OPINION

Monthly Archives: MARCH 2018


CHANDIGARH PRESS CLUB
When those who report elections go to the polls!
24.03.18 - PT BUREAU
When those who report elections go to the polls!



JOURNALISTS IN THE city of Chandigarh, home to the governments of Punjab and Haryana as well as the Chandigarh Union Territory, have been in the throes of an exciting, adrenalin-pumping, competitive and no-holds-barred joust — the elections to the Chandigarh Press Club.

It is a travesty of our times that members of a community which reports on every aspect of life, from the extremely significant to the utterly trivial, haven’t considered it worth their while to report on themselves.

The elections to the Chandigarh Press Club, an annual affair, present an abridged version of Raag Darbari, possibly with an extended cast. 

These could have been an example to our politicians, or trade unionists, or bodies of teachers, doctors, nurses, secretariat employees and innumerable other organisations, about how to wage a fair fight, present your view point, canvass, blow holes into the opposition's arguments and carry the day with logic, an appeal to good sense and a higher moral cause. 

Alternatively, these could simply mirror every stratagem and cheap shot that a morally debauch politician could resort to in a Sri Lal Sukla magnum opus and, thus, vindicate the new normal of a sick society as the default setting.
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The elections to the Chandigarh Press Club, an annual affair, present an abridged version of Raag Darbari, possibly with an extended cast. 
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Chandigarh Press Club elections should have something to do with the idea of protecting and expanding space for the media and its practitioners to ply their craft with freedom, without fear, in an informed manner and with the onus of an awesome responsibility.

It should not have been so damn difficult, considering the fact that among members of this prestigious club are journalists of remarkable standing — men and women who have made the profession proud with their sheer cerebral power, guts, a proven ability to speak truth to power and dig in their heels when managements seemed buckling under pressure.

Time and again, they have risen to the occasion. They are the practitioners of this craft who inspire us today to write this missive.

It will be a no-brainer to point out the kind of stuff being churned out by the two rival panels vying to helm the club. We understand the material need to save on electricity expenses, the wish to opt for non-conventional sources of power and the endeavour to install compost machines or run a game of Tombola with even more enthusiasm, but need we remind everyone that this is a manifesto for the Chandigarh Press Club? Press Club? PRESS club? PRESS club?

Want is to press the point any further? We do have larger fonts, but you know it isn’t the font size that’s a problem.

A press club has a sort of passing acquaintance with what in normal parlance is called the media. 
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To be fair, there are men and women in both panels who, we are sure, know all of this better than many others. In a different paradigm of competitive leadership, they would have played this game differently.
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Compost machines are fine and snooker, carom and chess have never hurt anyone. Adventure tourism is a good thing, and from sorority girls to bored housewives to bank employees to street urchins to property dealers to journalists, everyone should partake in such activities. Compost is always a good idea, and a game of chess? Why not?

Except that such a manifesto could be of any Lions Club, Rabbits Club, Rotary Club, Gyratory Club, or Bored Husbands' Pastime Club.

Yes, the campaign has gone slick. We do learn from political parties, from backroom trolls, from a Ramya, from a Tharoor.

No one can deny the slickness involved in poster designs. But neither can one deny the problem with the modes of canvassing being adopted. In the electoral arena in India, from Parliament to Assembly to Panchayat to Student Union polls, we decry the role of big money. And then we fight elections in exactly the same manner. 

By extending lunch and dinner invitations — and we all know what such pow wows involve and cost — we, as a community, are setting a new normal. These are not hush-hush dinners, but lavish spreads. 
Yes, you can argue that these are exactly the occasions where journalists and those allied to the profession discuss the intrinsic merits and demerits of new social media's intersection and interfacing with mainstream media or the inherent strengths of crowd-sourced news reporting models, but you know what we discuss at these lunches and dinners.

We are not mentioning booze, because, seriously, do we even need to?

Cold calling journalists — who you either do not know much, or at all, or from whose work you have made serious effort to stay aloof — has emerged as apparently the most effective mode of campaigning. A senior journalist working with an English daily complained that he was called at 8 am by a rank stranger fellow hack who should have known what time desk hands go to sleep. 

To be fair, there are men and women in both panels who, we are sure, know all of this better than many others. They are professionals with a good standing. In a different paradigm of competitive leadership of the local journalists' community, they would have played this game differently.
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Journalists are not the people anyone can or should tell what a better way of electioneering could have been, what possible goals they could have aimed for in their manifestoes. That's a job they are great at. The question is: are they doing it?
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We also acknowledge that it is community service to opt to serve as an office bearer, since the job involves no pecuniary benefit, and is often thankless.

As you gather in that red brick building in Chandigarh's Sector 27 adorned by huge hoardings of liquor companies' surrogate advertisements and encounter journalists wooing and courting you a la panchayat elections, thrusting their little slips into your hands and showing you a sample copy of the ballot paper with their entire panel marked on one side, step back for a moment and think what they think of you. 

This is exactly how a hyper-active worker of the Akali Dal or the Congress gets an old, illiterate woman in a remote Mansa village to press that second button from top on the EVM machine. It is a sight to see the panna pramukhs of the media so enamoured with the practice of the most basic democratic right – balloting.

Journalists are not the people anyone can or should tell what a better way of electioneering could have been. That's a job they do. Journalists are not people anyone can or should tell what possible goals one or the other side could have aimed for in their manifestoes. That's a job they are great at.

The question is: are they doing it?

Press clubs punctuate the journalistic landscape in Punjab and Haryana, and the Chandigarh Press Club is a sort of lighthouse. It needs to set the bar so high every time that others are always aspiring to rise to match it.

Yes, "electricity bills amounting to lacks (sic)" may be saved with solar panels, and regular members of the club may find the idea of taking home Club Compost very tempting, but it would have been better if the manifesto drafting committee had paused at the word "sportsmanship" to discuss the deeply entrenched patriarchy in our language and promised to hold confabulations to discuss and debar such words, phrases and expressions from journalistic writing.

Promising what amounts to PRESS-marked health cards is to promise the creation of a new VIP category of patients to beat the queue at an OPD and get an appointment with the doctor before those we swore to work for. A promise to thrash the issue of social equity in hospital wards would have sounded better, but then only those who fight elections at a press club know what fetches votes.

That promise is a reflection of who we have become as a community.
 
In these times of Cambridge Analytica, nothing will ever  become raddi; not your slick posters, not your manifestos, not your WhatsApp messages. Not even the cctv footage of brawls being fought for, and what else could it be, press freedom. Ten years down the line, or 20 years, a bored professor of journalism looking for an interesting topic for a postgraduate thesis may opt for how journalists elected their representatives. You think that young student will not pore through the trove you are leaving behind?

You think he will not mention that when the journalistic community the world over was grappling with questions like who to call a journalist, whether Facebook is a media house or not, what ownership models of media are more aligned with democratic spaces, and how robust is the debate on cross ownership of media, here was a body of journalists discussing better ways of composting manure, or ensuring that no member is beaten up in the glare of cctv camera?

Are we afraid or not of what that kid will write in 2028, or 2038? If we are not, we are brave. There is another word for it, too.

Early this morning, a mail dropped in our inbox wherein a senior journalist talks of organising special lectures of reputed names in journalism, of continuing with similar endeavours and also about improving the menu at the restaurant. Now, that's what gives us hope. Yes, we would appreciate a more diverse menu, but more important things must remain the top priority.

A still bigger step will be for each of the panels to declare that they will try and adopt the entire positive agenda of the other panel if they win. 

A dream scenario will be for the press club anywhere to have individuals fighting elections, not panels, but as of now, that seems like a utopian idea. It happens when we set new normals. Party tonight?

(With contributions from four journalists working with other media houses. Full disclosure: All five people who wrote this collectively are men. A couple of points were included after a review of the draft article by a senior woman journalist. We are grateful for her efforts to sensitise the team. – Ed.)
 

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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Kejriwal fails to draw lessons; gets a rap
23.03.18 - VIPIN PUBBY*
Kejriwal fails to draw lessons; gets a rap



IT WAS JUST a year ago that the Aam Aadmi Party was making a serious bid to wrest power in Punjab and use it as a stepping stone for providing a national alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party. It had to settle for the role of the main opposition party after the Congress led by Capt Amarinder Singh wrested power in the state.

Barely a year into its role, with one of its legislators elected Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, the party is finding itself in deep crisis. Although a split in the party is unlikely, partly due to the anti-defection laws, the open dissension and airing of resentment by top leaders has dented its credibility.

The inept handling of the situation in the wake of an unconditional apology tendered by Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal to former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia, which triggered the crisis, could have been avoided if the state unit leaders had been kept in the loop. The indications are that they were deliberately kept in the dark and not taken into confidence before the apology was tendered in the court. Perhaps the fear was that they would oppose any such move.

One of the main planks on which AAP had campaigned for the elections was eradication of drug menace and to expose the alleged nexus between politicians and drug peddlers. Majithia, brother-in-law of the then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, somehow got to be projected as the mascot of this unholy nexus.
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Kejriwal, as is his wont, had been making wild allegations against anyone coming in his path. No wonder he is facing no less than 33 cases of defamation across 21 states of the country and has been spending considerable time in appearing in courts to defend himself.
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Majithia, who belongs to a rich landlord family, has been denying any involvement but AAP as well as the Congress kept targeting him. The only ‘link’ between him and drug mafia that was sought to be projected as ‘evidence’ was that he was named by a former DSP and drug smuggler, Bhola, during his interrogation. He retaliated with filing a series of defamation cases against their leaders as well as media organisations.

Kejriwal, as is his wont, had been making wild allegations against anyone coming in his path. No wonder he is facing no less than 33 cases of defamation across 21 states of the country and has been spending considerable time in appearing in courts to defend himself.

That’s the argument he advanced to the 10 party MLAs who attended a meeting with him in the wake of the open revolt against his decision to apologise to Majithia. By that time, however, much damage had been caused to the credibility of the party with senior leaders like the Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and journalist-turned-politician Kanwar Sandhu criticising the move. Even the state unit chief Bhagwant Mann and co-president Aman Arora tendered resignation from their posts.

Although some of the MLAs had indicated a possible breaking away from the party, it is not likely due to the amended anti-defection law which does not allow a split in legislature parties. It allows merger but given the circumstances, the party MLAs can’t afford to merge either with the Congress or the SAD-BJP combine. Even the possible merger with Lok Insaf Party of Bains brothers is ruled out as that party is restricted to Ludhiana. Besides with just about one year of the five-year term completed, none of the legislators would like to resign and face an uncertain election again.

While efforts are underway to mend fences, it is clear that the state unit of the party would demand and extract more autonomy for it from the Centre. It is undoubtedly a genuine demand but Kejriwal hasn’t been learning lessons from his past blunders.

Besides his action of throwing out top leaders like Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and others, his inept handling of the Punjab campaign was certainly the major cause for a comparatively poor result for the party in the state. He first expelled one of the foremost state leader, Sucha Singh Chottepur, and then imposed a central team to select candidates who made several blunders while selecting candidates. The party had to pay a heavy price due to its failure to repose faith in local leadership and providing it autonomy to take vital decision.
 

It is a lesson he should have taken much earlier from political rival, the Congress party. Like that party, his refusal to grant autonomy to state units and backing local leadership, has caused much damage to AAP.
 
 

 

 

 *(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. This article was also published by lokmarg.com and is being reproduced here with the due permission of the author. - Ed) 

 

  

 

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: 

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?   

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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 LOOT THAT RAJASTHAN COMMITTED – An insult bigger than Bollywood’s Padmawati! 

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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LOAN WAIVER FUNCTION II – MARCH 14 WILL BE REPEAT OF MANSA MESS-UP
Amarinder govt’s love for farmers, and my dad's for his scooter
08.03.18 - Nischay Pal
Amarinder govt’s love for farmers, and my dad's for his scooter



4.6 per cent. Four point six per cent. That's the mathematically-derived score achieved by the Punjab Government after one year of working hard to ameliorate the lot of the farmers. 

On the floor of the Assembly, CM Amarinder Singh announced a limited, conditional farm loan waiver that was to cover 10.22 lakh farmers. So far, about 46,000 have been covered as per the government's own claims. It had even held a massive function in Mansa to showcase its grand achievement. 

Now, it is holding yet another major loan waiver event in Doaba, and you must feel free to add that percentage to its annual score.

The Punjab Government, which won the hearts of the farmers of Punjab by holding a massive state function with taxpayers' money and gave farmers 6 feet x 3 feet IPL style certificates of loan waiver in Mansa in January, will now do the same for more farmers on March 14.
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If a situation can be messed up, trust his men to leave no stone unturned to mess it up. Course correction is almost anathema to him.
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For some reason, every single farmers' body has been castigating the government for its ham-handed handling of the loan waiver exercise, but governments do not learn so easily. 

Why would a government, which was singed politically even when it had tried to be a benefactor, not learn from what went wrong? After all, my dad does not ride a scooter anymore! 

Wait, I must first tell you a little bit about my dad.
  
A few years back, disregarding the clear directive of the doctor not to ride his scooter, my father celebrated his 74th birthday by saying an unprintable word about the doctor and reeled out a list of people who were super-active even in their 80s and 90s. No one could stop him that day from taking out his beloved two-wheeler against strong protests by the rest of the family.

Ten minutes later, we got a call. He had banged his machine into a car parked by the side of the 80-feet-wide road. He was bruised, and I was curious to know if his ego was.

"But how did the accident happen?" the doctor asked my mom. Dad was sullen, and silent. The doctor wasn't the guy he vibed very well with. My mom felt it was obligatory to explain.

"You see, doctor, this is how it goes. If there is a possibility of an accident happening, and my husband is riding his scooter, you can be sure that it will happen." I always admired the pithiness my mom could muster when she wanted to make a point. 
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"See doctor, it is like this. If there is a 10% chance of an accident, my husband provides the missing 90%." 
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The good doctor did not get it. "No, but it was an 80-feet-wide road and there was only one other cyclist in sight. So, how could..." 

Exasperated, my mom resorted to her favourite mathematical equation. "See doctor, it is like this. If there is a 10% chance of an accident, my husband provides the missing 90%." 

"Aha!" the doctor had found his eureka moment. 

"And if there is a zero per cent chance, I can provide 100% also! Besides, you are not my doctor anymore." This was my dad's decisive moment.

Amarinder Singh's government is a bit like that. If a situation can be messed up, trust his men to leave no stone unturned to mess it up. Course correction is almost anathema to him. He managed to do so during his last stint when he had brought in Suresh Kumar as his principal secretary, and the CMO had suddenly become functional. Now, even the same man as Chief Principal Secretary can’t do much if the political executive is determined not to learn.

 
At Mansa, it was the decision to call each of the defaulting debtors to the stage and making a big show of giving them unwieldy certificates. Besides, the selection of the beneficiaries was shoddy. And the decision to completely exclude farm labourers seemed a super-intelligent move to win some special antipathy of the utterly marginalised.

For the function slated for March 14, most likely to be held in Jalandhar with a political telescope directed towards the upcoming Shahkot bye-election, the Amarinder Singh government has found a still better way of antagonising farmers.

While Deputy Commissioners have been tasked with carrying out identification of such farmers and getting them to fill self-declaration forms, then having them verified, in reality, the Congress MLAs have been made the masters of the roster, to use the nation's new political parlance.
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Farmers looking forward to having their measly debt waived off will now need to be in the local MLA's good books since the legislator now has the unofficial (and unbridled) power to authenticate the case.
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Farmers looking forward to having their measly debt waived off will now need to be in the local MLA's good books since the legislator now has the unofficial (and unbridled) power to authenticate the case. Orwellian-speak terms like MLAs "facilitating" the process and doing "public service" punctuate the news reports but down in the villages, they understand what it means.

 
"Saanu apni lat thalle langhauna chauhnde ne (literal translation: they want us to pass underneath their leg)," said a leader of a farmer union. But then, you do not need literal translations to understand how a local MLA wants an opponent to behave.

"Villages are now places of deeply entrenched factionalism, and this system forces a family owing affiliation to a different political party to go with folded hands to the local Congress MLA or area strongman to get itself included in the loan waiver list. The MLAs are using this form-authentication power to either browbeat their opponents, or cajole them, to expand their writ," he explained.

The clever by half regime has kept this system of MLA doing this "public service" informal, otherwise the opposition MLAs will also get similar power. Wherever there are no Congress MLAs, someone has been made the unofficial halqa in charge, a perverse system put in place by the Akalis but carrying currency even in the Congress regime.

The forms are to be eventually deposited with the district administration for the final waiver. Ideally, the self-declaration details were to be displayed in villages so that objections can be invited and any unworthy, undeserving claimants can be weeded out. 
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After a poor selection of beneficiaries in the Mansa round, a system is now in place to guarantee even poorer selection. Last time, there was the inefficient officialdom. This time, a super efficient MLA out to fix opponents.
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But since the Amarinder government was busy trying to retain the one officer who was responsible for whatever success the Mansa event achieved, it did not find enough time to kick-start the next phase of loan waiver in time. Now, there will be no time for verification. As a result, whosoever can manage a stamp from the MLA will benefit, others will rue the system.

After a poor selection of beneficiaries in the Mansa round, a system is now in place to guarantee even poorer selection. Last time, there was the inefficient officialdom. This time, a super efficient MLA out to fix opponents.

 
There was a possibility of the Amarinder government messing it all up, and it did no  better than my dad on his scooter.

Listen to Sunil Jakhar, the president of the Punjab Congress who has now virtually confirmed that the "public service" performing MLA is a political tool of hegemony. 

When reporters asked him who will authenticate the self-declaration forms in the 40 constituencies which happen to have made the cardinal mistake not electing Congress MLAs, Jakhar said, "The MLAs of other parties are also welcome to involve themselves, provided that they accept the policy is good.”

If there is a zero per cent chance, the Congress can provide the entire 100% to ensure the party lands in a soup.

The idea of mal-administration has been normalised to such an extent that a very senior IAS officer actually directed top district officials at a meeting to get in touch with MLAs, and in case there was no Congress MLA, to identify the local Congress honcho. The officer had to be reminded that such instructions could be conveyed over phone instead of at the meeting.

So, how many farmers across Punjab will fall in love with the Amarinder Singh regime once all the 1.25 lakh forms are authenticated by various MLAs of the Congress for nearly Rs 580 crore worth of farm loan waiver? 

"One thing is for sure: we will not leave out any farmer, no matter to which political party is he affiliated, if he belongs to Shahkot," an official in a Doaba district informed. As if more proof was needed about the intentions behind holding the function in Doaba. 
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No decision has been taken about loan waiver for families most in need, the ones referred to as suicide-affected families. Similarly, no decision has been taken about waiving off the debt of farm labourers. In fact, even primary talks have not started on this front.
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Political pundits said the next functions will be held in Sangrur and Gurdaspur. The CM will also attend the Sangrur function but Gurdaspur is Jakhar's territory, so he will be given a chance to showcase himself. All arrangements with an eye on politics, not the cries emerging from Punjab’s farms.

For the time being, the loan waiver continues to remain limited to cooperative societies' loans.

No decision has been taken about loan waiver for families most in need, the ones referred to as suicide-affected families. Similarly, no decision has been taken about waiving off the debt of farm labourers. In fact, even primary talks have not started on this front.
____________________________________

For earlier stories by Punjab Today on how the Punjab government should have handled the debt waiver event, please click the following:

#  ਮੁੱਖ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਸਾਹਬਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰਕੇ 7 ਜਨਵਰੀ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰੋਗਰਾਮ ਰੱਦ ਕਰ ਦਿਓ। ਮੇਰੀ ਅਧਿਆਪਕਾ ਜਿਉਂਦੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਰਹੀਪਰ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰਕੇ ਇਹਨੂੰ ਰੱਦ ਕਰੋ!

Mr Chief Minister, please call off January 7 function. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

ਬੀਬੀ ਭੱਠਲ ਨਾਲ ਹੋਈ ਬੇਇਨਸਾਫ਼ੀ — ਨਹੀਂ ਸਹਾਂਗੇਨਹੀਂ ਸਹਾਂਗੇ

____________________________________

 
As of now, the government is merely discussing whether the Doaba function should be designated as State Function, in which case the government will pay for it. As per the latest information, the decision is to keep it as an event of the Cooperative Department. 

One thing is for sure: the loan waiver function will be a full scale tamasha where television cameras and channels will beam to the world the faces of frail, old farmers with folded hands looking expectedly towards a benevolent Maharaja and blessing him for such generosity.

These images are expected to win votes in 2019.

My dad stopped riding his scooter long back. The CM should, also. 
 
 

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: 

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 LOOT THAT RAJASTHAN COMMITTED – An insult bigger than Bollywood’s Padmawati! 

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    







[home] [1] 2  [next]1-5 of 7


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LOAN WAIVER FUNCTION II – MARCH 14 WILL BE REPEAT OF MANSA MESS-UP
Amarinder govt’s love for farmers, and my dad's for his scooter
08.03.18 - Nischay Pal
Amarinder govt’s love for farmers, and my dad's for his scooter



4.6 per cent. Four point six per cent. That's the mathematically-derived score achieved by the Punjab Government after one year of working hard to ameliorate the lot of the farmers. 

On the floor of the Assembly, CM Amarinder Singh announced a limited, conditional farm loan waiver that was to cover 10.22 lakh farmers. So far, about 46,000 have been covered as per the government's own claims. It had even held a massive function in Mansa to showcase its grand achievement. 

Now, it is holding yet another major loan waiver event in Doaba, and you must feel free to add that percentage to its annual score.

The Punjab Government, which won the hearts of the farmers of Punjab by holding a massive state function with taxpayers' money and gave farmers 6 feet x 3 feet IPL style certificates of loan waiver in Mansa in January, will now do the same for more farmers on March 14.
---------
If a situation can be messed up, trust his men to leave no stone unturned to mess it up. Course correction is almost anathema to him.
---------
For some reason, every single farmers' body has been castigating the government for its ham-handed handling of the loan waiver exercise, but governments do not learn so easily. 

Why would a government, which was singed politically even when it had tried to be a benefactor, not learn from what went wrong? After all, my dad does not ride a scooter anymore! 

Wait, I must first tell you a little bit about my dad.
  
A few years back, disregarding the clear directive of the doctor not to ride his scooter, my father celebrated his 74th birthday by saying an unprintable word about the doctor and reeled out a list of people who were super-active even in their 80s and 90s. No one could stop him that day from taking out his beloved two-wheeler against strong protests by the rest of the family.

Ten minutes later, we got a call. He had banged his machine into a car parked by the side of the 80-feet-wide road. He was bruised, and I was curious to know if his ego was.

"But how did the accident happen?" the doctor asked my mom. Dad was sullen, and silent. The doctor wasn't the guy he vibed very well with. My mom felt it was obligatory to explain.

"You see, doctor, this is how it goes. If there is a possibility of an accident happening, and my husband is riding his scooter, you can be sure that it will happen." I always admired the pithiness my mom could muster when she wanted to make a point. 
----------
"See doctor, it is like this. If there is a 10% chance of an accident, my husband provides the missing 90%." 
----------
The good doctor did not get it. "No, but it was an 80-feet-wide road and there was only one other cyclist in sight. So, how could..." 

Exasperated, my mom resorted to her favourite mathematical equation. "See doctor, it is like this. If there is a 10% chance of an accident, my husband provides the missing 90%." 

"Aha!" the doctor had found his eureka moment. 

"And if there is a zero per cent chance, I can provide 100% also! Besides, you are not my doctor anymore." This was my dad's decisive moment.

Amarinder Singh's government is a bit like that. If a situation can be messed up, trust his men to leave no stone unturned to mess it up. Course correction is almost anathema to him. He managed to do so during his last stint when he had brought in Suresh Kumar as his principal secretary, and the CMO had suddenly become functional. Now, even the same man as Chief Principal Secretary can’t do much if the political executive is determined not to learn.

 
At Mansa, it was the decision to call each of the defaulting debtors to the stage and making a big show of giving them unwieldy certificates. Besides, the selection of the beneficiaries was shoddy. And the decision to completely exclude farm labourers seemed a super-intelligent move to win some special antipathy of the utterly marginalised.

For the function slated for March 14, most likely to be held in Jalandhar with a political telescope directed towards the upcoming Shahkot bye-election, the Amarinder Singh government has found a still better way of antagonising farmers.

While Deputy Commissioners have been tasked with carrying out identification of such farmers and getting them to fill self-declaration forms, then having them verified, in reality, the Congress MLAs have been made the masters of the roster, to use the nation's new political parlance.
----------
Farmers looking forward to having their measly debt waived off will now need to be in the local MLA's good books since the legislator now has the unofficial (and unbridled) power to authenticate the case.
----------
Farmers looking forward to having their measly debt waived off will now need to be in the local MLA's good books since the legislator now has the unofficial (and unbridled) power to authenticate the case. Orwellian-speak terms like MLAs "facilitating" the process and doing "public service" punctuate the news reports but down in the villages, they understand what it means.

 
"Saanu apni lat thalle langhauna chauhnde ne (literal translation: they want us to pass underneath their leg)," said a leader of a farmer union. But then, you do not need literal translations to understand how a local MLA wants an opponent to behave.

"Villages are now places of deeply entrenched factionalism, and this system forces a family owing affiliation to a different political party to go with folded hands to the local Congress MLA or area strongman to get itself included in the loan waiver list. The MLAs are using this form-authentication power to either browbeat their opponents, or cajole them, to expand their writ," he explained.

The clever by half regime has kept this system of MLA doing this "public service" informal, otherwise the opposition MLAs will also get similar power. Wherever there are no Congress MLAs, someone has been made the unofficial halqa in charge, a perverse system put in place by the Akalis but carrying currency even in the Congress regime.

The forms are to be eventually deposited with the district administration for the final waiver. Ideally, the self-declaration details were to be displayed in villages so that objections can be invited and any unworthy, undeserving claimants can be weeded out. 
---------
After a poor selection of beneficiaries in the Mansa round, a system is now in place to guarantee even poorer selection. Last time, there was the inefficient officialdom. This time, a super efficient MLA out to fix opponents.
---------
But since the Amarinder government was busy trying to retain the one officer who was responsible for whatever success the Mansa event achieved, it did not find enough time to kick-start the next phase of loan waiver in time. Now, there will be no time for verification. As a result, whosoever can manage a stamp from the MLA will benefit, others will rue the system.

After a poor selection of beneficiaries in the Mansa round, a system is now in place to guarantee even poorer selection. Last time, there was the inefficient officialdom. This time, a super efficient MLA out to fix opponents.

 
There was a possibility of the Amarinder government messing it all up, and it did no  better than my dad on his scooter.

Listen to Sunil Jakhar, the president of the Punjab Congress who has now virtually confirmed that the "public service" performing MLA is a political tool of hegemony. 

When reporters asked him who will authenticate the self-declaration forms in the 40 constituencies which happen to have made the cardinal mistake not electing Congress MLAs, Jakhar said, "The MLAs of other parties are also welcome to involve themselves, provided that they accept the policy is good.”

If there is a zero per cent chance, the Congress can provide the entire 100% to ensure the party lands in a soup.

The idea of mal-administration has been normalised to such an extent that a very senior IAS officer actually directed top district officials at a meeting to get in touch with MLAs, and in case there was no Congress MLA, to identify the local Congress honcho. The officer had to be reminded that such instructions could be conveyed over phone instead of at the meeting.

So, how many farmers across Punjab will fall in love with the Amarinder Singh regime once all the 1.25 lakh forms are authenticated by various MLAs of the Congress for nearly Rs 580 crore worth of farm loan waiver? 

"One thing is for sure: we will not leave out any farmer, no matter to which political party is he affiliated, if he belongs to Shahkot," an official in a Doaba district informed. As if more proof was needed about the intentions behind holding the function in Doaba. 
----------
No decision has been taken about loan waiver for families most in need, the ones referred to as suicide-affected families. Similarly, no decision has been taken about waiving off the debt of farm labourers. In fact, even primary talks have not started on this front.
----------
Political pundits said the next functions will be held in Sangrur and Gurdaspur. The CM will also attend the Sangrur function but Gurdaspur is Jakhar's territory, so he will be given a chance to showcase himself. All arrangements with an eye on politics, not the cries emerging from Punjab’s farms.

For the time being, the loan waiver continues to remain limited to cooperative societies' loans.

No decision has been taken about loan waiver for families most in need, the ones referred to as suicide-affected families. Similarly, no decision has been taken about waiving off the debt of farm labourers. In fact, even primary talks have not started on this front.
____________________________________

For earlier stories by Punjab Today on how the Punjab government should have handled the debt waiver event, please click the following:

#  ਮੁੱਖ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਸਾਹਬਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰਕੇ 7 ਜਨਵਰੀ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰੋਗਰਾਮ ਰੱਦ ਕਰ ਦਿਓ। ਮੇਰੀ ਅਧਿਆਪਕਾ ਜਿਉਂਦੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਰਹੀਪਰ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰਕੇ ਇਹਨੂੰ ਰੱਦ ਕਰੋ!

Mr Chief Minister, please call off January 7 function. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!

ਬੀਬੀ ਭੱਠਲ ਨਾਲ ਹੋਈ ਬੇਇਨਸਾਫ਼ੀ — ਨਹੀਂ ਸਹਾਂਗੇਨਹੀਂ ਸਹਾਂਗੇ

____________________________________

 
As of now, the government is merely discussing whether the Doaba function should be designated as State Function, in which case the government will pay for it. As per the latest information, the decision is to keep it as an event of the Cooperative Department. 

One thing is for sure: the loan waiver function will be a full scale tamasha where television cameras and channels will beam to the world the faces of frail, old farmers with folded hands looking expectedly towards a benevolent Maharaja and blessing him for such generosity.

These images are expected to win votes in 2019.

My dad stopped riding his scooter long back. The CM should, also. 
 
 

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: 

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 LOOT THAT RAJASTHAN COMMITTED – An insult bigger than Bollywood’s Padmawati! 

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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Punjab is still very far from India
04.03.18 - Amandeep Sandhu
Punjab is still very far from India



A WEEK HAS PASSED since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his team including Sikh ministers came and left India. Through the visit, I watched with rising dismay, how a diplomatic disaster unfolded between two friendly countries because of one word – Khalistan. My dismay was not at the powers that be, we know them. My dismay was towards how people like me,  the liberals - committed to make democracy work, pursue justice, oppose the growing jingoistic saffronization of our nation - had behaved.  
--------
These days the liberals battle for Najeeb. Per a recent report, Punjab has 8257 Najeebs, or Singhs, or Kumars - the kind of enforced disappearances and killings going on right now Uttar Pradesh and earlier in Gujarat. The liberals battle for Judge Loya. Do they forget Advocate Khalra? 
---------
In 2013, at the Bangalore Literature Festival, in a panel discussion on The Gujarat Model: Is economic development a garb for hard Right politics? a senior journalist with years of experience in Punjab remarked, 'If India were to go towards Hindutva, I wonder why Sikhs fought against Khalistan.' The millennial software industry audience, starry eyed by Modi’s bid to power, roundly jeered the journalist. I schooled in Punjab during the militancy years. I know the violence, the fear, the reign of silence. I have remained haunted by Punjab. The haunting has now taken me back to explore Punjab a quarter century after the guns fell silent. 

As I travel, I see Punjab’s discontent has grown - ecological, agrarian, industrial, caste, gender, drugs, unemployment and so on. On human development indices, today Punjab is doing much worse than when it became the bread basket of India in the 1960s and even when it went through its dark decade and half of Khalistan militancy - 1978-1993. While Punjab is doing worse, I had assumed the ties between India and Punjab have mended from when in the 1980s - while growing up - I had noticed my father loose the affectionate 'ji' as a suffix to Sardar-ji. 
----------
Don’t the liberals see Operation Blue Star as a blot on India’s conscience that needs addressing? Don’t they see the 1984 pogrom as a model for Babri and Godhra? Do they feel jealous on how some of the miniscule Sikhs manage to do well in spite of Partition in 1947, in spite of 1984? 
----------
Did the Sikhs take the ‘ji’ as an entitlement? No. India is a democracy; all its citizens are equal. Was the ‘ji’ a mark of respect? Yes. It was cultural and economic - a way the nation perceived its dynamic minority comprising 1.5 per cent of the nation’s population. In the 1970s India believed Sikhs were its ‘farmers and soldiers’. In the 1980s, Sikhs were ‘traitors and terrorists’. The second framing led to the Army attack on Durbar Sahib in Amritsar through Operation Blue Star and the pogrom against Sikhs after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. 

Since that time, the shadow of 1984 has loomed large over Punjab and the Sikhs. The events ruptured the trust between the people and the nation state. The question the Sikhs asked was: if the nation state can attack our sanctum sanctorum of faith, what guarantee do we have of our life? This sparked the militant Khalistan movement which in turn led to the breakdown of the structures of democracy in Punjab. The violence left at least 50,000 dead, many thousands uprooted. The legislative and judiciary were absent. The all powerful police, no doubt in a precarious situation, also committed gross human rights violations. Many of them for rewards and promotions. 

The state curbed the militant Khalistan movement in the mid-nineties, pushed electoral democracy in 1992 through a vote with 23 percent turnout. But every political party since then has betrayed their mandate. India has still not addressed the lapsed trust – explained why Operation Blue Star took place or brought justice to the victims of 1984. Once politicians of all hues allow impunity for organized murder, other evils like corruption, nepotism and violation of systems follow. A quarter century later, a lumbering Punjab seeks to escape from the quagmire of poverty, farm debts, distress suicides, unemployment, and drugs. Yet, tiny Punjab with 1.5 percent of the nation’s land continues to be the farmer and soldier of the nation. In spite of its own ecological disaster – through over exploitation of its water table and pollution of its earth – Punjab continues to contribute 60 percent wheat and 40 percent rice to the central pool. Punjab continues to stand between not only between India and hunger but also between India and Pakistan – a role it has performed since 1965 when the Punjabi Suba movement raged.
----------
Didn’t the liberals see how rival political parties had ganged up to avoid being answerable? Didn’t they see how media that panders to Hindutva nationalism had plastered Punjab and Sikhs into a corner? The gap between India and Punjab split wide open.
----------
Seeing the systemic breakdown here and the possibility of better lives abroad, many Punjabis have escaped and are busy building better lives for themselves. Their emotional and familial ties with Panjab remain. Now a new generation has grown up abroad on stories of India’s apathy. Given the freedoms available abroad, a small number in the Sikh Diaspora continue to raise these issues. These voices are labelled as support for Khalistan. I am not absolving those who still seek an independent nation Khalistan but their numbers are few. However, their flashy presence is large and makes for media stories through which the political parties back home keep the lid on Punjab, don’t hear its voice, and keep it entangled in Khalistan. That is how they deflect from questions of development and keep a cover on the violations by the state. 
--------
No separatist movement ever ends only through police action. Punjab pulled back from militancy because Khalistan lost popular support. Punjab returned from violence, from sectarianism, but the liberals do not see Punjab. 
--------
These political parties, rarely together except to protect their turf and egos, played Khalistan in grotesque fashion when Trudeau’s entourage travelled India. Two years before the visit, before the Punjab election 2017, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had sought to visit Canada to meet the Sikh Diaspora. A maverick Diaspora group Sikhs For Justice blocked his visit. In turn, last spring, Amarinder refused to meet Canada Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan. This time Amarinder warmed up to Trudeau but the Canada PM stood by his minister. This led Delhi to cold shoulder the Canadians. The national media erupted in praise for India’s stance. I watched aghast how everyone had derived just one meaning of Khalistan – separatism – and ignored the other linked meaning that has a bearing on how Indian democracy functions – pursuit of justice. 

Finally the meeting between Amarinder, Trudeau and Sajjan took place. After that Trudeau met Modi. There was that hug which - against official protocol - has come to symbolize everything that is whimsical with current India’s foreign policy. However, by now it was too little and too late. The countries had blown Khalistan out of proportion, even thrown in Jaspal Atwal as a red herring. Didn’t the liberals see how rival political parties had ganged up to avoid being answerable? Didn’t they see how media that panders to Hindutva nationalism had plastered Punjab and Sikhs into a corner? Did they not see how the people of Punjab were excited and had extended a grand welcome to their successful Diaspora? By solely critiquing Trudeau’s clothing, kurtas and sherwanis, the liberals allowed themselves to be ensnared in the web the politicians had woven. The gap between India and Punjab split wide open.
--------- 
These days the liberals battle for Najeeb. Per a recent report, Panjab has 8257 Najeebs, or Singhs, or Kumars - the kind of enforced disappearances and killings going on right now Uttar Pradesh and earlier in Gujarat. The liberals battle for Judge Loya. Do they forget Advocate Khalra? Don’t the liberals see Operation Blue Star as a blot on India’s conscience that needs addressing? Don’t they see the 1984 pogrom as a model for Babri and Godhra? Are the liberals at a loss because they can’t decide whether Punjab is Udta on drugs or Khalistan on guns? Do they feel jealous on how some of the miniscule Sikhs manage to do well in spite of Partition in 1947, in spite of 1984? Is it fear of the brutal militancy that they still stereotype the Sikhs as traitors and terrorists? No separatist movement ever ends only through police action. Punjab pulled back from militancy because Khalistan lost popular support. Its composite society displayed this learning by standing together as recently as 2015 when Punjab was carpet-bombed with incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib and last year when Ram Rahim was arrested. Punjab returned from violence, from sectarianism, but the liberals do not see Punjab. 
 
Though Punjab has returned from violence, it has a long way to go to heal. Healing needs trust. Trust needs solidarities. During Trudeau’s visit and the media spin on it the liberals had a chance to display their solidarity with the Sikhs. They had a chance to nuance the term Khalistan - to take the sting out of separatism by advocating the pursuit of justice. They failed. Sadly, Punjab, the laboratory of sectarian violence and human rights violations, is fairly accustomed to isolation. It no longer cares. . But the liberals needed to care, they didn’t. After Trudeau left, NITI Ayog brazenly told Punjab: the nation does not need its produce, the centre has refused aid. If in the future things turn haywire, let it be noted the liberals remained silent at this critical juncture in Punjab’s history. 

 
(Amandeep Sandhu is the author of Roll of Honour, a novel on 1984, also adapted into Punjabi as "Gwah De Fanah Hon To Pehlan" by Daljit Ami. This article initially appeared in The Hindu Businessline, and is being reproduced here as per special arrangement with the author.)
 

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