Archive for the ‘Punjab’ Category

Friends, how can one river flow through two locations? Here I call out the right wing hypocrisy and sham in naming Allahabad as Prayag while actively running the Saraswati Heritage Project in Haryana. The Saraswati project in Haryana – noble in intent but flawed in execution if its waters are to be supplied from river Sutlej in Himachal Pradesh-  has dire implications for Panjab.

Thank you Punjab Today for publishing the piece.

Please read more here …

Friends, on 9 October BBC News Punjabi interviewed me on the #MeToo movement. Specifically, if the movement is making men feel insecure.

My response was as follows but before that the headline which is also from the response. It translates as: Women have experienced (being scared and silent) for 3000 years, let men too now for two centuries know what that means.

However, that is a bit flippant. My slightly more elaborate response was: ‘In a patriarchal society, violence is structural. It is embedded. Men feel entitled. Until that changes, the society will not become equal.

‘(The next point is related to how feminism has changed society over the last seven decades or so.) Issue is we no longer have good examples of masculinity. Men do not know how to change. They do not have role models. But that does not mean we suppress women and stop them from speaking. Every human being has a right to state their point.

‘(On which stories are true and which fake) Many kinds of talks will tumble out … when the taps open every type of water flows. We need to develop a nuanced understanding of which stories have weight and which don’t have it. But we need to support the #MeToo movement which is lifting the veil and breaking the reign of silence.’

Thank you Tahira Bhasin. Please read more here …

Friends, senior anthropologist from Brandeis University Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria examines the matter of the turban controversy that erupts from time to time within the Sikh community in the sports arena and quotes me in his article.

The recent context is the cyclist Jagdeep Singh Puri’s petition in the Delhi courts. Another instance is of wrestler Jaskawarbir Singh Gill aka Jassa Patti, one of our best freestyle wrestlers, who opted to not contest and allowed a walkover in Istanbul recently over the head gear issue. We know about a reverse stance by famous shooter Heena Sidhu over the Hijab in Tehran in 2016.

Recently there has been resistance to helmets by Sikh women drivers in Chandigarh. Interestingly, Jon sent me links to Sikh helmets which also he quotes in piece.

Please read here …

Friends, seems like tomorrow (Sunday, October 7) would be world tourism day in Panjab. The Akalis have organised a rally in Capt Amarinder’s home turf Patiala. The Congress has organised a rally in Lambi, Badal’s village. One faction of AAP is marching from Kotkapura to Bargari over sacrileges. Everyone has forgotten major issues: agrarian crises, vanishing industry, unemployment, drugs and crimes.

Cut to circa 2016, the SAD-BJP was still in power in Punjab, Captain Amarinder had not made his promise at Damdama Sahib, the STF on Drugs was not formed, the Maro Jan Virodh Karo protest had not happened when Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi proposed an amendment to the NDPS Bill 1985.

The Parliament Committee approved the amendments to the Bill to be tabled. However, the Bill never came up for discussion. As the Parliament meets for its last winter session before 2019 elections, is it still not time to discuss the NDPS Act?

Thank you Punjab To for re-presenting the article. Please read here …

Friends, my review of a very important book for the Indian sub-continent, especially north-India given our times when as a nation we are gong through a tailspin in terms of our values and politics.

By Sanjeev Jain and Alok Sarin Sage Publications, 2018, pp. 260, R 850.00

This appeared in the recent edition of The Book Review. Thank you Adnan Farooqui for the opportunity.

As a lay person interested in mental health, personal and community, I feel this book opens a space the nation should have been discussing and sorting out ever since our blood dimmed independence.

Please read more here …

Friends, thanks to Punjab Today for carrying my recent The Hindu Businessline piece with some additions on the discussion in Panjab Assembly over the Ranjit Singh Commission report on the series of sacrilege in the state and the new Blasphemy Law. I hold that the Congress has handed over a draconian, regressive law to BJP on a platter.

‘While Punjab looks to heal from the scourge of sacrilege, the new law now forces not only the Granth Sahib but even other religious texts behind three locks. To some extent one can understand the law in the context of monotheistic religions like Sikh, Islam and Christianity but how will it work for polytheistic Hinduism with a hundred Ramayanas, a thousand Mahabharatas, a million other revered texts and icons? My aging aunts, who find it hard to walk a few steps, habitually ask a younger cousin or their kids to get them the Gutka Sahib from the shelf at home. They sit in their chairs and doze off while praying. As they nap, they leave the Gutka Sahib in their laps, or next to the pillow. Are they committing blasphemy per the new law? Aunts and uncles in Panjab carry the Gutka Sahib, the Hanuman Chalisa, the Holy Bible in their leather purses or kurta pockets. Is that blasphemy? At village Chakklan itself, a samadh – shrine on a grave – of an unknown village elder has recently become a temple with a trishul and a shivling. Is that blasphemy? On the Pakistan border in Amritsar, at village Naushera Dhaala, the 16th Century saint Baba Jallan ji’s samadh has recently turned into an elaborate Gurdwara. Have the followers committed blasphemy? When Captain Amarinder Singh took his famous oath at Damdama Sahib in December 2015 promising to eradicate drugs, he held a Gutka Sahib in his hands. Everyone on the stage were wearing shoes. Was that not blasphemy? What exactly is a ritual, a prayer, a way of life and a blasphemy? Merely inserting names of texts into a revision of law, without due deliberation, is going to be detrimental to the way of life of the people in Punjab and the nation.’

Read full story here …

Friends, on Tuesday when the news of activists being arrested drove the country into an uproar, a lot was going on in the Panjab Assembly. A marathon discussion took place on the Ranjit Singh Committee report that probed 157 incidents of sacrilege in between 2015-17 and focused on the role of the Badals and the police in the state – a force that has enjoyed unparalleled impunity ever since the days of militancy.

While the Akalis walked out, the Assembly (Congress and AAP) passed two historical resolutions unanimously – one on SGPC and another on taking back cases from CBI. To my mind these will have great ramifications in robbing the Akalis of the Panthic (Sikh religious) agenda and centre-state relations.

These developments were important for Panjab. However, at the same time, for the nation, the Congress committed a blunder by passing an amendment to the Blasphemy Law – Indian Penal Code 295 and placing texts from Hindu, Muslim and Christianity in it. The amendment to the law was an Akali face-saver in 2016, this Congress government could have just let it slide. But it did not.

Thus the Congress has now handed over a ready-made, draconian revision of law to the BJP on a platter. Beats me why Congress shot itself in the foot. The Bill only needs the Presidential nod now to become a nation-wide law. Its ramifications are massive and dangerous.

Here is my piece. I have tried to sketch the background but print media with word restrictions does limit how much one can say at a time.

Please read more here …

Friends, after a long time I reviewed a book for The Hindu. The collection of short stories is by Dr Anirudh Kala, a psychiatrist and friend based in Ludhiana.

Please read here …

Friends, I feel we don’t need to sensationalise drugs. Neither do we need quick fixes. Thanks to Indira Basu and others here I am looking at the protest, recent events and the sub-text of the war on drugs:

The political discourse in Panjab now eerily sounds ‘like the drug-addled talk of an addict: when sober, every abuser talks about quitting drugs, seeking help, not wanting access to drugs – and soon after, they fail.’

Please read …

Friends, Kanwar Manjit Singh pushed me yesterday to expand my Facebook post. Here is the article I wrote.

‘While in the nation the Emergency lasted less than two years, in Panjab formal Emergency lasted a total of nine years including the national Emergency period. Informal Emergency – unaccountability of the government – lasts until date.’

Tip: This is a grim piece but in it is tucked a joke. Let me see who finds it.

Please read here …