Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Ashis Nandy in trouble

I am glad that Ashis Nandy is in trouble. He was against fight against corruption. He defended the corrupt.
What was Ashish Nandy doing at Jaipur Literature Festival? What is his contribution to literature? Writing on psychology or sociology is not literature.
On 26/1/2013, Republic Day, he said: “Some may call it a vulgar statement on my part, but it is a fact that most of the corruption comes from OBCs and Scheduled Castes and now increasingly Scheduled Tribes. And as long as this is the case, the Indian Republic will survive.”
“I will give you an example. One of the states with the least amount of corruption is West Bengal, when the CPI(M) was there. And I must draw attention to the fact that in the last 100 years, nobody from the OBC, SC and ST has come anywhere near to power. It is an absolutely clean state.”
“I said that if people like me or Richard Sorabji want to be corrupt, I shall possibly send his son to Harvard giving him a fellowship and he can send my daughter to Oxford. No one will think it to be corruption. Indeed, it will look like supporting talent. But when Dalits, tribals and OBCs are corrupt, it looks very corrupt indeed. However, this second corruption equalises. It gives them access to entitlements, allows the underprivileged to partake of the loot. And as long as this equation persists, I have hope for the republic.”
BSP leader Mayawati responded to Nandy’s statement: “For social scientists in the country to turn a blind eye to the inequities of society is very unfortunate. In fact, it is the SC/ST community and other weaker sections who suffer the most due to corruption. I would like the government of Rajasthan to initiate legal proceedings against Nandy and move towards his arrest. I demand that the organisers of the literary festival remove him from the programme.”
Ashish Nandy may have in mind Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, A. Raja, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Shibu Soren and Madhu Koda. He ignored many politicians who are not OBCs/SCs/STs but are more corrupt. They do not get bad press or jail because they know to manage media and judiciary. Meenakshi Lekhi said they are Brahmins who call themselves Dixit and are corrupt.
Ashish Nandy justified his statement. “I do believe that a zero corruption society will be despotic society. I also said that if people like Richard Sorabjee and I want to be corrupt, I shall possibly send his son to Harvard and give him a fellowship and he can send my daughter to Oxford.”

“No one will think it as corruption. Indeed it will look like supporting talent. But when dalits, tribals and the OBCs are corrupt, it looks very corrupt indeed. However, this second corruption equalizes. It gives them access to top their entitlements As long as this equation persists, I have hope for the republic,” he said.
Ashish Nandy speaks of Singapore as despotic society. It does not have crime rate like India. Corruption leads to crime in many cases. In Singapore rapes do not take place on a daily basis. He did not mention Norway, Sweden, Finland and New Zealand which are not corrupt and despotic.
Ashish Nandy said he had been misunderstood. “As should be clear, there was neither any intention nor any attempt to hurt any community.”
“I will give an example. The state of least corruption is West Bengal. In the last 100 years, nobody from the backward classes and the SC and ST groups have come anywhere near power in West Bengal. It is an absolutely clean state.”
In the evening Ashis Nandy was booked under the SC/ST Act for his comment. Maximum punishment is 10 years jail. He was whisked away from the venue by the back door even as activists of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBC groups protested at the venue — the Diggi Palace.
I will be more glad if Ashis Nandy spends 10 years in jail.

Cultural terrorism

Kamal Haasan has termed the protests that led to the ban on his film Vishwaroopam as cultural terrorism. Some Muslims think it portrays them as terrorists. Before that Salman Rushdie had talked of cultural emergency in India.
There is CBFC for certifying films. Once it certifies the film should be allowed for exhibition. There should be no ban. If some people threaten protests they should be arrested. If they engage in violence law should take its course.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Freedom of speech and expression repeatedly comes under threat. It is no case that a film or book should not hurt anyone’s sentiments. Somebody or the other gets offended due to something or the other. In one city in Russia they wanted a ban on Bhagavadgita because they found it extremist literature. In India Dalits do not like Bhagavadgita because it propounds caste system and keeps them low. Dalits wanted beef and pork festival. Some people opposed it. Many people who speak of freedom of speech and expression are hypocrites. They defend Salman Rushdie, M. F. Husain, Taslima Nasreen, Ramanujam, Rohinton Mistry, Deepa Mehta, but want ban on item numbers. Khushboo as an actress used to speak of freedom of speech and expression and was against bans. She joined DMK and justified ban on Dam 999. Now she is against ban on Vishwaroopam.
Jaipur Literature Festival makes news for the wrong reasons. Last year it was about the presence of Salman Rushdie. This time it was about four authors who read from Rushdie’s book and Pakistani authors. Two different groups did not want their participation.
There was no ban on Vishwaroopam in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Yet police in Hyderabad and Bangalore asked some theatres not to show the film. In Hyderabad a show was stopped and viewers could not watch the complete film.
The state fails in its duty to provide security and hooligans get away with crime. Artists and authors pay the price. On 24/1/2013 Madras High Court should have lifted the ban on Vishwaroopam as it was due for release on 25/1/2013. Instead the judge said he will see the film on 26/1/2013 and decide. Same day came news that Supreme Court has upheld the ban on Dam 999 in Tamil Nadu. If courts do not revoke ban on films there is no hope for liberty in India.

Verma Committee disappoints

Justice J. S. Verma Committee’s report submitted on 23/1/2013 is a disappointment. The committee headed by Ex-CJI Jagdish Sharan Verma had Ex-Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium and Ex-CJ of Himachal Pradesh Leila Seth as members. The committee was appointed after Delhi gang rape on 16/12/2012. There was no need to appoint the committee. The government wanted to buy time as there were protests. It did not want to extend the winter session or call a special session or call all-party meeting.
It is said the committee went through around 80,000 suggestions and submitted its report within 29 days. It seems the committee agreed to the suggestions by NGOs and activists who oppose death penalty and castration and ignored large number of people who wanted death penalty and castration. The committee was appointed to suggest amendments to criminal laws to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women. The committee failed in that.
The committee did not recommend death penalty even in cases of rape and murder. It did not recommend lowering juvenile age to 16 and trial of criminals who commit rape and murders as adults whatever be their age.
The committee strayed into territories it was not required to. It was not for them to suggest a constitutional authority be appointed to monitor gender justice goals. It talks about marital rape which is an oxymoron. It talks about khap panchayats and says they are against women. Khap panchayats are against men and women who do not follow their diktats. They commit murders which are euphemistically called honour killings. Here also Verma committee did not suggest death penalty for murder. The committee went into affidavits by candidates and registration of political parties.
The committee suggested new sections for some crimes. It wants section 354B for voyeurism. Will a man be punished for looking at a woman in bikini on the beach? It wants section 376(3) with punishment from 20 years to life for death cause while raping. Why not both castration and death? It wants section 376E with punishment for whole life for repeat rapists. Why not death or castration? A dead or castrated man cannot rape again.
The committee did not suggest hypnotism, brain mapping, and narco analysis on rapists so that no rapist gets away.
The committee talked of electoral reforms. It suggested that candidates against whom chargesheet for rape is filed be barred from contesting elections for six years. This is dangerous. Politicians can manage false chargesheets against their rivals. Someone had filed a rape case against Rahul Gandhi. Later he said he did it on the behest of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav.
The committee blamed police, politicians, and spiritual gurus for their statements against women. It talked about criminalization of politics and politicisation of crime. J. S. Verma was mild on judiciary. The committee did not blame lawyers who defend rapists, judges who let off rapists or give mild punishment, High Court and Supreme Court judges who reduce punishment given to rapists, Presidents who pardon or commute the sentences rapists and murderers, and NGOs and activists who oppose death penalty.
Many things the committee suggested had been suggested before and nothing has been done. The euphoria shown by some people over the report is misplaced.
The committee bought time for the government but created new problems. J. S. Verma said he was shocked to see Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar get a pat on the back from home secretary R. K. Singh. He said many DGPs did not respond and something needs to be done to review the appointment of the DGPs. The committee noted the peculiarity of city government where the chief minister had no control over the police.
The six criminals who committed the gang rape beat the woman with iron rods, cut her with blade, damaged her intestine, thought she was dead and threw her out of the bus. They wanted to run the bus over her. Proper punishment for these criminals is taking out their intestines, burning them, castrating them, and hanging them.

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