Opinion, Politics

AIMPLB’s recent submission to Supreme Court is nothing more than an eyewash

This article first appeared in Rightlog.in under the same title on May 23, 2017. The link to that article is here (Click to read)

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s (AIMPLB) submission yesterday (Monday, May 23, 2017) to the Supreme Court where it told the Supreme Court (SC) that Muslim men resorting to ‘Triple Talaq’ will face “social boycott” and that Qazis will be asked to advise bridegrooms at the time of marriage to refrain from this practice is, to put it mildly nothing more than an eyewash. By changing the goalpost and refusing to state categorically that it would abolish the abominable practice of Tripe Talaq the AIMPLB has shown that it continues to be caught in a time warp and refuses to take even the basic steps required to ensure gender equality within its own community.

Last Thursday, just before the SC concluded the hearing on the case and reserved its judgement on the validity of the practice of Triple Talaq, the AIMPLB had submitted before the court that it did not want the practice to continue and that it would come up with a draft advisory on the practice. The salient points of this advisory that was presented to the court yesterday are listed below:

  1. Qazis (who are Magistrates or Judges of a Sharia Court, an extra constitutional body under Indian law) and/or the person performing the “nikah” will advise the bride and the groom at the time of the marriage. The advice will be to the effect that the bridegroom/man shall not pronounce Tripe Talaq in one sitting as it is undesirable under Shariat law (bold for emphasis)
  2. Advisory will include a recommendation to cross out the practice of Triple Talaq from the marriage/nuptial contract (nikahnama)
  3. All disputes between husband and wife should be settled through mutual interaction
    Resolution to be issued that will recommend social boycott of those resorting to instant Triple Talaq
  4. This code of conduct has been issued keeping in mind the tenets of Shariat (bold for emphasis)

The apex court is expected to go over this advisory before taking a decision. On a casual perusal of this advisory one would be tempted to think that this is a shift from the earlier rigid position taken by the AIMPLB where it questioned the authority of the court to adjudicate in a matter of “religion and faith” and had requested the court to allow the Muslim community to find a solution to the issue from within.

However, a more careful consideration of the points would show that this is nothing more than eyewash. The court is examining the validity of Triple Talaq. It is not discussing with the Muslim community on the steps to be taken to make Triple Talaq less rigid. By coming up with an advisory that is nothing more than a reiteration of the practice Triple Talaq and by emphasizing the tenets of Shariat the AIMPLB is in effect cocking a snook at the Constitution of the country, the Executive, and the Judiciary.

This shifting of the goal post and attempt at obfuscation was expected given that the AIMPLB is being represented by such luminaries as Kapil Sibal and Ejaz Maqbool.
Most importantly, Tripe Talaq has no place in a modern, supposedly secular and plural India. Further, it goes against Article-14 of the constitution which guarantees “Right to Equality” and states “…equality before the law and equal protection against discrimination within the territory of India…” (bold for emphasis) and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Place of birth, and Sex.

In an earlier article in Rightlog, we had questioned the validity and authority of an extraconstitutional body like the AIMPLB and highlighted how this practice of Triple Talaq has no basis not just in a modern society but also under the Constitution.

The AIMPLB by refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution of India and by continuing to hark back to the Shariat, is playing a dangerous game that threatens to destroy the secular fabric of the country. The Supreme Court and the GOI would be well advised to not fall into the trap of agreeing to this advisory as that would mean an admission of failure and nothing short of a repeat of the Shah Bano episode.

The abolition of Triple Talaq would not only mean “righting” a historic wrong but also be the first step towards the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which is at the very heart of making India truly secular


Urban Naxals: The most dreaded criminals of modern India

This article first appeared in Rightlog.in on May 20, 2017 under the title: “Urban Naxals: The most dreadful criminal of modern India” Link to that article is here (Click to read)

Podiyam Panda a Maoist operative and terrorist recently (May-9) surrendered to the Chhattisgarh police. Panda is alleged to have been involved in the dastardly massacre of 25 CPRF Jawans in April. Soon Panda was singing and leaving the over ground Maoist-sympathizers, supporters, and ideologues red-faced and running for cover.

The singing canary and the urban Naxals:

Panda soon after his surrender started singing like a canary. He specifically took the names of Delhi University (DU) Professor of Sociology Nandini Sundar and Bela Bhatia a former Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS, Delhi) and an Honorary Visiting Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay.

 Panda further alleged that he was the liaison between these and other ideologues and the Maoist leaders holed up in interior villages of Sukma including Ramanna, Hidma, Paparao Aaytu, Arjun and others. While Sundar was quick to dismiss the allegation as having been obtained under duress and coercion she did not deny knowing Panda or ever having interacted with him. She could not have for; only a week earlier she had written a glowing piece on Panda for The Wire. Incidentally Founding Editor of The Wire, Siddharth Varadarajan is Sundar’s spouse.

In November 2016, Nandini Sundar was also named in a murder case along with 10 others in the murder of a tribal in Sukma district. She has been accused of instigating the murder and also of having travelled to the region under a false name, Richa Keshav.

Bela Bhatia the other co-accused has not come out with any statement but has been a long-term activist and overt supporter of the Maoists. She is presently based in the Bastar region for “research” purposes. It is again incidental that her partner is Jean Dreze, Belgian-born Indian citizen and a development economist associated with the Ranchi University and the Delhi School Economics. Jean Dreze is also the same person who was a member of the disastrous National Advisory Council (NAC) of UPA-1 and 2 that functioned as the de facto “Prime Minster” with the de jure PM Manmohan Singh being side-lined by this extra constitutional body that reported to Sonia Gandhi directly.

Coming back to the allegations/accusations made by Panda against Nandini Sundar and Bela Bhatia.

The point really is not about the extent of truth but rather about whether there is any truth at all and if the criterion be that even an iota of truth is enough to indict these ideologues, then this really is an open and shut case. What are a Professor and a Researcher doing dallying with hard core militants whose professed aim is to overthrow the democratically elected government of India?

These two are not the only ones. Recently DU Professor GN Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Maharashtra for “waging war against the State” and for providing ideological and logistical support to the Maoists.

The need for intellectual heft and urban naxalism:

Naom Chomsky in one of his lectures “The great soul of power” said “The history of intellectuals is written by intellectuals, so not surprisingly, they are portrayed as defenders of rights and justice, upholding the highest values and confronting power with admirable courage and integrity” It is this feeling of intellectual superiority that is at the heart of what drives these intellectuals to lend their voice and much more to the Maoists attempts at overthrowing the Indian state.

To them, the Maoists are “freedom fighters” fighting for the rights of the land and the people against the unholy might of the state and therefore anything they do including brutal killings, torture, and massacre shall be justified as a defense against the massive oppression of the state.

For the Maoists, these intellectuals provide them with the perfect weapon to hit at the state. Sections of the intelligentsia consisting of people drawn from academia, journalists, and writers/authors are the perfect foil because they can direct and change public opinions and perceptions under the cover of their supposed intellectual heft while enjoying relative immunity within a democratic and free setup – this is the FOE and FOS drama that is often played out in an attempt to mask their real agenda.

Several articles and campaigns run by these self-proclaimed intellectuals like Arundhati Roy for example are nothing more than thinly veiled propaganda pieces that push the insidious agenda of these militants, completely lacking in balance and the principles of truth and justice.

The Maoist documents clearly state the need to build a strong base in cities that operate at three levels – secret, semi-open, open and legal. The Maoist insurgency and terror survives in the deep forests only and only because of the moral, intellectual, social, logistical, legal, and ideological support provided by the “Urban Naxals” who have over the years inserted themselves into academia, mainstream media (MSM), and even positions of power within the administration.

The way forward:

As we have seen without the overt and covert support provided by the “urban naxals” the Maoist movement would collapse like a pack of cards. The root of the problem lies in the cities and the government is mistaken in focusing only on the forests. The government would be well advised to tackle the urban naxals first – attack the root and the tree is bound to fall, chopping away at the branches is only an attempt at “pruning” the problem and is bound to fail.

For a permanent solution, the roots have to be tackled – they have to be defeated at their own game through a concerted effort that combines awareness, propaganda, rule-of-law, social boycott, and taking the necessary steps to remove these people from positions of influence and power. What are terrorist ideologues doing in our Schools and Colleges? If they are not removed now, they will inject their venom deep into the system and destroy it from within much like the wood termites that can silently and surely bore through the largest trees. These ideologues and Maoist sympathizers are against the very idea of India and the sooner they are prevented from causing any further damage to the body polity of our nation the better. The question though is this: Is the government listening?

Leftist Cabal, Politics

Madhu Kishwar, JNU and the hypocrisy of the leftist cabal

The uproar that followed the appointment of Professor Madhu Kishwar to the Academic Council (AC) of JNU to represent the School of Arts & Aesthetics (SAA) by JNU VC Mr. M. Jagdeesh Kumar is another indication of the desperation and the nervousness amongst the Left Cabal who have for long lived as frogs in their own little well feeding on the detritus growing within and oblivious of the tectonic changes taking place without.

This AC on last count had 135 members. It is not as if Madhu Kishwar would be the only member or has been conferred with extraordinary powers – then why this outrage and chest beating? It has to do with the perceived erosion in Leftist privileges for long taken as granted with no questions asked.

The tweet below by film critic Anna Vetticad summed up in 140 characters the vitriol, bigotry, hate, anger, and malice that drives the left cabal and fuels their ideology. This was not a nomination to become President of India or a Bharat Ratna. This was a mere appointment to the Academic Council of a University that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Madhu kishwar

As R. Jagannathan writing in Swarajya pointed out, the appointment of Madhu Kishwar was a veritable red rag waved in front of a raging bull.

Edward Armstead the protagonist in Alistair Maclean’s thriller “The Almighty” throws all ethical considerations to the winds and starts “manufacturing” his own “exclusive” news and views. The leftist junta that still controls much of today’s MSM in India is doing an “Armstead” on reportage by manufacturing outrage and whipping passions in a desperate attempt to prevent the inexorable march of the centrist and right-liberal viewpoint – a correction that was long overdue but definitely happening now.

The Dean of JNU, Bishnupriya Dutt, a dyed-in-the-wool leftist even arrogantly claimed that Madhu Kishwar had nothing to do with the arts and that she was bewildered and confused at this appointment, conveniently forgetting that Kishwar is not only a former alumnus of JNU but also a well-known author, journalist, a maker of more than 20 documentaries and is presently working on a book dealing with “traditional art performances”.

One wonders if Ms. Dutt was as bewildered and confused when the JNU campus rang with the slogans of “Bharat ki barbadi… Bharat Tere Tukde Honge, Insha Allah…” or was that par for the course?

Additionally the headlines across most newspapers and magazines that subscribe to this fast fading leftist ideology was a study in comedy as they tried to outdo one another in coming up with headlines that barely masked their inherent bias under the guise of “balanced reportage”

The Indian Express went to town with “Madhu Kishwar named to JNU council as School of Arts expert, Dean objects”. Huffington Post tried to be subtle with “Madhu Kishwar has been nominated to JNU council as school of arts expert, but not everyone’s happy” The Financial Express came up with “Madhu Kishwar named to JNU Council, row breaks out over her status as an ‘expert’ The Scroll outdid everyone with this blatantly rude and insulting “JNU faculty ‘confused’ by pro-Modi scholar Madhu Kishwar’s appointment to Academic Council

Madhu Kishwar though had the last laugh as she observed tongue-in-cheek that she couldn’t fathom what all the fuss was about and that she had not been appointed as ISRO chief or Finance Minister in which case she would have voluntarily declared herself incompetent! She also went on to say that the “leftist gangs” treat all institutions – public or private as their personal and exclusive fiefdoms.

When she went to attend the first meeting of the AC she was heckled and taunted with slogans of “murdabad” and “Hai! Hai!” A few shouted that Madhu Kishwar was appointed by the Modi government with the intention of destroying JNU! Frankly, the leftist cabals at JNU and “students in perpetuity” like Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid, and Umar Khalid have already done enough and more to destroy JNU and you don’t need anyone else.

The most important takeaway from the appointment of Madhu Kishwar to the Academic Council of JNU and this fabricated outrage is that the cat has definitely been set amongst the pigeons.

Madhu Kishwar is not only an intellectual but she is also someone who has been a fearless critic of left bigotry. We are in for some interesting times

A version of this article first appeared in Rightlog.in on May 14, 2017 under the title: “With the nomination of a leading Right Wing academic to JNU council, The Clampdown on JNU has begun”.

Opinion, Politics, Terror

The cold blooded killing of Lt. Ummer Fayaz is a watershed moment in the Kashmir conflict

This article first appeared in Rightlog.in on May 13, 2017, under the title “That’s it, we reached the melting point. At a minimum, the following need to be done at the earliest”. The link to that article is here: (Click to read)

Lt. Ummer Fayaz Parry was killed twice – once when he was riddled with bullets, his lifeless body discarded like a rag and the second time when some unconfirmed reports from the valley suggested that some “misguided” youth pelted stones at the vehicle carrying his lifeless body to his ultimate resting place. Be that as it may, what we are witnessing in a small pocket of Kashmir is not kashmiriyat but Islamism.

The false narrative perpetuated by the “usual suspects” – a motley club of the left-liberal cabal, opportunistic politicians, and the co-opted journalists living in an echo chamber of this, being an unequal fight between a group of “misguided” youth fighting with sticks and stones against the might of the Indian army armed to its teeth with modern weapons needs to be junked and given an unceremonious burial in an unmarked grave.

The cold blooded killing of Lt. Ummer Fayaz is a watershed moment in more ways than one. For a start, in one sense the terrorists killed “one of their own” – Ummer Fayaz epitomized the true essence of “Kashmiriyat” someone who chose India over Pakistan, service to the nation over terrorism, a difficult life in the army versus a life of relative comfort as an engineer.

The terrorists by killing an unarmed man when he was on leave and was taking part in a family marriage function crossed the last line of tolerance. There has been an unwritten rule in the Kashmir valley that unarmed members of the defense forces and their family members were not to be targeted. This brutal killing of Ummer Fayaz comes close on the heels of the cold blooded murder of five policemen and two bank guards by terrorists owing allegiance to the Hizbul Mujahideen.

All seven killed were local Muslims – Kashmiris who believed in the idea of India. This brutal killing has the imprints of the Pak hand all over it in its brutality, ruthlessness, and the torture and mutilation that was seems to have happened both ante and post mortem.

Ummer Fayaz was 22 years young, one month shy of his twenty third birthday and with a long and bright future in front of him.

Born on June 8, 1994 in the little hamlet of Sursanoo located in Yaripora village of Kulgam district Ummer was a bright boy who completed his schooling from the Goodwill Army School in Pahalgam.

His father Fayaz Ahmed Parry an apple farmer had big dreams – he wanted his son to become a pilot. Ummer himself was preparing for the All India Engineering Entrance Examination having performed exceptionally well in his 12th standard examination securing 96% but qualified for the National Defence Academy (NDA). Despite his father telling him about his dream and despite having prepared for the Engineering Entrance Exams, Ummer chose a career in the army over everything else.

He performed exceptionally well in the NDA training as well and was posted as an officer in the second battalion of the Rajputana Rifles. He was on leave to attend his cousin’s wedding and was not afraid of going back home because he thought that he “knew” the people back home and there was nothing to worry. The unkindest cut is the fact that he was betrayed and stabbed in the back by some of his “own” people.

The local Hizbul Mujahideen is suspected to be involved in this killing – the very same group that was headed earlier by Burhan Wani who was killed by the army last year. The muted condemnation and the lack of outrage exhibited by the so called moderate separatists of the Hurriyat conference, their paid rabble rousers, and those of the left cabal living in their own echo chambers at the death of Lt. Ummer Fayaz Parry stands in stark contrast to the outrage and noise that they generated when a terrorist like Burhan Wani was shot dead.

We had journalists write moving eulogies about the “poor headmaster’s son” the great “social media phenomenon” who was unjustly “martyred” by the army. The echo chambers that reverberated then are strangely silent today or perhaps not strangely, given their obvious dislike of the Indian state and more importantly the present dispensation at the center and the state.

This killing of an unarmed army officer more than any other event is a true watershed moment politically, militarily, strategically, and tactically for the army as well as the NDA government both at the center and in partnership with the PDP at the State level. It is not enough to make the right noises and promise retribution through the army.

It is time the necessary steps are taken to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the valley and bring it back to normal at the earliest. Failure to do so would mean a failure to fulfill the mandate that the people gave them.

At a minimum the following need to be done at the earliest:

-Give a free hand to the army and the local police to deal ruthlessly with the terrorists – something on the lines of what was done under Mr. KPS Gill in Punjab during the eighties

-Refuse to have any talks with sympathizers and covert supporters of terrorists – moderate or otherwise

-Place all leaders of the Hurriyat and similar organizations under house arrest and revoke their Indian passports and prevent their free travel within India or outside India.

-Clearly differentiate between the disgruntled elements within the population and those who have been radicalized – take the strictest action against the radicalized elements and look at bringing the disgruntled elements into the mainstream by offering jobs and/or opportunities to set up their own businesses.

-Clearly state that no talks would be held (a) till the time terrorism is completely wiped out (b) with Pakistan or sympathizers of Pakistan (c) without representatives from the Kashmiri Pundit community and those from Jammu and Ladakh included as equal stakeholders in the dispute (d) till the time it is clearly accepted by all stakeholders that Kashmir has, is, and will always remain an integral part of India.

-Take the necessary steps to revoke article 370 of the constitution which was only a temporary provision under the constitution at the time it was introduced

-Start the process of rehabilitating and re-populating the valley with the Kashmiri Pundits to correct the ethnic imbalance and turn the tables on the jihadi elements within the valley. These settlements should be initially under army protection.

-Declare a state of emergency in those parts of Kashmir that have been most affected and are facing the worst terrorist attacks.

It is time for action now not silence, not talks, and not in the least for despondency and hopelessness.

[Interview] We are coming back to power in Karnataka: BJP Co-Spokesperson Malavika Avinash


This interview first appeared on May 12, 2017 in Rightlog.in under the same title. The link to the site is here: (Click to read)

Malavika Avinash is many people rolled into one – actor, dancer, lawyer, columnist, politician, co-spokesperson of Karnataka BJP, and a governing Board member of Kalakshetra foundation.

We spoke to her about her many interests, her politics, and what drives her. Read on to get an insight into her personality and her passion to work for the people of Karnataka.

This interview was conducted via email and validated through a telephonic conversation

Rightlog (RL): You certainly have your fingers in several pies – actor, dancer, lawyer, columnist, and spokesperson for Karnataka BJP – have I left out anything? Do you really find the time to pursue all of these?

Malavika Avinash (MA): I hail from a traditional Iyer family so perhaps the flair for classical arts came naturally, though I must say my parents ensured that an education in fine arts received the same importance as conventional education right from my formative years. As for acting, it stemmed from my dance. I, in fact, started as a child artiste at the age of 8. It became a full-fledged profession after college. I studied law to become a politician because when I peep into my farthest memory, I have always wanted to be a politician. So I can say, Politics is by design, acting by accident. My father though hoped that I’d be the first Woman Chief Justice of the SC of India. Now, more than ever before Politics (my first love) has become the mainstay while all other activities are complimentary.

RL: Politically you shot into the limelight when you campaigned for the BJP in Bellary during the high-profile contest between Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj. Was that your first foray into politics? Tell us how that experience was.

MA: When I was a child, listening to “Desh Raag” made me emotional. This may sound metaphorical but I don’t know how else to decode my strong sense of Nationalism…So, when (an Italian born) Sonia Gandhi arrived on our soil, in my State Karnataka to fight an election in 1999, the first thought was to do whatever little, alilu seve* (as they say in Kannada) to prevent her victory & help a nationalist like Sushmaji win. I was already a popular actor by then… but I will always cherish the electrifying experience of campaigning with and for a leader as tall & inspiring as Sushmaji so early in life! I was barely 23 years old. Subsequently, I also campaigned for the BJP in 2004.

*A reference to the squirrel in the Ramayana which did its bit, helping Rama in building the Rama-Setu – the bridge to Lanka

RL: You also had a brief stint with the JDS. How was that experience and what made you shift to the BJP?

MA: I will draw a corollary for you. Say, you are unhappy about something your mother said, or did, or heard so from someone that she did. You get angry, upset & go to your next door aunt’s house who offers you coffee. After an hour, good sense prevails & you go back home. JD(S) was technically 6-8 months but in my mind & heart, it was over & done with, within a month. I never belonged there.

RL: Coming to the BJP, there has been a lot of dirty linen that has been washed in public – something that is rare to see in a cadre-based party like the BJP. I am referring to the public spat between your two top state leaders – Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa. What are your thoughts? Is the Central leadership working on a patch-up?

MA: BJP is a party that stands for both discipline and internal democracy. Our Prime Minister has also many a time reminded us, the cadre that they should not speak out of turn.

RL: We have been hearing a lot about your probable candidacy from the K.R. Nagar Constituency. In fact, the local press was full of this news, running banner headlines last week. So, tell us should we expect to see you as a Candidate, an MLA, a Minister perhaps in 2018?

MA: I honestly am not aware of how & where from the news originated. All I remember is receiving a copy of the Kannada Prabha two weeks ago which did a screaming headline on the subject. Actually, 2013 is when I commenced full-time work for the party and since then, I have been the official spokeswoman besides being a star campaigner in the General elections, MLC elections, local body elections & by-elections touring the entire State for several months. None of the official responsibilities that I render now was sought by me. I simply perform to my fullest capacity and as directed by the leadership. If the party leadership believes that I should be fielded, I will be more than happy to represent the party. After all, the prospect of being a people’s representative is every karyakarta’s dream. Also, Mysuru being the cultural capital of the State has a rich heritage and a solid foundation of Governance laid down by the Royals. However, KR Constituency in particular & Mysuru, in general, have been let down by the incumbent Congress MLA, Somshekhar & this Government. This is despite the fact that CM Siddaramaiah hails from Mysuru. Tourism which is Mysuru’s pride deserves to be viewed from a modern & development-oriented perspective. Slipping from the top position to number 5 in cleanliness (this year) is a clear pointer to what has gone wrong. Forget large projects, even an easily implementable & much required Dasara Abhivrudhdhi Pradhikara still remains on paper. Since Avinash my husband hails from Mysuru, in my 15 years of marriage, no month has gone by when we haven’t visited Mysuru to meet with family members. If fielded, Mysuru’s culture & tradition is such that I am confident the people will welcome Mysuru’s Sose (daughter-in-law) with open arms. Having said that, my being fielded or not will in no way determine my sincerity or commitment to the party which shall remain perpetual. The leadership is the best judge of how a karyakarta’s talent is to be utilised for the betterment of the party.

RL: You continue to be active in Movies and Television. You also write a column for Vijaya Karnataka. Has your political affiliation at any time come in the way of you expressing your opinions freely or in choosing projects to work on?

MA: Initially I was very choosy about the characters I portrayed on television. In this I was fortunate to have mentors like TN Seetaram who offered me memorable characters like Malavika in Mayamruga or Gargi in Manvantara, or Madhavi Patel – IPS in Mukta and K. Balachander who cast me in and as “Anni” – all characters strong protagonists who became role models for society. I have walked out of projects and argued with directors when I felt that the character or lines were anti-women. I vividly remember cops saluting me on the street when I was playing the role of an IPS officer and an elderly gentlemen asking, “I do know you are a lawyer, when did you complete your IPS?” Such was the impact of TN Seetaram’s series, that even senior Judges and reigning politicians were avid viewers.

The late CM of TN Jayalalithaaji, (although CM at that time) would watch my “Anni” each night before retiring for the day. Although I have played the role of a villain and also tried my hand at comedy, I believe that I am most respected for the idealistic characters I have played. No one writes such characters for TV anymore. Most satisfying however has been “Baduku Jataka Bandi”, the longest running reality show that evolved with time into an Alternate Dispute Resolution Forum for domestic issues and as a platform for discussing burning social issues, which brought together all the three that are close to my heart – women, law & media, not to mention a forum where I could be myself.

As for writing, somehow my editors have been very accommodative and do not edit a word of what I write which has mostly dwelt on the interface between women, law, and media with Hindu Nationalism at its core.

RL: Your husband Avinash is himself a very popular actor both in movies/theatre and a veteran in South Indian Cinema. Do dinner-time conversations revolve around politics at all or is it art that dominates your conversation?

MA: Avinash became a Swayam Sevak at the age of 8 or 9, his formative years being spent in the shadow of stalwarts during the Emergency Movement like Yadav Rao Joshiji, Su Ramanna, H.V.Sheshadriji, Narahariji, Jagannath Rao Joshiji. He fondly recalls memories of drawing the “Deepa Or Lamp” the erstwhile Bharatiya Janasangh’s symbol, all night on the streets & walls of Mysuru at the behest of his brother, Yelandur Ranganath (who at 79 is still an active Swayam Sevak) knowing fully well that their candidate may not even get back his deposit. He is as fierce a nationalist as I am if not more and a keen follower of our PM. He and my entire family were very troubled with my flirting with JD(S) and relieved when I returned “home”. Although he has never been interested in joining politics, invariably the news channels blare through the evening at home. But our day invariably ends with us watching one or two classics of world cinema each night. This is a practice we have followed since the day of our marriage.

RL: The Siddaramaiah government is going to be completing 5 years in office. What is your assessment of his and the Congress’ tenure?

MA: Siddaramaiah was perceived to be a torch-bearer of Lohiawaada by the media and intelligentsia, not so much a typical Congressman. But in his 4 years as CM, he has proved to be more Congressman than any traditional congressman, with his Bhagya “brand” of appeasement politics. Be it the display of arrogance of power when it comes to dealing with even senior officials or the callousness with which he is handling the drought situation – farmer suicides are the worst the State has faced in 30 years… and he has been shifting the blame entirely onto the Central Govt. Instead, his Government should have dealt with it on a war footing including the drought and acute water crisis… but instead he blames his officials while he chooses to watch 2 films back-to-back – Bahubali at ₹1050 a ticket.

The failure of Law & order is a hard reality; criminals and mafia are on the loose. We have had 6,400 murders in 4 years including 18 political killings of BJP & RSS workers, so much so that even IAS officers like DC Priyanka Mary Francis & AC Shilpa Nag of Udupi face physical attacks on their lives from the sand mafia, not to mention the humungous corruption…landing Karnataka with the no 1 rank on the most corrupt state chart, enormous cash recoveries from ED raids on his ministers, furthermore he conveniently chooses to hand over all cases of corruption against his ministers to the ACB (Anti-corruption bureau) functioning under himself. He has not only fooled the people with his Bhagya schemes, he has denied the people of the State their due by scuttling central schemes, by not disbursing the ₹1,748 crore drought relief package among others, being a reluctant participant in the Niti Aayog and at a personal level, attacking the PM and using unacceptable language. The Congress Government in Karnataka since 2013 for the average Kannadiga is a seamless continuation of the UPA (I-II) misrule along with corruption at a micro-level.

RL: Most political pundits were predicting a BJP win in 2018. The twin debacles in Nanjangud and Gundlupet seem to have recalibrated their views. How confident are you of a BJP victory and is the 150-seat mark still an achievable target?

MA: The by-election for an opposition party in any State is always an unequal battle with all the weight of the Government machinery behind the ruling party. BJP however, achieved resounding victories in Hebbal & Devadurga by-elections. Plus, considering that we have never won elections in Nanjangud & Gundlupet, our vote share this time has increased sizeably. These elections are not pointers to the general elections. Given the failures of the present State Government, commendable work rendered by the 2008-2013 BJP Government in the State, the path-breaking work of the Modi Government at the centre, and with BS Yeddyurappa’s dynamic leadership we are sure to come back to power in Karnataka. One must also give due credence to the meticulousness with which our PM and Party National President have planned and executed various elections since 2014 – nearly 70% of the land mass in the country is ruled by either the BJP or the BJP in coalition with another party and this is no mean achievement.

RL: You are also on the Governing Board of Kalakshetra, Chennai. Tell us how that came about and what are your responsibilities as a member?

MA: The Kalakshetra Foundation which was established 80 years ago in Chennai by Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale is recognised by the Government of India as an institution of National importance. It houses two Higher Secondary Schools, a full-fledged weaving & crafts unit, and the world famous Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts spread over 100 acres.

Our Governing Board is presently chaired by the Former CEC, Sri. N.Gopalaswami and for a dancer like me it’s an honour to have been appointed to the board by the Ministry of Culture, GOI. The disheartening part though is that the UPA’s corruption has managed to rub off even on institutions of culture and arts. As you may be aware, Kalakshetra was embroiled in various cases of corruption & maladministration during the tenure of the UPA-appointed director Lela Samson against whom now the CAG has instituted an inquiry. So, since Nov 2015 when our Board was appointed we have been actively engaged in returning this great institution back to its lost glory.

RL: Finally any thoughts, message for the people of Karnataka?

MA: Ours is the state that represents the legacy of Basavanna whose Anubhava Mantapa was perhaps the earliest Democratic Parliament that mankind has known providing equal participation to the downtrodden and the learned, to every community and most importantly to women in Governance. Kannada is a language with 8 Jnanapith awardees in its kitty and has also been conferred with the status of a classical language.


 Such being our heritage, the State has been at the receiving end of mal-governance since 2013 and continues to be a victim of unbridled corruption. I as an actor belong to all the people of Karnataka and believe it to be my duty to work for their welfare till my last breath. We deserve to catch up with the PM’s ambitious development agenda. So I request the voters to vote judiciously in 2018 to give wings to their own aspirations, to lend themselves to “New India”.

Modi Government is planning big changes in the education system, but it will be incomplete without including these 16 changes

This article first appeared in Rightlog.in under the same title. Link to the article on the site is here: (Click to read)

As the government mulls over what changes should be brought into the education system in India and is in the process of formulating a new National Education Policy (NEP) even as commentators of various hues have gone into a frenzy discussing what should go in and what should be junked with a few alarmists predictably raising the bogey of “Saffronization” it is perhaps pertinent to recall that 2,800 years ago, circa 800 BC, a gigantic and grand University existed in a place called Takshashila (Takshila).

The ruins of Takshashila exist in present-day Pakistan but during its heyday this University housed more than 10,500 students and offered over 68 subjects spanning the Vedas, languages, grammar, philosophy, medicine, surgery, archery, politics, warfare, astronomy, accounts, commerce, documentation, music, and dance to name just a few. Master scholars like Kautilya, Panini, Jivak, and Vishnu Sharma were part of the faculty at this University teaching students from Babylon, Greece, Syria, and China.

The Nalanda University which flourished from 500 AD to 1,193 AD till it was razed by the Turks under Bakthyar Khilji even conducted an extremely difficult entrance examination that had a pass-rate of 3 out of 10 students! The Nalanda University transcended ethnic and national boundaries with students from China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Persia, and Turkey passing through its portals. When its Dharma Gunj (Mountain of knowledge) library was set ablaze it burned for several months – so huge was the collection of books and manuscripts.

Why is all this important? It is important because so few (even those in the area of policy making and governance) know about the rich educational, historical, and cultural heritage of our country.

Educational policies and pedagogy that do not take into consideration (a) the heritage and history of the land (b) instill pride in students of their rich heritage (c) frame policies that are rooted in the culture of the land but global in reach and outlook and (d) inculcate values and competencies that can help in nation building will only continue to perpetuate the inadequacies of past education policies.

PM Narendra Modi has set a deadline of end-2017 and the HRD minister Mr. Prakash Javadekar has his job cut out.

This is the first major policy overhaul since 1986 and the key question that needs to be answered is how will this education policy cater to the needs of over 300 million students across India?

The work for Mr. Javadekar and his deputy Mahendranath Pandey decidedly got more difficult as they have decided to junk the recommendations of the TSR Subramanian committee that was constituted during the tenure of earlier HRD minister Smriti Irani on the premise that these recommendations were a “mere compilation” of old reports. With Mr. Javadekar announcing that a new committee will be constituted to look into the changes to NEP it remains to be seen if the deadline will actually be met.

Although the fact remains that governments are well within their rights in accepting or rejecting recommendations the government would be well advised to not junk all of the recommendations of the TSR Subramanian committee. This is particularly important in the light of the fact that this government is already into its third year in office and cannot be seen to be vacillating on one of its key promises to its constituency. Constituting a new committee that will look into the recommendations afresh and come up with a new set of recommendations would mean that little to nothing would be implemented in this term of office and that would be truly an opportunity lost.

Below is a list of recommendations that the government needs to look at bringing into the education system at the earliest and with no further delay. Committees and white papers can always be prepared and revisions brought in later (if needed). Some though not all of these recommendations are also included in the TSR committee.

  1. Increase the outlay on education to a minimum 9% of GDP (presently it hovers around 3 to 4 %). This is more than the 6% outlay recommended by the TSR committee. Set aside at least 3% of this outlay towards “skilling” students rather than just providing education so that students become employable, self-sufficient, and entrepreneurial in their outlook.
  2. Incentivize the learning and teaching of Sanskrit. When the whole world is adopting the Sanskrit language, the step-motherly treatment given to this “mother” of all languages in the land of its birth is shameful. Sanskrit can truly become the link language and it will definitely not come with the baggage associated with Hindi. There is no Indian language that does not include words from Sanskrit or is not influenced by it. Knowledge of Sanskrit will also open up avenues of research and commentaries on our ancient literature by Indians and not by Western scholars often with vested interests and scant understanding of the underlying philosophy (barring a few exceptions). The government could setup a Sanskrit promotion and research council, funded by and under the Central Government that would oversee the promotion and dissemination of Sanskrit language and research into the ancient treatises. Include within this committee experts like Chamu Krishna Shastry and Dr. David Frawley to name just a few
  3. Standardize education curriculum and syllabi across the country to ensure equity and quality. This would ensure level playing field for all students particularly when students move from one state to another and also when they appear for national level examinations. At a minimum ensure common curricula for Science, Mathematics, and English.
  4. Setup a committee to go into the History and Culture curriculum with the objective of re-writing/revising textbooks to ensure the true history of India is told to children without any attempt at obfuscation or whitewashing Islamic and Colonial excesses and wanton destruction under the false pretext of unity and secularism. Not knowing the true history and realizing later that they have been fed a false narrative poses a greater danger to unity, brotherhood, and peace than telling children the unvarnished truth without of course making any attempt to inflame passions or divide community. Inputs from people like Rajiv Malhotra who are in the forefront of this battle would be crucial to this process.
  5. Setup a permanent education committee that works on updating and revising pedagogy to keep up with new developments and changes.
  6. Amend the RTE act to bring within its purview institutions run by minority communities as well and ensure uniform applicability of the EWS (Economic and Weaker Sections) criteria.
  7. Introduce procedural reforms that would do away with the mundane procedures of Transfer Certificates, Migration Certificates etc. to ease mobility and entry into schools across the country and at all levels.
  8. Introduce and make licensing and testing of all teachers in the government and private sectors at the entry-level and also at periodic time intervals to ensure teaching quality. Renewal of licenses and employment must be subject to certain minimum criteria determined on the basis of these tests.
  9. Cap the “no-detention” policy at the level of the fifth class but with the caveat that each student is allowed an opportunity of a second-chance at clearing the class within the same year so that he/she does not have to lose a year.
  10. Introduce and make compulsory pre-school education (Kindergarten) and training in government schools at the urban, semi-urban, rural, and anganwadi levels so as to ensure a level playing field for these children with those from private schools.
  11. Invest in technology and high quality technology-driven intelligent teaching systems across the board in government-run schools and colleges.
  12. Flatten educational opportunities by ruthlessly rooting out the practice of capitation fees and “seats for money”
  13. Enhance the number of government-run Universities per capita and also the per-capita intake across universities so that students who do not meet a narrow eligibility criteria but are capable otherwise, are not deprived and have the opportunity to pursue an education of their choice in a top-run university.
  14. Revise the reservation policy to ensure preferential allotment to only those from the poor and economically weaker sections irrespective of caste and community and not on the basis of caste alone as practiced now.
  15. Open up the higher education sector for top universities from across the world to setup their centers here and offer the same level of education and certification that would be applicable not only in India but across the globe and at a minimum in the home country  of that particular university.
  16. Start the process of building capacity and infrastructure to increase the number of indigenous educational institutes and universities that are truly world class.

The time for this government to act is now without any further delay and/or indulging in meaningless exercises of constituting committee after committed. Now is as good a time as any.


The four vedas – The Rig Veda

The Rig Veda derives its name from the sanskrit root – “Rik“. What we now refer to as shlokas, stanzas, hymns was in the past referred to as “Rik“. The whole of the Rig Veda is in hymn form, hence the name.

Although we refer to the vedas as four in number, it is important to note here that there are several “Shakas” or branches or schools usually on the basis of different methods of chanting / recitation. These Shakas are like the adventitious (stilt) roots of the large Banyan tree with the four vedas being the 4 main branches.

Modern researchers talk about the Rig Veda being the oldest but within the Vedas themselves or amongst practitioners this is given little credence because the Vedas as we saw in post-1 are “Timeless” – “Anaadi” and Apourusheyam (not authored by humans).

This can be further confirmed by the fact that the Rig Veda itself makes reference to the Saama and Yajur Veda at many places. The famous “Purusha Sooktha” which appears in the 10th Mandala of the 90th hymn of the Rig Veda refers to both the Saama and Yajur Veda. See the shloka below:

तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुत ऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे
छन्दांसि जज्ञिरे तस्माद्यजुस्तस्मादजायत ॥९॥
Tasmaad-Yajnyaat-Sarvahuta Rucahs Saamaani Jagnyire |
Chandaamsi Jagnyire Tasmaad-Yajus-Tasmaad-Ajaayata

From the Complete Offering of His (The Virata Purusha; the primeval being) Yagya (Sacrifice of Creation) was born the Rig Veda and Saama Veda,
The Chandas (Vedic Meters) too were born from Him, and so also the Yajur Veda.

This shloka debunks the theory of researchers who claim that the Rig Veda was the first of the Vedas and all other vedas came later.

Each Shaka is further classified into 3 portions – Samhita, Braahmana, and Aaranyaka. When we talk of Veda Adhyayana we actually refer to the Samhita portion of the Vedas – recitation/chanting. The word Samhita means collection, “put-together”. The Braahmanas can be seen as “explanatory notes” in prose form of the “Samhita mantras”. The Aaranyakas as the name signifies, refers to a “forest” and therefore consist of that portion of the Vedas that need to be studied/reflected upon in the forest – they are less ritualistic and were born probably based on the difficulties of conducting rituals in a forest-setting. The contents of the Aaranyakas include Brahma VidyaUpasana, and Prana Vidya and could be considered to be a bridge between the Karma-Kaanda portion of the Vedas (Samhita and Braahmanas i.e. Rituals) and the Jnana Kaanda portion of the Vedas (Vedanta or Upanishads, i.e. Spirituality). 

The Aaranyakas mark a definite shift from the religions to the spiritual with the culmination occurring in the esoteric and supreme truths presented in the Vedantas or Upanishads.

The whole of the Rig Veda Samhita is in “Rik” or “hymn” form. Several “Riks” together constitutes a “Sooktha”. For example the Purusha Sooktha is a compilation of several Riks.

The Rig-Samhita contains 10,170 Riks and 1028 Sookthas arranged into 10 Mandalas and 8 Ashtakas. It begins with an Agni Sooktha and ends also with an Agni Sooktha.

Many commentators have interpreted this as “Fire Worship” but according to the Kanchi Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi this has to be seen and interpreted as worship of the “light of the soul’s consciousness (Atma Chaitanya)

Image Credit: http://globalhindus.com/rigveda/. Image copyright rests with the original creator. This image is not used for any commercial purpose.

The Rig Veda contains hymns to all major Devatas. It also details the marriage of Surya’s daughter and marriage rites of Hindus are broadly fashioned on the basis of the details given here.

The Rig Veda occupies the pride of place amongst the Vedas – the rituals and call to action in the Yajur Veda and the musical recitation of Saama Veda emerge from the basic “Riks” of the Rig Veda. The exceptional poetry of the Rig Veda is considered to be masterpieces of poetic beauty.


  1. The Vedas – Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; 2014.
  2. http://indianscriptures.50webs.com/partveda.htm
  3. http://ignca.nic.in/vedic_heritage_Aranyakas.htm