Monday, October 20, 2014

Young Indians And Pakistanis Rewrite Their Shared History

Though this article is old, it will always remain fresh in understanding India Pakistan relationships. The right wing Indian and Pakistani politicians (defined as those who believe "others don't have a right to exist" and will do anything to annihilate the other in their own filthy imaginations) have deliberately done a lot of damage between the two people to lie and promote hatred and causing wars, destruction and a lot of discomfort.  A few Indians and a few Pakistanis are soaked in hate and loaded with poison, I feel sorry for them. The following article captures that essence and it is so true.
Pakistan and India illustration

I am blessed to be barrierless, I truly believe in the Hindu concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum - i.e., the whole world is one family and we must treat each other as such, and the Islamic concept that all of us are created from the same couple and are created into many nations and tribes and the best ones among us are those who make the effort to understand each other and live in harmony. That is all God wants.

Nearly a decade ago, Dr. Akbar Ahmed showed his film on Jinnah at the UTD campus, there were about four Indians including me, who protested the "wrong" portrayal of Nehru and Gandhi in that film and willing to speak out "our" version. The Pakistani Consulate General wanted to cut us out of the discussion, not me, thank God, Dr. Akbar Ahmed asked the consular to let me speak, he is an intellectual and a scholar and as such he welcomes diversity in speech
. Since then, we have become friends and both of us are equally committed to prosperity of both the nations without prejudice. 

When my son was in High School, he was called names by a Pakistani Kid in Richardson Mall, because he is an Indian, but I taught him not to be a revenge seeker and thank God he laughed it off at that son of a bigot, of course same % of Indians parents are equally bigoted. These stupid parents inject so much poison in the hearts of their kids, making their lives miserable when they grow up with hatred for the other. Don't you want  to slap them for messing up their kid's lives? It should be counted as child-abuse.

The SADEW, a South Asian Democracy Watch Organization in Dallas is planning on holding the event "Aman Ki Asha" in Dallas, Texas. It is a continuation of the project." Aman ki Asha (Hindi: अमन की आशा, Urdu: امن کی آشا‎, translation: "Hope for Peace") is a campaign jointly started by the two leading media houses The Jang Group in Pakistan and The Times of India in India. The campaign aims for mutual peace and development of the diplomatic and cultural relations between the two nations in South Asia. It started on 1 January 2010. The campaign never received warm response from India and Pakistan. Despite this, Bennett & Coleman, the holding company of Times Group has been trying valiantly to keep the campaign afloat through a high decibel media campaign. - Wikipedia."

This is an inspiring article, and I hope the Sadew people make an effort to bring Pakistani and Indian kids, teenagers and adults to have an unprepared, unrehearsed conversation about issues, as to how they see the issues. It will be an eye opener for the audience, and material for the research to find ways to mitigate the conflict between the two people. Hell, it looks like those "few" Indians and Pakistanis living in the US are more hateful than the people actually living in India and Pakistan.  

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. A regular commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post.  All about him is listed in several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

by Tanvi Misra August 17, 2014 1:59 PM ET

Mohandas Gandhi poses with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in 1944, in what was then Bombay. The two countries have been rivals for decades, and students from the two countries have jointly published an online project comparing the different narratives.

Mohandas Gandhi poses with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in 1944, in what was then Bombay. The two countries have been rivals for decades, and students from the two countries have jointly published an online project comparing the different narratives.
When Britain ended its colonial rule in 1947, splitting the Asian subcontinent into two countries, India and Pakistan, it wasn't just the land that was divided. The two new states quickly came up with very different narratives, with each blaming the other throughout the decades of contentious relations that have followed.
Accounts of major events have diverged widely on questions like who's to blame for the three wars they've fought. Prominent figures who are heroes in one country are villains in the other.

"Most people don't get to meet somebody from the other side," says Qasim Aslam, 27, a Pakistani who started The History Project in 2013 as a way to bring together "conflicting versions of a shared past."
"It's kind of frustrating," Aslam says. "People hate others without really knowing them."

Aslam and co-founder Ayyaz Ahmad, who is also Pakistani, together with a team from both sides of the border, released the first part of the project last year.

They are updating the online version and releasing a textbook this September. The project looks at many major issues, as well as six key personalities, and provides side-by-side descriptions of how the issues and individuals are portrayed in both countries.

Mohandas Gandhi is one of those figures, and the differences are stark.

According to the Indian account from the book, "Of all the people, Gandhi ji, who at all times, had tried to preserve the unity of India, was shattered and heart-broken. The communal carnage that broke out even after the Partition made the situation unbearable."

In this version, his name is followed by the Hindi suffix "ji," signaling the respect and reverence that surrounds Gandhi. He is portrayed as a man who did his best to prevent tensions from boiling over, but tragically failed as Indians and Pakistanis waged their first war at independence in 1947.

In the Pakistani excerpt, "Gandhi did his best to prove India as one nation and nationality so that he could claim to represent the Indian people alone ... Gandhi insisted that there was only one nation in India which were the Hindus."
The History Project illustrates differences between Indian and Pakistani perceptions of Gandhi.
The History Project illustrates differences between Indian and Pakistani perceptions of Gandhi.
Kaustubh Khare and Zoya Siddiqui/The History Project 
In this telling, Gandhi (no "ji" here) is a man who had an exclusionary vision of India in mind, one that Muslims just could not live with. He was "stubborn and childish," Aslam quotes from the book, and has an anti-minority reputation.

When it comes to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father and founder of the Pakistani nation, the accounts totally flip.

Jinnah is the one who is revered. His propensity for alcohol and his casual attitude toward prayer were conveniently omitted in Pakistani textbooks, Aslam says.

Instead, he's a man who fought against Hindu hegemony to liberate the Muslim people. He was a champion of self-determination.

Meanwhile, in India, Jinnah is portrayed as a power-hungry politician, who wanted to rule a nation so badly that he made his own, Aslam says. Some school kids Aslam spoke to in India compared Jinnah to Voldemort.
Kaustubh Khare and Zoya Siddiqui/The History Project 
The authors don't attempt to reconcile the differing accounts of the individuals and the issues, but they do provide questions for the reader to think about.

When Indian and Pakistani kids are growing up, they are "given a narrative and asked to regurgitate it," Aslam says, adding that the project's purpose is to have them question what they learn.

Aslam and others questioned their own beliefs at an annual Seeds of Peace camp in Maine in 2001.
The camp was started by journalist John Wallace in 1993 and brings together teenagers from countries on opposite sides of a conflict, like Israelis and Palestinians.

In this case, Indians and Pakistanis came face to face. At first, tempers soared. But when the voices calmed down, the kids looked at their counterparts from the other side of the border and saw some of their own biases. Their friendships sustained the heat of the arguments, and several years later The History Project was born.

Along with the new book, the project aims to use humor and social media tools to engage young people with their history, Aslam says. The creators hope that the project transcends South Asian geography. They've already been asked to speak at various college campuses in the U.S., but Aslam wants to expand the project to 10 more countries in five years.

It hasn't all been smooth, though.

The governments have been "very cagey about it — as soon as we start sniffing around," Aslam says. "We're going to make them [the books] so interesting that kids are going to pick them up themselves."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

6 things Pakistan and India can do instead of fighting

Being a World Citizen, I am well connected with people of different nations and faiths,  and I hear the good, bad and ugly. I will guarantee you this - of the 120,000 some Indians and Pakistanis in Dallas area, you will find 50 Indians and 30 Pakistanis who are hateful towards the other, of course they run their ugly mouths and messages on Internets, they won't do it themselves, but they spread the hate... as if it is a game to them.  If they know how loaded they are with hate, may be they will learn to unload some of that hate.

Some day, I will publish the list with their acts and words (without their names - guys no need to panic, just make an effort to remove your hatred) , of the ugliness you are made of,  you will enjoy the life a lot more, when you do not hate any one.

The bad people are insignificant in number, but those few have made everyone to thinks that Indians and Pakistanis hate each other. It is a fallacy. Good people don't have hatred or dislike for the other. If it is, it is based on "individual" experience and not because one is Indian or Pakistani.

A few Muslims among them have been to Hajj -which is suppose to purify them from any hate or malice, and a few Hindus have taken meditation courses and talk big about taking Vipaasna courses ... all show off, because none of them have changed a bit.

I wrote a poetry recently, and couplet expresses this

Ganga jal say paap dhoye aur Hajj say gunah bhi saaf kiye
Ji - my waisay ka waisa hi raha, a mere dharam kahan tha.

I sincerely hope, we all learn the joys of keeping our hearts and minds free from the poison of hate and enjoy the life.

Mike Ghouse

The following is a good piece from Dawn News paper published today

Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik gives final touches to his sand sculpture at Puri beach on October 9, 2014. – AFP Photo

Published about 6 hours ago

Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik gives final touches to his sand sculpture at Puri beach on October 9, 2014. – AFP Photo

They live side-by-side. They started off their journey together. They share history and in some instances much the same culture. They know it and the world knows all the good that they can do so simply by standing together.
Still, it appears that Pakistan and India would much rather fight each other and end up killing scores of civilians rather than join hands in progress.
In case they change their minds, here are six things India and Pakistan can do together instead of fighting:
Explore: 6 surprises that greet a Pakistani in India

1. Increase people-to-people contacts

We need this more than ever. The forces of extremism and bigotry are loud on either side, and the way to counter the ensuing misconceptions, hatred and stereotyping is to get the people in touch with each other in a manner unfettered and unfiltered by media biases.
To this end, the governments should facilitate traveling between the two countries. Ease up visa regimes, provide security to tourists, set up student and faculty exchanges, invite professionals, intellectuals and artists over to their sides of the border, organise concerts, host joint exhibitions and events, develop shared publications, invite critique and let guests conduct their research and document their experiences.
Also see: 7 things that make a Pakistani feel at home in India
The more the discussions, the lesser the mistrust and devious propaganda. And anyway, in 67 years of existence, we both have in fact been hurt more by our own propaganda than the other's.

2. Trade freely

Remove the non-tariff barriers and bureaucratic hurdles impeding trade. Let India get its Non-Discriminatory Market Access to Pakistan. Create separate routes for different tradable items that stay operational round-the-clock. Cut down duties and improve customs clearance procedures.
Yes, India is a much bigger market than Pakistan, but proportionate trade is still possible, if the government sets the right policies. In auto, textile and several other sectors, exports and partnerships can benefit traders from both countries equally.

3. Tell the story of Partition, together

Shouldn't we have had enough of maligning the other, of teaching our kids hate. Let's, for once, work together and come up with a better story to tell our children now -- of one where people did give and love, where men, women and children saved one another from injustices regardless of their religious or regional affiliations.
Educationists and historians from both countries must sit together and work on this narrative which shows that in an event when all begin to go topsy turvy, people had have their humanity in tact and shielded one another from harm.
Indians and Pakistanis have been one people for most of their histories. They may be separate now, but they're clearly not foes, with a shared culture and consciousness in many an instance.
Know more: The Pakistan Ideology: History of a grand concoction
So let's tell the stories of Partition, but let's tell them together. Purge school curricula of political propaganda and make films that tell the stories of people, not ideologies. Write stories that record the joys and sufferings shared through centuries and not the divisions borne over a few decades.
We may be two nation-states now but our attitudes toward life, our cultures and customs, our zest for sport, our love for the arts, our values of friendship, hospitality, tolerance and progress remain the same.
Take a look: Indian, Pakistani film industries need to grow together: Shaan
Let's make sure our young ones know that's who we are, that we help and respect each other because that's just what we do.

4. Play each other

Pakistanis and Indians indulge themselves in mostly the same sports and games. Cricket, hockey, football, volleyball, kabaddi, squash, tennis, polo, snooker, bridge — and the list doesn't end. Our sportsmen have run neck-and-neck with each other for decades. A Pakistan-India contest defines the term 'sport' for people all over the world.
Why not play each other more often, then? And not just on the professional level. Get youth from the academies, schools and colleges to participate in games between the two countries. The governments must facilitate here and making visa issues an excuse to be impede contact in this vital arena should not be acceptable.

5. Fight common issues/crises together

Nascent democracies face the same problems all over the world. Problems, especially social ones, are even more similar across Pakistan and India because, again, they come from shared social backgrounds.
So why don't the governments and civic bodies join hands to fight them? A unified voice against child marriages will be much more empowered and will resonate across a much wider area than isolated efforts against the vice.
Also read: Satyarthi to ‘join hands’ with Malala for peace
Let's pool in our resources and efforts. Condemn rape, fight abuse and discourage gender discrimination. Do it aggressively and do it together. Create common platforms and help others adopt the models which worked with one or the other.
Illiteracy, disease, discrimination, exploitation, poverty, unemployment...all are problems where the two countries can do more than they have.
We have two of the biggest populations in the world, and therefore are most vulnerable to emerging global threats like climate change and food shortage.
If we don't stand together, we may not stand at all.
Look through: After India, Pakistan win Nobel Peace Prize, love replaces hatred on Twitter

6. Stop selling conflict

It's a myth. A Pakistan-India war is not just unfeasible, undesirable and improbable, but it is actually economically impossible as well.
Still, vested interests within the powers that be on either side of the border keep flaring up tensions and selling conflict to the populations of their respective countries for selfish gains.
Read on: Malala invites Nawaz, Modi to attend Nobel ceremony
The governments and media need to be honest with the people and tell them how things really stand right now.
Yes, there is extremism, insurgency and intolerance and one country may have tackled it better than the other. But that's inconsequential. What matters is to let people know that it exists in pockets and thrives from the support of only a few, and that the state will never let that narrative win.
All of this cannot happen until the war rhetoric ceases from both sides. Both neighbours should stop calling themselves 'nuclear powers' because that is of no consequence other than flaring people up. We keep threatening each other with our nuclear arms without knowing the scale of disaster these arms can cause.
We also need to find a workable solution of the ongoing border tension because while the rhetoric may be all guns blazing from New Delhi and Islamabad, it is the poor families living along the border who are in reality suffering.
Take a look: Talks not war: India-Pakistan tensions
The rhetoric from either side needs toning down and the two should establish a narrative of mutual respect, along with easing up treaties and policies towards one another.
If the risk of floods persists after the Indus Water Treaty, rework it.
If foreign fishermen are found too often in your seas, let them off on a small penalty. Jailing and torturing poor ordinary men from the other country will never win you anything.
And most importantly, for the sake of our future generations, let's curb our exorbitant defence expenditures and focus on areas where we can develop our people and give them the tools to live a life of dignity and not one of poverty, neglect and humiliation.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mahatma Gandhi; do not poison your children

Mahatma Gandhi; do not poison your children
By Mike Ghouse, Pluralist

Today is Mahatma Gandhi's birthday celebrations known as Gandhi Jayanthi. Dallas is celebrating by erecting a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Irving. A big event today, unfortunately, I won't be here, but the information is here below.

Mahatma Gandhi did not say those words, but he meant to see a world where no parent would poison his or her child with a dose of bigotry. 
Every year on his birthday, I have written a different aspect of Gandhi, my invisible mentor, and in this essay, I am focusing on raising our children without bigotry.     When I meet prejudiced men and women, my first thought goes out to their parents, is this how they raised these men?  Of course we cannot blame the parents for their wrong doing, but once you turn 18, you are solely responsible for your actions.

Most kids get rid of their parent’s poisonous expressions (teaching) towards people of other race, faith, food, fashion, culture, and sexual orientation; some don’t and suffer all their lives with distrust, fear, doubts, insecurities and apprehension of the others.  In effect, the parents have unconsciously messed up their kid; it is a shameful thing to do to your child and amounts to child abuse.

You can see that distrust and apprehension on the faces of those who are demonstrating against children from across the border in Texas. You may have seen it in your own city, and I have known many instances where gay men were beat up by intolerant religious nuts in Dallas, the African American men are treated with distrust and you have seen swastikas marked on Jewish homes or set fire bombs at Mosques and Churches or vandalize Temples and shoot at Gurdwara Sahib. If these biased attitudes are not checked, it will lead to Massacres, Genocides and Holocaust destroying families and leaving behind immeasurable misery.  This is a universal curse, and no nation or a group of people are free from this. The good news is a majority of people were taught to be respectful of others; however it is a few who wreak havoc with their prejudices and make their own lives miserable and are unable to work with someone who is not like them.

There is a way out – first awareness and second consciously working to raise our kids to be the best citizens for their own peace of mind and prosperity.

If you were to know that, upon growing up, your kid will be working with people from different races, nationalities, and faiths, what would you do? How would you prepare him or her for such a work place, college or in public square?

I asked my friends on facebook, and here are a few selected responses;

Madhavi Rao writes on facebook, “Every morning this lesson is on repeat mode, unfortunately I feel trapped at times when I watch adults misbehave in front of kids & emphasize the opposite of humanity. Their own kid confides in me how their mom talks ill about others
Carol Mason writes, “It isn't so much what we say to our children, it's the example we set in the way we live our lives from which they learn the most. Children learn what they live and live what they learn!
Let me share a few personal examples and I am certain you have similar experiences. By sharing and spreading these thoughts, we can make more people aware of how we raise our kids and how to create cohesive societies where no one has to live in fear of the other.

Dealing with Divorce

When my first wife and I divorced two decades ago we made a pact that we will not poison our kids towards the other parent. The idea was if one of us gets killed in an accident or dies a natural death, it would be difficult for kids to live with the surviving parent especially if he or she is painted as a bad person.  Thank God, we have carried forward that pact fairly well. Both of us are at our children's home for Thanksgiving, Eids, Christmas, Birthdays, and just about every other month we sit together as friends and carry on good conversations with the family. We have never messed the happiness of our kids with our presence; we don't make any snide remarks nor say any such thing that affects the joyous family atmosphere. I am glad we made the pact and have lived through it. It is so easy on our kids and for their happiness, even if we were to differ, we should not punish our children, and they need to feel the joy of being with their parents without any tension.   I hope others can do the same and enjoy their own life and let others enjoy theirs.

Dealing with communal tensions

My father is my hero and opened up the doors of wisdom to us. Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught us one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks, acts, responses and write ups.
During the communal riots in Jabalpur (India) in the early sixties, both Muslims and Hindus were killed in the mayhem, as it happens every time. Everyone was tense and felt insecure. I wish every father teaches this lesson to his kids. He was crystal clear and told us that the "individuals" are responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions.

 If we get the guy who started the conflict and punish him for disturbing peace, rather than calling it a religious issue for the communities to jump in and aggravate it further, we would have saved many lives. He would then emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and expect justice; we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish him as an individual accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to the conflict by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang, beat or bury the religion, then why bark at it? A lot of bias in India can be dissipated, if we get this message across to our kids.
Prime Minister Modi on Gandhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a message of hope to Indian Americans gathered in Madison Square Garden on September 28th.  I am glad to see him put Gandhi on Pedestal, and he even bowed to Gandhi’s photo on his first day in his office.  He said this about Gandhi very eloquently;

Mahatma Gandhi succeeded in bringing freedom to us by making it a people’s movement instead of individual’s dreams;
If someone teaches a child, he is serving his nation;
If someone feeds the hungry, he is serving his nation;
If someone keeps the place clean, he is serving his nation;

He emphasized, Gandhi asked every Indian to do what he can do to deliver the freedom from illiteracy, hunger, filth and other negatives.

Here is my message on this occasion.

I ask you to be consciously aware of what you say to your children; if you hate Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or Hindus, your kids will be permanently impaired to work with people who belong to that faith in the future, and they will have to work, eat and live with them, so be good to your kids.  And if you hate Indians, Pakistanis or others, they will be working with them together on projects in the near future, make it easy for them.  Even if you are a bigot, please don’t punish your children with your bigotry.

Let them learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. If you are a Hindu you would practice in the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum – everyone is your family. If you are a Muslim you would believe in God, that we are all from the same couple and he chose each one of us to be different and asked us to learn about each other, and when we do that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

After all, good parenting readies children to deal with future with ease and less pain; it is also about focusing on their happiness. When you are biased, you happiness is damaged, when you are free from bias, you are the happiest man or a woman.

I dedicate this piece to Professor Habib Siddiqi of Dallas, Texas. He is our Wiseman at Urdu Ghar meetings. Last week, he talked about how poets and writers have brought about changes in the society and I was inspired by his thoughts to write an article to raise bigotry-free children. 
Wish a very happy birthday to Mahatma Gandhi. Happy Gandhi Jayanthi.
............................................................................................................................... Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi - A Hindu Festival

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi - a day Hindus around the world invoke the icon of Ganesh, a representation of the aspect of God that removes obstacles for the believer. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all.

I have been writing about the festivals of the world for over 20 years,  but when I am short on time, I refer back to what was written, which is still good for a non-Hindu to grasp. Full article is at


Thank you

Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Church turned into 'temple' after 72 Valmikis reconvert to Hinduism

Let people wear whatever religion suits them. The problem erupts when religion becomes political - and the self appointed guardians want to control others. The business of conversion is based on selling a 'superior' product against what they have. That is sheer arrogance indeed, there is nothing wrong with any religion.
Conversion is a good business - some make money or its equivalent (sawab), and some feel good...however, people should have the freedom to believe whatever they want to believe, as long as they don't rob my space, food and loved ones.
Mike Ghouse
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Church turned into 'temple' after 72 Valmikis reconvert to Hinduism

Church turned into 'temple' after 72 Valmikis reconvert to Hinduism
ALIGARH: A church with a cross in it that belonged to the 7th Day Adventists overnight turned into a temple adorned with a portrait of Shiva after what some Hindu groups in Aligarh termed the "successful ghar wapasi" (reconversion) of 72 Valmikis who had become Christians in 1995.

There was an elaborate shuddhi karan (purification) ceremony on Tuesday inside the church in Asroi, 30km from Aligarh. Children from the village soon took over the premises and were seen playing in it by afternoon on Wednesday. A cross was allegedly remove from the church and placed outside the gate and a portrait of Shiva installed.

Khem Chandra, Sangh pracharak and pramukh of Dharam Jagran Vivad in Aligarh, said, "This is called ghar wapasi, not conversion. They left by choice and today they have realized their mistake and want to come back. We welcome them. We can't let our samaj scatter, we have to hold it tight. I have told them that honour comes from within the community and not from outside." Chandra added that in the years that followed their adoption of Christianity, he met heads of the eight Valmiki families numerous times to convince them to reconsider their decision.

However, as news of the reconversion spread, tension started building up, with sleuths of the Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) converging on the spot. Some villagers told TOI, on condition of anonymity, that the Shiva portrait had been removed and kept inside the house of a local resident. Anil Gaur, one of those who returned to the Hindu fold, said it was because they were unhappy with the caste system that they changed their religion. "But we found ourselves in no better position among Christians," he said. "As Hindus we had no status and were restricted to doing menial jobs, but even after remaining a Christian for 19 years, we saw that no one came to us from their community. There was no celebration of Bada Din (Christmas). The missionaries just built a church for us in the vicinity where some of the villagers got married. That was all."

Seventy-year-old Rajendra Singh said he, too, was happy to reconvert. "While sleeping outside the church one day I suffered a paralytic attack. I found myself unable to move. It happened last year and since then I have been thinking that it may have been Mata Devi's punishment for abandoning my faith," he claimed.

Osmond Charles, a lawyer and community leader in Aligarh, isn't convinced though. "Ghar wapasi sounds like a conspiracy," he said. "Sometimes we hear 'love jihad' and now we have 'ghar wapasi'. Is this the sign of a Hindu Rashtra in the making?"

Father Jonanthan Lal, pastor at City Methodist Church, said, "The 'purification' pooja took place inside the church which belongs to 7th Day Adventists. Such an activity shouldn't have taken place there. Faith is a personal matter but havan inside a church is not."

Meanwhile, there is a sudden, eerie quiet in Asroi. Villagers hurry inside their houses if they are asked about the reconversion and most say they know nothing about it. The presence of cops has added to their anxiety. "Don't ask anything. I don't know what happened," a young man said, turning away swiftly from a TOI team.

No non-veg menu at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's functions

Firstly, congratulations to Prime Minister Modi for choosing the vegetarian menu, one should eat and drink what one is comfortable with and making that known is good.

Secondly, I question the integrity of the the statement made in behalf of Mr. Modi,  "
PMO respects the individual freedom to have a non-vegetarian menu.." Could the same individual have said this, "The instructions are extended to banquets hosted in the PM’s honour on foreign soil as well. (to have only vegetarian menu)"


Prime Minister should not eat what he does not want to, but should he ask others in foreign nations not to eat what they normally eat?

Pork is prohibited for Jews and Muslims and they should not eat it,  but should they ban the sale of pork to others, who eat it routinely? The answer is no.

India should never follow lower standards of civility like the Taliban Nation or ISIS, instead it should look up to the US Standards where one can eat, drink, wear or believe whatever the hell one wants to believe.

This sounds like the Prime Minister, "The note discreetly suggests that the PMO respects the individual freedom to have a non-vegetarian menu," but the following addition is the work of self appointed supporters of the Prime Minister, also known as chamchas, "but this new protocol may please be adopted while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the government."

The civil laws of all nations, be it a rogue or free  have one thing in common - the bad guy goes to prison or gets the chair or beheading, and not his spouse, parents, siblings or kids, he bears the punishment alone. The religions have also laid similar emphasis, that God will punish the bad guy, and not his spouse, parents, siblings or kids.  No one bears others' burden. Hence, no one should impose their beliefs on others. 

During the month of Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, a host to workers of many faiths, shuts down all the eateries in the nation making it difficult for others to eat. Should any one be responsible for your Karma? Or should the individual be responsible for his own karma?  What concerns me is the fanatic fringe in India, and their  battle cry to ban the slaughter and sale of beef to others, the infringement of the rights of others starts here, those are not the signs of civility of nations. 

What you eat should be "your" choice, and no human should have the right to ban what others eat or not eat, drink or not drink, wear or not wear, and believe or not believe. India should not become like the ISIS or Taliban guys, we should take pride in our freedom, and religious people in particular should promote and encourage freedom and not imposition. 

Mike Ghouse

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No non-veg menu at PM's functions
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No non-veg menu at PM's functions

Non-vegetarian food and wine will go from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's menu.

A confidential note from the Prime Minister’s Office has instructed foreign office heads of missions and union ministries to not serve no non-vegetarian food at banquet-dinner or lunches at 7 Race Course Road in the Prime Minister’s presence. The instructions are extended to banquets hosted in the PM’s honour on foreign soil as well.
Vegetarianism will go well with the earlier instructions of the ‘no wine’ rule during raising toasts in state banquets at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
The note discreetly suggests that the PMO respects the individual freedom to have a non-vegetarian menu, but this new protocol may please be adopted while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the government. Meanwhile, the PMO has instructed Air India to stop supply of whisky and wine whenever he is on board Air India One.
In a note to the chairman of Air India, the PMO has stated that the Prime Minister insists that this norm be implemented from his visit to Japan in late August.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Film "Kaum De Heere" banned from Indian Theaters

I have watched this film, and  it is one of the finest films in understanding terrorism. There is a message to the government and to the public, "don't mess with things that are sacred to others." There is a message to the politicians,  particularly the likes of Rajiv Gandhi that Rajneeti is about building cohesive societies and not inciting revenge. There is a message to those who have the ugly majoritarian arrogance that they are superior and all others need to be put in their place .... there is unfinished business out there, the Sikh Massacres is not resolved. The right wing Indians bury their head in sand, but if we don't sit down and bring a resolution to the Sikh Massacre with an apology, justice and accountability of the bodies, the apprehension and pain will continue... You have got to see this film to learn about social harmony.

Indeed, I agree with the censor about the film - it could create violence in some pockets, and my suggestion to the producers is to add a disclaimer at the beginning, then the film would be understood in its context. 

I wish I could write about this film, but you have to see it.

Mike Ghouse

Film "Kaum De Heere" banned from Indian Theaters

NEW DELHI — A government body has blocked the release of a film dramatizing the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which had been scheduled for release Friday, on the grounds that it could incite religious tensions.
Critics said the Punjabi-language film, “Kaum De Heere,” depicted Mrs. Gandhi’s killers in a favorable or even romanticized light. Mrs. Gandhi was gunned down by two of her own bodyguards, who were Sikh; the assassination was followed by riots throughout India in which thousands of Sikhs were killed.
The Central Board of Film Certification, whose approval is required before any film can be shown in Indian theaters, had originally cleared “Kaum De Heere” for release but reversed its decision on Thursday. That reversal came after the Home Ministry called the film “highly objectionable,” according to a report in the Press Trust of India.
“The problem lies in the fact that it eulogizes things it shouldn’t,” Leela Samson, chairwoman of the Central Board of Film Certification, said of the film on Friday. “Like taking the law into your own hands.”
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