Dec 212011
 

This from India Today

In the midst of a debate on monitoring content, a Delhi court has restrained social networking sites including Facebook, Google and Youtube from webcasting any “anti-religious” or “anti-social” content promoting hatred or communal disharmony.

Additional Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar, in an ex-parte order, directed the social networking websites to remove the objectionable content in the form photographs, videos or text which might hurt religious sentiments.

The court on Tuesday passed the order on a civil suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi through advocate Santosh Pandey who had also submitted the printouts of the contents

Someone needs to give judges, ministers, politicians and bureaucrats a crash course on the nature of the Internet. The fact that it is not centralised. the fact that it is not controlled. The fact that it is made up of billions of computers across the world. Even if the content is deleted from social networking websites, and doesn’t get replaced, doesn’t mean it won’t exist on the net and won’t be shared again. And, there is no way anybody can guarantee that this ‘offensive’ stuff won’t be shared again.

On a more practical note, practically everything modern can be considered to be hurting religious sentiments. To start off, every religion can be considered offensive to someone else from some other religion. When the revealed religions say there is but one God, and he is ours, it can be considered offensive to all non revealed religions. Religious traditions like Buddhism which dont have a God at its core, it can be considered to be offensive to those who believe in the concept of God. Religious traditions like Hinduism which accept animism, atheism, monotheism and polytheism would probably blow the brains of those who don’t understand variety. So, what all do you ban ?

So what kind of content would be declared offensive in the future ?

  • Would Atheist material be hurting religious sentiments?
  • Modernity & modern laws – universal suffrage, equality of genders, universal education, banning of child marriages, equal rights, the rights of women, the rights of sexual minorities, – could these be considered as hurting religious sentiments?
  • Constitutional Law can it be considered to be anti- religion and hurting religious sentiments.
  • How about videos that talk about women’s emancipation? The right of a woman not to be beaten or raped inside a marriage – is that anti-religion? Is the concept of divorce and material associated with it anti religion
  • Is science anti-religion ?
  • Is content that talks about evolution anti religion?
  • Does content that talks about the right of Dalits to worship in temples, be considered to be anti-religion.

People who file cases against content or cause violence based on their response to content are guilty. Not the content. It is their ego responding. Not God. Not religion. Politicians and courts need to start ignoring this offended ego. 

We jump up and down like a bunch of scalded kittens when an obscure group tries to get a ban on the Bhagvad Gita… they are mirroring our actions.What is religion for one, is offence for the other. there will be no end to this, unless someone draws a lakshman rekha on this silliness. If something offends you, don’t read. But, expecting the world to share your outrage on the offense is stupidity. The system is encouraging such stupidity.

Religion or God, don’t need mere mortals to defend them. They can manage on their own. The greatest blasphemy is to assume God needs your help … S/he doesn’t.

Jul 192011
 

Penguin had brought out an entire series of books last year (14 to be precise) to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Indian Republic. Called Words of Freedom – Ideas of a Nation - the series covers a number of luminaries who were at the forefront of the freedom struggle. When I chanced upon this one by Dr.Ambedkar – last week when i placed my order, I wasn’t aware of the other 13. The rest have gone onto my wishlist.

 

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The Ambedkar volume is a collection of speeches. In this post i will quote extensively from the first of these speeches. If Democracy Dies, it will be our Doom – is an Address by Dr. Ambedkar at the All India Depressed Classes Conference held at Nagpur on the 18th of July 1942 – 70 years to date… and the issues he writes about resonate even today.

It is a matter of immense satisfaction that the Untouchables have made great strides along all sides. I will particularise only three. They have acquired a degree of political consciousness which few communities in India have acquired. Secondly, they have made considerable progress in Education. Thirdly they are securing a foothold in the institutions and in the public service of the country. (pg5 &6)

Progress in the competition of communities is the result of power. The power may be economic, it may be social or it may be political. Have we the power to sustain our progress? Have we economic power? I am sure we have none. We are a class of serfs. Have we social power? I am sure we have none. We are a degraded portion of humanity. The only thing, therefore, we can depend upon for our continued progress is the capture of political power. I have no doubt that is our only salvation, and that without it we will perish. (pg. 9)

Let me begin by telling you what has been the keynote of my politics. … The basis of my politics lies in the proposition that the Untouchables are not a sub-head or a sub-section of the Hindus, and that they are a separate and a distinct element in the national life of India. (pg.10)

He then goes on to discuss his issues with Mahatma Gandhi on the inclusion of Dalits as a sub-section of Hindus. He says that though he signed the Poona Pact to save the life of Mr.Gandhi, he believed that Gandhi played unfair by never giving his true and honest consent to the principle underlying the Poona Pact.

He then talks about the Muslim League and his opposition to them and in particular the new equation of values set up by them. It also gives a glimpse of why the talks between the Congress and the Muslim League failed – repeatedly. Jinnah, possibly, didn’t want an agreement.

The Equation says that the Muslims, whatever their numbers, are just equal to non-Muslims and therefore, in any political arrangement the Muslims must get fifty percent. To this equation no one can consent. Not only it is against arithmetic; it is also against the interest of all non-Muslim including the Untouchable. (pg.18 and 19)

He then goes on to give advice to his audience:

…you must insist on being recognized as an independent and separate element in the national life of India. The theory that they are only a sub-section of the Hindus must be fought tooth and nail. Failure to get the Untouchables recognized as a distinct element, separate from the Hindus, will keep them submerged and lead to their suppression and degradation. (pg 20)

He also says -

We suffer from bad administration and not from bad laws. The administration is bad because it is in the hand of the Caste Hindus, who carry their social prejudices into administration and persistently deny to the Untouchables for one reason or another the principle of equal benefit to which they are entitled. Good Laws can do you no good unless you have good administration and you can have good administration when you have persons belonging to the Untouchables holding high administrative posts from which they could watch how other Hindu civil servants are behaving towards the Untouchables and to check them, control them and prevent them from doing mischief. (pg. 21)

And for those of you who say reservation – here is the GoI figures on reservation in the administrative services :

 

Secy Addl. Secy Joint Secy Director
Total No. of officers 149 108 477 590
No. of SCs - 2 31 17
% age of SCs - 1.85 6.49 2.88
No. of STs 4 2 15 7
% age of STs 2.68 1.85 3.14 1.18

( The number of officers presently working as Secretary, Additional  Secretary, Joint Secretary and Director level posts, in the Government of India and the number of SC and ST officers on these posts and their percentage, as  on 14.3.201)

And the almost prescient Dr.Ambedkar has this to say

“It is, however, not enough to ask for mere reservation. It is necessary to insist that such reservation shall be given effect to within a stated period. This is far more essential than mere reservation. For, unless you fix a period, the reservation will not come. It will be evaded on one ground or another and of course on the usual and unfathomable ground that no suitable candidate was available. We all know to a Hindu, if he is the appointing authority, no candidate from the Untouchables would be a suitable candidate. “(pg.21)

And finally in this speech he talks about the solution. He ends by talking about the support for the British war effort against the Nazis.

This is a war between democracy and dictatorship – not an enlightened dictatorship but a dictatorship of the most barbarous character based not on any moral idea but on racial arrogance. If any dictatorship needs to be destroyed it is this vile Nazi dictatorship. Amidst all the political dissensions that one witnesses in this country …we are likely to forget what a menace to our future this Nazism, if it wins, is going to be. What is more important is that its racial basis is a positive danger to Indians. (pg.26)

Looks like people flirted with the Nazi ideology even then.

He continues:

…There lies on us a very heavy duty to see that democracy does not vanish from the earth as a governing principle of human relationship. If we believe in it, we must be both true and loyal to it. We must not only be staunch in our faith in democracy but we must resolve to see that in whatever we do, we don not help the enemies of democracy to uproot the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. …. If democracy lives, we are sure to reap the fruits of it. If democracy dies, it will be our doom (pg.27)

 

Such vision. Such clarity. Such empathy. Still relevant after 70 years ..

_____________________

And in case you are wondering, i reject Dr.Swamy’s ideology – it goes against everything I believe in. Everything that I believe to be sacred.

I may support his right to express, but i will fight his ideology with all that I can and all that i have.
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And finally, the photograph for today.

It was raining cats and dogs and buffaloes and cows – almost for a week. The lakes are full, and the roads have become the moon crater. I couldn’t bear driving any more so I took a rick yesterday. This was the view through the wind screen. The “Ram” is a sticker – the two red lights belong to cars stranded ahead of the rick. It is almost like giving me a glimmer of hope on a dark and stormy day…

30 day Project Day 14 - red2

May 312011
 

It seems to be open season on formulating legislation… Everyone and his idiot cousin has gotten onto the bandwagon. And, underlying this desire to legislate to solve India’s problems lies a deeply fascist thought -” I know better than you. I care more than you and therefore I have the right to take over your life and the way you live it – and rule it with an iron hand”. … a deeply dangerous thought. Be it Anna Hazare and his bunch of Jan Lok Pal supporters or the NAC and its Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill – the assumption of I know better than you, and if you oppose me you are pro corruption and pro communal violence – is a dangerous trend in a political space that is already polarised.

Both corruption and communal violence are the bane of Indian society .. but, having unimplementable laws that create monolithic institutions with a concentration of power is not the solution. The solution is far simpler ..implement the laws that exist.

With both the bills I am going to assume “good intention” – i have no reason to believe that those behind the Jan Lok Pal Bill or the PCTV bill have any malicious intent. I am also going to assume that they genuinely care about the problem at hand – corruption and communal violence. My views on the Jan Lok Pal bill is fairly well known to anyone following this blog or my twitter stream (i think i went bonkers at that time and flooded mine & other people’s timelines with my opposition to the bill). Friends asked me – why are you supporting corruption. And, the answer was simple – I wasn’t. I just didnt want one unaccountable system replaced with another even more draconian unaccountable body.

Last week when the Prevention of Communal & Targeted Violence Bill came out and I posted on twitter that it was flawed – very flawed  and that the BJP should turn up in Parliament to properly debate both this and the JLP — rather than posturing in TV studios. A friend called me up and asked me when I changed sides and moved from being Secular to being Communal. I was zapped. And hurt.  I haven’t been brought up to be communal. I detest communal thought, behaviour and attitudes. I have always spoken out agaisnt them – and yet, my opposition to the proposed bill was getting me labelled as Communal.

So if I am not communal, and I hate riots, why do I oppose the bill. The answer is simple- because I have read it. What am I against? well,

  • It is anti the Republic of India.
  • It is against the basic principles of non discrimination
  • It violates the rights of the States
  • It violates the rights of individuals.
  • It over rides the basis of the criminal justice system and says “guilty by association” and ‘guilty until proved innocent’.

And that is just for a start.

See these definitions:

  • e) “group” means a religious or linguistic minority, in any State in the Union of India, or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes within the meaning of clauses (24) and (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution of India;

What happens if the Tamils and the Biharis in Maharashtra riot against each other ? is it a communal riot or is it a friendly skirmish ?

What happens if a SC ‘group’ that is Buddhist riots against a ST group that is Christian ? obviously another friendly skirmish. What happens if a Maharashtrian Hindu family in Dharavi ( predominantly settled by Tamilians of all religions) is attacked – is the Maharashtrian Hindu family a majority or a minority ? Are the people who died in the train compartment in Godhra – marjority or minority or simply victims… what a discriminatory clause !!

  • j) “victim” means any person belonging to a group as defined under this Act, who has suffered physical, mental, psychological or monetary harm or harm to his or her property as a result of the commission of any offence under this Act, and includes his or her relatives, legal guardian and legal heirs, wherever appropriate;

so if there is a riot in Mumbai between a majority community – either linguistic or religious – and a minority community – either linguistic or religious -and I – a minority – cannot get to work for 5 days – have i suffered monetary harm ?

  • 4 - Knowledge.- A person is said to knowingly direct any act against a person belonging to a group by virtue of such person’s membership of that group where:(a) he or she means to engage in the conduct against a person he or she knows belongs to that group; or,(b) with the knowledge that the person belongs to a group, he or she means to cause injury or harm to such person because of the membership of such person to that group.

At the risk of sounding stupid, how do you prove this ?

  • 8 - Hate propaganda.– Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, whoever publishes, communicates or disseminates by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise acts inciting hatred causing clear and present danger of violence against a group or persons belonging to that group, in general or specifically, or disseminates or broadcasts any information, or publishes or displays any advertisement or notice, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate an intention to promote or incite hatred or expose or is likely to expose the group or persons belonging to that group to such hatred, is said to be guilty of hate propaganda.

ok – if we write vehemently against the Khap Panchayats – and let us say that the people rise up against the Khap Panchayat, and maybe beat them up – is it hate propaganda ?

  • 10. Aiding financially, materially or in kind for commission of offence under this Act.- Whoever knowingly expends or supplies any money or any material or aids in kind thereof, in furtherance or in support of an act which is an offence under this Act is said to be guilty of aiding financially in the commission of an offence under this Act.

again, at the risk of sounding stupid, how do you prove this ?

  • 13. Dereliction of duty.- When any person who is or was a public servant not removable from his or her office save by or with the sanction of the Central Government or State Government, as the case may be, authorized to act under any provision of this Act:(a) exercises the authority vested in him or her colourably or in a manner otherwise than provided under law for the time being in force, which causes or is likely to lead to an offence of communal and targeted violence or by which he or she intends to screen or knowing it to be likely that he or she will thereby screen any person from legal punishment; or, (b) omits to exercise lawful authority vested in him or her under law, without reasonable cause, thereby fails to prevent the commission of communal and targeted violence, breach of public order or disruption in the maintenance of services and supplies essential to a group,shall be guilty of dereliction of duty.

Wow – how do you prove colourable …

  • 20. Power of Central Government in relation to Organised Communal and Targeted Violence.- The occurrence of organised communal and targeted violence shall constitute “internal disturbance” within the meaning of and the Central Government may take such steps in accordance with the duties mentioned thereunder, as the nature and circumstances of the case so requires.

The referernce cited here is Article 355 – which says

Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution

Article 355 of the Constitution is followed by Article 356 – which calls for President’s Rule.

Chapter 4 calls for the setting up of a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice & Reparation – I don’t have too much of issue with the idea of the body, except that communal harmony cannot be brought about by a National Authority – it is brought about by equitable policy and ensuring that diverse groups – and India is a country of unimaginable diversity – have equal access & opportunity. What i do have an issue with is the following:

  • 31. Functions of the National Authority.- The National Authority shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-(a) inquire or investigate, suo motu or upon any information or otherwise received in relation to the:(i) occurrence or likely occurrence of offences of communal and targeted violence in the manner prescribed by rules under this Act;(ii) negligence in the prevention of communal and targeted violence by public servants.(b) receive and collect information on:(i) any acts that indicate a build up by State or non-state actors of offences under this Act;(ii) any form of communication, propaganda, mobilisation or the activities of persons, which may promote enmity or hatred against groups.(c) entertain appeals against decisions of the State Assessment Committee in relation to non-inclusion of names of persons under section 98.(d) issue advisories and make recommendations, in relation to clause (a) above and section 32, to State and non-state actors;(e) frame, in consultation with the Central Government, schemes for relief, reparation and restitution of all persons entitled under section 90 including those registered under section 98;(f) frame, in consultation with the Central Government, guidelines in relation to the prevention and control of communal and targeted violence;(g) receive regular reports at least once every quarter on incidents, outbreaks and patterns of communal and targeted violence from all State Authorities constituted under this Act;(h) visit, under intimation to the State Government, any relief camp under the control of the State Government, where persons registered under section 98 are lodged to review the living conditions of such persons;(i) visit, under intimation to the Central Government or the State Government, any jails or any other institution under the control of the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, where persons are detained or lodged for the purposes of inquiry or investigation into any offence under this Act;(j) observe proceedings in court in relation to any offence punishable under this Act either through Members of the State Authority or by appointing independent observers;(k) intervene in any proceeding, involving any allegation of communal and targeted violence pending before a court, with approval of such court;(l) such other functions that it may consider necessary for the preservation of communal harmony and prevention and control of communal and targeted violence.

Wonderful – and why do we have the Parliament, Cabinet, Judiciary, State Governments, Police, Bureaucracy  .. shall we disband all of them and hand over power to the National Authority ?

And, if you think that this is bad – check out the powers of the National Authority :

  • 33. Powers of the National Authority.- (1) The National Authority in the fulfillment of its objectives and in furtherance of its functions shall have the following powers, namely:-(a) requisitioning information from the:(i) Central government, any State government or concerned Union Territory or any of their officers or departments; or(ii) non-state actors;(b) appointing any person to observe, gather facts and information, inquire on its behalf;(c) issue directions to State Authorities in relation to the conduct of any inquiry.Provided that any direction issued by the National Authority to any State Authority shall be binding on the State Authority.

I can see a whole bunch of States standing up and screaming, violation of Federal Compact …

  • 41. Statutory Information.- (1) It shall be the duty of any District Magistrate or Police Commissioner having knowledge or information of patterns and incidents of outbreaks of communal and targeted violence or anticipating any of these, to report to the National Authority in writing without any delay.(2). All reports received by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Home Departments of all State Governments, and District Magistrates relating to communal and targeted violence, build-up and possibilities thereof and advisories related therein shall be sent to the National Authority without any delay.

lovely – combined this with the dereliction of duty clause, every time someone sneezes – you are going to have a despatch sent to the National Authority saying ‘riot’.

 

Chapter 5 deals with State Authorities that report to the National Authority.

Chapter 6 deals with Investigation, Prosecution and Trial – and the setting up of Special Public Prosecutors and to appoint designated judges

chapter 7 deals with Relief, Reparation and Restitution

 

I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind supporting this Bill – it is draconian, goes against the principles of Federalism and deeply flawed. Between this and the Jan Lok Pal Bill – with all their good intentions  - they are going to destroy the Republic of India….

A riot is about hate,  murder, arson, rape, and violence – while you may not be able to legislate hate, the rest are under its purview – apply the laws that exist.  Don’t create new super agencies with a concentration of power.

May 102011
 

This appeared in the April edition of Pragati.

If there is any country in the world that is a poster child for dictatorship, it is Pakistan. Over the last two and half decades at least, Pakistan seems to have been more stable and more prosperous under its military dictators than its “democratically” elected leaders.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of articles and posts discussing why India is not Pakistan. There is the civilisational argument—that Indians are more prone to democracy than Pakistan because of the Hindu ethos—not in the religious sense of the word, but by virtue of many streams flowing into the larger ocean. While this is true, a small niggling voice at the back of the head says that until 1947 it was their civilisational ethos too. Then, there is the caste argument. Pakistan is the way it is because it doesn’t have enough merchant castes and has too much peasant castes. While it is hard to disagree with this too, the fact remains that large numbers of Baloch, Sindhis, Pashtuns and Punjabis were traders, merchants and money lenders. Religion was how they prayed to God; profit was the motive behind their business.

While the factors mentioned above are definitely relevant, there are three other factors – far more modern – that sowed the seeds of a stable India and an unstable Pakistan. The first was very simple: Jinnah died a year after Pakistan was formed, Nehru lived for the next 17 years to see that his vision succeeded, and provided a modicum of stability in the system. Maybe India would have faced the same problems if Sardar Patel had been the first Prime Minister of India—not because Sardar Patel lacked the vision, but because he died in 1950, twelve months after the formation of the Republic. The other two reasons are slightly more complex—the rights of the land owner, and the imposition of a national language.

You cannot divorce Pakistan from the man who drove its creation. It seems unfathomable why Jinnah, a wine drinking, pork eating atheist and a man who believed in the European mode of secularism, would want a country based on religion. And when he got it, declared he wanted a secular state. It is also quite inexplicable that Jinnah, an urbane constitutionalist who otherwise believed in the rule of law—and found Gandhi’s mode of non co-operation contrary to this—would find it convenient to unleash hordes when he did not get his way on things.

One common reason given, rather uncharitably, was that he wanted to be head of state and would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. The reason was almost certainly far more complex: Jinnah wanted Pakistan out of ideology, but that ideology was not Islam.

If you re-read the history of that era you will see that there were two major ideologies prevalent. The first was Socialism—the rights of the tiller, the labourer, the worker and the dispossessed; and the second was Capitalism— the rights of the industrialist, the land owner, and the rich. By the 1930s, it was very clear that India was going down the social democratic route—socialist in terms of centralised planning, agrarian reforms, the whittling down of the zamindari system to give more rights to the tiller; and Democratic in the sense of universal franchise. In this both Patel and Nehru were united as were others in the Congress. The Nehruvian model, as it is now called, may have unleashed socialism on India, but its views on equality, social justice and land allocation probably saved India from Pakistan’s woes. However, there is no point being complacent about this fact. Those areas in India that are still feudal, where the rights of the indigenous people, the tillers, the marginalised communities are trampled are the same areas that Maoist militancy has taken root.

Jinnah, on the other hand was a capitalist. He had a certain disdain for the masses, and found his calling as the candidate of the zamindars. The Muslim League was the party of the zamindars, the Talukdars and the Rais. Had Jinnah been honest about the fact that he wanted a non-socialist state, he would not have gotten popular support. Islam was a decoy for continuing with the land-owning status quo. And today, it is this status quo that has come back to bite the state. Any nation that is feudal will go through this churn: It will be replaced by either communism or religion—both promise equality and both follow similar methods of ‘converting’ the disenchanted with promises of a better tomorrow.

The fact remains that the part of Pakistan that India speaks to is the feudal part. These by no stretch of imagination, can be called liberals. They speak English, they appeal to our sense of nostalgia, but they are responsible for a lot of what is wrong with Pakistan. It is a patriarchal feudal state where a few families own the bulk of the land; the rest are dispossessed. Militant Islam is a reaction to this inequity in society.

The other reason which is equally important was the imposition of Urdu as the national language. When a language gets declared as the national language it means that all official business is transacted in that language. The people who speak and write that language as their primary language have an edge over those who don’t. In Pakistan’s case that meant that the Mohajir—the immigrant from India—whose native language was Urdu had an edge over those who spoke Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pushtu, and Bengali. The national language policy, in fact, had the effect of breaking up Pakistan. It didn’t break up because of religion, but because the Bengali speaking majority of East Pakistan felt disadvantaged when it came to accessing jobs and Urdu speaking West Pakistan didn’t want to share the pie.

India, on the other hand, went for the compromise. The concept of mother tongue was recognised, Rajya Bhasha was considered the language in which various states carry out their business, protests against a common language were taken into account and the question of having a single common language was left open. If at all of India wants to move to impose a national language, Indonesia might prove the better role model. They chose the language spoken by the fewest number of people and made it the national language. The economic disadvantage of having a national language was, therefore, spread amongst the population.

So, is Pakistan as a nation doomed? It is still not too late, but for that its ruling elite will have to put national interest first. Land reforms will have to happen, education has to be imposed, women have to be given rights, and the rule of law has to be paramount. Too many splintered interests in Pakistan—the land owners, the Army, the secret service, the political class—are looking at their own narrow self interest. In all this, their nation is crumbling.

Historically, the phase after feudalism is industrialisation. Maybe it is time for money to be channelled into Pakistan—not to fight the Taliban or put down their people, but to industrialise, create jobs, create value and create stability.

May 122010
 

Two very different instances of religious/caste patriarchs intervening in civil society have come to the fore in the last couple of days. Both are Anti Constitutional. And, its about time the Government and the System said religious oppression in the name of Religious freedom be damned – the Constitution comes first.

The first instance was the Khap Panchayats that has been flexing its muscles for quite some time – excommunicating and killing without consequences. They have got Navin Jindal to tow the line now.

Mr. Jindal has said -

“I and my whole family respect the years old traditions and rituals of khap panchayats. My house is their own home and they can come there any time. I am just like their own child and I can never go against them; rather I always need their blessings.”

Navin Jindal, if you remember, is the man who went all the way to the Supreme Court for the right of Indian Citizens to fly the Indian Flag, and won .

Mr.Jindal has forgotten that the Indian flag represents the Indian Republic. And, the Indian Republic is enshrined by the Indian Constitution . The Indian Constitution states:

14. The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
15. (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

If the Khap Panchayat had its way – it is not just same gotra marriages that will be nullified, but there will be penalties to anyone who breaks caste rules . And, as all of us know, these rules – if applied to their logical conclusion – will lead to the Hindus getting their equivalent of the Taliban.

I wonder if a Member of Parliament who is so ready to violate the Constitution has the right to be in Parliament !

The second instance of the Constitution being violated, is the Deobandi’s – who have declared that it is haram for women to work

“It is unlawful (under the Sharia law) for Muslim women to work in the government or private sector where men and women work together and women have to talk with men frankly and without a veil,”

If the fatwa is followed through to its logical conclusion, it would mean that Indian citizens who are Muslim women cannot be the President, Prime Minister, Member of Parliament. They can’t work in a Hospital, a Call Centre, a Hotel. They can’t teach in a co-educational school, they cannot work for a NGO, they can’t work as engineers…. This essentially means that women are barred from most professions except sweat shops where they can sit with other women and sew stuff at cut price rate.

In both cases a bunch of patriarchs want the world to bend to their interpretation of religion, and honour …. I hope that in both cases this is the straw that breaks the back of an communities that have kept quiet — and rise up to delegitimise both the Khap Panchayats and the Deobandi’s. The best way to destroy them is to stop listening to them !!

And finally – i hope everyone remembers that the reason Krishna wasn’t invited to Rukmini’s swayamwar was because he was a Yadav and she was a Kshyatriya princess.

Let us also remember that the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – a merchant who employed him.

Those who have proclaimed themselves as guardians of religion and tradition seem to have forgotten their own religion and tradition :( -