The President is not willing

The Smriti Irani-led HRD ministry’s ongoing attempt to put cherry-picked party faithful in positions of power across India’s universities stubbed its toe on a president who apparently doesn’t want to play ball. Thus:

President Pranab Mukherjee has returned a file containing the names of candidates for the executive council of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). He has asked the ministry to recommend more people, reports said Saturday.

Rajat Sharma, India TV editor-in-chief, and Vijay P Bhatkar, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee and the developer of Param supercomputers, who is also a member of Vijnana Bharti — an RSS-linked organisation — were recommended for the position.

And this time, I am really gone. See you tomorrow.

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Achhe din = jumla?

I started reading this Swapan Dasgupta piece on the budget, got to one particular graf, and got stuck.

For the Narendra Modi government rapidly approaching its halfway mark, the political pressures have been intense. Apart from the electoral setbacks in Delhi and Bihar, it has been hamstrung by the ‘irrational exuberance’ that greeted its outright victory in the 2014 general election. The slogan of ‘achhe din’ may have been a clever copywriter’s brainwave — what Amit Shah unwisely called ‘jumla’ — but it set exacting standards by which the regime is judged.

This is what happens when a journalist’s natural instinct to question wars with the apologist’s intent to deflect, to defend. Read the passage again. Shorn of its ornamental clauses, it says simply this: “Achche din” was just an election gimmick. And the current regime has no hope in hell of delivering on its own false promise. Follows this:

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Mounting dissent

You know you’ve gone too far when your own people say they have had enough. Vide the ongoing JNU controversy, which has already seen the resignations of a Zee News reporter, three ABVP student leaders from the troubled campus, and now JNU Chief Proctor Krishna Kumar — this last over the conduct of the university’s internal probe into the events of February 9.

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Tharoor on the making of a political star

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suddenly acquired a major problem. His carefully cultivated political persona is not designed to face off against somebody like Kanhaiya. The boy totally disarms Mr Modi’s claim to “ordinariness”. (The PM’s narrative of having sold tea faces that of a student who could barely afford a cup of tea.) He has even co-opted the police, the government’s dreaded enforcers, by pointing out that constables have the same social background as him and share his views on issues, rather than those of the government.

And then there’s Kanhaiya himself, the darling son of every Indian mother (especially after his shave, which has restored youthful innocence to his face). His oratory, the way he switches registers and vocabularies so nimbly, his lack of rancour or self-pity, his cheekiness, his courage, his eloquence – he matches, arguably even defeats, Mr Modi. The BJP suddenly realizes it is ruling an India which requires the devotees of Krishna Kanhaiya to make room for Kanhaiya Kumar.

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WTF: an occasional series

On the application seeking Mallya’s arrest, Holla said such an action would tantamount to demeaning the institution of Rajya Sabha because he is a “respected member” of the Upper House.

From this story. What to say?

ABVP redux

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action” — thus Bond, James Bond, in Goldfinger.

In the ongoing series of incidents pointing at a systematic campaign mounted by the ABVP, this against its political opponents, this:

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On hate speech

On Scroll, lawyer and research associate Siddharth Narayan examines the laws and remedies applicable in the case of hate speech, with reference to HRD minister of state Ram Shankar Katheria and beyond:

Sections 295A and 153A constitute serious offences – cognisable and non-bailable, carrying a maximum punishment of up to three years. If the speech in question is made at a time when the Election Commission has announced the election dates and official campaigning has begun, then a conviction under section 153A can be used to disqualify a candidate for indulging in a corrupt practice under sections 123(3) A of Representation of Peoples Act. In addition, “promoting enmity between classes” in connection with an election is an electoral offence under section 125 of the same Act.

Despite these protections in law, politicians continue to spout hate speech, while the same laws – 153A and 295A in particular – are often used to harass and intimidate artists, dissenters and academics. The irony is hard to miss. The most striking example is that after all the explicit hate speech made by Shiv Sena leaders in its mouthpiece Saamna, especially in and around the period of the 1992-’93 communal riots in Mumbai, there have only been two convictions by trial courts, and that too, of party members near the bottom of the hierarchy.