WTF Just Happened: November 29

#1. To live where I please, to do as I wish, to believe as I wish, to love as I like — these are my fundamental rights as a free citizen of a free country. The rights to equality, to freedom of thought and expression, to freedom of religion — these are guaranteed by the state. It says so, right here.

And yet, lo these many years after the state was formed and the constitution was formalized, we have the ongoing spectacle of a young woman, an adult, having to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get these rights for herself. ‘I want my freedom,’ she tells the court — and it is telling that she actually has to go to court to ask for it. We have, too, the spectacle of the Supreme Court doling out these rights to her piecemeal, a little bit at a time — while the state, which (constitutionally) guarantees her inalienable rights, is busy opposing, in the apex court, her right to live and to love as she pleases. What country, what century, are we living in, again?

Meanwhile, we have the National Intelligence Agency — which has been systematically weaponized by the ruling party — saying that it has proof Hadiya’s husband is a recruiter for the ISIS.

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WTF Just Happened: November 10

#1. Pune University just announced that gold medals will be given only to those students who are completely vegetarian. How do you even comment? What do you say?

#2. In Kerala, an RSS worker inadvertently blew up the roof of his home — one of those innocent accidents that happen when you are trying to make bombs, presumably for purely peaceful purposes. Remember this post?

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WTFJH: The BHU edition

Back in 1998, in course of covering the national elections of that year, I ended up in Baramati. The object was to find out why Sharad Pawar has such a hold on that constituency that he does not even campaign, and yet in every single election anyone who opposes him loses his deposit.

Pawar is known to reach Baramati late night on the penultimate day of campaigning. On the last day, he drives to a few select areas where he holds public meetings; just before campaigning officially ends, he holds a large meeting in Baramati town.

I spent three days traveling around Baramati, talking to people, trying to find out the reasons behind his political success. And very early in the morning of the last day, I went to Pawar’s home hoping to get time to ask him a couple of questions. Talk of early birds and worms — he had just finished breakfast and was about to drive to his first meeting; he told me to get in the car, and to travel with him through the day, and ask whatever I liked.

The entire transcript would fill a decent-sized book — Pawar was in a loquacious mood that day. The interview that was finally published is sizeable enough and covers a wide area of politics.

Among the many themes he spoke to that day one, in particular, has resonated a lot in recent times as serial unrests roiled educational institutions ranging from the FTII to JNU, Delhi University, AMU, Hyderabad, and most recently Benaras Hindu University. Here is that portion, in full:

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History as villain

News report from Rajasthan:

Rajasthan Minister Vasudev Devnani on Thursday said major changes are being made in school curriculum and biographies of freedom fighters will be included so as to ensure “no one like Kanhaiya Kumar is born” in the state.

“To inculcate the feeling of patriotism in students, major changes are being made in the curriculum,” the Rajasthan Minister of State for Education (primary and secondary) said in the assembly.

Bingo. For every problem, every societal ill, the BJP has one solution: rewrite history. Unwittingly, the minister puts his finger on the problem — and it is not what he thinks it is.

Unwittingly, the minister puts his finger on the problem — and it is not what he thinks it is.

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Oh these textbooks!

Minister for Human Resources Development Smriti Irani, the other day, was visibly outraged by the nature of textbooks in use in our schools (well, actually, in the instance that incensed her to the point of fury, the textbook concerned was not in use — but let’s not go into trivialities now).

I am in absolute, complete agreement with the minister. Seriously, the kind of utter rubbish we force-feed the young with is a national disgrace. As for example (and please ignore the execrable grammar):

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Where Rohan Murty nails it

“I doubt if these people have read even a single book that we have published. I want to hear in which book we have published, in which line or page there is a problem, and in what context, and why,” said Murty, who for about a year was executive assistant to Narayana Murthy during the latter’s comeback to Infosys. “I think that is a more constructive, positive way, rather than saying that this is a conspiracy theory.”

Thus Rohan Murty, on the Sheldon Pollock controversy. And here, he really takes the manufacturers of outrage behind the woodshed:
“It is quite rich to sit in the peanut gallery, pass comments and throw empty shells at those who are actually rolling their sleeves up and working on the ground,” said Murty, 33, a junior fellow at Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Murty was responding to an online petition addressed to him and his father.
The petition — which, among other things, argues that appointing an American goes contrary to Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mission — in full is here.
PS: Off blog the rest of the day. Meetings, hence. See you guys tomorrow, be safe.