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Sunday, June 17, 2012

My father Abdul Rahman, my dadly-friends Everett Blauvelt and DD Maini

My father is my hero. He opened the windows of wisdom to me and led his life as an example. He was one of the most open minded persons I have known; he had prejudice towards none, indeed, if I pass that test and I am close,  I would like to have my head stone read "zero prejudice".  Thank you Dad! 

Much of my sense of equality and feeling on par with everyone comes from his life model. 

I have to use the disgusting word “Untouchable” to describe the situation in the early 60's of India. Yes, a group of people were called untouchables, indeed they make up 3rd of India's population. I will share a few examples that may make you shudder. Indeed, the grand parents of African American youth, and the older generation of Native Americans may relate with this.  Thank God, both America and India have made tremendous progress in civility, but it is shameful, this is still a practice in many nations.

Unfortunately, that was a fact of life when I was growing up in India. “They” worked outside, and were not allowed in  Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and other homes. My Dad broke all the rules, not only they would come in our home, but would eat in the same plates we would eat, and my mother would cheerfully make tea for them in the same cups we would drink. Never were they looked down or talked down… (This was common) to Mara, Naga…and others who worked for us from time to time.  My Dad’s actions had a big impact on me, and my mother had continuously reinforced those values. He said it was the right thing to do.

In the early sixties, water was drawn from the open wells in my town, and I watched the first water lines laid in the town. The public water faucets were set in the corner of every other street. We all went to collect water, and I watched some of the most humiliating acts there.  After one of “them” collected the water, a few from my line would go to the faucet and bloody wash the faucet  several times before they collected the water,  and I could see the pain on the faces of others waiting in the line. The only good thing was the lines and “they” had equal opportunity with every one, even thought there were two lines.

We simply cannot appreciate Mahatma Gandhi enough, the father of my nation of birth, he called them “Harijan” God’s people and gradually the word became a descriptor of the people. They are called Dalits as well. The founding fathers were ahead of their times, like the founding fathers of America. The wrote great constitutions which are gradually being emancipated, we still have a long ways to go.

My Dad was screamed at by his friends and local leaders (he was a council man and a Mayor of the town) for allowing “these” people in our homes. My Dad had the balls to defy the world and always did what was the right thing, and thanks to my Dad for passing on those balls to me.

He treated all of us kids with dignity and I am pleased I got to be disciplined at least once, the memory of which consistently reminds me to get my act together. I guess I replicated that with my children to the point my kids would actually say, Dad, you should have disciplined us. I did not see the need for it. I am fine and they are fine too. I did give them the cold shoulder that my father had given me to straighten me out, and it worked both ways, although my daughter was a tough cookie, she would not budge, she almost behaves like my mother with me and I loved it.
He taught that life isn't worth as much if we cannot stand up and help a fellow being.  I was about ten years old and watched a man fall off his bicycle with his big bag of raw rice (paddy) and was struggling to get back on it, and I wasn't going to help the man. I saw my father about 100 feet away, and the way he sped towards me got me frightened for the first time in my life... Instincts work as my guilt warned it.  I dashed inside the home and a few minutes later after helping the guy he was in… I climbed on top of the paddy bags in a corner of the house, I thought he could not get me there, so he goes outside and plucks a long branch off the mulberry tree and gives me a few good ones. "My son will never do that" after that conditioning, I have developed the habit of stopping for everyone who needs help. I dare not watch and not do something about it.

He was affectionate, caring and kind towards everyone I know. Every one in the town called him "Mamu"- uncle. They all came to him with issues, they trusted his integrity to do the just thing.

He was rarely angry, and I can count on the number of times I have been angry on my finger tips; thanks to him, he passed it on.  If you are a father, remember, your kids are likely to emulate you, think for them what you want them to be as grownups. What would you want them to be? 

When I was about 5 years old, one of our tenants was angry at his brother, he was nearly white but had turned red in anger, he picked up a big slab of rock and was about to slam it on his brother.. my Dad rushed and grabbed the rock… the seething look on that man’s face is permanently etched in my mind… the moment, I find myself angered, I think of him and said to myself, Ayyo (Bangalore expression for amazement) I don’t want to look that ugly and my anger  vanishes. In the last 15 years I must have been angry no more than three times. Ruben, my serviceman went to cash the check from the bank, and the bank asked too many ID’s because he was Mexican. I flew off the handle on the phone and cursed the hell out of the manger, until he gave him the cash.

Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks, acts and write ups. 

Remember your child will work, live and perhaps marry someone from a different race, ethnicity, faith, culture or a nation… as a father (its father’s day - it would have been mother on mother's day) have you thought of preparing your son or daughter for that day and save them misery of prejudice? I believe deep down every father wants “happiness” for their kids, but sometimes, messes up with them by the display of his own un-checked prejudices. I am glad I "dragged" my children to every place of worship for them to be familiar with how other people worship the creator. Happiness is feeling safe and secure with every human out there and it comes when we are exposed to it.

I think of my Dad almost every other day, but today, I am going to sit down, meditate and think about all the good things he has done to me, including my education, and pray for his soul. I do the Muslim way, as that is the way I am familiar with, but you do your own way, whatever makes you comfortable. You Dad will be happy whether he is alive with you or in the heavens.  

I am also going to pray for the health of my fatherly-friends Mr. Everett Blauvelt and Shri D. D. Maini, 97 and 86 respectively and hope to visit both of them today; one is in senior care and the other in hospital. Both are very dear to me.   

Happy father’s day to you as well. If you need a ear to hear you, you are welcome to call me today at (214) 325-1916 - and I would have the affection like a father for you. If you are older than me call me as your son.

Mike Ghouse

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Narendra Modi's choices

Narendra Modi is one of the most loved and hated politicians of India. He is the Chief Minister (Equivalent of State Governor in the US) of Gujarat, touted as one of  the most industrialized states of India.  He is loved by those who prospered and became wealthy, and hated by those who cried out for help, but got none.

In the Gujarat Mayhem a decade ago, both the criminals and victims were ethnic Guajarati. A majority of them did not like the death and destruction of fellow Gujaratis. Nearly a thousand of them were killed and several thousand were displaced and still living in the refugee camps.

No decent Gujarati should be offended with the reporting on rampage, it is not about them; it is about the criminals among them, regardless of the religious label they wear. Religion does not permit one to murder others. It is an embarrassment and a dark part of their history.

During the communal riots in Jabalpur in the early sixties, both Muslims and Hindus were killed in the mayhem. I wish every father in India, teaches the following lesson to his kids, as my father taught me. He told us that the "individuals" are responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions; he was very clear. He said, you cannot blame the nebulous understanding of religion and expect justice. The individuals responsible for disturbing the peace should be punished under the law, and a resolution to the conflict must result by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang or beat a religion, then why bark at it?  It is not the religion, it is the individual bad guys that are the problem.

Crime is always committed by the individuals, and each individual must be brought to justice to restore faith in the society.  When you believe that your rights will be protected by your government, you feel safe and secure and that is how you build cohesive societies.

It is disappointing to see the depletion of humanness among a few vocal fellow Indians. They have no empathy for the pain and anguish of families who were massacred in broad day light in Gujarat.  It is a shame that a few of them even justify it, and a few others believe that the victims deserved it.  Indeed, it is an assault on the sense of morality of all religions.

The long term well being of the individual and the society hinges on the morality of the people and not the wealth and economic prosperity. No nation has ever lasted on the basis of economic prosperity alone, it is the collective morality and adherence to the justice for all that defines the idea of a civilized nation. 

This piece is written in Indian context; hence, a self introspection for the Indians and Indian Americans may be necessary with the following five questions.

1.      Am I communal (sectarian) minded person?
2.     Am I capable of seeing another Indian as Indian without the religious lens?
3.     Do I blame others and not jettison my own share of responsibility?
4.     Do I feel bad, and not speak for fear of offending friends?
5.     Do I have a moral chip in me?

No society attains long term prosperity while oppressing a minority amongst them.

A “few” Hindus have rejoiced the massacre of fellow Gujarati Muslims, shame on their humanity and shame on them to call themselves Hindus. A few Muslims find it difficult to reconcile the situation, shame on them for not listening to their own religion. God declares in Quraan, that the dearest among you, is the one who forgives. It is not easy to do that.  A few Muslims rightfully want nothing but punishment, I wish they rather seek justice.

We have a choice to correct the situation, to begin with, at least in our own hearts.

An appeal to Chief Minister Modi  

Dear Mr. Narendra Modi, 

You have a moral responsibility to the well being of every citizen of Gujarat, whether they personally elected you or not, you still represent them.

Your fellow Gujaratis were massacred under your guardianship, and I hope your humanness is alive to feel their pain and anguish.

Mr. Modi, you have many choices; one among them is repentance, the praischit, and I urge you to seriously consider it. It is the Michami Dukadam of your life, that is seeking forgiveness and forgiving others for any grudge you may harbor against others. Right now, you have a choice to start your spiritual and political life with a clean slate.

This means making good with the people who have suffered under your leadership; it will bring Mukti (salvation) to you. The other choice is to resign and show the strength of your character.

Your moral character in the only sustainable legacy you can leave behind, and not the wealth you create for a few. Gujarat has been around and will always be there with or without you, and I hope you are humble enough to see it.

You may consider working on earning genuine respect from every Gujarati, particularly the downtrodden living in the refugee camps. Uplift their lives. You will be uplifting a huge moral burden of fellow Guajarati and fellow Indians. Your honesty and integrity will be transparent in how you handle the situation.

As a leader of one of the industrially advanced states, you have a duty to establish Gujarat as a state that respects law, where justice will be served to every Gujarati, whether they live in a Jhompdi (Huts) or the castle. Every Indian should feel safe, as the law would take care of the wrong doers. You need to express your courage to speak up and follow dharma, the right path.

You can begin by mustering the courage to apologize to the citizens of Gujarat and restore their lives and bring justice to them.  It will bring peace to every Gujarati and every Indian. It takes a man to do it, and I hope you are man enough to do it and turn things around for the 16000 men and women living in refugee camps.  Do them good, restore their life and earn their goodwill. Once they see the results of restoration of a genuine man, they will forgive you and support you and, they will stand up for you, if you stand up for them.

I am not sure if you are aspiring to run the national ship, or the ones who benefit from it want to prop you up, either way, you have the responsibility to fellow Gujaratis.

Your chamchas may not care if you did not get the visa to the United States, but you may want to remove the ugly stain from your character. The Hindus and Muslims are willing to help you, provided you are willing to do the praischit. The choice is yours.

Mike Ghouse is an Indian American committed to building cohesive societies, in the Indian context he hopes no Indian has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at ghousemike@gmail.com 

Published at: http://www.indianmuslimobserver.com/2012/06/latest-editorial-mr-narendra-modi-you.html


Sunday, June 3, 2012

India is the 3rd largest Facebook user.

India has become the the 3rd largest  Facebook user with 46 Million active participants. Ahead of us is Brazil with 48 Million and of course United States with 156 Million subscribers. Can we edge up to be #2? Yes, we can.

Face book is the best thing that has happened to the civilized world. If you are a facebook member, you may want to see the slide show about facebook. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=851280248&aid=426528
There are several of us who have been blessed with 5000 friendship on the Facebook in the first year. When I wrote about the essence of Janmashtami, nearly 100 Hindus became friends immediately, when I addressed the Immigration rally down town, about 200 Mexicans became friends, and when I wrote about Israel and Palestine dialogue, 100 Jews and Palestinians joined in….

As a Pluralist, I speak, write and blog about Pluralism, Politics and Foreign affairs. I am blessed to connect with all of God’s creation- Thanks to the face book.
Please join me at www.facebook.com/speakermikeghouse and put this Indian among the top speakers on Pluralism….
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America; if you are an Indian American and want to serve America, you can also join me at facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericansTogether

The Future of Facebook Is in India


By 2015, India will have more Facebook (FB) users than any other country on Earth—tilting the social networking action away from the West and toward one of the fastest-growing emerging markets on the planet.

As of right now, India has close to 46,307,580 Facebook users, according to Social bakers, a social media analytics firm in London. This makes India the third-biggest Facebook market, behind the U.S., now at 156,830,580 users, and Brazil, with 48,041,640.

According to Eleanor Armitage, a Socialbakers spokeswoman, the number of Indian Facebook users is growing 22 percent every six months, meaning that India will edge out the U.S. toward the end of 2014, when both countries are expected to have 170 million to 175 million members.

Prasant Naidu, who blogs about social networking in India at LighthouseInsights, attributes Facebook’s explosive growth in the subcontinent to its huge, mostly untapped market. (India has more than 1.2 billion people, and Facebook users constitute less than 4 percent of the population, compared with 51 percent in the U.S.)

Also, Facebook has aggressively targeted younger people. Says Cara Pring, a social media blogger in Sydney: “While it’s common to see a slight overrepresentation of younger age groups (i.e., 18 to 34) on social media channels, in India this group represents a huge 76 percent of all Facebook users. It’s clear that this age group is driving the social media revolution within the country.”

In 2010, Facebook opened an office in Hyderabad, India’s high-tech hub. Naidu says this has helped the company market to advertisers and forge agreements with cell-phone service providers—important in a country where most Facebook users log on via hand-held devices. (Facebook India did not reply to several messages.)

Pring adds that Indians view social networking differently than Americans do. Indians, she says, “want to use social networking in the real, true sense of the term—to grow their network in a social manner using whatever platforms are available to them. That doesn’t mean just the people they know. They are eager to connect with anyone they find interesting or that has something in common anywhere around the world. This is also why Twitter has exploded in India, because approval isn’t required to follow someone on the network.”

Of course, it’s unclear how long Facebook will remain the dominant social networking site on the planet—or if something newer, faster, better than social networking will replace social networking altogether. Facebook’s unimpressive IPO earlier this month has raised questions about its long-term marketability. And in many countries where Facebook’s penetration rate is at or above the 50 percent mark—the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and Taiwan, among others—Facebook is growing very slowly and, in some cases, shedding users.
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MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly