LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS..

INDIAN DEMOCRACY..PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS

RAW CELLPHONE CLIP
NEW DELHI RAILWAY STATION – 16.09.2016

WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRATIZING AIR FARES..BUT WHAT ABOUT THESE LONG QUEUES TO CATCH UNRESERVED, LOWEST CLASS SEATS IN OUR TRAINS FOR A JOURNEY OF 20 OR 40 HOURS?

IT IS NOT THAT PEOPLE GO FOR IT AS THIS IS THE CHEAPEST SEGMENT OF TRAIN TICKETS. THEY JUST CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THIS ONE!

AND THEY ARE A REGULAR FEATURE – BE IT DELHI OR MUMBAI OR KOLKATA!

THIS RANDOM CLIP HERE HAS CAPTURED A CONVERSATION A PERSON HAD WHILE SITTING IN THE AIR-CONDITIONED (HIGHER AC) COMPARTMENT OF ANOTHER TRAIN, A CONVERSATION THAT IS SYMBOLIC OF THE CHASM BETWEEN HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS IN OUR COUNTRY!

CONCERNS THAT TELL THE TALES!

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

©SantoshChaubey

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS..

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INDIAN DEMOCRACY..PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS

CELLPHONE CLICKS
NEW DELHI RAILWAY STATION – 16.09.2016

WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRATIZING AIR FARES..BUT WHAT ABOUT THESE LONG QUEUES TO CATCH UNRESERVED, LOWEST CLASS SEATS IN OUR TRAINS FOR A JOURNEY OF 20 OR 40 HOURS?

IT IS NOT THAT PEOPLE GO FOR IT AS THIS IS THE CHEAPEST SEGMENT OF TRAIN TICKETS. THEY JUST CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THIS ONE!

AND THEY ARE A REGULAR FEATURE – BE IT DELHI OR MUMBAI OR KOLKATA!

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

©SantoshChaubey

SOME STRAIGHT THOUGHTS ON ‘SPIRAL OF SILENCE’ IN ACTION IN INDIA

THE QUESTIONS

— Is the ‘Spiral of Silence’ coming into its own in India now?

— Is the 2004 General Election a beginning point to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ in action in India?

— How is social media shaping the ‘Public Sphere’ discourse in India?

— Is India the next big leap for a socially relevant social media after the Arab Spring?

— India shows even the robust democracies can be the perfect social laboratories for the ‘Spiral of Silence’ expressions?

— Are elections the best avenues to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ patterns in a democracy that has loads of greys?

— Is the Indian democracy caught in a dilemma between being politically correct Vs being politically relevant Vs being politically apolitical Vs being apolitically political?

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

JNU ROW: QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK!

THE QUESTIONS

The JNU row (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has debased to such lows that we seriously need to ask questions – on the whole socio-political milieu prevailing at the moment:

— That what was and what would be the right approach – to let the incident pass by taking strict disciplinary action against the erring students? – or making a fuss about it to the level that it has now escalated to the extent to threaten the academic atmosphere in many other universities?

Obviously, the sane and the logical voices would say a disciplinary action would be enough to address the issue – if at all it was needed – or that it would be precisely in course to ignore the event because it was not a majority view there, in fact just a handful of students were for it, and it was not the first time in JNU.

— Was it a case fit for police intervention? Now, after a week of row and its spread to other universities, we can safely say NO. In the age-groupthe  of being students, we all are impulsive, reactive, susceptible to sentiments and above all, we question ethos if we don’t conform to them – even if it means airing our views about the state, about its affairs. Being a student should be about that. We need to get outraged and speak our mind whenever we see something wrong. That is permissible within the democratic norms – something that is even the top custodian of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, accepts – saying unless words incite action, it is not a fit case for imposing sedition laws. We may be wrong, like here these ‘pro Afzal Guru’ protesters were, but then there were other possible means to handle the situation than a police intervention.

— That if the administration was hell-bent on ‘improving’ the situation, sanitizing JNU of anti-national elements? If it was so, and no problem in that, then why did the Delhi Police act so late. Reports say the Delhi Police had information prior to the event.

— What were they waiting for? If the Delhi Police can proactively raid a government run canteen (Kerala House beef controversy) in the name of taking precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incident in the name of beef politics, why didn’t they do so here?

— Since February 9, it was JNU. Since yesterday, it is Jadavpur University. University of Hyderabad is also delicately balanced at the moment. Now, in the name of taking tough action on the so-called ‘anti-national’ elements in our university system, in our academic institutions, aren’t we risking something much more insane – something that would vitiate the academic atmosphere by dividing students along the lines of differing ideologies?

Universities must be the first place in any society to inculcate a culture of debate with differing voices and ideologies and the emphasis should be on developing in-built mechanisms to address voices of extreme like the ‘pro Afzal Guru’ event of JNU. There were just handful of students (10-15), and even that is not sure that if they all were from JNU, and their voice would never matter in the whole group of over 7000 JNU students.

— Aren’t all political parties culprit of adding fuel to the fire? From Arvind Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi to senior BJP and Congress politicians to Mayawati to Nitish Kumar to Omar Abdullah and all others including the natural claimants, the Left parties with their legacy in JNU, who made statements or visited JNU to take sides – everyone is responsible to make what JNU has become today – since February 9 – and what University of Jadavpur is becoming since yesterday.

— Aren’t we all to share the blame? Aren’t we all instilling fear in minds of our students? Aren’t we all forcing our students to take extreme steps like Rohith Vemula did or like the three students of a Villupuram allied medical college did or like a Ph.D. scholar in Central University of Rajasthan who committed suicides after harassment from his research guide? Incidents like JNU crackdown or policies that make vice-chancellors excessively powerful are solely responsible and therefore it is the system that is behind such events or policies.

— Did the police act politically? Did the police act in haste? Did the Delhi Police make the matters worse? Yes, in fact, it is the Delhi Police that is primarily responsible for making this much of something that was initially nothing. And they have continued with their charade. They found an anti-national in Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union president, very conveniently and arrested him but they have conveniently ignored the goondaism and lawlessness of some of the lawyers, an spectacle that has been on obscene display since yesterday thrashing Kanhaiya Kumar, his supporters and journalists including women – in the name of nationalism or patriotism. But like the ultra-leftist (DSU, the Democratic Students Union in this case), we also don’t need these ultra-nationalists. And the list of such bravados includes a BJP MLA. Things are on tape, recorded. The BJP MLA and the goons in the garb of lawyers are openly airing their views but the Delhi Police is still investigating, even if the Supreme Court reacted angrily on the lawlessness on display at the Patiala House Courts complex.

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

HAPPENING THIS TO JNU ROW IS UNCALLED FOR..

The JNU row has taken a disturbing trend. It stirs your soul with negative energy now. Politicking has become worse but the worst part is – the issue, the JNU row and JNU, all have become a hotbed for conspiracy theories – going as far as a Hafiz Saeed involvement or cryptic Intelligence Bureau inputs or the so-called foreign designs.

Someone is busy labelling someone as anti-national. Someone is busy proving his nationalist credentials. Someone is crying hoarse over a Constitutional hara-kiri.

And everyone is busy settling political scores and seeking political mileage.

Yes, anti-India protests and sloganeering are unacceptable but there is nothing that makes case for #CleanUpJNU, the hashtag that was trending at the top throughout the day. And in fact, even at this hour a Twitter hashtag – #StopAntiIndiaCampaign – is trending at the top on Twitter’s India interface.

Yes, there are some misled JNU students but then society is first about counselling the misled – trying to take them in the social flow – especially when there are first time offenders. It has to give them the chance to undo some wrong first.

By simply saying that put those students behind bars, we cannot rid the society of this malaise. It goes much beyond that. And in fact, as the situation has become now, and as it is rapidly spreading, the anti-social and anti-national elements may exploit the sentiments to perpetrate some anti-society, anti-national plot.

You cannot say the counselling and mainstreaming are going to happen in an impulse. Counselling takes time. You cannot use force everywhere, especially on students.

Even the Supreme Court says mere sloganeering cannot be the ground for imposing the charge of sedition on someone unless the sloganeering incites some action. The top court had declared in 1962 – “Words and speech can be criminalised and punished only in situations where it is being used to incite mobs or crowds to violent action. Mere words and phrases by themselves, no matter how distasteful, do not amount to a criminal offence unless this condition is met.”

Let JNU be JNU, an academic institution. Let’s not make it a place to settle political scores and seek political mileage. The intense level of politicking, senior political leaders holding briefing sessions and consistent marches and rallies – these leave us in bad taste and are totally uncalled for.

That takes us to this natural question – has politics failed us?

It is both ways.

Politics has failed us. But politics also makes us the world’s largest democracy. Decision is for us to make.

There cannot be utopia, the ideal situation for a country, a society and the system that prevails there. It’s always a mixed bag – with negatives and positives. Yes, negatives look prevailing in our country but one cannot dismiss positives.

There are disparities and they are growing. But that is the case even with the US. The fact that we can openly discuss JNU row tells us a lot.

Europe had its Westphalian and renaissance moments. The US had its civil war and abolition moments. But they go back to centuries in making while sovereign, independent India is just 68 years old. Europe and US reformation took some 300 years or even more.

And if it has not happened in 68 years, the reform in our political system, then we need to accept that it is not enough time yet, even if we are at a cusp of technology revolution. We need to remember that technology revolution also brings information chaos and ‘access chaos’.

And there is no option but to struggle, persist and fight as long as what has been a practical universal norm for a good society is reached – as Vivekananda says – arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.

Arvind Kejriwal’s coming to power in Delhi is indicative of that, even if he is failing us now. That experiment by people tells people are ready to speak, even if symbolically.

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

JNU’S AFZAL GURU EVENT: DEPLORABLE!

It has to be absolutely true and a norm – that a university must serve as the first place to invite voices of dissent – if we have to talk about a healthy democratic society.

And in spite of all its flaws, we need to accept that India is such a place. Yes, there is no utopia. Voices are muzzled and crushed in India.

But it is equally true that voices are also raised and heard in India. See all around India and in many other countries and you can realize the importance of a nation being India.

Nowhere there is absolute freedom, including in the United States, in the United Kingdom or even in France, the European hotbed of rising terrorism in the name of Islam in the country.

We have seen how some much advanced societies have abused the concept of the ‘freedom of speech and opinion’ – like in WikiLeaks and Julian Assange’s case. Germany, the rare example of a nation regretting and remembering being the perpetrators of the darkest chapter in the history of human civilizations, the Holocaust, failed to do justice when it let most of the people responsible for the Holocaust off the hook – because there were too many Germans. We know about Russia and China.

So, nowhere is the place for an ideal concept to emerge and pragmatism is the best chance that we can have – voicing against voices crushing the voices of healthy dissent.

Yes, but we should always remember the qualifier here – ‘healthy dissent’.

We must remember, like anything and everything, ‘freedom to express, speak and opinionate’, too, is not absolute – be it in a democracy or in an autocracy or in an aristocracy.

And that is why the incidents at JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) revolving around Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat are deplorable. These two were declared terrorists by the Indian judicial system, after exhausting all democratic means, and were hanged on February 9, 2013 and February 11, 1984. Not going into much debate here, we must accept that these two, like many other anti-India separatists, were engaged in terrorist activities.

And no Indian can support them. Pakistan endorses, supports and promotes terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India in the name of supporting ‘so called independence from India’ acts in J&K. The issue has dictated Indo-Pak ties since 1947 and we know the stand taken by the Government of India and Indians on separatists of J&K.

While it is democratic to allow the separatists to come to the dialogue table to listen to their grievances and see if there are points worth considering, it is certainly not acceptable that we start eulogising declared terrorists.

And every Indian must go by the norm that J&K is an integral part of India.

The video of the JNU event to pay tribute to Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat is even more disturbing when we listen to its whole content. It is openly anti-India and seditious. There can be debates on ‘hanging and pardon’ of Afzal Guru. Democracy has a scope for that – but certainly not for paying tributes to the people who engage in armed struggle against India – and certainly not for raising anti-India slogans that aim to wage war against the state to split it. 

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

SALMAN KHAN HAD TO WALK AWAY..BUT..

Verdict in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit and run case: No one killed Nurullah Mehboob Sharif. He just died.

Verdict in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit and run case: No one broke Abdullah Rauf Shaikh’s leg. It just happened.

Verdict in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit and run case: No one broke Mohammad Kaleem’s leg and caused severe damage to his hand and back. It just happened.

Verdict in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit and run case: Mohammad Muslim’ thigh could not bear weight of his posture. And he was subsequently diagnosed with fracture.

Verdict in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit and run case: Abdul Shaikh (or Munna Malai Khan) just found his right foot under Salman’s vehicle. He doesn’t want to feel beyond it.

Verdict in Salman Khan’s 2002 hit and run case: Even a Google search hardly comes with victims ‘names – and even if it comes – names vary with reports.

SALMAN KHAN IS RIGHT WITH HIS OWN POSITION. NO ONE CAN DENY HE HAS COME OUT TO BE A GOOD HUMAN BEING.

THE VICTIMS DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY STAND. THE WORLD DOESN’T EVEN KNOW THEIR NAMES PROPERLY. AND WE HAD A COURT CASE IN THEIR NAMES THAT DRAGGED ON FOR 13 YEARS, ONLY TO COME TO THIS.

ACQUITTED, SALMAN KHAN WALKS AWAY TODAY. HOPE SENSE PREVAILS TO MAINTAIN WHO AND WHAT HE IS NOW.

A BIG BLOT, A BIG QUESTION MARK AGAIN ON THE SYSTEM WE ARE LIVING IN! HOPE SENSE WOULD PREVAIL SOME DAY.

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

‘ENCRYPTION’ U-TURN: CLASSIC CASE OF CLIMBDOWN

It is a classic case of climbdown – classic because it comes immediately after the public backlash on ‘government’s proposed draft on net neutrality’.

Classic, because it reaffirms the ‘established by now’ fact that every government in power, irrespective of the political party it belongs to, follows the same tools to attract public’s wrath that it had so vehemently opposed and criticised while it was in opposition.

Classic, because most of such issues face ‘dilution of such draft proposals’ including complete U-turns’ with the electoral compulsions of the world’s largest (and robustly functional) democracy).

Not complete, but a U-turn, again, happened today.

Classic, because governments are forced to take a completely hostile line to what they propose in a ‘policy draft’ paper like the government had to do with ‘draft encryption policy’ paper today.

From the very outset, the ‘expertly’ worded paper was so controversial that it had to see the fate it saw today. You, rightly, cannot expect from people in a democracy like India that they will allow you to monitor their personal communication and will ‘preserve’ the stuff for 90 days for authorities’ kind ‘perusal and action’ (or other similar provisons/words).

Classic because it comes within six months of a grand rebuke by the Supreme Court on another draconian policy matter. Supreme Court, while striking down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act on March 24, had remarked, “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.”

Classic because the apex court had struck down the section finding it abusive towards the ‘fundamental rights’ given to us by the Indian Constitution but the ‘experts’ behind this ‘draft paper’ thought to come with something even more ‘draconian’, in fact totally illogical.

Classic because more ‘experts’ would study this ‘expertly worded’ draft paper to instil their expertise in creating a ‘reworded draft paper’.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Communications and Information Technology Minister, said today, “Experts had framed a draft policy. This draft policy is not the government’s final view.”

But in a democracy like India, such ‘policy drafts’ should not be even the initial view of a government.

Otherwise, like this, we will continue to have such ‘classic cases of climbdown’.

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

WHY WE SHOULD CELEBRATE OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY

It is because we can freely raise such questions based on this proposition.

It is because we have freedom to express so and ask uncomfortable questions that drag our society back – questions that are still holding us back in a dock of antiquated moratoriums on many issues so vital to us – even after 68 years of getting Independence as a sovereign state.

It is because we have freedom to seek answers to such questions.

Yes, the freedom that we have is relative, but then where it is not?

Every August 15 for India is an event to look back on, to reflect on the journey so far – a journey that began for us on August 15, 1947.

The days is and should be like a profit and loss assessment – on how we dealt with the last year – and on how it fits into the aspirations of a nation that began its independent journey 68 years ago – promises that we made and questions that we raised on August 15, 2014, when we celebrated the 68th Independence Day – and on August 15, 2015, when we are celebrating our 69th Independence Day.

We should celebrate the Independence Day because we have the Constitutional sanction to look at it in this way – an analysis to take stock of what we have done, where we are and what we need to do go where we want to go.

Yes, the day is as much a cause of celebration as it is a reason for critical observation of the sanctity of the pledge that is weaved around us and our souls will always remain in eternal debt of that – a pledge that was taken 68 years ago – a pledge that every Indian of every generation – this, past and future – is answerable to – to shape this land as per the visions of the framers of our Constitution – framers who gave the world’s its largest democracy within three years of India’s independence.

Yes, there are factors in our democracy that push us backward and we cannot deny the fact that they are a major force. It rightly makes us question the system and its numerous flaws and we all must be serious watchers of such flaws and must raise voice and think of ways to go beyond the noise.

Our independence and it being within a democratic framework of a sovereign state gives us means and platforms to exercise our rights in a free Constitutional space.

Our independence in the world’s largest democracy, in fact the world’s largest functional democracy (see the spate of bloggers killed in Bangladesh for raising their voices) makes us part of a system where there are supportive voices as well, if there are hostile elements with their fangs to silence us.

15th August is an event, an occasion to renew the pledge to work against the flaws of our democracy.

Times are changing – and changing fast. Information access and the resultant chaos have the potential to lead the voice of change to have it an upper hand than those who see their benefit in promoting the status-quo.

We should celebrate our Independence Day because we all are stakeholders in the process that makes our democracy a reason to fight for.

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

LATE NIGHT SUPREME COURT HEARING SHOULD BE SEEN IN THIS CONTEXT

India may mean many things to many but one thing is common – it has a robustly functional democracy – a 2:30 AM hearing on Yakub Memon in the Supreme Court shows it.

Yes, Yakub Memon’s case is not going to be a beginning to undo the chasm and malaise that beset Indian democracy.

It is not going to address the problem of ‘legal remedy getting costlier’ and therefore being not available to the majority of the population.

India’s top court, in an unprecedented move, in a first, opened after midnight to hear someone who was going to die in next few hours after being given death sentence.

And the development is indeed a positive factors, is an indicator of how strong are democratic values – irrespective of the reasons working behind it.

The point is – India’s apex court worked on it – even after rejecting Yakub Memon’s last legal options just few hours earlier.

Yes, India’s democracy is ‘robustly functional’ because India is the world largest democracy and has been so for nearly 70 years in spite of multitudes of problems working overtime to drag it backward. Its future is rightly expected to keep positive promises to work for.

In fact, India is the only democracy in the world where large population groups of different religions coexist under a common Constructional administration. Yes, religion does give them some specific leverages but that is mostly individual in nature and doesn’t intervene with the nation’s governance.

Yes, it is daydreaming to expect that this unprecedented late night/early morning hearing by the Supreme Court is going to set a trend where people with such ‘extreme grievance conditions’ will be able to knock the apex court at any hour of the day.

Majority will simply not get the coordinates required – lawyers and round the clock coverage – that Yakub Memon got and that made it possible – something that made the apex court take cognizance of a late night plea to conduct a hearing.

Debates like ‘death penalty has no place in a civilized world’ have their own validity but we need to be equally sensitive to the issue that it is an endless debate between ‘being right’ in abolishing death penalty and ‘being justified’ in demanding harshest punishment to the perpetrators (including capital punishment).

And our democracy gives space to both, or even to them who are still not clear what is their viewpoint.

And the late night hearing by the Supreme Court on plea of Yakub Memon’s lawyers and by a battery of lawyers working to abolish the death penalty from Indian penal system should be seen in this context.

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