Monday, July 13, 2020

Why fewer government jobs, lack of recruitment doesn't anger youth in India: Electoral success of Hindutva politics in India



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

If thousands of job openings in a department are closed for ever, shouldn't youths express concern and oppose the move?

The general belief is that they should protest and get angry. But there is no such anger visible on the ground. It is this reason that Ravish Kumar wrote an article that sarcastically says that there is joy among youngsters.

This led to debate on social media. However, one must try to understand why there is no feeling of loss if  vacancies are not filled and job opportunities decrease. It is a complex process but one must understand Indian society.

Firstly, majority of Indian voters have repeatedly and decisively voted the BJP. The BJP's plank was Hindutva i.e. Ram Temple, Article 370 removal, 'infiltration', cow protection and so on. The party has been honest and has done it's best on this front.

It not only got Article 370 abrogated, it also remained serious towards its commitment made to the electorate. Ram Temple will also be constructed in Ayodhya soon, as Supreme Court verdict has paved the way.

Muslims faced lynchings and hence the message went to the ground that they are at the receiving end. The dominance of Hindutva in Indian politics has given a sense of power to a section of Hindu majority that felt it was 'cornered' and Muslims were 'appeased' during previous regimes.

The 2014 victory was not a fluke. 2019 results clearly show that BJP under Narendra Modi enjoys immense popularity among majority. The party delivered on those counts. More thrill in the feeling that finally you rule in your own country, sense of being powerful.

From Persecution complex to Hindutva pride

The strength that comes when they wear Saffron scarf and feel Muslims reined in. Can anything beat it! As far as government jobs, privatization and end of vacancies, it must be seen in the context of Indian society.

Those who have heard stories of 'persecution' for years and felt that they were 'victimised', say that they never felt this freedom and happiness while celebrating festivals. 'Was such Kanwar Yatra possible during the days of earlier governments? (even though earlier too such yatras were taken out).

That's how a upper middle class man reacts when there is a sea of youth with Saffron bands on the street, DJ, loud music, bhajans et al. For him, this is finally the country where he can live like a proud Hindu. Now, ask him, that when he was persecuted or how, there will be a long conversation.

He has made up his mind, he is cent percent sure that in the past Hindus were not safe. The Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave the Valley. But now, of course, this can't happen. [So what if BJP was in the power at the Centre along with Janata Dal, when the KPs left Jammu and Kashmir.]

Jobs, Economy, Society

Now coming back to economy and jobs. Do we need to talk about it after demonetization and the failure to create 'crores of jobs'. The point is how much you have been able to convince and how much the voter is convinced--either due to propaganda or politics.

BJP has successfully used religious and Hindu victimisation card in India. Once people feel that they are more secure and have self-respect, than during the previous regimes, all other facts are meaningless. Over the years, the number of government jobs has come down, drastically.

There's high competition, most youngsters know its tough to chase the dream, one guy gets it with hard work and luck in a mohalla but 95% know they don't stand a chance, its not on their radar either. They know they ain't getting, rather anger towards those who get it..

This figure of a few thousand govt jobs ending, actually affects very few. 'Hamein kaun si sarkari naukri mil rahi thi' [We weren't getting the job anyway], the 'good riddance' factor that, 'doosre bhi aish nahi karenge' (others won't get either).

Remember, envy and jealousy are important factors. In a country where people can't afford higher education or high cost of medication, but still don't speak up for improvement in basic facilities in primary health centres and government hospitals, or even unable to raise voice for infrastructure at schools or reconstruction of a road, it is too much to expect.

READ: How identity interest overrides, make us vote for those who risk our future

This society is more complex than it is generally believed. The idea of taking position for 'overall public good' or what is good for society, either doesn't appeal to people in the same way it does in other countries.

Things are more seen through the prism of local factors--caste, local leader, party, with whom people align themselves for 'certain benefits' or due to 'loyalty factor. Politicians too get votes not for the hope that they would bring quality services or improve infrastructure but due to altogether different reasons.

READ: Why people elect rogue politicians, musclemen and goons in India

Friday, July 10, 2020

Sharib Kausar Kakorvi: Urdu poet who mastered calligraphy, composed chronograms and also wrote ghazals in Persian




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The ever-smiling poet Sharib Kausar Kakorvi's life was an inspiration for many of us.

A self-made person, he didn't let physical disability stop him in his passion--acquiring knowledge.

One can't forget the twinkle in his eyes when he would talk about writing a second 'qaseeda-e-lamia' or a 'hamd', composing a chronogram or ghazals in Farsi. His zeal to constantly learn and improve his skills, was unique.

Despite polio that had affected his legs, I never saw him sad or depressed for even a moment, though it affected his school education. But he learnt from books, mastered languages, taught innumerable children. Also, he achieved financial independence.

If there was no one to teach him a particular subject, he would delve deep in books or find a way to learn it. He learnt 'arooz' [prosody] from Iftikhar Ahmad Alavi, who lived in Delhi, and was a disciple of late Sahar Ashqabadi.

The hunger for learning, child like enthusiasm, the passion, it was inspiring for all of us. ٰٰٰI remember when he used to do composing work for publishers, doing 'kitaabat' i.e. writing with 'klik' pen on those yellow pages before advent of computer apart from teaching.

Alongside, he would teach kids--correct their Sheen, Qaaf, as well as looking at their handwriting. In later years, he would always have a certain aim. For a period, he would focus on Arabic, then he would feel that he needs to improve his English.

In recent years, he would ride his tricycle and often attended 'mushairas' too. In the town he was loved by all and sundry. When he would go out, people would gather, stop and won't let him go unless he recited a few verses or ghazals.

He has left several collections of poetry in Urdu. His recent collection of ghazals in Persian is yet to be published. It was remarkable that in recent years, he composed ghazals in Farsi, when very few poets in India are penning poetry in Persian.  

As far as chronogram is concerned, it is the art of composing couplets in such a way that it denotes a particular date--the addition of Urdu letters as per the 'Abjad' system, brings out the date or year of the event. 

All these things apart, the single biggest thing one could learn from him was that if a person doesn't have a dedicated teacher or resources, has several constraints, but can still go against all odds and carve a niche for himself, if he has such a strong desire and determination to do so. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Urdu Podcast in India: Urdu Literature Radio brings excerpts from eminent Urdu authors in audio form to break script barrier, take text to more people


Podcast is fast emerging as a medium to communicate and connect with the audience.

The aim behind 'Urdu Literature Radio' is to present excerpts from major works of Urdu authors, poets, and litterateurs.

Firstly, the aim is that reading a few paragraphs from, may draw the attention of the reader and prompt him to read the book.

For example, if 5 pages are read out from a 500 page novel, it can be an introduction to the reader.

Once interest is generated, people make an effort to read the book. After the first episode itself, I got queries from people as to where they can get the book.

Hence, I like this idea. Besides, there is a need to focus on Urdu pronunciation. The podcasts can play an important role in this regard. Those who are not reading enough and have lost touch with the script, can again be brought back towards the 'rasm-ul-khat'. Also, there is yet another angle.

People who speak Urdu but never learnt to read the script. For them, it can break this barrier. It is an amateur work. So initial episodes will have glitches. Later on, not just literature but we plan to read from books that focus on a particular era or contain information.

The initial episodes are about Lucknow, the culture of Awadh, the battle against East India Companya and its aftermath, reading from Qurratul Ain Hyder's magnum opus, Aag Ka Darya. Hope, you will enjoy Urdu Literature Radio.

Check it here: URDU LITERATURE RADIO

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Police Reforms in India: Reasons that neither police atrocities go down, nor there is real intent to reform policing in India



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The aim behind 'police reforms' is to have a people-friendly force that is held accountable. A force that is more fair, less corrupt and treats people equally.

Unfortunately, all talk about 'police reforms' is basically elitist and has little connection with the ground realities. Giving you a recent example:

A man gets beaten up by policemen but when he approaches the local police station, his FIR is not registered. He was injured, there is the medical report, yet, no action is taken, even after he knocks all doors and goes to SP, IG and even DGP.

Worse, the cops refuse to give CCTV cameras recordings, then say all got deleted. So evidence was destroyed. With such levels of dishonesty? Even more, it is claimed that the person was at fault (after destroying evidence) and it is claimed that he was drunk and mistreated policemen, so as to defame the person and instead justify the 'action'.

This is when the medical report didn't find any trace of alcohol. Imagine, that's the reality. Dreamy-eyed youngsters who read about law, constitution & crack competitive exam to become officer, strangely, instantly start acting like the traditional Khaki-wala soon after join the force

Hide info, make false claims, save offender who is from their own ranks and go to any extent to discredit the complainant. This is just one of the examples. In this case, complainant is a lawyer, who is able to fight and still he faces a 'system' that is not in favour of the victim.

There is possibility of reform when there is morality, sense of justice & aware society. Not when officers parrot same line from constable to the top like a gang. You can't get a basic FIR registered in such a case until you reach courts & then department turns against you.

Just look at officers who led the movement for reforms. Many of them want more freedom [powers], not even the basic executive control [of IAS officers, politicians'. Right now, some cops get transferred or face inquiries, suspensions and dismissals.

But those in favour of reform, don't even want it in the hands of non-IPS officer or politician. The 'reform' that is needed is not on their radar. It is just more power and more autocracy. It is not about transparency or being more humane.

Media won't take it up or give due attention, because it generally suits media houses locally to establish good relations with 'officials' & 'force', rather than criticise-question them. Everything (entity) & everyone who has 'some power' is a 'holy cow' now. Stand with strong, bully is the mantra now.

As we all know, action is taken after 'public outrage'. When media won't take up these cases or will not take stand, rather, present a case of atrocity in a manner that victim appears aggressor, it is smart manipulation of public opinion. So when there is no public anger or pressure from top. No action.

This 'model' is well in place. Those who have power, have been able to create a successful arrangement. Interests of these people are foremost, rest of the society can live like 'ulloos', are victims, rights gone but don't realise, even cheer when someone like them suffers.

Vernacular media even makes humans wary of the word 'human rights'. Can we even think of a real reform when there is no intent to set right things that have gone wrong. We need real reforms. First, acceptance that there are issues, structural problems and then correctional measures.

For this, we need to understand that the policemen are to serve the citizens, ensure law-and-order and uphold the law. The policemen need a different training, they need to have more empathy, must be held accountable for their actions and there should be diversity--representation of people from all sections and communities in the force.

Monday, June 22, 2020

93-year old Hindu woman lived with Muslim family for 40 years, finally gets reunited with kin: Communal Harmony Project-54



An elderly woman who was found abandoned decades ago, was kept like a family member in a Muslim household.

The woman Panchu Bai, who hailed from another state and couldn't tell much about her kin, became a part of Noor Khan's family in Damoh in Madhya Pradesh.

The woman who hailed from Amravati in Maharashtra, 400 kms away, went missing in 1979. Noor Khan had rescued her from a bee attack in Madhya Pradesh in the year 1980. He gave her medicine and again found her on road side a few days later and then decided to take her home.

As she was unable to tell anything about herself and spoke a different language (Marathi), they couldn't find much about here family and ancestral place. She stayed with Khan's kin and became a part of the family.

Noor Khan had asked his children to take care of  'aunt'. Everyone was attached to her and respected her. Khan died in 2007. Recently, during lockdown period, she uttered a few words like 'Khanjama Nagar', a locality or place that was not found on internet.

Noor's son Israr Khan said that they finally found that Khanjama was a village in Amravati and sent her photos on WhatsApp. The message got circulated and finally she was identified. But when her kin came to meet her in MP, it was an emotional moment.

Not just Khan's family, she was an 'aunt' to everyone in the locality as kids grew watching her and counting her as an elder. Hundreds came out to bid her farewell. Her grandson Prithvi Shingne, who lives in Nagpur, says that he wasn't even born when she went missing. "She was taken to Nagpur for treatment when she went missing. Now we have found her 40 years later".

LINK, LINK, LINK

[Harmony exists all around us but is often ignored. Instead, stories of hate, discord and communalism get spread easily.

There are a million examples in our daily lives across India but they don't get promoted, hence, news of hate and discord gets heard more. Let's change it, now. This is a small attempt to change it through Communal Harmony Project. For reading similar reports on this blog, Click the link HERE and also find out more about Communal Harmony Project]

Saturday, June 20, 2020

From Hinduism to Hindutva: How fundamentalism changed religion and society in India


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In early 90s, right-wing leaders were addressing a public rally near my house. I was passing by and stopped.

There were fiery speeches, speakers were using terms like 'Babar ki aulaad' [Babar's descendants] for Muslims.

I met a 'friend' who was clapping, he saw and gave me smile but there was no awkwardness or shame in him.

I wondered how he is not uncomfortable. This was a 'friend'. I couldn't dare to imagine myself in a similar situation where my friend's religion is targeted or abused and I'm even listening, let alone clapping or feeling happy.

This was not the first such instance. It happened later too, a boy whom I'd taught when he was in sixth and I was many years senior. He respected me a lot. I'd never charged him a penny for the tuition but then the transformation was really surprising.

For me, it was not the normal human reaction. It bothered me for years. I tried hard to figure out what gets into these people. In my college life too, it happened. Remember, it was all much before Gujarat riots or the Islamophobia across the world.

This is all pre-2000. It was painful. It still happens and now people are even more audacious, don't at all care about basic manners or civility. Those who hate an entire religion or community, generalize, make sweeping remarks. It is too irrational but it is around us.

Trolls have made it worse. But over a period, we develop our own mechanism to deal with it. I've learnt to sever any such relation. Someone who can't take a stand, who knows your for years but still doesn't stand with you, rather, use racist terms, can't be a friend.

I understood more in years to come, the entire process--how it happens, not just this reaction, but the entire psychology. Apart from the cocktail that consists of victimhood, the competition and the grudges, there is a a lot more.

So much is drilled in them about invaders, kings and wrongs committed for centuries, that it changes the personality. Every generation grows up with own experiences. It happened in the 1980s and 1990s. It happened in 2010s and 2020.

Photo. Arti Agarwal

Friday, June 19, 2020

Dealing with 'dissent' in democracies: 'Discredit, defame, destroy' is the strategy but a bad one



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

In an ideal or even a functional democracy, there must be freedom to speak up, question and criticise government's policies.

In strong democracies there are traditions--people are allowed to speak their mind, oppose official and government line and agitate on the failures. 

Earlier, it was mostly in monarchies that dissent is seen as 'rebellion' or even linked to treason. However, now a days even in several democracies, dissenters and opposition is seen with suspicion, they are viewed as 'enemy' and even termed 'anti-national'.

This is not a good sign for any strong nation. Of course, 'system' is powerful and can deal with a dissenter in many ways. But it's better to let him speak because diverse opinions make a country stronger. 

There must be right to agitate, right to peacefully protest, right to express our disagreement with the government. It also acts as a safety valve. If there is a section that is angry, it feels relieved once it is able to express itself, well.

But often it happens that detractors are seen as adversaries. So, they are discredited, defamed and steadily 'destroyed'. There are dirty tricks that are used, lapdogs on TV channels will target them and make the person(s) appear evil. 

In case of groups, new terms can be invented to make them sound more sinister. Defaming is not tough. Once, the lapdogs get signal, they go after the person. Cut a video, if not possible then insert audio in background or claim anything. 

If slogan was 'Jine (life) ki Azadi', it can be given a spin and falsely claimed that they were seeking 'Jinnah ki Azadi'. Media invents the new 'anti-national', manipulates the public opinion, ignoring all other important issues affecting us.

Somebody makes a provocative statement or not, it seems 'enemies' have to be invented constantly because youths, students continue to be hounded. If there is no statement, some media persons event 'invent' it to defame or for 'eyeballs'.

Then, they can be demonized and booked under harsh laws so that they don't get bail for months. On the other hand, those who threaten, warn of repeating 'Godhra like massacres', threaten just before riots in Delhi or give hate speeches, are never booked for sedition, let alone facing interrogations or arrests. 

This is happening for too long now. The script remains same and continues to play in front of us for years now. But it doesn't help anyone in real sense. it speaks volumes about a powerful government if they can't handle, deal with dissent.

Overall, temperature remains high, there is too much anger in the society and it doesn't help the country in the long run. If only the leaders realised that voices are necessary, all the voices, especially, the dissenting voices for a healthy democracy!

Photo courtesy: Jason

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Way ahead for Muslims-1: Be a change maker, stop negativity, lead the society




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

You can't change entire nation over night but you can do it differently--making a start from your region.

Understand how things are controlled, how media narrative is formed and become a change maker, a leader in your region.

States are run from their capitals. If you are able to manage things in capitals, [remember cities are power centres and also perceptions are created from big cities], you can do a lot but it needs a bit of planning and dedicated individuals with perseverance and passion.

It's easy to explain more in interactive sessions (than in FB posts) but let's give some examples. If Mr Siddiqui runs a school or even a coaching institute, he can do a lot along with the institute. What if he decides is that he will hold a small event--say Maths Olympiad or Science Olympiad for your city, at a small scale, annually, and give prizes.

It not only helps in branding but also establishes the person's image as someone connected with science, knowledge, technology and it helps in growth of his/her stature, also perception about person's community in the area.

Within a few years he/she is seen as an asset to the society. Remember, on one hand there is an effort to constantly blame you, link you with social evils, term your entire community backward and brand you, so that not just others consider you 'nobody', but you also feel guilty about it and believe that you are indeed backward.

Hence, all the more, there is need to do your bit, an extra effort to tackle this propaganda. Take for example any state capital, how many Muslims manage to present themselves as experts in diverse fields--history, urban planning, agriculture, arts, science, human rights, education, health, RTI, city heritage and a long list.

If you carefully see, in your town, when you start your day and pick the paper, you will find certain names, individuals. On police atrocities' case, the report will carry a person's quote, on another story about vision of city in 2050 you will find another expert's opinion, on and on.

They may be 25-50 names but they are seen as prominent individuals of the city without whom events are seen incomplete and they are seen and intellectuals, change makers or activists. Representation and view of your community--is through how you and your community are able to present yourself.

It is soft power, cultural power, intellectual power, your activism and leadership in different fields that makes you a force in a region. You may be 30-40% in a city but how much percent you are here on this plane? In fact, it is these people who come out to represent the city.

It doesn't help if you have a degree in history, you teach for years but in the ongoing debate on an issue in city, you never speak. You don't take lead and remain isolated, believing that someone should come to you to seek your opinion or because you are afraid of taking initiative.

Be active in your city, region. And, be expert in at least one field. There is a person who doesn't have a degree but whenever there is case of police brutality in the city, he notes it down, least keeps a record or writes a letter to DGP or Home Minister, demanding inquiry.

As he is doing it regularly, he becomes a 'go to' person for everyone including newsmen. Over a
period, he becomes important and with him, his community also becomes important, the voice is also there.

If you have knowledge or expertise, you need to display it. You must not be shy about it. If you don't have skills, acquire them, be leader in one field. The 'nothing will happen' attitude is extremely damaging and there is need to come out of this syndrome.

If you are interested in a subject, track it and keep noting down things. Recording, documenting, making databases and interacting with others, its the basic job. Once you do it over a period, you have a command, understanding & you can now position yourself as an expert.

Every written communication has some effect. Also, by being a social or community leader, you ensure that others, outsiders, feel that you people do have a presence somewhere in the town, you don't go invisible. If you live in a society, you must be seen as leaders in all fields, not just those who are in complaining or victimhood mode.

It is not population or power but how you present yourself in your region, make yourself appropriate as leaders, prominent people and in a way real inhabitant of the place, that you make your presence strong in the society.

You may have hundreds of experts, educationists, professors but this is an era when you need to come forward and not feel that others will come to you, you have to make yourself seen, heard, learn tricks of PR. There are multiple examples, city to city within India.

How this can help even in law-and-order and dealing with persecution too, where presence of prominent persons, proper activism and a psychological feel has helped tide over the worse situations due to your strength in the region.

[As it is subject that needs deep understanding, it's not easy to explain nuances on social media. Still there is an effort and this is just a part of series of such posts that were earlier shared in Urdu and Hindi in the past]

Photo courtesy: Snapwire, Pexels

Thursday, June 04, 2020

End of Empathy: How deaths in lynchings evoke little reaction, response in India



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

*Man lynched--hardly any reaction, neither celebrities nor ministers take note

*If he is Muslim, term him 'thief' or bring any other negative angle to make him appear a criminal, even before basic probe

*Once it is found that he is Bangladeshi, then predictable reactions

*However, latest report tells that the person's name was 'RANJIT'. So, now, blame WB govt! But sadness? No sadness, no tears because you are incapable of empathy.

*You are capable of just hate, if incident is in one district, find a nearby 'Muslim district' to create more confusion. *Not just loonies, papers too carry reports on these lines. Same pattern.

*There is never any genuine grief. Every incident, every death just part of the plan to target 'Muslims, seculars....' and whatever they've been fed for years now.

*This is the most unique species, its entire existence rests on falsehoods, hate and propaganda. They can always come up with something new--add a false name, bring up imaginary things. 

*With multiple portals, thousands of FB pages, Twitter handles, IT cell and top leaders ready to push it, they make people believe. Others can keep refuting, defending, explaining but how much!

[Photo is just for representational purpose]

LINK

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Dirty secrets of Indian media: How newspapers cleverly mould public opinion that eventually hurts citizens, country



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

People often wonder why citizens don't react to injustice or brutalities in India, the way people do in other countries.

One of the reasons is the extremely bad role played by media groups because of their power to create public opinion.

Especially, regional and the vernacular newspapers who have a great hold. It is nothing less than a miracle how they are able to do it, but this needs to be told.

They are able to make you cheer for policies that will eventually hurt and destroy you. But this is the power and the clever game that nobody talks about. They make us bigots, unjust and insensitive, they make us hateful and still preach about 'values'.

When Shambhu Regar burnt alive Afrazul, there was no public support for victim and no statements of celebrities or any shame-tears. In fact, people came out on streets for Shambhu and raised Saffron flag on court. That's a feature of our society. Apart from communalism, there are various factors.

Explained in a few points:

1. Local papers played major role for decades in shaping public opinion in states in India. Within states, a victim can be defamed and passed off as 'culprit', after all, many reporters (more than them paper owners) want good relations with officers. Why go against DM-SP, irk them?

2. A reporter generally associated with mass circulated papers in North or Central India, won't pursue with zeal a story about policemen who cane-charges a group or assaults a common man, though it affects everybody. In fact, he'd generally praise such cops as 'Singham', because it suits him and his 'Seth'.

3. Reporter supposed to get things done for owner, his other side businesses, take care of interests. If newspaper group wants to hold a Garba function, he has to ensure police arrangement, get VIPs to reach, avail special permissions, that are possible when officers are kept in good humour.

4. So if a man is really tortured and the story is too big to miss, then there'd be a spin-- 'police sources saying that this man was a gambler or was under influence of alcohol' to create a 'balance'. Either ways, people fed something that eventually hurts his rights as citizen.

5. This is such a cleverly crafted system that citizen walk on road towards policies that will eventually hurt him. But he cheers for it. He is made to believe that this is in his interest, though it is in the interest of a model that has 'seth', a few beneficiaries.

6. Those reporters who try hard, are defamed too, even within fraternity, 'Zyada krantikari ban rahe hain'. To keep job, many learn what to write, ignore. Imagine, when humans can be made to believe that human rights (our own) are bad, you just know what hope is there for change.

LINK: Role of Hindi media is spreading communalism, propagating right-wing narrative

7. When you don't have concept of justice and empathy towards own fellow citizens, you can't emerge as a great nation. If you don't speak for people in your own country who are oppressed and are victims, then there is no bonding and without bonding, no country can prosper.

All the existing fault lines in the society viz.caste, community, religion, region, class are exploited and media--newspapers and TV channels ensure that it 'anti-victim' opinion is formed, such a view is propagated.

8. Biased reporting makes citizens and the majority sympathetic towards goons, lynchers, the cow vigilantes just like they go on supporting economic policies or government steps that would hurt them.

Media has power to influence our mind, our perception. Courage is considered a virture because it is about taking on the powerful, raising voice against those who misuse power. But, imagine if in a society, armed men beat up unarmed citizen, torture them, beat them, feel it is 'bravery' & this is praised.

LINK: How to fight fake news, media propaganda and false communal narrative

9. However, this is not even taken seriously, neither recorded, nor documented. In states like MP, police often take detained persons in the form of a 'juloos' and this is hailed. No one objects to the practice because media has made it fashionable and it praised police for such acts.

Already, there were major issues and prejudices among sections of society. You can always judge character of society, people with the stand they take. Won't speak up against the 'power structure', will remain silent on atrocities on own poor and weak.

10. Also, not just within country, internationally too, see tge silence over big bullies' aggression-insult. But getting excited over petty things and minor offensives against small fries. Rather than becoming more sensitive towards each others' pain, society has been made more indifferent and selfish.

The newspapers and TV channels have created this situation where they pit people against each other, entire communities are branded and targeted. Hence, the need to understand the society, the system and deal with it.


LINK: Why people came out in India to support Shambhu Regar, not for the victim

Photo courtesy: Class Art/Pexels.org

Monday, June 01, 2020

Lessons from US to India: Countries that stop injustice, fight oppression become great nations



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

After George Floyd's murder, USA erupted in anger.

Not just blacks, whites [the majority] too came out to protest and almost every celebrity was openly talking about the incident and speaking against racial discrimination.

Even the policemen seemed on back foot and made a gesture, apologised for their colleagues' horrible act. Does anyone here accept a mistake or says sorry for tortures?

Do we even have the moral character, this strength that is needed for it. Do we even care? This is the major difference between America and India.

When Shambhu Raigar had burnt alive a Muslim man Afrazul as if it was just a pastime & got it video recorded on his kin's phone 2-1/2 yrs ago, how many had protested. Just recall, who came out on streets?

Scores of Shambhu's supporters took to the streets in Rajasthan. They wanted him freed & had unfurled saffron flag at court. There was no feeling of guilt or shame expressed by right-wingers. As usual it was termed as a 'fringe person's action' and ignored.

Similarly, in most of the lynching incidents, from Akhlaq to Junaid, Pahlu Khan to Tabrez, there was never any solidarity, no apology. How many celebrities who otherwise speak in accordance with US' values, did the same in India?

Did you see them holding placards that 'we are sorry'? No. In fact, those involved in killings and lynchings get garlanded and feted. Even they are hailed as heroes and even asked to contest elections. We have a terror suspect win election by a margin of lakhs.

Nations that are strong have people who take stand, have empathy and 'hamdardi'--understand, feel each other' pain, stand with oppressed irrespective of their creed, at least, have some moral values, not selfish interests, majoritarianism or law applied as per whims.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Minneapolis Murder: George Floyd's death again shows racial bigotry, deep biases in police that lead to atrocities




Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Once again a black life is lost to police brutality.

This happened in Minneapolis in America, yet another case of killing that is clearly due to racial discrimination.

George Floyd's murder shows that how section of police personnel, continue to use excessive force against citizens belonging to the marginalized communities and remain hostile towards them.

Biases, attitudes in society, racial bigotry lead to such killings. The same disease that ails police and authorities across countries--victims are targeted because of hate towards the race or community. 

Dominant groups create narrative that dehumanizes weaker section & targets-mistreats them. Law same on paper but applied differently. Violence is unfortunate but officers must face action.

We hope that there would be stern action against the guilty. It happens in India, where we see Muslims facing attacks, getting lynched and framed in cases. The lower castes, the poor also suffer and face violence.

In a recent incident, a lawyer was beaten and later policemen claimed that mistook him and beat him as they felt he was a Muslim. It happens in several other countries too. We stand with the victims and we must speak for the oppressed across the world, irrespective of their race or faith.

There is need for better representation for people of colour in USA, just like better representation of Muslims is needed in Indian police. Heart goes out to the family of the victim. We want Justice for George Floyd. In Solidarity From India. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Indian politics: Reasons why rogue politicians, musclemen and goons get elected



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi  

In India, politicians are not to serve us or society. They are to rule.
    As people identify with a politician, the more thuggish he is, the more powerful he is seen as. and the followers too feel powerful with him. 
    'Apna neta aisa hai'. Psychological effect. It has several benefits for the leader. 
    As his image is that of a ruffian, short-tempered man or a don, not everybody would approach him to get works done or for overall betterment of constituency, improvement in services. No expectations. 'Raw power', the feel of it, is enough. That he represents us.

    'We elected him...our MP or MLA is a strongman..' The strength gets into followers. Symbiotic relationship of a unique kind. Further, if he belongs to your own community, caste, naturally you feel more powerful as well as content and a feeling of pride.

    Being civil, polite or trying to solve problems doesn't help because the grievances are plenty & it's impossible to solve them or even bring about a change in even a city. Rather, such a politician is seen as weak and misfit in politics. Be as crude, as hateful as you can (sic).

    READ: How 'identity, class interest' force us to vote for leader who endangers our future

    If you are a real thug and got image that anybody who dares mess with you, will have his business or career ruined, or slapped in public or get framed, then you're a true politician. Public gets things done by paying bribe. but real authority is a person who can break all rules

    Be a politician who is feared. Be a politician who is not answerable to anyone. Be a politician who is thuggish and whom no one can make fun of, and if someone does it, he is beaten by cadre. Then, people really respect you. Unfortunately.

    The unwritten rule is--don't be a politician who is there to listen to your grievances, who is like a common man, who is affected by deaths, calamities, people's pain. Someone who doesn't need to even bother if kids die in hospital, then, he is seen as someone really powerful, ruthless. Gets respect.

    Now, there are several reasons for it. Role of Indian newspapers, especially, Hindi and vernacular papers, in creating image of rogue politicians as 'real men' just like lionizing the rogue cops as 'Singham' is one of the reasons.

    The leaders-officials are not seen as just our representatives who are elected by us or those who serve us and citizens don't even dare to make a call to a leader above a councillor rank, forget talking to MLAs, MPs or even questioning them.

    On one hand, you may claim that democracy took root but people don't even feel that they are entitled to ask, question or grill the leaders. Sarkar or the government remains 'maai baap' and no one expects that the basic rights or needs could be fulfilled or that it's job of government to take care of the people.

    Besides, majoritarian tendencies in the society, the caste and class divide, the interests of the class that owns newspapers and wields tremendous power, even manages public perception, movements and opinion, is responsible.

    For more, read PART II

    Wednesday, May 20, 2020

    Lack of compassion in society, insensitivity and blaming the 'other' syndrome in India: Sufferings on the Streets during lock down for Coronavirus


    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    *That's our society--teenaged girl took father on cycle from Delhi to Bihar--1200 kms. And we're not ashamed, we praise resilience of poor.

    *Its a superhuman act, no one would like to do it, but was forced to do it. Where was state? Passed through dozens of distts, no admin comes to help.

    *When poor who can't Tweet to officials, reach Rly stations or bus stands in extreme heat, stand for hours or walk with kids, TV shows footage & anchors yell--'is bheed ko dekhiye'.

    *Create perception that they'll spread infections. Lakhs who came from foreign were never blamed.
    *We won't even let our kid walk 1 km in this scorching heat, but can praise poor for dragging up to 1,000-1,200 kms.

    *This is our morality. This is our society. Find a word for this level of hypocrisy, anti-poor policies and that no one is ever held responsible Why there is such a lack of compassion in Indian society towards the plight of poor.

    In fact, the level of apathy in majority community, even when it comes to 'their own' poor! It is a 'vocal class'--upper and middle class that sets the agenda. But this 'vocal class'--opinion makers due to its hold over media, cares little for labourers, poor, the other.

    But if vocal class creates a problem, it still feels they are victims, will find someone to blame for any crisis. Sorry but this observation comes from a long and harsh experience. It stands always, until it is a 'Hindu Vs Muslim' thing.

    No one would be able to go home during  lockd own in the times of Coronavirus but students from Kota will be taken, of course. Air travellers will not be blamed for spreading Coronavirus but restrictions imposed on domestic helps who get the infection from employers!

    However, much later if labourers walk hundreds of miles, they are provided no facilities and even there will be debates over whether buses or trains should be run to take these labourers to other states!

    A 13-year-old girl who takes her father on cycle from Delhi to Bihar, is hailed for courage. But that's the story of failure of this civilization. The society, the administration, brought them to this stage. Those stranded in other countries will be brought because 'international image' matters.

    And, because rich 'deserve better'. However, poor will be made to suffer and then you get away, escape responsibility with just praise about their resilience. And, this always happens, it is not just during the lockdown.

    If there are incidents of rapes, instantly and shamelessly blame 'poor', if there is crime, blame own 'slum dwellers' those whose women come to your comes to work, Biharis, others. Muslims are 'other', so blaming them is understood.

    Air travellers brought Corona, govt failed-mismanaged, but no one blamed them. You blame Tablighis instead. It is understandable because Muslims are the permanent 'other'. But tomorrow you'll blame migrant labourers and all the poor who already suffered for months due to the virus brought from foreign countries.

    This has already begun. People saying how 'these labourers' going to villages will take virus with them. Shouldn't govt have dealt it in a better way. It didn't take seriously for 45 days, after first patient. There was poor screening at airports but the rich can't be blamed.

    You've power, dozens of channels, constant anti-Muslim rhetoric and will always find a way to blame Muslims. This will continue for many years, we know this too. But when this treatment is meted to 'your own'.

    Seeing the plight of poor on highways and the level of sufferings, even then you can't speak truth to power or try to be compassionate, what remains to be said. There is definitely a lot that is wrong with this society. 

    Monday, May 11, 2020

    Indian society and politics: How 'identity interest' overrides 'own interest', force us to vote for those who endanger our future



    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    This post was written after a recent discussion regrding former PM Manmohan Singh, who despite his simplicity, knowledge and efforts-policies to bring record number of Indian citizens out of poverty, is not given due credit and remains the 'other'.

    Going back to early 1990s to explain how I learnt this aspect of Indian politics and societal behaviour.

    None of the other ministers in that region was doing exceptional or great work, then. But during discussion in a group, people would focus on one minister, accusing him of being a 'non-performer' because he belonged to a minority community.

    It'd take someone to take stand, 'WTF, he is not doing bad, look at it, much better than others', to shut the rest up. Point is that majority in the society decides, and it judges 'other' very harshly. If person is 'apna' (own), then all is forgotten, even if his policies harm us. He will be turned into a 'devdoot', the narrative of his greatness would be established.

    'Atalji' could've transformed Lucknow but even if he didn't do it, despite representing constituency, it was fine. No one dared question or even say why he couldn't do it as much, even when he wasn't PM and was member of parliament from the city.

    Anyone else who worries or even works for you is still the 'other'. The 'other' won't get due credit. That's how it works, majoritarian tendencies in vernacular papers, channels plus social talk, propaganda, own biases lead to such narrative that people even oppose those who benefit, would not feel thankful. 'The other'.

    Man working for you becomes villain in your own eyes

    So the feeling of 'class interest', 'caste interest', 'religious bonding' or this feeling of 'own', overpowers everything else. The man working for you would become a villain in your eyes and the man who is not doing much, would be a hero. Aadmi 'apna' hona chahiye. You may lose supporting the goons and ruffians but what to do about feelings!

    So that early 90s experience helped me realise then only that people are not interested even in real work or own welfare. What they were upset basically was that why 'this man was made minister', because he was 'not our own', (an alpsankhyak, a minority). That's how it works. 'Not our own'.

    Just imagine how 'identity interest' is ahead of even 'own interest'. Complex process--approval or disapproval but it starts spontaneously, finding ways to criticise politician who is 'not own'. Similar to why we want our own caste or community man in politics, thought it won't help us

    But role of Hindi, regional papers in making people readily form strong opinions is most unique phenomenon. Wish I could someday write. It is more enigmatic than anything else in this democracy.

    And why should any politician one bother about law-and-order! For riots, politicians never go to jails in India, our judiciary is well known for letting these cases continue for decades. No jail terms, it's perfect system. Riots, killings ensure rewards.

    24 people were shot dead dead in UP only recently--there are atrocities, people who were part of movement against NRC, were targeted. Large sections of society felt it was the 'tough message' that was needed. 

    Wherever you'd go in North India, you would hear people praising the strong 'action'. In fact, in Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Chouhan was often criticised by core right-wing, those allied to other Sangh bodies and also many BJP supporters just because he appeared 'soft' earlier.

    The moment a politician turns hardcore right-wing, suddenly, there are no more expectations to deliver on any other front--development, jobs or whatever. He can be in his third or fourth term but media won't even ask tough questions. He is not expected to do anything anymore. He's just arrived.

    Violence is just a 'tamasha' (sic) in this society, it doesn't really bother or upset masses. For politicians, it helps them achieve the status of a masculine big leader. Publicly everyone won't say it but message goes--'this leader can bring them on their knees'. That's reality.

    Either it is a communal riot or any other conflict, action is delayed. Army is never called timely because public posturing apart, leaders too come from the same society & many of them want to 'teach lesson to other community'--basically the same inherent violent streak in our society where riots, bloodbath is not an aberration.

    It was after the killings during Rath Yatra that LK Advani became 'the leader'. It was after 2002 that Modi conquered hearts of the majority. And earlier Shiv Sena supremo too got respect for this reason. So that's the tried and tested formula in our politics. Be as ruthless as possible. Count bodies, conquer hearts. 

    Photo: Social media

    Saturday, May 09, 2020

    The royal 'puncture-wala': Never judge a man by the size of his shop, his name or appearance


    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    Today, let me tell you about an interesting 'puncture wala'. He runs the shop on road side.

    It fixes tyres (tires) and has air pump too. It is a decent sized shop, a couple of times I went past and saw him call his young assistant to check the tyre when a car or bike stopped at the place. Also noticed how he had lot of things in the shop

    Going to nearby general merchants' shop, I often saw him make elaborate arrangements before lunch & dinner. Doing things stylishly, towel on peg, proper chair to sit and eat, a big lunch box opened, never in a hurry, even an iron cot. Saw him sleep too on it in afternoons. Aish!

    Then, one fine day, I saw him at a meat shop. After he left, I asked the mutton seller, that wasn't he the guy who has that 'puncture shop'. 'Arrey, woh ... bhai, unka to bohat lamba chaudaa kaam hai'. Is it? Yeah, he sells mostly big flats and plots, deals in sale of property. Told me lot of things.

    The guy opened the shop long ago and it was a place to sit, the location was important, he deals in a lot of things. Then, one day, my friend had come from Odisha. The rear wheel had some issue & we had to go to his shop. The assistant hadn't come so he asked us to sit.

    As generally equipment is kept outside, nobody ventures in, but that day I could see the shop from inside. Everything one needs like in a small hostel room. An entire wall had 'tughras', something that was very interesting. Once again it tells how judging people because of the size of their office or shop, their vehicle or appearance or any such thing, can be so far from reality.

    Even in lockdown, vehicles ply. Policemen, doctors, bankers, transport and official vehicles continue to move, hence, 'puncture walas' are still most sought after. After the lockdown too, they don't need a push to restart business again, as long as vehicles are on the streets.

    Post-script:

    I also mentioned it because lot of people in India, especially, the right-wing folks consider the job of a 'puncture-wala' as less important and it is also a term they commonly use for 'Muslims', to suggest that most Muslims are less educated, poor.

    No work that earns you money to earn a bread is demeaning and it doesn't insult us. However, it shows their upbringing, their lack of real education and the contempt towards physical labour.

    Friday, April 24, 2020

    Media war against Muslims: How TV channels fuel Islamophobia that is affecting, endangering lives of Muslims in India


    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    Imagine, it's the month of fasting that is all set to begin and the things Muslims are most worried about.

    '30 days, 3 lakh mosques, anything at even one place, real, exaggerated or cooked up and the madmen on TV can give a twist, almost hold each Muslim accountable for an incident in which a Muslim has been accused, and make every person in India, believe that it is 'they' who are responsible.

    World is not perfect, one or two mistakes bound to happen. But when there are dozens of attacks on doctors but one incident where a Muslim gets in conflict with health workers, is run 24/7 and shown as 'Muslims attack...', with a focus on religious identity while the others are either ignored or generalized with headlines like 'Villagers attack' or 'People attack' in brief in paper, what's the result?

    It seems that giving religious twist is the sole agenda now. If there is a case of minor girls' rape, the ticker merely says it but if a man killed an animal [real news] and he is Muslim, then his name is instantly flashed and its lead story, also in headline in print.

    It is sometimes deliberate, due to existing biases, growing indoctrination, because of newsroom composition (fewer Muslims) and also because of the prevailing trend. When dozen-odd channels scream nonstop, papers too carry it on front pages and put everyone of you responsible for someone's act, make you guilty, unlike other scenario when person alone responsible for his act

    It is this sort of coverage, this extreme bigotry and communalism that leads to persecution. One man has brush with law and is booked under NSA, others merely booked under bailable section 323 of IPC. And every such incident used to fuel Islamophobia even in the times of Coronavirus.

    This is the way the entire community is 'otherised', made a target of hate and social discrimination. In rural areas or small towns with fewer Muslim population it becomes even more difficult. There are 'boycott' calls on social media, Muslims vendors or sellers told to leave in different cities like Mumbai, Mahoba and Delhi, and even handcarts selling vegetables recently get Saffron flags attached for identification, and a lot more.

    The affects are devastating. Imagine, a young man, Dilshad, who had not even tested positive, but was ridiculed (just because he was associated with Tablighi Jamat), so much that he committed suicide. Financial dependence, emotional issues, not everyone can bear it. Case of Muslim Gujjars, people not buying milk..

    The recent incident of 35 Muslims belonging to six families converting to Hinduism, in Jind in Haryana, should be seen as a manifestation of this entire 'hate industry' that demonises Muslims, makes it difficult for small communities living in far-flung areas to survive.

    It is a complete industry that has been created, the infrastructure where even the mainstream TV channels and papers now playing role of Rwanda Radio, then imagine what the others do, those websites and the parties' IT cell.

    The strategy is to create such pressure, demonize so much, that the community is perpetually under psychological pressure, always defensive, even guilty for things you have no connection, and under scrutiny for any incident remotely connected to a Muslim.

    Sickness has reached a stage that even video of a vendor using a bottle to wash his hand, is given a twist and false claims are made that he was sprinkling urine (sic), and shared on social media, the community constantly bears the brunt of this demonizing campaign.

    A day or two later officers clear the air or fact-check websites debunk the video and reject the false claims, but by then the fake news reaches millions. And it keeps happening on a daily basis. You keep explaining but there is a limit to it.

    And, when this is consumed by viewers along side mainstream TV channels, newspapers' propaganda, it goes to a scale that is almost impossible to fight. It's time to understand the enormity of this fake news industry and its Islamophobia. Tackle it before it's too late.

    READ: World must Wake up, Indian media involved in Nazi-style propaganda against Muslims

    READ: Hate spread through TV channels: Is media's right-wing shift irreversible?

    Tuesday, April 14, 2020

    Idea of Justice, Equality and Opportunity: Seven illustrations that help children understand the world, power structure and society


    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi


    How to teach the 'idea of justice', to children.  How to make them understand realities of the world.

    And, make them learn the ills of 'system'--things like exploitation, oppression, need for diversity and equal opportunity, at a young age.

    This is what I learnt from these comics in my childhood. These writers were brilliant, they taught you all--equality, compassion, need for justice, without using tough terms in these comics.

    Just see these six-seven panels that I have selected from an old comic. In the story, that is pure fiction and entertainment, ideas of justice and equality were incorporated, and this goes on to the level that it inspires the reader.

    If you read properly, you will understand the story. The change that came up after freedom--everyone is an equal. There is liberty, talent has the opportunity to come forward, people share knowledge, are inclusive, want to give equal opportunities to all irrespective of their past, financial or social status.

    As power structure changes, the 'Old Order' and its proponents are unhappy.

    They talk about 'taxes', irked over funding of public education and health, that why 'poor and non-elite' get treated as equals.

    They're still powerful but feel 'insecure'. It happens in all societies.

    There is a rise in insecurity when the poor or a new class emerges. We see it around us, even in our times. This phenomenon is always there, a group that resents any change and prefers 'traditional system'.

    The 'Old Order' strikes back, wants a return to the past. 'Why should ordinary, common folk need education.

    See the lines, 'Our power had gone, our land gone....we elite lose and our land is being distributed to poor'.

    "If you get access to education, who will work for us, who will work on our fields".

    It wants to bring 'old order' again, the 'Golden era', the 'imagined past'. And, here comes they who want their share in the loot. They are 'allies' now because they sense the opportunity to once again wrest control over resources, lord over poor.

    Time for the loot!


    There is resistance. The 'Old Order' fails to capture power.

    Those who joined hands with the inclusive, just state, are pardoned.

    'They wanted to stop wheel of change'. Now that's small part.

    All these 6-7 panels would together form barely ONE page of the 30 page comic but more powerful than text books. No jargons like communism, socialism or talk of inclusive steps, diversity and equal opportunities, but this is understood.

    This is a Flash Gordon comic. It was published in the eighties.

    Though it was originally written in USA, they were published in India by a special arrangement with Indrajal Comics.

    The artwork was improved, the comics here were better as quality was enhanced, comics were colorized.

    This is just an example how certain writers tried to imbibe humane values. Personally, I am always fascinated by these writers.

    They belonged to certain societies that may have been capitalist but the stories had such characters that egged on the reader to take STAND, always.

    Stand against injustice, Stand against Oppression. And, stand against capitalist loot too. Quite interesting. Isn't it!

    Post-Script:

    Flash Gordon was originally drawn by Alex Raymond. Flash and his companion Dale Arden, along with scientist Dr Hans Zarkov fight the evil Ming, in Mongo. Prince Barin leads the revolution and the power is snatched from the elite, it is now in the hands of the common people.




    Monday, April 13, 2020

    Majority Vs Minority: How majoritarian tendencies change societies, affect perceptions, damage nations



    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    Is the world, all about 'majority' and the majoritarian privilege--majority deciding what's good for itself and the country and minority accepting a second class status despite laws and all rights on paper?

    It is a strange phenomenon but it is clearly at work in our supposedly 'modern' societies, and in democratic countries as well.

    Laws are there but the people who have the power to use or misuse laws are also humans and prone to social changes, perceptions, tendencies and biases.

    In many democratic societies, despite equality and law, a 'minority' is always seen as the 'other'.
    If one person or an organisation belonging to a minority community, makes a mistake, then it is not seen as an individual mistake, rather, it puts all the people belonging to the community in the dock.

    It happens so easily because media that has the power to create perception, and it too has similar majoritarian tendencies, is able to whip up such sentiments. Street thug level louts sitting in the studios, who shout and scream against the minority, are responsible for it.

    They paint all with same brush! Else, an incident is just an incident, and ignored. The rot in the society when one group tries to dominate the others, completely. We see it more in some countries, less in some other but this is a harsh reality.

    Majoritarian feeling of 'entitlement', expecting surrender of 'other'. In some countries, it is to a lesser extent, while in others that have crumbling systems, it goes to the extreme level. If polity, executive and judiciary fail, then the situation deteriorates even faster.

    A slip and you'll be hauled over coals. There is another aspect. Majority never wants to own up any mistake, it can never be wrong. It doesn't need to explain itself. Minority must ensure they're all sages, good and clean at all times, helping, one mistake and the media-politicians-society is ready to pounce upon them.

    The minority doesn't understand why it happens to it. On the other hand, the majority despite holding key positions and all the power, looks at minority population, as if the latter are 'troublemakers'. Of course, politics and media play an important role in creating this perception.

    While organised groups may persecute or lynch minority, the majority would still feel that the minority is too dominant and creates problems, even if these problems are a figment of imagination or a result of false propaganda.

    One negative incident in which a person belonging to minority is found involved and everyone among the minority is expected to condemn and appear as 'apology personified'. This pressure is created.

    No one should force, put onus on me to condemn or laud a particular incident or statement. I must have the liberty to speak the day I feel like. That should be my decision, totally. No one should ever  expect something from me or judge me for what any individual does!

    Simple, isn't it. But no. Not in real life. The harsh reality is that even in democracies, it is the rule of those who are more in population--religion, language or a bigger community. The impact is more or less in different places, varies from country to country.

    When you control all and despite being a majority get persecution complex, then it's even more laughable. Solution: To improve it--ensure rule of law in real sense, rein in your extremist groups, de-link religion from lot of things around, treat people in more just, similar manner.

    PHOTO: Mr Anugrah Lohiya, Pexels

    Friday, April 03, 2020

    How to fight fake news, media misinformation, hate speech and communal propaganda: Islamophobia in India and Indian Media



    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    The level of hate, misinformation and fake news has reached such an alarming stage that it has left a large section of society, stunned.

    Many people have the standard reply that it is better not to watch TV news or avoid reading papers, but dissociating or boycott doesn't lead to any solution, as the propaganda is reaching masses and will continue to affect you (us).

    Besides, the sad aspect is that people who suffer because of it, have almost given up without a fight. I will give some hints in this post. The level hasn't gone up suddenly, it has reached here, in almost two decades, and unfortunately, there is no seriousness to tackle it.

    Long long ago, media houses would be wary of publishing anything sensationalist, particularly, about a community, as they felt there would be reaction. But the situation changed over a period and they realised there was never any reaction, even if they came out with a 'fake fatwa' story or blamed any Muslim institution without any reason.

    Neither these institutions sent defamation notices despite clear evidence and being on strong wicket, nor there were court cases or complaints to commissions. From 2006-2008 onwards, situation worsened but still people didn't wake up.

    By 2012-14, Zee and Times Now were turning vicious. Yet, no steps were taken. Steadily in another five-six years, the situation has reached this level. While people like Pratik Sinha came up with Alt News, and other fact-checkers came up to debunk propaganda, [at least, with limited resources, they are giving a fight] what has been the community response?

    The institutions---Deoband to Nadwa, the Khanqahs from Ajmer to Bareilly, they were all targeted. But none even takes it seriously. Imagine, an institution is termed 'terror factory' and in this case, it has to take it up not others because it has been defamed, still, there is no action.

    So if either a BJP leader terms Deoband 'Aatankwad ki Gangotri' or a paper writes about a seminary and equates madarsas as breeding grounds of extremists or publishes false baseless stories like unfurling a flag of another country on campus, that hurt communal harmony and lead to hate, there is still no response.

    Can't you do the most basic and simple task--some people joining hands to form a 'Media Monitor' at state or city level and ensure that any false news or one-sided story, gets the rebuttal and a proper statement is released, demanding apology, and the statement should be sent to all other media houses, apart from putting it up on social media.

    It will take some time but this needs to be done diligently. And, it doesn't need funds to do it. This is just one of the most basic and proper ways (among the many ways). In Europe-USA, organisations record media disinformation, hate speeches, Islamophobia though Muslims form a minuscule population. Unfortunately, in India, there is not even a will to do it.

    You may not believe but just a sustained effort over a period--six months, one year, will change it at least in your state. Those who monitor gain upper hand but it needs a bit of seriousness, discipline and at least 15-30 minutes effort daily or a weekly standard procedure--writing letters, issuing statements, phone calls, things you learn as you work.

    Besides, if a paper is publishing reports that incite passions or headlines are inflammatory, you need to act as a citizen and must write letter to officials urging them to take action against paper or channel for disrupting harmony. But again, more important is releasing this letter in public, press and social media.

    Besides, there is no understand of how media functions--people feel that less viewership or boycott of works though they don't even know that news print cost is so high that papers now prefer lesser circulation & if you don't watch it doesn't mean hate is not being spread--the videos of the TV channel debates and news go to FB, Twitter and WhatsApp, and from there they are shared.

    Those who have an interest and take up the task, get recognition as well as satisfaction. These are the most basic things, any community or group is expected to do. But even this work--documentation, recording instances of discrimination and media monitoring is just missing among us.

    Remember, there are ways, and a sustained fight can change situation but there is no willingness, interest or vision. And a mindset that refuses to believe that things can be changed if you do it in a planned way.

    Also, read these articles published on this site earlier:

    READ: India's media's right-wing, Islamophobic shift, is it irreversible?

    READ: World must wake up how TV channels spreading Nazi-level propaganda in India

    READ: How Twitter gives free run to online hate peddlers in India

    Thursday, March 26, 2020

    Terrorism in India: 17 policemen killed in deadliest attack in Chhattisgarh this year


    17 policemen were killed in one of the most deadliest attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in India.

    This incident occurred in Sukma district on March 21, 2020. The Maoists had ambushed the police party.

    Perched on the hills, they shot the policemen. Naxalites later escaped with AK 47 rifles and several other weapons.

    The police had got information about Maoists gathering in the area. Hence, a huge posse comprosing DRG, STF and COBRA jawans, was seent from Dornapal camp towards Kasalpad forests on way to Elmagunda.

    The security personnel planned to take Naxals by surprise. However, the latter had also got info about the jawans' movement and ambushed the security personnel. Initially, the police officials claimed that the policemen were missing.

    Later, a special team was sent and the bodies of the martyred jawans were brought to the district headquarters. Maoists later displayed the weapons looted in the attack and issued a statement in this regard. Chhattisgarh is among the worst affected state when it comes to left-wing terrorism. 

    Tuesday, March 10, 2020

    Islamophobia in Indian media, hate spread through TV channels: Is the media's right-wing Hindutva shift irreversible?



    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    Is the Indian media's right-wing shift irreversible?

    The question was actually raised on Twitter, in a discussion. Baba Glocal asked, "Do you guys think the genocidal brand of Rwanda Radio journalism will survive even after BJP loses the center?".

    He further wrote, "The people who they are catering to remains the same, even if BJP doesn’t get the majority. (Lack of) funding is the only way to stop them".

    TV CHANNELS HAVE DIVIDED THE SOCIETY

    I don't think even after BJP gets weakened a bit in future, there will be a major change. The society has been deeply divided and the communal poison has permeated everywhere sphere--no longer the urban and rural divide exists, Islamophobia has now swept the country.

    Besides, there is no strong will to fight these people, ideologically, by any of the opposition parties and hence in the absence of any such movement, more and more people in society getting affected with time and turning right-wing, getting converted to the Hindutva cause through channels, daily dose on Whatsapp, Facebook and all other medium including print.

    WHERE IS THE OPPOSITION'S WILL TO TAKE ON HATE-PEDDLERS?

    Common people can fight up to a level but it needs groups and cadre for example youth wings of parties, the support of party organizations in legal cases against owners-anchors and public naming-shaming of channels-owners who indulge in hate but the entire ecosystem is now ultra right-wing.

    If the core right-wing vote for 15-18%, sustained propaganda on a daily basis over the years has led to this figure going up, probably, past 25% and even more. Such is the situation that leave Muslims aside, every 'secular party' and particularly,Congress and its leaders are hated by a large section.

    They can suffer but can't even think of not voting the BJP. All these debates on TV channels, the clips of the shows, are later shared on social media. The 'IT cells' often edit and make them even more 'lethal' for the society.

    HOW TO FIGHT THE TV CHANNELS' TOXICITY, HATE

    The fight is not easy. This needs planned work, taking to the streets, demos as well, apart from ideological support, serious efforts to fight, counter propaganda, not just stop core right-wing base grow but get them see reality, especially, those who just see 'Muslim appeasement' & 'population growth'.

    It is an unprecedented situation, for example even if 10,000 farmers commit suicide, there is no tear for them in this society, no major movement or 'anger in society' narrative, because papers-media that work from cities, don't make it an issue.

    This is the scenario when most of the farmers belong to the majority community. Failing economy or even banks' collapse is immaterial too. Then comes the idea that can a grip on funding of these channels, affect their business!

    Funding not as big an issue here as in the West, because media always made losses here but businessmen needed it for power and to bargain with government. Spending is controlled as mostly there are debates, not much in-depth reporting or specials that need money, resources and dedication.

    Even if a few channels are reined in, most of them would continue doing it on particular days, issues and keep raising controversial things. Also, the infiltration in media is such that the ideology is now difficult to remove.

    READ: World must wake up, TV channels spreading Nazi-level hate against Muslims in India

    The 'hate is now around us' and not dependent on TV alone. There are 'warriors' who issue threats to people or even go to bizarre levels like call to boycott entire community. Emergency steps are required and real tough action on part of State can only stop it. And, this is highly unlikely.

    One factor that will come in way of any change is the composition of the newsrooms--people who form an overwhelming majority of the editorial positions in the channels, and there is no major difference in it, over decades.

    There is no serious attempt to give representation to communities, groups in newsrooms. Diversity is just not an issue. So what? Though it's all gloomy, still, it is necessary to do our bit and fight as much as possible.

    There is need to name and shame owners, their main brands, and telling the entire world about how the owners are acting like genocidal maniacs and what monsters they have created.

    Legal ways, activism, social movement and 'halla bol' on channels are also to be used along with these options. TV has definitely harmed the nation. It has created prejudices, deepened hate and widened the existing fault lines. Further, it has demonized Muslims and has hurt the nation more than our real enemies could have done.

    A national movement for harmony that stresses on the need to remain united in the best interests of the 'desh' (country) is the need of the hour. For this, some of the celebrities need to show conviction and millions of people who believe in harmony, would have to support it. This is also a possible way to deal with the situation.

    [PS: There are some other ways too but everything can't be part of a blog post]

    Saturday, March 07, 2020

    The history of communal riots in Aligarh, Hyderabad and Meerut: How violence stopped and intensity, frequency of killings came down


    Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

    The recent horrific killings in Delhi have once again brought alive memories of the brutality during communal riots in several cities in India, in the past.

    Historically, cities that saw communal riots had a similar pattern and the victim's grievances were also similar.

    The police or provincial armed constabulary i.e. PAC (in case of UP) were accused of high-handedness and allegations of complicity with the right-wing leaders in the local towns.

    The cities that were once most affected include Aligarh, Hyderabad and Meerut (apart from Kanpur and Ahmedabad). From the decade of 1960s till 1980s and even later, these cities remained vulnerable to such killings, though situation improved later.

    In the case of Aligarh, there were several factors. The role of traders belonging to a small community (Baraseni Vaishya) has been the most significant factor and discussed in several studies. Unfortunately, it is not remembered or even talked about now.

    No analysis or any serious understanding is possible unless this aspect is remembered. As this is a post, I would not delve into the detail and the readers can themselves get a fair idea. The intensity and frequency of riots came down after major changes in the town.

    KK Navman, a right-wing leader, was known for his inflammatory speeches and statements. After the eighties, BSP emerged as a power in the district and the electoral alliances (the Muslim support for the party in civic election or assembly or parliament), also had its affect on the local society.

    The rise of in Muslim population--from around 33% after independence, it crossed 40% (due to migration from rural areas and nearby villages) was also a factor in this change. The Dalit population too doubled in Aligarh in terms of percentage.

    And, the result was that Aligarh was no longer a city that was witnessing riots (unlike past when it was a regular occurrence). Having suffered repeatedly, Muslims are aware of their vulnerability (due to hostile officials and police), hence, behave more maturely and act responsibly in areas where they are strong.

    This is also reflected in the way that cities that are Muslim majority don't witness communal riots--either it is cities like Rampur or Burhanpur, or regions of West Bengal around Murshidabad or Mewat.

    Ultimately, the issue is lack of representation of Muslims in police--a community that accounts for nearly 15% of population, is hardly visible in the forces. For more, read other posts on the issue viz. How communal killings can be stopped and Had Congress been tough on rioters in 1992-93, Gujarat pogrom won't have taken place.

    [Image: Courtesy, Indian Express, screenshot of paper's front page]