By Shekhar Gupta.
Throwing good money after bad money is an old truism. But throwing good money after bad politics? Every government does it in its last year.
But is Narendra Modi’s also behaving like ‘any other’ government? With butterflies in the stomach?
Let’s not judge, just look at the facts.
Last month, the government announced a Rs 70 billion package for the sugar/sugarcane industry.
Will it solve the problem, or even postpone it? Absolutely not.
The problem with sugar is, there is way too much of it, in the world, as in India.
If the mills pay the nutty minimum support price (MSP) mandated by the ‘pro-farmer’ government, they simply cannot recover their costs.
If the government wants to maintain ‘more remunerative’ prices, it has to ban imports, which it does.
And yet, if the prices remain un-remunerative (for the mills), you fix an MRP.
It is one of those licence-control raj absurdities: Thou shall not sell sugar below this.
The retail price will now be ‘controlled’.
About 80 per cent of the voters in 2019 will have no idea of this lousy, back-to-sixties economics. And lousier politics. Here’s why.
Too many Indian farmers are growing too much sugarcane. People can’t consume it unless you declare jalebis and gulab jamuns mandatory with each meal.
At today’s global prices, you can’t export it. This money will go down the drain with molasses.
However, you could have used it to incentivise tens of thousands of farmers to move away from cane, especially in water-short Maharashtra, whose sugarcane addiction is an environmental disaster.
The same farmers would do enormously better with growing fruit.
Spending even Rs 200 billion on that change would be investing good money after good economics and better politics. But you cannot see the gains before May 2019.
Now, you are guaranteed to leave everybody unhappy and asking for more. So go ahead, and feed the glut.
Let’s not get distracted by flawed agricultural economics and stay with politics.
This cane capitulation came within a week of the by-poll loss in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh’s cane or ‘ganna’ heartland.
You figured the angry farmers who voted for you in 2014 had now rejected you, making common cause with the Muslims they had rioted with.
The farmers are angry enough to forget polarisation.
In fact, you were made to pay for the imprudence of Yogi Adityanath invoking the long dead-and-gone founder of Pakistan in his election campaign to bring back the only trick he knows: Polarisation.
It just so happens that Jinnah rhymes with ganna and you gifted your rivals a devastating slogan.
Check out some other facts on the political side — the panic with which it has moved to mend fences with allies.
Just the day after the Kairana loss, it conceded a demand of the Shiromani Akali Dal it had long denied — of waiving the goods and services tax on the ingredients bought for the langar at gurdwaras.
The fraught relationship between Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit A Shah is well-known.
Now, in the same week as the sugar and langar giveaways, Shah landed at Thackeray’s home, his hand-picked chief minister in tow.
Being his father’s son, Thackeray didn’t miss the opportunity to make a political point. He made the chief minister, who leads the state government in which Sena is the junior partner, wait outside.
Why would you take such humiliation?
Four years ago, the BJP came to power with a full majority, not needing any partners. It still professed coalition dharma, but everybody bowed to a prime minister with power and popularity unprecedented in a generation.
That’s why Nitish Kumar, that compulsive and precise weathervane, dumped the secular platform for an anti-corruption one and defected to the BJP camp.
Now, he dares to talk of a local National Democratic Alliance within the NDA in Bihar. (Union Minister) Upendra Kushwaha, who leads a tiny Bihar party, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, with three MPs, is also giving warnings.
The message: You look weak despite your majority. Expect us to bargain harder.
Kairana is the latest trigger, but the Modi government’s political momentum was broken earlier, in the same state.
The loss of both Gorakhpur and Phulpur — the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and his deputy’s pocket boroughs — in by-elections brought to the BJP its first intimations of vulnerability.
It has made more panicky errors since.
One of its main planks in 2014 was a war on corruption. Its fearfully desperate embrace of the Bellary brothers with their mob back during Karnataka elections ended that.
The fact is, Modi was still quite popular in Karnataka and may have swung a majority by himself. But the Bellary brothers put doubts in the voters’ minds. Evidence: They won only three of the nine seats in the district they were expected to sweep.
And the BJP lost its anti-corruption plank for 2019.
You cannot have the Central Bureau of Investigation suddenly discover before the Karnataka elections that there is no evidence against the Reddys of Bellary in illegal mining/iron ore export cases.
You can revel in electoral engineering. You can also over-engineer yourself into trouble.
The BJP appointed an agriculture minister not particularly for his intellect, or even native instinct.
For four years the farm sector has grown at about half the rate compared to the United Progressive Alliance’s 10 years.
And remember even then, at 3.7 per cent average annual growth, there was farmer distress.
Your man has meanwhile delivered: A new organic manure drawn from the good bacteria found only in the dung of the desi cow, our most pujyaniya collective ‘maata’.
This isn’t a joke. The agriculture ministry is marketing this at a token price.
You buy a small bottle, and pour it in a pond of organic garbage. I bet it makes wonderful manure, but doubt if it will double farmers’ income by 2022.
Sugar is not a new crisis. It’s been building all these last four years, but who had the time!
The second is its arrogant choice of lightweight new chief ministers, each of whom is a liability now.
The three who won you nearly all the seats in their states are the ones who feel ignored, punch-drunk and sneered at.
The third is the price it is paying for treating allies with arrogance.
We know that this generation of politicians lacks the experience of ruling with a full majority.
The BJP needed to take a deep, humble breath and accept a basic fact, the reason people join politics: A share in the spoils of power.
The allies were given ‘nothing’ ministries.
The Akalis are the BJP’s most loyal allies, and their ruling family’s daughter-in-law is their only member in the Cabinet with the charge of food processing.
In her home state, she is derided as ‘chutney-achar-jam-murabba’ minister.
Do you remember Shiv Sainik Anant Geete’s portfolio? No ally has been able to gift a governorship for its own faithful.
The BJP has run a coalition government but with winner-takes-all rules.
No surprise now it is letting events dictate its actions, like any other nervy incumbent, rather than be its usual, all-conquering cavalry, set for another big conquest.
While the Dust is settling in New Zealand
By SPAHIC OMER
While the dust is settling in the aftermath of shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, some rather bigger and more consequential truths and dimensions start emerging. Undoubtedly, the killed brothers and sisters are global heroes. They are also martyrs and Jannah (Paradise)-bound (Insha’Allah we most sincerely hope and pray for them).
Whereas the murderer will spend the rest of his miserable life in jail languishing therein (given that New Zealand since 1961 does not have the death penalty for murder), will die smaller and less significant than when he was born, and, ultimately, is Jahannam(Hell)-bound. Truly, the victims have been given a new and far better life, and so, have been in a certain way set free, while the killer and his agenda have perished as soon as they came to the fore of reality and started rearing their ugly heads.
What matters at the end of the day is to live and die with honour and dignity, irrespective of circumstances. What lies between and around those parameters is part of a bigger and to us incomprehensible ontological picture.
In the meantime, virtually the whole world – regardless of the level of many individuals’ and groups’ honesty, or otherwise – is propagating what the true Islam is and who the true Muslims are. In reality, everyone is promoting and preaching Islam, one way or another: from mosques and parliaments, to coffee-shops, homes and media. Debates about Islam, Muslims, the Qur’an, the Prophet (pbuh) and mosques continue – and will for a long time – unabated.
The situation is rivalled perhaps only by what transpired after 9/11.
The phenomenon is positively contributing to silencing the isolated pockets of perpetual hate, bigotry and bona fide terror, and is extinguishing the fading flames of their meaning, purpose and appeal. Despite the tragic and regrettable side of the events, the opportunity that such events presented should be leveraged and sustained. It is not always that most of the world is favourably disposed to the affairs of Islam and Muslims. Overtures are being received from all sides including such as were hardly imaginable before.
By making the most of the presented opportunities, the innocent lives would not be seen as lost in vain. The losses will thus become yet more meaningful as well as impactful. The victims’ rewards will also be greatly amplified thereby.
Hence, Muslims should become braver and more proactive in convincing the world as to who exactly they are, what their Islam is, and what they are living for and how. They should go on the offensive, rather than being perennially on the defensive. There should be no more place for excessive apologetic tendencies.
Such a strategy did not bring much sense, nor benefit, to anybody: neither to Muslims in advancing their Islamic civilizational cause, nor to non-Muslims in coming to terms with the same. Muslims should not unduly worry or be afraid, for a truthful person on an extraordinary mission fears nobody and nothing. Indeed, nothing but truth, light, and clarity of existential mission and purpose are identifiable with courage and gallantry, just as falsehood, darkness, and evil are identifiable with cowardice and its associates. Hence, the New Zealand murderer thought he was brave and would become a hero if he killed innocent and unarmed civilians (worshipers).
However, that is exactly what his victims are, and he, on the other hand, has already become a symbol of gutlessness, idiocy, and villainy. He is furthermore met with universal condemnation, disgust, and cursing for his cruel, inhumane, and barbarous acts that targeted defenceless and harmless civilians.
Moreover, Muslims have nothing to be ashamed of, nor hide. On the contrary, they have everything to cherish, be proud of, and share with the world. Muslims always were, and thus should remain, chief protagonists in generating universal civilizational and cultural goodness and beauty. Muslims should use the unfortunate New Zealand episode and its aftermath to come closer to one another and get united at all levels of their ummatic (collective) existence.
There is no political, social, or sectarian issue that can supersede in importance the above. Everything must be in the service of the former.
Why must Muslims wait for tragic events, such as this one, to come out together as one? Why don’t they do so as soon as possible as a sign of a drastic paradigm shift, whereby many future yet more tragic events could be thwarted, or at least significantly mitigated? Once united, Muslims’ performances in such critical fields as education, politics, economic development, science and technology, as a consequence, would dramatically improve as well. They will not then have to harangue the world on how Islam is the religion of truth, peace, progress, enlightenment and justice. Such will be embodied in concrete deeds, policies, and civilizational initiatives and achievements, and will be there for all to see and benefit from.
It goes without saying that Muslim unity and the unity of their ontological mission and purpose denote a precursor, yet a cause, of any remarkable civilizational consciousness and growth of theirs. The relationship between the two realms is causal, the former always being the cause and the latter the effect. Even though the whole world is sympathetic now, if Muslims do not take the matter into their own hands – and by the scruff of the neck – the sentiment will quickly cool down and subside, and we will be back to square one. Nobody will help Muslims if they do not help themselves. The roles of others can only be secondary in nature, playing second fiddle to what Muslims actually do. Likewise, nobody will respect Muslims unless they respect themselves. That is the root cause of all good – and evil – associated with Muslims.
Muslim civilizational destiny ought to be their own and nobody else’s business and concern. It is therefore only them who is answerable to the Almighty for it.
And as a bit of not-so-coincidental symbolism, since the New Zealand tragedy took place in mosques, it might be just appropriate that a Muslim change of fortune should start exactly in relation to the mosque as a concept and sensory reality. Reviving the mosque institution as a community development center and as a symbol as well as locus of Islam’s and Muslims’ spiritual and physical being will definitely go a long way in successfully charting future development courses not only in the Muslim world, but also elsewhere. Mosques should be turned into sources of and facilities for practicing and disseminating the authentic truth, peace, harmony, equality, and justice. They should be beacons of hope, optimism, cooperation, tolerance, and dialogue. Especially in the West, mosques and the infinite universe of messages and values that they typify, should be promoted via most appropriate means and channels as much to non-Muslims as Muslims. That way, there will be no better, friendlier, and more effective ways of da’wah (inviting people to Islam). Nobody will be able to accuse anyone of proselytizing, or any other perceived wrongdoing. Rather, the efforts will regularly be praised and encouraged by all relevant parties. For the sake of fostering peace, harmony and dialogue, to Muslims through the mosque phenomenon, the sky is surely the limit. That could likewise be a reason why the New Zealand criminal targeted precisely mosques and the day, occasion as well as the time synonymous with mosques’ dynamism and multidimensionality.
And finally, Muslims must actualize and live up to the implications of the Qur’anic archetype according to which only believers and everything they epitomize will in the end be successful, despite numerous trials and challenges along the way. On the other hand, the opponents of truth, oppressors of all kinds and criminals, and everything they characterize, will in the end fail and be dire losers, notwithstanding some ostensible temporary triumphs along the way.
What matters most is a true happy ending primarily in the metaphysical sense of the word, and that life does not turn out to be merely nihilistic, hedonistic, and anticlimactic an affair.
The Roots of the Christchurch Massacre
By WAJAHAT ALI
For Muslims, Friday Prayer is like Sunday Mass for Christians. It’s the day of community prayer. We travel to our local mosques, our religious sanctuary. Our families gather in the early afternoon to pray as a community. Kids run through the halls as the imam recites the Quran in Arabic. We eat together and mingle outside.
This week, as those of us in the United States attend Friday Prayer, the Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, are preparing for funerals.
People around the world are praying for the dead in Christchurch after terrorist attacks at two mosques. The authorities say a 28-year-old Australian walked into two mosques with assault rifles and killed at least 49 people. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, called it “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”
Thoughts and prayers are not enough. These attacks are the latest manifestation of a growing and globalized ideology of white nationalism that must be addressed at its source — which includes the mainstream politicians and media personalities who nurture, promote and excuse it.
If the gunman’s 74-page manifesto and social media posts are to be believed, he was inspired by a thriving online ideological structure that recruits and radicalizes mostly men to save “Western civilization” from a foreign “invasion.”
We’ve seen this before. The gunman’s justifications for his act of terrorism were similar to those in the 1,500-page manifesto that the Norwegian Anders Breivik posted before he killed 77 people in 2011. Mr. Breivik wanted to punish Europe for its multiculturalism and welcome of Muslim immigrants. His manifesto and attacks are said to have inspired the white nationalist Christopher Hasson, who was recently arrested on charges of stockpiling weapons with the desire to commit mass murder, especially against Muslims.
If the idea that Muslims are a threat sounds familiar, it’s in part because it was used by President Trump to argue for a wall to protect America from a “caravan” of Central American migrants seeking asylum. He asserted that “Middle Easterners” were in the caravan, a claim he admitted he could not back up. During a summer trip to England, Mr. Trump warned that Britain was losing its “culture” and that immigration had “changed the fabric of Europe — and unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was.”
Arguing for his travel ban aimed at mostly Muslim countries, Mr. Trump said, “I think Islam hates us,” lied about seeing Muslims celebrate the Sept. 11 attacks, and retweeted a fringe anti-Muslim group’s fake videos of Muslim refugees committing violence. No wonder the Christchurch manifesto praised Mr. Trump as “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
It’s clear that the dangers of white nationalism aren’t limited to the United States. This attack is a reminder that this dangerous ideology also threatens immigrant communities worldwide, and that it’s fuelled by leaders around the world.
Australia, where the gunman is said to be from, has plenty of its own anti-Muslim, xenophobic rhetoric.
In 2015, a movement called Reclaim Australia organized protests against the “enforcing of Shariah law in Australia” and “the teaching of Islam in government schools.” The Conversation reported that placards displayed by the group at a rally read “Islam is an enemy of the West.” A key policy goal of the far-right political party Australian Liberty Alliance is to “stop the Islamization of Australia.” Its website warns, “Islam is not merely a religion, it is a totalitarian ideology with global aspirations.”
While Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, described the suspect as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist,” an Australian senator, Fraser Anning, responded to the Christchurch attack by blaming “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
It seems the senator shares similar sentiments with mass murderers.
In his manifesto, the gunman, who referred to himself as a “regular white man,” wrote that he was carrying out the attack to “directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the invaders themselves.”
The manifesto reveals an obsession with white supremacy, discussing the Battle of Vienna in 1683, which is glorified by white nationalists and Mr. Breivik as the critical moment when Europe staved off the Ottoman Empire’s advance and protected itself from Islam. Text scrawled on the gunman’s weapons appears to refer to military battles such as the 1189 Siege of Acre, a victory for the Christian Crusaders seeking to retake Jerusalem from Muslims. He mentioned Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot and killed six people in a Quebec mosque in 2017 and was a known white nationalist with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim resentment.
His ideas — and their sources and supporters — were familiar to me. As a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s 2011 investigation “Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” I connected fringe anti-Muslim conspiracies — such as the made-up threat of Shariah law in America — to the funding sources, think tanks, media personalities, grass-roots groups and politicians who created and promoted them.
These entities have worked together to reinforce the message that Muslims Americans are inherently radical and represent a “demographic time bomb” that will overtake the white population. Mr. Breivik repeatedly cited these groups and people, many of them now closely linked to the Trump administration. Although they should not be blamed for Mr. Breivik’s violence, Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said Mr. Breivik nonetheless emerges from the same ideological network.
Among white nationalists’ major motivators is “the great replacement” conspiracy theory. They fear that Jews, blacks and Muslims will replace white people and eventually subordinate them. Jews are often viewed as the diabolical head of the cabal, the nerve center, who use their infinite wealth and power to reduce and weaken the white man.
In October, Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 Jewish worshipers. He posted on the right-wing social network Gab that the Jewish refugee resettlement agency HIAS “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people” and “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.” He also re-shared a post about punishing “filthy evil Jews” for bringing “filthy evil Muslims into the country.” This echoed the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jewish billionaire George Soros funded the migrant “caravan” — a lie that was promoted by President Trump and other prominent conservatives.
Massacre in Christchurch Mosques
By ASLAM ABDULLAH
In what the Prime Minister of New Zealand described the darkest day in the history of the country, and the worst terrorist attack in the country so far 49 Muslims belonging to different nationalities and ethnic groups praying together in mosques were massacred by white supremacist terrorists. The Queen of Commonwealth, Pope and many other world leaders have sent notes of sympathy to the government.
This is what we know so far:
A white supremacist entered a mosque on Deans Avenue, Christchurch where Muslims had gathered to pray. He was carrying a semi-automatic weapon. He opened fire indiscriminately as there were so many targets busy praying. He was streaming the attack live. Another white supremacist entered a mosque in Linwood.
49 Muslims are dead as of now. 41 at the Central mosque, 7 at Linwood mosque and one in Christchurch hospital. 48 people have been admitted to the hospital with gunshot wounds as of now. Others have been sent to medical centers. The terrorist has been charged and would appear in the Christchurch District Court on Saturday morning.
He was arrested in a city street in a car with explosives and more guns inside. The terrorist described himself as 28-year old Australian Brenton Tarrant. The terrorists were not on the watch list of police either in Australia or New Zealand.
Tarrant had issued a manifesto glorifying white supremacy and had asked the people of the US and Europe to oust immigrants and build a pure white society. Police arrested four people initially, three including Tarrant are in custody. The fourth person was not related to the events, police said.
There was a chaotic scene at Christchurch hospital that has only 12 operating theatres in use for people requiring multiple surgeries. Families of the victims and others came to hospitals and at the mosques looking for their loved ones.
Families have shown up at the hospital and at the Deans Ave cordon seeking news of family members. The police have set up a missing people’s register. Witnesses have given detailed accounts of the horror of their co-coreligionists being killed. Victim support has launched an official fund to support the families of the victims.
Leaders from around the world have condemned this terrorist act. Pope Francis has denounced the “senseless acts of violence” in the Christchurch mosque shootings and said he was praying for the Muslim community and all New Zealanders.
In a telegram of condolences Friday, Francis offered his solidarity and prayers to the injured and those who are mourning lost loved ones and noted that it was a particularly difficult time for security and emergency personnel.
He said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks.”
The message sent by the Vatican secretary of state ended by saying, “Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation.”
Meanwhile, Muslim civil rights and advocacy organizations in the USA have issued press releases mourning the deaths of more than 40 worshipers gunned down in terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during prayers on Friday, and condemned the apparent anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate that motivated the attacks and urged mosques in the United States and worldwide to step up security measures.
The white supremacist author of the manifesto called himself a supporter of President Donald Trump, who he sees “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
There has been an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants, and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president and has repeatedly expressed concern about Islamophobic, white supremacist and racist Trump administration policies and appointments.
Mosques and other Islamic institutions should take measures to protect the safety of people visiting places of worship. This is applicable to all institutions, regardless of the organizational mission. (See: What to do during an active shooting)
The white supremacist terrorist issued a 73 page manifesto justifying his massacre. In this he praised President Donald Trump. The manifesto published in a question and answer form asked the following:
“Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump? The response: Sure, as a symbol of renewed white identify and common purpose? As a policymaker and leader? Dear God no.”
The manifesto has been removed from the website. The terrorist in 73 pages talked about American conservative commentator Candace Owens and says, “Yes the person that had influenced me above all is Candace Owens. Each time she spoke I was stunned by her insights and her own views helped me further and further into the belief of violence over weakness. Thus, I will have to disavow some of her beliefs, the extreme actions she calls for are too much even for my tastes.”
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