Here is why the demonetization of Rs 500 & Rs 1000 notes calling it “War on Black Money” is eyewash by the govt – an absolute BULLSHIT.


The major chunk of black money – 10s, 100s & 1000s of crores – is NOT stacked in rooms or secretive chambers, as in the movies, by the hoarders. The rich who possess the huge amount of black money has it in the form of investments in gold, properties (movable & immovable) and in tax havens like Panama etc, which the people in the govt conveniently ignored to help their friends.

demonitization

Also, the hoarders prefer to buy expensive foreign currencies (dollar, pound, euro etc) and stack it rather than the Indian currency since it becomes far easier to store .. a bunch of $100 100 notes would be equivalent to approx 7 bunches of 100 Rs 1000 notes.

So the demonetisation is not going to affect even a cent of all of these big fishes and the loss that they will bear on the uncounted cash in hand would be negligible – for them and the government.

In India, a major portion of population (more than 80%) is the part of unorganized sector and all of them deal in cash transactions. They are not black money hoarders but honest daily wage earning citizens. Eg shopkeepers, traders, farmers, plumbers, electricians, vegetable vendors, mechanics, carpenters, labourers, dhabhas, small eateries, sweet-shops etc – you name it and they are there.

Unlike the metro/ urban population, the major portion of population in tier 2, 3 cities, towns and rural areas save money in cash at homes. To make it easy for themselves, they prefer to convert the savings into higher value currencies like 1000 – just like the biggies do it in dollars, pounds? That!

THE RS 500 NOTE IS NOT A HIGH DENOMINATION NOTE AND IS RATHER AN IMPORTANT PART OF DAILY LIFE OF MILLIONS OF INDIANS.

These savings per household could run into thousands & thousands of rupees and are saved for rainy days, medical emergencies, education, marriage of children etc.

When you say go to the bank and deposit/ exchange & the shit – you must not forget the restrictions that the Govt has imposed.

Till 24th November, one can walk into the banks/ post offices and exchange the old Rs 500 & Rs 1000 notes but the maximum limit is Rs 4000 per day.

9th & 10th November the banks are closed and 14th is Guru Purab. So ideally one gets only 11 days to exchange.

In these 11 days, the maximum that you can exchange is 44000/- . That is it. Is this a joke? No! This is REAL.

SCENARIO 1: A vegetable vendor buys vegetables worth Rs 5000 everyday, sells it throughout the day for a certain value and invests it the next day and so on!

Now how this guy is supposed to be earning and also going to the back every day to exchange up to only 4000/- ..

Similar is the situation for anyone who is involved in daily trading of goods and commodities. Step out and look around in the street, most of the people will fall into this category.

SCENARIO 2: The farmers have harvested their rabbi crops, must have sold a portion of it, sitting on the cash or/ and would have taken loan from the local creditors for the next season. What are they going to do? They can’t exchange more than a few thousands (and please don’t tell me the BS that Govt will exchange all of it for everyone). HOW ARE THEY GOING TO SURVIVE?

The time is not going to wait for the farmers to get the new & exchanged bills and therefore they might lose out on the next season.

SCENARIO 3: Housewives in India have saved thousands of rupees over their lifetime for the rainy days. This is apart from the savings made by the household. What happens to that?

All of these people, apart from their daily earnings, who might be paying a very some or small amount of taxes or some of them might not be paying taxes at all due to low incomes and exemptions.

Now all of them would have accumulated a certain amount of savings over the period of time. Let’s say an average of Rs 500 ever month, for last 15 years, would have saved 90000/- .. This presumptive Rs 90000 is the lifetime saving of the hardworking honest citizens of India.

They can’t exchange all of it and so you say go and deposit in the banks. There is a large chunk of population who do not have a bank account – due to various factors.

Those who have, if they suddenly deposit a lakh or two into their accounts, you will send them notices. This is the wealth that they have accumulated over their lifetime – accounted or unaccounted.

But are these the small bread earners that the Govt intends to target under “War on Black Money” instead of the big fishes that have lakhs of crores stashed abroad and in properties, bullions, dollars?

The demonetisation has led to Rs 14 lakh crore–or $217 billion becoming useless overnight and most of it is in circulation among those dependent on cash economy.

There are 15.7 billion notes of Rs 500 and 6.3 billion notes of Rs 1,000 in circulation in India. Thus, 22 billion notes in the country is junked.

By when you think the govt will be able to fill in the gap by infusing billions on new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes?

Even if people go to exchange and deposit (allowed till 30th December) old notes into the banks and post offices, do these institutions have the capacity and infrastructure to cater all of their customers within next 40-45 days?

If the Govt fails to exchange/ accept within this time frame, certainly there would be economic ramifications but ever thought about the impact on the daily life of millions of hardworking Indians?

So in Toto, the middle class – private and govt employees with most of their money in the bank will be unaffected. What part of population is that?

The major black money hoarders largely remain affected due to their money invested in bullion, property, stashed abroad. If they sell either of these after there is enough circulation of the new Rs 2000 notes, it will be rather make it easy for them to handle cash due to the higher denomination.

The middle class, lower middle class, lower income groups, which is the major portion of Indian population, takes a hit for no reason but only because of their honest dependence on the legitimate cash economy.

So basically for the BJP, the black money that was once stashed abroad today has become the cash in hand of the poor and hard working Indians?

This supposed “War on Black Money” is actually the “War on HARD WORKING & HONEST” Indians. Take this shit and question the Govt.

Millions of Indians might lose out on their lifetime savings due to this stupid decision to demonetise old Rs 500 notes with immediate effect.

Thousands other, the REAL black money hoarders will benefit due to introduction of even higher denomination of Rs. 2000 note.

That people in India are already moving to plastic money is your – the arrogant ignorant – & government’s fantasy. Nothing more. India is much more beyond a few thousand people in handful of cities using apps to make payments. THINK beyond yourself!

Now, Govt should show some steel and go after the big black money hoarders – in its own backyard – and spare the hardworking Indians.

Lastly, don’t forget – it was this legitimate cash economy that saved India from the subprime crises of 2008.

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Bhagat Singh – Hero for most, Failure for the fringe, but Gandhi’s loss!


 

The ambition to fight against the “Gore Angrez” (as British were referred to) was realized by 12 years old Bhagat Singh after the Jallianwalla Massacre in 1919. Soon after, in 1920, Gandhi initiated the Non-cooperation movement and the teenaged Bhagat Singh was an ardent follower. It was a setback for Bhagat Singh to learn that Gandhi withdrew the non-cooperation movement. He had selflessly worked for it and the reason for withdrawing, the Chauri Chaura Incident, the violence that Gandhi cited and opposed – found an opposition from the teenager. An opposition within, which further fuelled the fire to fight the British Raj.

The two streams of the freedom struggle had started flowing to meet later on one of the most historic incident of India’s freedom struggle, the Gandhi-Irwin pact.

The well-known heroism of Bhagat Singh needs no specifics and mentions today as one cannot but agree and admire the courage he and his accomplice had put forth to fight the British. The revolution that they ignited among the youth of India to revolt against the foreign rulers but not seeking mercy from the Government, the months long hunger strikes, the acceptance of death at the young age of 23 to awaken the conscience of the populace needs a special mettle in one and even the thought of events brings chills down the spine with a gulp in the throat.

Regardless of the ideological differences, Bhagat Singh is respected with the highest degree & honor by the followers of Gandhi, even. Many though hold grudge against Gandhi for not having saved Bhagat Singh – as popularly is said while discussing the events of History.

It is important to understand that Gandhi has nothing to lose but gain by saving the lives of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. If Gandhi had succeeded in saving the lives of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Raj guru, it would have been seen as the victory of nonviolence over violence and moral victory of Gandhi over the revolutionaries. Also, Gandhi understood well that failing to secure their safety will only ignite violent ideas among other revolutionaries and that would be failure of his ideas.

Bhagat Singh Mahatma Gandhi GolwalkarAlthough not a supporter of their methodology, but for common objective Gandhi had intervene to save Bhagat Singh and others at multiple occasions. As far back as 4 May 1930, a day before he was arrested, Gandhi had written to the Viceroy strongly criticizing him for the creation of the special Tribunal to try the revolutionaries in the Lahore Conspiracy Case: “You have found a short cut through the law’s delay in the matter of the trial of Bhagat Singh and others by doing away with the ordinary procedure. Is it any wonder if I call all these official activities a veiled form of Martial Law?[1]

On 31 January, 1931, he spoke at Allahabad on the subject of Bhagat Singh’s execution, “Those under a death sentence should not be hanged. My personal religion tells me not only that they should not be hanged but also that they should not even be kept in prison”.[2]

Coming to the tensed events leading to 23rd March 1931, after the dismissal of the Petition for Special Leave to Appeal in the Privy Council on 11 February 1931, it became quite apparent that only an intervention by the Viceroy in the form of commutation alone could save the lives of the revolutionary trio. Gandhi-Irwin talks began on 17th February 1931 and continued till 5th March when Gandhi-Irwin Pact or Delhi Pact was arrived at. Gandhi raised the issue of Bhagat Singh with Viceroy on 18th February and told him, “This has no connection with our discussion, and it may even be inappropriate on my part to mention it. But if you want to make the present atmosphere more favorable, you should suspend Bhagat Singh’s execution[3]. The Viceroy liked this very much. He said “I am very grateful to you that you have put this thing before me in this manner. Commutation of sentence is a difficult thing, but suspension is certainly worth considering[4]. After this, on many difference occasions Gandhi took up the matter with the Viceroy but to no vain. At a public meeting in Delhi on March 7, 1931 Gandhi said: “I cannot in all conscience agree to anyone being sent to gallows, much less a brave man like Bhagat Singh.[5]

Gandhi again raised the issue of Bhagat Singh with Lord Irwin on 19th March when they met to discuss the notification of the Pact at the Congress session in Karachi. On March 21, 1931 Gandhi delayed his departure (for Karachi Congress) for further conversation with the Viceroy on the issue of Bhagat Singh’s execution. On 21st March, Gandhi met Irwin and again communicated his request for reconsideration of the impending executions. Gandhi met Irwin yet again on 22nd March to discuss the issue. The Viceroy promised to consider Gandhi’s submission. Sensing some hope, Gandhi wrote a personal letter on the morning of 23rd (Monday) to the Viceroy. In his final endeavor he tried his best to convince the Viceroy (addressing him as dear friend) for the commutation of the death sentence citing public opinion, internal peace, offer of revolutionaries to shed violence, his own position, the possibility of a judicial error and the appeal to the Christian sentiments of Lord Irwin. Mahatma’s efforts failed to bear fruit. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Raj guru were hanged the same evening at 7 p.m. As the news reached Gandhi, according to an eyewitness account, he was “visibly moved and deeply shocked”.

The Hindu Right Wing, the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha used the unfortunate execution of Bhagat, Sukhdev & Rajguru then as a fork for Gandhi’s eyes. The ardent followers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, mostly the product of his party’s parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, in the recent times have made unsuccessful attempts to appropriate Bhagat Singh and accusing the Congress and Gandhi for the revolutionary’s execution. The fact that Gandhi failed in securing Bhagat Singh’s release is propagated with no mention of attempts made in the interest.

Gandhi tried and failed. But what about the RSS (founded in 1925)? What was its stand then? What attempts were made in support of Bhagat Singh and to secure their release by the fringe (now mainstream) organizations? The archives of the RSS itself has no answer to it. However, what the archives provide us is the excerpts from a book written by RSS ideologue and the second Sarsanghchalak (Supreme Leader), M S Golwalkar. In his book, A Bunch of Thoughts – a veritable Geeta for RSS cadres, Golwalkar expresses his views about the martyrs under the passage “Martyr, Great but no Ideal”

“They prefer to lay down their lives displaying a spark of heroism rather than groan under the intolerably oppressive situation”. He further wrote “The ordinary man is blinded by the flash of such a death and he exclaims, ‘What a fiery spirit he was! He broke but did not bend’. The people call him a ‘martyr’ and offer homage to him.”[6]

In our Bharatiya tradition, this type of immolation is not considered as the highest ideal. There is no doubt that such men who embrace martyrdom are great heroes and their philosophy too is pre-eminently manly. All the same, such persons are not held up as ideals in our society. We have not looked upon their martyrdom as the highest point of greatness to which man should aspire. For, after all, they failed in achieving their ideal, and failure implies some fatal flaw in them.”[7]

The founder of the RSS, Dr. Hedgewar, was one step further when he said, “Patriotism is not only going to prison. It is not correct to be carried away by such superficial patriotism”.[8]

These were the views of the founding fathers of the Sangh about the martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Chander Shekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla Khan. The views of those who are today trying to claim an ownership over the martyrs & heroes, the likes of Bhagat Singh. Ideological differences must co-exist for a progressive society but denigrating those who gave up their life for the nation is rather an unfortunate call.

In retrospect, if at all Bhagat Singh was saved, what would have been his perspective? Would he have liked to be deprived of his long cherished ideal of martyrdom? Would he have liked to survive at the mercy of Mahatma Gandhi, against whose political creed the revolutionary movement of 1920’s was born? Would it not have been a symbolic defeat of the ideals of the revolutionary movement in the form of defeat of violence against non-violence? Gandhi was aware of Bhagat Singh’s steadfast resolve to die a martyr’s death. Had Mahatma Gandhi succeeded in preventing Bhagat Singh from attaining martyrdom, would Bhagat Singh have commanded the same place which he commands at present in the galaxy of patriots?

May be, in view of all these stirring questions, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, on 20 March 1931, closed the door on all efforts to save them by writing their ‘mercy petition’ to the Punjab Governor: “… according to the verdict of your court we had waged war and we are therefore war prisoners. And we claim to be treated as such, i.e., we claim to be shot dead instead of being hanged.”[9]

 
[1] Selected letters of Mahatma Gandhi http://www.gandhi-manibhavan.org/gandhicomesalive/comesalive_letter16.htm
[2] What Mahatma Gandhi did to Save Bhagat Singh http://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/bhagat_singh.htm
[3] Revolutionaries and the British Raj Pg 107 https://goo.gl/0hTSpt
[4] Revolutionaries and the British Raj Pg 140 https://goo.gl/2gKzei
[5] Revolutionaries and the British Raj Pg 140 https://goo.gl/0yASyr
[6] Bunch of Thoughts Pg 220 http://www.rss.org/Encyc/2015/4/7/334_03_46_30_Bunch_of_Thoughts.pdf
[7] Bunch of Thoughts Pg 221 http://www.rss.org/Encyc/2015/4/7/334_03_46_30_Bunch_of_Thoughts.pdf
[8] RSS Primer: Based on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Documents https://goo.gl/fQ65ck
[9] The Jail Notebook and Other Writings https://goo.gl/eeDCQz

The Hasty Handshake – Aman Ki Asha Ya Naya Tamasha


By Dhaakad Tau

After lambasting the UPA government for its guarded peace initiatives before and during the election campaign, the NDA government under Narendra Modi is following the same path. And perhaps following it at an even more blistering pace than the UPA government, starting well before Mr Modi was sworn in as the prime minister.

While the ruse was that all the SAARC heads of government or state were being invited for the swearing in and Pakistan just happened to be one of them, BJP was certainly being economical with the truth. TV presenter Karan Thapar disclosed today that it was a personal phone call from Mr Modi to Mian Nawaz Sharif that helped secure his presence at the swearing in ceremony. Then the BJP claimed that it was a mere 30 minute courtesy call that Sharif and Modi will have, and there will be no substantive discussion between the two PM. The discussion lasted an hour, and would have certainly extended beyond the pleasantries.

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But it didn’t end there. The Indian and Pakistani sides, both then waited for the other to brief the media first so that the other could have the final word. After more than an hour’s delay, India’s foreign secretary briefed the journalistswhere she claimed that India had raised the issue of terrorism with Pakistan. How different from the UPA government’s stance under Dr Manmohan Singh? A fawning Indian media — even the most rabid anti-Pakistan TV anchors — seemed to have missed this point. Understandably so. Achche din jo aa gaye hain.

Mian Nawaz Sharif followed the Indian foreign secretary’s press conference by reading out astatement of his own.

“Engaging in accusations and counter-accusations would be counter-productive, I emphasized.

 

…After all, we owe it to our people to overcome the legacy of mistrust and misgivings. We agreed that this common objective could be facilitated by greater people-to-people exchanges, at all levels.

 

Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated my sentiments…”

Who is speaking the truth then? Has Mr Modi agreed to Mian Sahab’s suggestion about accusations and counter-accusations? The nation needs to know. Right Arnab! Alas, we didn’t hear that from you today.

Even if we don’t hear anything from Arnab questioning Mr Modi, let us not be mistaken about the power wielded by Mian Saheb in Pakistan. Even if Mian Saheb is the great statesman all invested in peace with India, he doesn’t have any control over the forces in Pakistan that have hurt India (and Indians, mostly in Afghanistan) in the past and continue even now with their sinister designs against India and Indians. In chasing the mirage of peace with Pakistan and a mention in history books as a great statesman, Mr Modi can invest everything in forming a personal bond (about mothers) with Mian Saheb but it won’t help India at all. The earlier Mr Modi, his supporters and the intellectuals promoting him realise this, the better it is for India.

Make haste slowly, I say Sir. India has had much wiser heads before you as PM, Mr Modi. Respect their experiences and the institutional memory contained in the government of India. Learn to walk the diplomatic path before trying to run. A fall here will hurt you badly but, more dangerously, it could beget pain, mayhem and violence for our countrymen. As that great sage Prabhudeva said while dancing, Take it easy policy.

PS – While Mian Sahab might not have raised the ‘K’ word in his statement, Mr Modi’s minister in the PMO raised it on his own in the public by saying that the process for repealing Art 370 was already on. He made his statement on camera but by evening, had to issue a statement saying he had been misquoted. Why? Isn’t repealing Art 370 a part of BJP’s manifesto? Or is it something only to be put in the manifesto every five years but to be never implemented. Just like the Ram Mandir and the Uniform Civil Code.

External Affairs is no Event Management Business!


The reportage on India’s foreign policy engagement is now limited to coverage of events and that too from the Government’s rosy perspective only. Event Management is what the Ministry of External Affairs in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government specializes in. Our foreign policy has been reduced to tailor-made events across cities in foreign locales with the Prime Minister performing in front of NRIs. Unfortunately the reportage has more or less been limited to this as well.

Last week we saw an event happen in New Delhi where the India Africa Forum Summit took place. Coverage of the event was breathless and limited at the same time. Limited in what was reported. We have seen puff pieces after puff pieces being produced with the MEA beat reporters going to great lengths to ignore what actually happened at the summit. Take a look at this report in today’s Indian Express for example which offers the minutest of the details on how the summit was being micromanaged by the Ministry of External Affairs. After reading the piece I was left pondering whether the MEA is a private limited company into event management business. I had this thought, because only event management companies are promoted with such ‘advertisements’ of minutest detail despite poorly managing the events with no information on ‘customer’ (the delegates of the visiting countries) satisfaction.

Because our papers and our TV channels won’t tell you, so here is what actually happened:

The Africa summit at Indira Gandhi was to conclude at 5.30 PM, but so badly managed was the event that the speeches were unreasonably extended beyond schedule. So much so, that the guests left for the Presidential dinner at Rashtrapati Bhawan hours later than the scheduled arrival time of 7 PM. The presence of the guests at dinner had shrunk noticeably since most of the Indian guests had already left by the time the delegates arrived with the delay thrusted upon them due to the mismanagement. 18 Heads of State too left early as they were not too keen to wait for a few more hours. The repercussions on India’s image & relations can be understandable.

The dinner when proceeded then had a few Foreign Ministers (of what were left) skip it, since the seating arrangements were not appropriate.  The extended wait was a bad news for the Presidential horses too as some of them collapsed and the planned ceremonial reception had to therefore be cancelled.

That African leaders were not at all pleased by Prime Minister Narendra Modi using the summit to indulge into domestic politics as all of them were left shocked to find no mention of former Prime Ministers Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in his speeches. Then many of the African leaders spoke highly about the Indian stalwarts and their contribution in building up Indo-Africa relationship.

The Ministry of External Affairs is responsible for the conduct of India’s relations with foreign countries. If the Government wants people to believe that nurturing relations is all about event management then unfortunately there too the Government has failed. The Government does not seem willing to learn from PR disasters. It does not realize that even if a fawning media does not report your inept handling of events or situations, the results will still show. Take the example of how the situation in Nepal has been handled. The papers and TV channels are not reporting about this disaster thanks to the MEA’s diktats.

A few months ago when Nepal faced an earthquake, the Indian Govt’s PR ruined whatever chance there was of earning some goodwill. Through its crass self-promotion India earned the ire of the Nepalese people. It got so bad that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were asked to leave by Nepalese authorities.

Just wish this disaster of a foreign policy had more critical and fair coverage.

BJP member inciting communal violence on Twitter; calls for killing 3000 Muslims


Incitement of hate & violence, derogatory & defamatory content is quite a usual cite on the profiles of right wingers of across all the religions. However, a member of the ruling Bhartiya Janta party had a leap on late Saturday evening.

Embedded image permalink
Tweeted by Amitesh Singh from his profile @AmiteshSinghBJP – now been taken down by himself.

This was posted by Amitesh Singh, the City Vice President of the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha, on his Twitter as retaliationAmitesh Singh Profile
response to the ongoing communal tension in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh. Singh called for a mass killing of 3000 Muslims and something very important to notice here is the hashtag he used i.e #GodhraAgain – Godhra pogrom of Gujarat in 2002 where more than 2000 people Muslims & Hindus were killed in riots that went on for months. Incidentally, the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of the state at that time.

As per the law, there must be an FIR registered against Amitesh Singh under the following sections of the IPC –

  • IPC 153 – Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot-if rioting be committed-if not committed
  • IPC 153A – Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
  • IPC 295A – Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
  • IPC 298 – Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person
  • IPC 308 – Attempt to commit culpable homicide
  • IPC 499 – Defamation
  • IPC 500 – Punishment for defamation
  • IPC 504 – Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace
  • IPC 505 – Statements conducing to public mischief

Or/ and any other relevant sections of the IPC

Apart from the legal course, Twitter too must crackdown on such profiles, those who incite hatred & violence. Although, Amitesh Singh has taken down his profile for now, but it is the responsibility of Twitter to ensure that the discourse is maintained and the platform is prevented from becoming a potential too for those wanting to incite hatred, violence, terrorism etc – in order to disrupt the communal harmony or/ and peace.

Amitesh Singh’s call was to kill for 3000 Muslims this time – as was in Godhra – but double the number. The devastation at much higher degree and the incitement under the watch of the Prime Minister himself. The offender, Amitesh Singh, is followed by Narendra Modi on Twitter.

Screenshot posted on his Instagram account shows PM following him on Twitter
Screenshot posted on his Instagram account shows PM following him on Twitter

Amitesh Singh, being the City vice president of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (headed by MP Anurag Thakur) has close relations with many BJP MPs and here is a picture of him with BJP MP from Pune Shri Anil Shirole.

With BJP MP, Anil Shirole
With BJP MP, Anil Shirole

Also, according to one of his status updates on Facebook, Amitesh Singh claims to be the grandson of Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, BJP MP from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. Chauhan, who is popularly known as Nandu Bhaiya is five term MP from the same constituency.

It would be interesting to know if this matter would be reported and if the guilty would be brought under the law or will it all be hushed under the wraps due to the alliance of the offender with the ruling BJP and his personal relations with the Member of Parliaments including the rapport with the Prime Minister himself.

All of this is being done by the official member of the BJP and its frontal organization when the PM wants the people to believe that the Government will protect the religious minorities and will ensure protection and justice to people from all faith

The Magic of the Son Tablet


This piece was written by Dhakad Tau on April 27, 2013

The fight for equal rights for Indian women has come a long way with an equally long way left to be covered. India has been a patriarchal society where the female form has been treated with both reverence when praying and with utter contempt otherwise.

This battle for equality has been tortuous to say the least and has required rearguard action from enlightened men and women who saw through this travesty of a social order to help women achieve a bit of their due.

In a brilliant article, “Saluting the brave men who fought for women” the writer Harini Calamur (Twitter – @calamur) listed some of these luminaries who struggled for women’s rights in their lives with different levels of success, each bringing about changes that enabled Indian women to breathe easily. Among the names she has listed are those of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Phule, Ishwarchand Vidyasagar, Bhimrao Ambedkar & Jawahar Lal Nehru.

As kids we did get lessons in history which included the reformist movement taken up by Raja Ram Mohan Roy who fought against the most evil practice of Sati. Not only would he visit cremation grounds to prevent widows from committing it but he also ran a campaign to educate people that this practice was against ancient Hindu texts as well. Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar & Jawahar Lal Nehru fought against fanatic Hindu traditionalists to give rights to women which had not even been considered till then. Nehru, ever the fundamentalist liberal went against a phalanx of Hindu leaders to reform the Hindu Civil Code. His conviction was so strong that he didn’t blink even once in face of concerted opposition from the likes of Hindu Mahasabha in elections.

While one laments the sorry state of affairs when it comes to gender sensitivity in this country, let us not forget the contribution of these stalwarts that helped us reach here. The fight for women’s rights in this country is an ongoing one. They fight continuously to remove boundaries and glass ceilings and to ensure that they are not looked upon as just servants or sex objects. The poor condition of women in India can be gauged from the poor sex ratio in India. The Male to Female ratio is particularly bad in my home state. People don’t even want a girl child forget giving them equal rights after they are born.

The battle for equality thus starts within the womb itself. The level of awareness regarding this burning issue is high but the will seems missing. A social revolution in this regard is perhaps the only answer. The laws exist but so do means to circumvent them. At the same time one must be unsparing in the condemnation and punishment for those who support this very thought. Choice of sex for the child is illegal medically. Our social “leaders” however seem oblivious to the matter and sometimes even complicit in promoting it even more. One such example is the Yoga guru Baba Ramdev of Patanjali Yogpeeth.

In India the battle for women’s rights starts in the womb

Baba Ramdev gained popularity for his simple breathing exercises through which he claimed to fix many ailments. Baba has since diversified into offering Ayurvedic cures for disease and also a full-fledged FMCG paraphernalia which includes soaps and shampoos. Baba’s empire is now valued at a mindboggling Rs. 2000+ Crores. His success has been an example for other entrepreneurs as well. What is a matter of concern however is that despite being such a revered figure among India’s TV watching public he has been complicit in fanning this “boy mania” in the society instead of creating awareness about its ills.

Baba Ramdev has a higher female fan following but still the Patanjali Yogpeeth claims to provide medicines which can ensure that the progeny is male. In the past he has been investigated for offering an Ayurvedic concoction by the name of “Putravati” (son-tablet) that can help women deliver sons instead of girls.

More than the legal ramifications of his decidedly poor act it’s the social illness that it begets which is more dangerous. Ramdev is revered by millions as a Saint and instead of educating his followers about the liberal, humanist and philosophical aspects of the Dharm he seems to be milking a social evil by selling snake oil to satisfy an evil urge. One might be led to believe that this is an old case and things might have improved since then. But what’s shocking is that one can still find references of son-producing medicine on his Trust’s official forum – Patanjali yogpeeth suggests medicines on this forum to get a male child (responses from official Trust employees). This behavior is criminal to say the least.

What is even more shocking is that the Baba has gained endorsement from political leadership of the country as well.  Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister who fancies himself as a PM candidate for his party, the BJP extracted  an invite from Ramdev and gave his support to the son-giving Baba in Haridwar yesterday, April 26, 2013.

Modi endorsed and legitimised Ramdev’s acts

Sharing the dias with babas of various hues at the gathering who extolled the virtues of Narendra Modi as a leader, Modi himself lent his unbridled support to the controversial Baba. This in my view is a new low in our history as a nation and as a people. While, those glorious leaders (both political and social) as mentioned at the start of this piece fought against social evils even in the face of public opposition, an experienced leader like Narendra Modi chose to not only pander to a superstitious group of individuals but also give his vocal support to their quests. Modi commented that Ramdev was serving the nation through his Yoga but ignored that the same Baba has been spreading superstition in the country and doing criminal acts too. This is reminiscent of the BJP’s opposition to legislation that was being enacted in the wake of the Roop Kanwar Sati incident in Rajasthan in 1987. The same BJP then saved Baba Ramdev when the case against the Son Tablet came up in 2007. The state shielded him when the Central govt asked it to investigate complaints.

Through this single act Modi has ensured that the BJP and its allied organizations continue to be looked upon suspiciously as Medievalists who are bent upon keeping India backward by forcing their primitive sense of society on us. This is a dangerous path which seems like a mirror image of the path taken by our neighbor Pakistan in its quest to have a more “culturally compliant” state. The only difference is that in Pakistan it’s the Islamists who rule the roost but in India a progressive leadership in the last century has kept this Hindu version of Islamists away. While Modi wishes to represent a young, modern India his tango with Ramdev has weakened his case a lot.

One might argue that this was a silly mistake from Modi but the more plausible explanation is that this was a calculated move from Modi trying to bank upon this very regressive constituency of people to further his political ambitions. He therefore doesn’t see any need to reform this section but chooses to use it for his advantage thereby giving the likes of Baba Ramdev legitimacy which can not be good for India as a nation at all.

Posted by Dhaakad Tau on 27 April 2013.