There were not many things going wrong for Rahul Gandhi in the run-up to the elections for the 17th Lok Sabha. There were more positives than he would have imagined a year ago. The Congress had won a few states in the recently concluded Assembly Elections, notably the MP and Rajasthan ones.
The Supreme Court had not given its verdict yet in the Rafale Fighter deal. The Congress accusation of procedural lapses/ deviations may have had something in it.
The Citizenship bill which the BJP government advocated was being seen suspiciously in the North-East. The agrarian crisis in parts of the country owing to financial and climatic pressures were also not a good sign for the BJP.
Undone by the Foot-in-the-mouth virus and the Pulwama attack
Rahul Gandhi could not build on the ‘positives’ in the run-up to the elections. One key element/ event he had absolutely no control over was the terrorist attack on Indian Army personnel at Pulwama. Also the decisive response (Balakhot) to it by the BJP-led NDA government.
The BJP was quick to leverage the above to foster an aura of decisiveness and Nationalistic spirit. A Rahul supporter would have been disappointed with the Congress’ response. Rather than appreciate the Balakhot manoeuvre, the Congress camp managed to paint itself a Doubting Thomas. By raising the spectre of a ‘con‘, the Congress unwittingly contributed to handing away the Scepture.
Alleging Con-with-the-Wind and other ‘gaffes’
The Pakistani Air Force may have reported meekly to their bosses that the Indian Air Force has gone (back) with the wind, if at all they had intruded into Pakistani airspace to bomb the terror camps (if at all they existed). But the Congress and the opposition at large took pains to paint a picture of a Con-With-the-Wind, which obviously did not go well with the masses. Proofs showcased by the IAF showed not only the non-necessity of large-scale holes/ damages on the roofs of the terror camps, but also the holes the Opposition was digging into its image.
But then Pulwama and Balakhot is not of our own making. The foot-in-the-mouth behaviour surely is. Starting with the very vulgar ‘Chowkhidhar Chor Hain’ to the more audacious claim that even the Supreme Court was saying ‘Chowkhidhar Chor Hain’, Mr Gandhi has well and truly on the way.
Openly tarnishing the popular PM of the country (known for his personal code of austerity etc) and thereby the nation’s image seemed puerile. To be fair, one did not really take to the late Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s name being raked up by Mr Narendra Modi in unsavoury terms. But these instances came a bit late in the campaign and paled in comparison surely.
No Opposition, No Good, for Nation
As written earlier, the country (as with any successful democracy) needs a strong opposition. However well ‘intention-ed’ we hope our ruling party to be, it is in the people’s interest to have a Strong watchdog. But to be a strong opposition, one needs to be strong first. Having sketchy/ patchy/ self-contradicting tie-ups with parties like the TMC did not reflect well. In the land of the Hooghly, far from questioning her unholy shenanigans and hooliganism, the Congress desperately played ball with Didi‘s Comedy Show.
With less than 10% of the total seats in this Lok Sabha as well, the Congress has again fallen short of being eligible for the tag of the Leader of the Opposition. But then, it first needs to showcase Leadership Principles. It needs a Principled, democratically elected Leader to begin with. For India’s sake…. surely not for Indira’s!
Johnson & Johnson wins Fortune World’s Most Admired Company recognition even as it continues in the eye of a storm
Over the past few weeks, the media has been rife with reports of talc causing ovarian cancer. In India, central authorities have asked Johnson & Johnson not to use the raw material stocks at two factories manufacturing their powder, until the same has been tested by them. A few months earlier, cancer victims in the United States had been granted a $4.7 Billion compensation, by a US Court. The Court concurred with the allegations that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have caused the disease.
Why this talk about talc?
There are two angles to the debate about talc and disease. One is that talc by itself could be carcinogenic. Some tests seem to point to this. But there are other research reports of talc being benign.
The other angle and the more alarming is the presence of asbestos in the Talc products. Asbestos has long been known as a carcinogenic. It is also often seen contaminating talc deposits. Hence the danger to users.
J&J has been denying both the above possibilities. However, no less a respected entity than Reuters, has laid bare documents which may show that not all has been fair in J&J’s talk on talc. Chilling to note that many users across the world and back home in India, would be using talcum powder.
Comparison with Big Tobacco may sound churlish, but…
Consumers Beware. A Corporate Entity may show great Corporate Governance processes and even win laurels for the same. But that could still be mere application of powder (maybe talc or otherwise) to hide the diseased skin. More often than not a naturally healthy skin is a reflection of good body health. We have seen instances of the Spiritual Core being absent. But we also see many business entities evolving. We need stronger validation systems to ensure this process is encouraged and the wolves in sheep’s clothing are shamed. It may sound churlish to point out now, but Big Tobacco for years tried to mislead the authorities and the public.
‘Spiritual’ Healing as a Brand-Aid ?
Johnson & Johnson used to be a respected name. One, which was earlier associated with the largehearted Tylenol recall. It is sad that a few months earlier, J&J was slapped by the Indian authorities for selling faulty hip replacement kits. The largest pharma company, maybe needs to infuse some Spirituality even as it dabbles in Allopathy. A Business Bandit is the last thing one would wish to see the maker of one’s childhood ‘BAND-AID'(TM) as. In this age of Reasoning increasingly influenced by Spiritual Meaning, corporations cannot afford to be Carefree. Not only do they need to be Careful, they also need to sincerely Care.
Ancient Indians advocated regular cleansing of the mind, body and spirit. While external beauty artifices were available, they believed in regular drinking various kinds of ‘Kashayam‘ to keep the system healthy. In Corporate parlance, partaking of ‘Kashayam’ would mean rigourously implementing ethically sound practices . Powder may always be applied topically, but cannot compensate for ‘Kashayam’.
His Lordship, the new Chief Justice of India, Shri Ranjan Gogoi has struck a blow for the masses (Jan in Hindi). He has done away with the practice of ‘mentioning’ in The Supreme Court.
Parameters will be set in due course for deciding exceptions. In most of these ‘mentionings’, highly paid Senior Advocates ‘jump the queue’ and present their matters. This practice laughs in the face of equitable justice. With a huge number of cases pending before Indian courts, matters already take inordinate time to see the light of day, not to say, Justice.
We hope the new Chief Justice’s decision is an indication of more equitable things to come. Augurs well for the masses. Lordship, May the Force be with you.
Mr. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has lauded India’s multilateralism,
efforts for World Peace and its Leadership on Sustainability Initiatives. “Good, there is India”, he says.
Mr Guterres is on his maiden visit to India, coinciding with the 150th Anniversary celebrations of Gandhiji’s birth
In a Landmark judgement, the Supreme Court has ruled that all women (irrespective of their age and thereby their fertility status) may enter the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, Kerala.
Justice Indu Malhotra, the sole woman on the five member Judicial Bench was notably the only judge to feel that the centuries old practice was best left unhindered. The other judges (all male), in the earnest spirit of Judicial Activism that is currently pervading the air, had decided that women are best given access to the Divine Celibate. The thought, many probably fear is beastial, but the Celestial may have reasons for guiding the Judiciary thus.
No Exodus expected from Female devotees
It is not as if a particular community had been barred from the village well and forced to walk miles for their daily water needs. There are several Ayyappa temples across the Country. Only the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala forbids women in the fertile age group from visiting. Like there are some temples reserved only for women, where men are forbidden from entering. It does not require much imagination to believe that no genuinely devout Hindu woman would really wish to break a centuries old tradition and catch the next flight/ train/ bus/ taxi to Sabarimala. She would continue to pray to Ayyappa, but not wish to disturb Him at Sabarimala.
A lot of tax-payer money (Courts’ cost in all terms) has gone into something which will not really add much to social development. Instead of the Kerala government investing scarce resources for the multitudes of male pilgrims who throng the temple, they will now be forced to develop amenities including adequate security for the ‘Hunter-wali’ kind of women (refer above para) who may still be only a handful. These women surely are well within their rights to wish to go wherever their fancy takes them, but India has better things to do than sponsor Quixotic adventurism.
Advocate Naushad Ahmed Khan , the President of the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association may have just wished to do something symbolic, to get some visibility. He has (sadly) got more than he had bargained for, with death threats etc over his mobile. Some may aver that the gentleman really wanted to do something good for women-kind. We cannot be sure since there are far more issues, genuinely affecting women and their day-to-day mental and physical health than the bar on entry into one temple in Kerala. Strange that Naushad chose a minuscule non-issue.
Mammon Blinding This Manu
Speaking of the ills perpetrated against women, we have ‘legal luminaries’ like Abhishek Manu Singhvi wanting to keep women in the Dark Ages. He pleads with the Supreme Court that any family (could be his neighbour’s as well) be permitted to mutilate/ harm the genitals of a young girl in the name of religion/ tradition. How Mammon has blinded/ corrupted this Manu…..He equates the relatively painless male circumcision (with a one time discomfort) with the evil called Female Genital Mutilation. Just reading about it causes discomfort. Can Abhishek look at his neighbour’s new born girl in the eye and proudly/ honestly say what he is paid to chant in Court.
If Mr Singhvi is appearing pro bonoone is far more alarmed !!
Swamiyae Sharanam Ayyappa!
The Supreme Court has already passed very welcome landmark judgements on decriminalising LGBTQ relationships and Adultery. With a landmark judgement like the Sabarimala Case, the Divine seems to have prepared us all to hear more landmark judgements favouring the vulnerable and the victimised. The valid ones, I mean.
Ms Lois Sofia, a 28 year old Physics/ Mathematics researcher was on a flight from Chennai to Tuticorin along with her parents. Spotting Ms Tamilisai Soundarrajan, the Tamil Nadu state BJP Leader, in the plane, Sofia, saw Red. She has abused BJP as a fascist organization. Despite being given an opportunity to apologize, Sofia has stuck to her stand.
A complaint by the BJP Leader to the Airports Authority has led to Sofia’s arrest and subsequent bail. We are not sure about the kind of Red that Sofia saw or was/ is influenced by. But we hope it is neither the Red of the Cross or that of the Maos (maoists) that has warped basic civil/ civic sense of an educated Adult intelligent enough to be a PhD aspirant. The latter (maoists) have been banned by the earlier UPA Government (at the Centre) for anti-national activities.
For obvious reasons, the Maoists will surely not be happy to have a strong Central Party, especially the one that has/ d been significantly winning state elections too. The Church has never been comfortable with the BJP with its stated policy of protecting ancient Indian traditions/ values/ practices. The Cross maybe neck and neck globally with the Crescent (Islam). But in India, the Cross is a distant third. Therefore it sees India as a huge market for conversion to Christianity and we have Bishops falling over each other to write to their flock warning them of ‘nationalist’ forces. Does it make these Reverend Ones, anti-national, one wonders?
Vat I Can, I do
It is interesting that there has not been even a whimper, forget a rebuke from Top Management of these ‘anti-nationalists’. No decently managed organization runs without the Top Brass knowing about or encouraging or inciting the actions of those down below. In the absence of any remorse from the Senior staff for the actions of the Juniors (and/or disciplinary action), it is safe to assume, then, that blessings for these, come all the way from the Top. It is a case of Vat I Can, I do. Sadly for The Church, religion has not been a way of life as it has been in India from time immemorial. It is about Commerce, Market Share and attendant Economics. Else we would not have had Martin Luther ‘protesting’ Catholic excesses. Funny if the marketer of one beverage portrays itself as Holier than another.
It takes an obsession with Christianity to make efforts to convert, it takes far more Wisdom/ Humaneness to let ancient traditions exist. If gone, they are gone for ever. Humanity loses a treasure trove. Imagine the digestive property of Ginger/ the blood thinning property of Garlic/ the anti-inflammatory property of Turmeric being replaced with pop and swallow chemical capsules….Imagine consumers being brainwashed that Garlic/ Turmeric/ Ginger don’t have any other properties and it is a waste of time to cultivate them…..Over a period, Humanity loses the other beautiful properties of Garlic/ Turmeric / Ginger along with these plants/ herbs.
Fight Against Fake News?
One of the major conscientious activities of the past by the Papacy has been regretting the sexual misbehaviour of some of the men of cloth. Another has been the Vatican’s clarion call against fake news. Unfortunately much of the Empire built by the Church could be on possibly fake foundations. Even the noble Middle-eastern Jesus (non-Caucasian) who learnt much of his philosophy while travelling in India has been traditionally portrayed as a Caucasian, replete with fair skin, golden hair etc. Is it possible to see a Papal Decree to ensure the correct representation of Jesus?
BJP in the Cross hairs of the banned Sickle and Hammer.
The RSS’ stated policy is Universal Brotherhood and communal harmony. It respects the right of an individual to practise his or her own religion. But the Cross could also believe that the rampant conversions (with various inducements etc) may not be taken kindly by the RSS, intent on keeping ancient Indian traditions alive. The BJP has also banned dubious foreign charity money being channelised for proselytization. It is possible therefore, that a common enemy could see some elements in the the Cross spectrum hobnobbing with the banned Hammer and Sickle. (Not to be confused with the other Communist Party CPI(M), which remains a legitimate party).
As evidenced during the pro-Jallikattu stir in Tamil Nadu, the distrust among Tamils towards enforcement of Hindi language/ culture was exploited by the Maoists and other anti-BJP elements to foment riots in various locations. The establishment may suspect similar links in the anti-Sterlite protests.
Much Ado Over Din, O’wisely
We now have numerous Sofia supporters shouting for the Constitutional right of freedom of speech. Have they imagined a normal citizen going upto a Asaduddin Owaisi inside a flight and questioning him for his ‘ill-advised’ statements (not even accusing him of being a Terrorist or a Fascist). Imagine the fear and the stress among the fellow passengers, some of whom may even be too old to take the ensuing altercation.
Would be interesting to know if the same supporters of free speech would create a din or remain mute, O’ wisely…..
We have seen many tragedies day after day due to the Kerala Floods. It almost seemed as if we may not laugh anymore, especially those emotionally linked (through family and friends) to Kerala. Amidst his great tragedies and histories, Shakespeare wrote a few comedies too. The Kerala misfortune, likewise also gave us reasons to smile, thanks to the many glimpses of humane support and the will to battle adversity. To ensure that we do not miss out on the smiles and guffaws for a comical reason, Chief Minister Mr Pinarayi Vijayan too has led from the front. But we are jumping the gun….
The Tragic Background
Indeed, just a month ago, Kerala had almost been a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ of a State, God’s Own Country. It might have been about two weeks, but by The Twelfth Night, the masses had weathered enough to see and feel their Life’s/ Love’s Labour Lost. More than Rs 20,000 crores is the estimated loss, Measure for Measure …..and maybe will take considerable time to rebuild. Mathematics obviously cannot do justice to the numerous lives lost and innumerable ones shattered by the spate of Tempests.
Pining due to Policy
Towards the end of the fury vent by Nature, much furore was also created by Mr Vijayan/ the Congress/ some opposition members. The background was the rejection by the Indian Government of all foreign aid. That this was merely in continuation of a foreign policy existing for more than a decade is an inconvenient truth. But, As You Like It, some may not, especially, those who may use such aid or it’s rejection for their political or personal ends. Foreign policy is never a simple line and like Cymbeline’s story, often full of twists and turns. But then a Pinarayi may as well believe there is a genuine JuliAid out there, questioning, “o PinaRomeo, o PinaRomeo wherefore art thou foreigno?”
To Be or not To Be, Kerala CM
Also, had the Chief Minister been Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, he might have been forced to murmer, “To Be or Not to be (Aided), that is the question…”
To cut a long story short, the understanding about UAE offering aid seems to have been a Comedy of Errors. Mr Pinarayi Vijayan may not have learnt from the Merry Wives of Windsor that one False Staff-member or fake news could undo him. Mr. Vijayan is surely no Merchant of aVarice. He should have checked personally with The Two Gentlemen (whether of Verona or not), Mr Yousuf Ali (Keralite Businessman) and the UAE official concerned. Had Pinarayi recollected Polonius‘ advice to his sonLaertus, he may not have faltered. But then, these lapses can be effected by the best of us. Such is life
On our part we pray for God’s Own Country and hope All’s Well and That Ends Well.