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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 43, October 18, 2014

Welcome Decision, Disconcerting Incidents

Monday 20 October 2014, by SC


Last week a fervent appeal was made in these columns to de-escalate the rising tensions along the India-Pakistan border.

The ceasefire violations and firing on the LoC and international border in J&K have gradually declined although these can again recur with serious consequences in the days ahead.

However, what is of utmost significance is that last Friday (October 10) the Nobel Peace Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 to Kailash Satyarthi of India and Malala Yusafzai of Pakistan “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. Sixty-year-old Satyarthi gave up his job as an electrical engineer to run an NGO in this country for rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking. And 17-year-old Malala survived a near-fatal Taliban attack on her a few years ago with courage and determination; she had been targeted by the fundamentalist extremists for advocating education for girls which was anathema for the Taliban.

Although reports have quoted knowledgeable sources to convey that the Nobal Committee’s decision on the joint award was taken before the situation on the LoC had escalated, Satyarthi observed that the joint award was a “big statement” which “must be read between the lines not only by the governments but the peoples of both countries”, and Malala vowed to “work together and try to build strong relations” between the two countries. Malala also invited the two PMs, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, to attend the Nobel investiture ceremony.

This is a positive development which has been universally acclaimed.

At the same time the highly disconcerting news of growing assaults on citizens from the North-East in different parts of the country has reached us. Earlier such incidents were confined to the Capital city of Delhi and its environs. Now we have learnt of a similar incident in Bengaluru—yesterday a Manipuri student was thrashed there for not speaking Kannada. And today two Naga young men were severely beaten up and their hair forcibly cut in Gurgaon—their crime: they had been asked by some locals sometime back to quit the area where they were residing but they did not oblige the local youth.

These are definitely racist acts and, as an activist pointed out, these are being engineered by certain political groups while the police is seeking to shield the guilty and not taking necessary action.

Such incidents are really shocking and a matter of shame and the State and/or Union governments cannot look the other way. This applies to Narendra Modi as well; he must be bluntly told: this is far from the good governance he had promised to provide, this is the outcome of plain and simple misgovernance.

Is the PM, who is eagerly awaiting the results of the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections besides launching bold labour reforms that are being hailed by the corporate honchos (as they think those would ultimately help unveil the ‘hire-and-fire’ policies they have been desiring for long), listening?

October 16 S.C.