The Candid Eye

August 11, 2009

Poverty stricken war hero gets award

Naik Subedar Bana Singh, who won the Param Vir Chakra for his bravery in preventing a Siachen post from falling into Pakistan Army’s hands in 1987, was on Wednesday awarded the inaugural Shivaji-FACT award for courage.

BanaSingh-all

Singh, who was feted by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was also given Rs 1 lakh with the award.

“For all the services this great hero did for the country, the government sees it fit to give him a pension of Rs 100-odd. Hence we decided to give him a cheque of Rs 1 lakh,” said Francois Gautier, the trustee of the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism, a non-profit organisation, said while presenting the cheque to Singh.

Earlier in the day, in New Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj appealed to the government to do whatever it can including changing the rules to ensure that some dignity is restored to people like Singh.

“I hung my head in shame when I learnt the conditions in which Singh lives in Jammu. The man who gave the best years of his life to the country is now being forced to run from pillar to post to make ends meet. He gets a meagre sum of Rs 100 as pension,” she said.

She wondered how a person like Singh, who has two daughters of marriageable age, will carry out his duties towards his family.

At the function in Mumbai, chants of Jai Gurudev and Gujarat ka sher ayaa overlapped as Ravi Shankar and Modi stepped on to the stage together. The two charismatic leaders, who inaugurated an exhibition on Chatrapati Shivaji, spoke about the greatness of the Marathi leader.

Gautier threw the rule book out of the window and surprised the dignitaries by inviting them out of turn and asking them to speak extempore.

Ravi Shankar, who was asked to speak of Shivaji and his spiritual side, said: “One day, Shivaji who was tired of all the problems he faced as a ruler, went to Samarta Ramdas and laid down his crown in front of the swami. Shivaji said he found the burden of ruling was too much for him to handle. The swami accepted it and when Shivaji was just about to leave, he called him and placed a proposition in front of him. The swami said he would take the mantle of the ruler under one condition: that Shivaji work for him.

“Shivaji gladly accepted and returned to rule the country with great prudence. All he needed was the burden of responsibility taken off him.”

Modi, who was asked to speak on Shivaji as an inspiration for those in public life, said: “The brand of secularism that Shivaji followed was the real deal. He wrote to the Mughal rulers, who levied a tax on Hindus, asking them to revoke the tax.

“I do not know why the government in Delhi is so uneasy when the subject of terrorism is broached. They should also learn from Shivaji. He was the person who engaged in guerilla warfare against those who invaded the country, which is a form of terrorism so to speak.

“And third, Shivaji was one of the first persons to protect the cow. Will the centre again learn a lesson from Shivaji, and if not him at least Mahatma Gandhi, who also fought for the protection of the cow, and pass a law to protect the cow across the nation?” he said.

With inputs from Onkar Singh in Delhi

Article on Rediff

 

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May 7, 2009

NOT India’s first woman saint.

I found this article thought provoking and informative. Francois Gautier, a renowned journalist, tells about responsible journalism. A simple search in Google can show that Indian reporters have simply copied the story from the foreign journalists, about Sister Alphonsa. Do foreign journalists have a right to talk about Indian History? And do the Indian Reporters have primary education in Indian History?

Here is the article:-

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Not India’s first woman saint

by Francois Gautier

Indian media went into a tizzy while covering the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun, to prove its secular credentials! Indian journalists forget that this country has had other women saints too.

As a Frenchman, I was coached right from childhood that logic, what we in France call cartesianism, is the greatest gift given to man and that one should use one’s reason to tread in life. Thus, I taught to my students in a Bangalore school of journalism, the SSCMS, that the first tool of a good reporter is to go by his or her own judgement on the ground, with the help of one’s first-hand experience — and not go by second hand information: What your parents thought, what you have read in the newspapers, what your caste, religion, culture pushes you into…

Yet in India, logic does not seem to apply to most of the media, especially when it is anything related to Hindus and Hinduism. One cannot, for instance, equate Muslim terrorists who blow up innocent civilians in market places all over India to angry ordinary Hindus who attack churches without killing anybody. We know that most of these communal incidents often involve persons of the same caste — Dalits and tribals — some of them converted to Christianity and some not.

However reprehensible was the destruction of the Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process. Compare that with the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Mumbai, which killed hundreds of innocent people, mostly Hindus. Yet Indian and Western journalists keep equating the two, or even showing the Babri Masjid destruction as the most horrible act of the two.

How can you compare the Sangh Parivar with the Indian Mujahideen, a deadly terrorist organisation? How can you label Mr Narendra Modi a mass killer when actually it was ordinary middle class, or even Dalit Hindus, who went out into the streets in fury when 56 innocent people, many of them women and children, were burnt in a train?

How can you lobby for the lifting of the ban on SIMI, an organisation which is suspected of having planted bombs in many Indian cities, killing hundreds of innocent people, while advocating a ban on the Bajrang Dal, which attacked some churches after an 84-year-old swami and his followers were brutally murdered?

There is no logic in journalism in this country when it applies itself to minorities. Christians are supposedly only two per cent of the population in India, but look how last Sunday many major television channels showed live the canonisation ceremony of Sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun from Kerala and see how Union Minister Oscar Fernandes led an entire Indian delegation to the Vatican along with the Indian Ambassador. It would be impossible in England, for instance, which may have a two per cent Hindu minority, to have live coverage of a major Hindu ceremony, like the anointment of a new Shankaracharya. What were the 24×7 news channels, which seem to have deliberately chosen to highlight this non-event, trying to prove? That they are secular? Is this secularism?

The headline of the story “India gets its first woman saint”, run by many newspapers, both Indian and Western, is very misleading.

For India has never been short of saints.

The woman sage from over 3,000 years ago, Maithreyi, Andal, the Tamil saint from early in the first Millennium CE and Akkamahadevi, the 15th century saint from modern-day Karnataka, are but a few examples of women saints in India.

What many publications failed to mention in the story is that this is the first woman Christian saint — not the first Indian woman saint.

This statement is ok, when it comes, for instance, from the BBC, which always looks at India through the Christian prism (BBC ran a few months back an untrue and slanderous documentary on Auroville), but when it comes to the Indian media, it only shows the grave lack of grounding in Indian culture and history of most Indian journalists.

As a result, they suffer from an inferiority complex.

This inferiority complex, as expressed by television’s live coverage of the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa, is a legacy of the British, who strove to show themselves as superior and Indian culture as inferior (and inheritor of the ‘White Aryans’, a totally false theory).

Is it not time to institute schools of journalism, both private and public, where not only logic will be taught, but where students shall be made aware of Indian history and of the greatness of Indian culture, so that when they go out to report, they will use their own judgement and become Indian journalists, with a little bit of feeling, pride and love for their own country?

April 15, 2009

‘If there was any evidence against me, I would have been hanged long ago’ – Narendra Modi

Filed under: Indian Politics,Narendra Modi — thecandideye @ 5:02 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Excerpts from Narenda Modi’s Interview in Indian Express.

•Suman K. Jha: How did you go from being an RSS leader to becoming the Chief Minister of Gujarat?

I was an RSS leader in Gujarat and in those days, there was a Jan Sangh leader called Natha Jhagda. He insisted that young people should join the party. So I joined the BJP in 1989-90. When the Ayodhya-Somnath rath yatra started, I helped organise it. That marked the beginning of my political career. In 1995, I became a BJP General Secretary. That’s when I closely observed how governments function. In 2001, I suddenly received a call from Atalji who told me to return to Gujarat.

•Maneesh Chhibber: We’ve been told that the Gujarat anti-terror law, which is stuck with the Home Ministry, may be referred back to the state. Your reaction?

The GCOC (Gujarat Control of Organised Crime) Bill is based on a draft that was circulated by the Government of India to the entire nation when POTA was in existence. So it’s not as though this law came in place of POTA. The draft law was passed by the Gujarat Assembly. A similar law existed in Maharashtra, but it was challenged in court. The Maharashtra High Court’s judgement amended two sections of the law. In 2004, the Government of India asked for these changes to be made in our proposed law. We made the changes, passed it in the Assembly and sent it back to the Centre. By then there was a new Government at the Centre, which had a very different agenda.
In the last three years, whenever I have met the Prime Minister and asked him about the Bill, he asked, “Oh, is it still pending?” So we don’t know if the PM is aware of why the bill is still stuck. But if the law already exists in Maharashtra, why delay it in Gujarat? I have told the government that they should write to us on whatever they think about this law so we can decide what needs to be done. They are not doing even that.

•Dheeraj Nayyar: You are one of those rare politicians who has put economic development on the campaign agenda. Why don’t other leaders do the same?

When I went to Gujarat in 2001, people told me, “Modiji, please ensure there is electricity in our homes when we sit down for our evening meal.” I know what it is to be without electricity. So I conceived a brilliant idea—Jyoti Gram Yojna. We installed 18 lakh new poles, 20,000 new transformers and some 78,000 km of new cables. It cost me Rs 1,600 crore but now Gujarat has uninterrupted power supply.

•Sudhakar Jagdish: What did you tell Ratan Tata that he decided to take the Nano factory to Gujarat?

I didn’t say a word. When controversies were on in Singur, mine was the only state that did not interfere, unlike other CMs who were writing letters inviting Tata to their states. When Tata’s top people met me, I told them that the whole world is saying the 21st century belongs to Asia. I told Tata that Nano should roll out of West Bengal. But when Ratan Tata announced his decision to leave Singur, I sent him a text message saying, ‘Swagatam (welcome)’. They have come to Gujarat because of our track record.

•Ambreen Khan: How far do you hold yourself responsible for killing the spirit of secularism in the country after the 2002 riots?

This is not a question but an accusation. And the accusation is absolutely baseless. We have a vibrant media, an active judiciary and global human rights groups working in the country. If there was even the slightest evidence that I had committed a crime, I would have been hanged long since. The government in Delhi is such that it will prevent me from returning to Ahmedabad, right now, if it finds a pretext. So if you have any evidence that Modi has done something wrong, please bring it forward. Secularism in India was not invented by the Constitution. It’s our age-old tradition.

•Ambreen Khan: Why should a Muslim vote for you?

It is this country’s curse that everything is weighed in votes. The only yardstick should be the welfare of the poor. I’ll give you the example: I have been successful in ensuring 100 per cent enrollment in schools—of both girls and boys. And when I say 100 per cent, I mean 100 per cent; I don’t see people as Hindu or Muslim as you do.

•Soma Das: Is Narendra Modi a disciplined democrat or a lenient dictator?

The fact that you are able to ask me this question and that I am answering it in your office should be proof enough of my being a democrat.

•Soma Das: If you had to vote for one of the current UPA chief ministers, who would you choose?

The system of voting in this country is through secret ballot, and I’m committed to upholding the spirit of the Constitution. On a more serious note, however, there are issues every party should consider. First, why not make voting compulsory? Second, every government should be mandated to complete the full five-year term in office—that’s what people have elected it for. Third, there should be the option for a ‘No vote’—a vote of rejection—and if a candidate gets less than a minimum percentage of votes, elections should be held again with new candidates.

•Pranab Dhal Samanta: Does it distress you that the US still hasn’t granted you a visa?

I’m deeply grateful to the US for denying me a visa. I used to go to the US a lot earlier, and there were so many Gujarati friends there that I spent eight hours a day just travelling from one place to another. Now, through video-conferencing, I address the biggest NRI conventions in the US.

•Pranab Dhal Samanta: The BJP has opposed the Indo-US nuclear deal. But how soon do you want to get nuclear energy to your state?

Nuclear power was being used in my state even when there was no deal and plans for nuclear expansion had been approved long ago. But nuclear energy will make up only six per cent of the country’s energy by 2040. If we were to upgrade the existing electricity plants, we can generate up to 15 per cent more power now.

•Suman K. Jha: Ashis Nandy had charged the Gujarat government with harassment over an article he wrote.

One citizen filed a writ against Nandy for insulting the Gujarati people. How does my government prevent a citizen from filing a writ in court? If my police had gone after Nandy, you could blame me. Nandy went to the media and claimed that the Gujarat government was hounding him. I remained silent because it’s not in my nature to get into such quarrels.

•D.K. Singh: Sonia Gandhi has apologised to the Sikh community for the 1984 riots. Have you ever considered apologising to the Muslim community for your failure as chief minister during the 2002 riots?

I have said this repeatedly: I seek punishment, not forgiveness. If I have done something wrong, punish me.

•D.K. Singh: The NHRC has indicted your government for the 2002 violence. What is your opinion of the NHRC as an institution?

Institutions need to be honoured and strengthened, and clashes between them and the government should be prevented. But there’s been no adverse remark against me so far. All the NHRC’s directives have been complied with. This is just political sloganeering. I have always said, let the inquiry commission come out with its report and let the Supreme Court decide.

•Unni Rajen Shanker: After the 2002 riots, there has been considerable insecurity among Muslims in Gujarat. How will you allay this sense of insecurity?

I’m sending every child to school, I’m providing healthcare to every citizen, I’m giving everyone a share of the fruits of development. The Sachar Committee report, you’ll be surprised to learn, says that Muslims in Gujarat are better educated than Hindus. I always address my people as my five-and-a-half crore Gujarati brothers—the entire population of the state.

•Irena Akbar: Your government is known for its efficiency. Why is the same efficiency not in evidence when it comes to securing justice for the riot victims?

The judicial system is responsible for securing justice. And it is doing its job, the government cannot do anything about it. The Supreme Court is involved, the High Court is involved. As for the compensation package, the government has announced one and implemented it.

•Ashok Kumar: Do you think it’s possible to have casteless politics in India?

I’m a living example of casteless politics. I am an OBC and I come from a most backward caste. If I can be successful, so can others. The fact that I have no caste base helps me because no one says I take decisions based on caste.

•Ruchika Talwar: Is it difficult dealing with so much criticism?

I welcome criticism, but charges made without substantiation are injurious to democracy. Whatever I’ve said here must be investigated and even if one per cent is found to be untrue, it should be publicised.

•Shailaja Bajpai: What is the reason behind increasing home-grown terrorism?

Be it Naxalism, Maoism or this latest home-grown terrorism, everything has international links. The harm to the nation occurs when a law is accused of being against a specific community. There are Hindus in Naxalism and POTA was meant for Naxal terrorists too.

•Shekhar Gupta: VHP’s Praveen Togadia was once a political ally. Then you distanced yourself from him. Some of his followers have been jailed in Gujarat. Is he your adversary now?

He is one of the five-and-a-half crore Gujaratis that I want to take along with me. If some of his followers are in jail, they must have done something to get such a punishment. If a relative of mine commits a crime he should be put in jail.

•Seema Chishti: Do you admit that your government failed to contain the situation in 2002?

A commission is looking into the charges of who failed and on which fronts. The media trial is over, the sloganeering is over. I always said that the commission of inquiry will bring out the truth.

•Seema Chishti: The NHRC’s indictment, the Supreme Court’s censure, these mean nothing?

There’s nothing in writing to substantiate what you are saying.

•Irena Akbar: Many people have questioned the Nanavati Commission’s report because it was set up by the Gujarat government, which is itself accused of wrongdoing in 2002.

The Constitution gives every state government the right to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry and to decide who’ll head that commission. My government did not appoint the members of the commission. I wrote to the Supreme Court and the High Court asking for a sitting judge to head a commission of inquiry into the 2002 riots. My request was turned down citing the workload of sitting judges. I then wrote asking for a retired judge to head the commission. I have the letter from the Chief Justice of India suggesting Nanavati’s name—the same Nanavati whose report on the anti-Sikh violence in 1984 has been applauded by the Congress.

•D.K. Singh: Did Sonia Gandhi’s description of you as ‘a merchant-of-death’ have an impact on the Gujarat elections?

I don’t think there’s a leader of such stature in the country whose one statement can alter an election’s fortunes.

•Ambreen Khan: Five years ago, you wouldn’t speak to the media. Now you interact with the media. Is this part of an image makeover?

Why didn’t I court the media? That’s because I’m focused exclusively on the development of my state. I’m speaking to the media more often these days to generate awareness about the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investment Summit coming up in January 2009. It has nothing to do with an image makeover.

•Suman K. Jha: Like Mayawati, you are building a core base and then expanding it. L.K. Advani said that you are his likeliest successor. Please comment.

There’s only one party in India that has the system of a successor. The BJP is a democratic party and there’s no question of a successor in the party.

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