Category Archives: Social

News related to non governmental social affairs

Hindus have a burden to uplift Mlechhas

Dharma refers to the sustaining principle of the universe.  Sanatana Dharma, that is adopted by the Indian society, refers to an unbroken tradition of Dharma from time immemorial.  Sanatana Dharma manifests as a society adhering to  Varna Dharma.   The society adhering to the Varna Dharma includes four Varnas –  Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vysya, and Shudra.  There is no fifth Varna.

Varna dharma continues mainly through family traditions and jaati associations.  Inter Varna/jaati marriages generates newer jaatis.  The continuation of jaati traditions through endogamous marriages could be in alignment with the Sanatana Dharma.

The four fold of Varna society is a highly evolved system aimed at ensuring ideal environment and path for all round development of all individuals in the society.

Those who are incapable of adhering to the established Varna System are expelled from the respective adherents of Varnas and are referred as ‘Dasyus’.  It should noted that Dasyus have a jaati and possibly a Varna identity and are either aligned or well positioned to be aligned to the ancient tradition.   Those who are not familiar with the Varna Dharma or not in a position to follow the ancient tradition are referred to as Mlecchas. Those who are not able to understand or harbor antagonistic attitude and stay unfamiliar with the Varna Vyavastha are included in this  ‘Mlecchas’.

Hindu is a term primarily used to refer to the followers of ancient tradition based on Vedas by the outsiders.  Presently, the term is used loosely with slightly different meanings.  In general, these meanings have positive connotations, especially with an intent of social harmony.  Some others use the term to include Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.  Some would like to use the term to refer to all Indian nationals.  Those who would like to establish a harmonious society by establishing a uniform society would prefer the community who identify themselves as the custodians of the ancient tradition as Hindus. Some use the term to refer to those who have non-antagonistic  attitude towards the ancient tradition.

Thus the adherents of ancient tradition is described either in terms of Varna, or in terms of jaati or by the term Hindu.  It is interesting to note that those who identify themselves primarily through Varna  and Jaati identity also would consider themselves as Hindus.  On the other hand, some of those who would like to identify themselves primarily by Hindu identity, would not like to be identified by their Varna / Jaati identity.

Thus, it is safe to conclude that the Hindu identity is a buffer identity shielding the Sanatana Dharma from the onslaught of barbarism.  Thus, the Dharmic tradition is sustained by four Varnas supported by Jaati traditions.  Dasyus uphold the jaati traditions.  Hindus facilitate Dasyus to get integrated with the jaati traditions and simultaneously try to uplift Mlechhas towards the ancient tradition.

To clarify, Chandala is a Shudra, a fallen Brahamana may be a Dasyu. Jihadi Muslims, Proselytizing Christians, extremist Naxals, and unfriendly Jews are all Mlechhas.  Hindus are those who are claimants of ancient tradition with or without jaati/varna association.  Those who have non-antagonist attitude towards the ancient tradition may also be referred to as Hindus.

Playful Moon triggers Ramadan celebrations

Ramzan (or Ramadan) is the name of the Islamic month when Prophet Mohammad obtained the Koran.  Muslims consider this month as sacred.  Ramadan is referred as pillar of Islam frequently and appears to be a description of its importance.

Moon sighting controversy continues in the Islamic world

Sultan Sa'ad AbubakarIslamic months begin (or end) on the sighting of new moon.  There are confusions and controversies around determining the beginning of Ramadan and  Eid-ul-Fitr throughout the world. The confusion is because of the interpretation based Islamic tradition (Hadiths).  For example, the Ramadan of 2014 was concluded on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in different regions.  In Pakistan alone, Peshawar celebrated Eid on Monday and Islamabad celebrated on Tuesday.  In Nigeria, it was celebrated on Saturday. Scientifically, the moon sighting times/days may be different depending on the latitude, and longitude. Based on the moon sighting definition, the exact timing of the sighting may be determined well in advance for each locality. But, today, Muslims celebrate the Eid based on decision of moon sighting committees, which operate on community practices.  The adhoc and unscientific practices of clergy to determine sighting of moon was criticized as madness by the Daily Times [Report] .  Some Muslims even miss celebrating Eid in the ensuing confusion of moon sighting.  Clergy climb the rooftops, and sight the moon with their bare eyes.  This moon tracking happens everywhere in the high skies, in the presence of dark clouds and during rains.  The moon-sighting committees operate, in many circumstances, on political and personal agendas.  The moon sighting in Chile, Argentina, and Guyana was on Sunday and Saudi Arabian clergy sighted the moon on Monday.  In Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad announced the moon sighting which was not accepted by the Moon sighting committee appointed by him [Report]. Pakistan continuing the practice of celebrating Eids on two different days as moon-sighting committee of Qasim Ali Khan Mosque in Peshawar, headed by Mufti Shahabudin Popalzai announced the moon sighting on Sunday night. During this confusion of moon sighting, some Muslims even miss the Eid day celebration.

Limited Fasting – Restraint during the day

All adult healthy Muslims are obligated not to take food, not to smoke, and not to have sex during the daylight hours for a month.  However, obligation is limited to the duration after the sunrise and before the sunset and is actually a limited duration fasting.  Typically, the morning meal is heavy to help completion of all activities throughout the day.  The evening meal can begin after the sunset and can continue throughout the night. Both of the meals during Ramzan fasting, contains rice, meat, fruit, vegetables, and sweets and other food items including beef.

The elderly, sick, and mentally ill are exempt from the fasting. Pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns are also exempted. People who miss the fasting are expected to compensate by feeding the poor and unfortunate.  In 2014, some of the football players playing the world cup were exempted from fasting – and some of them might have taken the fasting after the completion of the world cup.

Civic Life during Ramadan

In many Islamic states, the time on the roads before breaking the daily fast is known as ‘Ramadan rush hour’. After a long day of fasting, typical daily activities such as driving or shopping would lead to the rush hour.  In the United Arab Emirates, Road Safety UAE has launched a set of guidelines to encourage public safety on the roads during Ramadan. Guidelines include safety precautions such as wearing seat belts.  Dubai’s police force increases the number of street patrols during ‘Ramadan rush hour’ in an effort to combat aggressive driving.

In India, Muslims are busy in the mornings and evenings on streets. Mosques start announcing time from 3am onwards so that people can get up and complete their meals by sunrise and prepare for morning prayers.  Repeated announcements through horn loudspeakers help Muslim residents. After the morning meals and the prayers, the teenagers as well as adults start playing games on the roads and other public places in large groups.  This continues, in many occasions, until evenings. The extra time available from the beginning of the fasting and to the time of work or school would be utilized in these activities. Evening activities in mosques continue, on specific days, until late night and during this period, young and not so religious Muslims are seen in streets playing games and chatting.

Of course, the early morning wakeup calls, late evening programmes, playing on streets disturb non-Muslim residents of the localities.  Police departments receive calls for help to reduce these disturbances.  Coalition against Noise pollution, Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and Bangalore has published a Ramzan oath for devout Muslims to observe the partial fasting in peace and harmony with the neighbors.

Privilege spree in India

Indian politicians are eager to provide special privileges during the month of Ramzan facilitating limited fasting.  Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) president has urged lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung to ensure uninterrupted power and water supply in the Muslim-dominated areas of the city during Ramzan. The Pradesh Congress has also expressed its concern to the Lt Governor in a telephonic talk with him. The Assam Government employees belonging to the Muslim community were allowed to leave office at 4.30 PM, half an hour earlier than the scheduled time, during the month of Ramzan.  Telangana State Minorities Commission has assured the prisoners of the Central Prison, Chanchalguda that it would provide them with prayer mats, caps and fruits during the month of Ramzan. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh released the calendar of Ramzan the Holy Month of Muslim brethren beginning from 30 June. Express Distribution and Supply Chain major Gati Ltd has collaborated with GI certified Haleem specialist Pista House to make Hyderabadi Haleem available in selected cities across India.  This service is currently available daily in selected areas in Delhi NCR, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad and twice in one week in Coimbatore and Vishakhapatnam. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has announced allocation of 4,500 tonne rice free of cost to mosques for preparing gruel consumed to break the fast during Ramzan season.

Brahminism defined – as austerity and fairness

This article is about definition and understanding origin of words such as Brahminical, Brahminism and Brahmanism – that are being used by political activists, lobbyists, and religious vehements while expressing their thoughts in media, academics and discusssions. Some typical examples of the context in which the words are used are also provided.

Brahminism is a term introduced by G. S. Faber (George Stanley Faber 1773-1854), an Anglican theologian and prolific author. The term is being used currently by Leftists, Christian activists, and intellectuals especially political analysts.

According to wictionary, Brahminism is the principles and religious practice of the Brahmins, aspects of Hinduism as practiced by the Brahmin caste of India. As an alternative definition, Brahminism is also termed as Vedic ritualism, contrasted with Shramana traditions. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Brahmanism is the religion of ancient India that evolved out of Vedism. The name is taken due to the predominant position of its priestly class, the Brahmans, and from the increasing speculation about, and importance given to, Brahman, the supreme power. According to the Free Dictionary, Brahmanism is the social and religious system of orthodox Hindus, especially of the Brahmins. Brahmanism is distinguished from the classical Hinduism that succeeded it by the enhanced significance given in classical Hinduism to individual deities, such as ?iva and Vishnu, and to devotional worship (bhakti).

Interestingly, the word sramana is cited in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Taittiriya Aranyaka (2-7-1) with the meaning of ‘tapas’ and ‘performer of austerities’ respectively. According to Buddhist commentaries, samana is someone who has pacified evil is called samaa.

An recent article in published in an anti Hindu website says – “Manu was not a Brahmin but he drew up the brahmanical code. When Brahmins find that power is slipping out of their hands, they patronize forces that can protect their interests. Kshatriya Manu had done that in an age gone by and a Shudra – officially an OBC – Modi is doing this job now”. In another article by Ashutosh Varshney, interprets arguments in favor of Hindu unity as “caste divisions within Hinduism and caste-based politics need to be minimised, for they undermine Hindu unity. The incorporation of lower castes into the Hindu family should be premised upon their Sanskritisation. The lower castes should follow the Brahminical model of Hinduism”. The mainstream weekly in an article analyzing the joining of Paswan to BJP alliance says “This step of the RSS and BJP has the potential to alter the basic Brahminical character and ethics of the BJP. But even then the RSS did not dither.” Abdur Razzak Molla, minister of land reforms during the CPM government who has now been expelled from the party, critizes the Left party of Bengal as ‘Brahminical character’. “There are no Dalit or Muslim leaders in any of the districts. Even in a place like Murshidabad with 60 percent Muslims, there is a Brahman secretary”. Asian correspondent published an article by Sunil Adam who describes Congress as supporting Brahmin domination and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) representing Brahminical counter-elite”.

The origin of the word Brahminism is Christian theology and it is used in negative sense in general. Brahmana is ordained for the benefit of all four Varnas and the entire world. In this context, there is a need for correcting the definition of Brahminism and avoid distortions. Based on the contents of Manusmrithi and other texts, a safer and saner definition of Brahminism is austerity and fairness.

Christianity – Resource Page

Christianity is a faith aligned to the teachings of Jesus Christ – as presented in canonical gospels, in old testament and in new testament.  There are various versions of Christianity based on the authority that interpret the gospels and the teachings of the Jesus Christ.  Christianity began as a Jewish sect and soon witnessed a rapid expansion.  In the 11th century, a schism within the Christian following created Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.  In 16th century, another schism created a reformist movement within the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism came into existence. In India, Christianity and its various denominations were introduced with Colonialism.  Today,  about 5% of the population in India are officially Christians.  Christian institutions play a dominant role in Indian public affaris.  This page provides

 1. Updates about Christianity, especially relevant to India.

2.  Discuss proselytization in the context of a multicultural society.

3.  Provides an understanding of colonialization and its effects on Indian society.

 

This page is a first landing on the web on Christianity from Indian perspective

 

Christianity – Wikipedia

Christianity – BBC Religions

 

 

 

Women Safety – Minimal set of guidelines

In a recent article, WSJ compiled an arbitrary list of suggestions for avoiding sexual exploitation of women and to ensure their safety. The article cited Shop mannequins, skirts, dating, bollywood, public events facilitating physical intimacy, internet pornography, co-education as some of the reasons to be tackled for reducing crime against women. Technological solutions like a wrist watch and cultural solutions such as revival of Hindu culture and praying to God were also proposed. These suggestions have come from various sources including politicians, social activists, women activists, technologists and administrators. Each of these suggestions proposes a partial solution. But the compilation fails to propose a comprehensive solution to the problem.

Media.syndicate proposes the following minimal set of suggestions to tackle the problem in a holistic way.

  1. Avoid touch: Physical touch could escalate emotions and prohibiting physical touch socially would go a long way in ensuring safety of women and children, especially from sexual exploitation. The touch to be avoided includes public physical touch between any two individuals of opposite gender. It is also advisable to avoid touch among married couple in public. This suggestion may look strange and archaic but careful consideration would reveal its worth.
  2. Avoid private interactions: Private interactions between two individuals could lead to escalation of emotions, physical intimacy or to reduction of conversational barriers. Avoiding private interactions – including private conversations, spending time, working together would go a long way in ensuring safety and security of women and children. Many of the interactions between two individuals can also be done in the presence of others. For example, a student gets guidance from a teacher in the presence of other students. In the workplace, subordinates can receive separate instructions from their manager in the presence of their other co-workers.
  3. Maintain interaction barriers: Maintain barriers in interactions such as conversations, e-mails, chats, phone calls. Keep the interactions formal. Maintaining formality in dressing, and behaviour would also help.
  4. Legal provisions, social norms are to be based on the three suggestions listed above.

Misconceptions about Maoists

Leftists represent poor underprivilaged, and deprived class
Leftist does not represent poor or underprivilaged. Poverty and underdevelopment is cited to blame the establishment (and government) and to created a wedge in the system. The left/Naxals/Maoist does not offer any real solutions. Suspicion is sown, hatred is generated, and intolerant attitudes are developed among the poor and underprivilaged against the Rich, Brahmins, and the powerful. – they drive their followers into a complex situation of no return.

Poor and deprived eventually take up arms
Poor people are almost always weak and they are not inclined to take up arms even when they are deprived of their legitimate share. The argument that poor are exploited by others in the past, such an exploitation is continuing in the present, and would continue in the future – is a simplistic argument. But it an easy and effective way of inciting a section of the society. This argument is also used to condition the minds of people to indulge in violence and to face (or support) violent ways of leftsts.

Violence is a natural reaction to poverty, and underdevelopment
Hardwork, diligence, and sincerity are natural reactions of a person who is sincere to overcome poverty and underdevelopment. Violence is not possible when there is no freedom. When freedom is present, to the extent of expressing disagreement, violence is an indirect method without any assured success to overcome poverty and underdevelopment. Violence is an artificial solution offered by Leftists to overcome poverty.

State can be replaced by means of revolution (organized violence)
A modern state, like India, is very powerful to be displaced by organized violence. The resource available to the state is not comparable to meagre resources of Lefitsts. Maoist liberated systems can be a constant irritation and bleeding grounds – but they will not be able to provide an alternative to the state.

Rich, Brahmins, landlords, or powerful are natural enemies of Leftists
Leftist system can not eliminate Rich, Brahmins, landlords and powerful. If and when they acquire power, leftists will become rich, landlords and powerful.  Brahmins, are hated symbolically by Communists – many of the top leaders are from Brahmin community.

Leftist oppositon to theism, and meta physical philosophical thoughts is an indication of their intellectual honesty
Theism and meta physical philosophical thoughts may not be immediately relevant for a person who is hungry. But, saying that they are tools of exploitation or irrational is an utter foolishness. Leftist oppositon to God and religion is not rooted in rationalism. They view religion as a diversion in their urgency to establishing a dictatorship of their own version. Leftists are confused about religious concepts, and basically not concerned about certain walks of life. The attitude emanating by a partial outlook should not be interpreted as an intellectual honesty. (it is intellectual banckruptcy)

Socialism is an answer to capitalism
Socialism is a diluted (or distorted version of Communism). Socialism in India has become a fashionable political term. Politicians have retained the self-proclaimed pro poor representation and removed violent aspects of communism including revolution leading to blood bath. But, sufficient home work has not gone into the socialism – so it works in democracy, accepts capitalism, and attempts to achieve welfare. Socialism may be best described as a set of half baked romantic ideas – without any idelogical footing. It can never be an answer to the capitalism. It has already become subservient to Captialism.

Socialism is aimed at equitable wealth distribution
Socialism may have wealth distribution as its main objective. But, it can not even attempt to do a decent job in this direction. This is because, socialism is based on anti capitalistic, anti Brahmin, and anti rich, and sometimes, anti developmental agenda.

Communism is scientific
Science and religion are ineherntly opposed to each other in the western society. Communism is opposed to (Christian) religion by design and claims to be scientific in its approach. Socialism and all other shades of communism continue the same claim – that they are scientific. In fact, Communism is as scientific as any other political idelology.

Communism, leftist and socialist idelogies are atleast good intended
Intentions of not only communists, but also all others including religious, rich and powerful is good. Intentions alone is not sufficient to achieve good results. Understanding of true values, compliance towards them, approach taken contribute significantly in achieving good results. Communism has faulty understanding about the value system, and have adopted wrong approaches. Communism and thier variants can not be stated as good intended.

Vijaya Yatra – a media pointer

Vijaya Yatraa tour to establish Dharma among massess – was undertaken by Sringeri Shankaracharya Sri. Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji during 2012-13.  Details of the Yatra is provided by the following links –  Objectives, an account,  teachings, and a photo gallery.   The content is taken from the  official website of Sringeri Mutt and organized in a different way for easy reference. 

 

 

 

 

The aims and objectives of the Vijaya Yatra  – URL

An account of the Vijaya Yatra  – URL

Teachings by Swamiji during Vijaya Yatra  – URL

 Photo gallery related to the Yatra   –URL

 

Sources:

Sringeri Mutt website

Vijayayatra Website

 

 

RSS: Steady Growth and Expanding influence

Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), annual meet of RSS, was held in Jamdoli, Jaipur of Rajasthan from March 15th-Mar17th 2013 (Yugabd 5114). RSS Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat inaugurated the meet and the annual report for 2012-13 was presented by RSS Sarakaryavah – General Secretary – Bhaiyyaji Suresh Johi. The meet was attended by Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (National Executive) and Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (National collegium of delegates). The annual report provides interesting statistics and a basis for an assessment for the influence of the organization.

Regularly, the RSS conducts daily gatherings (nitya-shakhas), weekly gatherings (saapthahik-milans), and monthly gatherings (sangh-mandali) through the country. Sangh work is being carried through 42,981 Shakhas, 9,557 saptahik-milans and 7,178 sangh-mandalis. The Shakhas are being run in 28,788 places. Sangh shiksha vargas is a unique mechanism adopted by RSS to train the swayamsevaks. A Varga is a short stay training camps where participants (also referred to as trainees or shiksharthi‘s), undergo systematic training in physical, intellectual, management and leadership skills. A volunteer or RSS is expected to undergo three years of graded training by attending a Varga in each year. The third year training is held at Nagpur, the headquarter of RSS every year. In the year 2012-13, 52 sangh shiksha vargas (RSS Training Camps) were held. 12,549 trainees in first year, 3,063 trainees in second year, and 1,003 trainees participated in third year varga. About 1,986 persons were trained through special varga with 1,218 persons in first year training and 768 persons participating in second year training. Training camps were held in 50 places. Participants of first year vargas were from 7,408 places, participants of second year vargas were from 2,320 places, and participants of third year vargas were from 923 places. Participants of special vargas were from 895 places, and from 621 places respectively for first year and the second year training. In summary, about 18,601 persons were trained in training camps in more than 50 places.

The shakhas, milans, and sangha-mandalis are the foundational base of the RSS. Even an average of 15 persons are considered as associated with regular gatherings, about 10lakh active volunteers are associated with the Sangh. The numbers associated with the foundational structuctures may not be inspiring. A quick look at the previous year’s annual report reveals growth in number of regular gatherings, and the number of participants in the training camps. However, this growth is not at all significant. The growth rate and the absolute number of Swayamsevaks imply not a significant impact of Sangh on a nation of more than 1 billion people. But, this number does not reflect the true strength of the organization. To provide a realistic assessment, information from the rest of the report has to be analyzed.

From previous ABPS reports of RSS

Year Campsshiksha Varga Personsshiksharthis Unitsshakhas Places Assembliesmilans+mandalis
2010-11 70 11556 39908 27078 14421
2011-12 69 15494 40891 27978 14953
2012-13 52 18601 42981 28788 16735

 

There are three major departments in Sangh – Shaareerik Vibhag (Physical training department), Bauddhik Vibhag (Intellectual training department), Prachara Vibhag (Media department), Seva Vibhag (Social service wing), and Sampark Vibhag (wing for establishing/expanding network of contacts). Every year, the Sangh undertakes special programmes through these departments to reach larger number of people in various sectors in a systematic way. Shareerik vibhag (Physical training department) had presented Prahar Yagna programme for shakhas this year. The programme was organized in 15,924 shakhas. 1,66,959 swayamsevaks took part in the programme. More than 5,71,76,520 Prahars were performed. About 18,421 Swayamsevaks performed more than 1,000 Prahars. Bauddhik vibhag (Intellectual training department) conducted a special training workshop of selected 78 swayamsevaks in Bhopal. 40 of them made presentations to the audience.

Prachara Vibhag (Media wing) of RSS has a very well established presence in print media. The publications of RSS include daily newspapers, weekly magazines and monthly magazines. Each of the state units of RSS has its own set of publications. Among them, few of the publications are specifically meant for providing organizational information and they are called as Jagarana Patrikas. About 31 Jagarana Patrikas reach about 1.7 lac villages throughout India. A moderate estimate of readership of Jagarana Patrikas is not less than 20lakh. There are initiatives to enhance quality of activism through media channels. About 25 state level letter writing workshops, and training programmes for participating in TV debates were organized. More than 2,248 swayamsevaks participated in letter writing workshops and around 100 RSS associates participated in TV debates. The sage Narada is considered as the first reporter (Journalist) of the world and RSS felicitates selected journalists on this occasion every year. This year too, about 182 journalists were felicitated. These journalists were selected from 82 places. Vishwa Samvad Kendra, a news agency of Sangh coordinates many of these programmes in association with Prachara Vibhag. Social media channels are actively being deployed to communicate and reach out to larger number of people. Around 1,500 people have shown interest in joining Sangh each month through some of these channels.

RSS regional units initiate special drives to reach out to larger public through special programmes. For example, in the year 2012-13, Southern Bengal unit (Dakshin Bang) organized a youth camp in January 2013 on the occasion of 150th year birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. About 9,115 youth in the age group of 15 to 40 years participated in the camp. They represented 2,052 places of the region. More than 25,000 people were present for the valedictory function. Similarly, a Hindu Chaitanya Shibir (Hindu Awakening camp) organized by Eastern Andhra Pradesh unit (Poorva Andhra) attracted 1.25 lakh people to an exhibition, and 60,000 people to the valedictory function of the camp. About 17,233 active volunteers participated in the camp and more than 10,000 women volunteers participated in an assembly designed for women. About 960 intellectuals and 72 saints also participated in the event. A camp for RSS band in Western Andhra Pradesh trained 865 members of the band (ghosh) and approximately 8,000 people witnessed the camp. A get together by Malwa unit witnessed presence of 83,345 swayamsevaks, Karnataka south organized a camp of 85,347 swayamsevaks, Konkan unit organized a three-day workshop for 1,467 students, Jaipur unit organized a camp for 6,968 active volunteers of the region, and North Tamilnadu unit organized a Suryanamaskar programme for 10,721 people.

Swami Vivekananda Shaardh Shati Samaroh (Celebrations on 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand) was initiated on 25th December, 2012. Shobha yatra programmes, Collective Suryanamaskar programmes, tribal congregations are being organized throughout the country. So far, 4.5 lakh men, 90,000 women have participated on inauguration day, 48 lakh people participated in processions, 64 lac students from 26,597 schools have participated in the collective school based Suryanamaskar programmes. About 7.25 lakh people participated in public Suryanamaskar programmes. Vishal Hindu Sangam in tribal area of Chhasttisgarh state attracted 1.25 lakh villagers from 1,500 villages. About 10,000 Srilankans participated in related programmes.

Sangh is reaching a large number of people through a series of programmes organized through a number of initiatives. These initiatives are sustained by volunteer groups. The members of the foundational structures of the RSS – Swayamsevaks – play a pivotal role in creation, and sustenance of volunteer groups. About a million sized core group influences a 5 million activists who in turn are capable of reaching out to 20 million public. It is about 2% of the Indian population and about 2.5% of Hindus.

It is interesting to note that these numbers are excluding Sangh Parivar organizations and BJP. Some Parivar organizations are mass based and many of them are influential in the sectors to which they are contributing. The influence of BJP as a principae political party with its nationwide political network, elected representatives and state & local Governments, is an outcome of a political design of the RSS. Then, is it reasonable to estimate the influence of RSS over about 10% -20% of Indians? Why then RSS is still not able to shed its moderate image? Why is RSS not able to change politics or society in a decisive way?  The answer lies in the challenges faced by the Sangh.

Presently, more than 80% of each generation of the public are not receiving RSS philosophy from direct sources. Many of the media sources provide distorted image of RSS.  Swayamsevaks are not able to reach majority of the population to provide accurate information about the organization and its philosophy.

Hundreds of NGOs are managed by Swayamsevaks and the social impact created by these NGOs is significant. Still, RSS inspired NGOs are not able to and are not focused on influencing public affairs.  For example, Hindu Seva Pratishtana trains Sevavratis and is sustaining a series of socially benefical projects aimed at women and children in various sectors including Health and Education.  But, HSP is not able to contribute in formulating laws, help authorities in correct interpretation of existing laws or to influence government policies either at state level in Karnataka or at national level.

Mainly because of these two reasons, it is becoming difficult to inspire BJP and other associated organizations to work in the desirable direction. BJP, as a political party, has many similarities with the Indian National Congress and is not able to change the course of Indian politics. Delay in making desirable impact generates a series of coordination issues with in the Sangh and affiliated organizations. Lack of coordination within creates hurdles in smooth relationships or RSS with external Hindu and non-Hindu organizations.

Inevitable ideological dilemmas within the biggest Hindu organization are are contributing to the delay in surmounting of the challenges.  Meanwhile, the above challenges have the potential to aggravate the ideological dilemmas within the Sangh parivar.  While, there are no innovative suggestion to address the problems,  the committed core move forward to clear the clutter in their own non-profit ways.

 

 

 

Pope Francis – a profile

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bergoglio is one of the five children of Mario José Bergoglio, a railway worker born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy’s Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María Sivori, a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin. He was a Jesuit and was ordained as a priest in 1969. He served as head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina from 1973 to 1979. In 1998 he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and in 2001 a cardinal. He was elected as the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on 13 March 2013. Bergoglio choose the papal name Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is the first pope to be a Jesuit, to come from the Americas, and to come from the Southern Hemisphere.

Bergoglio graduated from the technical secondary school with the qualification of chemical technician. He earned a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. He suffered from life-threatening pneumonia and a lung removed shortly afterwards.Bergoglio was mentored by Salesian Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest Stefan Czmil and knows the Byzantine liturgy well.

He is known for simplicity and focussed on social welfare initiatives. He has good relationship with Muslims, Jews and other Christian denominations. He has very strong traditional opinions on abortion, Homosexuality, same sex marriage, euthanasia, birth control, and the elderly. He has criticised child trafficking and sex slavery. His role in non opposing the government forces during dirty war of Argentina is criticised by Human right activists. Similarly, his stance on proselytization would come under scanner in the coming days of his papacy.

Change of Pope – will the Church change?

Pope Benedict XVI (85years) has announced his resignation from his post on Monday, February 11th 2013. He will remain as Pope till 8pm on February 28th. During the period of interregnum from 28th onwards, the Church will be administered by the chamberlain. A successor to Pope Benedict XVI would be elected before end of March 2013. The Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will summon the 120 cardinals worldwide to Rome for a conclave to elect the next pope. Pope Benedict will take no part in the conclave. The Pope has abdicated the chair citing frailty for voluntary resignation, a rare phenomenon in the Catholic world.

Internal affairs of the Catholic Church – including corruption, sexual indiscipline among Vatican authorities have forced the Pope Benedict to resign.  Change of leadership became inevitable as it was evident that the Church is not positioned to engage the external world and convince the masses with its Christian teachings.

Response to external challenges

Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts to address sexual abuse issues within the Catholic Church have drawn mixed reviews. Pope, according to many critics, only paid lip service to a tragedy in which more than 6,100 priests are accused since 1950 for sexually abusing the devotees. More than 16,000 victims identified to date and $2.5 billion in settlements and therapy bills for victims, attorney’s fees and costs to care for priests pulled out of ministry from 2004 to 2011. In September 2012, Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City was found guilty of failing to tell authorities about a priest suspected of sexually exploiting children. Finn was the first U.S. bishop convicted of protecting a priest in a sexual abuse case. Finn remains in office.

His critics accused him of delaying reforms by nearly half a century and not pursuing dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians. Vatican was in the center of a controversy in 2012 with leaked documents alleging corruption in the Vatican’s business dealings. Later it was found that the pontiff’s butler, responsible for dressing him and bringing him meals, was the source of leakage. The Pope was criticized as a Nazi by Susan Sarandon.

The retiring Pope maintained rigid stance of the Church with respect to abortion, and priest celibacy. He was insisting on Jesus as the only path. He was neither a liberal, nor a reformer. In fact, he decided to resign not able to speed up evangelical activities around the globe with his ageing body. The next Pope would be younger, modern and therefore more dynamic. But, will he be able to make the Catholic Church more tolerant? Stopping insisting Jesus as the only solution? Although, such a possibility is desirable, it may not happen. The Church and its next Pope would, in all probability, continue to preach that Jesus as the only Savior. Such preaching continues to create resentment among non-Christians, especially among Hindus and Muslims although for different reasons. While Hindus fear the intolerant attitude that emanate from the exclusivist idea and its undesirable consequences, Muslims resent rejection of Allah and the Prophet as an implication.

Internal corrupt affairs

A television show “The Untouchables” on the respected Italian private television network La 7 on Wednesday, Jan 25th 2012 night exposing corruption, abuse of power and a lack of financial transparency at the Vatican supported by credible evidence.  The TV show was an investigation report by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi based on several letters by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano during 2011 sent to superiors including Pople Benedict.   Carlo Maria served as deputy-governor of Vatican City for two years from 2009 to 2011 and was the number two officials in a department responsible for maintaining the tiny city-state’s gardens, buildings, streets, museums and other infrastructure.

According to the information revealed from the letters, Vigano discovered a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to outside companies at inflated prices.  For example, the cost of the Vatican’s larger than life nativity scene in St Peter’s Square was 550,000 euros in 2009.  In another instance, Vigano observed a loss of two and a half million dollars to Vatican in a single financial transaction.  Vatican-employed maintenance workers were demoralized because work was always given to the same companies at costs at least double compared to those charged outside the Vatican. Being an advocate of transparency and competition, Vigano initiated a series of cleansing operations immediately after his appointment in the Vatican City. In the case of maintenance of St. Peter’s Square, Vigano, after re-estimation of the costs, chopped 200,000 euros off the cost for the next Christmas. Vigano’ s cost-cutting and transparency campaign helped transforming Vatican City’s budget from deficit to surplus during his tenure.  But, a smear campaign against Vigano by other Vatican officials.  In 2011, unsigned articles criticizing him as inefficient appeared in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale. In the midst of allegations of inefficiency,  Viagano was removed on March 22, 2011 from the position of deputy-governor and was promoted as an ambassador of Vatican in Washington against his wishes, even though the term was to have lasted until 2014.

The letters on which the TV show was based were written to the top officials of Vatican by Viagano explaining the corrupt practices within Vatican and need to maintain the morale in those who have believed it was possible to clean up so many situations of corruption and abuse of power that have been rooted in the management of so many departments.

Paolo Gabriele, who has been the pope’s personal butler since 2006, leaked the stolen documents from Church  to investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi during 2011-12.  He decided to leak the documents to fight evil and corruption and to put the Vatican back on track.

Vatican officials initiated an investigation about the leak and the allegations of corruption and Gabriele was arrested after other confidential letters and documents addressed to the pope and other Vatican officials were found in his Vatican apartment. Another parallel, high powered committee with retired Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, retired Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko and retired Italian Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi was constituted to carry out wide-ranging inquiry about the leaks and allegations against Vatican authorities.  Herranz was Opus Dei canon lawyer, Tomko was the former chief of the Vatican’s secret services,  and Giorgi was the former archbishop of Palermo. Pope Benedict had asked the cardinals, all former Vatican officials, to help him understand the reasons behind the leaks and the problems they appear to indicate. The committee had broad-ranging powers to question Vatican officials, including cardinals, beyond the purely criminal scope of investigation carried out by Vatican prosecutors against the butler.

On December 17, 2012 three cardinals presented the pontiff with the “Relationem,” a 300-page report which investigated allegations brought up last year by the so-called Vatileaks scandal.  The Relationem, consisting of two red, leather-bound volumes, contained the exact map of the mischief and the bad fish inside the Holy See. It all revolves around the breach of the sixth and seventh commandments. The seventh commandment — “thou shalt not steal” — would refer to the affairs of the Vatican Bank, IOR, which is under investigation for money laundering. The Relationem would also contain plenty of details on the breaking of the sixth commandment — “thou shall not commit adultery” or “impure actions.”  Report reveals how some high-ranking members of the clergy were blackmailed by laymen with whom they entertain relationships of “worldly nature.” There are details about a gay network which organized sexual encounters in villas and saunas in Rome as well as in the Vatican rooms. The report reveals grouping of people, within the Vatican hierarchy, with similar sexual orientations.

The contents of the report convinced the Pope Benedict about the necessity of a younger leader for the Catholic Church.  Benedict will privately meet the three authors of the report on the last day of his papacy. The Relationem will be handed over to the new Pope. The old Pope will spend his rest of his life in private praying.

“Certainly there are divisions and there have always been divisions as well as violent contrapositions along ideological lines. These aren’t new but yes they have a weight.”

– Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz the Opus Dei canon lawyer who headed the cardinal’s commission confirming internal politics among Vatican authorities

Ref:

  1. A news report by Philip Pullella- Reuters  – Thu Jan 26, 2012
  2. Times of India, The Hindu, Indian Express and other media sources

 Courtesy: Aseema English monthly