The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

May 30, 2012

From Revolutionary to Hindutva Ideologue: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar leaves a mixed legacy for Indians

VD Savarkar
One of the most divisive figures in Indian history, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar alias VD Savarkar was remembered on his birth anniversary on May 28.

The contribution of Savarkar was remembered more in Maharashtra, the state he belonged, on his birth anniversary, even as questions remain over his association with freedom movement.

Often considered as founder of Hindutva philosophy, Savarkar was indeed a revolutionary. But he is also accused of seeking British forgiveness once he was imprisoned in Cellular jail at Andaman.

His sentence was curtailed after he gave a commitment that he would no longer take part in any anti-government activity after his release from prison and would keep himself confined to Ratnagiri district.

It was Gandhi who had supported commuting Savarkar's sentence. It is interesting to note that Savarkar was part of the revolutionaries in the initial part of his life but later became a source of inspiration for the fanatic right-wing and a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.

While he managed to get away with the imprisonment, other freedom fighters served long prison sentences as they didn't apologise to the British. Once released, Savarkar never associated himself with the nationalist movement and even supported joining the English army.

Known as 'Veer' i.e. Brave, Savarkar (1883-1966), didn't support the Quit India movement. He also was close to Nathu Ram Godse, Apte and Karkare, who were involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Though he was acquitted for want of evidences, his links with the convicts were known.

After independence when Mahatma Gandhi was killed, his house was stoned. His relationship with Godse was termed as homosexual and angered conservatives. But his supporters claim that he was defamed. Post-independence he was booked for his inflammatory speeches.

Even his death was mired in controversy. He decided to quit his life and ended taking food, which later resulted in his death. His followers say that it was not suicide but a brave decision to renounce life in one's old age when a person feels that he is no longer of any worth to the society.

Savarkar was indeed a major figure in 20th century India but his life remains a mystery and evokes extreme reactions from his followers and his opponents. There is still need to discover the real Savarkar. The key to it lies in the huge volumes he left and his ideas of Hinduism and the country.

TIH Bureau

May 17, 2012

'Why no case against Bal Thackeray, Pravin Togadia for provocative speeches', asks Abu Asim Azmi at Mumbai rally

Why not Thackeray, Togadia?
Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi has said that the Congress-NCP led Maharashtra government never registered a case against Bal Thackeray despite his extreme provocation and incendiary speeches.

Azmi, who was recently sentenced in a case that was registered against him almost 12 years ago, said that instead he was booked though the speech he delivered at Nagpada was not at all divisive or against any community.

Addressing the 'Rally against Injustice', Azmi said that speeches fanning hatred among religious communities were overlooked and there was never an action taken, even prosecution sanction was not given in such cases but when it came to him (Azmi), the case reached courts after selective interpretation of the speech.

Azmi read out excerpts from Thackeray's newspaper 'Saamna' and said that these articles that aimed at dividing society and that used extremely foul language were never considered as provocative, suggesting a deep bias in the state government's action.

The chief of Maharashtra unit of Samajwadi Party said that speeches that disturbed peace in the society and hurt communal amity are conveniently ignored. He cited examples of right-wing Hindutva affiliated leaders' inflammatory speeches and offensive comments.

That VHP leader Ashok Singhal and Pravin Togadia were not prosecuted or even charged despite delivering anti-Muslim speeches was mentioned at the rally held at Azad Maidan. The SP leader later sent a memorandum to the Maharashtra Chief Minister in this regard.

TIH Bureau

May 7, 2012

Amir Khan's TV show Satyamev Jayate exposes 'educated' Indian middle-class: Poor don't kill babies in the womb, it's the rich who do it!

'Educated' upper class kills more girls
Actor Amir Khan's show 'Satyamev Jayate' that hit TV screens on Sunday, became a national rage, even as it exposed middle-class and 'educated' India's dark secret--the practice of female foeticide.

Khan's show that was aired on Star Plus was seen by hundreds of millions across the country and despite that it was a serious, non-masala programme, the first episode had the nation talking.

The programme showed how 'educated' Indians or the privileged urban professionals and the moneyed upper class citizens are much more regressive than the poor, the less educated, the tribal and the minorities.

Though it was always known, the show brought the issue to centre-stage in a country where middle-class has expanded hugely in the last two decades. It showed that girl child gets killed before birth (in the womb) mostly in upper class, urban and 'educated' families.

The practice is lowest in rural areas. Statistics reveal that the Tribal, the Dalits (former untouchables) and Muslims are less likely to opt for such practices. In fact, these groups have the highest sex ratio. But professionals who come largely from Hindu higher castes have the worst sex ratio.

It is not a surprise that people in Northern India, Gujarat, Rajasthan and the Punjab-Delhi-Haryana belt that is more prosperous are more prone to such inhuman acts. Even highly educated and qualified women force their daughters-in-law to abort the female child.

It may not be a surprise as educated classes are found more communal, racist and even biased in their attitudes towards Muslims or Dalit as seen in Gujarat riots or caste violence in these regions.  Clearly, education is just a means to get jobs for earning money rather than bringing a broad vision.

It showed testimonies of mothers, who were forced to abort, the views of doctors, journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens. The low conviction rate in the cases registered under Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test or PNDT was also raised in the programme.

TIH Bureau

Arrogant, 'Anti-Muslim' Sarkozy loses, Hollande elected President in France

Hail Hollande: Liberal dawn in France
Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy was rejected by French electorate in the Presidential election and his rival, the socialist candidate Francois Hollande elected as the next president by an overwhelming vote.

The mild-mannered Hollande, a socialist, won by a decisive vote--51.9% against right-wing Sarkozy's 48.1%. The victory is seen as a vote against 'arrogant' Sarkozy, who courted controversies and failed to meet his promises on employment apart from his failure to improve economy.

Sarkozy was also blamed as an Islamophobe because of his decision to ban the 'burqa' or veil in France. His views on Muslims and campaign against 'Halal' food, was seen as an attempt to get  votes by playing to the right-wing gallery.

This upset Muslims who felt insulted and cornered. France has one of the largest Muslim population in Europe. The country is home to an estimated 6-7 million (60-70 lakh) Muslims which is around 10-15% of the nation's population. The mood among minorities was against Sarkozy, just like immigrants.

Sarkozy's views on immigration also showed his extreme right-wing leanings that were not in sync with France's liberal, inclusive and accommodating culture that till recently advocated peaceful coexistence even though it separated church from the state.

Hollande rode on the popular wave against Sarkozy who was seen more as a self-centred, publicity seeking and arrogant politician. On the contrary, Hollande, termed as 'Mr Normal' in the run up to the election. The result is a humiliating defeat for Sarkozy and his UMP.

The outgoing president was accused of dividing people, stoking fear among French citizens and creating panic for getting votes. Often Sarkozy was often more in the news because of his glamorous wife Carla Bruni.

Sarkozy's successor has promised that French forces would return from Afghanistan soon. Apart from Hollande's victory, the results have far-reaching implications for Europe. It sends a clear signal to Angela Merkel, and to the Euro zone.

While Sarkozy conceded his loss and said that he would no longer play an active role in French politics, it was celebration for the left-wing supporters in France. Hollande is the first socialist president to be elected to the office since Francois Mitterrand in 1995.

TIH Bureau

May 2, 2012

Sushma Snubbed: Political parties castigate BJP leader over her remark questioning Vice-President Hamid Ansari's stature

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj was snubbed by political parties including NDA constituent JD(U) over her controversial remark on Vice-President.

The leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha had questioned the stature of  Mohammad Hamid Ansari, who is being seen as the most likely candidate for the post of President.

JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar said that he didn't share Swaraj's view. "It is her party's opinion but not ours", said Nitish, who even phoned Ansari and expressed his solidarity with him.

The JD(U) has sharply reacted to the statement as it said that there was no meeting of NDA constituents. The RJD, NCP, CPM, CPI, Samajwadi Party (SP), DMK and several other parties are also backing Hamid Ansari.

The BJP, meanwhile, clarified that it was Sushma Swaraj's statement, not the NDA viewpoint. The Communist Parties, Samajwadi Party and several other political formations seem to be in favour of Ansari's candidature as President.

SP has said that it favours a Muslim president. Similarly, DMK has openly said that it is ready to support either former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who hails from Tamil Nadu, or Ansari, who are both such figures that can't be opposed.

The DMK has also said that it would go for a candidate's winnability. Congress earlier mulled over Pranab Mukherjee. The names of Karan Singh, SY Quraishi have also been doing rounds as dark horses in the race for the next president after Pratibha Patil demits office.

TIH Bureau

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