Archive for August 6th, 2011

CHURUMURI POLL: Will Manmohan Singh survive?

6 August 2011

As August 15 looms into the calendar for the 64th time since Independence, it would be an understatement to say that the nation is passing through an extraordinary phase.  All the usual stories of poverty, death, disease, despair, homelessness, malnutrition, exploitation, inequity, inequality, inflation, etc, still populate our front pages as they faithfully have for 63 independence days before.

But you can hear the faint rumblings of something more seismic.

An avalanche of corruption has rumbled across the nation shaking Congress, BJP and Left governments at the Centre and in the States. Week after week, scam after scam of mindnumbing size and scale tumbles out of the vaults and cupboards. Report after report, from the CAG down to the Lok Ayukta—and stricture after stricture from the Supreme Court—sends shivers down the shameful spines of the corrupt and the crooked.

In such choppy waters, the admiral guiding INS India has stood unmoved and unaffected.

Not any more. Three big bandicoots have cruelly chipped and nibbled away at prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s assiduously cultivated image of impeccable honesty and integrity in recent weeks.

# First, the cash-for-votes scandal (involving Amar Singh, Arun Jaitely, and CNN-IBN) that saved Singh’s government and his pet nuclear deal in July 2008, has come back to haunt him (and the “treasury benches”) with a vengeance.

# Then, his own cabinet colleagues and bureaucrats, like former telecom minister A. Raja and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, have spoken of how much the PM (and others in the cabinet) knew about the Rs 173,000 crore scam in the allocation of 2G spectrum in which they are disgraced.

# And now, the Commonwealth Games scam has thudded even more dangerously into Manmohan Singh’s court, showing how the PMO looked the other way while Suresh Kalmadi was running riot, with the Delhi government of Sheela Dixit, the sports ministry of M.S. Gill and the urban development ministry of S. Jaipal Reddy for company.

In the midst of all this heavy fire (and the spark of the Lok Pal bill), Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been suddenly rendered hors d’combat, leaving Singh at the mercy of Amar (Janardhan Dwivedi), Akbar (Ahmad Patel), Antony (A.K. Antony)—and Rahul Gandhi—before going off to the United States for treatment.

With Parliament in its monsoon session, this is clearly not what the good doctor would have ordered for Manmohan Singh who somehow survived the S-band scam. Also, with Rahul Gandhi suddenly in charge of the adult Congress, after hand-holding the youth Congress, the writing is on the wall for the old man.

Questions: Will Manmohan Singh survive this session of Parliament? Will he last until 2014? Or is the bell beginning to toll for a change of horse, mid-stream?

Also read: Can the paragon of virtue hear his conscience?

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan Singh, still ‘Mr Clean’—II?

Has the middle-class deserted Manmohan Singh?

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan Singh, still ‘Mr Clean’—I?

A Hindu Iftar for a good Muslim doctor at work

6 August 2011

A 2008 image of Mysore deputy commissioner P. Manivannan at an Iftar at the Muslim girls’ orphanage

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: The holy month of Ramzan, which is the harbinger of much happiness and good cheer to Muslims the world over, has come. This month marks a period of fasting, alms-giving and special prayers which Muslims all over the world undertake as ordained by Allah in a bid to cleanse and rejuvenate their souls.

All Muslims believe that it is a very pious and spiritually rewarding act to provide food for anyone at Iftar, the time when people break their fasts immediately after sunset.

So it is a common tradition among Muslims to arrange Iftar parties for their friends and relatives by turns which become occasions not only to enrich their souls but for happy socialising too. Many well-to-do Muslims with noble intentions arrange such parties to feed the poor too.

But we have been discovering of late that a new breed of politically motivated Iftar parties are becoming commonplace not with the object of winning any spiritual rewards but with the motive of winning the hearts of Muslim vote-banks.

While the head of a Muslim seminary has recently issued a fatwa or religious edict that Muslims should not attend such politically motivated Iftars he has been reminded almost immediately by many Muslim organisations through a fusillade of repartees that he has no locus standi to issue it.

Since everything is fair in love, war and politics there is nothing anyone can do about this unholy trend and I am sure it is here to stay and reap its earthly rewards.

But I would like to highlight here a different kind of Iftar party of which I have been a beneficiary for the past so many years and the kind of which we need to encourage to foster brotherliness and inter-religious harmony at a time when these qualities seem very elusive and intangible.

Every Tuesday I have my weekly outdoor clinic at the town of Kollegal which is a rather long drawn affair that goes on till late in the night. This has been a tradition that I have chosen not to abandon after I had to wind up my regular practice there nearly nine years ago when I had to move over to Mysore in search of higher education for my children.

Every Tuesday, unfailingly, during every Ramzan, O.P. Mahesh Kumar and Jagadish, my two Hindu friends there have insisted and ensured that I along with my clinic staff break our fasts with the freshly cooked, piping hot food they bring from their homes just before sunset.

They are ordinary souls of modest means with neither motive nor ambition but they do so with simple love and affection. Now, how is that for a really pious and holy act?

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician, who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, where a longer version of this piece originally appeared)

Representative photograph: Mysore deputy commissioner P. Manivannan at an iftar at the Muslim girls’ orphanage in 2008 (courtesy The Hindu)


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