August 24, 2016
The Big Story: Exclusive BJP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at a closed-door meeting with nearly 400 top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, bringing to an end a 15-day patriotism drive that had been aimed at asserting the party’s ideology across the country. At the meeting, according to various reports, Modi called on his party to continue playing the nationalism card as much as possible, since it is central to the BJP’s ideology.
“Nationalism has been our core identity and our strength,” IANS quoted him as saying. “We have only one goal and that is nation-building,” was the quote in the Telegraph. NDTV reported that Modi called nationalism “the bedrock of our ideology”. And the Indian Express had probably the most telling reference: “Rashtravadi toh hamare saath hain, humein Dalit aur pichchde ko saath lana hai.” The nationalists are with us, we need to bring Dalits and backward groups.
What better way to encapsulate who the BJP means when it speaks about the “nationalists”? Those people are already with the party, Modi says, now they also need to bring in the Dalits and the poor, downtrodden – who are evidently not nationalists. One could read that as just being poor enunciation, as his compatriot Prakash Javadekar was “amused” to be accused of on Tuesday.
Or one could see it as an admission of just whom Modi and the BJP refers to when they constantly harp on nationalism, a message that has been confirmed time and again by the party’s actual approach to Dalits, the poor and minorities. Modi has often been accused of using dog-whistles, like the “pink revolution”, but it’s clear that his party and the Sangh Parivar are sending as coded of a message when it makes it clear who it thinks deserve to consider this country their own.
In case that wasn’t clear enough, Jharkhand Chief Minister and BJP leader Raghubar Das spelled this out a few days ago: “Those who consider India as their country will treat cow as their mother.” Even as it struggles to reach out to Dailts and the downtrodden, those who don’t have a similar reverence for the cow evidently can’t consider India their country.
– National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will no longer be in charge of diplomacy with Pakistan and China, according to the Telegraph, which says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has give then brief to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar instead.
– The Australian reports that more than 22,000 pages of data related to six submarines that a French state-owned company was building for the Indian Navy have been leaked.
– Woman and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi believes paternity leave would “just be a holiday” for the man.
– Home Minister Rajnath Singh is set to visit Jammu and Kashmir again today, but few are expecting much from it or even want to meet him.
– Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking help to deal with the Ganga floods that have led to dozens of deaths.
– A leader in the Hindu calls on the Indian state to ban pellet guns.
– Actor-turned-politician Ramya in the Indian Express says it is important to build enduring bridges with our neighbours, including Pakistan.
– KP Nayar in the Telegraph lauds the government’s efforts to engage with the Levant after a long period of neglect.
Anumeha Yadav writes about the losing battle that thousands of mine workers in Rajasthan are fighting against silicosis.
“My aunt was the first to die,” recalled Rawat. “After that, it was my father, then my uncle. Aur ab main bhi shaant ho gaya. Now it is my turn to die.”
Rawat looks frail for his 30 years, and breathes slowly, with difficulty. Last December, he was diagnosed with silicosis, a fatal respiratory illness caused by inhaling fine silica dust through prolonged exposure in sandstone mines and quarries. While working at the mines, Rawat had unknowingly endangered himself, in the same way that the elders in his family had.
In Rajasthan, in the last four years, 5,307 workers have been identified as suffering from silicosis by government medical boards. Activists say that the actual numbers are higher since many workers are not able to access the boards.