement.

Man of War to Man of Peace

After my retirement in September 1993, I moved to a village in Alibag, Maharashtra, where I practice organic farming and continue to live till today. Living in rural India has been a total re-education and one which has given me profound insights . I have shared the ups and downs of the life of an ordinary farmer – influenced by the vagaries of weather and pollution, local politics, threats of being evicted for so called development under SEZ, and much more. My years in uniform and first hand experience of two wars, together with a closer understanding of the imminent agrarian crisis which affects some 70% of our population, has directly influenced my belief that true liberation or “azadi” from poverty and hunger, will only come when and if the elites of this land demonstrate greater integrity and less greed. Recent disclosures by the RBI in response to an RTI question by the Indian Express revealed that an amount of 2.11 lakh crores of loans are still owing to the public sector banks by Industry. It has been reported that nearly half of this amount has been written off between 2013 and 2015 by the Govt as bad loans. Surprisingly neither this information nor its impact on the economy has yet been divulged by the Finance Ministry. And yet we have heard strong criticism about the petty amounts granted for education of scholars from weaker sections , in JNU and other universities, as examples of tax payers money being ill spent! We seldom question the fact that loans too come from tax payers money.

To achieve a more just society based on sustainable development, we must build peace through better neighbourhood management. This means finding political solutions to existing problems. Then alone can we reduce our spending on armaments, regulate consumption, balance energy demands, and provide citizens with food , shelter, education, health and employment. I have led and been part of a sustained movement against SEZs in Raigad, and continue to push initiatives for renewable energy. Concerns over safety, cost and waste disposal, have contributed to my active engagement with the movement for Nuclear Disarmament and to end nuclear power by finding carbon free and nuclear free solutions. Efforts to strengthen the peace dividend have led me to take on leadership of organisations like the PIPFPD [Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy]and IPSI [India Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace] . Both PIPFPD and IPSI have promoted people to people contact and better relations with Pakistan. I am also totally opposed to Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty, as also the continued imposition of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act [AFSPA ] – about which I have written and spoken publicly in several fora.

In my view each of the above, constitute areas of engagement which we as citizens not only have a right but a duty to address, even if it is against the policy of any particular government of the day. Does any of the above make me or anyone else anti national? Or less patriotic ? or a Desh Drohi?

I believe not.

My stand on this derives from the principle that political parties and governments alike are bound by the Constitution of the land. Every citizen has the right and the freedom to think and express views without fear of reprisal. The obsolete colonial law of sedition has no place in a modern democracy.

Therefore the question arises : why are we arraigning a Rohith Vemula, a Kanhaiya Kumar and an Umed Khalid under charges of being anti-national, seditious or terrorist activities? From available material it appears that these three young men were only acting to further the objectives outlined in our constitution and not indulging in any anti-national activity.

Nationalism And Who Defines It

In some ways it is a good thing that the death of Vemula, the arrest of Kanhaiya and the witch hunt against Umed Khalid, have actually led to a public debate about the definition of national and anti national, as also of the deeper and more intractable issues around caste, religion and discrimination in our society. The linked question regarding who, if anyone, has the right to decide on my nationalism or lack of it, is equally vexed and needs a longer, more mature discussion. To the best of my knowledge this has not been done since Independence. The existing laws and practice on this are largely inherited from the colonial period and were never addressed in a contemporary framework. This is critical for a mature democracy. Jingoism, waving the national flag, and shouting slogans , are not equivalent to a certification of patriotism. Upping the ante and making allegations of seditious behaviour and terrorist ties – may not pass judicial scrutiny. Many have publicly disagreed with the sloganeering and forms of protest, but none of this is new or radical . Certainly it is ludicrous to think that a few students can threaten the unity of the country, as is sought to be established by some media houses and their invisible paymasters.

If anything has been a matter of deep concern to someone like me, it is the spectacle of alleged members of the legal profession being allowed to run amok in the courtroom and to both threaten and actually assault scribes, students, teachers and Kanhaiya Kumar. All this, while the large numbers of police present apparently stood by and did nothing from all accounts. This is unacceptable from a uniformed, and a so called disciplined police force.

I have been through the wide range of written reports, and audio-visual material available in the public domain on the JNU and HCU imbroglio. The real tragedy to me lies in the fact that this entire exercise of raising the alarm on foreign funded, possibly terrorist and seditious activies, has been orchestrated in order to demand the shutting down and ‘sanitising‘ such a prestigious institution. One is forced to conclude that this smacks of a ‘false flag exercise’. And this is serious. By all means investigate the matter; allow the university officials to handle the students with appropriate disciplinary action. But great discretion and caution must be exercised before calling in the police; and worse , to make serious charges of sedition.

Way Ahead

Those who are leading the clamour for shutting down and/or “sanitisation” of JNU seem to have no idea of what this implies, and are exhibiting a frightening tendency to follow the mob blindly.

This might be a good moment to remind ourselves that in addition to being held in high esteem internationally, JNU is also among the few universities in India which recognises the courses run by Military Institutions like the NDA, NDC, the Naval Academy and others. Ties between service institutions and university departments have been carefully forged in order that our military personnel continue to benefit from these interactions and remain at the cutting edge of the latest strategic thinking. There are several service personnel who have had the benefit of attending academic courses at JNU and indeed are among the Alumnii. There are also civil servants and police officers who are in a similar category. I have intentionally mentioned this so that my band of brothers and sisters amongst ex-service veterans will carefully weigh the consequences of any hasty actions such as returning degrees and awards.

I have outlined at some length the many reasons for why I write this note today. It is imperative that senior public figures like myself and others speak out, to raise an alarm, before it is too late. Recent history has shown us that totalitarian regimes have come to power because good people chose to keep silent. Above all else it is imperative that we must preserve our democratic spaces and the freedom, indeed the right, to question, to dissent and to debate – especially in our institutions of higher learning. JNU has been a frontrunner in producing thinkers and professionals who are not scared to speak out. Frankly, after listening carefully to the speech of the young union leader – Kanhaiya – it left me with a reassuring feeling that all must be well in this complex and disparity riddled country if a young man in his twenties can speak with such compassion, intellect and passion about the real challenges and dangers we face in this land.

Far more than saluting a flag [which of course I continue to do with honour and respect] – it is the thoughts articulated by young idealists like a Rohit Vemula, a Kanhaiya Kumar, a Shehla Rashid and yes a Umar Khaled all of whom together with the many unnamed and unsung women and men across this country, embody the true spirit of nationalism and patriotism. We must collectively ensure that we not only protect those who have not yet been pushed to take the extreme steps like Rohith Vemula, but ensure that justice is promised and done to those presently in custody or forced into hiding, for fear of their lives.

In the ultimate analysis , human security is the best guarantee for National Security.

Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas is a former Chief of Naval Staff. This article first appeared on The Citizen.

Controversy surrounding Aamir Khan’s comments politically motivated

Aamir Khan

by Sherful Islam

The so-called controversy surrounding Aamir Khan’s comments on growing religious intolerance in the country is unfortunate and politically motivated. What Khan said was nothing new. But when top star expressed alarm and despondency over the rise in the number of such incidences and said that his wife had even contemplated relocating to another country, he was only airing an opinion under the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Khan was not the first to speak out on the raging issue. His colleague, Shahrukh Khan, had echoed similar views. Several eminent writers, filmmakers, historians et al. have also given up their prestigious honours to inveigh against the government’s failure to respond with alacrity to such incidences. But instead of understanding why Aamir Khan went public with his comments and felt the way he did, a battery of angry posts on the social media, taunts and personal innuendos have welcomed him. What followed more were, inter alia, the calls to boycott his movies, stop using the e-commerce Snapdeal app, which he is brand ambassador of, and the latest by the right-wing Shiv Sena – offering Rs1 lakh to anyone who slaps him – which are nothing short of obnoxious.

So, what is causing more disquiet is that in today’s India, it has become next to impossible for anyone to freely air his/her opinions in public. Even the more worrisome trend is a section of ruling party leaders going hell for leather, accusing Khan of acting as an agent of the Congress and being part of its conspiracy to malign the Narendra Modi government. Some radical Hindu groups went to the extent of labelling him as an anti-national and asking him to leave the country. Mr. Perfectionist also came under attack from some of his Bollywood fellows, including Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal, who have been the staunch supporters of the current political leadership. But instead of threatening or bullying Khan, the government needs to reach out to him and ask what makes him stick his neck out and say so.

Undermining Constitution – Hindu Nationalist Agenda

Hindutva

With Modi Sarkar coming to power in the centre (May 2014), the picture of the country has changed drastically for the worse. (1) On one hand nation is witnessing the increasing unrestricted control of Corporate on our economy and on the other the sectarian divides are on the rise. This government had come to power standing on two pillars; one was the corporate world and other the solid support of RSS. Modi promised Acche din and danga mukt bharat (violence free society). The things have been totally in the opposite direction to the promises. (2) The big corporate are shining with expansions as per their liking and labor reforms have been brought in to please them. That, the land reforms envisaged by them could not be cleared that’s another matter. The policies of the state have been so changed as to undermine the importance of the social welfare schemes and all the right based schemes related to employment, health, nutrition and education have been put on the margins.

Despite the falling prices of crude oil globally; the prices are on the rise with the prices of routines commodities like dal (pulses), onions, tomatoes; shooting the sky. The much promised employment creation is nowhere in sight and youth are writhing in the pangs promise betrayed, promise of millions of jobs. The prime goal of the ‘guardian’ state is nowhere in sight. The economic scenario is abysmal for the average person in the society.

As far as the social-communal harmony is concerned the last year and a half has seen a very poor record. The social atmosphere has been so created where the rationalists thinkers like Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi were killed brutally. (3) The low intensity; below the radar violence; has dominated the scene and issues like mosque, church in different places have been used to divide the society. Surely the large scale violence of the type of Mumbai 92-93 or Gujarat 2002 or Kandhmal 2008 have not been, but increase in scattered acts of violence have been tormenting the society. The ruling outfit and its affiliates have been the protectors of the ground level divisive activities.

Hate Speech

During the first year of Modi Sarkar the Hate speech went up to horrendous limits. One recalls that even before Modi Sarkar assumed the seat of power the divisive activities of ‘BJP associates’ in the form of propaganda of love jihad and Ghar Vapasi were on, and they continued without any respite. Soon after this Government came to power; in Pune; Mohsin Sheikh, a person working in IT was hacked to death by activists of Hindu Jagran Sena. The attack on Churches was very glaring and the process which was dominant in Delhi and Haryana was also witnessed in places like Panvel near Mumbai, Agra in UP amongst other places.(4)

Sakshi Maharaj not only said that Godse was a patriot; he also went on to say that Hindu women should produce four children, as Muslims are overtaking the population. Sadhvi Prachi went to prescribe eight children for Hindu women. She also gave a call that the Muslim film actors, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan should be boycotted. Pravin Togadia has been the leading person in making hate speeches; he has the highest number of cases regarding hate speech against him. Yogi Adityanath, BJP’s MP keeps making very derogatory remarks, He said that in ‘love jihad’ if one Hindu girl is converted then 100 Muslim girls should be converted to Hinduism.

As such one realizes that ‘Hate speech’ is the outcome of the politics of divisiveness, it is the concentrated expression of the ‘social common sense’ prevailing in the society, it is the forth right and blunt way of putting things, which communal parties propagate anyway. It is not out of the blue that these formulations suddenly crop up, their infrastructure, the base of these has already been made by a section of political outfits.

Growing Intolerance

When Dr. Dabholkar, Com Pansare and then Prof Kalburgi were killed over a period of months, the danger signals started being perceived but still it took the beef lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri (5) to give a message that something has drastically changed in the society, and the spate of returning of Sahiya Academy, National and state, awards followed in quick succession. (6) Their protest was against the rising intolerance in the society. The incidents that followed and ran parallel to these ‘award-returns’ were equally horrific. The killing of a trucker on the assumption that he is carrying cows for slaughter; beating of a MLA in Kashmir Assembly by BJP legislatures and the scattered incidents of attacks on Muslims on the ground of beef consumption are too striking. The killing of dalits while they were skinning the dead cow; rings the bell of times to come.

The viciousness of atmosphere is not lost on the social perceptions. The insecurity of minorities has gone up by leaps and bounds. One knows that since the present NDA regime came to power all those ‘spewing hate’ are working overtime. For one Akbaruddudin Owaisi there is an army of Sakshi Mahraj, Sadhvis, Yogis and what have you.

Even after the awards started being returned the BJP leadership looked down upon the writers/scholars and overlooked the phenomenon which has lead to returning of awards. Disturbed by what is going on, the President Pranab Mukherjee on number of occasions urged the nation to uphold, pluralism, the core civilizational value of the country and to uphold tolerance. (7) The Vice President Haamid Ansari reminded the Government that it is the duty of the state to uphold the ‘right to life’ of citizens. The index of the changing social atmosphere is reflected by the statements of two outstanding citizens of the country. Julio Reibero, the top cop, expressed his pain and anguish by saying that “as a Christian suddenly I feel stranger in my own country.” (8) And the renowned actor Naseeruddin Shah had to point out that “Have never been aware of my identity as a Muslim until now.”(9)

These are not ordinary times. The values of pluralism and tolerance have been pushed to the margins. With this Government in power all the wings of communal politics, the RSS affiliates, have unleashed themselves in full blast. Communalism is not just the number of deaths due to violence, it is much more. The foundation of this violence begins with the manufacture of perceptions about the religious minorities. These perceptions based on history and some selective aspects of present society are given an anti human tilt and interpretation. This is used to create hatred for the minorities and that’s where the communal elements can unleash violence either as a massive violence like the one’s of Gujarat or Mumbai or Bhagalpur or Muzzafarnagar or the targeted one in Dadri. This creates the divides in society which over a period of time is converted into polarization. And polarization is the foundation of electoral strength of party wanting a nation in the name of religion. As per Yale study, the communal violence is the vehicle which strengthens BJP at electoral level. (10)

Qualitative change in Hate Politics

Many prominent entrepreneurs like Narayan Murthi and Kiran Majumdar Shaw have shown their concern over growing intolerance. In the same boat of those calling for preserving values of pluralism are people like Raghuram Rajan, the RBI Governor. (11) The ruling dispensation, the BJP leaders labeled the whole process as ‘manufactured rebellion’ as put by Arun Jaitley. It has been alleged that those returning awards are the leftists or those who were recipients of privileges from the state when Congress was the ruling party and now with BJP coming to power from last one year, they are baffled and so the protests. It has been alleged that these people are trying to derail the ‘development story’ being written by the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Jaitley even goes to say that Narendra Modi is the victim of intolerance by these people returning their awards. (12)

Why the Awards were returned?

As such what has happened is neither a law and order problem nor the one related to loss of patronage; it is related to the much broader phenomenon related to intense communalization of society. This time the degree of communalization has crossed the civil limits. The jibe that these people did not return their awards at the time of emergency, anti Sikh violence, migration of Kashmiri Pundits and at the time of Mumbai blasts of 1993 is a very superficial way of dealing with the social response to the phenomenon of growing intolerance and its degree. As the awards which have been returned and the statements put out by different groups do give the reasons for the same and these reasons pertains to the cumulative process and not this or that event. The present scenario is in a way a type of climax of divisive politics. All these incidents mentioned by Jaitley and company have been a tragic part of recent Indian history. Many a writers did protest against most of these incidents, many of them had not even been awarded at that time. (13)

The present times cannot be compared with the tragic incidents of the past for various reasons. Take the case of emergency for example. It was a dark chapter of Indian history, still it was the authoritarianism imposed mostly from the top. What is most disturbing in the current times is the vast network of organizations related to the ruling party whose followers either they themselves create hatred in the society or they mobilize the social sectors through hate speech; the result of which is violence. Currently there is a twin attack on the values of tolerance and liberal space. From the top the ruling dispensation has people like Yogi Adiyanath- Sakshi Maharaj, Giriraj Singh, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti who keep spreading sectarian message while basking in the glory of power and at the societal level divisive statements prevail.

This is just one case in point. The major factor leading to present atmosphere lies in the qualitative transformation of ‘hate for others’. The stereotyping of minorities which began with Hindu nationalism has assumed horrendous proportions where the likes of Gulzar have to say that now people ask your religion before your name! So while the Jaitleys will keep undermining the steps taken by these people and while the Rajnath Singhs’ will keep dubbing it as a law and order problem, the dissatisfaction amongst those standing for democracy is growing, liberal space and tolerance is shrinking. We will have to keep thinking of more ways to draw the attention of larger sections of society towards the threat looming large on our democratic society, the threat of sectarian propaganda and politics leading to stifling of democratic space. And in these times, the divisive process has assumed menacing proportions.

State Institutions

The major initiative of this government has been to change the heads and composition at the top level of public institutions. Since its assuming power it went for major appointments in the institutions of National importance. Most of these appointments are based on the ideological proclivities of the people rather than their professional competence. In Film and Television Institute of India the appointment of Gajendra Singh Chauhan as the Chairman came up with big opposition from the students of the institutes and also forms the major figures of the film World. (14) The governing board of this and other institutes are being filled with RSS sympathizers. The tampering in other institutes like IITs has led to the resignation of Anil Kakodkar as the chairman of Governing board of IIT Mumbai and of Prof Shevgaokar from the directorship of IIT Delhi. Prof Amartya Sen had to resign from the Chancellorship of Nalanda University. The NBT has also got a Hindutva ideologue, former Panchjanya editor Baldev Sharma as its chief. In the case of ICHR one Prof Y.S. Rao has been appointed as the chairperson. He has no peer reviewed publications and has contributed blogs in the name of History research. He holds that Indian mythology is History and attempts have begun to support research in that direction. As per him the caste system was not bad, its rigidities and evils were introduced after the coming of Muslim kings. Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman close to Narendra Modi, has been given the Chancellorship of Maulana Azad Urdu University in Hydrabad.

Education

Even before this government has come to power many attempts to make the education in confiormity with the RSS, Hindutva world view were being pushed through. In Delhi University A. K. Ramanujan’s classic essay on Ramayana (Three Hundred Ramayanas) was withdrawn under the pressure of ABVP, the RSS affiliate. (15) Dinanath Batra of RSS had been instrumental in getting the academic book by Wendy Doniger ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ getting pulped. (16) Batra’s books have already been introduced in the schools of Gujarat. RSS has floated Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti to promote its views through school books. These ideologues from RSS are the major advisors for reviewing curriculum in the states. Rational thinking has been opposed, as exhibited by the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi. RSS affiliated organizations like Vidya Bharati are focusing on Bhartiyakaran of education. They assert that Indian education is not suitable for India and propose to bring in changes aimed to promote Hindutva icons and values. They are trying to appropriate Ambedkar through their efforts. (17)

In the previous NDA regime (1998), the major changes were brought in the field of education which brought in Astrology, Paurohitya and Karmakand as part of the courses. Sanskrit is being introduced at different levels to the extent of replacing German as an additional language at places. This time around RSS seems to be preparing for a total Hindutvisation of education, the samples of which were there in the previous NDA regime with Murli Manohar Joshi doing what came to be known as saffronization of education. (18)

Agenda: Hindu Nationalism

RSS is working for Hindu nationalism, a nationalism which stands in polar opposition to Indian nationalism, as inherent in the values of freedom movement and later in the Constitution of India, the values of Liberty; Equality and Fraternity. The goal of India as ‘a nation in the making’, the plural diverse nation with multiple cultures supplementing each other and enriching the society is opposed by for this organization. They have adopted Hindutva as their politics and Hindu nation as their goal. As per them we have been a Hindu nation from times immemorial and the wisdom of ancient Indian society has all the ingredients for the growth of the nation. This political agenda regards secularism and democracy as the Western concepts which should be done away with. It is in pursuance of this agenda that it kept aloof from freedom movement. It has been propagating a view of history where Muslims and Christians are aliens, foreigners. It attributes the ills of society like caste system to the influence of invading foreigners. (19)

For them the major thing is Hindu unity at societal level. This; they have been doing through their shakha baudhiks and by floating many organizations for this purpose. These organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bajrang Dal, Akhil Bhartiya Vidarthi Parishad are doing the propagation of this work through their work in the society. The present degree of communalization-polarization is due to the ceaseless anti minority propaganda. The issues they take are related to identity, like Ram Temple earlier and currently Holy Cow. The issues like love Jihad and Ghar Wapasi also are strong tools in their hands.

The second aspect of Hindu nationalist project has been to infiltrate in bureaucracy, police and other organizations of state. Their trained swayamsevaks join these services and influence the policies. This work as such is in progress but when BJP is in power, this type of work of RSS becomes very intense. Now with BJP having majority in the centre on its own it is moving fast to communalize the state apparatus. This has gone up in intensity in the current times.

When Lal Krishna Advani became the Information and broadcasting minister in Janata Party Government he ensured that most of the media agencies helped by state are taken over by Hindutva volunteers. Currently not only media but also culture, education and science are all being taken over. With this Government the control over institutions of national excellence is going on at a fast pace. (20)

Resistance: Struggle for Democratic Society

The rise of Hindutva politics has been going on from close to a century. This was mainly through RSS shakha baudhiks (intellectual sessions), through education and media apart from the role played by other Hindutva nationalists. This has brought us to a pass where the hate for other community is manifesting as intolerance. This has been strengthened by the use of identity issues, temple, and cow being the major ones, and the proganda related to love jihad, ghar wapasi and terrorist violence. The pyramid of communal politics stands on the ‘hate other’ and the consequent communal violence.

The efforts to save and pluralism and diversity have to be the foundation for all social groups wanting to preserve democratic space. The programmatic unity of these groups on issues related to violation of human rights of weaker section of society is need of the hour. The targeting of religious minorities has to be opposed and their sense of security has to be restored by social and legal struggles for ‘right to life’ as enshrined in our constitution. A multi-layered social platform for defense and nurturing of democratic and human rights is of utmost importance. Here the minor differences between different social political groups have to be overlooked for a broader program based unity, this effort is long overdue.

 

References

1. http://twocircles.net/2015jun18/1434651430.html#.Vk2aUl6V7IU

2. http://www.countercurrents.org/puniyani080814.htm

3. http://www.newslaundry.com/2015/09/14/the-death-of-rationalism-who-killed-dabholkar-pansare-and-kalburgi/

4. http://www.countercurrents.org/puniyani150515.htm

5. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/next-door-to-delhi-mob-kills-50-year-old-injures-son-over-rumours-they-ate-beef/

6. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/next-door-to-delhi-mob-kills-50-year-old-injures-son-over-rumours-they-ate-beef/

7. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/multiplicity-plural-character-of-india-must-be-preserved-president-mukherjee/

8. http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/i-feel-i-am-on-a-hit-list/

9. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/talking-of-pakistan-doesnt-make-me-anti-india-naseeruddin-shah/1/499074.html

10. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/bjp-gains-in-polls-after-every-riot-says-yale-study/articleshow/45378840.cms

11. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Tolerance-essential-for-progress-Raghuram-Rajan-says/articleshow/49606677.cms

12. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/is-pm-modi-the-victim-of-intolerance/1/514542.html

13. https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Anand+Patwardhan+why+I+returned+award&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=dJ5NVsWsL8GjugTSjoTQDw

14. http://peoplesvoice.in/2015/06/16/undermining-national-institutions-to-create-regimented-minds/

15. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/there-are-300-versions-of-the-ramayana-abvp/article2568550.ece

16. https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Wendy+Doniger+The+Hindus+Batra&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=259NVsXbG8XmuQTZobCYDg

17. http://www.catchnews.com/politics-news/project-bharatiyakaran-rss-8-point-guide-to-saffronise-education-1442033693.html

18. https://www.saddahaq.com/political-ideology-and-interpretation-of-history

19. http://www.countercurrents.org/puniyani240713.htm

20. http://www.outlookindia.com/news/article/rss-infiltration-into-state-apparatus-concerns-digvijay/754118

Non-French war deaths matter

bodybags

by David Swanson

We are all France. Apparently. Though we are never all Lebanon or Syria or Iraq for some reason. Or a long, long list of additional places.

We are led to believe that U.S. wars are not tolerated and cheered because of the color or culture of the people being bombed and occupied. But let a relatively tiny number of people be murdered in a white, Christian, Western-European land, with a pro-war government, and suddenly sympathy is the order of the day.

“This is not just an attack on the French people, it is an attack on human decency and all things that we hold dear,” says U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. I’m not sure I hold ALL the same things dear as the senator, but for the most part I think he’s exactly right and that sympathy damn well ought to be the order of the day following a horrific mass killing in France.

I just think the same should apply to everywhere else on earth as well. The majority of deaths in all recent wars are civilian. The majority of civilians are not hard to sympathize with once superficial barriers are overcome. Yet, the U.S. media never seems to declare deaths in Yemen or Pakistan or Palestine to be attacks on our common humanity.

I included “pro-war government” as a qualification above, because I can recall a time, way back in 2003, when I was the one shouting “We are all France,” and pro-war advocates in the United States were demonizing France for its refusal to support a looming and guaranteed to be catastrophic and counterproductive U.S. war. France sympathized with U.S. deaths on 911, but counseled sanity, decency, and honesty in response. The U.S. told France to go to hell and renamed french fries in Congressional office buildings.

Now, 14 years into a global war on terror that reliably produces more terror, France is an enthusiastic invader, plunderer, bomber, and propagator of hateful bigotry. France also sells billions of dollars of weaponry to lovely little bastions of equality and liberty like Saudi Arabia, carefully ignoring Saudis’ funding of anti-Western terrorist groups.

When U.S. militarism failed to prevent 911, I actually thought that would mean reduced militarism. When a Russian plane was recently blown up, I think I imagined for a split second that Russia would learn its lesson and stop repeating U.S. mistakes. When people were just killed in France, I didn’t have any time to fantasize about France coming to its senses, because a “socialist” president was already doing his Dubya-on-the-rubble imitation:

“To all those who have seen these awful things,” said François Hollande, “I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”

The video doesn’t look like Bush, and the French word combat does not necessarily mean war just because the Washington Post says it does. It can mean fight in some other sense. But what other sense exactly, I’m not sure. Prosecuting anyone responsible would of course make perfect sense, but a criminal justice system ought not to be pitiless. It’s a war that ought to be pitiless. And it’s a war that will guarantee more attacks. And it’s a war that France has begun.

“It is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners,” said Albert Camus.

Please go back to thinking, France.

We do love you and wish you well and are deeply sorry for U.S. influence against your better tendencies.

David Swanson is an American activist, blogger and author. http://davidswanson.org