OPINION

Monthly Archives: APRIL 2019


CJI GOGOI SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE
Now, Judiciary must follow the rule of law and proper procedures
26.04.19 - Vipin Pubby
Now, Judiciary must follow the rule of law and proper procedures



FOR THE SECOND TIME within a year, the highest court of the land has come under a cloud of controversy. Both the incidents have been unprecedented and have brought the functioning of one of the three pillars of democracy under a close lens.

The current Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi figures in both the controversies. Son of a former chief minister of Assam, Justice Gogoi had built up a formidable reputation for honesty and integrity and by deciding to participate in an unprecedented press conference last year by four senior judges against the then Chief Justice he had taken a major risk against his elevation as the next Chief Justice of India. Government had then done well to follow the precedent of appointing the senior most judge as the next chief.
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The way the allegations were made and systematically leaked out are evidence that there was more to it rather than a woman facing sexual harassment at her workplace.
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Justice Gogoi now finds himself in another unprecedented controversy after a former woman employee charged him with sexual harassment while she was posted at his residence.
By no means it is an ordinary case of sexual harassment. The woman has alleged that after she refused his advances, she was dismissed from service on some other charges in December last year. She also alleged that Justice Gogoi went to great lengths to harass her relatives.

It is difficult and not advisable to judge the allegations made by the woman which can be investigated by experts but it is clear that there are external forces which are backing her.

Justice Gogoi (in pic) said so much when he said it was a conspiracy to weaken the institution of judiciary and stressed that he was on the verge of giving important judgments and that could be the reason to question his character and integrity. He said he barely had Rs 6-7 lakhs in his bank account and just because no one could point a finger at any financial impropriety against him, he was being targeted with the allegations of sexual harassment.

The way the allegations were made and systematically leaked out are evidence that there was more to it rather than a woman facing sexual harassment at her workplace. The alleged victim, undoubtedly helped by insiders, ensured that her complaint was leaked to online media houses for quick dissemination and also that it simultaneously reached 22 other Supreme Court judges before the Chief Justice could get an opportunity to defend himself. In any ordinary case the victim should have gone to the police to register a case or could have approached women’s Commission or the Anti sexual harassment committee of the Supreme Court and other such bodies for justice. This and also the delay in making allegations does leave a question mark over the intentions of the complainant.

Evidently panicked by the allegations, Justice Gogoi also took an unprecedented step to take up the case even though he himself was an accused in the case. He sought to give his own explanation and raised apprehension of a larger conspiracy to weaken the judiciary.
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What is required is an expeditious and quick verifications of the allegations against Justice Gogoi and exemplary punishment to whoever is found guilty.
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Ideally he should have recused himself from the bench and let other senior judges decide on how to deal with the totally unprecedented situation in which the Chief Justice of the highest court of land was himself an accused. He has subsequently done that and has asked the second most senior judge after himself, who is in line to be the next Chief Justice, to take a call on the steps required to be taken. 

Even as the Supreme Court has formed a three-member Committee of senior judges to probe the harassment complaint, a senior lawyer has come out with allegations that someone had tried to ‘bribe’ him to represent the complainant. The lawyer, Utsav Bains (in pic), told the Supreme Court that he was initially offered Rs 50 lakh and then Rs 1.5 crore to take up the case but he declined to do so as he found several loopholes in the complaint. These averments must also be investigated.

A side effect of the controversy has been requests from other judges of Supreme Court that female staff from their residences be replaced by male staff. This has much bigger implications. Women constitute 50 per of the population and are increasingly joining the work force. If such demands start coming from various other quarters it would badly affect the cause of women empowerment across the country. 

Clearly there is much at stake pertaining to the resolution of the case. Although the judiciary has got a taste of its own medicine, it must now follow the rule of law and proper procedures. What is required is an expeditious and quick verifications of the allegations against Justice Gogoi and exemplary punishment to whoever is found guilty.
 

 

(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?   

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.

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LOK SABHA ELECTIONS 2019
Was Election Commission waiting for a reprimand from Supreme Court?
19.04.19 - Vipin Pubby
Was Election Commission waiting for a reprimand from Supreme Court?




HAVING CLOSELY watched and covered elections for the last forty years I can safely say that the ensuing Lok Sabha elections are proving to be most bitter and have brought down the electioneering debate standards to a new low.

There have always been exceptions in the past and some of them were dealt with in accordance with the law but the malice has spread across the political parties this time. Top leaders of these parties appear to be themselves endorsing the trend and thus encouraging others to cross all limits.

Even the previous general elections in 2014, which the BJP had contested with great vigour and aggressive manner, had not witnessed the kind of abusive rhetoric. Perhaps because it was clear that the Narendra Modi led BJP was well on way to form the government and the other parties had more or less reconciled to the wave generated by Modi.

The absence of a wave this time and the uncertainty over a clear mandate has certainly added to the anxiety among the parties and candidates but in the process the level of debate has plummeted. The use of abusive and strong language against political opponents has never been so blatant and derogatory. 
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This is the time when the nation is missing former Chief Election Commissioner, T N Seshan, who had put the fear of the Almighty in the hearts of politicians by initiating strict action against violations of model code of conduct.
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Perhaps the seeds of hateful campaign were sown with the references to ‘pappu’ and ‘feku’ in the social media and general debates. As the polling dates came closer there has been a sharp increase in the vitriolic campaign and most unfortunately the Election Commission of India, which has vast powers at its disposal after the elections are announced, remained a mute spectator. It made no effort to pull up leaders or initiate disciplinary action when it was authorised to do so.

It was only after the Supreme Court pulled up the Election Commission and indicated that it might ask the Chief Election Commissioner to present himself in the court that it suddenly woke up and cracked whip on some leaders.

These leaders, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Union minister Maneka Gandhi had been making communal references and inciting voters in one way or the other. The statements for which they have been banned from campaigning for various periods of time are now too well known to be elaborated here.

Taking a cue from such leaders, even those at junior levels have been indulging in abuse. A shocking instance is that of the Himachal Pradesh BJP President Satpal Singh Satti who openly abused Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. The party’s Kerala unit chief Sreedharan Pillai too came out with a communal statement.

Prime minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi must share the blame for initiating a hate campaign against each other and not reining in their leaders. Modi’s repeated references to Rahul as an immature boy or even mentally retarded (as he hinted at an interaction with school children) was not in good taste. Rahul, on the other hand, had been harping on his somewhat unconvincing pet slogan "Chowkidar Chor Hai”. Thus instigating the BJP leaders to go into an over drive. The Supreme Court has now put him on notice for misquoting a judgement related to Rafale deal and attributing comments never made by the highest court.

But besides the personal attacks on Rahul Gandhi and his family members, the prime minister has been dragging in the army into politics. He first questioned the patriotism of the Congress and then appealed to first time voters to dedicate their vote to air strikes in Balakot and the surgical strikes earlier. Now he has said that sacrifices by jawans can be an election issue just as suicide by kisans could be an election issue. Of course there can be comparison between the two. The Election Commission is silent on such references and even to an earlier one by Yogi Adityanath who had described the army as ‘Modi sena”.

The Election Commission should have stepped in much earlier to check the leaders and should not have waited for a reprimand from Supreme Court. This is the time when the nation is missing former Chief Election Commissioner, T N Seshan, who had put the fear of the Almighty in the hearts of politicians by initiating strict action against violations of model code of conduct. The current Election Commission needs to follow the example set by him.
 

 

 

(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?   

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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DR JESSY JOHNSON

contact us on call:+919205206332

WhatsApp:+919667270992

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JALLIANWALA BAGH 1919-2019
Britain hasn’t, but have you apologised?
13.04.19 - S Pal
Britain hasn’t, but have you apologised?



TO LIVE FOREVER in someone’s debt is to prolong the life of a good deed.
TO LIVE FOREVER with a sense of guilt is to prolong the life of an acknowledgement that a bad deed was indeed done, and that it must never ever happen again.
TO CARRY THE BEAST on your back, its arms dangling around your neck, is to reiterate that there was a time we had made friends with the beast within us, and now we have gained enough sense to admit that we shall no more be beastly.

Every time a German kid visits the Auschwitz museum, he looks the beast in the eye, and knows he must never allow it to overpower him.

An apology can have many meanings for different people, but the one most dangerous that it can hold for large sections of masses is that due solatium has been paid, the victim has been recompensed in precious non-tangible currency, and that no further guerdoning is required. 

The demand for apology is not new.

The centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh has triggered a rather feverish debate on the subject, and there seemed to be an exertion of pressure upon the Theresa May government to make an official apology. 

That’s exactly the problem with an apology.

We hear apology only when we hear the word ‘apology’. We demand apology basically because we want to claim that we made someone to apologise for a reprehensible action. That’s what explains our annual collective community cry to bemoan the fact that the Congress has not apologised for the Emergency, that it has yet to apologise for the murder of nearly 3,000 Sikhs in the national capital, that Narendra Modi hasn’t apologised for Gujarat riots of 2002.

Some time back when Rahul Gandhi tried to proffer that his party was not involved in these massacres, he faced a lot of opprobrium and was told that the Congress should, in fact, apologise. We wanted to hear the word ‘apology’ from Rahul Gandhi’s lips, not even wanting to know if he as a person has engaged with the issue at any depth and grappled with where history and politics has placed him.

The demand for apology is not new. For a good number of years, we have been hearing demands that Congress should apologize for Operation Bluestar or that the Indian Parliament should apologize for the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. 

The demand for political apologies has a long history, and contemporary traction. When things were bad in Sri Lanka, Colombo was rife with voices that New Delhi should apologize for the blunder of IPKF in Sri Lanka. Countries have been told to apologize for the use of "comfort women” during World War II. Someone still owes an apology for making Socrates drink from the poisoned chalice. 

What is an apology? What good does it do? Will Sikhs really be helped if they do make the Congress president some day to utter words seeking forgiveness?  How many and which words will amount to an apology? What exactly must Theresa May utter, and standing where should she say those words, that we can tell our future generations that Britain apologised?

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded a "full, clear and unequivocal apology for what took place"

 
Do words, that clearly go much beyond an apology, uttered by Jeremy Corbyn and hundreds of others who represent the British people, of any comparative value? Are the words of Justin Rowlatt, great grandson of Sidney Rowlatt, the author of the infamous piece of legislation that had triggered the movement which brought those people together in the Jallianwala Bagh on that April 13 of 1919, not actually much more than an apology?


Leaders in several countries have sometimes spent years in the wilderness asking that their rival/opponent must apologize for some denigrating act. Time came when both sides found enough common ground to claim unity. Was forgiveness a sub text? Can an apology be offered on behalf of another? Is it only for the victim to forgive? Since Socrates is not there, can someone else accept the apology? 

We are asking Britain to apologise. Presume that it does. So who will accept that apology on behalf of those who fell to the bullets in the April of 1919? Britain might seek forgiveness, but is it ours to bestow?

By revisiting Jallianwala Bagh a hundred years after the tragedy, we are engaging with our past, and our present. We are ensuring that forgetfulness does not triumph over what is sublime in our pain and struggle. A large number of 20th century crimes are receding from human memory very rapidly because the collective guilt and shame of those crimes will be so much that any composition of demography will find it shameful. So guilt ensures forgetfulness. 

That is why the concept of an apology for these crimes is not on the syllabus of anglophone moral philosophy. Christ taught that those who ask forgiveness must also grant it, and enshrined this maxim in the prayer that his disciples repeat each day. The love-one's-neighbour idea, which Jews and Christians believe to be the core of morality, is unintelligible without the context of mutual forgiveness. 

Let us engage with a more engaged, nuanced view on the subject, and ask if there is something for us to ponder on? Have we engaged with the 1984 massacres enough? Have we engaged with the 1947 massacres enough? Have we began a robust journey into our inner self, asking questions that only an interregnum since the tragic happenings could have afforded? A hundred years after Jallianwala, 35 years after 1984, 17 years after 2002?

It was a Hungarian exile, Aurel Kolnai, who, in 1973, first talked of the subject of an apology and of forgiveness, when anglophone moral philosophers were analysing the "logic of moral discourse", and wondering whether it was different from the logic of "booh!" and "hurrah!". 

The idea that moral philosophy was really about moral emotions and their place in human fulfilment, was an idea that Kolnai – steeped in the phenomenology of Max Scheler, the German philosopher who delved into the world of ethics and philosophical anthropology – had never doubted. 

Of course, forgiveness does play a role in repairing psychic damage. The idea is personified in the form of a Forgiveness Institute at the University of Wisconsin. It also merited a great discussion in "Exploring Forgiveness,” the book edited by Robert D. Enright and Joanna North (1998) and introduced by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who perhaps did more than any other public figure to emphasize the necessity for forgiveness in the healing of communities. 

Archbishop Tutu’s idea of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, often cited by the Sikhs for a possible replication in India to deal with the years of the terrorism, greatly influenced the anglophone moral philosophy. Adam Morton's On Evil (2004) was a result of exactly such influences.

But let’s go back slightly in history and to Adam Smith's account of the moral emotions and of their root in sympathy. Also, Butler, Aristotle and Hegel too considered the idea of offering an apology or showering forgiveness as a strong one. One can, and must, mention E. R. Dodds's The Greeks and the Irrational (1951) and Bernard Williams's Shame and Necessity (1993) as having a significant impact on the formation of the idea of forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is both a process, whereby two people cope with an injury inflicted by one upon the other, and a virtue. But of course it is necessary that one understands virtue in the Aristotelian way, as a disposition, turned towards the good, and promoting the fulfilment of the person who possesses it. 

But there is a feeling that in the real world, some things will always remain unforgiven, and that forgiveness must be distinguished from forgetting, condoning or turning away in defeat. 

Forgiveness is not achieved unilaterally: it is the result of a dialogue, which may be tacit, but which involves reciprocal communication of an extended and delicate kind. It can happen either way. The one who has assaulted can go back and seek forgiveness, admitting the mistake, realizing that a wrong had been done, one that is often impossible to undo, and then, even then, seek to be accepted into a community of the respectable. Has Britain done so? Or one who forgives goes out to the one who has injured him, and his gesture involves a changed state of mind, a reorientation towards the other, and a setting aside of resentment. Have we done that?

Such an existential transformation is not always or easily attained, and can only be achieved through an effort of cooperation and sympathy in which each person strives to set his own interests aside and look on the other from the posture of the impartial spectator.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh after laying a wreath at the Jallianwala Bagh memorial, India in 1997

 
But any such step depends on how one has narrated the sequence to oneself about which the apology is to be sought. There has been significant work on "narratology" of this kind. Each side’s narrative is both an account of the injury, and an allocation of blame. There is a narration of the ideal and a realization of reality. Each side faults the other, expects to be exonerated. And all of this is intertwined. Forgiveness can only be the result of most sincere efforts to harmonize the narratives so that the story comes to an end in a new beginning. 

In case of Jallianwala Bagh, the British people and Indians have trudged some of that path, and that is progress. Crime is established, guilt is recognised, and penance is always a work in progress. Is that something that has happened in case of other crimes of humoungous proportions, such as Operation Bluestar, the 1984 Delhi Massacres, the 2002 killings? Have the Congress and the Sikhs actually made any sincere effort at marrying, or even contrasting, the two highly different narratives? 

The injury and the action of seeking an apology is as important as the final forgiveness. Any view that the forgiveness is simply a gift is a negation of the idea of reconciliation through such a phenomenon. The half-hearted apologies that came from some top Congress leaders for 1984 and from Narendra Modi for 2002 fall in that trash box. 

No one can forgive if there is no recognition of the fault. No one can recognize a fault if there is an indifference to it, as is seen in the case of Congress’ relationship with the Sikhs, or the BJP’s ties to the Muslims. For one, the streets of Delhi were Jallianwala Bagh. For the other, being a Muslim is to live in Jallianwala Bagh where a Dyer lurks around the corner, brandishing his saffron-dipped scimitar. 

Resentment must be felt; but resentment is a moral emotion, founded in judgment, and can, in the course of rational dialogue, be "set aside". Without a rational dialogue, or without a dialogue at all, it cannot happen. We are having a rational dialogue on Jallianwala Bagh. We are not having one on the Muslim question.

The failure of those having a rational dialogue on Jallianwala Bagh to have one on the other related questions hardly qualifies us to start seeking apologies. We need to question why India has allowed the Jallianwala Bagh to spread, expand and become so massive that our dalits feel trapped in it, our Muslim sisters and brothers seem muffled inside, and our tribals seem imprisoned in it?

Any idea of seeking an apology must come alongside confession, contrition, penitence and atonement.

The idea of a political apology is much more complex than the debate on it has brought out so far. And then there remains the question of whether collective acts can be forgiven by their victims. The University of Alabama offered apology in 2004 for its exploitation of slaves in the nineteenth century. Robert McNamara, the former US Secretary of Defence, had apologized for the debacle in Vietnam. Were these forgiven? 
 
 Jeremy Corbyn addressing the Sikh community on Baisakhi 2019:

Sonia Gandhi did say some reconciliatory words about Operation Bluestar. Then PM Manmohan Singh had said some touching words about anti-Sikh pogroms. Narendra Modi came fairly close to regretting what happened on his watch in Gujarat.

These are classic political "apologies.” Uttered into the void, a classic way of side-stepping responsibility rather than assuming it and seeking forgiveness. Missing are the acts of penitence. 

We must understand that any such vacuous apology cannot be a replacement for the much more serious task of engaging with our deeper selves and vowing to execute justice that we felt was denied us. 

Yes, forgiveness plays a part because human beings are made in such ways that the demands of justice may not be able to sometimes repair the damage. But in politics, a real apology should always have justice in mind. The language of forgiveness too often softens and sentimentalizes the issue. Forgetfulness of a wrong cannot be tagged as an apology and peddled as a political bargain chip. 

The inheritors of the legacy of Jallianwala Bagh must stay away from any guilt-edged political apology. It’s not very difficult to carry the beast on our backs, and to look it in the eye from time to time to know how it came to saddle us. Remember that 28 years after Ralia Khoon Hindu Musalmaan Aithe in 1919, the beast rode us in 1947. And we haven’t apologised for that to anyone, not even to our own selves. 

Start from yourself; Britain, too will apologise some day.

  
 

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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Comment by: Harish K Puri

Would love to read your paper.

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Comment by: jessy johnson


Are you interested to selling one of your k1dney for a good amount of $800,000 USD in India pls kindly Contact us now on our email: as we are looking for k1dney donor, Very urgently who are group B,group A ,O ve and 0 ve. Interested person should contact us now.

DR JESSY JOHNSON

contact us on call:+919205206332

WhatsApp:+919667270992

contact us:+919205206332

WhatsApp:+919667270992
DFBDJNBO

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SPACE VS RACE — SPECTACLE VERSUS HARD QUESTIONS
DANGAL 2019 – You can fight in Space, or you can fight on the ground
03.04.19 - S Pal
DANGAL 2019 – You can fight in Space, or you can fight on the ground



PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi went on national television to announce India now has the capability to shoot down an inimical spy satellite in space.

Indians are supposed to be ecstatic at this achievement, even though there has never been talk of anyone deploying a spy satellite to keep an eye on us. But the government wants you to believe that with this achievement, India has moved a step closer towards becoming great. 

We may not have been able to stop a lynch mob from killing an innocent Muslim, we may not have been able to convince a farmer that suicide is no solution, we may not have been able to tell our poor that they have the right to dream and the regime has a duty to help them realise it, but we now have a missile that will travel through the stratosphere and kill the enemy who is yet to be born.

And you should be grateful for that.

If there wasn't a single scientist in the frame when Modi addressed the nation on an issue involving slightly more complicated science that the one he is familiar with -- how India had plastic surgery all those yuga centuries ago — it is a clear evidence of how politicians see scientific achievements.

Many have wondered at Modi's capacity to change the narrative by choosing just the right platform to appear before captive mass audiences and thus turn the attention to himself.
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It’s between a spectacle and some real questions. A leader can go on air at prime time for either of the two. It’s up to you to lend an ear to the narrative you find right.
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He did it with Balakot strike, something that Yogi Aditiyanath has now revealed was actually the work of Modi Sena and not the Indian Army, unless both have become one, and then with, excuse the pun, spacious claim.

Sadly, Modi lacked originality. It has been done before, and did not succeed much.

Remember the America of the 1960s? The era of being young, of Che Guevara, of flower children, of drugs and hippies, of Woodstock, of bellbottoms, of Marsha Albert, of Beatles, of Afros, of miniskirts, of twist dance, of psychedelic rock — and of race in the space against the enemy.

America had problems, very serious problems. It was feeling seriously threatened by the spread of communism. In its backyard, tiny Cuba was staring it down, and had given it a bloody nose in the Bay of Pigs. The 1960 joust between John F. Kennedy and his Republican opponent, then Veep Richard Nixon, had brought forth a huge cleavage. Cold War was raging, and the Iron Curtain meant the two powers were vying for the top slot.

The United States had far more superior weapons than the Soviet Union, but the leader wanted to tell his people that his weapons were more superior. Just as India's armed forces are far superior to Pakistan's but our leadership wants to tell the Indians that our weaponry is far more superior than the bad neighbour's.

By 1961, the space race had no bearing on national security for the United States. But the Russians had succeeded in getting the eyeballs. Three out of every four satellites in orbit were American, and in contrast to the clumsy Sputniks and Luniks, the US had launched a whole series of Vanguards, Discoverers, Explorers, Pioneers, Samoses, Tiroses (weather) and Transits (navigational), Misases (infrared missile detectors) and Echoes (communications).

But Kennedy wanted a spectacle because Russians were aiming at winning headlines. They had been the first in the orbit, they had photographed the moon, they had put a satellite in orbit around the Venus with devices to radio back information. That they could beat the US to a manned space flight was the real fear. They had already put dogs in the orbit.
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There were a lot of "Bhaiyo aur Bhaino" kind of speeches where Kennedy told the Americans how America was now a major power and a space superstar.
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None of this, as is now clear to anyone with even a casual understanding of the space race, had anything to do with either American security or the pursuit of knowledge. Like Nixon, Kennedy believed that the whole world was watching the rivalry between the two superpowers, and the outcome of every single contest will decide the destiny of these two big ones.

On April 12, 1961, as Vostok 1 went up, Washington slept while Russian radio stations started playing "How Spacious Is My Country." Americans were left stunned because Kennedy, with his constant harping, had stoked enough fears. As Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to cross into outer space, his single orbit swirl around Earth, skimming the upper atmosphere at 169 kilometres at its lowest point, was Modi's "we have now become a space power" moment

There are events whose chief significance lies in the popular response they evoke at the time. Gagarin said when he was in outer space, he was thinking about "our party and our homeland." 
 
Years later, Indira Gandhi did it for herself when she got hitchhiker Rakesh Sharma to say that India, viewed from space, seemed "sare jahan se achha.” The leaders in Russia and the US had stoked a hunger for heroes.  
 
Russians turned Gagarin into one, gave him a 20 gun salute at Moscow's Red Square in full view of a dead Lenin. Another Moscow square was named after him, as was a glacier. Khrushchev compared him to Columbus. 
 

Yuri Gagarin and Nikita Khrushchev at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport just after the cosmonaut’s historic flight in 1961

 
Americans gnashed their teeth. Just as ours do: If only we had Rafael, Balakot would have been more effective! Many American leaders said the US could have got a man up in the space a long time back if somebody at the top had simply decided to push it two years ago.

Americans were angry now, and that meant people were even more prepared to give the government more money. Sections of the rabble rousing media said Kennedy could lose the 1964 election over this. Kennedy decided it had to be the moon or nothing. 

Three weeks later, the first vehicle in NASA's Project Mercury rose from the gantries at Cape Canaveral, carrying naval commander Alan B Sheperd Jr. (pic) The country was elated. 

He spent 15 minutes in outer space, and then days being a part of the parades in his honour. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and National Guard troops paraded in his honour. Jet fighters roared overhead. Legislators debated about renaming his hometown of Derry, New Hampshire, as Space Town, USA.

None of this was lost on the White House, just then smarting from the Bay of Pigs defeat. The president now wanted an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years for the space program, and made it an issue of patriotism.

In July, Air Force Captain Virgil I. Grissom completed a flight similar to Sheperd's, while the Russians sent Major Gherman S Titov whirling around the earth 17 times in August. In November, NASA orbited a male chimpanzee and recovered him after two trips around the earth. Then came the turn of Marine Lieutenant Colonel John H Glenn Jr.

It was evident that if Glenn made it back, he would be America's first aerospace superstar. He lifted off the pad at 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 20, 1962, but his departure was magnified many times.

He had been instructed to explain his every sensation -- the audience after all was paying for the trip. He explained how the sun was "very white,” and then, as it goes below the Horizon, "turns a very bright orange colour.”

Sometimes he ran out of words. "I don't know what you can say about a day in which you see four beautiful sunsets," he said.

Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., Presents a Gift to President John F. Kennedy

 
When he returned, he was destined to become an idol, to be turned into one. Americans preserved his footprints in paint and put them in the Smithsonian museum. When, as he met his wife and kids, he wiped his eyes, alert officials took away his handkerchief for preservation. Vice President Lyndon B Johnson received him. President Kennedy greeted him. Glenn was sent to every other continent. 

There were a lot of "Bhaiyo aur Bhaino" kind of speeches where Kennedy told the Americans how America was now a major power and a space superstar. The space race, of course, continued…

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When the leader of the country sends signals that his entire attention is up there in the space where he is fighting the enemy, what’s happening on the ground gets little attention. But the truth is that America had a fully-blown Black problem on its hands exactly when it was aiming for the moon. All it needed to tear apart the United States of America was a decision by 13 men – seven black and six white – to travel in a bus and go south. 

On May 4, 1961, three weeks after Gagarin’s space flight, the bus carrying these 13 members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) left Washington. The south was still very racial, the decision of the courts notwithstanding. Blacks were discriminated against at interstate bus terminals, in waiting rooms, restaurants and toilets. The 13 Freedom Riders planned to trundle down across Dixie South, through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, then southwest to Atlanta, Alabama and onwards across Mississippi and down to New Orleans. 

Everywhere, there was resistance. The south had no liberals. The 13 chose a moment in history that caught the US badly. The Russians had just won the race. So they could be attacked for creating problems in America exactly when Russia would welcome it, almost exactly as Indian leaders accuse someone of saying stuff that ostensibly helps Pakistan! Besides, the Americans had just gotten a shock in the Bay of Pigs.  
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President Kennedy asked Army General Henry Graham to say it to his face that the entire might of the United States Army cannot protect Martin Luther King.  
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Somewhere in some dark corner of the American mind, there still lurked the traces of McCarthyism. Just as Indians are told to go to Pakistan, the US Army General Paul D. Harkins, who earned notoriety for exaggerating the gains of army strikes against Viet Cong, told journalists critical of his approach that they should instead join the enemy in Saigon.

The Freedom Riders were opposed in several cities, no one paid much attention to the local newspaper reports, till in Charlotte, North Carolina, and later in Rock Hill, South Carolina, violence escalated and they were beaten. In Atlanta, Ku Klux Klansmen ambushed their bus. In Birmingham, they were beaten methodically. Atlanta Governor John Patterson shamelessly refused to protect them. Governors of many southern states stopped taking the phone calls from the President of the United States andhis Attorney General Brother Bob Kennedy. Martin Luther King (pic) landed at Montgomery and in frustration, President Kennedy asked Army General Henry Graham to say it to his face that the entire might of the United States Army cannot protect Martin Luther King.  

The Freedom Riders finally won the day, but the entire saga showed how when a leadership is fighting largely false wars that are to be used as political spectacles, the real issues get sidelined till they come to haunt a nation so badly that it hurts for a long, long time.

If India is to find its destiny, it must look at the ground level and redress the situation in which the poor, the farmers, the frustrated youth, the Dalits, the adivasis, the women, the minorities, find themselves. It can take pride in its ability to knock out a satellite in space, but its destiny will be decided if its children went to school, received an education that turned them into decent human beings capable of contributing towards national progress. 

It’s between a spectacle and some real questions. A leader can go on air at prime time for either of the two. It’s up to you to lend an ear to the narrative you find right. 
 

 

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