PERSPECTIVE
MATTER OF SHAME
Are We Sliding Back To The Medieval Period?
03.07.19 - VIPIN PUBBY
Are We Sliding Back To The Medieval Period?



Of late several videos have emerged on the social media which should make us all collectively hang our heads in shame. Instead of moving towards modernisation, refinement of thought process and growth of society, we seem to be sliding back to the medieval period and mob justice appears to be the new normal.

One of these videos, which was also widely telecast by the electronic media, shows a young MLA use a lathi to beat up a government official who had gone to a particular site for demolition of illegal structures. The mob accompanying him supported and encouraged him. The brash MLA, son of the powerful Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, was subsequently arrested for obstructing government officials from discharging their duties and was bailed out after a couple of days.

Shockingly the first time MLA Akash Vijayvargiya, was given a hero’s welcome by his supporters when he stepped out of the jail. He was hailed as a messiah and ‘pride’ of Indore, the city he represents in the state assembly. He made no public statement to regret his action. He in fact said he had no regrets but added that in future he would take up Mahatama Gandhi’s path, presumably of non-violence.

Even top leadership of the BJP remained mum because the MLA’s father has done great service to the party in West Bengal as General Secretary incharge of that state. He did not utter a single word and appeared to be defending his son’s indefensible action.

To The credit of prime minister Narendra Modi, he criticised the incident several days later and said such action could not be tolerated. While action against him and his supporters is awaited, it is time for senior leaders to act with alacrity and take swift action so that such behaviour is nipped in the bud.

But while this video clip was shocking, some other video clips doing the rounds of social media show incidents which was nothing short of being barbaric.
 
In one such clip, a group of local leaders are seen attacking government officials, and a woman employee at that, with sticks. She was in uniform and was perhaps a forest department employee. Trying to save herself from the mob, she climbs atop a tractor but is hit there in full public view. Later she was taken to the hospital where a hairline fracture was detected on her wrist. No one knows what happened to the attackers or which was the place where the attack took place. Mainstream media often fails in its duty of following up such issues.

Then there is another video clip doing the rounds which is even further debased. It shows a group of men armed with lathis attacking a young girl who might be in her late teens. Nearly a dozen ‘men’ rain lathis blows on her, lifting her as she tries to save herself and virtually disrobing her. One can just cry at the gross inhumanity of the goons who could beat the girl so mercilessly. And we had other ‘men’ who instead of intervening and saving her, were busy filming the entire episode.

Yet it is because of their filming the incident that others could learn about the barbaric incident. One is left wondering how could such men turn so cruel and become a blot in the name of human beings.
 
The video is again undated and it is not clear where it was shot. The least the government can do is to track down the videos with the help of the social media companies as it had ordered in cases of attacks on government and its leaders. There are provisions under which these companies can be asked to track the source of the videos and messages.

But as a society we need to feel ashamed and think about the causes and reasons for such heinous attacks. It is not that such attacks had not been taking place in the past but that doesn’t justify attacks in an era where we talk of equal rights and where we aspire to go to the moon and beyond. Our leaders, both political and social, must come forward and take up these issues in right earnest.
 

 

 

 

(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)


 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

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Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

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Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Comment by: Raj Kumar Singh

Are we not ashamed of vandalism of a temple shame on you being so partial

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The Doctor and The Saint
Caste and other demons; Can Dalits rightfully claim that they have a ‘homeland’?
24.06.19 - Subhash Gatade
Caste and other demons; Can Dalits rightfully claim that they have a ‘homeland’?



"Gandhiji, I have no homeland.” The first meeting between Gandhi and B. R. Ambedkar, who later became chairman of the drafting committee of independent India’s Constitution and its first law minister, is memorialized in this sentence. It expresses the centuries-old plight of those most oppressed in the varna hierarchy under the "institutionalised social injustice at the heart of the country”.
-----------
Arundhati Roy’s introduction, which discussed Gandhi’s problematic understanding of caste and race, had caused tremendous consternation in Ambedkarite circles and discomfort in liberal/Gandhian circles too.
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Has there been a qualitative change in the situation of the ‘ex-untouchables’ since this meeting some 90 years back? Can Dalits rightfully claim that they have a ‘homeland’? Figures collated by National Crime Records Bureau show that "a crime is committed against a Dalit by a non-Dalit every sixteen minutes”, including four rapes a day and murders of 13 Dalits every week. And these figures do not include "the stripping and parading naked, the forced shit eating, the seizing of land and the social boycotts…” This is the backdrop of the book, The Doctor and The Saint: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate — Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste by Arundhati Roy. It earlier formed part of an introduction to an annotated 2014 edition of Annihilation of Caste — the historic pamphlet Ambedkar wrote when invited by the ‘Jat Paat Todak Mandal’ in Lahore. The invitation was withdrawn after the hosts read the lecture draft.

 
The Doctor and the Saint: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate — Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste; By Arundhati Roy, Penguin, Rs 299 
 
Roy’s introduction, which discussed Gandhi’s problematic understanding of caste and race, had caused tremendous consternation in Ambedkarite circles and discomfort in liberal/Gandhian circles too. The book brings into sharp focus the continuity (with minor changes) in Gandhi’s understanding, especially vis-à-vis caste. It quotes from Gandhi’s speeches and writings to make this clear; for example he believed that "caste represented the genius of Indian society”, that "if Hindu society has been able to stand, it is because it is founded on the caste system”. He refused to eat with people of the Balmiki community in Delhi. "You can offer me goat’s milk,” he said, "but I will pay for it. If you are keen that I should take food prepared by you, you can come here and cook food for me.” His approach to the mixed dining of savarna and erstwhile ‘untouchables’ is also evident in the way C. Rajagopalachari assured caste Hindus during the Vaikom struggle in 1924: "Mahatmaji does not want you to dine with Thiyas or Pulayas. What he wants is that we must be prepared to touch and go near other human beings as you go near a cow or a horse.” Quoting Ambedkar, the book also says that Gandhi had opposed the historic Mahad Satyagraha, the first revolt of the Dalits for dignity and human rights: "Not only did he not give his support, he condemned it in strong terms.” 

Mahatma Gandhi
 
It is extremely difficult to defend Gandhi’s patronizing tone regarding the ‘antyajas’ (he christened them ‘Harijan’ — god’s people) as also his largely status quoist view on caste. He wanted to abolish untouchability but believed in varnashrama dharma, which, according to Ambedkar, was the ‘parent’ of the caste system. Discomfort, again, overwhelms us when, in his famous 1909 political tract, ‘Hind Swaraj’ — with which "Gandhi remained pleased to the end of his days,” says Roy — he presents a "trenchant denunciation of modernity”, which "indicts the industrial revolution and modern machinery”.

While unpacking Gandhi’s view on this "project of unseeing”, it needs to be emphasized that he remained true to his convictions and, in spite of opposition from some Congress leaders, endeavoured to include abolition of untouchability as part of the national movement. It is a less known fact that Gandhi’s zeal to abolish untouchability, which included the entry of ‘untouchables’ in temples or allowing them access to public wells was construed as an ‘attack on Hindu religion’ by the Sanatanists and he faced tremendous resistance from them.
-----------
In any case, how should one look at this debate so many years after its main protagonists have gone? 
-----------
There are at least two known instances when they tried to kill him, once in Deoghar, Bihar, and the other in Pune, when his car came under a bomb attack in 1934 — incidentally, he was not there.

Roy’s book discusses how Ambedkar’s "encounters with humiliation and injustice began from his early childhood” and throws light on his contemporaries in anti-caste movements led by Swami Achootanand, Babu Mangoo Ram and others. It explains the background of Ambedkar’s authorship of Annihilation of Caste, discusses how he viewed the issue of caste, called for its annihilation and describes the tremendous challenges he faced in this mission.

B. R. Ambedkar 
 
Ambedkar’s work calls upon the people to "discard the Shastras… have the courage to tell the Hindus that what is wrong with them is their religion”. Its scathing attack on Hinduism shocked many; he exposed Hinduism’s inflexibility by underlining that "there is one thing which Hinduism has never been able to do — namely to adjust itself to absorb the Untouchables or to remove the bar of untouchability”. What is less underlined is that "Ambedkar believed … the two enemies of the Indian working class were capitalism and Brahminism”. Annihilation of Caste thus uncovers Ambedkar’s radical understanding: "The seizure of power must be by a proletariat… Can it be said that the poor in India recognise no such distinctions of caste or creed, high or low?”

However, there are places in the book where it appears that Roy is revisiting her assertions. For example, her claim that "Savarkar had supported Mahad Satyagraha” seems to be a little far-fetched because Savarkar believed all his life in Manusmriti and consistently opposed any independent initiative by the ‘Untouchables’. In response to their temple entry movement he had proposed a ‘Patit Pawan Mandir’ — a separate temple for them. Roy’s understanding that "From a Dalit point of view, Gandhi’s assasination could appear to be more a fratricidal killing than an assasination by an ideological opponent” suggests her rather shallow understanding of the danger of communal fascism or the project of converting India into a Hindu rashtra.
Arundhati Roy 
 
In places, Roy also seems a bit harsh towards Gandhi whereas she is not equally ruthless about Ambedkar. She does not linger on the fact that, barring a limited period, Ambedkar never had very friendly relations with the Congress; he presented his view of the party in his What Gandhi and Congress Have Done for the Untouchables just two years before Independence. Yet, he readily accepted the Congress’s offer to become law minister and chairman of the Constitution drafting committee. How can one explain this?

In any case, how should one look at this debate so many years after its main protagonists have gone? Notably, Roy is dealing with this humongous reality called caste: how the Gandhian view of caste still dominates the commonsense of a majority of Indians and why Ambedkar’s attack on caste and his denunciation of Hinduism could not make enough impact. Her chief concern has been that Ambedkar’s rage "be fully understood”. By being somewhat provocative, she has succeeded in doing that.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Machismo in Punjab
13.06.19 - Ramjot Sodhi
Machismo in Punjab



Punjab as a society is popular for its dances, songs, bravery, generosity and loudness. To understand Punjab, one has to look at it in the light of the centuries of wars and battles at this "Gateway to India". This history has fuelled the idea that Punjabis "work hard, play harder and fight the hardest". However, it has also rendered Punjab a patriarchal society, with a long history of female infanticide, and later, foeticide. Male dominance in all spheres has been the standard in the society.

The Economic Survey of 2017-18 highlights the phenomenon of "son meta-preference" which involves parents adopting fertility "stopping rules”, having children until the desired number of sons is born. This is quite visible in Punjab, as there are thousands of families having 3-4 daughters and the youngest child a son, leading to notional category of "unwanted girls". According to the census data of 2011, the sex ratio of Punjab was 895 (895 females per 1000 males), one of the lowest in the Country. If this data was not alarming enough, the child sex ratio was even worse at 846 (846 girls per 1000 boys).

Similarly, the Female literacy rate in Punjab is only 70.73% as compared to 80.44%(census 2011) for males. The reasons for such a disparity in literacy are - expectations from the girls to focus equally or even more on learning the household chores; being a patrilocal society, especially in rural areas, investment in a girl's education is considered a wastage of time and money; in case of poverty, girls are the first ones expected to leave the studies and look after home while parents are out to earn wages.

Consider another social phenomenon, in the growing-up years, once the child enters teenage, he/she is stopped from playing with the children of opposite gender because along with various other presumptions, it is simply expected to maintain the ages long pattern of segregation between the two genders. The deep-rooted segregation is stiffened by ensuring that boys play masculine sports which will build their physical strength like Football, Cricket while girls are imagined to get engaged in feminine sports, ones with strong aesthetic elements, or otherwise stay indoors to ensure protection of honor of the family in the era of rising crimes against women by the ferocious men.

The entrenched segregation has led to increasing mistrust among the two genders, as the society has not matured enough yet. When a girl says, "all boys are alike, and are opportunists", without realizing that the phrase 'all boys' also includes her brothers, cousins, it reflects on the high level of suspicion towards the boys. Even the statement, "aaj-kal changge munde/kudiyan milde kithe ae!"(these days, where one could find good boys and girls!), while looking for a match, signifies the widening gap between the present lot of young guys, girls and the perceived image of a traditional ideal bride/groom, highlighting the prevailing sense of despair.

In the context of girls, still labels like - "Tota", "Purja", "Bottle wargi", "Kudi fsaani", "kudi tikaani" etc are used. Even lyrics of Punjabi songs reflect the queer mindset, as "pattu char panj kudiya fasayi firda ni pattu char panj" (The dude has snared 4-5 girls). Another gem,"Jine vich balliye tu saari sajdi, Ohne jittan mitran de boot aunde aa"(Your entire budget of make-up, preparation is only worth the price of my shoes), hence, boasting the male chauvinism.
------------
In Punjab there is a culture of abusing in every mood, but has anybody pondered upon the fact that why abuses are always on mother and sister, never father and brother?
------------
Without giving overt and covert support to consumption of alcohol, one may ask that when it comes to drinking liquor, in Punjab, why is it a social taboo for females and not males? Why in marriages and social functions, barring a few exceptions, only men could be seen in designated - tables and areas, boozing and occasionally creating ruckus in drunken state, while their female partners are expected to stand the awkwardness and take their drunken men home?

Domestic violence, another indicator of reigning patriarchy, is witnessed even in educated and progressive families. The infamous twitter video of Baljeet Kaur, a resident of Amritsar, released almost a year and a half ago, confessing her ordeal regarding violence by her husband is a case in point.

In Punjab, as highlighted in the movie "Udta Punjab", there is a culture of abusing in every mood, but has anybody pondered upon the fact that why abuses are always on mother and sister, never father and brother? The reason for this is that women are generally considered, more or less, property of men.

So, now, the larger question which needs to be answered is, "Does the Punjabi society need a revamp to re calibrate and re balance the gender equation?" The simple answer to this could be that rather than waiting and looking for some radical changes, big intentions and small steps in the right direction would prove potent in ameliorating the status of women. As, gender neutral and value based education be provided in schools from the beginning, which will help in liberating the society of the centuries old ingrained stereotypes. Even Literature, History which shapes the intellect of the youth is made neutral, by giving equal space to the heroic verses of women, which are countless.

Cinema and Music, both, leave a deep impact on the minds of the people, emphasis on gender neutrality in these, would go a long way. Scholar Theodor Adorno, suggests that 'Music has been reduced to "Seismographic Traumatic shocks"', also stands true for Punjabi music, which is produced with the sole aim of becoming overnight hit and rich without giving due weight to gender considerations. However, the veteran and the young singers, need to realize their responsibility towards the society apart from the single-minded focus of gaining stardom.

Family being the first institution from where socialization begins, holds the biggest responsibility towards assuring equal status to both the genders but for this, gender sensitization needs to be done so that parents belonging to various classes, are enlightened about their responsibilities.

The Government needs to start campaigns about the sensitization on the matter, ensuring to elevate women to the status of men, rather than providing any kind of positive discrimination to them, which later becomes a political tool to be used skillfully by the politicians.

Media is another important player in achieving the goal of neutrality, by showcasing women in a positive light, highlighting their acts of boldness and not objectifying and stereotyping them. The cliché of presenting women, in soap operas, media, as subservient to men, who shed tears on every small or big occasion, presenting them as weaker gender than the rigid men, be proscribed by the women and the society in general.

Last but not the least, the women need to assert themselves, make their presence and importance felt. They need to liberate themselves - from the shackles of Patriarchy and the culture of denial of freedom to them and need to lift themselves up at par with men, so that they can walk, run and fly high along with the men.
 
 
Ramjot Sodhi is studying Political Science at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
 
 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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NALKA IN POLITICS
Should film actors join politics: The Urmila Matondkar-Sunny Deol Yardstick
02.05.19 - S Pal
Should film actors join politics: The Urmila Matondkar-Sunny Deol Yardstick



"Navjot Sidhu was also just a cricketer and a comedian. And Bhagwant Mann or Gurpreet Ghuggi were just stand up comics on middling Punjabi television shows, sometimes starring in low-budget shoddily-written Punjabi movies. If people accepted them in politics, what is wrong with Sunny Deol? After all, his films give big nationalist message."

If that is the best defence that die-hard BJP leaders are coming up with, then I have even more sympathies for one of this country's brilliant contemporary women politicians, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The BJP had fielded her to welcome Sunny Deol into the party fold. "I am indeed very happy to receive firebrand, popular, very committed to his art, young great artist from Bollywood, Shri Sunny Deol," she had said.
 

So, Deol was all these things at the same time: popular, young, firebrand, committed to his art, and a great artist.

We should shelve for a different day the discussion about his being "committed to his art" and being "a great artist" because dragging in the names of Girish Karnad or Shyam Benegal or Govind Nehalani would be unfair to someone identifying himself with an uprooted hand pump, the new symbol of political connect with a people dealing with catastrophic impact of environmental destruction.
------------
The argument about whether a film actor should venture into the electoral political arena is a no brainer. Some have no business doing so, and some enrich our politics. 
------------
And we should immediately concede the argument that Sunny Deol enjoyed reasonable amount of popularity. He, definitely, was popular.

That leaves us with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's claim that her party's new gift to Punjab is "young." By now, Raksha Mantri should have had some practice in basic mathematics, having calculated and recalculated the new and old prices of Rafale fighter jets, but you can settle the argument with this simple query: how far away is Sunny Deol from becoming a member of the BJP's Margdarshak Mandal? For practice sake, Ms Sitharaman should subtract Deol's age from her own. She'll not only get the correct answer, but will also feel better.

That leaves us with the BJP's biggest claim: Sunny Deol is firebrand.

How firebrand Deol is could only have been known if he had been a part of resistance movements, an advocate for dissent, a warrior in the courts for pro-people causes, someone speaking truth to power while advocating pumping more resources into the domain of culture, or been an activist on the ground in health or education or national security or panchayati raj or environment movement. He is not a Green Peace activist, has never been spotted in any protest against farmer suicides, was nowhere near the India Gate when millions had converged for Nirbhaya and for true freedom for our country's women, and was not to be spotted anywhere near Anna Hazare's stage.

Sunny Deol has not uttered a word on any of the causes. He was a part of India's film fraternity, made movies, some of them undoubtedly popular. He spoke lines written by someone else. He sang songs actually sung by someone else. And he danced steps choreographed by someone else. And that is exactly what he was supposed to do: he was doing a job that he chose to do. Sunny Deol was a film actor and this is no place or occasion to pass a judgement on his acumen in that profession. 

But many in that industry have held strongly political views, and some have often expressed these. Some from the world of films have ventured into politics, many have been part of the politics of culture, and our world is richer because they pushed the envelope and opened spaces that our politicians were afraid to go anywhere near.

Many did their politics through writing, directing films or taking up roles that prised open our minds, bit by bit. Some also straddled the world of activism. Many came into electoral politics and contributed. Some could be the envy of even the most cerebral of our citizenry. 

So the argument about whether a film actor should venture into the electoral political arena is a no brainer. Some have no business doing so, and some enrich our politics. 

Urmila Matondkar and Sunny Deol are a case in point. Both have known each other for decades now. Sunny Deol made it big with Betaab in 1983, the same year Urmila gained wide recognition in the highly acclaimed drama, Masoom.

Urmila Matondkar recently joined the Congress and is the party's candidate from Mumbai North. Most people's memory of her will be from the 1995 rom-com Rangeela, directed and produced by Ram Gopal Varma. 

People tracking the larger Indian political scenario had heard little about the political stances of either of the two — Urmila Matondkar or Sunny Deol. 

So the best one can do is to track what the two had to say once they announced their entry into politics.
------------
Sunny Deol makes a reference to a hand that weighs 5.51156 pounds, though it is not clear exactly what kind of deformity could have been responsible for such an unfortunate condition.
------------
That should not be difficult, particularly when it could be helpful in deciding who should enter politics or stay away from it, and why.

In one after the other interview, Urmila Matondkar has been delving in detail about her politics. She is facing some of this country's brilliant journalists on and off camera. She is fielding tough questions and making out a case for her politics.

Compare her words with the responses of our "young", "committed to his art", "great" and "firebrand" film star: "Mainoo tusi bus tang na karo bahuta..main tuhadi sewa karna chaunda...bus mainoo vote pao, mainoo jitao...main Vinod Khanna jee de kamm nu agge lai ke jaana hai."
 

And he also makes a reference to a hand that weighs 5.51156 pounds, though it is not clear exactly what kind of deformity could have been responsible for such an unfortunate condition. The role of the hand pump in politics, of course, is a wider area for memes, outside the scope of this article.

Here is Urmila Matondkar, when asked why she decided to join politics: "Over the last four-and-a-half, five years, there have been many issues where a normal person is forced to think about what is happening in the country....Intellectuals being killed in broad daylight — Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare — and incidents related to extreme religious intolerance that have not only grown abundantly in the country but are highlighted and even celebrated. These were very disturbing, and we are slowly moving from a democratic country to a dictatorship and that is very unsettling..."

"I believe instead of sitting passively, it is better to take a stand and do your bit before it is too late," she said.

In an interview with Barkha Dutt, she naratted how her father worked with Narendra Dabholkar and how she is associated with that movement. "I come from a family that is academically inclined, and socially and politically aware," she said. 

"How can you be an anti-national if you question the government on promises not delivered? How can it happen that all of the government schemes have been failures? The cherry on the top is the growing intolerance in society." Matondkar is not tired of tough questions, she is not tired of venturing into the slums in her constituency.

Urmila Matondkar's campaign has been by far the best in Mumbai, but she is clear what will clinch it for her: "I am not naive or stupid enough to imagine that people are just going to look at my face and vote for me. You are dealing with people’s lives, their hopes and aspirations. I have tried to generate hope and trust as a person."

Sunny Deol says he has been already living in people's hearts for decades and now all they have to do is to vote for him. 

Besides, as we all have been informed by the Hona'ble Raksha Mantri, he is "great” and "young.” If we believe our Raksha Mantri on something as sensitive as the question whether or not there has been any corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal, then we should also believe that she finds him young and great.

Aap ka jaata hee kya hai? Nalka hee to hai!

As for whether film stars, comedians, celebrities should join politics, now you have two arguments: Urmila Matondkar and Sunny Deol. You can test anyone by either of the two scales.

N Chandra's Narasimha (1991) starred both of them. It gave Sunny Deol a larger than life imagery, and had a most hilarious angry young man song. I still find it most suitable for our times, though it felt stupid on the screen. Please feel free to sing it at all the rallies of Sunny Deol, and of Urmila Matondkar. 

Chalo is tedhe ko sidha hum aaj kare
Jo iska ilaz hain wohi ilaz kare
Kaise bhaiya kaise kare kaise kare
Aise kare aise kare aise kare
Pakad pakad khich ke pakad
Pakad pakad khich ke pakad
De dana dan hayya
Pakda gaya hain
Chor bhage na bhaiya
Pakad pakad khich ke pakad
De dana dan hayya
Pakda gaya hain
Chor bhage na bhaiya

Mar saale ko peet saale ko
Dhar saale ko, dede de saale ko
Hayya ho hayya hayya ho hayya
Hayya ho hayya hayya ho hayya

Post Script: Sunny Deol is 62-years-old, Ms Sitharaman is 59. Urmila has made no claims about being young.

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

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 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

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Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

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Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 




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Need for mending ties with the Sikh Diaspora
26.04.19 - Tridivesh Singh Maini
Need for mending ties with the Sikh Diaspora



In November 2019, Sikhs world over will commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of their faith, Guru Nanak Dev. The first Guru was not just a social reformer, crusader and poet, but also a traveler as is clearly evident from the distance travelled during the course of his four Udasis (journeys).

Sikhs have spread to different parts of the world since. They have even gone on to become senior political figures in the West. For instance, the current leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) and potential future Prime Minister, Jagmeet Singh, is a Sikh. The incumbent government of Justin Trudeau has four Sikhs in senior positions, including Harjit Singh Sajjan as the Defence Minister.

"I have more Sikhs in my cabinet than Modi does,” Trudeau said in a 2016 address at the American University, Washington DC.

Across the Atlantic, two Sikhs – Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Preet Kaur Gill – got elected to the British Parliament in 2017 from the Labour Party. While Dhesi is the first turban-wearing Member of Parliament at the Westminster, Kaur is the first Sikh woman to hold the elected position.

Ideally, Punjab should see the rise of Sikhs to prominent positions in prominent Western democracies should as an opportunity to harness the Diaspora’s global clout. Yet, unnecessary schisms have surfaced between Sikhs living in India and those overseas. Differences of opinion over certain issues are understandable, but the shrill political discourse in Indian Punjab on the Sikh Diaspora benefits no one.

In many ways, the fissure is an outcome of the overzealous attempts by politicians in Indian Punjab, both from the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress, to prove their patriotic credentials. This often amplifies non-issues while underplaying crucial ones – like justice for the victims of Sikh pogroms in 1984 and the need for genuine closure in the thousands of extrajudicial killings during the counterinsurgency campaigns by the police in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

Certain Diaspora groups who push counterproductive agendas instead of sticking to the key issue – justice for Sikhs – are to blame too.

At the same time, the Indian government needs to realise that Western governments cannot prohibit peaceful advocacy for a separate Sikh state. They can only take action against those groups against whom there is clear evidence of promoting violence.

The key flashpoints between sections of the Sikh political class overseas and in India is how they look at the human rights and independent Sikh state issues. To complicate matters, there is now another entity, an organization by the name of Sikhs for Justice, which seeks to ‘liberate’ Punjab from India through a ‘referendum’ of Sikhs in twenty countries.

Current Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has played a decisive, and not-so-positive, role in increasing the acrimony between the Indian and overseas Sikh communities. Captain Singh, after taking over as Chief Minister of Punjab in April 2017, refused to meet visiting Canadian Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, accusing him of being a Khalistani sympathiser. Sajjan’s visit had also happened at a time when the Ontario State Assembly passed a resolution dubbing the anti-Sikh violence as a ‘genocide’, which drew a sharp reaction from the Indian government.

Interestingly, Captain Singh had addressed a Sikh congregation in the Dixie Gurduwara (a hot bed of Khalistanis) in 2005 with a banner of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ behind him. 

While Captain’s decision to not meet Sajjan was hailed outside Punjab, especially by sections of the Delhi media, the ordinary Punjabi who has close links with Canada and can relate to the success of people like Sajjan, did not take too kindly to the snub. In February 2018, Justin Trudeau was given the cold shoulder in New Delhi while the Chief Minister, instead of raising crucial economic issues, raised the decibel on the Khalistan issue and handed Trudeau a list of suspected Canada-based Khalistani militant handlers. Trudeau did, however, receive a warm welcome in Punjab and was honoured by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
 
Singh’s lack of nuance in handling such an important visit was perceived as a lost opportunity for a state whose economy is currently at rock bottom. Large sections of the Delhi media, duly high on hyper nationalism, too did their bit to sabotage a crucial visit.

Recently, the Punjab Chief Minister lashed out at Canada again when it removed all references to ‘Khalistani extremism’ in the annual ‘Public report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada’ report. Every country has a legitimate right to worry about its security. But, Captain Singh’s reaction was surely overreaching when he said that this move was a "threat to Indian and global security.”

India may perceive what it dubs as ‘radicalism’ as a threat, but, it can be taken up with Canada in a more mature manner without making things awkward for the Sikh Diaspora. 

Beyond Canada, the Kartarpur Corridor issue is another point of trigger. India is apprehensive of the Pakistani deep state’s apparent agenda to revive militancy in Punjab by promoting Khalistani propaganda and facilitating a separatist referendum by Sikhs for Justice.

When current Cabinet Minister in the Punjab government, Navjot Singh Sidhu, spoke in favour of the Katarpur Corridor, he was widely slammed. But, once the demand was accepted by both governments, all political parties ran to take credit. Yet, Chief Minister Singh was critical of Sidhu for attending the inaugural ceremony of the religious corridor’s opening ceremony and hugging Pakistan army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony in August 2018.

Singh, while indulging in numerous flip flops has missed out on the relevance of the project and reduced the whole project to an ‘ISI conspiracy’.

While there is no doubt that the Pakistani deep state will fish in troubled waters, reducing tensions with the Sikh Diaspora is crucial. It is also important to not hyphenate this Diaspora with Sikh radicalism. Besides, it is high time the Indian government and people realise that speaking up for 1984 or extrajudicial killings does not make one a ‘separatist’. In recent years, even those Sikhs who have expressed discomfort at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s view of Sikhism as an offshoot of ‘Hinduism’ have found themselves labeled as Khalistanis by right-wing trolls.

So what should New Delhi and the Sikh Community in India and outside do?

First, New Delhi needs to realise the gravity of certain issues, such as the blinkered and insensitive interpretation of the traumatic military attack on the Darbar Sahib by India’s mainstream media, and inadequate progress on justice for the victims of the 1984 pogrom and extrajudicial killings that were either straight out obfuscated from public discourse or dismissed as ‘collateral damage’ in the fight against Sikh militancy.

These are issues that touch a raw nerve with not just the Sikh Diaspora, but also the domestic community.

Second, Sikhs themselves need to have a more structured dialogue between themselves, at least on crucial social and political issues. This will help resolve key ideological differences within the community, and render its politics more coherent.

Guru Nanak Dev’s dialogue with the priestly classes from other faiths, with whom he had numerous ideological differences, during his travels in South Asia and beyond should serve as a solid reference point for the Sikh communities in India and abroad. Dialogue surely has little replacement.
 
 

Tridivesh Singh Maini is a New Delhi-based policy analyst currently associated with the Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonepat.

Courtesy: eleventhcolumn.com 

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties 
A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION
BAD, BAD WOMAN! 

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT
 





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