Smriti Irani’s speech in Lok Sabha. Jeevema s’aradah s’atam, Smriti ji.

February 24, 2016

Smriti irani, smriti irani speech, smriti irani budget session, budget session live, smriti irani jnu, smriti irani rohith vemula, india newsHRD Minister Smriti Irani at Parliament House on Wednesday. (Source: PTI)

Blending emotion with aggression in a speech that had her invoking a Roman philosopher, accusing rivals of political opportunism over a “child’s death” and reading from anti-India posters in JNU, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani pulled out all the stops Wednesday in Lok Sabha. She tried to defend the government against an opposition onslaught and her own handling of the situation in campuses across the country.

Referring to the attack on her following the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University after her ministry wrote letters to the university authorities, Irani said “mujhe suli pe chadhaya jaa raha hai kyunki mere vibhaag ne patra likha (I am being hanged because my ministry wrote the letter)”.

She trained her guns on the Congress: “Rahul Gandhi made the most of the opportunity and visited the hostel twice, something which he had never done before. Have you ever seen him visiting the same place twice? Did he do the same when 600 students died in the Telangana movement? Rohith blamed no one, yet Rahul tried to use this child as a political tool. The child in his suicide note said that no one is responsible for my death, yet you seek to use this child for your own political ends.”

“People who espouse the cause of free speech and attack this government, who say we are anti-minority, anti-Dalit, anti-tribal and time and again, they’ve been requested to not make it ‘us against them’. I am not certifying your patriotism, but do not demean mine. I am not certifying your idea of India, but do not demean mine.”

Irani rejected the allegation that Vemula was forced to commit suicide because he was persecuted by the university authorities and the central government since he was a Dalit. “My name is Smriti Irani. I challenge you to ask my caste.” She said she would speak her mind and not take the refuge in the fact that she is “married to a micro minority” community member.

She even quoted Cicero to say that “a traitor within the gates is worse than a murderer”.

Her speech drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who tweeted “satyamev jayate” along with the video of her speech. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke after Irani, said any amount of praise for her would not be enough.

Under opposition fire for slapping sedition charges on JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, Singh said the issue should be left to the courts to decide. “If police are right, the courts will justify that. If police are wrong, then the court can discharge them.” Describing JNU as a centre of excellence, he said the government never called it an “anti-national centre”.

Earlier, while taking on the opposition, Irani invoked her motherhood and called herself a victim of opposition politics. She alleged she was being targeted by the Congress for her electoral fight against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in the last Lok Sabha election. The opposition was outraged when Irani picked on Ranjeet Ranjan for laughing while she was speaking. Her remarks that MPs including Ranjan had approached her for admissions in Kendriya Vidyalayas had opposition MP rushing to the well of the House, seeking an apology.

As the Congress, TMC, Left and NCP walked out, Irani said: “I will not seek forgiveness for doing my duty… you never wanted to listen to my reply.”

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reminded her it was part of the minister’s duty and asked her not to be emotional. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu came to her rescue, saying Irani had become emotional because questions were raised on her authority to write letters to the university.

Earlier, BJP MP Anurag Thakur also targeted Rahul Gandhi over the JNU issue. Questioning him for not visiting the families of those killed on the border, Thakur said: “Your leader goes and stands by those who support Afzal Guru… You did not go to the house of the martyred Inspector (who died in the Batla House encounter). Rahul Gandhi also could not go. But he went to JNU… Tell us, who are you standing for? Afzal Guru or those who protected Parliament House (in the 2001 attack)?”

Alleging that outfits named by the previous UPA government as “frontal organisations” of Maoists had support in JNU, Thakur said: “I want to ask Soniaji, why your young leader was standing with those who stand with Afzal Guru… for the Congress party, it is family first, party next and nation last. For us, it is nation first, party next and family last.”

– See more at:


Emotional Smriti Irani delivers fiery speech in Lok Sabha, gives apt reply on Rohith Vemula’s suicide, JNU (Watch video)
Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani went all gun blazing agianst Congress led Opposing, who have been accusing the union minister of saffronising education system in India.
By News Desk on February 24, 2016 at 9:09 PMEmail

New Delhi, Feb 24: Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani went all gun blazing agianst Congress led Opposing, who have been accusing the union minister of saffronising education system in India. Smriti Irani lost her cool while replying to Opposition’s allegations and expressed extreme anguish. First, Smriti Irani got in heated discussion with BSP supremo Mayawti in Rajya Sabha over Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula’s suicide.
When Mayawati raised the issue of Vemula’s suicide, and blamed the central government for it and asked if the committee probing the incident had a Dalit member, visibly agitated Irani first challenged BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra. ”Talk face to face Satish ji, I am ready to reply,” Irani said. ”Mayawati ji, I request, you are a senior member and a woman, you want an answer, I am ready to reply. If you are not satisfied with my answer, I will cut my head and put it in your feet,” the minister said. (ALSO READ: Smriti Irani hits back at Opposition during JNU debate in Lok Sabha; Congress stages walkout)

The aggressive behaviour of Smriti Irani continued in Lok Sabha where she bashed Congress leader and opposition parties for for allegedly introducing an anti-Hindu propaganda in the nation’s education curriculum. She articulated reasons why the Government cracked down on JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and their associates.
“Rahul Gandhi makes baseless allegations that BJP government has appointed RSS-linked Vice Chancellors as part of our agenda to saffronize the education curriculum. I would challenge him today. At least 16 VCs in Central Universities are those who were appointed during the erstwhile Congress rule. If anyone of them could prove that I have launched a saffronisation campaign in the education sector, I would quit public life forever.” she said.

Gen. Malik, Please tell the nation what Barkha did at Kargil — Jay Bhattacharjee

February 24, 2016

Jay Bhattacharjee writes an open letter to  former Army chief General Malik who led the army in 1999 during the Kargil war. Read on…


General V.P. Malik (Retd.)
Former Chief of Army Staff
Panchkula (Haryana)

Dear General Malik : 23 February 2016

Sir, please allow me to state up front, that I have been (and will continue to be) one of your admirers for a number of reasons. The first one, of course, is that, from Sept.1997 to Sept.2000, you commanded a 1.4 million strong Army that has protected and guarded our young Republic (which is, at the same time, an ancient and venerable civilisation) with the utmost commitment, valour and loyalty. For almost the entire Indian population (barring a minuscule minority), the nation’s armed forces are the most admired and venerated institution by a thousand miles (please pardon the hyperbole). No other institution comes anywhere remotely close, in this contest.

The other reasons are personal. You have a natural dignity, composure, sang froid, and articulateness that are exemplary. Truly befitting a military leader. Then, of course, it is a matter of record that you led the Army to resounding victory (at an incredible cost) in a war that had everything stacked against it. This does not take away the magnificent contribution of our air warriors, the men in blue, who carried out very difficult operations to support their OG comrades. Your famous statement that the armed forces would do their best with whatever equipment and resources they had at their disposal, is still etched in my mind and brings back painful memories when I think of the Kargil war.

However, the reason why I am penning this letter to you is because of certain developments that are not of your doing. The provocation is the “open” letter sent a few days ago by a prominent Indian journalist, Barkha Dutt, to the Prime Minister. The communication has been uploaded on the internet portal of the media house where Ms. Dutt works (

As you can see, the title of this article is deliberately provocative and eye-catching. Nothing wrong in this, per se, since the media in our shores and in other countries derives its bread and butter from self-generated publicity, whether in the form of TRPs for TV programmes or the number of “likes” / “shares” for a written piece. However, the latest salvo of Ms. Dutt (BD) needs to be closely scrutinised and assessed. Please permit me, dear General, to spell out the broader concerns I have with this piece, before I come to the thrust of my letter to you.

.It is a matter of enormous mystery to me (and countless others) how BD and her employer company have survived, let alone prospered. If you remember, and I am sure you do, the episode of the Nira Radia tapes and how BD and her shenanigans were mercilessly exposed, you will surely ask yourself how this person continues in public life. In any other civilized, democratic country, she would have been hung out to dry and banished to the 4th Estate’s version of Siberia, to live in oblivion. In fact, BD’s shameless shenanigans were briefly featured in a crudely-crafted “apology” on her own channel and she was seamlessly “rehabilitated” in her job, where she continues till today. If anything, she has prospered and flourished, and her amour-propre has gone up in geometric progression. It is only in good old Bharat (and in some tin-pot banana Republics like North Korea, Haiti and some Islamic dictatorships) that miracles like this happen.

The present essay by BD fits squarely in her trademark mould. Using all the tricks that her profession has taught her, she projects herself as a fearless defender of civil rights, free speech, right to dissent etc. The backdrop for her article is the JNU saga and all its nuances. I am not going into the intricacies of her piece in this letter to you, since I believe the Prime Minister and his colleagues are quite capable of rebutting BD’s disingenuousness and intellectual sleights of hand. Because, I now propose to come to the reason why I am writing to you and why I need you to respond. Mea culpa for the rather longish preface, but I am sure you will pardon me.

What bothers me deeply is that, in this latest brouhaha, BD, once again, has projected her “veer senani” image of a fearless warrior and admirer of the country’s armed forces. Her purple prose would have you believe that her Kargil experience in 1999 “and the intimacy and immediacy of that overwhelming exposure would make me a life-long admirer of our military. “ In fact, BD gives the distinct impression in her epistle to the PM that she played a vital role in the entire Kargil war. She compounds her crime when she extols herself in her latest book, This Unquiet Land – Stories From India’s Fault Lines (2016) and involves you directly. She, as is herwont, goes on the attack fearlessly and takes the figurative bull by the horns. This is where you come in directly, dear General.

BD, on page iv of this book, refers to the “venomous whispers” about her conduct when she was covering the Kargil war and claims that when you gave her an appointment after the war, you complimented her about her performance and even said that she (BD) was a “force-multiplier”. As far as her use of a satellite phone (an Iridium instrument) was concerned, she quotes you as telling her that others (including some persons in the Army) had the same satellite phones and more importantly, the Pakistani military did not have the capability of monitoring these satellite phones. She puts you in the centre podium by claiming that you have confirmed this conversation with her in your own memoirs of the Kargil war.

This puts the whole thing in a new perspective. The fact is that all sources verify that BD was the only journalist in the war zone who had a satellite phone. Also, the number of satellite phones with the Indian army was limited to a few senior-most officers who were not in the conflict zone. Therefore, the chances of BD’s satphone being the one tracked by the Pakistanis are very high. The errors of commission and omission, of which BD is accused of, are extremely serious. After the Dy. Brigade Commander at Drass, Colonel David, briefed BD on the progress of the actual assault on Tiger Hill, BD is reported to have gone live immediately. Indian intercepts of Pakistani military messages indicate that the Pakistani rear commanders immediately alerted their troops on top of Tiger Hill to redirect .their fire in the direction of the Indian soldiers who were climbing Tiger Hill. About 14-20 of our soldiers were massacred by this deadly fire and died on the ropes they were using to climb their target.

There is another incident pertaining to BD that has been talked about for years. When doing a recording outside the Brigade HQ gate, her cameraman switched on a light fitted on the camera to illuminate her – helmet, mike and all. This was the trademark image of BD that she and her employers mercilessly capitalised on,  for many years after the war. A few seconds later, having said that she was reporting from 56 Brigade HQ, BD and her team moved out. After about five minutes or so, Pakistani artillery saturated the area with a barrage, after having got a fix on the light. A small STD booth at the gate took a direct hit, killing an officer and three jawans from 17 Garhwal Rifles, who were present there at the time.

I am reproducing all the old reports, because they have not been satisfactorily explained. Neither have they been investigated with the seriousness and rigour that were called for. As a result, BD has got away scot free and, worse, projected herself in a light that may not be accurate at all. Do not forget, General, that the Kargil war was her launch pad. And I am afraid, you have not been altogether kosher with the Indian public, your comrades in the army and your conscience. You have not seriously investigated the reported offences and misdemeanours of BD. To start with, when on the 6th July 1999, our Army intercepted the conversations between Pakistani troops dug in at Tiger Hill and their rear HQ, you were furious with NDTV and BD. You immediately directed XV Corps HQ to issue a signal asking the entire press corps to leave the region.

As it transpired, this blanket order was quietly withdrawn a few hours later because of Lt General Arjun Ray (in charge of the Army’s media cell) who persuaded you not to penalise the entire press corps because of BD’s crime. You and the Army took no action against BD. A year after the war, when NDTV went into overdrive about their Kargil coverage, you and the Army again kept quiet. This omerta continues till today, even when BD refers to your accolades about her in her latest (2016) book. You, clearly are not the only one responsible for the relentless rise of BD. Your Army comrade Mohinder Puri, too, did not hesitate to seek encomiums from BD at his book release function. Neither can Shiv Kunal Verma, from an old military family, resist the temptation to have BD as one of the chief invitees at his book launch.

Dear General, as an officer of the Sikh Light Infantry, you are surely aware of Guru Gobind Singh’s prayer to Lord Shiv when he seeks the courage to do the right thing :

Dehi Shiva Bar Mohe Ihe, Shubh Karman Se Kabhun Na Taron.
Na Daron Ari Son Jab Jai Laron,
Nischey Kar Apni Jeet Karon.
(O God Shiva, give me this boon,
That I never desist from doing good deeds
I be fearless when I fight the enemy
And that I certainly attain victory)

As a son-in-law of the Punjab, it is my honour to invoke Guru Gobind Singh. But, finally, I have to conclude with Gurudev’s words, since BD has had the chutzpah to quote Tagore in her letter to the PM. The last Renaissance figure the world has seen, says it all about doing the right thing in life :

অন্যায় যে করে আর অন্যায় যে সহে

 তব ঘৃণা যেন তারে তৃণসম দহে।

(The one who commits a wrong and the one who tolerates wrong- doing, may they both be engulfed by the fire of your contempt)

Jay Bhattacharjee MA(Cantab), FCS
Advisor (Corporate Laws & Finance)

Playing cards: muslim, intolerance — Anupam Kher

February 24, 2016

Why shouldn’t we challenge calls for India’s ruin?…Umar Khalid’s playing Muslim card…intolerance is an anti-Modi ploy: Anupam Kher

February 24, 2016, 1:13 AM IST

Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher is amongst signatories to an open letter condemning slogans against India and support for terrorists. Speaking with Rohit E David, Kher discussed why he thinks expression in universities needs a crucial curb, free speech as represented by Arvind Kejriwal, an ‘intolerance’ conspiracy against PM Modi – and how JNU student Umar Khalid might be playing a certain card:

Aren’t universities meant to be places for free and open debate?

Absolutely, they are places for open debates and freedom of speech – but not for people shouting slogans against India.

Universities are the place where we formulate the future of India. This is the youth which will form a free India – but if those places become hubs for certain students where they form views like those heard recently at JNU, then i think it needs to be looked into.

Students are usually irreverent – are we being over-sensitive now?

There is nothing called being oversensitive when it comes to an issue about India’s ruin.

Why is patriotism being questioned in a manner like this?

JNU student Umar Khalid says he’s never thought like a Muslim but he’s been pushed into this identity now – what’s your view?

He is playing the Muslim card by saying, ‘I’m Umar Khalid and i’m not a terrorist.’ This is a headlinegrabbing line.

For that matter, the person who is in jail right now, his name is not Umar Khalid – his name is Kanhaiya who represents one of our Gods, Lord Krishna. But he’s there.

Why have things become so polarised today?

Well, we were ruled by a certain party for a long time. Today, the people ruling this country for 60 years have been thrashed badly by a different party.

Now, we have Prime Minister Narendra Modi who does not take leave. I have never read that the PM has gone for a holiday to Kullu Manali or Kashmir. He spends his Diwali with jawans. He’s made two very important points with the Clean India campaign and toilets for women. We haven’t heard of corruption issues either during the last two years.

He is trying his level best to change India’s image outside India – and he’s succeeded to a large extent. I’m a person who travels a lot, i have seen that.

So, how do we counter him? By creating a situation saying that he is intolerant or that under his rule, the country has become intolerant – let’s discredit him by saying that his policies have failed.

But amidst the noise, activist Soni Sori has actually been attacked – instead of being silent, should the PM set an example by reaching out now?

I think what happened to Soni Sori is very shameful and sad. However, do we question the Prime Minister’s integrity if he has not commented on it? And how do we know that he has not reached out?

We had a Prime Minister for the last 10 years who didn’t answer anything – he was called the silent PM. Now, anything happens in the country, Modi should be held responsible. We have a chief minister in Delhi who openly calls the PM of the country a psychopath and coward – what is the biggest freedom of speech you need in this country?

Despite freedom of speech, do you feel Congress stayed silent on the Kashmiri Pandits’ plight?

Everybody stayed silent. I don’t want to blame any political party – all parties kept mum.

Kashmiri Pandits have quietly moved on. They have not picked up guns, not planted bombs, not resorted to violence. They’re still going through misery – but Pandits are resilient and aren’t a vote bank.

Some people have written that Anupam Kher has woken up to this now – but i was at the first Kashmiri Pandit refugee conference which happened in 1993.

We are living examples of being refugees in our own country.

Does the concept of secularism need a new look?

Well, these words ‘secularism’ or ‘intolerance’ are basically coined by certain sections of intellectuals. I’m in an industry where secularism is the most amazing thing. I’ve never felt that my light boy is from one religion or camera man is from another religion. Three Khans ruled this industry for the last 20 years, based on their hard work.

I think this turmoil is social churning – and solutions will come out of it.

Words can leave the deepest wounds — Y Deshmukh to Rajdeep S

February 24, 2016
Yashwant Deshmukh Headshot

Dear Rajdeep, I Am Not Communal And You Are Not Anti-National

Posted: 22/02/2016 21:59 IST Updated: 22/02/2016 22:33 IST

Dear Rajdeep:

I read your powerful blog “Yes; I am an Anti-National“. It was an extremely intense and powerful assertion. I found myself in agreement with almost everything you have written. And I consider myself a nationalist. So I couldn’t figure how you said everything that a nationalist would find it hard to disagree with, and then managed to call yourself an anti-national! That feat truly stumped me.

I agree with nearly everything you wrote (the differences are on account of me being born a Banarasi rather than a Mumbaikar). Yes; the country’s polity was divided by secular versus pseudo secular fault lines. But not just in the 1990s, as you argue. The divide was always there, right from the start in 1947. It’s just that it surfaced because of electoral manifestation later on. You also argue that 2014 was the year that changed a lot, citing your book. I feel India has remained the same. All that changed in 2014 is that it forced a certain sect of intelligentsia to change the way they stereotyped India.

Yes, I agree that the current issue is another divide, and frankly a far more insidious one, created between ‘national’ and ‘anti-national’ forces. I share your agony of feeling like “anti-national”. I have also been similarly labeled. It was way back in the 1970s, during a time that some communal-minded people refer to as the “Emergency”. I was not angry. Afterall, I was just 3 years old then.

Those media-wallahs that disagreed with the establishment became “Enemy of the state” overnight. My father was one of them.

You have been called anti-national by social media. We were branded anti-national by the socialist media. The word ‘Socialist’ had just been forcefully and unconstitutionally added to the preamble of our Constitution. And Media was what the cabal of Left-oriented Congress establishment thought that Media should be. Those media-wallahs that disagreed with the establishment became “Enemy of the state” overnight. My father was one of them. And therefore, his family members, including his 3-year-old son, became enemy of the state. There were hundreds and thousands of individuals and families like us who were declared “Enemy of the state”. I was not angry then.

But the coarse political discourse right after those years angered me, just as it does today, when secularism certificates are being liberally distributed. It makes me want to scream: Garv se kaho hum desh-bhakt hai (Say proudly that you are a nationalist).

Yes, I am a proud nationalist because I believe in an expanded definition of the right to free speech as spelt out in Article 19 of the Constitution. The only two ‘reasonable restrictions’ are incitement to violence and hate speech. What constitutes hate speech is open to debate. Is, for example, the slogan of “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge; Insha Allah; Insha Allah”, which openly calls for a Jihadi cause, to be seen as violating the law or not? And does it spread enmity among communities? And by the way, ‘Raaj karega khalsa’, was NOT the slogan of the Khalistanis, is was a historical slogan that Khalistanis tried to misuse. And that is why it was not deemed seditious by the Supreme Court in the Balwant Singh versus State of Punjab case. The term “Khalsa” is used for the good teachings of all the Gurus and it also denoted the good governance of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. And yes, as a proud Nationalist, I will scream aloud for “Raaj Karega Khalsa” to wish for the real spirit of Khalsa, which saw the Gurus give their lives to protect India and its inclusive culture from the culture of onslaught.

india soldier

Yes, I am a proud nationalist because I am discomfited by the sloganeering and violence at Patiala Court. I do not see it as an act of Patriotism. A majority of proud nationalists Indians (shall we call them PNIs?), including me, said on social media that lunatic lawyers or a certain violent idiot BJP MLA should be taken to the cleaners by the court because they are not above the law and criminals should be allowed to hide behind the guise of patriotism. And no, I am not supporting anyone in power who tries to protect these violent lunatics. Glad that we have a common ground between us on this issue.

Now in similar fashion, anyone in support of Parliament terror convict Afzal Guru can be taken to the court and let the court decide. The courts are indeed the only one to decide on “Afzal Hum Sharminda Hain; Tere Katil Zinda Hain”; simply because the “Katil” in this “Tere Katil Zinda Hain” case is the Supreme Court of India. It’s the SC that decided to hang the terrorist Afzal Guru.

I once again agree with you that these speeches are primarily an anti-government tirade. But it is the government of India, not a government of the BJP. Should we see the students as potential terrorists or as political sympathizers of the azadi sentiment? Well, it depends. If you visualize a young Afzal Guru raising similar slogans twenty years back, you might not have an easy answer to it. And is that ideological support enough to brand them as jihadis who must be charged with sedition? Again, it depends. If you deem the slogan “Jo Hindu Hit Ki Baat Karega, Wahi Desh Par Raaj Karega” as communal and spreading enmity between communities, as you do, I guess “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge; Insha Allah; Insha Allah” could also be regarded as such?

Yes, I am a proud nationalist because in a plural democracy I also believe we must have a dialogue with Kashmiri separatists.

You see, it’s all struck in branding somewhere. And freedom of expression is not really a one-way traffic. It works both ways. I opposed the arrest of Kanhaiya because I am convinced that his speech was politically brilliant and absolutely harmless. The real “anti-national” culprits are on the run. They should have been charged with sedition, not Kanhaiyya.

Yes, I am a proud nationalist because in a plural democracy I also believe we must have a dialogue with Kashmiri separatists as we must with those in the North-East who seek autonomy. I remain the only pollster to have travelled to all the corners of the ‘troubled’ Kashmir to poll the locals. We had no hesitation in putting it on the cover of The Week magazine that majority of Kashimiris believe that polls will be “rigged” and that they don’t think a solution is possible within the Indian Constitution. Yes, I am a proud nationalist and I’m also the only journalist who generated empirical data to give statistical voice to people in Kashmir Valley that don’t wish to be part of India. We tried to give a concrete number to their sentiments on what would happen if a plebiscite were carried out.


Yes, I understood that it’s a society in conflict and transition, and venting “anti-India” slogans was a good way of protesting what they saw as “Indian Occupation”. But I also understood that the issue of “Kashmiriyat” has been very interestingly wrapped over by the Jihadi ideal of world peace, if you know what I mean. Even the Hurriyat leaders now regretfully concede this in private conversations.

Yes, I am a proud nationalist who worked for 20 years on a peace-poll to give statistical voice to the “Idea of Kashmiriyat”. Be it in Sri Nagar or in New Delhi or for that matter even in Washington DC. But I refuse to be that anti-national who would give legitimacy of dialogue to Jihadi ideas under the garb of freedom of expression. Every human being must have a right to freedom of expression. But not Jihadi terrorists. Why? Simply because it’s a right given to humans.

Shouting down “alternative views”, be they on prime time TV or on the street, is not my idea of India either.

Yes I agree on all your assertions that prosecute all those who break the law, incite violence and resort to terror but don’t lose the capacity to engage with those who dissent. As long as those who dissent don’t also support the terror attack on our Parliament. Yes, the right to dissent is as fundamental as the right to free speech. Shouting down “alternative views”, be they on prime time TV or on the street, is not my idea of India either. But which alternative views, to be precise? Are we really going to offer the “alternative” of “Bharat Ki Barbadi Tak, Jang Rahegi Jang Rahegi”? Well, I don’t think that alternative should be on the negotiation table. Yes, I agree with you that if support for Afzal Guru is to be seen as ‘sedition’, then at least half the erstwhile cabinet in Jammu and Kashmir, where the BJP is in Coalition with the PDP, would be held guilty. But the prudent journalist in me knows that the PDP’s stated position has been to protest Afzal’s hanging as a miscarriage of justice. But are they shouting for “Bharat Ki Barbadi Tak”? Arguing “travesty of justice” is different from shouting “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge, Insha Allah Insha Allah”. Yes, as a proud nationalist, I do feel that the Hindu Mahasabha turns criminal in glorifying Nathuram Godse. And yes, when they observe 26 January as black day, I do consider them an anti-national organization in that context. You might be surprised to know Rajdeep, that most proud nationalists also feel the Sadhvi Pragyas, Sakshi Maharajs or for that matter even the Pravin Togadias end up being anti-nationals by spreading their utterly stupid and divisive message.

I agree with you that definitions of nationalism should not be shaped by the convenience of power politics.

Yes, I agree with you that definitions of nationalism should not be shaped by the convenience of power politics. This is why I openly wished that the confrontation with the pro-Afzal gang in JNU and in all other campuses in the country should have been picked up by the student wings of other political outfits–the NSUI, AISA or CYSS; not by the self-appointed champions of nationalism. The day NSUI and CYSS picks up the confrontation with Afzal gang in all the campuses, we will not be defining nationalism by the convenience of power politics.

Yes, I am a proud nationalist and Hindu and although I don’t wake up to the Gayatri mantra, I do observe certain other personal practices. For instance, even though I travel around the world, I don’t eat beef and pork. Because beef was never served on my family’s dinner table and pork has never been served at the homes of innumerable friends and colleagues. What’s the point of eating something that I can’t share with my family, friends and colleagues? But this is my own personal decision and I don’t at all subscribe to anyone, including BJP minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who wants to link diet and treason.

india food diversityYes, I do celebrate the rich diversity of my country through food, knowing and respecting fully well that the largest religion of India finds beef offensive and the second largest finds pork offensive. Resist the temptation for a moment to typecast me as a typical vegetarian Banarasi Brahmin. Having been virtually raised at the home of our Bengali neighbors, the De family, I am pretty emotional about my Doi-Maach. And having been blissfully adored by my nani jaan at our neighbours’, the Atahar Nabi family in Lucknow, I know how the real shami kebabs melt in the mouth.

I will also fight lawless lawyers who attack women journalists in the name of ‘Bharat Mata’.

The right to food of choice of my friends, colleagues and family is absolute and I choose to respect them by not eating certain things. It is again a freedom to respect their sentiments. I cherish this freedom to respect them and I celebrate it by not consuming anything that might offend them, be it beef or pork. Giving that respect makes me a proud nationalist. Yes, I am a proud nationalist because I will also fight lawless lawyers who attack women journalists in the name of ‘Bharat Mata’. And I also don’t forget Kashmiri Pundit women who were targeted by “sympathizers” of the cause of Azadi. I am a proud nationalist who, just like you, admires the sacrifice of our jawans, which is why I love the idea of the Indian flag flying high in university campuses. What is the point in admiring the jawans if you can’t admire the cause they give their lives for–to protect the ‘Aan-Baan aur Shaan’ of the tri-colour? I am a proud nationalist and that is why I support gay rights. I might also be against the death penalty on principle, but I don’t protest against the penalty “selectively” when the criminal happens to be a terrorist working for the cause of “Azadi”. If one is against the death penalty in principle, then one should have the guts to oppose it when a serial rapist or murderer is taken to the gallows. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anyone in JNU taking out a procession to protest against the hanging of Dhananjay Chaterjee or Auto Shankar. Why that is all such voices “against the death penalty on principle” get amplified only when the person taken to gallows happens to be an Afzal or a Kasab or a Yakub Memon? As a proud nationalist, I also find any violence in the name of caste, religion or gender unacceptable. This is why I find it ridiculous when Brahmin votes are caste politics but Yadav votes are merely community consolidation. I do find it weird when Hindu polarization is termed communal and Muslim polarization is termed by the same intellectual brigade as the great secular strategy. I hate to be “Selective” in such criteria and find both of these phenomenon as communal and casteist. And yes, just like you, I like raising these inconvenient truths in the public domain.

The wound of atrocities that have been inflicted on the oppressed classes in our country for centuries need affirmative action to heal.

But above all else, I am a proud nationalist because I believe in Ambedkar’s concept of a republican constitution that places the citizen and rule of law at its core with Uniform Civil Code. I also agree that no one has the right to impose their vision of ‘cultural nationalism’ on a diverse society in the guise of ‘one religion, one culture’. But yes, this is certainly ‘one nation’ for sure and I am not apologetic to state that. The law of this nation should be equal to everyone, regardless of gender, religion or culture. We love to highlight this, barring the occasions when a case like Shah Bano flies in our face and we are left with our “constitutional duty” to make minority women suffer secular injustice, just because it makes it politically incorrect to take a morally correct stand on this issue.

temple women india

The wound of atrocities that have been inflicted on the oppressed classes in our country for centuries need affirmative action to heal. That’s why I am a proud supporter of reservation policies. I hate when ‘menstruating” women are considered “impure” and not allowed to enter any place of worship. The pinned tweet on my profile says “If Women can fly planes, conduct open-heart surgeries & shoot at the border wearing sanitary napkins, they can go & pray in any temple as well”. Yes, I say all of this due to my conviction that being a proud nationalist makes it necessary to do so.

I would love to seek solace in the legend of your original icon, Muhammad Ali. I am glad you mentioned that piece of history. But you forgot to emphasize that Muhammad Ali did not threw his gold medal into the river screaming “Amreeka tere Tukde Honge; Insha Allah Insha Allah”. He did it for the much larger cause of equality for all fellow citizens under the same national flag of the USA. As he lit the torch at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, it was America’s way of apologizing for all the inequalities that its “laws as per the constitution” allowed to happen. But I don’t see any such case of “institutional” or “constitutional” inequality in India. And if you are asking me to give equal and similar space to “Bharat Ki Barbadi Tak” due to freedom of expression, I am sorry, I just can’t.

I am sorry that I am unable to find anything worth being apologetic about for being a proud nationalist, which you have portrayed as a source of everything that is wrong with this country. You are asserting that you are an anti-national by claiming all the right virtues for yourself, while demeaning and belittling my feeling of being a proud nationalist, even though I subscribe to all the right virtues that you listed. I hope you realize your folly and say sorry one day.

No, I am not communal and you are not anti-national.

With affection and regards

Post-script: I kind of disagree with you that the right to free speech must include the right to offend so long as it doesn’t incite violence. Not all forms of violence are physical. Words can leave the deepest wounds.

The hidden agenda in overt sloganeering — Sandhya Jain

February 24, 2016


Tuesday, 23 February 2016 | Sandhya Jain |

Recent incidents in universities bear the hallmark of pilot projects aimed at derailing the Modi Government’s efforts to revitalise the economy, to punish it for distancing from the US-backed chaos in West Asia

The pro-secession-for-Kashmir meeting organised by the pro-Maoist Democratic Students Union at Jawaharlal  Nehru University on February 9, could well have been an official function of Delhi University if a particular candidate had become Vice Chancellor in 2010.

Readers of this column may recall that in September 2010, the UN Information Centre in Delhi hosted an ‘India Ragdo’ (crush India) type of seminar at its official premises on September 29 (The Pioneer, October 12, 2010), where rabid Kashmiri women raised ‘azaadi‘’slogans. A leading candidate for the post of Delhi University Vice Chancellor admonished exiled Pandits to ‘stop the litany of injustices and break out of victimhood’ (she lost to Mr Dinesh Singh following protests to the Union Home Ministry).

Earlier, in May 2000, two Army Majors (both Kargil heroes) and a civilian were beaten to pulp in the presence of JNU officials and teachers for protesting against an anti-India poem recited by a Pakistani artist at its open air theatre.

Clearly, our universities have long been nurturing venomous anti-national teachers and students who thrive on state-funding but peddle alienation from the nation-state and its civilisational ethos. Intelligence agencies must monitor these intellectual militants and watch the activities of American NGOs that work closely with the US Government in sponsoring coloured revolutions in other countries.

Recent incidents in Indian universities bear the hallmarks of pilot projects aimed at derailing the Modi Government’s efforts to revitalise the economy through cooperation with friendly nations, to punish it for distancing from the US-backed chaos in West Asia, and for not kowtowing to Washington on foreign and domestic economic policy. The current turbulence in Haryana could be part of this continuum.

Recall the sudden high decibel campaign against the ‘politics of intolerance’, followed by the glorification of Yakub Menon (convicted for his role in the 1993 Mumbai terror attacks) at the University of Hyderabad. But this was eclipsed by the suicide of student Rohith Vemula.

To overcome this setback, a commemoration of Afzal Guru (convicted for his role in the 2001 attack on Parliament House) and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front co-founder Maqbool Bhat was organised at the JNU on February 9, in the guise of a cultural event. A similar function was organised by SAR Geelani, acquitted in the Parliament House case, at the Press Club of India on February 10 (space booked on February 8).

It is a mystery why the JNU authorities permitted the DSU leader, Umar Khalid, rather than the Students Union, to host the February 9 event. It was only when the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad warned that the plan was to protest the “judicial killing” of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, and demand independence for Kashmir, that permission was cancelled. Khalid, who went underground after appearing on a television channel on February 10, is the son of SQR Ilyasi, chief of the Students Islamic Movement of India before it was banned.

After Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested (February 12) for allegedly raising seditious slogans during the meeting that was held near a campus eatery, and SAR Geelani arrested for sedition, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India leader D Raja and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi rushed to JNU to support the radicals in the name of freedom of expression. Another goal was to firm up an anti-Government unity prior to the Parliament session.

Shades of a coloured revolution became visible when Kashmiri separatist Masrat Alam’s slogan, ‘Bharat ko ragda de ragda,’ reverberated in West Bengal’s Jadavpur University (February 16), where live coverage by television channels made it impossible to pretend the footage was doctored. A yawning silence followed the ‘Thank JNU’ placards, Pakistani flag and Islamic State banners that surfaced in Srinagar.

In a post to a major newspaper, a DSU supporter claimed that several Kashmiri students from inside and outside the campus attended the event, along with the JNUSU, Students Federation of India and All India Students Association. Angered by ABVP slogans, ‘Ye Kashmir Hamara hai’, they retorted, ‘Hum kya chaahte? Azaadi!’ and‘Tum kitne Afzal maaroge, har ghar se Afzal niklega’. He said the Kashmiri students from outside JNU were enraged to see the ABVP cadres and shouted, ‘Bharat ki barbadi tak, jung rahegi, jung rahegi’.

Left-liberals who rushed to defend the provocateurs in articles across the mainstream media, admitted nasty slogans were raised but argued that, somehow, ‘Bharat ko barbad karenge’ is not anti-national. Khalid’s sister told the media that her family did not subscribe to the slogans shouted by the students. By this time, it was clear that the police were looking for DSU members Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Riazul Haq and Rubina Saifee, for organising the pro-Afzal Guru event and participating in anti-India activities.

As the case against Kanhaiya Kumar is sub-judice, it would be inappropriate to comment on his alleged role at the event. But it is pertinent that while video clippings of the function surfaced soon after it began, allegations of doctoring of tapes were made only as late as February 19, one week after his arrest, by a television channel and its guest speakers.

These claims were not made at the time of the arrest; when Kanhaiya was produced before the Patiala House court for remand; or even when he approached the Supreme Court for bail. His voluble lawyers never said this in their innumerable interactions with the media, nor have they placed any such evidence before the court. This appears to be an afterthought.

Interestingly, within 48 hours of the event, 455 faculty from American universities released a statement backing the protestors. The most eminent, Sanskrit scholar Sheldon Pollock (no 319) must understand that outside select grooves of academia, few Indians have heard of him. Those who have, wish to know his views on the US Government’s vindictiveness towards Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and the brutalised innocents of the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose wails were choked by the free press of his free country. He should recall that even fellow Americans ignored the academics’ diatribe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi last time he visited the United States.

Likewise, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk may like to pontificate on Ankara’s oppressive policies towards the Kurd peoples and its aggression against Syria, and the continuing Baloch genocide by Pakistan. The aged Noam Chomsky is just another white man who burdens himself with every cause outside America. Grow up, guys, your eminence should make an impact inside your own countries.

Calling for country’s ruin in the name of dissent unacceptable: IIT-Madras professors write to President

February 24, 2016

Calling for country’s ruin in the name of dissent unacceptable: IIT-Madras professors write to President

PTI | Feb 23, 2016, 07.16 PM IST
Teachers of IIT-Madras have petitioned President to save universities from turning into war zones.Teachers of IIT-Madras have petitioned President to save universities from turning into war zones.
NEW DELHI: Wading into the JNU row, a group of IIT-Madras faculty has expressed concern on institutions of higher learning being converted into “war zones”, saying that calling for the country’s “dismemberment and ruin” in the name of dissent is not acceptable.

In a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, the 56 faculty members said there is a need to save educational institutions from the scholarship of abuse and hate and sought his intervention.

“In the name of academic autonomy, angry academics should not wage their ideological wars, nor can an institute campus be beyond the norms of the society outside in matters of abusive and hateful expressions. Calling for dismemberment and ruin of our country in the name of dissent is not acceptable, even in a university,” the letter said.

“We feel concerned about the situation in the country where institutions of higher learning are being converted into war zones by some academicians, politicians and sections of media.

“We support intellectual freedom, and alternative views are a must for democracy and creativity. However, there is a deep distortion of the meaning of academic freedom which is leading to a vitiated atmosphere in the campuses,” they said.

They have requested the President to take steps for saving educational institutions from the “scholarship of abuse, hate and discord” and restoring the atmosphere of sobriety, reflection and harmony necessary for genuine scholarship, Shreepad Karmalkar, a professor and one of the signatories, said in a statement.

Sedition law should stay — Soli Sorabjee

February 24, 2016

Sedition law should stay, but its interpretation must be specific and not wide-ranging as in British era

February 19, 2016, 7:49 AM IST in TOI Edit Page |
No fundamental right in our Constitution is absolute. Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted on the grounds specified in Article 19(2). It is significant that during the debates in the Constituent Assembly the founding fathers, in view of their bitter experience of the application of the sedition law by the British colonial regime, deliberately omitted ‘sedition’ as one of the permissible grounds of restriction under Article 19(2) on freedom of speech and expression.

However sedition as a criminal offence remains in the IPC and provides for inter alia sentence of life imprisonment and fine upon conviction. Section 124A was challenged in the Supreme Court as violative of the fundamental rights of free speech guaranteed by Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. The Federal Court of (British) India presided over by the distinguished Chief Justice, Maurice Gwyer, ruled that sedition law is not to be invoked “to minister to the wounded vanity of government … The acts or words complained of must either incite to disorder or must be such as to satisfy reasonable men that that is their intention or tendency”.

The Privy Council did not approve of the Federal Court judgment and placed a wide and literal interpretation of the section. According to the Privy Council any speech or writing which evinced disloyalty or ill feelings towards the government could be regarded as sedition and persons guilty of such acts could be prosecuted and punished for committing the offence of sedition. Our Supreme Court in its landmark decision in 1962, in Kedarnath versus state of Bihar, dissented from the view of the Privy Council and preferred the view of the Federal Court.

According to the Supreme Court, mere criticism of the government or comments on the administration, however vigorous or pungent or even ill-informed, does not constitute sedition. The Supreme Court limited the application of Section 124A (sedition) to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence. Incitement to violence is the essential ingredient of the offence of sedition.

That is our law, that is how Section 124A was interpreted and upheld as constitutional by a Constitution Bench. Therefore the question whether certain speech or acts constitute sedito Afzal Guru by commission of acts against the government or advocate its overthrow by violent means. If, and i repeat if, a person has said Hindustan murdabad, that the state is tyrannical and it is better to do away with it, necessary to overthrow it, that would constitute sedition. But these facts have to be established in a court of law by following proper procedure.

It is not for lawyers or political workers to prejudge the issue. An accused cannot be denied his or her fundamental right to fair trial by assaulting him or her or their supporters or their lawyers, as that would militate against the rule of law and also disrupt administration of justice by regular courts of the land. These basic principles must be kept in mind in all cases. Mob rule and mob justice cannot be permitted however strongly one may dislike the accused and his alleged statements. If that happens the very basis of a civil society is undermined and there is no vibrant democracy prevalent in our country. In my view Section 124A ‘Sedition’ as interpreted by the Supreme Court is necessary. Its misuse is no ground for its deletion.