HOME | ABOUT US | www.MikeGhouse.net Google Profile | C.V. | Interfaith Speaker | Muslim Speaker |Motivational Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. I wish I could have them all, but will have to live with a few. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Indians Outraged Over Rape on Moving Bus in New Delhi

INDIANS OUTRAGED OVER RAPE IN PUBLIC
http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/12/indians-outraged-over-rape-on-moving.html


This is disgusting, we need to insure the safety of every citizen and these guys must be severely punished. Death penalty is not the answer, as we cannot let them get away easily, and the state should not be in the business of murdering people.

Put these guys to shame, which ever act is most shameful as a deterrent; let not similar acts be committed on them, we need to raise above. 


Revenge is not the answer either,  but rehabilitation and reshaping the society is. 

Blaming the India government or the police is not the answer either, if it has happened in the private bus, or a private home unaware to the public.


Bad guys do not make Delhi a bad city.

Mike Ghouse

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Indians Outraged Over Rape on Moving Bus in New Delhi
By NIHARIKA MANDHANA and ANJANI TRIVEDI
The police say the men were looking for some fun. They had been drinking, having a party, and decided to go on a joy ride. They began circling the capital in a private bus, the police say, when they spotted a couple looking for a ride home. They waved the couple onboard and charged them each 36 cents.


Read more at: http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/outrage-in-delhi-after-latest-gang-rape-case/?ref=world
..... ....
I Am Scared, I Am a Single Woman in Delhi
 
By Medha Chaturvedi

I am a single woman in Delhi and I am scared and I am afraid. I am very, very scared – for my life, for my dignity, for my reputation but above all for my safety


Read more at: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/12/18/i-am-scared-i-am-a-single-woman-in-delhi/?mod=WSJBlog&mod=irt

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Mike Ghouse  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mike Ghouse, an Indian American Pluralist

The Indian American Pluralist: Mike Ghouse
presenting India’s gift of Pluralism to America. 

URL: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/12/mike-ghouse-indian-american-pluralist.html

I am an Indian American, and take immense pride in the pluralistic ethos of India.  Indeed, I have made a commitment to nurturing those values, and share them with fellow Americans in my talks, articles and media appearances.  

Collectively, as Indian Americans, we contribute to the richness of America in the fields of medicine, science, engineering, biology, politics, religion, information technology and smart corporate management. However, the time has come for us to give fullness to our participation by contributing in social sciences.


As a social scientist, my contribution would be sharing my motherland's pluralistic heritage with my homeland as a gift to America.  By the way, India was one of the first three nations on the earth to recognize American independence in 1776, it was Tippu Sultan, the head of the state of Mysore (Karnataka) then. 

Two decades of research work on Pluralism

In the last twenty years, through Asian News Magazine (1993-2001), Asian News Radio (1996-2001), Desi TV (1996), Yahoogroups (2003 -now), and various blogs like Mike Ghouse for India, Sulekha (1999 - now) and several (30) sites for each topic, I have shared our pluralistic heritage.

The Asian News Magazine featured the essence of every religion, and the multi-cultural aspect of India and its inclusiveness, the Asian News Radio featured weekly hour dedicated to presenting the essence of religious festivals so we can learn about each other. We also produced more than 500 hours of talk show radio on religion, every beautiful religion, Pundits, Pastors, Imams, Rabbis, Shamans and Religious clergy from each faith joined me daily to share the wisdom of his or her religion, indeed, Atheism and pluralism had its own slot. 

There is not a public forum where I have not been inclusive. A few years ago, one of the business radio stations (AM 1360) in Dallas was doing a show about ‘giving’ during Christmas season. They invited a Rabbi and a Pastor and wanted me to fill in for Islam, and I did with a condition that I am allowed to acknowledge and mention charity in every faith including Hinduism, Baha'i, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and other traditions. 

For two years we conducted two sets of workshops called Understanding Religion, all the beautiful religions (Atheism was part of the learning). We had a Rabbi, Pastor, Pundit, Imam, Shaman and respective religious ministers joined  in presenting a three hour workshop - on each faith. Funds permitting, I hope to recommence the workshops, and create a replicable model. The idea was to demystify the myths about each faith. Two of the most misunderstood faiths are Hinduism and Islam, and we cannot let people rot in mis-information, we have to do our share of the work in creating a bettter world. Of course, finding the truth is our own individual responsibility.

Each one of us is capable of standing up for others, when we do that; all of us would be safe. We cannot demand peace, when we are not peaceful within, we cannot ask others to be hateful, when we are full of it. 

Media Presence

As President of the Foundation for Pluralism, I contribute an article a week to the Texas Faith column at Dallas Morning News for over two years, and just about every piece weaves through several religions. The articles appear regularly at Huffington Post, and occasionally at Washington post. Heck, when I wrote a tribute about my late wife, father and mother, I found them reflecting the values of most religions, if not all.

The TV, Radio, Print, Web and Social Media has been good to me, giving me a strong national and local presence including Sean Hannity’s Show on Fox News (over 50 appearances), and many nationally syndicated Radio shows.

Over 1500 articles on the topic of Pluralism, Interfaith, Politics, India, Israel, Middle East, Islam, Human rights and conflict mitigation have been published. Major news papers in the United States and across the world, including Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, European and other Asian Nations have carried them. I have not checked if Timbuktu news papers have carried them as well.

The international forums including the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia; the Middle East Peace Initiative in Jerusalem; and the International Leadership Conference in Hawaii, Chicago and Washington have also provided me the platform to speak about Pluralism. 

It is a blessing to have served as a commissioner for the City of Carrollton and president of many a organizations including Home Owners Association, North Texas Cricket Association, and a board member of several non-profits such as the Dallas Peace Center.

No matter where I go, my identity is Indian.


Indian democracy

We are the original Pluralistic Democracy in the world, and can serve as a model to nations where they are experiencing co-emergence of multiple religious people in work place, schools, dining, playground and different aspects of living. They all can look up to India about moving forward despite the difficulties, India's diverse population has successfully co-existed for centuries in relative harmony. Thanks to the founding fathers for embracing that tradition and opting for a Secular democracy upon Indepedence in 1947. Where else on the earth, can you have personal conflicts resolved through your own religious guidance? Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jains and others have their personal laws to square with the personal and family issues as an option. America can benefit from such practices. 

Unresolved Issues

I am glad; we are a pluralistic democracy rather than an autocratic, monarchic or dictatorial system where critical issues take time to resolve through consensus, rather than imposition.  Because of the nature of our governance, we have piled up unresolved conflicts that will take time to heal. Among them are; Sikh Massacre, Babri Masjid-Ram JanamBhoomi, Kashmiri Pundits, Gujarat Massacre, misogyny,  and discrimination against the minorities. There are other issues, but my focus is social issues.

We should not dump these issues onto the next generation, we are conquering the space, we can conquer our prejudices too, that is the greater Jihad (inner struggle) Lord Krishna and Prophet Muhammad had called for. The nation is moving forward despite the issues, and we need to take the initiative and bring closure to them in our life time. They will not go away by burying our heads in the sand.

Standing up for others

Standing up for others is the right thing to do, every human goes through a period of invincibility to vulnerability, if we don't stand up for those who are vulnerable, then who will stand up for us when we are vulnerable? 

The idea of alms, charity, taking care of the elderly, weak, sick and the children is a common theme in every religious tradition. It is indeed the insurance for every one's well being. I cannot be at peace when others around me aren't, and hence it behooves me to take care of the ones who need assistance.  

It’s been my life time honor to stand up for everyone from Atheists to Zoroastrians and every one in between (www.StandingupforOthers.com ).  

Inclusive attitudes are cultivated

Our sense of responsibility is akin to wearing the seat belt. If you live in America, and don't wear the seat belt in the car while you drive, not only you feel guilty, but certainly uncomfortable. It was not the case before the seat belt was made mandatory for the driver and the front seat passenger. It is indeed a consciously learned behavior. I feel the same sense of discomfort, when I get to the podium and not mention or include different religions in the speech. My only fear is excluding others in the public square even by mistake.  To allay that fear; I have learned to start my speeches with Pluralism greetings and prayers that are inclusive of every one including my Atheist friends (Pluralism Speaker).

Thanks to my father, mother, and grandfather who lived their lives as an example inculcating Islamic pluralism in my brothers and the sister, like millions of Muslim parents whom you may have not met.  In my talks, I share small examples and incidents where small things do matter. We learned the Islamic version of Vasudaiva Kutumbukum; the whole world is one family.

Indeed, Pluralism flows in my veins, and that is respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us.

Boldly changing the course of history

My father was a Mayor of the town of Yelahanka in the fifties, and we always had construction work at our apartments or remodeling at our historic house, originally owned by the founder of Bangalore, Hon. Kempe Gowda in the 16th century. My father was a maverick, and dared challenging the abusive but prevalent norms of the society, he had the Dalits (shameful word: Untouchables) work at our place, my mother would make them tea or give them food in the plates and cups we used, it was a big no-no in the society at that time, you ‘kept them' away from your house, just as it was for the Blacks in America then. I am proud of my father, and my mother for supporting him in breaking the uncouth norms. He was constantly called on to quit, and at times threatened, but the dare devil held on to his ground firmly and the town loved him dearly and gradually followed his example.

I saw humiliation in the eyes of men, women and children, who came to collect water from the public tap on each corner of the street, the upper caste person would wash the tap three times before he or she collected the water. It was difficult for me, and I played out my share of the drama and mumbling in protest. Despite the significant progress made, we have a long way to go in the housing discrimination, indeed, even in America we have ways to go, but we are all going forward. 


As I am writing this, I grudgingly acknowledge that I have learned nothing new; my father did everything that I am doing now, Gee, a drop of tear rolls down my cheek in reverence to Mahatma Gandhi for becoming a catalyst in uplifting the down trodden and restoring their God-given dignity to them. I just have to pray for the Mahatma for saving the Indian souls by getting rid of guilt from ours minds, by having us open our hearts and minds toward the fellow beings, just as MLK did in America.  


Early influences of Pluralism

Early on in my life, even though I had chosen to be an atheist, and I stayed the course for the next thirty years, but never looked down on any faith like a few of my fanatic Atheist friends do. I have had the opportunity to know and learn about different faiths and sub-cultures. I went to Mahabodhi (Buddhist) Society on Thursdays, Mosque (Muslim) on Fridays, and Bhajan Mandir (Hindu) on Saturday nights. The Interaction with my Jain neighbors and friends, and my mother’s Zoroastrian friend was productive. 

The Saturday afternoon discourse between the Shia Scholar and my Sunni maternal Grandfather and my father laid the foundation of civil dialogue for me. Then, I enjoyed the interaction with Sikhs, Adivasis, Tribals, Khandaris and Banjarans at our mill where we grounded their grain in to flour. The Sikhs were in the Air force and the Tribals were breaking the nearby hills into crushed stone manually, I felt connected with all of them, and did not feel a barrier between me and them.

In the first few years of my childhood I spent Christmas evenings with our neighbors, and I was also dressed up as Krishna with the Makhan (butter) when I was a baby. In my college days, I had serious dialogue with my English Teacher Ramachandran, a Saibaba devotee and my weaver friend Mohamed Fakhru, an Islamic scholar in his own right.

The only religious group I did not interact in India was the Jewish community, but learned about Eishman, the killer of six million Jews, the book was in Urdu language, and my mother prevented me from reading, as she was concerned about her child’s well being, but it created a sense of incompleteness in me for not reading the forbidden book. The completeness to my life came when I organized the first Holocaust commemoration event in 2006 in Dallas. It was the first such event in history, by non-Jewish people. It is our moral duty to understand the atrocities we humans have inflicted upon each other and educate others to say no to such tragic events from even seeding. 

I have spent a lot of time reading, I was always in the library and I enjoy going to the Libaray to this day. Some of my early influencers were Mahatma Gandhi, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Swami Vivekananda, Allama Iqbal, Buddha, Abraham Kavoor, Dale Carnegie and a German Scholar who wrote about comparative religions.

It is a blessing to have seen Mahatma Gandhi twice in my dreams in the early 70’s with Bangalore University’s Vice Chancellor Narsimaiah, and the next time in early part of 2000. In both instances, all he said was, son you have work to do and patted on my back, and that has been my inspiration all along to commit to pluralism. It was Gandhi for me.

Gender Pluralism

We grew up with Gender equality, the four brothers and the sister were equals in every aspect of life. My father never treated my mother any less, he always consulted her and regretted when he did not. I would have been a farmer or a politician in India, had my mother not insisted, and my father listened to her, here I am today. The images we grew up with were of gender equality, treating men and women the same. The four of us brothers and our sister have all agreed to share the proceeds of the sale of the property of our parents equally. We never questioned it and never thought there could be difference in inheritance laws. 

In the early sixties, we had our first woman mayor in my town Yelahanka, and nearly twenty years later when I visited San Francisco, celebrations were on for electing the first woman mayor in America; Diane Feinstein! I said wow!  

Communal riots

My father is my hero and opened 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 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. I wish every father in India, America and elsewhere teaches this lesson to his kids. He was crystal clear on his take; He told us 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 emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and expect justice, we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish them accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to the conflict by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang or beat the religion, then why bark at it?

What is pluralism?

Simply put, it is respecting the otherness of the other and accepting the uniqueness of each one of us. In cultural terms, it is recognizing your culture as a beautiful expression of life to you, as my own is to me. When it comes to food, it is appreciating the Rice you enjoy over the Naan I delight, or vice-versa. For Americans, it is medium rare stake versus the well done. In religious terms, it is learning to honor the way your worship or bow to the creator in gratitude, is as divine as my own. 

Our future is Pluralism. 

By the end of 2020, there will not be a major work place America or India and other places, where you will not find people of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities, races, nationalities and social backgrounds working, eating, playing, marrying, and doing things together.

We need to prepare ourselves for those eventualities to prevent possible conflicts and lay a good foundation for nurturing goodwill and effective functioning of the societies.  Exclusive communities will become a thing of the past. (Foundation for Pluralism, Pluralism Center)

Being a Muslim, I am deeply committed to nurturing the pluralistic values embedded in Islam (World Muslim congress). The role of a Muslim is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill, most people get that, a few don’t, just as with any other religious group. 

Pluralism is our future, and as a futurist, based on the trends, I foresee, that two generations from now, we would be comfortable in saying, my religion, culture or life style is one of the many choices, and further down the road, a significant number will proclaim that my way of life is not superior or inferior to any.

They will consider ‘claiming superiority’ would be sheer arrogance and religion (a major part of life to many) is believed to imbue humility that builds societies, communities and nations in creating that elusive kingdom of heaven where all of us can live  without apprehension or fear of the other.

We are one nation

We are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. Indeed, we must preserve the pluralistic heritage of America.

About India
We are Adivasis, Atheists, Baha’is, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribals, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping. We are Brown, Black, White, Yellow and green with envy and phir bhi dil hai Hindustani (My heart is Indian).

Our Motherland is represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many; and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. 

We are proud of our heritage - a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-regional and multi-linguistic society, where we have come to accept and respect every which way people have lived their lives. For over 5000 years, India has been a beacon of pluralism - it has embraced Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baha'i and Zoroastrianism to include in the array of the indigenous religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.  

What we need to do

We may want to consciously start thinking and acting as one people, one people within a nation and a community and one people globally. It's like home when we are conflict free.  I do hope each one of us purges any bias towards the other, there is joy in being free from ill-will. Try to be free from it this day forward… free from anything that prevents you from being a part of the parts or the whole.  

Our combined philosophies believe in one world ; Hinduism describes the world as Vasudaiva Kutumbukum, the whole world is one family, the idea of Ek Onkar(one) in Sikhism, you are all created from the same couple as Quraan puts it and Jesus embraced every one regardless of who any one is... similar philosophies are grounded in all our religions.  

The book and the Movie

Insha Allah, my book, The American Pluralist will be released shortly, it is a chronicle of how things work in bringing the communities together, it is dedicated to India’s pluralistic heritage; India’s gift to America.   

The movie is about building a cohesive America, where no American has to live with anxiety, apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. One must be free to live his or her life to the fullest in pursuit of happiness.

I believe the civility of a nation is determined by how it treats its weak, economically backward, the men and women in ditches, the voiceless, its women and the minorities.  

Added now:

 


A few links referred to in the writing are:

  1. The Ghouse diary . www.TheGhouseDiary.com
  2. My profile -  http://www.mikeghouse.net/Profile.asp
  3. Mike Ghouse for India - http://MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com
  4. Profile in India - http://www.worldmuslimpedia.com/mike-mohamed-ghouse-a-pluralist-and-an-outstandi
  5. My Real name - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-name-is-mike-ghouse.html
  6. Pluralism Speaker - http://www.mikeghouse.net/InterfaithSpeaker_MikeGhouse.asp
  7. Muslim Speaker - http://mikeghouse.net/MuslimSpeaker.MikeGhouse.asp
  8. Curriculum Vitae - http://www.mikeghouse.net/MikeGhouse-CV-09192012.pdf
  9. Linked in profile -  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=3451402&trk=tab_pro
  10. Foundation for Pluralism - www.FoundationforPluralism.com
  11. World Muslim Congress - www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
  12. Quraan Conference - www.QuraanConference.com
  13. America together Foundation - www.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com
  14. Standing up for others - www.Standingupforothers.com
  15. Reflections Annual Holocaust and Genocides - www.HolocaustandGenocides.com
  16. Unity Day USA - www.UnitydayUSA.com 
  17. 30 Blogs - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/11/mike-ghouse-list-of-sites-and-blogs.html
  18. Video- Trailer Americans Together - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMXsTo4VYh8
  19. Video- My story, Part I -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLiQeOo9oEs
  20. Video- My story, Part II - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLiQeOo9oEs
  21. Video - My latest talk at Gurdwara - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNxrf8fFU0I
  22. Video-  July4th Tippu Sultan - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXNS365UEw4
  23. Video - Quraan Translation/Bhagvad Gita - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZOFLQSAOhA
  24. Video - Immigration Rally - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjU0KULv-Y
  25. Video- Pluralism Prayers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mc9D9guPMY
  26. Video- Pluralism greetings, Chicago - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo3a8wX6SXQ
  27. Video - There are over 200 links on the YouTube.

Jai Hind





Mike Ghouse
In Summary;

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Mike Ghouse is a
speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul-6



AYODHYA, THE BATTLE FOR INDIA'S SOUL - 6
By Krishna Pokharel and Paul Beckett
 

Thanks to Wall street Journal and Krishna Pokharel and Paul Beckett for writing the series on the topic, it is one of India's unfinished social business and needed to be addressed. The article follows my commentary.
 ......
Article follows my comments, no comments, as I am writing a full article on the topic. Mike Ghouse
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal -The temples of Ayodhya today.
 Click here to view related slideshow.

The road from Faizabad to Ayodhya is thick with bikes, cars, horses, rickshaws, and vegetable stalls. Goats graze in the roadside mud.
Ayodhya itself bears few of the hallmarks of the economic expansion that has transformed other Indian towns and cities. The streets are wide, lined with two- or three-story houses of green, blue and yellow. Narrow lanes lead to ashrams: compounds behind walls where the faithful congregate.
There is no noticeable business development or new construction because, locals say, of the Babri Masjid controversy and the heavy security presence in town. Rather, there is an air of history and decrepit permanence. The tops of temples form the skyline.
“We want schools, hospitals, factories and mills so that the unemployed people get jobs,” said Mohammad Aminullah Khan, 22 years old, who drives a small van for a living. “We want a peaceful resolution to this dispute.”
As they have for centuries, bearded sadhus wander in small groups through town. So do pilgrims, who arrive in throngs for festivals. At the bus depot, sheets of saffron – a color considered holy in Hinduism — hang from buses packed with the aged.
Women in saris visit street-side stalls full of the paraphernalia of devotion: small food for offering and sacred threads, bells, and lamps. Cows lope and monkeys scamper through the crowds.
At the main intersections, there are barriers and armed police in brown uniforms, part of an extensive security plan throughout the town.
Down one street there is a large compound of trees, lawns and low buildings. A sign at the entrance reads: “Karsevakpuram,” place of the “karsevaks,” or volunteers. It is run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the organization that mobilized support for a temple to Lord Ram at the place where many Hindus believe he was born.
Inside the compound, in a small building, is a model of the temple that the VHP wants to build where the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on Dec. 6, 1992. Acting as custodian and tour guide is Hajari Lal, the activist who said he climbed on a dome of the mosque before it collapsed that day.
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal
A painting on the wall at Karsevakpuram.
He leads visitors around the model of “Sri Ram Janma Bhumi Mandir,” the Birthplace Temple. The temple, said Mr. Lal, will have 212 pillars of sandstone and 51,000 electric lights. He added: “We will build a grand temple on the entire land.”
The pillars for the temple lie on the ground at a nearby park, which has become an Ayodhya tourist attraction. Stonemasons chip away at the sandstone, brought from Rajasthan. Some pillars have been lying there for two decades.
Behind an information desk hangs a large poster. It shows a portrait of Guru Dutt Singh. He was the city magistrate of Faizabad who played a major role in installing a statue of Ram in the Babri Masjid on Dec. 22, 1949, according to his son. It is the same picture that hangs in his family’s living room today.
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal
A stonemason at the pillar park.
Under the portrait, it reads, in Hindi: “The one who on Dec. 23, 1949, showed his determination and courage when Lord Ram appeared in Ramjanmabhoomi,” the Hindu name for the site. It notes that when Mr. Singh was ordered to remove the idol by “the Delhi government that trod on the fatal path of Muslim appeasement,” he resigned instead. “He lives with his immortal legacy among countless Hindus as a result of this courageous work,” it adds. It says Mr. Singh lived from 1894 till 1971.
Not far away, Mohammad Hashim Ansari, the Muslim tailor who has been involved in the legal dispute over the site since 1950, spends his days in a small blue house across from an open piece of land where there is a 24-hour armed police guard assigned for his protection.
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal
The police post by Mr. Ansari’s house.
Mr. Ansari, now 92 years old, speaks in angry tones. He points and pokes, staring intently. There is a painting of the Babri Masjid on the wall of his home.
“We have had very dirty politics in our country in the name of mosque and temple,” he said.
**
The central government today controls the site of the ruins of the Babri Masjid and its surroundings. It is protected by a high, yellow, steel fence. On an average day, a few thousand Hindu devotees visit the makeshift temple that was established after the mosque’s destruction in 1992. There has been no provision for Muslim worship at the site since late 1949.
To reach it, you walk into a small portico with a security checkpoint. Scattered around the police there are confiscated wares: pens, notebooks, cameras, lighters. A passageway then runs for about 50 yards beside the yellow perimeter fence. Above is a watchtower and a CCTV camera on a lamppost.
Security personnel, part of a contingent of more than 2000, are posted behind sandbags and concrete barriers. After another security check, you enter a green metal caged walkway, about 10 feet high and four feet wide, with a concrete floor. It is perhaps 200 yards long. After a slight rise, you make a final left turn and a sign announces: “For Viev of the Diety.”
Up a flight of 10 steps, about 15 yards away, behind the flaps of a white tent, you can make out a small, gold-covered object surrounded by lavish curtains. It is the idol of Ram Lalla, the infant god. The tent’s canvas is water-proof, fire-proof and bullet-proof, according to the temple’s head priest. The faithful – women in saris, children, some men, sadhus in saffron – create a small bottleneck as they strain for a glimpse of the statue. Then the walkway leads you away and out.
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal
The perimeter fence at the Babri Masjid site.
One woman, as she left the site one recent day, asked a policeman: “Where is the temple?”
“What’s important,” he said philosophically, “is not what is seen but what is unseen.”
**
In the political arena, there has been no decisive winner from the dispute.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which championed the construction of a Ram temple in 1989, came to power in New Delhi in successive coalition governments in the late-1990s.
But its coalition partners, uninterested or opposed to the BJP’s position on Ayodhya, made it clear that building a temple was not to be on the agenda. And the party lost the last two general elections, in 2004 and 2009, to the Congress party, headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, Sonia.
The canvas temple standing at the site today, hastily erected on Dec. 6, 1992, is testament to the fact that the cause of construction hasn’t advanced in two decades.
Neither the BJP nor Congress, which also sought to use the temple movement for electoral gain in the 1980s, has been able to muster a simple majority in Parliament since Ayodhya became a political issue.
In part that’s because the dispute fragmented the electorate, fueling the rise of powerful political alternatives such as the Samajwadi party in Uttar Pradesh and the party of Nitish Kumar, chief minister in the neighboring state of Bihar.
Both have wide support among Muslims, who have become an influential voting bloc, especially in northern India. As a result, the nation will be governed by diverse coalitions in New Delhi for the foreseeable future.
Lal Krishna Advani and several other leaders of the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are facing trial in a special criminal court on a range of charges brought by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the national investigative agency. The charges include inciting communal violence on the day the mosque was demolished.
Several Hindu activists are also separately facing trial in a criminal court for their alleged involvement in the demolition. A lawyer representing the leaders and the activists says all deny the charges; the cases continue.
Kalyan Singh, the BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh — the state where Ayodhya is located — at the time the Babri Masjid was demolished, resigned when the mosque fell. He became the state’s chief minister again for two years in late 1990s, heading a coalition government.
But the BJP’s overall performance in Uttar Pradesh has declined consistently in the five state elections since the demolition. Today, Mr. Singh is an independent member in the national Parliament. He says he accepts responsibility for the demolition of the mosque.
Nor has a mosque been rebuilt on the site where the Babri Masjid stood. That has angered many Muslims, who blame the Congress party for what they view as ambivalence over the issue stretching back all the way to 1949 when the idol was first installed in the mosque.
Today, as they have since 1949, Hindus remain in control of a place that Muslims have considered sacred for almost 500 years, though many Hindus argue it was sacred to them for thousands of years before that.
**
The 2010 verdict by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court which divided the site of the mosque and the surrounding land into three parts left all litigants dissatisfied.
The Supreme Court in New Delhi admitted their appeals and has ordered the digitization of tens of thousands of documents. The papers, many of which are in Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian, will have to be translated, the court said. There is no indication when hearings may start; a verdict may yet be years away.
Aside from Mohammad Hashim Ansari, the Muslim tailor, all the individual litigants involved in the original filings are dead.
Bhaskar Das remains the legal representative of the Nirmohi Akhara, the sadhus who say they have traditionally protected Ram. He is the third head of the order to represent the sect in the suit. Now 85 years old, he is suffering from an assortment of medical ailments. He spends his days chanting Ram’s name.
Otherwise, a new generation is taking up the fight.
After the death in 2002 of Deoki Nandan Agarwal, who served as Ram’s “next friend” in one of the Hindu suits, Triloki Nath Pandey, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist, became Ram’s new “next friend.”
Krishna Pokharel/The Wall Street Journal
Triloki Nath Pandey at Karsevakpuram.
“If Muslims have to stay in this country, they have to respect the feelings of Hindus,” Mr. Pandey, 67 years old, said in an interview.
Neelendra Singh, 40 years old, is the son of Rajendra Singh and the grandson of Gopal Singh Visharad, the man who filed the first suit in the legal battle in 1950.
“I plan to represent my father in this case after him but hope the case is decided within my father’s lifetime,” Neelendra Singh said. He works as an insurance agent in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
Mohammed Waqar, 35 years old, is the son of Haji Mahboob Ahmad and grandson of Haji Phenku, one of the original Muslim defendants.
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal
Mohammed Waqar, left, with his father.
Mr. Waqar recently returned to Ayodhya from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where he worked for a multinational company. He says he will take up the court case when the time comes.
“As a Muslim, I know what masjid means to me,” he said in an interview.
Meanwhile, Shakti Singh, the grandson of Guru Dutt Singh, the Faizabad city magistrate in 1949, said he hopes to be a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for Parliament at the next elections, scheduled for 2014.
Krishna Pokharel/The Wall Street Journal
Shakti Singh.
If Mr. Singh, 52 years old, runs for office, he said he will campaign to build a Ram temple at the site: “It’s a responsibility for me to complete the task that my grandfather started.”
As the battle is picked up by a new generation, we asked Swaminathan Gurumurthy, the chartered accountant who was involved in a 1990 effort to negotiate a solution, what he thought Lord Ram would make of the dispute’s seemingly endless spiral.
“It is very simple: Ram will think, ‘This is the way of the world,’” Mr. Gurumurthy said. “He couldn’t do much about it. He can’t correct human nature.”
**
Can Ayodhya again ignite the nation?
Until it is solved one way or the other, the dispute will retain some potency.
Ashok Singhal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad said in an interview that Hindus could be mobilized to the cause in an instant – then he snapped his fingers on both hands.
Around Ayodhya, communal tensions still flare from time to time. In October in neighboring Faizabad, Hindus and Muslims clashed during the annual Hindu ritual of Dussehra. Two people died, according to the Faizabad district magistrate. One was Hindu, one was Muslim.
Still, India is a very different country today than it was 20 years ago. It is living an era of rapid economic expansion, focusing younger Indians in particular on the pursuit of prosperity rather than historical divisions. Culturally, the country is less hidebound by its past, too.
“We are all in a hurry, particularly the younger generation,” said Arif Mohammed Khan, the minister who resigned from Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1986. “They want India to transform into America at the earliest.”
Click here for an overview of key players in chapter six.

And in a nation of 1.2 billion that is about 80% Hindu, the majority has not consistently run roughshod over Islam or any of India’s other religions – as it could potentially have done given the country’s feeble law-enforcement apparatus and Ayodhya’s appeal to Hindu nationalists.
In 1991, the government enacted a law that made it illegal to change the character of a place of worship to another religion. The act exempted only the Babri Masjid.
The law was a victory for Akshaya Brahmachari, the sadhu who had opposed the installation of the Ram idol in the mosque in 1949. He was instrumental in persuading politicians in New Delhi to bring the legislation. Mr. Brahmachari died in 2010.
That’s not to say that all India’s citizens have equal access to economic, educational or political opportunities. But the movement that at one time aggressively asserted its dominance over a minority community has lost much of its popular appeal and momentum.
Krishna Pokharel/The Wall Street Journal
A street leading to a mosque in Ayodhya.
“The country has learned so much, it has gone so beyond these emotions that there will be nothing very serious” whenever the Supreme Court’s verdict over the site comes, said Zafaryab Jilani, the lead lawyer for Muslims in the court case. “It will be the country which will win; it will be the country which will lose, if at all.”
In that, India’s secular nature has, for now, prevailed. That required many Hindus to reject the inflammatory and divisive nature of the Ayodhya dispute, either out of fatigue, disillusionment with politicians, or a sense — set deep in the religion’s spiritual traditions — that it is wrong to destroy another’s house of worship.
“The soul of India was retrieved by the Hindus who refused to go along with the desecration of this place of worship that was not in their own community,” said Mani Shankar Aiyar, Rajiv Gandhi’s special assistant. “For Hindus, all places of worship are divine.”
**
Every day, a small team of priests at the makeshift temple cares for the idol of Ram Lalla and other statues that have been added since 1949.
Paul Beckett/The Wall Street Journal
A replica of Ram Lalla, dressed.
The first priest arrives at around 5:30 a.m. He opens the temple curtain then chants, “Gods, wake up, wake up!” He rings a small bell and puts the idols in a sitting position.
He changes their overnight clothes, bathes them with flower perfume, water and sandalwood, and dresses them. There is clothing of different colors for each day. He places a tilak, or holy mark, on their foreheads then a silver crown on their heads before offering them sacred smoke from burning incense sticks. After, he presents them with a breakfast of “peda,” a sweet made of milk. Lamps are lit. Hymns are sung.
A few hours later, Mahant Satyendra Das, the chief priest, leaves his house and is driven in an SUV to the site. He bows at the temple’s entrance and gently touches the floor of the wooden platform where the idols sit. He takes some sandalwood, adds a dab of water, and puts a mark on his own forehead.
He lights incense and waves the stick in a circular motion around the idols, singing: “From the heart of God is the moon, the sun is from His eyes, the wind and the life are from His ears and the fire is from His mouth.”
He chants silently until more food is brought for the deities. Then the idols have a 90-minute nap.
Shortly after sunset, another priest offers evening food and puts the deities to sleep. He places them horizontally and removes their crowns. He gives them cotton pillows to rest on and tucks them in under small blankets.
Then the priest draws the curtain closed.
—The End—