POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 29, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 29, 2012 23:40 IST

Of the many TV shows, documentaries and discussions, the Last Word with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN stood out, which discussed: Whether Narendra Modi still faces serious questions about his alleged role Is he the best administrator in the country? Or can both coincide?

Excerpts:

Karan Thapar: Does the good administration image wash away his role in 2002 or does it simply reveal that here we have a schizophrenic or Janus-like personality? 

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 29, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 29, 2012 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 28, 2012 AT 23:31 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 28, 2012 23:31 IST

Christophe Jaffrelot in the Indian Express: The Modi Message:

Ten years after the 2002 carnage, in spite of repeated attempts by the Supreme Court and the determination of the victims as well as (suspended) policemen, NGOs and media persons, justice has not been delivered and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims has not taken place in Gujarat. Whatever happens to Chief Minister Narendra Modi legally, he has already been held guilty on several counts, regarding violence of an unprecedented magnitude since Partition; he has not punished the policemen who let the massacres take place. On the contrary, they have been promoted; he has not given Muslim victims and their kin the compensation to which they were entitled and he has never apologised to the Muslim citizens of his state. In spite of that, he remains the strongest political leader of Gujarat and may also become an all-India leader.

Harsh Mander in the Hindustan Times: I am still able to hope

Today much of that grief persists, because of the many great failures of these 10 years after the massacre: the profound social failures of reconciliation and forgiveness; the legal failures of justice; and the political failures of democratic accountability. Those responsible for mass crimes and continuing persecution of minorities stand unpunished and defiant. I mourn also that leaders of industry, political parties, even social movements, celebrate the administration in Gujarat. They claim that the ‘bigger picture’ is of economic growth, administrative efficiency and alleged financial probity, rendering insignificant the ‘smaller picture’ of mere massacre and profiling.

I have not met a single survivor who has been able to regain the levels of living which they enjoyed before the carnage. Memories of how life was before the storm haunt them each day; of all that they lost that can never be reclaimed. Around half the 200,000 people who fled murderous mobs and burning homes 10 years ago can never return to the lands of their birth. Entire villages have been ‘cleansed’ of their erstwhile Muslim residents.

Around 30,000 persons subsist in small bare tenements in relief colonies built by mainly Muslim organisations as temporary settlements of refuge, but now their permanent homes. Others who could afford it have moved into the safety of numbers in crowded Muslim ghettoes. They were forced to sell their lands and properties at distress rates to their Hindu neighbours. The state remains openly hostile to these Muslim settlements, and discriminates in basic public services like drinking water, roads, electrification and sewerage.

Farah Naqvi in the Hindu: The battle against forgetting 

People say — “move on, get a life, why do activists keep raking up this ‘unpleasant' past? It's been 10 years.” Why? Because if we settle for the past as some would like it scripted, we threaten the meaning of our present, and endanger our future. These contestations are not just about many battles in courtrooms that must be waged. The contestation is about the meaning of citizenship. It is about the relationship between citizen and State. It is about challenging State impunity. Gujarat is the battle for collective memory against forgetting because it is ultimately the battle for the idea of India.

In 1950, India made a constitutional promise to protect the rights of its minorities to live with dignity and with full rights of citizenship. Time and again, that sacred promise has been violated — in Delhi, Nellie, Meerut, Bhagalpur, Hashimpura, Kandhamal, Gujarat and most recently in Gopalgarh (Sept. 2011). In each case, innocents were murdered, maimed, sexually assaulted, burnt out of hearth and home, scattered to the winds, simply because of their minority identity, because of who they were. In each episode of targeted violence, the officers of the State acted in a biased manner, failing in their duty to protect, to prosecute, and to give justice. How long can this go on? How long will those in political power use the might of the State, the guns, and the police, and sirens against one group of citizens and get away with it? Institutional biases of the State machinery cannot be acceptable in any civilised democracy — that is the lesson of Gujarat.

Shiv Visvanathan in the Asian Age: Godhra, Meet Me at Gulberg

For us, the law is a claim to sanity. The law as a rule of law is a protection against majority politics. For us the law is a guarantee that those who threaten us are still subject to the law. The law is a guarantee that even the policeman and the bureaucrat are under the law. When the law lets us down, then the survivor becomes truly homeless.

There is something about the language of riots that hurts. The politicians say things are normal, that we must forget, that we must all develop together. We want normalcy and we want development. Come to our transit camps and explain why transit is a word for a place that is 10 years old today. Explain what transit means to children who were born there and know no other life. Forget justice, give us tap water, jobs, a guarantee that you will not repeat this on our children and we are ready to move on.

This is why many of us meet at Gulberg today. Gulberg was a scene of mass murder.

Gulberg is all of us. It demands from you an ethics of memory, a code of honour and our rights as citizens. Till then, the houses at Gulberg stand empty to remind you of the emptiness in our lives. Gulberg, as it stands, is the beginning of the sadbhavana yatra. The path to healing begins with truth. This means no chief minister, no special investigation team, no majority can destroy the citizenship of survival as a community of truth.

Vinod K Jose in the Caravan: The Emperor Uncrowned

Shortly before I left Gujarat, one RSS leader described his own feelings in a bitter sigh: “Shivling mein bichhu baitha hai. Na usko haath se utaar sakte ho, na usko joota maar sakte ho.” A scorpion is sitting on Shivling, the holy phallus of Lord Shiva. It can neither be removed by hand nor slapped with a shoe.

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 28, 2012 AT 23:31 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 28, 2012 23:31 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 28, 2012 AT 18:45 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 28, 2012 18:45 IST

India had to make 321 in 40 overs against Sri Lanka to keep their chances alive to reach the finals. And they - to the incredulousness of many - managed to do just that in 36.4 overs. It was not just Kohli, though. Sehwag made 30 in 16 balls, Sachin 39 in 30, Gambhir 63 in 64 and Suresh Raina 40 in 24. Kohli remained unbeaten with Raina, scoring 133 in 86 balls with 16 fours and two sixes

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FILED IN:  Cricket - ODIs
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 28, 2012 AT 18:45 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 28, 2012 18:45 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 27, 2012 AT 20:45 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2012 20:45 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 27, 2012 AT 20:45 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2012 20:45 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 27, 2012 AT 03:10 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2012 03:10 IST

Predictably, the short 25 questions in Dear Narendrabhai, Could You Please... has resulted in howls and whines of protest. Mr Shashi Shekhar, who writes the blog Offstumped, alleged on Twitter that these questions are an " obsession of the media to establish a conspiracy" rather than "establish the truth". I responded that I disagreed but that any honest attempt to answer these questions was welcome. 

He has responded on his blog, with detailed, point by point "rejoinders". While these appear to be nothing more than an exercise in obfuscation, but because he has taken the trouble, instead of ignoring, shortening or paraphrasing, I provide below the original question, his rejoinder in full and then my quick response in red:

Question #1 – Mr Modi, in an interview on March 1, 2002, to Zee TV you said about the post-Godhra riots, “A chain of action and reaction is going on. We want that neither should there be action, nor reaction.” Don’t such statements echo the ‘earth-shaking’ rationalisations offered by Rajiv Gandhi after the 1984 riots?

Offstumped Rejoinder:  How is this rationalization, it was a statement of fact if one pays attention to the ground situation as of 1st March 2002.

Reporting on the events of 1st March 2002, The Hindu newspaper on its front page in the edition dated 2nd March 2002 had its own version of “Action-Reaction” (ironical since S. Varadarajan made such a big deal about it, perhaps failed to look at his own paper’s Newtonian reportage):

“Despite the imposition of indefinite curfew, sporadic incidents of violence, group clashes and stoning continued throughout the night and during the day today in the walled city and labour-dominated eastern parts of Ahmedabad. But unlike Thursday when one community was entirely at the receiving end, the minority backlash caused further worsening of the situation …. Police presence had little impact on the two communities pelting stones at each other in Bapunagar, Gomtipur, Dariapur, Shahpur, Naroda and other areas from where incidents of firing had been reported. But there were no reports of casualty. Pitched battle was continuing between the two communities late in the evening.”

SD response: The March 1 interview which is referred above provides the context of what Mr Modi was referring to. My original question had to be edited down for the print magazine because of reasons of space. Mr Modi is not referring to "stone pelting" etc in Ahmedabad but, as he himself spells out in that interview: 

‘people from the Godhra area have criminal tendencies and had earlier killed lady teachers also and now they have committed this heinous crime, for which the reaction is being felt.’

Is this a statement of fact when the charge is that his administration was complicit in the "ground situation" that followed - for which the "reaction is being felt"? 

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 27, 2012 AT 03:10 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2012 03:10 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 22, 2012 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 22, 2012 23:59 IST

Josh Malihabadi (December 5, 1894 – February 22, 1982) migrated to Pakistan in 1958 - despite Jawaharlal Nehru's insistence against it - over what is generally believed to be his concern regarding the future of Urdu in India.

With thanks to @mazdaki, @shivamvij, @kafila and @murtazasolangi on Twitter for the reminder  about his 30th death anniversary

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 22, 2012 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 22, 2012 23:59 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 22, 2012 AT 23:32 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 22, 2012 23:32 IST

It's all over Facebook, and now our mailboxes are being barraged that unless we link this one here, the forwards won't stop. So here goes, as mid-week levity and mental-health break:

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 22, 2012 AT 23:32 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 22, 2012 23:32 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 22, 2012 AT 23:30 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 22, 2012 23:30 IST

Rohit Pradhan in rediff:

Sure, it appears that Rahul Gandhi believes fervently in redistributionist policies, but what exactly are his economic policies?

Indeed, is there any discernible difference between the economic agendas of Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati? Or Uma Bharti, for that matter?

Rahul Gandhi's performance as a political leader is perhaps the most disappointing because unlike the Jaitleys and Swarajs he faces no internal challenges.

He can force the Congress to get rid of its old socialist baggage and become a truly secular and forward looking political formation. Instead, he has confused minority communalism with secularism and entitlements with development.

In India, affiliation to a storied family name and being of certain age almost automatically confers on dynasts the title of 'youth icon.' Rahul Gandhi is a youth icon, we are told. So is apparently Akhilesh Yadav. But to his credit Yadav at least has attempted to move the Samajwadi Party away from an era of openly hobnobbing with criminals and encouraging goonda raj.

In contrast, with Rahul Gandhi at helm, the Congress is rapidly and happily riding and embracing the past.

Read the full article at rediff: Rahul is too busy now to worry about India's future

 

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 22, 2012 AT 23:30 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 22, 2012 23:30 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 20, 2012 AT 23:41 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 20, 2012 23:41 IST

Tweeting this led to someone sending me a whole lot of such links. Some of those:

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POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 20, 2012 AT 23:41 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 20, 2012 23:41 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 20, 2012 AT 16:13 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 20, 2012 16:13 IST

S.L. Rao in the Telegraph:

Many people have written off the Anna Hazare movement against corruption. They are blind to the effects already visible in orders, policies and procedures. Hazare brought together the widespread disgust against the pervading corruption in our society and the apparent freedom from punishment of those identified as culpable. All political parties and the government combined in a coordinated way to discredit ‘Team Anna’ and to diminish his influence. Public disgust and anger remain and will express itself in votes cast at elections, and also when a new movement is launched by a more sophisticated public leader, who will not express himself in the crude way that Hazare frequently did. Such a movement will make full use of the internet and the social media, having learnt from the viral spread of the song, “Why this Kolaveri di”.

Dramatic changes have already occurred in a number of areas. They will make things more difficult for the corrupt minister and bureaucrat as well as for the incompetent bureaucrat.

Read the full article at the Telegraph: Fruits of Public Anger

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 20, 2012 AT 16:13 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 20, 2012 16:13 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 18, 2012 AT 16:41 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 18, 2012 16:41 IST

Week-end levity, with profound apologies to all the book-reviwers in the world, particularly the esteemed contributors to our publications.

P.S. The books pages will be back next week.

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FILED IN:  Books|Levity|Levity. Books
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 18, 2012 AT 16:41 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 18, 2012 16:41 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 18, 2012 AT 16:38 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 18, 2012 16:38 IST

Weekend levity via Shivam Vij on Facebook

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 18, 2012 AT 16:38 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 18, 2012 16:38 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 16, 2012 AT 13:10 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 16, 2012 13:10 IST



Twitter witticisms as poll campaigns. First came an ad from the Shiv Sena (with a typo - mind 'it'!), and then the response.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 16, 2012 AT 13:10 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 16, 2012 13:10 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 13, 2012 AT 23:42 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 13, 2012 23:42 IST
POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Feb 13, 2012 AT 23:42 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 13, 2012 23:42 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 12, 2012 AT 11:27 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 12, 2012 11:27 IST
FILED IN:  Music |Obituaries
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 12, 2012 AT 11:27 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 12, 2012 11:27 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 10, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 10, 2012 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 10, 2012 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 10, 2012 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 08, 2012 AT 23:18 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 08, 2012 23:18 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 08, 2012 AT 23:18 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 08, 2012 23:18 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 06, 2012 AT 22:01 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 06, 2012 22:01 IST

Amitav Ghosh on his blog:

I have never attended the Jaipur Literary Festival; nor does a visit loom in the foreseeable future. This is largely (but not wholly) because I have no taste for tamashas. Although unusual, this aversion is by no means unknown in the Indian subcontinent. I know of many writers and readers who share it, and I suspect that most of us were drawn to the world of books precisely because it provided an island of quiet within the din of tamasha-stan.

My own inclinations make it difficult for me to understand why Salman Rushdie is so drawn to this festival. But each to their own and I recognize that I am in a tiny minority. The great majority of writers seem to want to go and anyone who does should certainly be able to. It is appalling that Rushie was prevented from attending and I am wholly in agreement with those who believe that this bodes very ill indeed for the future of free expression in India...

As a child I was drawn to books because they were a refuge from a world that seemed to be at war with the very idea of an inner life. That world has become today exponentially more noisy, crowded and intrusive than ever before. Public life in India is now a whirling continuum that seamlessly unites cricket, politics and Bollywood. Each domain leaks into the other and the major figures are all closely linked. It is no coincidence that many of these elements are also much in evidence at book festivals. The intention evidently is to make the book world another link in the tightly joined whirligig of Cripollywood. It is easy to see the attractions of this, especially for writers who are striving to bring their work to public notice. But there is a price to pay: we need to remind ourselves that Bollywood movies are routinely re-edited to accommodate protests of various kinds. Recent incidents in Jaipur and in Kolkata, where Taslima Nasreen was also prevented from participating in a festival, suggest that Indian publishing will have to adapt its practices to those of the film industry if it is to pitch its tent beside the three-ring circus of the tamasha culture.

Read the full blogpost on Amitav Ghosh's blog: Festivals and Freedom

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 06, 2012 AT 22:01 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 06, 2012 22:01 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 02, 2012 AT 21:25 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 02, 2012 21:25 IST

Vinod Mehta, Outlook's editorial chairman, put it in perspective when he pointed out that the judgement today is 'a Titanic disaster for the government,' coming as it does just before the UP elections, thus making it difficult for Congress to talk about Ms Mayawati's corruption.

'It effectively cooks Mr Raja's goose and the noose is getting closer and tightening around Mr Chidambaram. What remains to be seen,' he added, 'is the domino effect and how long they would be able to protect the Prime Minister and keep him isolated, because so far his defence was that he went by the advice of his finance minister.'

Mr Mehta also invoked the Radia tapes in this connection and pointed out that one just needs to connect the dots between the conversations in those tapes and what happened — lobbying for certain ministerial positions, the nexus between various corporate houses and many of those exposed in those tapes.

But it is not just about the political fall out, which is bound to ensue. Also at stake is not just the future of telecom particularly in the markets affected by the cancelled licences, but also government policy with respect to other natural resources.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 02, 2012 AT 21:25 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 02, 2012 21:25 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 01, 2012 AT 23:29 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 02, 2012 03:29 IST

In a throwback to the Salman Rushdie row in Jaipur, the official release of the seventh part of controversial author Taslima Nasreen's book Nirbasan (Exile) at the Kolkata Book Fair was cancelled today following protests by religious fundamentalists.

But People's Book Society (PBS), the publishers of the book, remained unfazed and ignored the protests and went ahead with the launch near its stall outside the official venue, earlier fixed by the Publishers and Booksellers' Guild, the Fair organisers. 

Read on here

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 01, 2012 AT 23:29 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 02, 2012 03:29 IST
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