Reality Check India

Attacks on churches and the arbitrary state

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 19, 2008

(Pic credit : Khabrein)

The ghastly terror attacks in Delhi have been overshadowed by the recent vandalism of some churches in Mangalore. The centre sent notices today to the BJP government under Article 355 of the constitution. This is supposed to be a preparatory step, if the centre wishes to dismiss the elected state governments under Art 356.

355. Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution

Also check out the SR Bommai case

We condemn all such attacks. However, we also want to point out the the Congress party’s asymmetry while dealing with attack on temples in Tamilnadu is being noticed by all. No media covered the event and this blog received thousands of visitors when the incident happened.

Anyway, we are used to it and life will move on.

The devil in all issues in India is the categorization of citizenship. We are told this is for social justice reasons. Stunningly, there exists no data nor evidence about this categorization. We cant even ask how a state can devise special schemes to benefit 97% of its citizens. In most countries, this absence of data would be a show stopper. Not here, even the courts have given it a go-by.

Many bloggers like Offstumped proclaimed that such arbitrary categories of citizenship must be fought politically and not judicially. Surely they know that in India, political battles mean the streets.

Guess what – this is what a street fight looks like !!

Here is the way to put on end to all communal problems and pave the way for a new India.

Note that I am not saying this would ever happen, because the current political forces depend on this not happening. I am just saying what I think ought to happen.


On conversions :

There can and must be no ban against conversions. The two often repeated types of conversions are (1) Forced conversions and (2) Inducements. Neither of them make sense to me. You cant force anyone to change their beliefs. That would be a fake because if you blindfold and drag a believing hindu to a church he is going to fake it. He is going to mutter “Mookambika!” while pretending to say “Hallelujah!” Inducements are even sillier because if someone can switch for a mutton biryani on Sundays, he can be made to switch back with Peshawari Kebabs on Mondays.

So, we are saying that conversions should not be controlled in any way. It is a feature of Christianity like street Bhajans for hindus. Curbing it would be an interference in their religion.

I know some of you are shocked, but read on.

The two root causes of tension

The issue that causes tensions is one of benefits attached to converting. It is common knowledge that in most cases of conversion – the convertee’s life improves materially. It could be better access to Christian education, a job as a watchman at a church of even handouts. They also get to keep their ST and OBC benefits. In some cases, they can even avail of SC benefits if they continue using their hindu names.

So the two issues are : Material improvement and Access to social justice

As hard as it is, both these issues need to be resolved and not the conversion issue. A nation that cannot face up to tough problems of the day is doomed to failure.

As far as the material benefits are concerned. If the resources to provide the benefits are marshaled locally by Indian Christians there is little that needs be done. It would be akin to a Seth from the north opening up a Dharmsala in Rameswaram. That leaves us with the crux of the issue, foreign money. I believe this must be controlled because external forces can really wreak havoc in the fragile Indian religious fabric. The solution is to regulate the billions of dollars from the USA, Germany, UK and elsewhere. Actually, I would suggest not regulating the money but subjecting such funds to public audit. The funds must be accounted for not just for Christians but all religious contributions like the Swaminarayan sect, Muslims, and others. The details of how these funds are used must be placed on the internet. No silly RTI please ! The much media-celebrated RTI implies a need to know, not right to know.

Next, the social justice aspect. This is much, much more serious than the first. The main actors here are the political forces representing the dominant hindu communities. A simple question like, “If the Christians dominate education at all levels from Kindergarten to Medical college – how can they be educationally backward ?”. This simple question cannot be answered. Eminent supreme court lawyers will run away from a debate on such a simple question. They know that the answer will always be another question, “How can dominant Hindus who run most private educational institution and are traditional landowners, be socially and educationally backward?”. One anomaly is met with another in the name of debate.

Most readers are tired of my constant emphasis on data. Blogger Gaurav called be a Data Nazi. I liked that title actually ! Data will set Indians free from arbitrariness and political god-like behaviour.

It turns out that creating classes of citizenship is really a very big deal in a political system where people vote. (I cant use words like democracy).It also turns out social justice is a very big deal.

If creating classes of citizens is a way to address the social justice issue, it must be backed by evidence. Otherwise, people will know that the system is fake and arbitrary. Folks are smart that way.

The best way to deal with an arbitrary system is, well “arbitrary action”. Vandalism is very much on the cards (ask the Gujjars or the Vanniars). It is the only way to get things done here.

Here’s to more “arbitrary action” from groups of citizens of different classes in the years to come.

Is a life term in India just 7 years ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 15, 2008

This government and judiciary took a billion Indian down the wrong fork in the road. The court waived its right of American style strict scrutiny while not specifying what its own standards of such scrutiny were. Therefore Article 14,  both the equality aspect and social justice aspect were surrendered.  Neither of the two aspects can work without data.So, a billion Indians especially the backward who really need social justice took a kick in the teeth.

Still, there was hope if someone killed your father – got caught – and got sentenced to life, justice would be served. This sequence of events itself is rare in India considering the length of time if takes for such a conviction. Now, we find a life term is not just 14 years but a mere 7 in many cases. This will quickly become the new floor, the next time around murderers will expect to be out in 3 to 5 years. Good behaviour could mean a lot of things.

A reality check : You cannot cut slack on the constitution and expect the penal code to be remain sacred. It is all interconnected. Those who are really backward will start to find the Maoist leadership to be of integrity, the SIMI to be more consistent, the  Hurriyat to represent freedom from a life of such ad hocism and skullduggery.

Can you blame them ?

What is this country offering them ?

———-

The news is that the Madras High Court cleared the decks for releasing selected life termers who served just 7 years of their term. It is reported there was a dramatic hearing at the Chief Justice Gangulys residence on a Sunday night.

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has rejected a plea from Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking to stay the operation of an order dated 11.09.08 giving en masse remission to 1405 life convicts on September 15, on the day of Anna’s birth centenary.The prisoners may be released subject to the usual conditions relating to execution of bonds, said the first bench comprising Chief Justice of Madras High Court A K Ganguly and Justice S M Ibrahim Kalifulla at a special sitting at the Chief Justice residence on Sunday night.

In the public interest writ petition, Swamy contended that the GO was issued in contravention of Section 433 and 433 A of the Cr PC, which envisaged commutation of life sentence to a term not exceeding 14 years. Therefore the rule is 14 years, but the government has indiscriminately and arbitrarily applied seven years period without any reference to the legal provision.

Source : Express Buzz

The questions that will be asked by the man on the street (some of whom were killed by those released) are

1. Is it now officially OK to release lifers after seven years ?

2. Is this facility available to all states ?

3. What is the meaning of the provisions in the penal code related to the 14 year minimum term ?

4. Can this facility be availed at any time, not just during the centenary celebrations ? So, could the government selectively release a few on a whim ? Of course, saying they will pick roses for a living henceforth and present themselves to probation officers.

5. Does the stance of the two pillars of democracy in this matter – reinforce already marginal Indians like (Muslims, Kashmiris, Assamese, Tribals in Chattisgarh) or does it disgust them ? Will they now work harder to make sure they are not part of the “India 2020 Vision” being shown to them ?

6. Is it practical to rearrest each one of them if the Supreme Court stays this GO ? What is the hurry here ?

1405 life prisoners to be released in Tamilnadu

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 14, 2008

Remember the media coverage of Afzal Guru. Remember the socialites who were on TV yelling against the death penalty. This news from Tamilnadu is sure to send them sulking into characteristic hibernation.

The ruling party’s founder Mr C.N.Annathurai’s 100th birthday celebrations are being kicked off in the state. As part of the celebrations, 1405 prisoners serving life terms (I assume mostly murder) are being released. Can we call them hardcore criminals ? I think so. They may want to pick roses for a living but they are hardcore enough to have been awarded a life term. Families have been destroyed by their actions. Wives lost husbands, kids lost fathers.

The two categories are :

1. All those serving life terms who have completed 7 years (subject to some checks like good behaviour)

2. All those over 60 are free if they have served five years

Remember, a life term is usually awarded for murder.

The idea is that these prisoners should not be neglected by the society and stigmatised for their past forever. Our Correctional Wing along with NGOs and Prison Ministry of India is working out various ways to resettle them in the society,” said DGP R Nataraj, who initiated the programme.

Forever. What a nice word ? Does ‘rest of your life‘ mean the same thing, or are we misreading it ? Kids have lost their dads forever, haven’t they ? What about them ?

While many have expressed a desire to own a taxi or an autorickshaw, a few have asked for sewing machines and fishing nets. One man wanted to open a flower shop. “For such cases we are trying to arrange bank loans to help them start their own small-scale units,” said Nataraj. The sewing machines and fishing nets will be given on the day of their release.

So, people who commit heinous crimes like murder will be given bank loans for taxis and autos. Is this facility available to non-criminals as well ?

V Kannadasan, Special Public Prosecutor for Human Rights said, “Human Rights concepts are growing everywhere and these prisoners also have a right to life, which if denied, will lead them back to crimes. So this opportunity to reform must be given to them.”

All quotes from expressbuzz

Human Rights Sir, I have a stupid question. How can it “lead them back to crimes” if they are in jail ?

This is a slap on the faces of the victims families. Their consent has clearly NOT been obtained.

This is moment of shame for the media because no TV channel will discuss this.

Another moment of humiliation for the judicial system.

There is a case against it by in the Supreme Court by the relentless Subramanian Swamy. The Supreme Court had earlier stayed the released of 1500 hardcore criminals by the YS Reddy government.

But AP is AP, TN is TN, Bengal is Bengal, Kerala is Kerala.
Until then, no one in India has the right to talk about Afzal Guru.

Terror needs to be politicized

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 13, 2008

Terrorists struck Delhi today killing more than 20 and injuring more than 100 innocent citizens. Bloggers, news agencies, TV Channels, are looking at the Home Minister with hope. “Is he going to talk tough at least now ?” – they wonder. Maybe he will sound macho one day and go “We will smoke you out like we do bandicoots from sewers. As you scurry out we will grab you by the tail and smash you  against the road”. Is that macho enough ?

Sorry fellas – look elsewhere. Neither he, nor the PM, nor Sonia, nor Lalloo will do anything worthwhile about it. Our democracy is not set up like that any more, if you haven’t noticed.

Even today, on a TV Channel I saw a young anchor castigate a Delhi MLA (BJP) for trying to “politicize it“. He should have grabbed the microphone and said, “Look honey, I am going to damn well politicize this thing. That is the only hope we have against the terrorists. Of course, I could start politicizing it tomorrow – but you will be celebrating Bipashas status as the 5th sexiest asian. So, bear with me will you.”

Our fight against terror looks bleak. The political system here is held hostage completely to adhoc benefits to various groups. This blast or the dozens before will not make a dent at the poll booth. Every election ballot has only one box : “Would you like your group’s benefits to be scrutinized?”  HELL NO – will be the resounding answer and we will move on to the next Lok Sabha. Neither this, nor Kashmir, nor inflation can win against the behavior of a rational man.

I know most of you are tired of me by now.

How can such a simple thing bring an entire country to its knees ? We wonder,

How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

At the petrol pump

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 11, 2008

Why are a billion Indians still paying through their noses ?

Is no one watching ?

Image Courtesy : CNN Money.com

Nuclear deal – 16 rupees per unit

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 8, 2008

First, get your butt over to Barbarindians and read his take on the nuclear deal.

—–

I would like to add :

1. Why has there been almost no capacity addition in the past 5 years in states like Tamilnadu / Karnataka ?

2. What is wrong with coal based thermal plants ?

3. I pay Rs 3.50 per KwH (unit) for thermal and hydro power today. The estimate for nuclear power is Rs 16 per unit.

4. Farmers will expect free nuclear power too (esp the big ones). They need to power their A/Cs and 5 KW pumpsets. Who is going to foot the bill ?

5. Scientists will favour the deal for a variety of reasons, some of them purely professional in nature.

6. US Citizens of Indian origin who have lived half their lives in the US will favour the deal. Not important for obvious reasons.

7. I dearly hope they have war-gamed the scenario where Pakistan decides to test. In the Lok Sabha debates, I heard Pranab Mukherjee thunder “We dont need nuclear weapons to win a war”. Childlike innocence wins wars, perhaps ?

Some advantages of the deal.

1. Half constructed reactor, Kudankulam,  will finally see the light of day.

2. Perhaps we will see 3-4 GE reactors soon that will ease the power crisis. Hopefully metro areas like Mumbai, Noida, Gurgaon will benefit. We still have to address the business models of these reactors, of course !

3. Even without engaging with any of the above issues, the deal is good simply because “A deal is better than no deal”. At least this gives us an option of using nuclear power which we would not have without the deal. Who knows, maybe we can light up our streets like the Champs-EIysees. I am also guessing that without the deal, we would have to shut down all reactors shortly. We simply have no fuel left. In general, I am aligned with this view. The only pesky detail is the status and quality of the nuclear deterrent we have.

4. If we did not care about the quality of the nuclear deterrent, then most people would agree that the deal is better than no deal. The issue is then about choice not economics. There will be takers for both Kalyani Knock Out beer and expensive Cabernet Sauvignon wine. So, plowing along further in this line of thought, we then ask – “We have a kind-of-works deterrent, is that not good enough ?”. A little further, “Listen, this is about Kashmir and Pakistan – isnt it ?” Ultimately, what matters is the national consensus around this big ticket issue. Lately, there has been a spate of articles that are along the lines of “F** it – let em go !”. If the Indian state, represented SOLELY by the human beings in the parliament, shares this view then there is little sense opposing the deal. At least, I get to switch on my 2 ton split ai rconditioner in my swanky tax exempt SEZ apartment and finally get some peace and quiet.

Ok ! I will stop now.

My take :

If the nuclear deal is all about feeding power to a chronically energy starved India, the arguments for the deal must be in terms of the business of nuclear electric power. I do not think we have reached the dead end for thermal power (coal and gas plants). For comparison, coal makes up 70% of Chinas power. These are not old plants either, they upped their thermal capacity by 20%+ just in 2007-08.

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