Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our trip to Japan

Our Japanese trip was planned so that we landed in Osaka by air, stayed for two nights in Osaka; move to Kyoto by train, stay two nights in Kyoto; and then travel to Tokyo by the Shinkansen (Bullet) train, stay for two nights in Tokyo, before flying out of Narita airport in Tokyo.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip on many counts, some of the reasons are: - 
  • The weather during our trip from 06 May 2017 to 13 May 2017 was just perfect; neither hot nor too cold, we missed the famous spring 'cherry blossom' season by a few weeks.
  • The Japanese people were the highlight of the trip; very conscientious, very helpful ( as a matter of fact some of them went way out of their way to help), very punctual, friendly, honest, etc.
  • A non English speaking developed country where the basic human values are still intact.

The Osaka Castle with Poonam in the foreground
A battlefield display with minitiature soldiers and horses in the Osaka Castle

The Ferris wheel in Osaka

The Kinkakuji (Golden) shrine, which I call the Shangri-la

The Shinkansen (Bullet) train nose inspired by the Kingfisher birds beak.

The Skytree in Tokyo engulfed by clouds

The Sensoji Temple in Tokyo

A pet Eagle Owl. Japanese have many unconventional pets.

The Cable car on the Mt Fuji circuit tour. One rail track shared by two cable cars, by design, moving in opposite directions

Mt Fuji circuit, an ancient boat ride

Tokyo by night from the 45th floor of the Metropolitan Government building in Tokyo

The moat bridge on the outer moat around the Imperial Palace

Rhododendrons on the main road in Tokyo

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kapil Sibal's views on Matters of Faith

Kapil Sibal is a senior Congress leader, is an ex Law Minister in the UPA government, and a practicing Supreme Court lawyer. He is defending the All India Muslim Personal Law Board's assertion that triple talaq is a matter of faith for the Muslims. His statements in the SC are reproduced below. 

His statements show how little he understands the country and the religion of the majority population of India. Even worse is that he was part of the government of India, in the capacity of a law minister.

His statement also reflects the pseudo secularism that has been practiced by the Congress and various other political parties in India. I do hope that better sense prevails in the Congress leadership, before the Congress is completely rejected by the people of India, not that they are doing any better than this even now. A look at the recent election results would convince any sane individual on the need to introspect and correct course, which is more in line with the people they claim to represent. 

There seems to be no effort on the part of the Congress to introspect and change course as of now. All they seem to be doing is form alliances with all and sundry to thwart the BJP at the polls. Alliances are good, but only with parties that profess a similar ideology, and also the same sense of purpose. Adhoc alliances with the sole intention of defeating the BJP would lead nowhere. As a matter of fact such thinking reflects their disdain for the will of the people and of their intelligence. People are all powerful in a functioning democracy, and their will needs to be respected. Trying to hood wink them can lead to disaster. 

India is too diverse to have a single party system, which it is fast turning out to be with the single largest opposition national party in a self destruct mode. Who should it blame, its leadership, or the people of India? 

Kapil Sibal's arguments are reproduced below, as is: - 

"If I have faith that Lord Ram was born at Ayodhya, then it's a matter of faith and there is no question of constitutional morality," Kapil Sibal, the former law minister, 

"Triple talaq is there since 637. Who are we to say that this is un-Islamic. Muslims are practising it for last 1,400 years. It is a matter of faith. Hence, there was no question of constitutional morality and equity", he said.

Mr Sibal also pointed that the source of triple talaq can be found in Hadith and it came into being after the time of Prophet Muhammad.

"Is e-talaq also there," the bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar asked, a reference to many complaints from Muslim women that they had been divorced over WhatsApp and Facebook.

"Yes...WhatsApp talaq, and it is encrypted too," Mr Sibal responded, in a lighter vein.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Understanding Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma)

Hinduism is the western distortion of Sanatan Dharma, which is based on a geographical reality that is East of the Sindhu (Indus) river. Sanatan Dharma is 'eternal' and is more a way of life that believes in One goal, which can be reached through multiple paths. Every path is the correct path, depending on who is traversing it, based on his/ her birth, inclinations, choice, region, or any other reason. No approach is wrong to reach that one goal. Hinduism is less of a religion and more of a philosophy that helps one traverse the journey that leads to the merger of the 'Atma' (soul) with the 'Paramatma' (Super Soul, or God). Every journey is unique and every one is at liberty to choose their own prop(s) along the way, as abstraction is not very conducive for the journey, specially by the uninitiated. The prop could be any thing or being, depending on one's inclinations, and intellect, since God is omnipresent in every speck of this universe. Any form/ shape can represent the Almighty, as long as one knows that being omnipresent 'God is also in that, and more importantly that God is not ONLY that'.

I found this beautiful explanation about Hinduism on the internet and am reproducing the relevant portions of the same, as is, without comments.

The greatness of Hinduism cannot be compared with other religions. There is no basis for comparison. Hinduism has no beginning, therefore will certainly have no end. It was never created, and therefore it cannot be destroyed. It is a God-centric religion. The center of it is God. All of the other religions are prophet-centric. The center of those religions is a great saint or sage, a prophet, a messenger or messiah, some God-Realized person who has lived on earth and died. Perhaps he was born to create that particular sect, that particular religion, needed by the people of a certain part of the world at a certain time in history. The Hindus acknowledge this and recognize all of the world's religious leaders as great prophets, as great souls, as great incarnations, perhaps, of the Gods, or as great realized beings who have through their realization and inward practices incarnated themselves into, or transformed themselves into, eminent religious leaders and attracted devotees to them to give forth the precepts of life all over again and thus guide a tribe, or a nation or a race, into a better way of life. 

The Hindu mind can encompass this, appreciate it, for it is firmly settled in a God-centric religion. The center of Hinduism is the Absolute, the timeless, formless, spaceless God who manifests as Pure Consciousness and as the most perfect form conceivable, the Primal Soul. He radiates out from that form as a myriad of Gods and Goddesses who inhabit the temples and bless the people, inspire the scriptures, inspire the spiritual leaders and uplift humanity in general. It is a one God in many forms. 

There are nearly sixty five crores Hindus in the world today. Hinduism attends to the needs of each one. It is the only religion in the world today that has such breadth and depth. Hinduism contains the Deities and the sanctified temples, the esoteric knowledge of inner states of consciousness, yoga and the disciplines of meditation. It possesses a gentle compassion and a genuine tolerance and appreciation for other religions. It remains undogmatic and open to inquiry. It believes in a just world in which every soul is guided by karma to the ultimate goal of Self Realization, or moksha. It rests content in the knowledge of the divine origin of the soul, its passage through one life and another until maturity has been reached. It offers guidance to all who take refuge in it, from the nonbeliever to the most evolved rishi. It cherishes the largest storehouse of scripture and philosophy on the earth, and the oldest. It is endowed with a tradition of saints and sages, of realized men and women, unrivaled on the earth. It is the sum of these, and more, which makes us boldly declare that Hinduism is the greatest, even though not the largest, religion in the entire world. 

People in other religions may question the sanctity of idol worship and we can say it is only due to ignorance. God is all-pervading formless Being. 

The divinity of the all-pervading God is vibrant in every atom of creation. There is not a speck of space where He is not. Why do you then say that He is not the idols? 

The idol is a support for the neophyte. It is a prop of his spiritual childhood. A form or image is necessary for worship in the beginning. It is not possible for all to fix the mind on the Absolute or the Infinite. A concrete form is necessary for the vast majority for practicing concentration. 

Idols are not the idle fancies of sculptors, but shining channels through which the heart of the devotee flows towards God. Though the image is worshipped, the devotee feels the presence of the Lord in it and pours out his devotion unto it. The idol remains an idol, but the worship goes to the Lord. 

To a devotee, the image is a mass of Chaitanya or consciousness. He draws inspiration from the image. The image guides him. It talks to him. It assumes human form to help him in a variety of ways. Idol worship is not peculiar to Hinduism. The Christians worship the Cross. They have the image of the Cross in their mind. The Mohammedans keep the image of the Kaaba stone when they kneel and do prayers. The mental image also is a form of idol. The difference is not one in kind, but only one of degree. 

All worshippers, however intellectual they may be, generate a form in the mind and make the mind dwell on that image. Everyone is an idol worshipper. Pictures and drawings are only a form of idol. A gross mind needs a concrete symbol as a prop or Alambana; a subtle mind requires an abstract symbol. Even a Vedantin has the symbol OM for fixing the wandering mind. It is not only pictures or images in stone and wood that are idols. Dialectics and leaders also become idols. 

In conclusion what we can say is that we should be proud to be a Hindu. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

J & K - Need for Concerted Action

I received the following forward by email. It makes a very strong plea to the PM to take appropriate action in J&K to stop the anti-nationals, supported by Pakistan, from dictating the agenda in the valley, which is happening at a very fast pace. The article is reproduced, as it makes a lot of sense to me.



Lt Gen PG Kamath

It was a decade of decadence under the UPA. People with no national conscience ruled the nation. National interest got blurred with personal interest and sons and sons-in-law became power brokers in the government. The all-pervasive venality in the government unleashed a myriad of scams; coal, 2G, chopper, Adarsh, Commonwealth Games and ‘cash for vote’ to save the UPA Government after Left Parties withdrew support. A democracy to start with; soon became an oligarchy under the ‘signora’ and those in power became wealthy and the oligarchy transformed into a plutocracy. The executive powers of the Prime Minister were usurped and the files of the highest constitutional executive authority of the country were moved to 1 Janpath for final approval. The extra-constitutional authority with no education to speak of and her equally accomplished progeny took decisions for a nation of 1.2 billion people. Such travesty in democracy is a stark example of its failure; probably a case study in Chinese text books on political science, bringing to the fore ‘the horrors of a democracy’?

The stinging electoral decimation of the UPA regime is a tribute to our democracy. True to the aspirations of the people, the new NDA government was quick on delivery and earned the trust of the nation. In the polls conducted in states NDA fared well. Save for Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Bihar; there were resounding victories in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Jharkhand and split verdict in Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur and Goa, where the majority was cobbled to form a coalition. The decision on demonetisation on 8 Nov last year was a decision that could not have been taken by anyone with lesser credentials. Whether the exercise achieved the desired result is still in debate but the very boldness of the step silences the stinging critics. The conviction, passion, sagacity and the sheer power of the decision makes the Prime Minister an all-time great! The economic dividends of the decision notwithstanding; it has certainly given a blow to those, who were keeping gunny bags of notes in their cellars and those political parties who had amassed ill gotten money in godowns to do horse-trading and buying votes. Quiet revealing; how political parties of all hue reacted trying to drum up a national rebellion but in vain.

The grand failure of Modi Government is in its J&K policy; if at all there was one? The BJP manifesto of 2014 on J&K was pedestrian and recounted the usual stuff; integral part of the country, committed to abrogation of Art 370, return of Pundits, development of all regions, good governance, education, health care, infrastructure, job opportunities and leading to better quality of life. Doesn’t it all sound comical? In three years, the situation is characterised by the changed narrative in the valley? Pakistan is driving the agenda through the Hurriyat, who are giving the ideological purpose for public resentment. They also act as financial conduits to sustain the agitators and arsonists. The J&K police have become ineffective: The CRPF that has been deployed in the population centres are at their wits end; they neither can fire and cause civilian casualties nor they can bear being kicked, hit and pelted with stones by populace. Every encounter between the security forces and terrorists, there is popular upsurge of youths, who come in hoards to pelt stones and act as their shields, enabling their escape and delay and disrupt evacuation of wounded security forces, causing their deaths. Schools and colleges have become charged with anti-national and communal narrative. College girls have also joined in pelting of stones against the security forces. Agitations are being spearheaded spontaneously by local leaders with communal hatred that has turned anti-national. Weekly Friday prayers ensure the communal hatred is energised, spurred and sustained. The agitators, who pelt stones are paid money that is coming in from ISI Pakistan. Hawala transactions are also bringing large sums of money. APHC has become a Pakistani ISI’s base of operations driving Pakistani agenda. The illegal cable TVs blare programs from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan fanning fundamentalism, Wahhabism, communal hatred with anti-national agenda. The Lokha Sabha bye elections that were held were a farce! The same people, who enthusiastically voted with 65% attendance in April/May 2014, voted for Srinagar Parliamentary constituency with 7 % attendance in April 2017. How has this transformation for the worse taken place? Mr Prime Minister; no one but you has to take the blame for this sordid affairs. Your NSA and your advisers have proved beyond doubt that they are not up to the mark; if not why as a ‘professional spy master’ he had not warned you of the impending situation beforehand? How come you have let it descend to the present state of impasse and futility? Why are you literally sleeping over it? Do you have a plan up your sleeves? If so; it is high time you execute it. In your Dec 2014 rally in Srinagar you had said that you have visited the valley every month since you have taken over as PM. What about now?

Mr Prime Minister! I have mentioned this once before; it was on 8 Dec 2014, in the same rally at Srinagar, you gloated as to how for the first time in thirty years, you have punished the army for killing two youths of Kashmir. You did not say that they had rushed across a barrier and the soldiers would have been punished by the army for dereliction of duty, if they had not stopped them. Here as a PM, you used the army as a political tool trying to sow a divide between the army and locals. Your one act of expedience has put the entire forces in state on defensive. Orders were issued to the security forces not to fire and you made the security forces to run from the agitators by not firing at them. The agitators emboldened kicked and assaulted the security forces and they were exercising restraint by not firing at their perpetrators. You! Mr Prime Minister; you alone is responsible for belittling and humiliating the security forces. You are the one, who extinguished the spark and pride from the security forces. In the same vein you unwittingly have fomented the anti-national elements, who now run riot and cause violence and mayhem in the Vale of Kashmir.

Now it is time to take our attention on the judiciary? It was on 8 Jul 2016, the Supreme Court gave its ruling for a mandatory FIR against the armed forces personnel, if a death has been caused, while operating in a disturbed area. On 27 April 2017, the curative petition to the Supreme Court to review their judgement was also dismissed. It entails; if in a disturbed area the armed forces have an encounter and a terrorist is killed then it is mandatory to lodge a FIR against the armed forces personnel, who has caused his death.

Let us analyse: Who declares the area as disturbed? It is the Central Government or the Governor of the state, who are empowered to declare a geographical area as disturbed. When the government considers that the situation in the state or a particular area has become disturbed and dangerous, involving terrorist acts, striking terror in the people, overawing the government, disrupting sovereignty and integrity leading to secession; the area is gazetted to be disturbed. Please note that it is not the armed forces, who declare an area as disturbed. It is done by the Central or State Government that has been formed by the will of the people. It was done by invoking the ‘Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990. The government also considers that the existing administration with the prevailing laws and organic resources in terms of police and central armed police forces is not able to control the situation and there is a necessity for the Armed Forces to come and establish peace and order; only then the area is declared as disturbed. All should know the normal system of governance has failed and due to utter helplessness of the government that they have invoked it as a disturbed area at their own calling and assessment of situation. The last weapon, the government has is its armed forces and it is the last arrow in its quiver and the last trump card in its hands. If the armed forces fail then the nation fails and it is the failure of the will of the democratic polity. Can we let it fail? It is the failure of the nationhood of the nation, where the rule of law does not run and chaos violence rules the roost. It is at this time the Armed Forces are called to restore law and order.

You Lordships have you read the constitution of India? Obviously you are all having a smirk on your faces looking down on a soldier, who is trying teach them Law? Notwithstanding; please recount the Preamble of the Constitution: I would recount it for you in case in delivering judgement against the nationhood; you have forgotten it. The people of India through the constitution empower themselves to make our country a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic. It gives its citizens justice in social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief and worship; equality of status and opportunity; fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and ‘UNITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE NATION’. It means all the justice, liberty, equality and dignity is given to us, with a proviso, where we have to assure the ‘unity and integrity of the nation’. It is a non-negotiable factor in the entire constitution. If the country’s territorial extent is not there; where will the Lordships apply this constitution? The existence of ‘Nation State of India’ is prerequisite for the rule of law to run as per the constitution. The preamble starts with ‘We the people of India’; if there is an existential threat to India or a part there of; are the people of India; unconcerned?

Now the “Learned Lordships’ want to bind the army from doing its duty. Honoured Lordships! Understand the situation; nothing has worked so far and all normal avenues have failed to bring the situation under control; it is do or die situation. The perpetrators of violence at most times are better armed than the armed forces and they have come to destroy the nation state of India. In case of an encounter, the Lordships would want us to preach them nonviolence on a loud haler? In case the security forces do the mistake of killing the terrorists and defend the sovereignty of the nation then the Lordships would ensure that a FIR hounds them for life! The soldier, who has taken an oath to risk his life and limb to ensure the integrity of the nation would have a FIR registered against him and thereafter fight to prove his innocence in the unspeakable, tardy and decrepit prevailing judicial system. The FIR would haunt him even after his retirement, where he would even lose a wee bit of institutional support, he would have got, in case he was still in service. I want to know: Which country do these lordships belong? Do they believe in the ‘nation state concept’ accepted by the world in the ‘Treaty of Westphalia’ in 1648 after a turbulent period in the world history? Do they believe in India from which they draw their pay? If the nation is destroyed which court would they preside over? The country that has taken over our country would put them in jails and where and to whom, will these lordships sit and give their antinational judgements? They should know it is the armed forces of the country that gives them the security to pronounce their judgement against them.

Our foreign ministry mandarins are in the habit of quoting “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family). I have heard this umpteenth number of times patiently wondering; where do these people live? A looming conventional and nuclear threat from China and Pakistan; with Chinese in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indian Ocean; with 55% of Jammu & Kashmir under illegal occupation of China and Pakistan, with 740 KMs of unresolved borders as LOC with Pakistan, 110 Kms of AGPL in Siachen, 4052 Kms of unresolved borders with China as LAC, with Pakistan claiming J&K, China claiming Arunachal Pradesh with over 70% of all Chinese arms exports coming against our borders to Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; with Maoist insurgency tearing at the entrails of our country and brewing insurgency in the North East; these fools stand on the roof tops and shout ‘The world is one family’. Which world? Which Family? Aren’t you astounded by their realism? The country is in somnambulism; please wake up; before it is too late. Our self-serving politicians, self-opinionated judiciary and insensitive bureaucracy; are you listening? Someone has said “The only thing that saves us from bureaucracy is its inefficiency?” How true! The only thing that saves us from politicians is regular ballot but the Judiciary is there to stay; lost in their own make believe world trying dish out scruples and morals; fiddling like Nero, when the country is in paroxysm of putrefaction?

Now; Mr Prime Minister; forget the niceties of preamble of the constitution. Just look at the hard part of the preamble: ‘The unity and integrity of the nation’ is in danger in Jammu & Kashmir. Unleash the security forces with no holds barred. Causalities would mount during initial periods and please brazen it out. The civil population most of them are silent due to terror unleashed by few anti-national element. Few innocents would die along with terrorists; never mind! Warn in advance those who pelt stones or assist terrorists and anti-national elements would be treated as terrorists. The Army Chief tried to tell that however, you did not register. In a week or so when the security forces mean business; the message gets clear and the protests would gradually reduce. If Lt Ummer Fayaz, a local boy, who was attending the marriage of his relative can be killed; do not spare the relatives of the terrorists. All the close relatives of the terrorists should be jailed and suitable actions taken against them. I am sure the police would know how to handle them? Let me see how the terrorism will sustain. Thicken troops and enhance the night vision devices on the LOC and ensure no terrorists come in. The Army will do it but ensure that they are not starved of night vision devices and batteries.

Please for heaven’s sake withdraw security cover to the Hurriyat Traitors. Please stop all their money flow and freeze their accounts; send all the magistrates and judges of high court in Jammu and Kashmir on vacation, as they would act as spoilt sport. Isolate the state of Jammu and Kashmir from internet and mobile network both internally and externally. All cable TV and dish TV should be banned and the ban be implemented. Satellite Channels can be easily shut and cable TVs be neutralised. Remove security cover for all forked tongue politicians like the Abdullahs and the likes. With security cover they do not have guts to come outside their bungalows; without security cover they would be cowering in their cellars. They are politically inert and do not command any public support. What Jammu & Kashmir wants is the rule of law and save it from the climate of collapse. They want a normal life so that all can practise their professions and earn their livelihood. Raise twenty battalions of paramilitary forces and send them out for training in south India. I hope you remember hundreds lined up for a handful of vacancies of ‘Territorial Army’.

Don’t worry Mr Prime Minister; the Islamic countries would heap recriminations against the country and you: A small price to pay. Even the European countries are reeling under the terrorism in their own countries. They would understand the steps taken by you and support you. Don’t worry of China; they do not have the words “human rights’ in their lexicon. Pakistan that has been using its Army and Air Force, Fighter jets, artillery, missiles and helicopters against their own countrymen would shout and expose itself. I doubt whether anyone listens to them anymore? It should be the least of your worries.
In our own country anti-national parties like the left and those led by national of foreign origin will condemn you. You can withdraw security cover to them and to all their outlaws and in-laws. They will all fall in line. No more time to waste. Change the Governor; he has been there for too long and he is too old to make any difference. Mr Prime Minister get going. We love our country and we have given the mandate by reading in your manifesto ‘India First’. Do not let us down!
(The writer is a veteran of the Indian Army)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

India - Religion, Rights, and Uniform Civil Code

Two modern nation states were born on the night of 14/ 15 August 1947 - India as a secular democracy and Pakistan as an Islamic state. Pakistan came in to being based on the tireless campaigning of Mr Jinnah who was able to convince the Muslims in India, as also the British, on Hindus and Muslims being two nations with irreconcilable differences and thus had to be governed differently. To this end, he worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the Muslim League and was instrumental in convincing the Muslims on the need for a separate homeland that was based on religion. His rational can best be understood from his own speech delivered in March 1941; relevant portion reproduced below. 

"The only solution for the Muslims of India, which will stand the test of trial and time, is that India should be partitioned so that both the communities can develop freely and fully according to their own genius economically, socially, culturally and politically. The struggle is for the fullest opportunities and for expression of the Muslim national will. The vital contest in which we are engaged is not only for the material gain but also for the very existence of the soul of the Muslim nation".  

Mr Jinnah's belief that Islam alone can be the binding force for any modern nation where-in each individual, and community, can flourish economically, socially, culturally and politically was tested immediately after independence, with continued strife and fighting between members of the same religion, over and above that with people from other religions. His belief was finally shattered when the people of East Pakistan established an independent state of Bangladesh. In case religion could be the binding glue to people living peacefully, then Iran-Iraq war would not happen. Religion only provides for the advancement of an individual in his own personal spiritual realm, and that too only if he so desires. Religion has nothing to do with the society or nation to which the individual belongs. The society or nation is governed by the Constitution and its established governing structures and institutions. Societies/ nations have to be governed by 'rule of law'.

Human beings are comforted in their personal lives by their belief systems but feel at peace living in a society that provides some stability and peace in their day to day living. In case religion could provide peace in the day to day life of ordinary people, then no person would have immigrated to Europe or North America; they have migrated there due to the relative stability & peace out there due to the stringent and uniform application of rule of law, with the added possibility of advancing financially and socially too. The continued migration out of the middle East is proof that humans value stability, peace and advancement over religion, in their governed life in a society/ nation. Religion governs only the personal life of any thinking individual. 

Religion, I believe, is a very personal matter between a human and his Creator. We may follow the same religion but we will still not have the same perception of our Creator, because we all have an independent mind. This is so even if we follow the same rituals and are fed the same mythology too. Rituals and mythology comprise the kindergarten and nursery of religion and help us to develop faith, and nothing more than that. However, the actual crux, or philosophy of every religion is well past all this. The actual philosophy of every religion point to the same goal or pinnacle, and I believe once we actually reach to the pinnacle all paths seem to lead there from any number of directions, based on one's own perception, preference and practice. I firmly believe that religion and the affairs of a modern secular nation-state are not compatible, in as much as each of its citizens are different and diverse in thought and belief. 

A modern nation state like India needs to have a uniform application of rule of law to protect the rights of every citizen. This was envisaged by our secular Constitution too, but was not enforced at that time probably due to the very violent nature of the partition of the country, on religious lines. The Hindu code bills that effect the major part of the population of independent India were passed in the 50s, despite strong opposition from within and outside the government. The minority community reforms were not pursued with equal vigour, it seems as a measure of pacifying the insecurity of the minorities. It was felt that the lead for the same would come from within the enlightened members of the community. This has not happened. As a matter of fact the minorities in India have gone more regressive with the years, even if we compare them with other Islamic nations, let alone secular democracies. India is a secular democracy and needs to treat each of its citizens equally with regard to law, irrespective of personal beliefs, belonging, sex, position, birth, etc.

The founding fathers had, through the Directive Principles, directed the state to enact a Uniform Civil Code in due course. This has not happened even after over six decades of our existence as a Republic. Our constitution guaranteed every individual the fundamental right to freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship in his personal life, but every citizen had not been given uniform treatment as a political entity of the state, where-in rule of law applies uniformly to every citizen. 

This needs to done with sarv samiti through education, discussion and debate. The enlightened members of the minority community need to step up to the task of creating conditions for the implementation of a uniform civil code. The triple talaq case is being fought in the Supreme Court, which has on 03 May 2017 appointed Mr Salman Khursheed as a 'nyaya mitra' (friend of justice) to advise the court on the community and other legalese. This is probably a case that will help India move a step closer towards equality before law, of all citizens, irrespective of sex. Equality is an idea whose time has come because religions do not provide political stability and peace and also because certain provisions in religions are time and geography centric; they are not amenable to universal application in real world situations, through the ages, and advancements in human civilisations. Certain provisions in religions need re-interpretation of the context and contents of the worldly teachings; purely philosphical teachings in any religion are not time sensitive, and may be followed by each individual as per belief. Society/ nations have to keep pace with the changing times as also the advancement of human thought and action. Stone age laws of a particular region cannot apply in the globalised and nuclear, information age. What then is the best way forward?

Individual freedoms must be guaranteed equally to all citizens through application of a uniform rule of law irrespective of position, region, religion, caste, creed, sex, status, or any other human differentiating attribute. The removal of lal battis is a step in the right direction. Every step that will remove the entitlements bestowed by birth or belonging, etc. would be a step in the right direction, as every citizen aspires to equal treatment politically. Every political party in India needs to work towards bringing about equal citizenship and rule of law in our country, if the spirit of our enlightened Constitution is to be upheld. People are now better informed than ever before. Any party that does not honour this ideal of equal citizenship will be punished by the people through the ballot box. It is never too late to change, and start working 'for the people'.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Introspect, and Connect with the People

The MCD elections have been a disaster for the Congress, like most of the previous elections. What should be done?

Any logical person would understand that since common people decide the fate of the candidates, it is important to understand why the common people are voting in a particular way. It is thus important to understand the needs and wants of the common people by connecting with them on a one on one basis, at the grass roots level.

Instead Ms Sonia Gandhi invited leaders of all the opposition parties yesterday to discuss on alliances and strategies to defeat the BJP in coming elections.

Leaders do not decide how the common people will vote. 

They need to get connected with the people at the grass root level. They need to motivate/ inspire their party workers and convince them to go out and meet people, find out their concerns, work towards alleviating those concerns.

Once the people are convinced that you are concerned about them and will be working 'for the people' then they will ensure that your candidates get elected.

Political parties are all giving an impression that they only believe in 'of the people' and have forgotten the other two parts of 'by the people' and 'for the people'. 

Their actions are not reflecting that they care. They seem to care only about themselves and their kith and kin. 

A strong opposition is required to halt the BJP juggernaut. A single party with a large majority does not augur well for any democracy, especially one as widely diverse as India.

Coming together of all opposition parties with the only aim of defeating the BJP is a good mathematical exercise and may succeed too, like in Bihar elections, but is not good and desirable for the country. Nitish has to live with the agenda of Lalu, and tarnish his image in the bargain. 

Opposition parties please introspect and connect with the common people of India.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

MCD Elections - Faulty EVMs Again, says AAP!

The Exit polls are showing a decisive win for the BJP; we will get to know for sure tomorrow.

Congress feels that this win can be attributed to Modi's eloquence, and well crafted lies.

AAP feels it is because of the faulty EVMs. AAP is slowly bringing down the credibility of every institution of the country, whether it was the LG, the police, the CBI, and now the EC.

How can one govern a country like India without credible institutions, Mr Kejriwal? Will you rebuild them again, after demolishing them?

Both of these contesting parties have their own reasons to believe in the above.

Both these view points show how out of touch they are with reality, and their mindsets at this juncture.

These are mindsets that have now started to doubt the intelligence of the electorate whom they profess to represent, and not themselves and their activities.

Introspection is called for lest the BJP juggernaut under Modi becomes unstoppable.

|We cannot have a one party system. We NEED and DESERVE a viable and strong opposition to keep the BJP in check.

Democracy is all about checks and balances, which we are slowly eroding due to lack of introspection by the opposition.

Modi and Yogi - A Paradigm Shift for India

I have been watching the political debates on TV these days that are mostly focused on either Modi or Yogi. The central theme of these debates is how these two are turning our secular democracy into a Hindutva bastion by holding on to, and also feeling proud of, their personal beliefs in their individual lives. No moderately educated Indian, and nearly all political parties, care to notice that both Modi and Yogi espouse and live by the maxim of 'sabka saath, sabka vikaas' in their official dealings. These two  seemingly opposing positions seem irreconcilable to the educated Indian mind that has been brought up on an agenda of unequal rights and responsibilities as citizens, based on one's belief system/ caste/ region/ position, etc.

Here is a PM who considers the parliament as a temple of democracy, a PM who aspires to give basic dignity and 'swacchta' to every citizen of this country, a PM who wants every Indian to feel proud of our heritage - a heritage that is common to every Indian, beyond all our belief systems, as these are dated and came much later than we had realised and decided that this universe is one big family (Vasudaiva Kutumbukam).

A CM of the largest state in India comes dressed to work in saffron - a colour representing courage, sacrifice, and renunciation in our great tradition. How come? How can we have a head of a state government as a man who has no personal desires, except the desire to serve the people whom he represents; a man who drives himself and every one else in the government to do their job or face the consequences; a man who is not scared to take very bold decisions in a state that has been known to be the most lawless and fragmented on caste/ religion/ region in our country.

What is it that these two bring to the Indian political table besides love of the motherland, a punishing work schedule & ethics, a passionate desire to serve the under privileged in India, making policies that would benefit the common people of India. Common people happen to be the largest majority that has gone relatively un-served until now, except in terms of lip service by a political class/ bureaucracy that either came to serve (they all say that, but in effect the service is mostly of the self/ family/ and friends) with a colonised mind, or whose minds were colonised on coming to power like Mayawati, Mulayam, Lalu, etc.
Image Courtesy: Google Images.

The colonised mind feels and thinks that the 'natives' do not deserve any thing better; that they can be kept ignorant and can also be ignored; equal citizenship is not every Indian's right. The colonised mind feels that sharing scarce resources with the 'have nots' would reduce their own share in the pie, and thus bring down their own standard of living, which the colonised mind is convinced has to be comparable to the rest of the world.

The TV debates continue on issues that are found to be irrelevant by the common people of India, and this is reflected in the voting pattern in election after election. The BJP juggernaut continues to gather more and more momentum with every election. The Congress and the other opposition parties are looking at all this through the old paradigm and are still trying to appeal to, and appease, their carefully created and nurtured vote banks. The electorate seems to have rejected this to a large extent.

The people are voting for the BJP, headed by PM Modi, because they feel that he is the only strong and incorruptible leader in present day India who would be able to deliver on their long suppressed aspirations of equal citizenship in a free, democratic, truly secular, corruption free, and 'proud of its heritage' India. Our heritage has been so beautifully enshrined in our eloquent Constitution, and Modi and Yogi have spoken on issues as per this eloquent document, issues that were meant to be kept brushed under the carpet until now, and all in the name of secularism. Modi and Yogi have given voice to these issues and rightly so as the soul of India needs to take precedence over the politically correct brain of India.

The soul of India is its people and their long history of inborn tolerance of others, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, region, or ethnicity. Cow slaughter, triple talaq, J&K, Ram mandir, lal battis, Z class security, etc. are all issues that need to be resolved with sarv samiti through discussion/ debate and not by brushing aside these smoldering issues that prevent us from taking our rightful place in the comity of nations. Every political party has to rethink on their role in this new emerging modern India where personal beliefs should be entirely personal, and where we, as citizens, should enjoy equal rights while fulfilling our equal responsibilities towards our country. This is the new paradigm that Modi and Yogi have unfurled upon the people of India, and which the Congress and other opposition parties would be well advised to find an answer to, instead of ungraciously conceding defeat in elections, and attributing BJP's victory to  Modi's eloquence and faulty EVMs, after every fresh round of elections

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Profession of Arms

Received as a forward by e-mail. Author - Not known. Sharing, as I feel the contents are worth sharing. The macro picture is still very good, minor blemishes notwithstanding, which are also dealt with promptly and firmly.

"Going through hell... Keep going," said a desk graffiti in one of the classrooms at the National Defence Academy. I am sure it's still there, the etchings deepened by those that came later. Tired fingers trying to find solace in tradition, in the words of a nameless cadet, and the knowledge that those that came before sweated, bled, cried and triumphed the same way.

In many ways, these five words bring out the simple truth of the Indian soldier.

Of the man who left home as a boy, with his fears and insecurities, holding the pain of his lost love or pining for someone, holding dear everything that a teenager holds dear. Wanting to win the world, like every adolescent, but unsure where to start.

In the military academies they teach you to start with yourself. It's a painful process to tear off one skin and wear another but in the end the soldier comes out a better human being. The uniform stays with you for life, taking on all the grime, mud, blood and sweat - and pride - along the way.

Sadly, nowadays, it's the specks of mud that seem to make all the news. A fake encounter in Kashmir, a woman raped in the northeast, an officer arrested for spying, a frustrated jawan shooting his officers… In a society hungry for titillation, aberrations pass for the truth. Finally, some of us feel, finally, the great Indian soldier has been pulled down from his pedestal. Finally, we see him for what he is - a common man, no better or stronger or nobler than you or me.

Is it so? Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The only thing true here is that yes, the soldier is an ordinary man. An ordinary man who has made extraordinary sacrifices, shown courage above and beyond the call of duty, gone farther than he thought he could, and had the courage to stand up every time the call came to be counted.

How many of us can claim to have done that in our plush air-conditioned offices, day after day?

A soldier's courage is tested not just when he is in an encounter or when called to rescue someone from floodwaters. He is put to test every single day. The prize for passing this daily performance review? Not a superlative raise or a six-digit performance incentive. He simply retains the honour of wearing his uniform for another day.

It takes extraordinary courage and pain to survive a single day of training in the academies or even the "routine life" in a regiment. A sacrifice that very few have the courage to make.

To have an idea of how tough it is to get into the olive green uniform, here is a simple equation. For the IIT-JEE - for many the be-all-and-end-all of entrance examinations - about 1.5 lakh candidates vie for 3,000 IIT seats. And for NDA, the same number competes for just 320 seats. Do the maths.

This is not to say that the NDA "rangruts" are brighter (heck, the really studious ones get plenty more front rolls and back rolls to bring them on the same level as the rest . It's just that they are one of a kind.

A very special kind who know, when they sign up at age 17-18, that they are binding themselves to a life of immense hardship, silent sacrifices, incompatible pay, separation from families - but the satisfaction that their spine will always be ramrod straight. Ordinary boys like Arun Khetrapal, Sandeep Unnikishnan, Manoj Pandey, Yogender Singh Yadav, Nirmaljit Singh Shaikhon and Vijayant Thapar who turned into legends. (Can't recognize most of the names? Tell you later.)

To give you an idea, one of them ran cross-country with a fractured leg - yes, a fractured leg - at the NDA just so he wouldn't let his squadron down. I refuse to believe that the boys who show such spirit, conviction and courage at such a young age would go about killing women and children. It is easier to believe that the sun goes around the earth.

These soldiers do not ask for any favours. Just some understanding. Every officer I know is almost embarrassed to talk about his "heroism". "It's no big deal," they say. That's what they signed up for. A Paramvir Chakra winner, for instance, went home to nurse half a dozen bullet wounds, told his mother "Ek medal mila, Ma," and forgot to mention that he had singlehandedly captured a Pakistani position. Her mother knew only when his village heard it on the radio and mobbed his hut.

Let us not make generalizations out of aberrations. The Indian soldier comes from a family like yours and mine. He is a part of society and is subject to the same pulls and pressures. Inflation pinches him, he has his own domestic problems, has elderly parents to look after, and is worried about the education of his child. He has his own insecurities and worries. And like every segment of society, there are a few rotten apples. There is no denying that. But just ask yourself how many such cases have you a heard of in the last decade? A handful? Out of the millions who donned the uniform in this time.

The dirty ones are hauled up and thrown out faster than you pick a fly out of your soup. Justice in the forces is swift, certain and ruthless. Armchair judgments, they don't need.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Losers in the Elections should Introspect, rather than blame the EVMs

The UP elections have upset a lot of political parties and they are hurting badly after this loss. These parties include the Congress, the SP, the BSP and the AAP. Most of the spokespersons of these parties have, instead of introspecting, started blaming it on the authenticity of the results declared by the EVMs. The answer of the Minister in the Rajya Sabha is very enlightening and must be listened to by every Indian citizen. The link is attached above.

Discrediting an institution of the country established under the Constitution is a very dangerous proposition. In case people lose faith in the institutions primarily because of political wrangling between political parties and leaders then it will be a sad day for our democracy.

Any political party that is attached with the grass roots would know why they have lost. In case they have lost, they should accept the peoples mandate with humility and grace and make all efforts to redouble their efforts in connecting with the people; it will help them to re-establish themselves in the political arena. Finally it is the people who decide who wins or loses. 

Fighting on the television channels, on the streets, and in parliament has limited appeal to the people in such a case. It is much better to re-connect with the people; work for them; find out what they want from THEIR representatives in the parliament and in the assemblies. Political leaders are after all people's representatives and not MASTERS. They cannot decide on what the people need/ want without first understanding and connecting with them.

Go out. Connect with your constituents. Let the people decide next time, else you get wiped out completely next time.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Our Constitution - What did we Resolve, and Where do we Stand

No one is wholly tolerant. The more you believe in tolerance, the less you can tolerate the intolerant. - - - Robert Quillen

India has been a multi-religious society for many millenia, well before the advent of Christianity and Islam, the world's two large monotheistic religions. Both these religions have had a very bloody past trying to convert people from other faiths/ beliefs in to what they felt was the right faith/ belief. Luckily all these bloody battles are behind us in this modern world. Conversion to their belief/ faith is still important for these two religions, but fortunately wars and conquest are not part of the process any more, and it would hopefully continue to be so in the future too.

Democracy and secularism are the widely accepted forms of administering and governing a large group of people who are organised in to a modern nation-state.

India achieved independence and joined the comity of modern democratic states on 15 Aug 1947. Independence of India came with a price. The country was divided on religious lines; with Pakistan to be in control of Muslim majority areas in the East and West of erstwhile India, and India retaining the Hindu majority areas. The Hindu majority areas contained people of all faiths, including Muslims too.

Even though the division of India took place on religious lines, India opted to be become a 'Sovereign Democratic Republic' under the Constitution that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came in to effect on 26 January 1950; a day that is now celebrated with great zeal and fanfare as the Republic day. In 1976 two words, viz. Socialist and Secular, were added to the preamble to the Constitution, thus making India a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic. It is important to understand the interpretation of secular in the Indian context, as it is at variance with the definition of secular. Most democratic countries have their own version of secularism that is practiced, based on the local conditions and needs of the citizens. Let us try and understand Indian secularism.

The Original and the Amended Preamble to the Indian Constitution
Image Courtesy: Google Images

The word secular as defined by Dictionary.com states, 'of or relating to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred.' This is generally true in the case of USA. However, secularism in India is at variance to what is understood in the Western world.

Unlike the West, in India religion plays a very important part in the lives of most ordinary Indians and thus religion could never be kept separate from the affairs of the state. Dr S Radhakrishnan had beautifully expressed the essence of Indian secularism when he stated, “When India is said to be a secular state, it does not mean that we reject the reality of an unseen spirit or the relevance of religion to life or that we exalt irreligion. It does not mean that secularism itself becomes a positive religion or that the state assumes divine prerogatives…. We hold that not one religion should be given preferential status. This view of religious impartiality or comprehension and forbearance has a prophetic role to play within the National and International life.”

To unify the country under one law and to provide an equal opportunity for justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity to all its citizens, the founding fathers toyed with the idea of a uniform civil code (UCC) to be applied to all, irrespective of the religion. This was considered as interference in to the personal affairs of the citizens and was thus dropped from being added in to the Constitution at that stage. Similarly, since India represented the Hindu majority areas, the slaughter of cows was also considered, but deferred. 

The trauma of the partition of the country on religious lines must have prompted the founding fathers to exercise caution at the time, but the idea was not dropped. The idea of UCC was included as a Directive Principle, as Article 44 of the Constitution, which directed the government to "endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." 

Similarly, a Directive Principle, under Article 48 of the Constitution of India mandated the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Hindu code bills that aimed to codify and reform Hindu personal law in India were passed in the 50s, under the Indian National Congress government led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. There was significant opposition from various conservative Hindu politicians, organisations and devotees; they saw themselves being unjustly singled out as the sole religious community whose laws were to be reformed. However, the Nehru administration saw such codification as necessary to unify the Hindu community, which ideally would be a first step towards unifying the nation. 

They succeeded in passing four Hindu code bills in 1955–56: the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. (Wikipedia)

The same was not and has not been attempted for the other minorities and also no attempt has been made to draft a UCC for fear that the Congress could lose minority votes. All this has happened when the country has largely been ruled by the Congress party. What about civil society, human rights activists and journalists?

Even civil society organisations, journalists, and human rights activists have shied away from advocating a UCC for Indian citizens. This is a result of the prevailing erroneous belief that the uniform civil code is meant to curb personal laws, and that too only of Muslims, who form about 15% of the Indian population.

In real terms, a uniform civil code was desired by the framers of the Constitution to ensure that the basic fundamental rights of citizens, irrespective of their religious and other identities, are protected within a larger human rights framework.

Instead of working towards a UCC, the Congress led government with absolute majority, under PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, strengthened the hands of the Muslim clerics/ conservatives by framing a law  (Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986) neutralising the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case. This was a case where the Supreme Court had ruled against the Muslim personal law as adjudicated by the Muslim religious body with regard to the non payment of maintenance after a marriage was dissolved after 44 years and five children. This led to large scale resentment amongst a large section of Indian society, including Muslims, as also the political parties against the actions of the Congress party. At around the same time that the Congress was losing credibility, a large number of regional parties were gaining strength/ forming in different regions of the country. 

To gain vote share, these regional political parties attempted to consolidate their vote banks based on caste, language, ethnicity, and religious identities by promising short term benefits to their voters, without considering any long term impact on the stability, development, or progress, of the individuals, society, state, or the nation. The people of India were misled by them but have now come to understand these short term tactics employed by the political parties.

Another event in that started in the 80s and assumed grave proportions in the 90s went relatively unnoticed, when compared with the enormity of the problem, was the forced exodus of over 3 lakhs Kashmiri pandit families from the valley without any political party fighting for their cause. Hindu families were forced out of the only Muslim majority area in India; many atrocities have also been reported, including killings, looting, and rape. This created a feeling of victim hood in the majority community, which constitutes about 80% of the total population. It was felt that all political parties vie with each other to fulfill the needs of the minorities and are willing to overlook the excesses that are attributed to them. 

No government has so far done any thing to restore the Pandits back to their homes. No Muslim organisations in the country have openly condemned these condemnable acts of making people refugees in their own country. 

The Hindus are hardly a homogeneous people, but constitute about 80% of the population. Hindu belief system has never been against secularism and talks of the world being one big family (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam). As a matter of fact it is the Hindu belief in multiplicity that has made a secular democracy possible in this part of the world. M J Akbar states the fact very cogently when he argues, "India is a secular country because Indian Hindus, who constitute the majority, and therefore have a proportional impact upon the political ethos, have created and defended a Constitution that is a remarkable triumph of reason over the temptations of sectarian passion. India is secular not because Muslims need it, but because Hindus want it."

The political parties whether it is the Congress, the BSP, the SP, the SAD, the PDP, the NC, the RJD, the MNS, the SS, the DMK, the AIADMK, the TMC, have all alienated the truely secular Indians by their misguided vote bank politics of giving short term benefits to a few, rather than providing long term stability and progress to all. They have divided our country in the name of religion, caste, language, ethnicity and what have you. And then against this abysmal backdrop, a leader emerges who speaks a language of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'. Why would it not appeal to every right thinking citizen, disillusioned by the corruption, family politics, and self serving political system that has been in evidence for sometime now. The Indian democracy in the past few decades has been more about 'by the people, of the people' but has been less about the third most important essential of 'for the people'

BJP has thus been able to consolidate a large part of this 80% Hindu vote, and other disaffected people too, that had been fragmented earlier due to the inherent nature of the Hindu belief system. Most of the credit for this consolidation goes to the opposition parties, and their short term vision.

The only viable national opposition party, the Congress, refuses to introspect on its rapid fade-out, which accelerated with the 2014 general elections, in every region of the country, and in the national sphere too. They will have to change the model by which they were elected, thus far. 

Modern India, young India, irrespective of beliefs/ caste/ region wants to progress, to move forward in life, and wants to feel proud of being Indian; Indians are no longer content to lookup to 'mai-baap' governments for doles, but want governments that will facilitate their entrepreneurial energies.

Congress needs to Introspect: India needs a strong opposition and Congress owes it to the people of this country to provide that, by rethinking on the role it is required to play vide our Constitution - the role of a constructive opposition. The present leadership is based on entitlement and not on serving the people; this needs change at all levels. The Congress has to re-connect with the people that it represents. This is very urgent now since we do not have any national party of stature at this moment, other than the Congress that can stop the BJP juggernaut. 

There is a talk of a maha gathbandhan (grand coalition) to stop PM Modi and with it the BJP's steep ascent. A national coalition of anti-BJP parties would be a disaster, as they have no clear national agenda, except self interest and self preservation. Their coming together may achieve victory in the polls but would be disastrous for the nation, because once they come to power, they would all pull in every which way, much like the Janta Party in the 70s.

In case the BJP does not have a realistic challenger then the other scenario is most likely to unfold. Democracy is a game of numbers; 50.0001% is a majority, and gets to form the government and govern the other 49.99999% too. As this majority number rises to beyond two-thirds, they have the power to change the laws of the country, as was shown by the Congress under PM Rajiv Gandhi.

When BJP asks for return of the Pandits to their homes in the valley, when they ask for UCC, when they say 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas' and also live by it, when they ask for ban on cow slaughter, they are within the bounds of our Constitution. These facts are also appealing to the silent Hindu majority, as gross injustices, and also as minority appeasement or pseudo secularism practiced by nearly all the political parties.

The Congress cannot fault the BJP on their stand. The Congress should not try to find fault with what the BJP is saying; they should not try to divide the communities by mouthing half truths; this has stopped working in this information age, where social media has replaced traditional media, which could be controlled/ manipulated. Instead the Congress should start to connect with the people of this land, understand their concerns, and work to lift the nation to greater heights, within the bounds of our Constitution. The Constitution has been very well drafted by our founding fathers and is one of the unifying symbols of our widely diverse population. The Constitution was agreed upon at a time when we emerged as a nation that had been divided on the basis of religion, with the Hindu majority areas being part of India.

Why did the Congress not move forward on the two directive principles of our Constitution - that of UCC and ban on cow slaughter, even though Congress had been in power in the Centre, and in the states too, for a large part of our independent existence as a nation.

UCC: Uniform law is the only answer to a diverse democracy, like ours. It will be a great unifying factor for every citizen. Muslims cannot be governed by a personal civil law as per Sharia, but criminal law as per IPC. Every citizen has to be treated equally under law, be it civil or criminal.The issue of UCC has emerged into India's political discourse recently because many Muslim women, affected adversely by the personal laws, have begun knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court to uphold their fundamental rights to equality and liberty in keeping with the constitutional provisions. There are divorced Muslim women with children seeking maintenance, and openly demanding of the PM, 'we voted you to power in UP, you now look after us'. A large majority of informed citizens are for the UCC. It is the duty of every political party to educate the people on the benefits of UCC, rather than create a 'vote bank' division on this issue

Every other democracy has a UCC, except India. It is also mandated by our Constitution under the Directive principles. In addition, many Muslim countries have also reformed their personal laws. Why not India? 

Cow Slaughter: Rightly or wrongly, if 80% consider cow as mother, then that is the majority view and that has to prevail in a truely representative democracy. However, this fact has to come about through education and sarv samiti (mutual consent) of the communities involved in the spirit of our Constitution. Fraternity is an important aim of our Constitution and this can only come about through each citizen taking care of his/ her responsibilities towards the rights of others. Let political parties focus more on the unifying character of our Constitution than on vote bank politics that has stopped meeting the aspirations of our young nation.

We have now come to an important cross road in our national evolution where-in we have to decide if our personal beliefs are more important, or our collective progress as a nation, bound together by a brilliant Constitution. The interests of all the citizens would be well served by standing solidly behind the constitution, and even more so the rights of the minorities. The Constitution is the only living document that guarantees fundamental rights to all citizen, irrespective of belief, sex, caste, etc.

Let us all support our brilliant Constitution, in letter and spirit.