Musings on school education: Shweta crossing 10+2 hurdle successfully!

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I was holding my breath since few months, but wished to wait for the outcome of what I thought and outcome in form of my daughter Shweta Naseem’s 12th class result declared by Central Board of School Education(CBSE), Punjab region on 29th May. She had the humanities subjects-English, Sociology, Psychology, Information Practices and Physical Education. She passed out with 66% marks in aggregate with 80% in English, the best for her in single subject!But why I was holding my breath and what I was thinking?

Shweta is afflicted with Thyroid with over weight , this causes her sometimes depressive tendencies and also headache is her regular problem. She is on regular medication for anti thyroid drugs with regular tests. These days lot many people, more among women have thyroid problem and people have learnt to live with it. If one can control weight with exercise and diet control, it can be coped up better. Despite my constant counselling, Shweta is not used to exercise, not even minimum of skipping for few minutes. While she does not eat too much, but she does not follow dietitian advice of very simple diet either. It has made her task of coping up with the otherwise common problem somewhat difficult. This has affected her attitude to studies etc. She is very affectionate, cheerful and caring of not only human beings, even of stray dogs of her street.

Shweta was put in her Appolo school near our house in Urban Estate Patiala, where she completed her Primary education. In the meantime Ryan public school opened a branch near our residence. Despite not having very high marks, she was admitted to school due to new opening and for promotion of school, partly both of her parents being University faculty members. In the meantime I had shifted to Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) New Delhi and used to visit Patiala every fortnight or so. This affected her a bit, as she missed me. Till her 10th class, she was put on tuition with teachers after school hours, particularly for Maths and Science. Though unhappy with her not high scoring, her teachers in school were otherwise happy, as she was an obedient and caring student, she was considered much mature as well.  Shweta did not mix up much with her own age group students-neither girls nor boys, but had courteous relations with them. She faced board examinations for for first time for her Xth class two years ago and she did clear that hurdle. As happens with most parents, her mom wanted her to have medical or non-medical etc. which she could not have been allotted due to her not so high marks score, so she was admitted to Humanities stream in XIth class. I was happy with her subjects, but in these two years of XI and XIIth she did not had the luxury of having tutions, so her school schedule also lessened from 8 am to 12 0′ clock. Now she was to study on her own, sometimes her mom helped her, but mostly she was on her own to prepare for these subjects. She could discuss Sociology and Psycho sometimes with me, as and when I was in Patiala, but mostly she has to do on her own.

Problem was that she will not spend much time on her studies. After returning from school, she will sleep for two+ hours and in the evening, she would be glued to television programmes, Hardly she would spend two hours to do her home task from school. She did clear her XI th but that was internal school exam. XII th class was big challenge in her conditions and her mom was worried much, Shweta herself was also tense. I returned to Punjab in November 2013 end from JNU, though immediately joined Central University of Punjab, Bathinda and was there for whole week days.The big difference however was that I was at Patiala every weekend and not every fortnight and secondly she felt psychologically more comfortable, thinking me to be home in Punjab! Delhi was ‘foreign’ for her. Her final exams were due in March 2014 and the three months which I was near her, I used to give some time to explain few chapters of her Sociology and Psychology books, published by NCERT. The good standard books, which made me also refresh my own reading of sociology and psychology. But I tried to infuse self confidence in her most of the time by lightly telling her that she would surely secure more marks than her ‘mama-papa’, as I passed my Matriculation way back with nearly 40% marks and her mom with 45% marks. I kept on assuring her that she would cross 60% marks, which were good enough for me at least, but at the same time, I kept on repeating that even if she fails, she must not stress as I would not be annoyed or angry and skies are not going to fall! Though her mom in a fit of anger and worry used to say harsh things about her lack of interest in studies, I just kept on cheering her up.

On a tour to Finland, I was told that parents in Scandinavian countries don’t stress their children and as they say ‘don’t rob them of their childhood’ and send them to school at 7 years of age. They allow children their playtime in plenty as was in erstwhile Soviet Union and China-Vietnam-Cuba etc. earlier before reversal. What is happening around our society, people and children are made mad after securing high marks-unless one scores 90+ marks, the student is not considered brilliant enough and does not get respect in school or society. This is horrible. Once Prof. S S Johl, CUP Chancellor and former Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University Patiala posted comment on his face book wall that were his age people less intelligent, when this madness for scoring marks was not there? My own condition in Matriculation time in Rampura Phul town of Bathinda district in Punjab, was this-we as lower middle class families children, sometime gather at some such boy’s house, who could afford to have 2-3 boys sleeping space in his house and in cold winters, we 2-3 students will study together near examination time. We could not afford to hire teacher for private tutions. I remember studying t the house of Madan, we called him Maddi, for few weeks, his house was close to my house in same street and for few weeks in the house of Bant, his house was little away. We will study in the night after dinner and get up at 4 am in early morning in cold weather and study till 7 am, before getting ready to go to school. Now I don’t know about them, where they are? I heard Bant had become doctor later. My Math teacher in Govt. High School, used to tell me-even if Brahma comes on earth, he will not be able to pass you in Maths.-though he was known to my father, I got lot many rulers/dandas on my hands from him, quite harsh ones, which my daughter can not even imagine these days. She is so sensitive that just harsh words/expressions can put her off for hours together! So I passed my Matriculation examination in third division under these conditions, though later I scored 60% marks in Hindi and Punjabi, as earlier in English too, but I failed in Science subject! After a break of four years I was again able to pick up my threads of education and slowly reached up to PhD level. Shweta had much better facilities available to her, still she spent much less time on her studies, yet she was able to score reasonably well.

For her further studies, I wished that she could appear for JNU entrance test for foreign languages and if cleared, could join Spanish course, but in spite of filling up admission form, she did not go for the test, as she does not like JNU or Delhi. She may try for B.Tech in Audo-visual media or BA in Journalism or BSc in Hotel Management/Tourism and Hospitality like professional courses. She has an eye for photography, she clicks very good shots even with a mobile camera. To my mind a person can excel in the field,  for which he or she has liking. If she gets training in technical aspects of photography, she can develop into a good professional photographer. In Patiala, there is no specific course in photography, but it is part of journalism or media studies. If she gets into that also and get initiated in elementary training of photography, she can go in for advance training. I don’t mind sending her to Canada or some other country for advance training, but it all depends upon her own taste and volition.

   What I was thinking that she would be able to perform well, despite some drawbacks and not necessarily straining her too much in terms of spending too much time on studies, has proved right, that has given me tremendous satisfaction and saved me from certain sense of guilt, if she had not performed so. Since I did not perform my parental duties by taking care of her studies and spending time for it.

   For now, heartiest congratulations to my daughter Shweta Naseem for her performance in passing XIIth class in respectable manner and wish her to develop competence in profession of her choice. I wish and hope she would get opportunities for blooming her personality in spontaneous manner and get a profession of her choice later in life. Though struggled hard, I too got opportunities in life to get into profession and institution of my choice, even if for smaller period!

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Remembering Jawaharlal Nehru at fiftieth death anniversary

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ImageImageImageImageIt is ironicImageImageImageImage that Narender Modi govt.’s first day start with Pt. Nehru’s death anniversary! It is more ironic that it is fifty years now since Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of independent India passed away and not even previous Congress government planned any memorial event .We as children have been nurtured on ‘Chacha(Uncle) Nehru’ kind images, who loves children and democratic Prime Minister of India, who was a giant of an intellectual.Even though he committed blunders like, agreeing to partition of India in great hurry to become Prime Minister, getting into unnecessary war with China, crushing Telengana peasants movement with heavy hand, yet he was liked by Bhagat Singh as dreamy socialist and he remained committed to scientific temper and rationality, did not compromise with his atheism, never went to Mandir Gurdwara Masjid for hypocritical purposes of pleasing religious fundamentalists.New Prime Minister on his first day in office is unlikely to visit Nehru’s samadhi Shantivana today, Don’t know whether President went on not, but I pay my tribute to the great leader of India, despite his flaws, he was the best Prime Minister till now. Tragedy of India that new govt. hates him and do everything to trample upon Nehruvian idea of secular India! And the target could be Jawaharlal Nehru University, my Alma Mater as well, which was targeted by earlier BJP/NDA Govt. as well, at that time President K R Narayanan, who remained earlier Vice Chancellor of JNU himself, by appointing Prof. G K Chadha as Vice Chancellor, who made minimum compromises with the onslaught from MHRD ministry. Now situation will be much difficult, present Vice Chancellor may not compromise much, but after less than two years, what may be in store for ‘the humanist ideal of Nehruvian thought’, no body can yet say! But JNUites who love JNU’s ideal of free and scientific thought tradition, have to wake up and guard its tradition. It will be a tough task!
                     I started reading great literature on Nehru’s passing away ,first in series was Hindi classic, Premchand’s Godan!Long live Nehru’s tradition of secularism, scientific temper and democratic ideals!

 

On Narender Modi’s master stroke of inviting SAARC Heads

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By inviting SAARC countries heads for his oath taking ceremnoy, Narender Modi has tried to kill not only two birds, but many birds with single stroke! He has first of all put his most stringent left critics into a fix, who all support friendly and close relations with its neighbours, particularly with Pakistan. He has also put on defensive its nearest rival Congress govt., who could not dare to improve relations with Pakistan, due to bullying by none else than Modi’s BJP; and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not gather courage to visit his birth place Gah, even on private visit. But is it purely foreign relations aggressive posturing or something else? The real reason is to get his international acceptability, particulary among Muslim world. Out of 8 SAARC countires, four are major Islamic countries-Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives, non Islamic countries are too small before these-Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan! The whole world knows Modi’s anti-Muslim image and his conduct in 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms of Gujarat, the latest being Supreme Court strictures against him as ‘Home Minister’ of Gujarat in Akshradham case acquittals! It is to secure acceptability among Islamic countires throughout the world, which are not in small strength, that he has used this ace and tried to trap all South Asian heads, who otherwise also could not help to respond positively. Even activists of Indo-Pakistan peace and friendship like me can not but support it, despite knowing Modi’s well known hypocricy and double speak. But a word of cautuon and counter stratgies must be kept in mind-Modi must not be allowed to again resort to hawkish and bullying statements against neighbouring countries after this so called ‘peace’ gesturing! Modi’s attempt to get wash out stench of 2002 blood stains by such posturing and international recognition even from Islamic world, be not allowed and organisations like ‘Truth Of Gujarat’, who keep on exposing Gujarat crimes against humanity, despite passing away of its valourous spirit Mukul Sinha must be strengthened. It is going to be a very very difficult task for democratic movements/organisations in India. While on one hand, Modi will play off his international Islamic recognition by such hypocritical posturing and on other side,internally he will crush resistance to exposure of Gujarat crimes against Muslims in particualr and humanity in general! Remain prepared for difficult days ahead-my countrymen, democratic and civil rights activists/groups!

Two Heroes of 1970-80’s-A K Roy and Shankar Guha Niyogi

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Shankar Guha Niyogi by his selfless and dedicated work among Dalli Rajhara workers in 70’s with formation of popular organisation-Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha and A K Roy in Dhanbad area of Jharkhand area created history. AK Roy won Lok Sabha elections three times and lives in penury today in a workers house. Shankar Guha Niyogi was murdered brutally by Mine owners gangs. In context of all hyped talk of Aam Aadmi Party’s commonness and its commitment, it would be interesting to see the lives of these two selfless and dedicated heroes, who gave all their life to the interests of workers. Sharing here the profile of Niyogi by PUDR Delhi and of A K Roy with a news from Ajit Roy’s book -The History of Dhanbad-

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Shankar Guha Niyogi
and the
Chattisgarh Peoples Movement
On 3 June 1977, barely three months after the emergency was lifted, the struggle of
Dalli-Rajhara miners and the name of Shankar Guha Niyogi became known to the world
outside Chattisgarh. The previous night Niyogi had been arrested provoking thousands of workers
to demonstrate at the police station and practically lay siege to it. Police opened fire, killing twelve
people including a woman. That particular incident of firing was the first of its kind under the
new Janata regime that had come to power in March at the center. It was described as the “second
dawn of independence”. And the workers of Dalli-Rajhara were amongst the first to make
everyone realize that the second dawn was going to be no different from the first.
Earlier in February-March while the emergency was still formally on, workers had come
out and struck work spontaneously. Subsequently an organized union called Chattisgarh
Mines Shramik Sangh (CMSS) came into existence under the leadership of Niyogi. Two days
before the firing incident, 10,000 workers held a rally. They were demanding bonus, fallback
wages (for the period of enforced idleness at work sites) and pre-monsoon allowance for
repair of their huts. The iron-ore mines in Dalli-Rajhara are captive units of the Bhilai
Steel Plant (BSP) which assigns them to contractors. Following the rally, described as the largest
rally by far in the region, Niyogi was arrested on the night 2-3 June, 1977
under Section 151 Cr.P.C. (“Arrest to prevent the Commission of a Cognisable Offense” ). Later
the sessions judge held his detention illegal, and he was released after 35 days of detention in
Balod and Durg jails. It was not the first time that he had been in jail during his long lifetime of
struggle. Nor as it to be the last.
Shankar Guha Niyogi was born in Asansol on 14 February, 1943. Most of his
childhood was spent in the forests of Upper Assam. He had his schooling in Calcutta, and later
in Jalpaiguri. It was here that he became attracted to left politics in the late fifties. For a while he
was also the Joint Secretary of the local unit of All India Students’ Federation of India, the
student wing of the then undivided Communist Party. Later, in the early sixties, he shifted to
Bhilai, then a budding township in the heart of Chattisgarh region, his adopted homeland. While
working in the Bhilai Steel Plant as a skilled worker he acquired B.Sc. and AMIE degrees. By
1964-65, he had become a union organizer, and was Secretary of the Blast Furnace Action
Committee. He and his union played a maior role in the anti-communal front subsequent to the
Baria riots. His innovative methods and abilities, while endearing him to the workers,
alienated him from the union leaders. By 1967, the “year of the spring thunder” he had
become attracted to revolutionary politics, He became associated with the Co-ordination
Committee of the Communist Revolutionaries, the precursor of the Communist Party of India
(Marxist-Leninist). Soon he lost his job. Then he edited and published a Hindi journal
Sfulling. Around this time he was arrested, probably for the first time. Subsequently he
became more closely associated with the CP1 (ML), and went underground. In this period he
worked in the central forest region on the border of Maharashtra and Bastar. Sometime in the seventies he left the organisation and was on his own. For over five to six years his nomadic
existence took him to many occupations and struggles, a l l within the Chattisgarh region.
Forest work in north Bastar, catching and selling fish in Durg district, agriultural labour in Keri
Jungata, shepherding goat in interior Rajnandgaon, were some of the occupations he was
involved in. Everywhere he was involved in local struggles. The struggle of adivasis in Bastar,
agitation against Mongra reservoir in Rajnandgaon, and the Daihand people’s struggle for water
were some of the struggles from which he learnt his early lessons in mass organization.
Eventually he settled at Dhanitola working in the quartzite mines, where his long interaction
with mining and miners began. During the emergency he was detained under Maintenance of
Internal Security Act (M1SA), and was in prison for thirteen months. Subsequent to his release
he shifted to Dalli-Rajhara where CMSS was born in 1977.
The Union became the most popular union in the iron-ore mines within two months.
Hundreds and thousands of miners joined the union although it was not accorded recognition.
The May 31 rally and gheraos were its major show of strength. The rally sent shock waves
among recognised union leaders, contractors, and the public sector bureaucrats, the
triumvirate that rule most of the mining areas in our country. The combine reacted in
panic, and got Niyogi arrested. But it only strengthened the workers’ resolve to struggle.
Within a fortnight of the firing, even before Niyogi was released, the management signed an
agreement with the still unrecognised union. Both bonus and pre-monsoon allowance were
conceded, to be shared equally by the contractors and the Steel Plant. After his release the union
was recognised, and it spread from the iron-ore mines of Dalli-Rajhara to the limestone mines in
Danitola and Nandini, and the dolomite mines in Hirri.
The first major organised action of the CMSS was the indefinite strike in September
1977 demanding increase in wage rate and improved living conditions. The daily wage, on the
days on which one got work, was around Rs. 4. The unloading charges for handling ore used to
be a meagre 27 paise per tonne. On some days the workers were forced to work almost sixteen
continuous hours a day. Much of their wage and service conditions were so poor because of
the fact that most of the 8,000 miners were contract labour. In the next phase of the struggle
the union took up the issue of contract labour. A steady movement was built up for abolition of
contract labour and departmentalisation of the existing work force. Throughout this phase the
union faced the wrath of the powerful mining and labour contractors. As the organised efforts of
theunion became strong, labour co-operatives of the workers gradually replaced the
contractors. That was when the BSP managed to step in to crush the union through
mechanisation. Since about the early eighties the union began its long drawn out struggle
against mechanisation. The first strike on the issue took place in May 1980. As thus far the
latest in Mav 1989.
Meanwhile the Central Industrial Security Force (C1SF) was posted at the mines,
presumably to protect the mines from its own miners. In September 1980 hundreds of workers
gheraoed the CISF personnel in protest against a jawan’s attempt to rape a fourteen-year-old
adivasi girl. Once again tiring took place in which one person was killed and thirty-eight
injured. Niyogi and other leaders were arrested. Following widespread protest the government ordered a judicial enquiry. But it must be added that no meaningful action was taken on the
recommendations of Justice M.A. Rajjak enquiry commission appointed over the 1977 firing
incident. The fate of the second committee seems to be no different.
As the agitation against mechanisation intensified initially in January 1981
Niyogi, Sahdev Sahu and Janaklai Thakur were served externment orders which were struck
down by the courts. A fortnight later, on February 11, Guha, Niyogi, and Sahu were invited for
talks by the District Collector, Durg. When they reached the office they were detained
under the National Security Act (NSA). Workers went on strike. Two months later they were
released by a judicial review committee. Finally the Steel Plant management climbed down
and entered into an agreement with the union in the presence of the Chief Labour
Commissioner. Partial departmentalisation was agreed upon, and the threat of mechanisation
was held in abeyance.
Meanwhile CMSS evolved an innovative plan for semi mechanisation that would have
increased production and productivity without resorting to retrenchment. This alternative, in the
context of an underdeveloped economy like ours, attracted widespread attention. In November
1983 Niyogi along with a number of fellow activists and workers attended a convention in Delhi
on “Mines, Mechanisation and People”. The meeting, an attempt to initiate a debate between
academics and union activists from different parts of the country was sponsored by the People’s
Union for Democratic Rights. Eventually, faced with the workers resistance and the
credibility gained by their alternative proposal, the Steel Plant management did not pursue its
plans. Much later in 1989 the management made another attempt. This time a number of
workers, especially women were surreptitiously getting retrenched. The workers went on strike
for three weeks in May forcing the authorities to retreat once again.
A regulated militancy apart, one of the inner strengths of the Dalli-Rajhra miners
movement has been the involvement of women. In the manual mines of Dalli-Rajhara where
CMSS had its original base, women constitute almost half the workforce. This is because the
nature of the work makes it convenient to work in pairs (husband and wife teams are common). This
is in sharp contrast with mechanised mines where skill and educational requirements have
debarred women as they have debarred local Chattisgarhi people. Right from inception women
played a significant role in the struggle. Among those killed in the 1977 firing was Anasuya Bai
the popular folksinger of the union. From the first executive itself, the CMSS had women in its
committee which is rare in Indian Trade Union movement. The active involvement of women
has practically eliminated the sexual violation of women by contractors and their henchmen, once
the scourge of Dalli-Rajhara mines. The nature and extent of participation of women enabled the
movement to grow from the work-site to the homes and houses of workers. One of the first issues
to emerge from this was alcoholism.
In the initial years all the additional increases in wages achieved by the union were being
leaked out due to widespread alcoholism among the male workers. The contractors who lost on
the wage front were able to siphon off the money through the sale of liquor. According to
official figures the consumption of alcohol in Dalli-Rajhara increased one and a half times in
1976-1982 (20,000 to 36,000 proof litres). The license fees for the thekas went in the same period from Rs 5.5 lakhs to almost Rs 1.4 million. This kind of alcoholism among the male workers also
meant the domination of a lumpen-degenerate culture in the streets and wife-beating and destitution
in the homes. Often it lead to death and destruction. In a major tragedy in the nearby
Mahasumund large number of workers died after consuming adulterated liquor in 1981. It was
against this background that the CMSS took up an anti-liquor campaign. The campaign and its
effective implementation was made possible by the participation of women workers. Initially
the movement faced the wrath of liquor contractors (who were not particularly distinguishable
from mining and labour contractors!) and their political patrons. There have been some cases
of assault on the activists in this period. But eventually the campaign enhanced the effective
income of the workers and made a visible difference to the personal and social life of the
township.
There are no such known instances of trade unions taking up a campaign against
alcoholism, except the recent campaign undertaken by Singarcni Karmika Samakhya in the
Singareni Collieries of Telengana region. Later the CMSS took up a campaign for better health and
hygiene. It established a hospital with 80 beds at the township. Known as Shahid Hospital in
memory of those killed in the 1977 firing, the hospital today stands as a monument to the effort of
the peoples’ struggle in an otherwise ostensibly welfare state. CMSS also established six schools. It
was these experiments of the union that atrracted the attention of the liberal intelligentsia to the
miners’ movement. And they were made possible by the more basic struggle for economic and
political rights by the workers. In 1976-77 the working hours used to be almost 16 hours at a
stretch. Today they are within the legally stipulated eight hours. In 1976-77 the average daily
wages for the piece-rate manual workers was Rs. 4 per day. Today they are Rs. 72 per day. The
process by which these achievements were made possible was also the process by which workers
were able to assert their “right to live with dignity”; that lofty non-enforceable, non-justiceable
goal of the directive principles of our benign constitution. The struggle and stability of the
miners’ movement gave birth to a larger peoples’ movement in the Chattisgarh region.
Chattisgarh is the name given to the seven eastern-most districts of Madhya Pradesh,
comprising Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Rajnangaon, Raigarh, Sarguja, and Bastar. Chattisgarhi, a
derivative of eastern Hindi is the common spoken language of the region, although many of the
tribal groups (who constitute 30 to 80 percent of the population in these districts) retain and
speak their own language. Geographically, a large part of the region lies in the valley of the
Mahanadi and Sheonath rivers. The outlying regions are hilly and in the east form part of the
Chotanagpur plateau (Sarguja and Raigarh) and to the south (central and south Bastar) lead on to
the Deccan plateau. The valley area grows some of the best rice in the state thus giving the name
dhantola (rice bowl) to the region. Rich mineral deposits of the region led to the establishment of
public sector giants like Steel Plant (Bhilai), Bharat Aluminium Company and Thermal Power
Corporation (Korba). But by its very nature and its requirements this kind of industrialisation led
to diverse trends; the demand for educated and skilled labour (most of whom are migrants)
and a huge demand for unorganised, casual, and contract labour, most of whom are local
adivasis. Lack of irrigation facilities and persistent drought caused those traditionally engaged
in agriculture to seek employment in urban areas. Thus they came to form part of the lower rungs of the exploitative industrial structure in the region. The CMSS gradually took up the issues of
these people both in urban and semi-urban settlements, and also in rural areas. Since most of
the workers were first generation workers who had live contact with their villages, it was easier
for the struggle to spread to the rural areas. Notable among them were she agitations
against corruption in the grain bank in Boharbhadi, the successful resistance offered to the
mahant of Kabirpanthi temple who usurped the community land in Nadia. It was through these
struggles that Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha was shaped. The morcha came to represent the aspirations
of the people of an underdeveloped sub-region. From about 1979 it also began to celebrate
Shahid Veer Narayan Diwas. Veer Narayan Singh was the leader of the first recorded
peasant struggle of this region. He was executed by the British on the 19 December, 1857.
Overtime the Mukt i Morcha became a challenge to the political elite of the region.
Chattisgarh for a long lime was part of the unchallenged fiefdom of the Shukla family in
Madhya Pradesh politics. But over the years the kind of industrialisation and development that
was pursued by the state has bred a new set of elite. Many of these are also tribals, Trade,
liquor, mining and labour contractors formed the immediate base of this new generation of
politicians. They were patronised by the then Chief Minister Arjun Singh in his factional battle
within the Congress, against the Shukla family. Jhamuklal Bedia, a patron of most of the
contractors and formerly a minister, used to be the hatchet man of Arjun Singh, This combine
was actively engaged in thwarting the union and is believed to be involved in many assaults on
the union conducted through private hoodlums or the police. The emergence of the Morcha
made t hem a ll more insecure. Many attempts were made to ignore or suppress the Veer
Narayan Divas, on 19 December, for a number of years. Then suddenly the state bestowed
recognition to him. The peasant leader became a “freedom fighter”. A great grandson was
located and granted a pension. A hastily prepared official biography was published. Veer
Narayan Singh’s village was adopted for special programmes. Even a stamp was issued in his
memory. But these crude attempts to appropriate people’s history faced the same fate as the
attempts to appropriate their wages. In the next assembly elections, in 1985, the Morcha’s
candidate won.
The unions affiliated to Chattisgarh Mukh Morcha gradually took roots in the adjoining
areas. Among the most notable was the Rajanandagaon Kapada Mazdoor Sangb (RKMS). The
textile mill at Rajanandagaon, established in 1896 was the oldest industrial unit in the
region. From Shaw Wallace managing agency of the colonial period it changed many hands to
eventually become part of the Slate owned National Textile Corporation (NTC) in 1972. The
newly established union took up the issues of parity in wages with other NTC mills and
workers participation in management. In July 1984 the workers went on indefinite strike. In a
major incident on 12 September, 1984, police opened fire on the workers in which three workers
were killed. Curfew was imposed. Large number of women participants were brutally assaulted.
At least three women were raped by policemen. A number of union activists, including Niyogi
were arrested. The strike continued altogether for over five months. Eventually in December
some sort of settlement was arrived at.
The unions affiliated to CMMS in 1989-90 began taking shape in Durg-Bhilai region. Most of the industrial units in the region are an offshoot of Bhilai Steel Plant. From
Rajnandgaon at one end to the newly developed Urla industrial complex at Raipur the belt now
has numerous units. The wage and working conditions in this belt are similiar to those that
prevailed in Dalli-Rajhara in the mid-seventies. Perhaps, even worse than those. For here the units
are relatively small, making organisation difficult and the owners are the new generation
industrialists making the opposition more intense and violent. The Morcha affiliated unions
that took root in this belt include Pragatisheel Engineering Shramik Sangh (PESS), Chattisgarh
Shramik Sangh, Chattisgarh Cement Shramik Sangh and Chattisgarh Mill Mazdoor Sangh. A
massive rally held on 2 October 1990 was the major turning point in this movement. The union
especially PESS, built up a steady demand for implementation of minimum wages, a living wage,
adequate work safely and abolition of contract labour. The movement faced intense repression and
violence both from the police and the hired hoodlums of the management. The focal point of the
struggle in the last few months has been in the units owned by Simplex group. For practically
over ten months the workers are on strike. A large number of workers were arrested under section
107 and section 151 CrPC, in blatant violation of law, in much the same way as these
sections were used against the miners in 1977 which had eventually led to the firing incident.
Finally on 4 February, 1991 Shankar Guha Nivogi himself was arrested under some old cases
pending since years. Subsequently he was released on bail.
Sometime after his release Niyogi apprehended danger to his life and on 29 April,
lodged a complaint with the police. He launched a complaint yet again on 4 July. No action was
taken on these complaints. On the contrary the administration initiated externment
proceedings against him under the MP Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam, 1990 (S.5). The Act is
modelled on the lines of notorious coionial law The Centra! Provinces and Berar Goondas Act,
1946. It violates many fundamental principles of independent India’s constitution. A writ
challenging the proceedings against Niyogi and the constitutional validity of the act was filed
in the Jabalpur High Court. The Court issued a stay on the externment proceedings on 10
August. In the second week of September, Niyogi led a delegation of workers to Delhi where he
met among others the President of India, the Prime Minister, leaders of all major political
parties. In Bhopal he met the labour minister. After visiting Pipariya, Hoshangabad where
activists of Samata Sangathan faced massive repression recently, he returned to Durg on 18
September. Ten days later in the early hours of 28 September, he was shot dead. Some
unidentified assailants pumped six bullets through the window of his house in HUDCO
colony, Bhilai.
The government initially announced a reward for those giving clues. It entrusted the
investigation to B.B.S.Thakur, additonal S.P.Durg under the overall supervision of A.N.Sinha,
DIG. Mr.Thakur has earlier been known to have acted in a partisan manner and the union
had complained against him on a number of occassions. And Mr.Sinha’s name was
explicitly mentioned by Niyogi among those who are possibly involved in the conspiracy to
murder him. Niyogi expressed his apprehensions in a tape recorded message that was discovered
after his death.
Independently Asha Niyogi, on behalf of the union, lodged a complaint with the police naming ten people as being responsible for the murder. They include Moolchand Shah,
Naveen Shah and Hirabhai Shah (Simplex), B.R.Jain and Arvind Jain (Bhilai Engineering
Corporation), H.P.Khetawat (Bhilai Wires), Vijay Gupta and Kulbir Gupta (B .K .Engineering
Corporation), Vinay Kedia and Kailashpathi Kedia (Kedia Distlleries). Three of the Simplex
group have applied for anticipatory bail. Police have also arrested two local people who they
claim were involved in the crime without specifying who commissioned them. Central
government recently acceded to the demand for an investigation by the Central Bureau of
Investigation. Yet so far effectively no meaningful proceedings have been initiated against the
main industrialists named in the complaint. Perhaps it may not be out of place here to mention
that the BJP government has recently given an award of Rs. one lakh to the distillery owner
Kailashpathi Kedia for ‘promoting art and literature’!
As the news of Niyogi’s assassination spread, thousands of workers gathered at the
hospital in sector 9 where his body was kept. Industrial work in over 150 unit s in the region
involving over 2 lakh workers came to a standstill. On 29 December the dead body was taken
to Dalli-Rajhara where fourteen years ago, Chattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh had taken
birth. Over one and a half lakh workers paid their homage at the funeral. Now that Niyogi
was safely dead major political figures, parties and industrialists paid tribute to him. But
sanitised and separated from the larger processes of post colonial development, the life and death
of Shankar Guha Niyogi has no meaning and significance.
The post-colonial development in backward regions like Chattisgarh essentially results
in the self-sustaining nature of underdevelopment. notwithstanding any development programme.
This process continuously throws people out of their traditional occupations. And then they
become, as casual and contract labour, the cannon fodder for the industrialisation, whether under
the aegis of the public sector or private, under planning or market. And when people began to
assert their rights, the economic and political parasites bred by this kind of development attempt
to crush it with the help of the state This all too familiar process faced resistance in Chattisgarh.
During its course the workers struggle transcended the much narrower traditional boundaries of
trade union movement. Wage and working conditions, skills and semi-mechanisation,
education health and environment have all become part of their agenda. The innovative
features of this militant mass movement are informed by alternative visions of developmental
processes. Yet it is confined to the constitutional boundaries imposed by a ruling elite against
whom it is fighting. Directive Principles of the Constitution articulated with more clarity and
forthrightness are its hallmark. Enforcement of labour legislations is the arena in which the
battles are being fought. The movement pursued peaceful methods with remarkable patience in
a political environment where violence has become the only language which the rulers can
understand. Realisation and appropriation of democratic space within the threshold of the
constitution is the essence of the Chattisgarh movement.lt is this process, spread over almost
three decades, that changed the life and living of the people of the region.
Thus a young 18 year old migrant worker of Bhilai Steel Plant, thirty years later in
that very same steel plant township, received a hero’s farewell at the sector 9 hospital on 28
September this year. A sense of identity and a resolve to live life with dignity now mark the lives of people of Chattisgarh. Shankar Guha Niyogi was a product of t his struggle who in turn also
shaped it. Arrested under preventive detention law in the seventies, under MISA during the
emergency, under NSA in the eighties, under preventive clauses of CrPC time and again, he
spent most of his time in jail without facing any formal charge leave alone t rial. Even in those
petty cases that were foisted on him, he was never convicted by any court of the land for any
offence. His real crime was political and in an extended sense philosophical. In a true sense of
the term he is “the froth on the waves” of peoples struggle. The way in which he was
assassinated and the manner in which his killers are being protected indicates the crisis point
at which the ruling elite themselves would negate the rule of law. What it portends about the
times to come is a moot point. But democratic forces must realise t hat a committment to t he
struggles of the people is the only way in which mourning for Shankar Guha Niyogi can
acquire a meaning

News on A K Roy-five months old:

Three-time MP from Jharkhand who ‘never made money’ a pauper after robbery
Pankaj Kumar , Hindustan Times Dhanbad, January 10, 2014
First Published: 19:16 IST(10/1/2014) | Last Updated: 09:06 IST(11/1/2014)

This Jharkhand politician’s austerity and simplicity will dwarf many a present-day politician, including the reigning champions of honesty and clean politics – the Aam Admi Party (AAP) leaders.

Considered a misfit in today’s political environment, Arun Kumar Roy or AK Roy as the former MP and legislator is popularly known, is a pauper whose only prized possession, a HMT watch, was robbed on Wednesday.

The watch was the only gift he ever accepted in his political career spanning six decades.

After dacoits attacked his house in Noondih village under Dhanbad’s Sudamdih police station area on Wednesday night, the former MP and legislator turned virtually bankrupt. “The robbers also took away my savings of Rs. 2,600,” Roy told HT with a grin.

But this staunch Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC) leader doesn’t regret his present condition. “They were perhaps more needy,” he said about the dacoits and did not go to the police to lodge a complaint.

The local police albeit went to him the next day after learning about the incident.

A bachelor with no dependents, Roy lives in the house of a party worker in the village and is fed by party cadre. The robbers also looted the belongings of the landlord, S Gorai, a staunch follower of Roy.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/1/AK-Roy2.jpg
AK Roy former Dhanabd MP (in middle) flanked by his supporters. BIJAY/HT photo

Roy was a three-time MP from Jharkhand’s Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency and represented Sindri assembly seat in the (united) Bihar assembly for an equal number of times before that.

At a time when corruption has become a national issue, Roy has set high standards of honesty and simplicity. He has even forgone his pension as an ex-parliamentarian and donated it to the President’s relief fund.

 

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Ajit Roy profile of A K Roy:

A K Roy : the Raremost Politician of the Coalfield By AJIT ROY, in his book ‘HISTORY OF DHANBAD’

Though, in undivided Manbhum, Purulia Sadar Subdivision was where the annals of communist movements were mainly scripted, Dhanbad Subdivision is mainly the stronghold of the red trade unions in contemporary history. Communists had become unstoppable during the pre-independence days itself. The foundation of the under-construction communist organizations was laid this way only. This, however, can not be denied that if at all there is any evolving overall presence of the Marxist or leftist traditions here in this district, the subsequent chapter of this after the conclusion of the previous chapter in Purulia in the fifties, must have taken shape in Dhanbad in the mid-sixties, through the sole enterprise of the patriarchal, diligent, virtuous, fearless and dauntless leader of Marxist Coordination Committee Arun Kumar Roy alias A K Roy. Endowed with genius, highly intellectual, perpetual experimenting and evolving, thoughtful, this living legend of avant-garde mind make up, has always featured in deliberations and remained in news in the political and intellectual class with his original ideology and multifarious activities in contexts of the strife of the oppressed proletariat, of indigenous colonialism, two-nation theory, moral purification etc. Detractors and rivals feared him, hold him in high esteem and his betenoire, the mafias, have always bent down in a gesture of bowing at his feet. Arun Kumar Roy was born on the 15th of June 1935 in Sapura village of Rajshahi district of then East Bengal. His father Shibesh Chandra Roy was an advocate by profession who had started his legal practice in Rajshahi Court, but later shifted to Dinajpur in 1960 and started practising in Raiganj Court. (He died in 1967 in the court premises after suffering a blackout). Arun Babu’s mother was Renuka Roy (died in 2008). Arun Babu had been a brilliant student right from his early days. He matriculated in 1951 in the first division from the village school (Naogaon, Rajshahi) and took admission in the Belur Ram Krishna Mission School. He did his ISc from there and then graduated in Science from Surendra Nath College of Kolkata. He did his MSc (Tech) in 1959 in Chemical Engineering from Calcutta University. He started his vocation in an industrial house of Kolkata. After serving there for two years he joined as Research Engineer under the celebrated scientist Dr Kshitish Ranjan Chakraborty in 1961 in the newly established Planning & Development India Limited at Sindri of Dhanbad district. Since his early years he was an exponent of integrity and was an enthusiastic server of mankind. The home environs were also conductive. Though Sapura village fell within Rajshahi district, it was close to the border of Dinajpur. The two haats (rural markets) of Dinajpur, namely Shibpur and Shibdinghi were two hubs of political activities those days. Arun Babu’s father and uncle were anti-British activists. Even his mother and aunt also had served time in prison for participation in freedom movement. This trait of nationalism had inbred itself in Arun Babu’s persona. Arun Babu was first sentenced to jail in 1952 when he was just 15 years old for delivering an ‘inciting’ speech in support of vernacular movement at a gathering at the court premise near his house. The draconian Prevention Act of the then East Pakistan was administrated to imprison him for 2 months in Dhaka Central Jail. Bengali’s of culture world had witnessed for the first time that one can serve jail sentence even martyred for the cause of one’s mother tongue. Later as a student of the Science College also he had associated with the Vernacular Organization of the university. Nevertheless, real politic was not in Arun Babu’s scheme of things. He took his vocation as a member of the elite group of scholars counting to a dozen dedicated, honest and nationalist youngmen at the Planning & Development wing of Sindri Fertilizer Factory under the able guidance of the widely venerated superintendent Dr Kshitish Ranjan Chakraborty (later adorned with ‘Padmashree’). Nobody could foresee those days that the laconic, modest and snare short statured man would eventually turn out to be a colossal figure amongst the communists who would inshill a chill in the very heart of the notorious mafias. A few years later when a labour strike was conducted at Sindri Fertilizer Factory and the management resorted to temporary engage the P&D staff for plant operations to prevent losses, Arun Babu pineered a protest against the move. His contention was being that such a move would demoralise the workers and a grave injustice would be melted out to their lawful and justified demands. The P&D authorities were both baffled and unhappy over the issue and this was when it was thought of to sack him. However, the strike was shortlived and for the time being he escaped the sanction. The incident though pitched Roy Babu in limelight overnight. He became immensely popular among the factory workers. Even after this he raised his voice in support of the legitimate demands of the workers and also on the issue of declining standards of works on a few occasions. His stock kept on rising. With his tacit support and spurred by his ideologies the workers started to rally together. Simultaneously, driven by his ingrained empathy with the secular worldview, he had started a few study-centres in areas adjacent to Sindri and Beliapur to educate the villagers politically and socially. These pursuits Roy Babu gradually turned the P&D authorities and the local administration phobic and hostile towards him. Finally the administration was handed over the ruse to arrest him when the left-minded Socialists called for a ‘Bihar Bandh’ on 9th August 1966 in the cause of oppressed people and the Bandh getting an unforeseen success in the Sindri belt. Roy Babu was arrested the very next day as the Bandh was directed against the government and subsequently he lost his job. Riding on the wave of massive popular support Roy Babu just cast the issue of his job loss to the backburners. He joined the newly formulated CPI(M) forthwith and won the 1967 Assembly Election and 1969 midterm poll with a massive mandate from Sindri. Roy Babu was a witness to the four-year long bloodstained saga of 1967 to 1971. He had envisaged the Naxal Movement as the worthiest and most promising mass movement of the dreams of Indian middle class. Nevertheless, he did not join ranks with the Naxals, rather he wanted them as a stimulus in the proletariat revolution. He penned a stirring essay, ‘Vote and Revolution’, in the ‘Frontier’ in 1971, voicing the beneficial importance of this revolution with a view to align this tremendous force with the revolutionary principles of the CPI(M). CPI(M) leadership could not fathom the finer nuances of his subtle vista of the Naxal Movement.6 This resulted into his expulsion from CPI(M) the same year. Roy Babu already had a vast mass following. After coming out of CPI(M) he constituted ‘Janavadi Sangram Samiti’ and won the next Assembly Election again. ‘Marxist Coordination Committee’ or MCC was formed in 1972. Roy Babu’s endeavours in and around the rural and mining belts of Dhanbad was largely peaceful but he was not averse to armed struggles when needed, to organize the peasants and the serf, empowering these have nots with the owner ship of farmland and cattles and to fulfil the rightful demands of the workers. His popularity and influence kept swelling in the villages, agricultural farms, factories and mills and coalfields because of his honesty, uprightness, undying efforts, organisational skill and indominable spirit. A true leader of workers and peasants was emerging fast which roiled the collective psyche of Dusadhs, Chamars, Telis, Kurmis, Rajwars, Ghatwals, Santhals, Mundas, tribals, even the Bengalis of Hirapur. Dhanbad had never had a leader of such stature. One by one rising leaders like Binod Bihari Mahato, Anand Mahato, Shibu Soren, Nirmal Mahato, Kripa Shankar Chatterjee, Gurudas Chatterjee etc. assembled under his banner, most of whom later on left their signature amongst people as acclaimed leaders. Spectre of the huge popularity of communism and the growing stature of A K Roy haunted even Indira Gandhi into desperation. Her ‘line’ was unmistakably defined. She had directed Chief Minister Gafur in a confidential memo to imprison the rioting communists and anti-Congress elements enmesh but leave alone the tribal or Jharkhandi activists of the mining areas. A U Sharma, the then DC of Dhanbad was a personal friend of Roy Babu, he read Indira’s letter to him and alerted him that he was under constant surveillance. During Emergency Roy Babu was jailed very often and for about 6 years he was relegated into inaction. Shibu Soren also was imprisoned during the period but was released shortly. He went into an alliance with Congress. However, the alliance proved to be a red herring, neither Shibu, nor Congress could reap any benefit from it. Roy Babu won the Parliamentary Election of 1977 with a huge margin with the support of Jai Prakash Narayan and the Janata Party. He won the election of 1980 also. Uptil now Roy Babu had commanded the support of different Jharkhandi, left and Janata alliance in the electoral frays. He continually won three Assembly and two Parliamentary elections. However, he had to taste defeat for the first time in the Parliamentary elections of 1984, mainly due to his own apathy to the politics of profit monpering, the consolidation of imperialist forces against him and the isolation and alienation of some henchmen from his party. He was defeated by Shankar Dayal Singh of Congress (I). Though he won the next election in 1989 but the parliament was dissolved after two years in office. Roy Babu had already had a difference of opinion with Binod Bihari Mahato on the issue of ‘Lalkhand’. In the nineties Kripa Shankar Chatterjee left MCC and joined Congress (I). Apprehensions and incredibility about Gurudas Chatterjee had cropped up in 1995 but before a resolution could be arrived at Gurudas was murdered by the mafia on 14 April 2000 and was consigned from the political scenery of Dhanbad for ever. The undeniable fact is that Roy Babu is till date the championing pathfinder of the campaigns and crusades of the oppressed masses of Dhanbad coalfields and adjoining areas. He has played a very significant role right from the onset of Jharkhand movement. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha came in to being in 1973 with Roy Babu as it’s hidden head priest. This is the most relevant, widely acclaimed and mass based party in the political theatre of Jharkhand movement till date. Two frontiers men who emerged during the advent of the Morcha intended with Roy Babu were Binod Bihari Mahato of ‘Shibaji Samaj’ and Shibu Soren of ‘Sanat Samaj’. As per hearsay, both of them had their apprenticeship under the tutelage of Roy Babu. During his literacy drive around Sindri-Beliapur region, Roy Babu had Binod Bihari Mahato, Shibu Soren, Anand Mahato, Kripa Shankar Chatterjee et al as his cohorts and comrades. Roy Babu had envisaged a movement named ‘Lalkhand-Jharkhand’ to begin with. But instead he formed Marxist Coordination Committee after renouncing CPI(M). Mean while Shibu Soren, Binod Mahato, Nirmal Mahato etc. flared up the movement of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. Roy Babu’s political bigotry and his aversion abdicate and fight for bilge may be analysed in future. But at present, to quote him, he is continuing through his process of traits and tribulations with this ‘experimental forum’ named Marxist Coordination Committee. But even now his party of committee is in a state of uncertainty with it’s makings and breakings, so it is totally hard to find his spirit of brilliant aestheticism and his unwavering philosophical style in most of his associates. Some of his comrades and followers, having second thoughts about his ideology and style of functioning and fearing their own survival, have left MCC and embraced other established political parties. As stated before, during Emergency Shibu Soren tied knots with Congress. Roy Babu and Binod Bihari Mahato had difference on the issue of ‘Lalkhand’. During nineties Kripa Shankar Chatterjee joined Congress after leaving MCC. Since 1995 misgivings about Gurudas Chatterjee had started brewing, but before any decision could be taken, Gurudas was murdered and was forever lost from political theatre of Dhanbad. Although, Gurudas’s son Arup Chatterjee is now with MCC and he had won the seat of Nirsa in the Jharkhand Assembly Election of 2000. At present Arup is the President of both, ‘Marxvadi Yuva Morcha’ and ‘Jharkhand Colliery Kamgar Union’. Roy Babu and his other comrades – Anand Mahato, Gurudas Chatterjee and Arup Chatterjee – had till recently been supported by various Jharkhandi, left and Janata alliance in the electoral engagements. Roy Babu himself went on winning four assembly and three parliamentary elections without a break. Still, alienation with some party stalwarts, his aversion to the polity of self gratification and the antagonism of combined forces of empirical bias resulted into his defeat in the last few elections

Two of my wish list make to Parliament-Dr. Gandhi and Mohd. Salim

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  1. Out of my wish list for about 30 candidates from different parties, only four have won in election to 16th Lok sabha-Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi from Patiala constituency , Bhagwant Mann from Sangrur, Prof. Sadhu Singh from Faridkot in Punjab and all from Aam Aadmi Party. Dr. Daljit Singh of AAP from Amritsar could not make it. Mohd. Salim on CPM ticket won from West Bengal. Dr. Gandhi and Mohd Salim are friends, so I am posting their profiles once again. Two more acquiantces have won on BJP/Akali tickets-Udit Raj, an old time JNUite and long active in Dalit movement, at the last moment jumped into BJP bandwagon and Prem Singh Chandumajra, whjo won from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab on Akali ticket. I have been in touch with Udit raj on many issues concerning Dalit movement, but can not reconcile to his joining BJP, so he was not part of my wish list. With Prem Singh Chandumajra too I have four decade old association from 1974 from Punjabi University Patiala, where once he was President of Punjabi University Students Union on Punjab Students Union platform led by Pirthipal Singh Randhawa. Ironically like Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi he was imprisoned during emergency due to his radical activities with Punjab Students Union(PSU). But in Patiala jail, he shared wards with Chandershekhar, former Prime Minister and Gurcharan Singh Tohra, tall leader of Akali Dal. After release from jail, he was the one, who created unit of Association of Democratic Rights(AFDR) in Patiala district, led by Dr. Gandhi at state level. But he did not stay radical for long and joined Akalis to become MLA, minister etc. many times. But even when he was in Akalis, he was arrested once in post minister period and was even physically tortured in 1986-7, when terrorism at its peak in Punjab. That time again his radical friends helped him by getting the news of his torture published in papers, his Akali mentors did not come to his rescue. When he contested against Praneet Kaur last time in Patiala, I did vote for him, but this time he was not in my wish list, as he also strted singing praises of Modi!
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  3. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi—The earliest memory of Dharamvir seems to be, visiting him, when he was a MBBS student in Amritsar Medical college. Probably I stayed with him a night in hostel. I may have gone for some Gursharn Singh event in Gandhi grounds, the whole night discussion on cultural issues. In one such all night meeting, perhaps Bhagwan Josh had come, Amarjit Chandan was there too. This was between 1972-75. On one of these visits, probably Dharamvir took me to introduce Dr. Daljit Singh, who was still working with Govt. Medical College. As Dr. Gandhi told me that when he spent about six months in prison during emergency, it was only Dr. Daljit Singh, who will visit them in jail. After completing MBBS and remaining Punjab Students Union (PSU) activist, which was led by Pirthipal Singh Randhawa, Dr. Gandhi joined govt. Service as medical officer at PHC Bilaspur, Bhindrawale’s wife’s village. I had joined JNU, but used to visit Punjab a lot and visited Bilaspur many times. Used to stay with Dharamvir in his official residence on hospital campus. Dharamvir got married in these days with Padma, it was perhaps arranged marriage, but Padma got absorbed in Comradely life of Dharmavir quite soon. She was working with Food Corporation of India(FCI), where she was  not burdened with much work and she could spare time. They had two children-one son and a daughter. I had seen children in their early age, but not since many years. Dr. Gandhi told that daughter is doctor in USA and son is with him in his clinic, he has also done medical degree. Padma has retired from FCI, before that Dr. Gandhi had taken voluntary retirement in order to open his own clinic.

                    In 1978 Dharamvir went to Bilaspur, Health centre, where he continued with breaks till 1988, almost a decade. He was popular in the whole area, in surrounding villages. In Govt. Hospitals, generally free medicines were not supplied to patients. Dharamvir saw to it that patients get medicines from dispensary. Though his consultation hours were limited in morning and evening, he was available to patients all times, as he was staying in flat on campus. Even during late night or odd hours, any family had any problems, they could come and call Dr. Gandhi and he was readily available. This made him so popular, that when he was transferred due to his anti-Govt. Campaigns in the area, people from 2-3 villages went to Chandigarh Punjab secretariat and returned only after getting his transfer cancelled. In 1979, he was elected founder General Secretary of Association for Democratic Rights(AFDR), the position he held for many years and brought AFDR to all India map. This mass organisation for civil rights was inspired by Nagi Reddy group of Communist movement and after the group split, Dr. Gandhi left the organisation and became active in other democratic movements. In fact Nagi Reddy group has decided that Pirthipal Singh Randhawa, a very popular student leader and general secretary of PSU to organise AFDR, but he was murdered brutally by Akali patronised goons in July 1979. Randhawa was considered a good organiser, so the mettle fell on Dr. Gandhi, whose organisational skills were equally good. Dr. Gandhi’s many doctor friends also joined AFDR and many of them are part of AAP now. We travelled together to many places as for OPDR(Organisation for the protection of Democratic Rights) conference in Andhra Pradesh. To organise all India platform of civil and democratic rights organisations working in different parts of the country, Dr. Gandhi travelled widely. Rajni Desai from Lokshahi Hakk Sanghtna(LHS) was the main spirit behind creating all India platform, which is now almost defunct, though OPDR(AP) and AFDR(Punjab) are still active, but lacking the spirit of 1980’s.

                      Dr. Gandhi joined Rajindra Medical College Patiala for his post graduate studies and later became Asstt. Professor in Cardiology deptt. where he spent another decade, attending patients in large numbers. In year 2001, he set up his own Dr. Gandhi Heart clinic, on the pattern of his teacher Dr. Daljit Singh’s Eye centre in Amritsar, where nominal fees was charged from poor patients. Dr. Gandhi was inspired byn Andhra Pradesh and some other states such Peoples’ Clinics established by leftist doctors to provide health services to common people, particularly peasants and workers. Now such clinics are also becoming thing of the past. Dr. Gandhi kept differential fee/expense structure for patients and offering free service to very poor patients and clinic became as popular in Patiala and its surrounding rural areas, as he was popular in Bilaspur area, where even Bhindrawale’s in laws family held him in high esteem. This continued till 2011-12, when he again jumped into mass movement with Anna-Kejriwal mass movement. And he became a Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Patiala constituency with a bang. I was not bit sure about whether he would be able to organise big campaign against a formidable candidate-Central minister Parneet Kaur, whose social reputation is much better than her husband Amrinder Singh, who is foul mouthed and arrogant in his feudal background style. It was easy to defeat him, if he was a candidate in Patiala. Dr. Balbir Singh, a common friend and in charge of Dr. Gandhi’s campaign invited me for discussion, in which Dr. Gandhi also joined for some time. We revived our past warmth and I expressed my solidarity and offered some suggestions. Dr. Gandhi’s presence made the Congress and Akalis unnerved and Akalis made a cowardly physical attack on him on Election Day, injuring him seriously, the writing of wall was too difficult for them to bear. Dr. Gandhi fought back and forced Akali supporter SSP and administration to arrest the culprit. I have been critical of AAP on many issues and continue to, but presence of Dr. Gandhi, Medha Patkar, Dr. Daljit Singh and Soni Sori like candidates, put me in dilemma. Also the growing danger of Moditva fascist trend, weakness and discredited character of so called middle parties like JD(U), Samajvadi Party, BSP; marginalisation of left parties, made me realise that perhaps it is only AAP, which has caught people’s attention and despite its inherent contradictions, I should support its creditable candidates and Dr. Gandhi was the first one with whom I expressed my solidarity openly and clearly. I am happy that he won the election against such heavy weights. I was hopeful; as I was asking very many people about their choice and I did getting response that they had voted for Jhaadu-Broom ( Election symbol), sometime without even know the candidate and even when the candidate has not been able to visit their village. I hope and wish that as an unassuming personality, as he has been characterised by many reporters in the media. Out of four candidates won on AAP ticket, he is politically most mature and if AAP is sensible enough, they would elect him as Parliamentary group’s leader. Out of 543 Lok Sabha members elected for 16th Lok Sabha, left MP’s have been characterised as 11-members of CPM/CPI/RSP. Dr. Gandhi is definitely another leftist member of Lok Sabha, he is perhaps only one among AAP candidates, who has been referring to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela for his progressive steps and wanting such steps to be taken in India. On his face book page, he has described himself as confirmed atheist and follower of Marxist ideas. Dr. Gandhi won even when Arvind Kejriwal did not visit his constituency for campaign, though in Sangrur constituency next door, he held five meetings, despite the fact that Dr. Gandhi was fighting much hard battle, whereas Bhagwant Mann was placed comfortably and won by largest margin in whole of Punjab.

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2.Mohd Salim-CPM-We became friends in 2007, when he as MP came at release function of my book on Bhagat Singh by publication division. Since then we have been interacting on email, meeting occasionally. On my last visit to Kolkata for a seminar on Ghadar party centenary, Mohd Salim came to visit me with his two sons- Titu and Mir- both named on freedom fighters- at Kolkata University campus near National library. I gifted his sons copy of my latest book-Understanding Bhagat Singh and also Ghadar party hero Sarabha. On that day there was CPM election rally also. Mohd. Salim is ardent fan of Bhagat Singh, Ashok Singh is our common friend. Recently he was targeted by West Bengal CM Mamta Bannerjee, when his doctor wife having govt. House was asked to vacate govt. Accommodation in rough manner, with the excuse that ‘your husband (Mohd Salim) lives in govt. House with you”, so vacate! I wish him victory in elections, which he lost in 2009. He won by thin margin in Raiganj constituency of West Bengal and is one of only two MP’s winning from WB.

Most crucial election of Nation: Appeal to BSP, SP&CPM; Banaras Voters

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Most crucial election of Nation: Appeal to BSP, SP&CPM; Banaras Voters

                                                                                                 Chaman Lal

I am in a state of anxiety since many days, may continue till 16th or little beyond, when the destiny of the nation would have become clear. There is one day left for last and symbolically most crucial stage of elections. On 12th May the last polling will be held, but the eyes of whole world are focused at Varanasi or Banaras in popular parlance, where Narender Modi-the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate is thundering as if nobody can question his ‘right’ to ‘win’ from any place he likes, so from Banaras! Had I been able to be in Banaras, which I really wished to be, I could have shed lot of sweat in running around, even be hit by BJP goons, but I am sitting at home and on computer trying to play my role to impress upon the voters and political leadership’s mind through my perception of Indian social situation through social media and other forms of modern communication system!

As far as memory goes back, it is third very interesting election since 1952’s first election of Independent India. In 1967 elections, first time ruling Congress party lost elections in eight major states of India and the phase of coalition governments began. Prior to that Congress party did lose in Kerala in 1957, when first non-Congress government led by Communist party in the leadership of EMS Namboodripad took reins of government. But it was dismissed only after two years in 1959, at the behest of Indira Gandhi, probably then Congress President. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the democratic considered Prime Minister did not bother about the niceties of democratic system. The misuse of article 356 of the constitution became a major issue and continued till next four decades. It kept on repeatedly misused by Congress and Non-Congress governments both in later years.

Imposition of emergency in 1975 and subsequent elections in March 1977 can be considered by far the most crucial election in India. I was in as much anxiety during that election, when I was a student in Panjab University Chandigarh and living in hostel, preparing for my M A Exam. Faculty and students of the University were supporting Krishan Kant (Vice President of India later and died due to shock given by BJP govt. then by not promoting him as President as per earlier practice) for Chandigarh seat at that time, who was candidate of newly formed Janta Party and part of four ‘Young Turks’ of Congress party earlier-others being Chander Shekhar(Prime Minister later), Mohan Dharia and Ram Dhan. Perhaps there was little hope around, yet there was too much excitement. In those days, only all India radio was broadcasting election results for 24 hours and it was perhaps on 23rd March early morning when the defeat of Indira Gandhi at the hands of Rajnarain from Rai Braille constituency was announced and shortly after the defeat of Sanjay Gandhi from Amethi constituency was announced. The whole campus had burst into celebrations and even when Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, she never gained that kind of power arrogance with which she behaved during 1965-1976.

Incidentally lot many political problems continue to haunt Indian society since pre 1947, as Congress party became not a well-knit anti-colonial ideological party, rather it became a platform of different ideologies, trends joining it and pulling it into different and sometimes irreconcilable directions. If it had radical socialists like Nehru, Subhas Bose, even Communists in Congress Socialist Party (CSP); it also had Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist, feudal landlords and capitalists on its side; workers and peasants on another finding place in it. Parties with ideologies developed in post 1947 situation-Socialists, Communists, regional parties like Akali party, pro feudal/capitalist parties like Swatantra party, communal parties like Jansangh, Jamaite Islami etc. Since Congress became common target to upstage it from power, post 1967 election-coalition era began with ideologically diametrically opposite parties coming together and joining such government, as in Punjab, where CPI and Jansangh party shared the government power under Akali leadership. These governments with such contradictions did not last long, but post 1977 situation gave a new shape to this coalitions, when under the umbrella of Janta party, as in pre 1947 times, under Congress umbrella, the opposing ideologies came together. Thus Janta party was combination of Jansangh and Swatantra like rightist and communal parties and Socialists of all hues!  And RSS had an agenda to capture power, it wrecked Janta Party in order to expand its own base, though contradictions appeared in the form of power hunger of Charan Singh or Jagjivan Ram. In 1989, again the conflicting ideologies came together to support V P Singh government, though from outside and again BJP-reincarnation of Jansangh wrecked the government to stall progressive social measures taken by V P Singh. BJP tasted success in 1998-2004 phase, but still could not implement its Hindutva agenda due to dependence upon other parties. With Congress party getting completely discredited during 2009-14 period due to its economic policies, as well as Rahul Gandhi’s insult to Manmohan Singh, gave BJP a renewed incentive to not only regain power , rather a hope of fulfilling RSS agenda of communalizing the country and society. Samajvadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh provided it ample support by its own opportunist conduct and RSS brought out Narender Modi, blue eyed boy of corporate world of India to make a show piece of him as Hitler was made in Germany during post-recession Germany in 1932-33. Though Congress also had blood on it of 1984 Sikh massacres, yet Modi because of his known RSS attitude toward Muslim community, was considered a bigger culprit for causing massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in post-Godhra situation in 2002. The way even an ex MP Ahsan Jafri was burnt alive with 70+ more people, despite his constant calls to concerned officials, in the heart of Gujarat capital Ahmedabad, made it clear that to what extent Modi could go, if came to power at central level. So called murder of young girl Isharat Jahan, Gopinath Pillai, Sohrabudin, Tulsi Prajapati and many more made it clearer the designs in Modi mind along with Amit Shah.

The way Congress was losing ground and even left and other traditional parties were also not able to maintain themselves, the sudden emergence of Aama Aadmi Party came as an anticlimax to fast fascism like developing situation. AAP is neither radical nor leftist party, just focusing on common people’s day to day sufferings, which have reached unbearable heights, made it occupy the space vacated by left and other democratic liberal parties; it became rather serious challenge to BJP, though it emasculated Congress in Delhi. And the way Narender Modi with his five to ten thousand crore high tech media campaign tried to put him in centre focus of Indian society and to win north India to its side, where it was weak, declared himself a candidate from Banaras, apart from Gujarat on another seat, the whole political battle changed shape. Except BJP own allies-Akali, Shiv Sena, Telugu Desham etc. almost every other party, those opposed to Congress also, and not just left or Communist parties, declared Narender Modi to be a Fascist by nature and his own foul mouthed, power arrogated, abusive, with distortion of historical events vouched for his fascist image. Support of corporates like Adani-Ambani, 95% media’s paid news in his favor made situation further worse.

In this political scenario, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP’s challenge to Modi became a significant anti-fascist plank. In states like common people’s spontaneous response to AAP also indicated that people are fed up both types of oppressive anti people parties, whether Congress or BJP and its allies like Akalis. No one can vouch for Kejriwal’s future conduct as politician, as he has already gone against his own earlier professed ideas of atheism and he had used religious symbolism almost as hypocritically with electronic media blowup, that his orientation in his future political conduct would be at best to please both left and right, which is almost impossible. Yet his fight against Modi in present context is epical and one does not need to support him to get Modi defeated at his hands. The defeat of Modi in Varanasi, despite his possible victory elsewhere and even with the possibility of his govt. formation, would have the same effect, as was seen in case of Indira Gandhi’s return to power. Modi’s defeat in Banaras would mean that he will not be able to push his fascist communal Moditva agenda, his own allies will not allow him to do so and Indian people will also learn a lesson to resolutely oppose all his oppressive acts.

Due to this very significant aspect of present political scenario, all political parties, who are genuinely against fascist Moditva trend of Indian politics, should support him in his epic battle against Narender Modi in Varanasi. It is very clear that only Arvind Kejriwal is getting maximum people’s response and support against Narender Modi and Congress, Samajvadi or BSP candidates stand little chance. CPM candidate cannot score more than few thousand votes, but in this situation even few thousand votes matter and CPM would never like to see Modi win this election even with few thousand votes and CPM voters can never vote for Modi, they surely can vote for Kejriwal, so is perhaps with SP and BSP voters. Congress will never withdraw its candidate, even if his presence cause the victory of Modi, as it is on self-destructive path! Samajvadi party is also not likely to withdraw its candidate after the tamasha of road show. So only CPM and BSP can think rationally of stopping Moditva’s fascist rath, as some time in 1991, Lalu Yadav in Bihar had stopped Advani’s Rath by arresting him!

People of Banaras can certainly care for the glory of the city by defeating Modi, as only the defeat of Modi will bring them glory, his victory will bring only shame to the city as city has tradition of Kabir and Ravidas like saints, Chandershekhar Azad like revolutionaries, Bismillah Khan, Premchand, Hazari Prasad Dwaidi like writers and Moditva is enemy of any humanistic thought, to which all these Banaras ancestors belong to!

         Hope this appeal to CPM and BSP and people of Banaras will have some impact and Moditva will meet its waterloo in Varanasi at the hands of its humanist tradition!

 

For Banarasi Babus:Rai Baraille created history in March 1977, by defeating the most powerful woman of India of the time-semi fascist Smt. Indira Gandhi, punishing her and her son Sanjay Gandhi in Amethi constituency for their emergency excesses on Indian people. If Indira Gandhi had won, it would hardly had become news. Rajnarayan became news by defeating Indira Gandhi in 1977. If Narender Modi, responsible for 2002 massacres of minorities, agent of Adani like corporates, opressors of poor peasants and workers, wins, it will hardly a news for Banarasi Babus!However if Banarasi babus inflict crushing defeat on fascist and most powerful looking Indian today on 12th polling by electing Arvind Kejriwal-the only viable candidate to defeat power arrogated, foul mouthed, a slur on humanity-promotor of Moditva fascism, then Banaras will come up on world map as giant killer as Rai Barailee had come in March 1977. Indira Gandhi even after her return to power in 1980, could never gain that arrogated power, once crushed be defeat by Indian people of Rai Barailee, so will be with Modi.Even if he wins in Gujarat and even he becomes Prime Minister, he will never be able to impose his Moditva fascism on Indian people, if you the wise people of Banaras, inspired by Kabir and Ravidas, Bismillah Khan and Premchand, Chandershekhar Azad like revolutionaries, who faced 30 lashes by shouting ‘Mahatmna Gandhi ki Jai’ in Banaras in 1921 as student of Kashi Sanskrit peeth. Will you betray Kabir, Ravidas, Chandershekhar Azad, Bismillah Khan, Hazariprasad Dwidey and Premchand by electing this fascist Modi? Or will you uphold the the great traditon of your ancestors who lived on Varanasi soil-Kabir, Ravidas, Chandershekhar Azad by inflicting crushing defeat on the enemy of Indian people, admirer of Nathu Ram Godse-the Mahatma Gandhi murderer? History will judge you Banarasi Babu-Pappu ki Chai is much valuable than Modi ki Chai, which sells poison, whereas pappu ki Chai on Asi sells freedom of ideas-choose Banarsi Babus–choose-whole India looks to you.Arvind Kejriwal jpgchandrashekhar-azadimages-bismillahKabirRavidaspremchandimages-hazarprasad

Why and whom I voted? My wish list for Lok Sabha

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March2, 2009 Atul Kumar Anjaan, CPI leader. Photo  Arvind JainAmarnath YadavDr-Dharamvira-Gandhi-AAPDr. Daljit Singh Book Hindisonisoriimages.jpg-Rajmohan GandhiAnand Kumar_npatkar1_650_010914072942  Arvind Kejriwal jpgprofile-cheema-1_325_071112124109S R DarapuriMohd SalimSubhashini Alijpgrajo dRajender Prasad CPI         Manpreet Badal jpg 

Above are some of candidates whom I wish that they should win and reach Lok Sabha. Profiles of some are given below-In order of pasting candidates are-1.Atul Anjan-CPI2. Amarnath Yadav-CPIML3. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi4. Dr. Daljit Singh5. Soni Sori6.Rajmoohan Gandhi7Prof. Anand Kumar8Medha Patkar9Arvind Kejriwal10Yogender Yadav11.Balli Singh Cheema(All Aam Aadmi Party(AAP), 12.SR Darapuri13.Mohd. Salim14. Subhashini Ali(Both CPM)15. Rajinder Singh(CPI)16. Manpreet Badal(PPP)

 

                                                    

                                                                                          Profiles of Lok Sabha candidates

  1. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi—The earliest memory of Dharamvir seems to be, visiting him ,when  he was a MBBS student in Amritsar Medical college. Probably I stayed with him a night in hostel. I may have gone for some Gursharn Singh event in Gandhi grounds, the whole night discussion on cultural issues. In one such all night meeting, perhaps Bhagwan Josh had come, Amarjit Chandan was there too. This was between 1972-75. On one of these visits, probably Dharamvir took me to introduce Dr. Daljit Singh, who was still working with Govt. Medical college. As Dr. Gandhi told me that when he spent about six months in prison during emergency, it was only Dr. Daljit Singh, who will visit them in jail. After completing MBBS and remaining Punjab Students Union (PSU) activist, which was led by Pirthipal Singh Randhawa, Dr. Gandhi joined govt. Service as medical officer at PHC Bilaspur, Bhindrawale’s wife’s village. I had joined JNU,but used to visit Punjab a lot and visited Bilaspur many times. Used to stay with Dharamvir in his official residence on hospital campus. Dharamvir got married in these days with Padma, it was perhaps arranged marriage, but Padma got absorved in Comradely life of Dharmavir quite soon. She was working with Food Corporation of India(FCI), where she was  not burdened with much work and she could spare time. They had two children-one son and a daughter. I had seen children in their early age, but not since many years. Dr. Gandhi told that daughter is doctor in USA and son is with him in his clinic, he has also done medical degree. Padma has retired from FCI, before that Dr. Gandhi had taken voluntary retirement in order to open his own clinic.

                    In 1978 Dharamvir went to Bilaspur, Health centre, where he continued with breaks till 1988, almost a decade. He was popular in the whole area, in surrounding villages.In Govt. Hospitals, generally free medicines were not supplied to patients. Dharamvir saw to it that patients get medicines from dispensary. Though his consultation hours were limited in morning and evening, he was available to patients all times, as he was staying in flat on campus. Even during late night or odd hours, any family had any problems, they could come and call Dr. Gandhi and he was readily available. This made him so popular, that when he was transferred due to his anti-Govt. Campaigns in the area, people from 2-3 villages went to Chandigarh Punjab secretariat and returned only after getting his transfer cancelled. In 1979, he was elected founder General Secretary of Association for Democratic Rights(AFDR), the position he held for many years and brought AFDR to all India map. This mass organisation for civil rights was inspired by Nagi Reddy group of Communist movement and after the group split, Dr. Gandhi left the organisation and became active in other democratic movements. In fact Nagi Reddy group has decided that Pirthipal Singh Randhawa, a very popular student leader and general secretary of PSU to organise AFDR, but he was murdered brutally by Akali patronised goons in July 1979. Randhawa was considered a good organiser, so the mattle fell on Dr. Gandhi, whose organisational skills were equally good. Dr. Gandhi joined Rajindra Medical College Patiala for his post graduate studies and later became Asstt. Professor in Cardiology deptt. where he spent another decade, attending patients in large numbers. In year 2001, he set up his own Dr. Gandhi Heart clinic, on the pattern of his teacher Dr. Daljit Singh’s Eye centre in Amritsar, where nominal fees was charged from poor patients. Dr. Gandhi kept differential fee/expense structure for patients and offering free service to very poor patients and clinic became as popular in Patiala and its surrounding rural areas, as he was popular in Bilaspur area, where even Bhindrawale’s in laws family held him in high esteem. This continued till 2011-12, when he again jumped into mass movement with Anna-Kejriwal mass movement. And he became a Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Patiala constituency with a bang. I was not bit sure about whether he would be able to organise big campaign against a formidable candidate-Central minister Parneet Kaur, whose social reputation is much better than her husband Amrinder Singh, who is foul mouthed and arrogant in his feudal background style. It was easy to defeat him, if he was a candidate in Patiala. Dr. Balbir Singh, a common friend and incharge of Dr. Gandhi’s campaign invited me for discussion, in which Dr. Gandhi also joined for some time. We revived our past warmth and I expressed my solidarity and offered some suggestions. Dr. Gandhi’s presence made the Congress and Akalis unnerved and Akalis made a cowardly physical attack on him on Election Day, injuring him seriously, the writing of wall was too difficult for them to bear. Dr. Gandhi fought back and forced Akali supporter SSP and administration to arrest the culprit. I have been critical of AAP on many issues and continue to, but presence of Dr. Gandhi, Medha Patkar, Dr. Daljit Singh and Soni Sori like candidates, put me in dilemma. Also the growing danger of Moditva fascist trend, weakness and discredited character of so called middle parties like JD(U), Samajvadi Party, BSP; marginalisation of left parties, made me realise that perhaps it is only AAP, which has caught people’s attention and despite its inherent contradictions, I should support its creditable candidates and Dr. Gandhi was the first one with whom I expressed my solidarity openly and clearly.

  1.  Dr. Daljit Singh-Teacher of Dr. Gandhi, Dr. Daljit Singh is known in leftist circles since early sixties, when he was Doctor in eye deptt. at Rajendera Medical college Patiala during 1967-72. Dr. Pyare Mohan, Surjit Lee etc. were in touch with him in early phase of Naxalite movement in Punjab, but Dr. Daljit Singh had relations with earlier Communist movement as well, with Satya Pal Dang etc. He used to help and support young student rebels of Punjab Students Union and their mentors like Surjit Lee and exchanged literature. From the very beginning of his medical career, he had the idealist streak in him, possibly got in from his respected Sikh scholar father Bhai Sahib Singh. He served Medical College till 1976 or at Amritsar, before establishing his own Dr. Daljit Singh Eye Hospital. I was probably introduced to him either by Surjit Lee or Dr. Gandhi in 1972-75 period, but later when I had to undergo cataract surgery in 1990 or so, Poonam Preetlari accompanied us to Dr. Daljit Singh. We stayed at Poonam house in Amritsar then. Dr. Daljit Singh has a practice of charging not only no fees, no expense from Punjabi writers. So from Gurdial Singh down to lesser known writers availed his generosity. Dr. Daljit Singh himself has a flair for writing, not only on his professional subject-eye care’, that too in Punjabi language, but in other fields of writing as well. He writes prose on American oppression of the world and with documents showed that how 9/11 was USA’s own planned act to push the world into a fire of hatred and violence. He is a poet and had two collections of poetry to his credit in Punjabi. My way of paying to his generosity was to translate his poetry in Hindi, which I did with pleasure, which was published by Kulwant Singh Suri, son of eminent Punjabi writer Nanak Singh. A release function on the book was also organised in Amritsar. When in 2002, I had another retinal detachment, after losing much vision in first detachment in 1992 end in Delhi, at the recommendation of Dr. Balbir Singh, an eye surgeon friend at Patiala, we rushed to Amritsar. This time Dr. Daljit Singh personally took care of the surgery done by his daughter in law Dr. Indu Singh, retinal expert in his eye hospital. This time we were hosted in his new hospital cum patient accommodation rooms, again charging no expense, despite my request that my University would reimburse me. And when in 2004 or so, my daughter had serious eye problem, Dr. Balbir again sent us to Amritsar and this time too Dr. Indu Singh not only treated her, she gave her so much affection as well. I have been sending my books on Bhagat Singh to Dr. Daljit Singh, who is also his fan and wrote even a poem on him. And when his candidature was declared from AAP, I expressed my solidarity with pleasure. Dr. Daljit Singh enjoy so much respect in Amritsar that he went even to Congress and BJP rallies and distribute AAP caps and people accepted. Despite being personal doctor of Presidnet of India a t one time and receiving Padam Shri honours in 1987, he never referred these things in his campaign as candidate.He was the only candidate to visit slum areas of the city and also poor Dalit areas in rural side, where no Congress/BJP candidate went. In light mood, when I phoned him to express my solidarity, he said half jokingly ‘we may even win!’ In two bullish candidates fighting a dirty campaign, Dr. Daljit Singh’s campaign was cleanest to the core and my strongest wish is his victory! He is nearly eighty years now and had been working since more than five decades with such discipline-getting up at 3 am, reaching operation theatre by 4 am, performing surgery till 7 am, then with little break, reaching OPD and attending to patients till almost 2 to 3 pm before lunch break. After an hour or more, again going to ward to look after morning operated patients. Sitting on computer from early nineties, when few people had such excess and competence.
  2.  Medha Patkar-  My interaction with Medha Patkar began in year 2006, after I joined JNU faculty in 2005. I was Vice President of JNU Teachers Association during 2006 period, when she had big agitation in Delhi at Jantar Mantar in which JNU Students Union; many faculty members participated, apart from many other sections of society in Delhi. Even actor Amir Khan came and sat on dharna for some time. She observed 21 days hunger strike and was very week, when I will hold her hand and listen to her soft voice in extreme weakness. In her team, there is a gentle Punjabi young man Simpreet, to whom she will call as ‘our chhota Bhagat Singh’-our little Bhagat Singh. I had gifted my book on Bhagat Singh to her and she had been an ardent admirer of the martyr. I was not totally attached to her long drawn Narmada movement, but always admired her simplicity and dedication. So when she also decided to contest on AAP ticket, I happily extended my solidarity to her.
  3. Soni Sori- I have never met Soni Sori, but have been reading a lot and supporting her through her sufferings at the hands of Chhatisgarh police. I refused to attend a literary meet patronised by then Chhatisgarh DGP Vishvranjan Singh, whose hospitality was accepted by many known Hindi writers. He was the main culprit of torturing Maoist sympathisers in state, which included simple adivasi school teacher Soni Sori and her nephew. The way so called President medal winner SP Aggarwal has caused inserting stones in her vagina had been the vilest act. She was given relief by Supreme court very late and that too reluctantly. AAP activist advocate Prashant Bhushan has been fighting her case in courts and probably he got AAP ticket for her to contest elections. I respect Prashant Bhushan for his radical stand on many issues like on Kashmir and has been critical of AAP for keeping away from him, when he faced attacks from BJP, even physically attacked. It was but natural I would have supported Soni Sori.
  4. Balli Singh Cheema-a poet and cultural activist from Nainital area is personally known to me since 1994-5, when I had gone to Nainital for Punjab Languages Deptt. function. Balli Singh was known through his poems and Gursharn Singh team has popularised his song-Le Mashale Chal pade hain log mere gaon ke/ab andhera chir denge log mere gaon ke’(People of my village have come out with fire lights/tjey will now tear up the darkness). I met him and Zahoor Baksh, another poet from Nainital and spent some time together. On my return talked about his personality to Sarabjit Dhaliwal-Tribune reporter in Patiala then and now senior journalist in Tribune office in Chandigarh. His profile was published in Saturday or Sunday magazine of Tribune then, but probably he himself has forgot it, as I did not see any of his reference or write up on Balli Singh Chema during the election campaigh. He was arrested by Nainital police to dampen his soirit on a trumped up charge.He could have come out on bail, he refused and fought back from inside jail. Probably he may make as the people’s spontaneous response to AAP has exploded at many places.
  5. Prof. Sadhu Singh- He is contesting from Faridkot constituency after retiring from Govt. College Faridkot as lecturer in English some year back. I don’t remember meeting him, but I may have met him, as I had many friends there in seventies-Prem Pali, T R Vinod, Gurdial Singh, Gurmit Singh. After young girl Shruti abduction case, Akalis need to be taught a lesson here and Prof. Sadhu Singh may be able to achieve that.
  6. Bhagwant Mann- I may have met Bhagwant Mann,  known as comedian in plays and films, but cannot claim any close encounter, still I think he is better candidate to enter Lok Sabha than others in contest.
  7. Prof. Rajmohan Gandhi- I have not met him, but his recent book on Punjab-From Aurangzeb to Mountbatten-has been appreciated a lot. His earlier writings also I have been reading occasionally. He never used his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s name for his campaign and he has been losing earlier. Given his gentle and liberal personality, I think he deserves to win from Delhi!
  8. Prof. Anand Kumar-We are known to each other perhaps since 1977, the year I joined JNU as student and where Anand Kumar, Samajvadi Yuvjan Sabha activist was known as giant killer, as he had defeated Prakash Karat in JNU student union elections, who had also defeated him once. He had been BHU student union President earlier. He went to USA on fellowship, leaving his President ship in between, that was a bit of reflection on him. Later he joined faculty of BHU and later in JNU, few years before I joined. In JNU faculty, he remained JNU Teachers Association(JNUTA) President for one term and when I was also elected as JNUTA President for 2006-7 term, looking at my hyper activity, used to joke that ‘perhaps I want to be known as best JNUTA President’! We remained in constant touch on many academic and social issues and supported JNU students struggles together many times. He remained committed to his Lohiate socialist ideas, occasionally appreciating my writings on Bhagat Singh. During first elections to JNU Executive council, he supported CPI candidate Kamal Mitra Chenoy against me, but telling frankly that he is supporting him, as were Prabhat and Utsa Patnaik, telling me clearly about their support to Chenoy. I never felt bad about it and when Anand Kumar was put up as AAP candidate in Delhi, I extended my greetings and solidarity. Incidentally Chenoy left his four decade old membership of CPI to join AAP, he was their Central Committee member.
  9. Arvind Kejriwal-I have just one meeting with Kejriwal. When I was President to JNUTA in year 2007, I was invited by my friends-Prof. Amit Bhaduri and his Diplamat writer wife Madhu Bhaduri to join a protest against Information Commission at JNU old campus, which was its headquarters then. When I joined them, then I saw Arvind Kejriwal, who in a way was leading the delegation. I think RTI activist Shekhar Singh was also there, who later became one of the commissioners. That particular day Chief Information Commissioner, perhaps Wajahat Habibulah was not present in office, so the delegation including me and Bhaduris met one of the commissioners, who to my impression was playing smart. Kejriwal was very tough with him and somewhat aggressive too and that man was put on defensive. Since Bhaduris and other civil activists were supporting Kejriwal and one can now observe that Kejriwal did show spark in his personality in earlier days of his RTI activism that his present chrisma can be understood. But Kejriwal is not radical like Prashant Bhushan or Medha Patkar or D. Gandhi. He is ‘practical’, as he himself defined himself, ‘neither right nor left’! This is dangerous proposition; he could turn into rabid rightist also in future, as his resort to religious symbolism indicates! Yet in present political scenario, I support him from Varanasi constituency to defeat Narender Modi. Even if Modi is defeated by Kejriwal, the strength of BJP is not going to be affected and Modi may still become Prime Minister. But this symbolic fight is crucial for the future of the country. Modi’s defeat will be the defeat of fascist design of Modi. His victory from Gujarat is almost certain, but his defeat in Varanasi shall convey a strong message to BJP and Modi both that Moditva kind of fascism will not be tolerated by Indian society and if he still tries to push that agenda, the people will fight resolutely, that is the meaning of Kejriwal victory and Modi defeat from Benaras. I wish that CPM, SP and BSP could also understand this and withdraw their candidates and extend support ot Kejriwal, despite their reservations and political rivalry, as has been done by JD(U).
  10. Yogender Yadav-We know since our JNU student days in 1980’s later Yadav was teaching in Panjab University Chandigarh for 6-7 years, when I also joined Punjabi University Patiala. We met occasionally and had common friends like Jasvir, but we were never close. Under present circumstances Yogender Yadav’s victory is important, as he and AAP can emerge as viable alternative to Congress, LOk Dal, BJP and HJP etc. all discredited.

12-14-Some other AAP candidates like Dayamani Birla, Alok Aggarwal and SP Udai Kumar, I don’t personally know, but have been reading about them and their participation is people’s interests struggles like Udai Kumar’s struggle against nuclear plant in Tamilnadu, Alok Aggarwals’s Narmada struggle and Dyamani Birla’s struggle for tribal rights in Jharkhand. They have been imprisoned as well. If they win, that will be good for people’s mass struggles all over the country.

15. Mohd Salim-CPM-We became friends in 2007, when he as MP came to release of my book on Bhagat Singh by publication division. Since then we have been interacting on email, meeting occasionally. On my last visit to Kolkata for a seminar on Ghadar party centenary, Mohd Salim to came to visit me with his two sons-named Titu and Mir-both freedom fighters- at Kolkata University campus near National library. I gifted his sons copy of my latest book-Understanding Bhagat Singh and also Ghadar party hero Sarabha. On that day there was  CPM election rally also. Mohd. Salim is ardent fan of Bhagat Singh, Ashok Singh is our common friend. Recently he was targeted by West Bengal CM Mamta Bannerjee, when his doctor wife having govt. House was asked to vacate govt. Accommodation in rough manner, with the excuse that ‘your husband(Mohd Salim) lives in govt. House with you”, so vacate! I wish him victory in elections, which he lost in 2009.

16. Subhashini Ali-daughter of legendary Laxmi Sehgal and Premnath Sehgal of INA, comrades of Netaji Subhas Bose, she is contesting from West Bengal this time on CPM ticket. She had once won from Kanpur, where Dr. Laxmi Sehgal lived. We shared dias, when I was invited to deliver lecture on Bhagat Singh during his birth cenetary in year 2007 and Subhashini came with her mother, who presided over the function.Both of them spoke also. She was in Rajya Sabha also. She delivered annual lecture in Ghadar party centenary year at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Jalandhar on 1st November 2013. I wish her success in these elections.

  1. From Siwan constituency in Bihar I wish that CPI ML candidate Amarnath Yadav tto inflict crushing defeat on JNUSU Popular two times AISA President Chandershekhar’s murder accused Shahabudin’s wife and other candidates. And to pay tributes to martyr Chandershekhar in this victory.

17-19-PK Biju from Kerala, Amra Ram from Sikar in Rajsthan and Jagat Ram from Shimla are few other strong candidates. I don’t know them personally. PK Biju, SFI leader once has been email communicator. Amra Ram is veteran respected MLA. Shimla mayor ship was won by CPM for first time, so Jagat Ram can give good fight. Wish all these candidates victory.

20. Atul Anjan-know him since years, but no closeness. Ghosi once has been communist stronghold, now ground lost. Still wish him victory. I wish him to inflict crushing defeat to Mafia don Mukhtar Ansari.

21. Rajender Prasad Singh-CPI candidate from Begusarai has remained MLA for long and has been active, met him on my last visit to Begusarai to deliver lecture on Bhagat Singh, was invited by Shatrughan Prasad Singh, ex MP of CPI.

22. Com Prakash Reddy-CPI candidate from Mumbai is face book friend, don’t know much, still as face book friend wish him well

23. S R Darapuri-Lok rajneeti- He is retired IPS officer, active on social media on Dalit issues, enlightened tries to combine Marxism and Ambedkarism. Contesting from Robertganj against big parties, I shall be too happy if he could put to mat them! Darapuri comes from Punjab, but got UP cadre and settled in UP. I met him Benaras Hindu University seminar on Guru Ravidas in February 2013 and formed good impression about him.

24. Manpreet Badal-Punjab People’s Party, contested on Congress symbol with support from CPI as well. His victory will symbolise the defeat of not just Harsimrat, present MP and wife of Sukhbir Badal, sister of Bikramjit Majithia, it shall be the biggest slap at Sukhbir and Bikram highhandedness. AAP candidate is not strong enough to defeat Harsimrat. Manpreet’s real maternal uncle Harpal is Marxist Leninist and editor of Lalkar from London. Manpreet is admirer of Bhagat Singh, drives his own car, does not carry corruption blot. Manpreet’s party’s mny people like Bhagwant Mann, Abhai Sandhu, nephew of Bhagat Singh were in favour of Manpreet contesting from AAP, but Manpreet miscalculated about Congress strength, had he known earlier that AAP will get such spontaneous support of common people in Punjab, he would have opted for AAP platform, which would made him win the seat surely and made him more relevant in Punjab politics, now he is risky situation. Though he made wrong statement on Bhagat Singh once, which I rebutted in The Tribune, yet his victory symbolises the defeat of oppression let lose by Badals/Majithias!

25. Lastly I do wish the victory of only Congress candidate Mani Shankar Aiyer, despite insult heaped by him on me. I have heard and met him casualy in functions and gifted him copy of Understanding Bhagat Singh, which he sold to Kabadi in garbage. He never replied to my mail in this regard. The book was purchased by eminent Urdu writer Balraj Komal. I wish him to be in Lok Sabha, despite this incident, because he is the only Congress man, who takes on the bull by its thorns-meaning attacks BJP most strongly and can take upon Modi too!So I wish his victory.

                                     As I have earlier mentioned that I do wish victory of all those left and liberal candidates, who are strong in their constituencies-from CPI-ML, SUCI, Forward Bloc, RSP etc.

    Under present circumstances defeat of Modi and Moditva should be the prime task of all leftists and liberals, one could tolerate ‘corrupt’ for a while, but one must not tolerate ‘Communal fascism’ even for a minute, as it can repeat such tragedies, as had happened earlier in Germany by Hitler, Italy by Mussolini, Indonesia by Suharto, Chile by Pinchot. Modi can take India to that detestable list and he must not be given any chance for that. Only 16th May will tell what turn India will take-towards Barbarism of Moditva or somewhat space for liberal/left parties! Socialism is far away, India needs time for liberalism to organise struggles for socialism!

In Punjab and at some other places, polling for electing 16th Lok Sabha was held on 30th April. In March or April beginning, it was clear that D. Dharamvir Gandhi is going to be Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Patiala seat. I have been keeping an attitude of critical sympathy for AAP. What they did in Delhi that invited mixed emotions. Some of their activities were appreciable, but some actions, particularly of people like Somnath Bharti was quite obnoxious. Many of my friends had become part of AAP in beginning, but later felt disillusioned like Madhu Bhaduri. But looking at the rise of Narender Modi, openly fascist looking Prime Ministerial candidate, and the miserable condition of Congress party, plus pitiable condition of so called third front parties and left front, made me think seriously. In non-parliamentary arena, the questionable conduct of Maoist parties was also not reassuring as alternative form of resistance to fascist threat looming large over the country. In this situation, despite many opportunist activities by AAP leader like resorting to religious symbolism by Arvind Kejriwal, despite being remained atheist some time, sidelining Prashant Bhushan like radicals and promoting Kumar Vishwas and Somnath Bharti like questionable persons, I felt that political space being vacated by left and democratic movement is either going to be appropriated by BJP like fascist party or may be by eclectic Aam Aadmi Party, which became an open platform for all streams of political thought, as at one time during freedom struggle, Congress party was. Thus not only extreme leftists joined the platform, extreme rightists too found a place in this platform. Of course the biggest chunk came form centrists like-Lohiates of Yogender Yadav, Anand Kumar variety, Gandhians like Rajmohan Gandhi and few more, social activists like Medha Patkar, Balli Singh Cheema. Many from established Communist parties activists like Kamal Mitra Chenoy from JNU also joined. Its policies also did not reflect any radical shift like that of Chavez in Venezuela, which I wished to happen. Arvind Kejriwal has strong nerve and confidence to face the established ruling cliques and his agitation with Anna Hazare gave him empty political space to occupy and in hurried manner he declared formation of AAP and within few months, he created history by capturing Delhi state in his very first public test. His 49 days experiment as Chief Minister also helped him, though his impulsive resignation damaged AAP also, which gave it jolt in 10th April polls, when AAP probably suffered losses in Delhi and Haryana, where it was hoping to gain most. But AAP’s aim was clear and well thought out. Its intellectual leadership of Yogender Yadav-Prashant Bhushan etc. could foresee the downfall of Congress party and incompatibility of left and so called third front parties, all getting discredited in last two decades. It foresaw for itself the space being vacated by Congress party and prepare for long term politics. It was not aiming many seats in 2014 elections; it wished to spread all over India and it put up candidates in 437 seats, second only to Congress party, who put up 457 candidates or so. BJP may have put up 400+- candidates. It was a calculated risk. While in 50 seats or so, it could get many socially known candidates like-Medha Patkar, Dayamani Birla, Anand Kumar, artists like Bhagwant Mann, Balli Singh Cheema etc. in other areas, it picked up local known and respected candidates like Dr. Daljit Singh, Dr. Gandhi, Rajmohan Gandhi etc. AAP’s organisational structure is yet to be properly established, but spontaneous response of the newly emerged large sized middle class was such that at various places, the elementary structure got set up by enthusiastic supporters. 49 days Delhi government experiment gave it further boost, despite negative publicity after hasty resignation of Arvind Kejriwal.
Why AAP got such big response? The reason is simple, in last two decades in neo-liberal economic policies, the political class became not only too corrupt, it became very arrogant as well. Singur movement and Mamta Bannerjee’s meteoric rise discredited left’s public image of simplicity and people friendly conduct. AAP made appeal to that injured mind of common people, which expected from political class to be at least courteous and respectful to it, as the political class was till Indira Gandhi’s emergency. MLA’s and MP’s could be seen travelling on buses, trains, mixing with people, ministers could be seen walking on Shimla Mall like places. All this changed in post 1977 situation, even Janta party government could not win over people’s trust, so India Gandhi was back with a bang in 1980 and with the advent of neo-liberal regime, the overall conduct of our Parliamentarians became power and money hungry and it distanced itself from people. It was only left parties, which could sustain pro-people image during 1977-2007 period, but with CPM led left front government in West Bengal going for neo-liberal policies, acquiring forcibly lands from poor peasants for super rich corporate made them also culprit in the eyes of people and they were thrown out from power by Mamta Bannerjee’s demagogic whirlwind. Maoists also jumped on her bandwagon, only to regret later with brutal killing of Kishan ji like its prominent leaders, who gave open call to support Mamta.
In post 2012 conditions a political cauldron started boiling, in which lot many actors jumped-Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Agnivesh and many more. Congress was being cornered from all sides; BJP was playing smart games, putting its cadres in Anna like movements, where leftist youths were also there. Here Arvind Kejriwal made the smart move of forming a political party, almost unexpectedly and nobody was prepared to accept its possible outcome, taking and deriding it as NGO party, not emerging out of grounded political struggles. AAP proved political pundits wrong by attracting largest number of youths to its fold and it fastly turned out to be an alternative political platform-a centrist political platform. On the other hand BJP was spreading its fangs by bringing Narender Modi to centre focus, finding its time to capture power. Narender Modi’s past conduct in 2002 Gujarat communal violence against Muslims and his aggressive posturing made all the leftists and some democratic minded individuals to come out of its slumber and the social media-like twitter and face book became super active to counter this trend. On ground level, not finding an credible left platform, even CPI-ML could not become an alternative left platform, the left intelligentsia and middle class youth, minorities and other oppressed sections turned to Aam Aadmi Party and that was my dilemma too.
At one time, I was also feeling to contest on AAP ticket, if it has offered or invited me to contest from Bathinda, my home district in Punjab, against Punjab CM’s daughter in law; where in seventies, I had worked in my youth as left trade union and cultural activist, but at the same time, was feeling that my temperament is not fit for it. Neither AAP tried to tag me nor I took any initiative to join their bandwagon, though kept on greeting and sending good wishes to my acquaintances like Medha Patkar, Anand Kumar, Dharamvir Gandhi etc. But when Dr. Gandhi declared his candidature and our common friend Dr. Balbir Singh invited me for expressing solidarity with him, I could not become too stiff like our traditional party cadres and joined and expressed my solidarity with Dr. Gandhi, making my humble contribution with gifting some of books on revolutionaries and a token fund and offering views on certain organisation issues of campaign. Of course voted for Dr. Gandhi on 30th April at Patiala, though it was just third time or so in life that I have voted! First time I voted in 1967 elections for Master Babu Singh of CPI for Punjab Assembly.
Later when Dr. Daljit Singh, a renowned eye surgeon and Dr. Gandhi’s teacher in Medical College Amritsar, from where he did his MBBS in seventies and with whom I had very long association and to whom I call ‘custodian of my eyes’, as he has been taking care of these since 1990 or so, I could not remain silent spectator and did express my solidarity with Dr. Daljit Singh, though neither I could go to Amritsar, nor contribute to his campaign in any manner. Medha Patkar was already announced a candidate earlier, with whom I took part in some Delhi agitations, stood by her in her 21 days fast at Delhi during 2006-7, felt always regard for her. Soni Sori, I did not know personally, but she suffered immensely at the hands of police, so my solidarity was with her without question.
On the other hand from traditional left parties, Mohd. Salim CPM MP in 2004-09, had developed good rapport with me during 2007 release of my book on Bhagat Singh, during Bhagat Singh centenary and we remained in constant touch occasionally, with Ashok Singh, a lecturer in Hindi at Kolkata college and dedicated CPM worker being a common friend, met during a seminar in Kolkata in February 2014 and his being a candidate in these elections, made me express my solidarity with him as well. Same way Subhashini Ali, daughter of legendary INA heroine, is also contesting from West Bengal, for whom I have all regard
Looking at the socio-political-economic conditions, which otherwise indicate towards the futility of Parliamentary drama of elections, completely controlled by corporate world, corrupted and made more oppressive than even British times, why 2014 elections became important? Firstly rise of BJP as potential fascist party, looking at economic conditions, Congress was already sold out, the decline of the left movement and limitation of Maoist alternative, all made me think that perhaps to stop the “Rath of Fascism” was an urgent task and to work for creating such balance of political forces, in which fascist tendencies get weakened and some space sustains for the continuation and growth of democratic movements in general, so that working class and peasantry is not out rightly crushed. In that situation AAP seems to be providing that trend, by strengthening which, the balance of forces, may go against fascist BJP and its opportunist allies and thus fast growth of fascism could be somewhat stunted. It cannot be thoroughly defeated in these elections, but it can be checked to some extent. So despite all the reservations for AAP’s questionable personalities and opportunist conduct, I thought of supporting some of its candidates, also some other candidates, whose credentials are above board.
Even if some of them are elected, I don’t expect much from them, but for the revival of tradition of pre-1970 parliamentarians like-A K Gopalan, Jyotrimoy Basu, Bhupesh Gupt, Inderjit Gupt, AK Roy (Radical) Madhu Dandvate, Madhu Limaye, Pramila Dandvate and many more, who could live a simple life and raise people’s issues in Parliament with much force.
Here is my wish list-I wish these candidates to win and reach Lok Sabha: though in many cases, it is going to be just wishful thinking, yet in some cases it may prove true.I must add here that this list contains my personal association or some information about them from close sources/media etc., but I wish as many candidates of CPI-ML, SUCI, Forward Bloc, RSP, CPI/CPM or any other left orientation candidates to win, wherever they are strong enough!

  1. Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi-AAP-Patiala(Punjab)
  2. Dr. Daljit Singh AAP-Amritsar
  3. Prof. Sadhu Singh AAP-Faridkaot
  4. Bhagwant Mann AAP-Sangrur
  5. Soni Sori AAP-Bastar
  6. Rajmohan Gandhi AAP-North Delhi
  7. Prof. Anand Kumar(JNU) AAP-North East Delhi
  8. Medha Patkar AAP-Mumbai North East
  9. Alok Aggarwal AAP-Khandwa
  10. Dayamani Birla AAP-Khunti
  11. Yognder Yadav AAP-Gurgaon
  12. Balli Singh Cheema AAP-Nainital
  13. S P Udai Kumar AAP-Kanyakumari
  14. Arvind Kejriwal AAP-Varanasi
  15. S R Drapuri Lok Rajniti(Lucknow)
  16. Mohd Salim CPM-Raigunj
  17. Subhashini Ali CPM-Barackpur

18.Amarnath Yadav-CPIML-Siwan
18. P K Biju CPM-Kerala
19. Amra Ram CPM-Sikar
20. Jagat Ram CPM-Shimla
21. Com Rajender Prasad Singh CPI-Begusarai
22. Atul Anjan CPI-Ghosi
23. Com Prakash Reddy CPI-Mumbai South
24. Manpreet Badal PPP/Congress-Bathinda
25. Mani Shankar Aiyar Congress-Tamilnadu
Profiles jotted down in the beginning of the post.

Man-Woman relations in internet age- social media offensive

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                                                                          Man-Woman relations in Internet age: Social Media Offensive

 

Since 30th April 2014, there is a flood of activities on social media-intimate intimidating photographs of Amrita Rai-Digvijay Singh Congress leader have gone virile on twitter, face book, blogs and other social sites. I saw three tweets and one face book post. Amrita Rai, Rajya Sabha anchor, earlier NDTV reporter posting tweets that her mail account has been hacked and that she has filed divorce suit with her husband and plan to marry Digvijay Singh. Digvijay also tweeted that he plans to formalize relations with Amrita ji after her divorce and he is making it open and not hiding like Narender Modi. By the evening, Anand Pradhan, husband of Amrita posted a small explanatory note on face book in Hindi about their living separately since long and having filed suit for divorce by mutual consent. I tweeted to both Amrita and Digvijay and also wrote on Anand’s post. I personally know Anand Pradhan and Amrita Rai, but not Digvijay Singh. Amrita Rai had interviewed me once in my office in JNU, as NDTV reporter, when I was JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) President in 2007. She is courteous person. Anand Pradhan is a friend and ideologically we are close. In 2013, after leaving JNU, I stayed in IIMC guest house for one night, getting room booked through Anand Pradhan. I had a desire to go to their house too and say hello to Amrita as well, but as Anand did not invite, so did not express my wish. Now it seems they were not staying together, about which I had no idea. Incidentally I support what Anand Pradhan said in his face book post that man-woman relations are extremely complex and one should not try to peep into personal relations of two individuals till the time they themselves wish to make it open and to the extent they think it proper. Incidentally there are no angles in private life and most of the couples do fight, quarrel in private domain. But I was surprised to see Anand’s post getting virile, receiving 2500+ likes and nearly one thousand comments and continuing, hardly anyone gets so much attention. But it was not pleasant, it was ugly. Out of 1000, 10-20% may have written rationally and with some degree of concern, 70-80% comments were vile, vicious, abusive and misogynist mostly by Moditvaites towards Anand , Amrita and Digvijay Singh. Releasing personal intimate photographs of two individuals must be a cyber-crime, but it was committed by none else than Nitin Gadkari, BJP big leader, as re[orted is some paper, as a revenge for Digvijay’s questioning of Modi hiding his marriage. In the process, Anand and Amrita became target of their vileness. Comments on Anand Pradhan’s face book also indicates towards it to be BJP-Moditvaites’s concerted campaign to indulge in such scandalous, misogynist attacks against women and leftists in general and to seek revenge from their political rival Digvijay Singh. Even on Anand’s post, lot many Moditavites posted Amrita-Digvijay intimate photos to provoke or insult Anand, many went on the extent of posting male nudes with recommendations for potency medicines, thus touching lowest levels of dirty minds. This whole ugly episode raises many questions:

 

Elections for 16th Lok Sabha and Narender Modi’s indecent hurry to become Prime Minister of India is the immediate reason for this ugly dehumanized campaign by Modi followers, which has been conducted with typical RSS style of personal mudslinging with targeting women and leftists. One can remember that even during emergency RSS used to throw lot of mud at Indira Gandhi, attacking her relations with Dhirender Brahmchari or saying things like-‘Sanjay Gandhi in inebriated condition slaps her’ etc. Same Sanjay Gandhi later became the darling of Sangh parivar by getting his widow and son to Sangh umbrella.   Yet there are other social factors also involved in such tendencies to become so frequent in society:

(A)   Twenty first century has brought the internet to social life, whose potential is revealing day by day. Despite its positive aspects, it has immense capacity of misuse as well. Thus Porn sites are one of its biggest product, which has shaken the life everywhere, but more in sexually oppressive societies. Maximum porn sites are watched in Arab and such geographical areas, which are known for sexual exclusiveness, male chauvinism and where women are treated as dungeon, as man’s slave, sought to be bound to certain areas like home only and forced to follow regressive dress code. Most of the religious fundamentalist groups, which oppress women more, are taking recourse to use the scandalous devastating aspects of internet in these matters. Making public personal intimate pictures of some public personalities is their way of revenge and imposing their obscurantist values on society.

 

(B)   Digital explosion in the form of mobile and other easy kind of cameras available all the time at hand, selfies kind of trends etc. have made people lose their balance and they are not able to keep certain level of self-discipline over their lives. Almost imperialist kind of control of social sites like Google or others, where the privacy of your data is at best an illusion, people are always at risk of their private life becoming public at any point of time and causing great destabilization. So many cases of crimes, murders, suicides world over due to such happenings on face book, twitter, or just photos in mobile cameras have created altogether new kind of value less violent society, where blackmailing through new gadgets has been introduced.

 

(C)   Not that social site have just negative devastating features only, there are positive features as well. In socially oppressive societies like India, it has helped remove the facade of hypocrisy prevalent in social life in the name of moral values, religion etc. Thus when people are joining these sites, they are freely expressing their preferences like-women recording for ‘Looking for Men’ and men recording ‘looking for women’ or sometime hiding their identities and doing all those things, which they still not dare to do in their real identity, which provides psychological relief to their suppressed emotions. That so many conservative men and women on these sites have made male or female friends, which they would have never even imagined in their life, if there has been no technological revolution of this kind. It has given women some more freedom in India like feudal mindset societies.

 

(D)   That it has also smashed some myths like purity of marriage, only one man-one woman loyalty, nothing can affect the ‘rock like marriage system and its eternal value’ etc. One can see from face book data, even in Indian context how many men and women have made both sexes as their friends and have freely conversed with each other without bothering about the alien or just virtual/screen and not real status of the ‘other’. This is democratizing aspect of this social media.

 

(E)    That it has brought to the center focus that man –woman relations are not as simple as some religious scriptures want to make us believe. They prove the scientific researches of Freud like psychologists of these relations’ immense complexity, which sometimes is brought out in literature or creative forms of art, which is socially accepted as relief from real social or personal problems. That these researches can definitely help understand these complexities better and deal with them too, but which demands rational and scientific attitude towards life and not just blind faith attitude of some ‘universal human values’ like clichés.

 

(F)    Age is considered as a moral factor in most of such scandals, as is being scandalized by 67 years Digvijay Singh and 43 years old Amrita Rao’s ‘immoral’ relations on age gap ground! And we easily overlook that whether it was Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda or Charlie Chaplin-just three iconic illustrations, who according to their own memoirs had relations with women of 20 to 30 years at the age of 80 years or more. From rightist side recent illustration of Italian ex-Prime Minister Berlusconi, who at nearly 80 was found to be buying sex of 15 year old girls. It could be other way round as well, as writer Taslima Nasreen tweeted-it is fine to have 67 yrs. male and 43 yrs. female to have relations, but when 67 yrs female will have relations with 43 yrs male and someone referred to Sophia Loren! That since they are big names, we tend to accept these, even romanticize it, but in real life situation, we get shocked. The two Hindi films in recent years have brought the reality of these facts to center focus. In fact Pablo Neruda, as Ambassador in Sri Lanka at one time had narrated his sexual encounter even with his maid of much younger age, would have made him dubbed as ‘rapist’ and demanded his arrest by post Delhi rape case situation, as the atmosphere has been created. It is rather risky to say, with fear even from leftists friends that the recent campaigns for ‘stringent and strict laws’ against sexual offenders have in fact strengthened the fascist laws more, rather than ensuring women’s security or enhancing their rightful participation in social life. Perhaps they have been made to realize to confine their movements to ‘safe time’ ‘safe areas’ and the ‘need to have a male companion’ for safety at odd hours! In the hands of fascist Modi coming into power, one can imagine how these laws will be misused against maximum number of leftists/Dalits and minorities. The harsh fact is that socio-cultural education and social reformist movement for man-woman equality and changing the mindset through prolonged cultural reorientation is a crying necessity, particularly when such sexual offenders are coming from ‘lumpen proletariat’. The rich classes have all the glamour at their command, including multiple sexual encounters, including one night stands for both males and females and who have never to face strict and stringent laws against women harassment. Incidents of wife-swaps etc. among higher officials of military/bureaucracy etc. can indicate to the ‘sexual’ divide at class level. The recent complaint of one victim wife of an army officer, who resisted this activity and complained to defense minister Antony, shows the contrast of two classes! Those who are denied sex life in normal manner-‘the scum of the earth’, indulge in criminal acts, with porn sites, releasing their inhibitions, for committing these crimes. Hang hundreds of them, still these crimes will not stop. These crimes are result of socio-political-economic system, where healthy life conditions, including healthy male-female relations, are denied to large number of people, resulting in social crimes and unless social conditions do not change for the better, no amount of stringent laws will be able to control such crimes.

 

(G)  One has to accept the fact that there are different cultural modes prevalent world over and in multi-cultural country like India itself has diverse practices of man-woman relations in different sections of Indian people. Among Muslims, cousin marriages are almost rule, whereas in same geographical areas, Hindu families consider cousin relations to be brother-sister relations. I remember one incident of a respectable Doctor family of Punjab, getting killed a doctor couple in eighties, who were cousins at family level and after marriage, had gone far away to Sikkim to escape the wrath of relatives. Among Hindus themselves maternal uncle-niece marriage is almost rule in some parts of South India, whereas in North India, these relations are forbidden as of father-daughter like. Then with porn sites affecting lives of people, the suppression of desires is getting burst up and society has to come to terms with different kind of sexual preferences of people and not just male-female straight relationship. Thus lesbianism, homosexuality, multi sexual encounters are all becoming part of society, even in conservative societies, at least in virtual world, which is affecting real world as well.

 

(H)   In the changing mores, marriage as institution getting badly affected, large numbers of people in many countries prefer not to marry. In USA, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, marriage institution is losing the moral status as it enjoyed earlier, Indian urban life is also having its impact felt. In such circumstances, society has to learn to be more tolerant of different kinds of man woman relationship. Sex relations must be taken out of ‘moral codification’ of certain kind and accepted as they are. Only moral code in such relations is mutuality and absence of violence and exploitation. One may dislike much such kind of relationships, but despite one dislikes, the other people’s choice has to be recognized as his or her ‘democratic’ right. Justice Leila Seth is good example of showing such tolerance.

 

(I)     If marriage as an institution does not remain ‘sacrosanct’ and is accepted in its early true substance of a ‘social contract’ or even in some radical thinking ‘license for establishing sexual relationship’ (rather property relationship), then any such relationship will not attract attention or get scandalized as its gets today, considering ‘marriage’ to be something like religious rigorous code, which cannot be violated in any condition. Marriage like any other social institution has come up as a social necessity of its time and may stay or go as the time changes, at least it cannot sustain in its rigour. This is also a myth that west is affecting India like societies for sexual deviations. Longevity of marriage in west and east-both, depends upon mutual love, understanding, care& concern of each other. There are couples in Europe and America, who never split in life, whereas in India like societies, the reality of marriage as institution is-as the Punjabi phrase goes-Jodian jagg thodiyan, narad Bathere’-‘true couples are few, tied with ropes are maximum.’ Financial constraints or the dependence of women on men is big reason for keeping marriage going in India like countries, even if the couple has no binding factor of love or mutual respect for each other. If in initial phase of marriage love or sexual urge is more important, in the later stage, understanding is much more important. More marriages break because of incompatibility of ideas, life style and understanding, than just of sexual incompatibility, particularly when both man and woman are working and are conscious of their own personality traits and needs. In a society, where there is financial and social security for women, there even difference in day to day habits of people can cause breakdown of marriage. It is not a joke that many marriages break because of snoring habits of one of the couple! It is dependency of women on men in large cases in India, that invariably whenever a public personality or ordinary man has been accused of sexual offences, his wife has stood by him almost in 99% cases, even if she might have remained victim of domestic violence herself in her married life.

 

(J)     Another fact of the matter is men and women, now even same sex people; get attracted to each other at various levels. When couples are living separately for years or months together and when people work or study at different places, there is likelihood of friendship getting developed, which may or may not develop into physical intimacies. But in case such intimacies do develop but with mutual attraction and consent, these must not be treated as ‘guilt’, crime or even looked down upon, whether the people involved in such relations are ‘married’ or ‘unmarried’. Remember recent film-Lunchbox for such attractions.

 

(K)   Once the hypocrisy goes out of man-woman relationships, then one can look at these relationships in a rational manner and accept that if people can marry, they can split too and no moral high or low ground is involved for ‘married’ ,‘divorced’  , ‘unmarried single’ ‘live in relation’  kinds of people. Yes children born out of any such kind of relationship are the joint responsibility of two people and in case of split; their interests have to be taken care of in best possible manner.

 

(L)    Incidentally those Sanghi/Moditva mentality people, who are enjoying throwing mud at Amrita Rai and Digvijay Singh, and by proxy at Anand Pradhan too, should also remember that their icon Atal Behari Vajpayee lived with his lady love, who was somebody else’s ‘wife’, openly in his Prime Ministerial Bungalow, and her son in law, an unconstitunal authority, was referred to as Vajpayee’s son in law only!

 

The real issue remains the cybercrime and encroachment of privacy of citizens, some website has posted three years mobile sms exchange between Amrita Rai and Digvijay Singh. Which mobile company has allowed leakage of this private data? The private photographs of Digvijay and Amrita, released through illegal hacking of private mails of one of these persons is also a big crime. Anand Pradhan and Amrita are free to live together or split, it is their personal life, so is with any other two or more people, till the time they are not violating any law or hurting any other person by their act. But releasing personal pictures and messages is definitely a crime that must be condemned and checked through legal procedures. If some stringency is required in law, it is here in such cases, where people’s lives can be blackmailed.

In this face booked world, where more than one billion, almost 1/6th of people of the world have come on single connecting platform, one cannot live in archaic times. Man woman relations are most free in Latin America, where being step sons/daughters, step sisters/brothers, step father/mother has no relevance at all and children from same mother, even from many men are treated at equal level without any social stigma. Women there too, suffer a bit more, as men generally avoid care of children and it is woman who takes care of children, even from many men; but she is not looked down upon and enjoys full respect and dignity in society. Indian society also has to come to terms with different kind of man-woman relations without ascribing so called moral codes to the relations. Only moral code is to be-domestic violence, including sexual violence must be fought with, by law and by education, cultural reorientation.

This is a tall task, not going to be achieved in short time. With education and social reform, it will take less toll of life; otherwise changing world scenario will force the society to come to terms with it, but with paying more price in terms of human life, agony and social energy!

Chaman Lal