WTF – the BHU sequel

This is the thing with headlines. You use one because you think it fits and then along comes something else that makes you wish you had saved it for this.

In my roundup for today I’d touched on recent incidents at Benares Hindu University. I didn’t realize that the real WTF moment was still to come. The administration has put out a press release which, among other things, says:

In a media release, the BHU administration stated, “This protest was completely political in nature because it was timed with the PM’s visit, with the intention of soiling the image of the university.”

Apparently the molestation of a young girl does not stain the reputation; only the PM being put to some mild inconvenience does. Further:

Dismissing Friday’s reports that a woman student had tonsured her head in protest, the BHU Information Centre on Saturday released on its Facebook page screenshots of a student with her head shaved. The post mentioned her name and details and claimed she had tonsured her head last year. Stating that she was being “exploited” by “anti-national” forces, the university called the protests the “work of propagandists”.

It happens. Every single time. Incompetent authority, occupying a position that is a gift from the political masters, confront a problem. Rather than face it, look for and implement solutions, the instinctive reaction is to deny. To don the shroud of ‘patriotism’, the cloak of ‘nation’, and from that place to demonise those who demand answers, seek solutions.

If patriotism is, as Samuel Johnson said, the last refuge of the scoundrel, then it is at risk of being dangerously over-populated.

From the dept of ‘now what to do’?

Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis says those who do not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ should leave the country.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says no one should be forced to say “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

Smriti Irani wants the national flag to be flown “prominently and proudly” at all universities in order to instil the spirit of nationalism.

The RSS number two Bhaiyyaji Joshi is ambivalent about the tiranga and makes the case for the bhagwa dhwaj — and also for Vande Mataram as opposed to Jana Gana Mana.

Now I am confused. And judging by all these remarks, so are the nationalists.

PS: Today is the big game: West Indies and England, in the final of the World T20 Cup. See you on Twitter for that one. In passing, here is the post-semifinal analysis I did for the Huffington Post a couple of days ago.

The irony of India’s batting effort was that through every phase of the game, we outperformed our par for this tournament. During the power plays, India has averaged 5.7. In this game, it was 9.1. In the mid overs (7-15), we averaged 6.8
coming into this game. Here, we averaged 8. At the death, we average 9. Here, it was 13. By any yardstick, this was our best batting performance in the tournament. Yet, the number that will hover over any post-mortem is “8” – the number of batting resources left unused.

The news — and views — in briefs

#1. Read M Rajshekhar on the lucrative trade in Rajya Sabha seats:

According to the former Congress MP, the legislative arithmetic in these states creates a market for buying and selling Rajya Sabha seats. A third big party that has some seats but not enough to nominate its own members to the Rajya Sabha can capitalise on its numbers. This is likely, he says, if the small party has been out of power for long – and is cash-strapped.

#2. Boring, but very important: The BJP national executive that met in Delhi over the weekend passed a resolution that is worth reading in full, and remembering as the year ahead unfolds.

#4. Speaking at the executive meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his partymen to avoid controversies. The reported statement seems along the lines of the established right wing narrative — that there is a vast left-wing machinery lying in wait for any excuse to play ambush politics. This neatly shifts the narrative from the acts themselves, to the motives of those who question various acts — but let that lie. I’m hoping Modi’s partymen were listening — and will respect his views. We could do with a lessening of the political temperature in this country.

#4. For Holi week, a brief history of bhang.

#5. The best thing to have come out of the JNU fracas is the teach-in program featuring academics and others speaking on nationalism and related subjects (Several of which have been posted on this blog earlier). Here, the announcement for the next series (Follow Stand With JNU for updates):


The campus debate

The full video of a campus debate organised as part of the India Today conclave, that pits rival JNU factions, one led by Kanhaiya Kumar and the other by Saurabh Sharma of the ABVP. Watch:

Some passing amusement over how quickly student leaders pick up the tricks of seasoned politicians. See how often the panelists, asked a direct question, deflect it and answer the question they ask themselves.

PS: A no-blogging day tomorrow. Ramesh Srivats and I want to take the day and work on some fun stuff. Details soon.


Off with his head, the sequel

News item:

The Shiv Sena on Thursday attacked MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi for his refusal to say `Bharat Mata Ki Jai` and said he should be “legally beheaded”.

Taking umbrage at Owaisi`s utterances in Latur last week that he would not say `Bharat Mata Ki Jai` even if he was threatened with a knife, the Sena said, “Why should anybody do this? He should be legally beheaded.”

How do you even put “legally” and “beheaded” in the same sentence? And what can you even say about this game of patriotic oneupmanship, where a BJP MP offers a one crore reward for someone’s tongue and the Shiv Sena ups the ante and demands the whole head?

There is this much to be said, though — the Shiv Sena understands that patriotism is its own reward — notice that no reward is being offered?


“Off with his head”

The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round.

The BJP’s lunatic fringe is Queen-lite — it is the tongue they want, not the whole head.

“‘Humko lagta hai woh desh ka gaddar hai aur iss tarah se Bharat mei reh ke, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ bolne se iss tarah se usko parhej hai toh humko nai lagta unko Bharat mei rehne ka adhikaar hai. Humara yahi kehna hai jiss jibhwa se iss tarah ka woh bayanbaji karte hai, usko kaat ke lane wale ko 1 crore rupaye inaam dunga’. (I believe he is a traitor and if he has any objection in saying ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ then he does not deserve to stay in the country. His tongue should be cut and anyone who does will be rewarded with Rs 1 crore),” said Dwivedi.

You must give them this, though — they understand we live in inflationary times. That rewards of a few thousand rupees, or even Rs 5 lakh, doesn’t cut it any more. That’s the merely kind of money that a Pran would have gotten excited about back in the Seventies: “Poore paanch lakh ka maal anewala hai“. One crore is more like it — not there yet, but getting there.

And to think that all this is being done while hiding behind the skirts of the Bharat Mata these lumpen purport to venerate.


Kanhaiya Kumar, tomorrow and yesterday

Tomorrow, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will hear a petition demanding that the bail given to the JNUSU president be revoked.

Yesterday he spoke, thus:

Also read, this “open letter” by Kiran Nagarkar to Kanhaiya Kumar.