Has Modi lost a golden opportunity?

It was one Saturday one time and a Sunday the following week and every week almost, the people of India were hooked to television sets waiting to listen to the future leader of the country, none other than Modi. That was 2013 September onwards when Narendra Modi got elected as the head of campaign committee of BJP who was addressing rallies in various parts of country. There was euphoria all over with the expectations soaring as the then dispensation had failed miserably having been accused of one scam after another. It was a movement that began with Anna Hazare fasting for the cause of Lokpal bill which eventually got passed by parliament. Arvind Kejriwal gave the political touch for the movement with his Aam Aadmi Party that eventually got Delhi to rule.

 

History was created on 16 th may 2014 when BJP got a historic mandate of 282 seats and people started celebrating with joy the advent of a non congress dispensation in full majority for the first time after Independence. The mood was palpable as the expectation that Modi rallies with its slogan of Achhe Din had generated tremendous response from public. By then the public was reeling from the effects of not only from rampant corruption, but also with higher fuel prices, inflation with high cost of living, high interest rates and lack of job opportunities.

So what did BJP promise that got them to 282 in 2014? The main catch was bringing black money back and putting it into every Indian account an amount of Rs 15 lakh. Come 2018 almost after 4 and half years of the Modi Government, where do we stand? The petroleum minister says he is helpless to bring down fuel prices as the Global factors are responsible for it. If that is the case why didn’t you bring down the prices when the global prices were falling between 2014 and 2016 the people are asking. What happened to the wind fall gains by the government during that period. You are claiming that the oil marketing companies have become profitable, what about people, a big hole in their pockets?. Is this what Achhe Din all about?.

When Demonetization was announced, there was a promise “Give me 50 days, you will see happiness forever. What happened later? The Govt has not even bothered to listen to people, when some people lost lives, not an iota of sympathy was shown towards them. Let alone that, when some people could not exchange their old currency sought one more opportunity, they were denied suspecting them to be black money hoarders.

So what has demonetization brought our life to as on today. The so called perceived black money did not come in thousands or lakhs of crores. All that RBI ended up was just a difference of 0.7 percent in the currency not returning after demonetization. The economic chain of activity got cut. Jobs were lost. Just walk on the main commercial streets in your city, you will see only the staff of a shop seen inside with occasional visits by customers. This was prevalent even during festive season. The only exceptions have been eateries.

The BJP is claiming that with demonetization the tax base has enhanced and unaccounted money has been unearthed. But at what cost? Imagine the cost of New currency printing, jobs lost, economic chain of activity getting hit. We are not privy to some of the statistics that the government claims to have benefited due to Demonetization. The better way to describe this situation is, for a professional, the money flow is badly hit, payments are not given on time even after completion of the job due to cascading effect. People are not spending money but postponing their decisions in the private sector. Orders even after confirmation is either getting cancelled or deferred due to money crunch. To add insult to injury increase in petrol price, interest rates remaining the same for old customers and essential commodities remain where they are with respect to price.

One more hit came from GST. It was a brave and bold move by Modi government but what is the benefit to common man. The prices have not come down, they have increased on some goods and more shocking has been the irrational entry of GST into certain goods where none existed earlier. Like for example, people are paying for GST for the premium they are paying for Insurance. This has lead to a perception that Modi has started punishing his voters for having voted him to power.

There is a clear perception that has set in the minds of public especially amongst the middle class that Modi government has shut all the doors for them. What used to be the safe source of income thro’ Bank interest rates has come down drastically. Any scheme that you invest in does not offer more than 7 percent returns. Let alone the FDs, keeping money in Bank Account has become scary with frauds of Nirav Modi & Mehul Choksi coming to light and the way the customers are being fleeced with various charges. Besides this, the middle class has also seen the commitment of this Government on fighting corruption and black money. It was only symbolic of them to join Anna Hazare for Lok Pal bill as an opposition party. After coming to power there is no word on instituting Lok Pal except a few meetings to have been called to discuss it being reported in the media.

The point here is where do people stand after 4 and half years of Modi Govt? they feel disheartened, let down. Imagine the optimism they had when the Government took over and see where they are today. Miserable is what you can describe it as. Some of the spokespersons of BJP are so vocal in suggesting that “look at the number of subscriptions to EPF, they are a big indicator of employment generation. But in reality what is the picture? When a Government undertakes such measures as demonetization and GST, it is like a scientist conducting a test before certification. What people are asking is why don’t you listen to them when it has gone horribly wrong and hurt them. Probably a dialogue will help in achieving the success. Come February every year, for the last 4 years, people have been looking forward to the Union Budget for some initiatives, measures that will address the needs of the common man. Where are they? One of the regional channel chief post this year’s budget was commenting, has this BJP government lost a golden chance? After all the Government has still not ensured basic necessities of food, shelter and education to one and all. It makes the people ask the Government why do an animal test on us when you cannot provide an alternate to our present state of affairs?

So in Summary, after 5 years our lifestyle has not improved but deteriorated with same old issues of higher prices, lesser income and more difficulty. If the recent assembly election results have not served alarm bells to BJP, then they may end up ceding the space back to Congress despite arguing in Television channels that Congress does not stand a chance.

(writer is a media and communication professional and a supporter of Cultural Nationalism)

Jyothirao Phule – Life and Influences

Life
Jyothirao Phule was born in 1827 to parents Chimana Phule and Govindarao Phule. Jyothirao lost his mother before the age of one and grew with his elder brother. After attending primary education where he learnt reading, writing and arithmetic Jyothirao was withdrawn from school. He joined his parents and other family members in farming and flower selling business. However, a Christian convert from the Mali caste recognised his intelligence and persuaded Phule’s father to allow Phule to attend the local Scottish Mission High School. Phule completed his English schooling in 1847 at the age of 20. As was customary, he was married young, at the age of 13, to a girl of his own community, chosen by his father. Jyothiarao started teaching his wife Savitribhai and then they started a school for girls when he was 23 years. Jyohtirao and his wife along with Usman Sheikh and his sister Fatima Sheikh in their family managed the school. In 1852, Phule was managing three schools. In, 1857, the schools were closed down. Jyothirao later started a home for pregnant Brahmin widows to give birth in a safe and secure place in 1863. On 24 September 1873 (when he was 46years), Phule formed Satyashodhak Samaj to focus on rights of depressed classes. Through this he opposed idolatry and denounced the caste system. Satyashodhak Samaj campaigned for the spread of rational thinking and rejected the need for priests. Savitribai became the head of the women’s section. In 1882 he took up trade and he was also a cultivator and municipal contractor. For period of time, he worked as a contractor for the government and supplied building materials required for the construction of a dam on the Mula-Mutha river near Pune in the 1870s. He also received contracts to provide labour for the construction of the Katraj Tunnel and the Yerawda Jail near Pune. One of Phule’s businesses, established in 1863, was to supply metal-casting equipment. Phule was appointed commissioner (municipal council member) to the then Poona municipality in 1876 and served in this unelected position until 1883. He owned 60 acres (24 ha) of farmland at Manjri, near Pune.

Influences

English education is designed to equip a person to view the Indian society from a new perspective that breaks continuity from the past. Jyothirao Phule was trained in a Scottish Mission High School during his formative years. Phule was drawn to liberal writings of American and European politicians. It is not a surprise that the book ‘Rights of Man’ which was authored by Thomas Paine had profound influence on him (Thomas Paine authored this book during French Revolution. Thomas Paine was an American politician who had participated in US government and foreign missions after declaration of freedom. He was involved in controversies and American politics and eventually resigned from his positions. Thomas Paine is an icon for liberals of modern day). Phule was influenced to take initiatives to promote education to girls. It is stated that funds were available for promoting education of girls in India from private European donations. Indian government supported and facilitated such funding. That may be the reason why Phule was able to start three schools by 1852 despite unfavorable conditions. The closure of these schools in 1857 also hints at drying up of funds from European sources. (It may be recalled that the first war of independence in 1857 altered the perceptions of British about India and they quickly started newer effective ways of manipulation techniques abandoning many older techniques). The changed scenario combined with differences in deciding about curriculum led resignation of Phule from school management. It may be observed that the motivations and actions of Phule were questioned on many occasions by his family and the society around him. The framework within which he started girls education was not approved by his family and Phule couple were isolated. In such a context, they were sheltered by a Muslim by name Usman Sheikh and his sister Fatima Sheikh. Similarly, after a few years in 1963, Phule starting a home for pregnant Brahmin widows. This initiative was also disruptive from the perspective of Indian society but was aligned with the policies of the government of that day.

In his book, Gulamgiri, Phule has thanked Christian missionaries and the British colonists for making the lower castes realise that they are worthy of all human rights. The book is concerned with women, caste and reform, was dedicated to the people in the US who were working to end slavery. The focus of Satyashodhak Samaj was also aligned with the government initiatives of the government and/or Christian missionary organizations. Satyashodhak samaj opposed idolatry, denounced varNashrama, rejected brAhmaNa purohit claiming basis on rationalism. An anecdote that might have occured in 1848 says that Jyothirao Phule participated in the customary marriage procession of a fried who was brAhmaNa by caste. Later, after the procession, Jyothirao was questioned by parents of his friend disapproving his participation in the procession of their family. Parents and family members of his friend considered participation of Jyothirao as an interference in their family affairs. Jyothirao felt insulted. This incident profoundly affected Phule. While, this incident invokes sympathy towards Phule and provides justification for his activism, it shows how English schooling initiated by British was able to motivate people to deviate suo moto on their volition from the customs and validate Christian view point about Indian social system through the experiences generated from those actions.

Who have written about Phule?

It is also interesting to observe the authors who have extensively researched on Phule to record his life events and experiences. There may be many Indian writers who have written on Phule, identifying a few representative writers may be an insightful exercise.

Rosalind O’Hanlon, MA Camb, MA PhD Lond, a Professor of Indian History and Culture associated with Oxford has written on Phule. Her research interest include Social and intellectual history of India, Histories of caste in India, Histories of empire, gender and the body, and Social and religious history of Maharashtra. She has worked on
Caste and the making of Brahman identities in early modern Maharashtra, the history of penance and purification in India, Oxford Early Modern South Asia Project and Oxford Centre for Early Modern Studies.

Dorothy Figueira holds graduate degrees in the history of religion and theology from Paris and Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Comparative Literature. Her interests include religion and literature, translation theory, exoticism, myth theory, and travel narratives. She is the author of Aryans, Jews and Brahmins (2002), and Otherwise Occupied: Theories and Pedagogies of Alterity (2008). She co-edited (with Marc Maufort) Theatres in the Round: Multi-Ethnic, Indigenous, and Intertextual Dialogues in Drama (2011). She has served the International Comparative Literature Association, the boards of the American Comparative Literature Association and the Southern Comparative Literature Association. She has held fellowships from the American Institute for Indian Studies and was a Visiting Professor at the University Lille (France), Jadavpur University (Kolkata, India), and the Indira Gandhi Open University in New Delhi.

Dietmar Rothermund (born 1933) is a German historian best known for his research in the economy of India.

Tiffany K. Wayne is a independent scholar living and writing in Northern California. She has received a BA in Women’s Studies from the University of California, San Diego, and an MA and PhD in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a former Affiliated Scholar with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University and has taught courses in U.S. history, cultural and intellectual history, and women’s history at UCSC and at Cabrillo College. Tiffany is a member of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, the Western Association of Women Historians, the Thoreau Society, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society.

All these writers are trained to view the social system in the same way. The modern academics is groomed by anti-Church, but essentially Christian society determined to preserve their material interests at the cost of the rest of the world.

An Overpopulated Europe: The Greatest Global Disaster

Europe of today is teeming with human beings at a level not seen over 3000 years of its history. Today the population of Europe stands at 750 million, a whopping 1500% of its historic population of about 50 million. If the European expansion into the Americas is also taken into account then the overpopulation of Europe would be almost 4000% or 40 times its historically sustainable population. The resources of Europe being sufficient for only this 50 million population, the present 15x increase in population has destroyed not only Europe but has spilt over and wrecked severe havoc on both the natural and human resources of the world.

OPEUTwo thousand years ago the Roman Empire had a population of around 50 million at its peak. This included portions of North Africa and Middle East. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the population decreased to a low of 30 million by 800AD. Over the next 500 years the population increased to a rather unsustainable 80 million by 1300AD. This tripling of population lead to what historians David Herlihy and Josiah Russell called the overpopulation of Europe and even in times of good harvests it was barely able to feed its people. As a result the population of Europe drastically reduced back to 60 million over the next 200 years. This was a result of malnutrition and its attendant debilitations such as lowered disease resistance, wars for available resources and temporal variation in crop yields.

Since the 1500s, Europe began to expand outside its boundaries and unleashed a rapacious loot of resources from across the world that has since fed its population growth to the current 750 million. The devastation this has resulted in can be seen in the depopulation of native peoples of the New World in the Americas, Australia and parts of Africa, the disappearance of numerous species of plants and animals leading to reduced bio-diversity, global climate change, massively polluted ecosystems, poverty in the historically prosperous areas of Indian subcontinent, China and Africa due to colonialism and a lowering in the basic quality of social life with slavery, human trafficking and destruction of the family. It has also resulted in the dominance of a European mono-culture branded and sold as development and progress at the cost of many diverse and sustainable cultures across the world.

Europe todays feeds its overpopulation using highly polluting chemical farming techniques on its arable land which it has managed to increase to 10% of its total area by destroying forests, swamps and other natural formations. To maintain its technology centric lifestyle, Europe is one of the largest importers of products from illegal deforestation worldwide. The European population today is a major consumer and hence driver of the global trade in humans, drugs and sex.

It is only now that Europe’s population has stabilized and has even started to decrease in some countries. The sub-replacement fertility in most of the European countries is pointing to an aging and declining population and is a welcome relief for the world at large. This could be start of Europe reverting to its historic sustainable population level of 50 million though it may take another couple of centuries to get there.

This article is syndicated from Airopya Vishleshanaa Kendra (AVK)

Whither USA – Is breakup imminent?

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of USA has brought forth many of inconsistencies within this nation state. Primary among them is the white-identity driven definition of the nation-state where whites as an ethnic group are fast becoming a minority. The sad events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia bear testament to this inconsistency.

Nations in USAWhereas the new found white supremacy assertiveness under the Trump administration was the primary theme that played out in the unfortunate events at Charlottesville, the fact that it evolved in the context of the USA civil war brings forth the corollary – do the blacks in USA have a space and purpose in the national life. White supremacy automatically invokes the black separatism that has long been simmering ever since the days since the civil war. Black separatism has followed a steady course since the days of the civil rights movement and seeks to establish a sovereign black homeland in the very regions that kept blacks under slavery in southern USA states of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida.

To add to these two centrifugal forces of white supremacy and black separatism playing out in the southern USA, there are the ever growing demands of Chicano separatism, Latino separatism and the Mexican Reconsquista movements in the Southwestern states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and California. These movements seek retribution for the continuing injustices meted out to the Spanish speaking and indigenous populations of Southwestern USA.

Moving further up the western coast of the USA, with the election of Donald Trump, the Cascadian independence movement has seen a comeback with secession referendums being planned in Oregon. The Cascadian movement reflects the typical liberal and left leaning ideology of the Pacific Northwest of USA and its disenchantment with the politics run out of Washington DC. This movement works towards establishing a new nation of Cascadia comprising of the states of Oregon, Washington and the Canadian state of British Columbia.

Coming to the heart of USA, in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas a number of movements related to white supremacy, radical libertarianism, and Christian fundamentalism come forth, sputter along and wait for the opportune moment to disengage from the nation state of USA. The common streak running across these movements is the view that the nation state of USA is corrupted beyond redemption and the seeds of a pure and just nation state will be sown by the respective movements in their areas of operation. President Donald Trump commands a great following among these fissiparous groups and might inadvertently promote their goals in his quest to make USA great again.

The interesting fact to note is that most of these regions with separatist movements were added to the USA over the last two hundred years. The logic and compulsions that bound these distinct regions into the USA seem to be on the ebb. For the most part these regions were added to the USA by genocidal expansion, war and outright purchase. The uncertainty and polarization that Trump brings to the identity of nation state of USA gives impetus to these separatist movements and may result in its breakup.

This article is syndicated from Airopya Vishleshanaa Kendra (AVK)

Conscience of mother tongue has cost BJP stability in Goa

BJP stirred conscience of mother tongue in Goa among its strong supporters and has suffered electoral setbacks in 2017 elections.  Dedicated RSS volunteers and leaders formed a temporary political party – Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and fought elections with MGP to teach BJP a lesson.  The alliance of GSM-MGP-ShivSena together have managed to attract 12.9 per cent voters in favour of them which accounts to nearly 1,13,821 votes out of the 11.10 lakh total number of voters in the state. This was a crucial factor in the final outcome of Goa verdict against BJP.

In Mandrem constituency where Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar who had made the hat trick, BJP was defeated by Congress candidate Dayanand Sopte. Sopte split from BJP in the year 2012 and joined Congress. Silent votes of GSM have gone towards Congress to defeat BJP. Subhash Velingkar had stated that defeating Parsekar is one of the main agenda of GSM.

In Canacona constituency where Vijay Pai Khot, one of the sure candidates of BJP was defeated. Strong BJP workers and supporters have also voted for Congress,” one of the close aide of Pai Khot said. Porvorim, the stronghold of RSS, has also witnessed a similar trend. Being an independent for the second consecutive term, Rohan Khaunte has managed to retain his seat. Though it is a fact the constituency is a RSS domain, the alliance of MGP-GSM has just secured 222 votes. This indicates as per political analysis the RSS cadre has voted against ruling BJP government in Goa.

BJP Candidate Guruprasad Pawaskar managed to get only 6961 votes, whereas the independent candidate Rohan Khaunte won by a huge margin of 4,213 votes. Similar was the story in couple of other constituencies like Pernem, Siolim, Sanguem and Quepem. Subhash Velingkar has endorsed this analysis. In almost 12 constituencies and indirectly in 10 constituencies, silent voting has affected BJP.

After the elections, GSM has been dissolved and its members have announced rejoining of RSS.  RSS has accepted their inclusion.  Dedicated supporters of Hindutva have shown their justified anger against promotion of English medium schools at the cost of Konkani language.  Now, Manohar Parikkar has been assigned the task of leading the fragile government for next five years.  He will surely learn his lessons about inclusiveness and humbleness while facing the consequences of opportunistic politics.

Bhairava cave alienated from AchArya Abhinavagupta

Abhinavagupta (950 – 1016 AD) was a prominent Hindu teacher (AchArya). He was a multifaceted personality and was an achiever in ADhyAtma, mystic, musician, poet, and dramatist who is reported to have had 35 major works to his credit. He taught advaitha is known as Kashmiri shavism. According to the tradition, he went into a cave called Bhairava cave with his 1200 disciples for dhyAna and samAdhi and never returned.

cave1
Quaarying on other side of Bhairava Cave of Kashmir

Accounts about AchArya Abhinavagupta is recorded by various historians and are widely accepted by locals of all faiths. For example, Moulvi Ghulam Hasan Shah (1832-1898) in his arikh-i- Hasan has reiterated the traditional account by refering AchArya as Anbud and Bhairava cave as Qasbah Birwah. According to him, along with AchArya Abhinavagupta, 12 of his disciples entered the cave. Similarly, K.C.Pandey in 1935 has recorded the tradition and testimonials from aged local Muslim population.

The Bhairvana cave is about five miles from Magam, a place midway between Srinagar and Gulmurg. A village in its neighborhood and a brook is running down below the hill within which the cave is situated. Both village and the brook are also caled by the name Bhairava name. The mouth of the cave is at a sufficiently great height from the foot of the mountain and from below it looks like a crevice in a rock. The cave goes deep down into the earth. The opening of the cave is very narrow so that a man can not get into it very easily. One can not walk but has to crawl into it and that too at places with great difficulty. It has several ways leading to places where one can sit undisturbed and medidate. One of these places is big enough conveniently to accommodate forty to fifty persons. The cave is round in shape and at a great height there is a chink towards the sky. But it does not allow the rays of the sun to penetrate so far into the cave as to be perceived by the persons within. There is a small hole far inside the cave through which a child can find passage. It is said that Abhinavagupta went in that way. It is stated that the hold was much bigger in earlier times, but has slowly and imperceptibly getting smaller with the passing years. Although the mouth of the cave is narrow, it suddenly opens inside into a wide cave. But further, again it becomes narrower ahead in some places. The resident said that the cave has two smaller caves inside and in all there are three exits including the main entry.

bhairavacave
Bhairava Cave with green flags during the millenium celebrations

Abhinavagupta is rediscovered by Swami Lakshmanjoo, who died in 1991. Swami Lakshmanjoo is the most recent authoritative teacher of Kashmiri shaivism. He has translated Abinavagupta’s the Spanda K?rika and the Spanda Sandoha which are considered a key resource by Shiavite followers. In India, the legacy of Swami Lakshmanjoo is continued by Iswar Ashram Trust (IAT) and outside Indian, an NGO is based in Los Angeles is propagating the contributions of Abhinavagupta and Lakshmanjoo through Universal Shaiva Fellowship and Lakshamnajoo Academy.

Prior to militancy, visitors, both Indian and foreign, used to visit the Bhaivara cave and the local used to guide them to explore the inside details. But, after the onset of militant activities, the number of visitors dwindled and the locals turned hostile to the Hindu traditions. Political compulsions also increased the non-cooperation of the locals to the visitors. The local, state and central governments, political parties were reluctant to preserve the heritage sites and even allowed quarrying around the cave. A PIL filed by Vir Saraf and Tanveer Hussain Khan was helpful in receiving directions from the High court on May 8, 2014, to stop quarrying around the cave. The directions by Division Bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar prevented quarrying in 400-500 meters around the cave.

Officials from states Archives, Archaeology and Museums department had submitted the widely held Hindu stance about the Shaivite philosopher Abinavgupta to the court. But, due to political pressure, revenue authorities led by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir submitted some records suggesting that a Rianwari saint had migrated to the area and was praying in the cave on Koh-e-Beeru, the Beerwah mountain. The idea was to claim the cave as a Muslim heritage site and to contest the Hindu claim citing AchArya Abhinavagupta.

In 2016, when the millenium celebrations are announced and a yAtra is organized, the idea was to include the Bhairava cave in the yAtra and celebrations. Sangh Parivar organizations, especially the RSS and BJP were involved in planning the celebrations. Many Kashmiri legislators, including legislative council members Ajatshatru Singh and Surinder Ambardar contributed to the idea and planning of the celebrations. Sri. Sri. Ravishankar of Art of Living, who was instructed by Lakshman Joo and is presently teaching Shiva sUtras in his ashram, was a prominent face of the celebrations.

The Kashmiri majority organizations and political parties were not happy with the AchArya Abhinavagupta reference and remembrance as a founder father of Kashmiri culture. They were fearful of possibility of using the medieval Kashmir scholar’s name to create a new pilgrimage in the valley. They perceived as a tool to leverage Hindu political ambition in the valley. Political leaders, Islamic clerics and militants voiced their opposition. Molvi Abdul Lateef Bukhari opposed the yAtra and refused to accept the linkage between AchArya Abhinvagupta with the Bhairava cave. He cited a judgement passed by the courts on January 14, 2015 for his support. He also invoked an evidence of a Saint Mian Shah Sahab praying in the cave. The local population termed attempt to revive the the cave with AchArya as an attempt to illegally possess the cave.

All sorts of arguments are being projected systematically to preempt any Hindu claim on the cavve. The courts observation that the space in the cylindrically constructed cave is not sufficient to accommoddate 1200 people is cited by those who are opposing the celebrations. Stakeholders in Kashmir are seeing the celebration as “cultural aggression”. Local Muslims are taught to reject the linkage of cave with AchArya Abhinavagupta. Social pressure from religious angle is succesfully mounted on the PDP government and the state government took a stance against the yAtra to the cave. BJP succumbed and restrained its members from raking up this issue in the assembly and in the public. When three BJP lawmakers in state legislative council including Ajatshatru Singh and Surinder Ambardar were on their legs to tell Kashmir that they should not disown their history, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh literally forced them to sit down. Pressure from both BJP and PDP was mounted on Acharya Abhinav Gupt Sheshadri Samroh Samiti, the NGO that wanted to hold the yatra headed by Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a frequent guest to some of the Hurriyat leaders and state BJP leaders, presided over a function of Abhinav Gupt Sandesh Yatra at Zeshta Devi Mandir. He had a meeting with Mirwaiz Umer Farooq during the week of the function and the yAtra did not reach the Bhairava cave. Elaborate precautions were taken by the state government agencies not to allow entry of even individuals to the location of the cave. There were other reports stating that local populations have hoisted green flags in the cave and converting the cave to a mosque.

Further, the concluding programme of the millenium celebrations were held in remote Bangalore city under the guidance of Sri.Sri. Ravishankar. RSS working chief Sri. Bhayyaji Joshi attended the meeting. Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar was present. Deputy Minister of Kashmir State government too attended. The concluding event was impressive and attracted wide media coverage. But, millenium celebrations alienated the Bhairava cave from AchArya Abhinavagupta.

Why Amnesty International is to be stopped by India?

Broken FamilesAmnesty International has published a report “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir“. The title of the report indicates that security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir are committing human rights violations and there is no accountability for such violations. But, as the organization admits that five security force personnel were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Machil extra-judicial execution where Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmand Lone and Mohammad Shafi Lone died in a single incident. This incident is one of the 13 case studies that report cites and three of the fifteen people allegedly killed by the Army. The fact that life imprisonment was awarded to the security force personnel indicates that due procedures are followed in alleged illegal killings.

This is not an isolated instance even among the 13 incidents that the report cites. In the case of Sixteen-year-old Zahid Farooq Sheikh was killed in 2010 by the Border Security Force personnel as he was walking home from playing cricket with friends in Srinagar, a court martial was conducted by the Indian Army. Many of the relatives of Zahid attended the court martial and gave witness. The Indian Army submitted to the court that Zahid was involved in stone pelting against the BSF personnel and in a retaliatory fire was killed. It is quite possible that the inflammatory propaganda material he received against the Indian Army provoking Zahid to act against the Army.

In yet another incident, Mushtaq Ahmad Hajam who was returning from prayer was killed by a CRPF peronnel. He was moving suspiciously as stated by the CRPF personnel and when challenged, did not stop. CRPF personnel responded to his disobedience and he was killed. A court martial was initiated in this case too, which were attended by family members of Mushtaq.

In the case of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, whose mother Aahaz Dar has created the petition hosted by Amnesty International, it is observed that Mustaq Ahmad Dar was an informer of terrorists, harbored arms and ammunition. He was identified by local Muslim informers and the Army reached him only after confirmation. There are many other cases among the fifteen cases that are highlighted in the report. Some people were previously arrested for terror liks and a few others were picked up for interrogation after identified by local informers and elaborate intelligence information.

At least the above incidents are sufficient to say that Indian Army and other security agencies have initated investigation into many allegations and followed procedures before closing the case. Thus, the title is definitely of “failure in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir” is wrong and misleading. The language used in the Amnesty International report is not supportive of neutral point of view (NPOV) and is biased against security personnel.

Officially the Indian Army is committed to high standards of compliance with Human Rights issue by announcing “zero tolerance” for human rights violations as reported in the report. But, having acknowledged the policy of the Indian Army, the Amnesty Report claims

“more than 96% of all complaints brought against the army in Jammu & Kashmir have been dismissed as “false and baseless” or “with other ulterior motives of maligning the image of Armed Forces.”The small number of cases in which complaints against personnel have been investigated and military trials conducted are closed to public scrutiny.   Few details of investigations conducted by the security forces are available to the public. The military are notoriously reluctant to share substantive information about how they conduct inquiries and trials by court-martial into human rights violations. There is even less information publicly available about investigations and trials conducted by paramilitary forces. “

The Amnesty Report fails to provide the context and the background for the dismissal of complaints. The Amnesty Report describes the Indian Army as “notoriously reluctant”. Throughout the report a repeated allegation against the Army is that the investigations are not open for public scrutiny. While the Army has allowed family members to participate in the investigations, the constituents of general public, as per Amnesty Intenational, is not clear.

The report makes astonishing statements about prevailing legal provisions.

“With the continued existence and enforcement of legal provisions like AFSPA, access to effective legal remedies for victims of human rights violations and their relatives in J&K remains as limited today …”. Further, the report states its aim as “to expose the government’s complicity in facilitating impunity for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, and challenge the de jure and de facto practices it uses to block justice for victims of human rights violations. This report challenges the use of sanction provisions under the AFSPA; demonstrates how the denial of sanction or permission has been routine and entirely lacking in transparency; and argues that the continued use of the AFSPA violates India’s constitutional guaranteed rights to life, justice and remedy”

Further the report concludes “By not addressing human rights violations committed by security force personnel in the name of national security, India has not only failed to uphold its international obligations, but has also failed its own Constitution.”

This report claims to

“military justice system (of India) violates international standards for fair trials. Further, it demonstrates how security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir have exacerbated this situation by routinely failing to cooperate with criminal investigations, civilian courts and government-ordered enquiries, and subjecting those pursuing complaints to threats, intimidation and harassment.”

These objectives and observations clearly indicative of misrepresentation of role of the Indian Army in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, it also indicates that Amnesty has a myopic approach in dealing with the issue of human rights. The report is silent about the role of a systematic misinformation campaign that is complicating the situation or implications of its demand of state police investigating the allegations against the Army. While making allegations of threats, intimidation and harassment against Indian Army, the Amnesty Report is consciously neglecting the role of civil administration in declaring an area as disturbed and the gravity of situation in the disturbed area to be faced by the security agencies.

In essence, the Amnesty International is failing to provide a soothing effect to the families of Kashmir who have lost their dear ones in an inevitable situation. Instead, the organization is irresponsible in unleashing a malicious propaganda against the security agencies and inciting the population against the government. The Amnesty International has an objective of working towards repealing death sentence and harmonizing the laws of India with the theoretical recommendations of UN. In order to achieve these objectives, it is creating pressure on Indian Government through these devious methods.  Stopping Amnesty International is a first step in dealing with the underlying causes for Kashmiri unrest that the Government of India should implement on a priority basis.

Citizen Checklist to be filled by Amnesty

Amnesty International organized a programme on 13th August 2016, which is alleged to be aiming at maligning Indian Army.  The events of the programme created controversy which force the Karnataka state police to file an FIR against Amnesty International for sedition charges.  Public protest is growing against individual and organizations who collaborated to organize the programme.  Amnesty International has hosted a petition by a mother of a Kashimiri youth who has died in the ongoing conflict (The petition of Aahaaz Dar, Mother of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, hosted on Amnesty International India website) is clearly influenced by the Amnesty International organization and its report “DENIED” published in 2015.   The petition is seen as trying to influence the public discourse in India with the emotional appeal of those who have suffered in the ongoing conflict with the demands of Amnesty International to the Indian Government – harmonizing the Indian laws with the UN guidelines-which are formulated with utopian ideas.

The report of the Amnesty International is being viewed as biased by the general public.  The Amnesty International through its report is providing half information, generating biased reports and inciting who have lost their dear ones in the ongoing conflict fueling further suffering to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.  The following checklist, formulated by netizens in social media, challenges Amnesty International  to provide additional background on the person presented on the profile page of brokenfamiles website mentioned in the petition.  The checklist includes a post script expressing belief that the answers to these checklist would provide explanations to the decisions of the Indian Government.

Checklist to be filled by Amnesty International before citizens of Karnataka could consider the petition

1.   An insurgency against Indian state is underway in Kashmir and many local people are actively participating in this insurgency – supported and sustained by foreign countries including Pakistan.  Was the person on your profile page participated any time, in any way with the Insurgency against us?
2.  There are many families in Kashmir who are sympathetic and actively collaborating with the militants.  Was the person on your profile a member of such  a family?  Please provide us the family details either in positive or in negative and their linkages with the terrorism.
 
3.  Many individuals, especially the youth, are misguided by the Pakistani sabotaging machinery.  Many of such youth are living a split life.  The families are aware of only one of them.  Was this person one among them?
 
4.  Many individuals have very close linkages with the terrorism network and they are helping the secessionist echo system.  Families will be aware of the linkage and activities of these individuals.  But, they fail to prevent the family members to discontinue these anti-national activities.  The reasons for such failure may be reluctance, underestimating the risk involved in continuing such activities, sympathetic to the cause of anti-nationals.  Was the family of the person on your profile page failed to provide proper guidance to their family member?
 
5.   Was the person on your profile page arrested / imprisoned or interrogated any time before and returned home? Why was he arrested / interrogated?  
 
6.   Did the person in the profile page tried to assault, oppose with the armed forces? was he pelting stones at police? army?
 
7.  Was the person on your profile page wanted Azadi from India? 
 
8.  Was the person in your profile page participated or collaborated in pogrom, killing of Pandits, security personnel or any other citizen in the state?
 
9.  Was the person in your profile page indoctrinated by the Jihadi preachers?  or foreign intelligence agencies against India?
 
10.  Was the person in the profile crossed border anytime to receive training and returned back home?

The citizens of Karnataka believe that the answers to the above questions would explain  the decision of Central Government.   

 

Unsolicited Suggestion for RSS uniform

There have been reports that the RSS is considering a change in its dress code. Such a contemplation typically happens internally, and it is unlikely that external inputs are sought or considered. Updates about the decision to change and the progress towards the decision are usually not communicated to the media or to the public. However, many who are sympathetic or supportive of the organization would volunteer to provide suggestions unsolicited. Here is one such suggestion from a traditional perspective.

RSS_meeting_1939
RSS leadership in traditional dress in 1939

What are the requirements for the uniform of a cultural organization such as RSS?
1.   The uniform should reflect the Hindu culture. At least, it should have the elements, look and feel, and the spirit of Indian ethos.
2.  The uniform should be helpful in fostering unity, discipline, and invoke a sense of cultural nationalism.
3.  It should be simple, flexible, cost effective, and widely available.

Strictly speaking, the present Khaki shorts and full-sleeved white shirt may not have some of the above features. Similar is the case of the shoes and the belt. While some of them may not have an Indian origin, components of the uniform such as the Sangh cap are truly Indian. After decades of use, however, all components of the uniform have become elements of Brand Hindutva. The uniform does not generate an alien feeling, but is seen as very much Indian.
However, if a decision is taken to change the uniform, then it is necessary to ensure that the new uniform meets more of the requirements listed above.

Firstly, it should be noted that the very concept of a uniform inevitably dismisses diversity. The Indian ethos includes a multitude of attires and dress codes – all in harmony with diverse lifestyles, and some even in tune with ancient values. One uniform for all means some people having to give up their own clothing style and adopt a different one. But trying to accommodate diversity results in the dilution of the uniform and the discipline of RSS could become a casualty. The point here is not take the argument to an extreme, but to buttress a subtle point – related uniquely to the Sangh.

There is no doubt that traditional attire in an Indian’s daily (and especially professional) life is a thing of the distant past. At first glance, this seems to be a pan-cultural and ubiquitous scenario that can be owed to westernization. The Arab world and even some non-Muslim countries of Asia and Europe, however, seem to tell a different story. The prevalence of Islamic traditional attire is only increasing among Muslims in both their private and public lives. This observation is not for comparison or competition, but to communicate that a retention of tradition is possible in the 21st century.

It is possible to argue that there is no need to accommodate traditional substitutes in the RSS uniform, as after a decade or so, whatever is chosen would carry the Brand Hindutva again. It may be true, but such an argument is also a reflection of the prevalent public discourse and may not stand the test of time.

Any uniform – existing or new, brings with it possibilities of reinforcing westernization or destroying diversity. RSS, whose purpose statement includes addressing these two problems, therefore needs to take precautions. The first precaution to be taken is to include an escape mechanism from these two traps of deviation from Indian ethos and not accommodating diversity.

Is it possible? Is it required?
Those who are familiar with the concept of a uniform and impressed by its advantages may find it difficult to accommodate an option of not wearing one – perhaps even term it as a route towards indiscipline and one that sows the seeds of division. But those who have understood the strength of the Hindu society vouch for the genuine diversity that is inherent in our society. The concept of diversity is matured in its fullest form in India and is a strong basis for true freedom and true equality that is taught by Hinduism. A lifestyle that integrates daily conduct and the conceptual framework is the corner stone of Hindutva. Prescribed good conduct is person, context, time, and space dependent, among other things. It pervades everything – attire included. That means, survival (or revival) of Hinduism is dependent on the ability of an individual to follow and align with the prescribed good conduct. A uniform, in its conventional sense, excludes those who are willing to follow, or unknowingly following the prescribed conduct.

While it may be true that such people are in minuscule numbers, and such a population may not be following the prescribed conduct in a consistent way, such excuses for not incorporating traditional substitutes in the uniform is indicative of an approach that is not elegant.

The crux of the suggestion – working of a proposed uniform
The uniform can be decided in the same way the old uniform was. Khaki can be replaced by green, shorts by pants, shirts by t-shirts, etc. But an option that accommodates Indian diversity should be provided along with the new uniform. An optional list of attires such as dhoti, different headgear, and traditional substitutes of shirts may be listed – not as an exhaustive, but as a enlargeable list. Guidelines can be provided to participants as to who should be taking the option of alternative attires. Those who wear alternate attires can participate in programs as separate units, sit in a group, and form one column of a route march. All scenarios are to be listed and details of participation of traditional substitutes should be worked out.

This would be a new, superior and elegant model for ensuring discipline and unity without comprising on diversity and without imposing uniformity. The new model would be a testimony to the RSS commitment to bring a much needed Hindu perspective in Indian public affairs.

Land Provision for Development Projects

Infrastructure development, Industrialization, and developmental activities require agriculture land to be converted for non-agricultural purposes. Land acquisition bills have been introduced in many states and by the central government that provide procedures for accessing land for developmental purposes.

Broadly, the land requirements for non-agricultural purposes have been identified under three categories. The first category of land is required for public infrastructure such as roads, and other common public utilities. The second category includes land required for projects under public-private partnership and the third category includes land required for private projects.

Presently, the land acquisition is effected by a government notification acquiring the agricultural land required for a project. There are some differences in the way the land from an agriculturist is acquired for three different categories, but the summary is that the owner of the land is divested with the ownership when the notification is issued in return to a compensation.

There are some social consequences from the process of land acquisition provided by the existing laws. Land ownership is changed when a land is acquired for a development project. Farmers, many of them dependent on agriculture and rooted in and around their lands for hundreds of years would be disconnected from their native places and new set of people would move into the area. Both the new and old people struggle to adjust to the new realities. This is being viewed as an emotional issue – but in the globalized, industrial world order, this pattern also has a security and sustainability angle.

From the economic sense, the land price is steadily increasing and the compensation for the acquired land will prove to be much less comapared to a future market price. The difference is typically very high over a short period of few years and the original owner will perceive a notional loss of value for his land.

To address the social consequences, the following proposal is presented.

1. A land requirement notice is to be issued by the government with details of the project, preferred region for establishing the project, land requirement details.

2. A land co-operative society is to be established for managing the land required for the project

3. Farmers are given option of joining the land co-operative society. Land swapping options are facilitated by the government for those who would like to retain land / or participate in the project with suitable one time compensation. Land would be converted to land certificates in the name of the farmers for easy handling of the claims.

4. The land co-operative society will negotiate with the project owners and arrive at a set of terms and conditions including financial aspects. The financial aspects would be linked with the market value of the land in that region.

5. Land owners will continue to be the owners of their land – they are free to sell, divide, and acquire other portions of the land as before without any constraints.

6. The only constraint on the land owned by the land co-operative society would be to safeguard the venture of the project as planned in the project proposal. When the project ends or closed, an alternative venture would replace and the arrangement would continue. In case of absence of an alternate arrangement, the land should be prepared for the agricultural purposes. The land co-operative society would take up collective farming activities.

7. If that is not possible, the government would provide alternate land certificates to the owners of the land so that their revenue stream continues.

8. If the owner does not prefer alternative land certificates, the government would notify exclusion of the farmer from the co-operative society and would return the land to the owner.