Lessons from SVPNPA Film Festival

Two day Film festival was organized at NPA in which thought provoking documentaries were shown. Two particular themes emerged as lesson to me which would be beneficial to others too. First, the importance of understanding the truth of other side. The “Silent Poet” was based on the struggle of Irom Sharmila against AFSPA and “The Hunt” about anti naxal operations in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha  in which innocents tribals were killed by security forces during operation.  These two films shown a side of which I in particular and security personnel in general may not agree in entirety. Some may prefer to say that misinformation is being is spread.  But as leaders of force we should not fall into the  trap of dismissing the truth of other side  without any consideration. As being said there are three truths. My truth, your truth and absolute truth which is hidden from everyone. We may not uncover the absolute truth but can make sincere effort to understand the truth of other party. Then only we can move forward. In negotiation there is an important concept of differentiation between “position” and “ interests”.  Demand for repeal of AFSPA is  a position but the interest is what you want to do after the repeal  of AFSPA. We may not be able to concede to position but certainly we can work for fulfillments of the underlying interests.  This can be only be achieved when we open our mind to the truth of other party and not reject it out rightly.  Doesn’t matter how uncomfortable, despicable is that truth. We must understand that the current problems of naxalism and insurgency in North East has arised from historical socio-economic, cultural, excesses and failure of state at some level. There is some genuineness in there stand. That is why it is of utmost importance to understand the truth of other party. “The Hunt” movie in particular raised the point of differentiating between the naxals fighting against the state and the tribals fighting  for preservation of their rights. Both problems cannot be clubbed as same and brand tribals as naxals. This will only strengthen naxals.

Second, take away from the film festival was the power of individual action. A Quiet Revolution, Nero’s Guests and Superman of Malegoan emphasized this point. Magsaysay awardee Rajendra Singh through his water conservation efforts changed the lives of many villages. P Sainath through his journalism forced the entire nation to take note of agrarian crisis in the country which was largely ignored by the mainstream media and government. Supermen of Malegoan shows what a bunch of spirited individuals can achieve. If normal people without any government support can achieve so much and can cause so much influence and change then we as the agents of government have more responsibility. It also made me think is my role is limited by my position i.e. IPS. Should I be limited to maintaining law and order only. While preparing for Civil Services the first choice of most aspirants is IAS. Reason for this is the width of work it provides. Influencing various sectors such as employment, health, education, women empowerment etc. But these documentaries made me think do you really need an official position to bring these changes. Individuals in these documentaries have brought much bigger change single handedly.  I can be much more than what the description of IPS defines and so you.


Films Screened

  1. The Silent Poet by Borun Thokchom
  2. The Hunt by Biju Toppo
  3. The Love Commandos by Miriam Lyons
  4. A Quiet Revolution by Cory Taylor
  5. Not My Life by Robert Bilheimer
  6. Nero’s Guests by Deepa Bhatia
  7. Supermen of Malegoan

Indian Railway’s dynamic pricing – a step in right direction

Indian Railway’s recently announced dynamic pricing for Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto category of trains. For every 10% filled seats there would be 10% increase in fare with maximum upper limit of 1.5 times of base fare. The move is to garner extra revenue for IR which is highly stressed for revenue. It’s operating ratio is above 90%. For every kilometre IR spends 73 paise and in return it receives 37 paise from passenger.
IR is cross subsidising cost of passenger revenue from what it earns from goods trains. IR has one of the highest rates for cargo transportation in the world. Further increase would also make it uncompetitive against road transport. So increasing passenger fare is necessity. Dynamic pricing is currently introduced in premium trains only. These trains are used by people who are relatively well off and have capacity to pay more. This is a case of misallocation of subsidy. Subsidy should be provided only to needy not everyone.
Extra revenue would allow IR to improve it’s infrastructure, invest in safety and security systems, introduce more trains and increase connectivity across the country. Recent anecdotes of passengers telling remarkable change in IR where there grievances have be resolved by just tweeting, improved cleanliness and polite staff shows IR has potential to provide world class facilities and services. This would require investment. For this who can afford should not mind paying more.
Dynamic pricing experiment is a right step in the direction of future.

Wind of Change: Women Quazis

Afroz Begum and Jahan Ara from Rajasthan became the first women qazis in the country after two year training from Islamic centre in Mumbai. Hena Zaheer and Maria Fazal became first women qazis in Uttar Pradesh.  Although some conservative religious clerics have opposed women qazis as they consider this as a work of men only but women qazis have got support from Darul-Uloom Deoband and All India Sunni Ulema Council.

These women qazis can act as wind of change in muslim community and work for the protection of women rights. They can play important role in cases of education, health, skill development, inheritance, triple talaq, domestic abuse etc which in general is lopsided in the favour of men today by the interpretation done by male qazis. Women qazis can work in the direction of more liberal interpretation of Quran and other religious text to provide equal rights to women and make the society more inclusive. Many women groups  on Muslim community are fighting for Uniform Civil Code (UCC), these women qazis can work to build consensus in the community. Also, the liberal interpretation done by women qazis would provide benign character to the religion and act as bulwark against the narrow extremist interpretation of Islam which is used by extremists and terrorists to justify their illegal action.

Afroz Begum, Jahan Ara, Hena Zaheer and Maria Fazal are the beginning of a start which could bring progressive changes in the Muslim community to provide equal rights to women.

Thank God! Patiala Court happened.

Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNUSU president who was arrested under sedition charges for indulging in anti-national activities was attacked by lawyers in Patiala court. Not once but twice ! They are alleged to have the patronage of ruling party hence there was no strict action against them.

Today Supreme court stands vindicated on its judgement when it termed NJAC unconstitutional. Patiala court incident gives the glimpse of what could happen if political class have interference in selection of judges. If politicians have the say in the selections of judges and then certainly likes of Patiala court would be compensated for their services. The thoughts of such unruly unprofessional lawyers been promoted in judiciary is unimaginable and very depressing.

Government is the largest litigant in the courts today. NJAC would have made executive and judiciary work in close coordination. Just imagine if both colluded what would happen! Rule of law, equality of law, justice system all would go for a toss.

When NJAC was termed unconstitutional I had my own reservations against the judgement. It felt like judiciary overstepped its mandate and encroached the space of legislature. US and UK have overwhelming say of executive in the selection of the judges. So why cannot such a system be successful in India? Then Patiala court incident gave the answer. Those countries have not seen the 42nd Amendment, Keshavnanda Bharti Case, Emergency and louts of Patiala court. India has its unique socio-political history and it has to chart its own course.

Thank God! Patiala Court happened.

Are Anti-India Slogans in JNU justifiable ?

The slogans which were raised in JNU campus on 9th of February were distasteful and cannot be approved in any circumstances. Even Delhi HC in Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail case commented

” The thoughts reflected in the slogans raised by some students of JNU who organised and participated in that programme cannot be claimed to be protected as fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. I consider this as a kind of infection from which such students are suffering which needs to be controlled/cured before it becomes an epidemic.”

Discussion, debate and advocacy of any issue, however obnoxious it may be, is permitted as per the freedoms granted by our constitution. But support of such ideologies would be promoting sociopathic tendencies in the society. It is very discouraging to the families of soldiers who are dying on the front lines and then see a terrorist been adorned and glamourized. Judgement of Supreme Court of India is been questioned when due process of law is been followed. Afzal Guru was tried as per the law of the land. Questioning the sanctity of the courts of India is not justified. The same SC opened its gate in the middle of the night to hear the petition of Yakub Memon before execution. Tunda is been set free by the court in spite of grave charges levelled against him by the investigative agencies.

Today this issue has taken a totally a different direction. People who should have been questioned, interrogated and should be apologetic have become even more belligerent. Many TV channels and newspaper have diverted the whole discussion to the question of freedom of speech, validity of sedition law in today’s time, veracity of JNU videos, suppression by ruling government, freedom in universities and extreme nationalism. Political parties have taken this issue to target central government instead of condemning anti-India activities organised in the university ultimately compromising the security of the nation and possibly damaging India’s case over J&K in international forums.

Various parties have twisted the issue to suit their objectives. Incidents have been cherry picked to suit their agenda by both the forces of right and left, no one is clean.

Was anti-India slogans raised were correct? Certainly No.

Was such a strict action under sedition law necessary? Maybe not. Police should have authenticated the veracity of videos surfaced first and then should have proceeded.

Was Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest justified? That is for the court to decide. It should not be decided in some TV channels or by some journalists who certainly have their biases. Kanhaiya is the president of the JNUSU and he was aware of the event and he was also present at the venue. Primafacie he is a suspect, so it isn’t a surprise that police arrested him.

Was Patiala court incident correct? No! The lawyers at the Patiala courts who attacked Kanhiya are hooligans. They are same as the people who shouted anti-India slogans in JNU. They are the two sides of same coin. Extreme versions of right and left ideologies.

Are Patiala court lawyers nationalists? No! they are louts. But certain TV channels and newspapers are using this incident to divert attention from the critical issue of promotion of separatism in Indian universities. They are representing them as the nationalists and then terming the feeling of proudness when we call ourselves Indian or anything which make us feel Indian as extreme nationalism and make an average Indian apologetic for no reason.

Indian justice system may be slow but it takes due care that no innocent is wrongfully convicted. So when a terrorist convicted by the SC is glorified it really baffles us. No one supports violence. No average Indian stands with Patiala court louts. But at the same time no Indian can tolerate bad mouthing of India.

“Bharat tere tukde honge, insha allah allah”, “India Go Back”, “Kitne Afzal maaroge,  har ghar se afzal niklega.

These slogans are not characteristics of a saneful discussion or debate rather a promotion of sociopathic tendencies in society which needs to be rectified. Delhi HC has rightly commented in the Kanhiya bail judgement

Whenever some infection is spread in a limb, effort is made to cure the same by giving antibiotics orally and if that does not work, by following second line of treatment. Sometimes it may require surgical intervention also. However, if the infection results in infecting the limb to the extent that it becomes gangrene, amputation is the only treatment.