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Kiran Batni
Saturday , August 16, 2014

Dear Mr Modi: Doing good doesn't always require doing


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Those carefully chosen words yesterday, repetitive at times but emotional and patriotic to a fault, did not come from a faker. Narendra Modi really wants to do good to India. If there's one Prime Minister who takes his job seriously and has the ability to convince listeners of his ability to deliver, it's him. But what India needs, in its current position on the march to becoming a real democracy, is not Prime Ministers who can deliver but a dream-team of statesmen who can rewrite the Constitution clarifying what is none of the Prime Minister's or central government's business to talk about or deliver. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of Independence Day is that it convinces almost everyone that independence has been achieved: when a billion and a quarter celebrate an event, it must have occurred. However, what we've really achieved is not independence as in Gandhi's Swaraj, which is....


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another way to look at Hindi chauvinism


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As Narendra Modi rose to power, the sword of Hindi imposition inched closer to Indians. Over the past month, there were many debates on television and print media about this growing menace. Despite innumerable clarifications, including one by the Gujarat high court itself, commentators are not found wanting who still put forward the unconstitutional claim that Hindi is the national language of India. Their argument always moves, with various degrees of what they construe as patriotism, towards telling those who don't speak Hindi that they ought to in order to be good citizens of India and strengthen its unity and integrity. That India which needs to impose Hindi must die. I have said this many times before, and I have explained the reasons why it needs to, in my book, The Pyramid of Corruption. In this article, I'd like to examine this view of these Hindi chauvinists from....


Saturday , June 28, 2014

In defence of Dr Harsh Vardhan's views on sex education


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Dr Harsh Vardhan has come under attack from the media and several activists and thinkers for his opinion that fidelity in marriage is more important than using condoms in the fight against AIDS. His view that 'so-called sex-education' must be banned has not gone down well with them, either. In case you haven't realized it, fidelity in marriage is considered a virtue in all religions, not just Hinduism which, incidentally, the Union Health Minister's political party acts as if it is the guardian of. In fact, emphasis on fidelity is the only sex education religions provide. From this standpoint, what gets called as 'sex education' today isn't that at all. I wholeheartedly agree with Dr Harsh Vardhan that fidelity and abstinence continue to be the best form of defence against sexual disease, and that Yoga, which requires sexual abstinence to begin with, is certainly better than condoms in....


Tuesday , June 24, 2014

Imposition of Hindi as the 'national' language makes me believe that Karnataka is an independent nation


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The indoctrination that Hindi is India's national language is widespread. Despite there being no mention of it in the Constitution, and despite clarifications by the Judiciary, the assertion that Hindi has this status continues unabated. In the recent mess over the diktat that Hindi should be used as the language for Centre-State communication, created by the Modi's government, this assertion was heard very frequently and openly. Everyone in the Central government seems to be convinced that Hindi is the national language, and did not hesitate to claim so in television and newspaper interviews. It is only the one-off Tamil or Bengali who dared to point out the error in this assertion, the others having been fully indoctrinated or considered insignificant to deserve media attention. But which is more real? What is written in a book which nobody cares about, or what the majority believes to be real? That is,....


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why put India back on the track leading to destruction?


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The search for the path to the spiritual unity of the peoples of India has long been given up. Dead are the Shankaras, Basavannas, Kabirs, Nanaks and Chaitanyas who saw it and preached it. In its place we have the most bizarre idea that the only unity we need a path to is material unity. While spiritual unity has to be discovered in a read-only process, material unity has to be invented or implemented in a violent write-only process that establishes the uniformity of death. Many concrete steps, such as the imposition of Hindi over all of India, have already been taken to achieve this uniformity. Our new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, goes further in making it seem as if India's unity has long been achieved by one man acting all by himself; the only thing remaining is to make a giant statue of his. Pundits of political science....


Saturday , May 24, 2014

Zones, not zone, of individual freedom


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In his recent opinion piece titled "The Real Contest for India" in The Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta argues that, according to the Constitution of India, rightly, the nation ought to be a "zone of individual freedom" where community identity doesn't really matter when it comes to public matters. The idea of India which has come to gradually replace this "correct" idea and pose a "great threat to liberty and distort our intellectual culture", according to him, is the idea of India as a federation of communities - ones that impose a "burden of compulsory identity" on the individual. The first thing that struck me in the author's narrative is the glaring absence of India's linguistic diversity. Of course, Mehta does not set out to give any diversity any importance in the article, but my point is, he could have written it for any one state of India, say,....


Sunday , May 18, 2014

Democracy requires not the absence of government control but the absence of control by governments of “others”


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Democracy requires not the absence of government control but the absence of control by governments of "others". Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the government of Karnataka cannot impose the mother tongue as the medium of instruction on school students. Leaving the irony aside, does it not appear that the Court has done the right thing by allowing parents to decide the language in which their children study? After all, isn't India a democracy where nobody can impose his or her view on others? How, then, can the State of Karnataka tell parents that they need to send their children to mother-tongue medium schools from the first to the fourth standard? This summarizes the popular justification of the Supreme Court's verdict. Before I get into why it's wrong, an important point about the history of this whole affair. The Karnataka Unaided Schools' Management Association (KUSMA), which appealed to....


Tuesday , May 06, 2014

Modi, Mamata and Migration


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At the peak of his campaign in West Bengal, Narendra Modi, in a series of attacks on Mamata Banerjee, tweeted: "People from Bihar, Odisha & Marwaris are not welcome for Mamata Didi but those from Bangladesh are. Time to stop such votebank politics." The first point to note here is Modi's own statement is not supremely above vote bank politics: Biharis, Odiyas and Marwaris migrating to West Bengal form a vote bank, in a sense, that is much more likely to vote for the BJP than the Bengalis stationed in that state; so why not put the first three into the pocket, by appearing like their champion, when there's not much that can be done to prevent the Bengali vote from slipping away? And yes, why not put "the Hindu vote", if any, into the pocket by appearing like the most formidable enemy of the Muslims across the border? ....


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Of Modi, Rahul, Ambedkar and women


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Last week, Narendra Modi, just like Rahul Gandhi some weeks ago, was all over the media assuring people that his party will make India safer for women. There are reasons to suspect that Modi's advertisements were intended to patch up his image after the controversy over his marital status. But letting individual matters aside, why should Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi be talking about women's safety? Safety, women's or men's, is a law and order issue and therefore a state subject; the central government has, and must have, no say in it. This is just one example of the Centre assuming a role larger than what is given to it by the Constitution. That role is already too large for India to be called a true federation in the real sense of the term, and in a nation as diverse as India, the absence of true federalism is nothing....


Tuesday , April 08, 2014

Article 370 must apply to all states, not just J&K


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"In fact, the hundreds of states which acceded to the Dominion of India in the days and weeks after 15 August 1947 originally had the same autonomy as J&K today enjoys; they were quickly relieved of it by hook or crook. This process must come under review and even the Congress, which has always criticized the BJP for bringing up the topic of Article 370, must take a principled stand on the matter instead of giving a dry rendition of its history" - On 2 December 2013, Narendra Modi questioned whether Article 370 has done any good to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and called for a 'rational and focused debate' on it. Yesterday, Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of J&K, went on record to say that when he invited Modi to debate about the Article, he got the reply that "he was too busy, and he is....


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More about Kiran Batni

Kiran Batni is an engineer turned researcher in political and economic philosophy and the author of 'The Pyramid of Corruption: India’s Primitive Corruption And How To Handle It'.

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