Article Type: Editorial

The Martyrdom of Gauri Lankesh Shall Not Be in Vain

Fearless journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was assassinated in Bengaluru on 5 September evening when she was about to enter her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar after finishing her engagements for the day. As editor of the widely read Kannada weekly Gauri Lankesh Patrike, Gauri was a powerful voice against communal hate, caste oppression and all kinds of injustice. She was a tireless campaigner for social justice and human rights. On the day she was killed, she had earlier attended an anti-communal convention. Her last editorial was against the phenomenon of fake news and its systematic use by the Sangh...

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Reshuffling Ministers Cannot Hide Government Failures

BJP’s spin doctors have been trying to push his latest Cabinet reshuffle as an instance of Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Perform or Perish’ mantra. The reality is that the Cabinet reshuffle is Modi’s way of trying to shirk responsibility for his Government’s abject failure to keep his promises even after three years. The most glaring failure of the Modi Government has been on the employment front: with job growth in 8 key sectors at their lowest level in 8 years. The Skill India program launched in 2015 made tall claims which were found to be a sham by the Government’s own committee headed by Sharda Prasad. The committee report found the scheme to be a “hotbed of crony capitalism”, with the private “skill councils” siphoning off public funds while lacking even basic infrastructure to provide training, and making fraudulent claims of enrolment. By dropping Rajiv Pratap Rudy as Skill Development Minister, the Government is trying to protect the PM himself for accountability for the Skill India sham/scam. It is notable that Modi’s admirers try to credit him even with Court verdicts like the Instant Triple Talaq verdict – yet they assign no blame to him for his Government’s failures, even though it is well known that extreme centralization of all power in the PMO is a hallmark of Modi’s governance model. In the wake of demonetization and GST, the GDP...

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Riots By Ram Rahim Supporters: Khattar and Modi Are Responsible

The courage showed by two women has resulted in justice. Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been sentenced to twenty years in prison for raping two women sadhvis in the custody of his Dera. He continues to face charges of having a brother of one of the rape victims as well as a journalist who reported the rapes murdered, as well as charges of forced castration of 400 men. The Haryana High Court has rightly held the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Haryana squarely responsible for the riots that followed the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet...

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Modi Betrays Old Promises, Promises ‘New India’

In his speech on India’s 71st Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi’s call for a ‘New India’ was an attempt to give a fresh spin to his own older – and betrayed – promises of Acche Din (Good Days). The promise of job creation is mocked by employment at an all-time low and job losses at an all-time high, and BJP Governments seeking to recruit youth in ‘Gau Rakshak’ (cow protection) mobs in Haryana and Uttarakhand! The promise of women’s safety is mocked by a Union Minister trivializing stalking by a BJP leader’s son as harmless ‘boy chases girl.’ The ‘New India’ slogan sounds ominous in the wake of the deaths of 70 children in a Gorakhpur hospital; the callous apathy towards the victims of devastating floods in Assam, Bihar as well as parts of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal; a never-ending spate of deaths of Dalit sanitation workers in sewers; and yet another massive train accident bringing up the tally of major train accidents in Modi’s tenure to an appalling 27. What stands out is that all the above are more crimes than tragedies and calamities – because timely action on part of Government could easily have averted the massive toll of human lives. 1.42 lakh railway staff posts remain vacant – resulting in a situation where the driver of the oncoming Utkal Express train was not informed about...

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Modi Betrays Old Promises, Promises ‘New India’

In his speech on India’s 71st Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi’s call for a ‘New India’ was an attempt to give a fresh spin to his own older – and betrayed – promises of Achhe Din (Good Days). The promise of job creation is mocked by employment at an all-time low and job losses at an all-time high, and BJP Governments seeking to recruit youth in ‘Gau Rakshak’ (cow protection) mobs in Haryana and Uttarakhand! The promise of women’s safety is mocked by a Union Minister trivializing stalking by a BJP leader’s son as harmless ‘boy chases girl.’ The ‘New India’ slogan sounds ominous in the wake of the deaths of 70 children in a Gorakhpur hospital; the callous apathy towards the victims of devastating floods in Assam, Bihar as well as parts of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal; a never-ending spate of deaths of Dalit sanitation workers in sewers; and yet another massive train accident bringing up the tally of major train accidents in Modi’s tenure to an appalling 27. What stands out is that all the above are more crimes than tragedies and calamities – because timely action on part of Government could easily have averted the massive toll of human lives. 1.42 lakh railway staff posts remain vacant – resulting in a situation where the driver of the oncoming Utkal Express train was not informed about...

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Gorakhpur Massacre: Yogi Must Go!

On the eve of India’s 70th Independence Day, the deaths of 79 children in a Gorakhpur Government hospital offers a grim diagnosis of the state of health of our democracy and polity. Those babies and children did not die in a ‘tragedy’ – their lives were literally choked off by deliberate, cold-blooded negligence by Governments both at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh. Barely half a kilometer from the BRD Medical College where the children died starved of oxygen, Narendra Modi had declared at an election meeting that he had a 56-inch chest and that if he became Prime Minister,...

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Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh Cases Expose the Reality of ‘Beti Bachao’

Prime Minister Modi and his Government have given the slogan of ‘Beti Bachao’ (Save Daughters) as proof of the Government’s commitment to end violence against women. But in reality, this slogan is proving to be empty rhetoric – with BJP Governments at the Centre and various states acting to protect perpetrators of violence against women. Nowhere is the hypocrisy of BJP’s ‘Beti Bachao’ slogan more starkly visible than in the two recent cases in Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh. In Chandigarh, Vikas Barala, the son of the Haryana BJP President along with a friend stalked, chased and tried to abduct a...

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Resist the Illegitimate JDU-BJP Regime, Reclaim the Spirit of the 2015 Bihar Mandate

“It took barely 36 hours for one of the biggest political U-turns to be taken to its successful conclusion. Operation Bihar was the political equivalent of Hitler’s 1940 Blitzkrieg and Israel’s success in the Six-Day War in 1967.” This profoundly insightful observation on the recent political coup in Bihar has come from leading BJP intellectual and Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta. Writing in the Times of India (30 July, 2017) on the implications of the Bihar developments, Dasgupta has marvelled at the ‘killer instinct’ of the BJP and especially the ‘operational finesse’ of the Modi-Shah duo. Of late, the...

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The Call of August 15, 2017: Resist the Dictatorial Design of Modi Raj

This 15th of August will be the fourth Independence Day with Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister. On August 15, 2014 when a newly elected Narendra Modi delivered his first ever ID address from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, the country still did not really know how the Modi regime would unfold and how it would go about delivering what the Modi campaign had promised. When Modi devoted much of his address invoking Gandhi and outlining the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, for many Indians he succeeded in crafting a different image for himself, giving the impression that his government would be serious about ensuring a dignified life for the teeming millions. Three years down the line when Modi will be delivering his fourth ID address this coming 15th of August, his government is now very much a known quantity. The promise of repatriation of black money and the ushering in of Achche Din has long been brushed aside as empty election rhetoric. The two biggest economic measures of the government that have happened so far – demonetization and GST – have both been high on hype, and dubiously low in efficacy. With the RBI Governor not able to give the quantum of scrapped currency received by the banks, and all the claimed benefits of demonetisation (like curb on black money, fake currencies and terrorism) looking clearly exaggerated and...

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Amarnath Killings: Rebuff Communal And Divisive Propaganda

A heinous terrorist attack on 10 July killed seven Amarnath pilgrims in the Kashmir Valley. In an encouraging affirmation of humanity against hate, this attack has met with universal condemnation and protests by ordinary people from the Kashmir Valley to various Indian towns and cities. The 10 July killings are the first such terrorist attack on pilgrims in the Kashmir Valley in 17 years. Even at the height of the Amarnath land row protests in 2008, as well as massive civilian protests in 2010 and 2016, pilgrims to Hindu shrines were never targeted. The incident therefore marks yet another...

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Basirhat Riots: Reject Hate, Strengthen Harmony

An offensive social media post triggering tension and violence is an unfortunate but fairly common occurrence in today’s India. But the story unfolding in and around the sleepy small town of Rudrapur in Baduria block near Basirhat and its ramifications for the whole of West Bengal go way beyond the common script or trajectory of communal tension we have grown accustomed to witness in our turbulent times. The derogatory post shared on Facebook by a school-going student Souvik Sarkar understandably offended the Muslim community and large-scale street protests ensued. The administration intervened and the boy was arrested by the...

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GST: Another Recipe For Increased Inequality And Deeper Economic Crisis

The much-trumpeted Goods and Services Tax has come into effect since July 1. It has been on the anvil for more than a decade. In that sense it stands in total contrast to demonetization where ‘secrecy’ and ‘surprise’ (of course only for the common people and not for the well-connected insiders) were supposedly central to the whole exercise. Yet there is as much confusion and lack of preparation surrounding the GST as was witnessed during the early stage of demonetization. The government is however least bothered about the lack of preparation or infrastructural compliance, it celebrated the launch of...

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Justice For Zafar: Freedom From Bullying

Editorial: Mohammad Akhlaque, Majlum Ansari, Imteyaz Khan, Pehlu Khan, Sheikh Naim, Mohammad Halim, Mohammad Sajjad, Uttam Verma, Ganesh Gupta and now Zafar Hussein. Yet another horrific case of mob lynching, the second successive incident in Vasundhara Raje’s Rajasthan in last three months. The previous cases of lynching in UP, Jharkhand or Rajasthan were typically all triggered by orchestrated ‘rumours’ – whether of beef consumption, cattle-lifting or child-lifting. There was however no rumour that led to the lynching of Zafar Hussein at Pratapgarh in the early morning of June 16. Zafar had to pay with his life for trying to...

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Presidential Election 2017: Save The Highest Constitutional Post From RSS Ideology

The stage is now set for choosing a new occupant for the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Before declaring its candidate, senior BJP leaders and members of the Modi cabinet Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu visited the offices of the Congress and even the CPI(M) to appeal for a consensus. All that the Congress said in public was that the BJP should first propose a name before seeking consensus. In another highly questionable gesture, incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee invited RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat for a lunch at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. With the opposition thus making it a BJP prerogative to set the tone and declare its Presidential candidate, the BJP sprung a surprise by choosing Ramnath Kovind, the current Bihar Governor and former Rajya Sabha MP for two successive terms from 1994 to 2006, as its nominee for Raisina Hill. The Congress-led UPA belatedly announced the candidature of former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, but by then three southern regional parties, AIADMK, TRS and YSR Congress as well as the BJD of Odisha and even JDU which is sharing power with the RJD and the Congress in Bihar had pledged their support for Ramnath Kovind. The BJP propagandists are projecting Kovind’s nomination as a proof of the Sangh Parivar’s respect for Dalits and poor farmers of the country. In other words, the Presidential election is being used as a damage-control exercise to...

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Justice For Zafar: Freedom From Bullying

Mohammad Akhlaque, Majlum Ansari, Imteyaz Khan, Pehlu Khan, Sheikh Naim, Mohammad Halim, Mohammad Sajjad, Uttam Verma, Ganesh Gupta and now Zafar Hussein. Yet another horrific case of mob lynching, the second successive incident in Vasundhara Raje’s Rajasthan in last three months. The previous cases of lynching in UP, Jharkhand or Rajasthan were typically all triggered by orchestrated ‘rumours’ – whether of beef consumption, cattle-lifting or child-lifting. There was however no rumour that led to the lynching of Zafar Hussein at Pratapgarh in the early morning of June 16. Zafar had to pay with his life for trying to defend...

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