Netaji Wasn’t a Friend of Hindutva, But its Adversary

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been infatuated with India’s anti-colonial nationalist leadership; not necessarily out of love and respect for the values that they stood for, such as anti-imperialism, a commitment to democracy and secularism. Their infatuation stems from a thirst for co-option as they barely have icons within Hindutva’s ideological past who participated in the national freedom struggle. Their icons do not match the contributions of the Indian National Congress (INC) leadership, including M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Azad, Badshah Khan, etc. Then, the selective co-option is designed to drum up their empty credentials by putting leaders who stood together against the colonial powers against one another in the most insulting manner.

After Patel, Hindutva’s latest catch is Netaji Bose. Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared that Netaji’s birthday would be celebrated as Parakram Diwas. An act that appears harmless on the surface becomes problematic when one looks at how it gets organised and bandied about in public by the government, wider Hindutva apparatus and worst of all, the PM himself.

During the West Bengal elections, the RSS-BJP tried its best to milk Netaji’s legacy by including one of his many surviving kins into the BJP and displaying some obscure and

— source | Shubham Sharma | 23 Jan 2022

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Hijacking WhatsApp to Drive BJP Propaganda

Technology developed and deployed by political operatives working to further the interests of India’s ruling party appears to have given them the ability to add script to the URLs of published news stories at mainstream platforms in order to redirect unsuspecting readers to fake news and also hack into and take over WhatsApp accounts, potentially exposing millions of Indians to the risk of identity theft.

Since the aim of the exercise is to use inactive hacked accounts to seed disinformation and fake news, vulnerable WhatsApp users also face potential legal liability in the event that criminal cases are filed relating to objectionable content simulated as emanating from their phone numbers.

Last week, The Wire published the first part of its 20-month-long investigation into the secret ‘Tek Fog’ app being used by cyber operatives to manipulate social media trends in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and target critics of the Narendra Modi government.

— source | Ayushman Kaul, Devesh Kumar | 10 Jan 2022

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Panimara’s foot soldiers of freedom – 1

“Take back all these petitions and tear them up,” said Chamaru. “They are not valid. This court will not entertain them.”

He was really beginning to enjoy being a magistrate.

It was August 1942 and the country was in ferment. The court in Sambalpur certainly was. Chamaru Parida and his comrades had just captured it. Chamaru had declared himself the judge. Jitendra Pradhan was his “orderly.” Purnachandra Pradhan had opted to be a peshkar or court clerk.

The capture of the court was part of their contribution to the Quit India movement.

“These petitions are addressed to the Raj,” Chamaru told the astonished gathering in the court. “We live in free India. If you want these cases considered, take them back. Re-do your petitions. Address them to Mahatma Gandhi and we’ll give them due attention.”

Sixty years later, almost to the day, Chamaru still tells the story with delight. He is now 91 years old. Jitendra, 81, is seated beside him. Purnachandra, though, is no more. They still live in Panimara village in Odisha’s Bargarh district. At the height of the freedom struggle, this village sent a surprising number of its sons and daughters to

— source | P. Sainath | Jul 22, 2014

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On Frontier Gandhi’s Death Anniversary

Landing in New Delhi in time for Gandhi’s birth anniversary in October 1969, Badshah Khan returned to Kabul four months later, shortly after the anniversary of Gandhi’s death. In India Badshah Khan was an unusual state guest who carried his bundle of belongings and washed his clothes himself. Affectionate in every personal relationship, he was blunt in every public utterance and also in some private conversations.

Stirred by a reminder of less petty times, many Indians asked Badshah Khan to make India his home. Shaken by the reality of Indian public life in 1969, Badshah Khan asked to be excused. On 7 October he said, ‘Even if I live in India for a hundred years, it will have no impact. No one cares here for the country or the people.’

Disappointed that India was importing food and taking aid even from Japan, he said: ‘You talk a lot but don’t know how to work. It seems as if you think that to clap, give or

— source | Rajmohan Gandhi | 20 Jan 2022

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Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Freedom Fighter, Gandhian, Pacifist, Muslim and Pakhtun

January is an important month for Indians. Apart from the English new year, 26 January marks the day when the Constitution was adopted, and 30 January marks the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a Hindutva fanatic. Very few remember that 20 January marks the death anniversary of another Gandhian giant whose politics rose above communalism and was singularly focussed against British imperialism’s purloining of India. He was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a.k.a. Bacha Khan and the Frontier Gandhi. He was named Badshah Khan at twenty-six by the members of his tribe when his father died.

Khan was born on 6 February 1890, two and a half months after Jawaharlal Nehru, in the village of Utmanzai, what is now a small town near Peshawar in today’s Pakistan, then British India. His father was Behram Khan, the leader of the Muhammadzai tribe who owned prosperous agricultural lands and took pride in speaking the purest accent of Pashto, allowing the tribe to remember traditions bequeathed upon them by their rich history.

Badshah Khan, too represented the best among the Pathans. As a young boy, he left his high school final exams, aspiring to join ‘The Guides’, a corps composed of Sikhs and

— source | Shubham Sharma | 20 Jan 2022

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Why Tamil Nadu’s old wind turbines are still awaiting replacement

While India has made significant progress in renewable energy capacity building, wind power has been largely neglected. The country must set short-term milestones to accelerate wind development in response to the climate emergency.

The state of Tamil Nadu has the highest installed wind capacity in India. It is home to 25 per cent of the nation’s wind power capacity.

Source: MNRE

Tamil Nadu has the oldest wind turbines, which date back to the 1990s. Due to their smaller hub heights (25-30 metres) and low capacities (<500 kilowatts), early machines are underutilised.

— source | Jasleen Bhatti | 12 Jan 2022

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The IIT Kharagpur Calendar Is the Right’s Attempt To Appropriate the Indus Valley Civilisation

Recently, a calendar circulated by the Indian Knowledge Systems centre at IIT Kharagpur generated controversy. It presented an incoherent pastiche of imagery and symbols, various claims about the feats of ancient Hindus and, most of all, declared the centre’s purpose to be not study as much as to right a wrong: the idea, now well-established, that India’s Vedic culture isn’t indigenous.

This is not an isolated event but part of a larger narrative about our origins that some are trying to establish contrary to all historical, linguistic and genetic evidence.

Where did we come from? This is a question people everywhere have asked themselves at one time or another. Attempts to answer it have helped us understand how humans evolved from primates and spread to every continent in the world – and how people of various countries and cultures came about.

In some cases, this is well documented. In the ‘new world’, mainly the Americas and Australasia, the invasion of Europeans led to the marginalisation and, often, extinction of the native culture. In western Europe, the Roman empire impacted almost every region linguistically and culturally. And yet ancient cultures and their products survive around the

— source | Rahul Siddharthan | 29/Dec/2021

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Ill-Treatment of Stan Swamy in Jail

A pretrial detainee at the Taloja central prison in the outskirts of Mumbai, who spent close to a year with 84-year-old Jharkhand-based tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, says the Jesuit priest struggled for a long time before he finally died in July last year.

The prisoner, Iklakh Rahim Shaikh, arrested in March 2019, has written a 14-page scathing letter accusing the prison administration of ignoring Swamy’s deteriorating health conditions and denying him treatment even when he was rapidly slipping.

The letter, sent to The Wire through a co-prisoner also at Taloja jail, gives a vivid account of the hardship that prisoners are made to suffer. Shaikh’s name is mentioned with his consent, as he wants “the world to know what he and many like him have been subjected to inside jail”.

Shaikh writes that when Swamy was first brought to jail in October 2019, he was stable although elderly. “He eventually, however, developed heart and spinal complications soon

— source | Sukanya Shantha | 06/Jan/2022

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How Indian Mothers have been Deprived of Rs. 84,000 Crores

The Union government has denied millions of Indian women their legal right to maternity benefits worth Rs. 84,000 crores over the last seven years. In 2013, the National Food Security Act made a provision for maternity benefits to women. According to section 4 of this law, every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to nutritious food and maternity benefits of at least Rs. 6,000, to be provided in instalments prescribed by the central government.

This legal commitment required an additional budgetary allocation. Presuming a population of 132 crores, a birth rate of 20 per thousand, and 90% coverage, the estimated annual budget for this scheme would be Rs. 14,000 crores, which is less than 0.05% of the GDP, and with disproportionately high benefits of protecting the health and nutrition of mothers and children.

Considering this, the government should have operationalised this legal commitment long ago. Even if the government started the scheme in financial year 2015-16, by now, the full benefits ought to have been rolled out. Therefore, during the seven financial years from 2015-16 to 2021-22, Rs. 98,000 crores would have been provided.

However, the actual expenditure on this legal obligation reveals that what was required for one year (Rs. 14,000 crores) has been spent over the last seven years, if not less. In

— source | Bharat Dogra | 11 Jan 2022

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Should electoral ID data be linked to Aadhaar?

The issue of linking India’s voters’ list with the Aadhaar database is in news again with the surreptitious passage of The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Parliament recently. The fact that it was passed hurriedly with hardly any discussion is enough to raise suspicion. But there is more to it, and part of that is contained in the history of this idea.

That history began March 3, 2015: The Election Commission of India (ECI) launched “a comprehensive programme” — the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) — “with the prime objective of bringing a totally error-free and authenticated electoral roll”.

One of the stated objectives of the NERPAP was linking EPIC (Electoral Photo Identity Card) data with the Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) Aadhaar data with the laudable objective of authenticating the EPIC data.

The ECI took up this programme with a lot of enthusiasm. By August 2015, when the Supreme Court ordered a ban on this linking, 320 million voters had already been linked to their

— source | Jagdeep S Chhokar | 15 Jan 2022

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