Political Line newsletter by Varghese K George

Political Line | Matters of the heart, and mother tongues

Foreign hands 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Pope Francis in October was interpreted by some as an attempt to boost the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prospects in Goa, where Catholics constitute around one fourth of the population. Another view was that the meeting was a reassurance to the West, where India’s strategic partnerships are growing stronger, but so are concerns regarding religious freedom in the country under Hindutva rule. Both these views have been challenged by developments in recent days. The BJP may be looking at Hindu consolidation in Goa , and might even abandon its past outreach to the Catholics, writes Shoumojit Banerjee.

PM Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis at The Vatican, October 30, 2021

PM Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis at The Vatican, October 30, 2021

 

On Christmas Day, the government discontinued the permission to the Missionaries of Charity founded by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa to receive donations from foreign countries. The move was not viewed kindly by the western media. Government of India has said ‘audit irregularities’ led to the restrictions but MoC has also been accused of religious conversions in the recent past.

Though the Christian community is accused of religious conversions by Hindutva groups and even BJP governments, India’s Christian population grew at the slowest pace of the three largest groups in the most recent census decade — gaining 15.7% between 2001 and 2011, much lower than the national average. Karnataka is the latest State to pass an anti-conversion law , which is ironically labelled religious freedom bill.

In and out of Kerala

Two groups of migrant labourers clashed in a village near Kochi in Kerala on Christmas night, and then both groups turned on the police that arrived to control the situation. Carol revellers from the Northeast were partying hard and late into the night, to which others in the labour camp objected. The camp is shared by people from many States such as West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Bihar and the Northeast.

The incident put the spotlight on the swelling community of migrant labourers in Kerala. Experts have termed the labour inflow into Kerala as ‘replacement migration,’ because large numbers of people leave the State in search of work, in a parallel phenomenon. According to some estimates, migrants workers -- called ‘guest workers’ in Kerala’s political and official parlance— number between two and three million. There are material and social reasons for them to land in Kerala. Higher wages and better social security in terms of state services and communal harmony make the State attractive. Above all, Kerala has as policy a welcoming attitude towards guest workers.

But there are increasing signs of tensions of conflict , among migrants and between them and the natives. Kerala is also witnessing a considerable reverse migration from the Gulf.

‘Don’t come to Bihar if…’

Nitish Kumar during ‘Samaj Sudhar Yatra’ in Gopalganj. File photo

Nitish Kumar during ‘Samaj Sudhar Yatra’ in Gopalganj. File photo

 

“Don’t come to Bihar if you find the (alcohol) ban inconvenient,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said recently, and called for “public shaming” of people flouting the ban. Bihar has the highest net migration rate in the country and a large number of people born in the State now live in other parts of the country. Prohibition has turned out to be politically rewarding for Mr. Kumar and he is keeping the rhetoric high on the topic. 

Federalism Tract

Language and the limits of political boundaries

Political boundaries cannot strictly correspond to languages spoken at a place. Kerala, for instance has a considerable population of Kannada and Tamil speakers. The State’s efforts to provide education in mother tongues , and promote Malayalam, often run into logistical hurdles and political resistance .

The border town of Belagavi, which has been a part of Karnataka since 1956, is tense again . The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), a Marathi outfit formed to seek Belagavi’s inclusion into Maharashtra, is upping the ante.

The State Bank of India was called out by a customer after a branch in Chennai asked her to fill a form in Hindi , a language not widely understood in Tamil Nadu.

A home in Kashmir?

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, left, along with Union Ministers, at the Kashmir Real Estate Summit in Jammu on Monday. PTI -

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, left, along with Union Ministers, at the Kashmir Real Estate Summit in Jammu on Monday. PTI -

 

Jammu and Kashmir will throw open its real estate for “second homes and summer homes” to all citizens of the country, in a major push to attract investments from real estate bigwigs. This further dilutes the restrictions on outsiders buying land in the UT.

The many lives of AFSPA

The Centre has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Nagaland for six more months, only days after it constituted a high-level committee to examine the possibility of its withdrawal.

A Naga holds a placard during a rally in Kohima. File

A Naga holds a placard during a rally in Kohima. File

 

Meanwhile, the Army, which “deeply regretted” the loss of lives in a botched operation in Nagaland, is conducting an inquiry into it .

 

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 9:45:12 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/political-line-bjp-in-goa-modi-meets-pope/article38086127.ece