Saturday, 20 October 2018

Prosecute all who plotted false case against ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan

Editorial by Vivek Sinha

In this era of mediocrity, excellence and passion are rare to find. If it does exist in an individual then s/he must be handled with care. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Nambi Narayanan, the former ISRO scientist. Narayanan was at the peak of his career during nineties, when he was maliciously implicated in a false espionage case, tortured in custody and his reputation ruined by planting fabricated stories of his sexual escapades with foreign women. Narayanan’s only fault was that he was passionate about his research at ISRO and was striving to make India a super power in Space Science. 

It’s not the fabricated false allegations against Narayanan that is surprising, what’s surprising is that it took twenty four years for him to get a clean chit from India’s Supreme Court. It is common knowledge that all those who are working on vital areas such as space sciences will be on the radar of foreign spy networks and could be targeted to derail India’s research activities. What’s baffling is how could a bunch of police officials in Kerala Police and sleuths of Intelligence Bureau run riot for over two decades and we as a nation remained mute spectators. Did the Kerala police officers have the jurisdiction to investigate Nambi Narayanan’s case? Why did none of our haloed institutions seek an answer to this simple question? In fact, Kerala police’s investigations into this case was akin to a traffic constable investigating a murder.

Can we boast of ourselves as the world’s largest democracy if our famed institutions have been rendered hollow by termites? Narayanan was no common man. He was spearheading India’s cryogenic space programme and was on the board of at least half-dozen other elite space related researches. Former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Narayanan’s former colleague at ISRO put in his weight behind him. Other famous scientists such as the former UGC Chairman Prof Yashpal along with others wrote an open letter in Narayanan’s favour and despite this the state government of Kerala in cahoots with compromised police officers continued to harass Narayanan. Their intent was clear. Narayanan was not the target. On their radar was India’s growing space prowess. So when they were unable to sabotage ISRO directly, they chalked out a plan to discredit a genius scientist. With this the space research went down the drain or at least got substantially delayed. 

Of course, Narayanan has now salvaged some of his reputation back, albeit after twenty four long years, but then the main casualty has been country’s space programme. The space research programme has been delayed by several years which was the real intent of making Narayanan as the target. How much loss has the nation borne due to Narayanan’s exit from ISRO will remain a matter of conjecture and academic discussions but it will be good if we identify, shame and prosecute the officers who fabricated Narayanan with malicious intent. We cannot turn back the clock to 1994 but then let’s fix the loopholes in our institutions. 

(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He wrote this editorial in his capacity as the Editor of Power Corridors news magazine.This editorial was first published in October 2018 issue)

I was brutally tortured in custody: ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan

In a free wheeling chat with Vivek Sinha, ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan explains how his false implication had adversely affected India’s space research

Q: After 24 years, your name has finally been cleared by the Supreme Court of all espionage charges. Who do you think was the real culprit in this entire saga? 
Ans: I wouldn’t say there is one culprit, rather there are many people in the story. According to me it is a fabricated case and the Supreme Court also says it is a malicious prosecution. And as you know from the very beginning Kerala police were investigating this and then the Intelligence Bureau (IB) also investigated. So, you can say it is the IB that is responsible, the Kerala Police is responsible, the government is responsible… I wouldn’t say it is one person who was responsible, it is a group of people who were responsible. 

Q: Why were you targeted… was this some kind of an international conspiracy to derail India’s cryogenic programme? 
Ans: Well, there is nothing on record about such issues but circumstantially when you look at it, this does look as if there are a group of people answerable, some probably from outside the country. We need to investigate and find out whether the circumstances indicate that there was a conspiracy. For instance, there was a contract between India and Russia on the cryogenic project but Russia backed out from the contract without any valid reasons and then they said that it was a forced measure which was beyond their control. Later on we found out that this was because of the Americans, and then America issued sanctions against both Russia and India on this matter. So the whole issue is that it’s not a game of hide and seek. Americans made it very clear that ‘we are not happy about India getting this technology from Russia’. The next question that comes to mind is, why should America be unhappy? And the answer is probably they didn’t like the competition. You can look at it that way, but the point is that they issued sanctions against us, saying that it comes under the missiles control regime. Though this never comes under the missiles control regime, there is no institute in the world using cryogenic technology. So all these circumstances make it look very malicious. Yet the Americans didn’t come here and dig this place, so there must be people who are willing to work for others. Now the mission is to find out who all are these people. There are definitely some persons who has worked for them. 

Q: In your book “Ready to Fire” you have said that even if somebody has the designs s/he cannot build a rocket, it’s not something like making a cake. Can you please elaborate on this? 
Ans: Let me explain to you in a layman’s language. Let’s take the example an aircraft like the Airbus. Now this Airbus is serviced and maintained by our own people. After these aircrafts complete a particular number of flying hours then they completely refurbish it, which means that they shift the entire aircraft to our country and then starts the process of rebuilding this aircraft from scratch. So there is a specific procedure for this, there are spare parts and methods to assemble, there is a sequence of assembly, etc etc. Now all these are done by our own people, there is no American involvement here. Now my question is, if we can completely assemble an entire aircraft then why can’t we have our own aircraft like an Airbus? Can’t we make this aircraft? We are doing everything, all the parts, drawings, methods, sequences, assembly procedures everything we have but still we are buying Airbus only from the western world. So, what I am explaining to you is the meaning of technology and its transfer. Yes we have the knowledge about ‘Know How’ of Airbus aircraft’s technology but technology transfer happens only when we also have the ‘Know Why’. Even if we have the spare parts of the aircraft we only have the ‘Know How’ we don’t have the actual technology which is ‘Know Why’. Similarly, in the case of a cryogenic engine mere possession of drawings means nothing. There is no technology transfer. 

Q: Before you were maliciously prosecuted, were you approached with some kinds of inducements or were asked to give up this cryogenic programme… 
Ans: The answer is no. But let me tell you in any such international conspiracy they wouldn’t say such a thing openly, they will try to do these things without creating any suspicion. They will not expose themselves. Also, probably because they already knew my character, that I am not available for any inducements. All the companies that came to me for contracts were trying to be nice to me… they would say that ‘you are an awesome fellow’…‘you studied in USA’ etc…. ‘so why don’t you give us a contract’. Other fellows, the French fellows also came in a similar manner, but I turned them down. I said okay send me your quotation let me have a look at it. Then I didn’t bother both of them about this. So they knew that I was not available and they could not lure me so they did not approach me. 

Q: Was it your passion, your abilities and your capabilities which went against you… such that they tried to discredit you through this dubious scheming and all…
Ans: I was holding so many responsibilities at that time. I was the project director for the second stage of Vikas engine PSLV, I was the project director for Cryogenics, I was Deputy Director for Liquid Spender and so on and so forth. I can keep on going about my responsibilities during those times. So I was crucial in the launch vehicle development. Now, if I can be removed for sometime then there is a likelihood that the entire programme will get delayed, if is not completely abolished. So what they have done is that they have delayed it by removing me from these projects and the bad name that I received meant that no one was going to get in touch with me ever. 

Q: What was the role of CBI officials in this matter? 
Ans: If not for the CBI, the truth would not have come out. The CBI investigated it thoroughly and finally they only found out the truth and they wrote that it is a false case. But I would have appreciated if the CBI would have also found out as to who fabricated this case. If it was a false case then it was a fabricated case as well. If they would have found out what was the motive, things would not have taken this much time, these many years, but they didn’t do that. Yet they found out that this was a false case. 

Q: What about your former colleagues at ISRO, especially the former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam… how was his reaction? 
Ans: All of them knew me that I have not done anything wrong, they were supporting me. But their open support came a little late, after one year or one and a half years, but yes they supported me. All these people wrote an open letter explaining to the whole team and also appreciating my contribution to the entire organization. They also mentioned in that open letter that it was unfair to have such a case on me. 

Q: And what about former president Dr. Kalam… 
Ans: Actually I was a very close colleague of Kalam, and he always used to appreciate me. He told me that don’t waste your time in fighting this case. Kalam reasoned that I could make good use of my time more meaningfully, more productively for the country. So, he offered me a job, a place to use my time far more effectively. He also told me to believe in God and that God will punish them and called me to work with him. I said thank you and went back to court. 

Q: You came back from US at the request of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. Did you ever regret coming back to India and falling into this trap? 
Ans: I came because of Sarabhai and unfortunately Sarabhai died under some mysterious circumstances but then after him others encouraged me and helped me. So I never had the opportunity to regret about having come back to India. Even after this case started I kept working my way through and I won the case. You know my case is not a normal case, I was fighting two governments-- Centre and the State, both powerful governments. Some kind of activity were going on and I was helpless. Initially the media was also against me and they can manipulate things. But, slowly I got public support and then visual media brought out the truth and finally the CBI gave a big twist to my case by saying that it was a false case. Even after this people did not believe. Till this time nobody made a clear statement saying that this was a malicious prosecution that my arrest was unwarranted and I was tortured while in custody. Later on, the Supreme Court came to my rescue. They quashed the Kerala government’s order for further investigation. They have very clearly said that it is a malicious prosecution. They went ahead and have formed a committee and the committee is supposed to find out about the officials (who implicated me) and their whereabouts. The only remedy that I got was from the Supreme Court and finally the decision has come which is written and then it could also be told. There is public support, people like you, other people and media are also with me now and that is what is happening. 

Q: Sir it’s been so long now, what lies next for you, what is the way ahead? I understand that you have lost so much and you could’ve contributed so much for the country’s space programme. The relief from Supreme Court is too little and too late but still what lies next for you… what are you going to do now? How are you going to take this further?
Ans: Well, my only regret is that if this case had not have happened at least we would have been far ahead of our schedule like earlier. My aim was to make India a super space power. But that dream was shattered. I have reached the stage where the younger generation should take from the point where I got it and then try to teach the culprits as far as this case goes and then put them in the place where they really should be. And as far as I am concerned I am going to prefer to be with my family and I would associate myself with certain assignments and other things which could be useful to the society but non-ISRO related matters. 
Further, I have realized that in our country wherever there is power I see them get a kick in their heads by misusing their power. A minister or even a peon sitting on a powerful seat tend to misuse power. Barring a few, everyone wearing a khaki thinks they have become a Superman and they can do anything they want, nobody can question them. In my case the Kerala Police had no jurisdiction, it was like a traffic police solving a murder case. I must say that we should learn to be within the framework of our constitution and our rights. 

(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He interviewed Nambi Narayanan as the Editor of Power Corridors news magazine. This interview was first published in October 2018 issue)

Scourge of Wahhabism is still present today: Govindacharya

Vivek Sinha

Sangh stalwart KN Govindacharya is upset at RSS Chief saying that Guruji's thoughts in “Bunch of Thoughts” are not eternal

RSS Chiefs are recognised as original thinkers whose words, speeches and writings form the basis of Sangh’s functioning and of its over 36 affiliate organisations, which includes its political arm Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  On 19th September, Dr Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS Chief, explained to an eager audience at New Delhi’s imposing Vigyan Bhavan that Sangh no longer follows each and every word written in Golwalkar’s famous book “Bunch of Thoughts”. Bhagwat was responding to a question of whether RSS still considers Muslims in a negative light as portrayed in the “Bunch of Thoughts”.
“….when we speak of “Bunch of Thoughts”, when we discuss anything, we do it with reference to the circumstance and context. It does not remain eternal,” Dr Bhagwat explained. Golwalkar, lovingly referred by Sangh swayamsevaks as Guru ji was the second RSS Chief and his writings have largely been the guiding philosophy of Sangh over the last several decades.
Dr Bhagwat further explained that eternal thoughts of Guru ji has been penned in Golwalkar’s another book “Vision & Mission”. This was indeed quite a departure from the earlier working and thought processes within the Sangh. “Bunch of Thoughts” is one of the few authentic writings of Guru ji that has remained as the guiding philosophy of millions of Swayamsevaks. Selecting excerpts from this book and announcing that certain issues and concerns (about Muslims) are raised only in a specific context has raised some eyebrows and created quite a flutter.
Sangh ideologue KN Govindacharya said: “To cull portions from the ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ implying that the next editions will not carry these passages…who has the rights for these…you may differ from ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ you may even disassociate with certain sections but denying its existence is doing injustice to the facts.” Govindacharya explained that even if there is a need to disassociate from certain thoughts of Guru ji then, “…What will be the parameters and what will be the forum… to change the beliefs of Sangh…though the finality may rest with the Sarsanghachalak…what is the context…are these sections constant as eternal values or they are variable as changing society…” Govindacharya wanted to know what has changed since 1960s, when Golwalkar wrote Bunch of Thoughts, which is being recognized and accepted today. “Is the scourge of Wahhabism not present today that was present in the 1960s? Has fundamentalism lessened in today’s time? Has anything been discarded by the religious heads of Semitic religions in context of India?” Govindacharya questioned. He quickly added: “Has jihad been discarded or has conversion been said to be anti-religious? These are some of the questions that need to be thought over deeply.”
Dattopant Thengadi had once said that if you want to damage an organisation just do two things: One, increase the comfort level of cadres and two, make the leaders status conscious. This will ensure that the leader is cut off from their cadre and the cadre will be cut off from the masses. “Thengadi ji was quoting his conversations with Congress politician DP Mishra. Mishra told Jawaharlal Nehru that he (Nehru) had been a great help to Sangh by imposing a ban on the RSS. Mishra explained that around 65,000 people have been incarcerated by the then Nehru government and these people are being infused with RSS ideology in jails, all at the government expense. The government is not going to keep them behind bars forever and whenever they step out these well-groomed RSS cadre will be the torch bearers of Sangh ideology,” Govindacharya reminisced. He further explained that Nehru asked Mishra what would have he done. Mishra replied that he would have constructed posh offices for Sangh in all districts replete with modern luxury facilities, such that the RSS cadres need not step out and remained confined within their luxurious offices.
In fact, in the 2002 meeting of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Thengadi ji had said: “At times it is better to be right and be irresponsible than be wrong and responsible”. Govindacharya said that Thengadi ji explained that in a healthy organisation the functioning will be healthy but in an unhealthy organisation the healthy work functioning will have its boundaries and limits.
Delving deeper into his thoughts Govindacharya recalled the sequence of events where the authentic transcript of the final speech of Golwalkar ji was lost due to unforeseen circumstances.  “A booklet named Disha Bodh was published in 1972. When I read it I felt that all the essentials (of Guru ji’s speech) were left out. I did not feel good. I had listened with great concentration to what Guru ji had said in this meeting, and a lot of things which even I remembered were not present in that booklet. There was a tick system that was followed for writing notes during those times, which was a kind of note taking through relay method. The notes were taken in this fashion of Guru ji’s last speech. I spoke to Thengadi ji and asked for those notes. Thengadi ji said that it was kept on the racks of the basement of Hedgewar Bhawan. But, emergency was imposed in 1975 and in July the basement was flooded. Somehow these notes and other literature in drenched and half- drenched condition were recovered. All these notes were then sent over to the homes of Swayamsevaks because emergency was still in place. When emergency was lifted all these notes were brought back. Dattopant ji said that all other notes came back but the notes of the 1972 meeting and Guru ji’s speech never came back,” Govindacharya recalled, a tinge of sadness was clearly visible in his eyes.  
“I told Dattopant ji that you were also present in that meeting and you remember a lot of these things…you have also said that it is the magnum opus and there is hardly anything left to say after this. It was said with such finality. It will be good if you write about what Guru ji had said in that last meeting,” Govindacharya said. On this request of Govindacharya Dattopant Thengadi ji replied: “Listen I cannot even dare to tinker with anything about what Guru ji had said. And I am not even qualified to write that Guru ji had said such and such thing. I can only say about my views. But that Guru ji had said such and such things I cannot say this.”
In the absence of this authentic last speech of MS Golwalkar which Dattopant Thengadi called as the magnum opus, it is the “Bunch of Thoughts” and other books written by Golwalkar that have guided scores of Sangh Pracharaks and other Swayamsevaks. As Govindacharya has said Golwalkar had the foresight and clarity of thoughts to talk about the threats from an ever-rising Muslim population which is increasingly coming under the influence of Wahhabi thoughts. Several other Sangh ideologues also expressed their displeasure on Bhagwat’s disowning the sections of “Bunch of Thoughts”
(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He wrote this article for Power Corridors news magazine. The article was first published in October 2018 issue) 

RSS walks on a tight rope

Vivek Sinha

RSS is still unable to set the discourse in India. In order to change this ecosystem, Sangh Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat reached out to intellectuals in a mega-conclave. He ended up disowning portions of Golwalkar’s book “Bunch of Thoughts”. Other Sangh stalwarts are not happy.

In this era of information overload it’s the perception that matters. People, organisations, leaders and communities have to manage and fight out this perception battle. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)--- world’s largest voluntary organisation, that boasts of millions of Swayamsevaks (voluntary workers), has been at the receiving end of this perception management, thanks to concerted efforts by the cabal of Communist-Congress nexus.

Ever since its inception in 1925, RSS remained too involved in the grass roots work and committed to its famed “man making” of Indian citizens, which in effect means character building and instilling patriotic fervour about India. Perception management became a casualty in this effort, so much so that over the last seven decades since India’s independence RSS had to remain content with a negative press largely controlled by Communist card holders. 

Mohan Bhagwat, the sixth RSS Chief (SarSanghachalak) decided to take things head on. The three-day outreach programme from September 17 to 19 at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan was aimed at this course correction. RSS functionaries had dished out invites to leaders across political parties, luminaries of film industry, media barons, academicians, lawyers, among others. The invitee list was carefully prepared to have ardent critics of Sangh in the VVIP arena of Vigyan Bhawan. 

What followed was a three-day dose by Bhagwat on nationalism, education, women’s rights, security issues, Muslims, Uniform Civil Code and Sangh’s thinking about these issues. 

It was a monologue and questions were allowed only during tea and lunch breaks where RSS functionaries described about Sangh, its thinking and their ideology in an informal chit-chat. Well, superficially it was a genuine effort by an organisation that had always been the favourite whipping boy of historians, academicians and media. An entire generation was made to believe that Sangh is a conglomeration of blood-thirsty men who wear outdated ballooned khaki shorts, imprison their women in purdahs, have often targeted freedom fighters and are a cult organisation which should be banned. 

Even as historians sang paeans about Jawaharlal Nehru and their communist stooges hailed the efforts of Sheikh Abdullah in Kashmir they conveniently forgot to tell the world about RSS’s herculean efforts to keep Jammu Kashmir as an integral part of India. It is hardly mentioned in history books that it was only on the persuasion of Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar, lovingly called Guru ji by RSS swayamsevaks, that Hari Singh the erstwhile ruler of princely state of Jammu Kashmir signed on the Instrument of Accession and so Kashmir became an integral part of India. Academicians never bother to discuss or research about the Praja Parishad Movement in Jammu Kashmir and the martyrdom of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the twin events which brought relative calm during the turbulent times in Jammu Kashmir immediately after independence.
During the Indo-China war it were the RSS Swayamsevaks who responded to clarion call by Nehru and offered unconditional support during the war. Acknowledging RSS’s efforts during the war a contingent of RSS participated in the Republic Day parade of 1963. Yet again this piece of history remains on the margins. There’s hardly any footage or photographs available of this historic moment. The reason was clear: Erase from public memory all good deeds and moments about the RSS. 

The 1975 Emergency that was fought tooth and nail by the RSS remains another forgotten chapter in contemporary India’s history. In fact, before Narendra Modi took the reins of India in 2014 hardly any editor, academician or historian mustered courage to talk about the atrocities and high-handedness of Indira Gandhi during Emergency. Stories about the men who stood against this brutal assault and rape of Indian democracy have been systematically erased. 

Fast forward to the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Movement in 1992. It was the demolition of disputed structure referred to as the Babari Mosque that got massive coverage and efforts were made to implicate RSS and its cadres for masterminding it. The indiscriminate firing on karsewaks (devotees) by the then Uttar Pradesh government led by Mulayam Singh that led to the death of thousands of karsevaks was brushed aside as a law and order issue. Even today debates, discussions and talks take place about 6th December 1992 but thousands of innocent people killed in cold blooded murder by the UP Police in targeted firings on 1st and 2nd November 1990 on orders from Mulayam Singh government is seldom talked about. Ditto for the Godhra carnage of 2002. Reams have been written about Modi-led Gujarat government leading the pogrom against Muslims but unsuspecting karsevaks being burnt alive on the Sabarmati Express train coach is seldom talked about and is conveniently forgotten. 

The Sangh leadership has been well aware of this phenomenon. With Narendra Modi at the helm since 2014 situation may have been a tad conducive and media slightly more considerate in objectively analysing the RSS and its ideology, yet the seven-decade old stranglehold of Congress-Communist clique has meant that even today genuine national issues are brushed aside and the country continues to discuss and debate frivolous issues.  

It were these factors in mind when RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat decided to catch the bull by its horns and dished out invitation to all, to come and listen to what RSS is and its idea of Bharat. The chosen theme was “Bharat of Future”. The RSS functionaries worked overtime to reach out to the Sangh’s fiercest critics and doled out VVIP invites. The expectation was that the Sangh’s critics would come, listen to Bhagwat’s lecture, indulge in one-to-one interactions get their doubts cleared and walk away with a change of heart. After all Sangh’s philosophy has been that ‘to know about Sangh one has to come over to Sangh’.

Even the most die-hard optimist would agree that this was an innocent assumption and quite naïve assumption. Well, the critics whom RSS and its leaders are trying to win over are no usual critics rather almost all of them are well informed captains of their respective fields who defend their fiefdoms with zeal. They are the satraps who know each and every fact and they carefully choose what to ignore and what to highlight. This ensures that the country gets to know only those facts which benefits these vile satraps and they continue to sway public perception about them as champions of free speech and liberals of the highest order. 

RSS and its functionaries in their naivety believe that these critics can be won over by showing them the true picture of Sangh. Well nothing can be far from truth. A person in deep sleep can be shaken and told about the sunrise but a person who is wide-awake yet chooses to close his/her eyes cannot be informed about the sunrise. Bhagwat repeatedly said that it was not his intention to change anybody’s perspective rather to lay down the true facts before them.  

It’s for the RSS to take stock of this initiative and how far it has been able to drive home its point. But the fact remains that even after four years of Modi government it’s still the Communist thugs who run the show and successfully set the national discourse. Sangh is still in a reactionary mode and is able to offer only bland statements and denials. 
Ironically, while the three-day exercise was meant to win over the critics Bhagwat’s comments about Guru ji Golwalkar’s book “Bunch of Thoughts” has angered a section of senior Sangh stalwarts. Several of them have questioned the rationale about such announcement. Bhagwat and other Sangh functionaries have defended the move as the flexibility permitted by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar to adopt changes according to changing times and evolve as per the times. Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was the founder of RSS. 

“When we speak of “Bunch of Thoughts”, we do it with reference to the circumstance and context. It does not remain eternal. The eternal thoughts of Guru ji (the second RSS Chief) have been penned in his book “His Vision & Mission”. All the past based thinking have been removed and only thoughts that are eternal based on the future have been kept in that book. You should read that, you will not find such topics there. The second thing is that the Sangh is not a closed group. If Dr. Hedgewar has said something that does not mean we will abide by it forever. As the time changes, so do the ideals of Sangh, our thinking, articulation also changes. And we have this permission to keep the change going from Dr. Hedgewar. Otherwise, he would have specified this clearly that he wants us to run a national volunteering union, start the branch; he did not tell us to do a single thing, he gave us ideas, teen volunteers used them, what they deemed suitable, they kept, the rest they discarded. The Sangh has been growing the same way. So, if you believe the Sangh to be a closed union, then questions arise in your mind regarding what is written in “Bunch of Thoughts”. I say, you should experience everything that the volunteers are doing today and how they think, all your questions will be answered,” Bhagwat said while answering questions on Muslims being projected in a negative light in “Bunch of Thoughts”. 

Golwalkar’s book “Bunch of Thoughts” serves as the guiding philosophy of RSS volunteers and gives a sneak peek into the ideological moorings of Sangh. 
Sangh stalwart KN Govindacharya was not convinced. He said one can disassociate from what Guru ji had said but there is no question of the issues being expunged from the book. “To cull portions from the ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ implying that the next editions will not carry these passages…who has the rights for these…you may differ from ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ you may even disassociate with certain sections but denying its existence is doing injustice to the facts.” Govindacharya explained that even if there is a need to disassociate from certain thoughts of Guru ji then too the parameters needs to be clearly spelt out and the forum chosen carefully. “It’s a question about changing the beliefs of Sangh…yes the finality may rest with the SarSanghachalak but the modalities need to be discussed.”  

How far the Sangh critics have been swayed with Bhagwat’s philosophy is yet to be seen. Bhagwat himself said it categorically that the entire three-day event was not meant to convince anybody rather to state the facts before all and sundry. 

The million dollar question that remains unanswered is that these fiercest critics of Sangh, who owe their allegiance to Communist philosophy, and are placed at high a pedestal academics, media, films, arts and culture are very well informed about Sangh, its ideologies, policies and facts. Their opposition to what RSS stands for is not done in the wake of naivety rather it’s done in full consciousness. Reason? Communism like other Semitic religions is a totalitarian concept that does not tolerate any alternative point of view. That there can be an indigenous approach than what is propagated by Maoist-Communists is anathema to them. Indoctrinated through lethal doses of Naxalism these people who fashion themselves as champions of liberalism are most illiberal class. It were these whom RSS thought could bring a change of heart through the 3-day conclave at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. 

The RSS functionaries should take note that their fiercest critics are not ill-informed rather they are well-informed and their opposition to Sangh is a well thought out strategy. 

(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He wrote this article for Power Corridors news magazine. The article was first published in the magazine's October 2018 issue)

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Educated illiterates create wrong perceptions: Subhash Ghai

In an informal chat with Vivek Sinha, the showman of Hindi film industry Subhash Ghai comes down heavily on dubious opinion makers of India 

Q: You have been a voracious reader as a child. Stories and story books have had a deep impact on your personality. But, nowadays not many children and youth like to read books/novels. They prefer to spend their time on social media and gadgets. What impact will this technological invasion have on our lives and is there a need to curb this tech blitz?
Ans: Social media and the internet have proven to be a big blessing for the children belonging to the 21st century by providing them with a wide range of information and a source of knowledge. The new generation wants the logic behind science and truth behind mythology and rituals. They question and eventually refuse to accept crippled traditions and cultural values embedded in them by their parents and grand parents. This, however, results in a new way of thinking. The danger here is that they would end up confused with abundant information and can possibly lose focus from all their initial questions. I feel that they should respect old and new perspectives with the same acceptance and respect by inculcating the habit of reading old and new stories to search for the answers themselves.
Q: There is a barrage of information these days and most of it is driven by devious agenda. How should the young, with an impressionable mind, distinguish amongst this agenda-driven movies with films that are made after genuine research?
Ans: The youth should be taught in schools, institutions and at home about the history and conventions of mass media. Understanding how to read media in this changing world which is in the grip of commercial competition and TRPs is a vital aspect to consider while making opinions. Nowadays, negativity sells and attracts people. The youth, being our future, must know that problems voiced today existed decades ago too. India has been gripped with many crisis for centuries which include bigger problems than the daily issues of inflation. Unemployment, cast and religious conflicts, women exploitation and political protests have been there since the 1950s. Kids have to have their own mind to decide who provides reliable information with the correct intention to gain their trust and bring a change. Growing awareness about the use of mass media, its strength, it’s power and consequences is necessary to understand. The truth must be respected and maintained for the longer term.
Q: How will the digital onslaught affect the movie business in Hindi Film Industry?
Ans: Digital media is viewed to be the future of cinema. I believe that the film industry works parallel with the digital platforms. It results in the growth of platforms and opportunities to every kind of content creator. You can watch my movie Karz, made in 1980, on your phone while commuting. This outcome benefits the content maker and the viewer. It increases employment and opportunities for all the young creative minds. Large scale movies on social causes with deep messages can now reach rural areas through such advancement. According to me, it helps have a larger audience base which benefits both the industries.
Q: There have often been talks of intolerance and a curb on freedom of expression. As a filmmaker have you felt there have been curbs on your freedom of expression?
Ans: In my opinion freedom has three dimensions: Physical freedom, Intellectual freedom to think and speak Civic freedom to respect the law.  Freedom can be justified in its true sense if it is combined with the sense of a citizens responsibility to care for others, your society and nation. It cannot result in feud, enmity and unrest. For example, every family has certain rules at home to ensure harmony and respect of every member. Our country is no different from a big, diverse family. We should let our authorised institutions decide the rules for us and follow them while enjoying our freedom and being conscious of our duties.
Q: Does the CBFC (Censor Board) resort to moral policing? Do you feel CBFC should restrict itself to certification of films and make no comments or demand cuts on a film’s content?
Ans: Cinema is meant for the public and we must know how to exhibit our selves in front of the population. Cinema being an impactful media brings upon many kinds of responsibilities towards the creators and exhibitors. I respect the idea of fair censorship, to maintain a sense of conduct on a large platform such as the film industry. After the certification, the people who are the consumers of films must accept or reject the film. It is important to remember that the digital platform has fewer restriction where you could take liberties to exhibit your narratives of all sorts. I believe that the scale of impact of the movie industry on people make it necessary to have a filter on what is portrayed. Just like a conduct is followed on television, I believe one for movies should also exist.
Q: You have talked about “educated illiterates” hampering country’s growth and development. Can you elaborate as to how these “educated illiterates” have hurt India and the youth in particular.
Ans: Educated illiterates are people who are educated in specific subjects, have good professional knowledge but have no idea about the given topic. This does not stop them from making strong claims about an issue that may or may not concern their field of knowledge. Without understanding both sides of the story, evaluating the situation or taking the time to check reliability they don’t end up forming sensible conclusions or solutions. They are impulsive to the media and generate wrong perceptions among innocent people by exploiting their credibility. You may see them on various mass media platforms saying something evidently exaggerated. Their credibility confuses the youth by leaving them in a confused state of mind. It makes it harder for them to distinctly separate black and white and affects their idea of the actual truth.
Q: You are the showman of Hindi Film industry with several blockbusters in your kitty. Do you still have any unfulfilled dream? It would be great if you could share your dreams with our readers.
Ans: I am a very happy and contented person as it gives me joy to give back to my society in  my own way. Life and age demands a change in you. I am no more an active participant in the market competition of filmmaking. However, I am open to all creative stories that might interest and grasp my attention. I write many stories, scripts, poems, books and short films regarding social causes. My main focus is perhaps, teaching and motivating youth studying at Whistling Woods International School and all over India who are the ones to be our successors. I read osho, zen and buddha.
(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He interviewed Subhash Ghai as the Editor of Power Corridors news magazine. This interview was first published in September 2018 issue of  Power Corridors) 

Atal ji never behaved as boss: Sudheendra Kulkarni

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India but power sat very very lightly on his shoulders, Sudheendra Kulkarni tells Vivek Sinha. Kulkarni had been very closely associated with Vajpayee

Q: Mr Sudheendra Kulkarni, thank you for agreeing to talk to Power Corridor. You had been very closely associated with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Please share with us some of the anecdotes of Atal ji while he was the Prime Minister of India. 
Ans: I had the honour of working closely with Shraddheya Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji in the PMO for all the six years that he was the Prime Minister of India (1998-2004). They were, and they will always remain, the best period of my life.There are too many vivid and rich memories of my association with him. Selecting some is very difficult. The common impression from all these memories is that Atalji was rarely perturbed, howsoever grave the situation might have been. Looking at calm and composed nature in those situations was like looking at a vast lake which is completely still in spite of strong winds blowing over it. To me, he was a yogi. Of course, I do remember that he was deeply sad when the BJP failed to win a renewed mandate in 2004. Not because he wanted to enjoy being Prime Minister for another term. Power for him was never a means for enjoyment or personal satisfaction. He always saw it as a means to and end. He felt that many of his ambitious initiatives for India remained unfulfilled or half-fulfilled.
Q: Atal ji came across as an affable personality in public life. How was he as a boss? Was he considerate about the opinion of his subordinates or did he simply pass the diktat and expected it to be carried without murmurs of dissent?
Ans: "How was he as a boss?" Well, he never, not even for a moment, behaved like a boss! He was the Prime Minister of India, but power sat very, very lightly over his shoulders. He treated everybody he met -- be they ministers and foreign dignitaries or "subordinates" and "ordinary people" -- with respect and humility, and that was one of his greatest qualities. In fact, he was always very kind to those who were needy and vulnerable. He was an embodiment of sensitivity (samvedana) and humanism (maanaveeyata).
Q: Did the economic sanctions imposed on India after the Pokhran-II rattle Atal ji? Did he feel perturbed a night before the Pokhran-II tests were carried? 
Ans: No, not at all. The economic sanctions imposed on India after the Pokhran-II did not rattle Atalji even one bit. I clearly remember 9th May, 1998, the day he announced to the world that India had conducted nuclear tests in Pokharan. He was a picture of peace, composure and confidence -- neither was he overjoyed nor was he perturbed. He was absolutely sure that the economic sanctions imposed by western nations would have no lasting impact on India. He was even confident that the very countries that criticised India would come round to seeking friendship and cooperation with our country.

And that is what happened.

Q: A controversy broke out when it was reported that Shri Govindacharya ji had called Atal ji as the "mukhauta" of Sangh Parivar. It was subsequently denied by Govindacharya ji himself. What did Atal ji think about this issue? Did he feel that this matter was the handiwork of a section of journalists or he felt that Govindacharya ji had actually said this word?
Ans: All I can say is that Atalji was not happy with that episode.
Q: Why did Atal ji not issue a clarification on this "mukhauta" controversy? Do you feel he could have done more for Govindacharya ji?
Ans: I would not like to comment on this episode.
Q: What was Atal ji's reaction to the indiscriminate firing on karsevaks in 1990 during the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi movement? What were his feelings when the Babri mosque (or disputed structure) was pulled down on 6th December 1992?
Ans: Of course, he was outraged at the firing on karsevaks in 1990. And he condemned the state government for it. Atalji was very sad and disturbed when Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished by a group of frenzied karsevaks on 6 December 1992. Of course, unlike other senior leaders of the BJP, he had not gone to the site. He was sad for two reasons. First, he considered demolition of the mosque as an 'un-Hindu' act. Second, as he said in an interview to Prannoy Roy, he recalled that the BJP government in UP, headed by Kalyan Singh, had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that it would not allow any harm to be done to the mosque. This was also an obligation on the BJP and the rest of the Sangh Parivar. Therefore, Atalji was deeply hurt that his own party's government, and the Sangh Parivar, could not control the lawless karsevaks.
Q: There is a perception that Atal ji being a democrat often bowed down to the larger will of the Sangh Parivar and did not put his weight on important decisions that were at variance from the larger will of the Sangh Parivar. Your comments. 
Ans: Atalji was undoubtedly a democrat to the core. He always respected the views of his party colleagues and also of the Sangh Parivar. Sometimes his own views or the policies of his government were at odds with the views of others in the party or the larger Sangh Parivar. This happens in any open and free society. Atalji's preference in such situations was to seek and create consensus. In the long run, the culture of consensus-building is better than than the notion that the "Leader knows all". At the same time, in certain extraordinary situations, the view and the will of the leader must prevail.
Q: You were also closely associated with Advani ji. Please describe the relations between these two leaders. How did the two stalwarts reach a conclusion when there were disagreements between them?
Ans: It was my honour and great fortune that I was closely associated with both Atalji and Advaniji, the two tallest leaders of the BJP. The relationship between the two leaders was always that between two comrades or Sahayogis committed to, and selflessly serving, the same noble cause. And the cause was to make India a Great Nation -- prosperous, free of poverty and want, strong, self-confident, and a promoter of peace in the world. Of course, Shri Advaniji always regarded Atalji as his senior and, therefore, the last word was always that of Atalji. There were times when they had differences, which is natural in any organisation. But they discussed their views with an open mind, each willing to understand the other's point of view. But, in the end, Advaniji invariably accepted Atalji's view or decision. This is why, the BJP remained a disciplined and united party, untouched by the virus of power struggle.
However, I must mention that Atalji also had immense respect for Advaniji -- for his selfless personality, for his unflinching commitment to the party, and for his tireless work to build the party. I remember one incident. There was a function in the party office at 11 Ashoka Road to pay tribute to Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya on his birth anniversary. In his speech, Atal ji praised Advaniji by saying, "Advaniji is our second Deendayalji."
Q: Why did you quit the BJP? What has changed since the time you were associated with the party and now? Will you re-consider your decision and work again for the BJP?
Ans: I quit the BJP because I believe that the RSS should not remote-control it. The RSS is a nationalist organisation with a lofty goal. It should be equi-distant from all political parties. I would not like to comment on how the BJP has changed under its current leadership.
(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He interviewed Sudheendra Kulkarni as the Editor of Power Corridors news magazine. This interview was first published in September 2018 issue of  Power Corridors) 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

‘Mukhauta controversy has also stuck with Atal ji. This is unfortunate’

KN Govindacharya in a candid chat with Vivek Sinha explains the sequence of events about the wrong translation of “face” to “mukhauta” led to the word thrust upon him

Q: You’ve been very closely associated with Atal ji. Please share with us some anecdotes, some of your personal experiences of working with him, how was he as a person, as a politician, and as the Prime Minister?
Ans: He was socially and personally a very sensitive person. His commitment to nation was far more intense than his commitment to the party or to self. He never thought that power is be-all and end-all, this was not his premise. He would avoid power at all costs. I’m very well reminded of one incident in 1984, when Shreemati Indira Gandhi was killed by her body guards and there was a huge commotion, unrest in the society. They wanted to vent their anger against the Sikh community. It was 1st November and there was this taxi stand in front of Atal ji’s house at 6 Raisina Road, nearby was the Youth Congress Office. An unruly mob moved towards this taxi stand targeting the taxi drivers. At that point Atal ji bravely stood in the way between the unruly mob crowd and the drivers, and he stood there till the police arrived. He had fairly understood that politically it may not have been the correct step but nationally it was the needed step. What happens to his politics? Does he gain votes by this or not? Or he loses votes, it was not a matter of concern for him at all at that point and that’s how he behaved. This was the reason that he could win the trust of all communities, because he was genuinely a socially sensitive person.
Q: It’s quite common that people who work together have certain kind of disagreements. Was there ever a disagreement between you and Atal ji, on any of the issues?
Ans: No, as I told you Atal ji was a socially sensitive person. And Atal ji was politically democratic to the core, this one has to understand. He definitely asserted whatever he believed, but, his foremost adherence was towards teamwork. So, even if his views were not adhered to he still continued with the party culture as a leader. This was his democratic attitude, it was the core of his personality. For example, about this Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Rath Yatra movement initially the talk was that maybe four central leaders should start from four corners of the nation and congregate at Ayodhya on 30thOctober. It was thought that this would be an appropriate way of movement and mobilization of people for kar seva on 30th October, 1990. Atal ji said that I don’t believe in this political mobilization so pardon me. Ultimately Advani ji agreed to it and from Somnath this kar seva was arranged, but Atal ji though he did not agree with this idea yet he participated in the rath yatra as a democrat, as a soldier of the political party. His speech at Delhi’s boat club on 4th April 1991 about Hindu, Hindu samaj, Hindu sanskriti was so intense, emotional, logical, factual. Atal ji was absolutely fantastic and majestic. This is what Atal ji was.
Q: Whenever we talk about Ram Janmabhoomi, we talk about 6th December 1992, but what was Atal ji’s reaction to indiscriminate firing on kar sevaks in 1990 that was ordered by Mulayam Singh, the then Chief Minister of UP?
Ans: He was sad about all this whatever was going on. He didn’t agree with the way it was talked‘parinda par nahi maar sakta’ (even a bird cannot enter Ayodhya) that’s what Mulayam Singh ji had said and Atal ji talked to him that this is not the democratic way. He asserted that Mulayam Singh jishould take care of law and order but should not provoke others.
Q: Why did you call Atal ji as the “Mukhauta” of Sangh Parivar?
Ans: No, no, it’s not that, whatever I said, I never said ‘Mukhauta’. I was asked by British High Commission officials that ‘who is going to be the next president of your party’. That was the question asked by them to me. And to this I had answered that ‘there are so many versatile persons in our party’ and I also named eight of them. Then he asked me, ‘why not Atal ji?’ To this I had answered, ‘that because Atal ji is our Prime Ministerial candidate, he’s the most popular and the most accepted face of the party, by projecting him we expect to garner those extra percentage of votes, to romp home with absolute majority’. And they were convinced by this. But these British High Commission officials were accompanied by one Bhartiya person as well. He talked about our interaction to his colleagues in British High Commission office in Hindi. So now he told them ‘chehra’ instead of ‘face’. Then one of these gentlemen met Bhanu Pratap Shukla ji (former editor of RSS-mouthpiece Panchajanya) in the evening, and now he said, ‘mukhauta’ instead of ‘chehra’, and then after four days there was this news, the very news of Bhanu Pratap Shukla ji where he wrote that Govindacharya calls Atal ji as mukhauta of Sangh Parivar. A few days later it was translated in English and again the heading was “Govindacharya calls Atal a mask”. So, the journey of that phrase, it started from ‘face’ and then metamorphosed to ‘chehra’, then evolved from ‘chehra’ to ‘Mukhauta’and finally from ‘Mukhauta’ to ‘mask’. I think the date when this was first published was 6th October 1997.
Q: So Bhanu Pratap Shukla did he not crosscheck with you when he attributed the“Mukhauta” remark to you? Rather he misquoted you.
Ans: Again, I will not blame him. Whatever was told to him, only thing is he could have verified it from me. That he didn’t, that he trusted whosoever reported to him, it is because of some age-old prejudice which may be there in his mind, so he did not feel the need or he did not have that trust or confidence in me that I would tell him the correct information or not. It happens.
Q: It’s been more than two decades since this rather unfortunate “Mukhauta” episode, yet even today whenever journalists or writers refer to you they do some background research they would always append this ‘mukhauta’ phrase to your name….
Ans: Because, Bharatiya journalism is afflicted with two malaise. One is, sensationalism and another is one-upmanship. Now because of these two they transgress the limit and cross the ‘laxman rekha’, which is the ethics of journalism.
Q: How did Atal ji react to all of this?
Ans: Atal ji was very much hurt by this so-called comment that I understand.
Q: Its been more than two decades since this episode. Does it still hurt you? 
Ans: I have all the regards and sympathy for Atal ji. As for me, I contradicted it right on the day it was published in newspapers, I contradicted this and said all this (Mukhauta remark) was concocted and baseless. It has definitely hurt my reputation as an obedient worker of the party.  Atal ji arrived from abroad, he was very much irked by what he read in the newspaper. So on one side he approached the Sangh adhikaaris, which was natural and let me clarify once again that there was a tape of the whole talk with British High Commission officials. When asked for it (the tapes) I said, ‘yes what can be a better testimony for me’. I clarified that I had not called Atal ji as the “mukhauta”and explained that if I have made any such undignified remark about any central leader then I will quit. I said to the then RSS Chief Sudharshan ji, ‘you just call me up, I’ll quit publicly’ because I was so confident that I have never told all this. That emphatic contradiction on my behalf was there, but a whole month passed and Atal ji had not contradicted. I told Atal ji on 30th October that Atal ji I have contradicted it in a dignified manner, quite emphatically, because I believed in it you got opportunity twice or thrice, press people hounded you for your comments but you never offered….
Q: He did not counter it? Atal ji never countered it?
Ans: On 30th October I told Atal ji, it’s alright that this issue is getting closed today but if I had been in your place I would have first contradicted very effectively to the press that Govind ji cannot say all this and then I would have gone in search of that tape (the recorded conversation with British High Commission officials) and after getting that tape I would have sent for Govind ji to announce his denial once again. And since it has not been done this epithet will stick on you, opposition leaders will mis-utilize this, that’s what I told him.
Q: And what was Atal ji’s reaction to this?
Ans: He said that ‘let’s leave it, jo ho gaya so ho gaya, ab aage ki socho, kaam karo’ (whatever has happened has happened, think ahead begin your work)
Q: Okay, and probably this is one of the reasons that this remark has stayed on with you..
Ans: Not with me, rather on him. It’s unfortunate. He didn’t deserve it.
Q: In his heart of hearts, did Atal ji know that you did not say this, did he believe that?
Ans: How can I know, but afterwards he never approached this topic.
Q: And how was his reaction to you in a later phase, was he as friendly as he was with you earlier?
Ans: Atal ji never questioned my motives, he had complete trust and faith in me as an obedient party worker, though he may not have been comfortable with my views and adherence to certain ideological and political aspects.
Q: Was Atal ji aware of the fact that he might lose the 2004 General elections?
Ans: See, the best part of Atal ji’s psychology was that he was a pessimist plus realist, he was not a blind optimist. He was not a propagandist. The understanding of the pulse of the people was his forte. So his recipe was this. So he was not quite enamored by shining India and all that. And he was not in favour of pre-poning the elections. But he agreed to the team discussion that was his unique quality as a democrat. And he went for polls, he did his best. Because his politics was beyond elections, it was not for power only but for the people which one can serve as effective as an opposition leader also.
Q: Coming to the present-day scenario, how would you rate the present-day political discourse in the country? We have been hearing a lot of talk about intolerance. How do you rate the current political discourse vis-à-vis Atal ji’s time and probably Indiraji’s times? Do you see a deterioration…
Ans: I think, opposition could not digest their colossal defeat in 2014 elections. And they became panicky and instead of constructing an effective role as opposition they couldn’t understand which way to go because they were not used to being away from political power. This is one reason. The second reason is that BJP also did not expect that they will romp home with absolute majority but they got it. People supported it. People have very high expectations, and expectations were aroused by the Prime Ministerial candidate Shree Narendra Modi ji, very effectively. That is his forte, because he thinks that power stems from elections. Government is not merely for political party, it is maybe of the political party but meant for the people. And people includes BJP voters and non-BJP voters equally. So dialogue and trust is the basic requirement of democratic style of functioning. The ruling party has to take initiative so when you are in majority you take initiative, enter into dialogues, and take others into confidence such that they feel that you are treating them equally. Just because we won elections that doesn’t make us more superior human beings than others who stood as the opposition. These things continue, what party is in power, who goes out of power, it’s all just temporary phenomenon, nation continues, civilization continues.
Q: Do you feel the level of political discourse will be lower in 2019 general elections than in 2014…
Ans: Well, irresponsible utterances will be there, but again, it’s the ruling party that should take initiative to lift the level of political discourse. And if they do it, then the opposition people who are utterly irresponsible, they will be isolated.
(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28. He interviewed KN Govindacharya as the Editor of Power Corridors news magazine. This interview was first published in September 2018 issue of  Power Corridors) 

Prosecute all who plotted false case against ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan

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