This trip to Delhi is turning out to be interesting. For that matter this whole past week has been interesting. The has been yet another flutter of panic in our oh so refined conscience about the appalling rise of BJP.
These moments come and go, I have seen. They are quite entertaining for the opportunity to make sarcastic tweets at something ugly. In terms of utility, they are pretty much meaningless, even counterproductive. Impotent outage by opponents is the true mark of victory to a cult of power.
Yeah, so a thug has found recognition. Or rather what is perceived as a new level of thug. So?
People are agitated. BJP has fooled the masses with fake news, polarising rumours and likely EVM rigging.
And this is news because...?
Can anyone honestly say that the BJP has done anything differently? All this was known. There were no indications that winningtactics would be dropped over some sudden discovery of ethics. So what is the new outrage?
Part of it is that we are unsettled by this rise. Mirza Waheed remarked on twitter "@Vidyut Three years is all it's taken. It's chilling what how much the far right has achieved."
While i think it has been much longer than three years, what I said spontaneously then is my belief.
Look at it like this. How quickly could liberals change it back if they chose to have an organized strategy to cut polarization down. https://t.co/WLKAalMUOP
And yet it is not so simple. If, as Arundhati Roy famously put it, the middle and upper classes have seceded to the stratosphere, it is also true that the intellectuals have seceded to an intellectual stratosphere. Sadly, the financial stratosphere pays the bills, while the intellectual stratosphere can only form clubs of like minded people.
And of course, the vast majority of people has access to neither stratosphere.
The challenge for the intellectual elite today, is to learn to implement the egalitarianism they allegedly believe in.
How is it that they apparently have views that are empowering and progressive and yet primitive propaganda succeeds in pitting citizens against each other in what amounts to a tribal war conducted with votes? It cannot be that the right wing has extraordinary intelligence or communication skills. So where does the thinking fail? Is it really true that people would prefer an existence of paranoia and hostility over one of secure coexistence?
That doesn't sound right. After all, the basis of civilisation itself is a need for a guarantee of secure co-existence. The Hindu rashtra, with its model of every street thug ruling his own kingdom with impunity is not sustainable even if it grew unopposed and there was consensus on wanting a religious state. Yogi Adityanath is not an accident. He is the product of impunity being a norm.
But it will be a long time before such a model fails. Too long to be of relevance to the well-being of a county. This is recognised by the intellectual elite. But not by the masses.
So what are the missing parts? Where is secular thought falling to include the people it aims to include?
I have several views on this and will be blogging further to present them over coming months.
For now, I leave you readers with this question. Why is it that the fundamental principles of shared citizenship are being discarded so rapidly in favour of moves that disenfranchise a section of the population?
Make no mistake, the rules being broken get broken for the security of all -broken is broken- even though the temptation right now is the targeting of some.
Fire Brigade withdraws clearance to Golden Chariot Restaurant at Hub Mall, Goregaon
Mumbai, 14 March, 2015: Planning to kill yourself and your family after a tasty meal? Go to Golden Chariot Restaurant. Blocked fire-exits and various other dangerous practices makes this restaurant at Goregaon's Hub Mall your best bet at achieving a fiery death. Although activists like Shaikh Fakhruddin Junaid, Sulaiman Bhimani and myself have repeatedly pointed it out to Mumbai's Municipal Corporation and Mumbai Fire Brigade, the ability of Golden Chariot to bribe the powers-that-be and also abuse judicial processes has helped it to survive. But orders passed by MCGM and Fire Brigade in 2017 suggest that Golden Chariot's goose is being slowly cooked. After the restaurant finally caught fire on 29th December, 2016 (read newspaper reports here and here), civic authorities are finding it difficult to dodge their responsibility to ensure public safety by sealing it.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner Kiran Achrekar and Deputy Chief Fire Officer V N Panigrahi have ordered the closure and sealing of Golden Chariot. Five days days after the fire, DMC Kiran Achrekar wrote in his remark to the official report, "Ask Dy.CFO to seal the premises for failure in safety measures."
The report indicates that because of the recent fire, the excuse that MCGM's previous notices and orders were subjudice at Dindoshi Court fell apart. Despite the DMC's instructions, the Deputy Chief Fire Officer dragged his feet for two months, but finally he wrote in his official recommendations on 6th March 2017, "...it seems there are discrepancies in the area, encroachment, unauthorized addition / alteration, construction of loft, etc. in the said premise... In view of the above, the NOC/requirement letter issued under no. FBL/S/106/1076 dated 01/11/2006 by this department stands cancelled."
While this is a encouraging, the fine print betrays the reluctance of MCGM and Mumbai Fire Brigade to take actually seal the restaurant. The last line of the CFO's recommendations hints that Golden Chariot may seek an escape route by contacting the MOH-P/S Ward for "fresh remarks from the fire-safety point of view after verifying the above facts". Many municipal and fire-brigade officials appear to have gotten used to getting their share of gold from Golden Chariot. So, public safety isn't exactly a priority. As the wise saying goes, "Apna kaam banta, toh bhaad mein jaye janta."
Delayed Ekta Parksville: Builder offers full refund plus 9% interest
Mumbai, 9th December 2016: Vineet Malik, a flat-buyer in Ekta Parksville aggrieved by the interminable delay in project completion and occupation certificate, received a pleasant surprise a couple of days ago. Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt Ltd sent him a letter that agreed to cancel the deal and refund the entire amount paid by him – Rs 25.24 lakhs – and additionally, interest of 9%. The total amount that Ekta World offered to pay is Rs 34.57 lakhs.
This letter was received in the wake of patient exchange of correspondence and meetings by Vineet Malik with CMD Ashok Mohanani, plus mainstream media and social media coverage (especially our blog) and also my and Sulaiman Bhimani's meeting and negotiation with the builder's men on Vineet Malik's behalf.
Ekta World's letter dated 3rd December 2016 proposed interest payment of Rs 9.32 lakhs to Vineet Malik.
At first, this seemed like an extremely generous offer, and any aggrieved buyer should be thrilled by this success! But let us examine the issue a bit more closely. After a delay of more than three years (and counting) in delivering the agreed flat in the Virar project, Ekta World is, "as a goodwill gesture" agreeing to pay back the paid amount plus 9% interest. This rate of interest is no more than what he would have had to pay for a project loan.
On the other hand, what is the penalty and interest that the buyer would have to pay Ekta World if he had slipped up in paying up his installments on time? Read this excerpt from the one-sided Registered Agreement.
The agreement states Ekta World can terminate the contract after giving the helpless buyer only seven days notice, if he slipped up in paying even one installment! Not only that, he would further forfeit 20% of the total consideration i.e. Rs 5.2 lakhs. Read this excerpt from the agreement.
Further, in case the builder chose not to terminate the contract unilaterally, the interest payable by the buyer for the delayed payment would be 24%. Read this excerpt.
So, 24% interest from buyer, 9% interest from builder. Does that sound fair? Vineet Malik doesn't think so.
Therefore, this feisty investor is turning down Ekta World's generous offer of interest of Rs 9.32 lakhs for five years. He will continue fighting for his just and equitable dues i.e. 24% interest on the refunded amount.
Hindu festivals and dilemma among the Ambedkarites.
It's a festival season. Time for celebrations, get-togethers, delicacies and wait, *rituals*. Here begins the confusion among some groups. What do they mean by rituals. When the word *rituals* gets attached to all the fun, another word must be added. Yes the rituals are indeed *Hindu rituals*. In Marathi, the same can be called *Karma kaand.*
Here the confusion begins among the Non-Hindu groups viz: Muslims, Atheists and Ambedkarite Scheduled caste groups.
These groups are often fine with the celebration and fun part of the festivals. While they even participate with extra-zeal and enthusiasm in these Hindu festivals, there has been a long-run dilemma among the Ambedkarite groups in particular about the Hindu festivals.
The educated Ambedkarites who have read Ambedkar find it very difficult to explain and convince their fellow Ambedkarite friends, relatives etc who still follow - some superficially and some in full-fledged manner- not to follow the Hindu rituals. It is indeed not that difficult to convince the fellow Ambedkarites that the giving away of the Hindu rituals is not a forced or coerced act. With an argumentative discourse, it could be easily explained to them that this giving away of the Hindu rituals or the Spiritual transformation of the Ambedkarites is not out of some hate but has a sound logic, reasoning and good conscience associated with it.
The enlightened groups among the Ambedkarites anyways don't give a damn about the Hindu festivals. But there are some not-so-aware groups who still follow the rituals of the Hindu festivals. And as a paradox they also do not deny that they are Ambedkarites.
The root of this dilemma arose when Ambedkar in 1956 along with lakhs of his followers denounced Hinduism and embraced Buddhism at Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur. The conversion was one of a kind. The peculiarity of it was that only adults above 18 were allowed to participate in the conversion ceremony. Which clearly indicates that it has to be a sanctioned act and not a forced or coercive conversion.
After the conversion, Ambedkar pledged 22 vows for all those who converted to Buddhism. Some of the 22 vows included vows like:
It is amptly clear from these three vows that the Ambedkarites shall not worship the *Hindu gods* thereon. Though the idea sounds radical, it was an obvious gesture of the group exploited for generations in the name of religion. In the name of Gods. In the name of the worshipping the Hindu gods in particular.
Chaturvarna has been a religious code sanctioned by the gods. Through various codes and mythologies, the institution of the caste system and inequality perpetuated for thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent. The inhuman Laws of Manu which treated Shudras and Women to the level of animals enjoyed the religious patronage until the implementation of Constitution lately. And all of this perpetuated in the name of worshipping gods and performing the Karma kaand.
Some Elite and learned Ambedkarites who have not read and understood Ambedkar still argue against this 'that being liberals we should not be aloof and separated from the fellow-Indians'. Therefore they still do not hesitate in celebrating the Hindu festivals.
How does not following the rituals the others follow would make a group aloof from another group? If only the group which follows these rituals is *not intolerant to boycott the people with a different view in matters of following rituals and customs*. Therefore, if the majority has mutual respect for the views of the minority, the argument of turning aloof doesn't hold true.
Some argue 'that religion and beliefs are private matters and nobody else has any right to interfere into ones personal beliefs'.
The mostly *elite* Ambedkarites or for that matter the Hindus also argue that the relation between an individual and God is a private affair and nobody has a right to intervene into ones in individual beliefs. Sure, that's a sound argument. Ambedkar has been one of the outright liberals the Indian intelligentsia has ever produced. How can Ambedkar therefore talk of interfering into an individual's personal beliefs.
When we properly examine the 3 vows mentioned above, Ambedkar is not addressing the question of Atheism or Theism. Of whether to believe in *existence of God or not*. Ambedkar clearly mentions the names of the Hindu gods (Read, Brahminical). And pledges to refrain from worshipping the Hindu Gods. Another name of worshipping Hindu gods is Karma kaand. In the name of which, these people have been exploited for generations. Therefore the question of interfering into ones person beliefs doesn't hold in this context. If it does,the spirit of it is questioning the belief of following a custom of Caste, Inequality and Male chauvinism.
Reasoning and Conscience obviously remain one of the important aspects of Ambedkar's teachings. However in context of worshipping Hindu gods through the vows, his idea and duty was to make the people aware about what is good and what is bad for them. In fact once Ambedkar also appreciated Jews for their belief in God which according him created a plus condition of mind and body which ultimately won them a war. In the context of the vows however, Ambedkar is not talking of believing in God or not. Ambedkar is talking about *whom not to believe as God*. His exhaustive works like Philosophy of Hinduism, Riddles in Hinduism and Revolution and counter revolution in Ancient and Medieval India justify quite in detail his stand.
Therefore while arguing on this matter, we must understand the difference between an Open mind and an Empty mind. In Rohith Vemula's words, Being an Open Mind and vouching for Individual freedom does not mean following an atrocious religion (at least for a large group) and the rituals attached to it. Therefore, it is only safe for these people to keep away from atleast the the Rituals/Karma kaand associated with the festivals. For the following of the rituals and Karma kaand has been the primary pretext under which these groups lost the status being humans. Being suspicious about the cause of slavery is only wise and there is no reason to observe it as some hatred.
1 October, 2016, Cuttack: Before doing business with a judge's brother, think twice. In the year 2000, Ravenshaw, a 150-year-old college, signed an MOU to start professional courses in "public private partnership" with Star Computer Institute Pvt. Ltd., belonging to BJP politician Biswajit Mohanty, son of Barrister Ranjit Mohanty, and brother of Orissa High Court's second-seniormost judge Indrajit Mahanty. In 2011, this MOU was renewed for a further three years. Upon the MOU's expiry in 2014, Ravenshaw (which was now no longer just a college but a full-fledged university) decided not to renew their MOU with Star. In the process, Ravenshaw incurred the enmity of Biswajit Mohanty's elder brother, who proceeded to give them a taste of pure hell!
Ravenshaw is a grand old institution with 8000 students and 90 faculty members, and a sanctioned strength of 153 faculty. It became a University through an enactment in 2005, and was bound by UGC's guidelines, which said, "No university whether central/state/private can offer its programme through franchise agreement even for the purpose of conducting course through distant mode." But, given the money and prestige involved, businessman Biswajit Mohanty was in no mood to leave the campus peacefully. So the matter went into arbitration, and also, in November 2014, an FIR was registered against Biswajit Mohanty because he allegedly "entered the University campus with five other persons and misbehaved with staff and students of the ITM department using the most filthy language". The police complaint said that Biswajit Mohanty threatened them, saying, "If you don't refrain yourself coming to the ITM department, I would assault you by entering into your home".
And then, in March 2015, came the judgment of the district judge to the arbitration petition filed by Star Computer Institute while the arbitrator's final order was still awaited. The judgment upheld Ravenshaw's right to terminate the MOU. The FIR and this adverse judgment against Biswajit Mohanty provoked his big brother Indrajit Mahanty, who took all the high court cases concerning Ravenshaw into his hand.
Until then, Ravenshaw's cases were heard by single benches such as Justice S.C. Parija, Justice Biswanath Rath, and Justice Sanju Panda, and many orders and judgments were favourable to Ravenshaw. Multiple writ petitions filed in 2015 against a recruitment advertisement issued by Ravenshaw, were initially posted in the single judge benches of Justice B.N Rath, Justice Dr. B.R Sarangi and Justice Dr. A K Rath, and later, all recruitment matters were brought to the court of Justice B.R Sarangi, where they remained stayed for 7 months. Then, on 9th December 2015, a division bench of Justice D P Choudhury and Indrajit Mahanty overturned the earlier judgmentsfrom 2014, quashed the recruitment, and slammed Ravenshaw on almost every count. This bench -- dominated by Justice I Mahanty who is almost a decade senior to Justice Choudhury (currently the junior most judge in Orissa High Court) – went on to initiate two suomotu civil contempt proceedings. Between March and May 2016, Justice Indrajit Mahanty passed eight orders on various cases that showed Ravenshaw who was boss!
Was Orissa's Chief Justice Vineet Saran ignorant about Justice Indrajit Mahanty's special interest in Ravenshaw University? Or did he consciously allow Justice I Mahanty to use the court system to settle scores?
Unknown to India's common man, is our judiciary generally functioning in this way? Do many of our judges have an axe to grind? Is it normal for some judges to say to each other, "I want to teach that party a lesson, so transfer that case to me"? Do they quietly manipulate and attract some cases to their own court?
The main issue is not whether Justice Indrajit Mahanty is a good guy or a bad guy. It's also not whether his judgments and orders in Ravenshaw matters are judicially correct or otherwise. The key issue is, why did Orissa High Court allow Justice Indrajit Mahanty to give judgments on Ravenshaw, where he had a vested interest?
What happened afterwards: After activist Chittaranjan Mohanty, on behalf of the 8000 students of Ravenshaw, petitioned the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justice of Orissa High Court in July 2016, all Ravenshaw-related matters were taken away from Justice Mahanty.The division bench matters were assigned to a bench headed by Justice S.C. Parija and the single bench matters were assigned to Justice Debabrata Dash who hears all service matters. A PIL is about to be filed for review of the judgment and orders of the Division Bench headed by Justice I.Mahanty in Ravenshaw recruitment matter.