Monthly Archives: October 2015

आप दादरी की भीड़ से अलग हैं या उसका हिस्सा

Reported by Ravish Kumar , Last Updated: बुधवार सितम्बर 30, 2015 09:43 PM IST

दादरी: इतना सब कुछ सामान्य कैसे हो सकता है? बिसाहड़ा गांव की सड़क ऐसी लग रही थी जैसे कुछ नहीं हुआ हो और जो हुआ है वो ग़लत नहीं है। दो दिन पहले सैंकड़ों की संख्या में भीड़ किसी को घर से खींच कर मार दे। मारने से पहले उसे घर के आख़िरी कोने तक दौड़ा ले जाए। दरवाज़ा इस तरह तोड़ दे कि उसका एक पल्ला एकदम से अलग होने के बजाए बीच से दरक कर फट जाए। सिलाई मशीन तोड़ दे। सिलाई मशीन का इस्तेमाल मारने में करे। ऊपर के कमरे की खिड़की पर लगी ग्रि‍ल तोड़ दे। उस भीड़ में सिर्फ वहशी और हिंसक लोग नहीं थे बल्कि ताक़तवर और ग़ुस्से वाले भी रहे होंगे। खिड़की की मुड़ चुकी ग्रि‍ल बता रही थी कि किसी की आंख में ग़ुस्से का खून इतना उतर आया होगा कि उसने दांतों से लोहे की जाली चबा ली होगी। भारी भरकम पलंग के नीचे दबी ईंटें निकाल ली गई थी।

कमरे का ख़ूनी मंज़र बता रहा था कि मोहम्मद अख़लाक़ की हत्या में शामिल भीड़ के भीतर किस हद तक नफरत भर गई होगी। इतना ग़ुस्सा और वहशीपना क्या सिर्फ इस अफवाह पर सवार हो गया होगा कि अख़लाक़ ने कथित रूप से गाय का मांस खाया है। यूपी में गौ मांस प्रतिबंधित है लेकिन उस कानून में यह कहां लिखा है कि मामला पकड़ा जाएगा तो लोग मौके पर ही आरोपी को मार देंगे। आए दिन स्थानीय अखबारों में हम पढ़ते रहते हैं कि भीड़ ने गाय की आशंका में ट्रक घेर लिया। यह काम तो पुलिस का है। पुलिस कभी भी कानून हाथ में लेने वाली ऐसी भीड़ पर कार्रवाई नहीं करती।

बिसाहड़ा गांव के इतिहास में सांप्रदायिक तनाव की कोई घटना नहीं है। गांव में कोई हिस्ट्री शीटर बदमाश भी नहीं है। मोहम्मद अख़लाक़ और उनके भाई का घर हिन्दू राजपूतों के घरों से घिरा हुआ है। यह बताता है कि सबका रिश्ता बेहतर रहा होगा। फिर अचानक ऐसा क्या हो गया कि एक अफवाह पर उसे और उसके बेटे को घर से खींच कर मारा गया। ईंट से सिर कुचल दिया गया। बेटा अस्पताल में जिंदगी की लड़ाई लड़ रहा है। उसकी हालत बेहद गंभीर है।

हर जगह वही कहानी है जिससे हमारा हिन्दुस्तान कभी भी जल उठता है। लाउडस्पीकर से ऐलान हुआ। व्हाट्सऐप से किसी गाय के कटने का वीडियो आ गया। एक बछिया ग़ायब हो गई। लोग ग़ुस्से में आ गए। फिर कहीं मांस का टुकड़ा मिलता है। कभी मंदिर के सामने तो कभी मस्जिद के सामने कोई फेंक जाता है। इन बातों पर कितने दंगे हो गए। कितने लोग मार दिए गए। हिन्दू भी मारे गए और मुस्लिम भी। हम सब इन बातों को जानते हैं फिर भी इन्हीं बातों को लेकर हिंसक कैसे हो जाते हैं। हमारे भीतर इतनी हिंसा कौन पैदा कर देता है।

दादरी दिल्ली से बिल्कुल सटा हुआ है। बिसाहड़ा गांव साफ सुथरा लगता है। ऐसे गांव में हत्या के बाद सब कुछ सामान्य हो जाएगा ये बात मुझे बेचैन कर रही है। आस पास के लोग कैसे किसी की सामूहिक हत्या की बात पचा सकते हैं। शर्म और बेचैनी से वे परेशान क्यों नहीं दिखे? भीड़ बनने और हत्यारी भीड़ बनने के ख़िलाफ़ चीख़ते चिल्लाते कोई नहीं दिखा। जब मैं पहुंचा तो गांव नौजवानों से ख़ाली हो चुका था।

लोग बता रहे थे कि लाउडस्पीकर से ऐलान होने के कुछ ही देर बाद हज़ारों लोग आ गए। मगर वो कौन थे यह कोई नहीं बता रहा। सब एक दूसरे को बचाने में लगे हैं। यह सवाल पूछने पर कि वो चार लोग कौन थे सब चुप हो जाते हैं। यह सवाल पूछने पर उन चार पांच लड़कों को कोई जानता नहीं था तो उनके कहने पर इतनी भीड़ कैसे आ गई, सब चुप हो जाते हैं। अब सब अपने लड़कों को बीमार बता रहे हैं। दूसरे गांव से लोग आ गए। हज़ारों लोग एक गली में तो समा नहीं सकते। गांव भर में फैल गए होंगे। तब भी किसी ने उन्हें नहीं देखा। जो पकड़े गए हैं उन्हें निर्दोष बताया जा रहा है।

जांच और अदालत के फ़ैसले के बाद ही किसी को दोषी माना जाना चाहिए लेकिन हिंसा के बाद जिस तरह से पूरा गांव सामान्य हो गया है उससे लगता नहीं कि पुलिस कभी उस भीड़ को बेनक़ाब कर पाएगी। वैसे पुलिस कब कर पाई है। मांस गाय का था या बकरी का फ़ोरेंसिक जांच से पता चल भी गया तो क्या होगा। जनता की भीड़ तो फ़ैसला सुना चुकी है। अख़लाक़ को कुचल कुचल कर मार चुकी है। अख़लाक़ की दुलारी बेटी अपनी आंखों के सामने बाप के मारे जाने का मंज़र कैसे भूल सकती है। उसकी बूढ़ी मां की आंखों पर भी लोगों ने मारा है। चोट के गहरे निशान हैं।

दादरी की घटना किसी विदेश यात्रा की शोहरत या चुनावी रैलियों की तुकबंदी में गुम हो जाएगी। लेकिन जो सोच सकते हैं उन्हें सोचना चाहिए। ऐसा क्या हो गया है कि हम आज के नौजवानों को समझा नहीं पा रहे हैं। बुज़ुर्ग कहते हैं कि गौ मांस था तब भी सजा देने का काम पुलिस का था। नौजवान सीधे भावना के सवाल पर आ जाते हैं। वे जिस तरह से भावना की बात पर रिएक्ट करते हैं उससे साफ पता चलता है कि यह किसी तैयारी का नतीजा है। किसी ने उनके दिमाग़ में ज़हर भर दिया है। वे प्रधानमंत्री की बात को भी अनसुना कर रहे हैं कि सांप्रदायिकता ज़हर है।

मेरे साथ सेल्फी खिंचाने आया प्रशांत जल्दी ही तैश में आ गया। ख़ूबसूरत नौजवान और पेशे से इंजीनियर। प्रशांत ने छूटते ही कहा कि किसी को किसी की भावना से खेलने का हक नहीं है। हमारे सहयोगी रवीश रंजन ने टोकते हुए कहा कि मां बाप से तो लोग ठीक से बात नहीं करते और भावना के सवाल पर किसी को मार देते हैं। अच्छा लड़का लगा प्रशांत पर लगा कि उसे इस मौत पर कोई अफ़सोस नहीं है। उल्टा कहने लगा कि जब बंटवारा हो गया था कि हिन्दू यहां रहेंगे और मुस्लिम पाकिस्तान में तो गांधी और नेहरू ने मुसलमानों को भारत में क्यों रोका। इस बात से मैं सहम गया। ये वो बात है जिससे सांप्रदायिकता की कड़ाही में छौंक पड़ती है।

प्रशांत के साथ खूब गरमा गरम बहस हुई लेकिन मैं हार गया। हम जैसे लोग लगातार हार रहे हैं। प्रशांत को मैं नहीं समझा पाया। यही गुज़ारिश कर लौट आया कि एक बार अपने विचारों पर दोबारा सोचना। थोड़ी और किताबें पढ़ लो लेकिन वो निश्चित सा लगा कि जो जानता है वही सही है। वही अंतिम है। आख़िर प्रशांत को किसने ये सब बातें बताईं होंगी? क्या सोमवार रात की भीड़ से बहुत पहले इन नौजवानों के बीच कोई और आया होगा? इतिहास की आधू अधूरी किताबें और बातें लेकर? वो कौन लोग हैं जो प्रशांत जैसे नौजवानों को ऐसे लोगों के बहकावे में आने के लिए अकेला छोड़ गए? खुद किसी विदेशी विश्वविद्यालय में भारत के इतिहास पर अपनी फटीचर पीएचडी जमा करने और वाहवाही लूटने चले गए।

हम समझ नहीं रहे हैं। हम समझा नहीं पा रहे हैं। देश के गांवों में चिंगारी फैल चुकी है। इतिहास की अधकचरी समझ लिये नौजवान मेरे साथ सेल्फी तो खींचा ले रहे हैं लेकिन मेरी इतनी सी बात मानने के लिए तैयार नहीं है कि वो हिंसक विचारों को छोड़ दें। हमारी राजनीति मौकापरस्तों और बुज़दिलों की जमात है। दादरी मोहम्मद अख़लाक़ की मौत कवर करने गया था। लौटते वक्त पता नहीं क्यों ऐसा लगा कि एक और लाश के साथ लौट रहा हूं।

The Ravish Kumar interview: ‘Our lazy liberal class was always opportunistic’

INTERVIEW

One of the most respected anchors on Hindi news television fumes at online trolls, the growing radicalisation in India and the failure of liberals to stand up for secularism.
Akash Banerjee · Oct 19, 2015 · 08:15 am
The Ravish Kumar interview: 'Our lazy liberal class was always opportunistic'

Veteran journalist Ravish Kumar is upset and very angry. He is agitated not only at the rising intolerance in India and the systematic targeting of journalists, but also at society in general and “lazy liberals” for failing to demand freedom of speech and a questioning media. In this in-depth interview, Ravish Kumar talks about how the lynching of a Muslim man at Dadri impacted him, why he went off Facebook and Twitter, and how he’s dealing with the pressures building on him.

After the Dadri lynching, you did a stinging report from ground zero and wrote a blog that was widely circulated. ‘I had gone to Dadri to cover Mohammad Akhlaq’s death. On the way back, I felt I was carrying another corpse inside me,’ you concluded. Did Dadri jolt you at a deeper level?
What I reported were cold, hard facts. It may appear depressing but that’s the reality on the ground. I have reported from such villages for 20 years and I can see the change in front of my eyes. The same villages that were shining examples of Hindu-Muslim unity now have the two communities at each other’s throat.

People today are willing to kill over a mere rumour of beef eating – claiming that their religious sentiments were hurt. What happens to these sentiments when a cow dares to enter the field of a Hindu farmer and eat his crop? Does he hesitate before hitting the cow?

Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s highest milk-producing states and cows are valuable economic units of production. They always have been animals of affection, but this hardline transition into a sacred “mother figure” that leads to killings is worrying.

Earlier, in these villages, you could spot and talk to people of different hues and political beliefs – now an eerie uniformity in thinking has been brought in. This only allows for one line of thinking, allows only one political belief to be followed.

Is it true that you didn’t spot any remorse in the village over such a brutal killing? In fact, you had villagers arguing with you about why a Muslim family was living here and not Pakistan. Where did that argument come from?
Clearly youths are being trained in this sort of thinking, some historical grievances are being exploited and exaggerated to show that we have been wronged. I am a student of modern history and my professors taught me not to believe any line of thinking blindly – but these youths are rigid in their beliefs and they have been religiously indoctrinated with a skewed sense of history.

This is not only limited to villages. I can show examples of how students in top-notch colleges have been made to believe in half-baked facts of history that use historical grievances to further a political line of thinking. These students aren’t being asked to explore, challenge, debate history – they are being told to gulp down one version, one narrative.

The failure is also [engendered] because all the liberals have drifted towards right wing organisations. The moderate villagers, the panchayat elders, the voices of reason were never really respected by any party, be it the BSP [Bahujan Samaj Party], SP [Samajwadi Party] or the Congress. On the other hand, the senas and sansthas gave a lot of muscle/respect to those who joined their ranks, tilting the scales in their favour. What has happened as a result is that they have become the dominant voice now, while the moderate and secular voices are being beaten down.

So the failure is as much of the liberal/secular parties who didn’t encourage and build on the moderate voices?
Our lazy liberal class was always opportunistic. They never really did any legwork, even today they are not willing to work. Their protest is limited to finger-pointing against the government, but they are never seen amongst the people.

When the Congress will be in power, these liberals will become directors of institutions like the NCERT [National Council of Educational Research and Training], and even after retiring they will remain in director mode. Contrast this with an RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] functionary who will become director when BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] is in power and post that return to RSS work. This is a huge difference in attitude and work culture.

Even after the prime minister said that communalism was poisonous and that we should focus on development first, the liberals have refused to take this message out and corner those who are trying to divide India. Of course, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also largely remained silent on such issues. On one hand he tweets his condolence to Asha Bhosle over her son’s death – it shows that the PM is capable of great sensitivity – but he remains silent after repeated cases of communal violence and deaths. While he did finally criticise the Dadri killing, he could have done it earlier to send out a clear message.

But why have you stopped tweeting since the last two months? You have lakhs of followers, you have a voice on social media.
I have stopped tweeting because social media space is no longer a citizen’s space. It has been usurped by political parties to peddle their ideology and propaganda.

It’s an online lynch mob where anyone with organisational support of 500 can send out 10 lakh tweets and declare me a thief. But this sort of opposition hasn’t ever bothered me. My silence on social media is directed at the coward liberals who are silently watching from the sidelines and are not willing to speak out against this online mob.

Liberals have this amazing quality of being able to go abroad and settle there or find comfort in institutions – but they will never step up and speak. Same is the case with liberal political parties. They never spoke when needed and today have been rendered defunct. Just look at the CPI(M), CPI or the Congress. They are limited to doing press conferences. They are not in a position to go out and tell people what is happening is wrong – because in the past these parties, too, have compromised their principles and that haunts them now.

Not only are the moderates/liberals silent on social media – they haven’t done anything to prevent these lynch mobs from spreading lies about anyone and slander them on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

This lynch mob didn’t emerge in one day. Is there a method to the mob?
Why is it that all online abusers on Twitter have the same profile? Whenever I have bothered to check, the abuser has a profile proudly claiming that he’s a Sanghi, there is either a photo of Narendra Modi or that of Lord Rama with a bow, there is talk of “Hindu Gaurav”. Now taking pride in your religion is great – but is abusing, spreading rumours, heaping baseless allegations “gaurav”? That too when you have the prime minister of India as your DP? No one has researched this aspect. Who are these people? What is their motivation, who finances them?

Whatever their identity and motive, aren’t they small in number? Why would journalists and organisations be threatened by them?
I disagree. This is not limited to just a Twitter army. There are a large number of people in India today who actually believe in this ideology. You cannot ignore this trend. How is it that you have 300 people abusing you and maybe a dozen actually discussing or debating a topic? This can’t be all manufactured.

What is the most stinging comment/allegation made against you on Twitter?
I guess after a lifetime of hard work and remaining uninfluenced, the one thing I am not ready to hear is that I am a dalal [tout]. Especially from a public that otherwise seeks favours from dalals and come elections lines up and votes for political strongmen without any other consideration for the candidate’s performance or police record.

Does the aggression against the media increase when a sitting minister, VK Singh, uses the word “Presstitute” to define the media?
Faced with hard questions, you can either issue threats or abuse. The other tactic is to discredit the questioner.

There is a lot of corruption in the military too. I get letters of grievances form servicemen regularly. Should the media then brand the Army as one? If VK Singh is such a fine judge of character, then he should also single out those journalists who are soft towards him and his party. Why is it that only those who dare to ask uncomfortable questions about him or his party get branded as presstitutes?

For decades, journalists have asked uncomfortable questions. They have either been answered with a smile or not at all. But it’s only recently that every journalist asking a probing question has been labelled as presstitute or anti-national. So let’s make a rule then, let journalists ask only good questions and print only nice answers – because it seems that is what the government wants.

Many journalists who have slogged all their lives with a pittance as salary are being branded as traitors and dalals. While those who really have done such stuff are walking with their heads high. Why?

Given the low tolerance of this government to being questioned, what is the most worrying fallout we can expect in the coming months?
In the past, the media was blamed for not speaking anything against 10 Janpath. Then it was accused of being pro-Congress. But didn’t journalists expose the Vadra land deals? Was it not journalists who dug out and aggressively reported on the 2G, CWG, Coal scams, etc. Even today it is alleged that the Congress party is controlling the media. The party doesn’t even have requisite funds for itself and it will pay off the media? (Laughs) It amazes me that people believe this allegation so easily.

I am happy to see many journalists still question the government. This is their role. Critical articles are published and hard facts are being brought out. However, what worries me is that many other journalists are running scared. They will not admit it, but I see it happen almost daily. There is self-censorship on the extent to which they will write on the government. Many friends ask me to do a story as it wouldn’t be allowed in their publication. This is not a commentary on Delhi only. Nitish Kumar did the same in Bihar. His penchant for controlling the media earned him the sarcastic tag of Editor-In-Chief of Bihar. Same has been the case with Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh – journalistic independence has been severely curtailed in many places.

Also, you are expected to write according to a certain theme now – Gujarat is the most developed state and UP the most backward. If you point out the brewing unrest in Gujarat or the fact that Greater Noida is India’s best planned city, then you become the agent of another party. This trend is deeply depressing.

Has all this negativity forced you to ever think of quitting journalism?
I hope not anytime soon! But the thought does come into my mind (Laughs). But the society also has to support us and our role. They should keep a watch on journalists but also fight for our rights – that is not happening. I am not looking for support or fans. I was far happier reporting without people coming up to me. But the amount of pressure applied on me – on my family – is not funny.

Well-wishers say that I should ignore all this, but why should I ignore all this hate and abuse? Why should I be the only target? If people at large don’t speak out against this rising oppression then I am sorry I won’t be able to survive this onslaught. Quality journalism and the right to ask questions is not my burden only. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

Will you continue to speak for the cause of secularism? Today it’s become a dirty word, you are a ‘sickular’ if you speak for all religions.
This is another fault of the lazy liberals, they remained silent as the very definition of secular was challenged and mutilated.

I assure you India is doomed the day being secular becomes a crime. People may choose to believe him or not (I do), but when the Prime Minister said that “communalism is poison”, what he was really inferring was that secularism is the amrit [elixir] for India.

Do we have to now justify ourselves for speaking for all religions? Weren’t we taught in schools that “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, aapas me hai bhai-bhai”? Of course there are extremists on both sides of the spectrum and they all should be condemned. However, when the dominant force becomes extreme, the situation becomes even more dangerous.

While secularism is being ridiculed and everyone is being dubbed a pseudo-secular, another prominent journalist has written that without secularism, India will become a Hindu Pakistan. Is that just a fancy coinage or a real possibility?
India will always remain India. What I can say is that even those who believe in Hindutva politics are feeling a little jittery now. If the senas and the sansthas keep spreading their tentacles, they know that interference into their homes and way of life will not be far away.

It’s the women of India who should have fought back after attempts were made to control their dressing, their interaction levels and their very standing in society. I was so happy when women came out in large numbers and protested after the Nirbhaya incident. I believe that there is no stopping a nation that has an empowered female citizenry. Yet even as clear attempts are being made to control their lives, women haven’t spoken up. They should know that they are the first and last victims of such cultural and moral policing. I am amazed at how there has been virtually no response from 50% of the voice of India against this rising intolerance.

Secularism for me is the will and ability of people to live together in harmony, nothing less, nothing more. Why are we confusing the issue so much? It’s true that parties have been opportunistic in the name of faith, but that wasn’t secularism in the first place. Being secular is being nice to people.

Institutions like Sanathan Sanstha are in the news these days for provocative statements and, worse, for alleged links to killers of rationalists. Are these really fringe organisations?
They are not fringe at all. In fact they are well established and well entrenched. With political support, they are now in a makeover mode. The liberals can name them fringe in their drawing rooms, but the reality on the ground is these organisations have unchallenged power.

Despite being the poster boy of balanced and nuanced reporting and anchoring, is Ravish No. 1 in ratings? Or there is something wrong with viewing choices of people?
Fortunately, NDTV doesn’t feel the need to show me ratings every Friday. Never. I am just told to go ahead and do my work. But I am quite sure that if I was anywhere close to number one, I would have been told (Laughs).

My show Prime Time has a wide range of stories that are not driven by TRP considerations. If that was the case, there would be been a set format for the show.

From the feedback that I get, lots of people watch this show. Even in villages of Bihar, people show me videos of Prime Time that they have downloaded on to their mobile phones. In Mumbai’s Juhu area, I went to ask for directions from a few taxi drivers. They were incidentally watching my show on their mobile phones. I also was treated to tea by them.

So are you Super Journalist Ravish?
I am not a super journalist. On the contrary, I am trying to dilute my profile because I can’t survive this negative pressure, this abuse anymore. In any case, journalists should shy away from becoming celebrities because that’s where the problem starts. When I go vegetable shopping, people comment on my torn shirt. What am I expected to do? Go nattily dressed to the market? I tell people that I am open to them doing my grocery shopping (Laughs).

India has always been the bastion of free speech in a region where it has been severely curbed – in Pakistan by Talibani diktats and in Bangladesh by the killing of bloggers. Is India headed the same way with rising intolerance and stifling of dissent?
This intolerance is being built and encouraged in India. But there is still ample space to write what you want to write. I will not be that pessimistic on this issue. During Arvind Kejriwal’s swearing-in, from the same grounds, I had cautioned people not to become his permanent fans – rather go back home and be his critic.

Political parties are constantly pitching netas as celebs, so that maximum number of fans can been made out of supporters. This ensures that your base is solid and that your support is unquestioned. For such fans, logic, ethics or governance don’t matter. Their leader is right and you are wrong to question anything.

It’s no secret that we have journalists who have clear biases for the BJP, for the Congress, etc. I suggest that the Press Council of India should make it public – who’s reporting objectively for the BJP and who’s reporting objectively for the Congress and so on. (Laughs) Drama will be over.

You may be battling an online army of trolls and TRP ratings may continue to elude. But it still has been quite a journey for the small-town boy from Motihari?
Oh yes, it indeed has been a long journey. When I came into Delhi as a student, I didn’t even know what to do if someone said ‘Please have a seat’ in English. This is why I tell folks back in Bihar that learning Hindi and taking pride in Bhojpuri is fine. But getting a working knowledge of English is a must.

But I am also proud of Bihar. Every other student today is learning English, if required with the assistance of a home tutor. The BJP has also realised the power of Bihari aspiration, that’s why their manifesto promises German and Spanish classes if it comes to power in the state. Nitish Kumar wants English to be taught at block-level schools – so much for the Hindi medium-only campaign launched by a few political parties.

Unlike most of the big names in English journalism, you come from heartland India. How did the small-town upbringing shape your journalism?
I think that plays to one’s advantage. You are much more connected to the ground and have witnessed the realities of the countryside first hand.

However, I would still say that an even bigger influence in my work comes from the interactions and learnings that I had in this big city of Delhi. My college professors taught me to think, write and talk about all aspects of history and be more critical in my thinking. So Delhi, in many ways, made me what I am. My gurus in journalism are all English journalists.

Talking about critical matters. You marrying without parental consent became ‘Breaking News’ back home.
Yes, that’s true (Smiles). You see that was the time when many youngsters who were brought up under strict parental control broke free and had love marriage. These were kids who were coming to Delhi University and meeting new people and falling in love – so over the last 20 years you will see a lot of such inter-caste marriages. For most, there was acceptance after a period of opposition. For me the acceptance is so great now that sometimes I feel that a little less acceptance would be fine (Laughs).

I believe that migration is good for overall progress of a society. In fact the world is based on a migratory pattern. If you do an anthropological survey of Bihari people, you will discover that many would have come from Gujarat or Indore generations ago. Similarly, we Biharis have benefited immensely from this new exposure.

What is tragic is that when people from Punjab and Gujarat go out and find success, we celebrate them. [However,] similar success stories from Bihar are seen in poor light and we are labelled as those who “escaped from Bihar”. Tell me who hasn’t escaped to better opportunities. Migration is not a question of law and order only – people even leave the most orderly state for greener pastures.

We have seen Ravish as a reporter, as an anchor, and now there is Ravish the author who’s selling books quite briskly.
I write a lot to get stuff out of my system. Before writing blogs and books, I used to do mobile photojournalism. I used to click images and post them online on Facebook. I enjoy writing. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I just sit down and write.

Finally, the difficult question. What is the future of journalism in India?
This is not a question you should ask a journalist. The poor guy breaks his back, struggles for support and then finally gets co-opted into the system. This question needs to be asked to the Indian society – what sort of journalism do they want?

When the Chief Justice of India wants tenure protection, why shouldn’t the editor of a publication have the same? Any editorial person can be kicked out of his job in two minutes and he can do nothing about it. If the society wants a strong, questioning and vibrant media, then it will have to stand up and support us. Else, this is not a struggle worth fighting for.

This interview was conducted in Hindi and translated into English.

Akash Banerjee is a former journalist who worked with Times Now and India Today Television, between 2004 and 2013. He is the author of Tales from Shining and Sinking India: How News Channels Deliver the Big Breaking Stories. He currently works as Associate Vice-President for the Times Group’s Radio Mirchi.

http://scroll.in/article/764123/ruins-of-gurudwaras-blur-the-lines-on-the-india-pakistan-border

Romila Thapar: Before anyone can debate the Sangh, it has to stop abusing its opponents

The renowned historian discusses the growing intolerance in India, the religious Right’s colonial idea of history, and asks if our opinion-makers ever read.
Ajaz Ashraf  · Today · 09:15 am

Romila Thapar: Before anyone can debate the Sangh, it has to stop abusing its opponents

Romila Thapar is one of India’s foremost historians. In this interview with Scroll.in, she discusses her new book, the rising tide of intolerance in the country, the Modi government, the Sangh Parivar’s reluctance to debate communalism, the ascendency of the religious Right, and its colonial idea of history. To counter the crisis facing India, Thapar says it is important to tell the public about the essential meaning of Indian plurality.

Your book, The Public Intellectual in India, is based on your lecture, ‘To question or not to question? That is the question’, which you delivered on October 26, 2014. Do you find it gratifying that so many writers have registered their protest against the growing intolerance by returning their Sahitya Akademi awards?
Well, what caused the protest is inexcusable but that there has been a protest by the writers has been so welcome that it has made the book seem somewhat unnecessary (Laughs). I am amazed and delighted that so many people have broken their silence and come out to make a statement.

Your lecture was published and read widely. To what extent do you think the lecture was an inspiration for the writers to return the awards?
I don’t think one lecture can spark off this kind of a protest. The sheer horror of what has been happening and its frequency in recent months has provoked this reaction. It was an expression of outrage.

Do you think this outrage is over the lynching of a person in Dadri, or the killing of Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, or the general ambience of the country?
Assassination and lynching bring intentions into sharp focus. But there is the general ambience as it is developing these days. We are now a society that fears the terror of extremist groups. It is time we stopped calling them fringe groups. They are terrorists, their function is to evoke terror and spread fear in various communities by killing and threatening people, and their patrons in the mainstream protect them. There are connections within the umbrella of a similar ideological link, which is perhaps why their patrons do not speak against them. The pattern is common to such groups in many parts of the world.

Over the last one year, there has been talk about the new government bringing in development and economic change. We have seen very little of that, at least not change affecting those that need it most. But what we have seen a lot of is what some people have referred to as the underbelly of the government. These extremist groups seem to have decided that it is a now-or-never situation for them. What seems to be happening is that the underbelly is increasingly becoming the dominant factor.

What is your response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling the Dadri incident sad and yet accusing the protesting writers of resorting to the ‘politics of polarisation’?
Is sadness the emotion Dadri brings out? Isn’t there a stronger emotion than that?

Like what?
Outrage. But this is obviously not what the government feels since a member of the central government visiting Dadri said, “It was an accident.” Don’t they know the difference between lynching and an accident? I believe they do know the difference and, therefore, one is surprised at the choice of the word.

Another central minister Nirmala Sitharaman states that we need to have a debate on communalism. (Laughs) I couldn’t believe it. From the time before Partition till now, in all the social sciences, in films, in arts, in literature, one of the central themes has been the debate on communalism. If you look at the history written since 1947, one of the major strands has been the concern over communalism.

Do these people not read? How can anyone say that we haven’t debated it, when the debate has been going on for almost a century. Of course, the difference is that all those who have entered the debate on communalism have done so with a certain understanding of the problem. But what we get from some elements of the Sangh Parivar is not a counter-debate, but objectionable personal abuse. Abuse is not an argument. If there has to be a debate with the Sangh Parivar – if that is what the minister meant – then it has to stop abusing its opponents.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has called the protest of writers a ‘manufactured paper rebellion’.
The word manufactured in this context is meaningless. You can say everything is manufactured. What is the difference between manufactured support and manufactured protest? If he intends to say that the protest is artificially put together then he seems unaware that it was quite evidently spontaneous because large numbers of people have reacted adversely to what has been happening. People have expressed their outrage over these recent events. There is nothing manufactured about it at all.

Jaitley says he wonders why the same writers didn’t protest against the Emergency, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the Bhagalpur riots of 1989.
That is not true, many of us protested against the Emergency. We didn’t carry placards or organise sit-ins at Jantar Mantar. We do remember who protested strongly and who protested meekly, or who remained silent. To tar all with the same brush, or to try and smear those protesting today by saying they did not do so then is, I am afraid, completely untenable and, alas, so predictable. It is anyway no argument to imply that because you didn’t protest against the Emergency, your current protest doesn’t count. The Emergency was in any case, a different situation from the current one.

Could you specify the difference?
To put it at its simplest, the Emergency was not aimed at creating a Hindu Rashtra. It clamped down on freedoms and the protest was against that. What is happening now is again a clamping down on freedoms but added to this is that these are accompanied by attempts to assert the control of Hindu organisations over civil society, and this has introduced a strong communal content into their activities. This wasn’t the case with the Emergency where one was objecting to the denial of freedoms but these were not necessarily accompanied by communal prejudices.

Different people protest against different things. You can’t judge those who protest today on the basis of what happened four decades ago.

You say in the introduction to The Public Intellectual, ‘The majority of current politicians are characterised by little, if any, vision of the kind of society they wish to construct, barring those that come with the limited concept of extreme religious nationalism.’ Why is it that those with a limited concept of extreme religious nationalism have a vision, not the others?
When I was teaching in Delhi University in the sixties, the conversation at the Coffee House was about the kind of society we were building. Many of us in those days had a vision of what was our workable if not ideal society. Today, people sitting in university coffee houses are not discussing this. They are talking about where the next buck is to be made and when the next promotion is coming – these are genuine concerns, legitimate issues. But let’s go a little further and talk about what is happening around us?

Earlier, it used to be the people close to the extreme Left who believed they had a vision of what society should be, where citizens had equality and there was a guarantee of social justice. But today, the people who vociferously propagate the vision of their ideal society are those who want to establish a Hindu Rashtra, identified by religion and unequal rights of citizenship. It is they who have a clear idea of how they want to go about it. The vision of others tends to remain in the shadows.

Why is it that the followers of Hindu Rashtra have remained steadfast, not others?
Perhaps it is partly because no political party is galvanising people who are, so to speak, politically of the Left or are liberal, in the same way as before. This is less so with the Right-liberal, except that it can’t always keep a sufficient distance from the religious Right. The latter is a group that is fully galvanised at the moment.

As I argue in The Public Intellectual, the watershed in India was 1991, when we decided to switch to a market economy and neo-liberalism. That brings about substantial change in the nation. For one, your sights cease to focus only on the nation you belong to, and you begin to see the global scale impinging on the national. At the same time, you are also not too sure where the nation is on the global scale.

Second, your expectations soar. You think you will have an astonishing change incorporating social and economic mobility. Since that hasn’t happened, you now have extreme insecurity. This insecurity leads to desperation. Since the problem can’t be solved by economic changes as had been hoped, the other alternative is to say, that we Hindus have a special stake in the country, and we must assert our priority.

This is tied into the question of thinking as a liberal, a democrat or secular democrat. In a way, this loosens the conventional vision of society and allows the freedom to think of alternate visions. There cannot be just one vision; and the vision of a Hindu Rashtra isn’t going to run away in a hurry. But people do need to gather together to discuss more openly, and concretely, what kind of society they want. This is not a decision that is once and for all. History records social change, and as a society changes there are bound to be modifications of the original vision. There has been an assumption over the last 30 years or so that we will somehow have secularism, that somehow we will have a democratic system, and that somehow this country will carry on as it always has. This assumption needs to be revisited if it is to approach reality.

Don’t you think one failing of the public intellectuals is that they have vacated the religious space, leaving the Sangh Parivar to appropriate the role of being the principal interpreter of Hinduism?
I tend to think so. Many of us had argued that religion isn’t important in a society, that it is a personal matter. Yes, religion is a personal matter. I lecture and write on secularism, trying to make people understand that secularism isn’t anti-religion. What it questions is the more socially fundamental condition, namely, the hold that religious organisations have over the functions of civil society. It is these that we as social scientists did not analyse in sufficient depth.

Could you provide examples of what you are saying?
Take the state schools. We tried to encourage the use of history textbooks that were not religion-oriented, that were secular. By this I mean that all of history was not explained only by the religious policies of the rulers. But simultaneously religious organisations and politico-cultural organisations ran schools where students were taught the reverse of what was in the more secular textbooks. Many of us requested the [Education] Ministry to do an evaluation of the contents of all the textbooks used, but this did not happen. Nobody has tried to examine what these textbooks contain. All that is required is to have professional economists, historians, sociologists, anthropologists and professionals in other disciplines, to evaluate the widely-used textbooks in their disciplines. Are these textbooks of quality? Will these books teach students to think independently, which is what education is about? Do they reflect the plurality of our cultures in a fair manner? Or are these textbooks some kind of catechism – a set of questions is given and an answer to each and that is all that the student needs to know. Every child must know the answer provided, and that suffices as education.

The kind of control over civil society that is exercised by the organisations of all religions is what the state has to investigate. That control has to be decreased to the point of permitting the student to question the knowledge that is taught. A school can teach religion or impart religious knowledge, but in a secular society, the system has to be open to discussions from other perspectives.

I realise this is a very difficult objective to achieve. The United States had the Monkey Trial in 1925, and the debate between the evolutionists and creationists has continued in some states, and now, the proponents of Intelligent Design have come in. This is a debate that will go on. But one does not want a single point of view from this debate to be the controlling factor. This is where secularism plays a very important part.

My second contention is that religion in this country, as against religion in Europe, has been deeply entwined with caste. The social and the religious have often evolved together. Religion in India was never expressed in huge monolithic unities. It was always expressed through sects. Every religion – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, you name it – spoke through sects and all these had relationships with each other. The sects were often geared around a cluster of castes, if not a large caste. This relationship has not been studied closely, neither by historians nor by sociologists of religion.

This relationship between caste and religion complicates the study of the past.
When you quote a chronicle from the medieval period that says, “Fifty thousand Hindus were converted”, what do you mean by the phrase 50,000 Hindus, apart from the fact that this number itself could be dubious? Which caste and occupation did they belong to? And when they were converted, what was their status in the new society they created?

Keeping in mind that every religion in this country observes caste, that every religion has discriminated against the Dalits – you have Hindu Dalits, Muslim Dalits, Christian Dalits, Sikh Dalits – it becomes important to understand whether it was a purely religious relationship (in the sense of saying ‘I observe this ritual and belief but continue to live my usual life’), or whether there were other considerations of routine existence which were perhaps equally or more important, and that were affected by the change – assuming that there was a substantial change. My contention is that we haven’t looked at the reality of what the relationships were between people belonging to different sects. This would give us a different perspective on religion in India.

You say, ‘Democracy without its complement of secular thinking falls short of being a democracy.’ What exactly do you mean by secular thinking?
We have a democracy today, but we still have majority and minority communities identified by religion. These have privileges of one kind or another and the lesser ones have safeguards through this system. All citizens are not equal before the law and the continuance of privileges and safeguards becomes crucial. Is this a democratic way of functioning? We have inherited this from the colonial regime, as we have also inherited so many laws that we should dispense with if we are to call ourselves a secular democracy.

In a democratic system when an issue comes up for discussion, people of different views come together and take positions. The majority view that emerges usually takes precedence. The same process is repeated for every issue. This means there is no permanent majority identified by religion or caste or anything. The majority is created each time an issue is discussed. That is not what is happening in Indian democracy. What we have now are vote banks identified by religion and caste.

Today, when a public issue comes up, it is seen in terms of the opinions of the majority and minority communities and the views of political parties. It is not discussed primarily in terms of what it means to society as a whole and what is the majority opinion cutting across the existing identities of community. The media, for instance, seems unconcerned with assessing the actual majority opinion and merely projects the opinion of the existing divides.

You define liberals thus: ‘Being a liberal is an attitude of mind that determines the fight for space in a society when that society resists ethics and reasoned thinking.’ Is India’s democracy increasingly becoming illiberal?
It is becoming increasingly illiberal by leaps and bounds. You have all kinds of bans – on books, food, clothing, and censorship of creative expression. It is said that women are raped because they don’t behave properly, they don’t dress properly, they go out after dusk. Apart from actions, can such explanations be seen as evidence of a liberal society? Is this a liberal society? We are willing to suppress half the population through these diktats but are not willing to consider a change of the male mindset.

Considering reasoned thinking is a benchmark of liberal thinking, what is your response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that plastic surgery, cloning, aviation technology, etc. were known to sages in ancient India?
One’s initial reaction is: why is he making these fantasy statements? He doesn’t have to. He is after all the prime minister. Nobody expects him to know about ancient Indian science.

But the next reaction as a thinking person is: Why are these statements being made, not just by him alone, but by a number of people? These are the people who don’t understand the functioning of science. In fact, science is something which evolves – you start with the germ of an idea, then it develops into a further idea, which undergoes fresh development, and by the time you get to the object you are envisaging or talking about, sometimes in the form of a new technology, you have been through a long period of discussion, stage by stage, to get there; a discussion controlled by logical, rational thinking.

For instance, take the aeroplane. A reasonable person would say that if we had the aeroplane in 3000 BC, we should have texts on aerodynamics, which is a fundamental necessity before machines can fly. Similarly, take plastic surgery. There are references in the Indian medical texts to people whose nose had been cut and a flap of skin was grafted on. To say that an elephant’s head was sutured to a human neck or shoulder is going far beyond plastic surgery. It is going into an immense degree of fantasy.

All these fantasies make for nice fairy tales. But the more important question is: Why do people believe and propagate these tales? One is that they don’t understand science, because if they did, they would not simply go to the end product, but examine the stages through which the end product is arrived at. These they would not find in the ancient texts.

The second aspect of this, which is equally disturbing, is where is the need for us to make these claims unless it is that we are a society that lacks self-confidence.

Do such statements spring from an inferiority complex?
They come from a deep inferiority complex vis-à-vis the West and vis-à-vis those members of the society who understand science.

What are the roots of this complex? Is it because of the colonial experience?
It starts with the colonial experience. We were called an inferior culture. The nationalists reacted by saying that we may be materially inferior but we are spiritually superior, and that spiritual superiority overrides material superiority. That is at the root of it. From there it goes on. Since we are unable to become the superpower we keep talking about, we therefore have to say that all the current inventions of the West that we admire, are actually not new to us because we had already invented all of them in ancient times.

In part, this is common to all nationalisms. It is not typical to India. As Eric Hobsbawm put it very nicely, “History is to nationalism what the poppy is to the opium addict.” All nationalisms have to have a golden age to which they can constantly refer. That becomes their utopia, which they want to recapture. This strengthens national identity. So statements about how we were scientifically much more advanced than the West is today, ties into extreme nationalist feelings as well. This is not the normal nationalism we all endorse but extreme nationalism. I think all of this comes into play.

But has any nationalism used history to justify retribution in the present, in the manner the Sangh Parivar seems to?
One of the essential tenets of the Sangh Parivar’s idea of Hindu Rashtra is to give primacy to the Hindus. To achieve this, it is preferable to downgrade the minorities. This is a complex matter because there has also been an emphasis on Hindu victimisation so those that tyrannised in the past were the people who mistreated the Hindus. I am amazed that there is so much talk about Hindus having been through a thousand years of slavery, tyrannised by Muslim rule.

Once again one has to ask the question: Do opinion-makers not read any more?

Leave aside the issue of whether or not Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony, an issue that historians have discussed at length and will continue to do, taking into account the complicated intricacies of these kinds of relationships. Let’s just look at what happened to Sanskrit and Hinduism in the second millennium AD, when supposedly there was a victimisation of Hindus by Muslims. How does one explain then that it was a period of great efflorescence in Hinduism.

There were a range of philosophical schools and compendia composed on their views that stretched from the Charvaka materialists to the Vedanta type idealists, such as some groups discussed in the Sarva-darshana-sangraha of Madhvacharya; there were commentaries on the Vedic texts such as Sayana’s commentary on the Rig Veda; there were commentaries and digests on the social and legal codes incorporating new social laws and observances to accommodate changes in society such as the work of Kulluka; and some of the finest literary works and religious texts in Sanskrit, Prakrit and the regional languages were composed and known in these times.

It was an impressive flowering of religion and literature. Various Hindu cultures moved in diverse directions – for instance, the Ramananda sect and the worship of Rama, the Krishna bhakti movement focused on Vrindavan, the rendering of the Rama-katha in Hindi, in Tulsi’s Ramacharitamanas, and in many other regional languages. Hindustani classical music, the Dhrupad, which is a combination of musical trends suffused with religion, emerged during this time as did Carnatic music given shape by the three great gurus. The extensive Bhakti movement in the North, that had propagators and followers all over, is entirely of the second millennium AD. Some of the major works in Sanskrit were translated into Persian under the Mughals and travelled westwards as well. There was a tremendous amount of interlinking, interfacing with new cultural developments in Eurasia.

We should understand that this was also a period of acclaimed achievements in the study of astronomy and mathematics, and also medicine. Astronomers writing Sanskrit works were well-known in major centres elsewhere, such as Baghdad and later Samarkand. Their theories are quoted and are subsequently developed further and eventually some of them, it is thought, may have found their way to Europe.

Is this the culture of a people enslaved? What are they talking about? Have they not read history? Or have they only read a selectively written history for purposes of propaganda? Don’t they take the trouble of reading other histories and asking that if it is claimed that Hindus were tyrannised by Muslims and victimised, what explains this flowering of Hindu cultures, religious sects, and the sciences in the last thousand years?

But people like Indian Council of Historical Research’s YS Rao keep insisting that there can’t be one history, that…
Of course, there isn’t only one history. Why did we counter the colonial history, or even aspects of nationalist history? That was because we were moving history from Indology into the social sciences. In the 1960s, ancient history that had been very much a part of Indology, began to familiarise itself with the methods of the social sciences. History eventually was recognised as one. Therefore, new sources became evident and new questions came to be asked. Hindutva history on the other hand remains rooted in the 19th century. Their understanding of history is that of the 19th century, with its single explanation for everything.

Whereas today, we don’t deny that there can be different explanations of a historical situation creating variant versions of history, but we do insist that each such explanation must be based on reliable evidence and must be argued by using logic and rational thinking and the methods that accompany such analyses. Each version has to be evaluated before it can be accepted. And some of us would argue further that these explanations have to be seen in an order of priority.

The important point is to debate these versions. For the last 50 years, professional historians have been doing so. Unfortunately, the entire debate has been dismissed by the other side who condemn it, saying, ‘Oh, they are all Marxists’. Being a Marxist is now used as a term of abuse, in the same way, interestingly, as it was also used by the McCarthyites in the USA in the 1950s. Needless to say none of the people who use it as abuse have any idea of what Marxism means. But if they were to read what has been written they would discover that contradictions of historical interpretations have been present within the Marxist tradition, not to mention non-Marxist traditions.

Give an example of a contradiction in the Marxist tradition.
The dismissal of Marx’s Asiatic Mode of Production by most Marxists is an example, but more to the point is the debate on whether or not there was feudalism in Indian history? The first time it was seriously discussed in the sixties was by Marxist historians. Various people took it up and explored the idea. A major critique of applying Marx’s theory of the feudal mode of production to India, came initially from another Marxist, not from a non-Marxist. The end result was a robust and vigorous debate among Marxists, later joined by non-Marxists, on what is meant by the concept of feudalism, and was there a particular kind of feudalism that characterised Indian society of that time. The exploration has gone into various other aspects of change, and what was once described as the dark age in colonial historiography has now become brightly illuminated.

Today there are international debates on varieties of feudalism and there are also debates on the meaning of the concept. Some European historians deny its validity as a label describing medieval Europe. It is these debates that help us to expand our knowledge of the past and extend the different ways of understanding it. To merely dismiss it and say there was no such thing as feudalism without discussing it, and to describe every attempt at a secular explanation of the past as Marxist, is to demonstrate a lack of understanding the discipline.

Accepting or rejecting theories of explanation in history – and that is what history underlines these days – involves an intellectual exercise. This in turn requires a wide reading of the sources as well as of those that construct theories of explanation. One wants these debates, and one wants these debates to be of certain intellectual quality. I am sorry if I sound arrogant when I say this, but you can’t have a debate with a wall that has no clue what you are talking about, nor can you with those who simply say, ‘You are a Marxist’ and that ends the discussion. Nor can you with those who tell you youare an ugly historian who is distorting the minds of young students, as I was described three weeks ago.

Who made this accusation?
I get these abusive emails regularly from the same bunch of people – some NRIs and some locals – and of course I trash them. But this abuse is milder than what I usually get. I am a target for two reasons – I am not only a historian who tries to analyse the ancient texts that we use as data instead of taking what they say literally, but I also apply these analyses to what are now regarded as the sacred texts of ancient times. I am not the only one doing so, but all of us are dismissed as Marxists. Additionally, I am a woman so I should not be permitted to do such analyses – Gargi and Maitreyi notwithstanding. So all this reduces the debate to the lowest level.

You have written in The Public Intellectual, ‘Colonial views on Indian history and society encouraged the emergence of religious nationalism.’ Despite so many books challenging colonial views, why has religious nationalism grown in strength?
One fundamental reason is that we are questioning the historical explanations first propounded by colonial scholarship of the early nineteenth century, but people don’t read the histories that were written in the latter part of the twentieth century that contested these views. If they were to read them their ideas would change. The other reason is that if you have a strong political ideology that claims to explain everything and it is not an ideology that is derived from history or political theory, but from other convictions, then you cannot allow yourself to doubt the ideas that make up your explanation. Should you have doubts, you brush them aside, otherwise your belief in that ideology evaporates.

Doesn’t this have a lot to do with the decline in our educational institutions from the time, say, when you were young? Where did you study?
I studied all over the place. My father was a doctor in the army and every third year he was transferred. So my childhood was in the North West Frontier Province, in places like Thal, Kohat and Razmak.

You remember it vividly?
Very much so, those were lovely times and we lived in the forts along the borderlands. Then we were in Peshawar for two-three years, in Rawalpindi for the next two years, and then my father was posted to Pune, which was where I had the maximum length of schooling at one place. I finished my school and joined Wadia College. On my father’s transfer to Delhi, I had to move with him here. I joined Miranda House. I enrolled for Philosophy Hons., but the course was dreadful, abysmal. I wanted to switch to literature or history, but was told that I would have to go to the first year again. Not wanting to spend five years doing my BA, I finally did it from Panjab University. Then I got admission to the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Fine, so isn’t there a huge difference between schools and colleges in your time and now?
Enormous difference.

Isn’t that part of the problem?
Yes, the basic problem is there. At school, the student is meant to acquire information about the world, and even more important the student has to be taught to think independently and to ask questions about what surrounds him or her. We do neither. The information is generally out-of-date. In the absence of any training for the teacher, the teacher is not taught how to think and therefore cannot teach the student. This is particularly marked in many religious organisations controlling civil society institutions. Their schools are not expected to teach the child to think independently. The child is told what the truth is and has to accept it and not question it.

So if you are not teaching the child to think independently, if you are not giving the child an array of information and do not teach her to think about what she is being taught, you are in fact producing a non-thinking person. This suits the kind of people who are ideologically blinkered. For them non-thinking people are always preferable.

You do seem to think India is experiencing a major crisis today.
Very much so.

How does the current crisis compare to the other crises you have witnessed in the past?
For me the most traumatic crisis was the assassination of Gandhi. One had grown up depending so much on his vision of society and politics. And then, suddenly, one day he was assassinated. I was shattered. I kept asking myself, “To whom do we turn now, what do we do?”

Subsequent to that, the crises have been more about political and economic shifts that have occurred. And I suppose, as one grew up, it became a little easier to handle crises.

But what has not happened before is this degree of wanting to alter the very foundations of Indian society. Many of us are wondering whether this crisis arises from the assumption that the basis of our society should be the Hindu Rashtra, an idea not universally acceptable. Therefore, what we need to do is that when we talk of the pluralities of Indian society, we need to discuss these more fully and openly in its multiple aspects. Plurality should not become a mere slogan. We have to try to get across to people the essential meaning of Indian plurality.

Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist from Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, published by HarperCollins, is available in bookstores.

सबसे बड़ी गो-हत्या : कैसे हो रहा भारतीय नस्ल की गायों का सफाया

By  on 2015-10-12

[http://gaonconnection.com/postpage.php?ArticalID=497#]

गो-हत्या के खिलाफ देश में अनेक पक्ष अपने-अपने मत को लेकर अड़े हुए हैं, जबकि मूलभूत समस्या पर किसी का ध्यान ही नहीं जा रहा। जहां भारतीय नस्ल की गायें ब्राजील और अमेरिका जैसे देशों में बेहतर दुग्ध उत्पादन कर रही हैं, वहीं भारत में नस्ल सुधार के नाम पर व विदेशी गायों के मोह में देशी नस्ल की गायों का सफाया होता जा रहा है।

कम दूध देने के चलते जिन देशी नस्ल की गायों से सरकारों और पशुपालकों का मोह भंग हो चुका है, उन्हीं को विकसित कर आने वाले समय में भारत में दूध की कमी को पूरा किया जा सकता है। जैसा कई देशों मे हो रहा है।

इन्हीं कम दूध देने वाली गायों को छुट्टा छोड़ दिया जाता है, और गाय तस्कर कसाईबाड़े पहुंचा देते हैं।

”विदेशी नस्लों को भारत लाना कम दुग्ध उत्पादन की समस्या का समाधान नहीं है। इनके लिए उपयुक्त तापमान चार डिग्री सेल्सियस से 21 डिग्री तक होता है। हमारे यहां की जलवायु विदेशी नस्लों को पालने के लिए अनुरूप नहीं है। आप कल्पना कर सकते हैं कि हमारी गर्म उष्णकटिबंधीय जलवायु उन्हें कैसे प्रभावित करती है।” बंगलुरू स्थित ‘ट्रांस डिसिप्लिनरी विश्वविद्यालय’ में प्रोफेसर एमएनबी नायर ने नीदरलैंड में दुग्ध विकास पर आयोजित एक अंतरराष्ट्रीय सम्मेलन में कहा।Capture cow

वर्ष 2012 में ब्राज़ील में आयोजित दुग्ध उत्पादन के एक कार्यक्रम में जब गुजरात की गिर प्रजाति की गाय ने 62 लीटर प्रतिदिन दूध देने का रिकॉर्ड बनाया तो विश्व के साथ-साथ भारत के डेयरी जगत में भी हलचल मच गई, क्योंकि यह गिरि प्रजाति की गाय प्रतियोगिता में हिस्सा लेने भारत से नहीं गई थी, बल्कि ब्राजील में ही विकसित की गई थी।

इसके बारे में देश के जाने-माने खाद्य एवं व्यापार नीति विश्लेषक देवेन्द्र शर्मा ने अपने ब्लॉग पर लिखा, ” एक तरफ भारतीय नस्ल की गाय विदेशों में उम्दा प्रदर्शन कर रही हैं, वहीं हमारे देश के नीति निर्धारकों का विदेशी नस्लों के प्रति प्यार कम होने का नाम ही नहीं ले रहा।”
वहीं, इस बारे में यूपी पशुधन विकास परिषद के मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारी डॉ. बीबीएस यादव कहते हैं, ”प्रदेश में उच्च गुणवत्ता के होल्सटीन फिसियन और जर्सी के साड़ भी पैदा किए जाएंगे ताकि प्रदेश में उच्च गुणवत्ता वाले सांड़ों की कमी को पूरा किया जा सके।”

भारत के कृषि व डेयरी जगत पर शोध करने वाली कंपनी ‘कारगिल’ के एक शोध के मुताबिक देश में अत्यंत तेजी से बढ़ रही दूध की खपत और कम उत्पादन के चलते वर्ष 2022 तक भारत विश्व का सबसे बड़ा दूध आयातक देश बन जाएगा।

इस समस्या से निपटने के लिए राज्य सरकारें डेयरी विकास की तमाम योजनाओं में विदेशी नस्लों की गायों के आयात को बढ़ावा दे रही हैं ताकि उत्पादन बढ़ सके। जैसे-उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार की महात्वाकांक्षी कामधेनु डेयरी योजना में गाय-भैंस की विदेशी प्रजाति पर ही सहायता मिलती है।

केंद्रीय पशुपालन विभाग के अनुसार देश की 30 करोड़ गाय-भैंसों में से लगभग 70 प्रतिशत बहुत कम आय वाले परिवारों के पास हैं। देश के दुग्ध उत्पादन का लगभग 80 प्रतिशत इन्हीं छोटे परिवारों से आता है, जो विदेशी नस्ल की गायों को न तो खरीद सकते हैं, और न ही उनकी देखभाल-खानपान पर आने वाला खर्च उठा सकते हैं। इसलिए बढ़ती खपत से निपटने के लिए देशी नस्लों का सुधार व विकास ही एक मात्र टिकाऊ उपाय है।

”देशी नस्लों को बचाने के लिए वाराणसी में गंगातीरी गाय का संरक्षण और संवर्धन के किया जा रहा है। साथ ही, इटावा में भदावरी भैंस को बचाने के लिए कार्य चल रहा है।” डॉ. बीबीएस यादव बताते हैं।

दुग्ध उत्पादन बढ़ाने के लिए लगभग 2200 करोड़ खर्च करके केंद्र द्वारा बनाए गए राष्ट्रीय डेयरी प्लान में देशी नस्लों के विकास को दोयम दर्जा ही मिल रहा है। इसका एक हिस्सा विदेशी नस्ल के होलेस्टाइन सांडों को लाने व उनका सीमेन पशुपालकों तक लेकर जाने और गर्भाधान करवाने वालों को ट्रेनिंग देने पर केंद्रित है।

”हम इथियोपिया और युगांडा जैसे देशों से सीख ले सकते हैं। जो स्थानीय नस्लों का संरक्षण और उनकी स्थिति के लिए पहाड़ी क्षेत्रों में विदेशी नस्लों को रखते हैं जो उनके लिए अधिक अनुकूल हैं।” डॉ. नायर बताते हैं।

पशुओं की नस्ल सुधार के लिए मजबूत ढांचा ही नहीं

देश के सबसे बड़े दूध उत्पादक राज्य उत्तर प्रदेश में देशी नस्लों के विकास लिए प्रयास तो किए जा रहे हैं, लेकिन बहुत धीमी गति से। प्रदेश सरकार का भी सारा ध्यान विदेशी नस्ल की गायों के आयात पर केंद्रित है।

प्रदेश के पशुपालन विभाग के निदेशक डॉ. राजेश वाष्र्णेय बताते हैं, ”प्रदेश में प्रति पशु दुग्ध उत्पादकता काफी कम है, जिसका मुख्य कारण प्रदेश में उच्च गुणवत्ता वाले पशुओं की संख्या का कम होना है। इस समस्या से निपटने के लिए सरकार से कामधेनु, कामधेनु मिनी, कामधेनु माइक्रो योजना चलाई जा रही है जिसमें अलग राज्यों से पशु लेने की नीति है। बाहर से आने वाले दुधारु पशुओं से जो बछड़े होंगे उनकी आनुवंशिकता अच्छी होती है, जिससे दुग्ध उत्पादकता भी बढ़ेगी।”

देश में दूध व उसके उत्पादों की खपत तेजी से बढ़ रही है। अंतरराष्ट्रीय व्यापार पर लिखने वाली ऑनलाइन मीडिया संस्था ब्लूमबर्ग बिज़नेस ने भारत सरकार से प्राप्त आंकड़ों के आधार पर बताया कि पिछले दो-तीन दशकों में ग्रामीण व शहरी लोगों ने दूध व उसके उत्पादों पर ज़्यादा खर्च करना शुरू कर दिया। आंकड़ों के अनुसार वर्ष 1987-88 में ग्रामीण भारत में परिवार के खान-पान के कुल खर्च का 13 फीसदी ही दूध व उसके उत्पादों पर खर्च किया जाता था, शहरी क्षेत्रों में यह आंकड़ा 17 फीसदी था। यह खर्च वर्ष 2011-12 तक बढ़कर ग्रामीण भारत में 18 फीसदी व शहरों में 20 फीसदी तक पहुंच गया।

इस बढ़ती खपत को पूरा करने में रोड़ा है देश का कम औसत दुग्ध उत्पादन। भारत में प्रतिदिन औसत दुग्ध उत्पादन गायों के लिए 2-7 लीटर और भैंसों के लिए पांच किलो है। अमेरिका में पिछले वर्ष गाय का औसत दुग्ध उत्पादन 28 किलो प्रतिदिन था।

Capture cow 2देशी नस्लों के सुधार के लिए देर-सवेर यदि कार्यक्रम चल भी रहे है तो उनकी गति बहुत धीमी है। उत्तर प्रदेश में ऐसे कुछ प्रयासों की जानकारी देते हुए पशुधन विकास परिषद के मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकारी डॉ बीबीएस यादव बताते हैं, ”बरेली के मुरिया मुकरम में पशु उत्थान के लिए वर्ण संकर केंद्र की स्थापना की जा रही है। केंद्र में मुख्य चार नस्ल-हरियाणा, साहीवाल, थारपारकर और गंगातीरी का भू्रण प्रत्यारोपण तकनीक से विकास किया जाएगा। साथ ही उच्च गुणवत्ता के होल्सटीन फिसियन और जर्सी के साड़ भी पैदा किए जाएंगे ताकि प्रदेश में उच्च गुणवत्ता वाले सांड़ों की कमी को पूरा किया जा सके।” वे आगे बताते हैं, ”देशी नस्लों को बचाने के लिए बनारस में गंगातीरी गाय का संरक्षण और संवर्धन के किया जा रहा है। साथ ही इटावा में भदावरी भैंस को बचाने के लिए कार्य चल रहा है।”

नस्ल सुधार के साथ-साथ सरकारों को देश के गाँवों में पशुपालन विभागों को अपनी आधारभूत संरचना भी विकसित करनी होगी। मौजूदा स्थिति क्या है इसकी झलक उत्तर प्रदेश के आंकड़ों से मिल जाती है। प्रदेश में लगभग पांच करोड़ गाय-भैंसों पर 5000 कृत्रिम गर्भाधान केंद्र हैं यानी 10,000 गाय-भैंसों के लिए केवल एक केंद्र।

पशुपालकों की यह भी शिकायत है कि ये केंद्र या तो घर से बहुत दूर हैं, जहां तक पशु को लाना ले जाना मुश्किल होता है, और यदि पहुंच भी जाओ तो बंद मिलते हैं, या फिर सीमेन नहीं होता। ”गर्भधारण करने का पशु का कोई समय तो निश्चित होता नहीं है वो कभी भी गर्भधारण करने के तैयार हो जाता है और सरकारी केंद्र दो बजे तक रहता है इसलिए मजबूरी में ज्यादा पैसा खर्च कर के प्राइवेट में गर्भधारण कराना पड़ता है।” शाहजहांपुर जिला मुख्यालय से लगभग 20 किलोमीटर दूर उत्तर दिशा में जमुही गाँव में रहने वाले विनय (29 वर्ष) के पास दो भैंसे हैं। इन्हें प्रति भैंस प्राइवेट सेंटर पर कृत्रिम गर्भाधान के लिए 200 रुपए देने पड़े, जबकि सरकारी केंद्र में प्रति भैंस 20 रुपए देने पड़ते।

ज्वोल (नीदरलैंड) से वसंती हरिप्रकाश/लखनऊ (उत्तर प्रदेश) से दिति बाजपेई।