BUJ condemns HT Media's decision to shut down 6 editions
The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) strongly condemns the illegal decision of HT Media Ltd to shut down six editions of Hindustan Times (HT) at Bhopal, Indore, Ranchi, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi with effect from 09 January 2017.
The closing down of six editions at one go is an unprecedented event in the history of Indian print media and has clearly been done to circumvent the implementation of the Majithia Wage Board Award which was upheld by the Supreme Court by its judgment dated 07 February 2014.
Apart from closing down six editions, HT Media Ltd is also illegally "pruning" staff in various departments as well as in The Mint, a sister publication from the Group and has shut down the business bureaus in Mumbai and Delhi, besides the bureau in Kolkata. Hundreds of journalists are likely to lose their jobs as a consequence of these malicious and illegal decisions.
HT Media Ltd, a BSE listed entity, with a yearly turnover of over Rs 2000 crore has not implemented the Award in any of its units and has forced employees to submit undertakings under Clause 20(j) of the Award to renounce the benefits under it.
The Company has also failed to implement Clause 9(b) of the Award which entitles even those working on contract basis to receive Variable Pay at the rate of 30 per cent of basic scale.
Section 16-A of The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955) expressly prohibits a newspaper establishment from dismissing, discharging or retrenching any newspaper employee by reason of its liability for payment of wages under the Award.
Further, the Hon'ble Supreme Court is currently hearing a bunch of Contempt petitions filed against various newspaper establish managements and was all set to hear arguments on several legal issues including an interpretation of Clause 20 (j) of the Award.
It is astonishing that a hugely profitable company like HT Media Ltd (whose third quarter of Calendar 2016 earnings stood at Rs 602.23 crore) has chosen to illegally close down six editions of Hindustan Times and sack several other journalists working in various bureaus rather than implement the Majithia Wage Board Award.
Furthermore, the Company's official website has projected a total revenue of Rs 662.40 crore, in Q1FY2017, which constitutes an increase of 7.5 per cent over the corresponding quarter of the previous year. It also maintains a strong balance sheet position with a net cash of Rs 823.40 crore.
The BUJ demands that the management of HT Media Ltd should immediately revoke its decisions to shut down six editions and sack journalists in various bureaus, failing which it will draw the attention of the Honorable Supreme Court to these developments in the hearing slated for 10 January 2017.
The RBI has given approval for a non-banking finance company (NBFC) by Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation called Cheraman Financial Services Limited (CFSL) . The organization will be Sharia compliant and I think this is a very bad idea in India.
I am a believer of democracy and a separation of state and religion. Religion in India has become a huge problem with political mobs routinely holding the state hostage toward their ends. Time and again, national interest is subjugated to the security concern of angry mobs and time and again, the state has bowed its head.
This, in effect abandons the interest of the common man in favor of criminal elements in a macabre compromise, where law and order becomes secondary to preventing harm. Be it the Bajrang Dal vandalizing an art exhibition by Pakistani artists or Muslim mobs stoning an embassy over a film made on another continent. Criminals rarely meet justice and the interest of people across religions gets subjugated to the most vulgar interpretation of religious interest.
In effect, the condition boils down to religion getting respect strictly based on its nuisance value.
In such a state of the country, my belief is that attaching religious connotations to a bank is very dangerous. The RBI must have the power to dictate operations of banks as needed. I do not see this as possible from a security perspective if the RBI tries to impose anything Muslim fanatics dislike. The entire discussion will be brought down to the question of RBI contradicting the Quran and a nice topic for Muslims worldwide to band over. And at that point, cancelling permissions for Islamic banking too will be interpreted as an attack on Muslim rights or something.
Then the right wing will be bringing up issues over who gets employed or who benefits from the loans, and so on.
Perhaps this may never happen. Perhaps it will happen soon. In my view, there is no need to bring religion into banking.
If there is merit in a method of banking that is interest free or with the qualities of Islamic banking, they should be adopted by a newly created banking system that officially does not recognize any religious text or system. Even if the guiding principles of Islamic banking are copied exactly, they must not be called Sharia compliant or Islamic banking. Official documents must only recognize the RBI bank as the authority over its operations. Period. The official history of the bank can mention Islamic banking as an inspiration, but no religion should have the authority to claim power over the working of a bank. Period.
This is not about hating Muslims. I know for a fact that most Muslims are embarrassed and terrified of angering the fanatics among them.
I don't care how many countries Islamic banking works in. I know my government has continually proved ineffective when religion tramples law.
This is simply about loving my country enough to insist that there must not be any threat created to its authority over organizations within it.
There is little point writing beyond this. Muslims protest. Whatever it is, they protest. Protests turn violent. People condemn. Then it is an insult of Islam. This rubbish cycle continues forever...
Today, when news hit that a Berlin court has allowed a rightwing extremist organization to use cartoons of Mohammed during their protest; I remembered the Danish cartoon controversy. At that time, Orkut was the social network of choice. A Danish newspaper had published a series of cartoons of Islamic prophet Mohammed, much to the delight of atheists and the many people irritated with touchy Muslims.
Predictably, very predictably, Muslims were furious. Protests happened worldwide. Bombs, death threats, the works. Yet, they resulted in increased hate for Islam and more ridicule. Communities like "Quran is not from God" flourished. Indian, Pakistani and other atheists in countries with restricted freedoms took to fake profiles to vent their fury, many from countries with freedom of speech posted from their real profiles. Me having neither luxury remained content to read.
It was quite apparent that the more the protests raged, the more insane Muslims looked.
But you know what the irony of this was? The people who took the protests far and wide were Muslims themselves. Two Muslim Imams who had got asylum in Denmark had compiled the cartoons. For good measure, they added cartoons from another newspaper, which were making fun of the first newspaper's campaign and not Mohammed at all.
They added three cartoons to their dossier that had not been published anywhere. At all. One was a picture of a man at a pig squealing contest in France. A general photo available on the Internet. They added it to their dossier with a caption saying that he was Mohammed, thus committing blasphemy themselves, but Muslims ignored that when it got exposed, as they were highlighting the sins of the original cartoons. Many made excuses that the photos may have been published somewhere. Or may have been mailed as forwards.
Atheists in one of the community ran a challenge asking anyone to prove that the photos were published anywhere before the dossier by the Imams or to prove that such a forward existed. To my knowledge, no one did. Bombs, death threats, mayhem followed. The newspaper was forced to apologize in the interests of humanity and their own safety, though their law did not require them to.
Similar protests happened when a crazy pastor in the US threatened to burn a Quran and eventually did burn it. Protests and condemnation followed worldwide with attacks on Americans (which, to many meant any white people). A brutal massacre followed in Afghanistan.
Some photo of a pig at/on Mecca (I never did find out) resulted in muslims in Thane or Mulund rioting. Of course, an image search can still find lots of blasphemous images. It is impossible to wipe them off the Internet. So any time you want to get Muslims acting insane, all you have to do is Google and tweet a link.
It became further ridiculous when ridicule of Islam for being a violent religion was protested by huge processions of Muslims, and someone with a sharp eye caught posters saying "Kill those who say Islam is violent" and "Kill those who say Islam is intolerant".
It would be hilarious, but is tragic that all you have to do is create a fake profile; upload an insulting image and watch Muslims destroy their lives as well as those of others. Because make no mistake, apart from lawless wastelands of the world, every single place, Muslims got into trouble with the law over vandalism, rioting, murder, attempt to murder and what not. This is the part everyone forgets, or it would end. The swathes of destruction and dead people stood indisputable proof of the violence of Islam. In protesting a condemnation of Islam, Muslims set about proving it right.
Countless Muslims got police records over these that would forever be a mark on their records, damaging future jobs, visas, passports, education and more. They would forever be on the radars of US organizations. And US security is Obsessive Compulsive. Then, when they travel, if there is increased security for Muslims, that is seen as insulting too.
The real story here is the fiction peddled by religious leaders that every injustice against every single Muslim needs Muslims everywhere to be outraged. If under normal circumstances people break, vandalize, threaten, indulge in hate speech, they are thugs. If they do it for religion, they are people who are hurt. Historic wrongs must be remembered, and hopefully reversed. Any wrong against a Muslim is intentional. Non-Muslims violating Muslim norms are a greater outrage than Muslims. Non-Muslims killing Muslims are a greater outrage than Muslims.
Thus, if you have someone who preaches the Muslim need to protest, he is in business all year. And I do mean business, because the main purpose of these protests works out as shows of power as well as making people feel scared enough of non-Muslims that they huddle together and support whoever the big guy with the claims of power and protection is. Which will happen to be the guy promoting protest or whoever he points to. Surprise!
Where Muslims were in minorities, they became targets for retaliatory hate crime attacks for their "terrorist supporting" ways and for imposing their religious expectations on the world at large. Sikhs often paid the price, because too many people are ignorant about differences. Of course, these hate crimes are further fodder on how Islam is attacked.
The crazies. Religious-political entities whose support base would be pathetic because of their regressive and unpalatable attitudes become bastions of true Muslim protection, because the world is unsafe enough without them. There is always political profit in violence, and if there is a neighbourhood mullah explaining h
People trying hard to humanize Islam. To build bridges. To coexist.
Closer home, we have Muslims on some kind of rampage. Protests turning violent in various cities. Yesterday in Lucknow the Buddha park was vandalized. Statues, yes, but even plants uprooted. I wonder what evil the plants represented. Worse, what sense in the world does it make to vandalize the Buddha park in Lukhnow, because someone showed you photos of Lamas standing over Muslim dead bodies (which in reality are Lamas on a rescue operation). If you are going to be stupid, is it any surprise that criminals can con you into getting a police record for their profit?
Few are going to notice that as far as damage to life and limb goes, these protests have not lead to as many deaths as their numbers would lead one to fear. There have been smaller mobs and more dead in India's history itself. The police is happy to let the rioters do their thing. If all goes well, they will be a nice vote bank at the cost of public property. If not, they can always claim to be overwhelmed. Notice how the profit belongs to someone else, in loss, it will be the Muslims blamed. A political method, but the sanction comes from their own leaders using them.
People from northeast are under a real, imaginary or fake death threat all over the country - depending on who you believe - the threats may even be planted. But the result is the same. There are people from the northeast fleeing cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune to better be safe than sorry. True or false, they work because of the reputation Muslims have created. It is believable that people in an unrelated place can be hurt by Muslims. The rumor *could* be true. This credibility to the rumors is something Muslims have granted, which gives anyone with an internet connection the ability to plant rumors on their behalf. This can be Muslims who would like not to be traced, or Hindus who would like to score a political point, or anyone with a political agenda.
All any one has to do to make Muslims look like homicidal maniacs is.... nothing. Just point them to a suitable outrage. Hyper emotionalism and misplaced anger do the rest. All the government needs to do to shrug its own responsibilities of massive misgovernance is to let the circus distract from them. And please note here, by government it is the Congress government, the supposed messiah of Muslims that I am talking about. The BJP is not even in the picture here. This time, the worst they may have done - *may* - even that is unverified; is scared northeast people into believing rumors, attributing intentions or hyped the threat angle, etc. Political opportunism, but waaaaay after Muslims and Congress have done worse.
In my view, the story of the Muslim outrage - everywhere in the world, where it isn't local - is Muslims insulting Islam more than anyone else. They harm themselves and their futures most. They make their religion look like a headless chicken act holding local communities hostage to outrage anywhere in the world, which is bizarre. Unless Muslims learn to see how they get used for political purposes, they will forever be delivering outrage when buttons are pushed, till a point comes when the religion itself starts getting banned for being a law and order problem.
This is a crisis now. There needs to be better dialogue among Muslims and categorical refusals to become mobs to protest things on the basis of religion. To refuse to risk their own lives, limbs, properties and reputations over things happening in another part of the world. To rubbish the fiction that a government not moved to action by a multi-ethnic massacre spanning months can be intimidated into fixing problems if enough buses are burnt today afternoon.
Am I recommending against the fundamental right to protest? No. I am recommending FOR the fundamental right to free speech - which includes receiving accurate information, that gets encroached by whoever wants to use outrage. Right to free speech includes right to information. Your free choice is only as good as the information being fed to you. Time to stop assuming some sources of information as golden. They have stabbed too many backs. Change the victim narrative. You are enough people. Stop being paranoid. The exact same advice I give to women. LIVE free and limits will dissolve. Fighting ain't gonna work if you already are the victim. And if you aren't victim, you don't need to fight.
This cannot be stressed enough. This is already a crisis.
Why was the security establishment caught sleeping yet again, in spite of clear warnings like:
Asad Owaisi's speech in Parliament. Whether a warning of trouble possible, or a threat, the subject HAD come up in the Parliament and got noticed. Why was it not taken seriously?
Pakistani extremists propaganda with false provocative images of atrocities on Muslims in Burma was widely circulated on the Internet and printed and distrubuted in India too. Why was it not debunked by exposing the images as false? The one of the Tibetan student was ridiculously easy - it was not easy to forget!
Muslim protest planned over a bloody riot that lasted a month in Assam.
Crowds at protest swelled rapidly.
Reports of speeches during the protest targeting police and media. Did the few police at the protest not realize the potential for violence STILL?
What, if anything at all are security agencies doing? We have new ones mushrooming everywhere. Why was there no inkling of the anger among the protesters or the size of the protest?
Muslims were radicalized by the actions of Bodos, propaganda promoted, anger incited, and we had the riot. Now Hindus are being radicalized by assumptions and propaganda about the riots, anger is incited, what is being done to defuse it? Or are we waiting for them to burst into violence too?
Also, how long will communities alone (any religion or other group) be blamed for violence that shows clear governance failure? When will the government address concerns *before* they reach flashpoint? Who is responsible for this repeated failure of governance?
Why was the media attacked by the police? Were they being violent? Reports of police attacking media at Azad Maidan and lathi charge on media near Press Council. Are they true? If so, why? One reporter at the very least, Atul Kamble of MidDAY was beaten by the police and his camera broken. Why was the camera broken? What did the camera do? Would images from the camera not be useful to arrest people?
There are reports of police being lax on protesters. Was there a plan which explains ignoring the cues for a break out of violence, avoiding violence against protesters as well as attacks on media?
Raza Academy apologizes for the violence, claims innocence. How is it possible that a "few" mischief makers were not stopped by the strength of the mob, if the protests were indeed innocent?
Also, is the possibility being considered that Raza Academy may have been used by extremist organizations? Are there investigations into that, or are police content with slapping the murder charge?
We have unprecedented erosion of the rights of Indians on the internet. Several organizations are authorized to intercept internet and mobile communications. Censoring content that can be inciteful has never been easier. All these erosions of our rights are being done by raising the bogey of security. What efforts were made by CERT or any other organization to:
Limit access to propaganda designed to create a sense of victimization among Muslims? Factually incorrect propaganda, I may add.
Collect intelligence on the plans for the protest.
Get intelligence on size of protest as well as possible intent to create unrest?
Let me make it clear here that the propaganda was not hidden in any way and flagged as fake to raise awareness by many of us. So it is near impossible that if anyone was gathering intel at all, they didn't notice.
Given the repeatedly demonstrated utter failure of the government to create safety for citizens as claimed while encroaching their rights, what right does the government have to claim right to breach privacy in the name of security or impose arbitrary censorship in the name of preventing communal offense?
Will RR Patil resign over this failure in basic security?
Will Asad Owaisi be forced to explain his comments in a manner that diffuses religious tension (if not a threat), or forced to resign (if a threat, or refusal to call for calm)?
Will Anyone at all resign (ideally Sibal) over the repeated violation of internet rights in the name of safety, which has repeatedly failed so far?
After much thinking, this is what I think should be done about the Babri Masjid conflict. All the arguing parties must be told to go home and forget it.
The whole land should be returned to the Earth - Nature. Nothing built. Left to grow wild. Totally wild. After all, before a Masjid, before a Temple, it belonged to the Earth. And there it should go back after her kids failed to be human in their devotion.
There should be no maintaining, nothing. Let it just be and go wild. Let trees and plants do what they will, animals find shelter, whatever.
It should be a monument to the price people demand and pay in the name of religion.
People who lose loved ones to religious conflict should be allowed to look in through gates and rest the memory of their loved ones here. As a country, as a world, it should be the only living monument and place of worship that can't be entered. A monument of absence. The absence of humanity.