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Will Indian voters put a full stop to Vote Bank Politics this elections?

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Image by © Bhaskar Mallick/Demotix/Corbis

Given the unfortunate history of ethnic conflicts and colonialism in South Asia, minorities, whether on the name of caste, region, religion, or language, feel less secure and privileged than the people identifying themselves as majority. This sentiment of unjust treatment and insecurity breads ethnic groupings that are exploited by vote bank politicians. While not all the reasons for the “minority complex” are justifiable but many quite painfully are. The majority also has its own “victimization complex” or its own version of “minority complex”, with some real and some perceived reasons. Given the complex history of South Asia, we all have several identities and are all minorities in a sense, as no overarching classification being all encompassing, except Indian. We have already seen how the silly schemes of narrow groupings have panned out. I don’t think anyone of us needs a trip to Pakistan to know of examples of religion based unmitigated disasters. While it is easy to say that forget the past and say let us be Indian first, I fully understand that for many of us, it will take walking on fire first to get there. Take for example, the states of North-East or so many of the underdeveloped states. Do you think people from Nagaland are as integrated as the rest of the country? How many people sitting in Delhi know about the dreams and aspirations of Mizo masses? How integrated are the scores of tribal communities across India that are displaced by corrupt mining and land grab mafia? How can someone walk to campsites of people who are still homeless from Godhra or 1984 riots and sincerely ask them to move on with their lives, as the rest of the country?

“Our grandparents and great grandparents generation threw out Gora Sahibs, but they left the revolution incomplete. It is our turn to throw out the Bhura Sahibs and have a real independent India.”

We are far from a perfect union but if we let our past decide our future then we certainly will have a bleak future. Our insecurities, lack of education, genuinely unpleasant histories, have all resulted in our frequent failing to embrace Indian identity above our other several identities. This has meant that caste, community, religion, region based politics has been the name of the game. Whether it is the Congress that plays ethnic card at local level, with its game plan varying from constituency to constituency or it is BJP, with a uniform anti-minority hate agenda or regional parties, there are hardly any groupings that risen above groupings that divide us. All the previous experiments with the third front were fundamentally no different in communal agenda than the functioning of Congress or BJP either, as they just mostly combined different ethnic interest groups under one umbrella. Irrespective of change of labels, the segregationist ghetto divisive politics has been the rule of thumb in India. Gora sahibs left in 1947 but they were replaced with Bhura sahibs who have continued to play the game of divide, rule and plunder. To be fair, it is “we divide and they rule”, as was aptly pointed out by Maulana Mohammed Ali. We Indians are so hung up on our narrow identities and fears that we have hardly ever given our hopes and dreams a chance.

Can future be different? I believe so, if Indians act on their hopes and not out of their fears. We do not have perfect options but in these upcoming National elections we have some chance for the first time. So far, AAP has emerged as the only national phenomenon, which is not playing the vote bank politics on the ethnic lines of religion, caste, region and language. Giving AAP the sole charge of non-communal politics would be unfair as there are some known independents (with clear right and clear left wing economic policies) and some (by no means all) left parties who fight on non-communal issues but they are more localized in their influence. Don’t get me wrong AAP is not panacea and without public scrutiny it can devolve into Congress too. It is at present our best hope for non-sectarian politics just as for anti-corruption drive.

I am hoping that this time in Lok Sabha polls and much more importantly in form of ongoing engagement with politics, we kick out leaders who divide and rule. I am not making a veiled, but a very clear, yet very cautious appeal to engage with AAP or other non-ethnically based honest politicians on a questioning basis. I see people’s movement of which AAP is a major flag-bearer, as necessary for the Manthan (churning) of our Indian society. This churning will spill enough elixir from its success and it will also spill enough venom in form of its shortsighted mistakes. It will depend on the maturity and intelligence of Indian citizens and not just its leaders to carry forward the revolution. In my opinion, AAP like movement (at least in its current incarnation) is necessary to lay the first step of transforming India needed to transform it into a developed country. Our grandparents and great grandparents generation threw out Gora Sahibs, but they left the revolution incomplete. It is our turn to throw out the Bhura Sahibs and have a real independent India. AAP represents our best hope in 2014 to move to the next stage of Indian nation that is less vexed with ethnic divisions. I hope we all shed our minority, majority, regional, linguistic and other differences aside and be part of the revolution of our generation. We are all minorities in India given that we are all different. In fact if someone had any personality then they are minority of one. The only way to unite is through our common hopes and not our divided fears. I urge people to go out and vote for hope and not fear.

Dr. Sukant Khurana is a New York based scientist, artist and writer of Indian origin. His basic research involves neurophysiology, computational neuroscience, sensory perception, addiction, learning and memory, while his applied research extends into many areas of drug discovery and problems of the developing world. Both his visual art and writing explore the issues of modernization, displacement and identity.

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Nepal Hindu Rashtra: Time to Wrap Up Communism?

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Nepal abolished the Constitutional Monarchy in May 2008 and declared itself as a Federal Democratic Republic. There was a new hope in Nepal as it was becoming world’s newest democracy even though it had dissolved the Hindu Rashtra. However, the democracy in Nepal immediately got into the tight grips of leftists and communists backed by China. It has been almost 12 years since monarchy was abolished in Nepal. Interestingly, the Himalayan country has already seen 11 Prime Ministers in this period. Thus, leaving the Nepalese people still yearning for good and stable governance.

Re-establish Hindu Rashtra

As the political instability is growing in Nepal, people are demonstrating concerns about the future of the country. In fact, Nepalese citizens are unhappy with frequent interference by China and India influencing its unstable communist regime. More voices are now growing in support of reinstating the Monarchy and declaring Nepal as world’s only Hindu Rashtra (which by default offers full religious freedom to other religious minorities as per Hindutva concept of Sarva Dharma Sama Bhavaall paths lead to one).

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, Kamal Thapa said that if political parties do not recognize the seriousness of reinstating the monarchy, then the country will head for a period of darkness. “Recently, we’ve had high-ranking officials from India and China come to Nepal to try and solve problems within the ruling party,” he said. “We cannot let others dictate what we want to do.”

Communist Party All Set to Suppress Protests, By Force

Kamal Thapa has firmly demanded an all party meet to discuss reinstating of monarchy. Throughout the month of December, 2020 Nepal has seen anti communism protests across the country in support of reinstating the monarchy and Hindu Rashtra. Most importantly, the demand has become a nationwide mass people’s movement. So much so that the communist regime had to send a directive to 77 districts in 7 provinces. The directive suggests suppressing the protests by force. Nevertheless, Rashtriya Prajatantra Party and other royalist groups have ignored this threat from the communist regime. Protester groups have pledged to strengthen the protest in the coming weeks.

Role of China – Hope for Communism in Nepal

China’s ambassador to Nepal is known to have very close relationship with Nepalese Communist regime. In fact, She has been super effective in tilting Nepal’s posture towards its ideological partner, China. One of her greatest achievements in 2020 was artificially manufacturing a border conflict between Nepal and India. Consequently, souring relations between the two Hindu majority nations. In addition, she managed to silence Nepal’s communist government after China took one of Nepal’s border villages under its control. However, recent political turmoil in Nepal and a renewed demand for reinstating of Hindu Monarchy is showing that the situation is now out of Chinese hands

Role of India

Year 2020, was not a good year for India and Nepal relations. India was busy in controlling domestic Covid cases. On the other hand, China had launched an invasive campaign into Indian territory. In addition, India is always busy with Pakistan on its western borders. However, the surprise came to India when China was almost successful in creating a new border tension between India and Nepal.

Those who do not know about Indian government should note that the current ruling party in India finds itself ideologically opposite to communism. This further creates differences between the two countries.

Communist party in Nepal has blamed India for supporting the ongoing anti communism protests in Nepal. However, former advisor to Nepal’s PM has suggested there is no proof that India is fueling pro Monarchy, anti communism demand in Nepal.

Nevertheless, There are certain influencers in India who have, in their personal capacity, expressed support for reinstating the Hindu monarchy. Yogi Adityanath, who is the Chief Minister of an Indian state bordering Nepal, said in 2015 that Nepal should declare itself a Hindu Monarchy. Readers should note that in 2015 Yogi Adityanath was not the Chief Minister yet. However, today he is not only popular in south of Nepal, his popularity is growing in Nepal as well.

Will The World See the first Hindu Rashtra?

It is difficult to answer this question at this moment. However, Nepalese communist government could not resolve the political instability and in December 2020 Nepalese government dissolved the parliament. Nepal will see next elections in April – May 2021. Hopefully, the world will see Nepal’s 12th Prime Minister in 13 years or may be a Hindu King? Royalists and protester groups have expressed confidence in winning next elections. We have our eyes on Nepal for updates.

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America’s Justice System – The Need For Reform

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A recent poll by the National Opinion Research Centre revealed that 95% of Americans favour vital criminal justice reforms. This is hardly surprising, given that several people of varying racial, partisan and ideological dispositions have called out the justice system over its many failures throughout the years. Most Americans received the Trump Administration’s First Step Act as a step in the right direction, as about 60% of people approved the criminal justice reform bill according to a 2018 poll. However, many people still believe the justice system’s approach to crime is ineffective and needs dire change, and these are some reasons why.

Prison population and funding concerns

Research conducted revealed America has about 2.3 million prisoners, making the US the country with the highest incarceration rate globally. Experts estimate that the country’s prison population has grown by a whopping 340% over the past three decades; new prisoner admissions into jails are higher than prisoner release numbers. The cost of maintaining the nation’s prisons at taxpayers’ expense has inspired a lot of backlash and calls for budget cuts. According to research, slashed correction spending was the preferred option by most states to balance their budgets and redirect spending to other areas.

Minimum mandatory sentences

Minimum mandatory sentences are statutes that force judges to give defendants convicted of a crime the minimum prison sentence. Mandatory sentences rob judges of the traditional way of considering the defendant’s character and the unique circumstances surrounding offences. Even when represented by criminal defense attorneys with many years’ experience, defendants often succumb to prosecutors’ pressure to plead guilty or face more severe charges with higher mandatory sentences. The guilty plea bargain consequently resolves about 95% of both federal and state court cases. Research also shows that about half of inmates in federal prisons are doing time for drug offences- causing overpopulation in the prison system.

Growing number of people killed by the police

An estimated 1000 civilians are killed by police officers annually in the US. The frequency of police brutality cases over the years requires immediate reform to the American justice system. Data suggests that the incidence of fatal police shootings is higher among African-Americans than any other ethnicity, inspiring movements like the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign to press on with protests for significant police etiquette reforms towards coloured minorities. The police force faces incessant accusations of racial profiling, indiscriminate use of power, and poor discretion, which has led a reported 58% of Americans to think policing needs major reforms through measures like better-trained officers, and wearing body cameras.

Evolving public opinion on crime

Research released by the Sentencing Project and The Justice Policy Institute reveals that more people in conservative states are embracing preventive, rehabilitative, and alternative sentencing options for non-violent offenders. Most Americans now view the prevention of crime as the most vital function of the justice system, as 77% of Americans think that focusing more on character education and after-school programs would be cost-effective by reducing the number of people going to jail. Almost two-thirds of Americans also believe in the need for lighter sentences with more useful, reformative programs in prisons that will benefit inmates upon release. Therefore, support for harsh penalties that harden criminals and make them a more significant menace when reintroduced into society has dwindled.

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The History Question: Is It Better to Remember or to Forget?

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Years ago, a philosopher by the name of George Santayana said a phrase that fuels many debates to this day. His original saying is “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, although, many sources now present it as variations of “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. The latter definitely has more substance to it in the light of the ongoing debate about how much history we should be learning and how.

Is It Better to Remember or Forget About the Past?

On one hand, Santayana was right. Learning about the past is essential in order for people to progress. One also shouldn’t overlook the importance of remembrance and paying respects to the dead, both those who pushed the progress forward and those who have fallen victims to major tragedies that could and should have been averted.

The main argument in favor of learning about the past is that its knowledge is necessary for preventing the same thing happening in the future. Having it one can see the signs and stop the tragedy before it gains momentum.

That’s sound in theory, but the reality is always different. For example, today people are surely forgetting, and the much-critiqued education system is only partially at fault here. Even the greatest of tragedies weren’t spared this fate. It’s a proven fact that about two-thirds of millennials today don’t know about the Holocaust, and this number is surely greater for generations that follow them. In the school history course, the subject of one of the greatest disasters in history is barely touched, if touched at all. And outside of a history classroom, one can only see small, but terrifying, glimpses of it at the Holocaust Museum and other museums that rarely attract many visitors. And now we are witnessing a rise of antisemitic crime.

Are these two facts related? Does the lack of awareness about the horrors done in the name of Aryan supremacy contribute to the fact that right-winged extremists seem to be gaining popularity again?

It does, but by how much? That is the question that no one can truly answer.

And what about other genocides? The Holocaust had the highest death toll, but it was far from the only genocide in history. And quite a few of those happened after World War 2 and before the memory of the atrocities against the Jews began to fade. This means that while forgetting history is a factor, it’s not the deciding factor in its repeats.

But what is that thing responsible for the reenactment of past mistakes and tragedies?

Learning. This is the important thing that is most often overlooked when citing Santayana’s famous saying. It’s not enough to learn about the past and know the facts of things that happened. It’s important to learn from those facts and put in place protections that will prevent them from happening again. And this is something that humanity, as a whole, has yet to succeed in doing.

Dwelling in the Past Can Be Just As Bad

One also shouldn’t forget that there is such a thing as “too much history”. The Bosnian War and genocide that happened there in the 1990s is a vivid example of how the past can be exploited by political powers. Used as a part of propaganda, which fueled the war, history can become a weapon in the hands of those who want to use it for their own goals.

And this is what humans have been doing since the dawn of time. There is always someone who will use any means necessary to achieve whatever it is they wish. This results in wars and genocides, and hundreds of smaller but no less devastating tragedies.

Therefore, the problem isn’t whether people should be learning history but human nature itself. Perhaps, teaching this can help fix this fundamental flaw and truly stop the worst of the past from repeating.

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