Posts Tagged ‘Ayodhya’

Chandrasekhar Kambar on our sense of history

19 September 2011

The Kannada poet, playwright and novelist Dr Chandrasekhar Kambar has bagged the nation’s most coveted literary honour, the Jnanpith Award, for 2009, becoming the eighth Kannadiga, the most for any Indian language, to be so decorated.

The former UN diplomat turned politician, Shashi Tharoor, wrote about meeting Kambar at a kavi sammelan in New York in 2003:

“One intervention that I found particularly striking was that of the Kannada poet, playwright and film-maker Kambar, who argued that the Indian cultural sensibility was marked by its non-linear notion of time: ‘Time is not a controlled sequence of events in our minds, but an amalgamation of all events, past to present’.

“Against the Western notion of “history”, Kambar posited a view of “many ages and many worlds”, including the mythic, constituting the Indian sense of present reality. Krishna’s lesson to Arjuna on the Kurukshetra battlefield, Kambar argued, is not remote for us; that is why the frenzied mobs in Ayodhya cannot be persuaded by those (like me) who want them to leave the past alone. (The intellectual who says to the Bajrang Dal thug, “leave the past where it is”, is confronted by the Hindu sage who replies, “the past is here”.)

“Kambar went on to challenge the notion that the ‘lack of historical consciousness is a shortcoming’, and declared that it was only an intellectual surrender to the British that led Indians to ‘consider living outside history an insult’.

“We imitated the West in creating museums to house the relics of our past, whereas traditionally we had lived with our past in our daily present. This British notion of history forced us, Kambar said, to see our own literature through a distorted perspective.

“We are obsessed with the ‘original’ nature of historic texts and with the need to separate them from later interpolations. Instead of swallowing the Western notion of the integrity of a text and its sole author, we ought to celebrate the way in which Indians continually told and retold the Mahabharata, adding to it and modifying it. It is a matter of pride, Kambar declared, ‘that an entire country has collectively created the epic over a period of 10,000 years’.

The other seven literary heavyweights who have bagged the Jnanpith are Kuvempu, K. Shivarama Karanth, Da Ra Bendre, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, V.K. Gokak, Girish Karnad and U.R. Anantha Murthy .

Photograph: Playwright Dr Chandrashekara Kambara, who has bagged the Jnanpith Award, being greeted by his wife Satyabhama at their residence in Bangalore on Monday (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Da Ra Bendre on why nitrogen is nonsense

A desi colossus on a par with Yeats and Shakespeare

Karanth, Kuvempu & Gokak, and the one-by-three car

One for the album: a picture worth 7,000 words

Will Kannada literature climb Nobel peak again?

When Kuvempu didn’t want to write in Kannada

‘Muslims must give away one-third Ayodhya plot’

4 October 2010

Javed Anand, general secretary Muslims for Secular Democracy and the husband of the activist Teesta Setalvad, in The Indian Express:

“It is a maxim of mature democracies that where there is no justice, there is no peace. Is there justice in India? It’s up to you, dear reader, to ask yourself that question. Have the victims of communal mass killings — Nellie, Assam (1983), Delhi (1984), Malliana, Meerut (1987), Bhagalpur (1989), Mumbai (1992-93), Gujarat (2002), Kandhamal, Orissa (2008) — got justice? Have the masterminds, the main perpetrators of mass crimes or the policemen guilty of partisan conduct been punished?

“What prospects of a verdict on the crime committed in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, during the life-time of many of the main accused?

“In August 1992, five months before the Babri masjid was demolished, I had argued in an article in The Sunday Observer (now extinct) that the only possible resolution of the Babri masjid-Ram janmabhoomi conflict was for Muslims to unilaterally relinquish their claim to the disputed plot.

“My reasons are different now, but the plea remains the same.

“Forget about appealing to the Supreme Court. In the best interests of the country and the community itself, Muslims must gift away even the one-third of the plot that for the moment is legally theirs. The disputed plot in Ayodhya, which millions of Hindus have come to believe as the birthplace of Ram lalla, is absolutely the last place where the battle for the Idea of India — secular or majoritarian — must be fought.”

Read the full article: Seize this moment

Also read: High Court judgement or Panchayat pronouncement?

CHURUMURI POLL: The end of the Ayodhya dispute?

‘Hindutva-vadis have gorged on Ayodhya since 1947′

Ayodhya headline gets The Times of India in a  jam

‘Ayodhya verdict belittles exalted Ram’s divinity’

How well do you know your Ayodhya alphabet?

29 September 2010

On the day before, Bellur Ramakrishna stirs up the alphabet soup that is the Ayodhya dispute, garnishing it with the names, faces and jargon that have become an essential part of the political meal for a generation and more.

Also read: Hindutva-vadis have gorged on Ayodhya since 1947

The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred

L.K. Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win Ayodhya title?

In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idli-dosa

CHURUMURI POLL: Lord Rama, man or myth?

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win Ayodhya title?*

28 September 2010

Now that all the manufactured hurdles in the path of a judgment in the Ayodhya title dispute have been cleared by the Supreme Court, which way does it seem the verdict will go?


*This poll was originally posted on 17 September 2010.

Hindutvavadis have gorged on Ayodhya since ’47

28 September 2010

On the day the judiciary put an end to the dilatory tactics of the executive in the Ayodhya title dispute , by ruling that the Allahabad High Court can go ahead and pronounce its judgment, Mukul Kesavan writes in The Telegraph, Calcutta, that the Babri masjid issue has travelled in the direction of the Hindutva-vadis since Independence.

And the smuggling in of the Ram idol into the masjid in 1949, the opening of the gates by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985, the demolition of the mosque in the presence of the presiding deities of the BJP, A.B. Vajpayee and L.K. Advani in 1992, the acquisition of the land by the Centre in 1993, all have had the shameless complicity of the State:

“In the context of the demolition, not only is an existing mosque first encroached upon, then razed, not only does Hindu worship continue on the site, but one of the consequences of this vandalism is also an apex court judgment that suggests that mosques, all mosques, are no longer protected by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution because they aren’t part of the basic furniture of Islam.

“It’s worth noting that this was a majority judgment from a five-judge bench; in the words of Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, a constitutional scholar: ‘[T]he two dissenting judges, both of whom were Muslims, had an understanding of the obligations of Islamic practice that differed sharply from their three Hindu colleagues in the majority.’

“”So, instead of a majoritarian campaign of violence and destruction (which led to the mosque being razed and thousands of Muslims being attacked and killed in the wake of the demolition) being punished, Muslims found themselves a) minus one mosque, b) the victims of vicious, orchestrated violence and c) at the receiving end of a judgment that made their places of worship an optional extra, not sacred places protected by their constitutional right to religious practice.”

Read the full article: Closure in Ayodhya

Also read: The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred

L.K. Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win Ayodhya title?

Does BJP have no decency left to defend its own?

In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idli-dosa

CHURUMURI POLL: Lord Rama, man or myth?

Is media resorting to self-censorship on Ayodhya?

22 September 2010

The run-up to the court verdict on the title suit in the Ayodhya dispute has seen plenty of activity built around the media. The News Broadcasters’ Association—the body representing private television news and current affairs broadcasters—has issued a set of four guidelines to all editors of member-news channels:

1) All news relating to the High Court judgment in the case should be verbatim reproduction of the relevant part of the said judgement uninfluenced by any opinion or interpretation.

2) No broadcast should be made of any speculation of the judgement before it is pronounced ; and of its likely consequence thereafter which may be sensational, inflammatory or provocative.

3) No footage of the demolition of the Babri Masjid is to be shown in any new item relating to the judgement.

4) No visuals need be shown depicting celebration or protest of the judgement.

Citing the size of the court room, the media (print and electronic) have been kept away from the compound of the Allahabad high court, and the court has gone so far as to say that the media must not speculate about the verdict till it has a copy of the operational part of the order.

Now, the Union home minister P. Chidambaram has urged the media to “reserve judgement and not make hasty pronouncements.”

While the precautions are no doubt understandable given the preciousness of human life, a good question to ask is, is the Indian media resorting to self-censorship in order to present a better face? In the process of doing so, is it allowing itself to be told what to do and what not to do, thus depriving viewers of what they should know?

If all this passes muster in the name of “self-restraint”, where does this self-restraint vanish on normal days? Is the NBA’s call for self-restraint now an admission of the utter lack of it on regular days?

Was the killing and mayhem that followed the demolition of the Babri masjid by Hindutva goons, while BJP leaders watched in 1992, squarely a fault of the media? Conversely, if the media weren’t around for this and other stories, would India be a land of milk and honey?

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win Ayodhya title?

17 September 2010

As if its thali wasn’t full enough, Judgment Day in the Ayodhya title dispute has landed in the UPA plate, sending it in a bit of a tizzy. Prime minister Manmohan Singh has issued an “appeal”, with the extraordinary line that “the determination of the issues need not necessarily end with this judgment, unless it is accepted by all parties.”


Swapan Dasgupta in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“Both the votaries of Hindutva and the beleaguered defenders of the Nehruvian order were united in viewing the demolition as a point of rupture. For the former, the change would herald a Hindu reawakening; for the secularists, it threatened to destroy India’s pluralism and transform the country into a de-facto confessional State.

“Both sides of the confrontation, it would now seem, were guilty of hype. India wasn’t transformed into a Hindu Pakistan and the Constitutional edifice established in 1950 remained strong and intact. To borrow A.J.P. Taylor’s description of the 1848 revolution in Europe, the Babri demolition was a turning point in Indian history when history refused to turn….

“With the benefit of hindsight it would seem that the contemporary misreading arose from the premise that the Ayodhya movement was overwhelmingly an explosion of faith and sublimated Hinduness. The implication was that a new religiosity had penetrated the popular psyche and begun influencing secular life….

“The Ayodhya agitation encapsulated protest, millenarianism and modernity under one roof. It didn’t usher in Hindu National Socialism as its aesthetic detractors were convinced it would (leading to some facile comparisons of inept boy scouts in khaki shorts with Hitler’s stormtroopers). But it drove a stake through the heart of an incapacitated socialism.”

Read the full article: Twenty years too late

Copenhagen via Ayodhya and Firozabad

8 December 2009

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Does BJP have no decency left to defend its own?

29 November 2009

The Liberhan Commission report on the demolition of the Babri masjid throws no new light on the dastardly designs of its its 67 execrable perpetrators. What it does is throw an unlikely pebble at the towering reputation and legacy of what it thinks is the 68th: Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The BJP’s rare “moderate face” has been a carefully constructed and preserved structure, designed to appeal to the soft side of India’s aspiring middle-class millions while providing the smokescreen to the saffron brotherhoodlums; a “mukhauta” in the words of K.N. Govindacharya.

That mask has been, well, unmasked by the lead-laced fingers of Justice Liberhan on the basis of a single videographed speech delivered by Vajpayee on the eve of the demolition, December 5, 1992.

Without calling the former prime minister to the witness box and without giving him a chance to explain, Liberhan calls Vajpayee a “pseudo-moderate” who can be held “culpable” of the crime of being the country to the point of communal discord by his “sins of omission”.

Given that the great voice of Vajpayee is now at the mercy of a voice-box, he cannot even defend himself from the miscarriage of justice at the hands of a judge. However, it speaks for the state of the saffron scrum that no one but no one has mounted a defence of a defenceless man.

Thankfully, Sudheendra Kulkarni steps up to the plate in today’s Indian Express:

“The most egregious part of the Liberhan report is its indictment of former Prime Minister Vajpayee, condemning him, along with Advani, as a “pseudo-moderate”. This will no doubt please communists and Muslim extremists, but, anyone who knows Vajpayee (and also Advani) knows that nothing can be a worse travesty of truth.

“I suspect that this character assassination of Vajpayee by a government-appointed commission has been done deliberately to dishonour him in India’s official history, so that only members of a particular family are recognised by posterity as true nationalist leaders.

“Implicating Vajpayee raises some serious questions. Does the mere fact that he gave a speech supporting the Ayodhya movement make him a “pseudo-moderate? Are we then to believe that only he/she is a moderate Hindu who opposes the BJP, and counters the demand for a Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya?

“I too supported the Ram Mandir movement before 1992 (when I was not in the BJP) and I continue to support it even now, when I am no longer in the BJP. There are millions of ordinary, non-communal but proud Hindus like me who feel outraged by Liberhan’s warped belief that the only correct definition of secularism is that which disregards legitimate Hindu sentiments and silently acquiesces in the negation and falsification of the long history of temple-breaking by bigoted Muslim rulers. If Islamic bigotry could blast Bamyan Buddhas in the age of television in the 21st century, are we to believe that religiously inspired temple-destruction didn’t happen in medieval India?”

Cartoon: courtesy Satya Govind/ The Charicaturist

Read the full article: Vajpayee a pseudo-moderate? A canard

CHURUMURI POLL: Should the BJP apologise?

25 November 2009

The indictment of the entire top management of the BJP, including the party’s moderate mascot, Atal Behari Vajpayee, for the demolition of the Babri masjid by the Justice Liberhan commission will shock few.

What should really shock is the almost complete lack of contrition on the part of those named and shamed for the trail of death and destruction that the communally pumped-up Ram janmabhoomi movement in general and L.K. Advani‘s rath yatra in particular left in their wake.

“We fully own up to the movement, we will not apologise” says the RSS spokesman Ram Madhav. “I’ve said before and will say so again and again, it was the happiest day of my life,” says Vinay Katiyar of the VHP. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, who has been slammed for masterminding the State’s soporific response, says “no force on earth” can stop the temple from being built.

However, none of the saffron brotherhoodlums responsible for the “irreparable damage to the secular, democratic fabric of the country” stand for elections. The BJP, which is the political face of those organisations, does. Union law minister Veerappa Moily says the BJP is accountable to the nation for bringing it to the brink of communal discord.

“They owe an explanation, they owe an apology to the nation,” Moily says.

Question: Should the BJP apologise to the nation?

‘Ayodhya destroyed what is essentially Indian’

23 November 2009

The former India correspondent of the BBC, the Calcutta-born Sir Mark Tully, on 6 December 1992:

“I witnessed… many tragedies often involving people whose names will not be recorded in history, but, asked to recollect one incident I reported for the BBC, I’ve chosen Ayodhya because it was a denial of something which I regard as quintessentially Indian.

“The culture of India is by its very nature accommodating, and for centuries it has allowed all the great religions of the world to make their homes here.

“Hindus traditionally accept there are many ways to god and, as one 20th Century Western scholar has put it, “for the dogmatic certainty that has racked the religions of semitic origin Hindus feel nothing but shocked incomprehension.”

“So India with its Hindu majority should be the last place to find religious fanaticism. It should be an outstanding example of religious pluralism in a world where people of different faiths still so often find it difficult to live with each other.”

Read the full article: Ayodhya mosque destruction

Also read: ‘It’ll be a disaster if India progresses like the West’

‘Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

29 April 2009


Aakar Patel does an excellent appraisal of Lalchand Kishinchand Advani in Mint, the business daily owned by the Hindustan Times group, on the basis of his memoir:

“If Advani has such a poor record on security [on Kandahar, Kargil and Gujarat], why do his supporters refer to him as strong? Sadly, this image comes from his willingness to do violence to India’s Muslims.

“Having had only eight years of executive experience, the same as the average 32-year-old, Advani has no long view. He does not understand strategy.

“He thumps his chest and warns Pakistan to behave after taking India nuclear, but is taken aback when Pakistan’s generals immediately use this as an excuse to weaponize their own programme. This has destabilized South Asia for generations.

“He opposes the Indo-US nuclear deal. Why? Because America does not treat India as “equals”. He views strategic policy through honour and emotion.

“Of his autobiography’s 48 chapters, not one is on economics. Muslims, Kashmir, terrorism, Pakistan, Musharraf, Kargil, Shah Bano, Naxalism, Godhra, Assam, Ayodhya. These are his concerns. His passion is all about what other people should not do.

“Under Advani, the BJP’s three policy thrusts were all negative: Muslims should not keep Babri Masjid; Muslims should not have polygamy; Kashmir should not have special status.

“He offers nothing creative, even to Hindus, only resentment….


“At the G-20 this month, London’s Financial Times put Manmohan Singh on its masthead next to Barack Obama and sent three editors to interview him. All Indians who are ashamed of the quality of our leaders must try to read this interview:

“First question: Do you agree with China on the failures of the global monetary regime and the case for a new reserve asset in place of the dollar?

“It’s not the question they would ask of Advani.”

Only comments from valid, verifiable email IDs will pass muster

Read the full article: Advani or Manmohan Singh?

Also read: The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred

A lifetime achievement award for L.K. Advani?

Tarun J. Tejpal on the uber babu: Manmohan Singh

A civil servant or a very civil servant?

‘Amarnath is about communalism not nationalism’

6 August 2008

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express:

“Let us cut through the cant of our political class. Amarnath has become a serious communal issue. In an interview given to a Hindi daily, Narendra Modi had, in a chillingly prophetic way, described Amarnath as a second “Shah Bano”.

“Whether we like it or not, Amarnath has deepened the Hindu-Muslim divide in many respects.

“It has exposed the fact that possibilities for intercommunity reconciliation are thinning daily and revealed how every political party has huge investments in a politics of divisiveness that none is likely to divest. It has given the BJP a peg on which to hang its faltering politics. It has given Muslim fundamentalists a pretext to wage war on the infidel. It has exposed the limited capacity of the Indian state to quell violence.

“It has brought out the ways in which the Congress’s myopia and lack of initiative set the stage for a communal politics. And it has revealed the dirty secret of all us constitutional secularists: we are more interested in having somebody to beat upon than in creating the conditions for peace. As with Ayodhya, the inability to find small compromises, articulate meaningful gestures of reconciliation, might haunt us for ever.”

Read the full article: A country in 40 acres

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Land for the Amarnath shrine

The Omar Abdullah speech that blew away an entire a nation

Link via Chengappa R.

Should IAS, IPS officers play politics on the side?

23 April 2008

Sixteen years ago, a tsunami broke out in chai cups when the columnist Praful Bidwai revealed that celebrations had broken out among IAS candidates undergoing training at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, when news came in from Ayodhya that the Babri masjid had been felled.

The implications of such ideologically inclined candidates eventually laying their hands on the levers of power across the length and breadth were debated before, as usual, it was business as usual.

But there was no such debate when Vijaya Karnataka carried a front-page story late last year, at the height of the political tragicomedy, that Dalit IAS and IPS officers had held a “secret” meeting where they had decided to “lobby” for Mallikarjuna Kharge, a Dalit, as chief minister.

There were hints of the officers deciding to raise money to make this possible. How they planned to do all this was of course left to the imagination.

Probably it is a reflection of the intellectual vacuum in the State or probably an indication of the political correctness that has gripped the intelligentsia, but given the tone and tenor of the VK report, not to speak of the ideological motivations of those behind it, it did not proceed further from there.

There was even a question mark about the “truthiness” of the meeting and the report.

But now, Subhash Bharani, the 1975-batch IPS officer who left the service to join the Congress and then left the Congress to join the BJP in the space of a few days, has laid bare the details. There was, indeed, he confirms, such meetings (meaning, there was more than the one VK reported).

“What is wrong if Dalit officials favour a person belonging to their community for the Chief Minister’s post? Are IPS officials and Government officers belonging to Dalit community not entitled to hold political views? As far as I know, there is no clause in the Service Rules that prohibits government servants from [doing] this”, the BJP’s candidate from T. Narasipur said at a media conference yesterday.

“There is nothing wrong if Dalits hold such meetings. It may not be appropriate for other communities to hold such meetings.”

Nothing wrong if serving and aspiring officers have such covert and overt political and ideological ambitions? Nothing wrong if serving and aspiring officers openly or even secretly show their leanings? Nothing wrong if serving and aspiring officers gravitate to each other on the basis of caste, region, religion, language?

Nothing wrong if Dalits do it?

‘The monkeys who hid themselves in Ayodhya’

10 October 2007

Ashok V. Desai in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Valmiki [Ramayan] makes clear is that Ram did not need to build the bridge. He could have evaporated the Ocean with a single arrow, and his army would have crossed over without any effort. Lakshman dissuaded him from the extreme step because it would have killed so many crocodiles, snakes, demons and fish.

“The bridge was more a humanitarian gesture than a technological necessity. Thus the bridge has nothing to do with Ram; it was quite incidental to the story.

“Ram would not have lost any sleep if the Ocean had swept away the bridge immediately after the monkeys crossed—and in fact, the Ocean has swept away most of it. At that time, only Ram and Lakshman could command the flying services of Hanuman and Angad. Today, anyone can fly to Ceylon—even Hindutwits.

“Why, then, are the Hindutwits so upset at excavation of some stretches of the bridge? Why do they call it Ram sethu at all?

“First, because none of these devotees of Ram has read the Ramayan; none of them has an inkling of what it is about. For them, Ram is just one of the billion gods—another lucky charm. They are devout, but not very learned. And they would find learning distinctly inconvenient in the present case.

“And second, because nothing is as good as a superstitious rumpus to bring together their fractious party. They cannot unite on a single thing to do in the interests of the country. When Manmohan Singh steals their foreign policy clothes, they let him do so with impunity; they disown the clothes. They did far more reforms than Manmohan Singh has. But they maintain a deathly silence about their achievements—almost as if they were ashamed.

“I do not know if they have any soul, but they have certainly lost their heads. In fact, they are performing so badly that I am no longer sure that they are not monkeys. I think they are the residents of Lanka who ran off when Ram took it, and came and hid themselves in Ayodhya.”

Read the full column: The bridge to Ceylon