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BY SAEED NAQVI
After the Maharashtra, Haryana elections, when I reverted to friends and acquaintances, my personal pool for an opinion survey, a majority heaved a sigh of relief. This was at variance from the response of this very group during the 2019 Lok Sabha election. There was an unnerving consensus for Narendra Modi. Why? I had asked then. “Well, the Hindu sentiment” said a very friendly member of my welfare association.
Now that the BJP is diminished, why this sigh of relief? Mixing up “pride” in Hinduism with demonstrable “arrogance” of Hindutva power may be the cardinal mistake the Modi-Amit Shah duet have made.
Ultranationalism will give a platform an initial boost to take-off but ultranationalism cannot be sustained over long distances. Boosters en route to stoke nationalist temperature will begin to look like the handiwork of tricksters. One surgical strike on Pakistani terror camps will work wonders in one set of elections. But repeat it on the eve of another election and folks will screw up their noses: “again?” There is, in other words, a decline in credibility as frequency of requirement for nationalism “boosters” increases. In fact, even Article 370 turned out to be a dud cartridge in this electoral round.
The Congress will be justified in taking heart from the results, but it will have to accept many qualifications. Its relatively decent performance in both the states is despite the Gandhi family. That is a problem Congressmen do not like to talk about: how do they discard a dynasty?
Remember how Haryana strongman Bhupinder Singh Hooda inaugurated the Haryana campaign while the party high command, Hamlet like, was sunk in thought. On this electoral showing, Hooda is looking a much taller Congressman than, say, Ahmad Patel, Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, etcetera.
In Maharashtra, the Congress is having to digest a principle it refused to accept during the Lok Sabha elections. It refused to be a junior partner to Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, to Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, or Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Instead of joining them, on whatever terms available, to fight the Bharatiya Janata Paty (BJP), it turned upon them, hoping to come up trumps. I heard the BJP sing in chorus: “With such enemies, who needs friends.” The Congress was clobbered in the three states.
I wonder what the “janeudhari” Brahmin, Rahul Gandhi is upto these days other than temple hopping? (Or, has he given up the practice). Two cameos come to mind. There was Rahul, flanked by Ashok Gehlot and Randeep Surjewala, addressing a post campaign press conference on the fifth floor of Ahmedabad’s Radisson Blu hotel. Someone asked where was the most senior Gujarati Congressman, Ahmad Patel? He had been advised not to appear at the press conference. His presence might give BJP the ammunition to polarize the vote.
The Supreme Court judgment on Sabarimala lifted the ban on women of childbearing age to enter the shrine. The RSS smacked its lips. Here was an issue of “aastha”, faith. The cadres would whip up an almighty frenzy if an abiding tradition was breached by the Supreme Court. Congress, which had initially supported the judiciary, found the Hindu card alluring. So, helped by nimble-footed leaders like Shashi Tharoor, the Congress recalibrated its stand until it was indistinguishable from the RSS position. The CPI(M) Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stood his ground, mobilized the Ezhavas and so badly undercut the RSS’s very own Nair Service Society, that he became unbeatable in two elections where the Nairs were once powerful.
What should the Congress do other than give up? It can call an All India Congress session and hold elections to elect its various bodies, including the Congress Working Committee. It does not adopt this obvious route because the spectre of the Tirupati session in 1993 haunts it. P.V. Narasimha Rao heard those results in glum silence. His arch rival Arjun Singh had polled the largest number of votes, followed by Rajesh Pilot, Sharad Pawar, a slate bereft of Brahmins except for the Prime Minister’s Secretary, Jitendra Prasada. The results were promptly annulled.
There are plenty of wise men in the Congress who, alas, have brought the party to this sorry pass. Some ideas can be tossed up: hold party elections followed by a conclave to chart out a new, realistic course for the party. It must give up its dream of “reviving” to the glory it began to lose as early as 1967, when eight states had non Congress governments. Now, by its own ineptitude, its mimicking of the Hindu platform, it has caused the BJP’s dramatic ascent, indeed, dominance. Its first task should be to strengthen regional forces — exactly as it has done with Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra. Its perspective should be a larger federation of regional parties. It will be federalism that will check the phenomenal rise of the BJP. That is the only way to whittle down the idea of a unitary system.
A contributory fact for exposing the BJP’s vulnerability has been rural distress, unemployment, nervousness on collapsing banking system, all functions of neo liberal economic policies mingled with a swadeshi urge — neither here nor there. The Congress must consult progressive economists to give shape to a left of centre platform, without which distributive justice is not possible in a country which is now globally accepted as 102 in the Global Hunger Index.
Have these results been accepted by the opposition without grumbling about the ruling party’s capacity to manipulate EVMs? Not really, because at least 850 EVM-related complaints have been registered with the state election commission. But there is no evidence of a combined opposition movement to abandon EVMs in favour of paper ballots.
Has the Hindutva brigade’s trot towards its transformational agenda of a Hindu Rashtra by 2025, centenary of the RSS, been retarded by these results? There is Kashmir and Ram Temple yet to be played, but how and when? Election results demand one course, Hindu Rashtra another. (IANS)
Super model and actress Hailey Bieber said she is lucky to have a husband like Justin Bieber, refuting rumours of the ace singer not treating her properly. Hailey was speaking at singer Demi Lovato's podcast '4D With Demi Lovato', dailymail.co.uk reported.
Talking about her popstar husband and rumours around their marriage, Hailey said: "I think one of the biggest things is you have to know what the truth is behind everything. You know, there's so many narratives that float around about me, about him, about us together." She addressed the rumours point blank as she said: "There's one big fat narrative that goes around that's like, 'Justin is not nice to her, and that he mistreats her', and I'm just like, it's so far from the truth, and it's the complete and utter opposite."
Hailey went on to set the record straight about Justin, who she married in 2018. She said: "I really am lucky to say I'm with someone who is extremely respectful of me, who makes me feel special every single day. So when I see the opposite of that, I'm just like, 'Huh?' And everybody around who knows us personally would say the same thing." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Hailey Bieber, Justin Bieber, husband, respectful, truth, married
Among the Tamil epics written during the Sangam age, only a few survived to this day. Manimegalai is one such. It is written as a sequel to the Sillapadikaram, taking the story forward of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter, Manimegalai. The Sillapadikaram is about the injustice of the Madurai kingdom in the execution of Kovalan, which turned Kannagi, his wife into a goddess seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Kovalan, before his death, has an affair with a court dancer, Madhavi, and his daughter, Manimegalai, is said to begin a different tradition among the Tamils.
The epic, written by Sattanar, introduces Buddhism to Dravidian culture, something that has been alien to them for years. Manimegalai is the protagonist, who flees constantly from the pursuit of Chola prince Udhayakumara, and tries to lead an ascetic life. Throughout the plot, Buddhist tenets are used to avoid the culmination of a love-story. Manimegalai is believed to be the anti-love story sequel to the Sillapadikaram.
A complete work of Tamil epic written by hand on leaves Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sillapadikaram was written by a Jain monk, Illango Adigal, and Sattanar, uses the sequel to question Jainism. It is almost a political battle between two new religions competing for a place in a predominantly Hindu society. Parts of Manimegalai even go to the extent of opening ridiculing Jain practices and beliefs.
Critics of Tamil literature have stated that while the Tamil epics have great poetic significance, they are inferior to other world epics when it comes to clearly portraying religious affiliations. In fact, they refer to the newer religions with an infant's perspective. Some scholars have found that Sillapadikaram has more ethical substance than its sequel, but in and of itself, despite being written by a Jain monk, reads like Hindu poetry (Subhramanya Aiyar, 1906).
Keywords: Manimegalai, Sillapadikaram, Tamil Epic, Sattanar, Ilango Adigal, Chola kingdom, Sangam Age, Buddhism
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. In its Ecoscope report, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: "With Covid-19 hurting India's 'Household' (HH) and 'Government' sectors adversely, the continuity of strong consumption growth is in question."
"On the contrary, with listed companies' financial positions improving and an uptick in household investments in the Real Estate sector (called physical savings), the narrative of investment-led recovery is gaining momentum." The report prescribed that various economic participants - households, governments, listed companies, and unlisted corporates -- to increase their fixed asset investments in the immediate future based on their financial position.
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. | Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
At present, the listed and unlisted corporate sector accounts for only about half of total investments in India. The 'HH' sector including unincorporated enterprises accounts for 35-40 per cent in India's investments, while the remaining 12-13 per cent is contributed by centre and states governments. Besides, the report cited that demand environment is expected to remain subdued due to weak financial position of 'HH' and government sector.
"Despite household investments picking up strongly in 2HFY21, given that Indian households bore the maximum brunt of Covid-led losses in CY20 (and CY21), we believe household spending would remain subdued over the next few years." It further pointed out that unless 'HH', 'Unlisted Corporate', and government sectors can improve their financial positions -- leading to a demand uptick -- a strong revival in investments seems challenging. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, covid, pandemic, growth, household, government, investment