Advocate in Gyanvapi case

‘Court Must Settle Gyanvapi Dispute Once And For All’

Sudhir Tripathi, the advocate representing the women plaintiffs in the Gyanvapi Mosque case, responds to the views of Mufti-e-Shahar, Banaras, Maulana Abdul Nomani

Gyanvapi mosque case is a long running dispute. There have been claims and counterclaims about the structure between Hindus and Muslims. However, there is no dispute among historians that it was built on the site where a temple existed. Currently, at the centre of the controversy is the videography survey which showed a stone structure, which Hindus say is a Shivling and Muslims say is a fountain.

A law of court works on the principle of viable evidences, backed by science. Therefore, our stand is that a carbon-dating of the stone structure be done to establish its age. This is a simple solution. If the structure is a fountain then why are the defendants uncomfortable with its carbon dating?

TheMufti-e-Shahar, Banaras Maulana Abdul Batin Nomani has commented on your website that he has complete faith in judiciary. But he has been contradicting his own stand from day one. First, he claimed that the case is not maintainable and is bound to be dismissed but later he said he will challenge the order of the Varanasi district court in the Allahabad High Court.

It is clear why he is in a dilemma. On one hand, he is calling upon the ‘people of Benaras’ (read Muslims) to abide by the law but one the other hand he says the final verdict will be in the court of the Almighty.

ALSO READ: ‘People Want Political Mileage From Gyanvapi Case’

The Hindu petitioners have demanded for Pooja (prayers), Darshan (sighting), and Sanrakshan (protection) of the Shivling and to substantiate our claims they are ready for a carbon dating of the structure. If it’s a fountain, I plead the defendants to please come up with proofs like its water inlet, design, etc. Let us use scientific methods to verify our claims. There are numerous pieces of evidence like the holy Trishul (trident) or mantras and shlokas inscribed on the walls, which clearly back our demand.

The last prayers were offered in 1991 and since then our deity is locked behind the doors and a huge battery of security personnel has been put on guard. A videography survey has been conducted earlier this year and we are quite confident of its outcome.

The devotees only want to offer prayers to Shringar Gauri which stands on the compound of the disputed Gyanvapi complex as they used to until 1991 and for that, we are moving in the right direction.

If the excesses of the past can be rectified in a harmonious, lawful manner, it will only go to strengthen the communal amity in Benaras. Our history books clearly state that the Gyanvapi Mosque complex was built over the ruins of the desecrated old Shiva Temple by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. There is disagreement over the reason for destruction of the temple but not about the act.

Even today, parts of this ancient temple are clearly visible on the outer walls of the mosque. From afar, the statues of the bull Nandi and Maa Shringar Gauri can be seen. We don’t want to get involved in any kind of petty disputes as the issue is been unnecessarily politicized for decades and curtains should fall on it once and for all.

As told to Rajat Rai

Gyanvapi Mosque Issue

‘Some People Want Political Mileage from Gyanvapi Issue’

Maulana Abdul Batin Nomani, Mufti-e-Shahar, Banaras & general secretary, Anjuman Intezamia Masajid, says he has complete faith in Indian judicial system. His views:

The Gyanvapi mosque issue was essentially a religious one. It has been deliberately turned into a political issue through a litany of court cases dating back to 1991. Speaking about the recent order by the Varanasi District Judge, Anjuman Intezamia Masajid had staked claim that the present suit is not maintainable on account of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, and that when a certain law holds the field, the suit is bound to be dismissed.

However, Varanasi district court’s recent acceptance of the suit filed by five Hindu women seeking permission to pray at Gyanvapi Masjid complex not only violated the Places of Worship Act 1991 but has also reopened what the Supreme Court’s 2019 Ayodhya verdict was supposed to have closed forever—a debate on the religious character of places of worship.

AIM Varanasi, as a party to the case, is of the view that it will abide by the judiciary, whatever be the verdict. We have full faith in the judicial processes. Already a dozen litigations are pending in the courts over Gyanvapi mosque. We do not know what will be the due course in this matter but we will certainly challenge the order of Varanasi District Court in Allahabad High Court.

This recent legal dispute is a result of the survey of the Gyanvapi premises ordered by Varanasi court on petitions seeking all-year-long access to pray at a Hindu shrine Shringar Gauri located behind the western wall of the Gyanvapi Mosque complex (which is currently opened for prayers once a year). AIM had then sought leave of the Supreme Court that its application under Order 7 Rule 11 should be heard first by the Civil Judge.

ALSO READ: ‘Varanasi is An Icon Of Harmony, Don’t Destroy It’

Supreme Court, on 20 May 2022, ordered that the application filed by the Committee of AIM Management shall be decided on priority by the District Judge. So the question reverted back to the District Judge, Varanasi on whether the Gyanvapi mosque does conceal in its premises a “Shivling”.

Here, the things went wrong. We still have older generation who is witness to the fountain inside the mosque premises, which is being claimed as Shivling. Themedia played its part in politicising the issue and creating a fake debate. The original petition asking for the worship of Shringar Gauri got deflected and the whole debate moved in the wrong direction. Now we are in a legal quagmire.

Meanwhile, disturbing statements have been made by a few elements like Haji Mahboob, the petitioner in Babri Masjid case. I would like to appeal to all citizens not to pay heed to these divisive statements. Muslims of Benares should abide by the court of law.

At the same time, it is unfortunate that some people are raising questions on the judiciary itself. Judiciary is the supreme among the four pillars of our democracy. Any question on the judiciary is an indication that something is fundamentally flawed. We need to rectify it and restore the faith of people in the judiciary.

Whatever be the end result, I have been repeatedly asking Muslims of Benares to sit calm and accept the judicial verdict because the final verdict comes in the court of the Almighty. But we as responsible citizens of this country must maintain peace and abide by the constitutional values at any cost.

As told to Abhishek Srivastava

Wildlife Expert TH Khan from Pilibhit

‘Cheetahs Will Add To Biodiversity, Boost Wildlife Tourism’

TH Khan, an environmental activist and wildlife expert from Pilibhit (UP), says Govt of India has done a commendable job by reintroducing Cheetah to Indian wildlife

Cheetahs became extinct in the early 1950s and the major reason was big-game hunting. Efforts were made since then for their rehabilitation but it is only now that we have been able to bring them to Indian forests. There are many examples of successful rehabilitation of wildlife animals in their natural habitats but rehabilitation of Cheetahs is a tricky business and their release could be termed merely as one step forward.

Although it’s not going to be a cake walk to resettle Cheetah I am confident that the cutting-edge technology will assist our wildlife officials to make this endeavour a roaring success. Rehabilitation process in this case is a complex one as it involves a carnivorous species from a different continent. Such broad and complicated rehabilitation requires a perfect harmony between the two habitats and the similarity of environments from where it is imported to where it is being shifted.

Kuno National Park was chosen for the release of cheetahs after a detailed study by experts and this is the world’s first inter-continental large carnivore translocation project as eight African Cheetahs — five females and three males, aged between two and six years, have been brought to India from Namibia.  Besides adding to the bio-diversity of Kuno, the Cheetahs will also add boost tourism and generate income for the locals.

Besides providing the Cheetahs with their required natural habitat, their availability and selection were also a challenge. Initially, there was suspense over the genetic difference between the African and the Asian Cheetahs. When it became clear after an intense study that their rehabilitation is possible, the Supreme Court gave its assent to bring the Cheetahs from Namibia.

ALSO READ: ‘Cheetahs Are Welcome, But Real Challenge Begins Now’

Cheetah is listed as a vulnerable species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Two subspecies, the Asiatic Cheetah and the Northwest African Cheetah are listed as critically endangered. It is therefore very important that potential threats to our Cheetahs at release sites are mitigated. A habitat suitability study should be conducted at each site to ensure there is sufficient vegetation to support viable prey populations to sustain the re-introduced Cheetahs for a long period.

This project is the beginning of a new era of active wildlife management in the direction of ecological rehabilitation because it explores new avenues for carnivorous species amid diminishing grasslands.

Other successful wildlife rehabilitation in India includes alligators in the Chambal and Gerua rivers, single-horned rhinoceros in Dudhwa National Park and Pabitora Sanctuary, and the wild buffalo in the Chhattisgarh forest regions.

One thing that this step surely exhibits is: India’s commitment to the preservation and promotion of biodiversity. We have successfully completed 50 years of Project Tiger and 30 years of Project Elephant. With the multi-dimensional success of these two projects, two other projects, for lion and dolphin, are also being carried out at a commendable pace. Reintroducing Cheetahs is a logical link to this chain of projects.

As told to Rajat Rai

‘Indian Netas Have Always Had A Finger In the Sports Pie’

Sudipta Biswas, a sports journalist and author of Mission Gold: India’s Quest for Olympic Glory, explains the political connection in sports governing bodies

Five years back, the Indian cricket administration underwent a massive upheaval when the Supreme Court intervened to bring an end to the alleged culture of fiefdom in the BCCI. Justice Lodha Committee was given the task to clean up the mess in the world’s richest cricket body. A year later, the apex court passed a series of recommendations and appointed a three-member committee, led by former CAG Vinod Rai, to bring all the recommendations to effect.

One of the key points of the recommendations was that no official will be eligible to contest the BCCI or state associations’ elections after serving two consecutive terms, either at the national board, or, as a combination of both.

However, six years later, the Supreme Court tweaked it to allow the current president, Sourav Ganguly, the former India cricket captain, and secretary, Jay Shah, the son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, to continue to run the daily affairs of BCCI. Both Ganguly and Shah have completed the previously mandated two terms last year — which is six years — but have continued to hold their offices for months. They had previously served the Cricket Association of Bengal and Gujarat Cricket Association, respectively, in different capacities.

ALSO READ: ‘A Woman Footballer Still Freaks Many People’

On September 16, 2022, the apex court allowed modification to this clause. Now, Ganguly and Shah can serve as BCCI members for two more terms, which, effectively means, another six years at the helm. That is, by the time they end their new terms, they will complete 12 years in office without serving a cooling-off period of three years.

This is a stark shift from the Supreme Court’s earlier status quo on cricketing matters of the country. Indeed, the court has agreed to change the clause for which it once repealed Anurag Thakur from the board. While allowing them to continue for another six years, the court has also allowed the BCCI to tweak a clause to allow politicians, who were not allowed to contest elections as per the Lodha Committee recommendations, to enter the cricket administration in the country yet again.

For years sports administrations in India have been run by politicians or businessmen. It has been a recent trend that sportspersons or former athletes are coming into the administration.

The latest development has come at a time when the highest court has been busy in cleaning up the mess at the National Sports Federations (NSF). Federations that didn’t accept the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ National Sports Code, formulated in 2011, are either facing suspension or being forced to align with the codes by the Supreme Court.

The All India Football Federations (AIFF), the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), and Hockey India (HI) are a few of these latest examples.

In the past, in most of these federations, officials with a direct or indirect link to the Congress party were running the offices for over a decade. In the recent AIFF elections, the BJP-backed candidate, Kalyan Chaubey, assumed the president’s post, while the IOA presidency went to Adille Sumariwalla, a former athlete who served the Athletics Federation of India. Sumariwalla too is reportedly linked to the ruling party.

Unlike these federations, the BCCI doesn’t fall under the NSF; it is an autonomous body under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860. It doesn’t necessarily need to adhere to the ministry’s mandate. Previously, the sports ministry tried to bring BCCI under its realm, but with two ‘likable people’ currently running the show at the board, that pressure no longer exists.

As told to LokMarg

Bihar Youth Seeks Jobs

‘Jobs Promises Made in Poll Season Are Forgotten During Rule’

Md Shamsh Tabrez, who has been in the teaching profession for the last ten years, says Bihar youth has hit the streets to remind the Govt of its employment promises

The employment rate in Bihar is very low. For years, we have been witnessing brain drain from the state. The brilliant minds from this state are migrating to other states and helping the host states build and flourish. However, in the whole process, Bihar has been losing in the race of development.

However, a lot has changed in the past few years. People are now expecting from the government to generate job opportunities both in the private and government sectors. We have recently seen people coming out on streets and vociferously demanding jobs.

However, the saddest part is that these job aspirants are being lathi-charged for asking what their right is. Last month, we saw how the Bihar Police lathi-charged and used water cannons on protesters in Patna, which included several teaching job aspirants.

A video of an official repeatedly assaulting a demonstrator holding the national flag while lying on the road surfaced as well, drawing condemnation from all sides of the political spectrum.

The new government has assured that there will be the next phase of vacancies soon in different departments of the state government. Since the Rashtriya Janata Dal has joined the newly formed coalition government, the job demand has risen again as people are reminding Tejashwi Yadav to fulfil his promise of providing 10 lakhs jobs.

ALSO READ: ‘Nitish Has Played His Last Card, JD(U) Will Soon Dissolve’

In the 2020 assembly elections in the state, Tejashwi Yadav from the RJD had promised to create 10 lakh jobs. This also worked to some extent for the RJD as the party emerged as the single-largest party in Bihar with 75 seats.

After the new alliance with the RJD, Nitish Kumar, on the 75th Independence Day, said that the new JD(U) and RJD alliance will soon work out a plan to create 10 lakh new jobs in the government sector. Another 10 lakh employment opportunities will be created in additional sectors.

Though we all are preparing for writing state exams, in my view, there is a very little chance of providing as many jobs as promised by Tejashwi Yadav and Nitish Kumar both. I think the announcements have been made in respect to the coming general elections of 2024.

Political parties are preparing hard for the general elections. We have seen in the past and will see many new announcements made, especially related to jobs. But it’s very difficult to accept that all promises will be fulfilled when the election is over. We need to take the job promises of the government with a pinch of salt.

As told to Md Tausif Alam

Return of cheetahs and challenges

‘Cheetahs Are Welcome, But Real Challenges Begin Now’

Meetu Gupta, a wildlife conservationist, says re-introducing cheetahs to Indian wildlife is a welcome step but conservation is a long process, not a one-go event

Cheetah’s return to India was a couple of years late due to COVID situation. A process of this type involves many technicalities and clearances. India has re-introduced some wild species to their natural habitats in the Bandhavgarh and Kanha forests of Madhya Pradesh. But bringing African cheetahs from Namibia to India is a first of its kind. And it involves its fair share of challenges.

Historically, cheetahs were captured in India. Nobles captured them and used them for hunting and big game. Breeding was not possible as captives. There are just two instances of when captive breeding became possible. Mughal emperor Jahangir first successfully did captive breeding of cheetahs and later the same was done in England.

During the British era, the hunting of cheetahs reduced its number rapidly. The last Indian species was killed just after Independence, in December 1947. Therefore, no Indian zoo had cheetahs at any point of time in Independent India.

Until recently, captive breeding was not possible in closed habitats. San Diego zoo (US) is one of the place where captive breeding is done. However, relocating a species from its natural habitat for captive breeding will be a Herculean task. It involves many complexities.

We have heard how the enclosure prepared for Namibian cheetahs was invaded by leopards. The question of climate difference, conflict, and competitiveness among predators are some of the crucial factors. So there is also a need to protect the species from other predators like leopards, tigers, hyenas, etc. First, the animal will be living in a small enclosure. Then it would be moved to a larger enclosure and finally released into open natural habitat. This gradual process will ensure that the species get acquainted and adapted to local conditions.

That is why we need to understand that the return of cheetahs in India is just an initiation in the direction of conservation breeding. It does not guarantee that the number of cheetahs will increase. It is a long haul.

Indian wildlife owes a lot to Indira Gandhi, who formulated a policy, constituted a Wildlife Board. Project Tiger was also started during her regime. In the current regime, budgetary cuts in the wildlife fund and fundamental changes in the policy have taken a toll on many species and their conservation. Our elephant corridors are being destroyed due to mining activities in forests etc. We need to take into account all the endangered species, not just Cheetah.

So while the return of the cheetah is welcome, we need to see if we are not neglecting other wildlife species in the name of conserving just one of them. Conservation is not a one-go event. It involves a larger question of wildlife, forest conservation, tribal policy, and policies related to other sectors that are directly or indirectly related to our wildlife and their habitat.

Several wildlife species are in crisis. The policies of successive governments in the last few decades have been fundamentally anti-conservation. We need to re-think and re-calibrate holistically on the question of wild species and their conservation.

As told to Abhishek Srivastava

The narrator is a Member of the State Wildlife Board, Chhattisgarh

Why I Joined Bharat Jodo Yatra

‘I Joined Bharat Jodo Yatra For A Plural, Secular India’

Based in Thiruvanantapuram, Kerala, Sridhar Radhakrishnan, 54, an eminent environmentalist, engineer and writer, walked with Rahul Gandhi in the Bharat Jodo Yatra. His views

I think we were all waiting for long for somebody with a national stature, or the stature of Rahul Gandhi, to actually stand up and say that we need a pluralistic, secular, democratic society and nation, which is not torn apart by divisive politics and the selling-out of the nation. I was looking for plurality, for deep concern for environment, agriculture and farmers, and against the politics of polarization and divisiveness. I have been talking and writing about it, in my circles, in Kerala and across India.

Bharat Jodo Yatra is a moment in history. This is a political movement. I believe everybody who is deeply concerned about these issues stalking contemporary India should join the Yatra. As I walked with Rahulji, I highlighted three things.

One, as India celebrates the Amrit Mahotsav of 75 years of Indian Independence, is there an Amrit Kaal for the environment as well? Needless to say, the situation in India now is terrible. I spoke to him about the state of Indian environment under various governments since the British times: Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, and now. It’s indeed a terrible situation. I also told him that I believe that during Indira Gandhi’s time, it was really a Green Decade!

Sridhar (inset and circled alongside Rahul Gandhi) felt it was his responsibility as an Indian to join Bharat Jodo Yatra

In the legendary Stockholm Conference on Environment held in 1972, only two global leaders were invited, Indira Gandhi and her friend Oloof Palme, the prime minister of Sweden. That speech of Indira Gandhi is perhaps one of the most wonderful speeches I have heard, and its text should be prescribed reading for all concerned citizens. Does the Congress now continue to believe in those principles of sustainability and environmental protection for the future? Rahulji agreed with me, and made a commitment that he would follow these principles in the days to come with sincerity and earnestness.

Second, I discussed with him the agricultural paradigm and the farmers’ struggle. While I appreciated the support of Rahulji and the Congress party to the farmers’ struggle against the farm bills — and that it was very good you stood up and opposed it — I suggested that Rahulji and his party should rethink about the agricultural policies in India. We discussed about agriculture in Europe and China as well. He agreed during most of our discussion.

Third, I reaffirmed and resurrected the concept of the Nyaya Scheme floated by Rahul Gandhi in the last Lok Sabha elections. To my mind, it is an excellent scheme and should be again reasserted as a game-changing project in the next elections in 2024. I stated that this is the next step after NREGA, and this should include the farmers as well. Rahulji insisted that this should exclusively focus on the vast majority of the Below Poverty Line population only. We agreed.

I don’t belong to the Congress party. I joined the movement. This is my responsibility.

As told to Amit Sengupta

Supertech Twin Tower Home Buyers

‘Demolition of Noida Towers Created a Mela; Now Spare a Thought for its Homebuyers Too’

Ekta Gupta, 40, a homebuyer in the now-demolished Supertech Twin Towers, says she is yet to receive any compensation for her razed dream. Her story:

About 10 years ago, my husband and I spent our life savings to book a flat in Supertech Twin Towers. We were allotted an apartment on the 15th floor. As we wanted to see the development of the housing society where we had invested, we rented an apartment adjacent to the building site. The construction was in full swing and we were hopeful of attaining our house keys in good time. But destiny had other plans for us.

While I was drawing plans about the interiors of my house in my mind, a court case was filed by the residence of the Emerald Court against the Supertech Twin Towers. Even while the case was going on, the construction work never lost its momentum. We felt some mid-way solution will be reached in this legal conflict. Not for a second did it occur to us that our dream house will be razed to debris.

In fact, it was more heart-breaking when we watched the demolition of the high-rise Twin Towers from the same rented apartment which we had moved in to monitor the construction of our home. And despite the Supreme Court order, we haven’t yet received a penny as compensation.

Gupta (Inset) says it was heart-breaking to see her dream home being razed to ground

To rub salt on our wounds, the bank has blacklisted our credit score. Forget about applying for a loan, we cannot deposit money in the bank as they will demand EMIs for the house which has been turned into a wreckage. We want to take loan to send our child for higher studies abroad, but it now seems impossible as we cannot qualify for any loan for having failed to pay the EMIs of our home loan. How can one pay an instalment for a heap of rubble?

ALSO READ: Gr Noida Authority Must Wake Up To Traffic Terror

I am happy that people who fought this long legal battle of 12 years got justice. But one man’s justice can be another man’s disaster. The residence of Emerald court and ATS Village will now get proper sunlight and air. But there are hundreds of home-buyers like us who have been left in the middle of nowhere. Our prospective home is demolished, no compensation has been paid and the bank is pressurising us to repay its loan.

There is hardly any authority which will hear the voice of a middle class homebuyer. Justice has been delivered, a spectacle has been live-streamed on TV channels, but the plight of Twin Tower investors has been conveniently ignored.

We live in a rented apartment, and are unsure if we will ever be able to move into a house of our own. But the dream is still alive. Our hopes have not died. Somebody in the system will realise one day the injustice meted out to people like us and try to set things in order.

As told to Deepti Sharma

Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist Rally

‘Why Inner-Party Democracy Is Good For Communist Parties!’

Last week, CPI-ML (Liberation) leader Kavita Krishnan resigned from all party posts, kicking up a debate on democracy in communist parties. LokMarg spoke to a sympathiser and close supporter of the CPI-ML (L) on the issue. This senior writer, who does not want to be named, says the communist parties should realize that those who raise the question of democracy in socialism should be embraced and not vilified. His views:

No, I never discussed Stalin with them or with anyone else for that matter because I have no means to prove or disprove anything about what he did or did not do. This is for two reasons. Basically, when I work with anyone I don’t normally get into discussions about their family history. If one goes up anyone’s family tree, one might or might not find evidence of ‘criminality’ at some point. That should not come in the way of constructively working together with that person in the present.

Secondly, I believe Stalin is simply too controversial for anyone to have an unbiased opinion on him. In my opinion, everyone is free to have whatever view of him they want, but I will retain my freedom to work with people with all kinds of viewpoints on this issue. This is simply because work in the present is more important than endlessly fighting over history.

I am a supporter and sympathizer of the CPI-ML (Liberation). With all their limitations, they are the most sensible and honest communist party in India today, with some very fine leaders and wonderful cadre. We have disagreements, but our agreements are far greater. Besides all this, I have too many friends in the party – so it is not a matter of ideology alone, they are like family to me. I am critical of them only because I am concerned about their decline and want them to grow for the sake of India’s future.

The debate over democracy and even its definition is an old one within the global communist movement. The fact that it continues in our times only means that there has been no satisfactory resolution of this question. However, it is an extremely important discussion that should not be brushed aside or suppressed in any way.

The reason why a lot of comrades raise the issue of both inner-party democracy and the need for a democratic polity under socialism is simply because they feel it is wrong to give complete monopoly of power to any political formation, including to the one they are themselves working with. This is a very ethical position. It is unfortunate that many communists think that this is ‘anti-party’ – because, in truth, it is a position with the best interests of protecting the rights of the people.

ALSO READ: Can Socialism Find its Feet?

Socialist systems claim to be more democratic than capitalist ones because they focus on delivering the basic necessities of the population – such as food, shelter, education and health. They do not recognise freedom of protest, organisation and speech as fundamental rights and see them as a ‘luxury’.

This is actually like the mindset of a poultry or pig farmer who claims to be feeding his caged livestock regularly before sending them to the slaughterhouse. Communist parties should stop doing mathematics with human populations because they are flesh and blood creatures, and thinking, feeling creatures, and not abstract numbers.

They should also realize that democratic processes and institutions are not a luxury but essential in ensuring both justice and resilience within the communist systems. Marxism – as Marx himself thought of it — is unique because on the one hand it is about being passionately against injustice, and on the other it is highly intellectual and sensitive, and insists on action based on serious study, research, presentation of evidence and debate.

Deciding the fate of the party or of the population cannot be a whimsical exercise of a few leaders – democratic participation and flow of information are critical. The various institutions of so called ‘bourgeois democracy’ that protect freedom of association, speech or fair treatment, while imperfect and also inadequate in many ways, are still superior to the archaic justice mechanisms we see in ‘communist countries’.

Those comrades who still have a heart, and have not become cold, calculating machine-like bureaucrats, will keep raising the question of democracy within and outside the party-fold. They are an asset to the communist movement and should be embraced and not vilified and expelled.

The communist parties should realize that the people – including the working classes everywhere — are rejecting them all around the world because of their contempt for democracy. They are on the wrong side of history on this issue and it is up to them to change, or, become completely irrelevant.

As told to Amit Sengupta

Racial Attacks on Indian In West

‘Coloured People Are Still Considered A White Man’s Burden’

Ramsharan Joshi, a journalist, academic and author currently based in Boston (US), says objective use of social media can help discourage racial crimes in the West

Indians have been on the receiving end of hate speech in the US recently. One Indian was viciously abused at a Fremont restaurant, and a group of Indian women in Plano, Texas, went through a similar, terrible experience. It follows a ritualistic pattern faced by Afro-Americans, Blacks, Hispanics and other non-White communities in the US, and also in many parts of the West.

Indeed, it reminds me of my first experience in the Anglo-Saxon world about four decades back. During my maiden encounter with the most highly developed metropolitan city of London in 1983, I, along with Swami Agnivesh, acclaimed liberator of bonded labour, and Swami Indravesh, then a Lok Sabha MP, were passing through a London street. We were suddenly attacked violently – some street kids belonging to the White community attacked us for no reason. They jeered at us with a certain ugly enthusiasm and spat on the three of us. Abuses were showered on us. We had to literally run away from the spot. Seeing us in such a panic, some people of Indian origin rushed and rescued us from further attacks and humiliation. We were told by the locals that this is a routine occurrence.

Returning to the present day’s scenario of September, 2022, a powerful and wealthy aspirant for the apex post of prime ministership of Britain, Rishi Sunak, betrayed his orthodoxy and rigid conservatism in a developed nation like the United Kingdom, by publically worshiping the cow. By performing ‘gau puja’ — what message was he trying to convey to the White people, or the Indians who are now settled in that country, the NRIs? So, where do you draw the line between orthodoxy, modernity racism, and pluralist democracy in the developed and super high-tech world of corporate capitalism? I have been trying to find the answers since July1983, when, as a journalist, I first travelled through Europe and America.

Racial Attacks on Indian In West
Joshi (inset) feels the racial undercurrents are very strong in western nations

Sitting in a town in ‘New England’ (Boston area) right now, an interesting event is knocking at my mind. My first encounter with the world of Americans dates back to September 1985. I had gone there as a member of the media team accompanying the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Journalists were housed in a hotel managed by the Tata Group. I noticed a young man of mixed coloured origin, just about 25, was distributing leaflets cautiously to the media persons, not very far from the UN Headquarters. The leaflets advocated racial purity, ultra-nationalism, uni-culturalism, etc. After reading the leaflet, when I questioned his antecedents he slipped out of the media center.

During several visits to this part of the world, I noticed and felt the undercurrents of strong racial discrimination prevalent in the society. Of course, there is no official admission of discrimination based on race, colour and blood, but the dormant reality erupted in the form of the brutal assault on a breathless George Floyd and his consequent death at the hands of White policeman. Certainly, racism seems to have intensified post-Donald Trump in America, despite Barack Obama being elected twice. Despite the massive Black Lives Matter movement.

ALSO READ: The Rise Of Indian Americans

My experiences in Canada are no different from that of America. Although, discrimination is not pronounced in Canada, which, too, is largely a multi-cultural and plural society, but a genuine reconciliation between the ‘First Nation’ (natives) and the White immigrants (or, outsiders), is yet to be realised by the whole of Canadian society.

The unearthing of the graves of hundreds of aboriginal children who were forcefully snatched away in the name of ‘civilizing’ them in various residential schools in Canada from their innocent and helpless parents, by the aggressive and dominant white community, has further reopened the deep wounds the community of the ‘First Nation’ has been suffering for centuries. Natives in Canada, at their annual assemblies held in different parts of the country, unfold the list of failed promises made by the Canadian State to their community. It is a testimony to the simmering scars which refuse to heal.

Coming back to the recent cases of racist attacks on Indians in the US, the victims recorded the event on camera, posted it on social media, and got the culprits arrested. As a journalist, I feel that social media, if handled with sensitivity and objectivity, properly and positively, can play a remarkable role in creating a more humane and just environment. However, in itself it is not enough.

Coloured people are still considered a ‘White man’s burden’. It is the responsibility of an aggressive political economy, that today’s nation-states have been following since the advent of globalization in the 1990s, to eliminate the vicious terrain of racism and other forms of anti-human extremities and discriminations. We shall have to zero in on the political classes that boast of providing people friendly governance in a secular and pluralist democracy, but, actually, fail to implement it on the ground.

As told to Amit Sengupta