Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fringe Indian group demands ban on human slaughter citing religious sentiment

In a definite sign of the increasing religious polarisation that India is undergoing right now, a fringe groups has demanded that the government introduce a complete ban on the slaughter of any kind of human being.

Ravi Kumar, spokesperson for the action group “Human Hamari Mata Hai” (Humans are Our Mothers) based this outlandish demand on his ancient religious beliefs. “We believe in Liberalism and in our belief system, we consider humans to be sacred. Human beings are just like our family. A female human being is just like your mother. Think about it,” he implored.

But can a modern nation like India base its laws on whatever fanatic religious beliefs some people subscribe to? If Liberals don’t like human slaughter, can they impose their beliefs on others is the question many rationalist commentators are now asking.

Kumar denies that their demand is irrational in any way. “This has nothing to do with religion. It is a completely logical demand,” he said with the calm conviction of a complete zealot. “Human beings are extremely helpful creatures. Their wasteproducts can be used for agriculture. Moreover human beings provide us with many other useful things such as art, agriculture, science, literature etc. Killing such a useful animal, which is like our mother is actually the greatest sin."

Till now, however, given the fringe nature of the movement, the government has mostly ignored its demands. “Our government believes in rationality and common sense. We can’t base laws on such laughable religious beliefs,” said a top minister while researching the topic of nuclear weapons in ancient India.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Jihad Inc. Shares Slump As Competition Captures Market Share In Uttar Pradesh, Other Major Markets

From our Business Correspondent

Love Jihad Inc.’s (LJI) shares slumped more than 7% on Monday after the firm gave a weak forecast that sparked concern about future conversion growth.

LJI executives tried to calm analyst concerns during a conference call by arguing that underlying growth is stronger than the top-line guidance suggested. CEO, also confirmed that the firm will be entering new target segments, looking at Sikhs and even the excommunicated Ahmedi community to shore up its top-line.

In spite of this, shares added to losses as the conference call progressed. The stock ended the after-hours trading session down 7.9% at Rs 509.

LJI is a pan-India firm which focusses on converting women to Islam. Currently it business model focusses on getting sales representatives to convert Hindu women by making them fall in love. Highly successful till now, it has been touted as a home-grown success story, a poster boy of post-liberalisation India.

However, in key markets like Uttar Pradesh, the firm is now seeing fierce competition from organisations such as the BJP and VHP, who are making strenuous efforts to recapture the market.

Head of Sales for the North Region, said, “Uttar Pradesh saw a year-on-year decrease of 23% in conversions in Q3 2014-2014 in response to competition pressure as well as events like the Muzaffarnagar Riots. Of course, LJI is convinced that we deliver value to our customers, offering a quality product with great after-sales support.  This is why our firm has spread from Kerala to UP. This competition pressure is temporary and given our organised presence in the region, it’s only a matter of time before our conversion figures bounce back to 2007-08 levels.”

Despite that, most analysts remained more concerned about slowing conversion numbers, with one asking the CEO on the conference call whether LJI is a growth company anymore.

“When our firm first entered the market, we were scoffed at. Our business model of using a shadowy, pan-India organisation to effect large-scale conversions by tricking women into falling in love with our representatives was ridiculed as being absurd: the product of a fevered, delusional mind. However, the fact the other organisations have now bought into our model vindicates us,” said the CEO.

“I believe in Love Jihad Inc and our business model. Competition does not scare me. It might affect this quarter’s results but by making the pie larger, this is in fact good for the Religious Hysteria Industry as a whole and, by extension, for LJI. The BJP is befitting from it now and good for them. Whoever can offer more value to the customer and a better Religious Hysteria experience, they will capture the market. Let the best bigot win, I always say,” said the CEO, signing off from the call.

Note 1: This is, of course, satire.

Note 2: Inspired, in the Anu Malikian tradition, from this Onion piece

Monday, August 11, 2014

The BJP's bumbling on Taslima Nasreen's visa reflects its broader lack of vision

On secularism, as on much else, the BJP seems to have no overall strategic plan. My piece in today.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Congress Appeasment Has Never Helped Minorities

AK Antony last week decried his party's appeasement of Muslims, but Congress policies have never addressed the genuine needs of the community.

My piece in today.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Why Maharashtra’s Promise of Muslim Reservations is a Pie in the Sky

The Maharashtra government’s attempts at attracting the Muslim vote by promising reservations look rather jaded, especially given how some other states have gone beyond empty words to actually implement Muslim quotas which are working well.

An edited version of this piece was first published on

After 2 months or so of calm, the word “Muslim” is trending in the media again. And that could only mean one thing: it’s election time in India.  Sure enough, the Maharashtra Assembly polls are scheduled later on this year.

Electorally, the ruling Congress-NCP alliance in the state has their backs to their wall, given their brutal drubbing in the recent general elections at the hands of the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. Therefore, the incumbents are flogging the old horse of Muslim reservation as a last ditched attempt to gather the fabled minority vote.  As per the Indian Express, the government has agreed on a 4.5% quota for Maharashtra’s Muslims in government jobs.

In the recent past, the issue of Muslim reservations has been a hot button topic, popping up with clockwork regularity at the time of elections (and then quietly fading away after). For the 2009 general elections, the Congress had the issue in its manifesto. 3 years of inaction followed, after which the Cabinet suddenly decided to act on its promise and provide a 4.5% quota—a decision taken, coincidently, just before the elections were announced for five states including Uttar Pradesh. The Election Commission, however, barred the move and the matter stayed frozen till, you guessed it, the 2014 general elections. There a slew of “secular” parties promised Muslim reservations, including the SP as well as the BSP. Earlier, a desperate Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had also assured a Muslim job quota after more than 3 decades of inaction on that front. The CPI (M), however, was routed in the ensuing Assembly elections, a major cause of defeat being the shift in the Muslim vote to the Trinamool Congress.

This self-serving politics, though, does not negate the fundamental need for ameliorative measures, given just how backward Muslims are. Nationally, the Sachar Committee has found that the position of Muslims as a social group is worse than even that of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. A similar commission for Maharashtra has found that this gap is even wider in the state: Muslims have a poverty rate of 49% as compared to 33% for SC/STs. The state has also seen the highest amount of communal violence since Independence, making the problem of economic development doubly difficult.

Of course, if the Congress-NCP government was serious about Muslim upliftment, it would have utilised its 15 years in office to do something about it, rather than grandstand a few months before the election. Belying the convoluted way a number of parties have approached the issue of Muslim reservations in the recent past, the matter is really not that complex. It is often missed that a powerful mechanism for Muslim reservation already exists under the OBC quota. OBCs, as defined by the Mandal Commission, can include both Hindu as well as non-Hindu castes, as long as they are “socially and educationally” backward. In fact, PS Krishnan, a retired bureaucrat and an expert on the topic of reservations, estimates that almost 80% of Muslims in the country are included in some or the other OBC list.

This mechanism has, consequently, been utilised with great effect by all four southern states where, firstly, a very high proportion of the Muslim population has been included in OBC lists, a figure as high as 90% in Tamil Nadu. Secondly, separate sub-quotas exist in all 4 states for Muslim OBCs specifically, since, given their backwardness, they were unable to compete with other more-developed OBCs. In Karnataka, in fact, the entire Muslim community is included in the state OBC list, a decision upheld by the Karnataka High court in the 1979 Somashekarappa case. As in other forms of backward caste reservation, the results of caste-based Muslim quotas have been seen to be quite positive. An OBC Muslim sub-quota was introduced in Andhra Pradesh in 2010 and within only the first three years of its existence, it has ensured that almost 30,000 backward caste Muslims have entered institutes of higher education.

On the whole, though, the issue of Muslim reservation is one that the country has actually moved backwards on. A Muslim quota in government jobs was first implemented in 1925 by the British government. In Madras Presidency, The Justice Party, a party with a strong anti-Brahmin stance, implemented Muslim reservations in the 1930s, as a result of which Madras State was the first in Free India to have them. Post-independence, though, quotas for Muslim Dalits was scrapped by the Presidential Order of 1950 which disallowed a Muslim from being categorised as a Dalit. The ostensible reason for this was that Islam was an egalitarian religion which did not have a caste system, showing the touching faith the Indian government had in religion over actual empirical data. This faith, though, did not extend to Sikhism, another religion without a formal caste system:  Sikh Dalits can avail of scheduled caste reservations. Moreover, the recommendations of the Kalelkar Commission (1953), which promised OBC reservations, were ignored and Muslims had to wait till the Mandal Commission to see some traction on that front.

Even within that overarching OBC share, it has been seen that without sub-quotas, Muslims are unable to gain any benefit from the measure. This is a problem that has been overcome quite easily and with effective results, by the southern states. If the Congress in Maharashtra was serious about this issue, it should have simply taken a leaf out of, say, Andhra Pradesh’s book and introduced a Muslim sub-quota within its already existing OBC reservation set-up. Dangling it as a carrot, just that bit out of reach, at election time is a move that can be seen through rather easily.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The BJP and the UCC

I have a piece up on which explores why the BJP is so eager for a UCC but strangely silent and even keen on other religion-based laws.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Your Mangoes are Lovely

Stop by the bazaar
And see the carts laden
With plump Alphonsos
Tempting me like sin

Get home and slice one open
Like unwrapping a present
Glistening in the rich orange
My eyes have a lusty tint

Bite into the flesh, yes!
With groans and a spasm
Pleasure washes over me like waves
As I multiple mouth-orgasm

“Oh Lord, yes, yes, yes!”
I acknowledge the God true
But in my thanks, I also include
Our pesticides and the EU