WTFJH: The October 14 weekend edition

#1. It takes just one news story to meet, and exceed, the weekend’s whatthefuckery quotient:

Over two years after Mohammed Akhlaq was beaten to death on suspicion of consuming beef, the accused in the case, all of whom are out on bail, may soon secure jobs.

Moreover, the family of Ravin Sisodia, one of the murder accused who had died in jail of multiple organ failure, is soon likely to get Rs 8 lakh compensation.

Dog whistles winked at, okay. Murder cases swept under the carpet or left uninvestigated, par for the course. Clean chits handed out assiduously, fine. A murder accused who dies in jail of illness given the nearest thing to a state funeral, yeah okay, if you say so. But really, this? People accused

People accused in a brutal, pointless murder to be “compensated” with jobs and cash? Just how much more blatant can the BJP and its fellow-travelers get? How much more obvious can you make the message — that killings carried out in pursuit of a communal agenda will not only not attract punishment, but will actually be rewarded?

Speaking of lynching, author and writing professor Amitava Kumar writes with trademark eloquence in The Nation:

Speeches like this were not simply about animal welfare. Modi’s words are an incitement for India’s Hindu majority, which mostly doesn’t eat beef, to turn against the minority, particularly Muslims, who are conventionally represented as beef eaters. Cow slaughter has long been banned in parts of India, but after the BJP’s victory, frenzied mobs of vigilantes felt emboldened to make accusations and mete out brutal punishment.

#2. A scandal over the use of sub-standard steel in bullet trains is brewing in Japan. Though why we should bother is moot — sub-standard materials in construction is a feature here, not a bug, so.

#3. In Kanpur, 22 traders have been booked for putting up posters comparing Modi with Kim Jong-un.

#4. The Modi government will give Rs 51,000 as ‘shaadi shagun’ to Muslim girls who complete their graduation before marriage. Which is somewhat strange for a government and a party that has been hammering away at communal appeasement, but hey.

#5. The government is set to exceed its disinvestment targets, says a news report. Which would be great news at a time when there is a scarcity of such — only, much of it is smoke and mirrors and creative accounting. Of the 72.500 crore target, fully Rs 33,970 crore comes from selling HPCL to ONGC — that is, by selling one PSU to another PSU. To call that “disinvestment” is a huge reach since all that is effectively happening is money being moved from one government account to another.

Of the Rs 72,500 crore target, fully Rs 33,970 crore comes from the sale of HPCL to ONGC — that is, by selling one PSU to another PSU. To call that “disinvestment” is a huge reach since all that is effectively happening is money being moved from one government account to another. But it is, on paper at least, a “target” met, a win chalked up, so there’s that.

#6. So much for Donald Trump, who we were told would be our ally and bulwark against terrorism in general and Pakistan in particular:

#7. For a long time now, Twitter has been taking a willfully negligent attitude to the many abuses that abound on the social media platform. The avalanche of criticism, which peaked earlier this week with women in the US and elsewhere organizing a day-long boycott, appears to be working, vide this from @jack, part of a longer thread:

#8. The Churmuri blog is scathing on the subject of the media’s calculated silence in re the Jay Shah story. And that list of questions? Expect much of it to form the fulcrum of the defamation case when it finally gets heard.

#9. Rebecca Solnit and Bob Vulfov are among the more scathing voices that have come forward to gut whataboutery and victim-blaming in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein rape/sexual abuse scandal. From Solnit:

Remember that every time a man commits a violent act it only takes one or two steps to figure out how it’s a woman’s fault, and that these dance steps are widely known and practiced and quite a bit of fun. There are things men do that are the fault of women who are too sexy, and other things men do that are the fault of women who are not sexy enough, but women only come in those two flavors: not enough, too much, and it is the fate of heterosexual men to endure this affliction. Wives are responsible for their husbands, especially if their husbands are supremely powerful and terrifying figures leading double lives and accountable to no one. But women are now also in the workforce, where they have so many opportunities to be responsible for other men as well.

And from Vulfoy:

I just want to make one thing clear right off the bat: I wholeheartedly condemn the horrible, disgusting murders committed by Jack the Ripper. Mr. Ripper is the most powerful man in London to be categorically identified as a murderer, but he’s certainly not the only one. We all need to come together and expel these sorts of depraved monsters from our society. However, I do feel like I need to open my dumb gullet and ask everyone a simple question: Why didn’t more of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper simply come forward and denounce his behavior?

#10. Supreme Court lawyer and activist Karuna Nundy has pointed advice for every woman who has ever been harassed. She sets up a breakdown of the various forms of harassment, and the relevant laws, with this:

I write to you today so you will know your power. Each time you exercise ethical power, you change the world a little bit for the better. You were born with natural rights, with the freedom to speak your mind, pluck the fruits of your labour and love who you want. The State exists to protect your freedoms. Laws are just the rights that courts and governments promise to enforce.

Please read. And share widely.

Have a good weekend; barring emergencies, see you back here on Monday.


5 thoughts on “WTFJH: The October 14 weekend edition

  1. Blinded by hate for the ruling party? #4 is not appeasement but an attempt to increase quality education in a community where early marriage is very common.

    • Look up some numbers sometime. Child marriage is most prevalent in the heartland states, and by far the greatest incidence is among the Hindu community, to which I too belong. My grandmom was married at 13, btw, and her sister at 12. If you want to see everything as “hate”, your privilege.

      • This is what I interpret: 84% Hindus and 11% muslims undergoing child marriage is in the same ballpark as 80% Hindus and 14% muslims in India. When 2 communties have a problem in similar scale, and your resources are limited, choose the minority community. It is unlike bjp, yes, but welcome step.

        I am a regular reader of your blog with a pro bjp tilt (mainly because of atal era). I am trying to find positives from your wtfs. Another one for me was from your past blog when some govt official took bribe saying there won’t be any more demonitization. I interpret that as there was at least some momentary and hopefully many permanent fears instilled in minds of corrupt people.

        Finally, pardon my anonymity, you being a journalist have lot of facts at your fingertips than me, a mere software engineer. Once I am myself convinced on either side of the issue, I will come out in the open.

        • To take the last point first, I have no problem with people choosing not to reveal their identity. If I did, it would be a simple matter to go to the settings and tick the box that prevents anonymous users from commenting. The only thing I bar is abuse and pointless whataboutery — and in such cases I will ignore the comment. (As must have been evident to you from your two comments thus far, I have patiently responded on both occasions).

          To your reading of the data — what you say is *exactly* the argument made, repeatedly by the Congress, whenever it is accused of favoring the minority community: that the Muslims *are* a minority, and therefore has first claim on scant resources.

          And that is my problem. On the face of it, it seems an unexceptional argument. Agreeing with it for the moment, what bothers me is that the BJP repeatedly raises the “appeasement” issue, often accompanied by incendiary language calculated to inflame its base. I see that as a definite faultline that can lead to major problems; that is my opinion and you can disagree, that is fine. Hence my point — when you know something is the right thing to do, why raise an issue and inflame passions simply for some notional political gains? Are parties — and I am politically agnostic — so bereft of real issues, of real ideas, that they have to raise such convenient bogeys?

          (In today’s post I am pointing to a related one: corruption). How is this justifiable, and how am I at fault for pointing out the smoke and mirrors here? (BTW — in the run up to the 2014 elections, Aadhar was “a national disgrace” — and look where we are today. FDI was demonized. MNREGA was called the greatest scam in Indian history ever. GST was opposed as the Congress’ insidious attempt to favour the middle class at the expense of the rich — by Modi, no less. The list goes on — good things that could have been done stalled, because of political expediency. Here, in the instance you pick up, a logical social attempt that is right when you do it, wrong when the other guy does it.)

          To your point about demonetization — sure, we each interpret it as per our biases. (Which is why to your last comment about my biases I pointed you to what I had clearly said earlier). And that is ok. I look at data. And I see that all the money has been returned; I see that just recently, NRIs met Sushma Swaraj to complain that an estimated 75,000 crore is locked up in cash with the NRI community and they want the FM to intercede and help them deposit the money. This means that if that money too comes back, Indians will have deposited more money into the banks than the banks had circulated in the first place. Do the math, it is easy. Point being, no matter how I parse the actual data, I can’t help ending up with the conclusion that the only outcome of demonetization has been to actually regularise black money.

          I am not sure if you live in India, or abroad. If in India, ask yourself and your friends this: Since November 8 last year, have any of you paid a bribe for anything, from a traffic ticket on up? If the answer is yes, black money continues to be generated. The government, less than a year earlier, introduced the rule that PAN is necessary to buy gold in excess of Rs 2 lakh — a welcome measure, because it is only in movies that hoarders of black money keep it in gunny sacks at home. The more common methods are to either send it abroad (and despite the SIT instituted on day one of this government, no progress on that front), or to invest in real estate, or buy gold jewelry. Just a week earlier, the govt withdrew the rule, and has now said you can buy any amount of gold without identifying yourself — ask yourself how to reconcile that order with the stated fight against black money.

          It is no secret that black money is funelled into political coffers to buy influence. Again, the Attorney General is opposing, in the Supreme Court, a PIL aimed at ensuring that all political contributions have to be identified. Again, the same question.

          My blog may seem filled with negatives, and there are two reasons for that. Firstly, if there is anything positive, I am happy to write about it; if I miss it, I am happy for folks to point it out — even, as I said before, anonymously. I will not ignore any such tips. Second, drawing attention to things going wrong is at least in my opinion both the right and duty of every citizen, not merely journalists. There is a famous and oft-quoted definition of patriotism: “My country right or wrong”. Do a search — you will find that it is only a fragment of the full thing. Which is: “My country right or wrong — when right, to be kept right; when wrong, TO BE MADE RIGHT.”


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