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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 23, June 3, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, June 3, 2023

Friday 2 June 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, June 3, 2023

From A to Z inauguration of the New Parliament in Delhi had arbitrariness written all over

On May 28, 2023, India’s new Parliament building was inaugurated with 21 opposition parties in the country boycotting the event. Everything should have been done by the Modi Government to take everyone along and make it a consensus-driven event. Not only was the opposition absent on this important day, even the President of India who is the head of state, and the Vice President (who is the chair of the Rajya Sabha the upper house of Parliament) were not invited. (We must recall that the former President Ram Nath Govind had not been invited to the foundation stone laying ceremony of the New Parliament) The opposition parties repeatedly requested the Government that the head of state should be inaugurating the Parliament but to no avail, it was the Prime Minister who was given center stage in the ceremony. The very conception of the new Parliament building and all major changes in the central Vista zone —with major Governmental buildings had been done in an arbitrary fashion. Many parliamentarians, city planners, and architects objected but their views were ignored. The Modi Government carries on with its unilateral decision making causing much dismay in a large section of the political class, notably the opposition parties. The inauguration of India’s new parliament with Hindu religious worship has drawn criticism from many quarters for disrespect of constitutional conduct and procedure. Was May 28 the date of the inauguration specially chosen since it marks the birth anniversary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue VD Savarkar? Was no other date possible? The founders of our republic stood committed to diversity, to inclusiveness, to not involving religion in the affairs of the state, and to nurturing democracy. The constitution they came up with directs us to promote a scientific temper among citizens. All of these stood a bit tarnished with the Prime minister leading the ceremony like a king walking into the parliament holding ‘a spectre’ (a metallic stick representing divine sanction the kind used at coronations of kings; referred to as Sengol in South of India). He was surrounded by a large group of half-naked priests, who vocalised religious chants probably to bless the building; a purifying Hindu ritual of the ‘havan’ was also performed, inside the Parliament of 21st-century of secular India. It was unbelievable to see Prime Minister Modi lie down flat with belly-on-the-ground in prayer mode with folded hands before a metallic stick. Who on earth scripted this? Was this a state ritual crafted by Hindutva ideologues or Bollywood storytellers hired by the Prime Minister? Power in the Parliamentary democracy comes from the people and not from any religious denominations or religious symbols. A Sengol (a spectre), is a religious symbol and should not have any place in the Parliament of a modern republic. Some from the Modi Government entourage concocted a story about the Sengol that was once supposedly presented to Jawaharlal Nehru and which was then used by Mountbatten as a symbol of the transfer of power …. There is no historical record of any of this. It was pulled out of nowhere – fabricated to give it a veneer of history and handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to place in the new Parliament building [1]. By now we are getting to used to the cult-making around Narendra Modi and the regimes propaganda along with it, Fake death count figures on Covid-19 [2], PM Modi’s photo on Covid Certificates [3], Fake history [4], hype on figures on India’s high economic growth [5], and mindless falsehoods have made it big and the Government seems surrounded by nincompoops and liars. . . In 2018 the Chief Minister of the state of Tripura said that the Internet was invented thousands of years ago in the Mahabharata period in India and that Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong [6]. And the icing on the cake … Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently announcing that scientific concepts relating to time, metallurgy, the structure of the universe were all originally present in the ancient Vedic texts and had been taken by the West which then claimed ownership of this knowledge [7]. In the meantime official announcements have already come that Indian school textbooks will no longer teach evolution, chapters on Democracy, social movements, the entire Mughal period Indian history has been clipped [8]. A term paper on Mahatma Gandhi dropped [9] …. From the University syllabi.
While the Prime Minster inaugurated the new Parliament building, not far away outside security personnel brutally swooped down on protesting wrestlers from marching towards the new parliament. The police detained protesters, including top champion wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat [10]. The crackdown came a month after the Delhi Police registered two FIRs against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on the basis of complaints of seven female wrestlers, including a minor, who have accused him of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation. The protesters are enraged at police inaction and at all the ’airs’ that the accused is enjoying state protection. While the protesters were dragged away in police busses, the famous BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was seen in the Parliament attending the official ceremony. Meanwhile, the Modi Government continues its G-20 billboard blitz that advertises India as the so-called ‘Mother of Democracy’ — mocking us all.

June 3, 2023 —HK

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