ndsharma's blog

That the self-styled godmen beguile the gullible is understandable. What, however, is surprising is the manner in which the educated persons, quite rational otherwise, block their critical faculty before such a godman even when the godman has been proved to be a crook. It may not be out of place to cite an instance from my student days in Varanasi.

One Jhumari Tiwari disappeared from home and after several years surfaced in Bombay (as it was then known) and assumed the name of Ram Lakshman Acharya. It was rumoured that he had spent the intervening years in the Himalayas where he had practised yoga and attained divinity. While teaching the citizens of Bombay how to attain moksha, he landed in the police dragnet on a complaint from the wife of an influential industrialist. He was prosecuted and awarded seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for the offence.

Sri Prakasa, an eminent citizen of Varanasi, was then the Governor of Maharashtra. A delegation from Varanasi approached the Governor with the request that the godman be transferred from Bombay jail to Varanasi jail. The Governor obliged (those days there was not such a public scrutiny of the actions of Constitutional authorities as it is now). As soon as Ram Lakshman Acharya entered the Central Jail in Varanasi, he was declared ‘ill’ and shifted to the Shiv Prasad Gupta (district) Hospital at Kabirchaura.

Still a convict and undergoing sentence, the godman could not be allotted a private or special ward under the rules. He could not be put up in a general ward, along with lesser mortals. So a way was found out. General Wards 6 and 7 were connected by a small corridor. In the middle of the corridor was a room where the nursing staff assigned duties for the two wards had their paraphernalia. The pieces of furniture and the almirahs were dumped in Ward 7. To create room for these items, some beds of Ward 7 were moved out into the veranda. The nurses’ room was allotted to Ram Lakshman Acharya.

Every morning the ‘hospitalised’ godman would walk some four kms (a couple of constables trailing half a km behind) to take his bath in the Ganga. On return he would shut himself up in the room for a few hours to perform pooja. By the time his pooja was completed, top government officials, Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi Division, the DIG of police and the Jailor downwards, most of them along with their wives, would be waiting outside to touch his feet and obtain his blessings. All the surgeons and physicians of the District Hospital — barring one — took turns to pay their obeisance to the convicted godman. Dr Dutta (I am unable to recall his initials) was the only doctor who would, after completing his round of Ward 6, head straight to Ward 7 without casting a glance at the room situated between the two wards.

I was witness to this shocking degradation of the educated class. During that period, I was an inmate of Ward 7 undergoing treatment for pleurisy.

After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister and a retired IPS officer was appointed NSA (and made virtual super boss of intelligence and security agencies), the killings have steadily gone up, both in militancy-related incidents and Naxalite incidents.

In Jammu and Kashmir, 198 jawans and 91 civilians were killed in the 35 months of Modi rule, while the figures for the previous 35 months were 103 and 50, respectively. (In the Naxalism-related incidents 442 jawans and 278 civilians were killed in Modi’s 35 months as against 229 jawans and 47 civilians in previous 35 months.)

Former RAW chief A S Dulat, who was Advisor on Kashmir to PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, explains in an interview to Sheela Bhatt in The Indian Express: ‘because of alienation and the anger of youth, young Kashmiri minds have gone out of control. There is a sense of hopelessness. They aren’t afraid to die. Villagers, students and even girls are coming out on the streets. This has never happened in the past’.

He further points out  that terrorism, that intensity of violence and militancy ‘that we saw in 1990 is not there now. There were more guns then… Actual militancy was more then but today the situation is scarier. When stone-pelting is done by youth and girls it’s abnormal… Today, they are proud of being stone-pelters. They are no longer hiding. Schoolgirls and women are coming out to throw stones. The Kashmir situation has never been so bad’.

In a perceptive piece in The Hindu, Radha Kumar says candidly: ‘We have allowed our security forces (Army, Central Reserve Police Force and State police) to be the only visible face of India in the Valley — our legislators and civil government are not to be seen’. Academic and author, Radha Kumar was one of the three interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir  appointed by the UPA government in 2010 The panel was headed by Dilip Padgaonkar, former editor of The Times of India. and the other member was M M Ansari, a former Election Commissioner of India.

In sum, solution to Kashmir problem is not possible without ending alienation of the people there. For that the BJP leaders will have to change their inborn mindset and start trusting Muslims.

June 2017
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Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

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