Saffron : The colour of India’s Shame

Pramod Mutalik, the ex-VHP leader of the Ram Sena considers the the attack by his party workers on a pub in Mangalore as a “small incident” which is being blown out of proportion. He also takes offence to Renuka chowdhary comparing his party’s antics to the Taliban.

Karnatakas moral Police

Karnataka's shame

I personally tend to agree with Renuka Chowdhary. The onus of “serving society and preventing bad behaviour” (charter of the Ram Sena) does not give license to such hooliganism. Incidentally, the BJP chief minister of Karnataka, Yeddyuruppa has distanced himself from the Sena claiming, ” Iam telling you honestly, the Sri Ram Sene has nothing to do with Sangh Pariwar.” Rajnath Singh, the BJP top honcho also claims that it is ” unfortunate that our political opponents and the so-called secularists suffer from an RSS-BJP phobia. They tend to level allegations without even verifying the facts.”

Mr CM, surely you are lying.. and so are you Mr Rajnath Singh.  Mutalik, who has 40-50 cases pending against him for all kinds of crimes; hate speeches, attacks on churches, editors, media and co-ed buses is a known ‘goonda’ (hooligan). He has been in the news earlier. In 2008, he had openly called for violence against non- hindu elements in response to a Christian Bandh being organised in Karnataka. Incidentally, the report also mentions that his ‘Sena’ was training a  700 strong force for suicide attacks and that he planned to increase the Sena’s strength to 5000 within a year. Mutalik was earlier the Organising Secretary of the VHP, North Karnataka and the Convenor of the Bajrang Dal, South Karnataka. He also became the Chief of the Karnataka Unit of Shiv Sena in Bijapur, in the presence of the former Maharashtra Chief Minister from Shiv Sena and former Speaker of the Lok Sabha Manohar Joshi, the right – hand – man of Shiv Sena Chief  Bal Thackeray. Subsequently, he seems to have  had a fallout with the BJP, which was already visible when Pramod Mutalik was taking over as the Shiv Sena chief. KB Ganpathy, editor of the Star of Mysore met Mutalik and quotes him,

“I worked for BJP for more than 30 years. They use people like me only to win elections.”

Ganpathy further writes, “He also requested me to give coverage for the activities of his organisations and also Shiv Sena. At this point, I asked him the reason for his disenchantment with the BJP. But he was rather reluctant to say beyond what he had already told me, as could be expected from politicians who are oriented towards religions or an extreme political ideology.”

In 2004, when Mutalik was arrested for giving inflammatory speeches, the BJP came to his aid. Leaders of Hindu organisations and also of the BJP, including S.R. Pikle and Krishna Ankolekar, submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner stating that the police were subjecting Pramod Mutalik to “mental torture” while in custody.

If the Ram Sena and Mutalik are not part of the Sangh, they are certainly its progeny. Mutalik has learned all his moves at the training grounds of the Shiv Sena and the BJP. He was actively involved in hooliganism even while working for the BJP and subsequently the Shiv Sena. The Mumbai ATS also links Mutalik to the Malegaon blast accused, Lt Col Purohit.

The apathetic reaction of the state govt. and specifically the CM Yeddyuruppa is appalling. Instead of condemning the attacks, the CM has focussed more on ensuring that the BJP distances itself from Mutalik, and also at the same time he has refused to ban the Sena, asking for more ‘time’. In the same breath, he has condoned the Sena’s actions  ” ‘obscene’ dances would not be allowed in night clubs — be it in Bangalore or anywhere else in the state.Mutalik has managed to pull off a media hogging act of vandalism and hooliganism to purely antagonize and embarass the BJP govt in Karnataka. But at what cost? I hope the voters in Karnataka remember this game of politcal agenda during the coming elections.

Thankyou Indian Armed Forces

Happy New Year, India. As we step into 2009, its time for reflection upon how the passing year has been for the Armed Forces. The Mumbai attacks are foremost in our minds. We remember how valiantly the NSG commandos toiled to end the carnage that took almost 200 lives and injured another 300 people.

But for how long will we remember? TOI has claimed the Indian Soldier as the Indian of the Year. What value does that hold? We all know of the apathy of the citizen. One need only to walk down to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to see the true plight of the soldier… Ex-servicemen on a hunger strike. Poor morale in the forces after the 6th pay commission. Thousands of officers applying for pre-mature release from the Forces even when there is already an acute shortage of officers. A State CM insulting an army martyr of the Mumbai Blasts. Sam Manekshaw’s funeral ignored by our leaders. The Bureaucrats arm-twisting the Forces. The list goes on and on…

Shiv Aroor writes on his blog, LiveFist,

“…in India we are so deeply desensitized to the death of a soldier that it has completely lost its power to make us stop and grieve. Completely. The martyr’s day ceremony at Amar Jawan Jyoti is a pipsqueak affair that the average Joe doesn’t give two shits about. What should be a sobre day filled with memory and unstinted adulation for the sacrificial lives, is a non-event attended by the three chiefs and a handful of uniformed hangers on. A fauji kid I know recently argued passionately with me about what Vijay Diwas really commemmorated — it turns out that not only was she patently wrong, but that she also hadn’t a clue about what her decorated Colonel father received an Ashok Chakra in 1972 for. What I’m trying to say, simply, is that the person on the street has none of the mindspace for the soldier that he or she damn well should.

The commodification of the soldier is deep rooted. As a nation, we’d hate to admit it, but we consider the personnel of our armed forces far more expendable than others simply because somewhere deep down inside, we rationalise that the forces carry their worlds with them, and have the depth of numbers to cushion a handful of fatalities every now and then. And that, hey, it’s a dangerous job but someone’s gotta do it. The point is all of this applies to every other country and every other armed force in the world as well.

…The faintly disturbing thing about all this is that even systemic insensitivity, which was long recognised as a snake coiled up within the innards of South Block, streaked naked across the Indian public conscience this year. Of course, I’m talking about Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s funeral in Wellington (let’s have anyone remember the date). The government’s audacity in even allowing its real sentiments about the forces to show, sent the goodwill of mourners reeling. What a time they chose to do it!

I’m always reminded of a line from A Few Good Men. And even though the officer saying it in the film is the antagonist, the sentiment holds just fine:

We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life spent trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said ‘thank you’, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post.

Recently, a man was shot dead by Army guards when he  was found tresspassing inside the Flag Staff House, the residence of the Commnader of Karnataka and Kerala Area. And people started talking about human rights violations. There were absurd arguments like ‘the guards should have shot him in the leg and not in the chest’ etc. Have the people who subscribe to such incompetent logic ever used a weapon? In the dark, under immense pressure, when you fear the worst? Would they expect the same of the guards in retrospect if the end result would have been a Mumbai like carnage or the ‘boy’ had turned out to be a suicide bomber? I suggest you ‘pick up a weapon and stand a post.’ Or join the Armed Forces. Even better, send your children to the Armed Forces. Otherwise, ‘say Thankyou, and go your way.’

Vigilanti, Not a vigilante.

To begin, we would like to explain our motivation to start this blog. We feel that while some fora do exist for the citizen to put forth one’s views , they are far and few. We hope to establish a platform to write, bring to light and discuss issues with freedom and responsibility. This blog will be about India: its strengths, weaknesses, secularism, freedom. We will try and highlight what we feel is not right, and sometimes commend what we feel is exemplary. However, the focus will be to bring to notice corruption, nepotism, fanaticism, corruption, prejudice and all the other ills of society, government and institution.

We wish that our readers will read, agree/disagree, respond and comment, albeit responsibly.

A word on our title. ‘Vigilanti’ is not from the english lexicon. In Italian it means : Ones who watch, are alert and vigilant. It should not be confused with ‘Vigilante’ in English who is any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime or without recourse to the law. We hope the common man will rise to be a guardian and a Vigilanti, and not be motivated to vigilante action, which will be self defeating to our purpose.

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