HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | 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

Monday, April 23, 2018

We are Desis, and we fight like cats and dogs

In Greenwood, Indiana, a fight broke out in the Gurdwara; it reminds me of the battle a few years ago where the Sikhs were chasing each other with swords in a London Gurdwara. Don’t laugh, we are Desis, and always fight. 

Having visited many places of worship and connected with most ethnic communities, I have witnessed fights like this in Hindu Temples, Muslim Mosques and Indian Christian Churches and Gurdwaras. We are exactly alike no matter what state we are from, or what country we are from in South Asia.  They have all fought from within and have split into two or three groups.   

In Dallas, that is my hometown, the Bengali Association, Kerala Association, Pakistani Association, and the Hindu Temple have all gone to the courts, as they could not sit down and talk with each other.  Hey, we are Desis,’ and we fight!  Let me make it clear; it is a just a handful of us in each group, not all of them.

Each group works together cohesively as long as they are a small group. But once we grow in size, we fight for control, even in America! I was in India in August 2017, and I could hear the same fights in the Mosque and the Temple several blocks from my home.

I must give credit to a few organizations; one of them is India Association of North Texas. They are not free of conflicts and prejudices, but they follow the rules. The elected officers respectfully step down and honor the past executives, unlike other organizations where they don’t.  Many of the organizations shamelessly disrespect the previous team, even bloody sports association like Cricket.  IANT is an exemplary organization, and I am proud to be a life member of the organization. When I retire, I will do my share of work in making that a perfect inclusive Organization.

CBS reports this picture of Gurdwara, and the name on truck matches with the name of the town, down below in the Times of India, the Gurdwara is not the same, it does not have the Golden domes. 

 One Jagbish Singh from Indiana said it right, “The brawl does not reflect their religious teachings, it’s “only a couple of people, two or three people, who are making the problem for everybody.”  Indeed, all the problems in the world we have are three are four people.

REENWOOD, Ind. -- Police say a brawl at a Sikh temple in suburban Indianapolis has left four people with minor injuries. Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth says police and medics responded Sunday to a verbal and physical fight involving about 150 people at the Gurdwara Sikh temple in the city just south of Indianapolis.
CBS affiliate WTTV-TV reports the altercation began as there was a change of leadership within the temple that he says happens every two years. Fillenwarth says it's believed that there was a worship service going on when the fight broke out.
WTTV reports the ceremony in question can include daggers. Police were still investigating whether pepper spray or any weapons were used during the incident. No weapons were recovered at the scene.
Fillenwarth says four people suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, where they will be questioned by police.
Police are reviewing surveillance video from the temple and interviewing other participants in the fight.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Modi Asks What He Did To Deserve Insults.

Not all the responses make sense, but some do


Courtesy - Scoopwhoop

PM Modi Asks What He Did To Deserve Insults. This Man’s Fantastic 22-Point Reply Is Going Viral

PM Modi Asks What He Did To Deserve Insults. This Man’s Fantastic 22-Point 

by Joshua Moraes
A Facebook post 'answering' Prime Minister Narendra Modi's question has gone viral on social media. Recently, the Prime Minister asked 'what he had done to deserve the insults' thrown at him by the Congress.

In a Facebook post, Devdan Chaudhuri 'answered' the PM's questions in a 22-point reply. Here is the text in full:
Here is a brief list to answer your question Mister Prime Minister:
1. For destroying India's economy via Demonetisation and not taking responsibility for the damage it has done.
2. For destroying the traditional plural culture of our ancient land via organised polarisation - not just religious, but also regional, linguistic and cultural.
3. For destroying the profound teachings of Hinduism/ Sanatan Dharma by placing Savarkar's fascist Hindutva as Hinduism.
4. For continuing the charade of fake nationalism when your deeds and policies are only harming India.
5. For being a government - not of India - but of Hindutva forces, crony corporations and foreign vested interests - especially the Zionist global banking cartel.
6. For false promises and falsehoods which are being spread through multiple channels everyday.
7. For violating the principles of the Indian Constitution by introducing theocratic militant nationalism and anti-privacy/ anti-freedom Aadhaar.
8. For destroying the pillars of Democracy by de-fanging media and institutions - which are critical to offer any semblance of truth and justice.
9. For not listening to people and the diversity of voices - but to impose dictates via coercion and intimidation.
10. For being anti-intellectual and actively promoting the hatred of the learned and the educated.
11. For doing all the tricks in the book to curb dissent and freedom of expression.
12. For sinking all the human development indexes since 2014.
13. For waging a fake 'morality play 'of anti-corruption crusade when the real policies of the government point to the opposite direction.
14. For hiding from unscripted questions which the people want to ask you - no single press conference since you came to power.
15. For focussing on PR, publicity, events and propaganda, but not the real issues of the nation.
16. For ruining India's traditional 'non-aligned' foreign policy.
17. For instigating the ego - hate and greed - through your theatrical 'carrot and stick' speeches.
18. For surrounding yourself with sycophants who have no talent for governance.
19. For being obsessive about grandiose ideas/ misplaced priorities and failing to deliver.
20. For misunderstanding the meaning of 'development' by neglecting social justice.
21. For being pro-super-rich and putting the poor and the Middle class under the technocratic Neoliberal Economic policies which have hollowed out the West.
22. For raging a war against India via the toxic brew of Hindutva and Neoliberalism, and destroying the people's faith and trust upon the government.
And you ask, what I have done to deserve this?
Here is the original Facebook post:
Well, you can't say the PM didn't ask for it.

Modi will Sink India if he does no reign in on the rapists

Whenever adharma takes over a nation, it needs a Krishna to restore faith and trust in the society, and that Krishna is the collective consciousness of Indians resting in women, businessmen, and young men.  They have to take their nation back from irresponsible chaotic governance and restore the good old days of the past where people were not afraid of each other and lived their lives instead of battling their lives.

The brutal rape of an 8-year old and the 4 –year-old is beyond anyone’s understanding. It was a brutal rape and murder. I hope as a nation we condemn what is bad and encourage what is good regardless of the politics or religion of the individual.
This tragedy has united most of the Indians except a few party members of Mr. Modi and Mr. Yogi who are defending the rapists. What is disgusting is even women members of the party like Kirron Kher are discounting it by saying that the rape culture is not new in India.  With friends like her, BJP does not need enemies.
My first response was apprehension.  How difficult must it have been for the child to endure the last few minutes of her life? Several images of 8-year-olds ran through my mind and could not help feel the anguish and anger.  How must mothers and fathers feel if their daughter is out on her way to school?
My second response was, punish the criminals swiftly and restore the trust in society.
I hoped the Prime Minister, and each Chief Minister with the State Police commissioners will jointly announce zero tolerance and severe punishment to criminals who hurt innocent people. If they don’t, we the people need to harass them to do it. At last, we the people have a right to decide whom we appoint to govern us, and how they are accountable to us.
A Bill must be introduced in the Parliament that would require “married men and women” to run the public office, preference must be given to those candidates who have daughters. It is not to discriminate against single people but to ensure the men and women who are responsible for public safety have the heart to empathize with the pain of mothers.
I urge Modi and Yogi to get married, and I am sure they are potent enough for God to bless them with a daughter each to understand at least the anguish of fathers, if not mothers. Sloganeering is good, but their actions determine if they are shooting their mouth off, or if they respect every man and woman of India.
I would appeal to the moderate members of the BJP to take bold steps and correct the mistakes and restore justice and the rule of law in India.
Ms. Prathiba Prahlad from New Delhi was one of the first few individuals in the nation to express her outrage well, and it reflects the sentiments of most mothers of India. Prathiba is a Dancer, Scholar, Culture Specialist, Festival Director at DIAF, Padma & Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee.
“I’m sick in the pit of my stomach & in deep, deep anguish! Just imagine what horrendous pain, fright & brutality little baby Asifa would have gone through! I’m ashamed of our politicians, I’m ashamed of our society, I’m ashamed of myself & my helplessness! I wish I didn’t live to see this day! India – hang your head in shame … so many of our children, adolescents & youngsters are brutalized every other day! And we call our land a holy land??? A holy land filled with ugly, twisted, violent, brutal, heartless, soulless psychos who commit beastly crimes in the name of religion, caste, honour or just because they view the innocent & the vulnerable an easy prey ??? This land can never be holy unless justice is done to these innocents – unless laws are amended, justice is fast-tracked & the guilty are castrated, tortured & publicly killed … they don’t deserve a trial for god’s sake – even at the risk of being termed undemocratic!”
Whenever adharma takes over a nation, it needs a Krishna to restore faith and trust in the society, and that Krishna is the collective consciousness of Indians resting in women, businessmen, and young men.  They have to take their nation back from irresponsible chaotic governance and restore the good old days of the past where people were not afraid of each other and lived their lives instead of battling their lives. We did not have the lynchings, harassments, and murdering of people who differed with us. We did not regulate what one should eat, and that freedom had offered relative peace.
Why should a mother support BJP?  What security she has for her daughter if these men don’t feel the pain of the mothers? Women tourists are scared to go to Modi’s India and Yogi’s Taj Mahal for fear of being raped. Is this the India we want?
Ban those lawyers from practicing the law for defending the rapists, and ban the politicians from holding public office if they support and abet rapists.
I am not sure if Modi has the guts to do it, but I urge him to take action before people completely write him off.
I urge Hindus and Muslims to feel the pain together and never let the divisive men pit Hindus against Muslims or vice versa.  Let them be the losers and not the general public.
What we need is sane voices – and not a Hindu Muslim conflict which the politicians would love it, but you and I will lose it.   In the last two months, we had two fathers; a Hindu and a Muslim; two great heroic fathers in India. Each one of them lost their sons to hate by Muslim and Hindus each, but the patriotic fathers urged the politicians keep calm and not allow them to pit one group of Indians against the other.  It must have been painful for them not to seek revenge.  I hope Mr. Modi honors them as heroes of India. More at http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-way-out-of-hell-forgive-them-for-they.html
Warning to Indians
Let this be a warning to Indian businessmen, Indian women, and all the young people who are enjoying a good life at this time. All of this will come to an end if Law and Order are not restored.
Modi and Yogi have nothing to lose, but ordinary people do, it is their livelihood.  Much of our prosperity hinges on foreign direct investments, export of software and contracting work and tourism including medical tourism.
If the investors continue to see the chaos, rape, communal strife, lynching, harassment, and restrictions on what one eats and who he or she marries, they will pull out of India. Who wants to invest in a place where their investment is not secure?   Would you invest in Burma, Sri LankaAfghanistan and Ethiopia and even Pakistan?
(The author is the president of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.)

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Way out of Hell - Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do


It is so good to read this piece by Rohit Kumar; God bless him.

One of the best articles I have read on saving people from hell.  Yesterday, I wrote in my Blog admiring two heroes – Imam of Asansol and father of Ankit Sharma and I hope Mr. Modi, the Prime Minister, will take a bold step and celebrate these two individuals as our national heroes.  May God help the PM to do the righteous deed and encourage what is right.   These two men have restored Dharma that was promised by Lord Krishna, and have taught us how to build a peaceful India upon which prosperity rests.

Thanks to Wire for producing great articles for Indians, we have to wake up our fellow beings, and the wire is appreciated for that.

Mike Ghouse
Center for Pluralism

A Way out of Hell - Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do

On Easter, a look at people who, by avenging wrongs done unto them, could have instigated communal riots and yet chose to take the difficult high road of forgiveness.

There is a scene towards the end of Richard Attenborough’s 1982 movie, Gandhi, where the late Om Puri, playing the role of a Hindu man whose son had been killed by Muslims, bursts onto a terrace where Gandhi, weakened by weeks of fasting, is lying on a bed.

The man throws a chapati at Gandhi and shouts, “Eat! I’m going to hell but not with your death on my soul.”

“Only God decides who goes to hell,” the Mahatma responds quietly.
“I killed a child. I smashed his head against a wall!” the man screams.
Gandhi winces and asks, “Why?”

The man’s eyes well up with tears, “They killed my son, my boy. The Muslims killed my son.”

“I know a way out of hell,” Gandhi whispers. “Find a child. A child whose mother and father have been killed. A little boy about this high; raise him as your own. Only be sure that is a Muslim and that you raise him as one.”

The man backs away slowly, with a crazed look on his face, stops, and then turns around and falls at the Mahatma’s feet, sobbing like a child.

I, like countless others, have watched this movie many times over the decades since it first released – sometimes on DVD and sometimes on YouTube, but most often on television when it is shown on October 2. I just realised, however, that I have probably watched it more in the four years since the BJP came to power than in the 32 years preceding it, probably because of the concerted and unabashed way in which powers that currently be, are trying to consign the Mahatma to oblivion, dismantle his legacy and reduce him to a pair of glasses and a logo for an abhiyaan that is attempting to make Bharat swachh.

It is now easier than ever to mock Mohandas and more fashionable than ever to make fun of his foibles. Unfortunately, it has also become easier than ever to question the relevance of the satya and ahimsa he taught in 21st century India. That is, till someone comes along and practices what Gandhi taught and also “shows a way out of hell” by their life and actions.

Consider Imam Rashidi of Asansol, whose son was killed in the communal violence that recently gripped the city. The murder of a 16-year old – and that too the son of a religious leader – is the kind of thing that can envelop a town in communal flames and then burn it to the ground. But the Imam did something completely unexpected. He appealed for peace. A father feeling the greatest pain a human can feel – the loss of a child – did not give in to the desire for revenge.
Instead, he said, “I want peace. My boy has been taken away. I don’t want any more families to lose their loved ones. I don’t want any more houses to burn… I will leave Asansol if there is any kind of retaliation… If you love me, you will not raise a finger. I have been an Imam for the last 30 years. It is important that I give the right message to the people – a message of peace. I need to get over my personal loss.”

The Imam’s response brought tears to my eyes, as it did, apparently to the eyes of those gathered at Eidgah Maidan in Asansol to hear the Imam speak. He showed us a way out of hell.

Earlier this year in New Delhi, Yashpal Saxena, whose only son Ankit Saxena was murdered by the family of the Muslim girl he loved, displayed the same fortitude of spirit when he refused to let the incident become communalised. Of this incident, activist and author Harsh Mander wrote, “By affirming that he bore Muslims no ill will, Yashpal Saxena, whose only son Ankit Saxena was murdered by the family of the Muslim girl he loved, demolished one of the most widely used rationalisations for communal hatred… (He) rejected what I call the Doctrine of Vicarious Guilt… the idea that an entire community must collectively carry the guilt for crimes – real or imagined, committed now or in history – which any of its members may have perpetrated.”

Yashpal Saxena too, through his grief and pain, has shown us a way out of hell.
And who can ever forget that most brutal of murders fifteen years ago when Graham Staines, a missionary in the jungles of Orissa was burned alive along with his two sons by members of the Bajrang Dal. His bereaved widow, Gladys Staines, in what must have been the most difficult decision of her life, managed to look past her own grief and responded with, “I have forgiven the killers and have no bitterness because forgiveness brings healing and our land needs healing from hatred and violence.”

Her words, published and broadcast far and wide in newspapers and on TV channels, Indian and otherwise, gave us all pause. Her act won genuine respect and deep admiration from many.

As Christians around the world celebrate Easter, homilies will be given on peace. Christ’s forgiveness of the Roman soldiers who carried out his crucifixion, will be remembered: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” What is perhaps not that well remembered is that about 60 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Apostle John (one of Christ’s disciples who was originally a fisherman and who died of old age and not martyrdom like his contemporaries) said:

If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John Chapter 4, verse 20)
A simple, yet profound check and balance for those who are driven by religious fervor and ‘love for God’, so-called.

It is heartening to see while there are those in India like Dara Singh, Babu Bajrangi and Shambulal Regar (not to mention the state machinery which not-so-tacitly and sometimes even tacitly encourages the spilling of blood), there are also those like Gladys Staines, Yashpal Saxena and Imam Rashidi who have transcended their anger and chosen to be peacemakers. For the latter, we are forever grateful, for they show ordinary folks like the rest of us that in the face of the most blatant provocation to stoke hate and retaliate, we always have a choice.
Rohit Kumar is an educator

Using Ram and Hanuman, for Violence and Votes

The Central theme of this article is "Ram Ka Naam Badnaam Na Karo." The innocent people of India have been taken advantage of the political criminals; these men get the ordinary good Indians wired up with hate and kill fellow Indians in the name of Ram or Hanuman.  That Criminal act of Advani, the Rath Yathra has turned India upside down, and it will take another generation to restore dharma, the righteousness. I hope the new generations will not fall into these traps and start respecting fellow humans, that will create peace and bring prosperity.  To Modi, "Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikaas " is merely an election slogan, but it should mean we have to build an India where we all get along for common good. 

We need influential, but good pluralistic religious leaders who can make Ram, Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus, Mahavir, Krishna, Guru Nanak and others look for what they were; Peacemakers, individuals dedicated to building cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other.  

I hope to write a piece on "Ram Ka Naam Badnam Na Karo" and "Muhammad Ko Mercy for Mankind Hi Rahne Do." Let no one commit bad acts in the name of Ram or Hanuman, and Let Muhammad remain mercy to humanity. 

Mike Ghouse
Center for Pluralism. 
Washington, DC

# # # 

Elections have to be fought on real issues, not on hollow but mesmerizing oratory or through ready-to-use riots.

Courtesy - The Wire
Wire is becoming India's true journalist paper.

In 1947, the two parts of Bengal could avoid the merciless massacres and incredible violence that the two halves of Punjab inflicted on each other not just because Gandhi was the world’s most effective single man peacekeeping force – remember the Noakhali riots of 1946 – but also because the Bengalis are not naturally intolerant or communally-charged all the time. However, when dark forces work overtime to create discord and manufacture riots, bloodshed does happen, even though better sense prevails within a very short time.

Let us recall how both Hindus and Muslims came together in 1905 – to resist Curzon’s ‘partition of Bengal’ and eventually compel imperial Britain to roll back the announcement. But in August 1946, the same province burst into flames because armed hoodlums were imported into Kolkata to wreak havoc, by the Muslim League. It was only through this well-planned bloodshed – that was dealt with by the British police in quite a Machiavellian manner – that the two parts of the otherwise peaceful Bengal could be amputated so that the grand political master-plan of Partition could succeed.

With such a historical precedent, it is interesting to note how gods from ‘the rest of India’ – a typically regional parlance – are being imported and pressed into service in Bengal, to heat up the sweltering month of Chaitra.

The very Bengali Shiva, whose Gajan songs and pantomime have provided so much colour and festivity to Bengal during this month, is now being challenged in his domain, first by Ram and then by Hanuman. Also under threat is the traditional Bengali worship of the benign Basanti Durga and the bountiful local Annapurna and even the powerful folk goddess, Shitala Ma, as their festivals are overshadowed by aggressive gods from the upper reaches of the Ganga.

Lumpen leaders take photographs of swords and guns for newspapers before they proudly distribute these arms to hoodlums who go on motorbikes with saffron flags, to spread terror. The Indian Penal and the Criminal Procedure Code take a break, as musclemen from the ruling party that swears by ‘secularism’ from every rooftop get into competition mode, lest they lose ground – without realising that there is nothing called “just a little” where crimes like rape or communalism are concerned.

Gods in India have considerable flexibility in adjusting to the cultural demands of different regions and this is exemplified in Bengal’s choice of how their Shiva – called Sheeb – must be.

From the 16th to the 18th centuries, Bengal produced a large corpus of ballads in the local language that were called Mangal Kavyas, in which the local Brahminical poets valorised the previously derided ‘low class’ indigenous deities like Manasa, Dhammathakur, Chondi and Shitala. This deification or belated recognition of the gods and goddesses of the subaltern classes was, in reality, the ‘Magna Carta’ or social pact of Bengali Hinduism – that had lost two-thirds of the people to a more egalitarian Islam. What is relevant here is that the mighty Shiva of the Puranas had to suffer humiliating defeats, one after the other, at the hands of the local ‘ugly, one-eyed’ snake goddess, Manasa. Even Brahmin poets had to capitulate and compose these ballads, in order to survive.

These Kavyas entertained (and must have pleased) the masses as they were performed all over the region for several evenings in series – as one of the primary forms of popular entertainment. It was only much later that Shiva regained his popularity in Bengal after he was domiciled as a poor peasant in a flimsy gamchha cloth, with his very-Bengali wife chasing him all around the village with a broom. The point is that the King of Kailash had to be de-classed and plebianised before he hit the box offices, only after which, he was permitted, occasionally, to regain his earlier magnificence.

Let us look at the requirement of domicile once again. It is only in Bengal that Durga has invariably to come with her four children and nowhere else is she greeted with so much delirious joy. It is only in Bengal that the ferocious warrior goddess becomes such a sweet daughter and dutifully visits her parents in Ashwin and the local people revel for ten long days. ‘Navratri’? What’s that? As far as this part of India is concerned, it is time to gorge, not keep fasts, and vegetarianism is looked down upon, with derision. Incidentally, Bengalis do not forget Durga’s life and death struggle against the buffalo demon, as the dutiful daughter drags the bleeding Mahisasura to her mother’s place – as her trademark or special Aadhaar card.

West Bengal BJP Mahila Morcha chief Locket Chatterjee holds a trishul during a religious procession to celebrate Ram Navami in Birbhum. Credit: PTI
Ram did not even pass through the Bengal region in search of Sita and Hanuman’s name never appears in any visitors’ book in the state. But Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti have suddenly been turned into good occasions to display spurious Hindu aggression and flare up inter-community passions. Just because a very small section of Muslims come out with their traditional tajias and some of them lash their bodies with whips and swords on Muharram – something they have been doing for nearly 800 years – a section of Hindu fanatics are demanding that they be allowed to come out with arms in processions.

But Muharram’s blood-stained rituals are done by less than 1% of the Muslims and should not be compared with Ram or Hanuman but with pain-inflicting religious rituals like Tai-Pusam of Tamil Nadu or the Charak-Gajan of Bengal. This is when Hindu bhaktas of Shiva (or the local Dhammathakur, whose worship he appropriated in Bengal) hold their gory rites of self-flagellation – that too, in more places than the Muharram ritual sword-play. Bhaktas insert hooks into the backs of willing devotees who are then swung around in circles far above the ground, with ropes tied to tall poles. Many jump from great heights into open blades and swords, while others stick long needles through their cheeks and tongues. They also roll over very thorny brambles and if Muharram is the alibi of Ram-Bhakats, they may like to try some such ritual. Inflicting pain on oneself may actually be more ‘Hindu’ than on others.

Devotees and supporters of BJP participate in a procession to celebrate Ram Navami festival in Kolkata. Credit: PTI
They can even take their up-country patrons to get vicarious pleasure from such bloody rites, before instigating others to slash with swords through a totally imported brand of aggression. Four have died in instigated riots on Ram Navami and more would have if the authorities had behaved like they do in some saffron-ruled states. Yet, an irresponsible junior Union minister spreads selective clips of the Asansol-Ranigunj disturbances in Bengal, hoping perhaps to keep communal flames flaring as much as possible.

Let us look closer at Hanuman, the second entrant, as Ram Navami is already over. We thought he was born on Chaitra Purnima but Tamils and Malayalis are confusing us by insisting that he was born in the month of Pous (December-January). Since birth certificates were not compulsory then, such things happen, but no one doubts that Hanuman symbolises strength and energy that he draws from both Pavan and Shiva.

We know that he wields his deadly gada (mace) with ease and that he can handle many other celestial weapons like toys. He is capable of assuming any form at will and can move mountains. He flies through the air very swiftly and actually gave Ram many free flights, even before ‘Pushpak’ was conceived. The beleaguered Indian Science Congress may soon have to scientifically study this. But when did he first appear? The first Indian civilisation in the Indus Valley had no Ram or Hanuman, nor did the Vedas mention them. Some over-enthusiastic scholars have strained to compare Indra’s favourite monkey, the Vriksha Kapi, with Hanuman but cultural DNA tests proved negative.

Hanuman Jayanti celebrations in West Bengal. Credit: PTI/Files
The kernel of the Ramayana first appeared in the ancient Buddhist Dasaratha Jataka, but it mentioned neither Sita’s abduction nor any Lanka. It exiled Ram, but he went north to the Himalayas. Let us accept the present version of the Ramayana, though there are strong views that Ravana’s Lanka was not today’s Sri Lanka but was somewhere in central India. It has been argued that the Ramayana’s events were later transferred to a more southernly location.

Albrecht Weber, Lassen and other scholars believe that Ram’s ‘long march to Lanka’ is an allegorical narrative of the Aryan penetration into South India and Sinhala country. The clash between the Shaivite Ravan and the Vishnu-worshipping Ram also comes out quite clearly. Pre-Aryan religions or Dravidian traditions neither record nor deify Ram. In fact, during the anti-Brahmin, anti-North agitations in the mid-twentieth century period, Periyar and his Dravidian followers burnt the Ramayana because they felt that Southerners had been treated most unfairly.

Edward Moor’s classic text, The Hindu Pantheon of 1810 says that there was indeed “a popular idea entertained in India that Ceylon (was) peopled by monkeys and demons, (so) the priests and poets who chronicled the exploits may have constructed their epic machinery for the Ramayana in conformity to the public prejudices or tastes”. H.C. Lal is, however, categorical that Vanara refers to the tribe of Oraon or Vraon while others feel it could be any Austric or Negrito tribe. The Aryan-Vanara social engineering and coalition worked very well and the best reward that the Vanara tribes could be given for helping defeat the superior Dravidian power of Lanka was to allocate a cabinet berth in Hinduism to the most loyal and Sanskritised Vanara, Hanuman.

For nearly 400 years, Valmiki and his scholars had to work hard to portray the glory and valour of Brahmanical religion that had suffered heavy losses in the popularity contests of Aryan India, thanks to the new craze for Buddhism and Jainism. The new Hinduism that the Ramayana preached had lesser complications, rituals and mantras and it introduced new stars with very human faces. Ram, incidentally, gave frequent bear-hugs to Hanuman, somewhat like our leader does nowadays, but to foreigners only. This love that Ram bestowed on ‘lowly monkeys’ sent the right signals down to the masses who were tired of Hinduism’s suffocating caste system and had moved towards egalitarian Buddhism. Devotion, sheer devotion to the Master was the latest Hindu reply and Hanuman was its cultic figure.

This upgraded version of Hinduism portrayed Ram not as a hot-headed Arya-putra like Bhim or Duryodhan, but as exceedingly mild and tranquil, for he was modelled on the Buddha. We are sure that this Maryada Purush Ram could never want schoolboys in Bengal to carry swords. Though two major elections are drawing near, political parties have no right to test their strength through Ram and Hanuman and cause so many deaths.

Returning to history, we see that within five-seven hundred years of the Ramayana’s final version, leaders like Sankaracharya ensured that the new Hinduism made people forget Buddhism. During this period, several other non-Aryan deities and even animals and birds were also accommodated. Even the leader of the opposition, the Buddha, found himself on the Dashavatar pedestal, seated quite close to Ram. In the medieval period, regional language Ramayanas and Krishna literature spread the Bhakti cult, with Ram-Bhakt Hanuman and Radha as role models of devotion. Ramananda, Nimbarka, Namdev, Suradas, Tuncatt Eluttacchan, Krittivas and, of course, Tulsidas, led the way with brotherhood and loyalty as their thrusts.

Incidentally, Bengal, Punjab and Kashmir that had little or no place for the Ram-Hanuman duo, actually accounted for the maximum conversions to Islam. But, while Ram could be a pacifist, a belligerent deity was also needed, especially by the chiefs of Rajputana, Vijaynagar or in Maratha county who challenged Muslim rulers, with ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’. Hanuman was again in great demand and akhraas spread all over. We must really thank this god of the wrestlers for encouraging them to get so many rare gold and silver medals for India.

Other ‘genius’ qualities were then discovered in Hanuman: in music, grammar and pancha mukhi virtues. But one of the primary reasons for his success was that he emerged as a 24×7, any-hour distress relief agency. Even coastal fishermen and seagoing sailors invoked his aid to calm his father, Pavan, during tempests and the weak sought his protection in the face of terror, while the ailing prayed to him for succour.

As a hassle-free god, he appeared to be winning a few Muslim admirers as well. K.C. Aryan says that he was called a mo-atbar madadgar (reliable helper) by some Muslim believers. Begum Rabia of Avadh even built a temple in his name at Aliganj in Lucknow in the 19th century.The worship of this simian god of Hindustan has passed through quite a chequered career. Bengal can always welcome more gods who seek ‘domicile’ and more gods result in more public holidays, but this last bastion of secularism also loves peace and plural values. While there is no dearth of musclemen and other desperados in all political parties – nor of arms and bombs – and power is quite a heady drug, elections have to be fought on real issues, not on hollow but mesmerising oratory or through ready-to-use riots.

Jawhar Sircar retired from the Indian Administrative Service as Union culture secretary.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

India's Hero - The Imam who saved India from burning

India owes its gratitude to two heroes in 2018

Yashpal Sharma, "By affirming that he bore Muslims no ill will, Yashpal Saxena, whose only son Ankit Saxena was murdered by the family of the Muslim girl he loved, demolished one of the most widely used rationalisations for communal hatred. For this, for his luminous humanity even in the face of great personal tragedy, the nation owes him an immense debt of gratitude." http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/02/india-owes-ankit-saxenas-father-debt-of.html

And now, here comes another father whose son was murdered by the communal forces in a community event.  Imam of the town Asansol lost his son, he said, " “my child has lived the life that Allah ordained for him. Now please ensure that no one else’s child is killed, that there is peace and amity. If you love him, and me, do not turn to violence, but keep peace.” and he threatened to leave the town if people did not listen to him. He prevailed.

I hope Mr. Modi, the Prime Minister, will take a bold step and celebrate these two individuals as our heroes.  May God help the PM to do the right thing.

Mike Ghouse
# # # 

Courtesy – The Citizen.In

“My son has lived his life, do not bring sorrow to other homes.”

The Imam who saved India from Burning. 

 NEW DELHI/ASANSOL: Imam Imadadul Rashidi’s voice was matter of fact when contacted by The Citizen, as if what he had done was what any one would do. Asansol was in the grip of violence threatened by a tornado as the Muslims started gathering to retaliate against the violence triggered by Ram Navami processions. Why? Because the Imam’s 16 year old son had been brutally beaten to death by a communal mob, and the news of the incident had spread like wildfire across the town.

The crowds gathered, with now the police and the state government aware of their own helplessness, when the Imam addressed a congregation of thousands at the funeral prayers of his son Sibtullah Rashidi who had just appeared for the Class X Board examinations. With his son’s body lying before him, the Imam pleaded for peace in a short address that had the entire crowd in tears, with all then dispersing for their respective homes.

As he told The Citizen this morning, all he said was, “my child has lived the life that Allah ordained for him. Now please ensure that no one else’s child is killed, that there is peace and amity. If you love him, and me, do not turn to violence, but keep peace.”

Asked how difficult a statement this was Imam Rashidi said quietly, “ no it was not, it was clear to me that my child had died, there was nothing we could do about that, and it was thus my duty to ensure no other child died, no house was torched, no family bereaved.” He said he was responding to the anger in “my” Asansol, where people were bent on taking revenge. “I knew I had to stop this, I knew this was necessary for harmony in my shahr (town) and in my country” he said.

“I knew my child has lived the life Allah had marked for him, I pleaded with the people not to kill anyone else’s child, “ he said. The Imam made it clear to the congregation that “if you do not listen to me I will leave Asansol and go away.” He said he was firm about that, as he could not bear the thought of more violence and bloodshed.

The Imam said that he told the people exactly what he believed. “Islam is a religion of peace and amity, it does not preach violence and revenge,” he said. Asked what he would like to convey to the country where communal harmony is currently under stress, he said, “ I would only say please do all you can to ensure there is peace and unity. And no one is able to break that.”

Local Asansol Councillor Nasim Ansari said that he had attended the prayers like everyone else. There was not a dry eye after the Imam spoke for “maybe just seven or eight minutes”. He said they could see the anger being replaced by deep sorrow as the congregation dispersed and all made their way peacefully home.

Ansari told The Citizen that the Imam spoke in measured tones but from the heart. His words “tore through the anger” and diffused it. He said that there was deep worry across the administration and the state as the Muslims reacted to the brutal death of young Rashidi, and a realisation that the storm if it burst would not be controlled easily. The Chief Minister had replaced police officers in the district, bringing back those who enjoyed a better rapport with the people at large. Even so the murder of the Imam’s teenage son seemed to be a turning point, with the Muslims after four long years, prepared to face the consequences of retaliatory violence.

As Ansari said, “I cannot even begin to say what might have happened across India had it not been for the Imam.” Subsequently, he said, “we have been able to go back to restoring peace, returning cattle, and speaking to both communities.” Ansari himself was under fire even as he was speaking to this reporter, for his mediation efforts but as he said “these are just a handful of lumpens, we have them in all communities but the situation now is dramatically improved.” He fought the local polls as an Independent but has subsequently joined the Trinamool Congress.

The Imam’s son, as per verified reports, was taken away by the mob in Rail Par area of Asansol. His elder son alerted the family who tried to get police help. The delay on the part of the police to act, as has become customary in all such incidents now across India, led to the brutal bludgeoning of the young boy who was killed on the spot by the instigated mob. Fake news, videos, rumours were being spread through out Asansol to “provoke” the majority community to react with violence, as per the local administration.

Asansol has a MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party Babul Supriyo who is currently warring with the state government for not allowing him free access to his constituency. The last communal violence in Asansol was in 1991-92, after which it has been peaceful until the last few years when efforts to stoke communal fires succeeded in this Ram Nevamil celebrations with weapons, and provocative slogans. The violence has continued unabated, and the area remains tense.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Minorities in a Dilemma on Whether to Support Congress in the Absence of a Third Front

Naushad, kudos for the brilliant piece. It has got a full range of interviews to understand the elections situation in India.  We are pleased to share that with our friends at my India Blog. I just had called people of India to put together ideas to deal with the 2019 elections.  Who should Muslims Vote in 2019 - https://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2018/03/who-should-indian-muslims-vote.html

Mike Ghouse


Minorities had realised that nothing concrete had been done for them. The Congress failed to reciprocate the unconditional support they enjoyed for decades with progress and development.

Updated:March 30, 2018, 10:49
OPINION | Minorities in a Dilemma on Whether to Support Congress in the Absence of a Third Front

OPINION | Minorities in a Dilemma on Whether to Support Congress in the Absence of a Third Front

Mohd Naushad Khan | Updated:March 30, 2018, 10:49 AM IST Image For Representation Only. (Getty Image)
Indian polity, since Independence, has been rotating on an axis of caste and religion. Either minority bashing or its appeasement has also been another hallmark of the Indian political mindset. 
Minorities, though, traditionally voted for the Congress but later became political fodder for several regional parties. They oscillated their support like a pendulum in anticipation that prosperity and, above all, sense of security would prevail.
Its revelation brought to light the picture that minorities, especially Muslims, have been cheated for decades. The findings of the report was food for thought and introspection.Minorities, without an iota of doubt, remained in the political basket of the Congress for decades. It was the Sachar Committee Report which, for the first time, pulled down the curtain of belief and trust towards the Grand Old Party. 
Minorities had realised that nothing concrete had been done for them. The Congress failed to reciprocate the unconditional support they enjoyed for decades with progress and development.
According to Afroz Alam, associate professor and head of Department of Political Science at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), "There has been a paradigm shift in the electoral chemistry between Muslim voters and Congress. Over the years, large number of Muslim voters have moved away from the Congress and fragmented their loyalties in favour of non-Congress, non-BJP regional political options. There is a growing realisation that the fundamental difference between Congress and BJP is blurring. Congress is shunning its centrist image. The party is trying to appeal to the Hindu core votes by not only cultivating its soft-Hindutva image but also by sidelining Muslims as a taken-for-granted junior partner.”

“We are witnessing another trend that Muslim voters are no longer susceptible to fall for mere projection of the BJP as a threat. There is, in fact, a substantial decline in their anti-BJP sentiments, for they have come to realise that even if it is in power, there is little likelihood of the hyperbolic threat translating into anything real. At the same juncture, Muslim voters are tired of being treated as ‘low cost’ voters due to the poor delivery of the policy pledges exclusively made to them at the time of election by the so-called secular political parties. In my view, Muslim votes will continue to be divided along the multiple lines if a coalition at the regional level does not happening before 2019 elections," argues Alam.

Putting forward his perspective, activist John Dayal, who also represents many National Christian Forums says, “Over the years, no single party has stood the test of the time as a protector of minorities. Every political party, when in power, has created laws which negatively impact minorities. For Muslims and Christians, the political spectrum extends from the Congress on the one hand to regional parties in UP, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and the rest of South India. They look to the Left if they want to keep the BJP out, or at least in a reduced margin in Parliament and state legislatures.”

Dayal further adds, “The Congress has had a terrible past since the 1970s with the Emergency, the Sikh issue, the Babri issue and the laws against the Christians have worked to expose it as a soft-Hindutva party. But when compared to the BJP and the RSS, the minority voter is left with choosing the winning candidate from the Congress and the other non-BJP parties. There seems to be no other choice.”

Needless to say, Congress these days hardly takes any political stand of its own. Rather, it goes on a defensive stance or acts in a reactionary manner. Rahul Gandhi no doubt is gaining political maturity but his escalation does not mean it is being well-received on the ground or would translate into votes. Very recently, he tried his best political manoeuvring in Gujarat but his foot soldiers, as many believe, failed to provide him with the kind of support base he required. The campaign was further hampered by loose talks of his party men.”

Irtiza Quraishi, President of Muslim Association Rehabilitating Homeless and Mistreated (MARHM), says, “I hear a lot of different Muslim opinions about Congress. There are Muslims who talk in favour of the party and then there are those who prefer regional alternatives like the AIMIM, AAP etc. There are also Muslims who accuse parties like AIMIM and AAP of being the B-teams of BJP, wherein these parties contest elections in places to divide the votes in order to help the BJP.”

“Lately, Indian Muslims have started believing that at the national level, to defeat BJP, the only contribution they can do is to support Congress jointly without dividing its votes among other parties. I know people who talk about how Congress is responsible for the backwardness of Muslims in India, yet in the next General Elections; they talk about voting in favour of the party to defeat the BJP. There are Muslims, such as myself, who like AAP and even I intend to vote for the Grand Old Party in the next general elections and for AAP in the next assembly elections,” said Quraishi.

On the future political posturing of the minority, Mohammad Sajjad, Professor at Centre of Advanced Study in History in AMU, Aligarh says, “Muslims should not be seen identifying themselves with any given political parties and they should vote silently, confidentially.”

However, the result of the recently held by-polls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has sent the message for one and all ahead of 2019 polls. It has further rekindled the hope for a larger alliance within the regional groups. Both SP and BSP were quick to learn their lesson from the Tripura verdict. This by-poll result, no doubt, made it clear that 2019 polls may not be a cakewalk for the BJP. The by-poll message is loud and clear that no party should take the voters for granted.

Congress is still groping in the dark if we go by the trends in Tripura and the by-polls results in UP and Bihar. The dinner diplomacy was to feel the pulse of the regional forces and to get the glimpse of what is going on in the subconscious minds of the regional forces. It is yet to be seen how things would unfold ahead of the 2019 grand show.