By B.G. Verghese
Al Qaeda’s call for jihad in India coupled with reports of yet smallbut increasing numbers of Muslim Indian youth joining the ISIS for jihad to restore the caliphate sends out a signal that cannot be ignored. The Home Minister has properly called for heightened vigilance and tightened security. This, however, is the lesser part of the threat. The greater danger comes from the openly divisive politics of the BJP and the Parivar which is polarising the nation through vicious Muslim baiting and inciting hatred and violence on thoroughly concocted grounds of so-called love jihad. None can blame some young Muslims turning fundamentalist and wanting to join the Islamic jihad if they are suspect, told that they have no future in a Hindu Rashtra unless they conform to Hindutva diktatsas second class citizens. The cover pages of the Organiser and Panchajanya, the BJP and RSS organs, have this as their crusading theme.
Fortunately most Muslim Indians disdain this kind of gross slander despite continuous provocation. The head of the DarulUloom seminary in Deoband and the All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat have once again denounced the al Qaeda call, asserting that Muslim Indians will not and must not be swayed by false, unIslamic teachings. UNESCO tells us that wars begin in the minds of men. So does communal hatred which is being both insidiously and openly preached by Hindutva zealots.
Karnataka police investigations have found most allegations to be unfounded and motivated. A CID survey showed that of 21,890 Hindu girls reported “missing” between 2005 and 2009, 229 had married men of other faiths but only 63 had converted. In that same period, many Muslim girls had married Hindu and Christian boys. These were marriages based on mutual love, a term that the loveless, hate-filled Hindutva crowd do not understand and cannot tolerate. The vicious GharVapasireconversioncampaign however smacks of abduction and coercion with a warped ideology driving such puerile politics.
The assaults on Christians, especially Dalit converts, have also increased with renewed efforts at “gharvapasi”. Madhya Pradesh has long been a worst-case state and its law on conversion, requiring permission by the District Magistrate, represents the acme of authoritarian communalism. Mostdalits convert because of intolerable caste oppression for ending which scourge the Hindutva brigade has no programme, educational, social or political, that has been pursued with any seriousness. Alas, sections among Christians and Muslim do practice caste but, everything said, conversion to these faiths remains an act of liberation for outcaste Hindus. This is the challenge, not political hatred clothed as alleged love-jihad.
This was not a theme Mr NarendraModi addressed on Teachers’ Day, which he hijacked to make it something of a command performance, aping Children’s Day without its spontaneity and substance. The occasion was reduced to political theatre with official directives to school authorities to ensure attendance and make all broadcast facilities, or else. The threat was there despite subsequent explanations and back-tracking.Children who could understand Hindi perhaps enjoyed the tamasha. But what of the others who did not understand but had to sit through two hours of boredom? What did it cost schools and parents to make the necessary arrangements for transport, canopies where necessary, TV sets and electricity connections? It would be useful to calculate the expenditure entailed nationwide, state-wise or even by individual cities and schools and see how many blackboards, toilets, leaking roofs, computers, and other basic wherewithal could have been provided with these same funds. Nothing was said about the demands and condition of teachers, school infrastructure, teachers’ training and better text books (than Dina NathBatra’s nonsense that Mr Modi has endorsed). It was a wasted and misused opportunity.
The Government has not covered itself in glory with the appointment of the last Chief Justice of India as Governor of Kerala. This is not to insinuate anything against Justice Sathasivamor unkindly allege that he passed a judgement favouring Amit Shah without an iota of evidence for saying so. But is sets a bad precedentof disregarding any cooling off period, but more than that of undermining the prestige of the highest judicial office in the land.
Nor will the Government gain any kudos if it disregards the repeated defiance of V.K. Singhagainst court and tribunal orders that go against him, this time in the complete exoneration of Lt Gen Rathwho Singh accused of engineering the Sukna Army land scam. Singh disgraced his office and uniform for petty personal gain by thrice going back on his word to bury his campaign to prove that he was younger than he had claimed to be when entering the Army. He has since spent his time hounding other officers. The man should have been sacked earlier and has no place in the Government now when, unable to stomach the verdict of the Armed Forces Tribunal on the Sukhna land case that is a slap on his face, he now advocates an appeal in pursuit of his own ego.
Even as one commiserates with the people of J&K (and Pakistan) who have been stricken by devastating floods, there is reason to worry about the BJP’s continuing campaign to win a majority in the forthcoming general election in J&K in November, once again through polarising tactics. Apart from the misplaced and somewhat illiterate campaign against Article 370, the party is now trying to mobilise Pandit votes by peremptorily asking the State Government to provide land in the Valley for the rehabilitation of 60,000 families or about 300,000 souls who migrated under jihadi/separatist pressure. Rehabilitation is one thing. Building ghettoes is another – and that would be the result of the Central Government’s demarche.
The Congress is again being unwise in shielding Rahul Gandhi from accountability and responsibility as demanded by the old guard that has at last found its tongue. The “youth brigade” and the elders have been told not to indulge in mounting public criticism of inner rot in the party. The country needs a centrist or left of centre party, a role that the Congress could still play. But it is unlikely to go anywhere by defending dynastic politics and refusing, ostrich-like, to see failure or fix accountability. He who takes the credit must also take the blame.
The results of the 19th Livestock Census of India, 2012, now available, are revealing. The population of cattle has declined while the number of exotic breeds within that number has gone up. Bulls are being replaced by tractors and other mechanised means of haulage while crossbred cows yield more milk and are hence preferred. There is a campaign to upgrade indigenous cattle whose quality has been allowed to decline over two centuries by a foolish policy of cow protection on mistaken religious grounds. Refusal to cull surplus animals has resulted in the overbreeding of scrub animals. Our holy cows are underfed, abominably treated, a public nuisance and a threat to the forests and environment. Go-shalas represent misplaced piety. When will we learn better?
Sadly, the population of donkeys too has come done though those following the daily news might challenge this astonishing finding!