HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wishing for India

Whenever I see the news like this - where powerful people have to resign for uttering racial comments, I wish India grows up to be a nation like the US. 


From Linked-in, " Papa John's founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of the company's board of directors, after previously apologizing for using a racial slur during a conference call in May. The resignation comes after Major League Baseball indefinitely suspended a promotion with the company due to fallout from Schnatter's comments. According to a company statement, a new chairman of the board will be appointed in the coming weeks. • Here’s what people are saying. "

We do have our own problems, but there is always a recourse to right the wrong.

In India, the extremists have no qualms in making discriminatory statements about Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits, and others. There is no consequence to it, laws are there, but are not enforced. The leadership in India remains silent, encouraging the extremists to keep doing what they do.

At one time, India lead the nations in progressive thinking with a perfect constitution respecting all her citizens. Since Modi took over, India's social coherence is dimming. 


Freedom is not a value to the Modi's party, they want to force what one eats or not eats, ridicule what one believes..... 


Mike Ghouse

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Nupur Sharma on Kashmir

Nupur, I'm glad you are making an effort to bring sense to this issue. It's not easy to be fair and just, but you've demonstrated it in this video.
The point you've made about seeing the humanity in each one is the point missing in the equation for the last 70 years.
To feel sad for the death of kids who got run over by the truck or to feel sad if the driver was lynched, and Gandhi’s example of burning the policemen are worth pondering and adopting as solutions to the conflict.
There was a week I stood up for Jews from the harassment by Pastor Phelps, the very next week I stood up against Israeli bombing of Gaza. Both situations were about standing up for human rights, and not the politics of taking sides.
Your thoughts and voice need amplification, so more people can see the issue as a human rights issue. Kashmiris of all hues, Muslims, pundits and all people must be a party to a just solution.
Deep down, all parties to the conflict are looking for a genuine, just and fair voice, and God has blessed you with that, and I stand with you in exploring solutions in building a cohesive Kashmir where no Kashmiri has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.
17 years ago, Varadarajan and I were speaking on a panel on Kashmir in Boulder at the University of Colorado. He has the same sense of justice and fairness as you do.
God bless you, Amen Here is the video)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Caste System in India is a bane on human rights, even the president is not spared


I have welcomed all religious groups in America to move towards the center, to reflect the universal values enshrined in their respective religions. The problem is never with religion, but those individuals who want to control their religions and of course God. 

I laud the Hindu Organizations in the United States, particularly those who are fighting to portray the egalitarian aspect of Hinduism to take up the fight with their mother organization in India; RSS, which is deeply entrenched in hatred for the other. Indeed, their survival is based on hatred for Christians, Muslims, and Dalits. Many of them have carried that hatred even to the United States.  They want all the benefits of equality this society offers but want to deny the same to Indians in India. 


Caste System is a bane on humanity.

Several Years ago, a Kannada film actress from a lower caste visited a Hindu Temple in Kerala - the world was going to come apart. They washed the Temple 7 times to clean it from her presence.

Now, the President of India, a Dalit, so-called untouchable, visited a Temple, he was hassled there. Not sure if they washed the temple 7 times.


As a kid, in my little town, when water lines were laid,  they placed a water tap at the corner of every street, a public tap for people to come and collect the water. Before that people drew the water from the wells.

I have written extensively about this, the "untouchables" had another line, and for every two people in the general line, one Dalit was allowed to collect the water. If the upper caste man's turn came after Dalits - there was a fricking show - washing the tap, and the whole area before the asshole collected the water. 

It was humiliating to the Dalits - and these guys did not have any conscience or sense of justice. 
I have fought against that, to have one each, but could not get all to stand in the same line. 

My focus is US and India, I care about other countries, but care more about these two. 


Mike Ghouse

President of India, his wife were 'misbehaved' during their visit to Puri Jagannath Temple


http://ummid.com/news/2018/June/28.06.2018/president-kovind-first-lady-misbhaved-at-puri-jagannath-temple.html

President Kovind at Jagannath Temple

New Delhi: In a shocking portrayal of how deep-rooted discrimination in India is based on someone's caste, President Ram Nath Kovind and his wife Savita Kovind were misbehaved and harassed during their visit to Jagannath Temple in Odisha on March 18.

As reported by The Times of India some servitors had obstructed the path of the President near the shrine’s sanctum sanctorum. The incident came to light after Puri district administration initiated an investigation into the incident three months after it took place.

The newspaper in its report said a group of servitors blocked the President’s path near the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine on March 18 and shoved the First Lady.

Rashtrapati Bhavan had on March 19 sent a strong note of protest against the servitors’ conduct to Puri collector Aravind Agarwal, following which a meeting was held by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) the next day.

On March 18, the temple was kept out of bounds for devotees from 6.35am to 8.40am to ensure smooth darshan for the dignitaries. A handful of servitors and government officers were allowed to accompany Kovind and his wife inside the temple, the report stated.

As per Pragativadi, a local daily, when President Kovind walked towards Ratna Singhasana in Puri Jagannath temple, a Khuntia Mekap servitor reportedly did not give the President proper space. The report added that some servitors ‘nudged’ the couple while they were having darshan.

The incident was confirmed by SJTA chief administrator, IAS officer Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra. Mohapatra, however, refused to elaborate further. “We discussed the matter at a meeting of the temple managing committee a few days ago. It is being investigated,” he said.
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Saturday, June 23, 2018

What is a Good Life?

Note:  You’ll find an occasional sprinkling of Urdu/ Hindi/ Kannada languages in all my essays written at this particular site.. I let my Indianness ooze out of me with occasional references to things that are Indian. In all other writings, it is nothing but English, if you have a need to understand them, please shoot an email to MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com  

Is it about having what others have or living your own life? Until a decade ago I had a great materialistic life from the first point of view, but in the last several years, I’ve chosen to live a minimalist’s life, that is living with bare necessities, only what is needed. Indeed, happiness and desire for things are inversely proportional to each other.
If we focus on living our own lives, we’ll live happily. The problems begin when we want to have what others have, there is no end to having things, and there is nothing wrong with wanting and having stuff if that is what you want.
I am hoping, each one of us can find a new mirror to see ourselves, and purposefully determine what we want out of life.
Tum bhi ek din mar ja o’gay, hum bhi ek din mar’jayeingay
Ana ki Takraron ko mita kay, sukoon hum kab payeiengay?
One day, your life will come to an end, and mine too. If we keep arguing with our egos, when will we find peace?  When will we stop and smell the roses?
IT IS GOOD TO BE FREE
Whether it is new or an age-old tension between you and your sister, brother, parents, spouse or kids, and friends, customers or clients, how long will you carry the burden?
Tum bhi ek din marja o’gay, o bhi ek din mar’jayeingay
Death will end the complaints anyway, then why do we need to carry the burden through death? Why not end them now and enjoy the rest of the life? It is good to be free, free from anxieties and tensions.
Whether it is hatred for an individual, a group, or their faith, race, ethnicity, nationality, culture or other uniqueness, it is our burden, they quietly come and go, they may not even know about our hate, but we’d be still carrying the burden, anger, and pain.  As a corollary, you or your friends may have loved someone intensely during your teen years without the other person even knowing about it. Pyaar huwa chup ke se, huwa tha na?
LET YOUR LOVED ONES BE FREE 
All the stuff I have accumulated over the years would be useless whenever I croak.  It would be a hassle for my kids to get rid of that crap (good stuff to me) should something happen to me, and my kids have zero interest in anything I own except the family pictures.
Why should my kids spend time in disposing of the stuff they don’t need?   Should I burden them with a sense of guilt to get rid of that stuff?   Should I worry what they will do to my stuff after I am gone?  They have their own stuff they have accumulated like I did, and I should set them free to live their own lives.
Should I become a watchdog guarding my ego, my way of doing things, controlling and seeking perfection in others? To be tense and give tension to others?  It’s a choice we make, to enjoy life with or without things we need, and do things that give us peace of mind.
I came from a 5000 Square foot home with lots of great furniture, paintings, silverware, expensive knick knacks etc… you name it, I had it. Three years ago, I gave away everything I had and chose to live in an apartment with bare necessities. The 4th copy of one of the Russian paintings that I gave away sold for 45,000 to a Bible Museum in Dallas. I did not flinch losing it. I am glad, I did not feel the blood rushing either. I had some extraordinary sandalwood carvings – I am happy I don’t have any of that and when I die, I will go with freedom. I am free now. “Ab shaad hoon main, azaad hoon main, kuch kaam nahin hai aahon say.”
I FOUND MY MIRROR 
With a few exceptions that I regret, I have not maligned anyone in my life, or gone around telling bad things about others.  I have no grudges in my heart either.
What is the gain with hatred and malice or backbiting? It’s actually a loss, it keeps you bonded with the dislike of others.
Asking others to forgive you for your shortcomings is not giving away control of your life, but giving an expression tof how you feel. If they act up, you forgive them and move on.  Let it not be you who gives up on hope.
Let’s tie the loose ends of life, every day and live a full life!  My mother tied the loose ends, and I was able to facilitate Najma, my late wife to do the same, and here I am, making the efforts.
Michami Dukadam friends. Let’s start our life afresh with a clean slate, now, from today!
I went to Dallas to attend celebrating a friend’s life who had passed away a week ago, he was a great soul. It was time to reflect on life. While there, I went around in Plano with my son and his family. The Quality of life is undoubtedly far better here than most places to raise a family, and the amenities and facilities were incredible. Plano and Richardson are beautiful cities with God’s diversity of creation, people of different races, faiths, and ethnicities were all there. I went to watch my Grandson play soccer indoors, and it was a joy to see all of God’s creation there.
On the way back home to DC, I was sitting on the plane next to a friendly sociable woman, and we had a good healthy conversation over a period of four hours. She had so many experiences to share, and occasionally my mind wandered at the possibility of taking this conversation further, and each time, I dropped the idea. Thanks to the problem in the plane, it was delayed by an hour and I was secretly humming the song, “Aye abr-e Karam, aaj itna baras…”
As we landed at Reagan Airport and walked towards the baggage, another song helped me preserve these beautiful moments.  “Chalte Chalte, younhi koi mil gaya tha.” In the journey of life, I ran into someone,  those few moments were pleasant, and let them remain so, and let them remain a dream. We parted, I did not ask for her phone number nor she did.
For a few moments the desire to live that life again surfaced, but am glad, I quickly came out of it and woke up reminding myself of what I’ve chosen. My commitment is to Pluralism, and I should stick to it until the Center of Pluralism is doing everything I wanted it to do. I have to live a purposeful life and leave behind ideas and practices that may benefit one soul or the other. This is not a noble thing or a great thing, it is simply what I want to contribute to my planet.
Tying the loose ends of life – the real story of my late wife Najma
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2008/06/celebration-of-spirit-of-volunteerism.html
Mike Ghouse

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Questions for Aruna Miller, running for US Congress from 6th District MD

Who is a good candidate?

Each person may have a different perspective, but I believe, anyone who subscribes to the  American values of fairness, justice, and equality, and supports everyone's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a good candidate. If you can wish for others, what you want others to wish for you will work.  

What happens when a politician does not measure up to those values? Then we have a responsiblity to find the candidates position and the context.




There are emails floating in the cyberspace about Aruna Miller. She seems to be defensive about it and 
I understand her anguish.  She apparently has made statements cheering and supporting India's Prime Minister Modi, a controversial figure like President Trump.

Mr. Modi, just like Mr. Trump believes that a few among us are more privileged than others. Neither of them has any qualms about sowing the seeds of discord and creating division and chaos within the society.  They really don't care about anyone other than the minimum number of supporters to remain in power. They latch onto the minimum and do everything to appease them at the cost of all others.

His party members do not believe that Indians should have the freedom to believe whatever they want or even eat what they want. Nearly 50 people have been lynched and killed in the open for eating beef. 

Mr. Modi's 'tacit approval' or 'chosen silence' is causing lynching of Muslims for the doubt of possessing beef in their refrigerators, and harassing of Christians goes on an unprecedented level since he came to power.  Beating up a Dalit groom for riding on a horse, or the Dalit woman gets raped as the upper-caste men are entitled to her is a regular occurrence. Sikhs were kicked out of their farms, and Atheists are being killed for criticizing the government. This is Modi's India. 

The Ambassador for religious freedom Hon. Sam Brownback, said something to this effect, “It the leaders can speak up against such ugliness instantly, most of the lynching, harassing and killing will stop.” Will Modi ever do that? Religious liberty is thrown under the bus under Modi's Raj.

The majority of white folks in America live their daily lives in peace and are oblivious to the apprehensions and tensions the minorities endure. It is very painful. It is the same case with Hindu majority in India, they mind their own business and live their lives in peace, and are simply horrified to learn what goes on in name of their religion right under their noses.  Thanks to many white folks in America, and many Hindus in India for speaking up and holding the nations together. 

No one has a problem if Aruna Miller supports Modi, he is head the of government, and nearly 25% of Indians pledge their allegiance to him, as is the case with Mr. Trump.  We all have dealt with such heads in the past including Kim Jong-un and we must continue to do that.  Mother Teresa had said once, "If you want to make peace with your enemies, go talk with them, talking with your friends won't change a thing." She was right. 

Defending the rights of those who were denied their rights is an American value.  Aruna Miller is a member of minority community herself in the US, and I hope she wishes for Indian minorities what she wants for herself.  That is freedom to eat, believe and live her life in the pursuit of her happiness with equal access to everything available to all others.

Can we count on Aruna Miller to defend the rights of minorities in India, if not assertively support them? Would she sign a petition for getting a visa to the Commissioners of United States Commission on the International Religious Freedom to investigate the truth about the Gujarat Massacre, Kashmir conflict, and the plight of Kashmiri Pandits,  Sikh Genocides, harassment of Dalits and Christians? Currently, the commissioners are denied the visa to India. We have to find the truth. If it is a clean chit, we can celebrate, if is not, we need to work on it. 


As Indian-Americans, we should fight for the rights of all Indians to have the same freedoms that we have. Everyone should have the freedom to eat, drink, wear and believe whatever the hell they want to believe.  Would Aruna Miller support this? 

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America, where no American has to live in fear of the other. 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Reflections on Ramadan Celebrations, Eid Mubarak

A few questions are answered here; why do we celebrate on different days? What is it with the Moon? How do you greet Muslims on this day? What kind of culinary delights are out there? How do Muslims celebrate in different parts of the world?  Ramadan TV Commercials? A bit of politics too.
I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.  I urge Muslim organizations to issue a press release to this effect, and this is our appeal from the World Muslim Congress, a think tank committed to building a cohesive America.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e., respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci, one of the leading Muslim Scholars, always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
A month-long fasting should clean up our bodies, hearts, and souls, it means you are no biased towards anyone, you have no wall between you and another human and that you are committed to peace and harmony.  What others do to you does not matter, but how you behave towards others is all that matters in making America great again. By the way, I am an independent, and not a Republican or a Democrat and I am a Pluralist Muslim, like a majority of Muslims – i.e., respecting the otherness of others, and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of his beautiful creation.
Mike Ghouse
When is the Eid? Ramadan Celebrations?  Is it Friday, Saturday or even Sunday? For some, it will depend on when the moon (first day) is sighted.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e, respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
Since the beginning of Islam, there have been debates as to what constitutes moon sighting. Some interpret that there has got to be a minion to declare that they have seen it themselves with their own eyes, while others do not accept it unless they have seen it themselves. It is also acceptable if the moon is sighted elsewhere, but now, each group has to have their own moon sighting. In the United States, there is an organization that monitors moon sighting and announces it in advance. Over the millennium we learned to accept and respect the otherness of other.
Politics plays a crucial role in our Temples, Synagogues or Churches, Mosques are no different. A few scientifically-inclined-Muslims have adopted NASA’s calculations believed to be precise. However, four different traditions are operating concurrently; i) Strictly Calendar, ii) NASA  iii) Sighting with bare eyes and iv) sighting by others in the community.
The NASA-oriented and the Calendar-group miss out the fun, joy, and exhilaration of waiting and watching the needle thin moon on the horizon. The whole family gets out on the rooftops, or higher grounds, some even climb electric poles, and a few will drive out where they can see the sky without obstacles, kids would climb on parent’s shoulders, and a few go from place to place shouting in excitement, did you see it? It is like the belief in Santa Claus, Angels, and other myths, each tradition fulfills one’s emotional needs and every one becomes sentimental. After all, if celebration does not have the excitement, it is not a celebration.
America’s spirit of freedom touches every soul, no matter what religion or tradition they follow. American Muslims are no different, they prefer to have a pre-set date to start fasting and the celebration called “Eid” pronounced as Eeed as in Eeel. The idea is for them to take a day off from work or get an optional day off for their children from the schools. Always, the joy multiplies when the family and friends celebrate it together. They prefer to start on a pre-set date and trust the calculations.
The conflicts are the same everywhere on the earth. Each group subscribes to one of the four systems mentioned above. America is no different; you will find celebrations on one or three different days in any given city, the Sunnis, being the largest group has the greater division within, while the Sufis, Shias, Ismailis, WD Mohammad, Bohra and Ahmadiyya follow the pre-determined dates.
The consensus may be attributable to having central spiritual leadership in all groups except the Sunni. However like the American Public wishes to see the Republicans and Democrats drop the party lines and focus on what is good for America, the Muslims also wish they could celebrate the Eid on one single day. It ain’t going to happen, it is human to differ. It is against the spirit of Ramadan to denigrate, diminish and devalue other practices.
The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness, and hate. Let’s fill our hearts with goodwill and honor Ramadan by saying “Eid Mubarak” or Happy Eid to everyone who celebrates on a different day in the same town. The essence of Ramadan is joy and let’s not prick the bubble; God has not signed a pact with anyone behind other’s back to favor one and disfavor the other.  Let’s allow God to be an honest God who is just, kind, merciful and loving as Quran says. Let’s rejoice the differences of interpretations. If you want to celebrate every day, go to every celebration.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I pray that Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and make us embrace all factions of Muslims without undermining their tradition and further pray that we treat every human on the earth with dignity, respect, and care.
The Shia-Sunni conflict we see in Iraq is new to both groups of Muslims, conflicts have always been there but the violence in conflict took birth after we (The Americans) invaded Iraq and sowed the seeds of division. Shamefully, the Shia and Sunni played it out. Our short-sighted foreign policy is pitting Saudi Arabia against Iran. Iran is not a threat to anyone, it is the false propaganda by Netanyahu, and salesmanship of defense contractors to sell Arms to Saudi, and the stupid Saudi monarchs have bought the idea, I wish we can sell peace and democratic education that will benefit us all in the long haul. I wish, the leadership of these two nations make a bold move and meet in Singapore and hash out the differences.  I also wish in the spirit of Ramadan, the Pakistani people will wake up and correct the ugliness in their constitution that shamelessly discriminate Ahmadiyya Muslims. Above all, I wish Muslims chose to follow the foundation of Islam; Amin, that is caring for every human being and seeking peace and harmony by respecting the otherness of others.
That is indeed the wisdom expressed in Qur’an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: “O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware of everything you do.”

MUSLIMS MUST DO THIS

I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.

WHAT ELSE? 

Everything you always wanted to know about Ramadan is here at www.RamadanNews.com
Ramadan Commercials by McDonald at http://ramadannews.com/ramadan-commercials/
What does God want? http://ramadannews.com/happy-ramadan-what-does-god-really-want/
You can also read “The Rituals of Ramadan” followed by the “Spirit of Ramadan”.
Usually, Arabic Speaking people call it Ramadan, all others call is Ramzan, both are acceptable terms.
There should be at least 100 ways of wishing the festivities:
Ramadan Mubarak!
Salamat Hari Raya
Eid Mubarak
İyi Ramazanlar
Ramadan Kareem
Hayırlı Ramazanlar
Hoşgeldin Ramazan,
Happy Eid-ul-Fitr
If you know the greetings in any other language, please send an email to MuslimVision2020@gmail.com to be included for the next Eid.
      
                     
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day through the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and its affiliate sites including www.RamadanNews.com and www.MuslimSpeaker.com and www.InterfaithSpeaker.com
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