Saturday, February 8, 2020

Impertinent diatribes of intellectuals uninformed of ground realities

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference

We had seen that during the anti-CAA protests many folks came in with their own agendas, that included freedom to Kashmir, cutting off the North East, Fee structure of JNU and what not! Social Affairs Editor of The Hindu, G. Sampath, felt left out so he went a step further. Actually, he went a step backward and bought in everyone’s favorite topic – Demonetization and GST!
In a piece titled “The tragedy of the regime’s co-travelers” , G. Sampath confidently tells us that “They are called upon to defend the government…”. I always wonder how it is possible for editors to be so very disconnected from the ground reality. Is this the bubble they are all living in? That the supporters of many of Modi government’s actions “are called upon to defend”. It is therefore little wonder that the country didn’t buy into their propaganda during the 2014 and 2019 elections!
The article begins with a banal reference to Kanhaiya Kumar. It is amazing how Kanhaiya Kumar, their “co-traveler” gets resurrected every now and then. G. Sampath then tries to psycho-analyse the various groups that support either the BJP or Prime Minister Modi. In his own words (emphasis mine), “These include individuals with an independent professional identity that preceded their association with the BJP — economists, historians, statisticians, diplomats, journalists, and all kinds of specialists whose loyalty to the truth of their domain expertise would, under normal circumstances, trump their allegiance, if any, to the regime in power.
These arrogant journalists tend to forget that engineers, doctors, traders, businessmen, accountants, teachers, entrepreneurs etc have not only strongly supported the Modi government, they have also successfully and strongly exposed the lies of newspapers like The Hindu (where G. Sampath works for). Instead of reflecting on the agenda peddling, the author focusses on creating an imaginary “tragedy”. He claims Demonetization “killed the economy”. Our economy has continued to grow (at different rates) after the demonetization exercise too. Would G. Sampath bother to explain how a growing economy is the same as “killing the economy”. Or is it my “tragedy” that I have to even pose such a basic query to the esteemed editor?
He cites lynching, GST, Article 370, Triple Talaq and of course the CAA as “indefensible” and therefore supporters are finding it difficult to defend it! Clearly, the esteemed editor is not reading the 100s of articles on social media that validate the support of CAA and Article 370. Clearly, the esteemed editor has not even listened to one word of the various speeches of the leadership of BJP, starting from the PM himself. Instead he is doing what media does best – create imaginary divides and false propaganda.
Not to be left far behind, Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote a long article in the Indian Express – “Beyond Electoral Identities”. He enlightens us with a startling fact – “The BJP wants to win elections. But it also has an agenda beyond elections and the normal workings of politics: The cultural transformation of India.
Oh boy! How dare a political party aims to win elections? This one reason is enough to know how dangerous the BJP is! How selfish of BJP to “want to win”. I, for one, am totally convinced that the BJP should give up its “want” and let others win so that P.B.Mehta can get back to influencing policy!  
Elsewhere he asks us - “Would you really be a BJP man if you said something as decent as “let us listen to the protestors?”” Like I mentioned above, I often wonder the nature of the bubble these esteemed specialists live in. The government has answered every single question of the “protestors” at multiple platforms – Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, TV Interviews, Print interviews, Press conferences, and speeches to the public. There is a reason why the “protests” are now limited only to a small area in Delhi and have subsided everywhere else. If people like P.B.Mehta don’t want to listen to the fact that the government has heard the protestors, how is it the fault of the government or even the “BJP man”? Shouldn’t there be a limit to the chicanery these folks spread?
After ranting on Hindutva, P.B.Mehta goes on to talk about how BJP wants to make dividends through violence. I wonder where P.B.Mehta was, when “protestors” went on a violent rampage in the garb of protesting? Was that violence exhorted by the BJP? Or in his words, was the violence an “incitement by Amit Shah”? Their desperate craving for violence in India where the perpetrator belongs to a certain religion has been met with stony resolve and silence. Is that why these folks are so frustrated? Are they unable to fathom the fact that the vast majority of the country wants to go about living their lives in a peaceful non-disruptive manner? Are they shell shocked that their attempts to spread lies are met with steely resolve to ignore the lies and help in building the country?
To my mind, nothing else explains these continuous rants on the party, leadership and the supporters. The people of the country are wise enough to know when to punish whom. Today, the BJP has one of the best feedback mechanisms amongst all parties. The day they actually stop “listening” to people, the people will boot them out. Until then, journalists and their ilk must start listening to people too!

Opposition to CAA: Here is how the assorted ‘Liberals’, ‘Activists’ and opposition members kept changing the goalpost

The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference

On account of their religion, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Parsis, and Buddhists of three neighbouring Islamic countries were persecuted. They came to India seeking shelter. Through totally constitutional means, India stood by them by bringing in CAA 2019. Every single question asked in the Parliament of India was responded to by the Home Minister of India. It is one thing for political parties to have opposed this, but what was simply shocking was how the English language media simply went berserk after the Act was passed.
They first asked if this is the most important thing that needs to be done. The argument was killed almost instantly because, in the same Parliament session where the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed, GoI also passed fifteen other bills that include The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, The SPG Act, the merging of Daman & Diu and Dadar & Nagar Haveli Union Territories amongst others!
They then asked why this was done in such a hurried fashion, without any proper debate. There is a 2003 committee report tabled in Parliament recommending CAA. Bill first introduced in July 2016. Sent to another committee which submitted a report in Jan 2019. Lok Sabha passed it in Feb 2019 but Rajya Sabha rejected it. Bill introduced again (with changes) in December 2019. Both houses of Parliament passed it. If they slept for 16 years while the debate was going on, is it the country’s fault?

They then said BJP used brute majority to push through the bill that is “unconstitutional”. Turns out the Congress party demanded the same in the year 2003. Turns out that the Left parties also demanded the same in the year 2012. In addition to the BJP, parties such as BJD, JD(DU), TDP, YSRCP, SAD, AIADMK, Shive Sena, MNPP, NPF, NDPP, MNF also supported the bill. How does this amount to pushing a bill through brute majority?
They then asked how dare you exclude Muslims. When asked to explain if Muslims are persecuted in a Muslim country for practising Islam, they had no answer. When explained that not a single Indian Muslim will be impacted by CAA, they refused to listen. When explained that any migrant from anywhere in the world can still apply for citizenship, they exhibited unparalleled stubbornness in accepting the explanations.
They then asked why not give citizenship to other persecuted groups from other countries. When told that India has already given citizenship to nearly 4,61,000 Tamils (yes, nearly FOUR LAKHS) from Srilanka from 1964 to 2008, they went into hibernation. When told about how India gave citizenship to Hindus from Uganda who were thrown away from that country, they pretended as if Uganda didn’t even exist. The Home Minister of India made a special about the Dandakranya project of 1958 to rehabilitate persecuted tribals from the then East Pakistan. They ensured they didn’t print anything about this project!
Meanwhile, they were continuously resorting to violence. They damaged assets of the country. They burnt buses with people in them (luckily no one died). They beat up people. They first tried to mask the violence by calling them as mere “protests”. When arrested, they cried fascism. When prevented, they shouted emergency. When asked why they expected the state not to stop violence, they fell in line and begged compatriots to stop the violence.
They then asked again – how dare you decide not to give citizenship to Muslims? Turns out just in the past 5 years, nearly 600 Muslims were granted Indian citizenship based on existing rules. No new restrictions have been introduced going forward too. There is NO RULE in India that prohibits granting citizenship based on religion. So what do they do now?
They then moved away from CAA and said you are bringing in NRC to throw out Muslims. They were explicitly told that the modalities of a nationwide NRC haven’t even been discussed. They were told that no Indian citizen needs to be ever worried about anything. At multiple forums, by multiple ministers, many assurances were given that this baseless rumour is being only spread by those who hate the country. Clueless on how to react, they then introduced a whole new angle.
They then asked why you are doing NPR. They were then told that NPR was done before. They were told how NPR helps all governments plan their social schemes in a much robust fashion. While they refused to listen, except for Kerala and West Bengal governments, all other state governments have agreed to go ahead with the process of NPR.
They came up new slogans – kaagaz nahi dikhayenge, for example. When asked who asked for papers, no answer was forthcoming. When asked what papers were asked, no answer was forthcoming. Instead, they continued to get violent, post fake news and tears, merely because they didn’t have a way out of the trap they themselves laid.
They then told us that Modi was doing all this to divert attention. I wondered diversion from what? Because while they were busy repeating the same questions again and again, the government of India was busy with ushering in one of the biggest reforms in the Ministry of Defence – establishing the institution of Chief of Defence Staff; it was busy with one of the biggest reforms in the Ministry of Railways – the complete restructuring of the Railway Board; it was busy with solving the decades-old suffering of Bru-Reang refugees in Manipur; it was busy signing the Bodo Accordand bringing in closure to decades-old violence; it was busy with meeting business leaders and a multitude of citizen groups to prepare for the budget; it was busy trying to complete much delayed 24,000 crores infrastructure projects; and more. Why would any government want to divert attention from so many path-breaking initiatives?!
They are now wondering why their “protests” are failing. They are coming up with explanations that they failed because they linked it to Friday prayers! They failed to realise that they failed because of one simple reason – No Indian has lost his/her citizenship because of the CAA. This was their basic premise. It’s been two months, and not a single Indian lost his or her citizenship. Not a single Indian will lose his or her citizenship because of the NPR exercise. The NRC is not even defined yet.
Ordinary citizens have seen through the chicanery of the media and political industry that wanted to feed off baseless rumours and mindless violence. The handful left to “protest” is now unable to decide the way out!

Dear Kunal Kamra, stop exploiting the name of Rohith Vemula to justify your incoherent rants against Arnab Goswami

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference

On January 28th, alleged comedian Kunal Kamra posted a video on twitter and told us that “I did this for my hero. I did it for Rohit”.
Without even watching the video, the first thought that came to my mind was as to how long will these vultures continue to feed on the unfortunate body of Rohith Vemula? And after watching the video, I am perplexed as to what relevance does Rohith Vemula even have for his incoherent rant in the video!
For the uninitiated, Rohith Vemula was a student of Hyderabad Central University who committed suicide in January, 2016. In his suicide letter (which the alleged comedian asks Arnab to f***ing read), Rohith very clearly mentioned that “No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself. No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act. This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for thisDo not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.
He said, “do not trouble my friends and enemies”, and yet these vultures continue to use him in desperate attempts to make cheap points. Infact, at that point in time, The Hindu, through their editorial, tells us that - “His suicide note, which was posted on social media, states categorically that no one is responsible for his acta statement that should not be taken at face value.” N. Ram encompasses the entire arrogant ilk of the media industry that takes gleeful pride in condescendingly tell us what should be taken seriously and what should be not. The media and political industry wanted to badly suppress these particular lines from the letter, but realised that in the age of SM, it is impossible to do so.
Rohith wrote another poignant line at that time - “I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster.” Why did he feel so? If we listen to the commentary from the media industry, we will be led to believe that he thought so because of Narendra Modi and the BJP.  In this video, a few ABVP members are asking Rohith why he tore up an ABVP poster. They ask him if this is what his organization is teaching him? For the uninitiated, his organization is Ambedkar Student Association (ASA).
The first line of Rohith’s answer is shocking: “My organization has taught me to ***k anyone who is from ABVP or Hindutva”. I listened to it thrice to confirm whether he actually used the profanity to describe what he has been taught. It is true – this is exactly what he said.
The Ambedkar Student Association was part of a “funeral prayer” in July 2015. The Hindu cleverly doesn’t mention whom the “funeral prayer” is for. It was convicted terrorist Yakub Memon. Students at that “funeral prayer” held a poster that said - “How many Yakub’s will you kill. A Yakub will emerge from every house.”
So basically these students were threatening that a terrorist will be born in every house and he will kill you. According to the disastrous media industry, we are to understand that this is all part of free speech and move along. But then ABVP guys protested against this act of the ASA. We are then told that because ABVP leaders, Sushil Kumar “incited hatred” through a facebook post. He was beaten up 30 people, and the University took cognizance of this violence. Rohith Vemula was one of the persons the University has rusticated (subsequently revoked but with no access to hostel).
Now, do you see why he felt like a “monster”? If this is what he is taught; if this is how he is brainwashed, is there any wonder he feels so lost? Is the purpose of an ideological fight, just to tear up posters and beat up people?
Rohith Vemula’s facebook posts have also revealed his dislike towards the student politics that SFI does. There are many other examples of his posts that were written about, during those harrowing times. Then there is the entire big controversy on his caste.
Why was it so difficult to grasp that Rohith Vemula fell victim to this cheap, violent and immature politics that he was dragged into? You want to respect Rohith Vemula? Do so by debating the purpose of violence on campus. Do so by debating the purpose of student unions on campus that do nothing but incite hatred. Do so by debating the worthiness of groups that disrupt university proceedings at the drop of a hat. Do so by condemning the terrorist sympathizers on our University campuses.
If anything, Rohith’s death must spark a debate on the uselessness of groupism and politics on University campuses. Not incoherent rants against a TV anchor on a commercial flight. If you are doing the latter, you are no better than all those people who killed the ambitions of a budding science writer and made him into a “monster”.

While Sharjeel Imam talks about 'breaking' Assam from India, the Narenda Modi government has worked towards connecting the North East like never before

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference

"We need to cut Assam from India. Only then will they listen to us. We need to cut Assam." 

Thus spoke yet another "peaceful protestor" at the Shaheen Bagh protests. The "peaceful protestors" perhaps forgot that this is Narendra Modi's government and "cutting India" is impossible. 
While I did comment on twitter that this is the Narendra Modi government and cutting off any part of India from India is impossible, this criminal comment also made me think how the Modi government has actually connected the North East, which was often “cut” from India, literally at times and figuratively many times, fully into the psyche of the Indian mainstream.
Integration and connectivity involve the massive construction of infrastructure that will aid travel through land, air and water. Did you know that the North East did not have a fully operational broad-gauge railway system, whilst the rest of the country did? The Narendra Modi government converted all meter gauge in the North East to Broad gauge, thereby integrating the railways of NE into the rest of India. Did you know that Meghalaya was not even on the railway map of India until the Narendra Modi government finished critical railway projects and connected Meghalaya via train? In addition to this, Shatabdi and Rajdhani expresses were introduced to the region.
When Narendra Modi announced that all the remaining ~18,000 villages in the country will get access to electricity, ~5000 of them were from the North East itself? We are all now familiar with how access to electricity in India is now a problem of the past, and how the North East has specifically gained from this daring initiative. Daring because the challenges involved in providing electricity to such a difficult terrain were overcome with exemplary commitment to improve lives of our citizens.
Many large and small infrastructure projects that were simply kept pending for decades. Did you know that many of the projects, involving 10s of 1000s of crores were actually completed by the Narendra Modi government? Bridges (infact both India’s longest road bridge and longest rail-road bridge were opened to public in the past 4 years), highways and other roads, and airports (For example, Sikkim got it’s first airport, Arunachal began commercial flight operations!) were completed on a war footing so as to ensure NE had same infrastructure as rest of India. Guwahati played host to many international sporting events in the past 4 years and progress is brisk in the construction of the National Sport University in Manipur.
Integration and Connectivity don’t just mean infrastructure. There is a key human angle to it too. One of the biggest impediments of the North East region was that militancy and separatist groups was flourishing for many decades in the North East.  Just two weeks back, the last militant group in Assam (the same state these criminals want to cut off from India) surrendered to the government and assured to cooperate with the peace of the region. Just last week, 30,000 refugees from the Bru-Raeng of Mizoram have been given a wonderful resettlement package into Tripura, thereby ending a 27-year-old problem for this persecuted tribe. News reports were agog with a surgical strike along the border of Myanmar to eliminate many terrorists creating problem in the North East states of India.
And then there are the small things. Re-classifying Bamboo from trees to grass. Why is this important to the region? Because Bamboo is grown abundantly here and is important to their economy. There are many restrictions on transportation of trees, so this reclassification boosts the economy of the region a lot. Hosting important central government conferences in the region brings in a fillip to the exposure these areas get. It has been a mandate that there have to be very regular visits by ministers of the Government of India and I don’t have to tell you how these visits will help fasten up the pace of development.
While so much progress is happening and people are reaffirming their faith in Modi, it is no wonder that these criminals get ideas such as cutting off Assam from India. These criminals have only one agenda – impede the progress of India. Even at the cost of human life. They are perhaps emboldened by all the adulation they receive on the English TV media and think “freedom of speech” will save them. Like I said at the beginning, this is the Modi Sarkar, these criminal ideas won’t work!  

Do Pawan Kalyan and other politicians in Andhra Pradesh owe an apology to the people for making misleading and divisive statements about the BJP?

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference.

Ever since Modi won a resounding mandate in May 2019, many politicians from Andhra Pradesh were making a beeline to join the BJP! The first major jolt to TDP came when 4 out of their 6 MPs in Rajya Sabha decided to merge the TDP RS unit into the BJP. Since the 2/3rd criteria was met, this happened seamlessly. Slowly, many spokespersons of the TDP started to jump ship into the BJP. And finally on January 16th 2020, popular actor Pawan Kalyan led Jana Sena party and the BJP had announced an alliance to contest all future elections together.
It is often said that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics. So one doesn’t need to be surprised when such political ‘realignments’ take place. However, many of these joining and alliances have come as a major shocker to me.  
When political parties fight against one another, it is quite common to throw around allegations of corruption, nepotism, hooliganism etc. However, the viciousness with which many telugu politicians (especially from TDP, Congress, Left and the Jana Sena) spewed venom on BJP and Modi had to be heard to be believed.
For example, Pawan Kalyan was the first politician to pick on the fraudulent “North vs South” divide that the radical left publication The Wire had published. While most of the regional media was parroting this insane argument, this was countered only on MyIndMakers! Infact this search link provides you with many instances of how Pawan Kalyan sought to spread North-South divide.
Pawan Kalyan went on to even hold meetings with intellectuals to justify this blatant divisive politics. He even setup a “Joint Fact Finding Committee” which miraculously decided that Centre owes AP nearly 75,000 crores! At every available opportunity, Pawan Kalyan thundered about the ‘step motherly treatment’ that Modi was meting out to AP. Here in this video, he is even claiming that he will die but will never merge with the BJP (Even if you don’t understand the spoken language, you can clearly understand the emotions from his body language).
What changed from May 2019 to now that Pawan Kalyan has changed his mind? The BJP did absolutely nothing new from what it was doing earlier. Why should Pawan Kalyan not apologize to the people of AP for grossly misleading them in the runup to the 2019 elections? Why were such high emotions and highly divisive politics fanned out before the 2019 elections? Why didn’t saner sense prevail at that point of time?
Or take the example of spokespersons like Lanka Dinakar or Yamini – these people were at the forefront of vicious lies against the Modi government. Lanka Dinakar used to take copies of The Hindu to TV debates to argue about the alleged Rafale scam. His emotions are there for all to see. The biggest shocker of all was RS MPs Sujana Chowdary and C.M.Ramesh. Sujana Chowdary was a minister in Modi’s cabinet and has commented that he has repeatedly reminded CBN of how AP was not being given any respect; press conference after press conference talking about how “Modi betrayed AP”; even questioning the 10% reservation to EBCs!. These people were believed to very strong Chandrababu Naidu confidantes. And hence the strong rumor going around that it was CBN who sent them into the BJP!
Even Chandrababu Naidu’s recent overtures are unpardonable. We had recently written about this topic so no point in dwelling further on this. Day in, day out, all they did was to spew unbelievable venom on BJP in general and Modi in particular. The most upsetting part of all these turncoats is how they don’t seem to realise the extent of their lies and fraud on the people of AP. Maybe the results of the AP Assembly in 2019 would have been different if they didn’t resort to such lousy divisive politics and unhealthy display of emotions and language.
This post is not discussing the advantages or disadvantages of Pawan Kalyan’s alliance with the BJP (though I strongly believe that Pawan Kalyan is too much of a maverick to stick to one stand). Or this post is not about whether BJP is right or wrong in accepting such folks who heaped so much abuse and lies on it. This post is to demand that all these politicians of Andhra Pradesh, who are jumping ship into the BJP, must at the very least apologize to the people of Andhra Pradesh for perpetrating strong lies and furthering an extremely divisive discourse in the media and general populace.
Andhra Pradesh politics would have perhaps been very different today if all these leaders behaved responsibly and furthered a much mature discourse than what they spread. These politicians must apologize to the people of Andhra Pradesh.

Stop comparing an elected government to Emergency days or Nazi Era

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference

Ever since Modi became the Prime Minister of India in 2014, it has been a fashion statement for the detractors to continuously refer to both the Emergency years and the Hitler years. While one may have been tempted to dismiss these silly comparisons as incoherent rants of a group disturbed by defeat, it was astonishing how they have persisted with this line of argument for years together and concluded that “Democracy is in danger”.
We have had to continuously hear arguments like “many have voiced fears that the four pillars of democracy have been put under tremendous pressure during Modi’s first term (2014-19) in office”. As recently as last week, the Chairman of India’s Editors Guild and serial commentator, Mr. Shekhar Gupta compared a boycott call by citizens of India to the ban imposed by Government of India during the emergency!
While this goes on, Congress party feels left out because for the obvious reasons they cannot refer to the Emergency period! So, what do they do? They go further back in history and fall back onto the Hitler years.
Thanks to many documentaries on Netflix, many people are now acutely aware of the intricate details of the horrors that Hitler and his Nazi army has unleashed. Thanks to Social Media and many publications, many people are now even more acutely aware of the horrors that Indira Gandhi and the Congress party had unleashed during the emergency.
Just today, I had learned from this blog by Guru Prasad that nearly 50 citizens were killed because they protested Sanjay Gandhi’s sterilization program. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself confirmed to Parliament that “some deaths have taken place due to firing in connection with the program”! The Indian media was ordered not to print the Turkman Gate massacre (even today we don’t know the death toll).
The poignant story of how Rajnath Singh’s mother passed away waiting for her son to come back, made me think about the stories of many such mothers and sons which have been kept away from us. We have never heard the stories of the lakhs of normal citizens who stood up to real fascism and were jailed. We haven’t heard the stories of thousands like P Rajan and Lawrence Fernandes who just went missing and were found dead later. We haven’t heard enough stories of scores of artists and activists like Snehalata Reddy who died because of the sufferings in jail during emergency.
What is more disturbing is the comparison with Hitler. In addition to the untold misery inflicted for his mis-adventures during WW2, Hitler was directly responsible for the systematic planned murder of 60 lakh Jews. 60 lakh Jews. Watching the tales of the survivors is gut wrenching. But reading the mindless comparisons of Hitler with Modi is mind numbing. What possibly has Modi done that remotely even qualifies to the horror Hitler has done?
In emergency, the Indian media was ordered to not print any news that the Government didn’t approve of. Electricity was cut to the media houses that didn’t comply with the orders. Is this remotely close to what we see today? Today, you are able to freely criticize the government of India. Every single day, we read your opinion about India is doomed. Today, when leaders or protestors are “arrested” just for a few hours because of issues they create in the name of “protest”, we are continuously bombarded with how this is equivalent to the return of the emergency.
There was no way you could have done this during Hitler’s time or during our Emergency times. There was no way you could have survived during those times doing what you are doing today.
Infact, what we see today in some Indian newspapers and TV channels is reverse emergency! These publications, particularly the English ones, do not allow enough space for any viewpoint that is remotely critical of their own. They stifle dissent that the citizens write in to them; they brand people who disagree with them as trolls and strive to block their voices out. And yet, they also have the gall to equate real horrors of dictators with today’s democratic leadership of the country!
Today’s defeatist group which continuously harps on emergency in India must be ashamed of themselves for trying to equate their freedom to the curbs of the emergency. You are doing grave injustice to the millions of people who died for merely existing during the time of Hitler. You are doing grave injustice to the lakhs of people who were tortured for merely expressing their dissent. You are doing grave injustice to all those mothers who died waiting for their children. You are doing injustice to all those families who endured unspeakable hardships for a much larger cause.
You can do a very simple thing to redeem all of this. Stop comparing the horrors of Holocaust and the Emergency to the freedom you enjoy today. Democracy is NOT in danger. Your anger towards a government does not need to translate into insulting genuine sufferers. Just stop.

The curious case of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and the three capitals of Andhra Pradesh

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

Back in the year 2014, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution that the Vijayawada region will be the capital region of the newly truncated state. The then opposition leader, Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy declared his party’s support for this move. Some folks were putting up an opposing point of view that AP badly needs decentralization and therefore everything should not be concentrated at one place only. The argument was that the capital city should merely function as administrative capital, and other cities should be developed for industries, IT etc. Many examples from other countries were cited and umpteen debates took place in TV studios for the same.
The TDP government of 2014-2019 began the process of constructing the capital city in Amaravati. Much has already been written and discussed about the progress or the lack of it, made at Amaravati. The TDP government lost the 2019 elections badly. Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy won a resounding mandate. And merely within 6 months of that mandate, he has decided to change the whole nature of the capital city and the concept of decentralization!
It is pertinent to note here that neither the YSRCP manifesto nor the speeches of Jagan before elections ever mentioned about this tectonic change. What is this change proposed? Y. S. Jagan proposes three capitals for the state of Andhra Pradesh – Administrative capital in Visakhapatnam; Legislative capital in Amaravati; Judicial capital in Kurnool!
  • Administrative capital in Visakhapatnam = Secretariat, CM’s office, all Department heads.
  • Legislative capital in Amaravati = Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
  • Judiciary capital in Kurnool = AP High Court in Kurnool
I, for one, fail to understand how this amounts to decentralization? What logical sense does it make to have Secretariat and Assembly in two different cities nearly 400 kms away? So, every time there is an Assembly session, the entire government machinery moves from Visakhapatnam to Amaravati? By the way, another genius idea floating around is that one of the sessions during the year will be held in Visakhapatnam only it seems! So now we will have two buildings built in Amaravati and Visakhapatnam for the Assembly sessions?
The proposed High Court in Kurnool is ~700 kms away from the proposed Administrative capital in Visakhapatnam. Given the large volume of cases that the government fights in the courts, what logical sense does it make to have such a huge distance between the Secretariat and the High Court? There will of course be a High Court bench setup at Visakhapatnam (and perhaps even at Amaravati) – in which case how does Kurnool become the Judicial capital of the state?
Merely days after Jagan announced his intentions, miraculously the Boston Consulting Group submits a report to the government of AP echoing all these views! Infact, BCG goes a step further and suggests that plans can be made to have some Departments in Amaravati and some in Visakhapatnam! It still beats me how the government can function efficiently if half of the departments are 400 kms apart!
Logic aside, the government of AP acquired a whopping 33,000 acres of farm land in Amaravati. The farmers gave up their land with the promise of a better plots and better infrastructure in the capital city. Today, merely because a new party is at the helm, they all stand to lose heavily from this short-sighted decision. How fair is it that the people of the state stand to lose out each time a different party comes to power? Especially when this was not part of the ruling party’s manifesto in the first place?
The farmers are out on the streets agitating day in and day out. The AP government has deployed heavily armed police in many villages. The alleged “national media” of course has no time to highlight the heavy police presence that is disrupting the farmers’ legitimate right to protest. Why should the farmers be beaten up after being cheated?
You may be tempted to ask – but why is Jagan Mohan Reddy doing this? The YSRCP has been repeatedly telling us that the whole Amaravati episode reeks of land scam. However, as with all political parties, no proofs have been cited and no cases have been filed. Perhaps Jagan also doesn’t want Naidu to get credit for Amaravati in the long run, given how deep their rivalries run, and therefore wants to spread the administration across the state. Some folks are even saying that Amaravati was promoted by the TDP is favouring only one community and therefore it should be shelved!
The idea of decentralization has been propounded so that the administration, industry and commerce are all equally spread across the state. An oft cited example is that of Hyderabad – that with heavy focus on building everything in Hyderabad, other parts of the state lost out on development. However, this did not mean that the administration itself splits across the entire state! This idea reeks more of political opportunism than of pragmatic implementation. And unfortunately, the people of AP are still left in confusion as to what their capital city is or will be. Surely, they deserve better.

Rajdeep Sardesai lies in a Hyderabad speech just days after apologising unconditionally in court for spreading fake news

The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference:

Indians no longer voting for values, but for individuals”– thus spoke India’s most controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. While his contempt towards the voter of the country is not new, this was the headline of a glowing article that The Hindu published about his speech in Hyderabad yesterday. We were told that “Mr Sardesai explained 10 trends he has spotted.”
Just days after apologizing to the High Court of Telangana (located in Hyderabad) for spreading fake news in 2007, Rajdeep Sardesai stood in front of an audience in Hyderabad and continued to mutter lie after lie. We are told that Rajdeep Sardesai stated that “debates were invited after bringing in Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”. Apparently, he further added that “democracy demands the opposite which is holding dialogue, consultation, and deciding course of action”.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill that intended to fast track citizenship for persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was first tabled in the Lok Sabha in the year 2016. Yes, in the year 2016. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016. It was further referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee on August 12, 2016. The JPC submitted its report on Jan 07, 2019. The Lok Sabha passed this bill on January 08, 2019. All through these 2.5 years, the bill was in the public domain. There were even protests in Assam against this bill. This bill went through the exact same process that any other bill goes through and through vigorous debates in the committees as well as on the floor of the house.
This bill was rejected in the Rajya Sabha and lapsed once the 16th Lok Sabha’s term ended in May 2019. The BJP and the NDA won back a stronger mandate based on their performance and promises (which included this bill). Because the government listened to the concerns from the 2016 bill, they bought in relevant provisions in the fresh bill of August 2019, that safeguarded the North East states of India.
For a moment, let’s leave aside 2016. Former MP and current VP of BJP, Shri Jay Panda tweeted excerpts from the “Report of Committee on Home Affairs on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003”. Yes, in the year 2003. The committee was headed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee. The report clearly recommends that “Indian Citizenship should be granted to Bangladeshi and Pakistani minority refugees.” It further reinforces that “Citizenship must be granted only to Bangladeshi minority refugees and not to the majority”.
So a debate around this issue has been going around since the year 2003. Now, merely because the bill did not go in Rajdeep Sardesai’s way, how can he go about lying to his audience that the bill didn’t have any debates? Merely because Rajdeep was lazy enough to not read or follow the happenings on this bill during the previous Lok Sabha doesn’t mean he goes about lying to his audience that bill wasn’t discussed? What other agendas was Rajdeep busy peddling at that time that he didn’t have time to go over the bill?
We are further told that Rajdeep opinionated that “Candidates are mattering less and less, and we are slowly becoming elected autocracy wherein the individual matters much more than any institution.” This argument is baffling beyond expectations. Any party will go to elections with a leader. Which party in the world goes to an election leaderless? The individual heading the institution guides the institution in a manner that he/she thinks befits it. If he/she does a shoddy job of the same, the people will give their verdict in various elections. Why does such simple logic escape these folks? “Elected autocracy” might sound very fanciful for the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai but this is a direct insult to the representative democracy of India.
We are further told that Rajdeep thinks it is “hazardous to predict future in India”. This is a baffling statement, especially given how Rajdeep predicted a hazardous future for India in his latest hate-filled article in India Today magazine. In today’s digital age of information, how does Rajdeep imagine that he can simply get away with such double-faced unprecedented hypocrisy?

Chandrababu Naidu’s dishonest campaign on Amaravati funds stands exposed

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

After the unsavory partition of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu announced the building of a people’s capital. He asked people from all villages to collect water and soil from their village and send it to Amaravati. He proposed that all the water and soil will be mixed and a tall memorial will be built.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the Chief Guest at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the capital city Amaravati brought water from Yamuna and soil from Parliament House – a symbolic gesture to state that the country is with the AP government in their endeavor of building a world class peoples capital city.
Narendra Modi’s support didn’t end with just the symbolic act. The central government has released 1500 crores for the creation of essential infrastructure in Amaravati. They also released 1000 crores for creation of essential infrastructure in the capital region. These funds were released in the year 2017 itself. Below is an infographic from 2018 (also published on MyInd Makers)
We had written an article in 2016 complimenting the heralding of a new capital city – “Amaravati – Towards the new beginning”.
Once Chandrababu Naidu decided to come out of the NDA in March 2018, he went bonkers on many things including the lie that nothing was given for the building of the Capital city. They went to town saying that all Modi gave was soil and water. When questioned on the above facts, he and his entire SM army told us that we will need 1 lakh crore to build a capital, what good will 2500 crores will do?
We had written a detailed article then on how Amaravati became embroiled in many unnecessary controversies – “ Chaos over Amaravati – Why is yet to be built new Andhra Capital already mired in Controversies?”. Even as recently as November 2019, I was trolled by the SM army of TDP with some random allegations that I didn’t support Amaravati!
The people of Andhra Pradesh gave a resounding blow to the TDP in the 2019 elections. The new Chief Minister, Jagan Mohan Reddy stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest by announcing that he is planning to split the Capital into three cities – Administrative in Visakhapatnam, Legislative in Amaravati, Judiciary in Kurnool. Understandably, the TDP and its mouthpiece media has begun a campaign against this idea (by the way, even I agree that this is a bad idea, but this article is not about that).
As part of this coverage/analysis, the largest circulated telugu newspaper Eenadu has been publishing many full-page articles explaining why Amaravati is the best choice. And in the full-page article published on January 9th, 2020, Eenadu tells us a startling fact – Amaravati is ready and no more additional expenses needed for Amaravati!
The info graphic article also gives details on the infrastructure that is available, and the money spent on these buildings so far. We are told that a fully equipped modern High Court was built with INR 176 crores only and is functional since Feb 2019. My mind immediately went back to the ruckus that Chandrababu Naidu (and his media) created for getting this High Court functional.
The AP reorganization act 2014 stipulated that Telangana and AP can have a common High Court till 2024. Telangana government wanted the split to happen much earlier. Chandrababu Naidu was keen to first move the secretariat and assembly to Amaravati and did so by 2016. In late 2018, the Supreme Court ordered the split of the Hyderabad High Court into Telangana and AP High Court. The AP government had submitted an affidavit stating that they are ready to have the HC functioning in Amaravati from December 15, 2018 onwards. So the SC ordered that the new HC can function from Jan 1, 2019.
And yet Chandrababu Naidu went on to create a major ruckus around this date, blaming Modi for hastening the process while not helping the government in any way! Note how the central government had already released funds for this construction between 2015 and 2017. The central government never pushed for the HC to be operational by 2019. It was Chandrababu who said he was ready and yet made the whole ruckus around this. And today, Chandrababu (and his media) is proudly proclaiming that a modern High Court has been built and is functional at Amaravati!
The Legislative Assembly and Council building cost INR526 crores, we are told. The Raj Bhavan cost INR30 crores we are told. The info-graphic also tells us that the residential quarters for Central Service officers, Judges, various state government cadre officers are at various stages of constructions. So, the 1500 crores given were indeed sufficient for the current infrastructure projects.
One of the biggest lie and fraud that was perpetrated by Chandrababu Naidu, the TDP cadre, almost the entire telugu media led by the mouthpieces Eenadu and Andhra Jyothi was that Narendra Modi is not giving any money for Amaravati. Any question regarding the funds already given and the buildings already being built was always shot down with contempt.
Chandrababu Naidu kept on telling us that the current buildings that he built are all temporary buildings only. He spent nearly 2 to 3 years trying to finalize the consultant who will build the capital city. Why will anyone release funds for construction of buildings whose plans are not even finalized? And how can anyone release more funds if Chandrababu Naidu was taking his own sweet time in changing consultants and finalizing designs?
After all that ruckus pre-2019, it was pretty shocking to see his media tell us that no more additional expenses are needed for Amaravati. This article is not discussing Jagan’s weird idea of having 3 different capital cities. This article is about how Chandrababu Naidu ran a campaign of calumny before 2019. If he had taken this positive approach before 2019, then perhaps we would have seen a different result in the elections. What is the use of repenting now?

While The Hindu talks about two sides of a national story, its coverage on CAA presents only one side

The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference:

The Director of Editorial Strategy (whatever that means) of The Hindu, Dr. Malini Parthasarathy was recently worried that the Government of India “doesn’t see two sides of the national story any more!” The “national story” she is referring to here refers to the CAA and NRC headlines. I read The Hindu daily, and reading her tweet immediately prompted me to think if Dr. Malini’s newspaper actually sees two sides of a national story?
For example, I felt that irony died a million deaths when a column titled “FACTWISE” was written by Srinivasan Ramani. Srinivasan Ramani is no stranger to spreading lies, fake numbers and analysis under the garb of “facts”. In his article, “A tale of two demands”, he boldly proclaims that, “Dr. Singh and the CPI(M) demanded citizenship for Bangla refugees, but not on the basis of their religion”
The treachery is simply astounding.  In 2003, Dr. Manmohan Singh stood up in the Rajya Sabha and said that “the minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution”. The CPI(M) party resolution in 2012 reads – “the CPI(M)] demands a suitable amendment in Clause 2 (i)(b) of the said Citizenship Act in relation to the Bangladesh minority community refugees
The full statements are widely available on the internet. I copied the above lines from the very article that The Hindu published. Both Dr. Singh and the CPI(M) are very clear that minorities in Bangladesh need help. Yet, Srinivasan Ramani had the courage to lie openly that the demands were “not on the basis of religion”! Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country. Islam is the state religion of Bangladesh. In this context, what does “minorities in Bangladesh” mean? Except for alleged journalists, it is crystal clear to everyone that the reference is based on religion because the persecution is based on religion!
Can you imagine the lies this newspaper would have spread in days when social media wasn’t active? Do you shudder at this thought? In case you think this is a one-off case, let’s look at more examples.
On December 10th, The Hindu publishes a news article that says “1000 signatories express concern”.
The Hindu
The Hindu report on scientists opposing CAA
On December 21st, more than 1000 academicians signed a letter in support of the CAA. Guess what, there was not a single reference to this letter in the newspaper on December 22nd. Don’t believe me – here is a snap of their national news section on December 22nd.
The Hindu
Or you can even search in their online section here. However, The Hindu published the PTI version of this story on their website. Now, take a look at the accompanying image that The Hindu chose to publish for this particular news item.
The Hindu
The Hindu article on CAA support use anti-CAA photo
What explains the publication of an anti-CAA image in a pro-CAA story? If an anti-CAA letter merits a publication in the newspaper, why doesn’t a pro-CAA letter merit the same? What kind of treacherous mentality aids The Hindu to squash one side of the story completely?
Around the same time that The Hindu published a “viral photo” of a girl giving a rose to policemen, Farhan Akhtar’s video of him not knowing what he is protesting against also went viral. Just one video from Rahul Kaushik that was RT’ed by Smriti Irani had a whopping 4,40,000 views!. If this is not the definition of viral, then I don’t know what is! Why is this important video, that exposes the utter callousness of popular folks, not an important news item to cover?
Let’s now see how carefully The Hindu has attempted to downplay the violence. Here is an image The Hindu has published on December 14th.
The Hindu
This Hindu captions photo of CAA violence as protest
We can very clearly see that the “students” in this image are resorting to violence. Yet, The Hindu, in their caption tells us that this image is of “JMU students protesting against CAA and the NRC”! Is this not treachery that The Hindu choses to mask violence in the garb of “protests”?
An infographic was presented by The Hindu, with the title “Rising restrictions”. This was in reference to the ban on Internet in areas where violence was happening. Please take some time to study this infographic.
The Hindu infographic on Internet ban
Once you are done with it, can you please point out how is the 2019 data in anyway indicative of “rising restrictions”? 137 instances in 2018 versus 106 in 2019! If we remove J&K, then we are looking at 59 instances in 2018 versus 31 instances in 2019! Barring the problematic J&K, 31 instances in the entire country for an entire year, in various states (including West Bengal, the liberal group’s favorite state) – is that a number we really need to be alarmed about? If we are to be alarmed about them, then here is an open challenge to the Director of Editorial Strategy, The Hindu – can you please share with us 31 editorials and op-eds in The Hindu denouncing these instances as and when they occurred?
On December 18th, The Hindu front paged the following – “21 hurt as protestors clash with police in Delhi”. Somewhere in the article we are told that 15 out of these 21 are police personnel only! No information on how police personnel were getting hurt.
The Hindu
The Hindu article on injured in CAA violence
On December 20th though, The Hindu’s headline was crystal clear – 2 die in police firing!
The Hindu article on death in CAA violence
We are also then told that “Anti-CAA protests rock the country”. This was around the same time many pro-CAA rallies were also taken out in the country. No prizes for guessing if The Hindu covered them with the same vigor or not.
The Lok Sabha passed the CAB on December 9th. Since December 10th, in addition to all of the above news published in the guise of views, following are the headlines of just some of the views that were published as Editorials & Op-eds:
  1. Dec 10th: Editorial titled “Unequal, unsecular: On Citizenship Amendment Bill
  2. Dec 11th: Congress and Partition (“The idea of religious identity being the basis for Partition has less to do with the Congress…”)
  3. 11th: A patently unconstitutional piece of legislation (“The CAB, 2019 has a sinister political logic — the first de jure attempt towards a Hindu Rashtra”. Although I wonder how does giving refuge to Christians make us a Hindu Rashtra!)
  4. 11th: Wholly subordinated to the majoritarian nation
  5. Dec 12th: A law not based on religion (about the 1950 act)
  6. Dec 13th: In the name of a majority
  7. Dec 16th: Editorial titled “Many mutinies”
  8. Dec 17th: CAA isn’t a Hindu-Muslim issue
  9. Dec 18th : Left to the whims of the executive
  10. Dec 18th: Time to defend India’s secularism (This one was by the CM of Kerala!)
  11. Dec 19th: Are fears over the CAA misplaced?
  12. Dec 19th: The last bastions of Secular India
  13. Dec 19th: Jairam Ramesh Interview – NRC places an intolerable burden on the poor and vulnerable sections
  14. Dec 20th: In thrall to its own violence
  15. Dec 20th: A tale of two demands
  16. Dec 23rd: Mixed Signals on NRC
  17. Dec 23rd: The three-step communal game plan
  18. Dec 23rd: A Hindu critique of Hindutva
  19. Dec 24th: North East in Turmoil
  20. Dec 26th: Dangerous Doublespeak
  21. Dec 26th: An Act that fails the Constitution
  22. Dec 26th: The return of the Secular
  23. Dec 27th: What are the amendments that the CAA needs
  24. Dec 28th: In CAA narrative, finding the judiciary’s lost voice (Virtually bullying the SC!)
  25. Dec 28th: Fuel to the fire: On Cabinet announcement on NPR
  26. 30th: Arms and the man: On Gen Rawat’s comments
  27. 30th: A dangerous new low in state-sponsored hate
  28. 31st: Uncovering the CAA’s larger stratagem
  29. Jan 1st: An anatomy of anti-CAA protests
  30. Jan 1st: It is everybody’s constitution
  31. Jan 2nd: The abiding power of protest
  32. Jan 4th: Defying the legalisation of the unjustifiable
  33. Jan 4th: Missing the wood: On anti-CAA resolution in Kerala Assembly
Dear reader, do you want to know how many pro-CAA articles were published by The Hindu in this period? A grand total of One. Yes, ONE. An article by Subramaniam Swamy on Dec 21st – “A premature denouncement of the Citizenship Act
What I have presented to you in this article is perhaps 50% of what The Hindu has done during the past one month. The myriad news articles trying to cover-up for the violence and the myriad views trying to spread falsehood, create fear would take an eternity to cover. However, it was imperative that this documentation was done – to showcase to the world how lopsided and one-sided coverage of this issue is being perpetrated by The Hindu. It has been proven time and again, that the last entity on earth to lecture about “two sides” is The Hindu.