Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Media needs to Introspect on why they believe that they are 'not out of touch with the news'!

  •  An interesting article published at 06:52 PM on Jun 19, 2017 by Mayuresh Didolkar  at www.myind.net. The article is reproduced from the mentioned website, as it makes a lot of sense to me. Sharing.

Modi does a Modi and picks Ram Nath Kovind as NDA's presidential nominee


Earlier today, BJP President Amit Shah announced the name of Bihar Governor and two time MP Mr. Ram Nath Kovind as the party’s nominee for the Presidential elections due next month. This was a completely unexpected move that no major media house could even hint at in advance. The reaction of the same media houses and their representatives, however, was completely on the expected lines.
 “BJP’s Patil moment?” one asked. Another tweeted “And you thought Pratibha Patil was the worst choice yet”. Off hand, I don’t remember either of the two ever criticizing Mrs. Patil before. Rajdeep Sardesai called it “Uninspiring but strategic”. Shekhar Gupta called the Bihar Governor ‘an unknown’.
The people who are using sarcasm and scepticism to welcome the person who is probably going to be our first citizen very soon, are, largely, staunch opponents of the NDA government. Therefore, their cynicism about BJP’s choice should occasion us no surprise. But if you scratch beneath the veneer of urban snobbishness and elitism of the media elites, I am certain you will detect visible signs of unease. Unease about a model of business that is rapidly changing around them.
I have often said, that since 2014, media’s ability to control narrative has been at its lowest in the history of modern media. BJP’s victory in 2014, Brexit and Trump’s victory last year being just three examples where media went all out to pitch for a certain outcome and that outcomes was rejected in overwhelming numbers.  And now, with Modi government at least, their insider access and ability to stay ahead of the news is completely lost. From successor to Dr. Raghuram Rajan to the surgical strike and from demonetisation to the Chief Ministerial choice for Uttar Pradesh, the mainstream media has been largely clueless about the eventual outcome.
While it is easy to give credit to Modi and his team for the tight ship they are running, I also suspect media hubris has some responsibility to this embarrassment too. A few days back, a columnist in USA had written about how the media bubble that is the geographical and ideological concentration of journalists along certain lines is causing them to lose connect with the masses and how the ‘groupthink’ was partly responsible for their inability to predict Donald Trump win in November. The problem is not too different in India too. If you are part of the mainstream media, you are likely to be located in one of the two large cities, you are likelier than not have similar thoughts on issues such as terrorism, secularism and economic development. Even worse, the stories you are chasing are likely to be restricted to the so called Lutyen’s circuit and thus while an IT raid on the house of Pranoy Roy becomes a cause of much alarm, a fellow journalist being burnt alive in a small town is almost not a news.
If you see the names being thrown around as potential presidential picks, you will realize that cutting through the ideological fault lines, they all had one thing in common- they were all big names that one could imagine being the talk of the cocktail party circuit. No wonder the name of the former chairman of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation never came up.
 The reaction to Mr. Kovind’s nomination points to a surliness of sore losers. To dismiss him out of hand just because he was not well known indicates an arrogant refusal to deviate from the narrative. Media’s take on this can largely be summed up as – if we were not tracking him then he must be somebody not worth tracking.
Can we instead ask our media houses what kind of tracking they did on this important news item and in light of the spectacular failure, what corrective action they plan to take? Can the media absolutely, in good conscience, assure us that there were no signs whatsoever of Modi-Shah duo considering Mr. Kovind’s name? If there were, why those signs were not read and reported more prominently?
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Every time Indian media gets a development about this government’s actions wrong, their typical response is either mocking the action or raising alarm over it.
This insanity has to stop!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Citizens of India - Some Random Thoughts

1.     What comes first for us as members of a society - the nation-state that sustains us and facilitates an organised life with other human beings born in the same geographical area; and that which provides us the wherewithal required to live in the material world

OR

Religion, which provides us individual sustenance in our personal spiritual quest, based on certain belief systems. Belief systems that have been inherited based on our birth in a family, in a geographical area, and at a certain time in history. A majority of us had no say in our belief systems, except for a miniscule minority that took the bold step to convert on to another belief system.

In case we were living secluded in a jungle with no one else around then the answer would be pretty obvious, but living with other human beings, each with his own set of beliefs, the answer is not so obvious to the unthinking mind.  

The law of the land in which one lives should take precedence over any of our personal beliefs, I believe, else there will be conflict on a daily basis.

Constitution of a nation is the guiding force for all our laws, and has to be above all personal belief systems.

2.    As a proud member of the defence forces of India, I swore to protect the integrity of the country, even at the cost of my life; the lawful orders from the lawfully elected government of the day was all that mattered. Political parties in power were of no consequence. It was always, 'nation first'.

So, the question is, Is India more important than which party is in power? What is the role of political parties when in power, and when in opposition?

I find hardcore Congress politicians finding fault with everything that the present NDA government is doing, and every person who supports the Congress, even from outside the political party support that. The Congress is hard pressed to find a leader from within 1.3 billion Indians and is bent upon imposing some one who does not even understand or comprehend India as a prime ministerial candidate, and there is not a single politician from the party or supporters from outside the party who can voice this concern of the people of India. Being born to the family which has made many sacrifices cannot be the sole criteria for leading the nation in the 21st century. No wonder the Congress is in a serious decline; it has lost credibility with the people of India. Only introspection can save it from permanent decay, like the Communists.

The BJP on the other hand has not been able to control the ultra nationalists; who are so only in slogans, and raising tempers of the gullible people by mouthing half truths. There is a law of the land and every one has to follow that irrespective of who is in power. No one has the right to take the law in to their own hands, not even the 'gau rakshaks', as they do not have the constitutional mandate to do so. The governments, both at the national and state level, has to send a message with its actions that the law of the land is supreme.

Political parties come and go, but the nation and its citizenry should prosper - that I think is the whole aim of the political process and the systems so designed by us, under our visionary constitution.

Friday, June 16, 2017

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES - NATIONAL FLAG AND NATIONAL ANTHEM

Government Brennan College in Thalassery in Kerala has published their annual magazine, which contained some objectionable hand drawn picture, which contained a scene of a couple having sex on a cinema hall seat while the national anthem is being played, with the national flag fluttering on the screen, as per the Supreme Court order. The magazine, named 'Pellet', was published by the college students union, which is headed by the Student's Federation of India (SFI) - a pro-CPI(M) students union. 



Image - Courtesy Google Images

This was possibly as a reaction to the Supreme Court order dated 30 November, 2016, which had ordered "cinema halls to mandatorily play the anthem and had directed all those present there to stand up to show respect". The court order stated that this practice would instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism, amongst the citizens. 

Going a step further, the order also ordered cinema halls to display the national flag on the screen when the anthem was being played. The playing of the anthem in cinema halls, it said, was to be conceived as an opportunity for the public to express their “love for the motherland”. “It is time people feel ‘this is my country’,” Justice Misra had remarked. 

It is absolutely shocking that educated Indians could drop to such a shameful levels in living up to their responsibilities; the same educated citizens who are very quick to demand every right as guaranteed by our Constitution. It seems they do not even know their 'Fundamental Duties' as citizens of the country. The Constitution is our binding force, and has defined certain fundamental duties for every citizen, vide Article 51A. No right comes without responsibilities; this should be intuitively understood by any sane individual. However, it seems that even educated Indians don't seem to know their duties as citizens. The following is a reproduction of our Fundamental Duties as citizens, as per our Constitution.

I am not sure if the individuals who do not live up to their fundamental duties can be charged and tried in a court of law, under the said article. In case some one knows please do enlighten me too.


FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES, as per our Constitution

51A. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India — 

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem; 

(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom; 

(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; 

(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so; 

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women; 

(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; 

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures; 

(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform; 

(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence; 

(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement;] 

(k) who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.]

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Damaging Public Property

It pains me every time I see public property being vandalised, destroyed, burnt, or broken, and it keeps happening every day in some part of our country. It could be due to a protest march that has turned unruly/ violent or it could be little children in a public park uprooting the swings/ slides or other equipment or grown up children smashing cricket balls through public/ private buildings. Private properties are defended by the concerned individuals, but public property has no defenders, as it belongs to the government. Most of us have not been able to establish the connection between taxes and public property; maybe because very few of us pay taxes. I have tried to stop people from damaging public property but have invariably been asked as to who I was and in what capacity I was telling them, since it was not my private property.

I have not seen this behaviour in any other country in the world, and have always wondered why is it so rampant in India. This thought has always led me to the Indian freedom struggle in which Gandhi ji taught us the great power of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against the colonial government of those days.

However, all this should have changed after 15 Aug 1947, as we achieved Swaraj; we formed our own government. The reason could be that Gandhiji did not live long enough thereafter to help teach us that now we should co-operate with our own government and be obedient to the government 'of the people, by the people, for the people', and safeguard our own government property/ assets. We even vandalised the brand new Tejas Express on its first ever journey, and mind you none of the people travelling on it came from uneducated or underprivileged back grounds, I believe. What can be the reasons for the apathy of our citizens towards anything that is publicly owned?

Our first PM coined the phrase of 'public servants' to signify the change from 'rulers' to 'servants', wherein it was implied that the citizens are the new masters of the country, replacing the Queen. This has however not happened practically. The elected representatives and government servants still behave like rulers at most times, except for a few months before the elections, when the citizens are made to feel like destiny makers by the various candidates and political parties. Our political parties have been party to bringing down the quality of our public discourse, and behaviour.

The quality of our elected representatives has been going down with every election, wherein politics has become a profession for a quick rise in wealth and status, without requiring any formal qualifications or training. Politics now appeals to a large number of people with criminal back grounds/ intents. There are hardly any selfless 'public servant' leaders who can instil values in our citizenry.

Our school curricula also does not teach students about the need to protect public assets, about the need to follow rules, and about the equality of all citizens in the eyes of the law, without fear or favour, irrespective of position, caste, creed, religion, status or any thing else.

How do we bring about a change in our own mindsets?  Will we have to wait for the birth of a leader with Gandhiji's values who will help us learn that India and all its assets do not belong to the government, but belong to each one of us?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Thought to Ponder on

Stomach Empty - Only one problem
Stomach Full     - Hundred problems ---- Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev

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.
We were looking to go to Dotonbori street in Tokyo after finishing our ride on the Ferris wheel. We took the underground subway and reached the closest station, but did not know which exit to go out from to reach the street. We asked the Japan Rail personnel; they told us the exit number. The subway was crowded; it was around 9:30 pm. We could not figure out and thus stopped a gentlemen in tie who we estimated knew English. He seemed to be returning from work with a brief case in his left hand. He stopped, listened to us, took us to a nearby map and tried explaining to us. After a few broken English sentences, he stopped and asked us to follow him. Despite our protests that he needed to go home and it was late, he persisted. He took us out from the underground subway and walked us down about 1/2 a km to the street, despite our loud and genuine protests. He left us speechless at one end of the Dotonbori street, and this is at 9:30 pm and the man was returning from work. I cannot find myself to have even thought of doing this to a stranger, specially if I am returning after a long day at work, and that is what makes this act great. I have a lot to learn about being human and lesser informed people friendly.

Not only this, many a time we have asked complete strangers about certain directions, help and they have all responded favourably. Young professionals have all taken out their cellphones and got the google directions, and have been willing to walk us in the direction. One girl who did not know the directions to the place felt guilty in saying so, and was nearly in tears saying sorry to us. This is what makes Japan a great developed country for me, with truely Asian values, way beyond what we in India can even think. 'Atithi Devobhaya' needs to be re-learnt by us from the Japanese.





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 Shinkansen is like a normal express train and runs between major cities from Tokyo. We enjoyed travel on this train with the 7-day JR pass. The trains are capable of speed that are upward of 300 kmph. We traveled from Kyoto to Tokyo on the Hikari bullet train, the second fastest shinkansen. The train covered a distance of 452 kms in 2:35 minutes with 5 or 6 halts in between. The trains arrive and depart on the dot; arriving in to the platform at over 60 kmph; have 16 cars on the long distance routes; hurtle out of the station at over 60 kmph; once outside the train picks up speed and one can feel the acceleration; the turns are banked; the nose of the train has been inspired by the beak of the Kingfisher bird, so as to create least ripples when traversing tunnels enroute. 

The seats recline and are in a 3-aisle-2 format. I noticed that all Japanese people recline their seats and ensure that they leave them vertical before leaving, unlike us who leave it as is for someone else to do the needful.

The Skytree in Tokyo engulfed by clouds

Comparison with other man made structures.

The second tallest man made structure in the world, after Burj Khalifa and also the tallest free standing tower in the world. Leap day 2012 saw the completion of the world's second tallest structure, the Tokyo Sky Tree television transmitter and observation tower. At 2,080 feet (634 m) the tower stands nearly twice as Japan's previous tallest frame, the 1,091-ft (333-m) Tokyo Tower transmitter. It's an audacious technological feat when one considers this is at the heart of an earthquake zone. Nikken Sekkei, the design practice behind both buildings, effectively doubled its personal best in the construction of the Sky Tree, and in doing so employed the latest technology, not to mention the expertise of "more than 100 architects, engineers and planners", to build the capital city's striking quake-resistant giant - a super-tower its designers claim offers "better safety" than any other. It has a 9:1 height to width ratio - a narrow, almost needle-like form. For more details please go to http://newatlas.com/tokyo-sky-tree/21682/  

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.

MR PRIME MINISTER: INDIA FIRST

By

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
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