Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kapil Sibal's views on Matters of Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Understanding Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

J & K - Need for Concerted Action

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



Lt Gen PG Kamath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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