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Mainstream, VOL LX No 2, New Delhi, January 1, 2022

Letter to the readers, Mainstream, Jan 1, 2022

Tuesday 28 December 2021


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Jan 1, 2022

Over the past two weeks there have been reports from the state of Punjab of public lynching’s in the name of so-called sacrilege at Sikh places of worship … but leaders of political parties from across the political spectrum have been silent or have refrained from condemning mob justice. Call’s by Punjab’s State Congress chief Navjot Sidhu’s for public execution of the so-called sacrilege accused are extremely shocking. That sort of thing has happened and can happen in neighbouring Afghanistan (legally not allowed in Pakistan which has a Blasphemy law) and should have no place in the political system in India. Soon after these events as we approached Christmas we heard of attacks on multiple Churches across many states of India. On Christmas day, India’s largest Christian Charity founded by Mother Teresa had its right to receive foreign funding blocked by the Government entities in India. Prior to that, collective religious prayers by Muslim believers in Gurugram (Gurgaon) a city bang adjacent to India’s national capital have repeatedly come under attack by groups of the Hindu Far-Right. The Prime Minister who wished people on Christmas could have said a few words against the attacks on the churches that have been taking place in different parts of India. It is not for nothing that the world’s media has been repeatedly pointing fingers at the repeated attacks against minorities under the Modi Government in India. Not long ago a politician connected to the ruling BJP / Hindutva circuit had the cheek to offer public advice in an Op-Ed to neighbouring government of Bangladesh on the need to protect minority rights. Such guys go conveniently blind when it comes to standing for minority rights in India that come under attack from the Hindutva extremists. Some ten days ago there was a public gathering of Hindutva extremists held in Haridwar, in the BJP ruled Uttarakhand State; Video clips of these extremists calling for ethnic cleansing and inciting violence against the Muslims in India have been available on YouTube and on social media for many days. It is very surprising that the Police in Uttarakhand state has chosen to not haul up or arrest people for making such statements against Indian citizens. This is in sharp contrast to how the police has come to use Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the recent years to book citizens for pretty banal things and for social media posts critical of influential politicians in power. Some seventy prominent advocates from the Supreme Court have written to the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, asking the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the calls for "ethnic cleansing" in Haridwar and take appropriate action. Recent reports from the state of Uttar Pradesh suggest two things (i) a surge in crowds joining the election campaign meetings of the opposition parties mobilising for the 2022 assembly elections a possible sign of wide social discontent against the ruling party; (ii) the opposition party leaders in Uttar Pradesh involved in election campaigns have been facing targeted raids by central tax and anti-corruption agencies. And now, in the name of Covid-19 precautions there is rumour & talk of a possible postponement of the UP elections in the air. Difficult to believe that this may happen since there are elections due soon in seven states. It is too early to say what will happen, only time will tell the political weather.

Moving a step away from India we are saddened to learn that the Supreme Court of the Russian federation has ordered the dissolution and shutting down of ‘Memorial’, the country’s major human rights organisation that had come up in the late Soviet years to record and expose Stalinist repressions.


Brij Lal the Indo-Fijian historian who wrote about the Pacific region and the colonial indentured labour system that that created an Indian diaspora in Fiji passed away on December 25, 2021

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a celebrated figure from South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and who was also later involved in the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, passed away on December 26, 2021. He had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. India and the world has lost a friend.

E.O. Wilson, a top scientist of evolutionary biology, passed away on Dec 26, 2021. Wilson had been a professor at Harvard university for 46 years, and was an expert on insects and explored how natural selection and other forces influenced animal behaviour.

We pay tribute to the above people.

December 29, 2021 - HK

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