Friday, June 30, 2017

Let's All Focus on Nation building

A very thought provoking  post that I received in my whatsapp group. Made a lot of sense to me and thus sharing.

Shared from Gen Prakash Katoch's wall...

*My problem with what's happening in the country* :-  is not about BJP
and
Congress,
Or
JNU
and
anti-nationalism,
or Jats
and
reservation,
Or
Hindu Extremism and
Muslim Extremism, Or
Beef Ban
&
Porn Ban,
Or
Kejriwal
and
Modi,
Or
Ravish
and
that 'India wants to know' guy*....                                      
*My problem is our mind space being occupied* with futile,
useless,
fruitless,
negative,
 regressive thinking.....

*In an age when this country should be thinking of INVENTIONS and IDEAS* ,

we are discussing subjects mentioned above....

*Why isn't the government
and media talking about it?*

*Why the subject of debate is not DEVELOPMENT?*

*Why isn't
 RSS
talking about it?*

*Why isn't every Hindu talking about it.*

*Why aren't the Muslims talking about it?*

*Why the news channels aren't focusing on it?*

*Why Indians on face book not discussing it?*

*Or spreading that idea to the world?*

*Saffron or Green,
Beef or Chicken,
Porn or Sanskari channels,
Temples or Mosques,
Jats or Kashmiris

aren't tools of development*...


*These subjects of conversations are ANTI  DEVELOPMENT*

*And anything that's anti-development is anti-national

at least for me.....*


*I want to see my India look better than Switzerland.....*

*I want my India to do better than the US in the Olympics.....*

*I want to see my India more civilized than the most civilized country in this world.....*

*I want my India to be more innovative than Japan.....*

*I want my India to be more safe for woman than Copenhagen, Denmark.....*

*I want my India to be more open minded than Canada....*

*I want my India to be better than what it is today....*

*And not worse...*
*And that can only happen when we start thinking productive....*

*Else we will all be wasting time doing something that is useless,
futile,
and infertile.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Killings in the name of Religion

I find it very distressing to read/ see killings of innocent human beings, that too on a daily basis these days, and all in the name of religion. My mind starts to question the very basis of religion in such cases. I have always believed that religion was meant to protect the human beings, and not the other way around. I believe that religion is required to make me understand the unity of this Creation, of how each and every thing in this universe is interconnected and essential for the survival of this finely balanced and beautiful creation. I believe that no religion teaches the killing of others in the process of imposing one's beliefs on them. I definitely feel that such cases need a more holistic re-interpretation of the basic tenets of the religion, by wise and more knowledgeable people, rather than going by the interpretations of the people who make a livelihood by preaching these religions. I believe that we have come to a time in history when it is too dangerous to leave religious interpretations solely in the hands of our pandits, moulvis, granthis, priests, and other worldly religious leaders.

Image Courtesy: Google Images


What is religion?

Dictionary.com defines religion as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs". As per this definition, religion consists of 'a set of beliefs'. 

What is a belief?

Belief is the "feeling of being certain that something exists or is true".

Where does one get these beliefs from, as far as religion is concerned?

The person acquires these beliefs from ones immediate surroundings that are based on a person's family, place, and time of birth. I got my beliefs from my parents; I trusted them; they cared for me and looked after my every need; there was no reason to distrust them or even distrust their beliefs; they always had my best interest in mind; I could not have survived without their care and affection. I knew they had my best interest in mind; they had proven that by ensuring my survival, and growth against all odds. 

As I look back at my life I find that I was born in a Hindu household and was thus exposed to my immediate family's conception of Hindu beliefs, from birth. In case I had been born in a Muslim household, I would have been exposed to Islamic beliefs. I had no say in the matter of my birth, and thus of my belief. It was, I believe, pre-ordained. 

Pre-ordained by whom? 

By my Creator, who also happens to be the Creator of every one and every thing else on this, and other planets. How else could we all humans have been designed in the same mould, with very minor and superficial variations, of course. The evolutionary process has put us in the top of the heap, or so we think. We have evolved to have a very powerful brain; however, the power of this can be quite different in different human beings. And fortunately or unfortunately this is where our beliefs reside, by design. 

Whose design?

The Creator's design; a very intelligent design that can store vast amounts of data of the material world acquired through our five senses. However, this data can only be the one that we pay attention to during our experience of life, and our learning from life. We have the capacity to plug in to the cosmic energy field of consciousness too, from where we can draw major lessons of our existence. Since every individual has an independent brain that is a repository of his/ her own experiences and learning, then each individual's brain will interpret and perceive the same facts differently, based on his individual history and geography.
  • Newton saw the apple falling from the tree (a fact), and with great thought and deliberation came to 'discover' the phenomena of gravity. Gravity always existed, but he plugged in to the super consciousness and 'discovered' it for the future human generations. 
In case each individual's brain is hardwired differently, based on one's own experience and learning, then it stands to reason that no two individuals would be able to conceive the same facts in an identical manner; or in short 'every thinking individual would conceive the same facts differently'. Same is the case with religion, or God, or any thing else in this universe.

Over millenia, many belief systems have come in to existence and have been codified in to religions. As per Swami Vivekananda, every codified religion comprises of rituals, mythology, and philosophy. The rituals and mythology in any religion, I believe, are with the sole intent of developing faith in the individual. There is no proof provided for the mythology; some rituals make sense, some don't, but religious leaders of most religions do not permit one to question these. This goes against the grain of the Creator's intention of giving each individual his/ her own individual brain with which he can experience the material world, and if required, also to delve deeper by invoking the super consciousness, which is directly linked to the Creator, through contemplation. Religious leaders rarely talk of the philosophical part of the religion, as most are not competent to discuss that, as they are in the profession of religion to make a living.

Any thinking individual should be able to visualise that in case we are all the Creation of one God, and all available evidence points to that, then we should all be living in harmony. However, our brain loaded with divergent belief systems create a divide. This divide is strengthened by people who benefit from the profession of teaching/ imparting of different beliefs - be it the Pandit, the Moulvi, the Priest, the Granthi, etc. They cannot trudge your path for you. They can only teach you the rituals and give you the mythology. Their interpretation of the religious texts maybe at total variance to what was intended, as their brains may not have evolved to the level that is required to interpret those texts.

Once an individual has developed faith that a God exists, then it is an inward journey, as all questions and answers are within your own consciousness. No external help is possible, as no one can trudge the path for you. You have to develop your own link with your Creator, in whichever form that you wish to. There are no intermediaries is my firm belief. Once you develop faith, I do believe that you would then respect all of God's Creation, and would be very averse to violence/ killings, as no faith can profess destruction of the Creation of the One Creator.


I believe that there are many paths (religions) to the same destination; each chooses his own. Belief just happens to be the starting point, and that I believe is based on our birth, by design. This belief is strengthened through rituals and mythology, so that one can undertake the final journey alone by turning inwards, where the communication is between you and your Creator only, without need for any ritual, mythology, or external help. Religion is a very personal affair of an individual with his/ her own Creator. No religion is better or worse; right or wrong; no one needs to impose his/ her beliefs on others; and it is my firm belief that religion should make us more tolerant of others, because if we believe that we are the creation of One Creator, then we have no reason to kill any part of that Creation.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

India's Freedom on 15 August 1947 - Role of INA

All these years, I was convinced that India gained independence as a direct result of the non violent approach of the 'naram' dal under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. However, I have now changed my views on the subject after being exposed to certain facts that have not been public knowledge thus far, due to reasons beyond my comprehension. Getting to know these facts has led me to further exercise my grey cells. This exercise has now convinced me that as far as India is concerned, both 'naram' and 'garam' dal were equally important players in the achievement of our independence on 15 Aug 1947, and it thus stands to reason that equal importance should be given to each for their role in our birth as a free nation. Our history that is taught in schools, colleges, and universities would thus need to be updated to reflect these realities. 



Image Courtesy: Google Images


Gandhiji and the 'naram' dal had prepared every Indian mind for Swarajya (self rule), but the 'naram' dal approach would not have convinced the British to give us independence in 1947. My thinking convinces me that I would not have been born in a free India by just the 'non violent, non co-operative' approach, which I have been made to believe this far by my education and political systems. I feel the soil of Indian nationalism and the idea of independence had been sown in every Indian's mind by the efforts of the 'naram' dal. However, the independence would not have come about as long as the Indian forces and police remained loyal to the British. Many events that happened during those years led to the Indian police and defence forces loyalty being called into question. Thus it was rightly assessed by the British government that it would not be possible for the few thousand British citizens stationed in India to control millions of Indians without active and loyal support of the Indian police and military personnel. 

I believe the red fort trials of the personnel of the INA between November 1945 and May 1946 were the trigger that awakened the British Indian forces to Indian nationalism. The British joint trials of three stalwarts of the Indian National Army (INA), Col. Prem Sahgal, Col. Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Gen. Shah Nawaz Khan on  charges of murder, abetment to murder, and “waging war against the King-Emperor” did not go down well with the people of India, as they considered these three individuals, practicing three different faiths, to be patriots. Nationalist emotion was awakened which led the then Secretary of the War Department, write that "in a matter of weeks ... in a wave of nationalist emotion, the INA were acclaimed heroes who fought for the freedom of India." 

The British Indian forces revolted as a consequence of these red fort trials and some unrelated minor incidents in Bombay, in February 1946. These spread to the other forces as well. The revolt which started in the Royal Indian Navy soon spread to the Air Force and Army units and the loyalty of the the Indian troops could not be taken for granted by the British. This coupled with the fact that there were only 40,000 Britishers, who were fed up after the world war, and were also not considered adequate to handle this volatile situation. This fact also coincided with the demobilisation of about 25 lakhs battle tested Indian troops. The British felt that the situation in India could only be controlled with the declaration of independence, which was announced by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Clement Attlee on 20 February 1947.

I now firmly believe that the role of Netaji and the INA has not been suitably highlighted in our historical texts and school text books. I am also convinced that Indian independence in 1947 is a direct result of a number of factors, which prominently includes the activities of the 'naram' and 'garam' dal both. The 'Naram' dal had instilled the idea of Swarajya in every Indian's mind, but that by itself would not have been adequate grounds for the British to give us independence in 1947. The Red Fort trials were the needed trigger to awaken the nationalism in every Indian, and the nature of the trials were the spark that led to revolt of the British Indian forces, leading to insecurity in the minds of the British top brass in India, which finally accelerated the independence of India.

We need to suitably amend our historical records to bring out the fact that Netaji and the INA too, a defeated and forgotten Army, had a major role to play in our achieving independence on 15 August 1947.

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)