The Candid Eye

February 5, 2010

Thackerays need to calm down: Sri Sri

Reacting to the raging controversy on the ‘Mumbai is for Indians’ issue, noted spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar on Thursday advised the leaders of Maharashtra to follow his organisation’s breathing technique and other courses in order to gain peace.

Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar

“There are a lot of problems in society already. Let us not create any new problems,” he told Zee News on being asked if the Thackerays needed to follow his teachings.

“The Thackeray family strictly need Art of Living lessons,” he said.

Sri Sri was in the Capital to announce a mission to clean up the River Yamuna that his Art of Living is starting from March 7. The mission encompasses involving volunteers, 82 NGOs, World Bank, UNESCO etc in a campaign to create awareness about Yamuna.

“India’s strength lies in unity in diversity and this cannot be put at stake because of such insignificant issues. We should look at a united India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” he added.

Having said that the leaders need to bring people together and not divide them, Sri Sri also added that locals should not be ignored.“Regional people should be given due importance, no doubt, but those from other states should not be opposed,” he said, adding “it is not part of our Indian culture.”

In a lighter, yet meaningful, vein he said that cleanliness campaigns needed to be launched everywhere- be it in politics, medical profession, business etc. “But don’t ask me to clean up everything,” he said followed by peels of laughter.

He said peace and reconciliation are possible and even the Maoists had responded positively to his call for talks. “We held a satsang in Orissa’s Maoist zone and there were over a lakh who attended, it was unprecedented.”

Called ‘Meri Yamuna, Meri Dilli’, the campaign will see awareness drives, cleanliness campaigns at various banks of Yamuna, coordination between various government agencies involved with Yamuna etc. Sri Sri said they were starting with Yamuna as it was more polluted than Ganga.

“Our Ganga clean up programs are already on, though,” he said. The campaign is being organised in view of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) latest report that the faecal content in the water of the Yamuna is so high that the river resembles a drain.

”I saw devotees drinking and bathing in dirty Yamuna water. I was so pained to see that and decided to do something about it,” he added.

He said people and government were both to be held responsible for the mess in Yamuna that had not been cleaned up despite investment of hundreds of crores and people needed to demand answers from the authorities about the same.

“In our study, we found that the main problem is a lack of coordination between various government and non-government agencies. We will try to be a link for all so that we can plan all plan what to do about the Yamuna,” he said.

The program will not ask for money from those getting involved- corporates, citizens, World Bank etc.- and it would be all voluntary work, Sri Sri informed.

On being asked if it was possible to link development with nature, he said it was the only way for sustainable progress. “There is no other way. A balance will have to be achieved between growth and nature.”

He also dismissed questions about it all being a gimmick. “Our programs are for all to see. We make it compulsory for those who attend our spiritual camps to work for society. Where can we run from our issues? There is no escape…”

Source: Zee News

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January 23, 2010

Why India should not get too close to China?

There is no need for India to club its future with that of the Middle Kingdom, notes Claude Arpi.

Indians are good people, but this can sometimes become a problem, especially in the fields of defence and foreign policy. Why so?

Too often they believe that others are like them. The best example has been the first Indian prime minister’s Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai policy. Jawaharlal Nehru believed in the fraternity of nations, he believed in peaceful co-existence, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; he tried hard to impose these lofty principles on India’s neighbours, and particularly on China.

A clever Zhou Enlai pretended to agree with the principles, but his mind functioned differently. Zhou, like his mentor Mao Zedong, was a hardcore revolutionary who believed in the omnipotence of war. Is it not the Great Helmsman who wrote, ‘Some people have ridiculed us as the advocates of omnipotence of war. Yes, we are: We are the advocates of the omnipotence of the revolutionary war, which is not bad at all, but good and is Marxist.’

Chinese Flag

There is nothing wrong in believing in the omnipotence of peace, as long one does not forget that others may think (and act) differently.In the case of Nehru, the result was not long to come; eight years after signing the Panchsheel Agreement, China treacherously attacked India in the North East Frontier Agency and Ladakh. The nation paid a heavy price for not being able to understand the Chinese way of thinking.

The tragedy is that 50 years later, many in India still believe that the priority No 1 of India’s foreign policy should be to be friends with China. Once again, there is nothing wrong to be China’s ‘friend’ or even ‘brother’, but it should not be at the cost of India’s interests or by bending backward over each whim and fancy of a single-party regime in Beijing.

In India, you will find different types of apologists. Some could be called ‘lackeys’ (to use Mao’s parlance): They usually have business or academic interests in China and love the reception they get when they travel to the Middle Kingdom. Let us not waste time over them.

Many sincerely believe that India and China are two emerging economies, for a long time under the political and economic thumb of the West (in particular the United States), therefore their destiny is intimately linked. Their ‘logical’ conclusion is that Beijing and Delhi [ Images ] should work in tandem. They give a recent example: the common position at Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change.

I will not go into details but I totally disagree. Although there is one common denominator (the fast development rate), India’s case is totally different from China’s.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently stated in Washington: ‘Well, I have no hesitation in saying that I think development in India cannot be a carbon copy of what happens in China. And the Chinese system is very different.’

India

Speaking to CNN, he reiterated his government’s stand: ‘There is enough economic space for both our countries to realise the growth ambitions of our respective countries.’ He however made it clear: ‘We are a functioning democracy… Democracy is slow-moving… I always believed that it may be slow-moving in the short term, but in the long run, an arrangement which has the backing of the people at large will prove to be more durable.’

If one analyses the future of the two countries, this should be kept in mind. India and China are different and their destinies may go in opposite directions.

Wei Jingsheng, the most famous Chinese dissident who spent 18 years in jail for proposing in the 1970’s ‘democracy’ as the fifth ‘modernisation’, (Deng Xiaoping had spoken of the Four Modernisations) recently wrote an article in The Christian Science Monitor. He opposed the sentence of 11 years in prison for the mild dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Wei noted that because China ‘now sits prominently at the tables of global governance’, its leaders think thus: ‘Since you made a fuss about releasing Liu after his arrest, we will punish him even more severely. In no uncertain terms, that will let you know that not only don’t we care what you think, but we don’t have to.’

Wei adds: ‘We Chinese are intimately acquainted with this authoritarian arrogance’, before concluding: ‘Now that China’s leaders believe their prospering nation has emerged as a player in world history just as America’s prestige has been weakened by the Iraq war and the recent financial meltdown, the hardliners have been able to wrest the upper hand once again.’

No goody-goody Indian analyst will view things like this, though Indian ‘experts’ would better grasp China if they could understand the centrality of the survival of the Communist party in the preoccupation of all Chinese leaders.

Today there is one issue which preoccupies the apparatchiks in Beijing more than anything else: the rate of the yuan. Indeed the fate of the regime depends on the continuation of the growth rate which itself largely depends on the low rate of the Chinese currency.

In 2009, the Barack Obama  administration tried the bhai-bhai way with Beijing, accepting to drop a proposed meeting between the Dalai Lama and later forgetting all contentious issues during the November presidential visit to Beijing. But it did not pay off; Beijing hardened its stance in all fronts.

In 2010, Obama seems decided to show the mandarins in Beijing that the US remains a power to reckon with. He will meet the Dalai Lama and sell Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan.

The Washington Post pointed out that many American analysts today believe that ‘the Obama administration — with its intensive outreach to Beijing — tried too hard in its first year to cultivate ties with China. Playing hard to get might have helped smooth out China’s swagger.’

Another US expert explained: ‘We’re in the role of the supplicant’ while a senior US trade official mildly threatened: ‘If [Beijing] continues on this particular path in a strong and inflexible way, there will be a significant political backlash not just in the United States. China needs to be aware of that.’

For these reasons, Beijing will have to reevaluate its currency, sooner or later. Even in China many agree that China has no choice. Zhang Bing, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stated in a research paper that the government’s current yuan policy of gradual reform is wrong. Zhang admitted: ‘There’s a very urgent need for pushing forward the reform plan on the yuan and now is the best timing.’ He concluded that ‘a 10 percent appreciation in the yuan against the dollar should have a limited impact on the Chinese economy. It would reduce speculative fund inflows by effectively eliminating expectations of a yuan appreciation.’

Whether Beijing decides to reevaluate the yuan in 2010 or not, ultimately the decision is inescapable and this will have incalculable consequences for the Middle Kingdom.

On January 1, Swaminathan Aiyar in The Economic Times predicted that during the next decade: ‘India will overtake China as the fastest-growing economy in the world. China will start ageing and suffering from a declining workforce, and will be forced to revalue its currency. So its growth will decelerate, just as Japan decelerated in the 1990s after looking unstoppable in the 1980s. Having become the world’s second-biggest economy, China’s export-oriented model will erode sharply — the world will no longer be able to absorb its exports at the earlier pace.’

Well, the future will tell us if the prediction was true. But in the meantime, Chinese supremacy may continue for some time. According to deal tracking firm Dealogic: ‘Global property sector M&A [merger & acquisitions] reached just $151.8 billion in 2009, the lowest level since 2003’. However, China witnessed an increase of 41 percent in its M&A levels from its previous year: ‘China attracted deals amounting to $29.3 billion or 19 percent of the global volume — the highest total on record,’ commented Dealogic.

The only certainty is that the situation of the Middle Kingdom is far more unstable than in India. A scenario found on The Financial Times’ web site makes interesting studying. The author projects himself to 2019 when shortage of water in China heralds the end of an epoch: ‘By 2015, it was [already] obvious: China was seriously parched. The Great Wall of Credit of 2009-2012 had unleashed too much industrial capacity consuming too much water. That exacerbated a nationwide shortage — China had more than a fifth of the world’s population, but only 6 per cent of its fresh water. Four years later and the crisis has taken on ruinous dimensions. Crop failure and famine in the deserted interiors; emergency rationing in the teeming coastal cities… Ten years ago [2009] China had it all: a well-nourished workforce, vast reserves of paper money, a new swagger on the international stage. The sharp currency revaluation of 2010 unleashed a global mergers and acquisitions spree the likes of which the world had never seen… That president Xi Jinping is considering beseeching poorer neighbours for food aid is a measure of how far the mighty have fallen.’

One can envisage several other scenarios, but one point is certain, China will have to face far more serious problems than India in the years to come. For sure, there is no need for India to club its future with that of the Middle Kingdom. One of the possible future scenarios is certainly a conflict with India for water which will be triggered by the nervousness of the declining empire.India can continue to believe in the omnipotence of peace, but it should be ready for any eventuality.

Related Posts:

India must be fully prepared to defend its borders

Can Indian leadership handle China?

China as Nuclear proliferator

China working on Maoist SIMI nexus in South India?

China should breakup India – Strategist

Why China may attack India by 2012?

January 16, 2010

Quote of the week – Can’t change anti-India sentiment: Sheikh Hasina

Filed under: Bangladesh,India — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Courtesy : NDTV with my emphasis.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has admitted that there is a strong anti-India sentiment in her country and she can do little to change it.

Sheikh Hasina, the Bangladesh PM

For the second consecutive day on her visit in New Delhi, she stressed that India should be “more generous in dealing with neighbours.”

What else India can do for Bangladesh  Mrs.Hasina? You are there today because of India.Crores of Bangladeshi Muslims have illegally migrated to India.Indira Gandhi even brought an unconstitutional law to make it happen.They have been given citizenship,Voter’s id, Haj Subsidy and all other freebies meant for Indian Muslims.All these things are provided to you at the expense of Indian citizens.In contrast, thousands of Hindus and moderate Muslims in Bangladesh are being persucuted, killed, driven out by your own people.

You are aware of all these things and yet remain calm and doing nothing about this.You have been given the Indira Gandhi peace award, not by India, but by Congress as they depend heavily on the illegally migrated Bangladeshis and you played a major role in bringing these crores of Bangaladeshis illegally into India.

Good drama perfectly orchestrated by you and Congress!

December 24, 2009

Can Indian leadership handle China??

This is an excerpt from the article by Tarun Vijay.

The famous hotel Dusit Thani Hua Hin overlooking the gulf of Thailand, where the leaders of India and China met, proudly proclaims, “We use gifts of the heavens to create heaven on earth.” It is one of Thailand’s most scintillating hubs, known for its calm and serene surroundings. I don’t know if the leaders noticed it, but they surely were there to create a better atmosphere between the two nuclear-powered nations which fought a bitter war forty-seven years ago and have been under the shadow of a cold war once again.

Manmohan Singh & Wen Jiabao

Manmohan Singh & Wen Jiabao

The meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao must help calm the harshness in both the capitals. Prudence and pragmatism prevailed and the outcome was placidly correct. Just correct. Neither yielded the position he has stuck to and neither raised the decibel levels. You couldn’t have expected a tit-for-tat show there and while being conscious of the present situation, if both sides can reconcile themselves to building bridges while sorting out difference, neither loses.

Of late, the Chinese have been pricking Indian sensitivities at an extraordinarily fast pace. So much so that even the electioneering scenes in India were overpowered by the news regarding Chinese incursions, Indian rebuffs, major cover stories in media and the Arunachal CM meeting the Prime Minister.

Interestingly, in such a charged background our cool and gentle Manmohan Singh met Wen Jiabao and felt “excited” as the news reports say. I am sure this must be a reporter’s overenthusiasm, as he might have wanted to convey the thrill of the meeting. The reports said, “Manmohan Singh told Wen: ‘I am excited to see you.’ He said the Chinese people have had a number of achievements “and we share their sense of accomplishment”. He said this in the context of the 60th anniversary of the founding of modern China.”

The Chinese premier was more candid. He said, “We want to have a healthy and steady relationship with India. I hope we can use this opportunity to exchange our views on all related issues.”

As any student of Chinese affairs can tell, understanding diplomacy in Mandarin is a tricky job. Each word and the length of the sentence and similes used to convey the message have to be studied carefully. The official “leaks” do not tell us whether the Indian side conveyed any displeasure or annoyance to the Chinese premier on their cold-war like interventions and the Chinese side, it appears, was calmly “just diplomatically right”. It means they think what they have been doing so far is right and demands no explanation or relook.This must worry us.

The raking up of the border issue so forcefully, in spite of an agreement that the issue will be resolved amicably and through dialogue, has surprised many. While the pro-China lobby in Delhi blamed the American influence for creating an atmosphere that would make the Indian people ask for a reprisal, the factual position about Chinese arrogance spoke a different story. The situation on the Chinese side has to be understood before any final “assault”. The Chinese have grown rich, assertive and xenophobic in their global dreams. And this must make them more interventionist in near future.

It began with the Chinese incursions – observers say there had been more than 218 incursions by the Chinese security personnel since January this year. And the number of such incursions was higher in the Ladakh sector, where they have been successful to also make India dismantle a bridge on the Indus. The experts from Ladakh have been complaining that the Chinese have been intruding the Indian territory, they are not taking our land by inches but by yards. These experts also tells us the points and the nullahs where the Chinese came and then established their dominance. Yet nobody from the South Block took it seriously. Even the Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, and our foreign minister, S M Krishna, gave contradictory statements about incursions. Still the Chinese belligerence didn’t stop. China objected to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Arunachal visit, it began construction work in the Kashmir region which is under illegal occupation of Pakistan, in spite of having conceded by the Indian government that Tibet is a part of China (which the nationalist school of thought will never accept), China keeps showing Kashmir as an independent country and Sikkim has yet to be shown as an Indian state. It also began giving visas to Kashmiris separately and hasn’t quite understood about the terrorist problem India is facing though it would like us to understand its jihadi headache in Xinjiang.

China opposed India’s agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it tried to block Asian Development Bank’s $60 million loan for a power generation project in Arunachal, and more recently it tried its hardest to coerce Southeast Asian nations against inviting India as a member of the East Asia summit. It has not only accepted a “gift” of land from Pakistan, which in fact is claimed by India, but has been strengthening Pakistan militarily by providing nuclear knowhow, among other things. On the maritime front, China is steadfastly modernizing its bases in the Indian Ocean with its port development projects going in full swing in Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

India expressed its concern over China’s new underground nuclear submarine base off the southern tropical island of Hainan. The then Naval chief, Sureesh Mehta, had publicly stated that the base poses a threat to Indian security. On the Arunachal border China has been shifting border pillars and making a dam on the Brahmaputra that would be a potential threat to the Indian people. On the Sikkim border a new highway and permanent army structures have come up. In times of any hostility, the Chinese would be able to cut the Siliguri corridor swiftly. On the other side, a joint command of Lanzhou Military Region opposite Ladakh, Himachal and Uttarakhand has come up. Tibet has become the most powerful Chinese base against India and reports say that China is in a position to send 20,000 troops anywhere on the Indian border from its Tibetan bases within two hours.

By contrast, Indian politicians have no idea what should be their Chinese policy and are busy in petty domestic rumblings or totally uninformed cacophonies. Once Arunachal used to have 12c functional air strips, now it has only two and more accurately just one, to cite an example of our preparedness. It’s only after the media taking up the Chinese threat that India responded by positioning its Sukhoi war planes replacing MIGs on the northeastern front and deciding to revive its four IAF bases on the Arunachal border (Vijaya Nagar, Mechuka, Tuting and Passighat), yet the confidence level hasn’t risen high on our side.

But it would be wrong to conclude that China would engage India in any military assault soon. It would also be imprudent and pathetically unintelligent to put China in the Pakistan category. It has to be a different story – we are not “1962” and China is not Maoist either. Keeping a watch on the factual positions, building our own defence and economy, we must continue to engae China in bilateral relations.

Read the full article here.

December 18, 2009

Corruption retarding India’s growth says Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, has said that corruption is the single greatest threat to the nation’s economic prospects.

In a speech given to an anti-corruption corruption in New Delhi, Mr Singh described the damaging effect that bribes, extortion and fraud have on all levels of life in India.

Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh

He said that graft meant infrastructure projects were late, over-budget, and often poor quality, while labeling India’s opaque business practices “a fertile breeding ground for the evil of corruption.

“The pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image [and it] discourages investors who expect fair treatment and transparent dealings with public authorities,” he said.

The difficult task facing the country’s anti-corruption forces was emphasised when shortly afterwards judges of only two of India’s 29 states agreed to declare their assets, despite having been ordered to do so by India’s supreme court.

“What message are these judges sending out?” asked Anupama Jha, director of the Indian branch of Transparency International, an international corruption watchdog.

“Judges were once greatly respected and now these questions about judicial corruption have lowered their status. It is a sad situation.”

Nevertheless, India has the second-fastest growing economy in the world, after China.

“They would be even faster growing if they were less corrupt,” said Gareth Price, head of the Asia programme at Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank.

“The fastest growing sector of their economy is IT and that is the only sector that is completely outside the government’s control.”

He said that the history of graft in India was the product mainly of three things. “Firstly, the British bureaucratic legacy to the subcontinent. The British created so many rules that anyone could be shut down if, say, a factory inspector found that a bucket of sand was missing, making the place a ‘fire hazard’. So the inspectors would be bribed simply not to shut the place down.

“Secondly, after Independence India had a Soviet-style system of quotas, in which the licences that you received permitting you to produce a quantity of something basically determined how profitable you would be. So the government would be bribed to hand out licences.

“And the third thing is that the tax system is extraordinarily complex and condusive to corruption. Recent attempt to simplify it met with resistance mainly from business who were afraid they’d end up paying more rather than less.”

Mr Price added that graft may have become more of an issue recently due to an increase in conspicuous consumption. “Twenty years ago people in India who had wealth didn’t necessarily flaunt it.

“But over the past ten years you have seen people driving Porsches around Delhi for the first time. And if you know that someone is a civil servant and is supposed to be on a certain salary but is seen driving a Porsche, corruption becomes more of an issue.”

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

September 29, 2009

In Rome, Durga is not welcome

This post is an excerpt written by Kanchan Gupta, appeared on Pioneer.

What does it mean to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome? It means to be humiliated, harassed and hounded by city officials who happen to be pious Christians. Alright, I could be utterly wrong in presuming they are pious since I have no independent confirmation of their piety or otherwise. But let’s get back to the question with which I began. Late Thursday night I was at the park near my house where the local Bengalis organise Durga Puja every year. It’s a raucous celebration of faith and culture. The food stalls are invariably hugely popular and there I was with my nine-year-old daughter, standing in a queue for kathi rolls. After what seemed like an interminable wait, it was our turn to be served. Just then my BlackBerry beeped. Balancing the piping hot rolls, dripping oil, tomato ketchup, green chilli sauce and lemon juice, in one hand, I tried to read the e-mail on my handset.

Devi Durga Puja Celebration

Devi Durga Puja Celebration

No luck. I got shoved around, nearly dropped both rolls and my phone, and decided to let the e-mail wait. Later, away from the crowd, I checked the e-mail and it was a fascinating story. Since the identity of the person who had sent the mail is not really relevant, let me reproduce the text: “The Municipal Police authorities of Rome have today withdrawn permission, granted three weeks ago, to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. The cancellation came a few hours before the Ambassador of India was scheduled to inaugurate the Puja at 8 pm local time. No acceptable explanation has been given. This has caused the local Indian community the loss of thousands of Euros spent in preparatory arrangements. The same thing was done in the same manner in 2008 also. Please monitor developments.”

Now that’s awful, I told myself, here I am having kathi rolls and there they can’t even celebrate their own festival. On Friday, I called a friend in Rome who provided me with the latest details. Our Ambassador, Mr Arif Shahid Khan, a feisty man who has in the past taken up the issue of Sikhs being forced to take off their turbans at Italian airports, campaigned throughout the day, calling up officials, including the Mayor of Rome, and contacting members of the ‘Friends of India’ group in the Italian Parliament, arguing with them why permission for the Puja should be restored. By evening, the authorities had reversed their order and permission was granted to celebrate Durga Puja, which will now begin on Saturday, Ashtami — a full 48 hours behind schedule. Provided, of course, there is no last minute cancellation, as it happened on Thursday. Mr Khan will inaugurate the Puja, an honour he richly deserves.

The story behind the cancellation needs to be told, if only to point out that Christian countries in the West, whose Governments so blithely criticise the ‘lack’ of ‘religious freedom’ in India, have no compunctions about trampling on Hindu sentiments at home. After last year’s experience, when permission for celebrating Durga Puja in Rome was abruptly withdrawn by officials who cited specious reasons to justify their grossly unfair decision, the organisers, led by Mr Rajesh Sahani, a Sindhi from Kolkata who speaks flawless Bengali, took ample precautions this year. They were given permission to organise the Puja at Parko Centocelle, a public park on Via Cailina, Torpignattara. Three weeks ago, permission was granted for the Puja at the park and necessary formalities were completed.

Early this past week, the Puja organisers were told they could not use the park as a crime had been committed there and the location posed security-related problems. The organisers agreed to change the venue. Another park was selected, permission was given to celebrate Durga Puja there, and the preparations began all over again in right earnest. Then, like a bolt from the blue, at 4 pm on Thursday came the withdrawal of permission by the Municipal Police. The organisers were bluntly told to pack up and leave hours before Durga Puja was scheduled to begin with Akal Bodhon in the evening. Why? No reason was proffered.

Cross Question

Cross Question

Some officials are believed to have told the organisers that the cancellation of permission at the eleventh hour, both last year and this year, was meant to be “retaliatory action against the persecution of Christians in India”. It may be recalled that the President of Italy, Mr Giorgio Napoletano, has been vociferous in demanding that Europe should do more in support of Christians in India and to help them ‘affirm their right to religious freedom’. The Government of Italy has in the past summoned the Ambassador of India to convey to him that it has “deep concern and sensitivity for the ongoing inter-religious violence… that has caused the death of many Christians.” The Pope has been no less harsh in denouncing India.

There could be another reason, apart from its “deep concern” about the welfare of Christians in India, for Italy’s callous disregard of the sentiments of Hindus in that country. Although the Italian Constitution guarantees religious freedom, under the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, Italy recognises only the three religions of Semitic origin — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All other religions are no more than paganism and are to be shamed and shunned. The Vatican would not countenance any open breach of the Lateran Treaty; Italy would not want to be seen as recognising Hinduism.

“It’s only natural that Italy should have a surfeit of churches. But it’s the rejection of any other faith than Christianity, Judaism and Islam that explains why there are so many mosques but virtually no temples in Italy although this country has a large Hindu expatriate population,” my friend told me while regretting the attitude of the Government and the local authorities. According to him, there are only three temples in Italy: One in a garage in Venice; another at Frescolo and the third at Reggio Emilia. These survive at the mercy of local zoning officials.

But for Mr Arif Shahid Khan’s pro-active involvement — most Ambassadors tend to stay aloof from community affairs — this year too there would have been no Durga Puja in Rome. Indians in Italy owe him a debt of gratitude. So do Bangladeshis who are equal participants in this annual celebration of dharma’s victory over adharma, of the triumph of good over evil. Cultural and linguistic affinities unite Bengalis, irrespective of whether they are from the west or east of Padma, during this autumnal festival celebrated around the world.

Meanwhile, let’s not get carried away by the West’s bilious and bogus criticism of ‘lack of’ religious freedom in India and indulge in self-flagellation. Let the West look at its own ugly, septic warts. If Christians can celebrate Christmas in New Delhi, Hindus have the right to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. This is non-negotiable.

August 25, 2009

He had a pistol.He used it.

A very informative article on Jinnah,by Tarun Vijay,editor of Panchajanya, appeared in Times of India a while ago.

“I am not prepared to discuss ethics. We have a pistol and are in a position to use it.” So said Mohammad Ali Jinnah while delivering his presidential speech at the Muslim League convention on July 19, 1946.

What followed was an unimaginable massacre of Hindus in Kolkata on August 16, 1946. Six thousand killed, twenty thousand raped and maimed.

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the then leader of Hindu Mahasabha had said, “Jinnah is out to destroy the very soul of India.”

If one single instance should be cited to understand what Jinnah really was, it would not be his speech in the Constituent Assembly, Karachi, often quoted by Indian Hindus, but his call for “Direct Action”.

That was August 16, 1946, known as the day of “great Calcutta killings”. After the “Direct Action” resolution was passed by the Muslim League on July 19, 1946, its president, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, said in his valedictory speech: “What we have done today is the most historic act in our history. Never have we in the whole history of the League done anything except by the constitutional methods and by constitutionalism. But now we are obliged and forced into this position. This day we bid goodbye to constitutional methods…. Now the time has come for the Muslim Nation to resort to direct action. I am not prepared to discuss ethics. We have a pistol and are in a position to use it.”

Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the then leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, who had said, “Jinnah is out to destroy the very soul of India”, organized Hindus fearlessly and foiled Jinnah’s plan to oust Hindus from Kolkata. He formed a volunteer group of the Hindus named the Hindusthan National Guards, resisted horrendous goondaism of the League and moved in the riot-affected areas giving courage to the victims of a planned slaughter and orgy of violence by the League’s marauders.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee was traveling all over India awakening the masses to rise against the partition plot. On October 8, 1944, at a United Provinces Hindu Conference, he said, “The sooner Mr Jinnah understands that Pakistan in any form or shape will be resisted by Hindus and many others with the last drop of blood, the better for him, for he will then quietly descend on realities and himself plead for a just and equitable settlement. None but an agent of imperialism will so block the path of Indian unity and freedom as Mr Jinnah is doing.”

Dr Mookerjee, who is respected as the ideological icon and source of inspiration by the Bharatiya Janata Party, was a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. In fact, he had been in close contact with Sri Aurobindo, who had said, “The idea of two nationalities in India is only a new-fangled notion invented by Jinnah for his purposes and contrary to the facts. More than 90% of the Indian Mussalmans are descendants of converted Hindus and belong as much to the Indian nation as the Hindus themselves. This process of conversion has continued all along; Jinnah is himself a descendant of a Hindu,converted in fairly recent times,named Jinabhai and many of the most famous Mahommedan leaders have a similar origin.”(SABCL, vol.26, page 46).

It was Dr Mookerjee who stood firm and tried to organize a people’s movement against partition. He said: “Hindus regard this country as their sacred and holy land. Irrespective of provincial barriers or the diversity in faiths and languages there exists a remarkable economic and cultural unity and inter-dependence which cannot be destroyed at the will of persons and parties who think it beneath their dignity to regard India as their motherland. We must live and die for India and her liberty.” (24th December 1944).

He disagreed with Gandhi placating the Muslim demands and said,”As soon as the other communities realize that the Hindus of India are united and have pledged themselves to stand together for the attainment of their ideal and have adopted a policy of understanding and tolerance to all classes of people residing in India, other communities whose support we are seeking in vain today will then join us voluntarily and on terms honourable to all.”(“Awake Hindusthan”, Page 12).

He further said: “Our experiences in recent years have proved that much as we would be willing to surrender the rights and interests of the Hindus for the purpose of placating other communities, much as we would like to pursue the policy of delivering “blank cheques” the response from the other side is slow and halting, if not sometimes hostile in character.(“Awake Hindusthan”, Page 13)

In this context, I would like to add that however different Jinnah might have been , we just can’t belittle Nehru before Jinnah. Nehru belonged to us; he fought for India’s freedom, spent years in jail and had an Indian dream. We may have a thousand differences with him on policies and programmes, but so what? That would be our “domestic matter”. Jinnah led our motherland’s vivisection and he never fought for the freedom struggle.

MJ Akbar has written these lines describing his persona,”Muhammad Ali Jinnah, aristocrat by temperament, catholic in taste, sectarian in politics, and the father of Pakistan, was the unlikeliest parent that an Islamic republic could possibly have. He was the most British of the generation of Indians that won freedom in August 1947. As a child in the elite Christian Mission High School in Karachi, he changed his birthday from 20 October to Christmas Day. As a student at Lincoln’s Inn, he anglicised his name from Jinnahbhai to Jinnah. For three years, between 1930 and 1933, he went into voluntary exile in Hampstead, acquired a British passport, set up residence with his sister Fatimah and daughter Dina, hired a British chauffeur (Bradley) for his Bentley, kept two dogs (a black Dobermann and a white West Highland terrier), indulged himself at the theatre (he had once wanted to be a professional actor so that he could play Hamlet) and appeared before the Privy Council to maintain himself in the style to which he was accustomed. He wore Savile Row suits, heavily starched shirts and two-tone leather or suede shoes……Despite being the Quaid-e-Azam, or the Great Leader of Muslims, he drank a moderate amount of alcohol and was embarrassingly unfamiliar with Islamic methods of prayer. He was uncomfortable in any language but English, and made his demand for Pakistan — in 1940 at Lahore — in English, despite catcalls from an audience that wanted to hear Urdu.”

That was a bit of Syama Prasad and the related reflections that may prove worthwhile in the present political debate enveloping the nationalist school of politics. At the end of it, what the Gita has said and the RSS teaches us must make the final lines to this blogpost:

It’s better to die unwavering even in tatters than to change track midway and die stinking rich.

That’s Dharma.

Krishna said: “Swadharme nidhano shreyo (to live and die in ones’ own path alone is the life worthwhile and adopting the ‘other’ dharma is horrible)”.

For small desires we lose a lifetime’s achievements and glory.

History was never made essentially by those who became state heads, but often by those who didn’t.

Or by those who gave up everything for others’ good, honestly. Syama Prasad and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya are two major icons of faith for the Hindu nationalist parivar. Both created history and died in their early fifties. Both were mysteriously ‘murdered’. Their lives must light the path of those who care to follow swadharma.

That’s BJP’s legacy too. As it is of other ideologically committed organisations of the saffron hue.

Lincoln didn’t shy away from the civil war and stood like a rock on the question of American spirit and unity. So was Syama Prasad. He died but didn’t bend.

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