The Candid Eye

June 19, 2010

The art of healing

The art of healing

SUHEL SETH, Jun 8, 2010, 03.43pm IST

I was in Chandigarh watching television on May 30 when the news of an assassination attempt on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar flashed across all screens and then began, in typical Indian fashion, the analysis of this near-fatal event without an iota of accuracy or on the basis of an informed decision. I have to confess, while I am neither a member of the Art of Living Foundation nor have I ever done a course, I have, for many years admired the manner in which Sri Sri has galvanized millions of people across the world to believe in a simple set of values: all of which revolve around human character and happiness. I wanted to call him and check how he was but in the interim, I was disappointed at the positions that everyone began taking. It was no rocket science to understand the silence of the state Government of Karnataka: no one in their right minds would have wanted to say anything on the subject when they were preparing to host their first Global Investor’s meet barely four days later. But it was P Chidambaram who surprised me the most and this was a very different Chidambaram. Not the one I had seen address the press admirably early in the morning of February 14, 2010 when the German Bakery in Pune had been the target of a vicious bomb attack the night before. At that time, Chidambaram was measured and was clear that he would offer a view only after thorough investigations were done.

But this time round, when the attack on Sri Sri took place, Chidambaram alluded to some dangerous theories; one that Sri Sri was not the real target and second that this could have been an inner-ashram feud. Yes, comments made without even a whiff of an investigation: made perhaps in passing but ones that, in hindsight have proven to be more damning than Chidambaram can imagine. This then triggered off a wave of theories: something that only we in India are brilliant at: commenting on things that are in circulation but have no roots.

I finally called up Sri Sri to enquire about his well-being and he was more amused than angered. He was more concerned about his assailant and anguished at the allegations that were circulating. But not once did I hint even a dash of anger or for that matter frustration. He talked about the calmness at the ashram and the happiness quotient therein. He talked about forgiveness and moving on and then said, he couldn’t understand why things were being said when there was no truth in them. This article will hopefully help him understand an India that is not so calm and not so happy. This is an attempt to awaken Sri Sri from the oasis of peace he resides in and fosters. And something that reflects on the general malaise that has come about in our society.

Television has made many of us instant commentators: silence is no longer a virtue nor is smiling away your troubles: you are either seen as guilty or as one who has something to hide. So Sri Sri should have never been silent or for that matter happy that his followers, one of whom was shot, were alive and more importantly happy. He should have given a dozen television interviews and made it to the front pages and prime time headlines: that would have kept him in currency not for peace but for violence: exactly what the terrorists and now the Maoists feed off.

But before we march into the next crisis, let’s pause and think what all of this has really done: it has created an impression of an inner feud which doesn’t exist; it has made Sri Sri come across as publicity-hungry which he clearly isn’t: he was as well-known before May 30; but the damage it has done is considerable: we have almost, without unsettling Sri Sri, created a level of cynicism and anguish amongst his followers in this country’s rule of law; in our ability to forget and forgive and most importantly to move on. With all the utterances around, we have confused and confounded some very happy people living in that ashram and who are helping the poor and the distraught. So while we may serve the cause of TRPs and individual one upmanship, have we really addressed the larger malaise of unhappiness and anger? Of desolateness and isolation? Of social stigmatization and separatism?

I genuinelybelieve we have many lessons to learn. Our media today is playing into the hands of vulgar sensationalism and our politicians are falling into this trap. We as a nation think it to be hip and cool if we knock the good that our fellow country-men are engaged in. We love to pull the ones that are doing good down with a ferocity that is seeped in negativism. Rather than praise the good work, we invest emotions mired in cynicism and disbelief. Are we increasingly becoming a nation that is suspicious and bitter? Or will we allow ourselves to be happy and optimistic. Many a time, each one of us that has the option to speak in public or write in newspapers want the easy way out. Criticism and not critique are the birthmarks of this India. But then this is a downward spiral. It will make us even more miserable than we need to be. It will make us despondent when we don’t need to be and more than anything else, our very attitude will deter people from pursuing the path of good and nobleness. Sri Sri runs the Art of Living program. But given what one sees around, there is a crying need for us to invest in an Art of Healing program. We need to placate and please; we need to progress and prosper and not be bitter and banal about every thing good around us. Perhaps May 30 was a lesson which we need to learn from; a signal to every Indian to be proud and not picky about everything good about our own people; our own values and our own culture. It is easy to cast stones at everything but very difficult to pick up the pieces of shattered souls. The time to stop this is now. The time to move on is now.Sri Sri has the ability to move on and he will; the happiness quotient will not see any dip or turbulence except that we will make every human being question his own integrity and his own belief system, the next time he wants to say what he really feels. Sri Sri was happy when I spoke to him. No words of rancour or remorse. But then, he is evolved. What if he wasn’t? Do we want soap operas in this country every time a tragedy occurs or do we actually have it in ourselves to let our silence heal us: from within and comprehensively?

June 17, 2010

If you are a Swami and a victim, remain silent!

If you are a Swami and a victim, remain silent!

– by Swami Sadyojathah, Jun 10, 2010, 01.50pm
I think 30 years of selfless service has not attracted the eye of our media as much as a bullet. Ironically, the victim had to justify why the bullet was found close to him!

A Swami is expected to remain silent irrespective of the seriousness of offence against him whereas strong voices of support are heard for terrorists and anti-social elements. Corrupt officials are not condemned and the society’s silence implies it is fine with them.

‘Swami’, a title much revered in India in the past only raises eyebrows in suspicion now. Swamis and Sadhus were respected for dedicating and sacrificing their lives for society and now they are being condemned. This shows the unfortunate deterioration of the Indian culture. Is it not a systematic psychological warfare against Swamis?

We also see a section of the media in our country jumping to hasty conclusions especially in matters concerning swamis and spirituality.

‘You have the right to remain silent…’ is usually a warning given to a suspected criminal under arrest. However, paradoxically if you are a Swami or a Guru, you are advised to remain silent even if you are a victim. In spite of being a victim, you are perceived to have done something wrong. The overwhelming undercurrent of prejudice against Hindu swamis and Gurus cannot be underlined enough.

How strange that a culprit can walk away, but the victim is doubted, questioned, harassed and expected to prove his innocence! The Indian Constitution holds that you are innocent until proven guilty, but a swami is necessarily guilty until proven innocent.

This has been the way of the world, which has always demanded from the living legends to prove their innocence. Be it Kabir or Jesus or even Mahatma Gandhi who was called a fraud a number of times. The degradation of society is measured by its attitude towards its spiritual leaders. Is it not Kaliyuga where the onus is on the victim to prove that he is not guilty?

Usually a victim is encouraged to speak up. But if you are a swami, you are counseled to forever hold your peace, even if you are surrounded by white lies.

The other thing isthat it does not pay off in the worldly sense to keep calm and live in knowledge because the gap between the real world and a meditator’s world is far too much. A layman may not understand the world of yogis, where they remain poised, calm and there is not an iota of worry or concern in their expression, even in extenuating circumstances. This is baffling to the common man or in this case of gun shot the investigating cops.

Recently, I was at a function in Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi, where I observed the sheer reluctance of people in interacting with a Swami in saffron robes sitting in the front row of the audience. This was immediately after the scandals of some so-called swamis had hit the headlines in the media. Nobody wanted to look at him, let alone talk to him, as if he were an untouchable. It was appalling to see the prejudice against Hindu swamis. In a way it was beneficial to the swami because he need not care what the world thinks of him, but for an onlooker it looked odd how people were overtly prejudiced.

In Bollywood, in the last 15 to 20 years, since Dawood Ibrahim ostensibly started funding the film industry, a man with a tilak or in saffron robes has been systematically depicted as a villain or part of villain’s team. This portrayal has only added a mass prejudice and overwhelming bias against the swamis of India.

The two main allegations against swamis are sex and money. A true swami will never fall prey to fleeting attractions of sensual pleasures. Without adequate investigation, this kind of blanket generalization is unfortunate and highly deplorable. Every spiritual organization is supposed to do charity and one cannot do charity with an empty bowl. There is no point in taking charity and doing charity. Earning money is not a crime but doing so in a wrong way definitely is.

The idea that all spiritual education should be free, or the notion that spiritual training was free in ancient India is a fallacy. Spirituality is also an education and all education needs to be paid for. Those who know their history know that people in Vedic times had to “invest” far more to get a spiritual education than we do today!
The concept of ”Dakshina” is from the ancient Vedic times.

The vow of poverty is a concept alien to our land. Here, the primordial Guru, Lord Narayana is wedded to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Material progress goes hand in hand with spiritual growth. There are some pseudo intellectuals and historians who argue that only Ramana Maharishi and Mahatma Gandhi were genuine. They praise only the dead and abuse the living. One historian while condemning the appearance of spiritual masters in media went to the extent of saying that Sri Aurobindo never appeared on television, forgetting that there was no television at that time in the first place! Going by the fact that Sri Aurobindo had used the print media so well, I am sure he would have done the same with television had it existed then.

Another much-misplaced conception is that a true spiritual person should remain poor and that Gandhi never associated with the rich. They conveniently forget that Mahatma Gandhi has lived and died in Birla House, one of the most affluent people of that time.

Of course, every field will have people who are not genuine. However, that doesn’t warrant every one being painted with the same brush. It is as foolish as saying that because you unearthed a quack one day, we
should shun all doctors.

It was Pandit Nehru who said in the assembly debates, “If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly—it is the Sanskrit language and literature, and all that it contains. This is a magnificent inheritance, and so long as this endures and influences
the life of our people, so long the basic genius of India will continue”.

It was Babasaheb Ambedkar who had proposed Sanskrit as the first language of India and who had great reverence for sadhus of this country, Kabir being his most favorite. It was Mahatma Gandhi who would read the Bhagawat Gita every day and meditate and do satsang with people from all religions.

The father of our nation is a saint. The architect of the Indian constitution, our first Prime Minister and countless others have sung praises of the spiritual knowledge of our saints. Then, I do believe, a sensitive and responsible Indian should take a proactive role in reinstating these values and arrest the prejudice drive against the swamis and saints of this holy land.

(The author is director, international affairs, The Art Of Living)

December 6, 2009

Anjumans deprive Muslim women of microcredit

Recently SA Aiyar’s article appeared on TOI, which clearly says microcredit to Musim women are hampered by Anjumans.

The government seeks inclusive growth and access to credit. The Sachar Committee is dismayed by the relatively low access of Muslims to bank credit. Yet, neither the government, Sachar Committee members nor intellectuals are raising an outcry against a massive drive to deny millions of Muslim women access to microcredit. This is driven not by Hindu extremists but by Muslim anjumans (community organisations) in Karnataka. Thus, a community complaining of credit deprivation is itself destroying credit to millions of Muslims — because the anjumans are male bastions and the poor borrowers are women.

Ramesh Bellamkonda heads BSS Microfinance, the worst hit of several microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Karnataka. He says BSS has provided microcredit for two years in Kolar, three-and-a-half in Mysore, and eight in Ramanagaram, enjoying excellent relations with its Muslim borrowers and virtually 100% repayment. Today, repayment is down to almost zero, because of non-repayment directives by the anjumans and their goons, who threaten and even assault BSS staff. Muslims constitute a substantial proportion of borrowers, so the anjuman directives can bankrupt entire MFIs, affecting other community borrowers too.

 

Their eyes reveal everything!!

Their eyes reveal everything!!

Other Karnataka MFIs in several towns face the same problem, and have been obliged to halt lending to Muslims. It is a triumph for the most reactionary Muslims, and a tragedy for Muslim women denied empowerment through finance.

Some other MFIs say that the problem is not just Islamic. In some areas, including Kolar, so many MFIs have started operations that poor women can get multiple micro-credit loans, and so accumulate big debts that they cannot repay. The economic slowdown after October 2008 also affected repayment capability. However, these explanations for loan default are partial at best, since Hindu and Christian borrowers continue to have a good repayment record.

The anjumans say interest on loans is un-Islamic, and so borrowers need not repay, and no further microloans should be given to Muslims. Really? Then why don’t the anjumans demand that banks stop lending to Muslim businessmen like Azim Premji of Wipro, Khorakiwala of Wockhardt, Hamied of Cipla, film producers and stars like Shah Rukh Khan, and hundreds of Muslim businessmen dominating the leather and footwear industry? Why don’t the anjumans send goons to prevent Muslim millionaires from repaying their much larger loans with interest?

Because the anjumans will not take on moneyed males, only poor women. They don’t like female empowerment through micro-credit, and so use the bogus rhetoric of Islamic finance to promote their gender agenda. Possibly, they also hope that violence can persuade the government to provide a loan waiver, as happened to farm loans.

The gender aspect comes through clearly in one anjuman’s explanation for banning microfinance: it says a female borrower rode pillion on the motor-cycle of a BSS agent. Such male chauvinism is outrageous. In contravention of basic freedoms under the law and Constitution, the anjumans claim the right to control the behaviour of any Muslim woman, and the authority to punish all Muslim female borrowers ignoring their illegal directives.

 

Oppressed muslim women

Oppressed muslim women

It matters not at all to the anjumans that the pioneer of microcredit is a Muslim, Mohammed Yunus, who has won the Nobel Peace prize for his work. It matters not that microcredit has made Muslim Bangladesh world famous. Mohammed Yunus has a far better claim to championing poor Muslim women than any anjuman.

It’s worth recalling Yunus’ reaction to the government waiver of farm loans last year. He said that if there was serious distress among farmers, the government should give the distressed farmers enough money to repay their loans. But repayment discipline must be maintained, so that the entire credit system remained healthy and responsible.

This would be a reasonable approach in Karnataka. But none of Yunus’ sentiments matter to the male chauvinists in the anjumans. And, sad to say, politicians do not want to take on anjumans that they view as vote banks. Hence, the Karnataka anjumans have gained credibility, and the non-repayment virus may spread to other states, shutting Muslim women out of the microcredit revolution sweeping India.

The need of the hour is for Muslim leaders and intellectuals to speak out on this issue. Industrialists like Premji, Hamied and Khokariwala must speak out. So should film stars like Shabana Azmi and Shah Rukh Khan. So should Muslim intellectuals from universities, and even vice president Hamid Ansari.

They should expose as bogus the claim of anjumans to be protecting Muslims from MFIs. Rather, the anjumans are depriving Muslim women of the empowerment that Mohammed Yunus pioneered. They are oppressors, not saviours of Muslim women.

 

November 8, 2009

Are crorepatis the kingmakers?

Filed under: BJP,Congress,Indian Politics,Karnataka — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

The Bellary brothers in Karnataka are proving to be the real kingmakers in Karnataka.The sons of a police constable,seem to be power and money thirsty wolves.It has been proven time and again that current system in India and the electoral laws are helping only the crooks to contest elections and win with the help of money power.A hundred rupee note + Free Biriyani + Free Transportation are enough for our poor people to be lured.The people are used to these last minute election freebies now and they are satisfied with what they get from these corrupt leaders.

Reddy brothers in coup

Reddy brothers in coup : Image courtesy - outlookindia.com

Chief minister BS Yeddurappa might not have visited so many temples before. No need to say who are behind this. The reddy brothers money power can get them what they want.Survival without huge money power and corruption seems not possible in Indian politics.The brothers from Bellary have been financing the elections at different times.They are now able to buy the 60 MLAs to their side and in a position to topple a state government.

Similarly, in the recently concluded elections in North East state, Arunachal Pradesh,the winners are mostly from the Congress party and almost all of them invariably are Crorepatis.There is atleast one thing in common among these people.If not all, most of them have become filthy rich after becoming a minister

Sources:

Bellary brothers clout in Karnataka

1 woman and 35 crorepatis win Arunachal Pradesh polls

November 6, 2009

Fearing Jagan, Congress keeps hands off Karnataka!

Source : Livemint.com

It has been a very tempting offer for Congress from the Reddy brothers — G Karunakar Reddy and G Janardhana Reddy! The mining barons from Bellary had offered the Congress party the support of 60 MLAs to topple the B.S Yeddyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka.

Reddy brothers - Image Courtesy:http://ibnlive.in.com/

Reddy brothers - Image Courtesy:http://ibnlive.in.com/

It would have been easy for Congress, which has 74 legislators in the 224-member state assembly. But Congress president Sonia Gandhi decided to reject the offer because her advisors told her that the move would strengthen Jaganmohan Reddy – son of late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy – who has been pressurizing the party leadership to appoint him at the top post in the state, replacing current chief minister K. Rosaiah. Jagan Reddy and the Bellary Reddys are reportedly known to be close business associates. So, for the Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh, a state government at the mercy of Reddy brothers in the neighboring Karnataka was an absolute ‘no no’.

The Congress leaders, who are in the know of the developments, claim that Gandhi had rejected the offer from the Reddy brothers “simply because she was not in favour of breaking a party to get power.”

Besides, Congress leaders in Karnataka also were not very keen for such a move. According to the party MLAs – who were in national capital for the last two days -, accepting Reddy brothers’ support to form a government would be “suicidal” for the Congress’ future in the state. They say such a government would not last for long as Reddy brothers are too demanding. The party, they say, is not ready for a mid-term election because it might lead to Yeddyurappa taking advantage of the “martyr image” he would acquire in the current political game. The Congress leaders also are confident that the Reddy brothers would force the BJP leadership to remove Yeddyruappa ultimately!

Related post:

BS Yeddurappa still the boss,here is why

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