Word war

Fact check: Modi distorted Mani Shankar Aiyar’s words to make ‘Aurangzeb Raj’ jibe at Congress

It is clear from Aiyar’s full statement that he did not compare the Congress to the Mughals while talking about the party’s presidential election.

At an election rally in Dharampur in Gujarat on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to a statement by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in which he claimed Aiyar had compared the Congress to the Mughal dynasty. Quoting Aiyer, the prime minister said, “… Shriman Mani Shankar Aiyar e aaje kahyu chhe, ke Jahangir ki jagah jab Shahjahan aaye, kya tab election hua tha? Jab Shahjahan ki jagah par Aurangzeb aye, tab kya koi election hua tha? Yeh to pehli se hi pata tha, ki jo badshah hai uski aulad ko hi satta milegi. Iska matlab ye hua ki Congress ke varisht neta yeh khud mante hai ki Congress party, ye party nahin hai, kunba hai, aur unka kisi ka satta ka matlab pe aane ka matlab hai, ki badshah ki aulad ka bethna. Yeh Aurganzeb raj, unko mubarak.”

(“Mani Shankar Aiyar has said, ‘When Shahjahan took the place of Jahangir, was any election held then? When Aurangzeb succeeded Shahjahan, was any election held then? This was always known, that the heir to the emperor will inherit power.’ This means that eminent leaders of the Congress themselves admit the Congress, it is not a party but a family and for them to come to power means to coronate the emperor’s heir. I congratulate the Congress on Aurangzeb Raj.”)

Modi was referring to a sound byte given by Aiyar to news channel ABP News on the nomination process for the election to the post of Congress president. (Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination on Monday and is set to be elected unopposed.) The Bharatiya Janata Party’s information technology cell head Amit Malviya tweeted this video with the text “Mani Shankar Aiyar does it again! Compares Congress rule with Mughal Raj”.

So, did Aiyar compare the presidential election within the Congress to Mughal succession? Watch the full video of what he said here:

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Ek to, jab Jahangir ke jagah Shahjahaan aaye, tab koi election hua? Jab Shahjahaan ke jagah Aurganzaeb aaye, tab koi election hua? Nai. Pehle se pata tha, ki jo bhi badshaah hai, unke aulaad jo hai, woh hi banenge, woh bhi banenge, aapas mein lade to alag baat hai. Lekin, democracy mein chunaav hota hai, aur Shehzaad Punawala ko amantran mein de raha hoon, ki aapko yahaan aake khada hona ho to aap pahonch jaiye, application dijiye, aapne kabhi Shehzad Poonawala ka naam pehle kabhi suna tha?

(“When Shahjahan took the place of Jahangir, was any election held then? When Aurangzeb succeeded Shahjahan, was any election held then? This was always known that the heir to the emperor will inherit power, although it is another matter if the successors fight among themselves. But, in a democracy, elections are held. I invite [Congress functionary] Shehzad Poonawala to come and file an application to contest the election.”)

It is clear from the video that Aiyar did not draw a parallel between the Mughals and the Congress. However, that did not prevent prominent BJP functionaries from tweeting this incomplete video.

While Aiyar is known to have made some controversial statements in the past, including the infamous chaiwala remark, this is a definite instance of an incomplete statement being quoted out of context for political motives. Aiyar’s statement highlighting the difference between the party’s presidential election and dynastic rule under the Mughals was mischievously clipped and given credence to by none other than the prime minister. The Congress leader’s line that the process of electing the party president is democratic was conveniently glossed over to suit a particular narrative.

This article first appeared on Alt News.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

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As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.