Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fifth column: Could Rohith have been saved?

The ministers in the Modi government who interfered in student politics should also have the grace to resign.
Written by Tavleen Singh | anuary 24, 2016
This column is being written from Davos, so it is from a distance that I have observed the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula and the events that followed. This provides some useful perspective. Let me admit that his suicide note brought tears to my eyes because it was so clearly written by a young man filled with hopes and dreams, who had become desperate when he saw them die. He should never have been rusticated for his protest, whether he was Dalit or not. It was an appalling error of judgment by the officials of Hyderabad Central University and they should have the grace to resign.
The ministers in the Modi government who interfered in student politics should also have the grace to resign. Having said this, may I now say that I have been truly disgusted by the manner in which the usual suspects have tried to make political capital out of so sad a death. If they had been this concerned about Dalit student rights, why did they not show up in Hyderabad when the protest began? Rohith Vemula may still have been alive if he knew his cause was backed by such powerful political leaders.
Having carefully examined what happened after Rohith’s suicide, I find myself unable not to conclude that what we are seeing is yet another attempt to distract the Prime Minister from his economic and social agenda. This crusade againstNarendra Modi began from almost the moment that he moved into 7 Race Course Road. He was personally blamed for the murder of a young computer scientist in Pune. He was blamed immediately after for the sickening behaviour of Shiv Sena MPs who shoved food into the mouth of a fasting Muslim. Then began a countrywide campaign to malign his government for targeting Christians. When the attacks on churches were found to be minor robberies, this quickly ended, but was instantly followed by an attempt to blame him for the killings of three rationalists. Then after the ludicrous campaign against beef caused the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, came nationwide hysteria and the awards-returning movement. And now the Prime Minister is being personally held responsible for the suicide of Rohith by politicians who know that if anyone is to blame for Dalits still being an underclass, it is the political party that has ruled India for most of her years as a modern nation.
topic-post limit=5 showtext=”Read More”]
In two weeks, Rohith will be forgotten and Dalits will still be an underclass because they have been an underclass for centuries. But in the hysteria whipped up over his death will be forgotten the very important speech that the Prime Minister gave in Vigyan Bhawan, when he told young entrepreneurs that his government would help them in every possible way to start new businesses. In this speech, he admitted that all government needed to do was facilitate their spirit of enterprise and help finance it. There may be those who believe that this should not be the job of government but of venture capitalists, but Muhammad Yunus who started the Grameen Bank, who is here in Davos, praised the ‘Start Up India, Stand Up India Scheme’.
He said that he believed that the best way to help people lift themselves out of poverty was to finance their efforts to create small businesses. As someone who has gone on and on in this column about the need to create jobs, I listened carefully and now concede that perhaps my emphasis was wrong. Muhammad Yunus said that what very poor people needed most were banks that were not reluctant to give them loans. Inadvertently this amounted to praise for the Prime Minister’s emphasis on financial inclusion that has brought more Indians into the banking system than ever before. These are economic reforms for which he has never been given credit, because we media types have been so absorbed in saving secularism.
The Prime Minister’s determined efforts to put social programmes like Swachh Bharat and Beti Bachao at the top of the national agenda are truly commendable. But if noticed at all by the media, they have evoked mostly sneers and sarcasm. None of our mighty political pundits has noticed that these programmes touch the core of what is wrong with India’s model of development. Toilets are more important than temples, improved public hygiene will end half of India’s diseases and educating little girls will make India a far, far better place.
So it is my hope that Rohith Vemula’s tragic death does not become another link in the noose that has been steadily built over the past 18 months to strangle Modi’s efforts to bring parivartan and vikas. One thing the Prime Minister can and should do is begin to dismantle the licence raj in education, that gives semi-literate officials too much power to cause too much harm in our universities.
The author tweets @tavleen_singh
- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/fifth-column-could-rohith-have-been-saved/#sthash.9NWahPxI.dpuf

No comments: