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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gujarat Massacre & Justice

Gujarat Massacre & Justice
Mike Ghouse, October 22, 2007

The blame should be placed squarely on the individuals, not on their family, not on their religion and not on their ethnicity or culture. Blaming a religion is a futile act, as you cannot punish an intangible, and the criminals go Scot free.

On February 27, 2002, in the State of Gujarat, India, a compartment of the train was set afire when the train stopped in the town of Godhra leaving 59 men and women burnt beyond recognition. It was alleged that the Muslims set the fire and poured the gasoline in the bogey carrying the 59 karsevaks (volunteers) returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya where a 15th century Mosque was razed to ground by the extremists claiming that it was built on a former temple.

Immediately following the Godhra incident, the State of Gujarat witnessed the ugliest of all genocides in human history butchering and burning pregnant women and children by the extremists killing nearly 1500 people and leaving thousands homeless. One of the instigators was a Medical doctor by the name of Dr. Parveen Togadia.

According to the Human rights activists and reports, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi was tacitly involved in the carnage. The Federal government run by the right wingers at that time, did not condemn this mayhem, instead the home minister gave a clean chit to the Chief Minister.

Justice is the driving machine of the world peace, whenever there is adharma, dharma (righteousness) counters back to bring an equilibrium to the society. Truth had to emerge one time or the other; you cannot commit a crime and remain quite forever. Justice has to be met. Hope has to be restored to the victims. When there is justice, people feel secure, knowing that no one is going to take advantage of them or vice-versa, it is one of the safest feelings one can have in a civilized nation and that assures sustainable peace and prosperity to one and all. The other choice is to live in fear, if you do the wrong to a people, your own psyche won’t let you live in peace, unless you do your pra-es-chit (repentance) or restore justice.

The collective conscience of India and the peace loving Hindu community was repulsed and outraged at this act of violence. Thanks to the Indian media for playing a fair role in reporting. Except the right wing newspapers, almost all the media was outraged.

Documentaries have been made and ample proof is available now.

On October 22nd, 2007, Tehelka, India’s leading investigative Magazine has captured the criminals on Camera, admitting their involvement in the genocide, and deliberate annihilation of Muslims. All the while police did nothing to stop the carnage. The Chief Minister apparently gave three days to the extremists to clean out the Muslims.

Parallels can be drawn between Hitler and Modi. Both of them had an Iron clad grip on some of their people, both of them brought economic prosperity while one was annihilating Jews, the other was tacitly letting Muslims be butchered. The ones who were/are reaping the benefits of the unprecedented economic prosperity considered both the men as their God given leaders; their word was the final word to them. However deep down, any soul should feel the intense pain and suffering of the victims, after all without such feeling, one cannot be called a human. Adharma is a bigger killer of a civil society than any weapons of mass destruction.

As a thinker, I have consistently maintained that the blame should be placed squarely on the individuals, not on their family, not on their religion and not on their ethnicity or culture. Blaming a religion is an useless act, as you cannot punish an intangible, and the criminal goes Scot free.

Blaming Hindus or Muslims will arouse the sentiments of a whole lot of people and nothing will get done. Just blame the criminals by their name, and punish them, very few will squeak. If a Mohamed Ali is punished, it is Mohamed Ali who is to be punished and not a Muslim that is punished. If a Parveen Modi is punished, it is Parveen Modi the individual and not a Hindu, the religion, and no Hindu should take an offense to that, nor a Muslim should be offended if Mohamed Ali is meted out the punishment allowable by the law. If we can get to this point and understand this principle, we can fight terrorism bravely and clean out the terrorists’ one at a time.

It is the duty of all Citizens, and it is in the interest of keeping peace and harmony to punish the criminals who set the fire to the train, and those who were responsible for the massacre. The Central Government should ruthlessly pursue and punish all criminals, it will build an atmosphere of justice and every Indian can feel that justice will be met for all the injustices.

Breaking News

Tehelka investigation – open each item in the link to read:
• Chronology of events :

Justice is the most critical aspect of human life, when it is not met in this life, we are assured, through our faith traditions, that it will be served, that is how the spiritual equilibrium is achieved. One set of faiths believe in life after death, where one is accountable for the deeds in the world and receives grace and blessings or punishment depending on how he or she lived the life. The other set of faiths believe that life is cyclical; one is born continuously through re-incarnation and birthing in lower forms of life as a payment for living the wrong life or will complete the life cycle and get the salvation for living the life of goodness. Either belief set has the same essence - behavior modification in this life and sure justice at the end.

It is in the interest of our nation and the psyche of Indians to bring justice, as it brings to rest all the un-rest, so peace and prosperity can take root. Every individual should feel a sense of comfort that no one will take undue advantage of them, justice will prevail. It is the most secure feeling the Government of India can offer her Citizens.
Mike Ghouse

TV channels blacked out in Gujarat as riot sting played

By IBNlive.com

Friday October 26, 10:23 PM

Ahmedabad: For the Patel family based in Ahmedabad, it
turned out to be a futile attempt on Thursday evening.
They couldn't see their favourite news channels while
the rest of the country sat glued to their TV sets,
watching the Tehelka expose on the horrors of 2002
riots. For many Gujaratis, the anxiety actually turned
out to be killing.

"We wanted to watch the programme, but TV is off since
Thursday," said an Ahmedabad resident.

The Gujarat Government blacked out several TV channels
on Thursday night after the channels started beaming a
sting operation done by Tehelka that accused Chief
Minister Narendra Modi of inciting the 2002 Gujarat

Moments after the channels started beaming the expose,
the state government got into action mode. The
District Magistrate of Ahmedabad, Dhananjay Dwivedi �
who is also the district election officer � directed
all cable networks not to show channels like CNN-IBN,
IBN-7 and Aaj Tak � the channels that were showing the

An order issued by the Ahmedabad District Magistrate
and District Election Officer Dhananjay Dwivedi said:
"From 19:30 hours (IST), onwards, dated 25.10.07,
there are programmes like Tehelka-Aaj Tak Khulasa,
Operation Kalank and Gujarat ka Sach being telecast on
Aaj Tak and IBN7 depicting visuals and statements of
people pertaining to the 2002 communal riots. As per
Clause 5 of the Cable TV Network Regulation, 1995, no
entity can broadcast or re-broadcast any programme,
which is not as per programming code."

Subsequently, all these channels went off air in most
parts of Gujarat from 1930 hours (IST) on Thursday.
The administration claimed it's a violation of Clause
5 of Cable TV Network Regulation, which deals with
broadcasting programmes which could create communal

The state authorities accused the TV channels of
spreading �more communal discord� in the state than
the people who actually featured on the Tehelka tapes.

For instance, the language used by leaders like Babu
Bajrangi, Haresh Bhatt, Dhabal Patel and Madan Dhanraj
in the tapes could easily turn the situation far more
dangerous than what was being shown, they say.

The Central Election Commission, however, washed its
hands off the controversy. It said it didn't issue any
such orders. The clarification came in the wake of
large-scale complaints from viewers all over Gujarat
that they were not able to watch the programme.

The three channels have remained off-air when reports
last came in as the ban order has no time-frame as to
when the ban will be lifted.


For Immediate Release:

Friday, October 26, 2007: Several prominent
Indian organizations and individuals based in US
& Canada are calling for the immediate dismissal
of the state government in Gujarat, India
following an exposé by the Tehelka news magazine
in which many top Hindu nationalist figures
linked to the administration admitted to their
active role in orchestrating and perpetrating the
massacre and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in 2002
in Gujarat. The exposé reveals active
participation of key state institutions including
police forces and judiciary in the anti-minority

Several national and international human rights
organizations including Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch have maintained since 2002
that the Gujarat government led by the BJP Chief
Minister Narendra Modi orchestrated these
pogroms. Following widespread protests by many
Indian American organizations, Modi was denied
visa by the United States administration in 2005
on account of his human rights record.

The Tehelka tapes present incontestable evidence
of the involvement of state machinery in the
massacre. It captures several confessions
including that of
- The state prosecutor Arvind Pandya who
stated that the "mass killings of Muslims in
Gujarat should be celebrated every year as a
victory day" and that "Every judge was calling me
in his chamber and showing full sympathy for me -
giving full cooperation to me, but keeping some
distance- the judges were also guiding me as and
when required - how to put up a case and on which
date- because basically they are Hindus"
- Another confession came from Babu Bajrangi
who stated that "to get me out of jail, [Chief
Minister] Narendra Modi changed judges thrice".
- Yet another MLA acknowledged that Modi gave
him "three days to do whatever violence they

In a further disturbing incident that reflects
upon the dictatorial nature of the presiding
administration in Gujarat, reports are pouring in
from the ground that state government is forcing
the TV operators to block/censor the telecast of
the exposé.

The following organizations and individuals
endorsing the above statement are calling upon
the government of India for:

1. The immediate dismissal of the Narendra
Modi administration and imposition of President's
rule in Gujarat.
2. The immediate arrest of the all criminals
who have confessed their crimes in the Tehelka
3. The transfer of all legal cases pertaining
to the Gujarat pogroms of 2002 to a court outside
of Gujarat.

Endorsing Organizations:

1. AFMI: American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin
2. AIM: Association of Indian Muslims
3. Dharma Megha
4. FIACONA: Federation of Indian American
Christian Organizations of North America
5. FOSA: Friends of South Asia
6. GMAA: Gujarati Muslim Association of America
7. India Foundation
8. IACP: Indian American Coalition for Pluralism
9. IMC-USA: Indian Muslim Council – USA.
10. IMRC: Indian Muslim Relief & Charities
11. International Service Society
12. NRI-SAHI: Non Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India.
13. SANSAD: South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
14. Seva International
15. SHRI: Supporters of Human Rights in India
16. Vedanta Society of East Lansing
17. Washington Watch

Endorsing Individuals:

1. Abraham Mammen (President, FIACONA)
2. Dr. Angana Chatterji (California Institute of Integral Studies)
3. Biju Matthew (Associate Professor, Rider University)
4. Firoz Vohra (President GMAA)
5. George Abraham (National Coordinator, NRI-SAHI)
6. Ghazi Akailvi (Chairman, SHRI)
7. Prof. Hari Sharma (SANSAD)
8. K S Sripada Raju (Director, Washington Watch)
9. Kaleem Kawaja (AIM)
10. Khalid Azam (IMC-USA)
11. Manzoor Ghaori (IMRC)
12. Ms. Mayuri Poddar (Director, Vaishnava Center)
13. Najma Sultana (NRI-SAHI)
14. Nasir Chhipa (Washington DC)
15. Nilesh Modhwadia (New Jersey)
16. Raju Rajagopal
17. Rasheed Ahmed (President, IMC-USA)
18. Saeed Patel (IACP)
19. Dr. Shaik Ubaid (Founder President ImanNet)
20. Dr. Shakir Mukhi (AFMI)
21. Shrikumar Poddar (Director, International Service Society)


1. Dr. Hyder Khan, Supporters of Human Rights in India: Tel: 612-889-7334
2. George Abraham, NRI-SAHI, Tel: 917-544-4137
3. Rasheed Ahmed, Indian Muslim Council-USA: Tel: 630-670-8875
4. Dr. Shaik Ubaid, Indian American Coalition for Pluralism: Tel: 516-567-0783

Washington Post: Hindus Detail Involvement in Deadly '02 Riots in India

Sify: News Channels Blacked Out After Tehelka exposé

Gujarat 2002 - The Truth: In the words of men who did it

'To Get Me Out On Bail, Narendrabhai Changed Judges Thrice'

'All The Cops Helped, Even Gave Us Cartridges'

'It Should Be Something History Has Never Seen'

'They Hacked Him Bit By Bit, Then Burnt Him Alive'

'Explosives Experts Helped Make The Bombs'

'KG Shah Is Our Man. Nanavati Is Only After Money'

'Muslims, They Don't Deserve To Live'

Open Case: Gaping Loopholes; Shut Case: Proof Of Subversion

Read my blog at http://antihistory.blogspot.com
Tehelka Fallout


Oct 26, 2007, 14:06 GMT

New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) The Tehelka expose into the Gujarat 2002 communal violence Friday saw strong demands for the ouster of Gujarat chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s poster boy Narendra Modi as well as for his arrest and a fresh Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the carnage.
The Congress party, which was cautious in its initial reaction fearing a Hindu polarisation in the election-bound Gujarat, Friday demanded Modi's resignation for his alleged role in 'sanctioning' the communal violence in the state.
'If the constitution of India is to be upheld, if we still call ourselves a civilised society, if the right to life has any meaning at all, if human rights are to be upheld, Narendra Modi should immediately step down from public office,' Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said.
An undercover operation conducted by Tehelka weekly caught Hindu activists, accused in the sectarian violence, as alleging that Modi 'sanctioned' the 2002 riots, in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
'The BJP needs to come clean on this issue and explain its position to the nation,' the Congress party said.
The BJP put up a brave face to the charges, and declared that the expose would in no way affect its prospects in the state assembly elections due in December.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in the national capital that the BJP has asked the Election Commission to check the attempts at aggravating communal polarisation in the state through the expose.
Among others who attacked Modi was Congress ally and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad. He demanded immediate arrest of Narendra Modi and BJP leader L.K. Advani for 'orchestrating the mass murder' in the state after the Godhra train inferno.
'The sting operation by Tehelka aptly christened 'Operation Kalank' (disgrace) has exposed Modi's deep involvement in the post-Godhra Gujarat riots. People now know the real faces involved in the crime against humanity,' Lalu Prasad told reporters in Patna.
He added: 'Since Modi enjoys the patronage Advani, the opposition leader in the Lok Sabha, the latter cannot escape culpability for the mass murder.'
However, the railway minister echoed the apprehensions of the Congress leaders, who said Modi might use the sting operation and its fallout to polarise the voters. He said the BJP could utilise the sting operation to once again whip up passions in the state with an eye to the elections.
Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan wanted the Election Commission to stop Modi from contesting the state elections. 'The Election Commission should ensure that all those involved in the incidents should not be allowed to contest the elections,' he said.
The state goes to elections on Dec 11 and 16.
Both the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress pleaded to the Supreme Court to expedite the cases pending against the culprits in the Gujarat genocide.
'The Tehelka tapes should be taken as prime facie evidence and the Supreme Court and the central government should move expeditiously to see that all those guilty are brought to justice.
'The central government and the law enforcement agencies have a special responsibility in this regard,' the CPI-M politburo stressed.
In a statement, Congress leader and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said: 'We hope and pray that the Supreme Court will decide on the long pending requests before it expeditiously, to meet the ends of justice and to uphold the majesty and supremacy of law.'
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to order a fresh Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Gujarat violence.
'The manner in which the direct involvement of the Gujarat government and some close allies of the ruling BJP has been brought to light in the sting operation ... clearly shows how the massacre of members of a particular minority was undertaken with evident state patronage,' the chief minister noted.
BJP spokesperson Prasad questioned the timing of the operation, saying: 'Has Tehelka done any sting operation against any Congress government, whether at the state or central levels?'
He charged Tehelka with acquiring benefits during the Congress regime and said one of Tehelka's investors, Shankar Sharma, had got heavy tax relief.
He said a judicial process was already underway in Gujarat to punish those guilty of violence. 'Court trials are on and a commission of inquiry is trying to come out with the truth about what happened there.'
In Ahmedabad, the BJP maintained a cool facade with state party chief Purushottam Rupala saying the expose would not impact on the party during the elections.
'These issues were the same as those raised during the 2002 elections. The outcome of that poll showed that they did not cut any ice with the electorate. If they did not have any impact then, it can hardly have any effect five years later,' Rupala told IANS.
He said the sting had no 'evidentiary value' under the Indian laws. 'The various matters raised were already before different courts. The allegations now will certainly have no impact,' he said.

Collector acted on his own, no order from Gujarat poll panel’
Special Correspondent
Cable operators refuse to say whether there was any instruction
AHMEDABAD: No instruction has been issued by the State Election Commission to black out telecast of the Tehelka expose on the 2002 communal riots. It seemed that Ahmedabad Collector Dhananjay Dwivedi issued an official order, on his own, to cable television operators in his jurisdiction to black out the telecast, sources in the Chief Electoral Officer’s office said.
The Commission is reported to be enquiring from the Collectorate the reason for issuing the order, copies of which were also sent to the Principal Secretary, the Home Department, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner and the Office of the Entertainment Tax Commissioner.
Consequently, almost all news channels, barring a few, which had picked up the Tehelka expose and had been running discussions and reactions on the programme telecast since Thursday evening, were blacked out by cable operators in Ahmedabad, while showing the entertainment, sports and other channels normally. A large majority of the viewers in the State, particularly in urban areas served by the cable television network, could not view the expose. For, most networks had gone off the air since Thursday evening, just as Aaj Tak and Headlines Today started showing the Tehelka expose.
“Technical problems”
When contacted, cable operators declined to confirm whether there was any instruction from the government to switch off the channels. They claimed that they could not telecast the channels due to some “technical problems,” but could not explain how the problems occurred simultaneously in different parts of the State.
Voluntary organisations working for protection of human rights, condemned the Ahmedabad Collector’s order. The Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, criticised the “undemocratic decision of the Gujarat government” to stop telecast by the news channels showing the Tehelka expose.
There was no official reaction from the State government on the Tehelka expose and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was accused of direct involvement in the post-Godhra riots, remained incommunicado. The BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders who were shown in the sting operation went underground. Some of them were reported to have gone out of the State.
While Congress leaders are worried that the timing of the expose could again polarise Hindu votes in favour of Mr. Modi, State BJP spokesman Vijay Rupani said it would have no impact on the December Assembly elections. Blaming the Congress for “manipulating” the sting operation, he said, “Let any Muslim say he had been harassed in Gujarat in the last five years.”
State Congress president Bharat Solanki, refusing to comment on the expose, said, “Let people decide.” However, some senior Congress leaders, on condition of anonymity, said the expose had come at a very inopportune time for the party and Mr. Modi would try to present it as a concerted effort by his critics to “defame Gujarat” all over the world.
The then Minister of State for Home, Gordhan Jhadafiya, named in the expose as having supported the rioters, has turned a dissident and is hobnobbing with the Congress.
Most of the leaders named belonged to the VHP, but the Congress would not be able to take advantage of their dissatisfaction with Mr. Modi, these leaders point out.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ramadan Triangle

God bless you with peace and prosperity.

Ramadan Mubarak (Happy Ramadan - Eid Mubarak) to those who celebrate on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, heck even on Monday. Let's not ruin any one's joy. Let's leave the judgment to Malik-i-yomiddin (Master of the Day of Judgment);

it’s been an age old tradition to disagree on sighting of the moon and or deciding the day of the Eid. Why is it such heartburn? My opinion is one of the 1.3 billion ones, but I hope, it will give you an insight into this age old conflict.

We go through this pain every year, let's accept that, it is going to be there till eternity, as it has been there since the very beginning. We can choose to be frustrated, bring about a change or just let it go.

Arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts; the belief that my understanding is superior to yours is the sole reason for this dispute. It is an embarrassment that we have not brought a resolution to this conflict. We have not even defined and agreed upon the intent and purpose of Eid.

Eid is an occasion to bring the whole community together, as Hajj brings the Muslim world together. It is an occasion to forgive each other's mistakes, apologize for the wrongs and start it all over with a clean slate of good relations. God loves those who forgive and those who are humble.

Sighting of the moon is a uniting factor, assuming that the moon is visible on the same day to all and all communities connected and prayed on the same day barring time zones.

The difference is between the literalists, essentialists, and now the scientists are a part of the triangle. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said; celebrate the Eid when you see the moon.

The literalists interpret that one has to see the moon him/herself to declare the Eid. Seeing is critical to them, every thing else is secondary.

The ones, who understand the essence, believe that Eid was for the community to come together and celebrate. Thus if one sees the Moon in Chennai, it was good for every one. If some one in Karachi, Fez, Kuala Lumpur or Mecca sees it... it is good to go. To this group, celebrating the Eid as a community is of greater importance.

The Scientists say, they can track down the moon and predict it precisely, and they prefer to go by that. As the day to day prayers are based on precision, let everything be planned, it makes life easy.

There is another group who has come to enjoy the ritual of looking out for the moon, the anxiety, the waiting and the surprise is part of the fun to them. They fly from that point.

Essentialists have no problem celebrating the Eid if every one goes along on any day, where as the literalist will not budge, rightly so from their own point of view, there is a rule and it has to be followed, i.e. ., physically see the moon to celebrate. Scientists say we could not be clearer than the factual representation.

Scientist will not gain the attention for at least one more generation, as it kills all the sentiment and fun of celebrating and sighting the moon, going shopping... jumping on the feet and getting ready for the Eid. It is a festive occasion and the surprise of the day is part of the celebration.

Two analogies for consideration:

First, you don't want to know the gender of the baby before it is born and second, making love is an emotional experience and not a scientific one; science kills the whole joy of it.

THE IRONY: Praying Salat is mandatory - Fard, a duty. The timing for five prayers a day is set up to the minute with no disputes. Whereas Eid is not Fard, it is Wajib – Recommended, thus there is A room for human input and choice element in this decision, and when there is a choice, politics creeps in and it has to be "my way". That is the problem.

Let's wish happy Eid to those who celebrate on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, heck even on Monday. Let's not ruin any one's joy. Let's leave the judgment to the Malik-i-yomiddin.

Eid Mubarak! May Allah bless all of his creation with peace.

Your Comments: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=3462242975774901312&postID=6959487023287239227

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/ and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/ with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/ and http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/ Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com For a full bio: http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mahatma Gandhi's Message.

Mike Ghouse, October 2, 2007

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the five humans on the planet who has impacted my life profoundly. He was a messenger of peace; his language nourished reconciliation, and his actions encouraged co-existence. Whether it is the conflict between Hindus or Muslims or with the British Raj, his words mitigated conflicts and directed one's thoughts and actions towards solutions.

He was one of the most powerful leaders we have had in the last two centuries. He did not want anything for himself, nor did he want to control anything or lead any one. All he wanted to do was create a society of mutual respect and co-existence. Every one always wonders how did he get to make people listen to his message of non-violence? The answer is simple; People knew, he gained nothing from what he does, but instead they gained from his effort. Indeed, those who are un-selfish have invincible moral strength. Nothing frightens them or cows them down. You will find the same commitment and moral strength in Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mahavira, Confucius, Nanak, Baha'u'llah, Mother Teresa and so many other great souls. Muhammad is my other mentor who had all the power on the earth during his life time but lived a simple life, and told his own daughter that she ain't going to get a free pass to God, she has to earn it by doing good deeds, i.e., doing things for other's good. Every one of the above teacher's strength lie in one simple thing: Their sense of justice was strong as a mountain and they were absolutely un-selfish.

Mahatma Gandhi's non-Violence movement is a model that will last for centuries to come. Every great teacher listed above has taught the same message over and over again. The idea is that there is a balance of energy in every human, doing bad things deflates that energy and doing good things recoups it. You may have experienced the elated feeling of having a great day, when you helped someone in dire need. Non-Violence is a belief that the tyrant is blessed with the same energy, but is not aware of it and we have to help him realize it after enduring the suffering. Fighting out may bear the result for short run, but in the long run, the fighting and the avenging continues. Whereas the non-violence method of achieving the objective is sustainable, justice ultimately brings lasting peace, and non-violence sustains it, violence disturbs the balance.

I have a special connection with the Mahatma, and am making this disclosure for the first time in public. I have met the Mahatma twice in my dreams; first time was way back in 1971 when the Mahatma, the Vice Chancellor of Bangalore University Dr. Narsimaiah and myself were talking over a meal and he gave a pat on my back and told me that I have a lot of work to do. Then again in 2005, I saw him smiling at me encouraging me to continue with the work of Pluralism.

My message on this day is watch what you say; does it conflagrate the dialogue, does it make the opposing parties dig in? or does it propel people to work towards solutions. You can apply this formula at your work, home or any situation and see the difference. Be a winner, by making the others a winner too.

Mahatma Gandhi probably would have endorsed my view that, if we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness to each one of seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. That is the mission of the foundation for pluralism.

Today, October 2nd is Mahatma's birthday, may this day make our leaders think, and believe that there is a greater joy in creating peace. Here is a message from Arun Gandhi, Mahatma's Grand son. I am also honored to have shared the conference space with Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi as a co-speaker at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2006.


A Message from Arun Gandhi
Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi on Gandhi's birthday

Mahatma Gandhi would be disappointed -- and troubled -- by the growing religious intolerance here in America and around the world.

Yet, my grandfather would be a source of inspiration, guidance and strength -- as he would sit down with you -- to humbly offer his suggestions for meeting these difficult challenges.

Because in every part of the world: religious hatred and polarization are increasing. And extremists are fanning the passions of intolerance and fear (and sometimes outright violence) in the name of God -- and in pursuit of their narrow political agenda.

Here in America and elsewhere in the world, religious extremists have been quite successful in manipulating their view of religion for political and economic gain.

Like you, I have been disappointed to hear Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell misuse religion - by damning their political opponents, by claiming the partisan support of God, and by polarizing America with their extremist political agenda.

Meanwhile, some national leaders in Washington DC are now trying to divide the world according to religion - by oversimplifying and demonizing other religions and people.

As a board member of The Interfaith Alliance, and as an American, I've put a lot of thought into the problems we face as a people and as a country. You see, I have personally faced severe religious intolerance in Tennessee and elsewhere in America. And I've seen too much injustice and violence -- meted out in the name of God -- to allow these developments to go unchallenged.

I've also devoted my life to preserving my grandfather' s writings and furthering his tradition.

And I am absolutely convinced he would support the important reconciliation work of The Interfaith Alliance - which draws its supporters from over 65 faith traditions to work together to challenge religious political extremism - while promoting the healing role of faith in public life.

...I was fortunate enough to spend my teenage years with him, as Mahatma Gandhi calmed violent crowds - with only his frail body, famous walking stick, and words of profound wisdom.

In these difficult times, Grandfather Gandhi would remind us to:

1. Be open to the beauty of beliefs that are different than yours.

The Interfaith Alliance brings people from Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Catholic, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jewish traditions - to build better lines of communications and to point out the many things we all have in common - so we can peacefully address whatever may trouble us.

Resist the temptation to wall yourself off from all the fears in the world.

Don't play into the hands of extremists who say the best solution is to divide the world as well as people in America along religious lines.

Don't let the media and our current religious leaders scare us into mistrusting or hating our neighbors in the world - because they wear a head scarf, or speak a different language.

In this modern age, we are unavoidably connected to the world, and these futile attempts to wall ourselves off from people who disagree with us, is simply the wrong strategy.

2. A neighborhood is not a community.

A neighborhood is only a geographic distinction -- a place on the map.

In far too many neighborhoods, the residents don't even know the people on their block. And people who are different are often shunned, ignored, hurtfully misunderstood or harassed.

My welcome to Tennessee was also marred by harassing phone calls from a local preacher.

Every other morning for four months, a fundamentalist minister in the Religious Right would call my house at 5 or 6am - to tell me I was not wanted, I was an evil heretic, and that I should move from Memphis because of my beliefs and obvious dark skin. When you are faced with such ignorance and visceral agitation, I hope you too will find comfort, wisdom and strength in the teachings of my grandfather - and in the powerful examples of perseverance by people like Martin Luther King Jr., who was by the way gunned down in my town.

Likewise, I have not let this fundamentalist zealot silence me or stop me in my pursuit of a more just, fair, open, civil and peaceful community, country and world. Nor should they stop you!

My father was imprisoned many times in South Africa for his moral opposition to Apartheid, my cousin was assassinated by political opponents, and I've seen many decent, moral and good-hearted people spit upon, beaten up, ridiculed, banished, or even killed for their beliefs.

So, if I can do anything in honor of these enlightened souls, it's to encourage you not to despair.

Don't let the other guy win because he seems more powerful - or gets more media attention.

3. Popular support does not validate the "correctness" of our opponents.

Mahatma Gandhi spent most of his life (as have I) trying to defend the rights of persecuted religious sects or ethnic groups who were being ignored, discriminated against, or slaughtered.

Time and time again (as in America right now), the dominant forces believed in their moral superiority because of their apparent strength in numbers at that point in time.

Some Americans are even suggesting that proper morality or ethics can only be found in their narrow view of ultra-conservative Christianity or whatever extremist vision they're promoting.

But grandfather told us and showed us that the soundness and fairness of our ideas will ultimately prevail -- regardless of the size or power of the opposing forces - IF we show the required tenacity, inner strength and flexibility required for the longer struggle for justice.

And his storied life demonstrated the power of love, forgiveness, patience, conviction, nonviolent activism, polite discourse, and a search for common ground and better understanding.

That's why I hope and pray that you will support a citizens group here in America that is trying to carry forth my grandfather' s vision for interfaith cooperation. The Interfaith Alliance offers us an intelligent, sober and resourceful mainstream alternative for reconciling the religious animosities now plaguing us.

The Interfaith Alliance has also shown: there is much more that unites us here in America and around the world amongst religions, than divides us. And calmer heads like yours are needed. So, please help us to promote the positive and healing role of religion in public life and compassion, civility, and mutual respect for human dignity.

While grandfather would admit that, "Democracy necessarily means a conflict of will and ideas, involving sometimes a war ? between different ideas," he would also point out that claims of religious supremacy are dangerous - if not challenged by fair-minded intelligent souls like you.

Fundamentalists have created an explosive atmosphere all over the world.

Whether it's Christian extremists here in America, radical Hindu nationalists in India, or Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East or South Asia: these religious extremists have exploited their religion and followers -- to debase and misinterpret other religions and people.

And the violence and hatred they preach only leads to more destruction and polarization.

While we can be respectful in our protest and civil in our activism, we cannot afford to sit back and allow the Christian Coalition or any other group claim that our government should adopt one version of religious beliefs for its policies and laws.

Nor can we allow any fundamentalist group to claim that God supports their political agenda while your religious beliefs or political leanings are labeled "evil" or shameful in the eyes of God.
The violence in the Middle East is a visible reminder of the divisive power and awful human toll of religious disagreements when combined with politics.

These religious conflicts also point out the important role for voices of moderation.

So, won't you stand up with me for sensible dialogue and cooperation among religions?

...[We] need to remember the Golden Rule. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other powerful historical figures have likewise urged us to love our enemy. Mahatma also pointed out: "Love is the subtlest force in the world."

He said we need to respect people who may be different, and this requires much more of us than merely tolerating people's differences. With "tolerance," you could believe you don't need to like or even talk to the other person - the stranger, the foreigner, and the "infidel" -- and we all lose. The point is: showing respect requires much more effort, more humility and more understanding.

Respect only comes about when we learn more about one another - and this is one of the most important functions of The Interfaith Alliance - as it pulls together leaders and adherents from more than over 50 different faith traditions - for open dialogue and respectful cooperation.

Mahatma Gandhi learned many lessons from his long battles to end discrimination, to lift the standards of living for the Untouchables, to prevent violence, and to overthrow the strongest imperial power on the globe when India won its independence from Great Britain.

One simple reminder he left us is:

4. Listen to your inner voice ? and become the change you wish to see.

We all have a tendency to wait for the other person (particularly our opponent) to make the first move - to change before we are willing to change.

We also know the path of hate, retribution and a thirst for "an eye for an eye" justice will make the whole world blind.

And Mahatma Gandhi taught us that it's important to start with yourself in seeking the transformation you want to see realized in the world and in your community. He would gently remind you that we all have an obligation to do our part, no matter how difficult the task may seem.

Inspirational Quotes from Mahatma Gandhi

# There are times when you have to obey a call which is the highest of all, i.e., the voice of conscience even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being.

# The test of friendship is assistance in adversity, and that too, unconditional assistance. Co-operation which needs consideration is a commercial contract and not friendship. Conditional co-operation is like adulterated cement which does not bind.

# Non-cooperation is an attempt to awaken the masses, to a sense of their dignity and power. This can only be done by enabling them to realize that they need not fear brute force, if they would but know the soul within.

# Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

# Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.

# It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.

# Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy.

# They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.

# I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

# Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.

# Whenever I see an erring man, I say to myself I have also erred; when I see a lustful man I say to myself, so was I once; and in this way I feel kinship with everyone in the world and feel that I cannot be happy without the humblest of us being happy.

# I have but shadowed forth my intense longing to lose myself in the Eternal and become merely a lump of clay in the Potter's divine hands so that my service may become more certain because uninterrupted by the baser self in me.

# An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody will see it.

# Even as wisdom often comes from the mouths of babes, so does it often come from the mouths of old people. The golden rule is to test everything in the light of reason and experience, no matter from where it comes.
# Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

# Fear is not a disease of the body; fear kills the soul.

# The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.

# An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

# Weeding is as necessary to agriculture as sowing.

# Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacities.She has the right to participate in the minutest details in the activities of man, and she has an equal right of freedom and liberty with him. http://www.interfaithalliance.org/site/pp.asp?c=8dJIIWMCE&b=120703

Arun Gandhi, one of The Interfaith Alliance's Executive Committee Members at-Large, is a prolific author and co-founder of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tennessee. The mission of the Institute is to teach and to apply the principles of nonviolence and resolve personal and public conflict. Mr.. Gandhi is the fifth grandson of Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi and grew up in South Africa during the system of apartheid. He learned from his parents and grandparents the importance of creating social change through nonviolent acts. Drawing on these lessons, he and his wife dedicated their lives to improving their Communities. In India, they designed and implemented programs that address social and economic depression reaching over half a million people, and the programs continue to grow. Most recently, Mr. Gandhi and his wife Sunanda co-authored, The Forgotten Woman: The Untold Story of Kastur, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi. They lecture worldwide, but are based at the Institute in Memphis.

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Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the www.FoundationforPluralism.com and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the www.WorldMuslimCongress.com with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

For a full bio: http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ramadan Bill - US Congress

This is HISTORIC for American- Muslims and Muslims around the world. This is the first time in history that the United States Congress will commemorate and recognize the month of Ramadan as the Islamic holy month. The language from the bill text is below for your viewing.

1st Session
H. RES. 635

Recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commending Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.

September 5, 2007

Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas (for herself, Mr. MEEKS of New York, and Mr. ELLISON) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


Recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commending Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.

Whereas since the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, threats and incidents of violence have been directed at law-abiding, patriotic Americans of African, Arab, and South Asian descent, particularly members of the Islamic faith;

Whereas, on September 14, 2001, the House of Representatives passed a concurrent resolution condemning bigotry and violence against Arab-Americans, American Muslims, and Americans from South Asia in the wake of the terrorist attacks;

Whereas it is estimated that there are approximately 1,500,000,000 Muslims worldwide;

Whereas Ramadan is the holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal for Muslims worldwide, and is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar year; and

Whereas the observance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan commences at dusk on September 13, 2007, and continues for one lunar month: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That--

(1) during this time of conflict, in order to demonstrate solidarity with and support for members of the community of Islam in the United States and throughout the world, the House of Representatives recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world; and

(2) in observance of and out of respect for the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, the House of Representatives acknowledges the onset of Ramadan and expresses its deepest respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this significant occasion.
As-Salaamu Aliakum,

Ilhaam "illy" Jaffer has worked hard in getting this bill through the Foreign Affairs Committee and it will be voted on the House Floor tomorrow by Congress. Call your congressman tonite or in the morning to support the bill. Please log on to http://www.congress.org/ and enter your zip code to get the information about your congressman. One call does more good than all the talk in parties.
I have worked closely with Ilham Jaffer on Congresswoman Johnson's youth initiatives. Illy was instrumental in making that program a grand success, where some 36 youth learned about leadership, interfaith dialogue and getting along with all to create a beautiful America.
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com
For a full bio:

Ahmedinejad V Bollinger

Ahmedinejad V Bollinger
Mike Ghouse, October 1, 2007

Peace building requires us to use a language that mitigates the conflicts and helps building bridges, even with our enemy, as going to war hurts us as much as it hurts the enemy. We have seen the deaths of 3800 of our own men and women, and a million Iraqi’s. Do we want more or less of this? Those who want war must consider sending their boys and girls or spouses to the front lines for an understanding of the ravages of war.

When President Ahmedinejad visited the United States in September, he was asked by the Columbia University to speak (speech link included below) to the students, he did. Prior to his speech, President Bollinger of Columbia University introduced him in derogatory terms. As an academic, he made us Americans look bad.

As Americans, we have to question this. Is Bollinger's behavior acceptable? Do we insult a guest, whom we invite to speak, not as a response to the speech, but even before he speaks? Bollinger has set a bad example. There is no excuse or justification for this. He put us Americans in a bad light, does he care? He is free to claim, that he did it in an individual capacity, and he was sorry that he was presumed to be representing an American University. I hope he has the guts to apologize in behalf of American People. His rude mannerism do not represent me or that of any American except himself as an individual.

No doubt, as Americans, some of the sycophants are toeing the line of our Government, however, it is not heroic to curse your guest in your home, neither it is a responsible behavior. I hope we do not condone such behavior, as it reflects on 297,000 million of us.

I sincerely hope, the Iranians do not view this as an American attitude, but a Looney's sad tales. And I do hope, they pressure their governments to stay away from challenging others and build relationship and work with the international community to keep away from developing the destructive nuclear arsenal. They can take the lead.

The Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions, here is the link and the list:


TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger's insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals.

The following is the full text of the letter.

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran , hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country's political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the truth.

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran's national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah's dictatorship?

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran 's proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration's efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran 's current government to act against the MKO's main base in Iraq?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

8- Why do America's closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran's agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.

HERE IS AHMEDINEJAD’S FULL SPEECH: http://mikeghouse.blogspot.com/2007/09/ahmedinejad-columbia-speech.html

Please leave your comments at: You are welcome to leave your comments at: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2801020625658998297&postID=1478383381741332667&isPopup=true

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town

The Indian Lobby's Future

The Indian Lobby and its Future
Mike Ghouse, October 1, 2007

The Indian Lobby is in a good position to march ahead, as much as it is learning from the Israel lobby, it can also learn that going too far, can bring negative returns.

A healthy balance is more sustainable in the long run, than taking advantage of one another. India has always sought a middle ground, has never waged a war on another county, and neither has it aggressively sought to frighten the little nations and rule. It is paying off and we are going to have to sustain that policy and not fall prey to our new relationship.

We have seen rise and fall of empires, almost every time, the fall was followed by an un-just rule.

America was the superpower for years but when we resorted to un-just wars, taking sides for a quick benefit rather than a just benefit, we have lost and we are losing it now. Hopefully the slide will end with our current President, who has a disapproval ratings of 74% from Americans. Further, we want the next President who would seek cooperation of other nations in doing good things, and not waging wars, we want the president to lead the world through the example of our democracy, of our respect for peace and our respect for human dignity and certainly not alienating and creating enemies around the globe".

India earned her respect by being non-aligned all the way from independence through the 60's. Then we tilted towards Soviet Union and now towards America . This relation is natural, both of us are democracies and we have a common interest to let the world see the light of democracy, and see that people run their own lives and their citizens are treated with dignity, liberty and justice.

Imperialism has gotten away in the human history; but only for short term. There is a old saying in Urdu/Hindu " Jis ki laathi, us ki bhains", whoever owns the stick drives the cattle.

Israel lobby had gone too far to the detriment of American interests. It started out with a legitimate need; to protect and defend Israel ’s right to exist. Power is corruptive, and the lobby is no exception to that. In their enthusiasm and their ability to influence the President, Senate and the house, they have gone far off bringing diminishing returns. For every two steps they take, they will have to back at least one, and if they still don't get it, the law of karma takes over and they may have to back peddle several steps to catch up with the eternal act of balancing. Had they been just to America and Israel both, they would not be facing the issues they are encountering today.

I hope the India Lobby takes the approach of sustainability of their policy rather than what can we get today? There are always a few petty ones around, who are less for India , but more against other nations. Their agenda is hate, and they make their way into the lobby to get their agenda taken care of, they pretend that they are for India , but they are a liability to India . As Indians, we have to contain these extremists among us, if not we could lose momentum. It is time we check them out, each one of them.

We stand to gain a whole lot for both the nations, if we remain true to the ideal for what is good for India has also got to be good for America .

Your comments: http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/09/the-indian-lobby-and-its-future.htm

Suggested reading : The Law of Karma and the Israel Lobby http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2007/08/israel-lobby.html

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town

The Hill's Next Big Player Is Made in India.
Mira Kamdar, Sunday, September 30, 2007

The fall's most controversial book is almost certainly "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," in which political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt warn that Jewish Americans have built a behemoth that has bullied policymakers into putting Israel's interests in the Middle East ahead of America's. To Mearsheimer and Walt, AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group, is insidious. But to more and more Indian Americans, it's downright inspiring.

With growing numbers, clout and self-confidence, the Indian American community is turning its admiration for the Israel lobby and its respect for high-achieving Jewish Americans into a powerful new force of its own. Following consciously in AIPAC's footsteps, the India lobby is getting results in Washington -- and having a profound impact on U.S. policy, with important consequences for the future of Asia and the world.

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"This is huge," enthused Ron Somers, the president of the U.S.-India Business Council, from a posh hotel lobby in Philadelphia . "It's the Berlin Wall coming down. It's Nixon in China ."

What has Somers so energized is a landmark nuclear cooperation deal between India and the United States, which would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and deliver fuel supplies to India's civilian power plants in return for placing them under permanent international safeguards. Under the deal's terms, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- for decades the cornerstone of efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons -- will in effect be waived for India, just nine years after the Clinton administration slapped sanctions on New Delhi for its 1998 nuclear tests. But the Bush administration, eager to check the rise of China by tilting toward its massive neighbor, has sought to forge a new strategic alliance with India , cemented by the civil nuclear deal.

On the U.S. side, the pact awaits nothing more than one final up-or-down vote in Congress. (In India , the situation is far more complicated; India 's left-wing parties, sensitive to any whiff of imperialism, have accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of surrendering the country's sovereignty -- a broadside that may yet scuttle the deal.) On Capitol Hill, despite deep divisions over Iraq , immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs to India , Democrats and Republicans quickly fell into line on the nuclear deal, voting for it last December by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Even lawmakers who had made nuclear nonproliferation a core issue over their long careers, such as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), quickly came around to President Bush's point of view. Why?

The answer is that the India lobby is now officially a powerful presence on the Hill. The nuclear pact brought together an Indian government that is savvier than ever about playing the Washington game, an Indian American community that is just coming into its own and powerful business interests that see India as perhaps the single biggest money-making opportunity of the 21st century.

The nuclear deal has been pushed aggressively by well-funded groups representing industry in both countries. At the center of the lobbying effort has been Robert D. Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India and deputy national security adviser who's now with a well-connected Republican lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers LLC. The firm's Web site touts Blackwill as a pillar of its "India Practice," along with a more recent hire, Philip D. Zelikow, a former top adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was also one of the architects of the Bush administration's tilt toward India . The Confederation of Indian Industry paid Blackwill to lobby various U.S. government entities, according to the Boston Globe. And India is also paying a major Beltway law firm, Venable LLP.

The U.S.-India Business Council has lavished big money on lobbyists, too. With India slated to spend perhaps $60 billion over the next few years to boost its military capabilities, major U.S. corporations are hoping that the nuclear agreement will open the door to some extremely lucrative opportunities, including military contracts and deals to help build nuclear power plants. According to a recent MIT study, Lockheed Martin is pushing to land a $4 billion to $9 billion contract for more than 120 fighter planes that India plans to buy. "The bounty is enormous," gushed Somers, the business council's president.

So enormous, in fact, that Bonner & Associates created an India lobbying group last year to make sure that U.S. companies reap a major chunk of it. Dubbed the Indian American Security Leadership Council, the group was underwritten by Ramesh Kapur, a former trustee of the Democratic National Committee, and Krishna Srinivasa, who has been backing GOP causes since his 1984 stint as co-chair of Asian Americans for Reagan-Bush. The council has, oddly, "recruited groups representing thousands of American veterans" to urge Congress to pass the nuclear deal.

The India lobby is also eager to use Indian Americans to put a human face -- not to mention a voter's face and a campaign contributor's face -- on its agenda. "Industry would make its business case," Somers explained, "and Indian Americans would make the emotional case."

There are now some 2.2 million Americans of Indian origin -- a number that's growing rapidly. First-generation immigrants keenly recall the humiliating days when India was dismissed as an overpopulated, socialist haven of poverty and disease. They are thrilled by the new respect India is getting. Meanwhile, a second, American-born generation of Indian Americans who feel comfortable with activism and publicity is just beginning to hit its political stride. As a group, Indian Americans have higher levels of education and income than the national average, making them a natural for political mobilization.

One standout member of the first generation is Sanjay Puri, who founded the U.S. India Political Action Committee in 2002. (Its acronym, USINPAC, even sounds a bit like AIPAC.) He came to the United States in 1985 to get an MBA at George Washington University , staying on to found an information-technology company. A man of modest demeanor who wears a lapel pin that joins the Indian and American flags, Puri grew tired of watching successful Indian Americans pony up money just so they could get their picture taken with a politician. "I thought, 'What are we getting out of this?', " he explains.

In just five years, USINPAC has become the most visible face of Indian American lobbying. Its Web site boasts photos of its leaders with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and presidential candidates from Fred Thompson to Barack Obama. The group pointedly sports a New Hampshire branch. It can also take some credit for ending the Senate career of Virginia Republican George Allen, whose notorious taunt of "macaca" to a young Indian American outraged the community. Less publicly, USINPAC claims to have brought a lot of lawmakers around. "You haven't heard a lot from Dan Burton lately, right?" Puri asked, referring to a Republican congressman from Indiana who has long been perceived as an India basher.

USINPAC is capable of pouncing; witness the incident last June when Obama's campaign issued a memo excoriating Hillary Rodham Clinton for her close ties to wealthy Indian Americans and her alleged support for outsourcing, listing the New York senator's affiliation as "D-Punjab." Puri personally protested in a widely circulated open letter, and Obama quickly issued an apology. "Did you see? That letter was addressed directly to Sanjay," Varun Mehta, a senior at Boston University and USINPAC volunteer, told me with evident admiration. "That's the kind of clout Sanjay has."

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Like many politically engaged Indian Americans, Puri has a deep regard for the Israel lobby -- particularly in a country where Jews make up just a small minority of the population. "A lot of Jewish people tell me maybe I was Jewish in my past life," he jokes. The respect runs both ways. The American Jewish Committee, for instance, recently sent letters to members of Congress supporting the U.S.-India nuclear deal.

"We model ourselves on the Jewish people in the United States ," explains Mital Gandhi of USINPAC's new offshoot, the U.S.-India Business Alliance . "We're not quite there yet. But we're getting there."

Mira Kamdar, a fellow at the World Policy Institute and the Asia Society, is the author of "Planet India : How the Fastest-Growing Democracy is Transforming America and the World."


Israel Lobby & Democracy