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Fifth Column: Speak up, Prime Minister

Hate crimes have become so routine since the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq two years ago that the death of Afrazul barely found mention in the next morning’s newspapers.


Tavleen Singh


| DECEMBER 10 2017

Last Thursday when that video of Afrazul being attacked with an axe and burned alive in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand went viral on social media, the Chief Minister tweeted a picture of herself celebrating Armed Forces Day. Not one word about this latest hate crime. Is it any wonder that in her tenure her state has become notorious for lynching Muslims? She has been a personal friend of mine long before she became a politician and never once did I think she lacked basic humanity. I am ashamed for her.

The Prime Minister was campaigning in Gujarat that day and said not one word about this latest hate crime. But he clearly knew what was happening in the country because within minutes of Mani Shankar Aiyar describing



Telescope: Blame it on Babur

For some, the demolition of the mosque was his fault. And Rahul is Aurangzeb.


| DECEMBER 07 2017

December 6 is a day many remember as the day 25 years ago when the Babri Masjid was flattened by kar sevaks. There was no social media then, no 24×7 in-your-ears-and-face private news channels beaming “exclusive”, literally “breaking news”, of the kar sevaks scampering up the mosque. So many of us first learned about its demolition from BBC World News Service on the radio. Mark Tully’s voice rose above the din of chants: “Jai Shri Ram”. You could almost taste the dust in his voice.

If you were watching Aaj Tak this Wednesday afternoon, you would have witnessed some of what happened that day in Ayodhya, and you should have still been shocked: Kar sevaks acrobat onto the domes and pound them to the ground, security personnel


India’s plural soul

An assassination, a demolition and a portrait’s unveiling together spelt the polarisation of India


| DECEMBER 06 2017

The partitioning of India broke us, shamed us. It is estimated that nearly two million were slaughtered during the weeks around Partition, almost no Muslim surviving in East Punjab and no Hindu or Sikh in West Punjab. About 7.5 million Muslims left India for the newly formed state of Pakistan and about 7.5 million Hindus trekked to the new India from Pakistan. Both sets of displaced persons were seeking the security of a religious majority, their majority.

Gandhi’s scorching presence, the new government’s unwavering commitment to pluralism and the humanity of millions of ordinary people saved the tragedy from becoming a cataclysm.

 The triptych of an agenda

After that traumatic year, three dates, three events, shook Indian pluralism again. Gandhi’s assassination — January 30, 1948; the Babri Masjid demolition — December 6, 1992, and the unveiling of V.D. Savarkar’s portrait in Parliament House — February 26, 2003

The first of these three saw a believer in the criticality of India’s pluralism being put to death. The second witnessed a pre-eminent Islamic monument reduced to rubble. The third valorised a man who believed India was meant to be a THE HINDU

Across the aisle: The sons of the soil of Gujarat

Mr Modi should speak on matters that concern all of India such as farmers’ distress, oppression of Dalits, discrimination against minorities,.. Even during a state election, Mr Narendra Modi should speak as the Prime Minister of India


P Chidambaram

| DECEMBER 3 2017

The Prime Minister began his election campaign in Bhuj, Gujarat, proclaiming that he was the ‘son of Gujarat’, and warned that any one who comes to Gujarat and levels allegations against the son of the soil will not be forgiven by the people of the state.

The BJP has ruled Gujarat since 1995. Mr Modi became the chief minister in October 2001 and, after he vacated the office in 2014, the state has had two chief ministers hand-picked by him. The first (Mrs Anandiben Patel) was a disaster and the second (Mr Vijay Rupani) is a disappointment. Hence the need for Mr Modi to make himself the election issue and ask for votes in his name. I think  INDIAN EXPRESS

Fifth column: Digital dreaming

What the Prime Minister appears unaware of is that despite his appeals, foreign investors are not exactly lining up at India’s gates to invest in new projects. Could this be because the small things that make a huge difference have not yet changed?


Tavleen Singh

| DECEMBER 3 2013

Narendra Modi has shown more impatience to use technology to transform India than any other prime minister. In his passionate impatience he seems not to have noticed that most Indian officials do not share his passion. Technology reduces their powers to harass and control, and unless they do this, how can they qualify as ‘burra sahibs’. Nor has he noticed the evil tricks these officials devise to thwart his digital dreams. Last week, at that conference of global entrepreneurs in Hyderabad, the Prime Minister repeated for the umpteenth time that he wants foreign businesses to come ‘Make in India’. A day later he took time off from campaigning in INDIAN EXPRESS

Mr. Trump Makes a Spectacle of Himself


Here is one thing we are reminded of over and over about President Trump: The man simply cannot help himself — especially when cornered. Given one more chance to forcefully condemn the neo-Nazis and white supremacists whose rally in Charlottesville, Va., ended in violence and a counterprotester’s death, Mr. Trump angrily insisted, as he had suggested on Saturday, that both sides were equally to blame — a false equivalency that not just his critics but also an increasing number of his supporters have urged him to abandon.

The setting was a bizarre and contentious press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan that was originally meant to be about infrastructure but quickly escalated into a shouting match about Charlottesville. Gone was the measured tone that the president’s aides had talked him into on Monday, when he said “racism is evil” and appeared to distance himself from his earlier claims about shared THE NEW YORK TIMES

What Mohan Bhagwat’s I-Day Outing In Kerala Proves



| AUGUST 16 2017

On the 70th anniversary of independence, two incidents took place at opposite ends of the country, one in Kerala and the other in Tripura, which symbolize much of what is wrong with the functioning and approach of the present central regime and the politics it represents.

Let’s take the incident in Kerala first. Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief decided, that he was going to hoist the national flag in Kerala in a government-aided school in Palakkad district. There are certain protocols and rules that the central and state governments follow for the hoisting of the flag on ceremonial occasions. In Kerala, too, the concerned department issued necessary instructions on August 5, 2017, that Independence Day should be celebrated appropriately in all educational institutions. It stated that the national flag should be hoisted by the head of the institution. This is a perfectly rational order and the state government is well within its rights to issue such an order. Mr. Bhagwat is not the principal of the school. The institution Mr. Bhagwat heads is far away in Nagpur. But Mr. Bhagwat chose to violate this order.

The UP government headed by Mr. Bhagwat’s chosen Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, had also issued a circular. It concerned the raising of the national flag followed by the singing of the national anthem in all madrassas in the State. They were warned of strict action if instructions were not followed. Principals were asked to film the function as evidence that the government’s instructions were being followed. As most of the press reported, this, in…NDTV

Fifth Column: A bad week for corrupt politicians


Tavleen Singh

What a week! In Pakistan corruption charges felled a powerful prime minister. In Bihar corruption charges felled a powerful political leader. So it was a good week for higher standards in public life, and a bad one for political leaders who become inexplicably rich. Lalu Prasad and sons run a small enterprise compared to Nawaz Sharif and family, and so, did not make the Panama Papers like the Sharifs did. But, it’s basically the same story on both sides of the border. It is a story of political leaders who in the name of public service end up putting their family’s…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Fifth column: Good speech, but not enough

The Prime Minister said last week that nobody had the right to take the law into his own hands. So what he needs to do now is investigate why it is mostly in states ruled by BJP chief ministers that we have seen so many incidents of cow vigilantism.


There is a sad sort of irony in the Prime Minister’s choice of the Sabarmati Ashram to finally speak out last week against vigilante killings in the name of cow protection. Does he not know that the Mahatma is not a hero in the ‘new’ India? No sooner did he finish his speech than angry voices filled the realms of social media. In shrill tones they denounced Gandhiji for being a symbol of an ‘impotent’ India. In their view, that impotent India is a country that belongs in the past. They mocked Narendra Modi for speaking of non-violence in the ashram of a man whose non-violence they blame for hundreds of | INDIAN EXPRESS

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