Archive for August, 2009

Reply to ‘No place for extremes in India’s mosaic’

Ashutosh Varshney’s article ‘No place for extremes in the Indian mosaic’ (TOI-30th Aug) has opinioned that political parties with ‘ideological baggage is less likely to survive than pragmatic parties such as the Congress in contemporary India. He seems to be an advocate of the Congress’ ‘unity in diversity strategy which itself is against the nation building which needs to knit political and cultural boundaries together. Perhaps the survival credit extended to the Congress may be because the Congress won two consecutive elections. The Congress has survived under the banner of UPA-1 and UPA- 2. Ashutosh forgets that the same Congress’ pragmatism did not get it electoral seats or a majority to form a government by itself. Under Rajiv Gandhi it was almost washed away and under Sonia Gandhi it had sunk to a new low. So when did this ‘pragmatism’ start and when did it discard its ideological baggage – which it never had? It has a political baggage-consisting of a family centric mindset, a feudalistic outlook and a guilt of minority genocide. The Congress which mobilized the people for Freedom struggle is not the Congress we have today. The people were ready to be mobilized because they were hounded and persecuted by colonial powers and it was easy to give a call to throw away the foreign rule. So the task of mobilisation was easy. But the pauperized people had leaders like Nehru who a Kashmiri Hindu Brahmin by birth, an Englishman by education, and a Muslim by culture. So in him was a personalized ‘melting pot’ to lead the struggle. Unlike Gandhi who as a Bania had to earn a livelihood and realized the woes and struggles of the common Indian people. Both along with other middle class leaders wanted just not a State but a nation state. It is the same idea with which the Muslim leaders also demanded a separate nation state. Freedom and then Partition-whatever and whoever may or may not have been the architects are not the thrust of this write up.
A nation State needs an ideology of nationalism to hold it together especially India with its diversity. A loosely knit fabric cannot withstand the turmoil within and withstand the pressures from without. ‘The USA became a melting pot-it failed –so now US identity was alternately seen as a “bowl of salads”, where all identities remain, but in the same bowl, that is the US. But where is the dressing to cover it all’, asked the dissenters of the ‘Salad Bowl’. The result was Huntington’s WASP-but that failed to click so now it was Lisa Miller who seems to answer that query, “who are we”-she says “we are Hindu”(S.Gurumurthy in his article “Lisa Miller needs to rethink”) Exceptions do not make the rule. Why did the WASP identity fail? According to the Ashutosh it is now France which has become a ‘melting pot”. It is thus with great foresightedness that persons like Sarvekar and Vivekananda called for this boundary cementing-Ashis Nandy in ‘Partition and the Fantasy of a Masculine State’ (TOI 29TH Aug) points out ‘However, a nation state requires a nation and an ideology of nationalism’, He continues this premise by adding, ‘Simple, old fashioned, non ideological patriotism is not enough for it. More so if it is a republican state, led by new insecure, nervous political leaders worried about its diverse ungovernable citizens and psychologically not yet closely linked to the state’. He brings in the relevance of Savarkar, who though being an avowed atheist…. ‘had moved towards the idea of Hindutva, which refined the Hindus as a nation and Hindutva as their national ideology’.
France took a century to make its peasant people French men. India had a different history with its colonizers persecuting and thrusting the colonized into the colonizers’ religion and sapping the inner strength and resources. Thus India was left with an almost languished populace. Its different identities were collaged into a mosaic. Nehru further abetted the divisive identities by bringing in the reorganization of States whereby States were culled out on the basis of language. This is why the Ashutosh finds Indians as Bengali Indian, Tamil Indian, Punjabi Indian and so forth. Had we gone through the melting pot process we would have been molten gold-unified whole! But with each State based on language and not on resources and revenue threw up poor States and rich States-predisposing rift and rivalry. It is this which makes internal strife. For example a nation which cannot link its rivers so that floods can be avoided and water starved States can be replenished with water is not easy. As a Nation we are unable to share this natural resource-Water. The Congress has been unable to implement this inspite of being in power the longest period. So Nehru’s reorganisation of States was a disastrous strategy for nation building. It was not long ago that the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam was a separatist party because it built its cadre and formed its nucleus on the ideology of a separate Dravidanadu. Some of the North East States are toying with such an idea. Kashmir is functioning as though it is a separate nation though its finances are from India
If the Congress mobilized the people in the pre-independence struggle on the call for Freedom now States are pulling on different sides with the demand for separate Statehood and State autonomy. A corollary of this is the proliferation of political parties. No country in the world has this number of political parties as in India. This has led to a weakened Centre. The Congress is in power though it is not the majority party it is not because it has shed its ideology-(because it had no ideology to start with) but as Ashutosh Varshney states because it is pragmatic. He overlooks the fact that the Congress is only leading the UPA a coalition based on yielding to the various logical and illogical demands of its allies. This has been given a terminology as ‘coalition dharma’. This is political pragmatism!
‘Stitching diversity together’ is fundamentally different from what the ideological right or left has sought in India’, asserts the author. But the stitching together the fabric –the tapestry that is India may not be the best method to unify a nation state because the stitches will give way in the long run. India is being pulled at its seams and is giving way…It is here that Hindutva becomes and is relevant. A cultural nationalism is the only strong binding way of a people. Historically India is lagging because of its unfortunate history. If countries are Islamic and countries are Christian- identities based on religion why is it that India cannot have its identify as a Hindu Rastra? This is a pan Indian patriotic nationalism and has nothing to do with a unified god and religion. For Hinduism unlike other Abrahamic faiths do not deny or disrespect other faiths. It is completely wrong for the author to even suggest that the Hindu nationalists (read BJP) have not been able to alter another ideological core; ‘the notion that India is a hindu nation, that Muslims and Christians must abandon their cultural specificities and melt into the Hindu pot” Here Ashutosh is completely wrong and has done a great injustice by not understanding what Hindutva is all about. The author forgets that the Constitution has safeguards for the cultural and educational specificities. No where in the world has minorities enjoyed this unhindered freedom. As an educator he must study what the Minorities status were and are in other countries including the European states and in the US. Hindu religion has neither persecuted nor wagged war nor thrust its religion on others. That is because the Hindu is secular to the core- believes in One God and different paths.’ Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names’. A Hindu believes that there are many paths to God Jesus is one way, the Quran is another’ (S.Gurumurthy) It respects all faiths and this explains why all faiths persecuted in the countries of their birth found India a cradle to nurture and grow. If this is ideological baggage one should say that this cannot be discarded for the sake of power. A nation state must be built on strong foundations-its people must be able to uphold the country and its Constitution at all costs. We cannot substitute secularism for pseudo-secularism-abet casteism, communalism and abet parties based on religion, and camouflage these under ‘secular forces’ does not make them secular. Secularism was hihjacked by the Congress and a phobia was created that Hindutva is a virulent Hinduism which does not tolerate other faiths. This is historically and presently untrue-by facts and the reality.
Casteism is now the base for a number of political parties. So to blame the Hindu nationalist that it defended the caste hierarchical structure is baseless. Today the Scheduled castes among its different sects practices Untouchability! The Christians uphold the caste hierarchy. In Tamilnadu the Vanniyars oppress and discriminate the Scheduled castes. A person cannot have divided loyalties. Is there a country wherein people are governed by different laws? Pragmatism of the Congress has operationalised into an appeasement policy-for the sake of votes-It certainly has a survival instinct .It has thrown to the winds the Constitutional Fundamental Rights of Equality. But the Congress has never been a respecter of the Constitution. Would the author bring this also under ‘pragmatism’? Power at all cost cannot be a guiding principle to be held out to parties which have lost the battle but not the war. Can a nation be shortsighted and discard -its heritage, its legacy, its culture and its guiding humanism-Dharma?
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja
Vadodara.

August 31, 2009 at 5:17 pm 3 comments

Quest for Justice-Dharma

Justices and Justice-a ringside perception

According to CJI Justice Balakrishnan- the high court Justice Kumar of Karnataka –is media crazy. Then is the CJI publicity crazy? This cannot be ruled out because on various occasions Justice Balakrishnan has spoken out when prudence and judiciary probity would have expected him to keep his counsel to himself. Justices are not above law. The judiciary is a creature of the Constitution and the Justices are to serve the people- by interpreting law and therby upholding the Constitution. The slide down of the judiciary started when Indira Gandhi called for a ‘committed judiciary’ her intent was clear-committed to whom- to the powerful and the ruling class? A simple question is are judges above the law and as public servants are they not accountable to the people? To disclose or not to disclose the assets was the first disquieting dilemma. Once the judiciary realized that the public was critical of its reluctance to disclose the assets the CJI came out that if there is a law the judges would abide by it. Need this be stated in words? Then the CJI clarified his stand that he is against disclosures and making it public for two reasons-1-that it will cause unnecessary harassments 2-that the judges are already coming from wealthy families so their assets do not indicate their hefty salaries paid by the tax payers’ monies.
The Judges are qualified to interpret law-and apparently bestow justice to those who seek it why the problem for rendering justice to themselves. Why are they not able to meet the harassment as all other citizens of India who are illiterate as far as law is concerned and who are unaware of the loopholes in the law to wriggle out.-If the Judges come from wealthy family what’s the problem in pointing out their sources of income. The problem arises when the assets are disproportionate to known sources of income. Make the sources of income available for scrutiny along with disclosure of assets-where will the problem arise?
So it looked clear that the CJI was very guarded in this disclosure business and was not for it. Then he went a step forward by saying that he has no problem if judges disclose their assets voluntarily. Naturally how can he even comment on ‘voluntary disclosures? One would have expected the CJI to set the example by voluntarily disclosing his assets. This would have sent a positive message. On the other hand he seems to be hedging. Is this media crazy or publicity seeking?
Where was the need for the CJI of India to tell the media that in Tamilnadu Judge’s Regupathy’s statement that a Union minister had tried to influence him was not correct. Initially Justice Balakrishnan deplored the interference in the judiciary. This was a correct stand-but later he told the media that he found it was not true and that the phone call was make in the chamber of the Judge by the lawyer. Was it judicial probity for the CJI to make this clarification? This clearly sent out the wrong signal The CJI sought the impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen when he refused to resign, but took a different view/or did not insist when it came to the case of Nirmal Yadha of the Punjab-Harayan High Court in the cash-for judge case.
Just because Justice Kumar of Karnataka High Court stated that he would disclosure his assets voluntarily he is made to look as a black sheep! Media crazy he was accused of by the CJI and now Union Minister Veerappa Moily backed this allegation of the CJI and added his vocabulary to this, by saying that if Judges want to disclosure their assets voluntarily and become heroes it is their wish. The very term ‘voluntary’ denotes one’s own volition. It is beyond one’s comprehension why these kind of left handed compliments are extended to those Judges who are coming forward by themselves without compulsion of law to disclosure their assets voluntarily? Is it reprehensive or some kind of defiance or is it because according to their consciences they have nothing to hide as far as their assets are concerned?
Now it is almost certain that this stage is over and the law will soon be introduced for the Judges to disclose their assets. There is a rider here-the disclosure follows a procedure-the Judges will disclose their assets The Judges to the CJI, and the CJI to the President. Is this a hierarchical disclosure exercise of classified secrets? Then pray I beg to ask, ‘Your Hon our’ why the disclosures at all?’ Where do the People who are their paymasters come into the picture and to what use are these disclosures. And why this reluctance of accountability to the people?
Let it not be overlooked that the public are aware of the corruption in the judiciary. The lower courts and the High courts and finally the SC all are at variance when it comes to interpreting the Constitution and in extending justice. It is relevant to note a few examples of the kind of justice that prevails:–The SC validated a hurried passed law by Parliament to protect 55 MPs from disqualification because they held offices of profit, .A bench of the SC held that an MP could not be automatically disqualified for holding an office of profit. It was for Parliament to decide what constituted an office of profit as each office has a separate and different function. The very reading of this makes no sense because no two offices will be the same and function similarly. How can this be left to the MPs to decide because they are the violators and they sit in judgment on their own cases? Will they be just and disqualify themselves? So they pass a law to validate and make sure their MPs seats are reserved for the next five years. Where do the people appeal to? Had the SC not abdicated its justice role? So it goes to prove that at times vested interest conspire against the people. The State of Maharastra is challenging the dropping of the MCOCA against the accused in the Malegoan case. After a lapse of two years the law ministry plans to move the SC challenging the acquittal of actor Sanjay Dutt of TADA charges. In the mass genocide of the Sikhs in 1984 Jagdish Tyler is freed. To a common person like me Justice seem to be available only at the SC level. How many can reach that level? Second why should the lower courts and the perception of the High courts be at variance in interpreting the law? Why those political bigwigs are rarely punished? I may be wrong but this is the general perception. You have money and power then you can buy justice. Does this mean that justice is available only for the rich and the politically powerful? A petty thief is thrown in the prison and languishes for years without even trial, but a murderer stands for election and wins. All this goes to substantiate how justice is perceived and operated in this country. Corruption does not mean in accruing of assets but also of being lured by high offices after the tenure in the judiciary. Corruption means when the people are betrayed of justice when the loopholes are widened and the political class are allowed to escape through-corruption means when people are cheated and denied of justice.
Still the only hope for the people lies in the judiciary and hence the judiciary whether it is in the disclosure of their assets and its accountability need to turn the search light of justice within themselves-their individual souls and as a Constitutional body to stand by Justice and treat all equally-to lead the people in the quest for justice.-this is its Dharma
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
Vadodara.

August 27, 2009 at 6:10 am Leave a comment

The Fourth Estate abdicates its duty

The media acts as though it has a prize catch the BJP in disarray! And hence page after page-channel after channel is zealously and studiously utilized to exhibit this prize catch! Its rumblings and infightings are to be dissected during the prime time-flashed across the front pages and ‘Walk the Talk’ complemented with dissent and discordant notes with supplementary talks between and asides making it all the Talk. Some grist for the media and with what enthusiasm and media savvy the public is served with this spicy news. This is an internal matter of the party and the best would be to allow it space to sort out its differences. On the part of the BJP too much time is spent on Jinnah business-something of the past which the present day people are not really interested. That’s history and best left with the historians. Why not move forward. Jinnah can never become the hero to true and patriotic Indians-irrespective of their religions. So Jaswant Singh coming out now with a book which almost makes him one will not go down well and will be rejected by the people. Even Arun Shourie has castigated Jinnah.
Yet there is a basic principle to agree to disagree. But there is also party discipline which compels the party members abide to function and stay well within the party discipline parameters- even in opinions. This is not against freedom of speech but adherence to a party discipline. If Jaswant Singh asserts that within the BJP it is ‘free for all’ then he too is one who is using that kind of free for all freedom which is detrimental to the party to which he belonged.
At the same time one must appreciate that there is no clash of ideology. No political party in India today has any ideology worth mentioning or worth standing by. It is a question of personality clash.
The media should remember that the Congress party was not free of such infighting and rebellion. Shukla, Karunakaran, Pranab Mukerhejee, V.P.Singh,Sunil Shastri, A.K.Antony, Chidambaram are some of the bigwigs who rebelled and left the Congress The media was rather sullen and subdued in reporting this. Chidambaram started his own party in Tamilnadu. Indira Gandhi with her anti-democratic mindset and her political cunning saw to it that those who were opposed to her were quietly shown the door to work towards strengthening the Party-even the great Kamaraj under the Kamaraj Plan. While she held the reins and stuck to power to convert the Congress party into a family affair and a dynasty .Though we all swear by democracy we are not even embarrassed that democratic parties do not last! The Indian mindset is such that dynasty and conversion of the party into a family fiefdom suits the mentality of the Indian. The Nehru-Gandhi family, Karunanidhi -his sons and his extended family, Samuel Rajesekaran Reddy and his son and family.All indicate that the feudalism is deep rooted in the Indian psyche, and political parties are family centered. So one voice-one throne-one High Command-one Supremo and one way channel-that’s the process. No dissent, no discussion, no airing of views. That’s how it works, such a system does not throw up rifts,no infighting, no second opinion.It breeds subservient, gutless individuals with no opinion and no ability to take on the leadership. It grooms a class of coterie and sycophants. The typical example is the Congress Party-because no Congress State President /Congress State Chief Minister will dare to utter anything which has not been approved by Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Why even the Prime Minister of India has all ears to Rahul Gandhi and acts accordingly. No 10 Janpath is the route for all even for the PM’s thought process! It is entirely another matter if Mrs Sonia Gandhi is right or wrong. If right she takes the credit if wrong the front liners are faulted. The arrangement suits both, as long as heads do not roll and power is concentrated in one Hand. We term this democracy and there was Rahul Gandhi wanting internal democracy! What a dichotomy when his very ascendancy to General Secretary was not through a democratic process!
Ultimately it all has a price-power and power positions. Margaret Alva went to the media to air her opinion on the Congress’ selection of candidates in the last General Elections She was sidelined and even suspended. But now she has been given a governorship All those who count-men and women of substance and opinion makers are quieted with the carrots. What else does a politician look for? Are they prepared to stand up to be counted, to be trampled later-stand for principles but are there any principles in politics-stand up for an ideology-but are there political parties which are anchored in ideology?. What is the difference between RJD and JD (U) and JD(S)? What’s the difference between Congress and NCP? One can cite any number of examples. The proliferation of parties depends on the number of moneyed persons who want /leadership power. So we have Chiranjeevi,Vijayakant,Sarath Kumar,et al. In Kerala there was a variegated Congress with different alphabets tagged on.
A party which is truly democratic will have occasional shakeups, tremors-this is to be expected. It is unfair for the media to create a tsunami out of this. The media-the Fourth Estate need to be vigilant-sift through and while reporting present both sides-that which needs to be condemned and that which needs to be commended. Did the Congress not impose Emergency-stifled the voice of the people-gagged the media. That’s history but it is the Congress’ legacy and the political baggage which it carries too. The media of recent times seem to be terribly biased and project a very partisan view. Most of the media are pro-Congress for reasons best to know to it. This is a great disservice to the people because it abdicates its role of nurturing a vibrant democracy and a healthy multiparty system.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
Vadodara

August 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Independence Day celebration in Saudi Arabiia

I just could not take it out of my mind-tried pushing it further and further but it always inched its way back to the forefront of my memory. So the best would be to deal with it and share my disturbing thoughts with others.
I am referring to the Independence Day celebration held on the 15th Aug at Damman Saudi Arabia by Indian Muslims under the banner of India Fraternity Forum (IFF) Damman. The theme that was chosen: ‘Be the sentinel of Freedom’. The Independence Day message was given by the General Secretary Mr Perwez Ahmed.He touched on two areas-that India is a secular country where the Constitution guarantees minorities- religious, social and economic rights but these are not extended to the Muslim minorities in India. He declared that ‘real freedom cannot be achieved if we fail to provide equal rights to all citizens of India.
The first sentence is right but what follows is not-namely that these are not extended to the Muslim minorities. For that matter we had Manmohan Singh our PM declaring that Muslims have the first claim to the fruits of development. One can take the horse to the pond but can one make it drink? India has an appeasement policy-this includes not only benefits for being a Muslim but also out of turn and out of law increments! For example not a single country has subsidized Haj pilgrimage. It is like a broken record to keep repeating the same thing but one cannot help repeating because it shows to what extent the Government of India under the Congress will go that extra step to even ensure the salvation of the souls of the Muslims. This under the garb of its ‘secularism’
All are citizens as stated by Mr Perwez Ahmed and hence all are equal, but Muslims are more equal than others otherwise what explanation would one give to the government setting up a separate ministry and a separate budget for the exclusive development of the Muslims-this under the ‘inclusive’ development policy of the UPA
Surely all are citizens and need be treated on the same plane but why are Muslims demanding special status on the basis of religion? Even if a house owner refuses to rent out his/her house it becomes a national issue and concern for the Minorities Rights Commission to take it up. Does the house owner not have any right to choose his tenant? It is entirely another matter that Hashmi made a U-turn later but the damage had already been done-thanks to champions like Mahesh Bhatt and our over sensitive media which waits to pounce on ‘communal’ issues in the name of secularism.
If Sharuk Khan is held up in the USA –Newark airport for security checking for two hours it becomes an international affair and a case of discrimination which makes even the government of India embarrassed and concerned. Ambica Soni told the media that we should give tit for tat and treat the Americans the same way! Instead of appreciating the all are equal as far as security of the country is concerned lesson held out by the seucuirty personnel at the airports we are exhibiting that some are more equal than others-specially if they are Muslims. Immediately religion came to the forefront and that Muslims are discriminated. But Muslims do not pause to consider why this perception of theirs and what is this complex they are suffering from. Is India pampering the Muslims simply for the sake of vote bank politics and inflicting on them a kind of a phobia? Our PM suffered sleepless nights when Dr Haneef was harassed in Australia. He did not hesitate to make this public. Would he have lost sleep if one Raman or Lakshmanan was harassed? Mr Prewez calls for a united effort to fight for ‘real freedom’. A bit of an explanation needs to go into this united effort. By whom? By the Muslim community? What is its perception of real freedom?
Getting back to the Freedom message of Mr Perwez Ahmed his second area of concern was the growing ‘fascism’ in India which poses a grave danger not only to the Muslims but to all marginal groups. So ‘all are Indians’ yielded to Muslims and marginal groups. Where is the grave danger from fascism and who are these fascists? If Mr Prewez had in mind the Hindu fundamentalists without hesitation one is obliged to put the record straight-India’s grave danger is from Muslim fundamentalists and the jihadis from across the border. Mr Perwez lost an opportunity to give a call to the Islamic countries to stop funding fundamentalists-to stop this fake currency being dumped into India to stop the illegal infiltration of Muslims from Bangla Desh and stop targeting this country and its innocents from the terrible misplaced religious indoctrinated jihadis. They are the modern fascists who brainwashed with religious fundamentalism kill innocent citizens of this country and de-stabilize the nation’s economic and social stability
Mr Perwez had overlooked the fact that all the lands belonging to the Muslims mosques are governed by its own organization like the Wakf Board. But all the Hindu temples by the government and the monies are used for this ‘first claim’, the Haj, the inclusive development and the separate ministry and separate budget business. How equal are all citizens Mr Perwez?
Mr Perwez cautioned the present government not to act under the –pressure of the USA and not to strength the Hindu communal forces in India with the help of State legislation and bureaucratic set-up. Is it the contention of Mr Perwez to dismantle the present bureaucratic set up and put one in place on religious quota? Shall we phrase this as ‘inclusive’ development and secularism? Given the numerical strength of the Muslims in India they are amply represented at all the tiers of the government-starting from the Vice President, the judiciary, the Members of Parliament-the confidants of Mrs Sonia Gandhi who holds the reins of power, on the various panels and Commission et al .All these are not doing enough for the Muslim community Mr Perwez. He forgets that the UPA 2 comprises of the Congress, RJD, All India United Muslim Council, NCP, Indian Union Muslim League, DMK and the JMM. Are these parties not bending backwards to appease the Muslims? Are these parties blocking the flow of Fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution to the Muslim community? If so Mr Perwez must call upon the Muslim communities to throw them out and to vote for other parties which would ensure the true freedom to the Muslim community. Was it not a travesty of truth that the theme of the Freedom Day celebrations in Damman Saudi Arabia was ‘Be the sentinel of Freedom’. Standing on a foreign soil to fault India and to state that Muslims are not extended the Constitutional guarantees sends a wrong message. It is political wrong by all norms both internationally and nationally. It had hurt the patriotic sentiments of all true Indians.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
Vadodara.

August 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm Leave a comment

Manmohan Singh’s double speak

Addressing the Chief ministers conference at New Delhi the Prime Minister revealed that terror groups in Pakistan are planning fresh attacks on India-that there is a surge of infiltration this year which is disturbing and that the area of operation has escalated far beyond J&K and covers all parts of the country. He exposed the hard facts that the infiltrators are more battled hardened, better equipped and is in possession of sophisticated communication equipments. What small consolation to the people of India this heart sharing and classified secrets .What a step forward in taking the CMs in confidence the PM made in this tough fight against terrorism which the UPA2 has been chanting .But the query is what was the intention of the PM? Are these threats a sudden development after the infamous meet he had with the PM of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani? Was this threat valid when our Prime Minister met his counter part at Sharm-el-Sheikh? But the talks between the two only went to give the impression that both are victims and both will put terrorism down the list of priorities but focus on closer ties with the two countries-that both will continue talking and exchanging dossiers-that there would be closer ties between the two countries because of a shared comradeship of being victims of terrorism. Where did the fight against terrorists’ strikes figure? On the other hand it was sharing of hurt feelings of victims against a common enemy. The Prime Minister usually has a double speak: one for the foreign nations and one for Parliament and the Indian populace. The same was replicated in his N-deal dealings
.The Vajpayee-Musharraf Declaration was based on the understanding that the composite dialogue process will resume only after a categorical assurance from Gen Musharraf that territory under Pakistan control will not be used for terrorism against India. It is shocking that Manmohan Singh did not stand by this and insist on such an assurance from Pakistan.
In fact since 2004 the terrorism against India has only increased especially after the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. This government has filed the case against the lone terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab who was captured as being guilty of waging a war against India. It is not within the capacity of one terrorist to wage a war against India-the inference and implicit reference was that Pakistan had allowed its territory to be used to direct attacks against India. Moreover it is also known that the military of Pakistan was directing and giving all assistance. On July 12th when the Indian forces captured two armed Pakistani terrorists who had infiltrated into India these two revealed that they belonged to a group of militants trained in POK to attack the Baglihar dam. Another shocking piece of information they revealed was that a secret tunnel was being built near the border town of Sailkot for infiltration into India.
It is against this background and well equipped with such terrifying and disturbing information that Manmohan Singh met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at Sharam el-Sheikh. One would have expected Manmohan Singh to take a tough stand or at least stay within the composite dialogue limits. What is the need to have a dialogue with a country which cannot give us the assurance that its territory will not be used to breed terrorism against India? And now to present the disturbing fact that infiltrators have escalated into other parts of the country makes it almost a purposeful betrayal of the people by Manmohan Singh. It only exposes Manmohan Singh’s dual personality .One for external dealings and the other for internal. What did he expect the CMS to do-suggest that he continues with his dialogue and keep exchanging dossiers with Pakistan? Does the PM expect the CMs to sympathize with him that he is grappling with such cross border terrorism in a tough way that all internal differences must be buried and extend full support for the Prime Minister who equated Pakistan with India? Which is the true person of the Prime Minister when he put forth this terrorist threat or when he asserted that we cannot wish away Pakistan as our neighbor? We Indians are great talkers. Pranab Mukherjee came to his rescue when he added that we cannot send the army to Pakistan-Why not if need be. So the PM must clearly articulate how he intends to act to meet this challenge from Pakistan. This is a matter that cannot be just debated and forgotten. For non-issues all political parties stand united but when it comes to make Pakistan abide by its earlier Declaration and insist on a categorical assurance of not abetting terrorism against India our PM failed. Should the PM not be the leader of this nation and is it not his political moral responsibility and obligation to ensure the territorial sovereignty of India and guarantee the security of its people? But he chose to toe the line of the USA-which blows hot and cold. Hence Manmohan Singh’s meet with Yousuf Raza Gilani ended in a fiasco as far as India’s security is concerned when our PM emphasized that it is only through dialogue, communication, and ties with Pakistan can a relevant and meaningful relationship be established. Manmohan Singh did not hesitate to throw the ‘composite dialogue’ frame of reference. Terrorism became a non-issue at the Sharam-el-Sheikh. India was looking with great expectations that the PM would use the opportunity to send out a strong message that unless and until Pakistan gives a firm assurance that it will not abet terrorism (its armies were and are) India has no need to keep exchanging dossiers, and continuing talks which are meaningless political games. Manmohan Singh failed miserably on this count and he cut a sorry figure to stand before the CMs and state that the government has information of India being targeted by terrorists. What a news item it made and what a sharing of a classified secret!! If in future there are terrorists’ attacks, the nation will not accept the lame excuses of the UPA-2 government and its soft policy. No apology, no promises no assurances and no compensations-will satisfy the people. The blame will be solely the making of Manmohan Singh-his utter failure as the PM .Mrs Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party cannot escape their roles in this anti-people soft policy against terrorism augmented with its appeasement policy. It is relevant to note that he in the same breath to pick at Karnataka and the communal tensions there-something which the Congress alone perceives because it a BJP ruled State. Mr Manmohan Singh will not suffer from sleepless nights with this and more-and the people of India are aware what causes him to loose his sleep.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,
Vadodara

August 19, 2009 at 3:38 am 3 comments

Rejoinder to Lisa Miller’s “we are all Hindus now”

‘We are all Hindus now” by Lisa Miller (NewsWeek Aug 31, 2009) was a startling article. It has been known now that in the USA Christianity is on the wane. The same can be said of Europe. It is not shocking that convents and seminaries do not have new recruits. Many of the churches have closed down-Dioceses are unable to pay the heavy compensations the priests have been charged to pay for their sexual exploits and pedophilic escapades. According to a 2008 survey 76 percent continued to identify themselves as Christians yet the author asserts that, ‘We are all Hindus now’
Christians need to be treated in two streams-the Catholics and those belonging to the Evangelical churches. As far as the Catholics are concerned there has been a steady decline in practicing Catholics. They are called lapsed Catholics. The Catholic Church and its teachings have come under scrutiny and doubt. Gone are the days when the word comes down from Rome and meekly the ‘flock’ accepts. Today with the explosion of information-availability of the literature on the Dead Sea Scrolls Catholics have questioned the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church. For example as the author had pointed out the belief that there is a Last Judgment Day when all dead will resurrect and their bodies and souls will be united is today discarded as a fantasy. Where is this assembly going to take place- in space? How magical for the bodies to be reassembled from the dust. It sounds simply crazy. It was a good pedagogical narration to create in children the idea of considering the body unique and hence to care for it. But brainwashed at such a young age on the Last Judgment Day when the Lord (masculine God) will appear as a Judge affected the life long perception of the Maha Pursha.. On this premise the rest was build-sin and evil-heaven and hell. The concept of God was thus a stock taker, a man who must be having an unimaginably gigantic account book!. But in the process the Creator was dragged down to the level of a common shop keeper/accountant. No adult would accept such a God and Catholics are unable to teach this to their children today. More questions than answers and more confusing than clarity and more ungodliness than godliness in the teachings. The catechism as is called for school children still carry on with this. Confession and forgiveness, sacraments and its administration, the concept of sacramental grace-sins-Original, venial and mortal seem to have done more harm than good in the salvation seeking story . A kind of a fear instilling mechanism was operated through such teachings. Steadily Catholics were pulling out of such a crazy world which made no sense and was seeking their own path of spirituality.
To the Indian Catholics Hinduism-the religion of their ancestors beckoned them. In the south one would find in the same family one branch continues to be Hindus-the religion of their ancestors-another Catholics (converts from Hinduism). Intermarriages-social functions between the families are attended by all without any holding back. So it is not small wonder that Hinduism is attracting Catholics.The same cannot be said of the Pentecostal churches and its followers. They are more rigid more conservative and will not tolerate signs and symbols even distantly connected with Hinduism. This is relevant to the Indian situation
To get back to Lisa Miller and her exclamation ‘We are all Hindus now’,is a bit too far fetched. But this does establish the fact that Christianity is no longer what it was some 50 years ago even in Christian country like the USA.It has lost its sheen; its hold. The whole beliefs systems and dogmas are being questioned. So what immediately comes to my mind is then why are the churches indulging in an aggressive proseltiyzation in India. Is it to make up for the numbers and is it because Indians are vulnerable and are easily led. Is it because what is being discarded in USA is being dumped into India?
I would not agree with Lisa Miller that the Americans are Hindus now. Hinduism is not a religion into which one can walk in and walk out. Hinduism is a philosophy, an ideology and a way of life. It permeates the whole range of one’s life and activities. Unlike the Christian religion it cannot be kept in a separate compartment from the rest of one’s various life activities.30 percent of the Americans according to a News Week survey call themselves ‘spiritual’ not ‘ religious’. By this Lisa wants to differentiate the two dimensions. To be spiritual one need not be religious. It is a subtle way of hairsplitting. It is only through a religion can one become spiritual. I do not understand Stephen Prothero—religion professor at the Boston University his theory on the American propensity for the ‘divine deli cafeteria religion’ as very much in the spirit of Hinduism, because according to him ‘You are not picking and choosing from different religions, because they are all the same’ it is not about orthodoxy ,it’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great-and if going to catholic mass works, great. And if going to catholic mass plus the yoga, plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too’. Something of this and something of that and something of everything-great. It makes no sense to me. Spirituality cannot be easily attained. There are no quick fixes. A pill for headache-another for body pain, another for sleep-whatever suits and whatever be the need are just short remedies. Spirituality calls for a life long search-a going into oneself and then coming out like the spires that reach the heavens. It calls for discipline, for continuity, for perseverance.
What is true is that Hinduism had never been an exclusive, monolithic, and dogmatic. It can never be. So may be having been in one the Christians feel that it has no discipline and not rigorous. Far from it-the difference is it gives space for self discovery-does not dictate and thrust dogmas and stifles thinking. It encourages and liberates one to follow in one’s own pace the Ultimate Reality. The quest for truth and the freedom of enquiry are the hallmarks of Hinduism.
I would like to make a distinction by quoting Swami Jyotirmayananda in his book, ‘India’s gift to the world is the light Spiritual’: “Ours is an inclusive pluralism and holistic Catholicism”. There are many ignorant Hindus who glibly parrot that ‘all religions are the same’. They even exhort us to have ‘sarvadharma sama bhava’…But the facts are that the exclusivists’ faiths are distinctly different from our Sanatana Dharma. The two cannot be equated’. Swami Ramdas( India’s Gift to the World Light Spiritual)has highlighted the essence of Dharma: “Dharma means that which upholds and elevates. Hence the basic principle underlying all manifestation of life is, in the real sense, Dharma. This principle is what we call God or Truth .Dharma therefore signifies the knowledge of the great Truth which upholds all things. From the light of knowledge alone can the life of a human being be harmoniously adjusted in all its various aspects. So the aim of Dharma is to infuse into all activities of life the splendor, bliss and peace of the Divine Reality”. Dharma is central to spirituality and universal in message. But Dharma cannot be equated with religion. Sanatana Dharma is popularly known as Hinduism. Spirituality cannot be attained by a mixture of this and that from all religions. It is a life long quest based on Vedanta which leads to Vedantic vision of Reality
By accepting cremation the Catholic Church has only sought out what is most convenient. As far as my knowledge goes till date not a single priest or nun has been cremated in India. The acceptance of cremation is based on convenience and hard facts. In India there is no place for burial of the ordinary Catholic especially the poor. The lands belonging to the church have all been misused by the church and sold to developers. But for priests and nuns burial land has been reserved-in these lands the ordinary Catholics cannot find a place. This is a simple fact and as time passes land is shrinking and usage of land becoming money spinning business. Will the Pope be cremated? So where does the belief of body and soul sacred which is ‘self’ stand today? Lisa cannot use the cremation as an indicator to claim that ‘Americans are becoming more Hindu’, the comparison is misplaced. One cannot become more Hindu and less Hindu and the cremation which is a mode of convenient disposal of the corpse be a testimony to that. A whole lot of insights precede and culminate in ‘jivanmukti’-cremation is part of this.
Lisa Miller’s “We are all Hindus Now”, statement is like the plagiarism, pilfering and poaching that the Christian churches and its evangelizers have resorted to. It sounds too flippant and too superficial and exhibits a poor understanding of Hinduism. But at the same time it is a testimony of the ever fresh spring of Life-that is Hinduism- small wonder that it has suddenly become like an oasis beckoning the Americans. If the Americans want to identify as Hindus it is a welcome step in the right direction. This is what the great Indian monk Swami Vivekananda dreamt of and worked for. But it calls for study, acceptance of Sanatana Dharma-and Dharma as way of life.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja
Vadodara

August 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm 23 comments

Are we Free and Liberated

On the 14th Aug the print media carried two news items which need to be brought centre stage to highlight a particular dimension of what this nation is subjected to after 62 years of Freedom
Today is exactly one year since VHP header Laxmanananda Saraswati was murdered. The swamiji was 82 years old and his four disciples who were massacred along with him were Kishore Baba (45) Amirtananda Baba (62) Mata Bhaktimayee(40) and Puranjan Gantha(28)This was the infamous Kandhamal killings which led to the subsequent communal clashes between Hindu Kondhs and Christian Panas. The first charge sheet which was filed 5 months after the killings named 7 tribal or dalit Christians. The conspiracy angle was tightly shut. The murders were professionally executed but who hatched the plot and why remained unknown. The CID could not unravel-may be did not want to unravel this crucial dimension of the murders. It was also alleged that the Maoists were involved and the killer group was led by one Azad, a CPI (Maoist) leader operating in Orissa.
It makes little difference to the media whether the conspirators are tracked and punished. It does not seem to bother the UPA government that the gruesome murders were committed without any provocation-except that Swami Laxmanananda and his disciples were engaged in social work and spreading literacy among the tribals. This prevented the onslaught of the Christian proselytizers garnering men/women as ‘flocks’. It makes no impact on the Indian soul that pamphlets were distributed by an International Development agency working in that area and which communalized the people. It also does not matter to the larger public and the State government that conversion work was vigorously carried on in the name of development which led to alienation of the two communities. At the end of this what remains is that the perpetrators are at large-the victims are dead, the ‘secular’ media and the secular government at the Centre fault the majority community. The divide from perpetrators and victims become majority and minority divide. There is all sympathy, promises, financial assistance to those affected by the subsequent riots and clashes but not even a word of consolation to those who were gruesomely murdered in the ashram. The ‘secular’ media is not interested in the cause which led to the riots for the simple fact that the massacred were Hindus. Hindu lives are cheap and disposable. The ‘secular’ government at the Centre was silent but condemned the communal riots and extended all assistance and assurances to the Minorities that they would be safeguarded. The case has not been handed over to the CBI because nabbing the perpetrators is not on the priority list of the Congress. Unless and until the conspirators are nabbed those behind the planning will not be apprehended. And unless this is done the real cause for the professional murders will not be unraveled. Then what is Justice in this country after 62 years of Independence. To put it another way-if those who were massacred without any provocation happened to belong to the Minority community then how would the case be viewed? When Indira Gandhi was assassinated more than 3000 Sikhs were butchered. The government at the centre watched this genocide for three days. Was it not a Minority community which had to face the wrath simply because the assassin was a Sikh? So it looked as though there was a justification of the brutal killing the rapes and the harassment. A cause which had a violent reaction-a banyan tree which was felled and naturally all the little insignificant plants around had to perish. That was the justice dimension then. When it came to Swami Laxmanananda and his four disciples ruthlessly murdered in their own ashram the cause which triggered the subsequent clashes was not valid. Any action has a reaction. Unlike in an assassination-the communal clashes cannot be arrested unless the cause is removed. Why were the Christians angry with Swami Laxmanananda? Was he violent? Was he an anti-social man? Was he aggressive? By his dedication and good works he was preventing the tribal from being ensnared by the ‘development’ crumbs thrown by the proselytizers. So it is logical to infer that those who stood to lose-those who found Swami a hindrance and hurdle to their conversion work had planned to remove him from their path. There can be no other reason. Which means the crime planning can be traced to those Christian organizations working in the area. This is exactly why the governments both at the Centre and at the State level are uninterested to unravel the case and to nab the conspirators. It is essential to do this because the government can get at the root of communal clashes-not only at Kandhamal but in others places where communal clashes are reported. What caught the imagination of the UPA government especially the Congress was that in the subsequent riots some minorities-converted Christians were killed and a few thatched sheds called churches were destroyed. This made international news and there were echoes of this even at the European Meet. Our weak PM had to confess that the communal clash and the rape of a nun at Kandhamal was a blot on India.By such an application then this country is filled with blots because rapes are common especially in the States ruled by the Congress and the blots become conspicuous and blackened when it happens within the cloisters .But our weak PM hastened to smoothen the ruffled feathers of the European nations and promised that Minorities will be safeguarded. It is entirely an internal matter of this country and the issue should not have found expression at the EU summit. But Manmohan Singh being Manmohan Singh the weakest PM we ever had, buckled under the gaze of the EU and like a reprimanded school boy promised to behave better!
Global media was horrified that a nun was raped-It seems that nuns can be raped within the cloisters and even murdered, the media is not shocked and it makes hardly any news. The message is clear.It all depends on who the perpetrators are and the location of the sexual violation and rape.The rape of a nun during the clashes even had the Internuncio in Delhi to take up the issue. The Pope and the Christian world was agitated-India was painted as a nation where the minorities are unsafe. The massacre of an old revered swamiji and his four ashramites did not matter for the simple reason that they were Hindus.62 years of Freedom and this is the kind of Justice we have. A marked differentiation in the value of life-depending on religion. A body blow to Equality-a Fundamental Right enshrined in the Constitution.
The next news item was the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) plans to put India under its watch list because of the ‘inadequate’ response to religious violence, particularly against the country’s Muslims and Christian minorities. This is a serious matter to be immediately deal by the UPA government. The USCIRF has no business to poke its nose in the internal affairs of the country. It is unjust, uncalled for and there is no justification. With a billion population one should say that India has lived in harmony with the diverse cultures and religions but for the interference of outside powers. The cross border jihadis have injected a fear and terrorized the people. The jihadis are in 99 percent cases Muslims and it is natural for the other communities to view the Muslims with resentment. This is not to justify the resentment but to put across the hard facts of human reactions and feelings. The USCIRF seems anxious to fish in troubled waters. Any interference in the affairs of India must be downright rejected.
No country in the world would be able to produce such a long list of churches that have been constructed in the last ten years. There is a quantum jump in conversions. A word of caution here. Official records do not show the correct number of Christians because the Schedule castes even after conversion cite themselves as Hindus to garner all the benefits of the SCs like Reservation and full scholarship etc. Another indicator of minority harassment is the unending list of ‘converts’ to Christianity and to Islam. Do these two indicators go to prove that the minorities are harassed and do not have freedom of religion or do these testify to the proselytization and abuse of freedom by the minorities? Are these indicators that minority communities are being persecuted? The same can be said of the Muslims. Their mosques are safe- prayer time is even allowed within the office working hours-the roads can be blocked for them to assemble for their prayers, they are subsidized for their Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Is there any country in the world whose government is concerned to finance the minority community for pilgrimages? Has any Islamic country done this? But here the tax money of the Hindus is being distributed for Haj subsidy! There is a separate ministry to attend to their affairs-a separate budget allocation to fund their development. The ‘appeasement’ of the Muslims in this country has gone to the extent of depriving other communities. We have the Prime Minister announcing that they have the first claim to development. Where in the world would there be a similar example? And the USCIRF wants to make out a case that religious minorities are not protected sufficiently. Next they would want to bring in their own security force into this country to protect the minorities. The vile scheme of the USCIRF is obvious. Some pretext or another to invade the territorial, political and social sovereignty and integrity of this country. It seems to me that the USIRF has to justify its existence and is unemployed. It finds India a safe place to invade for employment because we have a Mrs Sonia Gandhi with her catholic allegiance to Rome and a puppet Prime Minister both view the nation with the spectacles worn by the USIRF for their vested interest in vote bank politics. There is more development of the Muslims in India than in any other Islamic country. A few European countries could come under the scanner when it comes to racism and violence based on racism. The USA itself is not free of this. Nobody has appointed the USA and its panels to be super cops. Did the USA consult the UN or other nations when it went ahead and waged a war against Iraq? When it failed to discover the weapons of mass destruction which it accused Saddam Hussain of amassing what was the reaction of other nations? And finally after the total destruction, demolishment of a nation, its civilization and its leader USA had the cheek to announce that it was misled-there were no weapons of mass destruction. Was the USA hauled in the World court for its atrocities and its torture camps?
Has the USA the Power of Attorney to supervise other nations? America must realize that it is no longer a world power-that without India’s support it will collapse-financially and politically. If it has the courage and the guts then let it bring Pakistan, Bangla Desh, under its watch list for atrocities against the Hindu minorities there. Let it request a visit to China and see the reaction. Let it put Australia on its watch list for racist violence unleashed on the microscopic minority community-Indians. This is a sad commentary on the state of affairs India is faced with after 62 years of Freedom. A weak Central government under Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh has subjected India to a subservient servility, exposed it to terrorism by its soft policy and divided the people as majority/minority. Are we really Free and Liberated as a nation?
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja
Vadodara

August 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm 10 comments

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