Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Only one remaining secular space in Kerala is the meeting sessions of hard-core drinkers before and after arrack/toddy consumption in and around alcohol shops, says Mr. CK Vishwanath. Thankfully, there remains such a secular forum in Kerala, where people of diverse backgrounds can meet and forget their differences and remain together on a common platform for some time.
Swami Vivekananda once called Kerala as a lunatic or a mental asylum during one of his visits. Nothing much has changed since then? Other than State achieving better rating at social and human development indicators, of course, this is not a small achievement! But when mafia – gunda – quotation raj being the reality and norm of the day on the one hand, at the law & order front, at the socio-political front people are deeply divided over community, religious and caste lines.
Today’s Kerala is a highly communalized state. Inter community and inter religious interactions are very minimal.
People are classified on religious, caste and community lines. The potential to garner votes based on identity matter more when a political candidate for an election is being decided.
Over a period of time, with this game played-out by all, divisions within society on the lines of identity based upon caste, religious and community has deepened, poisoning Kerala society, expanding communal divide, resulting in almost irreversible shrinkage of secular space, as Mr. Vishwanath opines.
Many actors are responsible for this kind of shrinking secular space. While not disputing the contributions made by Christian missionaries to Kerala’s social development, role of contemporary Church leadership in communalizing Kerala society is a matter of concern which need serious thought.
Similarly we need to give serious attention to political parties that contribute parochial feelings among broader Kerala society. Just for instance, the name Kerala Congress itself is an example. That name is not attuned to Kerala people’s nationalistic outlook; moreover their suspected - clandestine links with the Church leadership is yet another issue. It is generally believed that various political groupings under Kerala Congress (KC) brand name have much to do with Christian and Church’s political and economic interests.
Support of religious and community leaders are a critical factor for winning elections in Kerala. Knowing this well and the strategy to adopt so as to gain maximum political clout, Churches always attempt to influence voting pattern and thereby electoral fortunes of candidates.
A bishop, if cannot openly declare support to a party or a candidate, often do express his leniency in a number of ways, just for instance, by posing for camera with the candidate to appear that photo in next day’s newspaper, during electioneering time, signaling believers whom should they vote. That may be an old gimmick and highly un- doubtful, if bishops can any longer influence believers considerably.
But the larger civil society is divided and danger is already done and made. Division created will here to stay for a long time to come, at least till the coming up IT generation taking strong strides to break up with the past and move forward with a large number of inter-caste, inter-religious and inter-community marriages. And of course through multicultural worksites especially in the newly sprouting IT and BPO companies!
The problem of communal poisoning arose because, it was a politics related to economic power, managing social infrastructural investments.
Managing a host of social institutions, commercially, is not an easy task. Clearances, extensions, permits, new licenses and a whole lot of things are involved. Here the need to have a political representative, who can help in such matters, is quite understandable, for a country, where dealing with regulatory mechanism functioning with a rent-seeking motto. It is good to some representation at political level to speed up matters and to at least partially overcome rent seeking behavior of people concerned.
There are two kinds of minority institutions in the country. One is a minority religious institute directly managed by the Church bodies. The second category is the institutions formed to grab minority benefits by investors, NRIs from minority community. It is the sprouting of such institutes and support given to them by the contemporary church leadership often causes problem.
Some of these spiritual leaders move on specially imported heavier vehicles that consume much more fuel than fuel economy model cars that are available in the local market. And when they speak out vehemently for minority institutions ( as some of them have minority business men’s investment in them) spectators of all backgrounds raise eyebrows.
And on whose money these heavy model vehicles run? Is it the believers money or the business lobby finance them? And politicians from their community are needed to ensure safe passage of those ‘holy vehicles ‘ at custom points and ensure clearances at various governmental level. Also, political representation are needed to clear up some of the serious violation of various income tax laws in those non-Church managed money making minority institution.Here many out of one advantage it seems to me for the spiritual leaders for aligning with business are may be those heavy luxury vehicles and free fuel, so that cost of running them need not figure in the account statements.
Fall out of this nexus between the trinity, spiritual leaders – business men – political leaders is that other communities, religious groups and caste organizations started adopting same model. And this pattern is now widespread. There is a huge competition between different groups to become the largest capitalist force within the State of Kerala. Interestingly, each and every community organizations have their micro credit arrangements.
Between the Trinity mentioned above, there are mutual give and take which may be broadly finance related, business related, vote related and many more. This has nothing to do with Christianity or the Church. Helping a political leader or a political party is none of Church’s business.
Late Bishop Paulose Mar Paulose, Late Abraham Marthoma and Bishop Yuhanon Marthoma all used to take strong political positions for different causes, for or against policies and decisions of the governments. Yuhanon Marthoma took a position against former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s emergency rule in the late 1970s.
But participating actively in politics, as behind the curtain strategy masters, religious leaders are poisoning Kerala’s political space! It was indeed a ‘slow poisoning’, a process started with the formation of Kerala Congress!
Many of the UDF constituents, especially, non-Congress constituents, it is highly doubtful, if they can count even 1000 votes for sure to their kitty today. But in a coalition context they bargain for their seats and continuously win elections. It is an interesting phenomenon.
So often those who win seats in the Christian – Rubber clusters are people who have not much grassroots base except for the right equation with the bishops, the Church and community leaders.
Altogether this game where religions, Churches, political leaders and business men are involved has more to do with money making and advancement of individual business interests rather than politics or representing a constituency. It has indeed poisoned secular Kerala polity. It has fragmented Kerala’s secular polity as splinter groups keep on splitting together with their public display of their denominational or congregational oriented claims for rights, as they claim & believe, such as claims for particular number of seats etc.
In the last parliament elections, it appeared in the news paper that certain religious leaders have written to a particular political party to provide seats to members of their diocese as well as persons whom they think as suitable. Threatening statements by church representatives also were being reported by the media.
Where is it all going to end? This kind of intervention by religious leaders is not at all a welcome thing. Political parties and political leadership must decide not to give tickets to people who associate too much with religious leaders. Just for instance, if a young person’s/leaders case is being pushed or advocated by a religious leader too much, that leader should be shown the way. In the secular context of India, for the furtherance of secularism in India, these kinds of measures, a kind of internal discipline measures are needed.
In a country like India, we have too bad experiences related to communalism, communal riots and violence between different religious groups.
For the long term and larger interest of Indian Republic, Election Commission must create a special cell to monitor the pre-poll activities of political parties and political leaders during non-electioneering and normal years 365 days 24X7 or all throughout. This cell should constantly watch and observe all kinds of maneuverings that are happening in the political circles and remove those groups and persons that contribute divisions within society from contesting elections as political parties and black list such individuals.
This cell should have an advisory board consisting of judges, journalists, NGOs, senior academics as well as representatives from industry and businesses. There was a mention by UPA government regarding a legislation to curb communal riots. Nothing has come out yet. UPA can think of this kind of an arrangement to begin with, as a first step in the direction of creating a communalism-free polity.
Pressurizing the leadership of a mainstream national party for allocating tickets to a person from a particular community and a political party with less than 10 voters hijacking a constituency from UDF or LDF is something that we are all aware but always something that is being ignored. It is all at the behest of confidence of their ability to play a communal card during election.
While practitioners of this kind of communal politics thrive all across the State of Kerala and all across the political spectrum , communalization of politics that is also happening with the sanction and approval from the religious leadership.
This trend is being adopted by more and more groups day by day, while how one could use the communal tag effectively being the decisive factor. Just for instance, for a Christian to be successful in the political fray is much to do with how effectively he/she could evoke his/her communal identity.
We need to understand that riots that take place in Gujarat or Orissa and the kind of politics that is being practiced by some of the leaders with the tactic support from the Church leadership is all one and the same.
But there are positive initiatives to clean up the scenario by creating a larger and meaningful secular political space other than that of drinkers’ fellowships in and around arrack/toddy shops.
Members of Dharma Rajya Vethi led by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi are travelling all across Kerala in an attempt to create awareness against alcoholism, as part of their larger movement for a second freedom struggle and to create a violence free, corruption free, hartal free and liquor free Kerala.
Formed in 2009, Dharma Rajya Vethi is a secular political platform consisting of Gandhians, spiritualists, social activists, social workers, businessmen, and professionals etc. The campaign motto is “alcohol free Kerala Panchayats”. The journey began in Malappuram on May 27th.
Dharma Rajya Vethi is planning to make their political presence felt by contesting in upcoming elections. It may not replace communal political parties immediately, but would provide an alternative socio-spiritual and ideological option to Kerala, to begin with, a possible political awakening in the Gandhian lines!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Kerala Christian Group and VHP join Hands against illusory Love Jihad
At a point of time there was a slogan by RSS combine, Pehle Kasai Phir Isai (First the Muslims then the Christians). And lo and behold that was the pattern of communal violence. First it began against Muslims and in the decade of 1990s Christians were also put on the chopping block. It must be a real ingenuity of RSS combine, popularly called Sangh Parivar to rope in the Kerala Bishops Council to fight against the Love-Jihad, a word coined by their propaganda mill, a word which combines two words and converts them in to a tool to torment the lovers, in case the boy happens to be a Muslim and the girl a non Muslim. It is the latest tool to launch attack against Muslim minorities.
The level of communalization of society and institutions can be gauzed from the fact that this ‘love-Jihad’ was taken to be something real not only by a section of society but also by the High courts. In its ruling the Karnataka High court, in the case of Sijalraj and Azghar, said that the facts had “national ramifications… concern security, besides the question of unlawful trafficking of women,”! So it ordered the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police to hold a thorough investigation into to ‘love jihad’. Pending that, the girl was asked to stay with her parents. Nothing can be more illegal and influenced by the propaganda prevailing in the society. How can the court ask the adult married girl to separate from her husband just because the disapproving parents have complained against the choice of husband made by her, a citizen of the country?
In a similar case earlier the Kerala High court while hearing the appeal from two parents passed a similar order. Two Hindu girls had eloped and got converted to Islam and planned to get married. The court stated that this marriage of girls to Muslims smacks of a systematic plan, related to trafficking of Hindu women. Kerala court also ordered the Police authorities to investigate this phenomenon. The police investigation showed that there is no such phenomenon as Love Jihad. The Karnataka state PUCL enraged by the decision of the court to send the girl to her parents is planning to knock the doors of Supreme Court.
The propaganda began by organizations like Shri Ram Sene etc. They spread the word that over 4000 Hindu girls have been lured into conversions. The propaganda was that the Muslim youth are receiving money to lure Hindu-Christian girls to convert them to Islam. As per this propaganda the Muslim youth are given a brief to lure the girls for which, they are provided with a lakh of rupees to buy mobile and a two wheeler. They are made to pretend to fall in love, to elope, to convert the girl to marry and to produce four children. This concoction has been aggressively propagated through various mechanisms.
This laughable, figment of imagination spread like wild fire and frightened the parents. Shri Ram Sene associates helped couple of girl’s parents to go to court. In one such case the girl was made to stay with her parents by the court order. The trajectory of many of these girls who initially state about their love for the boy and voluntary conversion, changes after they are forced to stay with here parents. Under a sort of emotional blackmail, some girls give in and later say that they were brain washed, shown a Jihadi CD and what not.
We have witnessed such inhuman acts in the form of propaganda in Gujarat in the wake of carnage, that Muslim boys are luring Adivasi girls. There Babu Bajarangi, who was also a major participant in carnage, formed a goon-gang. This gang attacked couples and forced them to separate if they belonged to different religions. All this is presented as defense of religion! We have the case of Rijwan Ur Rehman where Priyanka Todi, daughter of an affluent and powerful business magnate also turned around under emotional blackmail from parents and relatives. Later Rijwan Ur Rehman was forced to commit suicide. In all such cases the role of police, state machinery, has been totally against the spirit and provisions of law, the protectors of law acting to support the things totally against the law.
Such campaigns against inter-religion, inter-caste marriages are not only against the spirit of national integration they also aim to control the lives of girls in the patriarchal mode. In addition the bogey against a minority is whipped up to aid the divisive politics. It is a double bonus for divisive politics. Since in patriarchal norms women are regarded as property of man and are made to live in the control structure defined by men, such an issue rouses high emotions. Communal politics targets to subjugate Muslims and to promote patriarchal norms. And for achieving this they have succeeded in roping in another victim minority to ally in the communal project. It kills so many birds in one stone.
The committed social organizations have a long list of issues related to women. In Kerala in particular the psychological problems of women are immense. Women all around are victims of gender discrimination. The social organizations falling under the trap in the name of Love Jihad need to wake up and address the real issues of women rather than becoming an ally in a communal project.
It is a pity that the courts rather than clamping on Khap Panchayats, which are taking arbitrary decisions to separate the couples marrying in the same gotra, rather than clamping on Shri Ram Sene’s and Babu Bajrangis, they are snubbing the girls for their choices and letting the anti Muslim tirade grow through another of a make believe myth, a falsity with dangerous portents.
One recalls that it was during the freedom movement, that different communities started interacting more and inter-religion, inter-caste, inter-region marriages started taking place. These are the cement for Indian nationalism. The propagators of Religion based nationalism, any way are against the Secular Indian Nation so this one more fabrication to intimidate the society!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 21, 2006
history and politics of the question
Early statement on this question in India can be credited to Gopal Krishna Gokhale.In his evidence before the Decentralisation Commission in 1908 he proposed for devolution of financial authority among Provinces .It implied the schema of Federal System.
First official expression of Indian national Congress(INC) of the desire for a federal govt.came through the report of it's 31 st session in 1916 on the Condress-League Scheme of reform.It stated "Except customs ,post,telegraph ,mint,salt,opium,raiways,army,navy and tributes from indian states , all other sources of revenue should be provincial (sec.7a). "The provincial Council should have full authority to deal with all matters affecting the internal administration of the province"(Sec.7c).The scheme was not for independent India but for a self governing colony within the British Empire .Thereafter INC used to voice the demand for a federation with full provincial autonomy .
Famous Quit India Resolution of Aug 8,1942 demanded the British to quit India and said about the new India's constitution :"The Constitution according to the Congress view should be a federal one ,with the largest meassure of autonomy for the federating units and with the residuary powers resting in the units ".
Nehru's objectives resolution moved on Dec 13 ,1946 in the Constituent Assembly assured that the British Indian provinces "shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units together with residuary powers".
Finally the Union Powers Committee set up with Nehru as Chairman in January 1947 submitted it's first report on April 17,1947,outlining the scheme of distribution of powers between the Union Govt. and the provinces that left the latter a very large meassure of autonomy.
Thus whole history of advocacy for a federal form of govt. with large meassure of autonomy came to an end as soon as Lord Mountbatten ,the last British governer General announced on June 3,1947,that India would be partitioned in to India and Pakistan.The Union Constitution Committee took a decision on June 6,1947,to make the constitution of India "Federal with a strong Centre ".On June 7,1947, the Provincial Constitution Committee and the Union Constitution Committee in a joint session approved the previous day's decision.There after things moved very fast towards the creation of a constitution which provided a "Fedral polity with a strong centre".
There are certain reasons for this sudden and drastic departure of the Consttuent Assembly from the continuous committment of the INC to the principle of federalism with a large meassure of autonomy for the constituent units . The necessity of a strong central govt. for handling the situation arising out of communal riots that preceded and accompanied partition,for meeting the food crisis,for settling the refugees,for maintaining national unity and for promoting social and economic development,which had been thwarted under colonial rule.But this shift is more associated with the changing position of the indian bourgeoisie.