May 30, 2009
A welcome gesture from the man who (along with Naseeruddin Shah) once abhored the term ‘Bollywood’ as a copycat of Hollywood, is proud of Indian film Industry with or without the west’s certificate, and rubbished Slumdog Millionaire, as projecting India as a third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation.
Incidentally this is what Naseeruddin Shah commented on Slumdog Millionaire, ” I wouldn’t see it a second time and I don’t think that it was the best film of the year…….I mean what’s wrong with us? We are celebrating it as if we have made it, as if we are responsible for it, as if we financed it, as if we made the film possible. We are all behaving in that way. Everybody knows it’s not an Indian film, it’s not been made by an Indian, it never occurred to an Indian to make Slumdog Millionaire, it never occurred to an Indian to make Gandhi either for that matter, but we ran to lap up the accolades when they started coming.
Bachchan turns down Australian doctorate
Actor Amitabh Bachchan has reacted to racial attacks on Indian students in Australia by rejecting an honourary doctorate offered to him by an Australian university.
The Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane , had offered the 66-year-old veteran a doctorate for his contribution to the world of entertainment and Bachchan had earlier accepted the title.
The honour was to be conferred on the star in July as a part of celebrations to commemorate a retrospective of his films in the city.
“I have been witnessing, with great dismay and shock, the recent violent attacks on Indian students in Australia, on the electronic media the entire day,” Bachchan wrote on his blog.
“I mean no disrespect to the institution that honours me, but under the present circumstances, where citizens of my own country are subjected to such acts of inhuman horror, my conscience does not permit me to accept this decoration from a country that perpetrates such indignity to my fellow countrymen,” he added.
Australia has recently seen a series of attacks on Indian students, the most serious being the assault of Shravan Kumar, a 25-year-old student from Andhra Pradesh, who is battling for life in a Melbourne hospital after being stabbed by a screwdriver by a group of teens.
May 29, 2009
THE INDIAN ELECTIONS – NEW YORK TIMES
V Mitchell , New York , NY
It is truly the greatest show on Earth, an ode to a diverse and democratic ethos, where 700 million + of humanity vote, providing their small part in directing their ancient civilization into the future. It is no less impressive when done in a neighborhood which includes de-stabilizing and violent Pakistan, China, and Burma.
Its challenges are immense, more so probably than anywhere else, particularly in development and fending off terrorism — but considering these challenges and its neighbors, it is even more astounding that the most diverse nation on Earth, with hundreds of languages, all religions and cultures, is not only surviving, but thriving.
The nation where Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism were born, which is the second largest Muslim nation on Earth; where Christianity has existed for 2000 years; where the oldest Jewish synagogues and Jewish communities have resided since the Romans burnt their 2nd temple; where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile reside; where the Zorostrians from Persia have thrived since being thrown out of their ancient homeland; where Armenians and Syrians and many others have to come live; where the Paris-based OECD said was the largest economy on Earth 1500 of the last 2000 years, including the 2nd largest only 200 years ago; where 3 Muslim Presidents have been elected, where a Sikh is Prime Minister and the head of the ruling party a Catholic Italian woman, where the President is also a women, succeeding a Muslim President who as a rocket scientist was a hero in the nation; where a booming economy is lifting 40 million out of poverty each year and is expected to have the majority of its population in the middle class, already equal to the entire US population, by 2025; where its optimism and vibrancy is manifested in its movies, arts, economic growth, and voting, despite all the incredible challenges and hardships; where all the great powers are vying for influence, as it itself finds its place in the world.
Where all of this is happening, is India , and as greater than 1/10 of humanity gets ready to vote, it is an inspiration to all the World.
— V Mitchell, New York , NY
May 27, 2009
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by Cressy Morrison, Former President of the New York Academy of Sciences
WE ARE STILL IN THE DAWN of the scientific age and every increase of light reveals more brightly the handiwork of an intelligent Creator. We have made stupendous discoveries; with a spirit of scientific humility and of faith grounded in knowledge we are approaching ever nearer to an awareness of God.
For myself, I count seven reasons for my faith:
1: By unwavering mathematical law we can prove that our universe was designed and executed by a great engineering intelligence.
Suppose you put ten pennies, marked from one to ten, into your pocket and give them a good shuffle. Now try to take them out in sequence from one to ten, putting back the coin each time and shaking them all again. Mathematically we know that your chance of first drawing number one is one in ten; of drawing one and two in succession, one in 100; of drawing one, two and three in succession, one in 1000, and so on; your chance of drawing them all, from number one to number ten in succession, would reach the unbelievable figure of one in ten billion.
By the same reasoning, so many exacting conditions are necessary for life on the earth that they could not possibly exist in proper relationship by chance. The earth rotates on its axis 1000 miles an hour at the equator; if it turned at 100 miles an hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long as now, and the hot sun would likely burn up our vegetation each long day while in the long night any surviving sprout might well freeze.
Again the sun, source of our life, has a surface temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough away so that this “eternal life” warms us just enough and not too much! If the sun gave off only one half its present radiation, we would freeze, and if it gave as much more, we would roast.
The slant of the earth, tilted at an angle of 23 degrees, gives us our seasons; if the earth had not been so tilted, vapors from the ocean would move north and south, piling up for us continents of ice. If our moon were, say, only 50,000 miles away instead of its actual distance, our tides might be so enormous that twice a day all continents would be submerged; even the mountains could soon be eroded away. If the crust of the earth had only been ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, without which animal life must die. Had the ocean been a few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been absorbed and no vegetable life could exist.
It is apparent from these and a host of other examples that there is not one chance in billions that life on our planet is an accident but It is his Grace we exist.
2: The resourcefulness of life to accomplish its purpose is a manifestation of an all-pervading Intelligence.
What life itself is, no man has fathomed. It has neither weight nor dimensions, but it does have force; a growing root will crack a rock. Life has conquered water, land and air, mastering the elements, compelling them to dissolve and reform their combinations.
Life, the sculptor, shapes all living things; an artist, it designs every leaf of every tree, and colors every flower. Life is a musician and has taught each bird to sing its love song, the insects to call
one another in the music of their multitudinous sounds. Life is a sublime chemist, giving taste to fruits and spices, and perfume to the rose, changing water and carbonic acid into sugar and wood, and, in so doing, releasing oxygen that animals may have the breath of life.
Behold an almost invisible drop of protoplasm, transparent, jellylike, capable of motion, drawing energy from the sun. This single cell, this transparent mist-like droplet, holds within itself the
germ of life, and has power to distribute this life to every living thing, great and small. The powers of this droplet are greater than our vegetation and animals and people, for all life came from it. Nature did not create life; fire-blistered rocks and a salt less sea could not meet the necessary requirements.
Who, then, has put it here?
3: Animal wisdom speaks irresistibly of a good Creator who infused instinct into otherwise helpless little creatures.
The young salmon spends years at sea, then comes back to his own river, and travels up the very side of the river into which flows the tributary where he was born. What brings him back so precisely? If you transfer him to another tributary he will know at once that he is off his course and he will fight his way down and back to the main stream and then turn up against the current to finish his destiny accurately.
Even more difficult to solve is the mystery of eels. These amazing creatures migrate at maturity from ponds and rivers everywhere – those from Europe across thousands of miles of ocean – all bound for the same abysmal deeps near Bermuda. There they breed and die. The little ones, with no apparent means of knowing anything except that they are in a wilderness of water, nevertheless start back and find their way not only to the very shore from which their parents came but thence to the selfsame rivers, lakes or little ponds. No American eel has ever been caught in Europe , no European eel in American waters. Nature has even delayed the maturity of the European eel by a year or more to make up for its longer journey. Where does the directional impulse originate?
4: Man has something more than animal instinct – the power of reason.
No other animal has ever left a record of its ability to count ten, or even to understand the meaning of ten. Where instinct is like a single note of a flute, beautiful but limited, the human brain contains all the notes of all the instruments in the orchestra. No need to belabor this fourth point; thanks to human reason we can contemplate the possibility that we are what we are only because we have received a spark of Universal Intelligence.
5: Provision for all living is revealed in such phenomena as the wonders of genes.
So tiny are these genes that, if all of them responsible for all living people in the world could be put in one place, there would be less than a thimbleful. Yet these genes inhabit every living cell and are the keys to all human, animal and vegetable characteristics. A thimble is a small place to hold all the individual characteristics of almost three billion human beings. However, the facts are beyond question.
Here evolution really begins – at the cell, the entity which holds and carries the genes. That the ultra-microscopic gene can absolutely rule all life on earth is an example of profound cunning and provision that could emanate only from a Creative Intelligence; no other hypothesis will serve.
6: By the economy of nature, we are forced to realize that only infinite wisdom could have foreseen and prepared with such astute husbandry.
Many years ago a species of cactus was planted in Australia as a protective fence. Having no insect enemies in Australia , the cactus soon began a prodigious growth; the alarming abundance persisted until the plants covered an area as long and wide as England , crowding inhabitants out of the towns and villages, and destroying their farms. Seeking a defense, entomologists scoured the world; finally they turned up an insect which lived exclusively on cactus, and would eat nothing else. It would breed freely, too; and it had no enemies in Australia. So animal soon conquered vegetable, and today the cactus pest has retreated – and with it all but a small protective residue of the insects, enough to hold the cactus in check forever.
Such checks and balances have been universally provided. Why have not fast-breeding insects dominated the earth? Because they have no lungs such as man possesses; they breathe through tubes. But when insects grow large, their tubes do not grow in ratio to the increasing size of the body. Hence there never has been an insect of great size; this limitation on growth has held them all in check. If this physical check had not been provided, man could not exist. Imagine meeting a hornet as big as a lion!
7: The fact that man can conceive the idea of God is in itself a unique proof.
The conception of God rises from a divine faculty of man, unshared with the rest of our world – the faculty we call imagination. By its power, man and man alone can find the evidence of things unseen. The vista that power opens up is unbounded; indeed, as man’s perfected imagination becomes a spiritual reality, he may discern in all the evidence of design and purpose the great truth that heaven is wherever and whatever; that God is everywhere and in everything that nowhere so close as in our hearts.
It is scientifically as well as imaginatively true, as the Psalmist said: The heavens declare the Glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.
May 27, 2009
They belong to the two oldest religions that do not believe in proselytization, they both have been the victim of the two greatest religious holocaust of mankind, they both have suffered in the hands of the two other aggressive religious denominations and they both recognize that they have a common enemy that is threatening their future. Hindus and Jews have been warming up to each other and have enhanced their alliance in the recent times. Gone are the pro-Palestine and pro-Arafat stance of India, despite the continuing politics of minority appeasement. One hopes that the two democratic countries, isolated in their respective unstable parts of the world, will continue to work together and allow their partnership to blossom further.
A few of the reasons why Jews and Hindus enjoy a unique camaraderie in this pluralistic world
By Dr. Nathan Katz
Hindus and Jews love each other. We all know that. This does not mean that we love our Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or secular neighbors any the less, but we Jews and Hindus have an instinctual simpatico. I will explain why this is the case.
First, Jews have lived freely in India for perhaps two thousand years. When the Cochin Synagogue celebrated its four hundredth anniversary in 1968, it was a major news event in India. Hindus pride themselves on tolerance, and India’s unique position as the only nation in the world with no anti-Semitism reinforces this cherished self-perception. When Jews come to learn that some of us have lived freely, peacefully and creatively for so long in India, we are surprised and delighted, and we admire Hinduism as the only civilization immune to Jew-hatred. We learn that anti-Semitism is not universal, and that it is possible to preserve Jewish identity and religion in the absence of persecution. For this, we feel deep gratitude.
Second, ours are the two oldest religions in the world. Judaism is the mother of the younger faiths of Christianity and Islam, just as Hinduism is the source of Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Our ancient religions have sacred languages, Sanskrit and Hebrew, and hereditary priesthoods, brahmins and kohanim. We have dietary codes, we purify ourselves in special tanks, and our brides circle their husbands seven times. The ritual parallels seem endless.
The Hindu American community, like the Jewish American community, is enriched by internal pluralism, each group comprising both traditional and secularized people. We encourage our liberals to collaborate, and at the same time we are pleased by interreligious cooperation between swamis and rabbis.
Both Hinduism and Judaism are non-proselytizing faiths, so we find it difficult to understand those who target us for conversion. We are sensitive about monotheistic zealots who besmirch our religions, and we work together to strive against such defamation. In America, Jews are “elder brothers ” of Hindus; as such, we instinctively jump to defend a Hindu community’s plans to build a temple when, as is sometimes the case, local folk object. Jews believe that our freedom of religion is best protected by ensuring that all religious minorities enjoy this same right.
On the traditional side, leading rabbis and swamis recently overcame one thorny issue that has stood in the way of our mutual affection. For the past 1,500 years or more, what in English is called “idolatry ” has clouded Jewish perceptions of Hinduism. Happily, this issue may have been resolved once and for all at a February 2007 dialogue in New Delhi between members of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, a body which speaks with authority in the Jewish world, and the Dharma Acharya Sabha, a similarly august Hindu group. Led respectively by Rabbi Yona Metzger and Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the rabbis and the swamis issued a nine-point statement of principles, the first of which removed the “idolatry ” issue from the table: “Their respective Traditions teach that there is One Supreme Being who is the Ultimate Reality, who has created this world in its blessed diversity and who has communicated Divine ways of action for humanity, for different peoples in different times and places.” This acknowledgement by credible rabbis and swamis that the same G-d is the source of their two faiths is a major step forward for our relationship, enabling our traditionally religious members to join our secular ones in this symbiosis of mutual support and enrichment.
The poet asks, “How do I love thee?” We Hindus and Jews count many ways indeed.
May 27, 2009
The Islamic Crusades in India
“…the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within.” –Historian Will Durant (1885 –1981)
For three days in November 2008, all eyes were transfixed on the Jihadist bloodbath in Mumbai. These scenes of the burning Taj Mahal Hotel were on live feed to cable and satellite networks around the world. Many Westerners had heard of the rivalry between India and Pakistan, and may have been aware of the tensions centering on the disputed territory of Kashmir, but the sheer brutality and brazenness of the Mumbai Massacre brought the Jihad in India to global consciousness as never before. Unfortunately for India, the Mumbai attacks were only unique in terms of the high-profile media coverage accorded to them. The casualty figures, while appalling, were rather standard in the context of the series of Islamic terror attacks in India in the 21st century. And they are dwarfed by the massacres of tens and hundreds of thousands, sometimes in a single day, that pepper the 1300 year history of Islamic conquest on the Indian subcontinent.
Before the Islamic juggernaut burst in from the west, the native religions of these lands were Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism (* SEE CORRECTION). The Jihad against India was extraordinarily brutal even by Islamic standards. This is because unlike the so-called people of the book, Christians and Jews, who enjoyed some basic rights as subjected Dhimmis… Hindus and Buddhists were considered idolaters; the lowest of the low, worthy only of death.
Only 25 years after Muhammad’s death Islamic forces had crushed the Sassanid Persian Empire, and thus brought the spearhead of Islam to the borderlands of India. The first permanent Muslim foothold on the subcontinent was achieved with Muhammad bin Qasim’s conquest of Sindh in 711 A.D. He demolished temples, shattered sculptures, plundered palaces, killed all able-bodied men and carried their women and children into slavery. For example, it took his army three days to slaughter all the inhabitants of the port city of Debal. But the Arab Muslim conquest would stall here in the northwestern frontier.
By the end of the tenth century however, newly Islamized Turkic tribes began to expand the Ummah into what is now Northwest India proper. Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030), who was also known as the “Sword of Islam,” mounted seventeen plundering expeditions between 997 and 1027 into North India.
Each winter Mahmud descended into India, filled his treasure chest with spoils, and amused his men with full freedom to pillage and kill; each spring he returned to his capital richer than before. At Mathura he took from the temple its statues of gold encrusted with precious stones, and emptied its coffers of a vast quantity of gold, silver and jewelry; he expressed his admiration for the architecture of the great shrine, judged that its duplication would cost one hundred million dinars and the labor of two hundred years, and then ordered it to be soaked with naptha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked another opulent city of northern India, Somnath, killed all its fifty thousand inhabitants, and dragged its wealth to Ghazni. In the end he became, perhaps, the richest king that history has ever known.– Historian Will Durant, from “The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage” 1935. pp. 459-463
A subsequent conqueror, Muhammad Khilji had the distinction of single-handedly wiping out Buddhist culture on the subcontinent by the end of the 12th century. He conquered their stronghold in Bihar and burned their famous library to the ground, slaughtering thousands of Buddhist monks and destroying dozens of ancient temples in the process. Muslims have done their best to erase any trace of this culture, even as recently as March 2001 when the Taliban destroyed four giant statues of Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
Khiliji’s brutality also incited the first case of Jauhar in India. Jauhar is a desperate act of mass self-immolation. When Khiliji besieged the city of Chittor the Hindu inhabitants realized their cause was hopeless. As the men rode off to certain death in battle, the women and children burned themselves alive rather than suffer the dishonor of being killed or enslaved by the conquerors.
Another Turkic Muslim warlord, Timur, known as Tamerlane in the West, crossed the Indus River in 1398 and eventually captured the capital of Delhi. Timur explains the motivation for his conquest in his personal memoirs:
About this time there arose in my heart the desire to lead an expedition against the infidels, and to become a ghazi; for it had reached my ears that the slayer of infidels is a ghazi, and if he is slain he becomes a martyr. It was on this account that I formed this resolution, but I was undetermined in my mind whether I should direct my expedition against the infidels of China or against the infidels and polytheists of India. In this matter I sought an omen from the Kuran, and the verse I opened upon was this, “O Prophet, make war upon infidels and unbelievers and treat them with severity” [Quran 66:9]. My great officers told me that the inhabitants of Hindustan were infidels and unbelievers. In obedience to the order of Almighty Allah I determined on an expedition against them.– From the Malfuzat-i Timuri, an autobiographical memoir of the Emperor Timur (1336-1405)
Later he describes the sack of Delhi in his own words:
In a short space of time all the people in the fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground….All these infidel Hindus were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death.
One hundred thousand infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain…on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and enemies of Islam at liberty…no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword. – From the Malfuzat-i Timuri, an autobiographical memoir of the Emperor Timur (1336-1405)
By the early 1500’s the mantle of Islamic power in India had passed to the first Mughal Emperor, Babar. Over the next centuries the Mughal Empire would expand to occupy nearly the entire Indian subcontinent. During the Mughal period outright slaughters and enslavements were less common, but the regime provided many incentives to convert to Islam by means of degrading Dhimmi laws and burdensome Jizya taxes.
So far as the Hindus were concerned, there was no improvement either in their material and moral conditions or in their relations with the Muslims. With the sole exception of Akbar, who sought to conciliate the Hindus by removing some of the glaring evils to which they were subjected, almost all other Mughal Emperors were notorious for their religious bigotry. The Muslim law which imposed many disabilities and indignities upon the Hindus…and thereby definitely gave them an inferior social and political status, as compared to the Muslims, was followed by these Mughal Emperors with as much zeal as was displayed by their predecessors,. The climax was reached during the reign of Aurangzeb, who deliberately pursued the policy of destroying and desecrating Hindu temples and idols with a thoroughness unknown before or since. -R.C. Majumdar (editor) The Mughul Empire, Bombay, 1974
Based on Muslim chronicles and demographic calculations Indian historian K.S. Lal has estimated that the Hindu population of India decreased by 80 million during the millennium of Islamic rule.
Yet despite a deliberate policy of genocide and conversion over the 1,000 years of partial or complete Muslim rule, the majority of the population miraculously retained their Hindu religion as modernity dawned on the subcontinent. In the next episode we will explore the continuing Islamic efforts to reconquer India in the modern era.
“These massacres perpetrated by Moslems in India are unparalleled in history. In sheer numbers, they are bigger than the Jewish Holocaust, the Soviet Terror, the Japanese massacres of the Chinese during WWII, Mao’s devastations of the Chinese peasantry, the massacres of the Armenians by the Turks, or any of the other famous crimes against humanity of the 20th Century. But sadly, they are almost unknown outside India.” – Serge Trifkovic
* CORRECTION – Sikhism was not present at the time of the Islamic conquest. Sikhism evolved in the early 16th Century as a militaristic response to Muslim tyranny.
As the power of the Islamic Mughal Empire steadily declined over the 18th and 19th centuries, European influence filled the void, culminating in the establishment of British rule in 1858. This period of colonialism is well-known and universally demonized in the West, and many blame British intervention for the Hindu/Muslim tensions we see in the region today. This flatly ignores the historical fact that Muslims had invaded the subcontinent 1,000 years before the Europeans, and Muslim on Hindu violence had been endemic ever since. To put things in perspective, the British Raj (1858-1947) lasted only 89 years, or less than one third of the 331-year span of the Mughal Empire (1526-1857), which was only the most recent in a series of Islamic empires that ruled India.
Although British rule brought its own brand of exploitation, the relative status of Hindus improved. They were no longer spat-upon infidels, but royal subjects- still occupied by a foreign ideology but now equal to Muslims and all other residents of the subcontinent. The British were more interested in economic gain than religious imperialism, and inadvertently or not, the infrastructure they built brought India out of feudalism and into the modern industrial age. Railways, roads, canals, bridges and telegraph lines were rapidly established so that raw materials, such as cotton, could be transported more efficiently to ports for export to England. By 1920, India had the fourth largest railroad network in the world, and 85% of the railroad network that moves 18 million Indians per day in 2009 was built by the British in the colonial period.
After World War II the British came under increasing pressure to leave, and no longer had the financial resources or domestic support to continue their occupation. In 1947 the British viceroy assembled leaders of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities, who decided to partition the land. Hindu and Sikh-dominated areas would become a smaller core state called India, while Muslim areas in the West and East would form a new state called Pakistan. The prince of Kashmir, a majority-Muslim territory with a large Hindu minority, hesitated to join Pakistan and Islamic forces invaded to force the issue. The prince called for military help from India, igniting the first India-Pakistan War and ensuring division and instability in Kashmir ever since.
The name Pakistan is a recently fabricated acronym based on the five Muslim-majority regions in northwest India: Punjab, Afghan Border States, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan. Pakistan declared itself an Islamic Republic, and later codified the supremacy of Islam when it adopted the Koran as the basis for its constitution. In contrast the Republic of India’s constitution (PDF) laid the foundations for a secular democratic state in which the rights of all citizens would be respected. In the chaos following partition millions fled across the newly-drawn borders and about half a million died in inter-communal fighting. The fate of the minorities who remained on the wrong side of the borders is very telling.
PAKISTAN (West Pakistan)
In 1947 the population of West Pakistan, later known simply as Pakistan, was 15-20% Hindu. Today that figure has fallen below 2%. Hindus have been murdered, expelled and legally marginalized. Religious minorities have been forcibly converted and temples have been destroyed. Just as Arab Muslim textbooks and media vilify Jews, Pakistani Muslim textbooks incite violence against Hindus.
A 2003 study conducted by 30 experts of Pakistan’s education system found:
“Incitement to militancy and violence, including encouragement of Jihad and Shahadat (martyrdom)”; a “glorification of war and the use of force”; “Perspectives that encourage prejudice, bigotry and discrimination towards fellow citizens, especially women and religious minorities, and towards other nations” and “Omission of concepts … that could encourage critical self awareness among students”
With the rise of the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier and the Swat Valley the atrocious conditions for minorities are only getting worse. In early 2009 the Taliban instituted Jizya, the tax that Muslims are required to collect from subdued minorities, on the infidel population of the Swat valley. In May 2009, 2,000 Sikhs who refused to pay the tax were forced to take refuge in a Sikh shrine near Islamabad. Sharia courts have been established in Swat, meting out such progressive penalties as death for adultery.
BANGLADESH (East Pakistan)
In the former East Pakistan, known as Bangladesh today, the Hindu population has seen a similar decline since partition. (INSERT GRAPH). Persecution reached the level of genocide in 1971 when civil war broke out between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. Bengalis in East Pakistan were pushing for independence, so West Pakistan sent tens of thousands of occupying troops to put down the revolt of their fellow Muslims, but during the occupation Hindus wound up being the main victims. They made up less than 20% of the population but accounted for an estimated 80% of the three million deaths and 80% of the ten million refugees who fled over the border to northeast India.
In a report to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Ted Kennedy wrote:
“Field reports to the U.S. Government, countless eye-witness journalistic accounts, reports of International agencies such as World Bank and additional information available to the subcommittee document the reign of terror which grips East Bengal (East Pakistan). Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked ‘H’. All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad.”
American Professor R. J. Rummel noted that:
“The genocide and gendercidal atrocities were also perpetrated by lower-ranking officers and ordinary soldiers. These “willing executioners” were fueled by an abiding anti-Bengali racism, especially against the Hindu minority. “Bengalis were often compared with monkeys and chickens. Said Pakistan General Niazi, ‘It was a low lying land of low lying people.’ The Hindus among the Bengalis were as Jews to the Nazis: scum and vermin that [should] best be exterminated.”
Anti-Hindu crimes continue to this day. 98% of reported rapes in Bangladesh are registered by Hindu women. The so-called ‘Vested Property Act’ has seen up to 40% of Hindu land snatched away forcibly, and Hindu temples are regularly vandalized. The Islamist Jamat-e-Islami party joined the government in 2001 sparking a new round of fleeing refugees, violent attacks and forced conversions. The government has openly called for the “Talibanization“ of the state.
Meanwhile the opposite has happened in India. Not only has the minority Muslim population grown, but it’s exploded at a 50% faster rate than the Hindu population. Between 1961 and 2001 the raw number of Muslims increased from 47 million to 138 million – a growth of 193%. In short the Muslim community of India proper has been thriving as the Hindu communities in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been bullied into irrelevance. Muslims have full voting and citizenship rights in India and just as in Western Europe, the Muslim vote is becoming crucial to swinging elections. And like in Western Europe and North America, the ruling socialist Congress Party in India is loathe to criticize its Muslim population for fear of provoking civil violence.
Of course the horrific violence emanating from the Muslim community and from Islamic groups in neighboring Pakistan continues unabated. The following is a partial list of recent atrocities:
March 12, 1993: 257 killed and more than 1,000 injured in 15 co-ordinated bomb attacks in Mumbai.
December 13, 2001: Attack on the Indian Parliament complex in New Delhi led to the killing of a dozen people and 18 injured. Four members of the Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed were later convicted for their part in the plot
September 24, 2002: 31 people killed, 79 wounded at Akshardham temple in Gujarat
Aug. 25, 2003: Twin car bombings in Mumbai killed at least 52 people and injured 150. Indian authorities blamed the Kashmiri Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba
Oct. 29, 2005: Three explosions in busy shopping areas of south Delhi, two days before the Hindu festival of Diwali, killed 59 and injured 200. The Islamic Revolutionary Group claimed responsibility, but authorities blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba
March 7, 2006: A series of bombings in the holy city of Varanasi killed at least 28 and injured over a hundred. Indian investigators blamed Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists.
July 11, 2006: Seven bomb blasts on the Mumbai Suburban Railway killed over 200 people. Police blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba and Students Islamic Movement of India.
Aug. 25, 2007: Forty-two people killed and 50 injured in twin explosions at a crowded park in Hyderabad by Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami (HuJI).
May 13, 2008: A series of six explosions in Jaipur killed 63 people and injured more than 150.
July 26, 2008: Serial explosions in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad killed 45 people and injured more than 150. The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility.
Sept. 13, 2008: Five bomb blasts in New Delhi’s popular shopping centers left 21 people dead and more than 100 injured. The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility.
And we all remember the Mumbai Massacre that played out in front of our eyes on live TV in November 2008.
And yet it seems that India is powerless to act. Because both India and Pakistan now possess nuclear weapons, India today faces the same unsettling choices that Israel will face in the near future when Iran acquires nukes. Democracies are accountable to their people. Wars in which the sons and daughters of the nation die in combat are barely tolerated, let alone wars in which entire cities are wiped off the map. Meanwhile Islamic governments are only accountable to Allah.
And so today, the population of India is held hostage by aggressive Islamists who value death as they value life. India faces the same conundrum as the Western democracies; how can they maintain an open and pluralistic society while confronting an enemy who will gladly use those very attributes to sow death, fear and destruction in their cities? But even free people have their limits, and if another Mumbai-style attack occurs on Indian soil the people’s anger may be impossible to contain.
May 25, 2009
The wisdom of Hindu India once again. It is a pity that these age old treasures available to us for centuries, are not explored in the way that they should be, in modern India, lest we appear as old-fashioned and living in the past. It is ironic that we keep on reinventing ourselves through the eyes of the west.
Even though summer is just around the corner and the sun is shining more helping each and every one of us get our happy intake of vitamin D, stress still hides behind the sun’s rays and especially in these terrible economic times, stress relief is going to be hard to come by. Not if you take this highly praised “Queen of Herbs,” say naturalists and nutritionists across the world. The Queen is called tulsi in India where it is used often, but here in America we call it holy basil. This natural remedy is popular for its anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties, but most well-known for its success in relieving stress.
For centuries, holy basil—known scientifically as Ocimum sanctum—has been popular in its native India and revered in the religious tradition of Hinduism. This herb has been the go-to remedy for all sorts of bodily conditions, as well as ailments of the mind and spirit, which is why it is considered so healing for those practicing Hindu, as it is representative of the natural trinity of healing: mind, spirit, and body.
Being stressed out over work, family, bills, or social pressures, can make adhering to a normal and healthy diet more difficult. The mix of multi-tasking, constantly worrying, and trying to maintain your body with added stress and time constraints often implodes in a cloud of emotions. If you feel your stress level is about to implode, think about adding a little holy basil to your everyday life. Holy basil comes in liquid extract form (that can be dropped into water, tea, or juice) as well as liquid capsules for easier consumption.
Not only will holy basil reduce your stress level and help to calm those possibly- mploding emotions, this helpful herb will add to your immunity levels and protect you from other serious bodily complications in the future. An herbalist from Planetary Ayurvedics, Roy Upton, explains how stress influences your body in negative ways resulting in pain and general suffering, “Stress can elevate cortisol levels, which triggers the production of inflammatory COX-2 enzymes. This cascade effect then influences blood sugar changes and increases metabolic inflammation. Research has shown that ursolic acid and the triterpenoic acids, isolated from holy basil, effectively improve the body’s response to stress.”
Holy basil comes in either red or green forms and is different from regular cooking basil, both because of its aroma and taste. Holy basil has more of a clove-like taste, making it spicier than original basil and with a stronger smell. Although more often used as a cultural healing device, holy basil has been in some scientific studies, though none done with humans involved in the experiments, so the evidence cannot be thoroughly translated from animal to human yet.
Dr. Weil—popular as a natural health author and educational guide—suggests that exercise and breathing exercises are probably the first steps you need to get balanced in terms of stress release on your own before pumping a bunch of herbs or prescription medications into your system. However, he also notes that he found an article from 1991 that was published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology that compared and contrasted the stress-reducing effects of holy basil against Siberian ginseng and Asian ginseng as potential remedies in laboratory animals. Holy basil was found to be the most successful at acting against stress out of all three and was also seen as the safest in terms of consumption and pattern of use.
Even if you are not suffering from stress or stress-related pain, you may also consider asking your doctor about holy basil as a remedy against any of these conditions or problems: slow memory functions, the common cold, fevers, excess of phlegm in the throat, coughing, sore throat, kidney stones, heart disorders/diseases, mouth infections, bug bites, respiratory problems such as asthma or other lung conditions, eye skin or teeth disorders, and headaches. Although it is said that holy basil may have been used at one time for any or all of these conditions, safety is first and precautions should be taken at all times. Please ask your doctor which natural remedies are safe for your body and recommended for general use.
May 24, 2009
By Dr. Radhasyam Brahmachari
While BJP was in Power:
Before analyzing the defeat of BJP in the present Lok Sabha election, it is necessary to have a look how the Party came to power in 1999 with 183 MPs. One may recall that in the Lok Sabha elections held in 1998 the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) obtained a simple majority. This time, the BJP had allied with the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal besides its existing allies, the Samata Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena. Outside support was provided by the Telugu Desam Party.
The NDA had a slim majority, and Vajpayee returned as Prime Minister. But the coalition ruptured in May 1999 when the leader of AIADMK, Jayalalitha, withdrew her support, and fresh elections were again called in October, 1999. Within this brief period, BJP did two remarkable jobs that made it popular across the country. Firstly, it conducted the testing of the nuclear device at Pokhran and secondly, it fought the Kargil war with Pakistan in May-July, 1999.
These two achievements were hailed by the entire population who discovered a courageous fighter in BJP, capable of protecting the sovereignty and freedom of the nation and thrashing the rogue enemy state Pakistan, The people of this country gave BJP a hero’s welcome and, as a consequence, in the Lok Sabha election held on October 13, 1999, the BJP-led NDA won 303 seats. The BJP won an all-time high of 183 seats. Vajpayee became Prime Minister for the third time in his life, and Advani became the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister.
But the said image of BJP was considerably shattered when the NDA government shamefully submitted to the unjust demands of the Pakistani terrorists after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane, Flight no. 814 on December 24, 1999, and released three dreaded terrorists, most undemocratic way, from the Kashmir jail and one cabinet minister went to Kandahar, by a special plane, with those three terrorists and rupees 900 crores and a planeload of high explosive (to be used against India),.as ransom But after the hijacking drama, it would have been proper for the NDA government to order our army to cross the border of Afghanistan and our air force to bomb Kabul and Kandahar. And thus force the terrorists to release 174 passangers and 15 crew members of the hijacked plane. In this context, one may recall how the Russian government dealt with the Chechen terrorists who seized a school in Beslan in 2004.
On December 13, 2001, five terrorists attacked the Parliament House (Sansad Bhawan) in Delhi, It was due to the prompt and brave action of our security forces, six of whom sacrificed their lives, the lives of a few hundred of our MPs were saved. After this incident many of our commentators described it as a rape of our Parliament, or rather a rape of our democracy. Our military top brass advised the government to take immediate military action against Pakistan and hence to teach a good lesson to that rogue state. Some of our top army personnel commented that we had enough of talks, and time had arrived to act. So an army mobilization was ordered and our troops, with their modern sophisticated weapons were dispatched to the Indo-Pak border and were waiting for final signal from our leaders to cross the border. Our troops were waiting for months after months, but the NDA government failed to gather sufficient courage to give that final signal.
Ultimately troops were withdrawn wasting nearly three thousand crores of rupees, as the cost of mobilization and wear and tear of the sophisticated weapons. It is important to note that, had the NDA government conducted the military operation against Pakistan and taught that rogue state a good lesson, the people of this country would have given a hero’s welcome to BJP for the second time and they would have voted BJP to victory in the 2004 Lok Sabha election.
On April 21, 2001, Bangladesh Rifles abducted 15 Border Security Force (BSF) personnel into Bangladesh, They subsequently butchered all the 15 BSF men and carried their mutilated bodies like carcass of animals to return the dead bodies in an extremely humiliating manner. As a cover up of that criminal act by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the government of Bangladesh said that our BSF men illegally crossed the Bangladeshi border and hence BDR captured and killed them. It is to be noted here that, even if it is admitted that the BSF men had entered Bangladesh illegally, it was proper for BDR arrest them and produce them in the court of law. In any case, they could not have killed them.
The most justified reply of the NDA government to this heinous crime was to give order to our army to cross the border of Bangladesh and march towards Dhaka, But our leaders, for the lack sufficient courage or for the sake of its newly adopted policy of Muslim appeasement, failed to take military action against even a small and weak nation like Bangladesh, On the contrary, they supported the claim of the government of Bangladesh that our forces had done a wrong and by entering Bangladesh without any provocation. Our PM sent his personal secretary Brojesh Misra to Dhaka to beg pardon on behalf of the Indian Government for the so called offence committed by our BSF personnel.
It is needless to say that all the above mentioned cowardice acts have completely shattered the image BJP had built up by fighting the Kargil War and testing nuclear device at Pokhran. And there is no
doubt that this loss of image had played a major role in its defeat in 2004 Lok Sabha election.
The Hindu Nationalist Party Turned Secular:
We should now have a look on the other activities of the NDA government during its tenure that lasted for 6 years. As a matter of fact, the BJP is a direct successor of The Bharatiya Jana Sangh
(BJS), founded in 1951 by Dr Syama Prasad Mookherjee and it was considered the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). After the murder of Dr Mookherjee in custody in 1953, the BJS lasted for 24 more years, but never seriously challenged the power of Indian National Congress It is well known that in 1980, a group of top leaders of BJS, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, formed the new party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS duly recognized this new party as its political organ. So, it is not difficult to understand that “Hindutva” was the fundamental basis of BJP and its ultimate goal was to make India a “Hindu Rastra”.
So, before the Lok Sabha elections in 1998 and 1999, the BJP declared the followings as its professed goals. :
1. No special treatment for any religious group or BJP would never resort to appease the Muslims for securing their votes.
2. The Repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution, which prevents non-Kashmiris, including Hindus who have fled the area due to increasing terrorism, from owning property in the state of Jammu and
3. The Promulgation of a Uniform Common Civil Code, which create only one personal and civil law code for Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
4. A Ban on Cow Slaughter, to honor the Hindu tradition of not consuming the flesh of cow, and prohibiting the consumption of beef.
5. A Complete Ban on Religious Conversions
6. The Construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya,.
7. To achieve the full territorial and political integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India. Presently over 40% of the territory is under the control of Pakistan and China.
8. Identification of Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators and send them back to Bangladesh and at the same time taking proper steps to stop infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims to West Bengal..
9. Rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pundits, who have been evicted from their home land Kashmir and living as refugees in the refugee camps in Delhi,
But after assuming power, the NDA government did not take any initiative to implement any of the above promises. On the contrary, during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee assured the Kashmiri Muslims that, so long he is the Prime Minister, the Article 370 would continue. During election campaign BJP promised that it would never indulge in appeasement of the Muslims. But after assuming power, NDA government increased Hajj subsidy for the Muslims and hiked the salary of the imams. Previously the Muslims pilgrims intending to go to Mecca to perform Hajj, had to travel to Mumbai and from Mumbai they used to fly to Jeddah at subsidized rate. But the NDA government arranged flights from all the major cities of India to Mecca and built rest houses, specially for the Hajj pilgrims, in all the major cities of the country.
While it was expected that the NDA government, after assuming power, would strive hard to implement the above mentioned national agenda and hence to consolidate Hindu votes, but on the contrary, it displayed a strong inclination to acquire Muslim votes by appeasement of the Muslims. They floated the idea that all Muslims are not anti- nationals and there also exists a large group of good as well as nationalist Muslims, who are to be brought under the banner of BJP. Which was as ridiculous and bogus as saying, “All cobras are not bad and there are good cobras as well.” On the basis of this newly invented ridiculous, baseless and bogus ideology, they started to appease the Muslims in a big way, especially in 2000-2001, when Bangaru Laxman became the president of the Party. It is needless to say that from this time onwards, the Hindus started not only to reject, but to hate BJP and its leaders.
As mentioned above, prior to the 1999 election, BJP promised to identify every Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrator and send them back to Bangladesh, But after assuming power, the NDA government, according to their newly adopted policy of Muslim appeasement, took no step in this direction. On the contrary, it adopted a serious anti Hindu step in this context. Previously, the Hindus who, being persecuted by the Muslims, were coming to India from Bangladesh were treated as refugees. But NDA government deprived the Hindus from this facility (which is the standing policy of the UN) and started to treat the Hindus as infiltrators, like the Muslims. In one incident, a Hindu housewife, to save her life from the Muslim goons of Bangladesh, was crossing the border by swimming a canal and the Indian security forces gunned her down. Due to this step-motherly attitude of the NDA government towards the Bangladeshi Hindus, lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus are still not getting refugee status and hence any assistance from either the state or the Central government.
Another important promise made by BJP was implementation of the uniform civil code for all the citizens on India, irrespective of religion or other differences. In this context, it is important to
note that, a verdict of the Supreme Court in mid-2003 upheld the necessity of enforcing ‘common civil code’ in India, which could liberate India ‘s Muslim women from the shameful gender discrimination like polygamy and oral divorce. But the NDA government, in tune with its new policy of Muslim appeasement, did not take any initiative in this direction, because such a step would have displeased the orthodox Muslim clerics.
Most importantly, the NDA government remained not only silent regarding the construction of temple at Ayodhya, but opposed any attempt or any movement for temple construction. During its tenure Vishwa Hindu Parishad gave a call for a demonstration of the activists at Ayodhya. But to frustrate the effort, NDA government promulgated an ordinance so that police can arrest anyone found to purchase a railway ticket for Ayodhya anywhere in the country. In Kolkata, many VHP workers were arrested and put into police custody, while they were found to purchase railway ticket for Ayodhya at Howrah and Sealdah railway stations. It is really surprising that the NDA government took such step against the people who voted it to power.
When the author of this article asked a BJP leader about this affair, he said that most of the allies of the NDA are secular minded and hence if the government wanted to move forward any issue concerning the Hindus, they would withdraw their support leading to a fall of the NDA government. The question naturally arises — Did the Hindus voted BJP to rule for a full term at the sacrifice of the Hindutva issues? The leaders of BJP failed to understand that, had the government fallen due to an initiative of the BJP to fulfill its pre- election promises, the Hindus would have voted BJP again, perhaps more profusely, and help form the government. But our leaders preferred to remain in power at the sacrifice of its pre-poll promises and thus earned distrust of the Hindus. Many Hindus began to call BJP as “Biswasghatak Janata Party”.
Thus, without caring for the sentiment of the electorate, who voted it to power, BJP or the NDA government dumped all its nationalist agenda into the cold storage and at the fag end of its tenure started
to build roads, as if the voters had voted it to power for making roads. Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was, perhaps, confident that the said road building and the economic reforms he had
undertaken, would return him to power again. But the poll results 2004 election reflected that he was wrong. He learned the bitter lesson that the Hindu voters did not make him the Prime Minister of India for making roads and bringing economic reforms.
During the 5 year period from 2004 to 2009, BJP has left no stone unturned to expose itself a truly secular party through complete renunciation of its Hindu identity. Its leaders failed to grasp that it drew strength and status from Hindu society alone and it was the Hindus who voted it to power. They failed to learn a lesson from the debacle of 2004 election. So, in stead of Hindutva agenda, they depended on good governance and development to win the 2009 election and kept silence about the most cherished Hindu issues like temple building in Ayodhya, scrapping of Article 370, enforcement of common civil code and so on.
Projecting L K Advani as the Prime Ministerial Candidate:
In this election, the leaders of BJP, without giving much thought, projected elderly Shri L K Advani as its Prime Ministerial candidate, whom a section of the Hindus have identified as a traitor quite a
long ago. Shri Advani is the man who, after the demolition of the old temple at Ayodhya on 6th December, 1992, said that it was the most tragic day in his life. Not only that, “Mr. Advani took the demolition of the contentious structure as a personal slight (he had promised the Supreme Court nothing would happen), and without any discussion with senior party colleagues present there, especially then party president Murli Manohar Joshi, resigned his post as Leader of the Opposition by faxing his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker and releasing the information to the press. The party was faced with an uncomfortable fait accompli”, writes Mrs Sandhya Jain in her recent article L K Advani: From History to Oblivion.
On 4th June, 2007, when Advani was visiting the mausoleum of M A Jinnah in Karachi, Pakistan, said that Jinnah was a great man and he was secular leader. When I asked a BJP leader of West Bengal, about that contentious comment of Advani, to my utmost astonishment, he supported Advani and said, “Advaniji was right. In fact, Jinnah was a staunch secular leader at the beginning of his political career. But later on Gandhi and Nehru spoiled him.” If this was the BJP-way of looking at things, who would rescue it from its imminent downfall?
Nearly 7-8 years ago, when NDA was in power, Advani said that the day of idealism is over, now the day is of new ideas. Or indirectly, he made it clear that BJP would no longer follow the Hindutva ideology as propagated by its parent organization RSS. Or the ideology which had been identified by Swami Vivekananda, Shri Aurovindo, Dr Hedgewar and Guruji Gowalkar as the sole path for the revival of this Hindu nation. All such utterances of Advani makes one to convince that Shri Advani and his coterie have dragged BJP, originally a political party of distinction with the aim for achieving a noble and lofty goal, down to an ordinary political party of petty and conspiratorial politics.
As a result, Hindus lost faith in BJP and its staunch supporters, on their poll-day, remained indoor and enjoyed a holiday. Only 25 per cent of the Hindu electorates turned up at the polling booths to exercise their democratic right and BJP suffered the obvious setback. Only God knows how many years it will take to recover this setback and get back the confidence of the Hindus again.
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