Category Archives: Social

News related to non governmental social affairs

Ramachandra Guha – A Profile

Ramachandra Guha is born on 29 April 1958 in a Tamil Brahmin family at Dehradun. His father was Subramaniam Ramdas Guha and mother Vishalakshi, a school teacher. He is the great grandson of Mysore’s S. Ramaswamy Iyer, the first Advocate-General of Mysore. His grandfather is named after Bhima of Mahabharata. He was brought up in Dehradun, where his father Subramaniam Ramdas Guha worked at the Forest Research Institute.  His sister is Dr. Vani Ramkumar. Guha is married to the graphic designer Sujata Keshavan and has two children – Keshava and Iravati.

Ramachandra Guha with his wife Sujata Keshavan

He is currently considered as a contemporary Indian historian and writer in the fields of environment, sociology, political affairs, and cricket history. He is also a columnist for The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. Guha has also written for The Caravan and Outlook magazines.  He has written books on history of forestry and Gandhi, articles on a wide range of topics. He was appointed to BCCI’s panel of administrators by the Supreme Court of India on 30 January 2017, but he resigned in July of the same year.

Guha studied at Cambrian Hall and The Doon School, graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1977, and completed his master’s in economics from the Delhi School of Economics. He completed his fellowship programme (equivalent to a PhD) on the social history of forestry in Uttarakhand from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. He taught in universities of India, EU and North America. Guha then moved to Bangalore, and began writing full-time. He is managing trustee of the New India Foundation, a nonprofit body that was supported by Nandan Nilekani to fund research on modern Indian history. Guha has authored the chapter “The VHP Needs To Hear The Condemnation Of The Hindu Middle Ground” in the book “Gujarat: The making of a tragedy”, which was edited by Siddharth Varadarajan and published by Penguin (ISBN 978-0143029014). The book is about the 2002 Gujarat riots. His book titled ‘India after Gandhi’, published by Macmillan and Ecco in 2007. This book has been translated into Hindi (published by Penguin), Tamil (by by Kizhakku and translated by R. P. Sarathy) and Bengali (published by Ananda Publishers Private Limited and translated by Ashish Lahiri). On Guruji Golwalkar, Guha wrote an article in The Hindu with a title “Golwalkar- The Guru Of Hate” on 28th November 2006. Guha is also an outspoken commentator on the Indian national cricket team, being particularly vociferous in his opinions on current captain, Virat Kohli.

Ramachandra Guha has received the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society of Environmental History, the Daily Telegraph/Cricket Society prize, the Malcolm Adideshiah Award for excellence in social science research, the Ramnath Goenka Prize for excellence in journalism, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Fukuoka Prize for contributions to Asian studies. He is also recipient of Padma Bhushan award in 2009.

Although it appears that marriages within Guha family is generally traditional in nature, a magazine article has reported that Guha’s father did not wear janeu and his maternal uncle married a German lady. There are also reports that state that during the student days Ramachandra Guha was influenced by Leftists and subscribed to Marxism. Apparently, he became a non-vegetarian during the school days at Doon School. Ramachandra Guha is also known for his overenthusiasm in criticizing Brahmins.

Guha is supportive of Congress in general and Nehru in particular. His support is evident from the talks he delivered as part of his tenure with Philippe Roman Chair of International Affairs and History at the London School of Economics for 2011–12. Philippe Roman Chair holders need to use their tenure of one year to explore an idea or theme in history and international affairs. They need to give a series of four public lectures and teach a seminar for students. During his tenure, Ramachandra Guha in his second talk, defended Nehru and attempted to absolve him from defeat of China war 1962. His first talk viewed Gandhi as controversial. His fourth talk was directed to viewing the game of Cricket as an expression of Colonial and post-colonial India. To top it all, the third of the four talks he delivered gave ten reasons why India will Not and should not become a superpower. When the whole world was projecting 21st century as the century of India (and China), Ramachandra Guha was arguing that the Indian political class and intellectual elite would do well to focus on the fissures and challenges within. Ramachandra Guha has also attempted to absolve Winston Churchill from the deaths of 3-4 million people in the Bengal Famine of 1943.

In May 2018, in the aftermath of brutal assault on Vidwat by Mohammad Nalapad, the son of Congress MLA Harris, Ramachandra Guha expressed his opinion in support of Vidvat. The  public opinion was so strong against Nalapad that Congress leadership found it difficult to give ticket to his father Harris for the assembly elections.  Eventually, at the last minute, the Congress decided to announce ticket to Harris from Shantinagar assembly segment. Ramachandra Guha maintained silence at that juncture and failed to oppose criminal trend in public life. Harris won the elections and it appeared that Guha eventually ensured electoral interest of Congress.

Ramachandra Guha has supported T. M. Krishna who is blaming Brahmins for dominating Carnatic Music,  and is sympathetic towards anti-Hindus who insisted their right to consume beef. He has  criticised M.S.Golwalkar, the second chief of RSS, and Narendra Modi, the most popular Prime Minister of India and Virat Kohli, the cricketer with explicit nationalistic leanings.  Ramachandra Guha is also critical of cultural nationalism and opposes BJP. He had advised Rahul Gandhi, the president of Congress and advocated assigning Congress leadership to a member of non-Gandhi family members. Some of his recent public views have created controversies. On December 10, 2018, Guha posted a tweet of poor taste supporting beef eating and later deleted it after severe criticism on social media. On 1st July 2019, Guha announced his appointment as Satish Dhavan Visiting Professor for a duration of one year on twitter and immediately received hundreds of comments in reply. Satish Dhawan Chair was stablished in 1996 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the field of Engineering Sciences, having relevance to Space Science & Technology. The decision of administration of the Indian Institute of Science to appoint a historian to the position of Science and Technology chair was questioned by former students, and scientific community. Many people also questioned Ramachandra Guha about his credentials and inconsistent stance in accepting the position and his strong political biases.

In the past, Ramachandra Guha has opposed nuclear test conducted by Vajapayee government. He participated in a panel discussion hosted by leftists in the IISc campus and attempted to pass a resolution against the initiative of the then Union government. In general he is critical of Hindu political initiatives and social norms. Recently, he articulated his support to liberal views and right of individuals to eat, dress and fall in love as they choose against the wishes of the family and community to which they belong.

Guha is connected to Siddhartha Varadarajan, T.M.Krishna, Jignesh Mewani, Prashanth Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Chandra Bhan Prasad, Ashutosh Varshney, Devdutt Pattanaik, Medha Patkar, Irfan Habib, Suhasini Haider, Burkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghosh, Rajdeep Sardesai on social media and appreciative of the EPW, the Wire,, NDTV, and the Caravan. It is also reported that Guha is influenced by George Orwell, a writer but a womanizer, H. L. Mencken, an atheist,  Marc Bloch, an agnostic historian, E. P. Thompson, a Marxist writer and the nature writer M. Krishnan.

Jyothirao Phule – Life and Influences

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.


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)

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Dr. Kalam – Obituary with an action point for media

Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam is remembered with high reverence by Indians and the world. He is an icon for Students, Technologists, Managers, Policy makers, Politicians, and general public. Every section of the society is enthusiastic to identify him with them and flaunt him as their icon. But, he is not seen as as a icon of Muslims, Islam or at least of Indian Muslims. He is not a role model for Muslim youth.

Dr APJ the Muslim2Why should his role as a model be restricted to youth of a community? Why should he be diminished to an Islamic icon when he consistently exhibited his leadership to much wider audience overcoming many barriers. These are invalid questions. The valid answer is that Kalam may be much above a section of the society. But, the point of analysis is that why a section of the society is reluctant to own him up as a role model despite having many commonalities between him and that particular section of the society?

When Dr. Abdul Kalam was nominated for president post, Dr Rafiq Zakaria, a Islamic scholar and a Congressman – wrote in The Asian Age that presidential nominee A P J Abdul Kalam cannot be considered a Muslim. The main reasons were three. First, APJ was not involved in the affairs of the community. Second, he did not follow Islamic tenets like fasting during Ramzaan, saying namaaz five times a day. Third, Kalam referred Bhagvad Gita for guidance and was fascinated with if not devoted to Sri Krishna. Dr. Zakaria concluded that except for the fact that Dr. APJ was born with a Muslim name, there was nothing Muslim about Kalam.

The logic is treated as convoluted. But, the same logic is at work in the minds of those who are not willing to project Kalam as a role model of Muslims – before when he was living and now after he is dead.

The relevance of this question was raised by Saisuresh Sivaswamy, in his aticle in Rediff on 22nd June 2002. At present, there are constant stream of reports of Muslims bursting crackers when Pakistan wins, Muslims getting involved in crime, and Muslims creating trouble and generating public nuisance in the excuse of practicing of Islam. Muslims are cursed for reducing Hindus to refugees when not gunning them down. The fear of communal riots, and the fear of Jihadi violence is lurking the society. A real solution, uncompromising with the distorted concepts and trouble mongers, is a necessity of the day.

As part of such solution, India needs more Muslims like Dr Kalam, who represent the awesome synthesis between culture and religion. Shashi Tharoor in his article published in BBC, considers Dr. KPJ as eclectic. Dr. KPJ melded the Islam into which he was born with a strong sense of the traditions in which his civilization was anchored. Those real Muslims, according to Dr. Zakaria, may not be able to provide the solution as evident from the happenings of the Levant region. It is in this context, that Muslim youth need the role model of Dr. APJ more than any other section of the society. Islamic scholars or Congress leaders such as Dr. Zakaria need to explain Islam in the context of life and values of Dr. APJ instead of those unworthy examples of Yakub, Salman, and Owaisi.

Dr. APJ, acccording to Shashi Tharoor, offered Namaz and lived the life of a Muslim. Dr. APJ has lived a model life overcoming the narrow interpretations of Islam. Now, it is the responsibility of the media to take that model to the needy populations.

Hidden Civic Problems

Residents of many localities across major cities face a different class of civic problems in areas of mixed communities, especially during community events.  Problems list include playing, noise making, wheeling, riding vehicles without silencers, or using outdated two wheelers with two stroke engines.  The list is not exhaustive.  In fact, normal civic issues of garbage disposal, parking in front of others residents, occupying pedestrian paths, dominating public spaces such as parks and other amenities, pollution and other such problems become more intensive in these areas.   Problems such as petty fights, eve-teasing, small thefts create an uneasy environment and relationships.

Ramzan_NuisanceDevout Muslims dismiss any remote connection between the public nuisance during Muslim community events and the Islamic religion.  According to them, civic problems are created by those who deviate from the norms of festivities.  Shab-e-Barat, or Ramzan is not an occasion to play on streets either during the day or in the night.  Pray, preferably in silence, is the recommended method of celebrating such festivities.  However, there is another streak of response from the community.  Complaints by affected people or the Initiatives of authorities responding to those complaints are seen as an attempt to curb religious freedom or stifle the community.

While corruption, water, and such other problems are highlighted in everyday discussion, the problems like the ones listed above are not discussed anywhere.  Forums and activists addressing conventional familiar civic problems are not addressing these less understood invisible problems.  Hidden civic problems, have additional facets due to the interplay of religious, governance and social dynamics.  The nuisances in residential areas are yet to be understood, quantified and acted upon by the authorities.  Although the problem of public nuisances is usually dismissed as insignificant problem, authorities are forced to take action about speeding vehicles during festivities.

Here is a list of major hidden civic problems that are prevalent in India

In major cities of India, hundreds of people are fined on occasions of Shab-e-Barat and thousands of violations are recorded by surveillance cameras.  The police and district administration organize a peace march to maintain communal harmony.   Public nuisance is experienced by people in localities where people following different faiths reside.  Social interactions in these localities is often hostile.  The problem resolution mechanism in these localities is weak.  Smaller differences have potential of igniting bigger group conflicts.  Increased number of hostile social interactions is witnessed in localities having moderate to significant Muslim population.

Illegal meat market provides cheap meat to the consumers but adopts unacceptable practices such as cruelty to animals, providing unhygienic meat to consumers and disposal of meat residuals in garbage bins.  Indiscreet disposal of waste meat is enhancing the severity of the problem of stray dogs.  Cow slaughter is either illegal or restricted in majority of the states of India.  Beef supply is provided majorly by Illegal slaughter houses.   Illegal slaughter houses supply beef to internal market.  There are allegations that the illegal slaughtering is feeding to a parallel economy and even funding insurgency and terrorism.   Cruelty to animals, unhygienic meat are common in illegal slaughter houses.  During community events, cows are Halal slaughtered on streets of congested localities in violation of all legal provisions.

Love Jihad, a recent trend in the era of Jihad, is a marriage of a Muslim boy with a non-Muslim girl (read a Hindu girl) with a deceptive intent after a love affair.  This is turning to be a very confusing civic problem creating apprehensions about safety and well-being of the girl involved.  Girls from disciplined families belonging to open and pluralistic communities are marrying boys of closed dominating communities having less restrictive family life-styles.  Typically, inter religious love affairs culminate with a Hindu boy or girl usually converting to Islam or Christianity. There is a greater possibility of women(girls) being victimized in these kinds of marriages.  In many instances, women are forced to adopt a different lifestyle after the marriage in a phased manner.  There are reports of psychological pressure, physical torture and killings of woman by her close relatives .Increased encouragement to love marriages has created a conducive environment for the phenomenon of Love Jihad.  Parents are playing increasingly lesser role in the marriage, conflict resolution or divorce of their children.  They are not effective in Girls from disciplined families belonging to open and pluralistic communities are marrying boys of closed dominating communities having less restrictive family life-styles.

Induced conversions to Christianity are widespread on ground in contrast to the stated opposition of the Church towards conversion by fraudulent means.  Almost all slums, economically underprivileged areas and Dalit localities are specially focused, especially in almost all localities of major cities.  Monetary help is extended to selected individuals and families among the target populations and a soft approach is followed to create a dual religious identity without being noticed by legal systems.

Probably the most severe and well-understood problem among the category of hidden problem is the problem of sound pollution caused by Horn loudspeakers of Mosques.  The loudspeakers from mosques, and madrasas are used at least five times a day for broadcasting prayers.  Special prayers, lectures, announcements, periodic cultural programmes, songs, are additionally amplified by horn loudspeakers.  Processions are always accompanied by many horn loudspeakers mounted on a truck.  The decibel level of the noise is observed to be well above the legal limits.  It is not clear how licenses are issued for continuous use of loudspeakers violating all legal norms.  Several Supreme Court and high court judgments prohibiting Horn loud speakers in Mosques are not implemented by Government authorities and politicians.

The first thing that happens in any new locality of a city is establishment of a place of worship in the form of a totem pole, a tree, a shed or a tomb.  One individual or a small family supervises the place for months and years before a better structure is built.  Typically such structure is established in the vicinity, but just outside of a planned layout.  The amount of background work, access to official information to encroach areas is a puzzle to normal citizens.

Religious institutions, authorities and social groups are yet to synchronize their actions towards finding a solution to hidden civic problems. Although living problems are seen as separate from the religious issues, there are interlinkages between the two.  There is a widespread assumption that economic and infrastructure development would simultaneously solve the hidden civic problems.  However, such an outlook may be a self deception emanating from lack of conceptual clarity and coordinated action.

URL Aseema article July 2015