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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

TIME 100 : It is not Narendra Modi, but Time's Integrity in question

URL - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/04/time-100-it-is-not-narendra-modi-but.html

Did Mr. Narendra Modi really made it to the top of "TIME 100 annual lists of the most influential people in the world, given the questionable integrity of the Poll?

The survey asked the readers to cast their votes “for the people who have changed the world this past year, for better or worse. “

The Voting closed at 11:59 p.m on April 22, and Time's declared winner is Mr. Narendra Modi with 5,070,865 Votes with 83.7 % saying YES to include him in the list, while 16.3% saying NO.  The second highest scorer was Mr. Arvind Kejriwal with 3,168,259 votes, and 60.3% of the respondents said YES and 39.7% said NO.  Oddly no one scored over 100,000.  The full TIME100 list will be announced on April 24, 2014.

As an India expert committed to shaping cohesive societies where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other, I was curious to observe the poll as it progressed making notes and taking snap shots of the screen periodically to write on my India Blog and that I have maintained for nearly a decade.

I was watching, “Which World Figures Should Be on the 2014 TIME 100?” and could not help the disappointment with the authenticity of the poll, an Institution like TIME has erred shamelessly once more.  In the interest of integrity, I wish they had verified several things before the winner was announced.

Indians are fascinated with numbers and clamor to get on the Guinness book of world record, and this poll was no exception, it caught their attention and the war between secular and the right wing Indians began.

When Modi reached a record number of votes at 867, 341 by 5:54 PM on April 21, 64% of them said YES to include him on the TIME 100 where as 36% said NO. The Kejriwal warriors and the secular Indians hit the gas to the floor, and gave 489, 582 Votes and 78% of them said YES while 22% said NO.

Modi Sena (army) would not take that kindly, and flipped Kejriwal down to 28.9%  YES and 71.1 NO today at 3:00 PM.  Things turned around immediately, and the Kejriwal Warriors went to war big time, and pulled Modi down to 53.5% at 5:04 PM today,  and lifting Kejriwal to 54.6% YES.

The peak points for Modi were 91.4% YES and 57.8% NO, and for Kejriwal, 82.3% YES and 49.4% NO, and the lowest NO for Modi was 8.6% and 17.7% for Kejriwal.

It was a war, you could clearly see who side was on the offensive, and each side has slaughtered the other at different times.

Here are the two snap shots of the screen at 5:32 PM on April 22, 2014.

Given  the speed with which clicking was going on with alarming speed, like 100 votes per minute, mathematically,  I predicted 90% YES for Modi by late evening and it needed millions of votes to turn the numbers around.  Hell, the Modi Sainiks had already figured that out, and knew how many numbers it will take to shrink the NO percentage for their new found guide; Mr. Modi.


The Modi supporters are outdoing everything... and they have that right to do that. However, in the interest of integrity of the Time's poll, I wanted to check what was going on behind the scene.

At about 3:00 PM today, I had clicked 6 times from the same computer (as I had to) to see the percentages. What are the chances that someone has set it from a computer to click 100,000 and it would take just a few people to multiply those numbers?  What are the chances that 1000 volunteers are hired to do nothing but click?

I clicked 15 more times, making it 21 clicks, the poll is completely skewed and hence unreliable.

Can Time audit its computers to determine how many clicks have come from the same computer?

Time’s integrity was lost when they wrote about Modi last time, they did not research enough, and now this.

This is a serious issue of integrity of the Time Magazine.

Media Contact
Mike Ghouse

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Paid News clouds India's election outcomes

George Bush practiced it as well, and the damned right wingers always have the money to blow be it in the United States, India or elsewhere. This is the greatest danger to democracy. Mike Ghouse

Critics say unregulated spending on India's elections is subverting the vote.


Last updated: 21 Apr 2014 09:52

An estimated $5bn will be spent on India's ongoing elections, the most expensive polls in its history [AP]
Last week, India's Election Commission (EC) warned the country's media houses against telecasting or publishing exit polls "by showing them as opinion polls".
The announcement came after English-language channel NDTV aired a survey showing nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies grabbing more than 272 of the 543 parliamentary seats in India's nine-phase national elections. The elections will end on May 12.

"In order to maintain level playing field and to ensure free and fair elections, the Commission advises all print and electronic media not to resort to the type of practise as mentioned... which for all practical purpose mean publication of exit poll while claiming that the same is only an opinion poll," the EC said in its statement.
NDTV's survey was preceded by an interview with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on a Hindi channel, India TV. The interview drew the ire of critics, who claimed that India TV is biased in favour of the BJP. The TV station's director of news resigned the following day.

India's ruling Congress party has sought stern action against what it alleged was "paid news" and a violation of the Election Commission's guidelines.

"The phenomenon of paid news, without hyperbole, has resulted in an insidious subversion of the most fundamental of democratic ideals: the purity of the vote," Paranjoy Singh Thakurta, a journalist and author, told Al Jazeera. "The autonomy of the media is meant to facilitate greater accountability of public personalities and reduce corruption. But when the media itself indulges in corrupt practises, especially during election campaigns, it seriously undermines the processes and structures that are meant to uphold and strengthen democracy," he said.

Costliest polls
According to various estimates, political parties in the world's largest democracy are pumping about $5bn into vigorous campaigns to lure 814 million voters - a sum second only to the 2012 US presidential polls, in which more than $6bn was spent.

According to the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies, which follows the election spending, a whopping $4.9bn (Rs 30,000 crore) is being spent on the elections, making it by far the most expensive electoral exercise in India's history.

Feature: Poll spending set to boost Indian economy

Advertising and media groups, the consumer goods sector and manufacturers of party flags and other campaign paraphernalia are benefiting from the huge spending, which is boosting India's struggling economy.

In addition to proposing that "paid news" be made an electoral offence, the Election Commission has also monitored candidates' expenditures. There are caps on how much candidates can spend on campaigning, and the election body has also made it mandatory for political parties and individual candidates to track their expenses on advertising in social media, which will be accounted for in the candidates' total expenditure.

Thakurta argues that much of paid news is, however, far less overt.

"Subtle and not-so-subtle attempts are made to 'commission' journalists to write articles that favour a particular candidate or discredit his opponent. In the absence of real investigative powers with the Press Council of India (PCI), including powers to conduct search and seizure operations, it is extremely difficult (and often impossible) to track illegal transactions in cash or kind," said Thakurta, who was one of the members of a sub-committee formed by the PCI in 2009 to examine the paid news phenomenon.

Media benefits

Campaign advertisements in TV, print, radio, and on the internet could see $800m pumped into the advertising sector during India's election season, according to a report by the country's largest local media agency, Madison Media.
"One of the major reason for 17 percent growth [in advertising sector] is [ongoing] Lok Sabha elections followed by five state elections [later]," said Sam Balsara, the chairman and managing director of Madison Media, which has been working with the BJP to help the party with media planning and buying for their campaign.

Listening Post - Indian media: Choosing sides?
"Besides, advertisement campaign on television will fuel rate hike, regional dailies will continue to grow, and phase three roll out of [FM] radio is expected to attract new local advertisers," added Balsara.
The Communist Party of India (CPI) recently wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner to ban opinion polls, which it called "paid news", after an undercover operation conducted by a news channel exposed the manipulation of numbers by opinion poll firms.

In the past few years, there have been numerous cases involving politicians and corporations spending big money for favourable press coverage.

Election guidelines allow candidates to spend up to $116,102 (Rs 70 lakh) on campaigns, but the actual cost is thought to be much higher than the approved sum. To assure voters' support, Indian politicians often bribe voters with cash payouts rolled in newspapers, mobile phone recharges or sometimes alcohol.

Election authorities have reportedly seized about $32m from politicians in the past three years during election-related raids.

Last month, Election Commissioner HS Brahma said the big money involved in polls is creating an uneven playing field. "The biggest challenge to all of us today is the nexus between the politicians and crime - and secondly, the money power," he said.

Corporate donations to politicians is not a new phenomenon. "This is a common practice. It is a quid pro quo deal," said Anil Verma of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which monitors election-related activities.

In the past eight years, businesses have donated a total of $62m (Rs 378 crore), constituting 87 percent of political parties' contributions from known sources, according to an ADR report.
"Also for contributions below $332 (Rs 20,000), the source does not have to be disclosed to tax authorities," Verma said. "This limit should be reduced so that source of any contribution is reflected in the candidate's affidavit to the election commission."

He said corporate funding to politicians is a common practice around the world. "But what we are saying is it should be transparent. If it's opaque, there will be obviously doubts."

Maulana Madani on India Elections - the perfect interview


Maulana Madani deserves a big salute for this interview. He spoke the sentiments of a majority of Muslims, at least me and 90% of what I wanted to say and have said it over the last several years.  If someone wants to know the state of Muslims in India - this is the snapshot.

I don't want to write about it, it is worth listening again and again, there is confidence, humor, assertiveness and patriotism in his language.  He spoke the truth with politeness and firmness. One of the best interviews from an Indian Muslim. I would have probably given the same interview.


Modi should not apologize for Gujarat 2002 riots, says Madani - the title is not what the interview is about. 

This is an exclusive interview by Rahul Kanwal with Muslim cleric Maulana Mahmood Madani said Narendra Modi is not secular and will have to treat everyone as equal if he becomes the prime minister. Rahul is a good interviewer as well.

I actually had a tear in my eye at 4:19 point of the interview. I love his confidence in India and India's pluralistic ethos. He and I have identical views and approach based on conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturence. He is a true follower of the Prophet.

We are deeply a pluralistic people and our heritage is loaded with pluralistic ethos. Men who are divisive are an insult to Hinduism and Islam’s pluralistic ethos. Remember men in all traditions have been violent, despite their religion teaching otherwise. It is not the religion; it is the selfishness and insecurity in men that drives them to be rotten pigs.

I used a provocative title to make the point, "for every Muslim ass, there is a Hindu ass" at
URL - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/04/for-every-muslim-ass-there-is-hindu-ass.html 

and "Modi's Nakshatra's are not in his favor" - http://www.opednews.com/articles/Narendra-Modi-s-Nakshatras-by-Mike-Ghouse-Anti-christian_Bharatiya-Janata-Party_Business_Congress-131227-999.html

and "India's future with Modi" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/indias-future-narendra-mo_b_4177079.html

I wrote in a note yesterday

It's not about Hindus or Muslims, but it is about;

1. Justice for every indian.

2. No indian needs to live in fear of the other, 

3. No Indian needs to be treated less than the other. 

Is this too much to ask?
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.

For every Muslim ass there is a Hindu ass

URL - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/04/for-every-muslim-ass-there-is-hindu-ass.html

Secularism will not die; it will be upgraded to Pluralism; India’s heritage.

Most Indians agree and support this statement, "let every Indian, pray, eat, sleep, drink, wear, think or believe whatever the hell he or she wants to do, but not impose his ideals onto others."

Indeed, a majority of Muslims, Hindus, and others mind their own business, taking care of the family, getting kids to school, having a job and thinking of comfortable retirement. 

It is time to scream at the rascal individuals be it in Congress or BJP  who talk divisiveness. Anyone who does not care about the others is not good for the society.

Indeed, for every Muslim ass, there is a Hindu ass, (or other assess). For every Azam, there is a Togadia, for every Bukhari there is an Amit Shah…  and many more popping by day.

The purpose of police, criminal justice and law is to protect Indians from these men who incite hatred.

Modi or Indira, they come and go, but India has been there and will always be there with its pluralistic ethos. If they do any damage or did not control the damage like the Sikh Genocides, Gujarat Massacre, Mistreatement of Dalits, Destruction of Babri Masjid, it will hurt for a long time, but will heal. India is too big for these temporals. I like that old song from Bombay to Goa - Na koi raha hai, no koi rahega, mere desh azad ho ke rahega.

We are deeply a pluralistic people and our heritage is loaded with pluralistic ethos. Men who are divisive are an insult to Hinduism and Islam’s pluralistic ethos. Remember men in all traditions have been violent, despite their religion teaching otherwise. It is not the religion; it is the selfishness and insecurity in men that drives them to be rotten pigs.

And, “Hinduism is the “Ellis Island of religions”. Pluralism and diversity are deeply ingrained in it, “the lines between different beliefs and practices are permeable membranes”

And, “India gave itself a secular, liberal constitution because a vast majority of all its people, in fact almost unanimously, determined that this was the finest formulation for nation-building in a land as diverse and complex as ours. The Constituent Assembly had participation from across the many ideological divides. The document it drafted has now acquired the status of scripture and nobody in mainstream politics dares to question it. The man credited with leading that process, Ambedkar, has been added to our pantheon of all-party gods.”

Now coming to deal with the extremism- a part of every society, every religion, every ethnicity and language.

The politicians want to label it religious, but in reality it is the arrogance of one over the other. Each group is deviating from the religious teachings of humility and chosing arrogance, ahankar etc.

I fully endorse the theme of the article " Secularism is dead" by Shekhar Gupta at Indian Express.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day  

# # #

Secularism is Dead

This anti-Modi battle cry is lazy, illiberal and an affront to Muslims — and to Hindus.
Shekhar Gupta | New Delhi | April 18, 2014 11:52 pm

The “secular” group, led by the Congress is pitchforking India’s Muslims into this unequal fight against the BJP.

This anti-Modi battle cry is lazy, illiberal and an affront to Muslims — and to Hindus.
If the opinion polls turn out to be generally correct, and Narendra Modi comes to power, it will unleash an angry flurry of obituaries of Indian secularism. Last week, some of India’s most respected public intellectuals signed a joint appeal to save the idea of India from Modi. That his rise is a crucial turn in the Hindutva project that began with the Babri Masjid demolition. That nobody and nothing will be able to resist this wave of saffron communalism. Not the liberals among the majority Hindus, not our great institutions and, least of all, Muslims.

Nothing could be lazier, more cowardly, illiberal or unfair to all three. Let me try to explain.

I said in a television discussion on NDTV 24×7 last week that India was not a secular country because only its minorities wished it to be secular. India is secular because its Hindu majority wants it to be so. I said, also, that if I were an Indian Muslim, I couldn’t be faulted for thinking sometimes that both sides on the secular divide in this election were hell bent on fighting their ideological battle to the last Muslim. It drew quite a bit of comment and I think it deserves a more detailed elaboration than a sound bite would allow.

This is how the picture would look to an Indian Muslim. First, the BJP, it would seem, has accepted that Muslims won’t vote for it, and it couldn’t care less. It would simply contest this election with, to take liberties with a golfing metaphor, a handicap of 15 per cent. The BJP is therefore not even bothering to address Muslim concerns and fears specifically. The “secular” group, led by the Congress, on the other hand, is pitchforking India’s Muslims into this unequal fight against the BJP. As if the responsibility of saving our secularism lies with our Muslim minority. An Indian Muslim would find it both unfair and worrying.

To say that only Muslim consolidation can stop Modi, or at least limit his mandate, is unfair to the Hindu majority as well. It is as if all of the Hindus have joined the RSS and have no faith in constitutional secularism. This is rubbish. Because if such was the case,  Modi would probably equal Rajiv Gandhi’s 1984 mandate of 415, if not better it. No such thing is about to happen. The most generous opinion poll estimates put the NDA’s vote share in the mid-30s, which accounts for just over a third of India’s Hindus. The remaining majority will be voting for others. And most of these 30-odd per cent would vote for the BJP/NDA not because they want to build grand temples, spank the Muslims or banish them to Pakistan. They will be voting in search of an alternative to the weakest, most incompetent, uncommunicative and incoherent full-term government in our history. Having voted in the UPA so enthusiastically for a second time, they are going elsewhere, in search of jobs, more buying power, stability and confidence. To insinuate that this mass of Hindus will be voting Modi because they have suddenly turned communal is unfair to them.

It is also intellectually lazy, morally cynical and politically disastrous. Put more simply, it is a bit like saying that Hindus have been voting for the Congress and other “secular” forces all these decades because they were not given a convincing saffron option.
India gave itself a secular, liberal constitution because a vast majority of all its people, in fact almost unanimously, determined that this was the finest formulation for nation-building in a land as diverse and complex as ours. The Constituent Assembly had participation from across the many ideological divides. The document it drafted has now acquired the status of scripture and nobody in mainstream politics dares to question it. The man credited with leading that process, Ambedkar, has been added to our pantheon of all-party gods.

It is also unique. Unlike Western countries, where secularism means living with one or two faiths, Christianity and Judaism or Islam, India is a deeply religious country, and peopled by every religion invented, including the many thousand variants of Hinduism. As Wendy Doniger says in her magisterial book, The Hindus — the one Penguin pulped, quivering with fear in the face of a man called Dina Nath Batra — Hinduism is the “Ellis Island of religions”. Pluralism and diversity are deeply ingrained in it, “the lines between different beliefs and practices are permeable membranes”. That is why, she says, there are countless more narratives of Hinduism than the ones defined by Sanskrit, Brahmins and the Gita. And if I may dare to make my own risky addition to that list of defining three, by the RSS or VHP.

In a country where the determinants of identity change every 10 miles, from religion to caste to language to ethnicity to culture, tribe, sub-tribe and region, secularism is the glue needed to keep it all together. It isn’t just a charter to protect Muslims. The Hindus need it as much as them. That is all the more reason why India is secular, and must remain so.
Indian Muslims can, in fact, complain that over the decades, they have been taken for granted and offered a minimal political deal in return for their votes: to give them physical protection from the Hindu right. I know some will argue that even that promise was never really kept. But the truth is, the Muslim vote has been hostage to fear. Explaining why he had joined the BJP now, M.J. Akbar said to me that in the “Congress/secular” view so far, the Indian Muslim had to conform to one of three stereotypes: the decadent, decrepit feudal with sherwani fraying at the collar, as portrayed in the 1960s’ “Muslim socials” like Mere Mehboob, a riot victim like the crying Gujarati with folded hands in that infamous 2002 portrait, or a petty criminal in the image of Haji Mastan, even if sometimes with a sacrificing heart of gold.

Since he hasn’t delivered, despite my asking him several times to put this in an article, I am borrowing the idea. That mainstream, liberal politics in India has deliberately failed to treat the Muslim as a mainstream Indian. The extreme and most shameful manifestation of this was Azam Khan’s claim that the peaks of Kargil were conquered not by Hindu soldiers of our army, but by Muslims with the battle cry of Allah-o-Akbar. This is not a secular claim, but amounts to spreading communalism to the one institution that remains so secular, the army. It is true that Muslim soldiers fought alongside the Hindus and the rest in Kargil. Two of the battalions with mostly Muslim soldiers, 12 JAK LI and 22 Grenadiers, suffered heavy casualties.

But to now view them in isolation, through a sectarian prism, and pit them competitively against their fellow soldiers from other faiths is not secularism. It isn’t even pseudo-secularism. It is the most cynical, anti-minority communalism. That is why this newspaper and this writer had objected so furiously to the Sachar Committee’s misplaced idea of investigating the recruitment patterns and numbers of Muslims in the army (‘Kitne Musalman hain?’, National Interest, IE, February 18, 2006, iexp.in/FC79596)
The fundamental values of our secular Constitution sustain because of our institutions, which are trusted as fair and secular. The Election Commission can send Imran Masood to jail, ban Azam Khan and Amit Shah and then let one off with an apology. Some will call it unfair but nobody calls it communal. The Supreme Court, the UPSC, the armed forces, the mainstream media and the public intellectual class are, by and large, liberal and secular. Of course, these institutions will be tested by such a fundamental ideological shift on Raisina Hill.

But that is why the founding fathers invented them. We need to strengthen them, preserve their credibility and freedoms to protect and strengthen our secularism. It is too hasty to write its epitaph. Or to hunt for a sabbatical to a liberal campus on the American east coast until some post-Modi secular resurrection. I am conscious that this column is being written on Good Friday. But that is purely coincidental.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Indian Movie on Pluralism - Dekh Tamasha Dekh

url- http://foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com/2014/04/indian-movie-on-pluralism-dekh-tamasha.html

It is a dream come true movie for me.

I hope the following piece on the movie reflects the actual movie, if it does, I am happy to see a movie which will develop understanding between the two people of the subcontinent in conflict; Hindus, Muslims and Christians.  All of them have been played around by the damned politicians to their advantage.

 We all need to face things squarely in the movie format and understand it, we all have to live with each other, and if we do, then  why not make the life less tensionous?

Most of the conflicts,  if not all are due to misunderstanding about each other, we must remember knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of another point of view.

If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

We need to create societies where no one has to live in fear of the other.

God willing, I am set to make a similar film in the American Context and shooting begins in June or July depending on funding, it will be a 60 Minutes movie and will be shot in Mulberry, Florida.

Mike Ghouse
Foundation for Pluralism

# # #

Dekh Tamasha Dekh
Cast: Vinay Jain, Satish Kaushik and Tanvi Azmi
Director: Feroz Abbas Khan
Rating: ****
- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/reviews/movie-review-dekh-tamasha-dekh-is-an-honest-take-on-hindu-muslim-relations/article1-1209906.aspx#sthash.qBuJDFcn.dpuf

Dekh Tamasha Dekh
Cast: Vinay Jain, Satish Kaushik and Tanvi Azmi
Director: Feroz Abbas Khan
Rating: ****

Routinely, we love to sweep the truth about Hindu-Muslim relations under the carpet. Or simply sugar-coat it to make the actual volume of mutual distrust and animosity palatable to a nation steeped in escapism and self-delusion.

A still from the film Dekh Tamasha Dekh.

Dekh Tamasha Dekh (DTD), directed by theatre legend Feroz Abbas Khan (of Tumhari Amrita fame) is a jolting wake-up call for a nation swept into a slumberous silence by the status quo. Put simply, we don't want to face the reality about the friction that simmers just under the surface among the two communities.

DTD is perhaps the first Hindi film which ventures into the vista of vitriolic without the fear of offending the more refined sections of the audience who may not be comfortable watching the vanguards and trouble-makers of the two communities addressing each other with the harshest of epithets.

This is not a film about niceties. The director doesn't allow the narrative to nibble daintily at corrosive socio-political matters. Rather, the narrative chews industriously on the political issues. By using the twin missiles of satire and irony, he brings into a play a kind of pinned-down provocativeness into the plot whereby the characters become real and representational simultaneously.

Miraculously, the film is both a parable and a topical comment on communal relations. This is a film that takes burning headlines and converts them into slices of incriminating illustration on man and the beast within. The smell of authenticity pervades the destiny of the political-driven nefariously motivated characters.

This is literary cinema. The characters and their situations unfold like chapters from an epic novel. This is Govind Nihalani's "Tamas" without the recognisable punctuation marks. The director authors the characters' destiny in scenes that are written like chapters. Amazingly, the context of the scenes are explained to the audience without the crutches of a voice-over.

Take that lengthy but hilarious sequence where the newspaper editor Mutha Seth (Satish Kaushik, slimy and Machiavellian as can be) summons the newspaper editor and treats him like a pet dog - literally barking orders to both the canine and the editor at the same time. Elsewhere, a wife (Tanvi Azmi, eloquence personified) grieve for her dead husband while women of the neighbourhood join in to while away their time while waiting for the taps to supply water.

A mother-daughter sequence towards the end featuring the lyrical Tanvi Azmi and her on-screen daughter (Apoorva Arora) reminds us that political cinema need not be dry and emotionless. As the characters shed their humanism, the plot gathers a sense of tragic redemption that we sense waiting around the corner.

It's the kingdom of the quirky and the tragic. Khan portrays a world that is both bizarre and poignant.

Images of violence and retribution coalesce in Khan's world, which is replete with stark visuals of the town-people bickering bitterly over a non-issue that's been blown out of all proportions by trouble-makers.

DTD is a work of many contradictory forces pulling and tugging at the plot as it stretches out in a saga of valour and vitality, caprice and cowardice. Remarkably, the narrative makes no use of extraneous artificial sounds to create a heightened drama.

The natural sounds that pervade the soundtrack add to an eerie sense of a world of fearsome anxieties. Indeed, sound designer Baylon Fonseca is one of the heroes of this film. Sreekar Prasad edits the material to retain the rawness of mood without sacrificing the smoothness of narration. Hemant Chaturvedi's cinematography sweeps across the town prowling to peep into homes and hearts that are a flame with an anxious identity crisis.

Rarely does cinema take us so deep into the socio-political dynamics of communal disharmony. Honest to the core, brutal, ironical and disturbing, the director's world of Hindu-Muslim strife is cluttered with a compelling tension that erupts into welters of well-aimed social comment.

What we come away with is a film committed to mirroring the murk and mirth of organized religion and a disorganized system of governance which plays a game of appeasement with religious communities, setting off one group of people against another.

Stark, real, disturbing, ironical, funny and gripping, Dekh Tamasha Dekh is the film Govind Nihalani would have made if only he had the freedom to call a spade a spade. Not all the truth of Khan's cinema is palatable or even fully intelligible. But there is little here that doesn't provide food for thought.

This is a film that addresses itself to ideas and thoughts buried away from human consideration. We don't want to consider to what depth human nature can fall if pushed against a dirty wall. To record the dirt on the wall and the blood on the floor with such clarity and honesty is not within the creative powers of every filmmaker.

This is an important treatise of our times, and it should not be missed by any Indian.
- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/reviews/movie-review-dekh-tamasha-dekh-is-an-honest-take-on-hindu-muslim-relations/article1-1209906.aspx

2014 prophecy: Pluralism, not secularism, is India’s destiny

Indeed, India a model of Pluralistic Democracy rather than the Secular democracy. The Author, Jaganathan has penned it very well.

As Doctors, Engineers and other contribute to America, as a social scientist, my contribution to America is India's pluralistic ethos through many sites on pluralism. 

2014 prophecy: Pluralism, not secularism, is India’s destiny
url- http://www.firstpost.com/india/2014-prophecy-pluralism-not-secularism-is-indias-destiny-1487407.html?utm_source=ref_article

I have written a number of articles on the topic, a few are listed here

1. http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2011/08/happy-independence-day-india.html
Personally about me

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Being Muslim Under Narendra Modi

It is a good summary of what it is like. The author could have added a lot more.

The right wing Indians simply cannot see the problems fellow Indians face,  some of them are rather happy that Muslims are pushed around, but thank God the majority of Indians are good people.

Mike Ghouse

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AHMEDABAD, India — Late last month I bought an Indian comic book online. I hadn’t bought one since the mid-80s, when I was a boy and would walk to the bookstore in my hometown in Kashmir to pick up copies of D.C. and Marvel Comics, or Amar Chitra Katha, a series based on the lives of major contemporary, historical and mythological figures in India. My latest purchase, “Bal Narendra” (“Boy Narendra”), was styled after Amar Chitra Katha.

I turned the pages with a mixture of anticipation and foreboding. The book purports to tell stories from the childhood of Narendra Modi, the longtime chief minister of Gujarat, one of the richest states in India, and the polarizing Hindu nationalist candidate for prime minister in the ongoing election. The tales are part of Mr. Modi’s high-octane campaign effort to present himself as a bearer of good governance, growth and efficiency.

Bal Narendra, the son of a tea-seller in a small town of Gujarat, embodies many virtues: courage, wit, diligence, fairness, compassion. He sells tea at a village fair to raise money for flood victims. In devotion to the religious tradition of his village, he swims across a lake full of crocodiles and hoists a flag on top of a temple on an island. When some bullies rough up a weaker child at school, he marks them by throwing ink from his fountain pen on their shirts and denounces them to the principal.

The publishers of the comic book — available exclusively from Infibeam, an Amazon-like online retailer run by a Gujarati entrepreneur close to Mr. Modi — would have you believe that now that he is all grown up, Bal Narendra is just as brave, clever and just. If anything, however, Mr. Modi’s public record paints the picture of a leader unapologetically divisive and sectarian.

It was on his watch as chief minister that more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims, were killed throughout Gujarat in 2002, when rioting erupted after some 60 Hindus died in a burning train in Godhra. A Human Rights Watch report that year asserted that the state government and local police officials were complicit in the carnage.

Mr. Modi has not visited the camps of the Muslims displaced by the violence or apologized for his government’s failure to protect a minority. Instead, he has described the reprisal killings of Muslims that year as a simple “reaction” to an “action,” namely the deaths of the Hindu train passengers — and has said he felt as sad about them as would a passenger in a car that accidentally ran over a puppy. His only regret, he once told a reporter for this paper, was failing to manage the media fallout.

Even as candidate for prime minister, Mr. Modi has not given up his sectarian ways. Nor has his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Of the 449 B.J.P. candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. The party’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, even though the destruction of that mosque by Hindu extremists and B.J.P. supporters in 1992 devolved into violence that killed several thousand people.

Amit Shah, a former Gujarat minister and Mr. Modi’s closest aide, is awaiting trial for the murder of three people the police suspect of plotting to assassinate Mr. Modi. (Mr. Shah calls the charges a political conspiracy.) He has made speeches inciting anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu voters, including in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, despite an outbreak of sectarian violence there last September.

The problem isn’t just about rhetoric. Judging by the evidence in Gujarat, where Mr. Modi has been chief minister since 2001, a B.J.P. victory in the general election would increase marginalization and vulnerability among India’s 165 million Muslims.

Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, has become a wealthy metropolis of about six million people and three million private vehicles. Office complexes, high-rise apartments, busy markets and shopping malls have replaced the poor villages that once dotted the land. The city has a mass transit system called People’s Path, with corridors reserved for buses.

But Ahmedabad ceases to swagger in Juhapura, a southwestern neighborhood and the city’s largest Muslim ghetto, with about 400,000 people. I rode around there last week on the back of a friend’s scooter. On the dusty main street was a smattering of white and beige apartment blocks and shopping centers. A multistory building announced itself in neon signs as a community hall; a restaurant boasted of having air-conditioning. The deeper we went into the neighborhood, the narrower the streets, the shabbier the buildings, the thicker the crowds.

 The edge of the ghetto came abruptly. Just behind us was a row of tiny, single-story houses with peeling paint. Up ahead, in an empty space the size of a soccer field, children chased one another, jumping over heaps of broken bricks. “This is The Border,” my friend said. Beyond the field was a massive concrete wall topped with barbed wire and oval surveillance cameras. On the other side, we could see a neat row of beige apartment blocks with air conditioners securely attached to the windows — housing for middle-class Hindu families.

Mr. Modi’s engines of growth seem to have stalled on The Border. His acclaimed bus network ends a few miles before Juhapura. The route of a planned metro rail line also stops short of the neighborhood. The same goes for the city’s gas pipelines, which are operated by a company belonging to a billionaire businessman close to Mr. Modi.

“The sun is allowed into Juhapura. The rain is allowed into Juhapura. The wind is allowed into Juhapura,” Asif Pathan, a 41-year-old resident, said with sarcasm. “I get a bill for water tax and pay it, but we don’t get piped water here.” The locals rely on bore wells, which cough up salty, insalubrious water.

Mr. Pathan has been living in Juhapura since 1988, when his father, a retired district judge, bought a house here from a Hindu man. “My father said, ‘When the storm comes, you don’t get more than 10 minutes to run,"’ Mr. Pathan explained, referring to the threat of sectarian violence. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Juhapura was a mixed Hindu-Muslim neighborhood, but with the string of sectarian clashes in Gujarat — in 1985, 1992 and 2002 — more Muslims began to move here, seeking relative safety among people like themselves. Prejudice begets riots, and riots only exacerbate prejudice, and so the population of Juhapura has almost doubled since 2002.

After the 2002 riots, Mr. Pathan, a teacher, began tutoring children in Juhapura. Then he quit his job and, with his father’s support, bought a large patch of land by the highway that runs through Juhapura. In 2008 he started his own school. Now, around 1,300 children there attend classes in both Gujarati and English in airy classrooms. “We simply have to help ourselves,” Mr. Pathan said.

But self-help only goes so far, in Juhapura, and elsewhere. A large chunk of Narol, an area on the southern edge of Ahmedabad, was once a patch of uninhabited brushland that belonged to a wealthy political family. After Mr. Modi’s government refused to help relocate victims of the 2002 riots, several secular and Islamic organizations and small-time Muslims developers got involved. They bought land, cleared it, and built tenement houses, asbestos-lined roofs and all. About 120 homes were assigned by lottery to Muslims displaced from Naroda Patia, in northeast Ahmedabad. The cluster is called Citizens’ Nagar, or Citizens’ City, and wherever you stand in the self-made neighborhood you can see, half a mile away, a big brown mountain: the largest garbage dump in Mr. Modi’s boom city.

When I walked around Citizens’ Nagar last week, the brown mountain was burning into thick gray clouds under a harsh afternoon sun. The wind pushed pungent fumes toward the tenements. I struggled to breathe and feared I would vomit.

“Every year we have lived here I feel weaker,” said Mohsin Syed, a wiry 25-year-old from Naroda Patia who now works as a carpenter in a factory nearby. “I can’t run like I used to. I don’t eat like I used to.” He complained of pain in his joints, said he needed surgery for kidney stones, and added, “This place, this pollution, takes a decade off one’s life.”

His father, Najeebudin Syed, a large man with a short beard, told me that the many petitions he has sent to local authorities describing living conditions in the area have been ignored. “Once a week, they bring garbage from the Ahmedabad hospitals — bandages, medicine, refuse of all kinds. The smell is so foul, so bitter, that we know in a minute it is from the hospitals,” he said.

Some days, the carcasses of dead animals are brought to the dump.

That evening, back in my hotel room, I read another story from the comic book “Bal Narendra.” The boy is at a camp of the National Cadet Corps — the Indian version of the Eagle Scouts — when he notices a pigeon in a tree entangled in the strings of a kite. Holding a razor blade between his teeth, he climbs up, cuts the lines and frees the injured bird. I remembered Juhapura’s putrid water and the carcasses on the brown mountain, and wondered how a Prime Minister Narendra would wield that blade.

Basharat Peer is the author of “Curfewed Night,” a memoir of the conflict in Kashmir.

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BJP vis-a-vis Indian Muslims and the elections

This article has made a sincere effort to present the current relationship between BJP vis-a-vis Muslims, although it is not complete, it has the elements that Muslim and Hindus will find agreement with. 

Continued http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-crescent-in-lotus.html

Mike Ghouse 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The crescent in the lotus


This article has made a sincere effort to present the current relationship between BJP vis-a-vis Muslims, although it is not complete, it has the elements that Muslim and Hindus will find agreement with.

A few Christians have a deep seated hatred for Jews, as the Christ Killers, and it erupts every now and then in the form of blatant or subtle anti-Semitism. Likewise, a few Hindus have carried hatred for Muslims from the ugly acts of Ghazni, Aurangzeb and other tyrants, who shamelessly wore the Muslim label. Both people have not taken up to understand that. We simply cannot carry this ill-will forever; we have to shed this and come together on current terms. None of the Muslims of today are related to those bad guys, nor are they beneficiaries of those tyrants.

Neither Hindus nor Muslims follow their own faith – if they understand and believe in the wisdom of Bhagvad Gita and Quran, they would look up to each other as members of the larger tent and not carry this venom.

The new generation of RSS members may not be as prejudiced as the old farts who cannot purify themselves with the hatred formed over the years, I am sure they have made sincere attempts to get mukti from their hatred for Muslims, but unfortunately they are stuck, they cannot find freedom from that bondage of hate, as it erupts now and then, and all we (Indians together) can do is pray for them to be free.

The fact of the matter is a majority of Muslims and Hindu are reflecting and struggling about it, while a few on both sides spew venom.

If BJP wants to be a genuine party of India, then it needs to act and represent all Indians, include all Indians, and abandon the idiotic idea of treating Muslims, Dalits or Christians as having lesser rights than themselves. Until the old farts die off, and their poisoned children die, things will be difficult to change, but if they raise the new generation with purity, then BJP can hope to be a national party of Indians, by Indians for Indians.

Why should any Indian support a party that will tear up India? Is it good for India in the long run? The few Muslims, who are joining BJP, must join as fully contributing members of the nation with equal stakes in party’s outcomes – and not as tokens or appeasement. If they cannot be treated as equal, they should not join and suffer the humiliation. I feel sorry for them.

Mike Ghouse

The new generation of
The crescent in the lotus
What does it mean to be a Muslim leader in the Bharatiya Janata Party? The author digs deeper to understand how they are perceived by their party and the community
Archis Mohan 
April 19, 2014 Last Updated at 00:24 IST

In early March, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, the Muslim poster boy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was shocked out of his wits to hear that the party might field him from the Kishanganj Lok Sabha seat in Bihar. The 45-year-old former civil aviation minister soon discovered that Ashwini Kumar Choubey, another BJP leader from Bihar, had convinced the party leadership that Hussain contesting from the Muslim majority Kishanganj made more electoral sense than making him the party candidate yet again from the predominantly Hindu Bhagalpur.

Hussain, say party insiders, felt insulted. He was aghast that BJP would subject him, the party's only Muslim face in the outgoing Lok Sabha and its sitting MP from Bhagalpur, to exactly the kind of vote bank politics and appeasement of Muslims that it criticises the so-called 'secular' parties for. Hussain's argument appealed to the leadership. The engineer-turned-politician was retained as the Bhagalpur candidate of the party, while Choubey, who had eyed that seat, was asked to contest from Buxar.

But what hurt Hussain, say his confidants, was how none from the senior leadership of the party so much as rebuked Choubey for the bigoted public attack he had launched on the Muslim leader. "Choubey went around telling people how Muslims shouldn't be allowed to take over BJP, and that our (Muslim's) entry in the party should be restricted," says a close aide of Hussain. A couple of senior leaders did, however, sympathise with Hussain and apologised for Choubey's behaviour. "You journalists are quick to describe us as masks but don't try to understand how much we endure," the Hussain aide says.

A couple of weeks later, the other important Muslim face of BJP too landed in a controversy. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi publicly protested against the entry of Janata Dal (United) discard Sabir Ali in the party. "Terrorist Bhatkal friend joins BJP...soon accepting Dawood (Ibrahim)", Naqvi tweeted on March 28 within hours of party president Rajnath Singh accepting Ali in the BJP fold.

Few in the party took notice of Naqvi's tweet. Fewer still could make sense of Naqvi's opposition to Ali becoming a BJP member. None could fathom why Naqvi, a Shia from Uttar Pradesh, should have any problems with the entry of Ali, a leader of the backward and predominantly Sunni Muslim weavers of Bihar? The BJP leadership, including Singh and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, had hoped Ali would bolster BJP's electoral chances in Bihar.

Party leaders were alarmed the next morning when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Ram Madhav echoed Naqvi's statement. "Sabir Ali's induction has caused great resentment. Party leadership has been apprised of the strong views of the cadre and people against it," tweeted Madhav. Ali was thrown out of the party within 24-hours of having joined it.

The incident left the leaders, who thought they had won in Ali a valuable electoral trophy, upset with RSS. It was also evident that RSS had wanted a Muslim to oppose the entry of another lest it was, yet again, painted as anti-Muslim.

Both incidents, says a Dalit BJP leader, illustrate the tenuous relationship the Sangh Parivar has with party leaders who represent marginalised communities like the Muslims and Dalits. "Much has changed in the party's approach to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) because of the emergence of leaders like Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati and Modi. But the party is still learning to engage with Dalits and Muslims more effectively," says the leader. He admires Modi for having initiated the process of inducting more Muslims and Dalits into the party.

But this lack of trust leads Muslim leaders of the party to constantly feel a need to prove their allegiance to the Sangh Parivar. They feel, confessed a BJP Minority Morcha worker, that their conduct is perennially under the microscope. It further weakens their position within the party that the Muslim community doesn't give the BJP's Muslim leaders the same respect that it would accord to, say, an Azam Khan of the Samajwadi Party or a K Rehman Khan of the Congress.

"Both Muslims and Dalits need to continuously engage with the Sangh Parivar as also their own communities to change attitudes and carve out a bigger space for themselves in BJP," says the Dalit leader.

Journalist Shahid Siddiqui agrees with the assessment. "More and more Muslims need to engage with BJP. My community needs to get out of the voting ghetto that it has become for the so-called secular parties," he says. Siddiqui, who edits Urdu weekly Nai Duniya, says it was likely BJP will give representation to more Muslims if the community were to join it in larger numbers. Until now, the party has just two Muslim MPs, Naqvi and Congress discard Najma Heptullah, in the ranks of its 46 Rajya Sabha members.

Hussain was the lone Muslim among BJP's 116 MPs in the outgoing Lok Sabha. He is likely to remain the party's only MP in the next Lok Sabha as well despite the party having fielded as many as five Muslims this time. The other four are contesting from Anantnag and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, and Tamluk and Ghatal in West Bengal - seats the party has never won and is unlikely to win this time either.

Such is the party's lack of confidence in its ability to attract Muslim voters to its side that it didn't field a single Muslim candidate in Uttar Pradesh, where many of the 80 Lok Sabha seats have a Muslim population sizeable enough to determine the result.

Over the years, both BJP and its earlier avatar, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, have struggled to find credible Muslim faces that they could accommodate in their frontline leadership. Journalists M J Akbar and Aijaz Ilmi, inducted in BJP in mid-March, are the latest entrants to the very small club of the party's Muslim leaders.

Incidentally, Ilmi is the brother-in-law of Arif Mohammed Khan, a well-known Muslim leader whose entry into BJP in 2004 was considered a coup of sorts for the party. Arif's stay in the party was shortlived and is instructive of how the saffron party treats its Muslim leaders differently when in power and when out of it.

Arif Mohammad Khan, with an impeccable image of a progressive Muslim who had quit the Rajiv Gandhi government on the issue of the latter's handling of the Shah Bano case and the decision to open the gates of Ram Janmabhoomi in 1986, had joined BJP when most expected the party to return to power on the strength of its 'India Shining' campaign.

Explaining his decision to join BJP, Khan had cited Muslim social activist Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who had come to the conclusion in 1857 that it was not possible for the Muslims to fight the British because they were much superior in all aspects. "Therefore, Sir Syed said instead of fighting, befriend them, learn, overcome your drawbacks, and then see if you can create goodwill. Likewise, today I feel the same thing after having spent so much time in Gujarat," Arif Mohammad Khan had said. He argued that the Muslims should also increase their engagement with a BJP that was growing politically stronger by the day. But BJP failed to make it to Delhi, and three years later in 2007 Arif Mohammad Khan quit the party complaining that BJP had ignored him.

Khan was possibly the tallest Muslim leader to join BJP after Sikander Bakht and Arif Baig. Bakht, a founding member of BJP when it was launched in its new avatar in April 1980 and somebody happier to stay in the shadows of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, passed away in 2002. He was the party's pre-eminent leader in Delhi, was a cabinet minister in both the 13-day government of 1996 and then in the 1998 and 1999 governments before becoming a governor. Meanwhile, Baig had quit the socialists to join the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1973. He famously defeated Shankar Dayal Sharma as the Janata Party candidate in 1977 and was a BJP MP from Betul in 1989. When he quit the party in 1996, Baig told the media that the party was "unwilling to accept any Muslims" and only wanted people with Muslim sounding names. Baig returned to BJP in 2003 but couldn't convince his Muslim supporters to vote for the party. He was the only Muslim BJP candidate in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections of 2013 but lost to the Congress' Arif Aqueel.

Apart from these two, the Jana Sangh had several Muslim leaders in Delhi. Urdu litterateur Imdad Sabri represented it in Delhi Metropolitan Council and became Delhi's mayor. Other local level leaders were cleric Maulana Ikhlaq Hussain Qasmi, Anwar Ali Dehelvi, Begum Khurshid Kidwai and Md Ismail. All of them represented the party from Muslim majority areas.

BJP has continued the trend of giving Muslims representation at the municipal level. Currently, there are 100 Muslims representing the party in urban bodies across Madhya Pradesh. There are four Muslim MLAs in Rajasthan. In Gujarat, between 2009 and 2013, the party nominated 297 Muslims for local body elections, of whom 142 (48 per cent) won. Surprisingly, the party denied tickets to Muslims in the assembly elections of 2012.

Many, like party's in-house psephologist GVL Narasimha Rao, have argued in the past that BJP shouldn't bother with the Muslims. In 2012, Rao pointed out how the party bagged 52 of Uttar Pradesh's 85 seats in 1996 and 57 seats in 1998 on the strength of a consolidated Hindu vote. He claimed the party won despite the vehement opposition from the Muslims and their tactical voting against the party. But a year later, the party's tally dipped to 29 seats in the 1999 elections, exposing the limits of its vote catching abilities in times of religious calm.

Muslims like Nai Duniya editor Siddiqui believe it is in times of such calm that more and more of his co-religionists should engage with BJP. He says neither the party nor the Muslims should wait for the other to make the first move. "It is like a chicken and egg situation. BJP feels why give tickets to Muslims when the community doesn't vote for the party. The Muslims think they would rather not give their votes to a party that doesn't represent them or talk of their interests," says Siddiqui. "Muslims engaging with BJP will be healthy for a secular democracy." BJP, he adds, also needs to take a few more steps to win the hearts and minds of the Muslims.

Mumbai-based social activist Pheroze Mithiborewalla, however, disagrees with both Siddiqui and Khan. He says Muslims continue to suffer in Gujarat and are denied democratic freedoms like holding public rallies. "These Muslim BJP leaders and that party's outreach to the community aren't to get Muslim votes, but to fool centrist and secular Hindus into believing that BJP has changed. Unfortunately, it cannot change its anti-Muslim core," he avers, adding that BJP's Muslim faces were mostly seen as opportunists within the community.

Zafar-ul-Islam Khan, editor of the Milli Gazette, says the Muslims would be willing to support the saffron party and its Muslim faces if only it showed sensitivity to Muslim concerns. He cites how the Gujarat government is yet to give compensation to the victims of the 2002 riots in Gujarat, the absence of a minority commission in that state and the Gujarat government's refusal to allow scholarship scheme for minorities as examples that BJP remained unchanged in its stance. "Our community," says Khan, "is not their enemy. Let them show us that that they have our interest at heart."