VICTIMISED: In the wake of clashes between Hindutva fanatics and the Muslim community in Jahangirpuri in Delhi, the BJP-controlled municipality bulldozed the homes of Muslim families alleged to be involved in the riots of 2020.
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the double-engine growth Modi government turned into a deadly bulldozer. For a Saturday following the week when there was a clash between Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Covid-19 pandemic curbs. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP started targeting the Catholic community. For a Saturday following the week when Elon Musk privatized Twitter by purchasing it for $44 billion. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Football Association president, Churchill Alemao, admitted to match-fixing in the football matches in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when those agitating against the wall built by Cidade de Goa on Vainginim beach welcomed the judgment of the National Green Tribunal.
AND a few stray thoughts on the double engine growth Modi government turning into a deadly bulldozer. In the capital city there was a clash between the Hindutva fanatics and Muslim community. The Modi Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) did not stop at arresting the so-called Muslim activists whom they claimed were responsible for the riots of 2020.
The MCD under orders from Home Minister Amit Shah bulldozed the homes of Muslims living in the Jahangirpuri district. The bulldozing continued despite orders from the Supreme Court directing the MCD to stop. The SC in fact has asked for a report on why its orders were not complied with. The BJP government has moved from targeting the Muslim community in various parts of the country to attacking Muslim settlements.
The bulldozer first started in the towns of BJP- ruled Madhya Pradesh Khargone and Sendhwa as punishments for alleged acts of terror by members of the community. The double-engine development is obviously limited for the Hindu community. It is double-engine development for Hindus and bulldozers for Muslims.
BJP fanatics and politicians are using the new strategy to threaten Muslim minority vote banks. The next target may be Uttar Pradesh with the largest Muslim minority population in the country. The ghosts of the post-Godhra attacks on Muslim families are now hovering over the entire country. Since the Muslim community is the main vote bank of former chief minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat, Moti Dongor may be the next target for bulldozing. Babush Monserrate may have bought immunity for himself by joining the BJP in time so that his Muslim vote banks are protected.
It is not only the Muslim community that is being targeted by the BJP. In BJP-ruled Karnataka, a Protestant school providing quality education for more than four decades is the latest target. The Clarence High School was founded in 1914 by the Redwood brothers, Alfred and Walter, two Englishmen, has come under attack from a new fundamentalist Hindutva group. Right from the beginning, the privately managed school has always insisted that students admitted to the school should study the Bible along with other subjects.
Since the school started it has excelled in producing award-winning students. Many of the alumni of the school occupy top positions in the IT industry. Some of them have even made it big in the world of cinema. The school had foreign principals till 1987 when the first Indian principal was appointed. The school is in great demand by all communities because of its very moderate fees and excellence of teaching. The school has never obscured the fact that it insists on students learning the Bible along with other subjects such as Newton’s law as part of the curriculum.
So far most parents signed the declaration permitting the school to hold Bible study classes on the logic that it could do no harm to the students. Overnight a new fundamentalist Hindutva group has emerged which has objected to the school holding Bible classes.
Ironically, this comes at a time when BJP- ruled states are directing schools to teach the Ramayana and other Hindu scriptures. The National Council for Educational Research & Training (NCERT) which is now headed by a hardcore RSS Dinesh Prasad Saklani supporter, has deleted chapters on the Nehru era which primarily talked about the setting up of institutions like the Indian Institute of Science (IIS) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). States have been directed to focus on local (Hindu) leaders at the primary level as part of the indoctrination campaign of the BJP.
AND a few stray thoughts on the clash between Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Covid-19 curbs. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has been persistent in opposing any further curbs to pre-empt the fourth wave of Covid-19. The CM has been more concerned with promoting the interests of the casino lobby and the hospitality industry. Jaydev Modi, who is the owner of the Deltin group which runs four of the six casinos anchored in the Mandovi river, is very close to senior BJP leaders.
I recall that at the swearing in of Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister in 2012, Jaydev Modi was in the front row with senior leaders like L K Advani who has now been sidelined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Even when the number of deaths was in double digits, Pramod Sawant had already started relaxing the curbs on the hospitality sector. Even the condition that hotels and wedding halls and other public places may operate only at one-third of their capacity has been scrapped.
However, there has been a resurgence of Covid-19 (XE variant) in the national capital New Delhi where schools are shutting down again. The new wave has badly affected the UK and several European countries and this has affected charter flights to Goa. Despite the risk of covid spreading in a fourth wave of which seems to be targeting children, Pramod Sawant has lifted all restrictions. Even wearing of masks is no longer enforced.
You may be caught and fined heavily for not wearing a helmet but you may get away scot-free for not wearing a mask. Health Minister Vishwajit Rane in sharp contrast has warned that the State cannot let down its guard. Goa Medical College & Hospital SM Bandekar has warned that a fourth wave of covid may break out in June. This has been predicted by the IIT (Kanpur) study researchers whose earlier predictions have been on the dot.
Ironically, the CM’s indifferent attitude to the safety of Goans comes at the peak domestic tourist season in Goa. It is the month of May which attracts the largest number of domestic tourists from all parts of the country, they come in buses or in their SUVs. Meanwhile, the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) has authorized the use of the new Covid-19 vaccine Corbevax for those aged 5 – 12 years. The problem is compounded by the fact that given the sudden changes in climate a lot of children are developing respiratory problems and may test positive for covid.
MUSK BUYS TWITTER
AND a few stray thoughts on how Elon Musk privatized Twitter by purchasing it for $44 billion. Twitter till April 26 was a public limited company. This provided some checks and balances on what Twitter could do. All the social media companies ranging from Facebook to Google to Twitter have been accused of promoting hate speeches. Social media has also been accused of interfering in the elections.
For instance, it is acknowledged that social media was paid by Russia to promote Donald Trump. The head of Facebook in India is reported to be very close to Narendra Modi. It is widely known that social media played a vital role in the sweeping victory of the BJP led by Narendra Modi in the 2014 and 2019 elections. In fact, the European Economic Committee (EEC) is on the verge of passing a law to control the big technology companies in social media. When the law is in force, social media companies will have to pay 6% of their global revenue as fines.
Companies like Google have been accused both by Australia and the US publishing houses of lifting material without permission or acknowledgement. Google has been forced to pay a large amount of money to settle a case filed by an Australian publishing house. At least when the social media company is publicly owned, the shareholders can object to the misuse and abuse of big tech companies. The social media giants have become a law under themselves and have the capacity to influence elections globally and intensify prejudices against minorities. Social media companies are the main supporters of Fascist leaders like Putin in Russia and Modi in India.
In the recently concluded French election, they supported Marine Le Pen, the far-right rival of Emmanuel Macron who managed to get elected a second time. The recent acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk amounts to the privatization of the company. This confers unlimited power on Elon Musk who was best known till recently for his electric vehicle company Tesla which is the largest manufacturer of electric cars. Elon Musk along with Jeff Bezos is also involved in the space industry and has been offering tourists trips to outer space for whopping prices of course.
Elon Musk is quoted as claiming “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” But can one man Elon Musk be entrusted with so much power for Twitter’s 290 million active users, who incidentally include Narendra Modi and several other BJP leaders? Twitter like Facebook and other social media have been accused of rigging the number of people following individuals or organizations.
AND a few stray thoughts on the president of the Goa Football Association, Churchill Alemao, who has admitted to match-fixing in football matches in Goa. Churchill, who heads the Churchill Brothers Football Club, has revealed that in the Goa Professional League matches there are suspicions that the outcome of at least three matches was fixed.
In one particular match where the two teams were two-all, Churchill claims his nephew received a message that one of the teams is going to score the winner. There have also been allegations of large-scale match-fixing in the Indian Super League which is privately owned by Nita Ambani, the wife of Mukesh Ambani who is now reportedly amongst the top 10 richest people in the world.
It may be recalled that FC Goa, originally owned jointly by Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas Dempo, did very well in the inaugural tournament. However, FC Goa lost the finals amidst allegations of match-fixing. Dattaraj was even assaulted by one of the officials in the finals against the Chennai franchise. FC Goa is now owned ironically by Jaydev Modi, the casino king of Goa.
The performance of FC Goa has been disastrous ever since it has been taken over by the Deltin group. The Ambanis seem to command so much influence that the All India Football Federation has conceded its control over football to the IFL. It is no longer a professional league like the Santosh Trophy which is considered the premier football tournament in the country superseding the Indian Football Federation. The implication is that it is the winner of the Ambani tournament who gets automatically qualified for the Asian and the World cup football tournaments.
Perhaps as it happened in the cricket match-fixing, the Supreme Court should intervene. It may be recalled that the Supreme Court sacked the then chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, N Srinivasan, and appointed former auditor general Vinod Rai to reform the BCCI. Incidentally, Mukesh Ambani is reported to be competing with Apple or rather the parent company Alphabet for the broadcasting rights of the IPL.
CIDADE DE GOA WALL
AND a last stray thought on those agitating against the wall built by Cidade de Goa on Vainguinim beach welcoming the judgment of the National Green Tribunal. The NGT has passed an order banning the construction of any concrete structures including walls near the coastline. Earlier the local coastal regulation authority CRZMA had cleared the blatantly illegal wall built by the Fomento management on Vainguinim beach. The Cidade de Goa which built the wall claimed that it was only repairing an existing wall.
Subsequently, the Bambolim Grand Hyatt also built a wall on the beach in front of the hotel. The judgement of the NGT has been hailed by the Vainguinim Valley Resident Association which has been fighting against the construction of the wall on the beach by Cidade de Goa which is now taken over by the Taj group. The campaign against the illegal blockage of the beach was led by Akash Madgaonkar, the son of the late Anand Madgaonkar.