Category Archives: South Asia Bulletin

From The Indian Express
We the people

Babri demolition, 1992, involves us all. It was an attack on idea and promise enshrined in India’s Constitution.

Babri Masjid demolition, Babri masjid case, Prakash karat,“I was part of the political leadership that could see that concerted attempts were being made to pose a challenge to the “secular consensus” by the BJP.”

From the vantage point of the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, I can only marvel at the gargantuan shift in the fundamentals of the nation. Beginning from somewhere in the middle 1980s, I have seen the striking change in political developments significantly altering the spirit and the structures on which Indian nationalism had been founded. The political conjuncture of the years, 1989-92, constitutes a moment of rupture in contemporary Indian history. At one end, it saw the complete collapse of the “consensus” which was considered to be enshrined in secularism, socialism and a plural democratic polity.

And on the other end, we saw the triumphant rise of a Hindu right which has culminated as the most dominant force in the political discourse of present-day India. Beginning in the late 1980s, Indian politics has seen the sudden rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ascendance of a Hindu nationalist ideology. Moving from two to 85 parliamentary seats between 1984 and 1989, the Hindu right-wing party was catapulted onto the national political map, where it remained as the ruling party at the national level until May 2004. In a majority since 2014, it has posed the most comprehensive challenge to the secular-socialist fabric in India’s post-Independence history.

I was part of the political leadership that could see that concerted attempts were being made to pose a challenge to the “secular consensus” by the BJP and its ideological affiliates from the Sangh Parivar. I distinctly remember that in the National Integration Council meeting held days before the unfortunate demolition, L.K. Advaniji had assured the members that nothing shall happen to the mosque. In view of the massive communal-sectarian mobilisation all over north and western India, some of us had no reason to believe his words. In fact, we urged the Central government to send the army to Ayodhya-Faizabad. However, the then Central government apparently went by the assurance of BJP veterans and thus a 400 year-old mosque was demolished 25 years ago in 1992.

This event also initiated a new phase of sectarian violence and the targeting of the minorities, especially Muslims, in several cities across India. As the then chief minister of Bihar, I knew my priorities, and the combined strength of the people, administration and political will made sure that no episode of violence was reported in the state. However, the demolition constituted the first event that unequivocally conveyed that it was not simply an onslaught on a mosque but on the very idea of the rule of law upheld by a republican constitution.

In order to have a comprehensive understanding of why the Sangh Parivar and its outfits decided to go for mass mobilisation in the name of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, we need to look at August 1990 as the watershed moment for the backward and vulnerable sections of Indian society. The implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990, providing for affirmative action for OBCs and the violent battles fought around the same, aimed at permanently altering the narrative of Indian politics. We could see the consolidation around this event, and a wide range of political parties articulating the concerns of Dalits and backward castes emerged as significant players in Indian politics. The assertion of backward classes rattled the Sangh Parivar which took inspiration from the exclusivist Manuvadi paradigm of M.S. Golwalkar conveyed through his book Bunch of Thoughts.

They knew at the core of their hearts that the subaltern consolidation across India in the wake of the Mandal commission’s implementation shall provide them with no space in the political arena. Thus, orchestrated campaigns like the shila pujan were a desperate attempt to counter the challenge posed by the awakening of the poor and the downtrodden. The mobilisation had nothing to do with Lord Ram, the Maryada Purushottam, but was meant to thwart the consolidation of the backward classes post-Mandal and stay relevant in politics by mixing faith with politics. They were partially successful when, following the destruction of the Babri mosque (1992), the Bombay riots (1993) and the establishment of a BJP-led coalition government (1998) soon followed.

However, India in 2017, after two decades and-a-half appears significantly changed from the India of 1992. During the ‘90s, we saw that the majoritarian mobilisation stood in strong contrast to the democratic churning of diverse, erstwhile marginalised groups on the political map. It was also observed that extremist forces, despite their capacity to wreck the social equilibrium on emotive issues, remained peripheral to India’s basic socio-political fabric firmly grounded on a well-entrenched pluralistic ethos. Though the 1992 Babri masjid demolition was illustrative of attempts to divide Indians on a singular identity, that is, religion, the political forces that spearheaded the campaign for Hindu consolidation remained peripheral in India, which was reflected in the loss of the BJP in the 2004 general elections and the subsequent victory of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2009.

What is most worrying about present-day India is that there is a marked shift in the political discourse, where there is not only greater acceptability of the idea of a “majoritarian homogenous cultural nationhood” but also the relegation of minorities and other vulnerable groups to the status of “non-citizens”. The brazen forms of majoritarian violence being unleashed on the people and communities on the margins through mob lynchings, cow vigilantism and religious assertions by the majority, are reflective of the transition India has undergone from the 1990s to the post-2014 political landscape.

This transition is also reflected in the political discourse. The entire discussion over the demolition of the Babri masjid has been repositioned as merely a dispute between two communities and a title suit over the land where the Babri masjid once stood. As somebody who has lived through these turbulent phases of history, I believe we must not hyphenate the Babri masjid demolition with Muslims alone. It was an attack on the very idea of “We the people”, the opening lines of our Preamble.

We are standing at a juncture in Indian democracy that might head towards the severe erosion of its pluralist character if we do not re-build a consensus all over again — that differences in opinion, faith, values, beliefs, and attitudes have to be accommodated and appreciated rather than suppressed. Twenty-five years later, the demolished medieval mosque seeks an answer from all of us: Will the India of Bapu’s dreams remain, or will it succumb to pressures from the ideology that assassinated him?

The writer is national president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and former chief minister of Bihar.

 

Ambedkar’s search for liberty, equality and fraternity

The house on Primrose Hill
Ananya Vajpeyi OCTOBER 13, 2017

AMBEDKAR

13THAMBEDKAR
The search for freedom can take many forms that need not be overtly ‘political’. | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou
Underlying Ambedkar’s crusade to annihilate caste was a fundamental desire for freedom

On October 14, 1956, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism during a massive public ceremony held in Nagpur, at a place thereafter named Deeksha Bhoomi. He took Buddhist vows in order to reject his Hindu birth at the very bottom of the caste order, and because, as he declared: “I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.” More than 400,000 people, most of them born Dalit, underwent the conversion, along with him, on that historic day 61 years ago.

The blue plaque
In the London borough of Camden, on Primrose Hill, No. 10 King Henry’s Street is a townhouse that bears a round blue plaque, announcing its historical significance: “Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, 1891-1956, Indian crusader for social justice, lived here 1921-22”. On an evening in late September as I stood on the sidewalk looking at the building – bought by the government of Maharashtra in 2015, but yet to be opened to the public as a museum – I thought about what that house represented.

Ambedkar lived there as a boarder during his final years as a graduate student. He was over 30, married since he was 17, with a young wife and a small son back home in Bombay. He and his wife had lost two children in infancy. He had resigned his position as the Military Secretary to the Maharaja of Baroda, breaking a bond of 10 years of service in exchange for a scholarship to study abroad from 1913 to 1917. This displeased both the Baroda Maharaja as well as other powerful persons in Bombay, but Ambedkar was determined to complete his studies overseas, even at his own expense.

From 1918 to 1920 he taught political economy at Sydenham College, and saved money to return to England. He was now racing to complete a doctorate at the London School of Economics — his second PhD after the one he got at Columbia University in New York — as well as a law degree at Gray’s Inn, London, before he ran out of time and funds.

According to his biographer Dhananjay Keer, Ambedkar lived a frugal, penurious life in those years, braving hunger, poverty and loneliness to gain extraordinary educational qualifications. He read voraciously from morning to night at the British Museum Library, the India Office Library and the University of London Library. He was forced to borrow money from his Parsi friend Naval Bhathena. After he had earned his American and British degrees, he proceeded to Bonn, in Germany, to study even further. Only when he had exhausted his savings in 1923 did he head back to India, where his double career in law and politics began in earnest.

The thought of the hardship that Ambedkar withstood to equip himself with impressive academic titles brought me back to the very same house again the next morning. It struck me that the house memorialises not just another passage in Ambedkar’s early life, but rather, his profound desire for freedom. He wanted freedom from caste, from humiliation, from racism, from colonialism — from every kind of discrimination whether in India, America or England, that he had experienced throughout his life.

Knowledge sets you free
“Sa vidya ya vimuktaye,” runs an ancient Sanskrit verse fragment that Indian schools and universities sometimes use as their motto – “whatever liberates, that is knowledge”. I have always understood Ambedkar’s revolt against caste as a quest for equality and justice. I perceived his drive to become more educated than his privileged, upper caste, nationalist elite contemporaries as an effort to overcome the stigma of his ‘untouchable’ birth. But for the first time I saw that underlying his crusade to annihilate caste, including through hard-won personal achievements, was a fundamental desire for freedom.

The search for freedom can take many forms that need not be overtly ‘political’. In a piece in The New York Times on September 15, the Arab writer Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee at Guantánamo, describes how prisoners longed to catch a glimpse of the sea all around them, that they were debarred from seeing. Adayfi’s essay is moving in how it conveys the human longing for freedom, which seems to run even deeper than our cultural identities and political circumstances, to be hardwired into our very souls.

After years of denying prisoners the sight of the sea, camp authorities took down the barriers for fear of a hurricane approaching Cuba. For a few precious days, there was an eruption of art, poetry and creative expression among the inmates. On seeing the reactions of his fellow prisoners, many of them Afghans who had never seen the sea, Adayfi understood that “the sea means freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone. Each of us found a way to escape to the sea.”

Freedom song
Closer home, the Tamil novelist Perumal Murugan, hounded by right-wing critics for writing about his own Gounder community, has penned a number of poems. Some of these are addressed to the local deity, Madhorubagan (Ardhanaarishwara, a half-male, half-female fusion of Shiva and Parvati). Others are themed on the five elements (pancha-bhuta) as also the landscapes, flora and fauna of his native Kongu Nadu, a part of the broader Tamil region. His use of the dialect of this area heightens the authentic flavour of his poetry. The palm tree (Palmyra or Toddy Palm, panai maram in Tamil) is for him emblematic of home and roots.

In a decision revealing a keen and canny aesthetic imagination, Murugan has gifted his poems to the Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna, who has been tuning and releasing them of late. The singer gives a voice to his writer friend who has had to endure censorship and intimidation to the extent of committing “authorial suicide” for a period of time.

Together they protest the repeated attack on the freedom of expression — the deadly threat that took the life of Gauri Lankesh. Krishna’s gesture of solidarity beautifully breaks the silence, amplifying Murugan’s call for free speech and his assertion of the right to dissent in a democracy.

In the course of an on-going engagement with Krishna’s music and ideas, I have been following Murugan’s poetry in translation. His viruttams (shlokas in Tamil) express anguish to his beloved deity Madhorubagan, asking for protection and acceptance. His kirtanas to the elements celebrate the very land and language that have inspired and nurtured him. He takes comfort in nature and verse as he experiences alienation and injustice from his fellow caste-members and their bellicose backers in the Hindu Right.

One of Murugan’s most vivid compositions is a kirtana to the wind, “Kaatru”. Krishna has set this to the winged raga Nalinakaanti, conveying the swift, airborne quality of the subject. The poem is about the unbridled force of the wind, that can never be tamed or controlled, that goes where it pleases, touches whom it likes, wipes away boundaries and divisions, tears down walls and obstructions, and sweeps across the earth unimpeded. Murugan’s words, carried aloft on Krishna’s tune, make the wind a metaphor for the freedom that is denied to him as a writer in an illiberal dispensation.

The wind is nothing other than life’s breath – without breath, as without freedom, there is only death. “You are a being of untold freedom,” writes Murugan, sings Krishna. The yearning of the censored and banned artist Perumal Murugan – of every person whose freedom is snatched away, regardless of her story or situation – flows perfectly in Krishna’s voice, imbued with his special note of compassion. You can hear the unmistakable timbre of empathy that Krishna brings to bear on art and politics alike.

Like knowledge for Ambedkar, like the sea for Adayfi, like the wind for Murugan, the longing for freedom is synonymous with our very existence as feeling, thinking human beings. We must seek that freedom, and to survive, we must find it, whatever the impediments in our path. To deny us freedom is to deny us life. At the house on Primrose Hill, I could see through the window a banner hanging inside. It carried Ambedkar’s declaration explaining why he chose Buddhism over Hinduism: “I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.” Freedom is first on his list.

Ananya Vajpeyi is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University
Copyright© 2017, The Hindu

Attack on students at BHU

 

We the women students of Banaras Hindu University

We are asking for basic freedoms. We demand institutional reform.

Written by Neha Yadav | Updated: October 2, 2017 8:18 am

bhu, bhu students protest, bhu vc, Banaras Hindu University, bhu women safety, bhu sexual harassment, Sir Sunderlal Hospital, bhu vc G C Tripathi, o p upadhyay, BHU news, Latest news, indian expressOutside Banaras Hindu University. (Express Photo by Anand Singh/File)

A century after it was established, Banaras Hindu University is in the midst of a turmoil quite unique to its history. The reason for the current outrage cannot be simply understood through an instance of “eve teasing”. Instead, the ferment is a culmination of decades of festering resentment.

Governments came and went in the past, but the dominant ideology of “manuvaad” was never challenged on a campus where free thought and women’s rights were trampled upon. It was anger against this continued culture of suppression that was transformed into a massive march on the streets of Varanasi.

The idea was simple — students will organise a peaceful march to the office of the vice-chancellor and present their legitimate demands to the concerned authorities. At least that was the intention. The unprovoked and unilateral lathi charge on students and accompanying faculty members took us all by surprise.

The disproportionate response by the university authorities also shows why the outrage on the BHU campus goes much beyond the purported incident of sexual harassment. Authorities recognise that students are out on the streets to undo decades of attempts to stifle new, different, modern ideas. The energy on the streets bears witness to how long these ideas have been held captive at BHU, through intimidation and coercion. Students have been reminded to maintain order and discipline in times of interviews and threatened with summary expulsion. Let us not underestimate the force of the rage that it takes for students to come out and protest in the face of such repression. Any hope that the recent public attention would put an end to such practices in BHU remains yet unfulfilled.

The aakrosh (anger) goes wider. Only days before the incident, news began to trickle in that officials were exercising their discretion — a short-hand for their caste prejudices — in making appointments to the new vacancies that had come up on campus. No due diligence was followed in making such appointments and when students belonging to the depressed classes decided to voice their anguish at such practices, they were slapped with threats of expulsion. Students remained undeterred by such intimidation and continued their protests for two months and not only questioned the unconstitutional methods deployed for campus appointments but also included demands for longer opening hours for the university library.

The list of campus injustices is much longer. Take, for instance, deans of the zoology and arts departments and professors in the medical and geography departments who have been accused of harassment/molestation. O.P. Upadhyay, acting superintendent of Sir Sundarlal Hospital MS has been indicted for sexual assault. These men apparently enjoy impunity. Excesses have been committed over the past year and with no legitimate avenue to voice their concerns, students in these departments were silent up until this point.

Discriminatory practices on gendered lines are routine in BHU. Women students are not allowed to eat non-vegetarian food in their mess. They are not allowed to use mobile phones after 10 pm. Access to the internet in hostels has been strictly prohibited. They are told short dresses are against university customs. But do such customs apply to the male students on campus? Of course not. There are curfews in the main campus which apply only to female students. Women students are told that the campus is unsafe for them after 10 pm — are these looming threats on campus uninterested in male students? When female students complain against the quality of food and hygiene why does the VC ignore such legitimate concerns?

Students unions on causes are supposed to voice our concerns, be our representatives to ensure an environment of mutual cooperation. But what is to be expected from a VC who is more concerned with being noticed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi than with the students whose lives he has been entrusted with? A VC who has no time for a vibrant students’ union for fear of inviting the ire of the powers-that-be.

Students’ unions often get bad press — we are told students should study, not do politics. But what does doing politics really mean? On a campus where research scholars are not awarded their full HRA or there are deliberate delays in sanctioning UGC-mandated hostel facilities to research students, would highlighting such misdeeds be considered “political”? On a campus where the VC denies us our scholarships by charging that this money is funnelled to finance the dowry for women scholars, is it not our responsibility to be political?

The attack on students is yet to be registered by the local police; we have been forced to add another demand — that an immediate FIR is registered against the culprits. But then, what assurance can we expect from an extremely compliant police force. Only recently, a student was dragged out of the lecture hall in the presence of a professor and beaten up mercilessly in his hostel room. The police have refused to file a FIR against the goons who did this. Campus security, indeed!

And what about campus lighting and CCTV? Where does all the money for infrastructural development go? How do campus audits repeatedly fail to register the crumbling facilities in the science labs where students have been working and “trained” in the absence of the most basic apparatus? The discrimination on campus can be ended by acknowledging, first, how these prejudices have been engendered in quotidian practices.

The point is not merely to remove the existing VC, who must be asked to leave, but to undertake an institutional overhaul. We are asking for basic things — that the charter and constitution of the university is implemented in letter and spirit, that women are made safe on campus, not made its captive, and their voices are emboldened through a representative, functional and democratically elected students’ union.

The writer, 23, is an MSc student at Banaras Hindu University. The article was translated from Hindi by Aakash Joshi
Indian Express, October 2, 2017

 

Letter to the President of India from Admiral L Ramdas (Retd.)

Admiral L Ramdas (retd)

PVSM AVSM VrC VSM

Former Chief of the Naval Staff

Gaurav Puraskar

Magsaysay Awardee for Peace

LARA-‐RAMU FARM

Village Bhaimala

P.O.Kamarle.

Alibag,402209

Maharashtra

Tel

02141-°©‐248711/

248733

Mob

9860170960/

9422383930

lramdas@gmail.com

29 July 2017

Honorable President Shri Ram Nath Kovindji,

Let me at the outset congratulate you on assuming office as the 14th

President of the Republic of India.

The Armed Forces of India – of whom you are the Supreme Commander,

have a different and special relationship with their President and I was

especially struck by your unambiguous reference to the fact that it is

your duty to “protect the Constitution and uphold its values.”

Yes, you are now every Indian’s President, and I deeply appreciate that

you have pledged to work for the oppressed and downtrodden. In your

acceptance speech you spoke of your own experience of poverty and

exclusion and have pointed out that it was your commitment to the spirit

of service, in the great traditions of our country that has brought you

from your village of Paraunkh, to Rashtrapathi Bhavan in the capital.

You have also stated that “my election to the post of President reflects

the greatness of Indian democracy”, and stressed that you will “serve

the Nation in the spirit of ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah’ (May all be

happy)”.

Like you, we in the armed forces too are also sworn to defend our

Country and also to protect and defend the Constitution of India. And it

is on this important aspect sir, that I, as one of the senior most retired

servicemen in the country, would like to share some of my thoughts and

concerns with my Supreme Commander today.

I am proud to have served my country for nearly 45 years in uniform. I

retired as the Chief of the Naval Staff on 30 September 1993, after

joining the first course of the Joint Services Wing – the forerunner to

todays NDA. I too come from a humble background – my grandfather was

a village postman in the small South Indian town of Palghat, and our

family joined many of those who migrated from a rural area to then

Madras- and eventually to Bombay and finally to Delhi. It was also there

I was personally witness to the terrible violence and savagery of

partition and proud to also see men like my father, shelter his good

friend Ghulam Mohammed and his family in our home – telling the mobs

baying for his blood that they would have to kill him first. These were

the formative years as I grew up – a child of Independence.

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In many ways, my life in the service parallels our trajectory since

Independence. The compelling reason that attracted many of us to join

the services in those days was the powerful motivation that we would be

laying the foundation and helping to build this new, free and

independent country.

Although the country has achieved a lot and made progress in certain

areas, in many others we have remained backward, and stuck in our age

old blind beliefs, regressive social mores, and in recent times have

allowed the forces of religious hyper nationalism to endanger the

fundamental constitutional provisions and promises of a tolerant,

equitable nation where there would be dignity for all and freedom of

thought, speech and expression. I fear our Constitution is under attack

and faces grave threats from the forces that have been let loose.

Sir, we in the Defence Forces are a microcosm of India. We have people

of all faiths, denominations, castes and creed to make up our very

professional military force. We work as a team, do not discriminate or

shower largesse on any one class, caste or community, and in the Navy

especially, believe in the age old saying that “We swim or sink

together”. The emphasis in the Services has always been on

inclusiveness and camaraderie.

Alas these values and traditions, built and nurtured over nearly seven

decades, are today threatened as never before.

The increased intolerance at all levels, the shocking assault and

treatment of our minority communities – especially Muslims, the growing

tendency to take the law into their own hands by lynch mobs and Gau

Rakshaks – and the continuing impunity with which your own community,

Dalits, as also OBCs, Adivasis and women, are targets of physical,

sexual and verbal abuse and attacks brings no credit to our proud

heritage and tradition.

The age old principles of dignity and respect for all, have almost totally

given way to a barely concealed right to those with money and power to

do as they will – and corruption in all these many forms has increased

across the board.

While in uniform we are governed by our respective Army, Navy and

Airforce acts to which Servicemen have to conform. One foregoes the

Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution. However this is not

so with retired personnel who revert to their primary role as citizens.

Sir, I feel it is important to point out that during my nearly 25 years in

retirement I have engaged with a large number of issues and struggles

of the people of this land. I was part of a seven year long struggle to

save farmers including myself,being evicted thanks to SEZ; Muslims,

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Dalits and Adivasis targeted as either terrorists, anti nationals or

Maoists; the indiscriminate application of Armed Forces Special Powers

Act (AFSPA) and the trampling of all norms to protect environment. To

add to all of these has been the increasing use, by this and earlier

regimes, to be quick to use the allegation of sedition and label people,

incuding myself, as anti-national merely for expressing dissent or a

point of view which is different from the mainstream – be it on nuclear

matters,or promoting dialogue for peace with our neighbours, including

Pakistan. I have on several occasions pointed out that the hydra headed

monster of religious intolerance is causing permanent damage to our

plural, syncretic and secular democracy.

Last week I watched with deep distress a dalit woman and Bezwada

Wilson, a recent Magsaysay award winner like me, spoke of the

continued indignity of their lives as manual scavengers. And every day

we are reading and hearing of unwarranted attacks on our Muslim and

even Christian minority. It would be tragic if we allowed all the

struggles of our freedom fighters to undertake this unique task of

building a secular, plural and rainbow nation of faiths, creeds,

communities, languages and gender, to end up in an un-democratic,

intolerant, Hindu Rashtra kind of structure, when our neighbours are

striding in the opposite direction – be it Bangla Desh, Nepal or Sri

Lanka.

India has always followed the path and shown the way towards non

violence and tolerance – essential pre-conditions for Peace in our

region. People still speak of our contribution to the dynamic idea of

Panch Shila . We are looking to you Sir to use this historic mandate and

extraordinary opportunity of being the second Dalit to occupy the

highest office in the land, to steer this nation away from the narrow path

of violent hyper nationalism towards the concept of Dharma and

Righteousness in the grand tradition of all our Saints, Sufis and Gurus.

I believe that the President and Supreme Commander is in a unique

position to wield his power and authority wisely and creatively.

As the Supreme Commander and President – you have it in your hands to

outline and chart a totally new direction for our people and to advise the

Prime Minister and his cabinet accordingly. You have only to call on the

millions of foot soldiers, the women and the men who are yearning to

see a very different India, to work with you to realise the vision of all

those women and men who have contributed to building our vast and

amazingly rich and plural heritage.

As a former Service Chief, I can confidently say that the spirit of service

and camaraderie and a nationalistic impulse which is tolerant and

inclusive, still obtains in our armed forces. If you show the way and give

the call – believe me our years of discipline because of which we have

honoured the principle of civil control over the military and have never

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veered towards any kind of Military takeover as in our neighbourhood –

we veterans are ready to contribute towards national development in

the best sense of that word. Let us always remember though that civil

authority does not mean civil service or bureaucratic control. As

Supreme Commander you also have the privilege of ensuring that the

genuine demands of the service and ex service men and women are

studied and honoured .

We are inhabiting an India where there is growing discrimination, and

also growing alienation of our youth and unrest in the temples of

learning – our universities. There is also growing fear and insecurity.

And given that our comrades in the armed forces – our sailors, airmen

and jawans – come from villages and towns across the country – they

cannot but be affected deeply by what they are seeing around them.

Their morale and self esteem is constantly under threat. How does a

sergeant in the Air Force feel when his own father, Mohammed Akhlaq is

made a target of utterly irrational mob behavior and killed – merely on

the suspicion of keeping beef in their home?

In the long run this will affect their own professional performance and

therefore our National Security.

I have written several letters over the years to several Presidents, and

Prime Ministers, sharing my thoughts and fears. Some have responded

and some have not. I believe it is not just our right, but our

responsibility as senior citizens who have held the highest positions in

the country, to bring some of our observations and concerns to you and

it is in that spirit that I write this letter.

I look forward to hearing from you Sir- and also to meeting you when I

next travel to Delhi. I have every reason to believe that you will rise to

the occasion as our Supreme Commander and will not fail us in this

critical hour.

With highest regards,

Jai Hind

L.Ramdas

Honorable Shri Ram Nath Kovind

President of India

Rashtrapati Bhavan

NEW DELHI

110011

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