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V K Singh’s puppy analogy: What’s wrong with our leaders?

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VK Singh
MoS External affairs General VK Singh
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By Sapan Kapoor

The crude and unacceptable remarks of former Indian army chief and Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh on the brutal murder of two Dalit children who were burnt alive have left many a people speechless and shocked.

When asked to give his reaction on the ghastly incident in Haryana’s Faridabad wherein two Dalit children were burnt alive allegedly by members of an upper caste community, Singh said,

“When someone throws stones at a dog, the government cannot be blamed.”

Singh, however, later slammed the media for ‘misquoting’ him again. Here’s a look at some of the reactions on his remarks.

Alas, ever since this government has come to power, such off-the-cuff, controversial statements by leading ministers and politicians seem to have become the norm. It’s a new ‘normal’ for the Indian society.

Be it Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s ‘Haramzada’ remark in Delhi against Muslim community, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma calling Dadri lynching incident a mere ‘accident’, Giriraj Singh asking all detractors of PM Modi to be shifted to Pakistan, the political discourse in India sees a new low every day.

And then people wonder why PM Modi does not crack the whip and pull up his party’s bad boys. In my view, he is simply not in a position to do it considering his own questionable past record in this regard.

In 2013, during his whirlwind election campaign, when PM Modi was asked by Reuters in an interview if he felt any regret for what happened in 2002, he replied by saying,

“Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.”

I am in no way implying that both PM Modi and V K Singh deliberately drew puppy analogy to insult Muslims and Dalits. They have indeed clarified that despite all the evidence on the record they were misquoted by media which seemed to be pursuing an agenda against them.

It might as well be true. After all the journalists like me are also human beings and can commit mistakes. I, however, fail to understand what is it that compels the BJP leaders to make such offensive remarks time and again. After Niranjan Jyoti’s offensive statement against Muslims, PM Modi sought to defend her in the Parliament saying that she should be forgiven considering her rural background.

People ought to be judged through their words and actions, for we are what we do, say or write. Therefore, a hatemonger cannot claim to be a saint or called a sadhvi, if his/her only job is to hurt people through their words, no matter what cloak they adorn to hide the evil inside them.

Therefore, if our honorable leaders do not wish be misquoted by the journalists like me, instead of running their mouths they had better keep their mouths shut as a precautionary measure.

Dear V K Singh, please avoid using words like ‘kutta’ while talking on the sensitive issues like burning alive of two Dalit children, if you do not wish to be ‘misunderstood’. For that is not only simply being politically incorrect, but being inhuman. The minister should know better.

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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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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
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)