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Monday, December 15, 2014

My Heart Goes out to the People Of Gaza- Kindly complete the blog

My heart goes out to the people of Gaza. But, when I ask the same heart that why does it then fail to condemn Israeli attacks? It gives me a very logical answer. It says that the same set of people who are so vehemently condemning the atrocities in Gaza will not shed a tear, or would rather, rejoice the slaughtering of Israeli’s in the same region.
In my opinion, it’s a fight between two different ideologies and will exist till people keep thinking that their faith is the best. This fight between faiths has existed since times immemorial. India has also seen such fights and is still witness to it because of its people with a many kinds of religious, political and regional belief systems. So let us discuss about the conflicts in India primarily focusing on the beliefs Nationalism and Religion. This conflict, in the Indian scenario, is mostly centered on Muslims. I will discuss the same in this write-up.
India is said to be a so called secular nation which has state separated from religion and, thus, gives equal rights to the follower of every religion and considers every religion to be equal. But, I feel that the above thought is only confined to the books/constitution and is not practiced even by the government. I will not get into discussions of Muslim appeasement etc to support my observation. I will instead I will talk about some cases which we all hear and read about regularly in the media.
One of the controversies Narendra Modi created during his election campaign was about helping Hindu Bangladeshis to settle in India. Many secular intellectuals rejected his idea considering it as being communal. But, I was surprised to see many Assamese, who are the worst victims of Bangladeshi influx, not being averse to the idea. All of them supported the idea with one condition that all these settlers should be spread evenly across the country. Even they were ready to take the load of allowing Bangladeshi Hindus, but, oppose settlement of Muslim Bangladeshis tooth and nail. We can of course call this idea of Narendra Modi as a communal thought, but, this differential treatment has always prevailed in the region officially.
If we consider the case of a Nepalese or a Bhutanese citizen, there is no restriction on his/her coming to India and settling here. Basically the only difference between a Nepalese/Bhutanese citizen and an Indian citizen is the latter’s right to vote, else every other thing is the same. Each one of us knows many Nepalese living and working in our area. I have hardly seen any national level hue and cry about Nepalese or Bhutanese citizens settling in India although Nepalese are present in India in good numbers. Same is the case with Tibetans living in India, although their asylum in India is among the bone of contention between India and China. Still, people have no issues. Even, people of Chinese origin living in India might not be facing problems. I think the only reason for Indians not having any major problem with these people is that these two countries are predominantly Hindu or Buddhist or for the matter of fact, Nepal was the only Hindu nation in the world officially till recent times whereas Pakistan and East Pakistan were formed on the basis of religion. Pakistan became an Islamic nation whereas India remained a secular nation (which Bangladesh is also now) accommodating everyone officially. Relations with the Lankans are not that good because of the Tamil problem, but, I do not see any settlement problems to Lankan nationals in India.
According to me, the major threat that majority Hindus in India see with the settlement of Muslims in India is that with the rise of Muslim population there will be a drastic change in the way of life of the Hindus. I can say so because I know Bengali Hindus who have peacefully lived in Assam even during the heat of the Assam agitation in the late 70’s and the early 80’s whereas there are riots between Bengali Muslims and ethnic people even today. This according to me is the threat that Hindus perceive in many parts of the country.
If we look at the Muslim aspect of the issue there is even more complexity which might turn into a Gaza like problem in the future. Muslims are actually stuck between faith and nation. If a Muslim thinks that nation is supreme and that the government should not allow Bangladeshis who are mostly Muslims to settle in India, he being anti-Islamic. As per Islam, a Muslim should not go against a Muslim when it’s a case of his betterment and Bangladeshis infiltrate into India only because of the compulsions of poverty. How can one Muslim be against the empowerment of another Muslim? This is a major conflict that a practicing Muslim must be facing! I can also say that it is inhuman not to allow poor people in search of bread and butter to settle here.
I say it with confidence that a conflict exists amongst Muslims between Nationalism and Religion because when there are riots in Assam between Bodos and Bangladeshi Muslims, Mumbai comes to a halt. There are protests in many parts of the country and people from the North Eastern states are targeted. Muslims should actually be supporting their countrymen instead of a settler who is trying to assert himself in their own country. Although, people from North East face problems in many parts of the Country as well, but then, there is never an open community clash with the people of NE India and most of the people agree that they are our fellow countrymen and stringent action should be taken against the perpetrators of the crime.
So, one confusion of a practicing Muslim or even a person with basic humanity is whether to support a poor Muslim who is coming to their nation in search of work or be with the national policy of opposing Bangladeshi settlement. Now, in case the government comes up with a policy to rehabilitate Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh, how would a Muslim convince himself that Muslims are not being meted differential treatment on the ground of religion by the government? Such policy would actually reflect pure differential treatment between Hindus and Muslims by a secular government. If we consider this from a humanitarian aspect, Hindus should also not oppose Bangladeshi Muslim settlement India as all these people come to India in search of daily bread and butter and were their fellow countrymen sixty seven years back. It is inhuman not to allow a poor man to search for his bread and butter.
Now, we see that it’s inhuman as well as un-Islamic not to allow Bangladeshis in India. Let’s look at another case in India, let’s look at Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
Jammu & Kashmir, internationally known as Kashmir, is a clear example where national preferences are based on religion. Muslims either want freedom or want to merge with Pakistan (this merging with Pakistan thought has been shelved by well off people looking at its present state) whereas Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and even Shia Muslims want to stay with India. There might be many technical arguments that can be put forth like the instrument of accession or matter being in the UN or Pandit Nehru’s promise to the people of Kashmir on plebiscite. The crux of the matter is that national preferences are divided on religious lines.
The state of affairs in Kashmir (not J&K) have been very turbulent in the past quarter century. Some people might even compare it to a Gaza like situation in the early nineties. Muslims say that Indians have occupied J&K whereas others say that they are Indians. Muslims say that there have been atrocities on them by the Indian security forces in the past quarter century whereas others say that the people victimized were either terrorists or anti-Nationals. So it’s clear that a division exists! Muslims say that they have been victimized and others say that the people victimized were either terrorists or anti-Nationals.
So, this victim card is one dangerous tactic that has to be dealt with. If there is a riot between Bangladesh Muslims and Bodos, Muslims are being victimized.
So the situation is quite interesting, Muslims say that they were victimized where others say that the people taken to task were either terrorists or anti-Nationals. So, there is a clear situation of conflict between faiths. Some say that nation is supreme whereas others say that religion is supreme.
Now, let’s look at the idea of India. Kashmiris in their fight for a separate nation even go to the extent of challenging the idea of India. No one would agree that India was India/Bharat before 1947. Many Muslims whom I speak to also do not agree with this idea of India, they consider India to be a post 1947 creation whereas a Hindu (excluding communists) will never challenge this idea of India. Actually, both these beliefs of people suit their own convenience and faiths.
So, I guess the above discussion is enough to say that there exists a lot of difference between Hindus & Muslims in India

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Spirit of Non-Violence

Once, Gautama Buddha, as the regular routine of a wanderer, decided to go from one village to another after sun set. There was dense forest between the villages. Villagers did not like this idea and requested him not to do so as there was a very aggressive and venomous snake species in the forest which would attack people unprovoked. But, Bhagwan Buddha did not listen to them and started for the village. Frightened villagers followed him. As Bhagwan Buddha was walking through the forest, a snake of the same species charged upon him. Villagers saw the snake and alerted Buddha. Buddha stood there and looked at the attacking snake with all his calm and composure. The snake came to Buddha and encircled his feet, it did not bite him. The villagers were surprised and asked Bhagwan Buddha about the reason for which the aggressive snake not biting him. Bhagwan Buddha gave them the answer, “When I do not think bad about anything in this world or do not hurt anyone, why will anyone hurt me”?
I personally feel that because it was Bhagwan Buddha even the wild animal did not bite him or hurt him. He was in such sync with nature. Ofcourse, it might not be possible in our case that we get so much in sync with nature that wild animals or anyone else, as such, does not hurt us. We can atleast be in sync with our surroundings so that people around us do not hurt us. There is a difference between disagreeing and being against something. We should prefer to disagree instead of being against something.
We have had regional, religious and political systems since ages. All have been changing. There were revolutions, evolutions and these revolutions and evolutions will keep on happening. Regional profiles will keep on changing, religious beliefs will keep on changing and so will political systems. Nothing is permanent!
There are many theories of migration of people, of countries conquering other countries, stories of faith being spread by invaders etc. We also have stories of ethnic races being wiped out by races coming from other regions. But, I do not feel that races or cultures are wiped out. I feel that when two human races and cultures start living together, there comes up a third race and culture which is richer as well as superior than the first two races. The problem comes when the two races are averse to change and engage in conflict which mostly is violent. Why is there such aversion to change? In my opinion, the aversion to change is because the people of either of the races and cultures believe that theirs is the superior one and the other race should adapt its customs. They forget that mingling of the two races will lead to a superior race. This eventually happens as well with time and the people of the later generations are only able to understand and realize this. Still people fight for the same reason again and again.
India has had classy cases of people spreading their faiths, beliefs and spirituality without any violence. Classic is the case of Gautam Buddha who became a wandering monk and people became his disciples as and where he went. Such was his effect that in the next few centuries almost the whole of Asia was turning Buddhist. As Buddhism spread, it became a perceived threat to Sanatan Dharma. Then a young boy from Kerala started his journey across India by conquering all regions and people with his weapon “Shashtrartha”. His weapon “Shashtrartha” was debate on Shashtras, spirituality and philosophy of life. No Scholar could defeat him across India and finally he made four Matth’s in all the four regions in India. If you look at the Sufi Saints, their mysticism was such that people of all faiths go to their door step even today. India has innumerable examples, the latest and the best known to the world being Swami Vivekananda. It is said that it were not the mere words,” My Dear brothers and sisters of America” that mesmerized the listeners, it was the true spirit and love behind the words that did the magic.
So, people, beliefs, cultures, political systems etc will keep coming and will keep mingling and will keep improving. If one feels that his or her system is superior, he or she has all the right to spread it and convince people about. In the same conquest, he or she should also be open to learn from others and accept it. So, as things will keep changing, no one has the right to force upon his or her views on others, nobody has the right to eliminate people who do not accept his or her views or beliefs because change is inevitable and killing someone to avoid change is unnatural, thus inhuman.
Mahatma Gandhi has been the tallest icons of non-violence in the modern world. India should be proud that such a soul was born on its soil. So, it’s our foremost duty to adhere to non-violence. Non-Violence is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It’s the strength processed by a free man who is open to change and can express his views without any fear. Non-Violence is the most important characteristic of a free soul. It’s the spirit of Non-Violence that the whole world requires today. May god enlighten us all!!
Happy Independence Day!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Small Note on Corruption

As a teenager I once asked my father, Papa how can we get rid of corruption in India like the developed countries have? He told me that these developed nations are also not devoid of Corruption, but, they have almost zero corruption at the level where government transacts with the public. Corruption is quite prevalent at levels where governments, politicians and corporations deal.

In the present times in India, we are only focusing on corruption at the level of corporations and government dealing and painting all politicians with the same brush which has given rise to some leaders over night. We are hardly interested in corruption at lower levels which affects us more.

Eradicating corruption at lower levels requires good governance and good governance requires a non populist approach which we all fail to understand or refuse to understand. This is because good governance would force us to step out of our comfort zones. In 1989 when NT Rama Rao of TDP lost to Congress many people where happy just because they will not have to wear helmets while driving scooters. This is our basic approach.

We have issues if women pillion riders have to wear a helmet, we have issues if we are stringently fined for traffic rule violations, we have issues if the government orders closure of bars at mid night. We have issues with most of the things which are actually good for us collectively as a society.

Now my liking for BJP or in fact parties like BJD, TDP etc is because they give good governance. They are also not able to ensure everything because they have to after all keep the voter happy. But, they have a strong will to improve system and make it deliver.

Next, my opposition to Congress is because it’s the oldest party and has ruled for quite a long time. Most (not everyone) of the people who have joined it ever since independence have had vested interests. Such people want to be associated with the people in power to push their personal agenda. These people look for “Satta Sukh”, the pleasure of being in power.

Such people have also joined parties like BJP, but, they get sidelined as they rise. This is because of the robust organizational structure.

In Politics one has to come to power and sustain in power to bring about change. In a scenario as mentioned above where people have issues in stepping out of their comfort zones, even a right thinking and progressive person also has to manipulate to sustain in power because power is his opportunity to bring about positive change in the society. I am sure that had Gandhiji been in electoral politics, he would have never become a “Mahatma”!

I would like to end with an incident. During college days, a student of some other college came to me and asked me to get some of his personal work done. I told him that he knew so many RSS pracharaks, why doesn’t he ask them for help? His reply was a bit surprising then, “Bhaya unko bataoonga to hone wala kaam bhi nahi hoga”.

All the Best!!