Tuesday, 23 December 2008
"India is perhaps the only country in the world that went from being the greatest super-power to a developing wannabe superpower"
Indian culture - the Holy books - The Ramayana, The Mahabharata and the Bhagavat Gita and the greatest literature of all time, the Vedas, have held remarkable words of wisdom. But it's not the wisdom, but the intelligence which is even more remarkable. We had done all the scientific inventions and discoveries, had flying crafts and had even fought a nuclear wars some 4000 years back... Don't believe me? Have a look at this -
And perhaps the very same Hindus are all the time the underdogs in India - No matter who fights, people first blame Hindus. Just have a look at what Francois Gautier had to say about "Hindu terrorism"
Is there such a thing as 'Hindu terrorism', as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents— a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I'll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents' ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro).In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions.You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like simi, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the 'vengeance' bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed.So sometimes, enough is enough.At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
"I agree with Barack Obama when he said 'Yes, we can change' - But I am still waiting for Indians to understand that 'Yes, we can change, we need change, we will change' - For knowing that we can change isn't important, but the will to change is..."
"Honesty is the best policy" is an old adage. "Rules are meant to be broken" is another old adage. But somehow we see that people like to follow the latter, more than the former. A lot of patriotic Indians may disagree with me in this article. However, my aim is not to get anyone worked up - rather, we need to understand some home truth, and analyse it for our own good.
Rules are seldom followed in India. If you don't believe me, stand at any traffic junction, and watch. Especially when the traffic policemen aren't around. We can see how people continue driving despite the red signal. Everyone is in a hurry. When people see the green turn to amber from a distance, the speed instead of decreasing, shoots up - "Yes, I can just about make it" Why? What is going to happen if we wait for a little longer? If it is some kind of an emergency, perhaps it is understandable. 99.9% of the times, it is just because we don't want to wait. Then there are those who find themselves waiting at a red signal. But the road for which the light is green is almost sparse. So, they decide to drive past the red signal, for they see no point in them being made to wait... And those who think the same but are not at the front, honk - blaring sounds, forcing the person in front of them to start driving - "Who are you waiting for buddy? There is nobody on the other road... Go go go". And if you are a rule-follower and don't want to move, then some of these considerate rule breakers will ask you to move a little to the side so that at least they can drive along.
Us not following traffic rules is only an example - a case in point. We somehow see that people don't follow most of the rules. We always want the easy way out. We feel that rules are for the rest of them, not applicable for us. Rules are for losers... for the geeky lot. We are elite, and we don't need to follow rules. Another example is in Kiran Bedi's show - Aap ki kacheri, where a man sells tea on his push cart, bribes the Municipality guys every month for allowing him to do business there. When she asked him if he knew that he could avail a license which would allow him to legally run the business, he said that he knew about it. He still didn't do that. He continued to bribe the Municipal people, who later took away his cart and broke his articles for delaying the "payment". This would not have happened if he had taken a license.
Some people in Bangalore are complaining about the Bangalore police disallowing pubs to be open beyond a certain time, saying that their "night-life" is being curbed. They feel that their rights are being suffocated. They don't understand that it is being done for their own good. If you want to party beyond certain time, do so - without alcohol. Listen to music, and dance. But no! They want to drink, for that's the best part. And after the party, they drive home in an inebriated state. And the roads are empty at that time of the day and the inebriated drivers tend to drive rashly (rather than fast) and become a risk for themselves and for others. They may argue that the chances of meeting with an accident is not high. But when they do, it will be horrible. And let's be practical - drunken driving and over speeding are the biggest reasons for accidents. They even go to the extent of abusing the police saying that they are not doing their job properly, and keep focussing on petty issues like this. One, prevention is better than cure. It's better to disallow late night partying, than get yourself with bandages in a hospital. And two, I am sure you won't be talking so lightly about the police, when you see how they lay down their lives
We need to change. We should all, each one of us today, take a solemn oath that we shall change. We shall all agree to follow the rules, and respect law. We should follow the rules, not for the sake of the rules, but for the fact that following rules makes us more conscious. Instead of shooting dirty looks at the airport security personnel who insist on checking, we should co-operate. Lest, a terrorist may throw a dirty look and coolly carry a weapon onto the craft. When we do this, we can then have the moral right to blame people who are lax - blame the politicians or whoever for not doing their jobs properly. Only then can we have the moral rights... Otherwise people can keeep blaming one another. For none of us will be perfect, and others can find flaws. We need to change, instead of trying to change the system as many try to do. Yes we know we can change, yes we can change. But knowing that is not enough. We should change, and change we shall all.
Click on the image for the full size
A tribute to the brave men who laid down their lives for the safety of others, a tribute to the families who lost their loved ones... Let us not just sit and watch. My dear friends, I do not think that simply sitting around and blaming politicians is the solution. We should all stand up together and take a solemn oath that we shall follow the rules, no matter how hard it is... We shall respect the law. We shall change... And we shall influence others to change. To change towards betterment. We shall follow rules by not paying bribe, we shall follow traffic rules, we shall follow rules - for they are meant for our good. And when we do, we begin to realise that following rules is not important, but the sense to do that is... We start become conscious, and later it becomes inherent in us. And when we all become responsible, it becomes easy to narrow down problems. If you have some time, close your eyes, and think about it...
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Swami Gulagulaananda preached:
"The danger of HIV is not the virus itself, but the fact that it nullifies our defense to face newer ones"
The recent terror strike in Mumbai has taken the lives of hundreds of innocent people. And
the blame game has already started, with the intelligence agencies saying that they had
warned about these attacks long back and no action or preparation came from the Mumbai
police and government to prevent this from happening. And the people at the other end of
the fingers pointed claim that no specific information was given - strikes could be
anywhere, anytime. Information too general... Well, whichever is true, the damage has
already been done. Now for the correctional measures - which several people have demanded
for, and new Home Minister, Chidambaram has made several promises which if truly
implemented will be really effective.
However, this is within the country. A lot of people have strongly felt that we should go
on a full nuke strike on Pakistan - finish that country once and for all, they won't be a
migraine anymore. Other people, including US President elect, Barack Obama feel that
striking the terror camps on Pakistan is a better solution. It will be like helping
Pakistan get rid of terrorists. Just perform rapid air strikes on Pakistan, and before you
know it, it will be cleared of its nuisance (and ours)
But it is not as easy as it sounds, for surely, Pakistan will retaliate. And they will
start mobilising their troops from the Western border to the eastern, towards India.
Several people feel that this is exactly the idea of the Taliban, because fewer soldiers on
the west means that they can fight better. Some people feel that this is the idea of ISI so
that increased troops near India, means increased infiltration.
Now suppose a war does break out between India and Pakistan, India will surely win, no
doubt about it, just like it has happened several times before. However, there will major
disadvantages because of this war. One, several lives will be lost. Two, the economy will
fall back, and we will be a little behind than what we are now... This means that we will
be much behind China, which as of now is a silent spectator. China's economy will continue
to grow, while we are a going behind due to the war. And in the future, we will be up
against a far stronger enemy, and we will be weaker than what we should be to fight them.
Another aspect is - India will not suffer a major setback if the USA and the UK assist
India in this. But this is doubtful as USA needs Pakistan's help to curb issues in
Afghanistan, and also needs its troops there. So, their help might be minimal.
The only probable way that everything will go fine - with USA and UK assisting India
without us suffering a major setback would be if Taliban takes over Pakistan which they
have threatened to do. If that happens, then that country will truly become a rogue nation,
and the western powers will have no choice for the sake of their own safety, as for India,
whoever is ruling Pakistan, military or democracy, elements from that country have been a
Our objective would have to be to get rid of these rogue elements only - Pakistan, as a
country I doubt would be involved in this. This would be the work of ISI and terrorists. We
should therefore strike at these terror camps, therefore not affecting Pakistan, not
inviting a war and therefore rendering us stronger to stand up against China. New
technology that is being developed should be inducted as soon as possible - Like anti
missile weapons etc. to prevent pre-emptive strikes, nuclear or otherwise. We need to
develop far more aggressively, and should suppress our urge to fight on communal lines, for
now, we need to stay united as a nation.
Also, we should learn to be more security conscious, our police needs to be upgraded in
terms of training and weapons, our reconnaissance improved... India has the best cameras on
satellites in the world. Still we are not using it to guard our borders effectively. We can
see upto a metre very clearly Anything suspicious could be quickly captured. Also, with
advancements in Digital Image Processing, human intervention can be removed, and the
computer itself should be capable of reporting suspicious behaviour, like unknown boats,
ships arriving. If we have the will to do it, we can do anything, not a big deal. We have
the best brains in the world. Another approach I feel would be to have communities like the
open source, where people volunteer and provide small bits of help, which when put together
will form a large powerful system. Where they can help, and how? Well, this is left for you
to ponder about... But the borrom line is - we need to brace against probable future
threats or attacks from China which is a bigger danger than Pakistan which can be defeated
relatively easily. For China has more people, better technology, larger land and greater
clout and will.