Read The Hindu Important Articles 14 November 2018
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# Ananth Kumar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, passes away at 59
Karnataka has announced holiday for all schools and colleges on Monday, as a mark of respect for the leader.
Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and Chemicals and Fertilizers H.N. Ananth Kumar, also a senior BJP leader from the State passed away at a private hospital in Bengaluru in the wee hours of Monday. He was 59.
According to the hospital, Mr Kumar was diagnosed with lung cancer at an advanced stage in June. He underwent initial treatment in Sri Shankara Cancer Hospital and Research Centre and then went to the US for further treatment. He returned 25 days ago and continued treatment in the hospital.
Hospital Managing Trustee B N Srinath told The Hindu that he battled cancer fiercely, however, the infection had spread to other organs and he succumbed to the disease. He breathed his last around 2 am on Monday. His wife Tejashwini and both daughters were beside him.
Mr. Kumar’s body will be kept for public viewing at National College Grounds, Basavanagudi at 11 am and he will be cremated on Tuesday. Prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to pay his respects and participate in the funeral.
The State government has announced holiday for all schools and colleges on Monday, as a mark of respect for the leader. The State will observe three-day mourning and accord state funeral.
A six-time member of parliament from Bengaluru South Lok Sabha seat, Mr. Kumar was representing it continuously since 1996.
An RSS worker, Mr. Kumar was arrested during Emergency.
He held civil aviation, urban development and tourism portofolios in Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet during 1999-2004. He was State president of BJP during 2004 Assembly elections when the party for the first time emerged as the single largest party in the State. He was a national General Secretary of BJP for nine years.
Mr. Kumar and former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa were two prominent leaders credited with building the BJP in Karnataka. Mr. Yeddyurappa, in a condolence message, said that he had lost “a personal friend” and Mr. Kumar had gone away at a young age leaving him alone.
PM condoles demise
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman condoled the demise of Mr. Kumar.
“Extremely saddened by the passing away of my valued colleague and friend, Shri Ananth Kumar Ji. He was a remarkable leader, who entered public life at a young age and went on to serve society with utmost diligence and compassion. He will always be remembered for his good work,” Mr. Modi tweeted.
“Deep sense of grief on hearing that Shri @AnanthKumar_BJP is no more with us. Served @BJP4India @BJP4Karnataka all along. Bengaluru was in his head and heart, always. May God give his family the strength to bear with this loss,” Ms. Sitharaman tweeted.
# Cyclone ‘Gaja’ to bring rain for 2 days
Coastal areas of north Tamil Nadu would experience moderate rainfall and heavy rainfall in isolated places from the night of November 14, the Met office said.
The deep depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified into Cyclone ‘Gaja’ on Sunday. North Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are likely to get good rain on November 14 and 15, India Meteorological Department officials said.
Named ‘Gaja’, the cyclone lay 840 km east of Chennai and 880 km east of Nagapattinam. It is likely to intensify into a severe storm in the next 24 hours, a bulletin issued at 4 p.m. said.
May weaken gradually
It is expected to move west-northwestwards during the next 36 hours and then west-southwestwards towards the north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts in the subsequent 48 hours. While moving west-southwest, it is likely to weaken gradually and cross the north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Cuddalore and Sriharikota during the forenoon of November 15. Rainfall in most places, with heavy spells at isolated places, is likely to start over north coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh from the evening of November 14.
According to the the IMD bulletin, rainfall in most places with heavy falls at isolated places is likely to commence over north coastal Tamil Nadu and the adjoining south coastal Andhra Pradesh from evening of November 14.
On November 15, the rainfall intensity will increase gradually at most places and it will be heavy to very heavy at a few places and extremely heavy (above 20 cm) at isolated places over north Tamil Nadu.
Rainfall is likely to be heavy to very heavy over south Tamil Nadu, south Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema.
100 kmph gale wind
Squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph is likely to commence along and off north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts from November 14 morning. It is likely to increase gradually, with wind speed at 80-90 kmph off north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts over west central & adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal from midnight onwards.
As the sea will be rough, fishermen have been advised to not venture in from 12 November. The fishermen, who were in deep sea, have been advised to return by November 12, the officials said.
As for Chennai, the sky will be cloudy and some areas will get mild showers for the next two days. While the maximum temperature will be 32 degree Celsius, the minimum temperature will be 24 degree Celsius.
# Kerala deportee reveals IS secrets
He illegally entered Afghanistan
In 2013, when his best friend copied the speeches of radical Yemeni-American preacher Anwar Awlaki on his laptop computer, Nashidul Hamzafar did not realise that they would play a key role in motivating him to travel to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP).
In September this year, Hamzafar, 26, a resident of Kerala, became the first Indian ever to be deported by Afghanistan for entering the country illegally to join the ISKP. He was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) soon after he returned.
His friend Shihas was among the 21 men, women and children from Kerala who had left for Afghanistan via Iran to live in the IS-controlled territory in 2016. Mainly comprising defectors from the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), the Wilayat Khorasan of the Islamic State in Afghanistan came into existence in 2015. Agencies suspect that this outfit is backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
According to Hamzafar, Shihas works for the media team of the ISKP and another friend Ashfaq is in charge of hijra (migration).
Hamzafar’s interrogation revealed a well-oiled network of ISKP in Iran and Afghanistan that helped willing recruits to travel to the Nangarhar province, the stronghold of the terrorist outfit.
The interrogation report accessed by The Hindu said that in October 2017, after he reached Tehran, he was first taken to Isafahan in Iran and was dropped at a deportation camp by an unidentified person, sent by Shihas. He was charged $450.
“There was a long queue in the camp. I told the authorities that I was resident of Nooristan in Afghanistan. The address was given by the Iranian contact. They took me inside the camp and I stayed there that night. Next day they interviewed me and collected my biometrics. They got suspicious about my nationality and I was shifted to another camp. They deported all the Afghan citizens and I was forcefully put in a Pakistan deportation vehicle thinking that I was a Pakistani. I told one officer in that vehicle that I am an Afghani and requested him to send me to Afghanistan. Accordingly, he sent me to the Afghan camp,” Hamzafar told NIA.
He was dropped at Nimruz in Afghanistan, reached Kabul and managed to contact his friend Ashfak who sent another person identified as Abu Ali to pick him up. “No sooner did Ali drop me, the Afghan security force came and took us into custody…I initially pretended to be an Afghani…they found out that I was an Indian. They showed me the photographs of Shihas and Ashfaq and I agreed they were my friends… I was shifted to a big Afghan Intelligence jail and I was there for 3 months. After that I was again shifted to Bagram Jail, a U.S. jail. They took my biometrics and then locked me up in a cell. After three months of custody, I was deported to India,” he said.
Hamzafar wanted to emigrate to New Zealand till he was radicalised by speeches of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and Canadian preacher Bilal Philips. Influenced by the radical ideology, he asked his parents not to watch television and told his mother and sister to cover themselves according to Islamic diktats. His father, who runs an automobile consultancy firm in Wayanad, had reprimanded Hamzafar on several occasions and deplored the IS ideology in conversations with him.
Hamzafar told the NIA that he dropped out of an undergraduate business management course he was pursuing from Dayanand Sagar College in Bengaluru. It was here that he met Shihas, also a resident of Kerala. Hamzafar told NIA that Shihas was not inclined towards religion in 2011 when they met first and was addicted to alcohol and cannabis.
The friends were visited by a Tablighi (Sunni Islamic movement) follower from Kerala at their rented accommodation in Bengaluru in 2012.
Meanwhile, Hamzafar met with an accident and his studies took a setback. He told the NIA that in the final year of college, Shihas was a changed person.
He had grown a beard and was inclined towards religious conversations. The friends attended Sunday classes at an Ahl-e-Hadees Mosque and became more interested in Salafi ideology.
The friends attended a programme funded by Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). In the programme, comparisons were made between Islam and Christianity and the friends were successful in converting another friend, Bestin Vincent to Islam. Vincent alias Yahiya and his wife Mariyam are also said to have travelled to Afghanistan in 2016.
“During my stay at Kozhikode [in 2015], Shihas informed me that a revolution broke out in Iraq and it was by IS. One day he had shown me a video of IS activity in an IS controlled city, telecast on Wise TV. I used to oppose their activities and opined that I could comment only after studying about IS,” Hamzafar told NIA.
Hamzafar then went to Thiruvananthapuram to train in automobile repair. He then came to know from newspaper reports that Shihas, Bestin and another friend Firoz had joined the IS in Afghanistan.
“My parents were angry and showered abuses on Shihas and others for joining IS and strictly instructed me to avoid any relation with them. My father asked me to discard the number I used then,” Hamzafar said.
He said that six months after Shihas and others had left for Afghanistan, he got a message from him on WhatsApp but didn’t respond out of fear. “After a month, he wished me again through WhatsApp. Then he started sending voice messages and one day he instructed me to install Telegram. He said there was nothing to worry about. He said they were in Khilafath in Afghanistan and 99% media reports were lies and Khilafath is right and asked me to study about it,” Hamzafar said.
Shihas sent him reading material about IS. “After reading the files I argued with Shihas on the topic. I was of the view that it related to an ancient period of time that was not relevant in the present scenario. But Shihas countered my view by arguing that Prophet’s ways were always relevant. I became more interested in IS matters gradually and I wanted to learn more. During May, 2017 Shihas added me in a WhatsApp group by name ‘Message to Kerala’. There were 6 audio clips of Abdul Rashid circulated in the group at that time. After hearing the clips, my objection towards IS ideology became soft,” he said.
Hamzafar said he went to Bahrain in May 2017 on the pretext of a job and contacted Shihas to say that he wanted to join the IS. He quit his job and went to Oman where he was joined by another friend – Habeeb. The two travelled to Iran on Shihas’ instructions.
After they reached Iran in October 2017, Habeeb developed cold feet after he spoke to his parents and decided to return.
# Signature Bridge presents a sorry picture in a week
Turns into picnic spot, littered with garbage; visitors violate traffic norms
While inaugurating the Signature Bridge on November 4, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that he hoped the bridge, an engineering marvel, would become a tourist attraction. A week later, the bridge has turned into a picnic spot, is littered with garbage and being visited by hundreds of people who are violating traffic rules to click pictures.
There were several people on the bridge on Sunday afternoon, eating, enjoying and taking pictures. Vendors looking to cash in on the frenzy have set up stalls.
“I came here to sell food for the first time today [on Sunday]. Several people who have come to the bridge are buying food from me. I have earned more than I do at usual tourist spots,” said Sunil Kumar, a food vendor.
Revelry on the bridge has turned into a traffic hazard, with motorists driving vehicles on the wrong side of the road, climbing on top of bikes and cars to click selfies, and putting themselves in danger by posing dangerously for photos.
“It is a beautifully constructed bridge, which offers a good view. The effort put in making the bridge is appreciable,” said Nisha Siddiqui, a tourist who came to see what all the fuss was about.
The architectural beauty of the bridge has been marred by piles of garbage as there is no bin to dump waste. Besides, corners of the bridge are already paan-stained. Many have started using the bridge to throw waste directly into the Yamuna.
“The government has done a great job, but people are making the bridge dirty. It is attracting a lot of tourists for sure but it is disorganised,” said Om Prakash Sharma, another visitor.
Commuters who have started using the bridge on a daily basis also visited it over the weekend for picnics. “Traffic snarls have reduced significantly since the bridge was opened,” said Neeraj Kumar, a commuter.
Meanwhile, many said the lack of policing on the bridge will prove to be dangerous as parts of it are still under construction.
# The reason for renaming places
It is the RSS-BJP’s message that Muslims have made no contribution to India’s cultural life
We fail to see in the excitement generated by the incessant renaming of towns and railway stations in India that the past, which these new old names allude to, is an imagined land that we are being invited to inhabit. We are not exactly recovering lost ground, because as the Hindi poet Bodhisattva wrote, there never was a Prayag that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claim to be restoring now. What is being sold in the defence of capturing the glory of the past is an ideological construct.
This was clear when a nativist and “vulgar” name like Gurgaon was elevated to Gurugram. The defence used for the change was the myth of Gurugram having been the abode of Dronacharya. Gurgaon has been flaunted as a futuristic city. However, there was no protest from the citizens of this postmodern city to the name change. No question was raised about why the tradition of Dronacharya, who had tried to disable his student, Ekalavya, by cutting his thumb needed to be celebrated.
An imagined past
Why is the BJP getting away with this? Simply because, for a long time, we have been fed with nostalgia about an India that was “taken away” from us 1,200 years ago. We have been told — and we believe — that Bharat was once a “Sone Ki Chidiya (a golden bird)”. The era of the Guptas is referred to as “Swarna Yug (golden period)”. This historical imagination leads us to believe that the golden age ended with the coming of the Muslims and all we have to do now is go back to that period. When I heard an old, seasoned socialist lament the cowardice of the Indian people which kept them under different forms of slavery for more than 1,000 years, I realised that this is so deeply ingrained in us that it has almost become a part of our subconscious. This can also be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi not facing censure in Parliament when he said, while speaking after the debate on the motion of thanks to the President for his address, that the slave mentality of 1,200 years continues to trouble us.
The subconscious feeling is that nothing new was created in this period, especially during the time of Muslim rule. It is that everything new was created before these rulers came here, and what they did was break what was created, distort them, or simply defile them by giving them new names, their names. So, the Babri Masjid could not be a new monument; it had to necessarily be built on the ruins of an earlier existing structure. Nor was the Taj Mahal; it was built on a Hindu temple. This feeling is of ownership as well as authorship. It feeds on a deep-seated inferiority complex among Hindus that the symbols representing India largely bear a Muslim identity, thereby making India look like a Muslim country. We take comfort in the so-called fact that nearly 95% of Muslims in India were originally Hindus who were later converted, and it is therefore possible to restore them to their Hinduness. It is the same belief that plays out in the quest to rename places and monuments — they don’t need to go, they only need to be renamed and rehabilitated.
It has been argued that even after centuries of “Muslim rule”, neither Prayag nor Ayodhya vanished. Ayodhya coexisted with Faizabad, and Allahabad kept Prayag alive in it. But the “originalists” will rest only after erasing Muslim or “alien” names which have covered the original Hindu names. But Indian culture presents a unique challenge for them. For example, how should Patna be rechristened? As Pataliputra, Bankipur or Patna Sahib? How do you deal with Sheikhpura? It has Sheikh, a Muslim-sounding name, plus Pura, which comes from a Sanskrit ‘pur’ or ‘puri’. What do we do with mohallas?
This brings us to the real intent, which is something else. In some villages in Haryana, Muslims live disguised under Hindu-sounding names. This is seen as their willingness to assimilate into “Indian culture”. Culture is manifested in names, clothing, food habits, etc. Muslims are constantly asked to adopt so-called Indian ways, which means accepting Hindu norms in all aspects of their life. It is now being argued that even mosques are not essential for their religious identity.
The renaming of places and “reclaiming” of monuments are part of a large and long process of cultural genocide. The term might be extreme for some people, but for Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term genocide in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, the cultural destruction of a group is as important as the physical annihilation of its members. According to Lemkin: “The world represents only so much culture and intellectual vigour as are created by its component national groups. Essentially the idea of a nation signifies constructive cooperation and original contributions, based upon genuine traditions, genuine culture, and well-developed national psychology. The destruction of a nation, therefore, results in the loss of its future contribution to the world… Among the basic features which have marked progress in civilization are the respect for and appreciation of the national characteristics and qualities contributed to world culture by different nations — characteristics and qualities which… are not to be measured in terms of national power or wealth.”
We need to stress on original contributions, on the genuine traditions that Lemkin mentions. A community feels diminished if it is made to think that it has not made any genuine, original contribution to the life of a nation of which it is a part. The drive to free India of Muslim influences is a clear message to the Muslims that this nation is not the result of cooperation between them and other religious communities. It is a message that they have made no contribution to India’s cultural life.
In The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru describes India as an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie have been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer has completely hidden or erased what had been written previously. Nehru understood the way cultures grow. They are not ordered from above. He does not propose that we go back to our origins to feel authentically Indian because there is no original point as such in the life of a nation. In the same vein, Kwame Anthony Appiah, in The Lies That Bind, says a nation is a “fabric to be woven, not a mineral to be mined.”
We must be clear that the present regime is not interested in culture. It is interested in capturing the nation by making Hindus feel that they have conquered this land and taken it back from “aliens”. A drug is being generated and it is putting people on a high. It is the drug of victory.
The nationalist project of the present ruling party is based on the idea of making invisible and subjugating an entire population to keep the majority in a permanent state of dominance. This renaming is part of a cultural genocidal project.
Apoorvanand teaches at Delhi University
# Sri Lanka court stays dissolution, snap elections
Speaker convenes Parliament today
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of Parliament and restrained the Election Commission from preparing for snap elections.
After hearing 11 petitioners and respondents for two days, the top court suspended until December 7, the proclamation issued by Mr. Sirisena last week sacking the legislature and calling for elections on January 5.
The ruling comes amidst a fortnight-long political upheaval.
Following the ruling, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya convened Parliament on Wednesday. Mr. Jayasuriya will first meet representatives of all parties at 8.30 a.m. and reconvene the House at 10 a.m. “All MPs are requested to attend,” he said in a statement.
As those opposed to Mr. Sirisena’s actions welcomed the apex court’s ruling, a spokesman at ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office told The Hindu : “We have the numbers, we are ready to prove that in Parliament on Wednesday.”
It remains unclear if the House will take up a floor test on Wednesday but its reconvening, nearly three weeks after it was prorogued, and subsequently dissolved — comes as good news to parties that deemed the President’s sudden actions unconstitutional.
Mr. Wickremesinghe tweeted: “The people have won their first victory. Let’s go forward and re-establish the sovereignty of the people in our beloved country.”
Speaking for the Sirisena camp, Nimal Siripala de Silva said the respondents would ask for revision of the decision by a fuller Bench.
# Govt. asks Twitter to help track accounts
Micro-blogging site slow to act on take-down requests: official
The Centre has asked microblogging site Twitter to furnish telephone numbers and other identifiable sources that could help track suspicious accounts, as asked for by law enforcement agencies, a senior Home Ministry official said.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Monday pulled up Twitter representatives for being slow to act on the government’s requests to take down content and accounts that incite communal violence.
The Centre has stepped up interactions with social media platforms to arrest the spread of rumours inciting unrest and other activities detrimental to national security. Twitter representatives told the Ministry officials that allowing only verified accounts would hit free speech.
# ‘A win-win outcome’
The Kerala government and the Sangh Parivar outfits appeared satisfied with the court’s decision. While the government pointed out that Sept. 28 directive had not been stayed, the State BJP unit said the decision justified those trying to protect the traditions of Sabarimala.