May 30, 2014


[Move by some regional administrations criticised as sycophancy, but new PM says India has rich history of figures to emulate]

 By Jason Bruke
Narendra Modi pays tribute to freedom fighter Veer Savarkar, seen as the creator
of the nationalistic Hindutva ideology. Photograph: Hindustan Times/Getty Images
Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India, has moved swiftly to knock back a reported proposal by regional governments to include his biography in school textbooks.

Using Twitter, his current preferred means of public communication, the 63-year-old leader said: "Am reading in the news that some states want to include Narendra Modi's life struggles as a part of their school curriculum … I firmly believe that the life story of living individuals should not be included as a part of the school curriculum."
Modi, who came from a humble background in the state of Gujarat to reach the highest executive office in a country of 1.25 billion, added that India has "a rich history of several stalwarts who made India what it is today" and that "young minds should read about these greats and emulate them".
The content of school textbooks is a sensitive subject in India, and highly politicised. Moves to revise curriculums or teaching supports would deepen concerns that the government of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), which won a landslide victory earlier this month, might be influenced by an ideological agenda.
The last BJP government, in power from 1998–2004, prompted controversy with moves to excise what it claimed were errors made by a generation of Marxist scholars from history books used in schools. Books introduced by the BJP were later dropped by the incoming government, led by the centre-left Congress party.

This new proposal, however, does not seem to have been prompted by ideology. "School textbooks already have chapters on biographies of freedom fighters and even prime ministers who have done well. So a biography of Mr Modi in text books will inspire students, as he has had a humble beginning as a tea vendor and now he has become the prime minister," Paras Jain, the school education minister of Madhya Pradesh, told local channel NDTV.
Vinod Mehta, a Delhi-based commentator and political biographer, said the move was "pure sycophancy". "There is a tradition in India going back to the days of Indira and Rajeev Gandhi of extreme praise that would make others blush," Mehta said.
Indira Gandhi took power in 1966 and dominated Indian politics until her death in 1984. Her son Rajiv was prime minister from 1984-89.
In his first week in power, Modi has signalled an active style that contrasts with that of his predecessor, Manmohan Singh. Earlier this week, he was reported to have told newly appointed ministers that he wanted concrete progress in their areas of responsibility within three months, and he outlined 10 objectives, ranging from restoring "confidence in the bureaucracy" to welcoming innovative ideas.

The government has also signalled an interest in women's security, with the prime minister's office demanding a report from local authorities dealing with the gang-rape of two teenagers in a village in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

With a huge majority that frees him from the demands of the coalition politics which has stymied efforts at serious economic reform for several years, Modi can push through controversial measures. Ministers have said they favour increasing the ceiling imposed on foreign direct investment in a variety of economic sectors in India, including retail and defence manufacturing.
Such moves might also once have been opposed by the various organisations that, along with the BJP, comprise the Sangh Parivar, a broad rightwing religious and cultural revivalist movement. Officials from the biggest and most influential organisation within the group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said it had no problems with Modi's commitment to seek greater foreign investment. The RSS has historically believed that India should be economically self-sufficient.
The organisation also said it backed Modi's surprise invitation of Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration as prime minister. Analysts say the RSS is keen to show that it does not influence the decisions of Modi, who is a member of the organisation, or his ministers.

Earlier this week, Modi paid homage at the shrine of Veer Savarkar, a controversial hero of India's independence struggle against Britain who is seen as the founder of theHindtuva ideology of the RSS.

 @ The Guardian

[The victim’s relatives insisted that the U.P. Police were deliberately not making any arrests as the accused were relatives of a politician. “What can you expect from the police of a State where a senior leader calls rape just a ‘mistake’,” said the girl’s uncle.]
By Kritika Sharma
A 22-year-old girl from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, who was allegedly gang-raped and kept in confinement for more than two years, has now knocked on the door of the National Commission for Women in Delhi for justice. She was allegedly abducted in 2011 and repeatedly raped by about a dozen men while she was in confinement, until she managed to run away from the clutches of the kidnappers early this year.
She narrated her ordeal to her uncle after returning home. A case was registered in this regard in February this year at the Manjhola police station in Morabadad and the 12 men, said to be relatives of Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mukad Ali, president of the party’s Western U.P. wing, were named in the FIR. However, four months after the FIR, no arrests have been made.
Six other people have also been named in the FIR for helping the accused.
The victim’s relatives insisted that the U.P. Police were deliberately not making any arrests as the accused were relatives of a politician. “What can you expect from the police of a State where a senior leader calls rape just a ‘mistake’,” said the girl’s uncle.
Narrating her ordeal, the victim told The Hindu: “I was returning home from numaish (local fair) with my father when some men sitting in a car pulled me and my father inside the vehicle. They locked me up in a house nearby and kept my father in another room inside the house. All the men used to take chances to rape me. They kept doing it for two years. I got pregnant and then one of them, whom I later identified as Sahil, took me to a local clinic for an abortion.”
“It was later that I got to know that the house belonged to Sahil and he used to take money from his friends for raping me. He was forcing me into prostitution and had further plans to sell me off. One day I overheard him and that’s when I decided to escape,” the victim said.
“In February this year, one day Sahil left the house door open and I got a chance to contact the neighbours. I told them my ordeal and they helped me and my father run away. We came back to my house and narrated the incident to my uncle, who later approached the police to register a case,” she added.
The relatives of the victim met NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma and she assured them of action. “We met Ms. Sharma and she told us that she has formed a three-member committee to look into the matter. The members will visit the incident spot on Friday to take a status report from the police. We are now hopeful of some action,” said the victim’s uncle.