2ndlook

Delhi Gang Rape: A Mirror To Our Society?

Posted in Desert Bloc, Feminist Issues, India, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on December 20, 2012

When societies indulge in hysteria at periodic intervals, they react more and more … and more. And think a whole lot less!

Delhi – The Rape Capital

India anyway the lowest crime rate in the world  |  Sushil Kumar Shinde announces measures to make Delhi safer  by MANJUL dated 12.20.2012

India anyway the lowest crime rate in the world | Sushil Kumar Shinde announces measures to make Delhi safer by MANJUL dated 12.20.2012

Delhi has a population of nearly 1.5 crore, (15 million).

Delhi’s population is more than the population of nearly a 100-countries of the world.

Can deviant behaviour by a couple of hundred people make Delhi the rape capital of India?

Kill … hand … shoot … death … mutiliate

A cartoon on the Lorena Bobbitt case.  Is anti-men attitude valid and justified in India  |  Cartoon by Satish Acharya on December 19, 2012

A cartoon on the infamous Lorena Bobbitt case. Is anti-men attitude valid and justified in India | Cartoon by Satish Acharya on December 19, 2012

If imprisonment can solve the crime problem, USA would not have the world’s largest prison, probation and prosecution numbers.

If executions can solve problems, after 30-years of executions, China would not have a corruption problem.

After 1300-years of cutting hands, legs, heads, fingers, the Islamic world is still not crime-free.

Deviants like these gang-rapists must be dealt with professionally.

Are these gang-rapists worth the anger, vindictiveness, vengefulness?

Have a quick trial – and ensure expedited appeals. Carry out the sentence.

Victim Women; Guilty Men

Is a woman any more a victim than a child? Or a old-couple robbed and murdered? Or a young couple who leave orphan children behind? This musical chairs of crime against children, against women; against the aged guarantees that the subject changes – but not the situation.

Sick Society

Does deviant behaviour by a few hundred people from among crores of people make a society sick? But when large parts of the society go on rampage that is surely a sick society.

International Attention

Why this hankering for ‘international approval’?

Shame … Shame

If a member of your family have cancer, does it the makes your family ashamed? If a few members of the society display deviant behaviour, where is the shame? We just have to deal with it?

Help for the victim

While people are out having candle-light vigils, protests, posters, twitter-campaigns, is anyone trying to do anything for the victim? Without intestines, how will the girl manage her life? How will she manage her future medical bills? Instead of this silly shame, meaningless outrage I did not see anyone working to establish a 25-lakh corpus to take care of this girl!

Respect for Women

Such a silly idea!

And the politics and commerce

What about respect for men? What about respect for elders? What about some respect for children? Any special reason why only women should be respected? What about some respect for our leaders? For our police? For our diplomats? For our public servants?

What do we expect? Four policemen in four direction for each citizen of this country?

When we believe that some one should get more respect, we compensate and automatically respect some people less! Is this the reason why we respect some people less.

What happens when societies indulge in hysteria at periodic intervals? They react more and more … and more.

And think a whole lot less!

British Raj – The Rewards of Collaboration

Posted in British Raj, History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on March 18, 2012

Have we become so forgiving that even ‘collaborators’ with the British Raj are being considered for honor by the Government of India.

The Delhi Durbar of 1911, with King George V and Queen Mary seated upon the dais.  |  Source - Wikipedia

The Delhi Durbar of 1911, with King George V and Queen Mary seated upon the dais. | Source – Wikipedia

Run … you can

In 1911, at the Delhi Durbar, George V announced that the capital of the British Raj would be shifted. Tired of regular killings, assassinations and explosions in Kolkatta, the Raj decided to shift the capital from Kolkatta – to New Delhi.

The very next year, on 23 December 1912, a 17-year old Basanta Kumar Biswas, dressed as a woman, exploded a bomb at Lord Charles Hardinge during the Viceroy’s parade in Delhi.

Cut to today

One hundred years later, the Indian government decided to celebrate the shift of the British Raj capital from Kolkatta to Delhi.

Nine months ago, the Indian Prime-Minister, Manmohan Singh acted on a request by a certain ‘interested’ group for naming a prominent place in New Delhi in memory of Sir Sobha Singh.

The Delhi government proposed to

rename the Capital’s Windsor Place area after Sir Sobha Singh, following a request from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Sobha Singh was a key building contractor in the early to mid 20th Century, and with his father Sujan Singh is credited with landmarks like India Gate and Connaught Place.

Prime Minister Singh wrote to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on June 28, citing a request by a private organisation to rename the area – to mark (Sir Sobha Singh’s) contribution towards building the national capital (and) to mark the 100th anniversary of Delhi being declared the national capital.

The government has since consulted the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) which informed the government that most places and roads in the area have already been named after important people; the only options open were Windsor Place, which falls on the roundabout near Le Meridien Hotel, and South Avenue.

“The places are close to where Sir Sobha Singh’s family lives now, Sujan Singh Park, which is named after his father. We eventually narrowed down on Windsor Place,” the official added.

Sobha Singh and his father Sujan Singh moved to the city as building contractors when the British administration declared Delhi as the national capital, to coincide with the Coronation Durbar that was to be held in December 1911.

The renaming of Windsor Place, however, may not be an easy option, a senior NDMC official said, as the civic agency has in the past rejected proposals to change its name. (via Let’s name Windsor Place after Sir Sobha, PM tells Sheila – Indian Express).

The rehearsal of the state entry: Passing the Jama Masjid from the book 'The historical Record of the Imperial visit to India 1911. Photo: central news agency  | Courtesy - thehindu.com

The rehearsal of the state entry: Passing the Jama Masjid from the book ‘The historical Record of the Imperial visit to India 1911. Photo: central news agencyThe rehearsal of the state entry: Passing the Jama Masjid from the book ‘The historical Record of the Imperial visit to India 1911. Photo: central news agency | Courtesy – thehindu.com

Sir Sobha Singh?

You might ask, who is that.

Sobha Singh’s son explained

You can’t be blamed for not being aware of this because free India’s rulers did nothing to perpetuate their (Sobha Singh’s and his group) memory. Not a single road, bylane or round-about was named after any of them.

Whether the new rulers were from the Congress party or the BJP, they were more concerned with giving credit to their party members than recording the truth. At times it appeared like anti-Sikh communal prejudice. Perish the thought. (via Give the builders of New Delhi their due – Hindustan Times).

The minefield of public memory

This story would have ended with Indian Independence.

But for the fact that Manmohan Singh proposed to honor ‘Sir’ Sobha Singh. That is when the media caught on to this story. A forgotten chapter in Indian history came alive again.

An angry journalist suggested that

the proposed national history mission should visit 7, Race Course Road to tell the Prime Minister the story of the Bhagat Singh trial.

The greatest youth icon of India’s struggle for independence was betrayed by a contractor, Sobha Singh.

In what appears to be false testimony, Sobha Singh identified Bhagat Singh during the trial as the person who threw the bomb down from the visitor’s gallery of the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi. Sobha was not a legislator, nor a journalist, nor an official, and had no business to be there at that very moment.

But this extremely dubious testimony was accepted by the court. And Sobha became the biggest contractor in Delhi and was knighted by the Empire.

Now, Manmohan Singh wants to honour the memory of this man who betrayed the nation’s biggest hero. Singh has asked Sheila Dikshit to rename Windsor Place after Sir Sobha. Hope he doesn’t write to Parkash Singh Badal to get Jalianwala Bagh named after Dyer. (via Teach royals their history : COLUMNS News – India Today).

Some in the media are questioning Manmohan Singh’s ‘integrity’ on this question.

Now we have Sardar Manmohan Singh as prime minister – who sports a light blue turban in honour of ‘Cambridge Blue’ and Sardarji No. 2, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, totally imitates him. Just as Robespierre was the ‘sea green incorruptible’ of the French Revolution, Dr Singh is the ‘light Cambridge Blue incorruptible’ of India in the 21st Century.

Now we have another Sardar, a known toady of the British, being honoured by a government of free India. Does this not leave the ‘light Cambridge Blue incorruptible’ open to a charge of partiality to a particular community, in this case, his own? (via Shadow of British rule seen in every nook of Delhi; text edited for brevity and relevance.).

This Sir Sobha Singh, OBE (1890–1978) is not to be confused with Sir Sobha Singh (1901–1986), a prominent painter whose paintings of the Sikh gurus (and other Punjabi and nationalist) have become famous.

So, who was Sobha Singh – and how was he involved with Bhagat Singh?

Bhagat Singh lives …

The prosecution by British Raj of Bhagat Singh succeeded with evidence from some Indians.

Not that Bhagat Singh ever claimed ‘innocence’.

Sobha Singh was one such collaborator – who simply ‘told the truth’ to the British authorities. Sobha Singh’s son wrote,

Some weeks ago I had written about the builders of New Delhi, naming five of them as the best known. I had complained that not one road or by-lane had been named after any of them. Unknown to me, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to Delhi’s Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit that Windsor Place be named after my father Sobha Singh. This was reported by the media.

It was followed by a storm of protest describing my father as a stooge of the British. I made no protest. But when some papers linked his name with the death sentence passed by the courts, I felt deeply hurt because there is not an iota of truth in the insinuation.

The death sentence on Shahid Bhagat Singh and his companion was passed for the murders of Inspector Saunders and head constable Channan Singh. They had killed the two policemen for having assaulted Lala Lajpat Rai when he was arrested in Lahore. Then they wanted to do something which would give worldwide publicity to India’s freedom movement. They chose to fire shots in the Parliament and then surrender to the police. And so they did. They took their seats in the Visitors’ gallery. So did my father. The debate going on was very boring; so he started reading a newspaper he had brought with him.

His attention was distracted by firing of pistols and explosion of bombs. Others in the visitors’ gallery fled leaving my father and the two revolutionaries. They did not put up any resistance when the police arrested them. My father’s ‘crime’ was to identify the two in court. He told the truth and nothing but the truth. Is telling the truth a crime? (via When telling the truth becomes a crime – Hindustan Times).

Talking of truth, a

noted historian and lawyer – who has various books on freedom struggle and Bhagat Singh to his credit – said the journalist-writer had been unnecessarily attempting to convince people against the facts etched in history. Historian and Bhagat Singh’s relative Waraich contested (this) assertion saying Sobha Singh never spoke the “truth” about the British atrocities.

For not pointing out the unpleasant truth about British atrocities, and wishing to publicly reward this collaboration, Sobha Singh, with his family and relatives, were amply rewarded by the British Raj.

Sobha Singh’s son explains

I had no intention of writing about my father in my own columns. I do so because he has been maligned and implicated in the death sentence passed on Bhagat Singh and Dutt for killing two police officers in Lahore. I repeat, he had nothing to do with these killings. All he did was identify them as the two men who fired pistol shots and hurled bombs in the Parliament when it was in session. However, it does not deter men from maligning him for reasons best known to them. I would like to tell readers what he did for the city in which he spent most of his long life (he lived to be 90) and gave it more than anyone I know. (via Clearing the air on the man who ‘owned’ half the Capital – Hindustan Times).

Built by profiteers from Bhagat Singh's death. Built to perpetuate the memory of the British Raj  |  Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan  |  2010 Dec 29  | The Times Of India Hyderabad  |  Click for image.

Built by profiteers from Bhagat Singh’s death. Built to perpetuate the memory of the British Raj | Cartoonist – Ajit Ninan | 2010 Dec 29 | The Times Of India Hyderabad | Click for image.

In the next less than 20 years, the British rewarded Sobha Singh and his group with prime real estate in New Delhi. The British Raj rained construction contracts in the construction of Lutyen’s New Delhi on this group.

Sobha Singh’s son informs us that Sobha Singh

was the biggest builder of New Delhi and the single largest owner of real estate. It was a pardonable exaggeration when Dilliwalas referred to him as Aadhi Dilli ka Malik – owner of half of Delhi. (via Clearing the air on the man who ‘owned’ half the Capital – Hindustan Times).

This group came to known as aadhi dilli ke maalik. These five sardarjis were derisively called the panj pyaare – as they seemed to get all the contracts from the British Raj.

Sobha Singh’s son explains

It would not be an exaggeration to say that most of New Delhi was built by a coterie of sardar contractors of whom five did the lion’s share of building. In Sikh circles they were known as Panj Pyare – the five beloved after the first five followers of the last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.

The top five builders were Sobha Singh, Basakha Singh, Ranjit Singh, Mohan Singh and Dharam Singh Sethi. The British gave them due credit by inscribing their names on stone slabs. You can see them in the alcoves of South and North Blocks. The South Block has five names starting with my father, Sobha Singh, the North Block has a list of architects and engineers including my father-in-law, Teja Singh Malik, who was the first Indian head of the Central Public Works Department. The British did more.

Before quitting India, they conferred knighthoods on Teja Singh Malik and Sobha Singh. (via Give the builders of New Delhi their due – Hindustan Times).

Sobha Singh's son running down Bhagat Singh - and his memory in the minds of Indian people. |  From the column: punjabi by nature - COCK-A-DOODLE-DO |  By Khuswant Singh  |  Posted on 8 Aug 2010  |  Accessed on 2012-03-18 15-01-22

Sobha Singh’s son running down Bhagat Singh – and his memory in the minds of Indian people. | From the column: punjabi by nature – COCK-A-DOODLE-DO | By Khuswant Singh | Accessed on 2012-03-18 15-01-22Sobha Singh’s son running down Bhagat Singh – and his memory in the minds of Indian people. | From the column: punjabi by nature – COCK-A-DOODLE-DO | By Khuswant Singh | Posted on 8 Aug 2010 | Accessed on 2012-03-18 15-01-22

Sobha Singh’s family

One of Sobha Singh’s son is Brigadier (Retd) Gurbux Singh.

Another is Saran Singh, I.A.S. (Retd.). Former Secretary to Govt. of India & Chief Secretary, Bihar; an ex. adviser to Governor of Assam.

Sobha Singh’s grandson Rahul Singh, was an ex-editor with the Indian edition of Reader’s Digest.

Saif Ali Khan’s ex-wife, Amrita Singh, an Indian film actress, is the great grand daughter of Sir Sobha Singh – daughter of Shivender Singh and Rukhsana Sultana.

Mohinder Kaur was the daughter of Sir Sobha Singh.

And the son, who has been quoted above, was an ex-editor Illustrated Weekly of India, a press assistant to PM JL Nehru, a supporter of Indira Gandhi and Emergency. He is also a writer of some repute. Mostly as a writer of ‘dirty’ sex-jokes.

Khushwant Singh.


Rahul Singh,

Famous Last Words

Posted in British Raj, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on March 11, 2012

Many Indians willingly credit the British Raj with the unification of India. This is a claim worth examining – especially in the backdrop of the War of 1857.

Kashmiri Gate was evidence of the heavy fighting between the British army and the Indian defenders. This was a double gateway to Delhi, built in 1835, on the north wall of Delhi, by a British engineer, it suffered from major assault by British forces. Later this became a major draw for British tourists. In 1858, Delhi was besieged by British, and this gate was the scene of the final assault on Delhi by forces under Brigadier John Nicholson. | Image of Kashmiri Gate from Felice Beato photographs. | Source & courtesy - bbc.co.uk. | Click for larger image.

Kashmiri Gate was evidence of the heavy fighting between the British army and the Indian defenders. This was a double gateway to Delhi, built in 1835, on the north wall of Delhi, by a British engineer, it suffered from major assault by British forces. Later this became a major draw for British tourists. In 1858, Delhi was besieged by British, and this gate was the scene of the final assault on Delhi by forces under Brigadier John Nicholson. | Image of Kashmiri Gate from Felice Beato photographs. | Source & courtesy - bbc.co.uk. | Click for larger image.

Divide … or unite?

There is a modern myth, especially among the English-speaking Indian élite, that the British ‘unified’ India.

This is a little strange, because in the next breath, the same people will also claim that the British could rule over India because of divide et impera – divide-and-rule policy of the British.

The Delhi Bank building wrecked during the Anglo-Indian War of 1857. The Delhi Bank, set up in 1847, owned by the Dyce Sombre family in Delhi, had other local businessmen as shareholders, was housed in this stately building. In May 1857, the manager of the bank, one Beresford, was killed by the rebels during the fighting. British forces took back the bank in September. | Image source & courtesy - bbc.co.uk | Click for larger image.

The Delhi Bank building wrecked during the Anglo-Indian War of 1857. The Delhi Bank, set up in 1847, owned by the Dyce Sombre family in Delhi, had other local businessmen as shareholders, was housed in this stately building. In May 1857, the manager of the bank, one Beresford, was killed by the rebels during the fighting. British forces took back the bank in September. | Image source & courtesy - bbc.co.uk | Click for larger image.

So did the British divide-and-rule over India – or did they unify India.

Or were the British able flip around their policy by 180 degrees, on a regular basis?

A simple question that begs asking is ‘why would the British want to unite India.’

If India was a divided lot?

British legacy

Before making this claim, no one is looking at the British record in other parts of the world.

Starting with their own backyard.

More than two centuries after the annexation of Ireland in 1801, Northern Ireland, a small part of Ireland that Britain occupies, has still not been integrated into the UK. Coming to the Middle East, the British worked hard to break up the moderate Islāmic Ottoman Empire – releasing a global wave of fundamentalist Islam. British record in Cyprus, Malaysia has been equally disastrous.

Or the other British creation, Pakistan, broke into two, within 25 years.

Another angle of Bank of Delhi building. The street fights between Indian warriors with the British colonialists.  |  Image source & courtesy - prophotos-ru.livejournal.com  |  Click for larger image.

Another angle of Bank of Delhi building. The street fights between Indian warriors with the British colonialists. | Image source & courtesy - prophotos-ru.livejournal.com | Click for larger image.

None of the above examples have the complications of language, religion, race that India has. So how did British achieve the singular feat of uniting people who speak hundreds of languages and dialects, dress differently, worship differently, into one nation?

Something that they could or would not do in any other part of the world!

Not British, but Gandhiji

There are others who would claim that it was Gandhiji who did this? Although Gandhiji could and did bring many disparate elements together, it could not have happened, without a pre-existing ‘bias’ among Indians.

Much before Gandhiji was even born, soon after the start of the Anglo-Indian War of 1857, (aka The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857), an American journalist wrote on India.

Army movements and transport in circa 1857. Elephants, camels, oxen, horses, mules, hauling cannon, carts, luggage, people over long distances. Pitched battles were fought - and this was no mutiny.  |  Image source and courtesy - bbc.co.uk  |  Click for image.

Army movements and transport in circa 1857. Elephants, camels, oxen, horses, mules, hauling cannon, carts, luggage, people over long distances. Pitched battles were fought - and this was no mutiny. | Image source and courtesy - bbc.co.uk | Click for image.

We are so accustomed to speak of India as if it constituted one country, and were inhabited by homogeneous people, that it is difficult to understand that not even in Europe are nations to be found more unlike to one another than in British India. In Hindostan and the Deccan there are ten different civilized nations, resembling each other no more than Danes resemble Italians, or Spaniards Poles. They differ in moral, physical, and intellectual conditions, — in modes of thought and in modes of life. This is one of the chief causes of England’s supremacy, just as similar state of things not only promoted the conquests of Rome, but facilitated her rule after they had been made. The Emperors ruled over Syrians, Greeks, Egyptians, and other Eastern peoples, with ease, because they had little in common, and could not combine against their conquerors. (via British India by Charles Creighton Hazewell).

This 'picket' fence could not safeguard the 1000-acre estate of Metcalfe against the local people, who stormed the barricade after the war broke out. | Photographer Felice Beato's Image; Source & courtesy - bbc.co.uk | Click for larger image.

This 'picket' fence could not safeguard the 1000-acre estate of Metcalfe against the local people, who stormed the barricade after the war broke out. | Photographer Felice Beato's Image; Source & courtesy - bbc.co.uk | Click for larger image.

Mutiny that lasted for more than a year

One proof of this unity in India was the 1857 War against Colonial England.

Finally, Britain’s new-found wealth from slavery, piracy, loot from the Spanish Empire, coupled with British brutality against Indians defeated the Indians in 1857.

This ‘mutiny’ lasted for nearly two years, had lakhs of soldiers, moving across the Deccan plateau and the Indo-Gangetic plains. The triangular region, measuring across nearly 2000 km (Nagpur to Dhaka to Rawalpindi) had coördinated troop movements, needed huge volumes of arms and armaments, that had to bought.

This war was fought simultaneously on multiple fronts.

How was the spontaneous Sepoy mutiny coördinated across such a huge geography, for so long, with such a huge cost. The fighting, mainly between 10 May 1857 to the capture of Gwalior (20 June 1858), was an expensive affair, and extended to nearly two years.

While the main theater of war was Deccan plateau and the Indo-Gangetic plains, disturbances spread to Burma, Malaysia, Trinidad.

After the blood on the ground dried, after the dead were buried, and the dust settled, the the iron pillar at Mehrauli in Delhi was still standing.  |  Image source & courtesy - Image source & courtesy - prophotos-ru.livejournal.com | Click for larger image.  |  Click for larger image.

After the blood on the ground dried, after the dead were buried, and the dust settled, the iron pillar at Mehrauli in Delhi was still standing. | Image source & courtesy - Image source & courtesy - prophotos-ru.livejournal.com | Click for larger image. | Click for larger image.

Republic of 65 years

65 years ago, when the British could not no longer stay in India, British apart, there were many Indians who predicted that India will break up – and soon.

65 years later, the Indian republic is the only Republican democracy, apart from USA, to have lasted for more than 50 years without a break down. Though smaller countries like Switzerland, Israel, Singapore, can make a similar claim, they do not generate the same challenges to create a historic landmark.

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