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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, the year India became a Hindu state

My upcoming article "Is Hinduism a violent Religion" has two similar paragraphs like this.  No one has a problem with Hinduism, but every one including Hindus have a problem with Hindutva - the mirror image of Taliban, ISIS or the Islamists. 

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Courtesy ; Scrollin http://scroll.in/article/698025
The Indian secularism debate is over. How grave will the assault on minorities be?

Today · 01:34 am

The Preamble to the Constitution of India describes the country as a “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”. Describing itself as socialist in the Constitution does not make India socialist, of course. What kind of a socialist country seeks Walmart? Similarly, secularism will soon be relegated to being a mere word in the pages of the Constitution.

Critics of socialism and secularism point out that these ideas were inserted in the Preamble not by the makers of India’s Constitution but by Indira Gandhi in 1976. They forget to read the rest of what the founding fathers wrote:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

Much of that is under attack. When the Prime Minister of India, on a visit to a foreign country, takes a dig at “secular friends”, it is clear that he does not believe in secularism, i.e., the idea that the state has no religion. Modi said at a reception by Indians in Tokyo in September, "I brought Gita for gifting [the Japanese Emperor]. I do not know what will happen in India after this. There may be a TV debate on this. Our secular friends will create 'toofan' [storm]."

In doing so, the Prime Minister may himself have overlooked the message of the Gita, to do the right thing, difficult as it may be, when faced by the challenges of dharma ‒ duty, obligation, and responsibility. To say that any “secular friends" have a problem with the Bhagwad Gita is a lie. Such an attack on the founding principles of India’s Constitution by its prime minister leaves you wondering if those principles will survive in the pursuit of power, development and progress by India’s first government in 30 years with a clear majority.

'Tokenism' for Hindus only

This was perhaps the first Ramzan when Iftar parties were not patronised by politicians of the ruling party; even Atal Bihari Vajpayee did so when he was prime minister. Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideology would say that such tokenism for minorities is exactly what’s wrong with secularism. Yet they see nothing wrong with the tokenism of Modi donating Rs 25 crore of Indian taxpayer money to the Pashupatinath temple in Nepal.

The Modi government’s assault on Indian secularism lies more in his silence than in his statements or actions. Soon after he came to power in May, a young IT professional in Pune was lynched to death for merely being seen with a beard and a skullcap. Since then, not a week has passed without some action or statement by radical Hindutva outfits against India’s religious minorities. Churches have been mysteriously burnt, adivasis have been beaten up and others made to participate in Hindu "reconversion" ceremonies, Muslim men have been falsely accused and put in jail for “love jihad”, anti-Muslim riots have taken place in Gujarat: the list is endless. Modi did not so much as condemn any of these. In a bizarre statement from the Red Fort on India’s Independence Day, he appealed for riots to be stopped for ten years, as if to say they could resume after that.

Trying to draw a distinction between radical Hindutva outfits and the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party is meaningless, because, as everyone knows, they all belong to the same Sangh Parivar spearheaded by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. Modi himself is a product of the RSS.

The government is not even making an attempt to portray a distance with these groups, their ideology or actions. Instead of condemning forcible so-called reconversions, the government says India needs a law banning religious conversion. There isn’t even a lip service to the Constitution’s ideal of a country where there is "liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship". Which side the government tilts to is clear when it seeks to hijack Christmas as "Good Governance Day", making some school children and many government officials work on a public holiday. Can you imagine the government doing this on Diwali or Vijay Dashami? What the prime minister instead does on Vijay Dashami is that he performs "Shastra Puja’"before police and security personnel at his official residence, as if Hinduism was the state religion. Also, he lets the RSS chief use state television to address the nation.

Hindu Republic of India?

Christmas is not a public holiday in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, for instance, because it is an Islamic state that will not have a public holiday on a Christian festival. That is where Narendra Modi seemingly wants to take India: towards being a theocratic state. It has often been said that India is a secular country because of Hindus. That is true because Hindus are in such an overwhelming majority that if they want a theocratic Hindu state, they could have it any day. Is that what they have voted for? The Modi government got a majority on a 31% vote share, and even those voters were largely voting out an extremely unpopular government. The government has already done a number of U-turns on several things it promised before the elections. It is now in danger of being known only for pushing the Hindutva agenda through the back door.

The idea that India is a secular country only because of its Hindus, also implicitly suggests that India’s would not be a secular country if it had a Muslim majority. That is not a given. There are 20-odd Muslim-majority countries that do not have a state religion. Yet our secularism-hating friends want to see Pakistan or Saudi Arabia as a model for minority rights.

The Sangh Parivar and the BJP want to invisibilise India’s religious minorities and reduce them to second-class citizens who must be grateful to the Hindu majoritarian state to be allowed to live peacefully without "reconverting" to Hindusim. They don’t want Hindu women to marry someone of another religion, they don’t want mosques to be allowed to have loudspeakers, they don’t want non-Hindus allowed at garba events in Gujarat, they don’t want religious minorities to have the right to proselytise, and they certainly aren’t giving any election tickets to non-Hindus as they win state after state election with a generous dose of religious "polarisation" of voters. Such are the people in power today, in the sovereign socialist secular democratic republic of India.

The Indian secularism debate ended when Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister. The big question now is how much damage this government will cause to Indian secularism. When the fringe becomes the centre, it will do its best to make sure that it redefines the centre forever.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.

Season of ghar wapsi: Intellectuals go back 'home' after brief Modi infatuation


After speaking against Modi for nearly a dozen years, I bought into his good speeches, consistent good speeches and wrote good pieces about him. http://mikeghouse.net/NarendraModi.asp

Yes, I am one of these guys like Varshney and Kishwar. Now, along with them I am returning home away from supporting Modi, he will mess up India if he does not control the rogues. The statement that he denied - that he did not tell his goons that they have three days to do whatever they want to do with Muslims... seem like a pattern. Is he giving one year to the Radicals to shake up and frighten every Indian, then he will speak up?  It will be too bloody late. 

My article "Is Hinduism a violent religion" is pending publication, wherein I write, "The problem seems to the be Prime Minister of India’s silence. He has not said a thing about these.  If he does not control the situation in India, the rogues among Hinduism will define his agenda and not him.

His election slogan, “sab ka sath, sab ka vikas” that is "every one’s support, brings prosperity to all" will become meaningless. Instead it will become, “Hindutva ka saaz BJP ki bakwas.” The right wing will play the music and the BJP will utter non-sense. 

The only way to save Hindus and non-Hindus from rogue Hindus is for good Hindus to speak up. So what if all Indian's become Hindu? Will you be safe as a Hindu? Would the mistreatment of Dalits and other "untouchables" go away? 

When Madhu Kishwar was in Dallas, I had a conversation with her, I found her to be a reasonable and logical person. Her unflinching support for Modi kind of assured me that, she is an insider, and knows what she is talking about. Well, she feels betray and I do too. 

I will still  give Modi a chance to speak up. The problem is not him, it is his RSS Madrasa training which excludes Christians and Muslims from Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum.

Modi seems to be betraying all those who supported him, believing he is a good guy and is for sab ka vikas and not satyanas. 

Mike Ghouse

# # #
Season of ghar wapsi: Intellectuals go back 'home' after brief Modi infatuation

Courtesy First Post

Volumes have always been read into the silences of Narendra Modi. When he was still Candidate Modi, Ashutosh Varshney had seen evidence of Modi the Moderate based mostly on what he was NOT saying. “Quite remarkably, Hindu nationalism has been absent from his speeches,” Varshney had written. Surely, this was then modi-fied Modi outfitted with “Vajpayee-like ideological moderation and political pragmatism.”
Now the same public intellectuals are being forced to read volumes into the same silences of Prime Minister Modi. Modi is still not talking about Hindutva and Ram temples. But everyone around him from Mohan Bhagwat to his frenemy Praveen Togadia are getting more and more bellicose. As ghar wapsi rhetoric gathers steam, the PM’s silence gets louder. And the public pundits, many of whom sick and tired of the UPA sarkar, had thrown their weight behind Modi are having second thoughts. In a season of ghar wapsi, some are going back “home” after a brief Modi infatuation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a file photo. PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a file photo. PTI
Pratap Bhanu Mehta: Mehta seems to have given up on Modi. He writes that while the PM “still strikes enchantingly nice notes” the government is floundering. Even worse to him it’s like a “Bollywood film – a big lead, some sets, some good lines, a few meaningless fight scenes, but fundamentally, no script. We cannot break into a song just yet.” And he is not buying the argument that the Hindutva firebrands are just fringe elements. It “simply does not wash. The number of inflammatory statements by a range of MPs is increasing.”
Status: Despairing. Classic buyer’s remorse.
Tavleen Singh: Singh had written an entire book shredding the Gandhi durbar and is obviously no fan of Sonia Gandhi. But her disillusionment with Modi has been sharp and quick. She complains that in the past six months, he has “allowed Hindutva types to speak louder than him and he has allowed his comrades in the RSS to wander about spreading religious tensions.” And she sees no hope for the PM’s agenda of reform when the likes of Mohan Bhagwat defend Ghar wapsi by saying “It is our maal, so we have the right to take it back.” “Why is the Prime Minister allowing the RSS to steal his mandate? I ask this question wherever I go these days and frankly I have no answer?”laments Singh. (Note to Singh: Read Varshney’s latest column. It might have an answer)
Status: Anguished. But clutching at straws as she tweets “The PM’s warning to his MPs on development and governance being his only agenda is very, very welcome.”
Gurcharan DasDas is all about the economy and ghar wapsi is getting in the way. Das just seems annoyed that for all his success in Parliament, “for a brief moment, ‘strong’ Modi resembled ‘weak’ Manmohan Singh.” Das just sees the entire affair as a management problem as opposed to an ideological one. Of course, “Modi is acutely aware that his mandate is jobs and growth and he must curb the unruly elements of the Sangh Parivar.” But what to do? He needs those footsoldiers for future elections. To Das the choice is clear. Modi needs to “assuage the anxieties of the cultural extremists while pursuing his jobs agenda with ekagrata.” And if he could marginalise the RSS in Gujarat, surely he can do it nationally. Like a good former CEO, Das has the solution – “Modi must ‘sell’ his reforms – especially to the ‘cultural right’ of the party” talking not about Adam Smith’s market but the great marketplace of Hampi.

Status: Worried but still strongly hopeful that Modi will prove to be all the Modi he hoped for.
Swapan Dasgupta: Dasgupta is of course the BJP’s own public intellectual and was one of the most robust champions of Modi in his quest for power. So he cannot afford to step on Modi’s toes. That means we have to read something into the silence of Swapan Dasgupta about the silence of Narendra Modi. Dasgupta writes that Modi needs to keep “hotheads in check” and “shift the political centre of gravity in the BJP towards development and governance.” But from what? Dasgupta manages to write all this without ever uttering the Hindutva word which sits like the elephant in the room. He just talks about the conversion and Christmas furore as “media activism” playing up the antics of a “loose cannons” which view Modi as “an instrument of convenience” and are “anxious to take advantage of a friendly Centre to press ahead with its pet schemes.” But he is silent on whether that “fringe” actually dominates the BJP’s “centre of gravity”. And if not, then where’s the need to shift it?
Status: Glimmers of nervousness. But Modi-ji tum aagey badho, hum tumharey saath hain.
Ashutosh Varshney: Oddly Varshney who once saw Modi the Moderate in his silences, now doubles back and basically sees a dyed in the wool RSS man in the same silence. He points out that culture, not economics drives Hindu nationalism. It chafes against the “1200 years of servitude” and thinks that now that “Hindu raj” has come it is entitled to “use the cover of state protection for conversion.” “It should now be clear why Modi has not yet taken a public stand against conversions,” writes Varshney. “He has grown up with the RSS ideology, which views shuddhi as its core.” But then Varshney does a somersault and poses the same question back to his readers as if he had himself not already answered it. “A critical question, therefore, is: at what point would he draw red lines for the RSS?”
Status: Very cautious U-turn. Not eating his words but chewing on them.
Madhu Kishwar: And finally of course Madhu Kishwar, the original Modi fangirl, the woman behind that 13-part gushing home video. She’s now convinced someone has done “black magic” on her sarkar. But Kishwar’s “shock” seems to be largely about Smriti Irani. She worries that “Delhi has disoriented him” but for now she’s just sticking to her “tweets of anguish” because if she actually went to him and he said “Madhuji chodo na” it would have been very difficult to say no.
Status: Oh, Modiji how could you betray me so? But still yours truly.
Courtesy First Post - http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/politics-fwire/season-of-ghar-wapsi-intellectuals-go-back-home-after-brief-modi-infatuation-2022549.html

Saturday, December 27, 2014

All-Hindu Vision of India


In the following article, Chandrahas Choudhury writes, "Hinduism suffers because it has historically never been a proselytizing religion (its identity is partly based on being born into a pre-existing caste order). Therefore, if religion were to become a sort of free market in a multifaith country such as India, Hinduism could only stand to lose followers, not gain any."

The deeper question is why does it matter if each one of us minds our own business? What difference will it make if you are a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or the other? Let every one have the freedom to eat, drink, wear and believe whatever the hell he or she wants to believe.

The author hits the right buttons on conversions in the following article,  and I have written many articles on the topic and a link to one of them is appended here below.
I get over a dozen calls a month from people wanting to become Muslim and how to go about it, and my answer is same - why don't you take the time to learn more about what you already know? Then I talk them out of the idea and share the great value of their own faith - the best discussion was with an Atheist from Los Angeles, who was gung ho on becoming a Muslim - finally did, so was a Mormon girl from North Dakota.  I am pleased to read Mahatma Gandhi's take on it as shared by the author "I even find myself in sympathy with Mahatma Gandhi’s unusual idea that it’s best that a person rule out the option of changing his religion and instead live through his or her quarrels with it (as Gandhi very vividly did)."

I find another of his thoughts in tune with me, "As a Hindu, I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. Missionary activity has always seemed to me unacceptably crude and arrogant, not only in its conviction that there is a single truth that must be propagated, but also in its contempt for two of the forces that most strongly influence religious belief:  the accident of birth in a certain religion, which is then followed by many years of socialization into its worldview. " 

Indeed, as a Muslim Pluralist, I find it agonizing to look down, or find faults and deficiencies in other faiths. It is a faith one grows up to be in love, just as one is in love with his or her mother. It would indeed be crude to ask one to give that up. I feel the pain that Muslims, Christians and others have inflicted upon people forcing them to convert in the past.

Those brutish Muslims and Christians from the past are reincarnated as the "Hindutva" forces, doing the same ugly things, what was done to Hindus in the past, keeping the cycle of hate and conversions back in business. 

I really like this note from the author, "I respect an individual’s freedom not only to practice his or her faith but also to change it, " Indeed, that is the crux of my article - every individual should be free in his pursuit of happiness, let no one dictate what one eats, drinks, wears or believes. 

Indeed Prime Minister Modi's silence is dangerous to the nation's cohesiveness, will he speak after the Hindutvadis dig in their heels and find it difficult to back out? There are many good articles written about his silence. Either he is approving it, or does not know what to do or let them do the harm as a revenge for the past and then I will stop.

If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

Mike Ghouse

# # #

A New, All-Hindu vision of India
Courtesy Chicago Tribune


This month, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, India’s powerful, male-only Hindu nationalist outfit, finally played a card it has long held in its hand. It announced an intensive conversion program to recover its “lost property” in India, feeding the dream of its cadre and allied organizations of an India that is nothing less than “100 per cent Hindu.”

The RSS has visibly grown in power and ambition in the seven months since the arrival of a new government -- unsurprisingly, as it counts among its past members the current prime minister, Narendra Modi, as well as many old and new chief ministers in the states. With this carefully calculated provocation under a regime sympathetic to its ideology, the nongovernmental organization is seeking victories in many arenas.
In the realm of law, the RSS wants the passage of a stringent nationwide bill that would ban religious conversions. In the public sphere, it has arrogated the right to pronounce not just on the future of minorities in India but that of India’s Hindu majority as well. In the war of the religions, it seeks to spread the news that there is now a Hindu fundamentalism eager to goad and trump well-established Christian and Islamic fundamentals in India and around the world. And among its own vast cadre, it has generated the sense that it, much more than the government of the day or the diverse institutions of civil society and business, holds the keys to India's future.
But let’s consider conversion as a recurring question in Indian history, one that reveals the tensions between a religious society and a secular state, between conservative and liberal adherents of a religion, between majorities and minorities in a multicultural milieu, and between religions that have a history of proselytizing and those that don’t.

The RSS’s new emphasis on conversion actually represents an about-face for the organization, which has for decades condemned missionary activity by Muslims and Christians in India. In so doing, the RSS often points out that Hinduism suffers because it has historically never been a proselytizing religion (its identity is partly based on being born into a pre-existing caste order). Therefore, if religion were to become a sort of free market in a multifaith country such as India, Hinduism could only stand to lose followers, not gain any.
As a Hindu, I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. Missionary activity has always seemed to me unacceptably crude and arrogant, not only in its conviction that there is a single truth that must be propagated, but also in its contempt for two of the forces that most strongly influence religious belief: the accident of birth in a certain religion, which is then followed by many years of socialization into its worldview.
To be sure, I respect an individual’s freedom not only to practice his or her faith but also to change it, as allowed in India by the constitution. But shouldn't this follow from a person’s own dissatisfaction or personal struggle, not as an outcome of the outreach work or material inducements of an organized religion? I even find myself in sympathy with Mahatma Gandhi’s unusual idea that it’s best that a person rule out the option of changing his religion and instead live through his or her quarrels with it (as Gandhi very vividly did).
So if the RSS’s new and crude campaign were aimed at simply drawing attention to the absence of a level playing field in India on the issue of conversion, as well as to generate the necessary debate leading to the passage of such a bill, I could see the point of it. But in truth, even if such a bill were passed, the RSS would insist that it would nevertheless not be bound by the bill's terms. That’s because the present aggressive campaign of the RSS is, in its own eyes, not about conversion but about reversion: the return, after many generations, of Christians and Muslims whose forefathers were once Hindu but were converted during India’s centuries under Islamic and colonial rule.
What the RSS seeks, then, is a new disequilibrium in which no other religious organization would have the right to convert people. No wonder it salivates at the prospect of a future India in which, by generating a consensus against the missionary activity of other religions, it can engineer a society that’s 100 percent Hindu.
And we shouldn’t lose sight of the even more slippery and sinister part of the RSS’s sinister agenda: the simultaneous conversion of a few hundred million people from Hinduism to Hindutva, the rancorous, intellectually and morally impoverished version of Hinduism that the RSS propagates.
This is a dour doctrine that -- like other religious fundamentals -- makes no distinction between myth and history, science and religious belief, and often comes close to caricature. It believes that Hinduism is a thought system perfect from its very origins, that all the problems of modernity and history were foreseen by Hindu sages 2,000 years ago, that all modern scientific achievement was prefigured in Hindu thought, that Indians of all faiths are “culturally Hindu,” that India’s four-fifths Hindu majority is under threat from minorities, and that all Hindus should fall in line with a singular interpretation of Hindu tradition controlled by a central authority. That body would be -- surprise, surprise -- the RSS. 
What's the view of the Modi government on all of this? In the firestorm that has erupted around the conversion issue, one man’s refusal to comment has come to seem as meaningful as any argument: Prime Minister Modi, who in recent months has taken his message of development and an economically resurgent India to many parts of the world, has remained shamefully silent. (As usual, his friends in the media have found inventive ways of coming to his defense.)
Perhaps this nongesture reflects Modi’s divided allegiance between the oaths and responsibilities of his present post and the convictions and prejudices of his often murky past. But there's no getting past the truth that the evasion by this allegedly firm and decisive leader -- the holder of the largest majority in India’s parliament in three decades -- of the conversion debate holds profound implications for the freedom and future of all of India’s 1.2 billion people.
To contact the author on this story:

             Chandrahas Choudhury at cchoudhury@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor on this story:
Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net

Thursday, December 25, 2014

is Hinduism a violent religion?

Full article will be at Huffington Post by December 31, 2014
The extremists among Hindus have hijacked the religion of peace and non-violence, just as the extremists among Buddhists, Jews and Muslims have done it with their religions. It is time for the moderate Hindus to speak up, if not, the new narrative would be Hinduism is a religion of violence, fascism and forcible conversions.
Hinduism is indeed blessed not to be slapped with 9/11 like terrorism label on it, despite the massacres of 3000 Sikhs in New Delhi by the violent Hindu mobs in just three days, for a total of 8,000 Sikhs within a week. Nearly a thousand Muslims were butchered by the fanatic Hindus in Gujarat within two weeks in 2002. Christian Nuns were raped, their churches pillaged and some of the missionaries were burnt alive including Rev. Graham Staines. What is done to the Dalits, formerly known as untouchable is unforgivable. The historic 500 year old Babri Mosque was destroyed in 1992 by extremists Hindu mobs.

No good Hindu should be offended by the above, they did no wrong. They would be wrong if they don’t speak out against it.

The Majority Hindus need to speak up to save the nation. 

  1. Reconversion roils in India - New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/24/world/asia/india-narendra-modi-hindu-conversions-missionaries.html
  2. Hindus attack Christmas Carolers 
  3. Conversions : For the love of God by Bikram Vohra-  http://www.arabnews.com/columns/news/678451
  4. Christians under Attack in India http://www.crossmap.com/news/christmas-season-brings-christianity-under-renewed-attack-in-india-15059
  5. My Close encounters with Hindutva - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/12/my-close-encounter-with-hindutva.html
  6. HIndu Switch Sparks Anger - Hong Kong http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?we_cat=6&art_id=152563&sid=43584267&con_type=1&d_str=20141222&fc=4
  7. No right to undermine Secular nature of India - Hindustan Times - http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/no-right-to-undermine-secular-nature-of-india/article1-1300103.aspx
  8. New tolerane for Intolerance in India - http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/opinion/in-modis-india-new-tolerance-for-intolerance/
  9. Modi's slogans and performances http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141224/jsp/opinion/story_4940.jsp#.VJtUUF4B1A
  10. THEIR CROSS TO BEAR http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Their-Cross-To-Bear/292915
  11. Modi's party finally distances itself from the conversion. As usual, Modi has a habit of stepping in after the damage is done.http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/12/20/india-politics-religion-idINKBN0JY0AS20141220
  12. India Inc speaks out against Hindutva Hotheads - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/India-Inc-takes-on-Sangh-hotheads/articleshow/45623032.cms?utm_source=fb&utm_campaign=toimobile&utm_medium=referral
  13. Standing up for Hindus - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/04/standing-with-hindus.html
  14. Standing up for Christians - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/01/standing-with-christians.html

Mike Ghouse


A Muslim's Christmas wish

May this Christmas open our hearts and minds to each other and let there be peace on earth. One of the most frequently used words during Christmas season is peace. Indeed, it is a reflection of the innermost desire within each one of us, whether we are Christians or not. Christmas is an annual milestone that intensifies the desire to have peace for oneself and for the world.

Christmas evokes kindness, empathy and goodness toward fellow beings; it's a euphoric feeling of renewal that Jesus taught to the world, it is a sense of completion one feels when he or she finds in tune with humanity. Jesus showed the way by embracing the whole humanity regardless of who they were. He is my hero, he is my mentor, and he is the first known pluralist on the earth. Christmas is a celebration of that refreshed feeling.
Jesus holds a special place in every one's heart, but particularly among Christians and Muslims, comprising over half the population of the world.
The Muslims call him Isa-Masih, the one who heals and one who brought life to the dead. The name of Jesus appears 27 times in Quran and one of the 114 Chapters is dedicated to Marryam, Mother Mary and the virgin birth.


"Festivals of the World" is an educational series that I have been writing for the last 20 years. When we live in a community as neighbors and work together as colleagues, we might as well learn about each other. The best way to build cohesive societies is to participate in festivities as well as commemorations of each other, or at least understand each other's' joys and sorrows. A cohesive society, neighborhood or a community shapes up when no one lives in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other.
The Essence of Christmas

Christmas is about celebrating the message of Jesus, which each one of us can appreciate in our own way. The spirit of Christmas is encapsulated in the acts of kindness to fellow beings.
First of all, it has become a season of peace, where every human becomes super conscious of his or her responsibility towards fellow human beings, and is encouraged to bring joy to their lives. If you don't stand up for others, why should anyone stand up for you?
Secondly, we cannot remain invincible forever; there comes a time in every one's life when he or she becomes vulnerable and needs help. When we were born, we simply did not walk out of our mother's womb and say: "Hi, world. I am here, and have made it on my own, and I am ready to roll!" Similarly, we cannot bury or cremate ourselves, we need others' help to enter, as we depart from, and live in, the world.
Thirdly, the entire Christian world gears up to bring the joy in the lives of children who may not have a toy or parents to give them that joy. This is one big event of the world where you see hopes on the faces of children. It's not too late; you can still deliver a toy through your local church or store, and see the difference you can make on the face of that unknown child.

Interfaith Christmas: Making God Boundless | Mike GhouseChristmas is about celebrating the birth of a man who taught us how to build a cohesive society, which he called the kingdom of heaven. Whether we are Christians, or even believe in God, it simply means building a society that is free from arrogance, hate, malice, prejudice and insecurities, firmly built with love and forgiveness, the panacea to the conflicts we face today.


Thank you
Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is a staunch defender of human rights and his book standing up for others will be out soon, and a movie "Americans together" is in the making.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at
www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com
 and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

“PK” the film – a Panacea to religious conflicts

 "PK" is an educational movie packed with humor and wrapped around romance. For the first time on the silver screen the average man gets to see the functionality of 'other religion' without emotional bonding. This movie will become a part of my curriculum for teaching Pluralism 101. No one should miss this film.
The film is a panacea to the problems we face today; abuse and misuse of religion.  Indeed, it reflects the values of a common man; to live and let live. 

There is a good possibility that this movie was conceived from the ideas written by me on Pluralism. It is not a vague idea, but a set of concrete ideas written up in Dallas Morning News in the last five years. 

In May 2012, I wrote, “In the pluralism classes I teach, I ask the students to see religion as Mr. Spock (foreign visitor) would have seen without religious pre-conditioning or immersion. They can see religion as catalysts in offering guidance to the ones who are frightened, apprehensive, saddened, confused, angered or hateful to the other. Religions would teach everyone to tell the truth, keep the terms of the contract with spouse, family or business and treat the other as he would want to be treated.” More about it further below.  
Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=82ZEDGPCkT8 and

The insecure right wing religious and political leaders of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism may not like this film initially, but I hope they see its value in building cohesive societies where everyone can feel safe and live his own life as he or she deems fit.

It is one of the best films on the theme of "Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the other."

You name the award; it will go to this film including the Oscar. Whether you are religious or not, the movie is thoroughly entertaining. Our Atheist friends would love this film as much as the theists. 

I will share the inside story of the film- soon.

Last night, Yasmeen and I came out of the movie “PK.” Thanks to my friend Dr. Shariff for insisting on seeing this movie today. Indeed he looked up the theater near-me in Louisville and texted the information. I took this seriously as he has never said anything like this about a movie.  As a bonus, he added, “go throw your Pluralism Blog and all your writings on Pluralism, because Amir Khan has done what you have been wanting to do for years.”  He was right.

Right after the interval at Tinsel Town, I spoke to the audience.

Friends, if you have heard the word Pluralism, this movie is it.  Pluralism is respecting the otherness of others, and accepting the uniqueness of each one of us. Pluralism is nothing but an attitude,  to live and let live, and it is applicable in every aspect of life including culture, society, religion, politics, gender, food, ethnicity, race and other uniqueness’s.
You are who you are, and I am who I am. As long as we don't mess with each other’s space, sustenance and nurturance, and mind our own business, we all will do well.  If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 
The idea of the film

I am writing these notes because of the identical ideas, dialogues and scenarios  that I have been writing, teaching  and talking  for the last ten years – its’ fair to say, the movie seems to have originated from these.  Indeed the source of many dialogues and ideas of the film are to be found in my articles written at Dallas Morning News as an expert on Pluralism.
The rest will appear in a newspaper soon.


I am writing these notes because of the identical ideas, dialogues and scenarios  that I have been writing, teaching  and talking  for the last ten years – its’ fair to say, the movie seems to have originated from these.  Indeed the source of many dialogues and ideas of the film are to be found in my articles written at Dallas Morning News and Pluralism sites as an expert on Pluralism.
I have been talking about the idea of seeing religion from Mr. Spock’s point of view for a very long time.
In May 2012, I wrote in Dallas Morning news, “In the pluralism classes I teach, I ask the students to see religion as Mr. Spock (foreign visitor) would have seen without religious pre-conditioning or immersion. They can see religion as catalysts in offering guidance to the ones who are frightened, apprehensive, saddened, confused, angered or hateful to the other. Religions would teach everyone to tell the truth, keep the terms of the contract with spouse, family or business and treat the other as he would want to be treated.”  – The full article contains the story of a Russian lady who talked about Religious salesman (ministers and clergy) setting up shops to sell the religion. http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/05/texas-faith-are-we-a-nation-of.htmlIn July 2013, I wrote in Dallas Morning News– “One of the joys of being a pluralist is to play Mr. Spock, and I would conclude, “Religion is a system of beliefs and rituals designed to bring tranquility to an individual and guide him to live in balance with what surrounds him/her; life and the environment.”http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/2013/07/texas-faith-is-it-more-important-to-do-the-right-thing-or-to-have-the-right-beliefs.html
Elsewhere I have written, how the religious men  set up  sales booths  in Moscow in the Nineties to sell their religion to the freed up Russians, many of whom were not tempered with religious beliefs.
In March 2013, I wrote again at Dallas Morning News.  “My teen daughter blurts out, Dad, if my pastor were to tell the truth that all religions are good, then he stands to lose his congregants to other liars." Indeed, religion has become a sleazy product to a "few" ministers, who sell their religion to the gullible by denigrating other religions.
 How do you know they are sleaze balls? Here are a few pointers;  i) they make you believe all others are your enemies ii) they frighten you with the end of the world scenarios if others grow in numbers iii) they make you feel good by making someone else bad, iv) all other religions, races and ethnicities are inferior, and v) they have nothing good to say about other religions because they really don't believe in the goodness of their own. 
In June 2013 I wrote about “Star Trek into darkness” and the picture and the notes have similarities in the film. The word fantasy is used by the film and my writings from three years ago. Star Trek is the final frontier of our fantasies equipped with the future technology. However, the emotions are same that existed in the movies made in the early 1900’s, mid-century or now. Indeed, the emotions have not changed since the Stone Age, rooting for the good guys, seeing the bad guys get beat, and justice prevailing at the end. The expressions have changed, but not the emotions. http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/06/star-trek-into-darkness-great-movie.html


Jaggu (Anushka Sharma) a journalist student in Belguim falls in love with Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh) from Pakistan. Her family back in New Delhi believes in a Hindu Godman who predicts that Sarfaraz will dump her which leads to some confusion and in no time a heartbroken Jaggu heads back home.

An alien has landed somewhere in Rajasthan and his locket which is his only way to return is stolen by a local. He has never seen humans in clothes and then starts the joyride as one by one the alien questions every manmade belief just like a child. After looking for his locket he is finally told that only God can help him whatever the problem may be.

His dressing and behaviour is weird so the name given to him is PK. He soon bumps into Jaggu on a Delhi metro while he is distributing pamphlets which say if anyone finds God they should contact PK. Jaggu who now works as a journalist in a news channels finds PK fascinating and follows him till she gets his story out. Initially hesitant Jaggu eventually decides to help PK. His locket is with a popular Godman and it's not going to be easy to get it back.

Aamir Khan this time in the title role is simply brilliant! From his physique to the language the actor has left no stone unturned to put in his best for this role. His expressions do most of the talking! I doubt any other star could have delivered the kind of performance Aamir does. Anushka Sharma has a fairly important role. She looks gorgeous and puts in sincere efforts to entertain. Sanjay Dutt who we see in parts is fabulous.

At a running time of almost three hours PK entertains you every minute and brings in surprises one after the other.

PK is an absolute must watch film and watch it before your friends tell you all the surprise elements in detail.

More at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pk-review-starring-aamir-khan-anushka-sharma-sanjay-dutt/1/407753.html


Its a big surprise for me to read LK Advani's comments, I guess the graceful fall from politics has made him pluralistic - otherwise he was a bigot.

L.K. Advani who recently watched the film with the entire team has taken a huge liking to the film and feels that more and more people should watch it as it is not just entertaining but also a very important film.
In a press release shared by 'pk' team, L.K. Advani expressed, “Hearty greetings to Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra for a wonderful and courageous film that they have produced in the shape of PK. We are fortunate to have been born in a vast and variegated country like India. This however casts on all patriots a duty to ensure that nothing weakens the unity of the country- neither caste nor community nor language nor region, and certainly not religion."
He adds, "In fact I believe that religiosity is for our nation an inexhaustible source of spiritualism, and so of ethical conduct. Those who run down religion, any religion, are doing a great disservice to the country and to its unity. It is this cardinal lesson that emerges clearly out of this recently released film PK which has excellent performances by the protagonist Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma and Boman Irani.”


 A lawsuit has been filed claiming the movie disgraces Hindu Gods, particularly Shiva more at http://sikhsiyasat.net/2014/12/25/pk-moive-controversy-hindutva-bodies-use-legal-route-firs-registered/


 ‘PK’ has invited controversy not only before the film release but post the film’s grand opening, the film roped into controversy for hurting religious sentiments. Hindu groups boycott the film and voiced their anger against the ‘PK’ makers for allegedly hurting their religious sentiments.

Clarifying the issue, Aamir Khan said, "We respect all religions. All my Hindu friends have seen the film and they have not felt the same. Even Raju is Hindu, so is Vinod and so is Abhijat. In fact 99% of the crew was Hindu. No one would have done such a thing", he clarified
#BoycottPK is the slogan roaring on twitter by the haters, on this Aamir said, "I think Indian audience is not feeling this. For everything that anyone does, you have to realise that there would be one person who would stand up and say something negative. People criticised Satyamev Jayate also. So there's no end to that. The collections are only rising and is only indicative of the fact that the people are watching the film and they are liking the film as well. It is rising by 20-30-40% each day which does not happen if people don't like the film. If you don't like the film, the numbers drop instantly. So clearly, I think that certainly this film is taking a stance against those groups or those people who are exploiting others."
On the other hand, ‘PK’ is welcomed by the mass audience with open arm. The film is doing good business at the box-office.
Full article at Bollywood Mantra - http://www.bollywoodmantra.com/news/pk-controversy-aamir-khan-breaks-his-silence-clarifies-issue/16469/

Times of India indepth controversy - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/PK-and-its-controversies/photostory/45627229.cms

Here is another realistic description of the film by my friend OS Modgil;

Mike Ghouse...what I am about to say might offend you, but then, I am sure our friendship to be far above our personal egos. .... I think you and I have seen two different movies named PK. 

The movie PK I saw is NOT about Pluralism. As a matter of fact, its NOT even about secularism. PK movie is about the fraud in organized religion, misconceptions created by these "Managers of God" and prejudice about one's appearance and labeling them as Hindu or Muslim or whatever the relative religion they might be. Pluralism, as you describe it, is about respecting each other's religious beliefs while still maintaining your own religious identity. PK has a clear message that no one is born with a "Stamp" of religion. Therefore, God never made any religion. We the humans made and created our own God(s) in our own definition. 

That message is not Pluralism... that message is.... get rid of all religions since they do not represent God who created us. All religions serve their own "Managers" and are a form of business... After seeing PK, I did not walk out of the theater thinking, " Gosh, I should respect religions other than mine. I came out thinking, " What a load of nonsense the concept of religion is" So, I see no commonality between message in PK and your preachings of Pluralism, and hence, no chance of plagiarism. 

And no, no Atheist will like the message in PK... because the message is still in favor of God Almighty who has created all this universe and our "gola" Earth is very much present. And that 'real' God does not care if you dont praise him or worship him. That 'real' God does not care about all this ritualism that every religion has doused itself in. The 'real' God wants you to help each other, live with each other in peace, love each other and be a good human being without the "Thappa" stamp of any religion. This message and concept is far above Pluralism and/or any "Ism" 

Jo darr gaya, wo mandir gaya. 


It’s difficult to convince you of our impartiality with such a header, but this is where our job begins. In my defense, I begin by telling you that PK is the most ‘different’ Aamir Khan film you have ever seen. Now, let’s start cracking the code.

PK (Aamir Khan) is not his name. In fact, he has no name. His clan doesn’t believe in alienating people on their name, caste, creed, language or religion. Sounds like the preamble of our Constitution? Well, this is the essence of director Rajkumar Hirani’s PK. And it is high on emotions and full of drama.

Who is PK then? Well, he is a humanitarian, who lives in the hearts of millions. See, I am trying to be as secretive as possible about his distinctiveness. Let’s join threads from the scene all of you have seen in the promos. Of course, the transistor scene. So, here is a guy with unblinking eyes, fluttering ears and toned muscles walking towards the most treacherous of places -- in the middle of a desert. He is in Rajasthan. This man is helpless against people who have no moral qualms in making the earth a worse place than what it already is. But he is a firm believer in all things good, and therefore keeps going and soon finds himself in the middle of a megacity -- Delhi, the national capital.

The second part of his adventures begins in Delhi -- He is intrigued by the rules and ways of this big city. PK explores the big bad world with charming innocence and a lot of wit. All of a sudden, he finds himself pitted against a widely followed godman Tapasvi Jee (Saurabh Shukla), and the only person he can trust in this ‘holy’ war is Jagat Janani (Anushka Sharma), a news reporter.

Let's leave the character details here and get down to the nitty-gritties of the theme. 

First things first. What is the film about? PK is a man’s journey through the paradoxes of Indian society. He cannot understand the meaning of religion, or the rituals most people busy themselves with. He cannot differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim. He wonders why godmen ask for money. He disapproves the absurdities that make believers against believers. Think it is too much like Oh My God? -

See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/reviews/pk-review-aamir-steals-the-show-it-s-a-winner/article1-1298241.aspx#sthash.dQRI5gcU.dpuf


What is Sacred, Flag, Holy Books, Mother, Freedom of Speech?

Sacred Film is about a successful real life event set in Mulberry, Florida coupled with a compelling romantic story built around the Quran burning incident. It is filled with human aspirations, fears, suspense and actions of a typical Hollywood Film.

The film skillfully manages conflicting issues of freedom of speech v what is sacred; safety of Americans v violent reactions; and radicalism v. pluralism. It is an embodiment of conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance based on teachings of Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad. It is a model for building cohesive societies.  Indeed, the concept is encouraged by major institutions.

Through “Sacred”, the world will witness positive changes taking shape; it encourages what Muslims ought to be – the Amins, and how they will be perceived by the society at large. What is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world and vice-versa to restore sustainable harmony.

Sacred is an exemplary story of ordinary Muslim Americans working with fellow Americans of different faiths in forging a new paradigm; a cohesive America where no American has to live in tension, apprehension or fear of the other.

Shooting will begin in March for a September 11 release.  I will be happy to give a presentation to your group.

Thank you
Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is a staunch defender of human rights and his book standing up for others will be out soon, and a movie "Americans together" is in the making.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are atwww.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.