Monday, October 24, 2016

The Rs 5-cr hafta - Editorial - The Indian Express, Mumbai | Comments by Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

My comments on The Indian Express Editorial: The 5-Crore Hafta:

GMGhulam Muhammed
Indian Express Editorial had taken a very narrow and very nearsighted moral view of the settlement negotiated by BJP's Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis between Film producer Karan Johar and the supposed non-state actor Raj Thackeray. That kind of 'illegal' and 'immoral' exchange has been going on in Maharashtra, nay even all over the world, for times immemorial. The real justification for the exchange of such hafta is the avoidance of bloodshed. One would think, if BJP will be prepared to enter into some such arrangement with Pakistan itself over Kashmir, to avoid bloodshed. After all Kashmir and even other piece of populated land had been bought and sold by other entities, without the transaction being judged on moral ground. What price Kashmir? who will be the highest bidder, India or Pakistan. Will the people of Kashmir become a bidder? All this could be an interesting area of conjecture, in case India wants to abide by its true spirit of non-violence and keep peace.
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GMGhulam Muhammed
Shamsul has unnecessarily brought in Saudia and Islam for legalizing peace terms that had historically avoided wars and bloodshed all over the world, throughout history. India and its Brahmins are not spiritually and morally geared for military engagements. Modi will be working against the very spirit of accommodation and peace if he and his group thrust a billion people of India into any military confrontation, either on its own volition or as proxy of other forces. Fadnavis has open a new mode of exchange in full public gaze. It appears horrendous, but it can be evaluated in wider perspective to take sting out of our tortured lives that we are going through under the new rule.
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The Indian Express

The Rs 5-cr hafta

That’s what India’s soft power was reduced to: A bargain between the extortionist and the artist with state as facilitator.

By: Editorial | Published:October 25, 2016 12:04 am
When Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis invited Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Karan Johar and other representatives of the film industry to his official residence on Saturday to broker a truce — after the MNS threatened to disrupt the showing of Johar’s film Ae dil hai mushkil starring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan — he diminished the fundamental pact between the citizen and the state. The “solution” arrived at, payment of Rs 5 crore by the filmmaker to an army fund, resembles the hafta given to assuage the local bully who has already intimidated the policeman. That there should be a price tag to law and order, that a filmmaker should have to pay money to ensure a violence-free passage of a film, speaks of the times we live in when nationalism is becoming a cover for an everyday assault on civility and freedom by assorted non-state actors. But most of all, it speaks of the stark abdication by the chief minister and his government of its responsibility to ensure and protect the rule of law.
But there was more than one cave-in in last week’s meeting in Mumbai. Karan Johar and other industry seniors had an opportunity — to take the moral high ground, to stand up to the bully, and to show up the cravenness of their government by refusing to compromise with the freedom of speech and expression. They failed, but what was far worse, they didn’t even put up a fight. Far from defending the liberty to make the film they want, with the actors they choose, Johar and Co. have let the MNS frame the issue as one that involves nationalism and patriotism. They did not point out the obvious: That the campaign of threat and blackmail, MNS-style, is not about anybody’s love for the nation. That it is, in fact, about the danger posed by the politics of hate and insularity to creative freedoms. The Fadnavis-led BJP may arguably have acted on the political calculation that propping up the MNS and legitimising its politics would help it undermine the Shiv Sena, which is becoming a competitive, troublesome ally. The film producers may have felt pressured by the large sum of money and the several livelihoods that ride on a film as big as Johar’s. But in the end, for their own reasons, both the chief minister and the film producer have let Raj Thackeray and his goons seize the canvas and stunt the frame.
Tragically, the Mumbai drama was devoid of any high principle, it was only about the tawdry terms of a monetary transaction, at a time when it could have been about Mumbai reminding the nation of the real power of the idea of India. It gets reaffirmed, and becomes larger, when artists from other countries, including and especially from Pakistan, flock to it, to work and to make it their home. That idea of India is made up of the promise of a system more open and free, institutions more rule-bound, and a society more liberal and tolerant of diverse ideas, minorities and dissent. It took a blow in Mumbai on Saturday.

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