Friday, March 28, 2014

In Support of Teesta Setalvad and others: Revenge is the only motive of the vindictive Modi government

Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust
29, Ferozshah Road, New Delhi-1
Tel: 011-23381276, 23070787

Press Statement
In Support of Teesta Setalvad and others
Revenge is the only motive of the vindictive Modi government 
We are shocked and outraged by the continuing attempt of the highly vindictive Modi government and the Gujarat police to somehow implicate activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, along with three victim-survivors of the state-sponsored Gujarat carnage in 2002 on patently trumped-up charges.

This is nothing but a desperate bid to delay or derail the justice process, in particular Zakia Jafri’s appeal which is now before the Gujarat High Court. Mrs. Jafri has accused Gujarat chief minister and home minister, Narendra Modi along with 59 other top politicians, police officers and civil servants of conspiracy for mass murder and other serious criminal offences.
It is significant that the Supreme Court appointed amicus curiae in the case, Mr. Raju Ramachandran, has told the apex court there was enough prima facie evidence to prosecute Modi.

Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand are being especially targeted as they are among the founder members of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and have been at the forefront of the struggle for justice for the victims-survivors of the Gujarat pogrom.

Equally condemnable is the hounding in the same alleged “cheating” case, of three office bearers of Gulberg Housing Society, Ahmedabad, each of whom lost several family members when police watched as frenzied mobs attacked their colony on February 27, 2002. Among them is Tanvir Jafri whose father and former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri was mercilessly butchered along with 68 others.

CJP is today nationally and internationally recognised and respected for the sustained efforts of its team of lawyers resulting in 117 of the perpetrators being given life sentences by the trial courts. Among them is former BJP MLA and minister in Modi cabinet Maya Kodnani and Gujarat’s Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi for their role in the Naroda Patiya massacre.
Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand have already filed affidavits in the courts, rebutting each and every charge in detail. What’s more, they have accused the Gujarat police of spreading falsehood through affidavits filed in court.

The latest malicious move of the Modi government and the Gujarat police is a clear indicator that revenge is the shape of things to come.

As citizens committed to the Rule of Law, we denounce the vengeful action of the Modi government and the Gujarat police, and demand immediate withdrawal of the motivated and baseless FIR against Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand, Tanvir Jafri and the office-bearers of the Gulberg  Society.

Romila Thapar              Rooprekha Verma                    Sashi Kumar
C.P. Chandrasekhar                 Prabhat Patnaik                        Anil Bhatti
Archana Prasad                        Vivan Sundaram                       Ram Rahman   
Madangopal Singh                    M.K. Raina                              Ajeet Caur                  
Irfan Habib                               Githa Hariharan                        Gitanjali Shree
Indira Chandrasekhar               Jasodhra Bagchi                       Jagmati Sangwan
K.M. Shrimali                           Sudhir Chandra                        Shireen Moosvi
Sohail Hashmi                          Amiya Kumar Bagchi         Aditya Nigam                          
Ajith Pillai                                 Ali N. Rizavi                             Amar Farooqui
Amit Sen Gupta                        Anil Chandra                            Anuradha Chenoy                    
Arjun Dev                                Arpana Caur                            Asad Zaidi
B.P. Sahu                                 Badri Raina                              Biswamoy Pati
D.N. Jha                                  E. Somanathan             Faizan Haider Naqvi
Geeta Kapur                            Ghayur Alam                            Indira Arjun Dev
Iqtidar Alam Khan                    Ishrat Alam                               Jauhar Kanungo
Jayati Ghosh                             Kamal Mitra Chenoy                Kesavan Veluthat
Keval Arora                             Kumar Shahani             Lata Singh
Lima kanungo                           Madhu Prasad                          Zoya Hasan
Madhusree Dutta                      Malini Bhattacharya                  Mihir Bhattacharya
MMP Singh                              Mohan Rao                              Moloyashree Hashmi
N.K. Sharma                            Najaf Haider                            Nalini Taneja
Nandakumar                            Navjot Altaf                             Nikhil Kumar
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay           Nilima Sheikh                           Mrinalini Mukherjee
Parthiv Shah                             Nivedita Menon                        Utsa Patnaik    
Prabhat Shukla             Pradeep Saxena                       Praful Bidwai
R.C. Thakran                           Rahul Verma                            Rajendra Prasad
Rakhshanda Jalil                       Zafar Agha                               Ramesh Rawat
Rebecca Kurian                        Rekha Awasthi             S. Kalidas
S.Z.H. Jafri                               Saba Hasan                              Sashi Kumar
Shakti Kak                               Shamim Akhtar             Shamshad
Shikha Ghosh                           Wasi Haider                             Shohini Ghosh
Sukumar Muralidharan  V. Ramakrishna                                   

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gujarat : News Which Media Doesn't Bring you

Gujarat : News Which Media Doesn't Bring you

v       Gujarat ranks 14th in rural lMR and 10th in urban IMR. (Source: SRS Estimates, 2012)
v       According to report on Global Hunger (2009), Among the major 17 states in IndiaGujarat ranks 13th with a Hunger Index of 23.3. The
      state has been declared as an "al' ln 10 years 60,000 small scale Industries have been closed down. (source: Director, Department
of Economics and Statistics, Government of Gujarat. )
v       Gujarat ranks 5TH in F.D.I. (source: Director, Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Gujarat. & Report by Reserve Bank of India.)
v       The state's total debt was less than Rs 10,000 crore when the BJP first came to power in Gujarat in 1995. Gujarat's actual debt has mounted from Rs 45,301 crore in 2001-02 when Modi took over to Rs 1,38,978 crore on December 30, 2012. The debt would mount to Rs 2,07,695 crore as per the state government's budget estimates by 2015-16. (source: Director, Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Gujarat. & Gujarat assembly question hours)
v       Gujarat is at 8th position In agricultural growth. Gujarat is never achieved 10% growth in Agriculture sector. As per Government of Gujarat's own statistics from year 2005-2006 to 2010-2011, growth In GSDP in Agriculture and Allied sector is 3.44% only-not double digit or 10%. (source: Gujarat economics and statistics department, govt. of Gujarat and Times Of India
Centre/articleshow/20040305.cms?intenttarget=novia @ArchiveDlgger)
v       In Gujarat VAT on fertilizer is 5% it is highest in India (Source: Ministry of agriculture, Gujarat)
v       In Gujarat 26 districts have 225 blocks in which 57 are dark zone blocks. (Source: Ministry of agriculture, Gujarat and annual report Narmada nigam)
v       455885 Applications are pending for agricultural power connection as on March, 2011 (Source: Ministry of agriculture, Gujarat)
v       Close to half of the states children under the age of 5 (44.6 %) are known to be suffering from malnutrition. 70 per cent are said to be anemic while 40 percent are underweight. (Source: plannlng commission report-2012-13)
In 8 districts and 3 Talukas of Gujarat, 2494 teachers posts are vacant.
In 4 dist of Gujarat, approximately 978 schools are running with only 1 or 2 teachers. (Source: RTI filed by Vlnod Pandya GOG reply to RTI)
v       Health expenditure by Gujarat fallen down from 4.25% In 1990-95 to 0.77% In 2005-2010. Gujarat occupied second position from
bottom in terms of allocation of health In state budget •• (Source: plannlng commission report-2012-13 and National Health Profile ­Central Bureau of Health Intelligence)
v       Gujarat ranks 20th (the bottom) among the 20 major states In the percentage of women with severe anaemia. (Source: human Development report of the year 2011-12)
v       Gujarat ranks 15th In malnourishment in children (Source: human Development report of the year 2011-12)
v      Gujarat ranks 16th In children's anaemia (Source: human Development report of the year 2011-12) arming state" along with MP,
Jharkhand and Bihar (Source: UNDP report on global hunger 2009-1 0)
v       The data show that 67 percent of rural households In the State ranks 10th in the use of latrines. (Source: National Sample Survey 2011-12)
v       Data collected during the National Census 2011 reveals that around 29 per cent of the total number of households In Gujarat Is receiving untreated drinking water. Approximately 1.75 crore people are not getting clean drinking water.
(Source: National Sample Survey)
v       Gujarat has 32% poverty In 2001 and It reached 39.5% in 2011. Every 100 person there is 40 persons poor. Statistics of the NSSO show that the percentage of reduction of poverty between 2004 and 201 0 was the lowest In Gujarat, at 8.6 per cent.
(source: Report by NASSO on poverty 2012-13)
v       52,260 number of scholarships minority students should have got In Gujarat, through the Centre started a scholarship scheme for minorities; to be shared in 75:25 ratio between the Centre and state to encourage students from poor families to complete schooling. Since the scheme started, Gujarat has let the funds lapse by not sending any proposal to the Centre for giving these scholarships. (Source: A report by Ministry of Minority Affair, MMA, GOI, 2011-12)
v       12% Muslims' share of total bank accounts in Gujarat, but their loan amount outstanding Is only 2.6 percent. This proves they don't get loans. (Source: A report by Ministry of Minority Affalr,MMA,GOI,2011-12)
v       UNDP United Nations has observed that poverty head count ratio for Muslims Is highest in the states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat. (source: UNDP human development report to UN-2011-12)
v       Of 1,958 riot cases reopened after the Supreme Court order, the Gujarat Police made arrests in only 117 cases - 5 percent of the total .:. Gujarat stands 11th in Implementing Forest Rights Enactment, 2006.
(Source: An article on Gujarat is not tribal friendly? DNA Ahmedabad, Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012,)
v       One rape takes place every three days in Gujarat.
(Source: A report by NGO Ahmedabad Women’s Association Gujarat-AWAG)
v       The Deputy Speaker's post is left vacant by the Gujarat Government for a decade. (As per article 178 of Indian constitution, it is
v       Assembly runs on an average for 30-32 days a year
v       No Lokayukta appointed since last 10 years
v       Gujarat has organized 3716 Employment festival" as per Government of Gujarat own record 10 lacks educated youth are unemployed and a total of 30 lakh people are unemployed. (Source: NASSO report, GOI)
v       NSSO data show that in Gujarat, growth in employment has dropped to almost zero In the past 12 years
A recent CAG review on accounts of the States is an eye-opener when It comes to Gujarat, the latter's high claims notwithstanding. Allegedly there are Rs 16,706.99 crore worth of financial and land allotment irregularities with resultant negative impact on delivery on economic and development fronts
      (Source: CAG report2011-12)                                
                                                                JAVAB (Janavadi Vichar Andolan bharat, New Delhi)

Do we have the “Right to Die?” Reflections on Pro-Life Day, March 25th, 2014

Do we have the “Right to Die?”
Reflections on Pro-Life Day, March 25th, 2014
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

Today, March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord is observed in several parts of the world as Pro-Life Day. It is the day on which we take a stand for the unborn child; say “NO” to the death penalty; highlight the fact that wars, murders and violence of all kinds still take centre-stage and above all, that the scourge of euthanasia is slowly becoming more and more acceptable in many parts of the world.

Exactly a month ago, on February 25th, 2014, the Supreme Court of India in a bench headed by the Chief Justice P Sathasivam held that the verdict given earlier in March 2011 in the Aruna Shanbaug case was based on a “wrong premise” and therefore decided to re-examine the earlier judgement which allowed “passive euthanasia” permission to withdraw life support from patients in a permanently vegetative state and to permit them to die.

This verdict is already a subject of much debate because it not only questions the 2011 judgement by the Bench headed by Justice Markandey Katju which gave thousands of patients either suffering from an incurable disease or living in a vegetative state the possibility of ending their agony by saying that the parents, spouse or any other immediate relative could take this important decision after getting the necessary consent from the concerned High Court but it also brings the debate on “euthanasia” back to centre-stage.

 In 2011, when the verdict was delivered, it very naturally created a huge uproar all over the country.  The judgement was based on a PIL filed on behalf of a 60 year old female patient Aruna Shanbaug who was assaulted and strangulated by a sweeper in a hospital on November 27th, 1973.  Though she survived, she never fully recovered from the trauma and the brain damage resulting from that assault and strangulation, inspite of tremendous compassion, attention and care, not only by her family members but also by the nurses and other staff members who looked after her for 37 long years.  After examining various pros and cons, the Divisional Bench headed by Justice Katju said that permission could be given in the case of Aruna Shanbaug for “passive euthanasia”.  The fact however is that even today Aruna lives – in tremendous pain and agony.

When on February 25th, 2014 the Apex Court very strongly stated that the previous verdict allowing “passive euthanasia” was delivered on a wrong premise, it also referred the case to a five member Constitution Bench to clear the air on this contentious issue for the benefit of humanity since an important question of law is also involved in it. The court categorically stated that “in view of the inconsistent opinions rendered in Aruna Shanbaug case and also considering the important question of law involved which needs to be reflected in the light of social, legal, medical and constitutional perspective, it becomes extremely important to have a clear enunciation of law.  Thus, in our cogent opinion, the question of law involved requires careful consideration by a Constitution Bench in this Court for the benefit of humanity as a whole.”

Strangely enough on February 13th 2014, the Belgium Parliament voted in favour for allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without age limit. On March 3rd, the King of Belgium signed into law this controversial bill making Belgium the first country in the world to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children of all ages. The bill was passed and signed to law despite huge protests and oppositions from all over Europe and the world that this should not be done.

Earlier in 2002, Belgium was only the second country in the world besides the Netherlands to have legalised euthanasia in the 21st century. In 1999, Albania permitted passive euthanasia. In 2008, Luxembourg passed and legalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide laws. That most countries in the world and most people in the world are not inclined to either accept euthanasia or deal with this contentious issue is already a case in point.

On 10th December 1948, the General Assembly of United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Both the Preamble and the 30 Articles which follow, focus on the culture of life: promoting life and enhancing the quality of living, rather than on the culture of death.  So what must be accepted as sacrosanct is the fact that this Charter provides a framework for all to live in a qualitative manner rather than attempting to demand the right to die or the right to take another person’s life.

There are several arguments for and against in the euthanasia debate. Those who argue for euthanasia maintain the following:

·        when a person is in a vegetative state, in a coma or is terminally ill instead of allowing a person to suffer (other near and dear ones also suffer), one can ensure a “death with dignity” rather than force them to live an unproductive life.
·        “I have a right to do with myself / my body what I want” therefore if I choose the right to die, no one can stop me from doing so
·        I have neither the resources, the time or the inclination to keep this family member alive artificially
·        government legislation can safely regulate who are permitted to die and how and when

On the other hand, there are several more arguments against euthanasia. These include:

  • God alone is the author of life and death and no one can and should ever demand the right to die for themselves or for others.
  • the right to die is on a ‘slippery slope’ which can easily become the right to be killed. So it opens the huge window of immoral acts like a doctor or a nurse can conveniently kill several patients under their care because of “compassion” (example “Doctor Death” in Australia)
  • legalizing euthanasia means mainstreaming the culture of death in society
  • more and more would conveniently legitimize any form of death from abortion to the death penalty
  • there would never truly be checks and balances. It is common knowledge that even in those places where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicides are legal, the doctors usually do not always report it
  • for a patient, the right to die also obviously means that a physician or a nurse have to assist in the actual act of dying which technically means “killing the other”

The Catholic Church is very clear of its stand on euthanasia. In 1980, ‘the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its Declaration on Euthanasia (entitled ‘Jura et Bona’) and which takes a very clear stand on it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2276 – 2279) provides a very succinct explanation of the Catholic Church’s position terming it as morally unacceptable and an evil action. The Second Vatican Council condemned “all offences against life itself such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and willful suicide” (Gaudium et Spes #27).

In India, by and large adherents of the major religions be it Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism or Buddhism – at this stage, will never accept euthanasia on principle because of their respective teachings to promote and defend life.

Euthanasia is clearly violative of the right to life. In simple logic, providing a right which contradicts in sum and substance the Rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes the great Charter both redundant and irrelevant. This will obviously lead to chaos all over with every single person trying to justify or legitimize his or her own act and not mindful of the consequences or repercussions these acts may cause, to the morality of our times.

In 2010, an Indian drama romance film called ‘Guzaarish’ (‘Request’) received critical acclaim and awards and nominations in all the leading award ceremonies of India. The movie is centred around a Goan, Ethan Mascarenhas, who is a quadriplegic paralysed from the neck down, after a serious accident during a magic show he was performing. On the 14th anniversary of this accident, he decides to file an appeal in the court for euthanasia.  His plea is rejected twice because the judge very clearly states that the legal code of the country cannot be violated under any circumstance. But his legion of friends and admirers have no qualms of conscience in supporting Ethan in his desire to end his life. At a farewell party for several of them, Ethan tells all of them that he will be dying a happy man without any regrets. His friends come to the couch and hug him goodbye. The movie ends just with Ethan laughing heartily. While, what the Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was trying to communicate was the fact that Ethan had the right to decide for himself – a film critic can easily interpret the final burst of laughter “at his joy of being alive!”

Meanwhile, the raging debate on euthanasia will continue for a long time to come...even if we really do NOT have the right to die….!

25th March, 2014

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052
Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333 Fax:  79 27489018

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Standard error" in Government of India report: OBC rural Gujarat Muslim poverty down from 40.5% to 1.9%!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Standard error" in Government of India report: OBC rural Gujarat Muslim poverty down from 40.5% to 1.9%!

By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that there is something extremely suspicious with the data in the new report prepared by the Government of India-appointed committee headed by Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU’s) Prof Amitabh Kundu on the condition of Muslims in India. The report is a follow-up of the famous Sachar Committee report of 2006, which had pointed towards negligence of the minorities, especially Muslims, in different social sector, particularly education and health, and seeks to suggest that poverty in rural and urban Gujarat went down drastically between 2004-05 and 2011-12.
Quoting unreleased National Sample Survey (NSS) poverty data on poverty for socio-religious groups, the report seeks to suggest that the in rural Gujarat, the number of Muslims below poverty line (BPL) fell from 31 per cent (about one-third of their population) in 2004-05 to a "measly" 7 per cent in 2011-12. Surprisingly, it does not find things as rosy in urban Gujarat. The report says that comparison of the same period reveals, those in the BPL population in urban areas declined from 42 per cent to 14.6 per cent.
While a copy of the report, submitted to the Union ministry of minority affairs, could not be obtained, the data used in the report, in possession of Counterview, suggests something fishy. The data show, in rural Gujarat, other backward classes (OBC) poverty levels, which were 40.5 per cent in 2004-05, have gone down to just 1.9 per cent in 2011-12! As against to this, the Other Muslims’ poverty levels in rural Gujarat have gone down, during the same period, from 23.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 18.7 per cent.
These data, which form part of a paper prepared by Prof Kundu, give no explanation on why this may have happened. When contacted with the query as whether there was any “typographical error” in the figures, Prof Kundu told Counterview that similar questions have been raised “concerning Gujarat's poverty reduction”, and he was looking into “the issues of standard error in somewhat greater detail.” He believed, the “standard error in the estimates for different socio-economic groups in rural and urban areas would be high due to small sample size in the NSS.”
Based on these data, which admittedly are ridden with “standard error”, well-known pro-Narendra Modi economist Prof Arvind Panagariya, belonging to the no-liberal school and is with the Columbia University, has declared, “In rural areas, Gujarat leads with the lowest poverty ratio of 7.7 per cent for the Muslims.” The data that he has calculated (despite “standard error”) suggest that overall poverty in Gujarat (rural plus urban) is down from 36.5 per cent in 2004-05 to 11.4 per cent in 2011-12. He just accepts the unreleased NSS data he has obtained on face value, without bothering to question their validity.
Interestingly, one of Prof Panagariya’s closest colleagues, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, an economist and a scholar-journalist known for objective comments on economic matters, has made the following comment, in his article titled “Poverty Falls for Dalits and Muslims” on the data while reviewing Prof Panagariya’s analysis in a working paper, “Poverty by Social Religious and Economic groups in India and its Largest States, 1993-94 to 2011-12”:
“Astonishingly, the rural Muslim poverty ratio is lowest of all in Gujarat, at 7.7 per cent. This is much lower than the urban ratio, and so raises the question whether it is a statistical quirk. Muslims in Gujarat were victims of terrible violence in 2002, and many still feel unsafe.”
Further: “Some caution is required in interpreting the data. First, 2004-05 was a bad monsoon year while 2011-12 witnessed a good monsoon, and this may exaggerate the achievement in this period. Second, the year-wise variations in some states look very steep, and seem to need a pinch of salt. Third, the government has decided to create a new poverty line, and all the data will have to be recast after that.”

Monday, March 24, 2014

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims 24 March

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims
24 March

"Let us recommit to working to help victims, their relatives and society as a whole to realize the right to truth – and to protecting those who fight to see the truth prevail."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero
Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero
Photo: © Carlos Reyes Manzo/APA
On 21 December 2010, the United Nations General Assemblyproclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.
The purpose of the Day is to:
  • Honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;
  • Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all;
  • Recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assasinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.
The UN General Assembly, in its resolution, invites all Member States, international organizations and civil society organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day in an appropriate manner.
UN Web Services Section, Department of Public Information, © United Nations

A reflection for the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero (March 24th 2014)

LENT 2014: A reflection for the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero

by Jean Stokan and Scott Wright
Romero mural
Today we commemorate the life of one of our contemporary witnesses, Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered at the altar while celebrating the Eucharist. Like the martyrs of the early church, Archbishop Romero gave his life out of love rather than worship and serve false gods. Romero’s life bore witness to the truth that sets one free to lay down one’s life out of love for enemies and friends alike, as his own words and life testify:
We believe in Jesus who came to bring life in its fullest and we believe in a living God who gives life to humankind and wants all to live in truth. These radical truths of the faith become truths–radical truths–when the Church inserts herself in the midst of the life and death of the people. It is there that the Church is presented–as it is presented to every person–with the most fundamental option of faith: to be in favor of life or in favor of death.
There is no doubt whatsoever that here there is no room for neutrality. We are either at the service of the life of Salvadorans or we are accomplices in their death. And it is here that we are faced with the most fundamental reality of the historical mediation of faith: either we believe in a God of life or we serve the idols of death.
We believe with the apostle John that Jesus is “the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1), and that where there is life, there God reveals himself. Where the poor begin to live, where the poor begin to liberate themselves, where men and women are able to sit down around a common table and share, there is the God of life. hat is why when the Church inserts itself in the sociopolitical world in order to cooperate in bringing about the emergence of life for the poor, she is not undertaking a mere subsidiary task or something outside of her mission, but is witnessing to her faith in God and is being an instrument of the Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life.
  • What is the deepest truth upon which we stand as followers of Jesus Christ?
  • How do we protect the inherent dignity of those who are the targets of hatred and racism? What does the gospel compel us to do when their lives are at risk?
This reflection was adapted and excerpted from Living as Resurrected Beings in the Midst of the World’s Crosses: Reflections for Lent 2010, by Jean Stokan and Scott Wright. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The fear of a Hindu by PRABHAKAR TIMBLE (March 21st 2014)

                                     The fear of a Hindu
                                                                                                             PRABHAKAR TIMBLE
Though I do not share all the observations of the Ahmedabad based Fr. Cedric Prakash, I tend to agree on two counts. No model of development attributable to Narendra Modi can be discerned. Modi’s regime has provided a field day to selective investors and corporates. This is what is show-cased as good governance and shining Gujarat. The social indicators are lower as compared to other States. It is not that Gujarat has not shown growth. However, other States of India have shown a much higher rate of growth than Gujarat in Gross Domestic Product and Human Development Index. Hence, the Modi model of development cannot set an example to the nation. His centralised approach to administration and the mind-set for democratic and constitutional values are not conducive for Hamara Sabka Bharat.
As one born to Hindu parents, my concern is also of Hindus losing their freedoms. Fr. Cedric Prakash observes that minorities and marginalised live in fear as any dissent, opposition or alternatives are crushed. It is not that people of the majority community do not bear the brunt of terror. Hindus who treasure democracy, tolerance, harmony and freedom of expression also conduct themselves in fright and panic. Once the democratic institutions go into the hands of fundamentalist forces, the dangers and losses are for all, not merely the minorities. If Hindus like me feel that Hindu communalism will provide gains to Hindus, we are living in a fool’s paradise. The pain and agony of the majority community would be more than the minority simply because of demographic numbers.
If we talk of corruption, it is common to all political parties, not the Congress alone. The BJP spending itself demonstrates it and for 2014 there should be no hesitation that BJP stands first as the gainer of funds from Indian corporates and outside. The Modi-led BJP is also corrupted by vengeance, arrogance and contempt for democratic institutions. Do we need to travel to Gujarat to see this? Have we not seen it in Goa?