Corruption is a big menace in different countries, including ours. We witnessed the spectacle of movement against corruption demanding for Jan Lokpal, at dharna at Jantar Mantar in 2011. The battle cry of that surge was primarily against Congress, and as a marginal balancing act occasionally BJP was also named. Anna Hazare who was projected to be the central leader was presented as second Gandhi. He was flanked by the current Chief Minister of Delhi Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, for whom the central concern was Jan Lokpal and who posed as if that was the panacea for all the ills of the nation. Not to be left behind the present Lt. Governor of Pondicherry, Kiran Bedi was at her best performance in articulating this need. Two more names need to be mentioned, one Baba Ramdev, the entrepreneur taking Patnajali production to new heights of business and Sri Sri Ravishanker, all these currently quiet on the issue of corruption.

The mass sentiments were created to against leaders to the extent that people were writing “mera Neta Chor Hai,” on their hands (My Leader is a thief).  All this was aimed at targeting the Congress. We had witnessed arrest of those corrupts like Satyam’s Raju during Congress regime. Also in 2G scam many heads rolled, now as the matters stand the whole scam is supposed not to have existed and the vehement champions of Congress corruption are at the helm of power, as the 2 G hoax has been deflated in the Courts.

That is past. Our memories are short. Having defamed Congress on the issue of corruption the worthies who led the campaign have safely been promoted either in their political clout or business enterprise. On the back of this the present prime Minster rode the anti Congress wave to proclaim two major jumlas (phrases). One, Na kahunga: Na Khnae dunga (Neither will I do not indulge in corruption nor will I let others do the same). And that; elect me as a Chowkidaar (watchman) to protect nation’s wealth. His managers worked hard and Nation seemed to believe in these Jumals.

Now there is this Neerav Modi on the horizon. Mr. Neerav Modi, the diamond entrepreneur, seen standing behind Mr. Modi in Davos, ran away with 11300 crores, and is untraceable by the Government. The loot was cleverly organized through breaking the system of loans, where he was helped by Punjab National Bank officials, and without any collateral security he could steal the coffers of the bank. His uncle Mehul Choksy, whom Narendra Modi affectionately addresses as Mehul bhai, also made good his escape, announcing to his employees that they will not be paid their salaries and dues, throwing them to wolves of unemployment and hunger. These are not the only affluent entrepreneurs, who have been around our Prime Minster. Another Mr. Kothari of Rotomach pens has also cleaned to coffers to good extent and as an exception has been arrested. One also recalls of the pattern of great escape of these plunderers of public money. My Vijay Mallaya, Kingfisher fame, made it to Rajya Sabha, and with 9000 crores of bank dues made good his escape as CBI loosened the LookOut notice, not to stop him from leaving the country, but telling authorities to just inform when he leaves. One also recalls of Lalit Modi, whose performance has been on the similar line, and he has been the beneficiary of the good association of BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje Scindia.

Most of the promises Mr. Modi made in the wake of 2014 elections turned out to be hoax. Bringing back black money from abroad, putting Rs 15 lakhs in everybody’s account, reducing the prices of commodities, increasing the strength of Rupee; to name a few. In a way his promise of Chowkidar coming to be another jumal should be no surprise. No doubt there are severe problems in our Banking system. There are loopholes, which those in circles of Narendra Modi have exploited. The point is where the checks and balances are? How come most of the big fraudsters have made good their escape? Are they too clever or the methods of Narendra Modi give them more opportunities give them ample opportunities to run away with the booty?

All said and done Narendra Modi has been the darling of corporate sections of society. In Gujarat after the carnage of 2002, he created a make believe World of Vikas (development), Gujarat model of Development. This model basically involved giving the industrialists all the facilities to do business as they liked. So Tata got Nano shifted to Gujarat and also told his colleagues that you are not on right track if you are not doing business in Gujarat. The business houses of Ambani and more particularly Adani made great strides to jump up in the scale of business. Many of the likes of Neerav Modi may be close to these business houses, whose plunder projects are synonymous with Vikas for our Prime Minster.

The wonder is where are anti corruption warriors, Anna Hazare, Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Ramdev; are sleeping when the corruption of the bigger order is in progress right under their nose? One can mention that Anna Hazare movement was planned by RSS think tank Vivekananda International Center, and the full mobilization was planned by this parent of BJP, surely it yielded rich political dividends for its electoral child the BJP.

So while Narendra Modi slept, Neerav Modi and friends made the heist and ran away. The public money to such a great amount has been plundered. There is a talk of privatization of public banks! Can these entrepreneurs be trusted to keep the public interests in mind if all this is handed over to them? The need for social auditing and control over hard earned public money could never have been more empahsised. Narendra Modi’s soft corner for Corporate World has been there for all to see right from Gujarat days. Time to wake up!

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Ram Rajya Rath Yatra: Road to Power

Ram Puniyani

The decades of 1980s were a turning point in the history of the country. For the first time emotive issue like Ram Temple took the better of social issues related to economic and social justice. On the heels of opening of the locks of Babri Mosque, Advani of BJP planned his Rath Yatra and in the aftermath of V.P. Singh’s implementation of Mandal Commission report, the Yatra was intensified. The Yatra was the first major polarizing event in the history of the country and it left trail of violence in its aftermath. The demolition of Babri Mosque and the consequent increase of the electoral power of BJP are too well known. BJP which had made the pretense of having the agenda of ‘Gandhian Socialism’, had bitten the dust at electoral level. Rath yatra came as a rejuvenating elixir for this party, whose electoral strength saw the steep rise to power with forming a minority Government in 1996, forming alliance Governments NDA from 1998 and then getting the full majority on its own in 2014 general elections.

The formula of success for BJP has been well internalized by the party; divisive emotive issues, return of Lord Ram in election seasons, supplementing other identity issues like Holy cow, Vande matram, Love jihad etc.; have formed the powerful armamentarium of this party. As we are to face the general elections in a year to come, Lord Ram is being brought back to the social political scene yet again.

This time around, RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat set the ball rolling with his prodding in Udupi Dharma Sanasad of VHP in November 2017. The cue was taken up by VHP and under the aegis of VHP and Muslim Rashtriya Manch; and yatra started from Ayodhya in UP to Rameshwaram in Tamilnadu. The organization convening the whole exercise is Shri Ramdas Mission Universal Society from Maharashtra. It is having the Rath shaped in the pattern of proposed temple at Ayodhya. The yatra’s agenda is politically clear; its major aims reveals yet again as to what do these followers of Hindu nationalism aim at. Their demands include establishing Ram Rajya, grand temple at Ayodhya, to include Ramayana in school syllabus and to shift the weekly holiday of Sunday to Thursday etc.

While Muslim Rashtriya Manch is a organization handy in for RSS to pretend as if Muslims also support it, the truth is that majority of Muslims by now realize that the religious minorities are being relegated to second class citizenship, with all the violence around Beef, Love Jihad, Tiranga (tricolor) etc. Surely among the nearly 16 crore Muslim population there are bound to have the likes of Zafar Sareshwalas, who will like to curry the favors’ from BJP for various reasons and blow the trumpet of ruling party. Let’s have a look at the demands posed by the Yatra. As far as the establishment of Ram Rajya is concerned, the same Ram Rajya can be looked at in various ways. Gandhi tried to look at it in an inclusive way, by seeing the parity of Ram and Rahim, Ishwar and Allah. Ambedkar and Periyar were deeply disturbed by Lord Ram’s killing of Bali from behind and killing of dalit Shambuk as he was doing penance, despite caste norms not permitting it. Ram projected by Advani-BJP-RSS is intimidating to minorities and has exclusive approach.

Many a Muslim majority countries are having weekly off on Friday, on those lines the demand has been put forward to have it on Thursday. What is to be seen primarily is that India is currently connected with offices worldwide, business offices will have better functioning in keeping with global norms. As far as introducing Ramayana in school syllabus is concerned RSS VHP again seems to have a narrow view. One recalls that ABVP, the student wing of RSS had created ruckus against the seminal essay on Lord Ram by A K Ramanujan, Three Hundred Ramayana’s… and got it deleted from the syllabus. This essay tells us that there are many versions of Lord Ram story. The telling of these diverse Ramayana’s is at variance with each other. For example Ram story, ‘Ramkin’ prevalent in Thailand, has Lord Hanuman not as a celibate but a family man. The Ramayana prevalent in parts of Andhra have a version which is from the angle of women. Again Valminki Ramayana and Tulsidas Ramayana also have some nuanced difference. RSS combine has a single version to uphold. So which Ramayana will be introduced?

As such the issues raised by this combine have no relevance to the needs of Hindus, despite the claims that RSS is for Hindus. What social and economic goals will be achieved by the Ram Temple or Ram Rath yatra? Will it solve the issues of Hindu farmers, or Hindu jobless youth? Will this enhance the health and nutritional status of Hindu women and children? Will it address the issues of dalits who are facing caste atrocities or will it any way helps the women, incidents of violence against whom are rising by the day?

The yatra is being taken out at time when Supreme Court is in the process of hearing the case related to land dispute where Babri mosque was located. What signal this Yatra gives regarding the upholding the decisions of the Courts? The Hindu nationalists are diverting the social attention and resources in directions which relate purely to emotive aspects of dominant sections of society. Yogi Adityanath in his budget has given provisions for Ram Idol in Ayodhya, allotted money for celebrating Divali and Holi. A state where children have died due to lack of Oxygen cylinders such a budget is an insult to concept of social welfare. Such Yatras are purely having political goals. If Gandhi’s Ram is asked what will he prefer to have at the site where Mosque was demolished, surely his answer would be to have a public utility like a Hospital or a University, and not his temple!

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED