WELL, NOTHING LIKE REALITY CHECK HERE..

Well, I am again taking liberty from my self-made principles when it comes to writing – by using a tweet – from sources that usually don’t make for informed news elements. Social media feeds make for some great news stuff – but then one needs to be cautious about what to use, when to use and where to use.

This tweet from the media advisor of the Aam Aadmi Party’s numero-uno and Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tells how far the party of ‘freelance activists and full time politicians’ has moved from its stated ideals (and principles) when it had announced (or we can say now, going by the precedent based on the political trajectory of the AAP so far, it had boasted to mislead people) to enter politics – to clean it up – to make it truly common man centric – to run it as peoples’ mission.

We all know that is passé now, buried into the latest episode of the political history of India – a history where friends and foes are picked up or rejected based on their political tenability. There are numerous developments to talk about this sad demise of peoples’ hope to experiment with their political hopes. And this ‘expressivity’ by the media advisor of Arvind Kejriwal was just in line. Yesterday, he tweeted an article written on Scroll.com, a good website with basically good write-ups.

Nagendar Sharma ‏@sharmanagendar Aug 27
Reality check: Why it is too convenient to label Lalu Prasad’s reign as ‘jungle raj’ http://scroll.in/article/750963/reality-check-why-it-is-too-convenient-to-label-lalu-prasads-reign-as-jungle-raj … via @scroll_in

It was on a day when his boss was in Bihar, sharing various stages with Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar is Bihar’s chief minister and is taking on the BJP led National Democratic Alliance in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls slated to be held during October-November.

The BJP was the long-time partner of Nitish’s Janata Dal (United) until Nitish’s prime-ministerial ambitions led his take a different path, breaking the alliance.

Political analysts say Nitish has chance to win over Bihar again, irrespective of his party’s humiliating performance during the Lok Sabha polls last year as he is credited to lead Bihar to a path that started a process to undo the ‘bad elements’ percolated everywhere during 15 years of Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi rule – but what is going against him – is – his alliance with that Lalu Yadav and his Rashtriya Janata Dal – and it could be acidic enough to corrode his winning chances.

And Arvind Kejriwal is extending his ‘moral’ and political support to this alliance. So, obviously, a propagandist party like the AAP would exploit all tools available to justify its acts – like it has done so far – without caring for public sentiments during this round of governance – trying to make Kejriwal larger than life in Delhi’s political circles with ‘grandiose and boastful ’ advertising campaigns.

The article is good in presenting premises but ends up making a premise – a central one – that the written political history of India has been unjust with and biased towards Lalu Prasad – a premise that can be said unilateral and biased. Bihar was ruined during Lalu days of governance – and the malaise was widespread, irrespective of class and caste – and Lalu’s humiliating political catharsis in Bihar’s electoral politics is a living example.

The AAP’s mouth organs speak in unilateral voice and see in a straight direction – as every political party does. This tweet and every other communication element is just doing the same – like this media advisor had adopted a practiced (and expected) silence on a question related to Swati Maliwal’s appointment as the chief of Delhi Commission of Women.

Now, as the goings say, this seems to the AAP’s real political character – like any other political party of India.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

OLEG SENTSOV JAILED: WELL, WE ALL KNOW HOW IT IS..

Vladimir Putin has jailed a promising filmmaker, a Ukrainian, for protesting against his ‘illicit’ annexation of Crimea, a province that was part of Ukraine until last year.

Oleg Sontsov, 39, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for ‘plotting arson attacks/attacks’ on ‘Russian’ interests in Crimea.

Well, we all know how it is.

Sentsov, like many others protesting peacefully, in their own possible ways, amid a growing Russian interference in Crimea, were helping the Ukrainian establishment there.

It is immaterial whether the world knows who is Sentsov. What matters is Putinism has had no dents so far, after Russian started facing financial troubles. Incarceration and prosecution of people like Sentsov or members of Pussy Riot or Alexei Navalny or many others or expulsion of the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky – Vladimir Putin has, so far, effectively crushed the pro-democracy and anti-Putin voices.

And he has ruthless in his pursuit.

Russia or the central, focal entity of the erstwhile USSR, has been under firm grip of Vladimir Putin since 2000. And going by the years so far, Putin is not going to leave Russia. He was, first, President for two terms. Then he became the Russian Prime Minister, installing a puppet President, thus wielding the real power.

To perpetuate his grip further, he manipulated the Russian Constitution and returned as President again, with increased number of years to his tenure – ‘his’ tenure because Putinism looks set to rule Russia as long as Vladimir Putin is there.

Russia initially revelled with Putin. After all, he had taken the centre stage of Russian politics after a prolonged political unrest that made the country’s social-economic condition a mess. Putin brought order. Driven by strong supply of ‘oil and gas’ money, Russian thought, Putin pushed the country again to the league of forefront nations.

The source of that spirit started drying up with global economic recession. Falling ‘oil prices’ started straining Russian financial streams that gradually gripped the whole country.

And with it, Putinism started unveiling itself. The ‘liberator’ of the Russian population soon found ‘catalysts’ to shed his ‘revivalist’ tag. And today, Vladimir Putin, is a full-time dictator – strengthening his grip on Russia with each passing year – crushing protests – removing/suppressing voices. And oil prices remained muted all this while – dragging Russia in an economic situation where its ‘heavily energy export’ economy had no alternative plans to cushion itself.

Oil prices are still low, and in fact, are projected to slide down to historically low levels, with China slowing down.

But Putin is as busy in devising ways to scuttle voices back home – as he was always. He tries to buy them. He tries to co-opt them. He intimidates them. He silences them.

Annexing Crimea was an important ploy that diverted Russian population’s attention from growing economic failures of his model – a haphazard mess that failed to work beyond a point. By humiliating Ukraine with snatching Crimea from it, Putin bought some support back home.

But Putinism knows such measures are not long lasting, especially when Russia is facing sanctions again – coupled with already low oil prices.

So, he has to keep his fangs sharp always – employing tools to further his dictatorial rule. Sentencing of activists like Oleg Sentsov are just one from his stable.

And what emboldens him is the fact that Russia may not be a big economy now, but it remains among the few dreaded military powers of the world with a nuclear stockpile that can wipe out the entire world.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA IS LANGUISHING ON INTRODUCING TIME-DEPENDENT CHANGES IN ITS ‘RESERVATION POLICY’

It was some 20 years ago or even before that. My elder sister had a friend whose family happened to the big land owner of its area. If I try to remember things with a wise guess, it should be over 500 acres. And most of the members of her community (the caste group) that she came from, were having sound financial conditions, as far as I knew.

Like happens – like happened in those days – my sister, her friend and everyone in her group were consistently applying here or there, mostly for the government ones – colleges, universities, jobs. And being close friends, they would mostly go together to procure and submit forms.

Now, here was the thing that literally pinched me, in fact sucked my soul into a thinking mode even then, those long years ago – for the same application form, my sister, who was supported by my father’s government salary, would pay Rs. 500 and her friend, whose family assets were in crores, would pay just Rs. 150 – because – she was counted among the ‘Other Backward Castes’.

I could not understand the reason then, because there was no logic. I know now that there is no reason, no logic behind such practices in the name of ‘affirmative action’ – to such population groups.

Affirmative action or ‘reservation’ in India ceased to be an effective ‘social change’ tool a long ago – and has been rendered toothless now – because the practice was never looked into for its ‘period relevance’ after a period of time.

I strongly believed then, in my childhood, for the same reason, that ‘reservation’ to such population groups was unnecessary. And I still think with the same reasoning – with my analyses based on socio-economic and cultural context now.

Affirmative action like ‘reservation’ is a welcome step to correct social anomaly in our society and basing it on the socio-cultural context initially was practical and logical.

But equally logical is the aspect that such ‘affirmative actions’ need timely intervention to introduce elements to meet the needs of the target groups in a changing society.

Our ‘reservation policy’ has remained unchanged for decades.

Politicians, after a point of time, and that time came too early, stopped seeing ‘reservation’ as a tool for social change. They started seeing it as an imperative for their caste arithmetic – an easy digression from the rigour of development politics.

Since then, the deterioration has been consistent. And today, ‘reservation’ has been reduced as nothing but a political tool to exploit votebank politics.

Otherwise, it is beyond the common sense understanding that why a parliamentarian or a legislator’s children need reservation in government jobs or schools or why they should pay peanuts for applications forms that are quite costly for the general category candidates.

It is beyond the logic of common comprehension that in a country where poverty lines are in the range of Rs 800 to Rs 1500 a month, how a family earning Rs. 50,000, i.e., the creamy layer limit for the OBC category, can be seen as poor enough to be counted among the economically backward castes and thus are given reservation?

Big land lords like my sister’s friend or businessmen with handsome monthly income enjoying perks of ‘reservation’ are among the banes of the system of ‘affirmative action’ in our country.

And the ongoing row by Patels of Gujarat, the most influential social community there, for ‘reservation under OBC category’ is yet another manifestation of that regressive mindset. Patels have led Gujarat for years and have been at the forefront of state’s growth story.

Now, that some of their youth are facing difficulty in government jobs or getting in government colleges, it doesn’t mean that they have become so socially backward to be counted among the OBC castes in the state. The forwards castes like Brahmin, Thakur, Bhumihar, categories of Kayasth and Vaish or so on, have faced this difficulty for long. But they cannot complain. Here, in Gujarat, Patels come in the same category. Giving OBC reservation status to Patels would start a spiral for many other castes.

That will, in fact, be the most illogical step – even if political compulsions force for some other calculations.

We, as a society, are languishing on introducing the time-dependent changes in our ‘reservation policy’. India needed to introduce an income based reservation system much ago, but the irony is – no one in the policymaking institutions talks about that.

The poor of socially, politically and economically castes are still bereft of the gains while those who are in no need now, are cornering the benefits – making ‘undue’ voices for more.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GOOD THAT INDIA IS FINALLY SHEDDING ITS PAKISTAN OBSESSION

When Nawaz Sharif yesterday said that any talks with India ‘sans Kashmir’ were futile, he was only summing up the line of ongoing verbal volleys – by his other ministers.

After (naturally) expecting it – as we are hearing Pakistani leaders of different hues, including Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz – Sharif’s version was only a symbolic summation of how the political establishment of Pakistan once again surrendered before its all powerful army (and therefore its real ruler, the army chief there).

And it is good that we, in India, didn’t reach much into it and decided to stick to our position this time – that the whole Jammu and Kashmir (including Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is our integral part and its society and politics will be governed according to the Indian Constitution – and not what some sidelined separatist leaders like the Hurriyat ones say.

It is good, that, we, as a nation, are finally shedding its Pakistan obsession.

Yes, it is political pragmatism that every nation wants a peaceful neighbourhood, especially with democracies. And, irrespective of intelligence claims and counterclaims, we have valid and worldly reasons to believe that India is not orchestrating unrest in Pakistan. Terrorism and other internal rifts in Pakistan are its own making and Pakistan is paying a heavy price for that – now.

We need to see Pakistan at best as a small country in our neighbourhood that shares common cultural elements with us. If any reality, in any comparison of India vis-à-vis Pakistan exists, it ends here, at this cultural context.

India had 17.22 crore Muslims according to figures from Census 2011 and Pakistan’s overall population that year was 17.62 crore. And Muslims are just 14.2% of our population.

Sovereign India and Pakistan started their journeys the same day – two countries that shared a joint geographical patch and culture until then.

India remained a democracy, and with time, in fact, strengthened its institutions and processes. Its security establishment proudly built on its own. Its economy grew. Its middle class swelled. And today, it has become as imperative a market for the global economy as China is. And as China is slowing down, the world is looking to India – the world’s fastest economy – the world’s third largest economy – and the world’s youngest country demographically – with projections to have the world’s largest middle class by 2030.

Yes, India’s democracy has had its internal flaws but in spite of that, we have a healthy electoral system that makes our democratic set-up robustly functional.

But, Pakistan started faltering very early on its sovereign journey. During 68 years of existence, the country has been ruled by its army most of the time. Pakistan’s political establishment could never stand on its own. Military effectively entrenched itself into every aspect of Pakistan’s socio-political milieu – killing democracy in the process.

Pakistan has historically been anti-India, fighting and losing wars since 1948. Pakistan’s Army, in order to remain the most powerful institution in the country, has always resorted to anti-India propaganda to suppress and sideline political voices. The violence in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition gave Army a powerful tool to instil fear in Pakistani masses by name-calling India.

Yes, in India, every aspect of society has corruption as malaise, but here, we can raises voices and push for remedies. Pakistan’s military establishment doesn’t allow that – acting on cases based on its self-interest.

Pakistan of the day is failing to handle its internal mess, something that is its own creation, including terrorism, anarchy in tribal areas and separatist movements but the ego (or the compulsion) of its ruling/military dispensations is forcing them to still engage in anti-India activities and propaganda – primarily in Jammu and Kashmir – and in India wherever possible – trying to provoke Muslims in the name of religion – even if India has more Muslims than Pakistan – even if the Muslims of India have registered maximum decadal population growth rate (as the Census 2011 data on growth rate of different religious communities released today says). They are our equal brothers and complete the arch of India’s diverse cultural landscape.

India and Pakistan started their journeys as independent countries in similar circumstances. India is a global player now – on its way to become a global power in a multi-polar world – and Pakistan is not even a regional player.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA’S ARGUMENT AT ITLOS AND UPHAAR VERDICT

“We will ask them to pay Rs 30 crore each… that’s it. We will give our reasoning tomorrow. A detailed order will be pronounced tomorrow.” – Indian Express

The Supreme Court bench summed up its conclusion – while reducing the jail terms of Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal – in the 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy that took 59 lives and left around 100 injured.

Irrespective of the reasons behind it, the decision saw widespread disappointment with analyses pointing that ‘life cannot be compensated with money.’

The Ansal brothers, owner of Uphaar Cinema, and others were first imprisoned for two years (by the trial court), then for one year (by the high court) and then were finally let off with their ‘already served’ some five months jail period.

Obviously, it is to be seen that what made the top court reach at this decision – in a trial that lasted for 18 years – where expensive lawyers of Ansals were on side and a long agonizing wait of the victims on the other side – but the central government must appeal against it without delay.

The CBI must file the review petition as soon as possible – with the sole aim to compensate the delay so far.

It becomes all the more important, with hopes rekindled, after India’s official response at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at Hamburg (ITLOS) during hearing in Italian marines trial case.

”Murders are not compensable offences under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code”, said India’s legal representative Alain Pellet there.

He added – “I cannot help being troubled and (am) quite disturbed by Sir Daniel offer (Italy’s counsel), which I feel to be a kind of proposal to buy impunity for the two marines who stand accused of murder.” – New Indian Express

The case dates back to February 2012 when two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Lattore, in the security detail of merchant ship Enrica Lexie, had shot dead two Kerala fishermen off the Kerala coast.

Italy gave compensation to the families affected and they dropped the case but India’s central government didn’t budge – in spite of Italy’s delaying tactics and in spite of Italy’s duplicity to move back from its ‘sovereign word’ as India argued, as India experienced after Italy breached the trust by refusing to send back marines from Italy to India after India’s Supreme Court had allowed them to go back to Italy to participate in polls there.

ITLOS suspended the trial in India in its order till the next date but it also didn’t accept Italy’s pleas. One marine that is India, will remain in India.

Similar spirit is needed by the central government and its investigating agencies in cases like Uphaar Cinema fire where trials languish for years for reasons that, in fact, don’t stand as ‘reasons’ for an intelligible and neutral mind.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NSA TALKS CANCELLED: POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT OF PAKISTAN IS FURTHER WEAKENED

What happened to the proposed talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan was not a surprise.

In fact, it was only waiting to happen because Pakistan was not in a position to dictate terms of the talks. And at the same time, it could not send home the message that it bowed before India by agreeing to an agenda that didn’t include talks on Jammu and Kashmir.

Given the stated position of this government, the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance government, we have reasons to believe J&K cannot be on any agenda of talks where different factions of All Party Hurriyat Conference are invited by Pakistan as the third party – at least till Narendra Modi is the prime minister of India.

India, as the doctrine goes, doesn’t consider J&K a disputed territory and the present government has been, ever since its inaugural, particularly emphatic about expressing it.

The bilateral talks between India and Pakistan were broken in August 2014 when India had cancelled Foreign Secretary level talks on issue of Pakistan being adamant on talking to Hurriyat leaders.

So, obviously, if Pakistan was serious about talks, if it had accepted to go ahead with ‘now cancelled’ NSAs meeting, it had to keep in mind that why the talks last year were cancelled in the first place.

For the BJP, political analysis in India (and Pakistan) was growing more and more vocal about the possible stand taken by the NDA government after Pakistan invited Hurriyat leaders for talks even this time.

When a round of talk was killed last year on same issue, why to reintroduce that element again?

Because, either Pakistan wanted to kill the talks again – with its inborn compulsions to run away from words of logic and geopolitical pragmatism – or – it wanted to send home a message (to its Army) that it was dealing with India on its own terms – and so was a dominant negotiating partner – in case if India accepted Hurriyat as a party in negotiations – that meant Kashmir was on the agenda – something that India had refused from the day one – since Ufa.

India was never going to accept these terms, even if it didn’t set any precondition other that those agreed at Ufa – reflected by the joint statement of both countries.

Pakistan’s political leadership, under international pressure, most importantly from the US, willingly or unwillingly, agreed to restart the talks and India took a leading step here by inviting Pakistan.

But Pakistan tried to exploit even this move by propagandizing that ‘India was compelled to come to the talking table’ – and that Pakistan did not blink first.

Now, we know, the world community knows, and even many in Pakistan, including its military and political leadership know, that Pakistan is no match for India. India has moved much ahead and is a global economic powerhouse now. Its scientific and defence prowess are years ahead than Pakistan.

Pakistan, therefore, cannot set terms, other than agreed, while negotiating with India. That reflected in Sartaj Aziz’s presser where he clarified that he was visiting India for the talks even if he was not hopeful of any outcome.

Pakistan’s problem – primarily of its military establishment – and therefore of its political establishment – is – that its foreign policy has been India centric ever since the country came into existence in 1947.

And the cancelled NSA talks show nothing has changed on that front – even now.

In fact, India was always in a different, positive league than Pakistan. But we, politically, mismanaged the whole affair, with every subsequent government giving Pakistan legroom to exercise and promote its propaganda voices on different global platforms. We allowed Pakistan to even outmanoeuvre us on many times.

But, it had to end somewhere. And the process has begun – even if the realization has come very late.

India, like China, is imperative for global economy now. Yes, Pakistan, too, is a nuclear power, but its security establishment is far superior, innovative and indigenous and is accustomed to work under a democratic leadership.

India is asserting its rightful position on the global stage now and the world is taking note of it. India’s neighbours (excluding China and Pakistan) see India now as a senior partner that gives them due bilateral importance.

The problem with Pakistan’s political leadership is – it cannot say no even to the Hurriyat leadership – we all remember the serious note taken by Pakistan after Nawaz Sharif didn’t meet them during his India visit last year in May 2014 or when Ufa statement didn’t mention Kashmir this year – then how can it stand before Pakistan’s military – the institution that wields real power there?

Pakistan’s Army didn’t want these talks to happen, as evident by escalation in incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan after the Ufa meeting. And the talks ultimately, expectedly, didn’t happen.

It has further weakened the political establishment in Pakistan.

Hurriyat has no significance for India. The party with its different factions doesn’t matter even in Jammu and Kashmir’s politics. Jammu and Kashmir has elected government and people’s participation, over the years, in the electoral process, has increased quite impressively, in spite of the continued run of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan, trying to incite separatist voices.

Hurriyat, in fact, is a ploy by Pakistan’s Army to keep another of its anti-India ploy running – the anti-India rhetoric based on Kashmir – an eternal lifeline ‘sort of thing’ for Pakistan’s Army.

And Pakistan’s political establishment, irrespective of the realpolitik, is forced to follow whims of this ploy.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BAHUBALI: VISUALLY RICH BUT FORMULAIC

Bahubali (or Baahubali) is a visually rich panorama frame by frame. The movie is packaged with immaculate detailing in its every shot.

In South Indian film industry (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) – Tamil Film Industry (Chennai) is the best known one for producing epics with larger canvas. Telugu does have produced some big budget movies but not beyond the ambit of run-of-the-mill productions. Malayalam Cinema has produced some of the finest films of Indian Cinema but no one invests there in big-budget movie productions.

Bahubali was simultaneously produced in Telugu and Tamil but is basically a Telugu production and broke the trend of Tamil Cinema in South India producing big budget quality work.

The movie is a quality product in terms of its technical aspects devoted to express finer details of every shot as meticulously as possible, shaping every possible elements of a frame that could be, and capturing it to creative satisfaction.

But the movie is still formulaic with loose plot elements. Going by the first part of this two part production, the film can be fit in the Masala genre based on revenge plots. Focus of direction seems more on producing a war as a visual extravaganza than making the overall plot an intriguing affair.

Here, actors are good but not as big as Rajinikanth is or not as subtle as Kamal Haasan is. Here the movie is grand but not as refreshing as ‘3 Idiots’ was.

But, nonetheless, the movie is a great leap in Indian film industry where most of the products, including the most big budget ones, are not even a time pass affair.

Because, in spite of Bahubali’s déjà-vu plot, where we can easily expect what will be the next development, its treatment has made it a visual cinematic feast exceeding expectations.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

baahubali-poster-5

Featured Image Courtesy: One of Bahubali’s Official Posters

LATE NIGHT POLICE ACTION ON FTII‬ STUDENTS: REALLY DISGUSTING

The agitation, a relatively peaceful one, so far, now for over 70 days, was again mishandled by the administration – in a series of insensitive steps taken by the government (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) that began with appointment of Gajendra Chauhan.

In a late night crackdown on August 17, police arrested some protesting students from Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) campus after the institute’s director complained of harassment, that the next day became ‘mental torture’.

Well, the drama that began with the government appointing a questionable man to run an esteemed institution like FTII, the day to day developments and protests, the stubbornness shown by Gajendra Chauhan and the government and the helplessness of students – it is the real torture that we all have been subjected to – and are being subjected to daily – the mental agony that we are forced to go through day after day.

Chauhan ji – is there a limit? Is there something called ‘enough is enough’ for you? Is there something called ‘morality’ in you?

An action like the midnight crackdown by the police, this is where this government is again fundamentally wrong – after appointing Gajendra Chauhan.

Human beings are mostly political and they have this or that sort of political affiliation and the political regime of the day plays it accordingly. Nothing wrong in that. Right or wrong, but we call this political pragmatism in the prevailing political scenario.

Anyway, there are many well known right wing academicians – and certainly Gajendra Chauhan does not fit the bill.

FTII students have been protesting since 70 days and we do not need any proof than this that the protests have been peaceful.

Ideally, in the prevailing circumstances, as a symbol of protest, even no new students should take admission in the institute this year. New administration of FTII and the government are wrong here – yes, they will say all bad things about students.

But we should not forget that FTII, with all its routine administrative and academic problems, is still a premier institute in its field because of tenacity and no present and prospective students would like to compromise there.

In terms of student strength and societal representation, FTII may not be that big to matter politically (if the government thinks so), but the way the present row has been handled by the government, it has not gone down well with the masses.

And so far, the government has failed to read into the symbolic implications of this spiral.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TWO DISTURBING DEVELOPMENTS ON WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY

August 19 is ‘observed’ as World Humanitarian Day. Yesterday was August 19.

Yesterday, on August 19, we had two developments that, we can say, left us in bitter taste.

And to add to the misery, one came from an institution that is often seen as the last resort to get justice in India – the Supreme Court.

Read this:

“I am very much disappointed. 18 years back, I lost faith in God and 18 years later, I lost faith in judiciary. One thing which I have realised is that the court of law is not same for the rich and the poor. Rich people can get away by paying money but for ordinary citizens, judiciary is different. Had it been the lives of children of politicians and judges, justice would have been done within a year. Judiciary “cannot understand the plight of a mother who has stood 18 years before the court to get disappointment. Nobody cares about ordinary people but rich and powerful get away.”

These words from a frustrated mother are symbolic of a larger (and deepening) mindset in our society (getting wider realization with every such development). The mother, Neelam Krishnamurthy, had lost two of her children in the 1997 fire in Delhi’s Uphaar Cinema that had killed 59 people.

Verdicts in the case, including this one yesterday in the Supreme Court, clearly tell owners were responsible and thus Ansals, the owners, were directly culpable.

And under a legal system, where our Constitution sees rightful interest of even one life above all else, the loss of 59 lives by ‘criminal negligence’ and ‘administrative manipulation’ should have called for a harsher punishment.

But, here it was no punishment at all and for people like Ansals who are billionaires – (an ordinary Indian may not earn Rs. 1 crore in his entire life) a sum of 60 crore doesn’t mean much – if it can buy them freedom from the legal procedure.

We don’t know what led to this decision-making that will certainly set a precedent, but its message in masses has certainly not gone well – with many equating this decision as ‘inhumane’. And incidentally (and accidently), the decision came on World Humanitarian Day.

On the same day, the news of a similar disturbing development came from West Bengal. According to a news channel, doctors of West Bengal’s main hospital in Kolkata, indicted in report of causing death of a teenager (medical negligence), were ‘let off only a warning’.

Here we need to keep in mind that West Bengal’s health portfolio is with chief Minister Mamata Banarjee.

But efforts and desperate pleas of economically poor parents fell to deaf ears. Even a case has not been registered yet in this ghastly crime against humanity – where a child was denied her ‘right to life’ in an ‘absolute’ way. And this medical negligence case is not the first one in West Bengal, or in India. And sadly, it will not be the last one.

The two development on World Humanitarian Day came as shockers – with varying degrees gloominess.

The Supreme Court judgment in the Uphaar Cinema Fire case is potent enough to set a precedent where high and mighty will feel above the law by being able to buy anything with their riches.

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ says the common saying and the Uphaar case can rightly be placed in the league where justice is denied by frustrating the victims who had lost their family members – 18 years is a long time – a further victimization.

Legal remedy is an expensive affair in our society, especially in higher courts, i.e., High Court and Supreme Court – and with the Supreme Court’s decision, the notion has got reaffirmed again. Ansals could afford the best legal minds (with their deep pockets) and the case was delayed to a disturbing wait of 18 years.

And what happened, even after 18 years, rubbed salt into the wounds of the victims. Everything cannot be purchased or compensated with money or material means, especially a person’s life – our Constitution is based on that – and here, the society lost its 59 people – and there was no physical punishment but a monetary fine.

The two developments yesterday were potently, symbolically anti-humanitarian, anti-thesis, to the underlying concept of World Humanitarian Day that says – “It’s a day to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world”.

Well, we need humanitarian feelings first – and acts to inspire and inculcate action, driven by such feelings – something that was hit hard yesterday.

Hope, it will not go unnoticed. Hope, the developments that were thrust upon us, will see a different, humanitarian finality in the days to come.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THAT RICKSHAW-PULLER..

COLORES INFINITUM/CELLPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY

Today is World Photo Day/World Photography Day.

Its formal or informal nature doesn’t matter. What matters that it a is nice event of global spread to celebrate our expressions and thus our emotions – with a camera in reach of every hand through the smartphone revolution.

When I had taken this photograph, the Day was not in my thoughts. I randomly clicked the moment with my cellophane while en route to my workplace.

What pulled my attention was the text written on the rickshaw-puller’s T-shirt. It was Marathi, but in Devnagari script (Hindi), so I could read the names. Then there was this party symbol of the main opposition party (Indian National Congress) of India.

This one, the T-shirt the rickshaw-puller was wearing, was possibly a campaign material during the last Lok Sabha elections and was a Mumbai export, as the names on it suggested – either this rickshaw-puller had some days of his life in Mumbai or he had got it from someone from there.

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THAT RICKSHAW-PULLER..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/