OPINION

Monthly Archives: DECEMBER 2018


MEDIA & MODI GOVERNMENT
When watchdogs of democracy prefer to be lapdogs of the government
28.12.18 - VIPIN PUBBY
When watchdogs of democracy prefer to be lapdogs of the government



TWO RECENT MOVES by the central government have put the focus back on its attempt to extend surveillance on the general public and media. This is in addition to a series of steps aimed at controlling and keeping media on the leash.

It is common knowledge by now that the government or the ruling party has been able to extend control over large sections of media. This has been achieved through either issuing threats and using its agencies to browbeat some media houses or by encouraging filing of defamation cases, including criminal defamation cases, to silence the media.

Many media houses have taken the cue by volunteering to abstain from their role as watchdogs of democracy to prefer to be lapdogs of the government. The worst affected is the television media. The focus of  debates, with the anchors themselves becoming a party to one sided debates, leaves no room to doubt the agenda of these channels. Many of them refrain from showing or debating any issue which is perceived to be anti government. No wonder most people have stopped watching television news.

While the government may have achieved its objective of largely controlling the electronic media, it appears to be now shifting its focus on the social media. In the latest proposal it has come out with draft social media rules which give sweeping powers to the government authorities. The rules, which won’t be presented or discussed in parliament as these can be notified by the ministry concerned, would make it compulsory for social messaging apps like whatsapp, Facebook, google and twitter to allow for tracing and reporting the origin of any message. Some of these companies currently protect the privacy of individual users and do not keep any record of the conversations or messages.
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It is common knowledge by now that the government or the ruling party has been able to extend control over large sections of media.
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The proposal is to amend the rules under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act and make it compulsory for online platforms to "proactively deploy technology” to trace origins of content seen as ‘unlawful'. The blanket powers sought to be given to government agencies could easily be misused as has been done so many times in the past.

All this is being done without even defining what is ‘fake news’ and ‘unlawful news’. It is well known that governments don’t like criticism and the present government is known to be much more sensitive about it. A recent example is arrest of a Manipuri journalist under National Security Act (NSA) just because he had criticised its functioning.
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The latest proposal would also go against the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 in which it had struck down Section 66-A of the IT Act which allowed the arrest of those allegedly posting offensive content online.
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The latest proposal would also go against the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 in which it had struck down Section 66-A of the IT Act which allowed the arrest of those allegedly posting offensive content online. 

While the need to need for listening into the conversations of those suspected of indulging in anti national activities or trying to spread hatred and communalism is understandable, compromising security and privacy of all the citizens is not justified. It would mean that the government agencies can treat everyone guilty until they are proven innocent. 

The latest move has come on the heels of another draconian order under which ten government agencies "can intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.

Though the orders say that every such move would require permission from the Home Secretary and that a review panel would be set up to take up such cases, there is a provision that in emergent cases any of these agencies can seek information and need to only inform the Home Secretary upto three days later. Also if the approval is not given in the next seven days, the interception has to stop. This would give 10 clear days for such agencies a blanket license to spy on individuals or organisations.
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The latest move has come on the heels of another draconian order under which ten government agencies "can intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.
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The government has taken the plea that these orders existed even during the previous government’s tenure but the fact is that the supreme court's recent landmark judgment on Right to Privacy making it a fundamental right did not exist then. Also the general climate of suspicion and the fear expressed by political parties that these rules would be misused to spy of them requires that adequate checks and balances must be included In rules. Instead of orders from bureaucrats, who generally don’t stand up to wrong doings by governments, there should be a provision to involve judiciary before any such surveillance is ordered.
 
 

(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)


 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

Three Women of 1984  

FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE – 34 YEARS OF KADDU FARMING     

WINDS OF CHANGE — What should be Amarinder Singh’s gameplan?      

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

DISSECTING POLITICS OF SELECTIVE SILENCE

CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream

THE ADHAR CARD-YUKT JASOOS - THE FOUR MUSKETEERS OF IB

Amarinder Singh, the coup in the CBI & the ED case: Headline is missing, so please read it between the lines

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous

UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith

Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?

The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees

AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON? 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

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PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

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SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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GHOSTS OF 1984
It is for the rest of India to seek justice. The Sikhs are done with it.
20.12.18 - SP SINGH
It is for the rest of India to seek justice. The Sikhs are done with it.



UNSPEAKABLE ACTS OF cruelty occurred on the streets of India's national capital 34 years ago. Nearly 3,000 died. A frustrating pursuit of justice fell way short of the objective. The complicity of powers within the regime was the country’s worst-kept secret, and closure eluded the victims. It's a story lived by every Sikh, a story most Indians know and much of the world is aware of.

The recent sentencing of a senior Congress leader by a fairly superior court seems to have triggered a slew of predictable commentary: a recall of events, creatively drawn timelines, talk about need for institutional reforms, new legal definitions for a certain variety of crimes, the need to peruse other pending cases and, finally, to see the wider menace that underpins 1984, 1993, 2002, and 2013 Muzaffarpur.
 

The judgement of the Delhi High Court has convicted more than Sajjan Kumar. It has squarely convicted the Delhi police, though no journalist seems to have reached out to the force to seek its reaction. It has convicted India's political class since the specificities of this particular case before the court, as also the legal fight being waged in several other cases, clearly show that much of the dogged fighting was done by the direct victims.
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The judgement of the Delhi High Court has convicted more than Sajjan Kumar. It has squarely convicted the Delhi police, though no journalist seems to have reached out to the force to seek its reaction.
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We did not see the political class—including those thrusting their faces into the news television cameras today to claim credit—taking up the cudgels and fighting the cases, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the victims. If your idea of support to people whose fathers, brothers and sons were burnt alive merely because they identifiably followed a particular religion is to issue occasional press releases, then you are putting a premium on selling the pain of the survivors to garner a chunk of their votes. Period.

Should all those involved directly or indirectly, no matter how influential they are, be brought to book, no matter how late it is? That's a no-brainer. Is justice being delivered criminally late? Yes, but it must be done.

But we should be clear who this justice is meant for. It will serve little purpose if we think the victims of the 1984 pogroms are still looking for justice. No one can deliver justice after three-and-a-half decades, and no one seeks it. The young teenager who wanted justice then is a middle-aged man now. The middle-aged woman who began the search for justice has too much silver in her hair and is facing issues of mortality. The old father who saw his son being burnt to death was cremated years ago.
 

Those who sought justice are no longer there. A small clutch of people adamant on hanging on—in spite of all the frustrating procedural booby traps that our justice-dispensing system is riddled with—are exceptions. A Nirpreet Kaur, a Jagdish Kaur or a Jagsher Singh are aberrations. Sajjan Kumar, who eluded justice and is now headed for jail, merely proves the rule.
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The narrative that "Sikhs have been denied justice" belittles, shames and negates the sense of justice of all others.
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It is for the rest of India to seek justice. The Sikhs are done with it. One of the most hurtful statements that became a part of the public discourse in the last three decades is that the "Sikh community has been denied justice in the case of 1984 pogroms". If some people assault, maim, rape, kill and burn alive hundreds of innocent citizens on the roads of the country's national capital during days when the entire political establishment is in town and the police and Army are at hand, then how is it the responsibility of just the Sikh community to pursue justice?

The narrative that "Sikhs have been denied justice" belittles, shames and negates the sense of justice of all others. It is for the rest of India to decide if it wants to live with the fact that a section of its people—who had done no wrong—were dealt with in such a way, and were then denied justice and closure for so many years.

Children born today will be in the prime of their youth when India marks 100 years of its independence in 2047. They will be middle-aged women and men when the Sikh community marks 100 years of the 1984 pogroms in 2084, just 66 years from today. Do you want your children to read about how the task of seeking justice for barbecuing children, women and men was left to a small group of victims of a tiny community?   

Bhisham Sahni's Tamas on TV (1988)

 
When Tamas aired on television in the 1980s, in many households, young girls and boys watching it with their families on television had turned towards the family elders and asked, "Did you do this to other people? Do you know people who did this to Muslim women?" I know because I went through this, suspecting every uncle, and everyone my parents or uncles knew. It weighed heavy because there wasn't closure, and none seemed on the horizon.
 

It is time for India to shoulder the burden of justice, and closure.
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The Sikh community has, unfortunately, lacked a leadership with enough moral standing that could have prodded its people into introspection and reconciliation with those who grew distant.
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As for the Sikhs, the closure will need more than sending everyone of the tribe of Sajjan Kumar or Jagdish Tytler to jail. It will need an engagement with the counter-narrative that helped India rationalise the unspeakable violence. Vast sections of the Indian populace—far removed from the complex narrative of the Punjab imbroglio that saw the rise of Bhindranwale and militancy—viewed the Delhi pogroms of 1984 as a reaction to what had happened in Punjab. True, they might not have condoned the violence in Trilokpuri but it made it possible to rationalise it.

Sikh protestors during a sit-in in front of the United Nations's Geneva HQs. November 1, 2013 

 
The Sikh community has, unfortunately, lacked a leadership with enough moral standing that could have prodded its people into introspection and reconciliation with those who grew distant.

The problem with riots is that these always have a political component and a partisan ownership of the fight for justice. Since there is a political premium involved, it becomes necessary to keep any such fight partisan.
 

It’s happening again in the wake of Sajjan Kumar going to jail, as we see certain parties claiming credit and politicians on one side of the fence proclaiming that it could not have happened four years ago. This is the turf on which an opportunity for a moral and ethical engagement is lost.
 

Sikhs, as a community, and Indians, as a people, are set to condemn themselves again to that fate. You will listen to the same narrative in 2047, and your kids in 2084. We need to get down to the brass tacks for the much larger task that the Delhi High Court judgement has listed for us: by joining the dots between various massacres and prodding us to touch base with our conscience. Until then, we are doomed to live with the ghosts.
Courtesy: newslaundry.com
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:
 

Three Women of 1984  

FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE – 34 YEARS OF KADDU FARMING     

WINDS OF CHANGE — What should be Amarinder Singh’s gameplan?      

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

DISSECTING POLITICS OF SELECTIVE SILENCE

CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream

THE ADHAR CARD-YUKT JASOOS - THE FOUR MUSKETEERS OF IB

Amarinder Singh, the coup in the CBI & the ED case: Headline is missing, so please read it between the lines

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous

UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith

Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?

The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees

AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON? 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT






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THE BRAND NEW BARGARI CHALLENGE
Now, Punjab Govt Challenges Bargari Directly. Will the sangat stand up now?
14.12.18 - S Pal
Now, Punjab Govt Challenges Bargari Directly. Will the sangat stand up now?



For months, Bargari in Kotkapura block of Punjab's Faridkot district had come to symbolise the power of the resistance struggle when a people chose to collectively speak truth to the establishment. Just 179 kilometres from the Punjab Civil Secretariat and the state Assembly, there sat a motley bunch of people at latitude 30.5216222 and longitude 74.9487197, challenging the rulers, both erstwhile and incumbent, that they shall not be trifled with.

Gathered in the name of the Guru, and inspired by a long tradition of pursuit of justice and truth, these were the people of the book, ehle-e-qitab, who were deeply pained at the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

At Point Zero in Bargari, thousands spent days and nights under the guiding light of gurbani, of the Living Guru. These were sons and daughters of Guru Nanak who could not be cowed down by the likes of Babur. These were a people with steel in their resolve, tempered by the memories of little kids who stood rock solid as they were bricked alive in Sirhind.

Bargari now has a legacy it will have to live up to. And the test is now.

The establishment has thrown a gauntlet. It has challenged those who proved their determination to stand firm in the face of threats and temptations. The crowds have gone home. A Dhian Singh Mand was either stabbing the panth in the back as a Baljit Singh Daduwal is claiming, or some other small time games of thrones are on, but those squabbles are too petty. The fact is that the time of reckoning is now, when the crowds have actually vacated Bargari.

It is possible that neither any Mand nor any Daduwal could be interested in coming back to Bargari again, but what about the sangat?

The Point Zero of resistance has now challenged the resistance. "Do not ever come here again." The Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot has issued written orders —If you try to come to Bargari to protest, I will arrest you and throw you into a jail and teach you how to protest at a place where just a few days ago you had brought and installed Guru Granth Sahib and had squatted for six months at a stretch. Section 144 has been promulgated. Anti-social elements participated in the Bargari morcha. Prohibitory orders are now in place. Signed and sealed by Deputy Commissioner Rajiv Prashar.

Having dealt with the crowd of angry devout, the Hukumat is now finding ways to shrink the space for protest. They do not want any place in Punjab to become a beacon for those with a grouse. The rulers hate the noise in the street. They want the peace of the graveyard.
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The Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot has issued written orders — If you try to come to Bargari to protest, I will arrest you and throw you into a jail and teach you how to protest at a place where just a few days ago you had brought and installed Guru Granth Sahib and had squatted for six months at a stretch.
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So there is Section 144 waiting for you everywhere - from Matka Chowk to Bargari. This latest order of the Faridkot DC is the march of the state to constantly shrink and eliminate any democratic spaces where people can raise their voice.

It is true that the Sangat had stood up for its Guru. The fact is that the Guru would have stood up for Sangat each and everytime. From Guru Nanak, who stood up to the first Mughal ruler, to Guru Gobind Singh, who wrote Zafarnama to the last of the mighty moghuls, the Sikh gurus have always laid down the principles clearly: that the cause of the poor, the hardworking classes, the masses, the farmers, the innocents, the marginalised are supreme.

Those who stood up in the name of the Guru will have to stand up for the forces of resistance against the might of the state. The Faridkot DC has chosen his side. The sangat is on the other side.

Not long ago, the Punjab Assembly had adopted a much more ‘democratic’ way of handling things and had passed a law making it mandatory for anyone even thinking about holding a protest to first seek permission of the government in writing. Without even one minute’s debate, the law said advance permission will be required from the DC for any protest, dharna, agitation, strike, hartal, bandh, demonstration, procession or march.
----------
Those who stood up in the name of the Guru will have to stand up for the forces of resistance against the might of the state. The Faridkot DC has chosen his side. The sangat is on the other side. 
----------
Titled "The Punjab (Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property) Act, 2010”, it was enacted by the Punjab Assembly. "Whosoever wants to organize a peaceful demonstration, march, or procession shall make an application to the District Magistrate or Commissioner, as the case may be, for taking permission to hold such demonstration, march or procession.” That law also included a provision that if any damage to any public property occurs, the protestors will be made to pay for it.

So, if your child is kidnapped and murdered, and you want to protest in Punjab, law demanded that you apply for permission & then be ready to go to jail if someone hurls a stone.

This is in keeping with what is happening in the rest of India. Impose Section 144 and then lathi-charge and teargas anyone who comes protesting against raising the heights of dams and drowning villages in reservoir waters. Fire on the crowds of farmers who ask for better procurement prices. Rape and kill women in Manipur who want you to scrap a draconian law. Threaten to arrest those who demand punishment to those committing sacrilege. Snatch away the legitimate sites of protest.

Shut down the Boat Club. Throw people out of Jantar Mantar. Teargas those coming towards the Assembly or the Parliament. Drag women by the hair if they dare to come close to a chief minister’s residence. Assault a Medha Patekar if she wants the height of a dam to be reduced. Offload a Greenpeace activist in the middle of the night from the aircraft. Call anyone with a poster and a book on Dantewada at home a Maoist. And label all the Sudha Bharadwajs and Anand Teltumbdes as Naxalites.

Anyone criticising the regimes is now an urban naxal. Anyone daring to come and sit in the grain market of Bargari is a potential anti-social element.

Such fights are being imposed on the people in every state, town and village. In Bargari, the Fardikot Deputy Commissioner has drawn a battle line. The regime is challenging not just the devout but the farmers, teachers, anganwari workers, employees, nurses, mid-day meal cooks, anyone with a grievance that her or his voice is not being heard.

In Chandigarh, home to three governments and capital of Punjab and Haryana, farmers can no more protest in the town square even when their legitimate, long pending demands are ignored for years. 
----------
Anyone criticising the regimes is now an urban naxal. Anyone daring to come and sit in the grain market of Bargari is a potential anti-social element. The idea is to shrink the places of protest, shrink the democratic space. 
----------
The regime has found a way to stifle democratic voice and is using the insecurities and fears of the middle class towards this purpose. In the largely well educated and middle/upper middle class Chandigarh, it hinged its entire line of argumentation on how the march of farmers through the heart of the city spoils the beauty of the capital region, inconveniences the local population and creates traffic snarls, stoppages and blockade, lasting hours.

Chandigarh’s media, wedded to the idea of City Beautiful remaining an island of bliss for the haves, largely took an editorial line that the farmers and other interest groups must gather for any protests at the Sector 25 site earmarked by the administration for the purpose.

The Sector 25 site is next to the cremation grounds, completely removed from the daily life of the city, away from the eyes of the people. It is easier for farmers to gather there, raise slogans, and then disperse, without anyone noticing them. Unless the dead are listening. 

But the very purpose of protests is to pressurise the government through public exposure, not convince the dead.

The point of public protest always is that such a gathering or protest will expose before the people how the government has been wronging its own citizens. If such an exposure is to take place in an isolated place, next only to where the dead are burnt, which sensible human being expects the government to even listen, forget about being shamed?

There was a time when the Matka Chowk in Chandigarh belonged as much to the residents of Chandigarh as Bargari's grounds belonged to the throngs of the crowd of devouts.  

Now, you cannot dare to protest at Matka Chowk. And you cannot ever dare again to come to Bargari.

The latest promulgation of Section 144  of CrPC is a dead giveaway of the intentions: those who are crying for justice must not be seen or heard in public places that are too prominent.

When Matka Chowk was snatched away as a site of protest, the media had largely either backed the move or stayed silent. Silence, as we all know, is the most insidious way of extending support.

Will we remain silent now on even Bargari, a place that has become synonymous with the respect for the Guru? 

The entire issue has assumed a highly provocative context. Those who were not in Bargari for mere lip service need to speak up now. Otherwise, it will be fair to assume that the Tript Rajinder Bajwas and the Sukhjinder Randhawas were sent to Bargari to fool the crowds. Get them out of Bargari so that the Faridkot DC can snatch away Bargari forever. 

Matka Chowk has seen the police unleashing water cannons and severe lathicharge on unarmed protesters. Will Bargari now witness similar scenes?

In better evolved democracies, protests are allowed in places where a Faridkot DC kind of an officer would have perhaps issued shoot at sight orders. The Yellow Vests are out on the roads of Paris. May be France should import some Punjab government officials who will quickly impose Section 144 in a 100 kilometre radius of Eiffel Tower and solve the problem. After all, we have had regimes that solved more intricate resistance movements by killing youth in fake encounters.
----------
There was a time when the Matka Chowk in Chandigarh belonged as much to the residents of Chandigarh as Bargari's grounds belonged to the throngs of the crowd of devouts. 
----------
Punjabis must guard against attempts to snatch away democratic spaces that allow breathing room for ideas. The voice of the dissenter is not meant for the dead at a cremation site. It is meant for the government, for the citizenry and for such sections of the media who have deliberately joined the ranks of the dead — the conscience-dead.

There are none so blind as those who won’t see, and there are none so deaf as those who won’t listen. But there is no reason for those sworn to democratic struggles stop trying to make the blind see, the deaf hear and the prejudiced understand.

Bargari will stand by the Guru. This is no Matka Chowk.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

 ਮੇਰਾ ਸਵਾਲ ਤੇ ਬੇਬੇ ਦਾ ਲੱਕੜ ਦਾ ਸਟੈਂਡ         

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

DISSECTING POLITICS OF SELECTIVE SILENCE

CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream

1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE – 34 YEARS OF KADDU FARMING

THE ADHAR CARD-YUKT JASOOS - THE FOUR MUSKETEERS OF IB

FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE

Amarinder Singh, the coup in the CBI & the ED case: Headline is missing, so please read it between the lines

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous

UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith

Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?

The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees

AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON? 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

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THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

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HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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WINDS OF CHANGE
Congress 3, BJP 0 — What should be Amarinder Singh’s gameplan?
12.12.18 - kanwar manjit singh
Congress 3, BJP 0 — What should be Amarinder Singh’s gameplan?



IT IS BJP 0. Opposition 5. Congress 3.

In a clutch of state elections, Narendra Modi’s party could not win any, and Congress walked away with all the big ones. All of a sudden, Amarinder Singh has become the chief minister of one of the least important states for his party president Rahul Gandhi. Till yesterday, he was the only worthwhile chief minister of a Congress ruled state, the other being an apology that goes by the name of Puducherry. (No offence there, my beloved people of that beautiful hamlet. You can keep calling it a state.)

This is the time for Amarinder Singh to ponder over some serious stuff. The good part is that he has the intellectual capacity and political suaveness to engage with the situation at hand. That he is not in the pink of health is something that cannot be denied, but as of date, there isn’t a leader among the entire bunch that passes off as opposition who can match the Patiala royale scion.

Things are bad in the state. Ordinary folk think the administrative grip is too weak, the issues of law and order repeatedly assume scary forms. The state needs a full-fledged police head with a clear mandate, and a politician at the helm with enough guts to reel-in the wayward elements in the force.

And someone needs to start governing, rather than merely running the state in the absence of effective executive authority at the top that is accountable to the people.
----------
Few will disagree that Amarinder Singh has the capacity to step up to the plate. All he needs to do is to show up for his job. 
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There is not one person with even a passing acquaintance with the art and craft of politics who can claim on authority that Punjab is being run today by any accountable political force. And yet, few will disagree that Amarinder Singh has the capacity to step up to the plate.

All he needs to do is to show up for his job. 

For too long, the intricate task of running the state has been left to bureaucrats, and the political statecraft is being messed up by sundry media advisors and power-brokering hanger-ons. 

The political reality is that Amarinder Singh will be dealing with a different Rahul Gandhi now. The two men haven’t had a very cordial relationship, and a lot of it did play out in the public domain for anyone who can read between the lines. Those who cannot read between the lines, follow the social media and actually believe an exaggerated version of the differences between the two.

Then there’s that upstart Navjot Singh Sidhu, the master of timing, who has been chomping at the heels of Amarinder Singh. The chief minister’s pushback on the issue of Kartarpur Corridor hasn’t gone down very well, except with a man called Ajit Doval, but then Doval doesn’t have a vote in Punjab.

The mood in the country is changing. You cannot fool people wholesale by beating the bogey of Pakistan and ISI. Besides, Amarinder Singh did not need to surrender a constituency that he had conceived, nurtured and courted assiduously.

It was Amarinder Singh who landed up in the Anarkali Bazaar back in 2004. It was he who opened the floodgates of civilian exchanges between Lahore and Chandigarh. He was the one who widened the India-Pakistan Bond Street, taking the palanquin to Nanakana Sahib and hosting West Punjab’s leadership here.

A rather shamelessly hagiographic account of his life includes a recall of the chief minister's meeting with the dictator-turned-politician, Pervez Musharraf. Amarinder Singh cheekily said that he outranked the General whose commission date was April 1964. "Mine is June 1963, making me nine months your senior,” he told Musharraf. 

Any laughter that escaped the Pakistani General’s lips had to be a little sheepish. He had been beaten in public by a Captain. When read alongside his book writing ventures, interest in painting, photography, conversations, travels and a circle of friends, one comes across the picture of a man who has an intellectual bandwidth, an evolved sense of almost British understated humour and a taste of finer things and glorious human senses.

And more important than all of that was his ability to forge a connect with the people — a quality Amarinder Singh displayed in abundance in the past, but one which has been missing of late in his public demeanour.
----------
Amarinder Singh did not need to surrender a constituency that he had conceived, nurtured and courted assiduously. He was the one who opened the civilian exchange corridor between Lahore and Chandigarh. 
----------
Why have we not seen Amarinder Singh among the families of Punjab’s most marginalised demographics? The small and marginal farmers, the farm suicide-affected families? When his party president was courting the Dalits, why should Amarinder Singh not be going all out to tell the agitating young leaders of the community that he will safeguard their right to 1/3rd of the common land in each village? These were the Jignesh Miwanis of Punjab, the natural allies of the Congress.

Why is the Amarinder government not guaranteeing that the scholarships for minority children in educational institutions are properly granted? Why is there a nagging feeling among the proud Punjabis that Amarinder Singh government has been playing footsie with the saffron brigade?

A certain accommodation of the Centre is understandable since one has to run the state and coordinate with the ruling dispensation in Delhi but a series of overtures towards the Modi-Amit Shah-Arun Jaitley triumvirate, often breaching his own party line, hasn’t sent positive signals to those who elected him.
----------
A royal family scion & two-time chief minister who was celebrated for vanquishing the House of Badals has been reduced to keeping pace with a Navjot Singh Sidhu. 
----------
Amarinder Singh needs to repair his relationship with Rahul Gandhi, and that is something he is certainly capable of. He needs to re-establish his connect with the people of Punjab in these trying and uncertain times, but for that he will have to make an effort.

Media advisors and poorly drafted press releases do not make up for political component of governance. Relying on managing journalists and media houses instead of managing the narrative isn’t leading anywhere. 

So far, this approach has done immense damage. One of the tallest leaders, the scion of a royal family, a two-time chief minister, a former Deputy Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons and the celebrated vanquisher of the House of Badals has been reduced to someone trying desperately to keep pace with a Navjot Singh Sidhu.

And even that has not been working out very well.

This is what happens when the narrative is entrusted to the inane. 

Today, when the Congress is making headline on the national stage, even in global media, Amarinder Singh is conspicuous by his absence. The worst thing in politics is when you simply vanish from the headlines. Irrelevance on the national stage is a measure of your unimportance.
----------
Neither General Bipin Rawat is dying to seek his advice, nor does General Qamar Bajwa care about his labelling of the corridor exercise as an ISI plot. This is not the fight that Amarinder Singh should be fighting. 
----------
The man who showed the guts to trash a judgement of the highest court when it came to safeguarding the interests of his people by passing the Termination of Agreements Act, even pushing back against an angry Sonia Gandhi, is today unable to give the right spin to the corridor at Kartarpur which millions are looking forward to. Neither General Bipin Rawat is dying to seek his advice, nor does the other general, Qamar Bajwa, care about his labelling of the corridor exercise as an ISI plot. This is not the fight that Amarinder Singh should be fighting.

He has sometime left and that should be enough to ensure that he leaves behind a legacy. 

Every day, thousands of people in Punjab have been out on the road. Teachers, Anganwadi workers, mid-day meal cooks, employees, students. Why are their concerns not heard for days? Why should a government remain silent and aloof if hundreds of girls spend days and nights agitating for their demand that their hostels need to stay open for longer hours? 

The teachers asking for full salaries could have been tired out and exhausted by bureaucrats adamant on digging their heels in, but these babus do not pay any political cost. It is for the political executive to differently frame the balance sheet of electorate’s affinity.

Rahul Gandhi needs to sell working models of his Congress governments in the rest of India in the run-up to 2019 and Amarinder Singh will help his own standing, his legacy and his party by providing him with examples from Punjab. Instead of Karza Mukti events featuring 6-feet long IPL cricket-style replicas of loan waiver certificates, he needs to pluck the low hanging fruit by addressing the concerns of the farm labourers. 
----------
The opposition is in a total disarray. The Badals are at their nadir. The Akali Dal is not just leaderless but rudderless. The ragtag bunch of noisy characters lands up at Bargari one day and blasts Bargari organisers the other. 
----------
None of Amarinder Singh’s ministers is making news for the work any ministry is doing. That should be worrying. It is here that his leadership counts. Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa are constantly in the news for reasons that have nothing to do with their portfolios. OP Soni is forever in the headlines for matters that should have never made headlines.

And some erstwhile police officers and incumbent ones make news for reasons that merely underline the need to get a grip on administration. 

The big-ticket news cycles like snubbing Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, or skipping corridor event function haven’t done any favours. Amarinder Singh should understand that he is own best media manager. He has the pulpit, and the megaphone. He needs to step up and wield it. Deal with Punjab. That’s the job. New Delhi will deal with Pakistan, that’s its job. You made your point by underlining that Punjab has a stake in the issue. Now, get on with the work. Too much is piling up at the door. It is time to get down to brasstacks.

The opposition is in a total disarray. The Badals are at their nadir. The Akali Dal is not just leaderless but rudderless. The ragtag bunch of noisy characters lands up at Bargari one day and blasts Bargari organisers the other. The wanna-be Aam Aadmi Party is looking for the next Khaas Aadmi to lead them because Bhagwant has lost most of his Mann in Punjab. 

The situation is tailor made for Amarinder Singh. Even his party’s fortunes are turning at the national level. This is the time to come back to the job, and prove the simplest point — that he is not into thoko taali game, that he is the CM and the buck stops with him. 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

 ਮੇਰਾ ਸਵਾਲ ਤੇ ਬੇਬੇ ਦਾ ਲੱਕੜ ਦਾ ਸਟੈਂਡ         

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

DISSECTING POLITICS OF SELECTIVE SILENCE

CONGRESS IN SGPC - Tript Rajinder Bajwa marks 60 years of this Congress dream

1984 ANTI SIKH VIOLENCE – 34 YEARS OF KADDU FARMING

THE ADHAR CARD-YUKT JASOOS - THE FOUR MUSKETEERS OF IB

FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE

Amarinder Singh, the coup in the CBI & the ED case: Headline is missing, so please read it between the lines

COP Vs. COP IN PUNJAB: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Dar Kahe Ka

SURGICAL STRIKE DAY & WE THE PEOPLE The story of the gate is not the story of the house

Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous

UNHOLY HASTE To save the faith

Hua Panthik-Panthik Punjab - How do we reclaim real politics?

The Yuba City Attack on Manjit Singh GK & General Sambit Patra

Pakistan, Navjot Sidhu & the hug: Amarinder Singh 2018 is opposing Amarinder Singh 2004

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Paragraphs that went missing from PM’s Red Fort speech could have pre-empted Opposition attack

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

Mr SY Quraishi, can you please help to save this pet dog locked inside this sealed building?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

Punjab is Silent as India Wakes Up to Talk of Refugees

AAP-CONG ALLIANCE: ARREY BHAI, YEH KYA LIKH DALA?

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS PLANNING HONEYMOON? 

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

DEATH EMBRACING LOGIC: Drugs in Punjab

PANJAB'S EMERGENCY: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

THE KASHMIR GOVERNOR, THE TRIBUNE TRUST & ETHICS - How Journalism Fails Readers?

"Congress Sikhan Di Dushman Jamaat Hai?” —Akalis need to dump broken record, shift gears

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

SARKAR IN MANALI: From Shahkot to Mohali Court, Sara Alam Bigrra Jaye

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

SIKHS & FEMINISTS – We hailed Harjit Sajjan; they didn’t hail Gina Haspel

AFTER BEING RAPED, I WAS WOUNDED; MY HONOUR WAS NOT

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WE MISSED A REVOLUTION, BUT CAN IT STILL BE A GAME CHANGER?

A POLITICIAN SPEAKS – YOU SHOULD HEAR

ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES

SOWING ANGER - NO QUICK FIX - Democracy is an Empty Ritual in Punjab

OUT-OF-BOX SOLUTION TO STOP FARMERS' SUICIDES

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

'THORRI BAHUTI EHNA NU SHARAM AUNI CHAHEEDI HAI'

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON SUICIDE-HIT BATS FOR AARHTIYAS

RANGROOT OFFERS A PEEK INTO PUNJAB'S TRAGEDY

WHAT MAKE NEWS IN INDIA, AND WHAT DOES NOT?

HITLER, MODI & GANDHI: ON THE SAME PAGE?

PUNJAB IS STILL VERY FAR FROM INDIA

APOLOGY – AKALIS BIG LOSER, CONG TOO 

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

SUPER EFFICIENCY ONBOARD CM’S CHOPPER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties: The Coordinated Silence of Amarinder Singh & Badals

PM MODI VINDICATES PUNJAB TODAY REPORTAGE

NEW DELHI V/S OTTAWA — WILL QUEBEC DEFEAT INDIA?        

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA - Trudeau came to Punjab, pushed Amarinder closer to BJP, then called him a liar

JASPAL ATWAL CONTROVERSY: Mr. Ujjal, will you throw some light on this too?   

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE

J&K – RAM MADHAV LEAVES SPACE FOR MEHBOOBA’S POLITICS

SHEKHAR GUPTA'S HALF-BAKED TRUTHS 

OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES - Karze Ne Layee Ikk Hor Kisan Di Jaan...

PNB Scam: Who is Nirav Choksi and what he is doing In the name of God?

Congress upset due to Priyanka’s cleavage on calendar 

RENUKA'S LAUGHTER: Thank you for your guffaws. We needed this non-violent weapon.

MR CLEAN to PAKKE DHEETH: How Punjab’s Congress hurt Brand Rahul Gandhi? 

MANJIT SINGH CALCUTTA– THE DISSENTER

PUNJAB FARMERS AND IPL CRICKETERS - Finally, they can stand like equals

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

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NETA DOING SEWA — FOR MISTAKES UNSPECIFIED
Deconstructing the Idea of a Political Apology
09.12.18 - SP Singh*
Deconstructing the Idea of a Political Apology



PHOTOGRAPHS OF TOP leaders of the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal doing penance-style sewa at the Golden Temple are making a splash in the media. Memes, sarcastic comments and outright derogatory messages are doing the rounds on the social media, and the message-managing backroom boys of the erstwhile rulers are at their wits’ end to find a positive spin.

The idea is to tell the people that the party has realised that it did commit some errors in the past, "knowingly or unknowingly,” and that it seeks forgiveness for the same. However, the perception problem remains because there was no public discourse of introspection and no transparent debate about why the Akali leadership finds itself in doldrums. 

People do not even know who, how and why reached this decision of a public-spectacle style sewa at the gurdwara. Clearly, it is an image management exercise as otherwise, a penance activity does not require live telecast and media circus.

A political activity is attracting political commentary, but we need to peel the layers of this very construct of political apology and understand where it comes from, where it is rooted, and why it has worked, and sometimes not, in the history of mankind. 
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The perception problem continues to dog the Akali Dal because people saw no introspection and no act of penance that could lead to atonement. The spectacle of sewa was seen as an image management exercise requiring live telecast and a media circus.
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People are familiar with the oft-repeated though sporadic voices asking the Congress to apologise for the murder of nearly 3,000 Sikhs in the national capital. Some time back when Rahul Gandhi tried to proffer that his party was not involved in these massacres, he faced a lot of opprobrium and was told that the Congress should, in fact, apologise.

The demand for such a political apology is not new. For a good number of years, we have been hearing demands that Sonia Gandhi should apologize for Operation Bluestar or that the Indian Parliament should apologize for the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. 

The demand for political apologies has a long history, and contemporary traction. When things were bad in Sri Lanka, Colombo was rife with voices that New Delhi should apologize for the blunder of IPKF in Sri Lanka. Countries have been told to apologize for the use of "comfort women” during World War II. Someone still owes an apology for making Socrates drink from the poisoned chalice. 

What is an apology? What good does it do? Will Sikhs really be helped if they do make the Congress president some day to utter words seeking forgiveness?  How many and which words will amount to an apology? Are there any words or actions that can make the Akali Dal’s apology valid or more meaningful?

Leaders in several countries have sometimes spent many years in the wilderness asking that their rival/opponent must apologize for some denigrating act. Time came when both sides found enough common ground to claim unity. Was forgiveness a sub text? Can an apology be offered on behalf of another? Is it only for the victim to forgive? Since Socrates is not there, can someone else accept the apology? 
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The demand for political apologies has a long history, and contemporary traction. What is an apology? What good does it do? How many and which words will amount to an apology? 
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A large number of 20th century crimes are receding from human memory very rapidly because the collective guilt and shame of those crimes will be so much that any composition of demography will find it shameful. So guilt ensures forgetfulness. 

That is why the concept of an apology for these crimes is not on the syllabus of Anglophone moral philosophy. Christ taught that those who ask forgiveness must also grant it, and enshrined this maxim in the prayer that his disciples repeat each day. The love-one's-neighbour idea, which Jews and Christians believe to be the core of morality, is unintelligible without the context of mutual forgiveness. 

It was a Hungarian exile, Aurel Kolnai, who, in 1973, first talked of the subject when Anglophone moral philosophers were analysing the "logic of moral discourse", and wondering whether it was different from the logic of "booh!" and "hurrah!". 

The idea that moral philosophy was really about moral emotions and their place in human fulfilment, was an idea that Kolnai – steeped in the phenomenology of Max Scheler, the German philosopher who delved into the world of ethics and philosophical anthropology – had never doubted. 

Of course, forgiveness does play a role in repairing psychic damage. The idea is personified in the form of a Forgiveness Institute at the University of Wisconsin. It also merited a great discussion in "Exploring Forgiveness,” the book edited by Robert D. Enright and Joanna North (1998) and introduced by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who perhaps did more than any other public figure to emphasize the necessity for forgiveness in the healing of communities. 

Archbishop Tutu’s idea of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, often cited by the Sikhs for a possible replication in India to deal with the years of the terrorism, greatly influenced the Anglophone moral philosophy. Adam Morton's On Evil (2004) was a result of exactly such influences.

But let’s go back slightly in history and to Adam Smith's account of the moral emotions and of their root in sympathy. Also, Butler, Aristotle and Hegel too considered the idea of offering an apology or showering forgiveness as a strong one. One can, and must, mention E. R. Dodds's The Greeks and the Irrational (1951) and Bernard Williams's Shame and Necessity (1993) as having a significant impact on the formation of the idea of forgiveness. 
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In the real world, some things will always remain unforgiven and forgiveness must be distinguished from forgetting, condoning or turning away in defeat. 
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Forgiveness is both a process, whereby two people cope with an injury inflicted by one upon the other, and a virtue. But of course it is necessary that one understands virtue in the Aristotelian way, as a disposition, turned towards the good, and promoting the fulfilment of the person who possesses it. 

But there is a feeling that in the real world, some things will always remain unforgiven, and that forgiveness must be distinguished from forgetting, condoning or turning away in defeat. 

Forgiveness is not achieved unilaterally: it is the result of a dialogue, which may be tacit, but which involves reciprocal communication of an extended and delicate kind. It can happen either way. The one who has assaulted can go back and seek forgiveness, admitting the mistake, realizing that a wrong had been done, one that is often impossible to undo, and then, even then, seek to be accepted into a community of the respectable. Or one who forgives goes out to the one who has injured him, and his gesture involves a changed state of mind, a reorientation towards the other, and a setting aside of resentment. 

Such an existential transformation is not always or easily attained, and can only be achieved through an effort of cooperation and sympathy in which each person strives to set his own interests aside and views the scenario as an impartial spectator.

But any such step depends on how one has narrated the sequence to oneself about which the apology is to be sought. There has been significant work on "narratology" of this kind. Each side’s narrative is both an account of the injury, and an allocation of blame. There is a narration of the ideal and a realization of reality. Each side faults the other, expects to be exonerated. And all of this is intertwined. Forgiveness can only be the result of most sincere efforts to harmonize the narratives so that the story comes to an end in a new beginning. 
 
Had the Akalis tried to lay out a narrative, truthfully and with all its nuances, it would have put many other parties and leaders also in the dock. There was no attempt to harmonise the narratives. But then, that has become a defining feature of politics that only looks at the exploitative value of any issue. Has there ever been any effort at harmonising the narratives about what led to Operation Bluestar? Have the Congress and the self-proclaimed representatives of the Sikhs actually made any sincere effort at marrying, or even contrasting, the two highly different narratives? 

The obdurate stance that one side will own up its sins only when the other admits its unethical acts merely solidifies partisan thought processes for the inheritors of a legacy of bitterness. 

The injury and the action of seeking an apology is as important as the final forgiveness. Any view that the forgiveness is simply a gift is a negation of the idea of reconciliation through such a phenomenon. 

The half-hearted apologies that came from some top Congress leaders for 1984 and from Narendra Modi for 2002 fall in that trash box. If those did not work, then where do leaders find the gall that their latest shenanigan will? 

No one can forgive if there is no recognition of the fault. No one can recognize a fault if there is an indifference to it, as is seen in this latest case of reinstatement in public perception through images of big people cleaning shoes of commoners. 

Resentment must be felt; but resentment is a moral emotion, founded in judgment, and can, in the course of rational dialogue, be "set aside". Without a rational dialogue, or without a dialogue at all, it cannot happen. 

But, of course, there is an interpretation of the idea of forgiveness that does not make the process of realization incumbent upon the act of granting an apology — you hear in this context the example of turning to God for forgiveness. But then, that is not equivalent to petitioning an injured party. 
-----------
No one can forgive if there is no recognition of the fault. No one can recognize a fault if there is an indifference to it, as is seen in this latest case of reinstatement in public perception through images of big people cleaning shoes of commoners. 
-----------
God cannot be injured, but He can and does forgive us. By seeking forgiveness from God, we seek to restore our relationship with Him. One can be generous and assume the possibility that the top leadership of the Akali Dal is merely repairing its relationship with the higher superior power. But then this also comes alongside confession, contrition, penitence and atonement — factors we did not see in play.

Not only the idea of a political apology is much more complex, there also remains the question of whether collective acts can be forgiven by their victims. The University of Alabama offered apology in 2004 for its exploitation of slaves in the nineteenth century. Robert McNamara, the former US Secretary of Defence, had apologized for the debacle in Vietnam. Were these forgiven? 

Sonia Gandhi did say some reconciliatory words about Operation Bluestar. Then PM Manmohan Singh had said some touching words about anti-Sikh pogroms. Narendra Modi came fairly close to regretting what happened on his watch in Gujarat.

These are classic Indian political "apologies.” Uttered into the void, a classic way of side-stepping responsibility rather than assuming it and seeking forgiveness. Missing are the acts of penitence. 

We must understand that such a vacuous apology or forgiveness seeking exercise mounted in full view of the cameras, or a resolution in Parliament for the victims of the 1984 pogroms, or a Sonia Gandhi someday deciding to pay obeisance at the Akal Takht, are no replacement for the much more serious task of setting the record straight and executing justice. 

Yes, forgiveness plays a part because human beings are made in such ways that the demands of justice may not be able to sometimes repair the damage. But in politics, a real apology should always have justice in mind. The language of forgiveness too often softens and sentimentalizes the issue. Forgetfulness of a wrong cannot be tagged as an apology and peddled as a political bargain chip. Then, it will only be a guilt-edged political security. And it is difficult to forgive anything edged with guilt, not even in times when politicians secure their future with gilt-edged securities. 
 

 

(*Author SP Singh is a senior journalist and anchor of the widely applauded television debate programme, Daleel with SP Singh. The original Punjabi version of this article was published by the Punjabi Tribune and can be read here.)

 


 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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