The U-turn sarkar

May 25, 2014: The then Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan says that the first issue he will take up with the prime minister, if his party won the Lok Sabha polls, was the cause of granting full statehood to the capital city. The move, he said, would solve the problem of multiple authorities; he said the NDA had earlier tabled a relevant bill in Parliament but the successor UPA government had not followed up.

Harsh Vardhan’s predecessor Madan Lal Khurana had made a similar demand in 2003, coincidentally, again, just ahead of assembly elections. “The BJP leadership at the Centre says it is drafting a new Delhi Statehood Bill,” the article points out. “This is something it had done in 1998 as well, a few months before the assembly elections in November that year.”

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The Raj Kapoor school of religion

We are one confused country. On the one hand, we demand that women “dress modestly” in public places because, you know, the slightest glimpse of skin and/or suggestion of curves is enough to drive our men mad with lust. Don’t blame us guys for what happens after.

At the same time, our gods — or those who purport to speak for them — appear to derive their aesthetic from the films of Raj Kapoor. Vide this little nugget from Ranchi’s Trimbakeshwar temple:

The Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust recently decided to allow women into the famous Lord Shiva temple’s ‘garbha griha‘ (sanctum sanctorum) for an hour everyday, but with a rider that they must wear wet cotton or silk clothes while offering prayers in the core area.

Related, some unintentional humor. A baby journo at a website, apparently unaware of the meaning of ‘rider’, comes up with this gem:

a woman can enter the inner sanctum from 6am to 7am every day, provided she is accompanied by a rider, and she is wearing wet silk or cotton clothes while praying.

I read this earlier today and since then, I’ve been struggling to purge my mind of the image of a Mandakini-type female person in a wet and clingy cotton saree entering a temple with a Bahubali on horseback for company. Sheesh!


Arrested over a rumour

Remember this news story I had linked to earlier in the day?:

Meanwhile, a tried and tested pattern manifests again. At a private university in Mewar, Rajasthan, “rumours are floated” that a few Kashmiri students are cooking and eating beef. A scuffle results. Assorted — and unnamed — “Hindu religious groups” arrive at the venue and raise slogans. Thankfully, the police manage to defuse this particular manufactured crisis.

It now turns out the four students involved — who were beaten up when the rumour first surfaced — have been arrested.

Police rushed to the site and arrested four students under Section 151 of CrPC (arrest to prevent commission of cognisable offences) on Tuesday.

Say what? They were arrested to prevent the commission of cognisable offences? Which would be what, exactly?The Station House Officer of the concerned police station says:

The Station House Officer of the concerned police station says:

“We also collected the sample of the meat, which prima facie does not appear to be beef. However, the samples have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for testing and the report is awaited.” he said.

Someone starts a rumour. The police says prima facie, there is no truth to the allegation. And it is the victims of the rumour who are arrested, not the ones who spread it and created a situation that led to actual violence and the possibility of more?

We’ve been banging on about whether there is tolerance in this country. “Where is the intolerance? Show me the intolerance!”, the apologists for the lunatic fringe keep yelling from every available podium.

The hell with that — it is time to reframe the question. And to ask:

Is there due process in this country?

Into that heaven of freedom…

What I want to happen to religion in the future is this: I want it to be like bowling. It’s a hobby, something some people will enjoy, that has some virtues to it, that will have its own institutions and its traditions and its own television programming, and that families will enjoy together. It’s not something I want to ban or that should affect hiring and

It’s a hobby, something some people will enjoy, that has some virtues to it, that will have its own institutions and its traditions and its own television programming, and that families will enjoy together. It’s not something I want to ban or that should affect hiring and

It’s not something I want to ban or that should affect hiring and firing decisions, or that interferes with public policy. It will be perfectly harmless as long as we don’t elect our politicians on the basis of their bowling score, or go to war with people who play nine-pin instead of ten-pin, or use folklore about backspin to make decrees about how biology works.

  • PZ Myers, biology professor (b. 9 Mar 1957)

Off for the day, folks. Back tomorrow; be safe.


BJP official calls Durga “sex worker”

No, honestly. See?

The irony: a video of the show, seen by The Indian Express, shows that those two words were read out by V V Rajesh, BJP state secretary, while quoting from pamphlets that he claimed were distributed on the JNU campus and later produced in Parliament by HRD Minister Smriti Irani.

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Slaying demons, raising others


Smriti Irani’s official references to Durga and to Mahishasur worship — which amplifies the original Delhi police report — was expunged from Rajya Sabha records yesterday.

Per official rules (the clip below relates to the LS but is the same for the RS as well):

The effect in law of an order of the Speaker expunging words, remarks or a portion of the proceedings is as if those words/remarks or that portion of the proceedings had not been spoken. Publication of expunged portions by the Press may involve a question of breach of privilege of the House or contempt of the House arising out of such publication.

Removal of expunged portions from video-tapes

Apart from preparing the typed version of the proceedings, the entire proceedings of the Lok Sabha are also tele-filmed. Recording of proceedings is done by LSTV Channel on video tapes which are preserved in the Audio-Visual Unit of the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

So now the bell is unrung, but the damage is done — the red meat Ms Irani was throwing to the base has been consumed, digested, and will remain part of the collective consciousness. ‘JNU is a place where they eat meat, use up more than one condom per person every day, blaspheme Durga and celebrate Mahishasur as a martyr — the police says so, the minister said so…’

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More things in heaven and on earth, Horatio…

The first time I tasted alcohol was when I was about four or five. It was toddy, and it was given to me as prasad — and the deity whose blessings I was consuming was Bhagavathy, the mother goddess (also called Durga, Kali, and various other names, all manifestations of the militant side of Parvathy).

I belong to the Meledath tharavad, a joint family that is based in Bilathikulam, in Kozhikode, Kerala. Our ‘joint family’ is today more a notion than a fact (I wrote about some of it here), but vestiges of the tharavad mindset remain. In the concept of the tharavad karanavar, for instance (that title is now held by my uncle, following the death of my father) — the titular head of the family, to whom all owe allegiance and obedience and who, in family matters, has the deciding voice. It also exists in the kalari (gymnasium, in English), where the Keralite martial art kalaripayattu is taught.

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