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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has become one of the most reviewed books since and even before its publication in June 2017. The antici...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Advani and his protege

The shapes of things, spawning under Modi government of over a year, are in many ways exactly that any individual with slight political perception and knowledge of communalism would have forecast. Notwithstanding his grandstanding about development and economic progress, the basic verity that Modi originates from the cauldron of rabid communal politics steeped in intolerance and with a flawed sense of history remains unchanged.  Any attempted efforts to offer Modi a veneer of statesman and manipulated exonerations by different agencies and courts of the land for his role in instigating and fanning the riot of 2002 in Gujarat come unstuck when matched with the facts and his own utterances and doings from those times. What he did or did not do in Gujarat in 2002 would in any civilized nation of the world constitute crimes against humanity. As a matter of fact, many countries deemed those nefarious actions of his as such and had denied him entry until he became the Prime Minister. And he came to power not despite rather because of his role in those riots. Any misconception about him providing a good governance with focus on economic development has by now been completely laid to rest, the country is instead almost under a siege by the hardcore Hindu communalists; they constitute the core constituency of Modi that facilitated him into the office. Marauders could brazen into homes of an ordinary citizen and bludgeon members of the family mere on suspicion of beef consumption is not much different from merciless killing of Ashan Jafri and hundreds of others in one single incidence of lynching in 2002 in Gujarat. Then as the Chief Minister and now as the Prime Minister, Modi has remained steadfast in his refusal to act or speak on the issue. He refuses to be bothered by spate of killings of secular and rationalist writers in the country and instead his henchmen are busy in shifting the blame on to the victims.

Nothing better could portray the current state affairs than Sudheendra Kulkari appearing in newspapers with a blackened face at the launch of a book by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, a former Pakistani foreign minister. That face was blackened by rabid right wing supporters of Shiv Sena in Mumbai who followed the act by taunting Modi for his instigation of Gujarat riots in 2002. Who else could know the truth better than the close allies? Thuggish organization has been in cahoots with Modi in turning a progressive country into a den of communal intolerance and rabidity. The victim, Sudheendra Kulkari, himself had been a member Modi’s ruling party. That incident even had veteran BJP leader, Lal Krishna Advani speak out against prevailing intolerance. Curiously, Advani’s utterances were suggestive of him as a progressive political sage. The crude and cold reality tells that for many, if not all, communal conundrums facing India, the responsibility can be directly placed on Advani. Advani for that matter is the real culprit and responsible for many mayhems and consequent communal riots. When there was a clamor for dismissal of Modi in the aftermath of 2002 massacres in Gujarat, he was saved by none other than Advani.

To keep Modi in office despite his crimes would constitute one of the many indiscretions that Advani committed during the span of his political career. His conduct stands out by two distinct yet interrelated characteristics, cynical use of communalism for petty political gains and his utter incompetence despite a sagely veneer. Keeping in with tradition of that vile organization, Lal Advani came into politics via RSS, a rabid organization famous for celebrating murder of Gandhi. Advani remained part of Jan Sangh, a forerunner of current BJP in various capacities. When that organization joined Janata Party and won the elections in 1977 in the aftermath of internal emergency, Advani became minister for information and broadcasting. While that Janata experiment lasted two years, the Jan Sangh constituent of Advani did lasting damage through facilitation of infiltration by communal elements into every strata of government. Following its reincarnation as BJP after break up of Janata Party, Advani assumed mantle of leadership following its rout in the first election after assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. Advani as a leader of BJP turned out to be a vintage communalist and unleashed hitherto unseen bigotry. He cynically turned a dormant issue of disputed Babri Masjid into a communal frenzy that left thousands dead in its trail. For the sake of historical accuracy, that structure was never a temple; an idol was placed in the mosque through surreptitious machinations involving Hindu Mahasabha, local bureaucrats and state government of Uttar Pradesh. None of that mattered to Advani, who in a single quest of narrow political gains vitiated the entire country. Even the congress government of Rajiv Gandhi did not lack behind in utilizing the communal polarization. Serial broadcast of Hindu epics on national television in 1980s played no less part in communalization of the country from one end to another.


When Advani’s march of rabid communalism in 1989 was interrupted in Bihar, BJP brought down the national government. In the meanwhile, electorally, the communal antics of Advani had started paying dividend. It would be still be some time before BJP would come power at the center; in the interim he presided over one of the most shameful episode that befell India. In December 1991, Lal Advani over saw the total demolition of Babri Masjid. It was not just destruction of that national monument rather the entire communal fabric of the country came apart on that day of national disgrace in which Advani played the foremost part. The irony remains that every single vile act brought BJP ever-increasing share of votes; Advani’s politics of cynicism had turned entire country into rabid and cynical. That was ground created by Advani that bred the rise of ultra-communalists and opportunists like Modi. Once BJP came to power, Advani assumed portfolio of home minister charged with internal security. His tenure as minister would always be remembered for the hijacking fiasco in which that government shamelessly handed over three terrorists in exchange for the hostages. Advani shamelessly feigned ignorance about the transpirations of hijacking saga in his memoirs despite being the minister in-charge of the internal security at the time. Everything else, however, pales in comparison to his reckless defense of Modi, which makes Advani equally accomplice in the mayhem that was carried out in Gujarat. And in many ways the current state of hyper communalism can be traced back to the cynical politics authored by Lal Advani. All Modi has done is to prove himself to be the true protege of Advani.
-Rajiv Kumar

Monday, October 5, 2015

Inhabitants of gutter

It had been only six months that Indira Gandhi had been voted out power in 1977 when 11 dalits were burnt alive in Belchi. While, the jokers of Morarji Desai government busy tearing each other apart, Indira Gandhi visited the affected area atop an elephant. That already marked the turning point leading to downfall of first non-Congress government two years later and the ultimate return of Indira Gandhi to power. That Janata government experiment provided the first opportunity for the thugs of Hinduvta to infilitrate bureaucracy and other echelons of establishment at every level as Jan Sangh, a forerunner of BJP, was a constituent of that ill-fated Janata conglomerate. Only if dumb leaders of today's Congress party had taken a leaf out Indira Gandhi's life and had openly condenmed the lynching of poor pious family man and visited the family in Dadri. The place was so close to Delhi, they didn't even need to rent an elephant. Even that despicable Shashi Tharoor, who at one time had got into non-stop chanting of paeans in Modi's worship, has not spared a thought for the victims. No wonder, it is the monsters like the uncultured minister of Modi or a third rate ideologue setting the vicious agenda for the discussion so that everyone else is dragged to their habitats in gutters.
-Rajiv Kumar

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Political expediency of Indian liberals

Yesterday I posted a rhetorical question on social media whether Modi has uttered a word on the gruesome killing of a human, on the mere suspicion that the family had beef stored in their fridge. That would be naive to expect that thug to show any remorse. He until this day never showed any regret at the murder of humanity that he committed in Gujarat. A more regretful than the criminal's silence is lack of visible outrage from so called secular politicians. Where are those communists, who were vile while undermining the government of Manmohan Singh. Maybe the extant of rabid forces ultimately lies at the door of those liberals who for mere political expediency chose to ignore clear signs of impending doom. History will never forgive that rascal Prakash Karat when he chose to part company during the first term of UPA government merely based on perceived bruises to his ego. 

Or for that matter, when thugs of Hinduvta placed the most brilliant artist that India produced under siege. No liberal politician raised a single ruckus, when MF Hussain was forced to go into exile. Even so called educated idiots that I personally know tried to rationalize that shameful episode, a blot on Indian nation in most asinine manner. It is for those omissions and commissions of so called liberals, the country has come under the siege by thugs of Modi, because they let those thugs to flourish.
-Rajiv Kumar

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gujarat model

The gruesome killing of Mohd Akhlaq on the mere suspicion of beef consumption, howsoever, shocking was not completely unforeseen. Modi's rise to power was solely predicated on his criminal role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Notwithstanding his and his followers claims, Modi's utterances from those times are testament to his overt and covert role in instigating and fanning those mayhems under his own watch. His notoriety in those riots was something that caught fancy of Indian majority and catapulted him into power in Delhi. The Gujarat model and those dreams of development are nothing more than empty hokums. The only Gujarat model he and his henchmen and those thugs in Nagpur have in mind are the massacres of 2002; they are doing their utmost to implement that seditious design at country wide level. Gullible might have been sold to one after another shallow gimmicks of Modi, they should be assured that once he and his henchmen are done with minorities, they, the gullible, will be the only ones left to be targeted by the thugs. That time there will be none to come to their rescue. The ideal of India would be long dead.
-Rajiv Kumar

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The book, the spymaster and Indian clumsiness



In all probability the number of pages filled with reviews on a memoir by the former spy on Kashmir and published by Harper Collins India by now far exceeds the pages in the book itself. As a disclosure, I have to declare I have not yet read the book. My copy is stuck somewhere in the transit. All those labored reviews and excerpts by now provide a near comprehensive picture about the contents of those memoirs. I was rather amazed at the reaction and response to the book than by the contents of the book that I know so far. The mere fact that Amar Singh Dulat, a spy with intelligence bureau and later an intelligence point man of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Kashmir, wielded asymmetrical influence allows a peak into illegitimacy of occupation and the machinations used for its continued sustenance. The fact remains that the Indian rule in Kashmir following the illegal dismissal of government of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1953 had but a consistency of an orchestrated charade. Liberal distribution of cash and use of people from Intelligence agencies as conduits was the only way to prop up such illegitimacy to the hilt. If only those who gloat about their parts in exploits to maintain Indian rule in Kashmir by bribing and spying the same people, would pause for a moment to ruminate about the havocs wrought on the place and its people. But then the welfare of the place and people was never on their agenda, which was restricted to maintain India stranglehold on Kashmir no matter the costs and consequences.

In the matter of review of the book by the Indian spymaster, it is actually A. G. Noorani, the noted jurist, who has gone beyond and provided the context for the exploits of spymaster himself, his predecessors and successors. There couldn’t be a better-qualified person other than Noorani to write an authoritative review complete with a comprehensive context. His earlier book on the Article 370 lays bare the legal fallacy of the extension of Indian laws on the state of Jammu & Kashmir after dissolution of the state constituent assembly in late 1950s. Legal facts coupled with unambiguous political reality, no matter when and how, any presumed plebiscite on the issue of Kashmir’s accession would always have and would go against India. The Indian paraphernalia being fully aware of that reality were left with only alternative of maintaining the charade, no matter the costs and consequences. The one issue that eluded A. G. Noorani in his review or his book is that Indian surreptitiousness in dealing with the state was matched only with its clumsiness and incompetence.

There had been short periods of relative stability, no matter how superficial, when Indian state could have displayed farsightedness to resolve the matter in a peaceful manner and none of the violence that consumed hundreds of thousands of lives would have happened. Instead it wasted those times by embarking on self-congratulatory complacency and furthering Indian stranglehold in Kashmir. No one else other than Indian state is the owner of the violence that erupted in its full form in 1989. The predetermined elections then or now could have only one consequence, which already has once run its full course and nothing has been done or is being done to alter that course. The saddest part of the entire saga has been that now it is left to rabid nationalists to set agenda for Kashmir, because they happen to be the governing party in India. For them, the aspirations of people in Kashmir never had any value. When Pervez Musharraf offered them discussion on the issue in Agra, the then Indian prime minister, Vajpayee enacted disappearance despite being the host with active nudge from hyperventilating hardliner, L. K. Advani. The same brigade of nationalists upped their ante when a possibility of breakthrough arose between Man Mohan Singh and Musharraf. What would be or is bewildering, is that people of Kashmir ever gave a space in their minds to the notion that solution would come from Modi, the current prime minister of India who assumed office not despite but because of his brazenness towards minorities, Muslims in particular as demonstrated in Gujarat riots of 2002. 
   

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pathetic Shashi Tharoor

Whenever I see Shashi Tharoor's name, a quote attributed to John Quincy Adam comes to mind, which is "an erudition without a measurable grace is worthless". Recently he has been a subject of huge adulation for his performance at an academic debate at Oxford University. He was articulate with total command of facts. Just for the record, that debate was purely academic and the British government is not anytime soon going to hand over reparations to India just because Shashi Tharoor apparently won that debate. A pertinent but crucial issue that merits consideration is that where was his articulation and erudition when he was a member of previous UPA government. If anyone remembers during that time all he did was to embarrass himself and his government. Now ever since the ascendancy of Modi to power, all Shashi Tharoor has been doing is to shamelessly ingratiate himself with Modi who is running a bigoted, divisive and retrograde government. If Shashi Tharoor were a true scholar, he wouldn't become an apologist for the regime that loathes scholarship.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The demented intellect

Without intervening directly or altering democratic institutions, Modi has embarked on a devilish scheme of rendering those institutes irrelevant through mediocre and partisan appointments. Such appointments at the helm of premier institutes of education will ensure that future generations share jaundiced and lopsided views of Modi and his henchmen much long after he has left the arena. The process had started much before Modi assumed power in Delhi; the events had started in that direction very early on. The remarkable now is the brazenness with which the regime is proceeding to complete its agenda of thuggishness. While those involved in the genocide in Gujarat are being set free and the ones who stood for the victims are being victimized. When attacked by the thugs of Modi, the residents of Gulbarg Society sought shelter at the residence of Ahsan Jafri a former Congress member of parliament. Little did they know that thugs would not only murder them but also Ahsan Jafri. While courts through sleight of judicial trickery never indicted Modi; even the convicted criminals for their part in those riots are out of jails and the officials with either direct involvement in riots or charged with simple dereliction of their duties are now benign rewarded. In a just world it should be Modi who should have been sharing cells with likes of Maya Kodnani but in the real world, the thuggish regime is leaving nothing to chance to send Teesta Setalvad to prison. Her crime, she sought justice for the victims of Gujarat genocide for which Modi until this day never uttered a word of remorse. The closest he came was to compare those who died in that massacre under his watch with puppies run over by a speeding vehicle. Though I would not spend too much time protesting that remark knowing the demented intellect that harbors his empty brain.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Evil wizards of finances

Greeks yesterday voted in a thumping manner against creditors and their discredited policies of endless austerity that have wrought havoc on ordinary people that had nothing to do in the first place with the mountains of debt that the country is laden with, which would be 340 billions euros at the current reckoning. Those mountains of debt afflicting Greece and many other countries are not, as the perception has filled the general public opinion, entirely due to profligacy by populations of those nations. Those rather reflect the doings and excesses of bankers, the very shining examples of decadent capitalism, which ultimately led to the collapse of those very financial institutes during the financial crisis of 2007-8. The liabilities accrued by bankers were passed on and added to the national debts of countries, including Greece. Financial institutes and media controlled by corporates are very careful to not let that information out in the public domain by use of convulated economic jargons.     

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Events leading to emergency in India

It was on June 26, 1975, people in India woke up to learn about the midnight promulgation of state of ‘internal emergency’ and arrest of most of opposition politicians including those from Indira Gandhi’s own Congress party, who had been for sometime critical of her domestic policies and her growing authoritarianism. In next 18-20 months, following that declaration of emergency, there was a total subversion of the entire system of Indian Constitution and suspension of habeas corpus. With incarceration of entire opposition, the central legislature was bulldozed into passing of a spate of constitutional amendments that undermined every institution of the state. Both judiciary and press were subjected to an unprecedented intimidation through inimical and coercive tactics and were forced to toe the official line. However, the most unsettling aspect of that era was sprouting of an extra-constitution power center headed by the notorious younger son of Indira Gandhi, which during major part of the period wrought social havoc through ill-conceived social engineering directed at curbing population growth and town planning. And more than that the withering effect of that extra-constitutional power wielded by Sanjay Gandhi was that it spawned such aberrant authorities in almost every nook of the country through overzealous bureaucrats driven by the lure of power.

The details of the excesses of that period have been subject of many books, columns and gossips. But none matches the reports issued by the Shah commission that went into causes and excesses of that period with damning indictment of not only Indira Gandhi but rather entire machinery including judiciary that barring a few glorious exceptions went into over drive to further authoritarian power during that period. However, it is curious that there are very few commentaries on the causes that lead to the declaration of that ordinance on that fateful night of June 25, 1975 that virtually ended democracy in India. The immediate impetus for declaration of that infamous emergency was a judgment by Jagmohan Lal Sinha of Allahabad High Court that disqualified Indira Gandhi from holding any political office, which virtually unseated her as prime minister and less than unqualified relief from Supreme Court following an appeal. The Allahabad High Court judgment on June 12, 1975 was based on a case related to misuse of official machinery by Indira Gandhi and her officials in her Rae Barelly constituency in the elections of 1971. It was maverick Raj Narian, whom Indira Gandhi had soundly beaten in that election, but had brought that case against her. In his judgment, the concerned justice had followed law to the last letter. Pertinently, in a very recent judgment on Affordable Health Care chose to overlook four words that were in not consonant with law and decided in favor of the administration. In the judgment written by Chief Justice it is stated “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”  The justices of the US supreme courts were aware of the havoc their decision to the contrary would create. In that context even Jagmohan Lal Sinha would have been aware of the consequences of unseating an elected Prime Minister would create. Congress Party under Indira Gandhi had won a huge mandate in the national election she had called in 1971 followed by another sweep in 1972 elections for state legislatures. The next parliamentary elections were already due in less than a year’s time.

Much before that judgment from the Allahabad High Court, the country had been mired in a deep agitation led by an old Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan who was joined by almost the entire political opposition of the country barring a faction of communists. And despite their numerical irrelevance in the legislature the agitation by the combined opposition had a debilitating effect on already unsteady government and Indira Gandhi felt herself under a continuous siege.  Particularly, a call by the agitating parties to armed forces to disobey governmental authority a day before the declaration of emergency did not prove very helpful. The country had become a very different place compared to the time of Indira Gandhi’s 1971 election victory and her successful leadership during the war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Even her stringent critics had hailed her at that time, with Vajapayee going to the extent of calling her incarnation of goddess. Following the elections for state legislatures in 1972, the Congress party under Indira Gandhi controlled all states with the exception of Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir. It was from that point on the things went only down the hill.

Although, a number of causes and circumstances contributed to the fast deteriorating situation, the main issues were political, economical and personal. India might have attained a clear victory in 1971 war, nevertheless, the costs were huge, which coupled with almost three years of failed monsoon and the agitation by the opposition itself in particular devastating railway strikes of 1974, all contributed to uncertain conditions. International economic situation of the time also added to the growing woes, in particular almost a tenfold increase in price of crude oil following the embargo by Arab states in response to Arab-Israeli Yim Kippur war of 1973 created a deep hole into national finances. Another crucial extenuating cause for the emerging situation was an inherent deep insecurity of Indira Gandhi and her distrust of people around her. That was a major promoter for the displacement of old seasoned bureaucrats like P. N. Haksar, by disturbingly brash Sanjay Gandhi and his coterie of ruffians.

People like Haksar and his peers had served Indira Gandhi well through her struggles against old guard of the Congress party. They devised plans for a spectacular victory in 1971 parliamentary elections after engineering a defeat in 1969 of Sanjeeva Reddy, the official Congress candidate for Presidency favored by the old guard that included Morarjee Desai, Nijanlingappa, Kamraj and others. Morarji Desai and Sanjeeva Reddy did ultimately go on to become Prime Minister and President after 1977 rout of Congress. But back in the days after Lal Bahadur Shastri's death in 1966 and again in 1966 after dismal performance in elections, the old guard in Congress party backed Indira Gandhi over Morarjee Desai for premiership with an ulterior motive of being able to manipulate a meek woman. It was already too late before they realized their misjudgment and Indira Gandhi, as Margret Thatcher famously said about herself, was not for turning. That started a perennial struggle for the control, which to the disbelief of later generation had an ideological component. Indira Gandhi went on to take progressive measure through nationalization of banks and abolition of privy purses and titles of erstwhile princes. The old guard in the party, failing to read the popular mood, opposed both those and other progressive measures. The bank nationalization, in particular, led to exit of Morarji Desai, a hard core capitalist, from the cabinet and ultimate split in the party.

In a cynical view, those measures by Indira Gandhi could be mere tactical maneuvers to win political battles. It remains, however, one of the follies of all times to view history through the current prism. Those definitely were progressive measures and nationalization of banks at that time had a visible effect towards betterments in society. It might be hard to understand but those were hard times with of rampant shortages and chronic paucity of liquidity; the nationalization of banks opened doors for small and medium loans for general population even in remote places that until then never had an easy access to such facilities. Her battles were not over yet; the conservative justices of Supreme Court stuck down laws nationalizing banks and privy purses, forcing further constitutional amendments. That had been in part the reason for a later decision of her government to elevate A. N. Ray as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in April 1973 following the retirement of Chief Justice S: M. Sikri and in the process three prominent judges, Justices Hegde, Shehlat and grover resigned after being superseded. Justice A. N. Ray was the only dissenting judge on the bench that had struck down bank nationalization. Unprecedented supersession of the Supreme Court judges provided further ammunition to the critics of Indira Gandhi.    


It is quite interesting that Indira Gandhi had the quality of inherent insecurity in common with Richard Nixon, whereas they famously detested each other. According to Katherine Frank, they both instinctively recoiled from one another and that animosity played to full during that 1971 war and led to the famous US tilt towards Pakistan. Henry Kissinger described the talks between Indira and Nixon as ‘classic dialogue of the deaf’ and mentions in his memoirs that Nixon’s comments about Indira Gandhi afterwards were not always printable. Pertinently, it was that inherent insecurity and instinctive disinclination to trust anyone that led to ultimate downfall of both. For Nixon that downfall came through Watergate scandal and for Indira Gandhi, it was through her reliance on Sanjay Gandhi after declaration of emergency. But the declaration of emergency, as per Katherine Frank, more than that judgment was in reaction to threat from Jayprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai to reduce government to chaos and stage a non-military coup.    
-Rajiv Kumar

Monday, June 29, 2015

Selfie, yoga and an idiot

When Modi became Prime Minister with an unprecedented  majority for his rabid right wing party of fundamentalists, I was afraid he would lead the country to a disaster. Those are fears that are definitely coming true, but for an entirely different causation, which is plain and simple. The plain and unembellished fact is that he is a vacuous idiot. His solutions to country's unhealthy hygiene was to photograph equally dumb socialites of the society at a few places with brooms in their hands and stupid smiles on their faces. And to tackle female foeticide, he has come with an idea of selfies with daughters. I am still not able to fathom the reason for him lying down and comically rolling over at Rajpath, a few days back, on a yoga mat. He might be a fool but he perhaps had an early realization that the place is ungovernable, otherwise buffoons would not have voted for a buffoon. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Indian Emergencies: Effects and Causes

It was on June 26, 1975, people in India woke up to learn about the midnight promulgation of state of ‘internal emergency’ and arrest of most of opposition politicians including those from Indira Gandhi’s own Congress party, who had been for sometime critical of her domestic policies and her growing authoritarianism. In next 18-20 months, following that declaration of emergency, there was a total subversion of the entire system of Indian Constitution and suspension of habeas corpus. With incarceration of entire opposition, the central legislature was bulldozed into passing of a spate of constitutional amendments that undermined every institution of the state. Both judiciary and press were subjected to an unprecedented intimidation through inimical and coercive tactics and were forced to toe the official line. However, the most unsettling aspect of that era was sprouting of an extra-constitution power center headed by the notorious younger son of Indira Gandhi, which during major part of the period wrought social havoc through ill-conceived social engineering directed at curbing population growth and town planning. And more than that the withering effect of that extra-constitutional power wielded by Sanjay Gandhi was that it spawned such aberrant authorities in almost every nook of the country through overzealous bureaucrats driven by the lure of power.
The details of the excesses of that period have been subject of many books, columns and gossips. But none matches the reports issued by the Shah commission that went into causes and excesses of that period with damning indictment of not only Indira Gandhi but rather entire machinery including judiciary that barring a few glorious exceptions went into over drive to further authoritarian power during that period. However, it is curious that there are very few commentaries on the causes that lead to the declaration of that ordinance on that fateful night of June 25, 1975 that virtually ended democracy in India. The immediate impetus for declaration of that infamous emergency was a judgment by Jagmohan Lal Sinha of Allahabad High Court that disqualified Indira Gandhi from holding any political office, which virtually unseated her as prime minister and less than unqualified relief from Supreme Court following an appeal. The Allahabad High Court judgment on June 12, 1975 was based on a case related to misuse of official machinery by Indira Gandhi and her officials in her Rae Barelly constituency in the elections of 1971. It was Maverick Raj Narian, whom Indira Gandhi had soundly beaten in that election had brought that case against her. In his judgment, the concerned justice had followed law to the last letter. Pertinently, in a very recent judgment on Affordable Health Care, the US Supreme Court chose to overlook four words that were in not consonant with law and decided in favor of the administration. In the judgment written by Chief Justice Roberts, it is stated “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.” The justices of the US Supreme Court were aware of the havoc their decision to the contrary would create. In that context even Jagmohan Lal Sinha would have been aware of the consequences of unseating an elected Prime Minister would create. Congress Party under Indira Gandhi had won a huge mandate in the national election she had called in 1971 followed by another sweep in 1972 elections for state legislatures. The next parliamentary elections were already due in less than a year’s time.
To be continued….

-Rajiv Kumar

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A cold morning in December 1975

It was a cold December morning in 1975. It had been in many ways a monumental year for both Kashmir and India. And that morning despite being cold and cloudy had an idyllic aura and promise for future. If there was a foreboding of future upheavals, that was not something that many at that time had on their minds. Two major events of the year, which was almost coming to an end, were an accord between Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi following the culmination of torturous Beg-Parthasarthy talks. The accord paved way for Sheikh Abdullah to become chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir almost twenty-two years after his illegal and most ill conceived dismissal as the Prime Minister of the state by the Indian administration. In the interim, governance in the state had a feeling of being unreal with hand picked chief ministers lacking democratic legitimacy and who were at all times at the mercy of their masters in Delhi. The assumption of power of power in the state by Sheikh Abdullah suddenly brought gravitas and a sense to the administration that until then had tethered on sleaziness and illegitimacy. The effect was real, eclectic and perceptible. If there was a single department, which stood out, it was education that until then had suffered from scourge of patronage and mass copying. There is another but completely pertinent matter that in a few years the mechanics of Indian machinery and unscrupulous local politicians who had lost crumbs of power would turn that accord into a ploy to strengthen the occupation rather than guaranteeing the agreed maximum autonomy to the state. As per the accord itself, it is always convenient to pass a judgment with the benefit of hindsight but to be present in that era is an altogether different matter.      

Another consequential chapter of that momentous year, which shook the very foundations of the democratic structures of the Indian state, was promulgation of the internal emergency by Indira Gandhi following the verdict of Allahabad high court that disqualified her from holding any elected office. That declaration itself, incarceration of many opposition leaders, complete censorship of news media and spates of constitutional amendments bulldozed through the truncated parliament virtually paralyzed the Indian democracy. India was enveloped in a pal of gloom that due to the very presence of Sheikh Abdullah in power did not affect Kashmir. The two events would eventually coalesce as Indira Gandhi for some reasons realized the wisdom of democracy and declared elections in the country in spring of 1977, despite the vehement opposition from her coterie that included notorious Sanjay Gandhi. Those elections resulted in a complete loss for Indira Gandhi and her party at all over India. The local congress party incidentally under none other than Mufti Saeed tried to engineer a coup of sort by withdrawing support to Sheikh Abdullah, which virtually amounted to reneging on their promises made in the accord. But for the then governor of the state L. K. Jha, wily Mufti Sayeed might have succeeded back then in attaining power. L. K. Jha instead on the advice of the Chief Minister called for fresh elections that gave a huge mandate to National Conference and resulted in decimation of Congress and other disparate groups that had opportunistically joined hands. Mufti Sayeed did get his chance to play a spoilsport not once but many times after the death of Sheikh Abdullah. But that would be for some other time.    


It was on that December morning of 1975, I went to meet Sheikh Nazir at his office-residence at Nedous. Sheikh Nazir besides being a close confidante of Sheikh Abdullah was an eminent practicing lawyer. I was in my teens but that never prevented Sheikh Nazir from greeting me with dignified courteous civility. He would always get up from his chair and extend his hand. On that particular day, when I entered his office he as usual got up from his chair with an extended handed, despite there being a number of people from National Conference sitting in his office. Once he finished dealing with other visitors, he asked me that I should accompany him to his office on the Court Road so that he could talk me on the way. I went out with him expecting an awaiting vehicle along with an entourage. There was no vehicle and there was no entourage and we started to walk towards the Court Road and for me that was an exalted lesson in humility. That was besides, the other things I learnt from Sheikh Nazir during that walk that lasted close to forty minutes. I had privilege to visit Sheikh Nazir occasionally following years until my research work completely consumed me. There was always that uprightness and dignity without a trace of arrogance. He was always courteous. I was filled with a tinge of sadness on reading the news about his death on February 24, 2015. I recalled with a pride for having known such a dignified human being who could have attained any position in the government but chose not to.     

-Rajiv Kumar

Saturday, January 17, 2015

That dark night in Ayodhaya

It was on 22nd December 1949 when thugs of Hindu Mahasabha, following a conceited plan succeeded in planting an idol in the Babri Masjid in Ayodhaya. Through thoroughly duplicitous mechanics in connivance with a partisan district magistrate and an ambivalent congress government led by Gobind Ballabh Pant, they created a semblance of a dispute, when there was none. The structure had a been a mosque for centuries and it never was a temple; it was never disputed. The temple was located outside the mosque and both existed in complete harmony for centuries, though the lunatics of hinduvta always made attempts to take over the structure at different times. But on that night they sent Abhiram Das into the mosque with an idol when guarded by a compliant policeman and next morning they created a mass frenzy by pretending a miracle. They executed their nefarious act after hatching that plan for years. Then they waited another forty years  before thugs led by Advani and company launched a final assault on that historical monument and brought it down along with it the social fabric of the society. India must feel safe now, as those who planned that deceit in 1949 and created mayhem in 1992 are now ruling the country.