Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Nonsensical Left-Right Binary




It is extremely puzzling why many of those who rejected the politics of the Left have so readily accepted –“Right Wing” as their identity marker and self-definition despite the fact that the term is used as a pejorative by the Left for any one & everyone who dares differ with their partisan and authoritarian politics. Moreover, “left” & “right” are terms borrowed from European history. They have no real equivalence in Indian history nor are they a reliable guide for understanding India’s contemporary politics. By allowing the opponent to decide the terms of the battle, including naming the ideological terrain, we end up as losers even before we have begun the battle.

As is well known, the political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates General: those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime.


The term was later applied to republicanism during the French Revolution in the 18th century, followed by socialism,[communism, anarchism, and social democracy in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since then, the term left-wing has been applied to a broad range of movements including civil rights movements, feminist movements, anti-war movements, and environmental movements, as well as a wide range of political formations.

I have no problem if Europeans or Americans who share a common cultural and ideological heritage feel comfortable using these constraining, archaic and opaque terms to define their political and social identities. But they become absolutely nonsensical when applied in a country like India, which has never witnessed political and social divisions on these lines.
Intellectual slavery to the West is built into the DNA of the Left because they have steadfastly borrowed their ideological paradigms from the West, with Marxism as the core followed by its many hybrids— modernism, structuralism, deconstructionism, subalternism, post modernism and so on. But why should those who want to break out of the intellectual slavery of the West accept as their self-view -the pejorative term “Right Wing” along with all the negative connotations it is loaded with? 

Leftists dub others as “right wing” as a short hand for damning that person as being anti-poor, pro-rich, anti-minorities, anti women, anti freedom, anti-progress, trapped in obscurantism, and anti every positive human value—even though the person may be guilty of no bigger crime than merely differing with or pointing to serious factual infirmities in the political narrative chosen by the Left.

Conversely, the leftists assume that by merely labeling themselves “Left”, they magically acquire for all times to come unquestioned monopoly over all the positive human traits and progressive values known to history—never mind that in reality their track record on all these is mostly disgraceful. In countries or (states within India) where Communists actually came to power, they wrecked the economy, adopted the most tyrannical and oppressive systems of governance and in Soviet Union, China, North Korea etc. carried out genocides against their own people on scales and with brutality that matched Hitler’s extermination of the Jews.

It is noteworthy that none of the leading social reformers of 19th century used such terminology for themselves. Even during the freedom movement, barring leaders of the self professed Communist parties only a small minority of westernized leaders like Nehru used the term Leftist for their worldview. The tallest leader of all–namely Mahatma Gandhi—refused to accept for himself the political binaries presented by Communists who dubbed him “right wing” even though his pro-poor, pro women, pro minorities, pro Dalit credentials as well as track record of mobilizing the people of India against the oppressive colonial regime, were far superior to that of the entire spectrum of leftists of those days.

But Communists could not stomach Gandhi because right from its inception, the Communist Party of India made Hindu-bashing as an essential qualification for being a progressive even while they willingly pandered to Islamists, including Jinnah’s demand for Partition.  A self respecting Hindu is the biggest threat to “secularism” in the eyes of leftists. After Narendra Modi’s rise to power their aversion to anything “Hindu” has assumed pathological dimensions.

Leftists better realize that those who can’t find a self respecting, self chosen nomenclature for their worldview and continue aping ideas which have been discarded even by those who first offered them, are not capable of providing intellectual leadership to their society. Likewise those of us who don’t wish to live by borrowed, outdated ideologies of the West, better not accept the abusive terminology of Leftists as our self-definition. Mahatma Gandhi succeeded in marginalizing the Left in large part because he refused to let them define the rules of the game or its turf. That is why today, Leftists in western countries after firmly discarding Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism etc., seek inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi.

First published in www.dnaindia.com, 21st October, 2016, see link (http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-the-nonsensical-left-right-binery-2265967)

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Why Salman Khan Doesn't Owe Anybody an Apology

How NCW is Raping its Own Dignity

One can understand frenzied feminists descending like vultures on Salman Khan for his alleged insult to women with his rape analogy.  But for the National Women's Commission ( NCW) to send a summon to Salman Khan with the threat of suing him, is to rape the dignity of NCW-or whatever little there is left of it in this otherwise ineffective and toothless institution.

When is the last time you heard or saw the NCW do something meaningful or memorable for women?  Most of its chairpersons have been political appointees and have therefore used the office to emote profusely while doing very little constructive work. It is also a poorly administered institution without fine tuned systems for responding to challenges that women of India face today. Therefore, all we get from NCW are knee jerk responses to trivial events rather than a well thought out vision and program of action for improving the lot of women.


Left: Lalitha Kumaramangalam-- Raping the dignity of National Commission for Women
Right: Salman Khan--Hounded by frenzied feminists on frivolous charges
At a time when, on a daily basis, we are being confronted with gruesome reports of gang rapes of women and kids, thousands of children being abducted every year for inhuman forms of trafficking, millions of women been sucked into the flesh trade every year, countless women becoming victims of cyber crimes; the NCW had to pick up the most ridiculous issue to flex its muscles. Its chairperson is acting as though a man using the word ’rape’ commits a far more heinous crime than actually raping women. We, however, have not seen such macho threats issued to actual rapists.

Before I offer my reasons for coming out in defence of Salman Khan, let me refresh the readers' memory by quoting, from the original source, the exact statement as well as the background of the controversial remarks.  In response to a reporter's question as to what kind of effort he put in to get the character of wrestler Sultan (in a soon to be released film of the same name, depicting the life of a Haryana’s wrestlers ) physically right, Salman said:

It’s a tough process. You need ample training like the wrestlers. The training Aamir Khan and I have been through is similar or probably a little more than what the wrestlers go through. If we didn’t do it, we wouldn’t be able to fight convincingly in the ring…. I underwent weight training. Then I perfected the moves. I spent 2-3 hours in the day practising those because in the film, I go from the village level akhada to the mat-based ring and then the MMA arena. So I had to do a lot of punching and kicking. I had to be convincing or else I’d look like a fraud.

The reporter then comments, "The shoot must have been gruelling..." To this Salman responds:

While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because if I was lifting, I’d have to lift the same 120-kilo guy 10 times for 10 different angles. And likewise, get thrown that many times on the ground. This act is not repeated that many times in the real fights in the ring. When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight. I would eat and then, head right back to training. That couldn’t stop.

Far from finding these remarks offensive, I was actually moved by them for the following reasons:
Salman did not make a casual light hearted comment about rape, nor referto it as an enjoyable sport.  He offers his analogy to refer to the kind of physical pain and torture an actor has to go through in order to do those macho roles involving what is light-heartedly referred to as Bollywood style dishum-dishum, which many youngsters think is a lot of fun.  But describing the gruesome battering the body takes to prepare for, rehearse, and enact those roles for the camera, Salman is in fact de-glamorizing the entire exercise.  He describes the vulnerabilities of screen heroes in real life and how such situations can even lead to grievous and life threatening injuries, as they did in the case of Amitabh Bachhan on the sets of the blockbuster film Coolie’.

If a man who has been put through the grueling experience described by Salman Khan compares it to the physical battering of a raped woman, the analogy is not so inappropriate as to cause a media uproar especially considering that a majority of rapes don't lead to a Nirbhaya like catastrophe.

True, rape is far more than physical trauma—it’s also a violation of a women's selfhood and dignity whereas Salman is undergoing that grueling predicament voluntarily -- for money, name and fame.  But the seriousness of the occupational hazard should not be undermined just as the occupational risks involved in being a pilot flying and dropping provisions to soldiers based in Siachin can’t be lightly dismissed by saying ‘well, he was paid for the job and chose it voluntarily.” Similarly, no one is dismissive of the risks taken by a mountaineer going up  Everest by saying he is well paid and chose to climb the treacherous peaks for name and fame! Remember what a tsunami of national sympathy flowed for Bachhan when he nearly died during the dishum dishum sequence of Coolie!

Moreover, analogies -- whether negative or positive -- are not meant to be taken literally.  For instances, if a poet compares the beauty of his beloved to the radiance of a full moon, it doesn't mean the woman has to have a perfectly round, silver blue face which can be taken as a replica of the moon as seen from the earth.  Likewise, when you say someone eats like a pig, it doesn't mean that the man actually eats muck.

While Salman used the rape analogy to describe a life threatening situation during shooting, in fact, the analogy is often used light heartedly to refer to a range of situations, not just by men but also women.  I have heard young female students describe the experience of sitting through the classes of aggressive teachers who act like bullies vis a vis their pupils as "intellectual rape".

Recently, a well known author talked about the "Rape of the Rupee." Environmentalists often use the phrase "Rape of Mother Earth" to describe the the callous manner in which governments, corporates and other vested interests are plundering and vandalizing this planet unmindful of its consequences for future generations.

 Alexander Pope's satirical poem "Rape of the Lock" is till date taught as a literary classic the world over, including in India even though it uses the term "rape" to poke fun at the foibles, vanities and fantasies of 18th century British women.  Had it been a 21st century Indian male who wrote a similar poem using the term "Rape" in a satirical manner, our frenzied feminists would have stopped at nothing short of seeking the death penalty for him!  Even with Salman many of them menacingly declared that a "mere apology" won't do. Who knows with the majestic Women's Commission leading from the front, they might not be satisfied with anything less than castration or life imprisonment for Salman!  Would the NCW dare demand a ban on Alexander Pope's writings? 

Unfortunately, by making a mountain out of a molehill and hyper-ventilating for days on end on prime time television--self appointed thekedars of women's rights have made activist  women a laughing stock of the nation. Those who cry for frivolous reasons have created conditions for serious backlash on women's issues.  As it is there is a great deal of anger and outrage brewing in society over the all too frequent misuse of the draconian anti rape law which lends itself to easy abuse but has failed miserably to provide relief to genuine victims of brutal rapes, leave alone help in curbing the growing frequency of sexual crimes in our society.

However, women who descend on police stations after a failed live-in relationship to allege that the concerned man was raping them for X number of years on promise of marriage have found it easy to get their estranged lover arrested and locked up in jail even before the start of the trial. This is because the anti rape law mandates that the mere allegation by a woman is enough to book someone for rape, no matter how flimsy the charge. How can a man you voluntarily lived in with for three or four years suddenly become a rapist—all because he doesn’t want to tie the knot of matrimony? Women for whom holy matrimony is so important should not risk fashionable live-in relationships whose basic premise is that both partners are free to walk out if things don’t work out.

Remember the false rape charge made on prime time TV shows by a young woman against film director Madhur Bhandarkar—all because he did not yield to her demand for the role of a film heroine. He had to go all the way up to the Supreme Court to get his name cleared.  Imagine the trauma, not just for the man but his entire family including children, of having your name splashed all over the media as a rapist, when you haven’t been guilty of it. 

Sadly enough, it has become fairly common for an increasing number of women to make totally false allegations of rape for the purpose of extortion and blackmail because the ultra feminist law makes it easy to do so without inviting any punishment. As a result a lot of employers have begun to avoid hiring women in their offices especially if it involves direct contact with them during day to day dealings. While the draconian anti rape law has not really come to the rescue of many genuine rape victims, it has brought into play new prejudices and fears against employing women.

Have our zealous feminists—both male and female—ever objected to trivialization of rape law by such unscrupulous women even though it is causing incalculable damage to women’s credibility and dignity? They would cry murder if any attempts were made to build safeguards against easy misuse of such laws even though it has ruined many innocent lives.

The most bizarre part of this entire saga is that most of those who are baying for Salman's blood go hysterical when it comes to government censorship over pornography or even minor cuts in films like Udta Punjab which are replete with the foulest abuses which are highly sexist. They don't want censorship over pornography which is highly demeaning to the female dignity and filled with gross forms of violence on female bodies treating them as virtual sex slaves.

But they support "verbal censorship" of the most tyrannical variety in our daily conversation. Any attempt by state institutions to curb vulgarity, violence is rejected as unwanted ‘moral policing’ and sign of authoritarianism.  But TV anchors and sundry feminists think they have a god given right to impose their moral code and censorship even on casual conversations.

Do they expect public figures to submit advance script of their daily conversation to the Women's Commission or TV anchors? Such verbal policing would make women the new “Unmentionables” of our society even while they would not be ‘Untouchable” as far as violence against them is concerned.

We must say a firm 'No’ to this fake and frivolous manifestation of political correctness which is distorting public discourse and hence distracting attention from serious issues. 

And my sincere advice to Salman Khan, please don’t buckle under the illegitimate pressure NCW is putting on you to apologize publicly for your comments. Dekhna hai zor kitna bazzoye kaatil mein hai! (Lets see how much power this tyrant is capable of exercising)  Best not to yield to such blackmail because once these viragoes taste blood, there is no stopping them. Would be interesting to see if they dare take the matter to court in which case they may well get a sound drubbing for their frivolity so that next time round these zealots will think ten times before going unleashing their fury on soft targets.


At the same time, you have a good case to file a defamation suit against NCW for humiliating, hounding and blackmailing you publicly day after day on prime time TV!


An edited version of this article was published on July 2, 2016 in wire.in (http://thewire.in/48087/why-i-believe-salman-khan-doesnt-owe-anybody-an-apology/).  This is the full version of the same article.




Tuesday, 21 June 2016

CSDS Saga Part 4

How Left Citadel CSDS Sabotages Rules of Discipline
53-year-old Public Funded Organizations Still Doesn’t Have Clear Rules for Its Administration


The founding fathers of Delhi based CSDS ( Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) at least had the self confidence to openly admit to the world that they did not believe in externally imposed discipline and that they envisaged CSDS to be a place where people had freedom to choose not only their working schedules work but also be free to determine the content, quantity and quality of their academic output.

However, once the old generation began to retire or pass away, the old order had to give way to new. Unfortunately, most of the new recruits saw the job at CSDS as just another job—with just one big advantage—the institution has virtually no rules to enforce discipline of attendance or academic output. As the old freedoms began to be widely misused, the seniors or “Uncles”-- as they began to be derisively referred to by the younger entrants—began cautious attempts to make the CSDS faculty accept some minimal rules for ensuring basic discipline and accountability. Since three of the “Uncles” became members of the Governing Board after retirement, they began to push the faculty through Board meetings. Coincidentally, this process of making and sabotaging rules began in 2001, the year I returned to CSDS as full professor after two long stints in 1990’s as Visiting Fellow.



At the insistence of the Board of Governors, in 2001 the first ever Committee of the faculty was appointed to draft the Rules and Regulations for the Centre. The following account based on the Minutes of various faculty and Board meetings over the years reveals how through a clever sleight of hand, obfuscation and delay tactics, the Ruling Coterie of CSDS managed to evade accepting not just those rules and regulations which are applicable to all public funded educational institutions but even the exceedingly generous rules proposed/adopted by the B.O.G. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

CSDS Saga Part 3

Violation of the Constitutional Mandate regarding SC/ST/OBC Reservations


The most serious example of abuse of the government rules and legal requirements by the Ruling Coterie of CSDS is the fulfillment of SC/ST/OBC quota in faculty and administrative appointments.  This is a serious violation for an institution getting 100% of its funds by the government.  Every year the ICSSR sends a letter to CSDS stating clearly that it has to comply with a set of conditions, including the reservation policy of GOI in order to qualify for grant-in-aid.  But this warning has been studiously ignored because the Ruling Coterie considers itself above the law of the land.

This lapse has occurred despite the fact that the CSDS prides itself on being a flag bearer for social justice.  In fact, former director DL Sheth was appointed Member (social scientist) of the National Commission for Backward Classes from 1993 to 1996.  Thus the previous generation of CSDS is in large part responsible for the current reservation policy and yet CSDS flouts it with impunity. 

It is noteworthy that in the last Board meeting held on April 9, 2016 the ICSSR representatives let it be known that its grant-in-aid may be withdrawn unless concrete amends are made in this regard because its acts of omission and commission on this issue are in violation of the declared norms in Rule 10(ii) and also against the spirit of Article 46 of the Constitution. The ICSSR grant is conditional to CSDS observing all GOI Rules and constitutional commitments and yet this mandate was being fluted.  The Coterie is in panic because the ICSSR also put on hold the recent appointments of Associate Fellows made by the CSDS Selection Committee. Even these 2016 appointments did not observe the mandatory requirement of SC/ST/OBC quota.

Thus far, CSDS has only paid lip service to the reservation policy by merely stating in its advertisements for new vacancies that all things being equal, the institution will give preference to SC/ST/OBC candidates but it has continually evaded the mandatory quotas when making selections.  This speaks volumes about its commitment to social justice.  These worthies are good at writing academic tracts and holding conferences on subaltern groups but don’t find them good enough to work with as colleagues.

See: CSDS Saga Part 2,  CSDS Saga Part 1 & also See: CSDS: A Citadel of "Academic Freedom" Unmasked"

Saturday, 4 June 2016

CSDS Saga Part 2


Lawlessness in the Name of "Self-Governance" at CSDS
None Called to Account for Non Performance or Absenteeism

In Part 1 of this series, I had provided a glimpse of lawless regime operating at CSDS whereby there is no system of marking attendance, no limit on the amount of time faculty members can spend on varied assignments abroad, no need to declare the extra income earned from these parallel careers and remunerative consultancies with the likes of Ford Foundation. I had also described how the absence of academic audit of faculty members who are employed for full time research without any teaching load in effect means you can get away with doing practically nothing for years on end or using the institution for political pamphleteering instead of academic studies.

The founding fathers of CSDS had conceptualized this institution to be a haven of academic freedom where each faculty member was free to decide the content, quality and pace of his own work. However, even in the heydays of CSDS, this model threw up serious challenges. As per the version given by CSDS seniors, in the 1980's three senior colleagues,  namely Prof Ali Baquar, Prof Sudhir Kakkar and Prof Vijay Pillai had gotten into the habit of coming to CSDS just once a week on Wednesday for a couple of hours even though they held full time faculty positions at CSDS.  Therefore, they came to be sarcastically referred to as the Budhwari group.

Friday, 3 June 2016

CSDS Saga Part 1

"Self-Governance" Leftist Style
CSDS Claims all Government Benefits but Defies all Systems of Accountability

On 1st May 2016, I had published the text of my legal notice to CSDS challenging their brazen act of discrimination in denying me affiliation to the organization in order to avail of the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship awarded to me by the Indian Council for Social science Research (ICSSR). The ostensible reason provided by the CSDS for denying/indefinitely deferring my affiliation for the two-year duration of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship is that a special committee of CSDS faculty is still in the process of drafting “rules for self governance.”  Therefore, in the absence of “norms” the institution is unable to offer me affiliation.

Had this been even half honest explanation, I would not have picked up cudgels with CSDS. (See Link: CSDS: A Citadel of "Academic Freedom" Unmasked").

It is noteworthy that today CSDS is the only one among the 32 research institutions funded by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) which gets 100 percent of its grant-in-aid towards staff salaries and building fund from the ICSSR – an organization created by the ministry of HRD to fund social science research in India. As a government funded institution, CSDS is expected to follow rules and norms applicable to public funded institutions.[1] That includes well-established procedures of accountability, transparency, fair play, non-discrimination, and rules that are applicable to all without fear or favour.  However, CSDS has been functioning in the most lawless fashion, as the following account will show.

The malafide intent behind denying me affiliation on the specious plea that rules of "self governance" had not yet been finalised is evident from the fact that absence of "norms for self-governance" never came in the way of:
  1. Over 200 scholars, including ICSSR fellowship holders, being granted affiliation to CSDS under various heads in the last 15 years, 
  2. Recruiting several new faculty members;
  3. Starting of new programmes, projects and even a whole new “Institute” without as much as a formal permission of the Board of Governors(of this more in another part of this series);
  4. A faculty member negotiating collaboration with the Gottingen University for setting up an International Centre for Advanced Study in CSDS.
  5. Inviting Visiting Fellows from abroad for short and long periods, involving huge expense to the Centre;
  6. Faculty members going out for lucrative assignments abroad involving frequent long absences from CSDS;
  7. Faculty members applying for funding for this or that Project or Program from international donor agencies, including those agencies that are under investigation by the Government of India.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

CSDS: A Citadel Of “Academic Freedom” Unmasked

Reproduced from Swarajyamag.com  (2nd May, 2016)  Click Here . 

In response to historian Sanjay Subramaniam’s charge in The SundayTimes (20 December 2015) that the coming of BJP government had endangered academic freedom in India because of growing atmosphere of “intolerance” being engineered by the NDA government, I had sent a rejoinder to TOI on 22nd December saying that the leftists were crying wolf since they still retained Stalinist type control over most academic institutions and that it was not the Left but those who dissented with the Left who remained endangered and marginalized.

Giving my own example, I wrote “I was invited to join the CSDS when it was not a Left citadel. In today’s CSDS, I wouldn’t even get a peon’s job!” (My rejoinder was published in The SundayTimes on 3rd January 2016).

I had no idea that the ruling coterie at CSDS would want to prove me right so soon, so brazenly and with such vengeance.

I was invited to join the CSDS in 1991 when the founding fathers of CSDS were still at the helm of affairs. They considered me a valuable addition to CSDS on account of my role as editor of Manushi and my own research, writing and active interventions which were nationally and internationally celebrated as having pioneered new thinking and socially rooted approach to women’s and human rights issues. In those days, CSDS was a genuine citadel of liberalism and therefore much hated and defamed by the Left. Therefore, voices like mine were welcomed, not throttled.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Clutching at Kanhaiya: A Straw Man Turned Hero

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar . Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar (Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

Lord Krishna, also lovingly known as Kanhaiya, had assured his devotees in Bhagwad Gita that whenever dharma declines and adharma spreads in the world, he will take avataar in order to strengthen the forces of dharma.

Communists may not believe in Lord Krishna since as per their world view faith in the Divine is opium of the masses.  But Left parties & their intellectual supporters are treating JNU’s Kanhaiyya as their saviour incarnate at a time when the credibility of their chosen dharma – namely Marxism and class war, have suffered irreversible decline.  It is as though they found in him Lenin, Mao, Che Guevara and Bhagat Singh – all rolled into one to win the war against Narendra Modi.  And what are his credentials for being catapulted to this super hero status?  That he won the JNU student union election with 1000 votes out of 7000 and delivered a thundering speech against Sangh Parivar soon after his release from Tihar jail.

Madhu Kishwar

Madhu Kishwar
इक उम्र असर होने तक… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …اک عمر اثر ہونے تک

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