Posts Tagged ‘Narendra Modi’


The other day, I was in the bank queue and standing behind me was a gentleman from Bihar, so we got chatting and he said “Bahut kathin hain, Modi jo koshish kar rahein” (It is very difficult, what Modiji is trying to achieve). I asked him to explain, and he said he had returned from his village in Bihar where no one wants Narendra Modi’s anti-corruption drive to succeed because they are happy with the corrupt way of life.

When you hear such things you know Narendra Modi is facing an impossible, nay herculean task, in ending corruption. His own party is neck-deep in it. It is ingrained in the system and some people don’t want to get rid of it. They will fight it to their last breath because for them, it’s a question of their very existence.

The Bihari gent said that in his village, dozens of fictitious Jan Dhan accounts have been opened by crooked bank officials in which money is being credited and withdrawn every month by nameless persons. The account holders, thekedars and bank officials take a cut and everyone is happy. Why should they want to change a system that fetches such returns without an honest day’s work?

When I told him about the cash being recovered from all over the country, he laughed. He said that schemes such as MNREGA were the biggest financial scams in independent India and even Mr Modi with all his good intentions can do nothing, because the rot has gone too deep.  And this is happening in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar, when he is backing the campaign against black money.

Like me, he too was despondent. “Chor hain sab. Is desh ka kabhi bhala nahin hoga.” (They are all thieves. The country will never improve).

The day before on Twitter I had an argument on the very subject with a journalist who said I could not base my example on one instance. Well, here’s another.

I am no economist, but as a middle-class Indian I see around me the willingness to change but there are three other groups of people who are fighting change. The first is the corrupt lot for whom demonetisation has been an avoidable disaster, and if they can’t save their money they definitely don’t want a system which won’t let them make anymore. Look at the way the bankers and lawyers have circumvented the system to issue trunks full of new currencies to all kinds of dubious people, while the common Indian frets and fumes in a queue.

The second lot is the so-called ‘left-liberals’, who share a visceral hatred for Modi. Irrespective of what he or anyone from his government proposes, they will close their eyes and oppose it. The gates are closed for any debate on the issue, and if there is one, it’s a monologue in which they are right, and everyone else is wrong.

For example. I hear people on TV channels trotting out the most bizarre reasons for not going digital. Some of the more absurd reasons I’ve heard by idiots in the garb of journalists, on why poor people can’t open bank accounts is, that poor people haven’t been inside a bank. Haven’t they been inside a post office or dak ghar as it is called in the villages? In a village in Uttar Pradesh, one man says no one in government told him he could open a bank account. In the past so many years if no one in government told villagers that they could open accounts even in post offices, who is to blame? If there are so few banks in villages, then who is to take the blame?

Then there is the absolutely bizarre justification from people against demonetisation. It would make me laugh if it weren’t so tragic. They will say that daily wagers have been the worst-hit because the small factory owner has been forced to shut down. Why the “small factory owner” was running a cash-and-carry business for decades, is something none of them have cared to ask that guy. And it’s not like he just started it. He’s been doing it for years and his father before him. Has he tried to open accounts for his workers in these last 30 days to solve their problem? No he hasn’t. He has preferred to shut down instead. It’s pretty obvious why.

Just go to some of the busy chowks in a city like Pune on any given day. Among the milling crowds are dozens of labourers. They aren’t all waiting for public transport. They, men, and women with babies, are waiting for a contractor to land up there and pick them out like cattle to herd them into a truck and take them to a construction site. Here they will work in the blazing sun and at the end of the day, they will get paid for a day’s work, from which they have to pay the contractor. You can guess what they end up with after paying that. That is, of course, not a concern of journalists churning out reports about the negative impacts of demonetisation. That’s not the angle they’re looking for in that story.

And finally, there is a fourth group – journalists – who are happy sitting in their air conditioned offices churning out stories from twitter feeds and Facebook updates and calling them ‘exclusives’. I remember joking years ago that some journalists could turn a press release into a byline story, but I never realised it would get so bad! They’ve gotten so used to sucking up to ministers and drinking subsidised booze at the Press Club that they’ve forgotten their primary responsibility – to question those in power, and keep questioning them, until they answer.

Not one journalist is asking this simple question of the politicians in and out of power – What was your party doing all these years?” Not one journalist is throwing up facts and figures in the faces of these politicians and asking them to explain the discrepancies. Some of the politicians have become millionaires and billionaires in five years. Not one journalist asks them how they made so much without any legal source of income, except their MP’s salaries. That is left to the analysts and opinion writers, who very few read anyway. So after a few hours of being stonewalled by the politicians, the journalists go back to the Press Club and order another drink, and move on to their next desktop exclusive.

I am sorry for being such a cynic, but I completely understand what the Bihari gentleman meant when he said, “Chor hain sab….”


Frankly, I am getting tired of people droning on about standing in bank queues and the time they have to waste, and all the wonderful or terrible people they meet. What the fuck were you doing when there were no ATMs? Did God come down on Earth to dole out cash to you? I think one of the biggest crimes any government committed in the last 70 years was the launching of ATMs. It made us lazy, it made us impatient, and most of all it made us forget the pain of standing in queues.

In the last three weeks I have been reading about people allegedly dropping dead in bank queues because they’ve forgotten what it was like to stand in a queue. And I use the world ‘allegedly’ deliberately. I am sure there are genuine cases too, and it’s sad, but I am sure by the time things are back to normal the number of deaths will come down to single digits, and many of those too, this sexed up media will realise, were unrelated to standing in a queue. Maybe, we should shut down ATMs every few months to let people live a more realistic life of the 1970s and 1980s where they stood in bank queues that sometimes stretched to the street outside. I know there are problems. It is a mind-boggling exercise which could not have been done any other way. There have been problems many un-anticipated. I am sure, in hindsight, even the government realises the process could have been better planned. I am sure villagers are the hardest hit, but to make it a doomsday scenario is stretching the truth a lot. And in this one has to blame sections of the media who are deliberately misreporting to create a panic. If the villagers are having problems the state and district administration should approach the centre and make arrangements to disburse funds. The problem is when bankers, government officials and politicians are themselves are corrupt, who do you trust? I know of labourers who have bank accounts opened in their name all of a sudden, with funds being deposited in them. Since when did one need to deposit Rs 50,000 in a savings bank account, when one can maintain a zero balance?

And I’ll be honest, my family too felt the sudden shortage of cash with banks running short, and wondering how we spend the old denominations. Fortunately, all three of use debit cards and wire transfers. Maybe it’s called being smart. I also connected to Paytm and have never been more relieved, because I have to carry even less cash around now.  I too had problems with my account in a co-operative bank. I waited for the problem to ease, and when it didn’t because they were giving only Rs 2,000, I wired money from there into the nationalised bank account I have and withdrew Rs 20,000. We cut down our expenses, saved enough last month to ensure we could pay the maids on December 1. So stop cribbing so much, and move on. I did.

I also know that the entire country cannot go cashless and neither is the government forcing you to. But can those who want to, do so, instead of having to read planted reports by a subjective media demonising the plan? Indians are so gullible that they believe anything and that is what the media is hoping it can achieve in its efforts to ensure this plan fails. This country is littered with stories of idiotic Indians falling for a con. Look at the way people fall for the dumbest trick around – the spam mail telling you that you have won millions of dollars. Or someone claiming to be from a bank asking for your ATM card and pin. The fact that the government has to release commercials on TV channels telling people not to fall for it should tell us what a bunch of idiots we are.

Which brings me to this whole engineered controversy about demonetisation being a waste of time, money and energy, because black money will not go away. It is bizarre. No, black money won’t go away. If it did, we would all be living in Utopia. Let’s face it, a thief will remain a thief. He will find new ways to break the law. Years ago, when we moved to Gurgaon, I went to buy a lock. I told the shopkeeper I wanted a big lock for the front door and he smiled and said “Taala sharifon ke liye hota hain, choron ke liye nahin” (Locks are meant for the honest (to tell them you’re not home), not for thieves). I mean, the police put up traffic lights, road dividers and lanes, in the hope that we will follow traffic rules. But some people think they are above the law. We can only make laws tougher. And it’s not like all the people who had black money got away. We are reading about sacks full of money being discovered and the arrest of bank officials who have been helping the unscrupulous change their currency.

As for the opposition politicians who are protesting the loudest, it’s obvious they’ve been hit the hardest. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stolen their ideas, reinvented them to suit his party, and put paid to their plans, they are hell-bent on getting rid of him. That is why people like Rahul Gandhi, Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Arvind Kejriwal, and now Mamata Banerjee, are indulging in hysterics. In which country did you hear of a state being taken over by the army, when there is a civilian government at the centre in power? You have to be a complete imbecile to come up with such an absurd fantasy. Rahul Gandhi accuses Modi of TRP politics, conveniently forgetting that he too was doing just that with his khat sabhas and the farce of standing in a bank queue to withdraw Rs 4,000. Doesn’t he know there is a bank and an ATM in Parliament House? Oh, but how would he, he is hardly there.

If this is the way Rahul, Kejriwal, Mamata and the rest intend to push forward their candidacy to replace Modi in 2019, then Modi can be sure of another two terms as prime minister. Also, we don’t need comedy shows on TV channels anymore, these political stand-up comics will do just fine as replacements.

As a tax payer I am happy even if 2 per cent of the crooks in this country are nailed. I would consider it worth every minute I spend in a bank queue.


I am happy that I was proved wrong, at least on one count. I had said to my friends that India would not carry out surgical strikes against Pakistan because of US and Chinese pressure.

What happened today across the Line of Control (LoC) may not have been war, but to Indians, at least those who believe in the Indian nation, and not those who think Pakistan is their homeland, it has been a cathartic experience and as good as a victory in war. It was virtually a case of crossing the Laxman Rekha to avenge the deaths of the countless soldiers and innocent civilians who had lost their lives in Jammu and Kashmir and around the country in terrorist attacks, bomb blasts. The imaginary line was finally breached, all thanks to this government and our brave soldiers.

Even in 1999 during the Kargil war, Indians seethed when Atal Bihari Vajpayee told then US president Bill Clinton that the Indian forces would not cross the LoC. Since then, Indians have lived with a sense of helplessness as Pakistan continued to send in terrorists, weapons, fake currency and drugs with impunity and the Indian Army could not cross the LoC and could not target terrorist training camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), because of ‘international’ (read USA) pressure. Worse, our hands were tied by some countries who were worried about their interests in Pakistan, and a fear that things could spiral out of control because Pakistan was as good as a rogue nuclear state. The question they need to ask is “who made them a rogue state?” Not India definitely.

But in the last couple of years even the Americans were fed up with the Pakistanis, who they believed was an ally in their so-called war on terror. The Pakistanis had started to behave as if they were now a law unto themselves. Secondly, every terror attack anywhere in the world somehow had a Pakistani link. I guess even in the US the mood against the Pakistanis was turning and they were now being viewed as a global terror hub and a nation of double-crossers, who were taking the money the Americans were giving them and using it to fund acts of terror against its neighbours, especially India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

But coming to this surgical strike itself, the elation and relief one feels cannot be explained. The Loc that stood like some foreboding hoodoo that we were afraid to cross holds no fears for the Indian forces anymore. The message India has sent out is that if the need arises the army will do it again.

What is interesting is that the two countries India was worried about have so far been completely silent on the surgical strikes. The Americans have said nothing and the Chinese have asked India and Pakistan to scale down the tension. But after this incident even they will be forced to accept that after the Uri killings the Indian establishment had finally lost its patience. That lack of confidence of the Chinese in the Pakistani establishment in this incident must have shaken the latter the most, and now they are busy falling over each other to contradict themselves. Have fun, people.

Which begs the question, why didn’t the earlier Indian governments have the courage to do what Narendra Modi’s government did today? I think, besides Indira Gandhi, the rest were stuck in some sort of time warp, a desire to avoid war at all costs, and a psychological fear that a desperate Pakistan could use their nuclear weapons. There is another reason much bigger than all these that politicians feared – losing the next election and losing their vote bank.

Well, I am glad Mr Modi had no such compulsions. Some of the voters and liberals, with their misplaced sense of self-righteousness and outrage (over something that happened 16 years, and for which no court in the land has held Mr Modi responsible) would anyway not vote for him, but he was confident that a huge number of Indians were backing him, and they were looking to him to act against the Pakistanis in every and any way possible – militarily and diplomatically. And he did.


This blog is a bit about crap – literally. The other day I read that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a failure. Why? I have no clue. Is it because Indians, in general, hate being told to maintain cleanliness? Or is it because, those believe that wallowing in filth and dirt is a way of life, just find it too much of an effort to change?

Let me give you example. I once lived in a housing society where my neighbour who lived directly above me had a leaking toilet which was messing up my ceiling. I asked him to repair it, but he refused saying it was my problem since it was my ceiling that was being messed up! I even offered to fund half the repairs but his answer remained unchanged. Finally after years of waiting and watching my ceiling deteriorate, I went up to his flat with a plumber. What I saw made my bile rise. I come from Bhagalpur, a small town in Bihar, where in the days when I was a kid, you squatted on a toilet seat which had a hole you defecated into. Your crap fell into a pot a few feet below which was cleaned daily by a woman who pulled out the pot and emptied it into a bigger pot to be taken away and emptied into some drain. Does reading this make you throw up? Well, that is how I felt when I saw the neighbour’s toilet.

My first thought was, how does he or others in his family even step into the place first thing in the morning, and every time after that? In utter disgust, I paid to get a new toilet bowl for him and also paid for all the repairs and waterproofing. But the dirty truth is he preferred to wallow in the filth rather than repair his toilet bowl – just for a few thousand rupees. This is why I say we Indians are dirty.

Take the way we spit anywhere and everywhere. Does it take the prime minister of the country to tell us that we should not spit in public places? And this has nothing to do with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Sometime in the 1980s I was seeing off a female friend at the Pune railway station. She was travelling home to Hyderabad. As we waited for the Secunderabad Express to arrive she watched very impassively as a couple of men standing a few feet away kept spitting on the tracks every few seconds. It wasn’t as if they were chewing paan or tobacco. They were just spitting for no rhyme or reason. When she couldn’t control herself any longer, she walked up to them and said, “Can you stop spitting? And if you can’t, please move away?”

I wasn’t surprised, because I knew she was one of those who didn’t believe in keeping quiet if she felt strongly about something. When she returned she said exasperatedly, “I come from Hyderabad, so people spitting around me isn’t anything new, but you guys in Pune take it to an altogether different level.”

So when I read that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has failed I am not surprised at all. We just don’t like being told that we should maintain cleanliness. We come out with a whole host of reasons why it is wrong and when that fails we ridicule the prime minister and his request. We ridicule him for spending public money without asking ourselves the one fundamental question. Would he be spending this money if we just took the effort to maintain cleanliness? I mean, people have a problem with the fact that the government is building toilets. This is so typically Indian. It’s just like the crash helmet rule or any other rule we are asked to follow. We’ll dredge out of the muck a hundred reasons on why they cannot follow it. Of course, there is also the point that previous governments have not bothered about ensuring basic sanitation in the villages, building adequate toilets and ensuring water supply to these toilets. But let’s leave that for another day.

Presently, I live in a supposedly upmarket locality where people throw garbage over the walls of the housing societies. Well-meaning groups have been advising residents of the area not to dump their garbage anywhere but does that help? The civic body asked people to segregate their garbage but even their people have a problem. Have they given a thought to the conservancy staff that carries that garbage to the dump yard? Well, that’s not their problem. So we’ll criticise civic body for not sending the truck that does now show up to pick up the rubbish, but have no problem throwing it out of our balconies to keep our homes clean.

So, why is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan failing? I think it is because the people of India are a filthy lot who expect the prime minister to ensure cleanliness for them, while they party and dirty the place.


Picture1I’ve been reading with avid interest the incident of well-known journalist Rajdeep Sardesai becoming the target of vicious trolls especially after the Agusta Westland scam re-emerged from hiding where it had been conveniently placed by the UPA government for the past so many years. And then, his latest foul-mouthed outburst against trolls and then the revelation that his Twitter account had been hacked, after which he went off Twitter, has been the cause of much angst among his followers and sections of the media, who believe he is being targeted by Modi Bhakts.

Rajdeep is one of the few journalists I have admired in the Indian media right through the years, when he was a part of the print media. I always thought of him as a journalist who retained objectivity in his writings even if he was criticising someone, even though his biases have become more prominent in the past few years. It’s unfortunate that he has become the target of Modi Bhakts and trolls who have taken a dislike for him. He’s been pleading with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to control his bhakts and I’m pretty sure the PM is having a quiet chuckle at the irony of it all – that those who  propagate and staunchly defend the right to free speech are the ones asking for control on it!

But this blog isn’t about Rajdeep, but more about this whole issue of exercising free speech and complete freedom of expression.

The thing is when you call the prime minister ‘feku’ in public and believe you have the right to do so because it’s free speech, be prepared to accept the criticism when someone retaliates in any form they think right. They are also just exercising their right to free speech. Don’t complain.

I am really surprised that journalists flog this nonsense about free speech. Frankly, I think there is too much of it around. That is why on Twitter one can say whatever one wants and get away with it. Swearing and abusing is also free speech. While I understand that some journalists cannot stoop to such levels and are rightfully objecting to the foul language being directed against them, what they need to understand is that they can’t demand free speech and yet demand that some elements be censored just because they have been made the target. Simply, put, you can’t have it both ways.

Look at what is happening in the United States and the United Kingdom where a talk show host can call Trump or Cameron an asshole and continue happily without being dragged to court. A respected newspaper such as the Financial Times of London can publish a lead story headline that says boldly “ACTUALLY, GO FUCK YOUR SELF”. That is absolute free speech. Can we take it?

And when we can’t, we start comparing things to the emergency and fascism! I would have liked to see how many journalists would have written the nonsensical open letters to Indira Gandhi during the Emergency and continued to walk free an hour after it was published – if it ever got that far. It would have been ripped to shreds by a censor sitting in the very office of the media house before it could see the light of day. Or for that matter I would like to know how far prominent journalists who pens satirical pieces would have progressed if there had been no free speech today.

Journalists may be getting back at Modi for the contemptuous way he has been treating them after the elections and one may hold him responsible for his past misdeeds, but don’t expect him to act against his followers who have been viciously targeting all those who dare to take on their hero. If I was him, I would say “You wanted free speech, well, you’ve got it, SO DON’T COMPLAIN”

The proponents of free speech need to understand one thing about it –  it is a bit like bisexuality, it’s perfectly normal for it to swing both ways.


I have been reading with great interest the rants and the self-righteous indignation and anger at what has been transpiring in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Patiala Courts lately. And these people, some of whom are my ex-students, former colleagues, and some well-known journalists with an axe to grind with the present dispensation in Delhi, comparing the events to the Emergency, and calling India a fascist state, dictatorship etc. etc. Do they even know what happened during the Emergency?

What finally got me riled up enough to pen this blog were the comments I read in a newspaper from Noam Chomsky and Orhan Pamuk comparing the events and the mood to (again) the Emergency. That they’re comparing the present time to those dark days when one crazy old woman, her equally psychotic son along with their sycophants ran their own evil empire, where no laws existed except those that they decided, and no courts and no judges had the courage to speak their minds, unlike today, is indeed laughable. It is ironic that the same people who had no qualms about imposing the Emergency and supporting it and justifying it through its entire tenure, are today talking about free speech and freedom of expression and blaming the present government for the lack of it! And worse a blinkered media is printing every word with great relish. Ladies and gentlemen, had there been an Emergency, you would have been behind bars. And the communists who talk about dictatorship seem to forget that most of the dictators around the world have been Communists.

Some over-zealous morons in khakhi or others in black robes taking law into their hands, or a paranoid and amateurish government that responds to the darts the opposition throws at it with a bazooka, or at other times behaves like a herd of deer caught in the headlights of a car, does not make this country a fascist state nor this the Emergency. Do most young Indians even know what a fascist state is? No one disappeared, there was no midnight knock on your door because of what you wrote or what you did. That you can rant about it on social networking sites without having the likes of Kapil Sibal throw Section 66A at you, should make you realise where you are. Have you already forgotten Aseem Trivedi?

It is also ironic that the same people who are every night broadcasting to the nation everything without a line being censored about students protesting and raising anti-India slogans etc. are the same people who are calling it a dictatorial regime. The fact that the press is still free to report the incidents at the JNU and the Patiala Court as they have been unfolding should tell you a lot. That they were even able to report live how some of them were manhandled in the courts should tell you how much these people know about what transpired during those dark days in the mid-1970s when news was blanked out, and people who protested just disappeared. Had these incidents happened during the Emergency you would not even have heard or read about it. The kids involved in raising anti-India slogans or anti-government slogans would have vanished without a trace and not even their remains would have been discovered.

I do wish the 20- and 30-year-olds sitting in their air conditioned offices in front of their Macs ranting about fascism and dictatorship would get a reality check and stop hyperventilating about things they know very little about. And most importantly, stop believing a bunch of assholes pretending to be politicians. Go to Kerala and ask the family of student leader P. Rajan of the erstwhile Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode. He was tortured in local police custody in Kerala during the Emergency in 1976. His remains are yet to be recovered. Talk to journalists such as Coomi Kapoor whose husband Virender was arrested and tortured during that time for publishing stuff against Indira Gandhi. In 1975, my father buckled under threats from the police because of his close association with Jayaprakash Narayan and was forced to praise Indira Gandhi. It helped him stay out of jail. The cops and JP told him he was old and may not be able to take the rigours of a jail cell. So I should know what I am talking about.

Oh and just by the way, had this been the Emergency you would not have been around if you had called the prime minister of the country a ‘feku’ and posted morphed pictures of him day in and day out, or for that matter abused or insulted him the way we see today on the social networking sites. You would never have been seen or heard of again and your bones would have been discovered 20 years from now buried in some field a few thousand miles from where you lived.

What pains me is that these comments come from journalists. I always thought journalists were supposed to be anti-establishment and not communists, centrists, leftists or rightists. At least, we were always told to be that way. Or have the lines been blurred now? Or is it just a case of sour grapes? It is no secret that numerous Journalists in the mainstream media have been smarting ever since Narendra Modi came to power and decided to shun them? Now that they have got the opportunity to get even they are going after him and his government with a vengeance? What saddens me is some journalists who I respect immensely talking about dictatorship and the Emergency without thinking even once about the repercussions.

So, I do wish people with very little understanding of the realities of the Emergency, dictatorship, fascism, Nazism and all the fucking isms for which all right-minded people share an inherent dislike would SHUT THE FUCK UP about comparing this to those dark days of the mid-1970s. And, Messrs Chomsky and Pamuk, that you are alive and kicking to air your views about whatever you wish from whichever country you live in and whatever time, and to have what you said published in an alleged dictatorial regime, should give you some food for thought. Had this been the Emergency and had you aired those comments in India, you would have disappeared without a trace never to be found again.

 


I am horrified by the death of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide on January 17, 2016, by hanging himself from the fan in the room of his friend at the Hyderabad University. Whatever maybe the reasons for his death, enough has been said and done about the case for me to repeat here. He left a suicide note that has saddened and shocked the very conscience of the nation. And here is where I am even more horrified – by the behaviour of our politicians. I don’t mean all politicians, at least not the ones with a conscience, anyway.

What moved those politicians so much that they almost tripped over each other to be the first to land in Hyderabad? Surely, it couldn’t have been another Dalit student who committed suicide. Nor was it the votes that they could either see slipping away or coming their way. There have been almost two dozen suicides before this one. So, Vemula, for all practical purposes, was just another statistic. So what was it? Two reasons: The first, their visceral hatred for Narendra Modi and second, the fear that if he succeeds in these five years, they might as well pack their bags, lick their wounds, and limp away into the sunset. So, naturally they have to stop him. And I have no issues with that. After all, that is one part of the job of a politician. So all the best to them.

And what better way to do that than to crawl on all fours and prostrate themselves before the students at Hyderabad University, Rohith’s friends and his family. “Hey, remember me, I was there that day in Hyderabad University?” could well be the signature tune of these people in the days to come. I read on Twitter someone describing a politician rushing off to Hyderabad as a vulture. That is too polite. I would call them something else.

Now that Rahul Gandhi is back from Hyderabad University I hope he reads The Hindu of January 19, 2016, which had this to say indirectly about his government, which was in power at the Centre and in the State of Delhi: The Thorat Committee, constituted some years ago to investigate differential treatment of SC/ST students in just one institution, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, had come out with a damning indictment of the way Dalit students were treated. Forced into ghettos in the hostel, discriminated against by teachers, denied access to sporting and cultural activities, SC/ST students in India’s premier educational institutions walk into an environment that’s virulently hostile to them. Not surprisingly, according to one estimate, in the last four years, 18 Dalit students chose to end their lives rather than continue to battle on in these dens of caste prejudice and social exclusion.

Eighteen Dalit students committed suicide in the last four years, most of it during the rule of his party, while he was busy mouthing inanities, or holidaying abroad, or disappearing somewhere without notice. It’s also been happening at AIIMs right under his government’s nose and he did nothing. Another Dalit student, Senthil, committed suicide in Salem in 2008, and Rahul G. Prasad, a final year B. Tech student at IIT-Madras committed suicide in 2015, but Rahul Gandhi and those of his ilk weren’t interested then. Wonder why. And yet, this vacuous upstart, who has raced up the political ladder by hanging onto the saree of his mummy, has the gall to talk about helping the Dalits, Muslims other deprived communities? So the UPA of Manmohan Singh quietly brushed it under the carpet and now their vice president is pretending to be the champion of the downtrodden?

But, it’s not just the politicians this blog is about. I am also thinking of the 13 Dalit teachers who were struck with a pang of conscience or guilt, or whatever, and decided to resign in support five whole days after Vemula’s death. What were they doing for those five days, weighing their options? How considerate of them. More likely, they realised that they were going to be the next target of the students and the HRD ministry for keeping silent through the current unsavoury episode. If they had reacted in time, who knows, things might have been different. I can lay a bet that six months down the line the faculty will be back at their jobs. How? Your guess is as good as mine.

But there is a larger issue. While I completely understand and agree that all those lesser fortunate must be educated, looked after till they can be self-reliant, and be made a part of this country’s mainstream, the way the Congress governments have gone about it is not the way. All that has happened is that in many cases it has become a question of give and take from both sides. And the fallout of this is every marginalised and not marginalised community has now realised that the best way to get jobs and money from the government is to dangle the carrot of votes and watch the politician running to them with freebies. It is unfortunate, but this the reason there is an anger rising against all those who call themselves ‘marginalised’ either through caste, class or economics. I am waiting to see where this ends.

The other group that has really done itself no service is the media of which I have been a part for 30 years. Whatever I leant about the profession, I did on the job and from my seniors. My seniors always taught me that a journalist should be anti-establishment and at the same time be objective. I am afraid, today the media is neither. Their reporting in recent times has been nothing short of disgraceful. I am glad I am out of it.

I hope the parents of the 18 students who have committed suicide earlier get together and file a civil action suit for a few hundred crores (much like the one filed against the Ansals in the Uphaar tragedy) against the various colleges, their faculty, and the respective state and central governments, who have stood by as mute spectators during these tragedies. It’s time someone was made to pay.