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Government sees temporary crisis in flood; not worried
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Floods in Bangladesh are nothing new, and people are used to such natural monsoon calamity. However, what is alarming is the frequency and intensity of flood in recent times.
The north, north-central, and northeast districts of Bangladesh are currently facing the second spell of floods. Thousands  of marooned  people  have  taken shelter  to  relief  camps, embankments and are passing  their  days  under  open sky.  People in the flood affected Areas are now facing acute crisis of food, safe and drinking water. Many of them, mostly children and women, are affected by various waterborne diseases.
Full Story
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Floods in Bangladesh are nothing new, and people are used to such natural monsoon calamity. However, what is alarming is the frequency and intensity of flood in recent times.
The north, north-central, and northeast districts of Bangladesh are currently facing the second spell of floods. Thousands  of marooned  people  have  taken shelter  to  relief  camps, embankments and are passing  their  days  under  open sky.  People in the flood affected Areas are now facing acute crisis of food, safe and drinking water. Many of them, mostly children and women, are affected by various waterborne diseases.
Experts fear unprecedented floods
Alarmed by the magnitude of peoples’ sufferings, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has decided to pay a  visit to the flood-hit region in Kurigram and Dinajpur next Sunday.
The second round of floods late last month has affected 3.3 million people in 22 districts across the country, according to the disaster management ministry. Until Wednesday, the death toll from the floods in northern and northeastern regions rose to 107. Of them, 92 were drowned in the waters.
Experts fear a food crisis as the floods have damaged crops on 450,000 hectares. This year’s flood caused by heavy downpour and hill waters, so far, damaged standing crops on over 1.72 lakh hectares of land causing extensive damage to food crop production. M Golam Mostafa, additional secretary of Disaster Management and Relief Ministry, informed this to the journalists at the Secretariat on Wednesday.
During  the  early  monsoon  the  northeastern  part  of the country  faced  a major  flood  due  to  heavy rains and  onrush  of waters  from  across the border since  April. Last week, the country faced   floods in the Meghna basins where Surma, Kushiyara, Jadukatha, Bhugai, Kangsha, Someswwati, Sari Gowain, and Manu rivers flowed above danger level.
The onrush of waters from the upper riparian coupled with heavy downpour contributed to the bursting of   the river banks. The swelling waters are quickly moving towards south inundating more areas in the central districts including  Manikganj, Munhiganj, Rajbari and Faridpur.
Metrology experts fear that the rise of floodwater this time may be unprecedented in our recent history, considering the height of the peak flood. It has already crossed the Record High Water Level (RHWL) in various stations of many tributaries of the Brahmaputra-Jamuna river systems such as Mohadevepur in Atrai, Badarganj in Jamuneswari, Kurigram in Dharala, and Dalia in the Teesta.
 
‘There’ll be no crisis’: Muhith
In  the upstream of the Brahmaputra River,  north Indian  states  of Assam, Meghyalaya  and Tripura  faced  the deluge  leaving  many people  dead  and  properties  damaged.  Many Indian villagers also were carried by the waters to Bangladesh territory.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday said there is no food crisis in the country in spite of the persistence of flood and there will also be no crisis in the future either.
Muhith, however, admitted that the flood has caused temporary dislocation and losses of food and that will be overcome soon. ‘For that, we have to spend more money and we have this capacity,’ he said.
The finance minister was addressing a function marking the signing of an agreement between Pran-RFL Group and Sonali Bank Ltd at a city hotel.
Muhith said the government is now in such a position that it can easily face any crisis caused by the flood. ‘The rice import has seen a rise in recent times. There’ll no problem.’
However,  Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia on Wednesday called upon her party leaders and activists to come forward immediately to help the flood victims at different parts of the country without waiting for the ‘corrupt government’s sympathy’.
‘Flood-hit people can’t be left at the mercy of a corrupt govt.  I ask everyone, especially BNP leaders and activists, to urgently help them,’ she said in a twitter message from London.
 
‘Govt. paying lip service’: BNP
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Wednesday also alleged that the government has no visible relief activity to ease the sufferings of flood victims at different parts of the country.
“There’s no effort in sight from the government side to stand by the flood victims across the country with relief materials and move the affected people to safer places,” he said.
Rizvi narrated that “A huge number of people still remained marooned. Even if they try, it won’t be possible for them to cook if they’re given rice and pulses as water is everywhere around them. The floodwater is surging through roads and rail lines,” he observed.
Rizvi said the flood victims are going through immense sufferings as they are acutely in need of food, water and other essentials as nobody has provided them anything so far. “The country’s silos are empty.” The BNP leader claimed and said that the government is giving only lip services instead of taking effective steps to stand by the flood-affected people with necessary relief and supports.

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Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib in memoriam

A. U. M. Fakhruddin
 
IRREFUTABLY a tragedy of epic proportion in the history of the nation, the grotesque assassination of the architect of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with 21 members of his family—- including 11-year old Sheikh Russel —- will remain an indelible stigma of disgrace for all eternity. Only his daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, escaped because they were in Germany at the time.
Lamenters will bemoan his horrific demise unprecedented in the annals of the world, elegies will be inscribed and requiems will be hummed for the Bangabandhu.
Full Story
A. U. M. Fakhruddin
 
IRREFUTABLY a tragedy of epic proportion in the history of the nation, the grotesque assassination of the architect of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with 21 members of his family—- including 11-year old Sheikh Russel —- will remain an indelible stigma of disgrace for all eternity. Only his daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, escaped because they were in Germany at the time.
Lamenters will bemoan his horrific demise unprecedented in the annals of the world, elegies will be inscribed and requiems will be hummed for the Bangabandhu.
In all ages to come people will grieve with a heavy heart for the deceased charismatic leader; emotive poems will be recited; mourners will shed tears beside his sepulchre at his ancestral home at Tungipara in Gopalganj where his mortal remains lie in eternal rest. Sheikh Mujib, “symbol of an ideal of liberation”, who remained President in absentia until his return to Bangladesh from Pakistan, will remain in people’s hearts.
It is hard to believe as well as implausible as to how a small group of only two dozen military officers, (all the key figures were Freedom Fighters) could succeed in staging the heinous coup d’état without any resistance at all. The then army chief’s passivity despite Sheikh Sahib’s repeated phone calls to him for help remains an unresolved question. It is on record that the DGFI chief too briefed his boss about what was going to happen. And how come the army establishment was in the dark? What about all the intelligence apparatus and agencies? The late Lt. Col. M.A. Hamid, who was the station commander in Dhaka Cantonment, recounts that turbulent situation in his memoirs published in 1993.
 
WikiLeaks’ disclosure
WikiLeaks revealed that Mujib survived killing attempt in May 1975. An attempt was made to kill him a few months before he was assassinated on August 15, 1975. Mujib escaped uninjured but two unidentified persons were injured. The press was given strict instructions by press information department to suppress story.” India censors prohibited editorial comment on Bangladesh developments.”[Vide the daily star.net/ news/mujib-survived-killing-attempt-in-may-1975 dated April 16, 2013.]
In December 1974, Rameshwar Nath Kao, founding chief of RAW, came to Dhaka and confided Mujib about a plot, but the latter dismissed Kao’s concerns with a wave of his hand. “These are my own children and they will not harm me,” he said.
Sheikh Mujib was killed towards the middle of the Cold War era (1947-1991) which had Truman Doctrine as its credo—- a US foreign policy pledging to aid nations threatened by Soviet expansionism, was announced.
Chilean head of government Salvador Allende, the first Marxist to become president of a Latin American country was killed in a military coup in 1973, aided by the United States and its CIA. During the Cold War some 40 coups took place across the world including Bangladesh where CIA had a role. Commended by Noam Chomsky as classic, the book “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II” by William Blum gives a list of ‘regime change’ from 1953 till 2011.  [Vide Nicolas J.S. Davies, America’s Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy. AlterNet April 8, 2014]
Journalist Lawrence Lifschultz portrays an alternative picture of the conspiracy, implicating Mustaque and the CIA as participants, while Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini is “considered one of the main ingredients of discontent among the army and the assassination of Mujib as well”… The JSD’s insurgency, with its armed wing, Gonobahini, reportedly “led to a total breakdown of law and order in the country, and paved the way for the assassination to take place”. [Vide  ipfs.io/ipfs/ QmXoypizjW3Wkn FiJnKL wHCnL72 vedxj QkDDP1m XWo6uco/ wiki/Assassination_of_Sheikh_Mujibur_Rahman.html ] Despite substantial foreign aid, food supplies were scarce, and there was rampant corruption and black marketeering.
[globalsecurity.org/military/world/bangladesh/pres-mujib.htm]
 
Inextricably intertwined
Sheikh Mujib’s life story is inextricably intertwined with the nation’s history. In his eventful political career he had to spend some 15 years in prisons. From 1966 till the last moment of his life he personified Bangladesh—-notwithstanding his faux pas, flaws and foibles in the sphere of governance. Political historians will call into question why Mujib, an unflinching champion and defender of democracy prohibited all political parties, formed one party BKSAL on 7 June 1975 following the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and annulled all newspapers except four state-owned newspapers.
Researchers will critique Bangabandhu’s era that spanned over four decades from the early 1940s at the Islamia College in Kolkata as a young passionate activist of the Muslim League under his mentor H S Suhrawardy, a significant leader during the last phase of British colonial rule in India.
The historical context and hindsight of his joining politics are vividly described in his “Osomapto Atmojiboni” (Incmplete Autobiography). The Muslim League was established in Dhaka on 30 December 1906.  Harking back to the past century, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan called upon his followers to devote their energy to popularising English education among the Muslims and established Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh. Sir Syed and other Muslim leaders like Nawab Abdul Latif and Syed Amir Ali believed that the Muslims as a downtrodden nation could get more benefit from the British by becoming educated.
 
Moulana Bhashani and Sheikh Mujib
With the coming into being of Pakistan after the Great Divide of 14 August 1947 the central government in Karachi started betraying and economically exploiting East Pakistan the people of which province voted and decisive victory for Muslim League in 1946 election. The Awami League was formed on 23 June 1949 with towering political figure time Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani as its founding President, and young Mujib became its joint secretary. Seventeen years later he became the party’s President.
Mujib’s Six-point Programme, placed in Lahore on 6 February 1966, was a charter of demands for removing disparity between the two wings of Pakistan and to put an end to the internal colonial rule of West Pakistan in East Bengal.
To look back, during the trial of the Agartala Conspiracy Case in 1969, Sheikh Mujib personally requested journalist Ataus Samad of the then Pakistan Observer to go to Mujib’s former mentor Moulana Bhashani at Shantosh in Tangail to do something. The Moulana acted in no time and organised a countrywide violent movement against the Pakistan government headed by Field-Marshal Ayub Khan, asking him to withdraw the Agartala Conspiracy Case. In no time the Agartala case was scuttled and Sheikh Mujib was released. The next phase was characterised by treachery of General Yahya who headed the military junta and Z A Bhutto; genocide was unleashed; the Liberation War was fought and won in active cooperation with India; Sheikh Mujib came back home; and the rest is history.
The bottom line is, Sheikh Mujib will remain in people’s hearts.

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Verdict on 16th amendment producing political heat

Faruque Ahmed
 
Following the release of the judgment on the annulment of the 16th constitutional amendment and comments by Chief Justice SK Sinha, the government reaction came sharp and loud blaming the verdict to have contained objectionable remarks on the government, parliament and public institutions far away from the guidelines of the constitution as it stated on many issues.
Full Story
Faruque Ahmed
 
Following the release of the judgment on the annulment of the 16th constitutional amendment and comments by Chief Justice SK Sinha, the government reaction came sharp and loud blaming the verdict to have contained objectionable remarks on the government, parliament and public institutions far away from the guidelines of the constitution as it stated on many issues.
At least a dozen government ministers have so far bluntly criticized the verdict and some of them even demanded that the CJ must resign within this month; otherwise he would not be allowed to continue in his post. Pro-government lawyers in the Supreme Court called for three-day protests and the opposition-backed lawyers gave similar call for counter protests saying the government stance is a threat to independence of higher judiciary.
 
Former CJ’s jugglery
Meanwhile, the criticism of the judgment by former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque, now chairman of the Law Commission, siding with the government came as a big surprise to all watching the development.  Many wonder how he became an aggrieved party to have called a press conference at the Law Commission office to join his voice with the government leaders and noticeably going against his successor chief justice. It is said that while he can’t accept this paid semi-government job in the first place and also can’t publicly speak from his office on such an issue.
They say, if he had anything to say he should have welcomed the CJ for restoring the independence of higher judiciary. It is unprecedented for a retired CJ to go publicly against the court he once had presided terming judgment as “pre-conceived, irrelevant and immature.” The judgment clearly explains why the impeachment of the judges by a unicameral parliament and particularly in our situation where MPs are not allowed to vote freely, can’t be the right place to impeach or retire judges.
Many also blame the former CJ for scrapping the caretaker government in the constitution which in fact, did help to fulfill the wishes of Awami League government as it had perhaps correctly understood that under such a system, the party cannot return to power for a second term. He even erased the provision of two caretaker governments that found place in the summary judgment he announced by a single vote majority that he cast to make the judgment absolute but later removed it from the full judgment that he wrote 16 months after his retirement. This has been blamed for the country’s present political crisis.
Awami League government has reasons to be happy for his strong criticism of the Supreme Court verdict but in the eyes of most people he has demeaned his position and disdained the respect he deserves.
 
Political uneasiness
The senior government ministers have demanded a review of the SC verdict in question and law minister Anisul Haque said the government is examining it and will make decision whether some sections of the judgment needed to be expunged.
Politics centering the judgment has entered a very critical point as the communication minister and Awami League general secretary Obaidul Qadir met the CJ at his residence last week and held exclusive discussions to convey the government reservations to the CJ on some of the observations in the judgment.
The verdict has taken away power of the parliament to impeach Supreme Court Judges and the same had been vested in its hands through the 16th amendment to the constitution. Naturally the government is very upset and it has reasons to ponder how to deal with the CJ who is now playing the role of judicial activism in many respects.
People don’t know what was discussed between the CJ and Mr.  Qadir and whether or not the court will accept such a demand never made before. Obaidul Qadir then briefed the Prime Minister leaving the CJ’s residence that night. He also briefed the President on the subject later. It is also not clear how the ruling party is planning to handle the issue but the hectic triangular movement to the residences of top power holders of the state at least does not suggest easy things on table for discussion. It appears to be an ominous sign for a bigger crisis.
For the ruling Awami League it is hard to digest several observations in the judgment which has clearly blamed it for destroying public institutions and criticized the country’s fragile law and order situation. Some observations also deny the government of its moral authority to run the country. The party’s anger is natural for rescinding the 16th amendment; which the government had passed to hold control over the higher judiciary.
 
Ruling party’s broadside
The comments that hurt the ruling party in the judgment particularly accusing the government to have “becomes arrogant and uncontrolled in the absence of checks and balances and effective watchdog mechanism….  Human rights are at stake, corruption is rampant, parliament is dysfunctional, crores of people are deprived of basic healthcare and mismanagement in the administration is acute,” reads the verdict.
“With the development of technology, the dimensions of crimes are changing,” the apex court says adding that the lives and security of citizens are becoming utterly insecure. “The law enforcing agencies are unable to tackle the situation and the combined result of all this is a crippled society, a society where a good man does not dream of good things at all; but the bad man is all the more restless to grab a few more of bounty,” the verdict said.
“In such a situation, the executive becomes arrogant and uncontrolled and the bureaucracy will never opt for efficiency”. It further states: “Even after forty-six years of independence, we have not been able to institutionalise any public institutions …. people in the position are indulging into abuse of power and showing audacity of freehand exercise of power.”
Awami League leaders said the verdict is “unexpected” and “unacceptable.” Some of them were opposed to complying with the judgment and said they would pass another amendment to repose the power of impeachment in the hands of parliament.
At a joint meeting of the AL presidium members and secretaries of the central committee at Gono Bhaban they also said the CJ’s judgment has demeaned the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and also parliament. The CJ’s observation that “No nation, no country is made of or by one person” has demeaned him they said.

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Hamid Ansari’s predicament and India’s secular claims

M. Serajul Islam
 
A story that was told repeatedly within the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi when I had joined the mission on a cross posting from Canberra in 1983 was an incident that had occurred involving the High Commission’s Protocol Assistant and the Indian Chief of Protocol at that time Mr. Hamid Ansari who has just ended his two-terms as the Vice President of India. The incident had happened during a VVIP visit when the High Commission was up to its neck in arranging the visit.
Full Story
M. Serajul Islam
 
A story that was told repeatedly within the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi when I had joined the mission on a cross posting from Canberra in 1983 was an incident that had occurred involving the High Commission’s Protocol Assistant and the Indian Chief of Protocol at that time Mr. Hamid Ansari who has just ended his two-terms as the Vice President of India. The incident had happened during a VVIP visit when the High Commission was up to its neck in arranging the visit.
It became imperative for the High Commission to contact the Indian External Affairs Ministry over an urgent matter of protocol late one night during the visit. The matter could not wait till day light. The High Commission officials tried to reach the Indian External Affairs Ministry but no one was available. The officers were considering waking the High Commissioner from bed to talk with the Indian Chief of Protocol.
 
The legacy
Suddenly, the officers heard their Protocol Assistant talking on the phone in the reception area. In broken English, he was talking with someone on the telephone. And he was talking about the same issue of their concern. He told the officers with the broadest smile he could muster that he had spoken with the Indian Chief of Protocol and had solved the problem. And nonchalantly, he added that he had woken Mr.  Hamid Ansari from his bed to take the call! That a Protocol Assistant of a High Commission/Embassy would be able to call the Indian Chief of Protocol at home late at night when he had retired to bed was then and I believe even nowl, totally incomprehensible.
That happened because it was Mr. Hamid Ansari who received the call. Then and all along his distinguished career he has been a gentleman to the core. He was a career diplomat and a very distinguished one having served as an Ambassador in a number of stations including the UN in New York. And he served as the President of the Rajya Sabha before becoming the Vice President in 2007. For 7 of his 10 years as Vice President, he served under the Congress and the last 3 years under the BJP. For such a distinguished public figure and a gentleman, the least could be expected was that he would be given his farewell with the respect and the dignity that he richly deserved.
The BJP had reservations about the former Vice President since coming to power in May 2014 because of his secular views that contradicted with the BJP’s blatant Hindu fundamentalism. In 2015, senior BJP’s Secretary General Mr. Ram Madhav had openly criticized Mr. Ansari’s behaviour that was a first for the Secretary General of a ruling party criticizing an elected leader of the stature of Mr.  Ansari. Mr. Ram Madhav later apologised. However, Mr. Ansari’s Muslim background was also a major factor why the BJP did not think he was worthy of the respect that he deserved both on a personal basis and his achievements in the public domain that he achieved on his sheer merit.
 
Thapar interviewed Ansari
Mr. Hamid Ansari did not do himself a favour though with the BJP by being critical about aspects of BJP’s Hindu fundamentalism now raging in the country like wildfire. He was particularly critical of the insanity in the country over banning beef eating where mobs in all parts of the country have lynched people, mainly Muslims, just on suspicion that they had eaten beef. In the Prime Minister’s state of Gujarat, laws have been passed that have dramatically enhanced the punishments for beef slaughter and beef eating. The tougher laws notwithstanding, Hindutva has become the de facto law with BJP’s active encouragement in the people’s court where not being a Hindu is the greatest handicap for Indian citizens, particularly the 172 million Muslims of the country as well as the Dalits, tribal peoples; etcetera.
Mr. Ansari, the quintessential secular politician and diplomat, took offence with these developments no doubt saddened with the official encouragement behind it under which BJP affiliated racist organizations such as the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha have been given the green signal to execute Hindutva at the grassroots. He did not hesitate to highlight the fact that the victims of rising Hindu fundamentalism were the Muslims. In an interview to Mr. Karan Thapar of the Rajya Sabha TV just before he retired. Mr. Ansari said:
“Overall, the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought” and added that a feeling of fear and unease was growing among Indian Muslims.
A question from Mr. Thapar to the Vice President and the latter’s response said it all about where India was going and the wisdom of Mr. Ansari whom the BJP from the highest levels have insulted and humiliated for his rational and wise views that underlined the depth to which Indian politics had fallen in recent times. Mr. Thapar asked: “Hardly a day goes by without us reading about cow vigilante attacks. Earlier, we read about lynchings, we have read about beef bans. People who refuse to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ have been told they should leave the country. There have been accusations of Love Jihad, Ghar Wapsi campaigns and even killings of rationalists. How do you view all of this?”
 
‘Breakdown of Indian values’
The Vice President did not fan passions of millions of Muslims who are being subjected to fear on a daily basis and whose patriotism including his are being questioned even 70 years after they had in defiance of the two-nation theory, chosen to remain in India. He answered: “Breakdown of Indian values, the breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be the normal law enforcing work and overall the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought.”
Even such a wise and measured answer infuriated the BJP leaders because they are in total denial of the rampant and rabid Hindu fundamentalism in the country and they want to establish in India, the same type of Hindu nation state that Donald Trump’s white supremacists and white nationalists are trying to establish in the USA.
The BJP’s anger on the Vice President was based upon his courage to question the BJP’s intentions to establish Hindutva and his being a Muslim, only angered the BJP more.Mr. Ansari also spoke on growing intolerance in India, on Jammu and Kashmir; “on a trend towards sanctification of military might”, and a host of other issues critical of the BJP but related directly to the present and the future of a secular India outside the interview with Mr. Karan Thapar. He said that the “political immobility in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is disconcerting” and that the Kashmir problem was “primarily a political one that must be addressed politically.”
Instead, the new Indian Vice President and former BJP Secretary General Mr. Venkaiah Naidu attacked his predecessor for flagging insecurities among the minorities and trashed it as “political propaganda” against India as a place where minorities are more secure compared to the entire world.
 
PM’s ridicule
Senior BJP leaders like a chorus set Mr. Ansari’s distinguished career aside, overlooked the rage of Hindu fundamentalism that they themselves encouraged, and attacked Mr. Anasri like a political foe underlining the depths to which Indian politics had fallen. And if anyone was looking towards Mr. Narendra Modi to uphold courtesy and traditions of Indian politics, they were sadly frustrated. The Prime Minister ridiculed Mr. Ansari’s diplomatic background and added to the insults of his BJP colleagues. On TV, he said that before becoming the Prime Minister he understood little about “career diplomat’s laughter or handshake” that he understood only after assuming power in New Delhi. His sarcasm suggested that Mr. Ansari was fake and unworthy of respect.
Indian politicians and historians have blamed Mr. Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League for breaking India on the basis of the two-nation theory. Developments in India since the BJP came to power under Mr. Narendra Modi have unequivocally established that had neither Mr. Jinnah nor the ML been ever a part of Indian history, Hindu fundamentalists would have driven the Muslims out of India to retain the purity of Hindu India when they had the power to do so.  That is happening now.
The predicament of Mr. Ansari underlined the correctness of the two-nation theory. It underlined that in Hindu fundamentalist India, even he who had lived a career in public service in total commitment to India, could not be because of his Muslim background and views that contradict those of the ruling party. That should bury India’s claims as a secular country because no forces outside the BJP/RSS/Hindu Mahasabha that claim to be secular defended Mr. Ansari or opposed the raging madness of Hindu fundamentalism in India.
The case of Mr. Hamid Ansari should make the Indian secular forces hang their heads in shame. Unbridled and now uncontrolled Hindu fundamentalism unless checked is going to destroy India. And the western world should now see that secularism in India is not even skin deep. The outgoing Vice President quoted Swami Vivekananda and said:
“We must not only tolerate all other religions but positively embrace them as truth is the basis of all religions.” That was a message to the Indian secular forces to resist the destruction of secular India that in its wake, unless resisted, would destroy India’s regional and world aspirations for present fundamentalist India looks no better or worse than fundamentalist Pakistan.
 
The writer is a former career Ambassador

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Trump beats war drums abroad, plays race card at home

Inderjeet Parmar in London
The Wire
 
It has famously been noted that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. For US President Donald Trump, however, extolling the virtues of ‘America firstism,’ it is extreme right-wing nationalism and war that comes before everything else. His administration is now leaking support like a sieve from growing sections of the Senate and Congressional Republicans.
Full Story
Inderjeet Parmar in London
The Wire
 
It has famously been noted that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. For US President Donald Trump, however, extolling the virtues of ‘America firstism,’ it is extreme right-wing nationalism and war that comes before everything else. His administration is now leaking support like a sieve from growing sections of the Senate and Congressional Republicans.
The Grand Old Party (GOP) is yet to repudiate their leader, however, as he retains strong support from the aptly named base while the latter reviles them. It is when the GOP believes that Trump is no longer going to win them their seats that they will ‘realise’ their leader’s faults and cast him out of their ranks, as if he has nothing to do with them and they bear no responsibility for making Trump possible. Trump knows not only his political base but also the creatures of the Congressional swamp who think, like him, largely of themselves and the elite politics of Washington, DC.
 
Battles thrust Americans
But it is the politics of mass resistance that is increasingly shaping the narrative; the politics of the street, the college campus, the slavery-era statue, of emboldened opposition to neo-Nazi white supremacists and the attacks on environmental regulation. Amidst the doom and gloom of Trumpism, Americans are discovering the politics of mass mobilisation to wage the battles thrust upon this generation –the fight for democracy, economic rights, civil rights, women’s rights, against racism, fascism and war.
Charlottesville epitomizes the new environment – of how anti-fascist protesters educated a nation in what white supremacy really means. The environment where heavily armed men are attacking ordinary people in a college town pretending it’s all about the freedom of speech and assembly. They identified a liberal college town and were chased out by the people who fought courageously for democracy and against racial bigotry and all the xenophobia, violence and hate released and encouraged by the Trump phenomenon. Trump was forced by the sheer pressure of the people – who were horrified by the racist violence by the supporters of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-Nazis, including the killing of Heather Heyer – to finally disavow racism and fascism. But Trump’s performance was likened to a hostage forced to make a statement with which he obviously disagrees.
The events at Charlottesville and their political fallout forced Trump to repudiate neo-Nazis and the KKK, but he will do nothing to enforce it: Will he sack the white supremacist-linked axis of Steve Bannon-Sebastian Gorka-Stephen Miller? Tamp down the racist rhetoric?  Stop the Immigration Customs Enforcement raids and massive deportation levels? Stop urging police brutality on suspects? Classify white supremacist organisations as terror groups?
The answer may lie in Trump’s announcement the same day as he was forced to disavow the KKK et al. He said he is “seriously considering” Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, found guilty of racially profiling Latinos and defying a court order to desist. Trump called him a great patriot while the court declared his actions racist.
 
Political violence to rise
Polls show that political anger is mounting to high levels and most Americans now believe that political violence will increase.  Street-level political violence is likely to rise too as real politics based on everyday rights takes over from elite court politics financed by special interests and corporate lobbyists. In the end, that street politics is what will make the difference – bring the American political elite to its senses by threatening it with the power of the people released from the shackles of their own political lethargy, the result of elite management of the last really significant crisis of the elite authority in the 1960s and 1970s. People are waking up from the cult of debt-fuelled consumerism which side-tracked mass politics.  In the end, politics is everything.
There is an almighty struggle brewing over what the US is and stands for at home, in regard to its own people, and what it wants to be in the world. The Trump administration has forced those questions onto the political and ideological agenda – that is likely to be his principal (serendipitous) political achievement worthy of the name.  The struggle is taking place on the streets of the US, shaking it to its core but the political establishment has hardly recognised what dangers lie ahead.
It will be on the streets that Trumpism will face its reckoning: its campaign-style governance ‘strategy’ is looking to reorder American society back to a mythical golden age. Americans are deciding if that’s the kind of society they want in the 21st century.
The Trump administration – if the chaos and incoherence can be called an administration – is a series of layers. Its core is the ‘great leader’ himself and his tiny coterie of trusted family members, mafia-style consiglieres, sitting atop the pinnacle of patrimonial power. This group is only partly interested in government – in order to use it to carry out parts of an agenda largely backed by Goldman Sachs and the GOP: de-regulation of big corporations in the energy sector, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and finance. This is free market oriented economic liberalism.
 
Who control’s Trump’s admin?
Some of it falls under the banner of ‘deconstructing the administrative state’ – killing health and safety and worker protection laws, resuming granting federal contracts to violators of labour laws. Much of this agenda is the relaxation or abolition of the government by the executive fiat. It’s the opposite of governing.
Another layer of this administration consists of the special assistants in the White House who are linked to the extreme right, white supremacists or neo-Nazi groups – Bannon, Miller and Gorka. They are considered in this rarefied world to be leading intellectuals; they have ideas, plans, even a controversial PhD. Their motivation is to support Trump but not slavishly worship him; they see him, as Bannon once said to Trump, as a “blunt instrument”.
Among their ilk, but considered a radical conservative opponent of the GOP establishment, is Michael Anton, a National Security Council staffer appointed by Michael Flynn, probably in the cross-hairs of another layer; the actual establishment of the country personified in three US Generals – H.R. McMaster, James Mattis and now John F. Kelly.  Anton apparently is the leading intellectual of a group of radical conservatives who actually believe in America First, breaking the international system, protectionism and nationalistic-racialised populism, including anti-semitism. They even have a website called Great Again. They see Trump as an “empty vessel”; Trump is dispensable, the movement is not.
Blunt instrument or empty vessel he may be, but no one can manage him or bend him to their will. His agenda is whatever he says it is while he’s speaking. But one thing he never forgets, his ‘base’ instincts: play the race card, beat the war drums – the barbarians are at the gates, the enemy must be defeated. It’s time someone stood up for this country against enemies foreign and domestic.
Mattis et al are considered ‘grown ups’ who have decided among themselves that one of them will always remain in the White House when the others are abroad. They try to manage the unmanageable – an administration that has no interest in governing beyond two areas, deregulation and dealing with the demographic time-bomb that drives them, to enable a return to a golden age when white, heterosexual men ruled the roost and all those minorities like Barack Obama, women like Hillary Clinton and transgendered nobodies were kept in their place.
 
Power of psychic wages
But unlike the US’s CEOs, ordinary white Americans enjoy only a psychological benefit from Trump’s racialised rhetoric – the wages of whiteness. We should not under-estimate the power of psychological wages.
And that’s where the mass of ordinary Americans enter the scene: they don’t want a return to the 1950s – racial segregation and massive routine violence, women’s oppression, McCarthyite lying and hysteria, the xenophobia and skull-duggery of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. They don’t want what the intellectual of the fascist movement, Richard Spencer, calls ‘peaceful ethnic cleansing’ – a reversal of the racial numbers in the US to stop it moving to a majority-minority nation.
Marches and protests, pickets and blockades, vigils and prayers, counter-marches – these have spiralled over the past several months right across the US. The events at Charlottesville, for example, inspired over 680 solidarity demonstrations across the US on the very following day.
Surveys show over 30% of Democrats have marched in protest at either local, state or national events and rallies, including the the women’s march at Trump’s inauguration, protests at airports over the Muslim travel ban, the Bodega protests, Day Without Immigrants, Resist Trump Tuesdays, Not My President Day, Tax March, March for Science, Paris Climate Accord March, and marches against cuts to Medicare and healthcare coverage. Those are just the most well-known marches; there are thousands of protests involving millions of people, most led by women, that go unnoticed by a mainstream corporate media obsessed with elite politics and political public relations machines.
The Guardian reported that women predominate in “the thousands of small, local groups that have sprung up all around the US, including more than 5,800 groups aligned with Indivisible, the grassroots project launched by two former Congressional staffers shortly after the November election.”
Mass protest and marches are remaking American politics and creating the political conditions for a radical change. They are changing minds, the evidence for which is growing stronger by the day; minds in Washington, DC, swampland as well as in the American heartlands.
But Trump will not go down without a fight.
 
Inderjeet Parmar is professor of international politics at City, University of London and columnist for The Wire. His Twitter handle is @USEmpire.

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