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The Hadiya case has quickly turned into a war of political interests between Hindutva and Islamists. Prima facie, the issue is simple. A woman choses to convert to another religion and marry a man of her choice from that religion. Enter evil parents. The marriage is anulled. Hadiya is becomes a prisoner. Clamour grows with the Hindutva pride seeing exploitation, while the anti-Hindutva prejudice seeing nothing but a matter of choice. I don't see the issue as that simple, and for once, I agree with all parties. I definitely applaud the courage of Hadiya in sticking to her choice and taking it all the way. While I restricted myself to stating this, all was well. The problem arose when I also understand the perspective of the father as well as the courts. In my view, this is a complex issue with several factors that need considering. The high voltage drama around the issue has ensured it is largely reduced to accusations of love jihad and scoffing at the accusations with complete inability of both extreme stands to actually understand the issue beyond the lens they are habituated to.

For me, this is not a religious issue in the sense of Islam or Hinduism or whatever, but it is similar to countless instances of women (and men too) being infatuated with a belief system to the point of cutting off their previous life. It isn't a matter of choice of religion or choice of husband, but a matter of a series of choices that literally amount to abdicating her entire family, name, identity, residence, marital status and more. It is a series of extreme and life changing decisions in rapid succession. This is where the case is a cause for concern. She is literally abdicating the person she used to be in order to embrace a completely new way of life. It is clear that she is convinced about this. It is equally clear that those cheering for her are convinced that it is the right thing. But if you take off the lens of specific religions, where have we seen similar behavior?

Well, we have seen women leave their families and join the Sanatan Sanstha (a Hindu extremist organization). When their concerned parents tried legal means to get them back, the girls informed them that they had joined the Sanatan Sanstha by choice. They accused their parents of abuse. A more recent example would be when the parents of two sisters in Bombay filed a complaint against Sunil Kulkarni who ran an "organization" called Shifu Sankriti for entraping their daughters who.... found his cult and left their parental home. They accused Sunil Kulkarni of entraping their daughters, giving them drugs, sexual exploitation and what not. The daughters rubbished their claims in court and accused the parents of domestic violence. Other parents too have made similar complaints, but those who followed him have not spoken against him. Sunil Kulkarni is not Muslim, none of those accusations were proved. He was arrested anywayand is still being denied bail. The girls of the college in Dera Sacha Sauda had released videos endorsing Ram Rahim and angry with the state over his arrest. I'd post a link, but that is one sad video I wish I could unsee.

While it is tempting to see this as an issue of religious choice or prejudice against minorities or love jihad, the fact is that there are patterns to people suddenly immersing themselves in a new faith they find. And sometimes the patterns are suspicious enough to raise serious questions on whether the person is acting of their own will. This is not limited to any specific religion or cult. However, it usually happens when there is some kind of fundamentalism or cult going on. Merely being interested in and following religion does not lead to an abdication of family and loved ones, home and routine life and a complete immersion in the new lifestyle. Hadiya didn't just embrace Islam, she changed her name, her dress, her educational goals, she got involved in an Islamist organization, and she quit her family, stayed with several new acquaintances in quick succession. When legally challenged, with the assistance of her new associates, she came up with another Islamist to marry! A parent who wouldn't be alarmed by something like this is hard to find. This is not merely a change of faith or interreligious marriage. For something like this to happen, the mind is completely captivated by the promise of the new faith and completely disinterested in existing life and loved ones to the point of losing all realistic view. In that sense, the NIA is not altogether wrong when it speaks of indoctrination subverting consent. The bigger problem is that the NIA seeing it as happening only as the pet bogey of love jihad, when, in fact it happens across religions, cults, politics and even love marriages with gullible minds absorbing visions of utopia and giving up anythign that would deter from chasing that infatuation. Anything that drastically changes life while looking at limited aspects of a situation based on information promoted is suspect.

For that matter, even if an atheist were to suddenly turn hostile with family over suddenly discoverign that there is no God, it would still be a suspect state of mind during which they probably should not take life altering decisions. One of the wisest pieces of relationship advice comes from the polyamory community, to enjoy a new relationship, but to not make any life altering decisions while under the influence of NRE (New Relationship Energy). Something like this applied to matters of changes in beliefs - whether political or religious would mean to learn more, engage, enjoy more, but not burn bridges with existing life in rapid succession to rely solely on new choice for all matters - even those unrelated to it.

That said, what should be done about such subversion of free choice is anyone's guess. Many people indoctrinated continue to live what is to them a normal life. Many times indoctrination can be inadvertent rather than deliberate (happens in most homes where kids learn to think in black and white prejudice). While being indoctrinated may be unfortunate, there is no objective way to assess it and thus acting on such an evaluation always runs the risk of violating rights. Even if it is a mistake, it is that person's mistake to make, after a point. Also given how highly charged these kind of situations can be, there is great potential to both frame people as well as get away with indoctrination if it is the "right" kind of indoctrination.

But I am glad this case hit the courts. Hadiya must indeed have the right to choose her way - even if it is wrong (which in my belief it is - drowning in religion/religious politics, in my view is always suspect). But I am glad that the process kept the space open for her to pause for breath and think things through very seriously. At the end of the day, it is her life, her choice.

It would, however be useful if people who claim to endorse human rights contributed to creating a larger picture instead of abdicating all responsibility to prevent exploitation (that is what brainwashing is, fundamentally) in their eagerness to present an unambiguous and ringing endorsement of whatever the cause they are showing off. Whether minorities or women's right to choose or opposing Hindutva propaganda, or whatever. Because at the center of such situations are very vulnerable people living in a virtual reality. It may be their right to live in that reality, but well wishers watching their six wouldn't hurt.

Finally, Hadiya's father is not a Hindutva activist but an atheist. The court gave her into his custody with guard and restrictions. Nor was his case against Hadiya's husband - he really doesn't have the power to order NIA investigations. It may be worth looking at what actions are being attributed to him just because he dared question the holy cow of free choice. He can approach the courts, but the judges do have minds of their own and are not obliged to obey.

Not sure how to do this, given that this is a data free hatchet job by Manu Joseph. So it isn't like he is claiming that his absurd claims are backed by data to begin with. Still, because I'm irritated enough, doing a limited take down of yet another attempt to trivialize the gravity and causes of farmer suicides with the Parliament in session (during or just before Parliament sessions is the season for hatchet jobs on farmers - probably to improve acceptance for anti-farmer policies coming up?).

All quotes from Manu Joseph's fantasy piece on farmer suicides in the Hindustan Times.

If an active cricket ground exists, it would be watered on most days, or it would die. So why this fuss before the tournament? Also, the calls for the cancellation of matches are comical for a simple reason — it is on the days of the matches that the grounds are not heavily watered.

Frankly, I agree with Manu Joseph that there are bigger problems than cricket in the face of drought. For example, the state allocation of water prioritizing industry over domestic consumption in blatant disregard for law or rights and a court limits (not cuts off, mind you) water to breweries long after people have spent months making careers out of seeking water to survive. However, the idea that a cricket ground consumes less water when there is a match is ignorance of the highest order, because he seems to think that facilities for a crowd of spectators and worse, media and teams camping out (who in our VIP culture won't be assigned a couple of buckets a day) don't consume water and all the water in a cricketing event is actually only the water poured on a lawn.

At this point, Manu Joseph dismisses the first veteran of his piece. Sunil Gavaskar.

Sunil Gavaskar, whose relationship with the BCCI, it is reported, has collapsed and whose lucrative contract with the board may end, wrote in his column, “The issue of drought is one such where many lives are at stake.” (True). “I am no expert on ground and pitch preparation…” (True) “…

What Manu Joseph does not realize is that Manu Joseph is no expert on ground and pitch preparation either and does not bother with any disclaimers about his lack of knowledge. Probably because it would involve not writing this absurd piece to begin with. Gavaskar may not be an expert on ground and pitch preparation, but Gavaskar knows cricketing events and probably realizes they are not as water free as Manu Joseph's piece is fact free.

This is a mystifying exaggeration — the suggestion that if matches are held in three cricket grounds in Maharahstra the lives of farmers would be at risk. But it is a popular view.

Absolutely no explanation for why Manu Joseph calls this an exaggeration. No mention of available water that people are ignoring and dying as a hobby. No mention of how much difference in water consumption there would actually be and what constitutes exaggerated. Absolutely no evidence anywhere that Manu Joseph has been to drought hit areas, studied so much as what drought means to reach his expert opinion. Manu Joseph has water in his tap and people are making too much of a fuss. And we actually have newspapers giving space to this entitled garbage. An interesting question of how editorial decisions happen in corporate media. Forget the stand taken by an article, but do newspapers no longer require claims to be backed by evidence?

It is not a popular view, BTW. Most people hate it. 60 kilometers from the heart of Bombay, I get half an hour of water - non-potable - a day. I earn enough to make ends meet and have the luxury  of home delivery for drinking water. Men, women, kids from our oh-so-posh looking society are routinely found at a water filtration gig round the corner, filling 10 liter cans for 3 rupees and ferrying the water home. I am nowhere near the officially drought hit regions of Maharashtra, where taps have run dry right after the monsoon and people have been ferrying water for MONTHS already. Perhaps Manu Joseph would like to ferry water for a week in an air conditioned car before calling these concerns exaggerated or merely popular opinion (as opposed to his fact free expert opinion, I suppose).

Perhaps the fact that many of the deaths from drought are from drowning may prove Manu Joseph's point that there is plenty of water and people are making a fuss? There are kids drowning in the silt in water reservoirs. Falling into wells. Kids who aren't in school to begin with, because they are needed to find and bring water home, right along with the adults. How many of these kids will need to search harder, walk farther? How many adults will die of heat stroke and heart attacks as the search for water makes them wander more in temperatures regularly over 40 degrees? There is already risk of water riots as desperation grows. How many of the quests for water will be made longer with tankers supplying water to desperate localities moved to lucrative providing for cricketing events? [link added because hours after I write this, an expose shows how water for the distressed gets sold to whoever can pay for it]

There is much veneration of farmers in India by those who are not farmers. These are the very people whose greatest fortune was that their grandfathers or fathers ejected their progeny from the agrarian economy.

There is also much dismissal of the plight of farmers in India by those who are not farmers. These are the very people whose greatest fortune is to be so comfortable in life as to see no difference in resources spent on entertainment and food. A lot of these overnight experts are those who find their agricultural know-how based on specific facts and arguments cherry picked and promoted by industries who would prefer to marginalize farmers. Who lack any basic knowledge on the subject to know when they are being fed handpicked bullshit or how they can verify it. Whose world view is so limited to their personal experience that they have little but contempt for anyone wanting attention or sacrifices or even inconvenience for problems that they don't face.

[Ignoring the exhibition of incompetence on diet except for one line, because it will derail the main track of this piece here. If you are interested, comment away and I'll do a separate piece on this other glorious piece of logic.]

The human body does not require rice and wheat. In fact it does very well without grain.

I challenge Manu Joseph to provide details of one meal that someone under our poverty line could afford that does not involve grains or meat (asked to give up just before this quote). Because dear friend, if rural India could afford a diet of nuts, they wouldn't be desperately running after water tankers, they'd order home delivery like you and me. And if you think people can survive without grains or meat or nuts - wait.... lemme guess. you're talking of a desk jockey lifestyle like yours without much need for energy? Cabbage your way out of that paunch? BTW, vegetable growing needs more water 🙁 Ask me. I have 3 balcony gardens for food and watering in summer is a pain. The grasses grow much easier than these lush beauties (I assume you know grains grow on grasses).

There is more, but I'm bored now. Ending with this masterpiece of propaganda (the art of repeating a falsehood till it starts sounding true)

Let me repeat an assertion this column made earlier while arguing that farmer suicides are primarily a depression story where poverty only plays a role:

“In a country where most people can be termed ‘farmers’, it is not anomalous that most people who kill themselves would be ‘farmers’. In fact, what is anomalous is that a huge majority of farmers who commit suicide are male. If both official and activist statistics are considered, it would appear that women in impoverished farming communities are among the least likely Indians to commit suicide. Activists who ascribe social, economic and political reasons for suicides would never be able to explain why.’ In most nations of the world, including India, the number of men who commit suicide is several times more than the number of women. this pattern is reflected in the gender ratio of ‘farmer suicides’.

Not just activists, any sane person can't get this logic. That depression is the cause of suicide, but not loans or policies and political maliciousness. I mean, why would you be depressed if your months of physical labour resulted in loss? Why would you be depressed if you couldn't repay loans? Why would you want policies to cover your risks? This logic can only come from someone living in a "normal" where hardwork is not necessary to survive, a good way of dealing with loans you don't repay is pulling strings to get them restructured and bailouts are necessary to save jobs, so not like you want any favors.

No matter how many times you repeat it, fact is, most people in India are not farmers. This bogus statistic is based on some expert claim made by another columnist on economics who found his agricultural gene just before a Parliamentary session with a GM food decision coming up and has been copied by every overnight agricultural columnist whose sole agricultural writings come when policy decisions are up for grabs and have never spoken to the family of a farmer who committed suicide or, for that matter, laid feet on agricultural soil for their journalism. Not seen a single person who actually has knowledge of the subject ever buy this nonsense.

The reason for that is that the IDIOT interpreted 54% of Indian population being sustained by the agricultural SECTOR (this includes everything from distributors of pesticides to tractor mechanics and wholesalers of grain) as farmers. Whereas, the fact is that the farmer suicide problem is largely between small and marginalized farmers, whom we are losing rapidly, even as the number of suicides increases in a shrinking population. But this bogus argument remains popular among subsequent idiots who don't verify the bullshit they are fed with when they have propaganda to peddle. You are not the first, and you will not be the last. The activist types don't give a fuck, but bogus data pisses me off, so I suppose I must call this out every time I see it.

Disclosure: Not commenting on the comment about P. Sainath because conflict of interest. I am happy to share that since yesterday, I am on the payroll of the People's Archive of Rural India founded by Sainath, which sadly now will seem like I am defending him in situations like these, when it would just be objecting to rubbish before.

Note: I normally reference and provide data for my posts, but I believe a fact free article at least requires a rebuttal where you have to do the hard work yourself to verify things I say and discover a hundred more horrors I didn't say.

2

It is the day for cute messages and wearing your patriotism on the sleeve. It is a day that has increasingly lost meaning for me. We got independence from the British Raj. That was 68 years ago. Are we free?

What does independence mean? Was really racist enough to think that we needed the white skins out? I don't think so. Many freedom fighters too enaged with the world beyond India, got educated in the west. Indeed most of those we bother to remember as leaders of our freedom struggle were. They have continued the thought, the methods, the dysfunctional laws to keep the natives in line.

But if you take a moment to think about it, was this why the Indian masses fought for freedom? Poor starving masses have no ideology. They resist oppression. Their ideology is survival. Their ideology is their right to thrive. Many places had every home throwing up a satyagrahi or a rebel. They did not do this because of inspiring ideologies. They did this because they could not thrive under the British. They did not like being second class citizens, they did not like their wealth being stolen, their grains feeding far off wars while they died in famines. They fought against the British because the British WRONGED them. At the top, those with fancy ideologies, who were rarely poor enough to worry about whether they could survive formed grand theories about how they were the rightful custodians of India. But the Indian masses supported them for the hope to an end of their , not fancy ideologies or even democracy.

These people are still struggling. They are still being evicted from their homes and roots in the name of development that happens elsewhere. They are still providing cheap food so that the subjects of the Raj don't revolt, even as they the drought with their sweat and blood. They are still demanding their rights. they aren't revolting because they don't know how. There are no elite with their ideologies to tell them how to fight this time, because the elite are busy squabbling over the loot from the last time. Besides, there is a danger in reminding the masses that they didn't fight for freedom because the colonists were British - many invaders have ruled India without uprisings. There is a danger in reminding that they fought the British because they were harmed and humiliated. Because they still are.

The danger in reminding people of this is because very little has changed for those who gave uprisings their power. Their living conditions have very little change. Most freedom fighter stories - it is the season now, check them out - still describe the freedom fighters living in poverty, forgotten. These stories talk of India's lack of gratitude for their contribution. But these stories also stand witness that the conditions that led those people to revolt for their freedom still exist. In effect, they achieved nothing for their own realities.

The that made a career out of hyperbolic patriotism as idolizing soldiers evicted protesting soldiers on the day before Independence Day celebrations. The 68th "Independence Day" and soldiers can't even ask for their rights without being attacked by the state. What were they asking for? Their basic rights. One rank, one pension. . An old age without needing to beg from those they put their lives on the line to defend. The country is dotted with struggles. I doubt if there is a single district in all of India without some struggle still going on. Whether it is desperate slum dwellers fighting for their homes, or farmers fighting for something as pitiful as allowing them the income for survival so that they continue to subsidize the food for this colony. A government that is asking people to give up their LPG subsidies never thinks of asking people who can afford it at least to pay the actual cost of what it takes to grow food and profit from it. We hide the harm to farmers, sneer at any effort to make their lives easier as "handouts", while filling our bellies with the handouts from farmers.

Aren't celebrations a bit premature?

India is STILL bleeding money, draining most of the country for the prosperity of a few. Is it even freedom if criticizing the government means being declared a supporter of India's enemies and jeered at and being asked to leave the country? "Go to Pakistan!" Why? Because this is the country of your colonists. Not yours for you to stay here, right?

We have a  poverty line that is so absurd, it is more like a miracle line - incredible people who can survive on nothing. And we still have about a fourth of us living UNDER it. MAGIC. Perhaps we can earn TRPs if we turn it into a TV series. Oh wait they usually don't survive. They exist starving till something they can't afford to cure takes them down. There is a government hell bent on emptying vast swathes of India for the profit making industries with little regard for the people or the forests. We are now redefining things so that they don't sound so terrible. We tweak statistics to make them sound less terrible. We call the cutting down of age old forests as reforestation because surely, someone plants a few saplings somewhere.... Forest dwellers are now the homeless. Massive displacements "compensate" the development hit masses for the loss of their livelihood, their homes, their sustainable communities that were their support structures and nurtured the environment, their sources of food... with pigeon hole housing - because hey, if we give them a home, we just shifted them for progress and didn't really harm them. Right?

Celebrating 68 70 years of complacency over colonization this IndependenceDay

The drought saw young daughters studied till the 12th class come to Bombay to work as prostitutes and send money home instead of dreaming weddings their families can't afford. Parents gave daughters to bride traffickers to feed the remaining family even as trafficked brides get shared among brothers, discarded if the husband dies or no longer wants her. Parents marrying daughters off with just one consideration - that the boy's home is in a place where there is water. There are men marrying water wives to fetch water for their real families. While resorts boast of swimming pools and cities suck up water from hundreds of kilometers away while people nearby die of heatstroke chasing the scarce water tankers. We saw those accused in the irrigation scam give themselves a clean chit while others condemned them. Not one voice spoke of the need to make reparations to those development-hit people denied water for 10 years.

Today is the deadline for providing feedback on Net Neutrality. The government and internet providers are deperately looking for ways to make massive profit from an unequal internet by finding ways to call it equal. The previous feedback seems to have gone into some blackhole and there is a new, short deadline for providing new feedback if you are still planning to persist on fighting for your internet. Poetically, your chance to have a say ends on independence day. Oh and the government has formally declared in court that you don't have a right to privacy, even as your information torrents into big data for someone's profit. With the government's blessings.

The British jailed journalists and editors who wrote to oppose them. Our government has sent notices to on how they were reported. Crimes against inconvenient natives go unpunished. We are actually diluting the laws for whistleblowers making it illegal to expose wrongdoings that the government doesn't allow you to. Propaganda continues to convince the people that the rulers are their best interest, just like the old days.

Does it sound like these people are independent yet? Can a country with most of its people living hand to mouth - if at all - even call itself free? Can a country that denies dignity and income to those who feed it, serve it, protect it be called free? Can a government that silences people critical of it be called a government of the people? General Dyer merely ordered the firing at Jalianwala Baug. The soldiers were Indian. As Indian as our agencies inventing crimes against people who are opposing wrongs by our colonists against the natives.

Picture abhi baaki hain dost, the freedom struggle is not yet over!

Is this independence? Are Indian people really rulers of their country? I don't think so. Independence day is just a PR game for me. The elites telling people they have something precious, even when people cannot experience it. The freedom struggle is not over yet. The so called Independence Day merely marks a change in colonizers. The freedom struggle is still on, invisible, modest but determined all over India where people are STILL fighting an unjust state that is trampling all over their right to thrive on their land.

Old post. Still valid, so no need to write a new one.

11

Yakub Memon is the brother of Tiger Memon and provided him and Dawood Ibrahim financial assistance in the planning of the Mumbai train blasts of 1993. After the blasts, Dawood Ibrahim and the Memon family escaped to Pakistan, where they lived under the protection of the ISI.

To make a long story short, anecdotal accounts reveal that the family did not approve of Tiger Memon's terrorist act and wished to return to India and Yakub consulted with a cousin from Bombay with regard to surrendering to justice in India. He had traveled to Kathmandu with documents, video and audio tapes that incriminated Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon. While specific details in the interim are not clear, what is known is that Yakub Memon came to the attention of Nepal police and surrendered and was brought to India by road and flown to Delhi and formally arrested.

After he was arrested, he provided crucial evidence regarding the terrorist conspiracy to Indian agencies that helped, for the first time in conclusively establishing the role of Pakistan's ISI in terrorist attacks in India. He also arranged for his family to travel from Pakistan to Dubai and surrender to Indian authorities and be brought to India.

In essence, Yakub Memon had a peripheral role in the attacks and provided assistance to the investigation that helped establish the real culprits conclusively. While the nature of his agreement with the Indian agencies is unclear, an article by B. Raman, who headed the Pakistan desk of the Research and Analysis Wing of India when Memon was arrested is categorical that his actions and assistance constituted mitigating circumstances and that the prosecution should not have asked for a death penalty.

An article in the Times of India, after his sentencing in 2007 described that the family returned to India after discovering the magnitude of the damage from the attack and to make themselves available for questioning. The understanding was that the women would not be arrested, but only questioned, while the men would be arrested, but assisted to get bail. The family was not involved in Tiger Memon's underworld activities.

According to the Quint, which quotes Shyam Keswani on ABPLive, the Indian government reneged on the deal, rendering the CBI helpless with regard to their agreement with Yakub. "A senior investigating officer of the CBI called us for a meeting in one of the bungalows opposite the Secretariat....The CBI officer told me to file a bail plea and that the CBI would not oppose it. The reason for this, he said, was that Memon had helped the agency unravel things it would not have been able to in 30-35 years...The next day I filed a bail application, but the CBI opposed it tooth and nail. Later I met the same CBI officer and asked him why were you joking with me? He apologised and told me the Government of India has changed its stand... He was betrayed by the Government of India."

And the rest is history.

To the bloodthirsty fanatic supporters of the government, a hanged Muslim terrorist is good news, and anyone questioning that is defending terrorists and against national interest, and so on. The usual tape.

However, in my view, there are several serious reasons Yakub Memon should not be hanged.

What was his role in the actual attacks?

His involvement does not appear to have extended to the actual attacks at all. A chartered accountant helping his brother with finances - which are used in a terrorist attack - does not exactly scream of knowingly carrying out terrorist attacks. A death penalty seems disproportionate for his known "crime".

What is the value of the word of the Indian government?

While the exact nature of the deal with Yakub Memon is unknown, logic would tell us that he would not hae requested for the death sentence for himself and life sentences for his family as a condition of surrender. The government prosecuted him with proofs he willingly provided to bring the real perpetrators to book. We seem to have taken the easiest route to having someone to hang rather than following through on our word as well as pursuing the real culprits. It is whatever deal he made that brought the rest of the family to India. The documentary proof he provided allowed India to make a strong case against the real perpetrators - of this there is no doubt - Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim. India not upholding its part of the deal stinks of dishonesty.

Whose interests are served?

Yakub Memon and his family frustrated the ISI and returned to India and their actions here helped India. Hanging Yakub Memon almost sounds like India serving the ISI by punishing them for betraying Pakistan.

Yakub Memon was advised by his cousin as well as Tiger Memon to not return to India. His hanging for doing exactly that proves that Tiger Memon was right and that the government couldn't care less about guilt or innocence if they have a hanging to show people for a crime.

What is lost with Yakub Memon?

Given the rabid nationalism going high decibel about terrorists, I'm not going to make humanitarian arguments about the death penalty or indeed the terrorist's interest at all. No use. We are beyond that. Life does not matter here if there is a good excuse, and there are a thousand excuses for taking the life of a terrorist.

Given how little regard we have for the country's laws or honor, it seems pointless to expect the word of the country to mean anything when a convenient hanging is in sight. After all, we specialize in saying whatever is convenient and doing whatever is convenient - independently of each other.

Given how little respect we have for anyone pleading to save lives, let us ignore the petition by eminent jurists, politicians and more.

However, what will even give nationalists pause is the question whether we have given up on bringing Tiger Memon or Dawood Ibrahim back? Or is hanging a peripheral accused already in the hands of the Indian government and letting go of the kingpins a part of some bizarre track two? Are we seriously saying that we would not need Yakub Memon to nail Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim to the wall if we succeeded in capturing them? Or is this a quiet admission that we aren't going to get them and we might as well hang someone?

Are we saying that hanging Yakub Memon is in our interest while the main perpetrators are at large? Is his testimony or further information not of any importance in the event we can negotiate an extradition or to bring about international pressure for such an extradition?

All that hanging Yakub Memon proves is that the Indian government cannot be trusted to uphold their part of deals with approvers for intelligence on crimes. It serves terrorist interests by deterring any affiliate who has intel from taking it to the authorities. If they fail to grab the real culprits even with information you provide, you'll be hanged in the place of the culprits.

It is really troubling that the prosecution and courts have chosen to think like an average rioter on the street. One Memon masterminded the blasts and is out of reach, crucify his family!

And for what? The real culprits still roam free in Pakistan. Yakub Memon never bombed anyone. You are no safer with him dead or alive. All we are doing is getting rid of a key witness - legally, this time, advertizing that India cannot be trusted to make deals for intel in an extremely high profile manner and achieving little more than a dead body that would otherwise live in prison for life.

The ISI should probably send a thank you card to the Indian idiots.

1

This interview transcript went missing from the NDTV site without explanation, so here it is.

Here is the full transcript of NDTV's interview with Former Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi.

NDTV: What prompted the government to accept your resignation with such haste?

Admiral DK Joshi: On the speed of its acceptance I really have no comments. In my letter I had requested that it would be with immediate affect. I said it should be done immediately. No issue with that but that it was accepted in a couple of hours amused me that there was such haste to pin it on someone.

NDTV: That it was accepted within 10 minutes I am told

Admiral Joshi: It took a couple of hours, certainly not 10 minutes but fairly quickly

NDTV: That was Mr Antony's reaction

Admiral Joshi: There was I think surprise. Nothing more.

NDTV: Normally one would think that such a resignation would be taken to the Cabinet Committee on Security, at least to the Cabinet or to the Prime Minister. Do you think that happened?

Admiral Joshi: Well I wouldn't comment on the process that may or may not have been followed, but that it took just a couple of hours should perhaps provide an indication of the route it took.

NDTV: But was it done to get rid of the problem and not let the problem get beyond you to the Minister and to the MoD?

Admiral Joshi: it would appear that the haste with which it was accepted perhaps there might have been consideration that what happens if this fellow changed his mind?

NDTV: But what really pushed you into resigning?

Admiral Joshi: The root cause is this dysfunctional and inefficient business model that we have, wherein professional competence, domain expertise, accountability, responsibility and authority, these all reside in separate silos in different locations. While professional competence, accountability, responsibility is with the service that is not the case with authority. And by authority I really mean the power to approve something, empowerment to approve something or the other. For example, change of submarine batteries, which are available indigenously or for commencing refits and repairs of ships, aircraft, submarines in Indian yards, the service does not have that empowerment. That's a broad construct as a background. Where there is authority there is no accountability. And where there is responsibility there is no authority.

You don't have to accept this coming from me. For more than a decade now recognising fully that higher management of defence needs reforms, several expert committees have been formed. Virtually all their recommendations have been identical, but vested interests have ensured that the more substantive ones, which bring authority and accountability together, have not been approved. Some peripheral ones have been progressed but nothing substantive.

You will be, for example, told listen we have created HQ IDS. But it's a headless wonder, its head was never appointed. I have been CISC, CINCAN tenure. I know it very well. Then they will tell you how the service HQs have been named as Integrated HQs, Ministry of Defence, but as the then Defence Secretary told the Standing Committee on Defence, the changes were mostly cosmetic as indeed they are.

NDTV: When you say vested interests, who do you mean? Let's get it out

Admiral Joshi: Vested interests, to you and your perceptive listeners are very clear. These are the ones who wield the authority without accountability. With that as a backdrop in my letter, I had said I am accepting the moral responsibility for the dent caused to the professional image of the navy on account of a few accidents and incidents. Image is the key or the operative word here. Many things go into making or demolishing of the image. Chief among them is the professional conduct of the service. There is no denying the fact there were issues there. But correctives were put in place. But apart from that there were many factors external to the service, which were entirely beyond my control. For example, the support extended to the service and by support I do not mean charity or favours being done. Was your proposal for replacement of submarine batteries being approved in time? Were your ships offloading done in time? Was the ordinance for armaments being purchased in time? And the answer to all of them is known. And all these have an effect on image and morale of the service. Now submarine batteries, changing of the batteries is not a minor issue like two guys lift a car battery and start off the car. It requires crane effort, degutting of a submarine, often shifting them from one coast to the other. What also has to be seen is the impact on submarine arm for instance. Having been told you are an elite arm, run deep and run silent, we can't even provide them with replacement batteries in time. A more untenable and ridiculous example cannot be given. Or we can't give refits to ships in our own shipyards in time. This is the support I am talking about.

Another dimension of this support is when things go wrong and occasionally they will, in any high technology enterprise things will go wrong occasionally, does the establishment support you or does it rush to make 'frittering away of national resources' kind of statements? Again it impacts the image. Also the power of the media; the power of the media to make or mar the image is unquestionable. Within that what I wish to illustrate is that may be two or three relatively junior and reporters are able to drown out the voice of reason of the rest of the mainstream, national media entirely, because of our tendency to believe what is sensational, and not what is well-reasoned and mature reporting.

For example there was one TV reporter. When the Sindhurakshak tragedy, where every channel was showing the submarine on fire, it was a national tragedy really. But the fate of those trapped inside was not known. This reporter is standing on top of Raisina Hill and telecasting a news that we are told that the Navy Chief is headed to Bombay, but we do not know if he will visit the site of the accident, because when the Uttaranchal, not Uttarakhand, tragedy happened the Navy Chief did not go there, although he is a native from that place

NDTV: That's a personal attack

Admiral Joshi: Apart from being a personal attack it brings out the level of education and maturity of this reporter. Does he feel Navy Chief is headed to Bombay to join Bollywood or trade shares in Bombay Stock Exchange?

NDTV: That's an unfortunate part of the media.

Admiral Joshi: Precisely. And for a so-called defence correspondent he does not even know the names of our border states. And what he perhaps was implying is that service chiefs should intervene in natural disasters if they are natives of that state.

Then there were these two newspapers. One of course was the one which had invented the coup theory, and this reporter was darling of the foreign vendors, and to show his importance he would author articles like the reporter is in country abc at the invitation of xyz. Then there was another paper which had a banner headline 'VikramAditya is unable to refuel from tanker at sea. The ship is incapable of navigating at high seas at 56 km an hour'. Any kindergarten kid will tell you we don't measure distances for ships in nautical miles and knots. That is the level of knowledge and professional grasp of this reporter. It was a blatant lie.

Here were Chiefs of foreign navies calling me and congratulating me, 'what an achievement. You had taken over the ship in Arctic conditions in the month of December-January, and without any prior work up it refuelled several times with our tanker and touched Karwar, the first port it entered. It was widely reported by the media a week earlier than this headline. So a blatant lie; so a point I am bringing out is that largely ignorant, relatively junior reporters are able to drown out the reports of mature reporters.

NDTV: But going beyond those headlines, were the Ministers and those in the authority also guilty of believing those reports, rather than asking you what exactly was happening?

Admiral Joshi: Well when you issue statements like frittering away national resources I think its a very damning indictment of a service. To begin with frittering away sort of implies willful waste, and when related to an armed force it is tantamount to treachery.

Now the sensible media at that point in time had erupted and said this is a most unfortunate and unwarranted statement and rather than rendering support to the service, I remember the phrase used that time was 'clearing the yard arm should not have been done, it was being attacked. But that voice was drowned out. This trio ad nauseam getting onto the hourly chant of Navy frittering away national resources, accidents in 4 days, 5 accidents in 6 days, was able to cloud the minds of even learned people to such an extent that when this 56 km an hour headline appeared, one of the Cabinet Ministers rang me and said Chief, what is this that I read about trouble with Vikramaditya? I had to tell him if we had to believe this report, then the ship has sailed on love and fresh air, because the indisputable fact remains. The ship had not entered any port and the ship had refuelled several times! But that is the power of negative reporting, particularly when they are fed constantly.

NDTV: So was it an inside job, a sort of soft coup from within? Were you forced into a corner?

Admiral Joshi: I don't think there was nothing internal from the service. But that feeds were being given is indisputable. We know who was constantly feeding this so that should something go wrong, the service is the villain. Knights are knights in shining armour. There was a job of a particular agent of the establishment to continuously feed this news. But of course that is not the reason why I put in my papers. Like I said, I took responsibility only for the in service aspects, but they were circumscribed by the events that I described.

NDTV: But I want clarification from you. Does the gap, the cleavage between MOD and service HQ remain as wide as we know or perceive it to be?

Admiral Joshi: You have already said it. And all your perceptive viewers know that

NDTV: So what would you want on defence reforms?

Admiral Joshi: Nothing. You don't have to go by my stand. You dust these reports and implement their recommendations. They prescribe to you what needs to be done to bring authority and accountability together, wherever it has to reside.

NDTV: Let's look at a larger question. A Chief's resignation is not a matter to be sneezed at. Was it an emotional decision to go out mid way?

Admiral Joshi: Sentiments and emotions were certainly involved, but it was driven purely by practical consideration and realisation of on ground situation.

NDTV: Was it frustration at the functioning? Was it building up?

Admiral Joshi: It was building up for a long long time. One had been watching the way the cookie crumbles and that is long before one becomes the Chief.

NDTV: Where do we go from here? People have said you brought it upon yourself by being harsh on your juniors, and then had no choice but to quit when things became worse.

Admiral Joshi: Was there pressure on me on account of actions taken against erring subordinates? No. The actions were taken only in respect of serious professional lapses, and that by itself did not put me under any pressure. But again, limiting myself to in service, I have always believed that beyond a point moral responsibility has to travel upwards. And this is what I told my Flag Officers, that while I relived many officers at some point in time the Captain of a good ship navy has to leave.

NDTV: I again come back to the same question. What next? Where do we go from here? How should the reforms come?

Admiral Joshi: Hard decisions need to be taken.

NDTV: Are you in favour of more tri-service jointmanship?

Admiral Joshi: Of course

NDTV: I still have to get that answer. When you took the decision, looking back could you have done it differently?

Admiral Joshi: No I would not have. The operating environment was dysfunctional and I felt being a service chief is not just about preening about on national TV, take a salute on Republic Day. People tell you oh you looked so smart in your uniform. In actual fact you are unable to get a set of batteries for your submarines and to my mind that was a completely untenable situation for continuation as a Chief, it had been building up.

NDTV: Did the Defence Minister ever ask you relevant questions? Are our politicians capable of understanding defence issues?

Admiral Joshi: I know where you getting at, but those who know me will tell you that I am not a sort of person who will take the complaint only once to the higher authority and keep quiet about it.
End interview

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