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

Friday, August 16, 2013

Potent Memories From a Divided India


Its a difficult story of rape, murder and inhumanity in us.

I heard the sad story of migration first hand from Sunder Lal in 1972. That was the first time, I have had any contact with people from Pakistan in my 19 years of life. His story was a very sad one, his sister was killed on his way from Lahore, the old man cried, but he was not bitter about it, he accepted it as his Karma. He built a huge empire in Bangalore - Sunder Chemical Works, where I worked, and his Son Harbans Lal is my eternal friend - it was his encouragement and stoking that made me a writer. I owe my gratitude to him.

My friend Shri D. D. Maini was born and raised in Kasur near Lahore. His family walked part of the route, he was a young man out of high school then. Thank God, his family arrived in Delhi Safely without incidents.

Since 1993, I have been in the Desi Community and started the Asian News Paper, the first Desi Paper that ran for about 7 years, and Asian News Radio commenced in 1996, the grand daddy of Fun Asia Radio. That is where I got to know the people of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, almost after the full Banvas.

I got to hear the painful stories of partition from both sides. There is a huge number of Indians who were born in Pakistan, and like wise there are many Pakistanis who born in India. Both people have had agonizing experiences.

Dr. Akbar Ahmed wrote a beautiful poem called Suspended, and I wrote the  review for the same. http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/06/dr-akbar-ahmeds-poetry-suspended.html

Dallas has a reservoir of people who have the paritioin experience, both good and bad,   and I hope someone chronicles this for posterity.

I have a difficult suggestion for you: If you hear the stories without hatred for the other - Indians for Pakistanis and Pakistanis for Indians, you'll realize a great human in you full of compassion, kindness and understanding. You will feel good about yourselves. Try it.
Mike Ghouse

Potent Memories From a Divided India

BERKELEY, Calif. — Growing up, Guneeta Singh Bhalla heard a terrifying story from her grandmother. In August 1947, as British India was being partitioned into independent India and Pakistan, her grandmother fled Lahore, in what was soon to become Pakistan, for Amritsar, in what was soon to become India. All around her was carnage. Clutching her three young children, she looked out the train window to see bodies strewed along the tracks. The memory haunted her until she died.

Margaret Bourke-White/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images
Sikhs migrating to a new homeland after the violent partition of British India in 1947.

For years afterward, Ms. Bhalla regretted not recording her grandmother’s story, and it spurred her to begin recording other people’s memories of that time. The project, known as the 1947 Partition Archive, has grown far bigger, far quicker than she ever imagined. Since its inception here two years ago, its dozens of volunteers have video-recorded 647 oral histories from more than seven countries and stored them digitally. It describes itself as “a people’s history” of that wrenching time.
“It’s something that’s been brewing in my mind since high school,” recalled Ms. Bhalla, a research physicist who is now 34, about the same age as her grandmother in 1947. “As I was growing up, it was always in the back of my head, and bothersome, as family members were passing.”
The partition, which carved up British India roughly along religious and political lines, uprooted over 10 million people. Hindus and Sikhs escaped to India; Muslims to Pakistan. Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians were left to choose where to live as minorities. The dead were difficult to count; estimates range from 250,000 to two million. No one knows how many were raped.
The oral history project is equally remarkable for being the first of its kind. As much as the partition hangs over the politics and psyche of the Indian subcontinent, there is no memorial — digital or analog — to mark it. This homegrown, volunteer-run project, directed from a few cubbies at the University of California here, is one of the first efforts to collect those memories. Now, because most of the partition’s witnesses are gone — most subjects are in their 70s and 80s — the project has taken on new urgency. At least 20 of the 100 people Ms. Bhalla has interviewed have died, she said. And so, with help from donors, the archive plans to dispatch 20 story gatherers this year to several cities in South Asia to collect stories while their tellers are still alive.
Video by 1947PartitionArchive
Radhika Kishin Chehnani on her move from Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan to Mumbai, India.
Many stories come from South Asians now living in the United States, though most are from those still living in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, which was part of Pakistan until 1971. The accounts, once they start pouring out, are one to four hours long. They are told in Urdu and Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali and English.
Having spent the last two years collecting stories, the project is now planning to develop new ways to share them. Its Web site will soon feature a “story map” with migration routes, excerpts from individual accounts and a tool to help partition migrants connect online with one another.
Some of those interviewed have never told their stories before, not even to their families. A Zoroastrian woman from Karachi recalls how her grandmother hid her Hindu maid from family members who wanted to convert her against her will. A Hindu man from a village near Lahore recalls surviving the train journey to India only because a Muslim man, a stranger, hid him in his first-class compartment; other Hindus on that same train were killed or wounded. A Muslim man from what is now Indian Punjab describes watching a mob stab his mother as she tried to protect her older son.
Video by 1947PartitionArchive
Ravi Chopra on his move from Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan to Firozpur, Punjab, India.
Video excerpts from a handful of interviews can be viewed on the Web site. Streaming all of them, in their entirety, will cost more than the project now has: about $56,000 from community donations and a grant from the American India Foundation. Ms. Bhalla hopes that one day the stories can be housed by libraries or research centers worldwide.
Like Ms. Bhalla, most story collectors are two generations removed; many are Americans of South Asian descent. They have fanned out to mosques and temples across the United States to solicit accounts from elders, and recorded them on hand-held video cameras and smartphones. One volunteer, Farhana Afroz, flew from Fremont, Calif., where she lives now, to several cities in Bangladesh, where she was born, to collect stories, leaving her husband and children back home.
Volunteers are sometimes asked: Who are you? Why are you doing this? Their answer: Because we must not forget. They are backed by no government, which helps. The goal is to record oral histories without judgment or analysis — or, indeed, corroboration.
Their list of questions include: When did you first hear about the partition? Did you have to defend yourself against violence?
And: Did you help drive out people from your area?
Video by 1947PartitionArchive
Abdul Jabbar on his move from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India to Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. 

In California, Ms. Bhalla came upon two men — one Sikh, one Muslim — who had spent their childhoods in neighboring villages in what is now the state of Punjab in India. Ali Shan, a Muslim who fled to Pakistan, was living in Fremont, south of here. Hardev Singh Grewal, a Sikh who remained in India, was living in neighboring Union City. Ms. Bhalla asked if they wished to meet. Of course, they said.
Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images
During the partition period in British India, Muslims pass the dead of a previous caravan and the bones of their buffaloes.

Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images
A Muslim woman being carried as her family flees her homeland.
Margaret Bourke-White/Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images
Sikh refugees in 1947.
On a rainy Saturday evening, they shared samosas and tea at the Grewal home. Mr. Shan, 72, sat stiffly at first on a white leather sofa. For the first couple of hours, they reminisced about an annual fair in Jurrahan, where Mr. Shan once lived. They remembered the names of the local schools. As the evening wore on, the more difficult stories trickled out. Mr. Shan told Mr. Grewal how a mob stabbed his mother and brother before his eyes when he was 6 — and then how a man in that mob inexplicably took him home.
Mr. Grewal, 76, inched close to him, patted him on the shoulder. Mr. Shan’s eyes filled with tears. He kept going. He remained with the stranger’s family for months, he said, and then an uncle took him to Pakistan. Mr. Grewal kept his arm on Mr. Shan’s shoulder.
Mr. Grewal recalled that the elders of his village, Gujjarwal, barely four miles from Jurrahan, had offered to save its Muslims if they converted to Sikhism. “They meant well, but looking back, I don’t think it was a good thing,” Mr. Grewal told Mr. Shan.
Nor did it save them. They were attacked as preparations were under way for the conversion ceremony. Mr. Grewal had no idea how many were killed, only that there were enough bodies to fill ox carts and a mass grave. Mr. Grewal remembered, too, that his older brother had taken home three of his school friends, all Muslims who had been injured in the attack. They stayed in the Grewal home until they were fit enough to travel to Pakistan. He has no idea what became of them.
“Ali, I want to ask you,” Mr. Grewal finally ventured, “do you get nightmares?”
Mr. Shan shook his head: “As soon as I forgave the people who killed my family, I was a new man.”
Ms. Bhalla took it all in. This year she left a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to devote herself full time to the project.
“Both survivor and citizen oral historian come away changed,” is how she put it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Independence Day India! Its 67 Years of freedom!

Fellow Indians, 
We are Indians and nothing but Indian.
An Indian is an Indian is an Indian, period.
We are Adivasis, Atheists, Bahais, Bos, Buddhists, Chrsitians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribals, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping. We are Brown, Black, White, Yellow and green with envy and phir bhi dil hai Hindustani (our heart is Indian).

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

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

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

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

A few don't follow their own heritage and resort to theivary, loot, murder, terrorism, rioting, rapes, infanticide and other evils that destroy the fabric of the society,  but a majority of every group goes about their own way, living their life with struggles and ease and don't even bother others. We should build upon the 99% of population and not on the less than 1% that does not follow any principles.
On this day, and every day from here forward, make a pledge to yourselves to talk about in terms of we Indians - and not Malyalee, Gujarati, Bengali.... or Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaee. Don't expect others to jump and say the same, give them the time and if you are consistent for at least a year, you will see others emulating you.
India led the way to the freedom movement, since 1947 every country has been liberated from colonialism. Indian democracy is a shining example to the world, where the people have peacefully transferred the powers. Indians are inherently secular and economically capitalistic. They believe in "live-and-let-live" life style, which is the essence of capitalism.

Through the years we have expressed the highest degree of maturity on handling extreme situations; the more divergent opinions we hear, the larger our heart grows, the bigger our embrace would be and we can cushion more differences. Let’s continue to honor the concept that there is always another side to the story, as finding the truth is our own responsibility. I am proud of my heritage and am proud to be an Indian-American.

Click and enjoy:

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse
Committed to cohesive societies
Please visit for more details about India. http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive Societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairsIslam,IndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly atHuffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog iswww.TheGhousediary.com

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Indosphere: Should we trust Made in India?

URL - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-indosphere-should-we-trust-made-in.html

I have been planning to do my bypass surgery in India, one of the questions I am answering frequently is the expression of doubt about Indian Doctors. My head hangs in shame that my fellow Indians are expressing this.

My counter is, I am an Indian, and I am on par if not excel than most people in my field (Pluralism discourse or Management Consulting) - how can I even underestimate my fellow Indians? Whether the Doctor is in India or here in the US, he or she will be the same doctor. We may have greater tools here, but the the care would be the same.

This is something we need to seriously think about, and ask fellow Indians - if they are good in what they do,  then we need to ask them, if they were to do the same job in Bangalore, should we discount them and their work because they are in India?

It is time for us to think about this.

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse

The Indosphere

Made outside India

As growth slows and reforms falter, economic activity is shifting out of India

Aug 10th 2013 | COLOMBO, DUBAI AND MUMBAI |From the print edition

INDIA’S diaspora of 25m people is something to behold. In colonial times Indian labourers and traders spread across the world, from Fiji to the Caribbean. A second wave of Indians left between the 1970s and mid-1990s, when the economy was in a semi-socialist rut. Migrant workers rushed to the Persian Gulf and South-East Asia, then booming. Educated folk and entrepreneurs fled to the rich world. Plenty struck gold, including engineers in Silicon Valley and Lakshmi Mittal, boss of ArcelorMittal, a giant steel firm. Often they now have little to do with India beyond sending cash to relatives and groaning as the once-vaunted economic miracle fades.
Yet alongside this distant diaspora, a network of people and places is more directly engaged with India’s economy. Its most conspicuous element is the plutocrat who owns firms in India, but like his Russian and Chinese peers shops in Paris, educates his children in America and Britain and sometimes has foreign citizenship: Cyrus Mistry, the boss of Tata Sons, India’s biggest firm, has an Irish passport. At the network’s core, however, is not the gilded elite but offshore hubs, including Dubai and Singapore, often with sizeable Indian populations and with their own economic strengths.
The idea that some things are better done abroad is hardly new. Hong Kong was a gateway to imperial and then Red China. In 1985 Yash Chopra, an Indian film-maker, led a trend of shooting Bollywood “dream sequences”—in which the hero and heroine sing amid meadows and snowy crags—in Switzerland. The Alps were easier, cheaper and safer than the more familiar location of Kashmir.
Film buffs now view Swiss dream-sequences as cheesy, but India’s big offshore hubs are more in fashion than ever. They present a mirror image of India’s red tape, weak infrastructure and graft. Dubai is a prime example. For long-haul flights Indians prefer its airline, Emirates, to their own. More than 40% of long-haul journeys from India go via a non-Indian hub, often in the Gulf. Indian airports no longer make grown men cry (Delhi’s is first rate), but few foreign airlines want to make them their base. Indian planes are usually serviced in Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore, reflecting a history of penal taxes in India and high customs duties on imported spare parts.
A stroll round Dubai’s gold souk, a glittering warren of shops and discreet offices, housing bullion worth $3 billion-4 billion, points to another specialism—trading jewellery as well as precious stones and metals. A third of demand is from India, reckons Chandu Siroya, one of the market’s big participants. Indians go to Dubai to avoid taxes at home and because they trust its certification and inspection regime.
Dubai’s ports, air links and immigration rules also make it a better logistical base than India. Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai mafia don, ruled from Dubai by “remote control” before eloping to Pakistan in 1994. Since those wild days legitimate Indian firms have thrived in Dubai. Dabur, which makes herbal soaps, oils and creams, runs its international arm from there. Dodsal, which spans oil exploration in Africa to Pizza Huts in Hyderabad, is based in the emirate. Its boss, Rajen Kilachand, moved from Mumbai in 2003. “Dubai is a good place to headquarter yourself,” he says, adding that a “Who’s Who” of Indian tycoons has a presence. Dubai is gaining traction in finance, too. Rikin Patel, the chief executive of Que Capital, an investment bank, says Indian firms are raising debt in Dubai to avoid sky-high interest rates at home.
Treasure Island
About 5,000km (3,000 miles) south of Dubai lies Mauritius, an island so beautiful that Mark Twain said God had modelled heaven on it. About half its people are descended from labourers brought from India when Britain ruled both places. It is the main conduit for foreign investment into India with 30-40% of the stock of foreign capital sitting in funds domiciled in the island. A 1982 tax treaty allows investors using Mauritius to pay tax at the island’s rate (which, in practice, is zero), not the Indian rate. Foreigners also like the stability of Mauritius’s rules and its army of book-keepers and administrators. Many investors also use “P-Notes”—a kind of derivative with banks that gives them exposure to Indian shares without having the hassle of directly owning them.
Sri Lanka has testy relations with India, but Colombo is a vital port. About 30% of containers bound for India go via intermediate hubs fed by small vessels, either because big shipping lines do not want to deal with India’s customs regime or because their ships are too big for the country’s ports. About half of this trans-shipment business happens in Colombo. Its importance could increase now that a big extension to the port there has just opened. The project was funded by a Chinese firm probably too polite to admit that its investment is partly based on the idea that India’s ports will never be world-class.
A roll of the dice
Sri Lanka also wants to develop a casino industry. Gambling is illegal in almost all India, so people use offshore bookies or the internet. James Packer, an Australian business dynast with a gambling empire in Macau, is said to be considering creating a casino resort in Colombo aimed at attracting Indian high rollers.
The largest hub for Indian trade is probably Singapore. It is the centre for investment banking, which thrives offshore, owing to the tight regulation of India’s banks and debt markets. Reflecting this, the global exposure to India of Citigroup and Standard Chartered, the two foreign banks busiest in India, is 1.9 times the size of their regulated Indian bank subsidiaries.