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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

World's 'most racially intolerant country is not India = the survey is flawed and must be questioned

I am outraged at this map about India. Not because I am an Indian, but because it is flawed. I have consistently stood up against wrong surveys and mis-representation of people, all people.  This is the second international survey that is so much out of the line this year. 

The first one was about the Sharia Survey by Pew on April 30, 2013 - and I have appeared on Fox News on May 1st to refute it and have written about it in Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/a-few-talking-points-about-sharia-after-losing-a-sean-hannity-shouting-match_b_3200730.html

India is pegged as the most racially intolerant country in the world, and this is not acceptable, off hand these are the questions; 

First of all, the question about race is flawed. To a typical Indian, there is only one race in India. However, the majority of Indians are not aware of the existence of all the anthropological races in India - Caucasian, Mongoloid, Negroid and the Brown, although the awareness has increased since globalization started. They may have colored the question differently or it was misunderstood.

Secondly, it is rather religion that is the cause of discrimination* than race in the subcontinent. Race, religion, language and caste are excuses to exploit the greed of humans. We should call it greed than race.  "Rang aur Nasl, Zaat aur Mazhab, Jo bhi aadmi say kamtar hai" (color, race, caste and religion are inferior to humanity) are all clubbed in many a songs as discriminating factor.  

Thirdly - depending on the strict race question, Pakistan has ranked as a tolerant nation, because in theory rarely a Muslim believes in superiority of one race over the other, as the Prophet had said in his last sermon**, but do they really follow the Prophet?  Had they followed, they would speak up against injustice and harassment of Hindu women, Sikhs and Christians, and stop the killing of Ahmadiyya and Shia Muslims. 
Pakistan is shown a higher degree of tolerance than India. No doubt, India does not have an impeccable record on religious discrimination, but it is much better than many of the other nations. India should realistically rank as more tolerant nation.

* Although discrimination is illegal in India as in the United States, but it is practiced widely where as in the US individuals have recourse with Law. India does not have anEqual Opportunity and Housing discrimination department to access. Urbanization is removing the barriers, but it would be the law on the side of the discriminated, that will change the society. 

** A survey is warranted here in the United States, a good percentage of Desi Americans (subcontinentians -south Asians of all religions) living in America are racist pigs, I am sick of their racist remarks. This needs to go, and I get stared at with contempt when I speak up against racism. 

I protest the survey and ask the Surveyors to reconsider the data and club the Rang aur Nasl, Zaat aur Mazhab, Color and race, caste and Religion as one item and redo the survey and rank the nations. 

May be the civility of nations index is warranted based on how they treat their minorities – race, religion, ethnicity, culture and language. 

The survey is flawed, and India does not deserve to be # 1 in negative way. This is my protest and if I get the support, I will take it further.

Mike Ghouse

The Book "Standing up for others" will be released on July 4th.  Mike Ghouse is committed to build cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.
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The Telegraph, UK
Saturday 22 June 2013

Swedish economists have stated that India, Jordan and Bangladesh are among the least tolerant countries in the world, while Britain is among the most accepting.

The World Values Survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to state the type of people they did not want as neighbours.

Over 40 per cent of respondents in India, Jordan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong said they would not want a neighbour of a different race.

The British were among the most tolerant, along with former colonies the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. People in Latin American counties were also prepared to embrace racially diverse neighbours.

The data from the survey by Niclas Berggren and Therese Nilsson wasmapped by the Washington Post by Max Fisher.

In India, 43.5 per cent said they did not want someone of a different race as their neighbour. In Jordan it was 51.4 per cent, while in Hong Kong and Bangladesh, over 70 per cent said someone of a different race was their biggest concern in a neighbour.

Europe showed widely varying results, with France coming out as notably racially intolerant at 22.7 per cent. Former Soviet states such as Belarus and Latvia proved to be more tolerant than many of their European neighbours, according to the study.

Washington Post


• Wide, interesting variation across Europe. Immigration and national identity are big, touchy issues in much of Europe, where racial make-ups are changing. Though you might expect the richer, better-educated Western European nations to be more tolerant than those in Eastern Europe, that’s not exactly the case. France appeared to be one of the least racially tolerant countries on the continent, with 22.7 percent saying they didn’t want a neighbor of another race. Former Soviet states such as Belarus and Latvia scored as more tolerant than much of Europe. Many in the Balkans, perhaps after years of ethnicity-tinged wars, expressed lower racial tolerance.

• The Middle East not so tolerant. Immigration is also a big issue in this region, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which often absorb economic migrants from poorer neighbors.

• Racial tolerance low in diverse Asian countries. Nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines, where many racial groups often jockey for influence and have complicated histories with one another, showed more skepticism of diversity. This was also true, to a lesser extent, in China and Kyrgyzstan. There were similar trends in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

• South Korea, not very tolerant, is an outlier. Although the country is rich, well-educated, peaceful and ethnically homogenous – all trends that appear to coincide with racial tolerance – more than one in three South Koreans said they do not want a neighbor of a different race. This may have to do with Korea’s particular view of its own racial-national identity as unique – studied by scholars such as B.R. Myers – and with the influx of Southeast Asian neighbors and the nation’s long-held tensions with Japan.

• Pakistan, remarkably tolerant, also an outlier. Although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch.

Update: I’ve heard some version of one question from an overwhelming number of readers: “I’ve met lots of Indians and Americans and found the former more racially tolerant than the latter. How can these results possibly be correct?” I’d suggest three possible explanations for this, some combination of which may or may not be true. First, both India and the U.S. are enormous countries; anecdotal interactions are not representative of the whole, particularly given that people who are wealthy enough to travel internationally may be likely to encounter some subsets of these respective populations more than others.

Second, the survey question gets to internal, personal preferences; what the respondents want. One person’s experiences hanging out with Americans or Indians, in addition to being anecdotal, only tell you about their outward behavior. Both of those ways of observing racial attitudes might suggest something about racial tolerance, but they’re different indicators that measure different things, which could help explain how one might contradict the other.

Third, the survey question is a way of judging racial tolerance but, like many social science metrics, is indirect and imperfect. I cited the hypothetical about Swedes and Finns at the top of this post, noting that perhaps some people are just more honest about their racial tolerance than others. It’s entirely possible that we’re seeing some version of this effect in the U.S.-India comparison; maybe, for example, Americans are conditioned by their education and media to keep these sorts of racial preferences private, i.e. to lie about them on surveys, in a way that Indians might not be. That difference would be interesting in itself, but alas there is no survey question for honesty.

Correction: This post originally indicated that, according to the World Values Survey, 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers had said that they would not want a neighbor of a different race. In fact, those numbers appear to be substantially lower, 28.3 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its Web site. Ashirul Amin, posting at the Tufts University Fletcher School’s emerging markets blog, looked into the data for Bangladesh and discovered the mistake. My thanks to Amin, who is Bangladeshi and was able to read the original questionnaire, for pointing this out. His analysis is worth reading in full, but here’s his conclusion:
The short answer is, yes, someone did fat finger this big time. “Yes” and “No” got swapped in the second round of the survey, which means that 28.3% of Bangladeshis said they wouldn’t want neighbors of a different race – not 71.7%.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Fathers Day

One of my most affectionate moments with my Dad occurred, when I left home to work in Saudi Arabia in 1977, he hugged me and kissed on my forehead, that meant so much to me. I continue to dwell in that moment.  In the Indian society in the 50’s and 60’s affection was not expressed verbally, but the affection was part of every moment of the life.  

Once I refused to go to Ramadan Eid prayers as I was loosing interest in religion and becoming an Atheist, I was about 15 years old then. My father did not get angry or threw a fit over that, instead, he sat down and had a conversation with me – and offered me choices – that I lived in the society and to survive and live a fuller life, I have to get along with them and have a working relationship. I was expecting a boring lecture or anger – I got neither instead I was moved by his wisdom.   

M. Abdul Rahman
Everett A. Blauvelt
He never hit me except once – I was sitting at the porch of my house relaxing, and watched a man fell off from his bicycle with a big bag of rice. He was struggling to get back on it, and I was laughing… at a distance I saw my father coming… and then he sped, that sent a chill in my bones, had never seen him in that mode… I ran inside the home, he helped that guy and followed me. I hid on the heap of Paddy bags in the corner of my house. He went out and pulled the branch of a mulberry tree and bam – he got me and said something to this effect, “my son will not sit and do nothing when someone needs help. He got me brainwashed pretty well to stop and lend a hand to anyone in need.”
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 getting closer, I would like to have my head stone read "zero prejudice".  Thank you Dad!

Then I owe my gratitude to Dadski Everett Blauvelt. Since my father passed away in 1977, Dadski has been a great father figure to me, he always inquired about my family all his life and was very caring and helped me through the death of my father. He was instrumental in getting me here in the United States and he passed away on April 21, of this year.

The way I have learned to appreciate these men is by taking time. I will do my early morning prayers of gratitude for these two men. 

I am blessed to have so many great friends who are fatherly figures to me; Sri. D D Maini; Rev. Bill Mathews; Dr. Harbans Lal; and Dr. Qureshi. Happy father’s day to ya’ll. 

I feel the pain of those who did not have a good father, or had an abusive father or did not even know a thing about him. I am proud of you for making it in life despite not having a father, and respect and understand your pain and struggles. I pray for the well being of all those how feel sad today,  that is the least we can do in a cohesive society. If any one of you considers me a fatherly figure, please feel free to call and talk to me for a few minutes. 

Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Indian Ocean remain virtually untouched by modern civilization

Three years ago, in February 2010, Bo died, she was the last speaker of the Bo language, with her died a language of the world. She belonged to one of the oldest tribes on the earth, nearly 5000 years old tribe. A press release was issued then at http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2010/02/press-release-in-behalf-of-indians-of.html
I wrote a statement about India, that we are a nation of all races,  ethnicities, cultures and religions, some one had objected that we do not have the black race. Here is another proof and the Bo tribe is another.  India is really a very diverse nation, as I call America and India, are God's own countries, a cosmic representation of the universe.

Mike Ghouse

Mike Ghouse

Lost Tribe On Small Island In The Indian Ocean remain virtually untouched by modern civilization.


Monday, June 10, 2013 22:44

Anything and everything anytime

The Sentinelese (also Sentineli, Senteneli, Sentenelese, North Sentinel Islanders) are one of the Andamanese indigenous peoples and one of the most uncontacted peoples of the Andaman Islands, located in India in the Bay of Bengal. They inhabit North Sentinel Island which lies westward off the southern tip of the Great Andaman archipelago. They are noted for vigorously resisting attempts at contact by outsiders. The Sentinelese maintain an essentially hunter-gatherer society subsisting through hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants; there is no evidence of either agricultural practices or methods of producing fire. Their language remains unclassified.

The present population of the Sentinelese is not known with any great degree of accuracy. Estimates have been produced ranging from lower than 40, through a median of around 250, and up to a maximum of 500. In the year 2001, the Census of India officials recorded 39 individuals (21 males and 18 females); however, out of necessity this survey was conducted from a distance and almost certainly does not represent an accurate figure for the population who range over the 72 km2 (17,800 acres) island. Any medium- or long-term impact on the Sentinelese population arising from the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami remains unknown, other than the confirmation obtained that they had survived the immediate aftermath.

On previous visits, groups of some 20–40 individuals were encountered regularly. Habitations of 40–60 individuals were found on two occasions. As some individuals are almost certainly hiding, a better approximation of group size cannot be determined. This would suggest that some 2–6 groups occupy the island. The rule of thumb population density of 1.5 km2 (370 acres)/individuals in comparable hunter-gatherer societies indicates that one such group could live off the land alone. A significant amount of food is derived from the sea. It seems that the groups encountered, at any one time, could only have come from a rather small part of the island. There appear to be slightly more males than females. At any given time, about half of the couples seemed to have dependent children or the women were pregnant.

North Sentinel Island

The Sentinelese and other indigenous Andamanese peoples are frequently described as negritos, a term which has been applied to various widely separated peoples in Southeast Asia, such as the Semang of the Malay archipelago and the Aeta of the Philippines, as well as to other peoples as far afield as Australia (notably former populations of Tasmania). The defining characteristics of these “negrito” peoples (who are not a monophyletic group) include a comparatively short stature, dark skin and “peppercorn” hair, qualities also found commonly across the continent of Africa. No close contacts have been established, but the author Heinrich Harrer described one man as being 1.6 m (5′ 4″) tall and apparently left handed.
From 1967 onwards, the Indian authorities in Port Blair embarked on a limited programme of attempts at contacting the Sentinelese, under the management of the Director of Tribal Welfare and anthropologist T. N. Pandit. These “Contact Expeditions” consisted of a series of planned visits which would progressively leave “gifts”, such as coconuts, on the shores, in an attempt to coax the Sentinelese from their hostile reception of outsiders. For a while, these seemed to have some limited success; however, the programme was discontinued in the late 1990s following a series of hostile encounters resulting in several deaths.
In 2006, Sentinelese archers killed two fishermen who were fishing illegally within range of the island. The archers later drove off, with a hail of arrows, the helicopter that was sent to retrieve the bodies.  To this date, the bodies remain unrecovered, although the downdraught from the helicopter’s rotors at the time exposed the two fishermen’s corpses, which had been buried in shallow graves by the Sentinelese.
On 2 August 1981, the ship Primrose grounded on the North Sentinel Island reef. A few days later, crewmen on the immobile vessel observed that small black men were carrying spears and arrows and building boats on the beach. The captain of the Primrose radioed for an urgent airdrop of firearms so the crew could defend themselves, but did not receive them. Heavy seas kept the islanders away from the ship. After a week, the crew were rescued by a helicopter working under contract to the Indian Oil And Natural Gas Commission (ONGC).

The Sentinelese apparently survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its after-effects, including the tsunami and the uplifting of the island. Three days after the event, an Indian government helicopter observed several of them, who shot arrows and threw stones at the hovering aircraft with the apparent intent of repelling it. Although the fishing grounds of the Sentinelese were disturbed, they appear to have adapted to the island’s current conditions.

Amazing that in 2013 there is still a tribe that has had virtually no contact with the outside world.  To resist contact in such a vigilant way.  Reminds me of the scene from Mutiny On The Bounty with Anthony Hopkins.
Source: http://markosun.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/lost-tribe-on-small-island-in-the-indian-ocean-remain-virtually-untouched-by-modern-civilization/

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Salman Rushdie’s movie scares film distributors in India

Although I have stood up for the freedom of speech for Salman Rushdie and will continue to do that for every one,  I would like to see him clarify his position, he is perceived as a self-hating Muslim (borrowed from Jewish expression - self-hating Jew) and continues with that, that is of course his choice.

Film must be shown India, those who want to see can see.

Meera Nair's film Water met similar troubles in India by the Hindutva extremists, the sets were burn and they had to shoot the movie in Sri Lanka! When it was Premiered in Dallas, I was asked to introduce the movie to the audience and respond to the Q&A following the film. Even in Dallas, a few of my fellow Indians were belligerent towards the movie.

I might see if I can see the movie previews and introduce it here in Dallas.

Mike Ghouse

NEY DELHI — “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” said India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947 when the nation gained independence from British colonial rule.
Sixty three years later, the Indians who inherited that freedom appear to be losing their nerve to defend it.

Screenshot of movie title from YouTube.

The new movie version of the epochal, Booker Prize-winning novel “Midnight’s Children” by the controversial India-born writer Salman Rushdie is scaring away movie distributors. The historical fiction novel traces the journey from the heady days of independence to the turbulent politics of the nation-building decades that followed.

Watch the official trailer of “Midnight’s Children.”

There is no official ban on the film. But the reluctance to receive the film points not just to the rising intolerance and threat to free speech in India in recent months, but also to how Indians have begun to self-censor themselves proactively because of fear of attacks or their distrust in the government’s ability to deter attacks.

In the past year, authorities locked horns with Google, Twitter, Facebook and the blogger community here over screening of content that it found offensive.
The reason for the fear is that anything to do with Rushdie will provoke Muslim anger here. His book “Satanic Verses” is banned in India, and earlier this year the writer canceled his visit to a literary festival after the government warned him of a possible threat to his life.
In March, Rushdie attended a conference in New Delhi, only to find that many of the politicians and Muslim speakers boycotted it.
The movie, which was released last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, has many prominent Bollywood actors.
”People are getting scared that a movie based on Rushdie’s book may create a problem here,” said Sunil Bohra, a movie producer and distributor, who said he had not seen the film.
“The producers of the movie must think if it makes sense to attach Rushdie’s name to the movie in India. It worked around the world, but may not here.”

Writer Salman Rushdie arrives at the premiere for "Midnight's Children" at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. (Jemal Countess - GETTY IMAGES)

The movie features another hot-button issue. The story includes critical descriptions of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who suspended civil rights and free speech during a two-year period in the 1970s called the “Emergency.” Gandhi’s daughter-in-law, the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, now heads the ruling Congress party, and any negative portrayal of the family is frowned upon.
The director of the film, Deepa Mehta, told the Hindustan Times newspaper that it would be a “pity” if the film didn’t release in India because of “insecure politicians”.

EDITORIAL: Mr. Narendra Modi, you have a choice

By Mike Ghouse
Published at Indian Muslim Observer, June 4, 2012

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 mikeghouse@aol.com]

Narendra Modi On Sardar Patel: Putting Goebbels To Shame

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Narendra Modi On Sardar Patel: Putting Goebbels To Shame

This is a historical document and worth preserving it.  Of course Sardar Patel belongs to every Indian including Narendra Modi. Mr. Modi is no doubt a good administrator,  but not sure he is a good human. He lacks humility and is divisive,  he is causing his own party founder to quit the party. He has a lot of praischiting to do to clean himself out, that follow with restoring the lives of thousands of Gujaratis displaced and pushed to live in squalor. Narendra Modi you have a choice   - Mike Ghouse

By Shamsul Islam

13 June, 2013

Gujarat Chief Minister and Hindutva icon Narendra Modi, while inaugurating an all-India conference on livestock and dairy development on June 11, 2013 in Gandhinagar, announced a nation-wide campaign to collect small pieces of iron from farmers and use them to build a ‘Statue of Unity’ in memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first interior minister of independent India in Nehru’s cabinet.

He announced, “On the day of Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31, 2013, we will launch a nation-wide campaign, covering more than five lakh villages throughout the country, to collect small pieces of iron of any tool used by farmers from each village, that will be used in the building of the statue.” This ‘Statue of Unity’ is to be the tallest statue on Earth: the 182 metres (392 feet) tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — the Iron Man — will be built opposite the Sardar Sarovar Dam over the Narmada river in south Gujarat.

Modi lamented the fact that architect of modern India, “Sardar Patel brought the nation together. But gradually his memories are fading away” and went on to declare that “to reinvigorate his memory and as a fitting tribute to the Iron Man of India, we are building this statue, which will be double in height than the Statue of Liberty in New York.” He also reminded the audience that “Sardar Patel was also a farmer who was instrumental in bringing farmers into the freedom struggle.”

This grandiose project of Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who is an RSS whole-timer, raises a few pertinent issues. He was inaugurating a national conference on livestock and dairying, both of which are passing through a very critical phase due to famine, corporatization of agricultural land and high costs. The well-being of livestock and dairying is essentially connected with the well-being of farmers. According to official data, in the last one decade, on an average, one Indian farmer committed suicide every 40 minutes due to debt, sub-standard seeds/manure, high costs and scarcity of water, to name only few of the endless problems. In the same decade millions of head of cattle have perished due to famine, shrinking pasture lands and handing over fertile lands to business houses and builder mafias. Dairy products have become luxury items beyond the reach of common Indians. India leads the world in having the largest number of under-nourished children and women. Shockingly, Modi had no comments on this worsening scenario.

Modi’s love for Sardar Patel is intriguing for many reasons. Patel was a Congress leader who, inspired by Gandhi’s principle of non-violence, led a great and very powerful movement of farmers at Bardoli taluka in 1928. This is known as the Bardoli Satyagraha and the then pro-British English Press described it as “Bolshevism in Bardoli” and Patel as its “Lenin.”

Patel was awarded the title 'Sardar' after this heroic struggle. This peasants’ movement started against the extortionate lagan imposed by the British rulers and landlords and selling of large tracts of agricultural land to moneybags of Bombay. Sardar Patel led the movement but he had devoted Congressmen/women workers, both Hindus & Muslims, like Imam Saheb Abdul Kadir, Uttamchand Deepchand Shah, Mohanlal Kameshwar Pandya, Bhaktiba Desai, Darbar Gopaldas Desai, Meethubehn Petit, Jugatrambhai Dave, Surajbehn Mehta, Umar Sobani and Phoolchand Kavi, who challenged the colonial masters and their henchmen at the ground level.

One important fact to be noted is that the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, which existed during this period, kept aloof from this historical struggle. Modi’s co-option of Patel, who was a prominent Congress leader of the anti-British freedom struggle, is part of a ploy of the Hindutva camp to be seen as part of the freedom movement despite having betrayed it. This kind of co-option game is likely to succeed, as the Congress as a party has become indifferent to its anti-colonial legacy.

Dead persons do not speak, and Sardar Patel cannot appear to put across the truth. However, contemporary documents show that Modi's and the Hindutva camp's love for Sardar Patel is based on lies. Sardar Patel hated Hindutva politics and was the person who imposed the first ban on the RSS. The February 4, 1948 communique issued by the Home Ministry headed by Sardar Patel banning the RSS was self-explanatory:

“In their resolution of February 2, 1948 the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the RSS.”

The communique went on to say that the ban on the RSS was imposed because

“Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the RSS have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military.”

It was Sardar Patel who, as Home Minister, did not hesitate in telling the then supremo of the RSS, Guru Golwalkar, that his organization was responsible for killing Gandhi and instigating violence. In a letter written to Golwalkar, dated 11 September 1948, Sardar Patel stated:

“Organizing the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing… Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS… Since then, over six months have elapsed. We had hoped that after this lapse of time, with full and proper consideration the RSS persons would come to the right path. But from the reports that come to me, it is evident that attempts to put fresh life into their same old activities are afoot.”

Sardar Patel continued hammering the fact that the Hindutva brigade collectively was responsible for the murder of Gandhi. In a letter to Nehru dated February 27, 1948, he wrote, “It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that hatched the conspiracy and saw it through. It also appears that conspiracy was limited to some ten men… Of course, his [Gandhiji’s] assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy.”

Sardar Patel stressed the same fact in his letter to a prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, on July 18, 1948: “As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in the conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.”

Despite all these facts, Narendra Modi claims to love Sardar Patel. It only shows that Modi has no qualms about resorting to deceits for selfish gains. Sardar Patel is a ready-made heroic figure. Modi does not have to manufacture him. He and the RSS have only to hide the fact that the man was opposed to their organization and had acted against it, and then, by what can only be called theft, proceed to make him one of their own. This defiance of historical fact is characteristic of the strategy of the Hindutva camp. Goebbels is dead, long live Modi.

[I am thankful to Mr. Mukul Dube for inputs]

Shamsul Islam is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Satyawati College, University of Delhi. notoinjustice@gmail.com

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hindus Celebrate a Decade of Advocacy on Capitol Hill

Congratulations for the achievements you have made for HAF.

I am glad to see you becoming pluralist a little by little, it is good to see you expand your boundaries, and this is good improvement and I pray you become a genuine pluralist.
On the lighter note, you have been wearing the same Kurta and Chappals since 2004 when I introduced you to the Dallas Hindu Community in the Shanti-Shanti Progam. I will buy you a new suit, next time I am in India.

Mike Ghouse

Hindus Celebrate a Decade of Advocacy on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. (June 6, 2013) -- A Hindu monk offered the opening prayer for the House of Representatives and the birth sesquicentennial of Swami Vivekananda, considered Hinduism's first ambassador to the West, was marked in the Congressional record Tuesday morning. These two historical firsts led up to a gala celebration attended by over 300 as the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) marked its tenth year of advocacy on Capitol Hill. A parade of Senate and House leaders took turns at the podium of the ornate Caucus Room of the House Cannon Building and lauded the Foundation's accomplishments over the years.

"The dividends of a decade of investments in education, advocacy, and tireless interactions with every level of our nation's government were on display throughout HAF's full day of events," said Mihir Meghani, M.D., Co-Founder and member of the HAF Board of Directors. "A Hindu prayer given on the floor of the House, and the words of Swami Vivekananda offered by Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) inspired a remarkable day and will carry us into the next decade of tireless work."

For the tenth consecutive year, over fifty delegates representing HAF fanned out in teams

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) addressing the guests at HAF's 10 Anniversary gala
visiting dozens of congressional offices on the Senate and House sides of the U.S. Capitol on June 4. Delegates asked legislative leaders in direct meetings to begin a congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, calling on the incoming Nawaz Sharif government of Pakistan to take concrete steps to ease the continuing tragedy of religious persecution and violence faced by Hindus, Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims, and Christians there. They also called for the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees to host congressional hearings on the retaliatory violence faced by Hindus and Buddhists in Bangladesh in the wake of recent verdicts against Islamist leaders implicated for their roles in the 1971 genocide during Pakistan's partition. Delegates covered domestic issues as well, articulating uniquely Hindu perspectives on the pending immigration legislation.

At noon, HAF delegates gathered in the gallery of the House of Representatives within the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. On a joint invitation of Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, spiritual head of Kauai's Hindu Monastery and Publisher of the Hinduism Today magazine, offered a Hindu invocation to open the day's House proceedings.

"The tragic Boston marathon bombings, still vivid in all our minds, implore us to advocate the humanity of a nonviolent approach in all of life's dimensions. Hindu scripture declares, without equivocation, that the highest of high ideals is to never knowingly harm anyone," said Bodhinatha, becoming the first Hindu sannyasin, or monk, to offer the opening prayer for Congress. Chairman Royce, of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took to the House floor after the invocation to thank Bodhinatha, while acknowledging HAF's decade of advocacy and work on the Hill.

HAF Board, Staff, and Executive Council with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Arumuganathaswami of Kuai Hindu Monastery

As the gala reception got under way, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) accepted HAF's Friend of the Community award while affirming his commitment to ensuring that the FBI mandate a separate category for the tracking of data for hate crimes committed against Hindus - a position long advocated by HAF. Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, similarly was awarded for his work on pushing for the anti-Hindu hate crime data category on the House side. Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) accepted the third HAF Friend of the Community Award for his commitment to promoting promoting pluralism and inter-religious dialogue, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the first Hindu American elected to Congress, was recognized for her history-making win.

"Our government leaders are hearing from Hindu Americans in a sustained, consistent way for the last decade, and the results are showing," said Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF's Executive Director and Legal Counsel. "Our commitment to the community is to continue these efforts, expand them, and usher in a new generation of Hindu American leaders making a difference in political engagement."

Courtesy of South Asia Mall

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

10 things you might not know about India

There is a whole lot more... to write.
Mike Ghouse

Clockwise from left: Overweight man, man with limes in his moustache, baby girl, men on plastic chairs
For many people writing about India, the common cliches of Delhi belly, lengthy traffic jams, bureaucracy, corruption and yoga retreats are the subjects that fill the column inches.
Here are 10 other observations.

Only 3% of Indians pay income tax, in a population of 1.2bn. One explanation for this is that agriculture is exempt and two-thirds of Indians live in rural areas. A large chunk of the economy is also informal, unorganised labour, for which it's harder to collect taxes. Many argue that some of the country's financial problems would be solved in one fell swoop, if this massive tax hole could be filled.

What can be done about India's tax black hole?

A friend of mine told me that, before his arranged marriage, he had a hunch his prospective in-laws had hired a private detective to check whether he'd had a girlfriend in the past. The answer was that he had, but the snoop (thankfully for my friend) failed to find out, and the wedding went ahead. The growth in companies offering the service is huge, with 15,000 operating. "It's not spying," says one woman who'd used the service to check out a prospective bridegroom for her sister. "He told us he was from a good family, but we needed to ensure he was telling the truth."

Boy reading a newspaper
While Western countries are mourning the demise of the newspaper, India's print industry is in fact booming. A growing literacy rate, relatively low internet use, and the large number of languages in the country, mean more people want to pick up their daily rag. It's also very cheap to buy a newspaper, which is widening newspaper readership among all social classes. Another reason why smaller, community newspapers are also on the rise, is because with a growing economy, more people are taking out classified ads, which helps to fund publications. What's also remarkable is the market in second-hand newspapers and magazines. You can sell your magazines to a man at a roadside stall, who will buy them off you and sell them again - there are people who are more than happy to read a year old copy of the Economist, if it's more affordable than the current issue.

Horn, OK, sign
Painted on the back of almost all lorries and trucks are the words "Horn OK, please". Honking is encouraged in India for drivers who are coming up behind another vehicle. The problem is that they're not used sparingly. One rickshaw driver told me he honked his horn at least 150 times a day, a fairly conservative estimate, given that in heavy traffic they can be sounded at least once every 30 seconds. The average rickshaw horn produces a sound of around 93 decibels (close to that of a pneumatic drill), with the general sound of traffic equivalent to a jumbo jet taking off. A deafening sound, quite literally.

5. It's a young country

Young people in India are using music as a way to express self-confidence
India is a young nation. More than half of its 1.2 billion people is aged below 25, and two-thirds below 35. Many young Indians are feeling a sense of self confidence about their nation, no longer looking to the West. Mumbai has a hipster scene to rival Brooklyn's and home grown musical talent is flourishing, with many more shunning traditional professions and taking up a career in the arts. A music festival circuit has gigs held in fields and deserts, while major cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are becoming hubs for live concerts.

6. Everywhere you go, you see plastic chairs
Plastic chairs of India
Plastic chairs of India
Plastic chairs of India
Plastic chairs of India

. They're piling on the pounds
"Oh you've put on weight," said my bank manager with a smile on her face. Initially aghast, I eventually got used to the fact that gaining a few pounds is considered a compliment, a sign that you're looking healthy. But what surprised me was that India is now on the brink of an obesity epidemic, (not just with humans but animals too). Stop at any service station and you'll see queues of Indians gorging on McDonalds or other processed foods. It's always been usual to see the older Indian man sporting a fat tummy (known lovingly as a paunch), and while large swathes of India still battle malnourishment, with millions starving every day, there is a general widening of waists in the cities.

Some Indianisms

Prepone - To bring an event or meeting forward
Revert - to get back to someone
Only - added to the end of sentences
Out of station - Out of town
You've pulled down - You've lost weight
I'll do the needful - I'll do what's required
They expired - They died
I'm going to office - articles routinely dropped

8. The scourge of spit

“Start Quote

We cannot believe that people don't spit. It (spitting) is an inherent character of our people. ”
End Quote Justice PB Majmudar High Court judge, Mumbai
Mumbai has introduced a "spit inspector" to fine those who share their saliva in public. Many people spit after they've had paan (a mix of betel nut and areca, and sometimes tobacco - which is chewed but not swallowed). This produces a reddish stain which can be seen on the side of many white walls. It's common to see "do not spit" signs in taxis, on the back of rickshaws and on the front of buildings. But there's concern the falling phlegm is responsible for the spread of tuberculosis. There's even an anti spit campaign in the country.
9. Roadside ear cleaners

Close-up: India's unusual street-side services
Anyone who has been to India, even for a few days, will be well acquainted with the street-side economy which is a dominant part of life the country. The inventiveness and resourcefulness of people in the country is like no other - there are people who will sell or serve you in all kinds of ways. Broken an umbrella? There's a man who'll fix it. Need your shoes re-heeled? There's a man who will come to your house to do it. How about a haircut from a kerbside cutter? Then there's the serious stuff - the roadside bone setters, who will repair fractures, plus the ear cleaners and the corn and bunion removal men. What's remarkable is how these centuries old traditions are still going strong. Some fear these traditions are under threat, with future generations choosing to pursue an education and a different path rather than follow the family business, and because some authorities are trying to move them off the pavements.

10. Don't wear new clothes on a Saturday
An Indian man gets his new car blessed before it is driven
India might be home to some of the world's best scientists and engineers, but a lot of that rational thinking can go straight out of the window when it comes to observing ancient superstitions. Different people observe different things, such as - don't wear new clothes on a Saturday, don't clean the house at night for fear of scaring the Goddess Lakshmi away, it's bad luck to give or accept anything with your left hand. For so many in India - rich and poor - observing these customs is still part of today's society. Brand new cars have a floral garland hanging on the bonnet because it's considered good luck to get your new vehicle blessed before you drive it. Chilli and limes hang in cars or above front doors to ward off evil. A lot of planes don't have a row 13, to avoid any association with the unlucky number.
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