Dereliction of duty

Sowmya Rao, who was last in the headlines when she helped coordinate online efforts to help bring relief to the victims of Chennai’s floods, had a question up on her Twitter stream yesterday that is worth some thought:

Seems like a relatively minor thing to get fussed about, no? Consider this story, of the passage of the Aadhaar bill — a bill both Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley had opposed not so long ago, and still replete with serious privacy concerns — in Parliament yesterday.

And in that story, consider this factoid:

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Kanhaiya peed, Oh My God I don’t even…

We are now into day three of this story — and the outrage levels remain as amped up as when it first broke. Which makes me wonder: Just what is this story?

On a university campus late one evening, a student who couldn’t hold it in any more took a leak by the side of the road. Not a good thing to do, definitely. May he who has never answered the call of nature while thinking himself unobserved, et cetera…

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The quality of “debate”

The headline writers of national papers seem unanimous — they all cite Narendra Modi’s quoting of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi as the main talking point from his speech in Parliament yesterday.

The specific section that seems to have caught the imagination is this:

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Breach of privilege

Mohammed Salim of the CPM has moved for breach of privilege against HRD Minister Smriti Irani.

“Using the opportunity to speak as a Minister during reply, she misled the entire nation by a statement which is far from truth and factually incorrect,” Salim said in his notice.

“This is a clear case of breach of privilege. I would like to request you to take appropriate action by allowing this notice,” he said.

Interesting to see where this goes. And whether both sides will stick to facts and act like adults debating a serious issue, or just scream over each other and indulge in theatrics.

Meanwhile, JNU continues to be under official siege, with students now needing to get the VC’s signature if they want to photocopy anything at all.

On Friday, plainclothes police picked up a photocopy machine operator in Ber Sarai, a crowded settlement between JNU and IIT Delhi known for its bookshops and eateries, and detained him for the night at a police station.

“They asked him if he had printed ‘anti-national’ posters for JNU students. Many JNU students come here to photocopy pamphlets – we don’t even read them,” said a friend of the operator.

The detainee, who didn’t want to speak, was picked up again this evening by the police’s special cell as this copy was being filed. The special cell investigates terrorism-related cases and is now handling the JNU sedition case.

Since Saturday, Ber Sarai’s shops have been refusing to photocopy pamphlets.

“We know the students, they are all familiar faces. We’ve done this work for several generations of students, often on credit. The loss of business will hurt us but it’s better than going to jail,” a photocopy shop attendant said. “Times are bad.”


Financing a “living memorial to failure”

February 2015: Mr Modi in Parliament:

“My political instincts tell me that MNREGA should not be discontinued,” he said, mocking the opposition benches, “because it is a living memorial to your failures. After so many years in power, all you were able to deliver is for a poor man to dig ditches a few days a month.”

February 2016: Mr Modi’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament:

Rs 38,500 crore has been allocated for MNREGA schemes this year — the highest allocation by any government so far.

Is it fair to say this government does not seem to need any outside help when it comes to embarrassing itself?

Plus, in any case, not true:


Oops, she lied about that too?

An excerpt from Ms Irani’s famed speech — the one endorsed by Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh et al:

“In our text and syllabus, we continue to perpetuate the colonial legacy of portraying ancient India, as synonymous with Hindu and Medieval India past with the Muslim.” I quote from this book, Madam Speaker. Arvind Sawantji is from Maharashtra. This book was given to Don Bosco, Matunga. The school of my colleague Piyush Goyal.

“When we teach Shivaji, Akbar, Aurangzeb as responsible educators and animators, we need to ask which Shivaji do we need to take into the classroom.”

It is not only against Shivaji that is taught. Congress politicians allowed the killings for three days during the Sikh riots. That is also taught.

“Hindu-Christian riots in Kanya Kumari. How the propaganda of Hindu organisations target Christian minorities.”

You are teaching this to a child in the 4th standard. This is their idea of secular education. History taught to standard 6th. I quote, madam speaker.

“Kashmir is a much demonised land today…{pause} that the State militates against. The atrocities of the Indian State.”

Are we shocked that our students go to universities and say “Kashmir ki azadi tak jung ladenge..”?

A response from Don Bosco:

School principal Father Bernard Fernandes confirmed the school had stopped using the textbook around 2004. “These books were used by some of our schools on an experimental basis for a year,” said Fernandes. “But they were discontinued after a year. Today, none of our teachers use these books.”

The school authorities were surprised how Irani got a copy of the book. “Our teachers don’t use the book anymore, so we do not know how the HRD got a copy of it, claiming it was from our school,” said an official from the school.

Apparently it is not only condoms and empty liquor bottles that the BJP roots through trashcans for. Old pamphlets, textbooks unused for more than a decade — anything you can flourish in Parliament to make absurd allegations and beat the nationalist drum.