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Swachh Bharat: With a month to go, nation awaits feedback on August 15

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N R S Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata Photo Courtesy: Madanmohan Samanta
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By Neeraj Bajpai (IANS)

Barely 30 days ahead of his second address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort, from where he had implored people for ‘Swachh Bharat’ with clean toilets in every school in a year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said toilets in all schools would be provided in a few months. PM Modi, in a recent interview to United News of India (UNI) , said the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission has been started to see that health and hygiene issues of the poor do not affect their working capacity and output. “We took up the task of providing toilets in all schools. It is going to be completed in next few months.Don’t children of the poor study in these public schools?,” averred Modi.  He was replying to a specific question that his detractors allege that the Modi is pro-corporate, anti-farmer and anti-poor government.

Besides ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission, he enlisted many other programmes launched for the common man.
The Prime Minister retorted, “these are just a few examples. What prevented these things from being done effectively during the last 60 years?” In every household, kids are taking lead reminding their elders that cleanliness should begin from the home, ”Your question also points at the same thing , I do strongly believe that if every citizen decides to to be partner of the Swachh Bharat mission that  leanliness would automatically be there in the entire society. He said that if every citizen be concerned of it, then cleanliness would prevail everywhere.”

The ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign ever since it was launched by the Prime Minister on Rajpath on October 2,2014 has engineered public response and even at places ,where social groups who had nothing to do with city’s hygiene got involved and many groups are now frequently seen in public parks clearing the debris. The Mission was launched with the objective of ensuring cleanliness and open defecation free urban areas in all 4,041 statutory cities by 2019. Estimated cost is Rs. 66,009 crore out of which the Centre’s share is Rs.14,643 crores.

Official sources said physical targets include 1.04 crore household toilets ,2.52 lakh community toilets seats and 2.54 lakh public toilet seats and assisting 30 crore urban population with solid waste management practices. During 2014-15, about Rs 800 crore has been released to 28 states/ UTs.Over two lakh household toilets have been built besides 12,000 community toilets during the year.

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Government sources said 390 cities have reported 100 per cent collection and transportation of municipal solid waste. Standard operating procedures (SPO) were also issued by the government to ensure cleanliness during and after public gatherings and meetings. When UNI correspondents interacted with people across the country, most of them quipped ,” Bhai sahib, Modi ji ne Lal Quila par bola tha swachhta ke bare mein,hum to ab unke feed back ka intarzar karte hein on the Independence day “ (Modi had spoken about the cleanliness now, we await his feedback on August 15). Tone and tenor of people across the country was same, but they all admitted the buzz on the cleanliness front.
Now less than 30 days are left for Modi to address the nation from Red Fort from where he had appealed to finish task of providing toilets in all schools within a year. He had said that he wanted that all schools in the country should have toilets with separate ones for girls.“This target should be finished within one year with the help of state governments and on the next August 15,we should be in firm position to announce that there is not a school in India without separate toilets for boys and girls”.

Narendra-Modi
The SBM, in tandem with large number of government agencies, is bracing to ensure toilets in every school in next few months besides gearing up for to ensure cleanliness during the coming world famous Kumbh Mela in Nashik on banks of river Goadavari from July 14 to September 25.  Modi, in his latest meeting to review the programme,has directed authorities that spiritual leaders should be associated with cleanliness efforts during major congregational events like Kumbh Mela and Jagannath Yatra. Next year, the Kumbh will be held on banks river Shipra in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.  Ever since  Modi’s directives, authorities are working towards ensuring maximum “swachhata”,cleanliness in Nashik during the Mela where a vast multitude of humanity is expected to turn up for auspicious bathing. Many say that it will be real acid test of the mission and  Modi has already advised to ensure maximum cleanliness by involving spiritual gurus to transform change people’s attitude towards hygiene .

The Kumbh Mela will not be an isolated case, but similar initiatives were on the cards during the major religious event of Jagananth yatra in Puri Dham in Odisha.

Kumbh Mela is being celebrated at Trimbakeshwar in Nashik in Maharashtra. Trimbakeshwar is a holy town of Nasik as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, Triyambakeshwar Jyotirlinga temple is situated there. Kumbh Mela in Nasik is celebrated once in every twelve years. The ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission has created a buzz , which may pave the way for its entry in English dictionaries which have over years co-opted words like bungalow, loot, bandh and toofan. The word Swachh is now frequently used as such and it has caught international attention and at times, its translation is not required.

Surprisingly, Swachh means hygienic in general perception , but in some camps, the word is “unhygienic” due to its political connotations. They aver it is only public stunt and nothing is happening on the ground,and going a step further these critics lace their perception by pointing towards urine-soaked walls even in the Lutyens zone in the national capital, “ what to speak of the country’s mofussil interiors?”.  Billboards, posters, stickers sprung up across the country and institutions both private and public got involved in the drive, but only personal involvement of masses can ensure cleanliness , feel bureaucrats in power corridors, adding the government can only be a facilitator for such movements.

According to Modi, various channels took up a campaign to tell the nation that the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign is an opportunity to realise the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and a true tribute to pay the father of the nation on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.

Even as special drives are underway to carry forward the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission, Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently said that the mission was not only for cleanliness but basically about eradicating social evils like untouchability. The campaign will be self -defeating unless the government bodies provide adequate number of toilets at public places, a senior journalist ,working with a language wire agency, Jai Parkash Awasthi said. He sarcastically commented that even in the country’s most posh Lutyen’s zone ,drivers and people coming to the INS ( Indian Newspaper Society) complex and wait for hours there, grope for bushes to pee. “ Go and visit public toilets at bus stands, you will instantly contract urinary tract infection and unless the situation is not addressed, such mission fail to cut ice.”
Many others hold authorities responsible for the half-hearted approach. They say even in New Delhi station,platform one is kept spic and span but “what about other platforms?”.

Come what may, the word “Swachh” is making ripples , people say at public places, pointing towards lime streaks and stickers on walls and dustbins and but the same people also raise fingers at people still defecating in open and urine soaked walls at market places. Jingles on airwaves drum up support for the campaign and celebrities are flagging the cleanliness issue at public platforms.

Ever since ,the mission gained momentum, a number of incidents took place and the Priyanka Bharti case of Maharajganj hit headlines, triggering debates. The 19-year-old bride had reportedly walked out of her husband’s house in protest against lack of toilet facilities. She was quoted as saying that “I would not eat or drink water through the day only so that I could avoid having to go out into the fields to relive myself. At night ,the fields can be dangerous. It began to affect my health which is when I protested.”

Society exerted pressure on Priyanka to return to the martial house, but she did not give in. Then a social institution involved in the public toilet work chipped in and facilitated to build a toilet in her house.Now, she is travelling extensively to campaign for toilets in houses and increasing sanitation.

Priyanka is not alone in the crusade. A 32-year-old man got printed his wedding card last month with a message for the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission in Ballari taluk of Karnataka . The card spread a message for encouraging people to construct a toilet compulsorily in their house to lead a healthy life. In a rare initiative, the UP government has approved a proposal of incinerators for disposal of sanitary napkins in 300 government inter college for girls. Sources said it will form part of the ambitious toilet block project coming up at cost of multi million rupees in the colleges in 73 districts. Modi reviewed the progress of the mission recently with officers of the ministries of the Urban development, drinking water supply and sanitation, NITI Aaayog and PMO. The PM sought latest feedback on toilets construction in all states. After comprehensively reviewing the situation, he directed concerned officers to specially coordinate with States which are lagging in toilet construction.  He asked the ‘Namami Gange’ programme authorities that construction of toilets in habitations on the banks of the River Ganga should receive the highest priority.  Modi said motivational incentives such as awards should also be instituted through official channels. In rural areas, the Prime Minister suggested quiz competitions among students to promote awareness. The Prime Minister also called for leveraging the huge interest that ‘Swachh Bharat’ has generated among the Indian diasporas.

 

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Why I Refuse to be ‘MODI’fied?

Hindu Right goons have accosted couples on Valentine's Day and beaten them up claiming the festival was a degenerate adoption from the West

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This article is about "Why I refuse to be 'MODI'fied?"

By Tania Bhattacharya

Tania
Ms Tania Bhattacharya

Narendra Modi does not represent classical Hinduism. But few Hindus are open to realizing this. Here is an inventory of points, to expand on my premise. Indeed, if Hindus are to emulate the policies of the Hindu Right Wing, we will move closer to
the Abrahamic ideology.

Modi is ethnocentric (meaning Indocentric), a vegetarian extremist promoting teetotalism, anti-LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgender), can’t distinguish between traditional western culture and neoliberal westernization, has colluded in the mass murder of innocent Gujarati Muslims (not Islamic terrorists, mind you) and openly courts the bourgeoisie, while promoting complete privatization. To complete the picture, Modi, the RSS and the rest of the Hindu right wing, covertly encourage casteism and linguistic jingoism.

But in conjunction with denouncing Modi, the half-informed Marxists and the pseudo-
liberal bogey, also decry Hinduism. As if Modi’s views, are Hinduism’s faults! This is why a re-assessment of historical Hinduism is the need of the hour, so that the image of Hinduism – South Asia’s classical identity – may be rescued.

1) For the past 2000 years, Hindus have accommodated: Armenians, Zoroastrians,
Greeks, Jews, Black Africans called Siddis, Chinese and Tibetans on their soil, not
once asking any of these communities to renege on their religions. Persecuting any
of India’s religious minorities, goes against the grain of Hindu religious thought. Sure,
there have been frictions between Hinduism and the Indic religion of Buddhism at
intermittent periods of India’s bygone history, but this friction cannot be possibly
compared to the scale and ferocity of monotheism’s religious crusades.

Representational image.
Representational image.

Hinduism allows its adherents to remain atheistic. It has evolved the ‘Charvaka’ and
‘Sankhya’ schools of philosophy, which reject divinity and concentrate on atheistic materialism.

Even though Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the best-known proselytizing faiths;
Buddhism is not innocent of proselytization, either. Few Hindus want to admit, that in
endowing East Asia with Buddhism, which carried over Hindu ideas and cultural
nuances to that part of the world; Buddhism quietly subordinated and decimated the
indigenous, ethnic religions of East Asia, such as: Muism, Bonism, Tengrism,
Shenism and Satsana Phi. Only Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous, polytheistic identity,
could hold on stubbornly.

Hinduism’s all-encompassing outlook at other faiths, stands in opposition to the
dogmatic and insular approach of the Hindu Right towards India’s religious
minorities, which include Muslims and Christians.

2) Never has Hinduism – or for that matter any other polytheistic, indigenous religion
– discriminated against the LGBT. India’s anti-LGBT laws were promulgated in mid-
19th century, Christian England and were imported into India, via the British. It is
disturbing, how Hindus like Modi and his clique, have embraced the monotheistic
prejudice against the LGBT, while at the same time, projecting themselves as the
defenders of Hinduism.

The Indian epic Mahabharat, contains two characters named Shikhandi, and Aravan.
Both Shikhandi and Aravan, are transgenders. There is a temple dedicated to
Aravan named the Koothandavar Temple. It is located inside the Indian state of
Tamil Nadu. Every year, an 18-day festival to commemorate the transgender status
of Aravan, is organized there. Pagan philosophy of which Hinduism is a branch, has
had a long tradition of recognizing alternative sexuality in the form of the LGBT.

When the Hindu Right beginning with the RSS, denounces intimacy between
members of the LGBT community as being unnatural and offensive, we become a
mirror image of the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,
which condemn the LGBT community as being sinful.

Representational image.
Representational image.

3)Hindu Right goons have accosted couples on Valentine’s Day and beaten them up
claiming the festival was a degenerate adoption from the West. They are ignorant of
the fact, that Valentine’s Day has its roots, in the ancient, pagan Roman celebration
of ‘Lupercalia’, which was a commemoration of love and fertility, that was held
between the 13th and the 15th of February. Christianity, merely plagiarized the
festivals of the pre-Christian people.

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day
While original Abrahamic philosophy (and not its modern, watered down version)
looks askance at the intermingling of unmarried boys and girls, Classical Paganism
takes the opposing view. In the Polytheistic Greco-Roman observance, three days,
the 13, the 14 th , and the 15 th of February, were set aside for celebrating love, fertility,
and the socializing of the sexes, which involved paying obeisance to the Roman
wolf-goddess Lupa, who was said to have suckled Remus and Romulus, the twin
brothers who had founded Rome.

The Indian treatise Kamasutra deals with sexuality and so does the temple art of
Khajuraho. Thus, by shunning Hinduism’s long tradition of recognizing and feting
human sexuality, and by victimizing couples on Valentine’s Day, the Hindu Right has
amply displayed its slide towards Abrahamic segregation of the sexes.

4)Indocentrism is as faulty as Eurocentrism and Afrocentrism. Indocentric Hindus
are in effect, reacting to European racism, with counter-racism. 19th century
European ethnologists had forwarded ideas which proposed that non-European
people are inferior to Europeans. In the 20th century, such racist ideas were
overturned with the discovery of ancient civilizations all over the world, which pointed
at sophisticated ways of thinking, outside of the European orbit. India’s ‘Indus Valley
Civilization’ and the Native Americans’ ‘Tenochtitlan’, were just two of the ancient
non-European seats of civilization, that were unearthed. Since then, history has been
revised several times, with non-European cultures and their achievements hogging
most of the spotlight. However, the memory of European colonialism, has also had a
neurotic, and narcissistic effect on the majority of Hindus. Such Hindus have
elbowed aside all the fine classical achievements of Europe and other non-Hindu,
Polytheistic, Classical civilizations and have projected Hinduism as the creative
source of all other forms of Polytheism. It would have been hilarious, if it wasn’t so
demeaning and offensive. Does it ever occur to Indocentric Hindus, how disrespectful this is, to our polytheistic sisters and brothers in other parts of the world? European, Middle Eastern, Sub-Saharan African and West Asian polytheism, are being revived at present. How do the Indocentric Hindus reckon, our pagan fellow travellers will treat our affront to their dignity?

The ‘Indian Origin Of The Aryans’, is the pet theory of Indocentric Hindus. They put
their faith in the idea, that the Aryans originated out of India. There are serious
problems with this theory. The region which produces a race, will exhibit the
maximum diversity present in that race. If India was indeed the birthplace of the
Caucasian race, then all varieties of Caucasians would have been represented in the
population of India. But is that the case? Certainly not! Scholars have already
located the birthplace of the Caucasian race. It is the steppes of the Ukraine-Russian
flatlands. About two decades back, the Indian media had reported the finds of a
submerged metropolis off the coast of Gujarat, that was touted as being ‘Dwarka’,
the city associated with Lord Krishna. There is a thesis doing the rounds, which
supposes, that the Indus Valley Civilization, was in reality the ‘Saraswati Civilization’
of the Vedas. But both these theories have a serious flaw. Adherents of these two
theories, hold, that the North Indian Caucasians and the Dravidians of Southern
India, are essentially of the same genetic stock. Such purloining of genetic and
anthropological data, at the hands of Hindus, of all people, is unbecoming. It has
been well established through mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) testing, that North
Indians share 3/4ths of their genes with Afghans, West Asians, and Europeans,
especially the people of the Mediterranean. North Indians also bear Greek and
German blood, as in the days of yore, many pagan Greeks, following Alexander’s
invasion of India; and a good number of pagan Huns, had formed colonies in north
India, married north Indian women and settled down to build families. mtDNA
analysis has similarly established, that South Indians (and Sri Lankans), share their
genes with Australian Aborigines. Australian Aborigines, the Dravidians and the
Sinhalese, are offshoots of East Africans; in other words, the Somalis and the
Ethiopians, who branched off to constitute the fourth race, known as the Australoid
Race. How then, can North Indians and South Indians, be a part of the same race?
Indocentric Indians are so hard pressed to prove to the world that Hinduism is over
and above all the other polytheistic faiths, that if the Mongoloid people in India’s
north-east had been Hindus by majority, Indocentric Hindus would have made the
ludicrous claim, that the north-east Hindus also share the same race as that of other
Indians.

Representational image.
Representational image.

A scholarly article establishes the genetic distinctiveness of the Indo-Aryan Indians
of the North and the Dravidian Indians of the South, from each-other, by stating :“We
analyze 25 diverse groups to provide strong evidence for two ancient populations,
genetically divergent, that are ancestral to most Indians today. One, the “Ancestral
North Indians” (ANI), is genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and
Europeans, while the other, the “Ancestral South Indians” (ASI), is as distinct from
ANI and East Asians as they are from each other. By introducing methods that can
estimate ancestry without accurate ancestral populations, we show that ANI ancestry
ranges from 39-71% in India, and is higher in traditionally upper caste and Indo-
European speakers. Groups with only ASI ancestry may no longer exist in mainland
India. However, the Andamanese are an ASI-related group without ANI ancestry,
showing that the peopling of the islands must have occurred before ANI-ASI gene
flow on the mainland. Allele frequency differences between groups in India are larger than in Europe, reflecting strong founder effects whose signatures have been
maintained for thousands of years due to endogamy.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842210/

Conclusion: The Aryan people did not originate in India and spill out to other parts of
the globe. Q.E.D. It is proven.

5) Narendra Modi is bourgeoisie friendly, whereas Hinduism repeatedly warns
against the perils of hoarding wealth. The Brahmin priestly class, was meant to live
off the alms of the other castes, in an attempt to prevent any consolidation of power
by them. The Hindutva wadis are in cahoots with the business class and the
industrialists who virtually run this country and its media. Big industries routinely flout
environmental procedures and jeopardize the safety of our water resources. They
exploit our natural wealth, immiserate our workers, fell our forests, in the process
depriving our fauna of their natural habitats and inch our country and the earth,
closer to a man-made cataclysm.

The Niyamgiri mountains of the state of Odisha, is home to the Dongria Kondh tribal
community. Over decades of mining, the Indian mining conglomerate Vedanta, has
reduced the resident tribals to homelessness as the latter would depend on the
mountain for survival. The slopes of the mountain hosted a waterfall, which is today
all but lost, thanks to mining.

Treating Mother Nature casually, is peculiar to the three Abrahamic faiths. They
propound, that Nature is secondary to their Almighty God, since he has created her.
For, how can the creation be higher than its creator? By ignoring environmental
concerns as a result of courting big businesses who exploit our natural wealth, Modi
and the Hindu Right have rendered Mother Nature a second class citizen, much as
the three Monotheistic religions do.

6) It is amazing, that so many Hindus are not even aware, that the oldest Hindu
spiritual text, the ‘Rig Ved’ doesn’t make any mention of a birth based caste system.
Instead it clearly speaks about professional segregation as defining caste. It speaks
of inter-caste marriage and projects the caste system as being an open order, in
which one could travel up and down the caste hierarchy. A passage in the Rig Ved
goes as “I am a trader, my father is a priest and my mother is a reaper of corn”.
Traders are Vaishya; priests are Brahmins and reapers of corn, are Shudra, by
caste. Scholars know, that in Early Vedic Hinduism, the caste system was egalitarian
and easy on the adherents. It was only during the Later Vedic Age, that the caste
system became rigid, closed and birth oriented. This could not have been achieved,
without the shenanigans of the priestly Brahmin caste, who, in order to consolidate
prestige and power, made the caste system a dogmatic affair. What is truly
unfortunate is that, so many modern Hindus protect the birth-based caste system as
something intrinsic to Hinduism. They protect an unde