Tuesday December 12, 2017

Book review of Shashi Tharoor’s book India Shastra

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By Ishaa Srivastva

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Publishing House: Aleph Book Company

Hardcover: 492 Pages

Price: ₹ 695

Shashi Tharoor’s India Shastra is a collection of 100 riveting essays that aim to explore the colossal gamut of India’s state of affairs, from the perspective of late 2014. It concludes a de facto trilogy of his work, the antecedents to it being India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond (2000), and The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone (2007). The book is divided into eight sections, each dealing with a different facet of India’s contemporaneity. In the wake of the recent general elections, when BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) took over with a staggering margin, Tharoor has naturally devoted almost the first two sections, to scrutinising Modi’s government. The essays that follow, examine serious concerns that afflict the nation, internally or globally, and act as a chronicle of its digital, economic and sociopolitical transformation.

Few essays are peppered with some his own experiences, like his engagement with the ministry, Twitter controversies (of course!), and his work as an official of United Nations, amongst others. To those familiar with Tharoor’s writing, some of his aphorisms ring a bell, while others seem refreshing: “Where imagination is usurped by imitation, no one wins”.

He may have drawn flak from party members after praising Modi for his initiatives like ‘Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Initiative), but his essays are not implied eulogy, in fact quite the opposite- they bring out the “hypocrisy about rhetoric and action (that) has characterised virtually every policy decision that the BJP government has taken so far.”

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Whilst claiming that the downfall of Congress is “greatly exaggerated”, he goes on to enlist an eight pointer suggestion on how his party can resuscitate from the catastrophe of the general election. Tharoor has also devoted an essay exhibiting Manmohan Singh’s accomplishments.

India Shastra makes for a mandatory read for those who need an immaculate understanding of the complex and crucial debates in our country today.

 

 

 

 

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Ex CBI Investigation Chief in Dera Chief Rape Case Reveals that Manmohan Singh backed the CBI Investigation

M Narayanan reveals some important facts about the case

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Rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim
Rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Twitter
  • The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood by the CBI and ordered them to go by the law
  • When powerful MPs asked him to drop cases against Ram Rahim, then CBI chief Vijay Shanker refused to do so
  • The head Sadhvi would get an order from Gurmeet Ram Rahim- to send a Sadhvi to his bedroom

Bengaluru, August 30, 2017: M Narayanan, Chief Investigating Officer in the rape case of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has revealed how Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister resisted political pressure from Punjab and Haryana and supported Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in their investigation.

Narayanan hails from Kasaragod, Kerala and was in Mysore, the day Ram Rahim was finally jail sentenced for 20 years. He expressed satisfaction over the Dera Chief’s punishment and said that Ram Rahim should also be convicted for other pending cases- murdering two people in the past (Dera follower Ranjit Singh and journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati).

He revealed that Ram Rahim was very careful of his abominable deeds, he behaved like a seasoned criminal and who never used to leave any traces behind. The investigating officer said “He had a collection of condoms and contraceptives in his room. He was a maniac, a real beast.”

Manmohan Singh backed CBI

M Narayanan, who is now a retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of CBI. He was the Chief Investigating Officer in Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s rape case. According to News 18 report, Narayanan said, “The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stood by the CBI and ordered us to go by the law. He went through the statement made by 2 Sadhvis before a judge and did not succumb to the pressures from Punjab and Haryana MPs.”

Narayanan also spoke about what the former Prime Minister did, “After a lot of pressure from these MPs, Manmohan Singh had summoned the then CBI chief Vijay Shanker to his office to discuss the case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. After seeing the victim’s statements before a judge, Singh backed us.”

He lauded his boss Vijay Shanker for taking a stand for the right cause in spite of pressure from politicians of Punjab and Haryana. “When powerful MPs asked him to drop cases against Ram Rahim, Vijay Shanker refused to do so. He backed us fully,” said Narayanan.

Also Read: Why Dera Sacha Sauda Followers Ready To Die For Rapist Ram Rahim Singh?

How CBI conducted the investigation?

Narayanan also talked about how he along with his team carried out the investigation and said, “The complaint was sent in 2002. But nothing had happened till 2007. Expressing serious concerns over the progress of the investigation, the Punjab & Haryana High Court enquired CBI. It had also summoned the Chief Vijay Shanker to court seeking an explanation. After that, he gave us Sadhvis letters, files of the murder of journalist Ramachandra Chatrapati and Dera volunteer Ranjit Singh. He ordered us to go ahead and complete the investigation in just 57 days as ordered by the High Court,” mentions News 18 report.

According to Narayanan, it was a tough task to accomplish as Sadhvis letters were anonymous. He said that they came to know that over 200 Sadhvis had left the Dera between 1999 and 2002, due to sexual harassment. But they could trace only 10 victims. Many of them were married and thus didn’t come forward to file a complaint. But, they were successful in persuading 2 victims to take an action against him and filed the charge sheet before a court in Ambala on the 56th day“.

He said that it was a tough job for them to even enter Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters, Sirsa as the CBI team was constantly threatened by Ram Rahim’s goons. They had to suffer a lot of hostility in the quest for justice.

Decoding King sized life of a Godmen

Narayanan said that Dera Chief Ram Rahim was living the life of a king in what he called an ashram, he would be in a cave like room, with Sadhvis around (who were made to be at his beck and call). It was a daily occurrence as on every night around 10 PM, the head Sadhvi would get an order from him- to send a Sadhvi to his bedroom and so, she used to force one of the Sadhvis chosen by him to sleep with the “pitaji“.

Also Read: Quick View on Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Case: 20 Years of Imprisonment enough for a Rapist in India?

When will Dera follower Ranjit Singh get justice?

“Ranjit Singh was a prominent volunteer at the Dera. After his sister was raped by Ram Rahim, both of them had left Sirsa. A few days later an anonymous letter reached Punjab and Haryana High Court. Suspecting that Ranjit Singh was behind it, Dera chief ordered his men to murder him. It has been proved that the pistol used by his murderers belonged to Dera manager. They had also left a walkie-talkie at the scene of the crime. I am sure Ram Rahim will be convicted in these heinous cases too,” said Narayanan (he retired in 2009).


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If Hillary Clinton wins, it may be Gold for Zakir Naik via Saudi Arabia route

Dr Naik has fallen on bad days because the West and their clients like Saudi Arabia have badly bungled in Syria

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Dr. Zakir Naik. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

August 27, 2016: The Islamic evangelist Zakir Naik with rock star ratings, could be only temporarily in trouble. Come November and he may be able to find apologists in the NDA government.

What has the month of November got to do with the government? Because, like the rest of the world, New Delhi is waiting for the outcome of the US elections. A Hillary Clinton victory will end the nail biting suspense globally, and in Israel and Saudi Arabia, there may be celebrations. Naik’s patrons in Saudi Arabia are perhaps low today, but they could bounce back with a Clinton victory.

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The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and The Clinton Foundation have another link: considerable sums for their respective Foundations have come from Saudi Arabia.

Naik has been officially in the business of evangelism since 1991 when IRF was established. That year Manmohan Singh’s New Economic Policies brought New Delhi in line with the US. George Bush Sr was the President. The Bush family’s extraordinary interests in Saudi Arabia continued during the Clinton years.

King of Saudi (King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud) and Dr Zakir Naik. Image source: IRF
King of Saudi (King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud) and Dr Zakir Naik. Image source: IRF

An economically “reformed” New Delhi looked at Washington for almost every foreign policy lead. Since the Saudis could do no wrong in US eyes, New Delhi adopted the same public stance towards Riyadh. Zakir Naik preached in the Salafi-Wahabi idiom, favoured by the House of Saud. Little wonder, successive Indian Prime Ministers were advised to look the other way.

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During days of breathless adoration for the US, particularly when the nuclear deal was being negotiated, what registered in South Block was an unstated message from Washington: tolerate Saudi Arabia and its interests. Zakir Naik had Saudi protection. Therefore, his evangelism was acceptable to India for the past 25 years. Wahabism-Salafism was kosher when, on cue, New Delhi was voting against Iran in Vienna.

Naik has fallen on bad days because the West and their clients like Saudi Arabia have badly bungled in Syria. Jointly and singly they financed and armed all manner of extremist groups. Their search for a “moderate opposition” remained a pipe dream.

The blowback from the Syrian, Libyan (earlier Iraqi and Afghan misadventures) continued to plague the Saudis. Ultimately, to run away from themselves, they leapt into the bubbling Yemen cauldron.

Destroyed countries and civilizations created a migration problem, an Exodus of Biblical proportions, causing Europe to shuffle out of its old coil. Two party political structures, secured a long time ago, began to crumble.

As if all of this were not unsettling enough, the Americans have just come up with an unconvincing Republican nominee for President and a Democratic nominee who is by her own admission “unloved”. Even The Economist, that pillar of the Western liberal establishment, has pulled out from the dictionary adjectives of an extreme nature to describe Hillary Clinton: “dishonest”, “untrustworthy”.

In brief, the West has its own crises to worry about. The Saudis had already come down a notch or two when the Iranian nuclear deal was signed. And now, the mess in Europe and the US has pushed Saudis away from the West’s attention radar.

New Delhi, which keeps a steady gaze on Washington and its changing moods, has shrewdly noticed Riyadh’s fall from grace. Naik can now be taken to task. The change of heart on the evangelist also signals something important: New Delhi now feels secure in the thought that Sufism and mild Hanafi Sunnism most characterize Indian Muslims. Wahabism-Salafism is remote from the wider Islamic practice among India’s Sunnis.

Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Hillary Clinton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Riyadh may be down, but it would be premature to count it out. After all, should Hillary Clinton enter the White House, who knows what might she not do for “Israel’s security”. Her email released by Wikileaks confirmed that the Obama administration had deliberately provoked the civil war in Syria as “the best way to help Israel”.

In an earlier email, she said: “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

“Overthrowing Bashar Assad” was the one point theme former Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan had been instructed by the late King Abdullah to pursue. Typical of Prince Bandar’s style of diplomacy, he turned up at the Kremlin on a secret mission. He promised Putin a “terror-free” Sochi Olympic games if only he could have Assad’s head on a platter. Bandar was sidelined because he could not deliver on Syria.

So long as the Israeli military point of view is part of Western strategic thinking, a regime change in Damascus must re-surface as a Washington priority, should Hillary Clinton win.

Such an operation would require coordination with the Saudis as well. In other words, the current nosedive in Saudi saliency maybe quite as dramatically arrested. Zakir Naik’s protectors in Riyadh may yet be able to stiffen their sinews and summon up the blood. Good for Naik. Also, Delhi will then have to place Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s concerns in the balance. Apparently, Naik’s evangelical mesmerism is causing concerns in Dhaka where acts of terror have picked up in frequency, allegedly influenced by his eloquence. (IANS)

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Minister to be appointed for issues related to diaspora: Shashi Tharoor

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Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj assured Congress leader Shashi Tharoor that there will be an immediate appointment of Union Minister of state with independent charge and a full time secretary to look into all the matters of the diaspora.

In a press statement issued here on Saturday, Tharoor, the chairman of the External Affairs Committee of parliament and Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, said the new development took place at a meeting in Delhi.

“Kerala had raised strong objections when it was decided by the Narendra Modi government to merge the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (OIA) with that of the ministry of external affairs (MEA),” Tharoor said.

Sushma Swaraj has assured that very soon, a minister of state with independent charge and a full time secretary would be appointed to look into all issues of the Indian diaspora, especially in the Middle East, he said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had taken up the merger issue last month with Modi and Sushma Swaraj.

The first Congress-led UPA government under then prime minister Manmohan Singh had formed the overseas Indian affairs ministry headed by Kerala leader Vayalar Ravi.

A recent study on the Kerala diaspora said 90 percent of Kerala’s 23.63 lakh diaspora were in various Middle East countries, of which the UAE accounted for 38.7 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia with 25.2 percent.(IANS)