When does Anti Molestation Drive Become Moral Policing?

There was a species native to Indian towns and cities when I was growing up. It was a kind of young male that gathered in streets, usually around a source of sustenance like a tea or tobacco dispenser. This was more commonly found in the vicinity of a collection of “prey”, such as a girl’s school or college. In addition to making howling noises and making girls miserable, this group would occasionally attack one of the prey. This is an endangered species in most places now, including Central India where I live, but obviously not in the land stretching from Bihar to Haryana. The “alpha males”, the guys in power, have used these herds for their purposes for a long time and have subjugated women using what can only be called terror tactics.

BangladeshFear of attacks has imprisoned women, and limited not only their choices, but the progress of the areas as a whole. Female foeticide and violence against women are but manifestations of this subjugation of women. The solution has to come from policing these herds.

What is the right punishment for these herds? Throwing them in prison and clogging the already clogged justice system is counterproductive. We need law enforcement, not a criminal crackdown.

anti-romeo-squads-up_650x400_41490194573Rounding up is often good enough. Maybe just a show of intent will be enough. Some humiliation will also go a long way, just parade them in the eyes of the media and ask them to apologise to the girls they have been harassing. If these things persist even for a few months, none of the young guys will be permanently harmed, and hundreds of thousands will be dissuaded. Its quite simple, really. So whats the problem with what the “Anti Romeo Squads” are doing in UP?

The guy ordering it is the problem. The media, and the self appointed elites, have decided that Yogi Adityanath is bad. Nothing he does could be right, especially for the “weaker sections”, which includes women. A religious guy, especially an ascetic, a Sanyasi, has to be misogynist.

The “Anti Romeo Squads” in UP are not a random move. BJP campaigned on it. And the people gave a massive mandate to the party. So this probably is something the people of UP really want. So what reason could these crooks conjure up to oppose this? This is “Moral Policing” they say.

Moral Police, the real one, like in countries like the Saudi Arabia and Iran, is a force meant to control women. It is used to enforce religious dictate and whims of the Mullahs. It is a tool to imprison the women, and to ensure that any blame of any attack on a woman falls squarely to the woman. The Anti-Romeo Squads are targeting men. It aims to make it easier for women to move around freely. It aims to make women safer. This is the exact opposite of what the real Moral Police wants to do. Does the media not understand this?

article-2739233-20f39bbf00000578-272_306x423Of course they do. They understand too well that Anti Romeo Squads are police enforcing laws, not “Moral Police” enforcing codes of behaviour. Its just a longstanding mission of theirs to equate Indian Right with the worst of religious nuts. Words like Hindu Taliban, Saffron Terror, Rabid Hindu Nationalism etc are all part of the same narrative. They will empathise with those who run illegal slaughterhouses with barbaric conditions for the cattle. They will empathise with the slain terrorist’s headmaster father. They will empathise with the “poor young men” who are not even allowed to ogle and molest young girls. Even if there is an they have the words of of their Samajwadi patron: “Ladke hain, ġalti ho jati hai”.

We have to stand up now. The media has clearly shown that there are no depths it will fall to in order to make the Right look bad. This also shows, however, that there is not much genuine ammunition for the media. It has to resort to more and more outlandish comparisons. For anyone who has been following the news this is eerily reminiscent of the campaign against a certain CM of Gujarat.

Anti Romeo squads are not tools of fascism and moral policing. They are tools of women’s liberation in the real sense. They have a potential to make women safer, but the self proclaimed liberals are more interested in complaining than in women’s safety.

Gandhi Clan And The Slow Murder Of Congress

Remember when Nationalistic Congress Party was formed? It was a creation of Sharad Pawar and P A Sangama as a revolt from Soniya Gandhi. In one stroke, congress lost its most popular leaders of Maharashra and of North East. Congress has never been as strong in Maharashtra ever since. This is not just a story of clash of ambitions, its a deeper issue. This split is at the root of why congress is in dire straits, and why it can’t recover in foreseeable future.

indira_kamaraj_morarjiIt started with Indira. Her elevation to leadership was neither easy, nor uncontroversial. There were much bigger, stronger stalwarts with a claim. The biggest contender after Shastriji’s death was Morarji Desai, representing the Right wing of congress. He lost the internal political fight but agreed to become the Deputy PM and Finance minister under Indira. He left when Indira nationalised all banks and stalled credit growth for decades. Similarly, Kamraj, one of the biggest contender for the post of Prime Minister twice, remained King Maker and kept Congress on top in Tamilnadu for decades. He was also seen as a threat by Indira and a split was forced. Thus was Indian National Congress converted to Indira Congress, and Congress lost leaders such as Virendra Patil, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Biju Patnaik, Ashoka Patel and many more during Indira reign.

Indira worked tirelessly to cut any leader that posed a threat, but that was a time of few other alternatives, and new mass leaders kept emerging within Congress. Rajiv tried to continue this and arrest the popularity of the guy who was getting more and more popular: VP Singh. We know how that turned out, though. V P Singh won, and Janta Dal started a new wave of socialism + casteism + appeasement that continues to the day.

147811964There was a different period after Rajiv Gandhi’s demise, though. Congress, for a few years, was not run like a fiefdom. There was dissent, there was genuine competition for power, and in power was the greatest Congress PM in my opinion. P V Narsimha Rao was no mass leader, though. He relied on many others to get votes for him, and it didn’t work out. Not that congress had a dearth of leaders at the time. There were leaders such as Pawar, Mamta Banerjee, V C Shukla, S M Krishna, and many more, but they couldn’t, or wouldn’t ensure a victory for the party. In the years when India was ruled by the likes of Devegowda and Gujral, the “loyalists” in congress succeeded in what they wanted: bringing Sonia Gandhi to head the party. As soon as the drama of humiliation of Sitaram Kesari and Namsimha Rao started, it was clear that congress was returning to the feudal structure it felt most comfortable in.

This was the phase of an exodus of leaders from the party. NCP, Trinamool were formed in West and East. In central India, stooges such as Digvijay gained power at the expense of mass leaders. When Chhattisgarh was formed, V C Shukla was, at the last minute, replaced by Ajit Jogi as CM on the orders of “High Command”. Since then, Congress has not won even a single election in Chhattisgarh despite the less than stellar local leadership of BJP. And as soon as Jogi started getting some mass base, even he was forced out of leadership here. In Odisha, Biju Patnaik’s son rules, challenged only by BJP. In state after another, an absence of genuine leaders is shrinking congress to the anti BJP votes. In states with a strong regional party, it loses even that vote. Congress is the most rapidly shrinking force in Indian politics today.

This is the story of congress. A family paranoid about holding its grip on power and a coterie of political nobodies that cling to the leadership in order to stay close to power. Do people like Sanjay Jha and Manishankar Aiyar have any support anywhere? Is Chambaram the best congress can do in TN? The height of propping up a puppet was when Manmohan Singh was made the Prime Minister despite his obvious inability to win even a single Lok Sabha election. Popularity got you a kick in this party, bootlicking got you promoted.

rahul-gandhi-and-amrinder-singhThe best news for Congress today is from Punjab, but you will see little celebration of that. The fact is Captain Amrinder Singh was one of the first major politicians to openly ask for a change of leadership at the top. It was desperation that led the leadership to not only let him remain in the party, but also give him autonomy in how to run his state’s campaign. He has produced a spectacular victory despite/ due to no Rahul Gandhi campaign in Punjab. Once there were such leaders in every nook and corner of India who knew their region like the back of their hand, and won elections for the party. Now the congress has jokes like Raj Babbar running their UP campaign.

This decline is not an accident. Nor is it just a matter of Rahul Gandhi not being popular, or eligible for a leadership role in any way. This is a deep malaise in congress that leads to an aspiration for feudal power structure and a disregard for the people. Remember, most BJP leaders didn’t want Narendra Modi either, but the party structure made sure the most popular leader rises to the top. When you replace structure with dynasty worship, you get leaders who are openly called Pappu.

Its not great for Indian democracy to be saddled with only a single national party, but thats the legacy the bootlickers of congress are going to leave.

The Media Already Has Blood On Its Hands

600212_thumpWe have all heard of the recent case of a Muslim girl Suhana Sayed who was harassed for singing a Hindu devotional song in a singing show. it sounds really appalling. Rafi saab was one of the best Bhajan singers of his time, and Yesudas has created the gold standard for so many devotional compositions. Is this country going to dogs that people can’t even sing songs of another religion? Will someone protest against a hindu singing a Qawwali next? Well, not so much. All the “harassment” and “trolling” by Muslims was a myth. GO to any YouTube page of her singing and you see a large number of Muslims supporting her, raising their voices in her support. Bt these people are absent from any media reports. All that has happened is that a group of people on some obscure page abused her. Thats it. I’m sure such people existed even when Rafi saab sung Man Tadpat Hari Darsan Ko (composed by Naushad and written by Shakeel Badayuni, incidentally). They now have a voice, thanks to social media, and thats a good thing. What is not so good is them being blown out of all proportion and made into a monster that doesn’t exist.

gurmehar-kaur-2This is not an isolated case. The case of Gurmeher was similar. A couple of serious threats, at least one of which was fake, were blown out of all proportion to make it seem like locusts have descended on her and made her life a nightmare where she may be assaulted at any point. There was a lot of disagreement to her, and not all articulated in the best possible way, but the attention she received only exacerbated the attacks as many saw her being shielded from criticism.

We all know this happens and we shrug it off. Just the corrupt media doing its TRP crazy thing. But then it starts hurting people. It already has started hurting people. The terrorist killed in the Lucknow encounter is part of an Indian jehadi group. Last year some guys from that organisation were actually arrested and interrogated. When asked about motive, many said they were motivated by the “atrocities” on Muslims in India. This is not even just after 2014. They have been radicalised for long before that.

Now I understand that there might well be genuine grievances of communities. Where the blame for the relative lack of development of Muslims is a topic that can be debated at another time, but whoever you blame, we can be agree that there is no large scale violence specifically against Muslims. At least not to the scale that requires an armed insurgency.

mohammadakhlaqwasbeatentodeathbya3684So where did these guys get these ideas? Just look at any TV host, any screaming headline. “Intolerance, Radical Nationalism, Extreme Nationalism, Attack On Minorities, Are Muslims Safe in Modi’s India?” A narrative has been created to make it seem like the state is an active party in a conflict and Hindus and Muslims are at loggerheads, fighting for survival. If you are not with one of these “secular” leaders that media has anointed, you are a rabid nationalist, communal scum. And because so many people are, evidently, in support of PM Modi and what he’s trying to do, that must mean that India is an intolerant nation that has no place for Muslims. Rajdeep Sardesai, unfortunately a prominent journalist of the nation, has crossed an even lower threshold of journalism. he recently wrote that invoking Vikaas is a communal agenda and PM asking votes on the basis of hope and development is also communal.

In this atmosphere, is it any longer a mystery why a small number of Muslim youth think India in general is their enemy? The narrative is such that even a moderate may start feeling threatened. I have seen this happen. Those who didn’t like Modi before he was elected are seeing the boogeyman of “suppression” everywhere. There is no rational reason that I can think of. I can cite statistics till i get red in the face, but we have to remember that fear is not a thought, its an emotion. So is anger.

The media understands that. The media plays on our emotion. They are now storytellers, not custodians of truth. They exacerbate our emotions of hurt, betrayal, unfairness, and aim to make us angry. They create a monster out of the few idiots who trolled a girl for singing the “wrong” devotional song. They create a monster out of the politicians that make irresponsible statements. Then they pitch these monsters against each other and watch with glee as we all divide ourselves to fight the monster we feel threatened by the most. The media sits in a corner eating its TRP popcorn, slurping their ideology soda. When this fight gets ugly, as it sometimes does, it brings out its Told You So megaphone and starts exaggerating how divided we are even more.

If you think thats sad, think how sad it is that we fall for this again and again.

Refusal to understand: Media’s slow march of decline

I have never been a fan of Trump. I was stunned when he won. Ever since I have been trying to understand why he won. Where did I go wrong. But hell, I’m a foreigner, and have only an outsider’s perspective. I’m not too hard on myself. Its not as if I thought there was no Modi wave in May ’14.
But the broad majority of “respected” journalists in India did think there was no Modi wave. And everyone in US thought Trump would surely lose. There was talk of this being historic landslide for Hillary. Obituaries of Republican party were being discussed with ill-concealed glee. Headlines of “Madam President” were ready for print. What must be happening in their heads? What kind of introspection must they be undergoing? Read a few headlines and judge for yourself. “Shock and unease as Trump rises to power”, “Anti Trump protests spread across the country”, “A time to keep fighting”, “The populist fury that may damage global prosperity”, “How Hillary handles pain”, “Not my president”, “Trump won. Here’s how to fight back”, “Trump’s win is a reminder of the incredible, unbeatable, power of racism”, “White women sold out sisterhood by voting for Trump”, “Its not melodramatic to fear for our safety after this election”, “There’s a simple reason people don’t like Hillary. She’s a woman”
No sign of introspection. Also no report of Trump victory parties, just of protests. Surely some celebration must be happening too! No reports from the point of view of trump supporters. Not even a pretense to look neutral. Just blatant opposition and disgust. Assumptions of racism, sexism, and bigotry. And then they wonder why they are losing money and why people don’t trust them. Twitter is even worse. The cries of sexism and racism ignore all reality and impartiality.
These “journalists” hardly ever see anything wrong with Clinton and Obama. I like certain things about Obama, but many of his policies have been a dosaster. Obamacare, his healthcare plan, is failing. The average healthcare premiums rose by 25% this year. But when that news came out, all the media headlines were about worrying that Republicans would take advantage of this news. No attempt to question Obama or to ask Clinton how she will fix it. Trump, frankly, has no alternative to Obamacare. he just says he will scrap it and bring something better. Media makes lots of jokes about it. But what is Hillary’s plan? Nothing. Rather its exactly the same. She says she will make it better. And she gets a pass. She also gets a pass on all the complaints about corruption. Not just because she’s a woman and they want a woman president, and not just because press has deep ties to the Clinton machine, but because its a world view they are unwilling to challenge.

Indian media is the same. Any deviation from the standard centre-left monopoly on “opinion” and “intellectualism” is always dismissed. The media remains closed to new perspectives. American media is now talking about regulating social media. Social media is taking more of a role of being a source of information for people. Media wants Facebook to control what narratives spread there. Basically preventing anything they don’t like. The people who claim to be on the side of the marginalized are the first to demonize the common people if they speak anything but official narrative.
And thats why, media folks, you are dinosaurs. Traditional media is dead. It just hasn’t fully realized it yet.