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Ayushman Jamwal
Friday , April 03, 2015

Stop crying wolf!

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A church burned down in Delhi, a number of them vandalised, with some cases of theft, in different parts of the country, and a nun gang-raped in West Bengal. These are some of the many cases making headlines for the past few weeks, highlighting serious cases of crime demanding action from the government and police authorities. If only it was just that straight-forward. Given that the BJP government is in power, the age old-narrative of communal tensions and 'minorities under threat' re-surfaced - even before investigations could begin. These cases have been nothing more than opportunities used by politicians, who are Opposition parties and even religious leaders - accusing the government of supporting 'elements' responsible for such crimes. The media at the same time has provided a stage for this shrill pantomime. Let's review some of the cases, where the police have reached some conclusions. When the St....

Thursday , March 19, 2015

The future of faith is the story of social media

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The world is clearly becoming more spiritual than religious. In an increasingly more inter-connected, information saturated society - where the natural human ideals of freedom and pluralism are becoming central to the tenants of governance across the globe, identities are becoming more and more fluid. Faith just like social media profiles has become the corner stone of 21st century identity and this post-modern social order has created a conscience against the institutional nature of religion. The beauty and success of social media platforms, is the freedom, ease, volatility and mutation of expression and ideas which circulate the online ether - change and re-change with time. In this world - the institutional framework of religion - is finding itself cornered in fewer and fewer undemocratic societal settings - be it a country, a community or a family unit. When Rupert Murdoch bought the social networking site MySpace for $580 million....

Friday , March 06, 2015

India's Daughter: Looking Evil in the Eye

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During the Nuremberg trials, the prosecution interviewed Rudolph Hoss, the SS Kommandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp about his operation where he gassed 2.5 million of jewish prisoners to death. When asked whether he felt remorse about what he did, he said "Does a rat catcher feel bad about killing rats?". The army psychologist Captain GM Gilbert who interviewed the Nazi leaders on trial, said and I quote, "I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It's the one characteristic that connects all the defendants." This same sentiment was reflected by Mukesh Singh, one of the convicted rapists in the Nirbhaya case in the 'India's Daughter' documentary. A chilling lack of remorse or guilt, where he blamed the victim reiterating the 'she asked for it' argument. Even as the Indian government banned the....

Saturday , February 14, 2015

AAP wins the battle, The War now begins

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Aam Aadmi Party achieved an unprecedented victory in the national capital. Sixty seven MLAs in a 70 member assembly, backing Kejriwal as Delhi CM. It is a big achievement for a party which got written off after quitting the Delhi government in 2014 and got routed in the Lok Sabha elections. As the BJP's tally dropped from over 30 to just 3 seats, the headlines wailed, lauding Kejriwal for crushing the Modi 'wave' and killing his winning streak. Every Opposition party is riding the frenzy wave, citing the election results as the beginning of the downfall of Modi and Amit Shah, rejoicing at being able to take a stronger swing against the Centre. The anatomy of the Delhi elections on the other hand has a sobering effect. The results are a reflection of AAP's tireless work at the ground level in Delhi for the past one year and the....

Tuesday , February 10, 2015

AIB controversy: A chance to be more than comedians

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Throughout history, it has been the role of artists to push the envelope of what is appropriate, what is acceptable and provide shock therapy to sensibilities, which we know need to lighten up from time to time. Historically, that has been the only course for ideological reform and the weakening of a conservative stranglehold. Regardless of what some may think of the AIB roast, all those involved exercised their right to express themselves. It was content with all the necessary restrictions, open to 'consenting' adults. At the same time, all those offended by the content also have the right to rage, even seek police action if they were 'offended'. But I have complete faith that any such complaint will be tossed out of a court. It happened when Aseem Trivedi was charged with sedition for his cartoon, it happened when students in Meerut were charged with sedition for cheering....

Friday , January 09, 2015

Paris attacks: Testing the Secularist faith

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Not since the Danish cartoons case of 2005, has the freedom to express or offend come under such threat in Europe. Eight journalists and two police officers gunned down, and several injured in an attack on the office of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, is a chilling escalation of radical outfits waging war against European democracy and liberalism. World leaders and Muslim leaders condemned the attack, yet this case has now become a reminder of how multiculturalism can be pushed to rest on the tip of a needle. European secularism has been under threat from a two-pronged political attack for several years. On one side, are the Islamist radicals and on the other side is the political right wing which calls for a blanket closure on immigration from Muslim countries. In the aftermath of this attack, as fear and anger spreads across Europe, the political right wing in different....

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

India and Pakistan: We are worthy of Peace

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I grew up in India during the 1990's, an era of regular violence in Kashmir, bombings in Mumbai and to top it all off - the Kargil war. The intellectual and emotional environment in India, in every living room was marked with a sharp animosity for Pakistan, reliving the glory of winning past wars and reiterating India's stake on Kashmir. Popular culture and the news media thrived on nationalistic imagery creating empathy for frontline soldiers while painting the Pakistani state and its people as the 'others', bent on subduing the Indian military and holding an alien right to Kashmir. At a very young age, my generation interpreted the reality of the two countries in such a binary frame. When the 21st century kicked off, India was put on the fast track of becoming a success story of globalisation. As the Indian economy opened up and western consumer culture flowed....

Friday , December 26, 2014

Conversion politics: Citizens are not fools

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It all started with the 'conversion' of dozens of Muslim slum dwellers in Agra, followed by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath's declaration of attending a conversion camp in Aligarh - and the issue of 'communal tensions' in the country paralysed Parliament for days. The Opposition took up arms in the Rajya Sabha alleging that their worst fears have come true, accusing the BJP of dividing the country on religious lines through 'forced conversions'. For days, news studios boomed with apocalyptic tones as Opposition members portended the end of secularism, trying to make it a political Achilles heel for the BJP like corruption and mis-governance was for them. But beyond the political skirmishes, I feel we have lost the legal reality of all of these cases. If the nation's secular fabric is being threatened, then clearly legal and police action must be being taken to protect it. But the issue of....

Thursday , December 18, 2014

Peshawar: The cost of managing terror

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The killing of over 130 children in Peshawar by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has sent shockwaves across the world. It is a gruesome escalation of the war against terror and we all lament the loss of life. But isn't it time for the Pakistani state to introspect? It is true that Pakistan has suffered greatly due to terrorism, but it is also true that terror groups have been used by the Pakistani state as instruments of war. It is true that the Pakistan army has engaged terrorists in the North Western Frontier Province and Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been a success in crippling the terror infrastructure, but it is also true that the state is harbouring, even felicitating those declared internationally as terrorists - namely Hafiz Saeed. Even though Saeed has been linked to the 26/11 attacks, he has a bounty on his head and has even been declared as an....

Friday , December 12, 2014

Modi Effect: Are CMs the prime contenders for 7 Race Course Road?

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's thumping victory in the Lok Sabha polls has set a new political narrative of a presidential style of election. In this race - successful chief ministers are now the strongest contenders for India's top post. As the narrative for politics settles firmly around good governance and development - it has become essential for candidates to have a strong administrative record and be powerful political campaigners. The post of chief minister allows political leaders the chance to develop a strong resume. Chief ministers in India are mini-PMs who are the key decision makers in each and every state. They get credit for good governance and flak for administrative lapses and law and order problems. While decision making in the Centre may be tempered by various factors - CMs mostly run their own ships. With successful tenures they develop the image of strong, decisive leaders. With this....


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Ayushman Jamwal works on the foreign desk at CNN-IBN.



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