Why is there no woman, dalit, minority or anyone from the South in the Centre’s ‘culture’ committee ?
The disconnect between the people and Parliament has a lot to do with the media not paying attention to meaningful interventions. Tamil writer and Madurai MP by S Venkatesan is a case in point
Are Indians listening?
The media have played a major role in undermining our Parliament. Barring the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV channels, which too are now far more politically tilted than before, neither newspapers nor TV channels amplify the saner and sensible voices within Parliament. With the presiding officers switching the cameras of LSTV and RSTV ‘off ’ and muting members, the message that goes out is seldom comprehensive. And private TV channels, which endlessly take feed from the national broadcaster, LSTV and RSTV to air PM’s speeches, have neither the willingness nor the time to devote an hour every evening to air what MPs actually said.
Social media’s far more limited reach is used by MP’s to circulate what they said. But many of the interventions made in regional languages never reach a national audience because of the indifference of the media.
A short intervention by S. Venkatesan, Tamil author and MP from Madurai, in the Lok Sabha this week was something that every Indian should have heard. It exposed the Government’s limited knowledge and interest in culture and was a scathing criticism of the manner in which it constituted a panel to study Indian culture.
The committee, the MP pointed out, does not have a single member from South India, Northeast India, Minorities, Dalits or Women. All are upper caste Hindu men. It has no linguistic expert from southern classical languages, but has caste organisation heads as members!
“Is there no other civilisation apart from the Vedic? Are there no ancient languages other than Sanskrit? You cannot see the roots that reach deep into the soil by flying overhead in a plane. Likewise, the true culture of this soil cannot be written by people who are placed at the top of the caste hierarchy. So, I submit that this committee be dissolved,” he said.
Pointing out that the ’16-man committee’comprises only of upper caste Hindu men, the MP wondered, “Has this committee been formed only to reject the findings of scholars starting from John Marshall to Suniti Chatterjee down to Iravatam Mahadevan, Tony Joseph and R Balakrishnan & to merely establish the puranas as history?”
Are Indians listening?
Benefit for Bihar?
One of the first things Nitish Kumar did after becoming chief minister of Bihar was to abolish the APMC Act in 2006 and thereby the Mandis. Farmers of Bihar were ‘liberated’ and were free to sell their produce to anyone and anywhere they liked. This is the same that Modi is trying on a national scale. But did Bihari farmers gain? Till recently, many Bihari farmers were pooling in resources to transport rice and wheat to Punjab’s mandis to take advantage of the MPS and procurement by the state. In Bihar, state procurement of rice and wheat as practically stopped. Now before the Bihar election, the Government has ensured that farmers from Bihar will no longer have any incentive to transport grains to Punjab. A masterstroke for some and a catastrophe for others?
Law and legitimacy
The current session of Parliament has undoubtedly been the most productive in recent times. With the opposition boycotting both the Houses, the Government rushed through several far-reaching legislations with no discussion and no debate. As has been noted, as many as seven bills were passed in the Lok Sabha within three hours with no scrutiny and no questions raised. The Government clearly believes the Parliament is a joke or a clearing house at best.
In this mockery of Parliament, bills have been passed to restrict rights of workers, rights which they had wrested after long struggles. It will now be impossible for workers to strike work under any immediate provocation as the law now would require a 60-day notice. Like in the past few years, these bills too are aimed to help capitalists and stifle the poor.
But are the laws legitimate without discussion, debate and parliamentary scrutiny? The President of India and the Supreme Court can and must intervene to stop this farce being played on the people. But will they?
Gurdeep Singh Sodhi