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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Stoking Hindu Anger in Tamil Nadu

Stoking Hindu Anger in Tamil Nadu

In the recent past Tamil Nadu had witnessed a resurgence of venomous attacks on Hindu beliefs and religious symbol heads. Much has been written on the crass insults that Victor James Vairamuthu, a Christian, had heaped on   Andal Nachiyar, the goddess revered by Hindus all over the world.  As if this were was not enough, Kanimozhi the self-acclaimed atheist Rajya Sabha member and daughter of M.Karunanidhi of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), had also made uncharitable remarks on Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.

The insults came during Dhanurmasa, the period of the year that Hindus consider most auspicious for reciting Andal’s Thiruppavai – a collection of thirty stanzas (paasurams) written in Tamil by Andal in praise of the Lord Vishnu. The timing of these insults were carefully designed to create maximum hurt to the Hindus. It certainly did.

It is not that the insults of Victor James Vairamuthu or Kanimozhi by themselves have stirred up the strong Hindu rising.  It has certainly proved to be the hot trigger for a huge swathe of the population that has been reeling under constant anti-Hindu harangue and endless taunts.

Unlike the past, this time around, these anti-Hindu claptraps had the shock of their lives. Hindus from all over south India – Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka expressed their anger and took to the streets to protest the insults. The spontaneity and widespread protests, particularly by women and younger generation pleasantly surprised even the protesters themselves.

In the initial days, the protests were largely ignored by the main stream media, particularly the television networks in Tamil Nadu. However, the extensive use of social media – particularly Facebook and WhatsApp – had proved to be a game changer. It was the active and angry presence in the social media that forced the television networks to devote time. This only fueled the spread of anger to every household and only spawned even more protests.

Housewives took to posting angry self-made videos expressing their disgust at Vairamuthu and seeking his unconditional apology. Many exponents of religious discourses were also at the forefront addressing gatherings of angry Hindus. In fact youngsters – sub 30s something and women in particular – dominated the protest marches. In major urban and metropolitan areas, many retirees and elderly people also joined the protests.

At a time when the entire political class has shunned speaking out in public on the Vairamuthu fiasco, H Raja of the BJP and TTV Dinakaran of the breakaway AIADMK have been the two lonely voices that have unequivocally condemned it. Mr. H Raja has not only castigated the Dravidian parties but has also been at the forefront of the protests. Despite the negative portrayal by the main stream media, he seems to have gathered huge grassroots support across the state, particularly among the young people in Tamil Nadu.

Contrary to what the television networks have portrayed, the protests were well spread out and saw the participation of all communities across the Hindu faith. However, it is true that the crowds that were seen on the streets were not as large as would be seen in a popular political rally. But the diverse, spontaneous gatherings have sent an ominous message writ too large to ignore.

It must however be mentioned here that it would be perfectly legitimate to have differences and disagreements with Hinduism per se, its philosophies, its sacred texts or its belief systems. Hinduism itself has a well-established tradition of debating such differences. Hence the proper and acceptable forum to address such disquiet would be to invite both sides to debate publicly so the people can draw their own conclusions.

Insulting Hindu religious figure heads, on the contrary, has no room in a civil society and is a clear infringement of constitutional guarantees for religious freedom. It is a naked attempt to incite hatred that has the potential to spiral into religious violence and hence is a threat to law and order. It is time to read the riot act to Vincent James Vairamuthu. But unfortunately an effete government in the state has not shown the courage to act. Inaction will certainly not be forgiven by the people in the elections.

The Dravidian cults in all their hues and avatars are no more than a band of Hindu-baiting political opportunists who have unscrupulously played the pseudo secular card for several decades now. As many researchers and authors have already pointed out in their well-documented studies, these cults are but executing their alien masters’ bidding. It is obvious that these forces are tightly aligned with those who do not wish India well.

Despite their protestations and false propaganda to social reforms, the number of Hindus worshiping at the temples continues to swell and unbelievable numbers visit the temples every day. This stands as a grand testimony to the unshakable faith of the Hindus of Tamil Nadu. But to poke this huge mass of humanity is tantamount to committing political hara-kiri.

The obvious result, over the years, has been the creation of a large cesspool of latent anger and hurt among large sections of Hindus that has refused to drain or dry away. The insults heaped on goddess Andal Nachiyar and the sham regrets by Vincent James Vairamuthu and others of his ilk has definitely ignited this latent anger. The rancor and vitriol have only succeeded in passing the unmitigated hatred for these bogus cults from one generation to another. This is an unmistakably a red flag for the Hindu-hating Dravidian political tribes and could well be a harbinger of upcoming jet steam of political changes just round the corner in Tamil Nadu. It has the potential to blow the Dravidian cults to irrelevance and decimate them from the political scene once and for all.

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Posted by on February 18, 2018 in Hinduism, India, Tamil Nadu

 

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Anything but fire and fury

Anything but fire and fury

The State of the Union address on 30th January 2018 by President Donald Trump was welcomed by many as a great speech in which he highlighted the achievements of his first year in office. In his speech, Trump called for unity among law makers and urged them to rise above party lines – something which went well with the American public. One would have thought that this would signal an end to political flame throwing which has so far unsettled the administration and kept it on the defensive in a perpetual firefighting mode.

Apparently not so. The book – “Fire and Fury – Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff that came out in early January of this year – has been the latest in a string of distractions for the administration. It has been a hot favorite of major television channels, social media and chatterati. The author has definitely capitalized on the wide publicity on prime-time national television and made it to best seller lists.

Some background on this book will definitely not be out of place.  Firstly, the book is well written and offers an excellent read for the discerning reader. Michael Wolff, the author, has spent a lot of time in cherry picking anecdotes and weaving them into colorful fabric to showcase to the world what he calls “the insider’s view of the Donald Trump White House”.

Michael Wolff seems to be convinced that Trump does not deserve to be the President. He is at loggerheads with Trump’s well-known penchant for undying loyalty from his team and highlights this to underscore his unsuitability for the high office. The detailed depiction of the President, his idiosyncrasies, his disbelief at being elected and the purported disdain of his close advisers may all be true. Regardless, the fact remains that, much to the disdain of media pundits and Beltway lobbyists, it is the American people who fairly and squarely elected Donald Trump and put him in office.

Wolff all along gives the impression that he had unfettered access to the White House. But former Press Secretary Dana Perino and others in the know have asserted that it is impossible for someone to be hanging around in the West Wing of the White House even with proper authorization.

The book contains much of what can be adduced as rumors, unsubstantiated anecdotes and water cooler gossips that seemed to play into the agenda of Trump’s political foes. The glaring inaccuracies, insinuations and innuendos expose the true intentions of the author.

Wolff asserts that the 25th amendment was an issue that was constantly on the mind of the White House. The 25th amendment to the US constitution provides for removal and succession to the office of the US President and Vice President in the event of death or disability of the incumbent. But Wolff admitted on national television (CBS This Morning show) that he never met anyone in the cabinet or the Vice President Mike Pence. If he did not meet or interview any of them nor was he allowed into any of the meetings of the senior leadership of the administration, how could Wolff tell that the issue was on their minds?  No wonder Wolff’s credibility has plunged.

Wolff’s reference to the purported endless discussions on the 25th amendment fueled the media narrative that portrays Trump as mentally unsound and hence unable to discharge his duties as the President. In fact, on the sets of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, co-host Mika Brzezinski bluntly declared that she agreed with a North Korean official’s assessment that President Donald Trump is “mentally ill.”

Throughout the book, the discerning reader cannot miss Wolff’s angst and obvious inability to come to terms with the reality of Donald Trump in the highest office. The author does little to screen the obvious impression that he is an obsessive dirt rat on a mission to dig out half-truths, peddle distortions and blatant factual inaccuracies. Many pundits have expressed the view that Michael Wolff in many ways echoes the deepest disappointments of the Hillary campaign and hence it was no surprise that he became the instant darling of the liberal media.

The delectable presentation of anecdotes that appear to be no more than off-the-cuff remarks by administration insiders in unguarded moments or at the height of frustration must not be mistaken as fair impressions of a sincere author that went awry. It boils down to the work of art of someone who, in the words of Democrat Steve Rattner, the former head of President Obama’s Auto Task Force, “turned out to be an unprincipled writer of fiction”.

But what has rankled many are the outrageous insinuations that Trump and Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, were having an affair. Wolff gives no details or proof, except that the two were in private meetings. Even the liberal media which was using Wolff to take potshots at Trump, suddenly dropped him like hot potato. Mika Brzezinski abruptly ended her show with Wolf when he struggled to defend his innuendos at Ambassador Nikki Haley.

By his own admission Wolff used his proximity to Steve Bannon to open doors to the White House. Much of his writings appears to be a view of the West Wing of the White House through the eyes of Bannon. It is no surprise that in hindsight, Bannon had to leave.

But herein lies an enormous threat to the integrity of the highest office as well as the inner circle of power of the ruling dispensation from seemingly innocent book writers. Senior administration officials have exposed their lack of experience in putting in place the right checks and balances in clearing people like Michael Wolff. To that extent this episode is a costly learning process for the Trump administration. The White House must acknowledge its lapses and quickly revamp the process of providing access the highest office.

Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury too has had its two minutes of fame on national television and is now well on its way to being forgotten. The book has proved to be anything but fire and fury.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2018 in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Media, Press, US

 

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