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Ignoring looming drought in Bihar, politicians fight for ‘pride’ and ‘change’

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Patna,A drought-like situation in Bihar is a serious issue for millions of farmers, but not for the politicians, including the main contenders in the electoral stakes — Janata Dal-United (JDU), Rashtriya Janada Dal (RJD), Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance(NDA).

 

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For them a ‘swabhiman’ (self-respect) and ‘parivartan’ (change) are more important slogans than poor rainfall. That farmers are suffering from a 31 percent deficient monsoons, leading to a drought-like situation in the state, has had no impoact on the political discourse.
Ahead of state assembly polls in October-November, political leaders and their supporters have not shown any sympathy for the plight of the poorest of poor farmers even as the political temperature starts heating up.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the star campaigner of NDA, addressed two public meetings in Muzaffarpur on July 25 and Gaya on August 9 but he did not mention anything on the near-drought situation in Bihar. His main plank was urging people to bring about a change in the state by questioning the “political DNA” of chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Neither BJP president Amit Shah, who launched ‘parivartan raths’ nor the several union ministers, including those from Bihar, who launched parivartan yatra from four places expressed their concerns on the farmers’ woes.
The allies of BJP like Lok Janshakti Party, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party or the Hindustan Awami Morcha have also been silent on the issue.
Nitish Kumar and his new ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad, have raised the decibel on pride of bihar by vehemently objecting to Modi’s remark on DNA of Nitish Kumar as being an “insult to Bihar.”
Nitish Kumar’s JD-U has launched a shabd-wapsi (take back your word) campaign to collect signatures and samples of 50 lakh people in Bihar to send them to Modi for a DNA test as a protest. Lalu has been showing more concern for caste census data to be made public.
In a ritualistic way, the state government has announced an increase in diesel subsidy for farmers directing the energy department to provide six to eight hours of uninterrupted power in rural areas.
A K. Sen, an official with the meteorological department in Patna said the situation in the state was “alarming” due to a deficient rainfall.”At present,overall rainfall deficit in Bihar is 31 percent. But the situation is alarming in 26 of 38 districts of the state where the deficit is more than 50 percent, Sen told IANS.
According to officials records,nearly two-thirds of Bihar’s population of 10.5 crore are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Nearly two-thirds of agricultural activities in the state are dependent on rain.
Poor rainfall till date has affected paddy sowing and plantation, triggering fears of another drought, an official of the state disaster management department, who did not want to be named, said.
Reports received here say that unlike in the past, there is no water for irrigation in the canals. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from the Sone river through canals.
Even the water table in parts of central and south Bihar has gone down to alarming levels due to a poor monsoon.

(IANS)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)