Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Last Weekend...

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and Alternate Law Forum (ALF), Bangalore, co-hosted a very special event.

Harsh Mander's 'Fear and Forgiveness' was released in Bangalore on 5 Sept., Saturday. The event had a number of speakers, besides the author, reporting on the chilling and insidious incursions that hindutva type organizations are making into Karnataka, especially in the coastal belt. Recent times have seen a rapid rise in communalism arising from the divisive politics of hatred that these groups practice to fracture and breakup secular communities. To many, it seemed that the communal climate that is evolving here, terrifyingly mirrors the situation in Gujarat, pre-2002 genocide.

There are many things I carried away from the event. First, the book - now I am no longer looking for an excuse to not read it.

Secondly, the still ringing dire warning by Harsh Mander, that maybe, situations like Gujarat will not repeat, but only because the climate of fear that the BJP state aided Sanghas are carrying out have succeeded in the minority communities accepting a second class citizenry status subsuming their constitutional rights guaranteed within the democratic framework of this nation.

Third, the many stories of hope that Harsh Mander was able to share with us - go buy yourself the book! One thing that struck me is his deep conviction, which I am not able to have faith in, that for every tragedy there were three stories to afford hope, lighten the dark, restore faith...what I could identify with was his experience that the ones who stretched out a helping hand were least often from the upper class (that has replaced our old upper caste tier), often people of the majority faith who found no conflict in their own religious beliefs and the ability to live with the faith of others - these were not acts of bravery but acts of standing up for who they were, even in crisis.

Lastly, was the concept of Nyayagraha, or, inviting justice. Harsh Mander explained it this way - Gandhi's Satyagraha invited truth by breaking immoral laws or constitutional wrongs. Following a code of ethics and non-violence the Satyagrahis forced the justice system to re-examine the righteousness of certain act or law. Within the current scenario of a fair constitution and a viable legal system, the issue at hand is, for the citizens to force the government's machinery to follow the letter of the law, while maintaining a highest ethical code of conduct themselves. The idea is beautiful, its effectiveness really viable, but if, and only if, we all, in the largest numbers, join this battle, take responsibility of our non-functioning, unfair, corrupt, abusive, frequently autocratic, sometimes totalitarian nexus of our political, administrative, judicial service,served by our law enforcers, the security and police force, and enforce accountability, enforce their just and constitutional operation --and we really have no option but to do just this.


  1. good that people are realising Harsh slowly..

    his lone battle with communalism, hunger, homelessness etc..are truley amazging...

    he's a person not to be fulled with awards but to be followed.

    good luk hope you will carry forward the values he share..

  2. Thank you Rafi...it had once been easy to lose sight of beacons, today I find people like Harsh whenever I need that hope.

  3. Thanks for this post, Arati. Caught the spirit of the event.