Reality Check India

Tehelka sting

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 26, 2007

Tarun Tejpal’s editorial once again tries to put Gujarat alongside the Holocaust and hope some darkness rubs off.  Why must we seek to steal the tragedy of the holocaust. Gujarat (Bombay, Sikh, Kashmir) each are different and tragic in their own way. You do not need to tee off your essay with Aushwicz, Treblinka and end with Modi.

However, we cannot dismiss the sting operation altogether.  There are some very disturbing things that have come to light- which I did not know before. It also illustrates why justice will elude the victims of the riots, it also exposes why such events will continue to happen in the future.

Question  : Is this man still on the loose ?

Babu Bajrangi – claims to have killed 80+ people in a pre-medidated manner.  Why is he not in jail awaiting the gallows ?  This is the most (and only) shocking part of the sting.

The tragedy in Gujarat is :

  • NOT that BJP is ruling or whether Modi is still CM.
  • NOT that Modi has not been prosecuted.
  • NOT that killers like Bajrangi are still loose

The tragedy in Gujarat is :

  • No one is showing interest in getting these killers. From Lalu, to Tehelka, to Abhishek Singhvi, to NDTV, to IBNLIVE to almost all papers. One – not one – has expressed shock at the most obvious.  People like Bajrangi – are still here !!

Everyone wants Modi’s head, they wont settle for ‘anything less’.  ‘Anything less’ in this context means, getting all the perpertrators first. I agree fully that Modi’s role must be investigated thoroughly and impartially.  Get the actual killers to book, that would be the most powerful deterrent to future riots, that would also be justice to the victims.  “You cant have the guy who stuck a sword into a couple a guys joyfully hanging around the tea shop – while the entire country is on a fantastic chase behind Modi”.

A reality check on stings :

1. They cannot substitute the court system.

2. Getting Modi is easier said than done. None of the criminals in the sting operation attested to Modi providing Command and Control. This is in stark contrast to the Holocaust, which Tarun Tejpal compared it with.

3. To hold Modi to a higher crime than Bajrangi – you have to prove that Bajrangi had (a) orders from a chain of authorities rooted in Modi (b) there was a significant price to be paid for not obeying the above orders (c) each link in the chain had a price for not obeying orders. 

4. The best charge against Modi is that he gave a free pass to the rioters.

5. The media has no business stoking up passions by repeatedly showing imagery of pregnant women, clips from movies, and highly inflammatory language. This is exactly the type of propaganda that was used to inflame muslim youths to get involved in the Coimbatore blasts – killing 58 people. Yes, these might have indeed happened – it does not mean you have the liberty to disturb public order.  Violent riots have been incited on less.

– — –

Blog Note :

I have now completely strayed from the blog theme.  The root of all problems in this country. The ability of the politicians to confer benefits to groups of people at their pleasure – and thus hold them hostage. True freedom awaits us in the form of data.

For continued political coverage read Offstumped

TN passes Muslim and Christian quota

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 23, 2007

The TN assembly passed a unanimous resolution providing 3.5% quota in educational institutions and government jobs each to Christians and Muslims.

“It’s a golden day in the history of the state assembly and social justice,” said chief minister M Karunanidhi, who introduced the bill, which was passed by voice vote.

Karunanidhi said the bill was based on the report submitted by Tamil Nadu Second Backward Classes Commission headed by J A Ambasankar in 1985. The ruling DMK’s allies — Congress, Left and PMK — welcomed the Bill.

Source : TOI

The 30% BC reservation is now subdivided divided into : ( 23% Hindu, 3.5% Muslim, 3.5% Christian).  This is just part of a dangerous trend rooted in the idea that backward Muslims and Christians can never be treated the same as backward Hindus.

Related reading : Sachar literacy puzzle 

Karan Thapar meets Modi

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 21, 2007

The Gujarat CM Narendra Modi walked out of an interview with Karan Thapar less than 5 minutes into the program ‘Devils Advocate’ for the private news channel CNN-IBN. See here for details.

Karan Thapar is usually pretty sharp. He is one of the best we have in India. However, in this instance he failed to keep his guest.

1. You had Modi in the interview chair. He was yours for the next 30 minutes. That is something many other news channels would die for.

2. You had many other things to ask him that people want to hear. The dissidents in his party, Kesubhai Patel, the economic achievements and so forth. You never got to that part.

3. The secret is to keep the sensitive parts to the end of the interview. This way you cover all the ground you want and have him walk out at the 25th minute. You would have succeeded as a journalist because people got to hear his views on everything. You tripped up at the start.
4.Larry King for example interviews many types of characters, he however knows where to draw the line and not allow his guest to walk out (which would qualify as a failure). CNN-IBN’s parent channel would certainly not make it a headline !

Why did Modi walk out ?

Karan thinks that he was not ‘rude or aggressive’.

“I actually don’t know why Modi stopped the interview. I wasn’t rude or aggressive in my tone. It seemed like it could be an opportunity for him to lay to rest the ghost that has been troubling him for five, possibly six years. But all I can guess it that either I touched a sensitive point, a raw nerve or I worried him of what was to follow and he anticipated a bigger problem,” Karan Thapar said on CNN-IBN.

Source: IBNLIVE

He is right. I do not think Karan Thapar was rude or aggressive. So why did Modi walk out ?

Reality Check thinks : Karan Thapar failed to judge Modi’s response right in the beginning of the interview !

The following sentence is the culprit :

.. despite that people still call you, to your face, a mass murderer. And they accuse you of being prejudiced against Muslims? Do you have an image problem?

I have said many times in the past, I continue to be amazed by how BJP leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Arun Jaitley, Rudy, do not respond when a Congress leader or a media anchor refers to Gujarat as a genocide, pogrom, (and more recently a holocaust). They do not even respond when Congress spokesperson like Smt Jayanthi Natarajan call Modi and even Advani guilty of this genocide. Their defence mechanism it simply to bring up the anti-Sikh riots. This is as-if two wrongs make a right.

Unfortunately, Modi does not seem to be from that stock. To call him a mass murderer on national television (even if couched in an indirect reference) – could be considered to be defamatory in nature. There is nothing Modi could have said, given his limited English verbal skills – that would have helped. For Modi, the ‘upside potential’ for this interview was very low. Most guests would have walked out if this was the tone laid out at the beginning of the interview. A journalists’ goal is to complete the interview and extract as much as possible from the guest without him walking out on you. Karan Thapar who is usually an expert in this – sadly failed to read Modi correctly.

Call Sonia Gandhi and drill her about her citizenship issues or about her educational qualifications, call Karunanidhi and ask him to respond to people who claim that he is guilty of murdering Rajiv Gandhi, they will all walk out. I would agree with them and attribute it to a failure on the part of the host.

Let us come back to the ‘mass murderer’ part. Modi has not been convicted of mass murder, nor are people calling it to his face as claimed by Karan Thapar.

Do hosts in other countries throw such questions at their guests ? Can Larry King ask George Bush if he is responsible for the heartless murder of gullible young American soldiers in Iraq and ask him to respond ? No, this is serious defamation. They would have a libel case on their hands in no time.

John Clark filed a defamation lawsuit against the Larry King show – merely because some tickers were shown at the bottom of the screen that were defamatory in nature. The case details are here. More about US Libel Laws as it applies to the press.

So, the moral of the story is. News anchors and interviewers in India, please moderate your language. Use the word accused or alleged in the absence of a conviction. Do not use words like mass murderer, holocaust, genocide – unless the target is legally accused of those crimes. We understand your eagerness, but do not trip over it yourself.

Blogosphere links :

Offstumped has a post here

Gujarat holocaust – Manmohan Singh

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 19, 2007

 

Last week, on a private news channel. Smt Jayanthi Natarajan, the Congress spokeswoman claimed that Modi and Advani were responsible for the “genocide” in Gujarat. I shrugged and switched the channel because her BJP counterpart Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad did not challenge that at all. I see this behaviour by the BJP on show after show. A foreigner visting India would have had a heart attack. The BJP guest not only seem to accept the word ‘genocide’ as an apt characterization of what happened in Gujarat, but also that Advani and Modi were guilty.

From using the word Gujarat riots (which they were in reality), to state carnage, to pogroms, we moved to genocide. Today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took it to a greater level – he called it a holocaust.

But the Prime Minister hit back, saying neither Atal Bihari Vajpayee nor L.K. Advani had resigned after the Kargil infiltration, the “collapse” of the Indo-Pak Agra summit and the Gujarat “holocaust”.

“Look at the holocaust that took place…. Mr L.K. Advani was the home minister and he gave certificates to the Gujarat government,” he said.

Source : Telegraph

I do not believe for a second that Mr Singh is ignorant of the word ‘holocaust’. He is supposed to be well read and well travelled.  This word is not to be used lightly, especially on the international stage.  After the horrific extermination of Jews – this word cannot be used for any purpose.

By using this word upon arrival in South Africa against your political enemies at home, apart from being cheap, is insulting to millions of Jews who are still living with the memories of the holocaust. There are somethings you say only at home – not on foreign soil. You must appear to be one nation to others. You wont find Bush attacking the democrats, nor Clinton attacking the republicans when they step out – certainly not in the same language they use at home.

My take on the Congress party 

Even action of Dr Singh confirms my deep rooted convictions about the Congress party.  If the Congress forms the government, the only people who are fit to lead the government is someone from the Gandhi family. There is no outsider who is good enough.  This is by design. This is by decades of encouraging sycophancy and weeding out ambition. To deny this amounts to a misunderstanding of the very fundamental concept of authority.

I am willing to bet that had Rahul Gandhi been the PM, and Dr Singh been a mere cabinet minister – we would have fared much, much better.  The fact that Rahul does’nt have a PhD means nothing. He has authority over Singh – and that matters, a lot.

Of course, if you dont like this arrangement – then you are free to vote for an alternative. Just dont vote for the Congress and hold a grudge against the family – it is against national interest to do so.

Let us rewrite the constitution

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 16, 2007

The UPA government is guilty of taking this country to a fork in the road. This cannot have a happy ending. Such confrontation could have been avoided by taking a data driven approach to quota issues. See previous articles (The fork in the road has come for IndiaQuota confrontation )

 

In an interview to a private news channel, TN Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said that there is a need to setup a constituent assembly that could draft a new constitution.

Speaking to Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta on Walk the Talk, he said that India should look towards a federal form of government.

”Our Constitution has been changed many times. What should be done is that all the shortcomings of the Constitution should be addressed in one sitting. That is what I feel,” said M Karunanidhi.

Source: NDTV

External observers like Churumuri (from Karnataka) scratch their heads and wonder whats happening. They connect it with the BJP or wonder if this demand will die a natural death. They are in for a rude shock. They wonder what is so wrong with the existing constitution that requires calling for a new constituent assembly. Lets examine it :

The single most troublesome issue with the current constitution is the concept of fundamental rights.  For politicians like Karunanidhi, this problem manifests itself in the form of the judicial intervention. You see, our current constitution allows the judiciary to intervene when fundamental rights are sought to be taken away or abridged. As Fali Nariman, pointed out recently – this judicial power was at its lowest ebb in the notorious case of ADM Jabalpur (1976). The then Chief Justice proclaimed that :

“Liberty itself is the gift of the law (i.e the gift of the parliament) and it may by the law be forfeited or abridged”

Source: Fali Nariman’s article from Deccan Chronicle

Lets try that again in plain language :

Our current constitution says that : Every Indian (even the cunning fox type) has certain inalienable rights such as the right to equality.  This fundamental right is not derived because the laws allow it, but because of that fact that he/she belongs to the human species. This also allows room for an abridgement of these rights in the interest of social justice. The problem is, “How compelling must the circumstance be for this abridgement ?”. In other words, do we need rigorous data ? The courts have no choice but to examine the presence of compelling evidence. The politicians have no choice but to stonewall it to protect their interests (caste/religion/whatever). This is the fork in the road I mentioned earlier.

Now, imagine if we had another constitution that said : The law will vest every Indian with a right to equality. The right to equality is not because the individual is a human being, but because the law (the parliament) grants them this right. Now, laws can be made that can grant different levels of equality to different groups of people. Obviously we all agree that cunning foxes cannot be treated equally with innocent rabbits. So there we go, the power to identify cunning foxes is now with the politicians. There is no need for data, because neither the right to equality nor the right to social justice is due to nature. They both are a gift of the parliament.  Can you approach the courts when you do not get a birthday gift ? (Its a rough analogy, but it illustrates the nature of gift).

Watch the program on NDTV’s Walk the Talk on Oct 20 at 7:30 PM IST.

Chandrabhan Prasad recommends

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 9, 2007

Now, Chandrabhan Prasad is no darling of the deep-rooted socialist/secular media. His recent articles in The Pioneer throw new light on contemporary issues like Big Retail, role of the English language, the way forward for Dalits, anti-US sentiment. Read them all here. He is now a visiting scholar at the Center for the Advanced Studied of India (CASI) at University of Pennsylvania.

Excerpts from his latest article “Pilgrimage to CASI” .

I value two books the most. These are – Dominance and State Power in Modern India and Decline of a Social Order (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1989). When I visited South Africa in 2001, the US in 2002, Canada in 2003 and Germany in 2006, I always carried these books.

- – -

There can only be two kinds of political scientists and social historians in India – one who have not read the book, and the other, who have read it. So, what is there in the book which makes me value it so much?

Thats a pretty strong recommendation. I have put these on my must read list. Links ( Frankel’s book (Costs a hefty $75 )

On Tamilnadu,

Though I had my reservations regarding Mandal as I was witness a growing conflicts between Dalits and OBCs, I still went ahead and defended it as by 1991, the larger Gangetic belt was still dominated by Dwijas/Brahmins. So, as I thought, a total annihilation of the Brahmin dominance may turn north India into a socially liberated zone as it had happened in Tamil Nadu.

- -

I was shocked to find that for every 100 Dalit in socially liberated Tamil Nadu, only 15 were independent cultivators and 64 were landless labourers. In Uttar Pradesh, of every 100 Dalit, 43 were independent cultivators and only 39 were landless labourers. How could Tamil Dalits be so far behind the UP Dalits.

- -

There was no meaning to Periyar’s anti-Brahmin movement I thoughts to myself. But there was no one who was willing to listen to me. For most of the Dalits in north India Tamil Nadu was a role model. It was then that I was given a book to read by prof Frankel.

In his book, Frankel mirrors the fall of Dwijas/Brahmins from the political power structure, the book however, remains sceptical of the social justice element in the rise of Shudras/OBCs. What I understood from the book suggests that Periyar’s Dravidian movement was merely anti-Brahmin, and not anti-caste.

Source : Daily Pioneer

The real empowerment of the dalits in Tamilnadu will be on display at election time. Mr Tiruma of the biggest Dalit party (DPI) will run from pillar to post (DMK/AIADMK) for 2-3 seats in the Tamilnadu assembly, whereas Mayawati will win 20-30 seats in the Lok Sabha.

Deve Gowda turns secular

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 6, 2007

First : Read Offstumped for deeper coverage

JD(S) refuses to bowl after batting a full innings.

Never mind that the BJP is the single largest party, they are communal. What is the guarantee they will maintain communal harmony ?

I have mentioned it before but the Indian “intelligentia” cannot look beyond catch-phrases.  All you have to do this throw these words in and completely make yourself immune to inspection. Its like Batmans suit.

I recall the cricket games we used to play with some older kids in the neighbourhood. We would spend the morning bowling to them and jumping over compound walls to retrieve the balls they would smash all over. When our turn came to bat, they would invariably walk off saying, “Match over!”. If we ended up batting first, they would change the rules to say that play would continue even after they won. We had to get them all out !!

The funny part was, we would still play with them even though we knew very well what would happen.

Identification of OBCs will take 30 years !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on October 5, 2007

I was without internet access for a while since my last post here. In the interim period, we saw the bizarre case of the Tamilnadu bandh / hunger strike and the resultant jabs at the judiciary. We are now seeing the shameless greed for power by Mr Kumaraswamy and Mr Deve Gowda.

Still, these issues are not even remotely as important as the OBC quota case that is being heard by the Supreme Court.

It is rather dismaying that the government is unwilling to table the merits of the case. Instead it is resorting to repeated assertions that there is nothing wrong with this kind of quota. Isn’t that for the court to decide ? See the following reports.

Quota law not violative of basic structure of statute: Centre

Creamy layer not applicable for SC/ST

Amendment doesnt violate law

Take these two submissions of Mr Parasaran (former Attorney General),

On the petitioners’ contention that minorities had been excluded from the purview of the quota law, Mr. Parasaran said “minorities had to be excluded to protect the secular character of our country. Otherwise, it will become a theocratic state.”

Wait a minute ? What does secularism have to do with this ? Minority OBCs have no problems enjoying the benefits of the quota system – Is it then right to exclude their institutes from sharing the national burden ? Enjoying benefits is secular – but sharing the burden is theocratic.

Mr. Parasaran said one could not wait for the identification of the OBCs as in view of the complexity of the problem it might take at least 30 years for proper identification. He, however, maintained that the government had identified the OBCs and only the notification had not been issued in view of the interim stay order (on implementation of the quota law) passed by the apex court.

Source : Hindu

If caste based social and educational backwardness is so real in India, then why must it take 30 years to identify ?

As this blog has pointed out many times in the past.

  • It is dead easy to identify the real backward castes (just go to a stone quarry, garbage dump, traffic signals, construction workers, brick kilns, nomadic entertainers, and so forth – If someone is not already SC, they are the OBCs) Youth for Equality will never protest benefits to these groups, just like they have not protested benefits to SC/STs.
  • It is hard to come up with a filter to exclude advanced sections from dominating benefits which are clearly meant for people in the previous point. This is where the rub is.

Explore the governments’ argument

The dominant argument forwarded is something like this -“Backwardness is not something that can be measured. Quotas are a remedy for centuries of caste based oppression. No economic filter can be used because just having money does not remove backwardness.”

Lets explore this and see where the perils lie.

If backwardness is beyond rational measurement, then the efficiency of steps taken to alleviate it is also beyond measurement. In effect, this places the system itself beyond measurement. No measurement leads to no accountability. This is why a stone breaker cannot demand what Indias’ social justice programs have done for his community.

States with low numbers of “first class” citizens will lose out to states with high numbers of “first class” citizens. Since, we have placed the classification itself above rational study, there is no incentive for not pushing to increase the “first class” population. This will naturally result in pushback from established “first class” citizens. Result : Jealousy, Rage, Bandhs, Hatred, Votebanks.

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