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Friday, May 30, 2014

India gang rapes: Police sacked over hanged girls

This is precisely the reason we need to defend the rights of SC, ST, OBC's, because they are minority (powerless), the majority (powerful) abuses them.  Shame on us if we let those cops get away discriminating against Dalits. I expect Modi to say a few harsh words to put an end to discriminating fellow Indians.

URL - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/05/india-gang-rapes-police-sacked-over.html

Mike Ghouse

Divya Arya reports on the disturbing scene which met villagers in Uttar Pradesh

Two police officers in India have been sacked for refusing to help search for two missing girls who were later found gang-raped and hanged, officials say.
They were also charged with criminal conspiracy, police said, adding that three people had been arrested so far.
The government has pledged to set up a fast-track court to prosecute the crime, which took place earlier this week in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Alleged police inaction sparked outrage in the teenagers' village.
The father of one victim told the BBC he was ridiculed by police when he sought help in finding his missing daughter.
He said that when policemen found out he was from a lower caste, they "refused to look for my girl".

Indian media reacts to hangings
Demonstration against rape in India (13 September 2013)
The incident has received top coverage on India's main TV channels such as NDTV, Times Now and CNN-IBN.

"Uttar Pradesh Rape shockers", reads a ticker on NDTV, which accuses the local police of being "complicit" with the attackers and quotes relatives of the two girls saying they have "no faith" they'll receive justice.

"Lawless in Uttar Pradesh" reads a top headline on CNN-IBN, which has started its own campaign using the hashtag #StopThisShame.

"UP: 3 Rapes in 48Hrs" is the lead on the Times Now channel, which reports the growing number of rape incidents in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

"Outrage" is the word used on the front pages of several leading English-language newspapers, including The Hindu and The Indian Express.

In an editorial, The Times of India lays the blame on the government of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh, saying the hangings "exposes the state's slide into medieval lawlessness".

Source: BBC Monitoring

Authorities said on Friday that they were still looking for two other suspects.
Meanwhile, reports are emerging that two more gang rapes of minors occurred in the state this week.
'You are safe' The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh reacted angrily when asked about the rising number of rape cases at a news briefing.
"You are safe, why are you bothered?" Akhilesh Yadav told a journalist.
"No other state has the kind of police control room we have here. If there is any incident, we will take action."
Senior police official Atul Saxena earlier announced there would be a "thorough investigation" into the allegations of caste discrimination by police.
Divisions between India's castes run deep, and violence is often used by upper castes to instil fear in lower castes, correspondents say.
Although both the victim and the accused in the latest case belonged to a group known as "Other Backward Classes", the victims were lower in that hierarchy.
Angry protesters explain why they have taken to New Delhi's streets
The girls, two cousins aged 14 and 16, went missing in Badaun district on Tuesday night. They had apparently gone out to relieve themselves as they had no toilet at home.
Their bodies were discovered the following day. A post-mortem examination confirmed multiple sexual assaults and death due to hanging.
Campaigners have highlighted the lack of sanitation in rural areas as being a risk to women's security as well as their health, as they are often attacked when having to go out to use the toilet, particularly at night.
Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.
The government tightened laws on sexual violence last year after widespread protests following the attack.
Fast-track courts were brought to the fore to deal with rape and the death penalty was also brought in for the most extreme cases.
Some women's groups argue that the low conviction rate for rape should be challenged with more effective policing rather than stiffer sentences.


Rape cases that have shocked India
  • 23 January 2014: Thirteen men held in West Bengal in connection with the gang rape of a woman, allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man
  • 4 April 2014: A court sentences three men to hang for raping a 23-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai last year
  • 15 January 2014: A Danish woman is allegedly gang raped after losing her way near her hotel in Delhi
  • 17 September 2013 : Five youths held in Assam for allegedly gang-raping a 10-year-old girl
  • 4 June 2013: A 30-year-old American woman gang-raped in Himachal Pradesh
  • 30 April 2013: A five-year-old girl dies two weeks after being raped in Madhya Pradesh
  • 16 December 2012: Student gang raped on Delhi bus, sparking nationwide protests and outrage

Amazing Mindset of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation of Dallas

URL - http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2014/05/amazing-mindset-of-global-hindu.html
# # #

As an Indian committed to building a cohesive India, where no Indian has to live in fear of the other, I was alarmed at the following posting at DallasIndians@yahoogroups.com,  by a member of the GHHF (Global Hindu Heritage Foundation), it was shocking to see it coming from Indians living in America, and most of them are M.D.'s and PhD's.

Individuals are the source of all problems as well as goodness. No matter how extreme an organization is, a majority of them do not subscribe to the extremes, only a few hard core among them do, and if they know how disturbing their ideology is, or if they are aware of their extremism, most of them will peddle out of it.

I have consistently questioned the extreme ideology espoused by a few in Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. All claim to be religions of peace and justice - did they not get their religion right? Unless more and more of us question it, they assume we have given them the permission to project their respective religion as it suits them.

Now, the Hindu majority needs to consider if they have given permission or would approve of the GHHF letter, as a representation of Hinduism?

The letter has a few good points that need to be addressed; one of them is for Government of India to relinquish management of the Hindu Temples to the local Hindus.

Most Indians will endorse their appeal, "No mention of any religion in any legislation, appropriations, and reservations. Amend the Constitution to include Spiritual with no preference to any religion and caste." They need to know, that Muslims, Christians and other minorities don't need any handouts, subsidies or bloody appeasement, to be fact-full, they never had any. All they want is to be equal citizens with equal access, opportunity and justice in employment, housing and governance" The signatories of appended document are all Americans by citizenship, and I am sure they do not want to be reduced to 2nd class citizens in America.

Minority protection and quota should continue with a reduced percentage. The blatant bias of signatories against Muslims and Christians is obvious; neither group wants any handouts but just equal opportunities. However, the OBS, SC and ST need to be lifted up; we have done wrong to them for centuries and we have been disrespectful towards them,  and GHHP's call to deny them their right is downright shameful, and it is coming from Indians living in America with all the privileges and equal rights.

Anti-conversion laws go against the freedom of an individual and the very idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum and freedom of speech - these phrases were used in the letter without a rudimentary understanding of its meaning. No damn government should tell you, me or anyone what you can eat, drink, wear or believe in the pursuit of your happiness, as long as you do not rob others food, space and hurt the loved ones. Can it be as simple as this?

Our (India’s) model of governance should be a model for others to follow. Unfortunately, almost all the nations that are labeled religious, be it Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist or others have nothing but problems. The most troubled nations in the world are the ones carved out based on religion; Pakistan and Israel.

Most of the signatories on this Memorandum are Indian Americans, and I would like them to think what if America declares itself a Christian Nation, as they are demanding India to declare itself a Hindu Rashtra?  80% of this nation is Christian, and they can do it, just a 80% of Indians are Hindus with moderate majorities, but neither will do it, because it goes against the decency of being human, none of us want to be like Saudi Arabia or Iran.  Why are these guys wanting India to go backwards? Let us be the models others love to emulate.

If  America goes into the hands of right wing Christians, they will  ban building Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and other religious places of worship. Remember, it has happened – right here in Murphy, Texas,  they refused to give a permit to build a Hindu temple, indeed, when another Temple was being built in Frisco about seven years ago, I had called the then Mayor Mike Simpson to not let anyone come in the way and get the permit to build the temple.

You can take it, if America were to become a Christian Nation, not only Hindus, but all others will have difficulty – we all will be compelled to say Christian Prayers against our will…. our kids will be praying Christian prayers... this is a thoughtless letter, and is a can of worms.

I am trying to understand the mind set of Indians (a few) in America to think in those terms as written up in the letter from Global Hindu Heritage forum.

This is what the fanatics and extremist will do, if we let a nation defined by its religion.

We don’t want bigots like Senator Williams -

or Russian Bigotry -

 or Against Yoga http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2010/11/texas-faith-should-christians-and-other.html

Or Robert Jeffress http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/10/pastor-robert-jeffress-and-his-bigotry.html

All I see in this note from Global Hindu Heritage Foundation is hatred for Muslims and Christians. For the first time in 67 years, we have a man who claims to believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum, and looking for sab ka sath, sab ka Vikas, why can't you guys think like that?  We need to build our lives first. Modi will not buy into this letter.

It is not Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, it is a few people who want chaos for the claps they get, or encouragement or some other gains they will have. We have nearly 100,000 Indians in Dallas/ Fort worth, I can bet, no more than 1000 will subscribe to this - that is about 1/10th of 1% - that statistics is prevalent in all groups - the other 99.99% have to speak up.

The following letter is really anti-Hindu ideals, in the name of Hinduism.

I understand, most of you who have signed this may not really have read it, certainly, RK Panditi will not subscribe to this kind of thinking, and if he does, that is his choice. We are all free to believe in whatever we want.

I hope a few responsible individuals speak up and not give the impression that all sane Hindus endorse this.

Mike Ghouse


Submitted by

Global Hindu Heritage Foundation, Frisco, TX 75035 USA.

February 28, 2012

Dear Friends:

The following Memorandum was sent in February 2014 to Sri Narendra Modi, the then PM Candidate and Dr. Subramanian Swamy for their consideration. Now the country has elected the Prime Minister with such overwhelming majority, we hope that these items listed in the Memorandum will be considered, adopted and implemented for the preservation of Sanatana Dharma that has sustained the Bharath for thousands and thousands of years. Let us all work with determination and passion to restore the glory, grandeur and richness of Hindu dharma that embraced the philosophy of inclusiveness and adopted the ideology of vasudhaika kutumbam.

Honorable Sri Narendra Modi
BJP Candidate for Prime Minister; New Delhi, India

Dear Sri Modi:

After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect, none so scientific, none so philosophical and no so spiritual that the great religion known by the name of Hinduism. Make no mistake; without Hinduism, India has no future. Hinduism is the soil in to which India's roots are stuck and torn out of that she will inevitably wither as a tree torn out from its place. And if Hindus do not maintain Hinduism, who shall save it? If India's own children do not cling to her faith, who shall guard it? India alone can save India and India and Hinduism are one. ~~~Annie Besant
It is the obligation of all Hindus to take the responsibility of preserving, maintain and protecting the Hindu edifice – that is being attacked by all sides. Hindus have to lit the Hindu torch to dispel the ignorance and spread the light and freedom Hinduism has enjoyed for centuries not only for them and for the entire humanity if it has to live in peace and happiness rather than terror and chaos. Irrespective of one’s political affiliation, all the political leaders, religious leaders and spiritual leaders have to work tirelessly to nourish the roots, protect the Hindu ethics, embrace the vasudaiva kutumba principle and restore the grandeur of Sanatana dharma that is the hall mark freedom of speech and beacon of peaceful coexistence. All Hindus must support, endorse and adopt the following agenda to restore pride among Hindus, root out terrorism, and create Hindu mindset to establish Hindutva in Bharat.
Global Hindu Heritage Foundation [GHHF] is submitting these concerns to you and the leadership of BJP requesting you to act to revive the richness and grandeur of Sanatana dharma in Bharat. These are some of the concerns that are affecting Bharath. Unless all these issues are addressed, Bharath Mata will suffer unforeseen consequences. We may not see her the way we see today.
Declare India as Hindu Rashtra
Need to change the constitution to declare India as Bharat / Hindu Rashtra and make it into a Hindu Nation. Hindus need a Hindu Nation. Muslims have about 58 countries in their belt and vowed to make India an Islamic Country. Christians have all of Europe, Americas and other countries. Jews have Israel. Why Hindus cannot have a Hindu Nation?
Hindu Religious and Endowment Act

Repeal Hindu Religious and Endowment Act giving the religious freedom enshrined in the article 26 of the Indian Constitution.

All Hindu Temples should be given back to Hindus to manage their affairs the way the Christians and Muslims are allowed.

An Apex Committee consisting of Hindu spiritual and religious leaders should prepare white paper on the proper management of Hindu Temples with definite time lines.
All the Temple lands that were sold or auctioned should be recovered the respective Temples.
Religious leaders must be consulted on all major issues facing the Hindu Temples.

All the encroached Temple lands must be recovered.
All 2000 Hindu Temples that were converted to Mosques must be returned to Hindus.
Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya must be completed without any further delay.

Priest salaries must be set depending on the qualifications, training and experience.

Priests who abuse and cheat the system and bhaktas must be removed and prosecuted.
The practices of the pandas / priests in Gaya, Mathura, Allahabad, Kashi and other Northern states must be streamlined, and controlled. The Hindu leaders should speak out and take corrective actions.
Thorough discussion must take place about abuse of dakshina system and playing with the sentiments of bhaktas.

All Endowed lands must be recovered or assessed at the present market value and put it in a separate Budget to promote Hinduism; and repair, rebuild and restore the dilapidated historical Temples.
Vakula Mata Temple should be built immediately without any delay.

Islamic University near Tirupathi must be demolished and the land should be preserved by TTD.
A separate List of Concerns about Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD) is prepared for your immediate consideration.
Uniform Laws
Uniform civil Code should be passed and enforced where all citizens irrespective of their religion would adhere. No nation can afford to have one law for each religion. In all non-Muslim countries, the Muslim follow the norms of the country and adopt monogamous relationship. Why India should have a different laws for Muslims?
Family planning should be strictly enforced. No nation can afford to have unlimited number of children for religious reasons, lest natural resources will be depleted. No nation can afford to ignore the threats of Christians and Muslims who have vowed to make India a Christian and Islamic Country respectively.
Replace Secular with Spiritual.
The word “Secular” has not been defined in the constitution even though it is being followed in the country. It is pitted against Hindus favoring Muslims and Christians. There must be clear separation of religion and state. No mention of any religion in any legislation, appropriations, and reservations.
Amend the Constitution to include Spiritual with no preference to any religion and caste.
Remove special privileges to Muslims and Christians
Prosecute any one who denigrates other religions, destroys religious institutions, abuses the idols, and denigrates the religious practices.

No reservations for Christians and Muslims based on religion in the colleges, medical schools, and employment.
Prosecute the media who allow their channels to demean other religions.
Hajj Subsidy

Stop Hajj Subsidy to Muslims to go to Mecca and subsidy to Christians to go to Jerusalem, Vatican and other places. No subsidy to any religions for pilgrimages. Enforce strict separation of religion and politics/government.
All Hajj Houses must be converted to the use of all the citizens irrespective of their religion.
The equivalent money spent on Hajj subsidy for Muslims and travel grants to Christians must be used for establishing Hindu studies in various universities.
Bangladesh Infiltration

Bangladeshi infiltration must be curtailed and send back the illegal immigrants or occupy portion of Bangladesh to accommodate the illegals. But that occupied land should not be made part of India.
No Appeasement
Minority Quotas must be eliminated. Meritocracy must be promoted. Bharat should not be a heaven for less qualified and least educated.
All the Departments specially aiming at a particular religion or minorities based on religion should be abolished.
The government should not fund educational Institutions, based on religion.
All the Minority institutions must be audited to make sure that the funds are not used for conversion.
Revise School Curriculum
Courses on Gita should be introduced in all educational institutions from lowest level to the highest level.
Suryanamaskaras, Yoga and Meditation should be introduced at all levels of educational institutions.
Repeal of Discriminatory Acts
Repeal Atrocities Act, which is giving license to the minorities to abuse the act. Minorities are abusing the system to the extent that innocent people are jailed without having an iota of evidence produced by the minorities.

Repeal Indian Penal Code 498A dealing with Dowry as a criminal law (not a civil law): “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable.” It is cruel and offensive law against the husband and his relatives. Last 30 years of history shows that only 2 percent of the cases were convicted. That means 98 percent of the husband and their relatives were subjected to humiliation, harassment and mental torture.

Community Violence Bill should be defeated where a Hindu is always at fault for the atrocities Muslims and Christians commit against them.
Conversion Laws

Anti Conversion Law must be passed banning the conversion through deceit, deception, allurement, inducements and enticements.

All educational institutions started by Christians must be investigated for high percentage of Hindus converting to Christianity.

All Hindu organizations and Hindu Religious leaders must engage in reconversion of Hindu converts.
The government must investigate and take appropriate action against those who convert Hindus through deception, allurement and inducements.
Loud Speakers

Noise pollution laws must be enforced strictly; Minarets that emit loud prayers must be banned. Supreme Court judgment to enforce the decibels must be enforced by the Central government and the States.
Illegal use of houses as Churches must be stopped and strict penalties imposed against the violators of the law. The houses being used as Churches must be demolished.

In some cases there are 4-5 churches in the same street because of denominational differences. No loud speakers in these houses should be allowed.
Repeal of Article 370
Kashmiri Pandits – Repeal article 370 and make sure all the Kashmiri Pandits are returned to their property rights restored. Allow Hindus to own property.
Terrorism and Non-Patriotic Acts

Terrorism – India is being targeted to create havoc by the Islamic terrorists. Separate independent agency should be created to monitor and prosecute the terrorists. This agency should be in a position to take necessary action against any group that profess or engage in preemptive strikes regardless of the sources of terrorism.

The verses in Quran and Bible that advocate terrorism, killing, destruction of Idols, imposition of Jizya tax, and denial of freedom of speech must be expunged.

Prosecute people who engage in no-patriotic activities such as hoisting the flag of Pakistan on Independence day, burning the Indian flag, insulting the Indian constitution, etc.

Any body that declares Fatwa on any Indian citizen must be prosecuted and severe punishment imposed.
Nation must be cognizant of the fact that Muslims have vowed to break up India into three Muslim countries with the names – Mughalisthan, Dalitisthan, and Dravidisthan. Steps must be taken to prosecute anti-nationals and unpatriotic individuals.
Cow Protection

Cow Protection – The laws banning the slaughter of cows must be enforced strictly.
People who illegally transport cows to other states and break any law in transportation of cows must be prosecuted as per law.

Slaughter Houses must be shut down immediately. Operators of slaughterhouses must be brought to justice.
Beef imports must be stopped; violators must be prosecuted with severe penalties.
Corruption and Black Money

Corruption – this thousand-headed demon must be vanquished at all levels – political, economic, religious, educational, and government. It is threatening the very fabric of the Bharat.

Black money stashed in foreign banks should recovered and declare it as a national treasure to be used for the welfare of the nation.
Work toward Greater Cause – Bharata Mata

BJP, RSS, VHP, Janata Party, Acharya Sabhas, Hindu Mahasabha and other Hindu organizations must work together for the greater cause of the preservation and protection of Hindu cause. They must select the most qualified candidate to lead the country rather than the established candidates that may have served the party many years. Welfare of the Hindu Country should be given top priority.

All religious and spiritual leaders should get united and speak with one voice and encourage their followers to work for the preservation and protection of the Sanatana dharma. Make them a viable and a powerful force to reckon with by all politicians. Otherwise, Hindus have to face the possibility of their existence.

Government should never forget the massive destruction of Hindu Temples and Hindu culture, Goa Inquisition, displacements of Kashmiri Pandits, Bangladeshi infiltration, extinction of Hindu population from nearly 20 percent to near zero in Pakistan, depletion of Hindus from 26 percent to 7 percent in Bangladesh, forced conversion of Hindus, constant terrorist attacks on Bharat, etc.
Law and Order
The law enforcement agencies have to be made accountable for the enforcement of the law. At present Police Department is failing to protect the citizens, especially Hindus, from the terrorist activities, and illegal occupation of their property. Hindu Temples are asked to stop their worship services instead of taking action against the Muslims who threaten the closure of the Temples in certain areas.

Any body, who issue Fatwa threatening the life of a citizen, and insulting the Hindu culture and practices, national flag, national prayer should be adequately punished as per the law. Department officials have to be made personally and professionally responsible for their indifference or their failure in discharging their responsibility.
Government officials, who do not discharge their responsibilities, fail to maintain neutrality in fulfilling their responsibilities, engage in nonprofessional activities or act in a partisan manner should be individually liable for prosecution.

Police, who charge the citizens with false accusations, must face strict law.
Police who refuse to register FIR must face disciplinary actions such as, imposition of fines, removal from the office, and imprisonment.

Time limitations must be developed to responds to the queries of the citizens.
Legal cases must be adjudicated within a specified time. It should not outwit the life of a plaint.
All Hindu organizations, religious leaders, and cultural organizations should heed the words of Arnold Toynbee who said Indian belief in Ahimsa – nonviolence – should be embraced by the humanity if it wants to avoid the destruction and annihilation of human race. Hindus should not remain silent spectator to the spectacle of terrorism and the demolition of Hindu edifice. They should be assertive participants to restore the glory and grandeur of the richest culture that ever existed in the human history.
Prakasarao V Velagapudi, PhD;
President, Global Hindu Heritage Foundation
601-98-7111 C/ 601-856-4783 H
GHHF Board of Directors:
Prakasarao Velagapudi PhD, (601-918-7111 cell), (601-856-4783 home); Prasad Yalamanchi(630-832-2665; 630-359-5041); D. Satya(732-939-2060); Satya Nemana(732-762-7104); Sekhar Reddy (954-895-1947); Tulasichand Tummala(408-786-8357); Raju Polavaram, MD(919-959-6141); Nandini Velagapudi, PhD (601-942-2248); Rama Kasibhatla(678-570-1151); Shankar Adusumilli MD (919-961-9584); Sireesha Muppalla (631-421-8686); Prasad Garimella MD (770-595-8033); Raghavendra Prasad MD (214-325-1969); Murali Alloju MD (703-953-1122); Veeraiah Choudary Perni MD (330-646-8004); Vishnu Kalidindi MD; Srivas Chebrolu MD; Avadesh Agarwal; and Dr. Ghazal Srinivas, Honorary Brand Ambassador.

GHHF Dallas Core Group
Rajesh Veerapaneni(773-704-0405); Sunil T Patel (214-293-4740); Gopal Ponangi(214-868-7538); Ram Yalamanchili(214-663-6363); Ravi Pattisam(617-304-3577); Krishna Athota(214-912-3724); Sesharao Boddu(972-489-6949); P. Srinivas(832-444-6460); P. Viswanadham, PhD (972-355-7107); I V Rao (214-284-6227); Sridhar Kodela(214-907-8552); Vijay Kollapaneni(818-325-9576); Ghanashyam Kakadia(469-583-1682); R K Panditi(972-516-8325); Mahesh Rao Choppa (732-429-5217); Viswas Mudigonda(972-814-5961); Satish Reddy (972-724-3232); Srikanth Akula(952-334-9990); KalyanJarajapu(972-896-8352). Sitaram Panchagnula(714-322-3430); Vasanth Suri(408-239-3436); Phani Aduri(214-774-2139); Konda Srikanth(214-500-5890); Siva Agnoor (214-542-661).

Najma Heptullah’s flawed understanding of ‘minority’


Salil Tripathi is one of my favorite writers, and once again he scores big in my books.   I am please to quote some of his words and add my own that I have been articulating for over 3 months in article over article.

Salil Tripathi, " Majority and minority are about power, not numbers alone.

That is a problem, because the minority then develops grievances because of perceived discrimination and injustice. Muslims are a minority not only because they are fewer than Hindus, but because as the Sachar committee report shows, and as other social and economic indicators, including statistics of their representation in bureaucracy, corporations, judiciary, and even newsrooms reveal, there are disproportionately fewer of them in professions and senior positions than their numbers. Instead of blaming the community, what the state should do is to figure out how best to ensure that Muslims have the opportunities to reach their potential. It is in India’s interest.
The state cannot and should not guarantee equal outcomes, but it has an obligation to extend opportunities equally."

Here is my quote - Muslims and other minorities are not looking for any handouts, or seek appeasement, all they want is equal access, equal opportunities and equal justice in employment, housing, governance and all other endeavors in the pursuit of their happiness. It is the role of government to ensure that no citizen is treated any less.

Mike Ghouse is an Indian American Public Speaker, thinker and a writer committed to offer pluralistic solutions on issues of the day - more at www.MikeGhouse.net

 # # #

Najma Heptullah’s flawed understanding of ‘minority’

By Salil Tripathi
Courtesy: The Mint

Najma Heptullah’s flawed understanding of ‘minority’
Minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint 
The problem with debates on social media is that they flare up one day based on an isolated remark, and people focus only on the remark and often have no idea of the larger context. Life is about nuances and not binaries, but the partisan nature of political debate on the one hand, and the diminishing attention span on social media on the other, force people to reiterate their views quickly and then move on to the next topic du jour.
Something similar happened on Thursday when Najma Heptullah, the minority affairs minister, said: “Muslims are not minorities. Parsis are. We have to see how we can help them so that their numbers don’t diminish.” When reporters persisted in asking her questions about Muslims, her response was: “This is not the ministry for Muslim affairs, this is the ministry for minority affairs.”
She is of course right; her role is not to safeguard the interests of only one community. And as some writers pointed out to me, in his presidential address at the Ramgarh Congress in 1940, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (Heptullah is his grand-niece), explained the meaning of being a minority: “It is not enough that the group should be relatively the smaller, but that it should be absolutely so small as to be incapable of protecting its interests. Thus this is not merely a question of numbers; other factors count also. If a country has two major groups numbering a million and two millions respectively, it does not necessarily follow that because one is half the other, therefore it must call itself politically a minority and consider itself weak. If this is the right test, let us apply it to the position of the Muslims in India. You will see at a glance a vast concourse, spreading out all over the country; they stand erect, and to imagine that they exist helplessly as a ‘minority’ is to delude oneself.”
Azad is right in trying to delink a minority from its perceived weakness—and his remarks were made in pre-partition India to assure Muslims that they would be safe in India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s rationale was that they wouldn’t be, and eventually Jinnah succeeded. But on 11 August 1947, Jinnah was to tone down the rhetoric and present a remarkably liberal interpretation of the kind of country he wanted Pakistan to be. He told Pakistanis: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” That today the vulnerability of Pakistan’s Shias, Ahmadiyyas, Christians, and Hindus has only increased tells us more about Pakistan’s rapidly deteriorating governance. 
But even if the intellectual basis of Heptullah’s view comes from her ancestor Maulana Azad, it is not enough to say therefore that Muslims aren’t a minority; that they are capable of defending their interests; or that real focus should be on the Parsis so that their numbers don’t decrease. Arguably, nobody asked Parsis if they want any special favours, nor is it in any way clear what the Indian government can do to increase the Parsi population. 
Heptullah’s literal interpretation of her ancestor’s remarks reveals two flaws. First is her understanding of minorities only in numerical terms; and second is her understanding of minorities only in religious terms.
In an ideal world, all Indian citizens are Indians, and the gods they worship—or not, the language they speak—or not, the food they eat—or not, the caste to which they belong by the accident of birth—or not, none of these factors should matter. But they do, and they do because the discourse on majority and minorities misses the vital aspect of power. If Muslims or dalits or adivasis require affirmative action in some areas, it is because of discrimination and their powerlessness. 
When the majority wields power and enjoys a large share of benefits, it is often unaware of the inherent advantage its constituents have because of its majority status. That is a problem, because the minority then develops grievances because of perceived discrimination and injustice. Muslims are a minority not only because they are fewer than Hindus, but because as the Sachar committee report shows, and as other social and economic indicators, including statistics of their representation in bureaucracy, corporations, judiciary, and even newsrooms reveal, there are disproportionately fewer of them in professions and senior positions than their numbers. Instead of blaming the community, what the state should do is to figure out how best to ensure that Muslims have the opportunities to reach their potential. It is in India’s interest. An imaginative, forward-looking minority affairs ministry would look towards extending those opportunities, rather than questioning if a group of people who number 138 million represent a minority or not. In Apartheid-era South Africa, blacks were the majority but they lacked power, and were, in effect, a discriminated minority, because all the levers of power were with the white minority, which acted like the majority. Majority and minority are about power, not numbers alone. 
The second part is harder—it is high time India stops seeing minorities only in religious terms. A minority affairs ministry should focus on eliminating discrimination, not only in matters of faith, but also language spoken, the caste in which the person is born, the person’s marital status, his or her food habits, and his or her sexual orientation. A minister meant to protect the rights of a minority is meant to empower the vulnerable. 
This means thinking of laws to prevent arbitrary denial of housing to people of another faith or food habits; of changing laws that criminalize certain sexual practices among consenting adults; transforming the nation’s outlook so that everyone is truly equal—not only as voters, but as equal participants in the great Indian adventure. The state cannot and should not guarantee equal outcomes, but it has an obligation to extend opportunities equally. Only then would what is now the real minority in India become the majority—and that minority is the group of people who see themselves as Indians, and not as Punjabi or Tamil, Muslim or Hindu, Kayastha or Chitpavan, or vegetarian or meat-eaters, or whatever else our devious minds come up with to divide people into us and them.

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re there any takeaways for Muslims from the Narendra Modi government?

We should never let things ride, good governance comes from critical analysis and democracy survives because of journalists. 

Thomas Jefferson made a strong statement about the role of the media in a democracy when he noted, “If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Describing the role of the press, George A. Krimsky, the former head of news for the Associated Press’ World Services and co-author of Hold the Press, writes, “In the wake of America’s successful revolution, it was decided there should indeed be government, but only if it were accountable to the people. The people, in turn, could only hold the government accountable if they knew what it was doing and could intercede as necessary, using their ballot, for example. This role of public ‘watchdog’ was thus assumed by a citizen press, and as a consequence, the government in the United States has been kept out of the news business.”

This author M Reyaz has done it right, we need more of this. It is time to hold the leadership and Mr. Modi accountable.

Mike Ghouse

Are there any takeaways for Muslims from the Narendra Modi government?

 Image for representational purposes only. RNA Research & Archives

Courtesy - DNA Analysis

As someone who has been very vocal in criticising the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) – I have been critical of the previous UPA government’s policies too – and Narendra Modi, I was particularly restrained (self-censorship, you may call it) since May 16, when the BJP, under Modi, won a convincing mandate to rule the country for next five years. In the last two weeks, I have been thinking of writing a ‘reconciliatory’ piece and urge the Muslim leadership to not make the ‘historical mistake’ and try to engage with the new government in power for the betterment of the community. 

As I sit to write this article, I am afraid there are not many positive takeaways from the new government, and if these are the signs of things to come, the situation really appears to be glum. 

As the new government takes shape, there are reports from Karnataka of how right-wing Hindu organisations are demanding a ban on the morning calls for prayer, and another group demanding a total ban on loudspeakers in mosques in Maharashtra. There were also reports of vandalism by jubilant mobs celebrating Modi’s victory in Bijapur. These were all small news and hence did not really catch the attention of the national media. 

But in the light of the chauvinistic government at the helm, at a time when you see the top-rung of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), including Sadhvi Rithambara, an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, and Indresh Kumar, alleged to be a co-conspirator in the Samjhauta train blast case, seated along with other seers and spiritual leaders during Modi’s inauguration, such news cannot be ignored. 

Modi’s gesture of inviting leaders of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, particularly Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was seen by many as an overture to reach out to Muslims, like his political mentor LK Advani who visited Jinnah’s grave to project himself as more inclusive, much to ire of the RSS. Sociologist Dipankar Gupta tweeted on May 26, “SAARC leaders were called to legitimise, and give cover to the invitation to Pakistan and send comforting, positive signals to Indian Muslims.”

In fact, in the first message issued by the new prime minister immediately after taking oath, he talked of “a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development”. But that is the most we heard in a cabinet that has the full imprint of the RSS. 

One of the first controversies surrounding the new government is the statement made by Minister of State Jitendra Singh on Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370. The BJP had given a ticket to veterinary surgeon Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, who was accused of participating in the mahapanchayat and giving a provocative speech that led to the Muzaffarnagar riots last year. He has now been made a minister and already the theory that he was framed has begun circulating, like so many others in the past. 

This is not the end, senior police officers accused of being involved in extrajudicial killings and false implications of Muslim youth are being reinstated in Rajasthan and Gujarat already as former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Ajit Doval is slated to be National Security Advisor (NSA) to Modi. 

The most surprising was Modi’s choice of Dr Najma Heptullah as the minority affairs minister. To be fair, Heptullah is a doctorate in cardiac anatomy from the University of Denver, and thus educationally most qualified among the cabinet ministers. But that is not why she has been appointed minister, or else she would have been given a meatier portfolio. She is the grand-niece of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and was in the Congress and the Rajya Sabha for a long time. She has always been a political nobody whom the Congress kept in the Upper House, where she later became deputy speaker.

In 2004, when several people were hoping for a comeback of the NDA government, she switched sides apparently after differences with Sonia Gandhi. She had said she had been “humiliated” by the Congress leadership that has “moved away from the ideology of Nehru, Azad, Patel and Gandhi”. One wonders if the party she chose follows their ideology, according to her. Heptullah has been made a minister to reward her decade of loyalty to the party, clearly overlooking two other more vocal Muslim faces, Shahnawaz Hussain, who lost the election, and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. 

In 2006, the then UPA government formed a new ministry of minority affairs that has been assigned the responsibility of implementing minority welfare schemes. Clearly, Heptullah got this portfolio because of her name and because she belongs to a ‘minority’ community. However, immediately after assuming charge, in her first statement as a minister, she says Muslims are numerically too large to be called a minority, a line often taken by the RSS and its associates, though the Constitution too declares Muslims a minority. 

According to the 2001 census (data of religion-based census of 2011 not yet out), Muslims comprise 13.4% of the total population while Hindus are over 80%, and the remaining communities together form just about 6% of India’s population. Compare this to the Tamils in Sri Lanka, where 11.2% of the total population are Sri Lankan Tamils while another 4.2% are Tamils of Indian origin. 74.9% of the people are Sinhalese while the rest comprise other smaller communities including Moors, Malays, etc. Thus, roughly 15.7% of the Sri Lankan population is a minority, for which not only Tamils but even the current PM expressed his concern and urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to implement the autonomy in spirit. In Bangladesh, with 8.2% of the population, Hindus are the second biggest community, and the third largest in the world after India and Nepal.

Our PM’s heart bleeds for minorities in India’s neighbouring countries so much that he has announced they will get asylum to protect them from persecution. Yet, despite the riots and despite the 2006 Sachar committee report clearly stating that the lot of Muslims is worse than even the Dalits, their representation as a minority is in question.

Heptullah also said on her first day as minister that reservations were not the solution. One may argue on whether communities as a whole deserve reservations, or only the backward amongst them are in need, but what is interesting is that reservation is seen as appeasement only in context of Muslims, not for SC-STs, or OBCs or Kashmiri migrants or when Jats are included in the list of OBCs. 

Another concern has been that several scholarships programmes meant for minority students already appear to be facing a financial crunch, and there are fears they may be stopped altogether. Heptullah also said the PM’s 15 point programme need a revisit. Certainly they do, but in if she attempts to abolish it altogether in an attempt to create a “level playing field”, it will only result in the marginalisation of the minorities, the pet agenda of the RSS.

Now that the new government is here, one hopes that in the 100 days’ programme the ministry of minority affairs would lay out plans to bring the minorities at par with the rest of the population, and only then can there be a truly level playing field. 

M Reyaz is a Delhi-based journalist.He tweets at @journalistreyaz.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Indian Muslims Welcome Modi's Victory.

My response to Prof Rashid Saz's press release appended below.

Prof Rashid Shaz is damn right, “Muslims are able to see the ‘stark political realities that otherwise have been hidden by the secular hypocrisy of the Congress”. I’m glad Congress is decimated. All they did was cause the right wing Hindus to spread the false propaganda that congress was bent on appeasing Muslims, like the hell they did. Muslims were duped into believing that congress was on their side.  In reality, Muslim did not want any bloody handouts, nor did they have any. The Sachar Report laid it out clearly – but then the congress did not fix the problems in six or seven years.  All that Muslims want is equal opportunity, equal access and equal justice in employment, housing, and governance and nothing more.

Let’s call on the falsities in the market and ask BJP to knock out the Hajj Subsidies, handouts to Muslims… let fellow Indians see it was nothing but sham. At least it will shut them up.  Whatever Jobs Muslims have, a disproportionately dismal share, is not due to hand outs, but because they have earned it on their own.

Prof Shaz is right again, “One of the most positive aspects of the new political development is the fall of un-Godly Muslim clergy who worked as middle-men between the Muslim masses and the ruling elite. They were the Congress satellites constantly beaming message of fear and false hopes.”

Indeed, I am a product of post 9/11 America, where for the first time, the National TV and Radio sought normal day to day Muslims to speak for Muslim – it was a big turnaround, hitherto, the bearded fellow wearing ethnic clothes spoke for Muslim, not any more.  Same should follow in India – a majority of Muslims in India cannot be distinguished from fellow Indians (Hindu) in how they dress and how they appear, and TV Media should call on such Muslims to speak in behalf of Muslims. There is a need for a think tank or need for a civic Muslim organization in India represented by normal, common day to day Muslims.

“Those Indians who seek justice want Modi to be punished to commensurate with the crimes or as an accessory to the crime, and that no one should be above the law. However, there are other voices from the Hindu and Muslim communities, who are driven by justice for the victims. Unfortunately, these folks are shamelessly negated as "sold-outs" and this bullying cannot go on in a free nation. “
Full article at Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/indias-future-narendra-mo_b_4177079.html

The Modi I have learned is the kind who wants to leave his imprint on the society, the most enduring legacy would be bringing Indians together in nation building. He will talk about a vibrant India, instilling pride among Indians as one people and one nation under the big sky. Indeed, it would be a fulfillment of the wisdom of our pluralistic ethos embedded in the Sanskrit phrase "Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum," a concept where everyone is considered to be a part of one big human family and therefore must take care of each other.

Remember, Muslims and other minorities are not looking for favors or handouts, but just fair treatment, and an opportunity to be productive citizens.   If Mr. Modi can demonstrate that he is a good human being, and put in to practice the above seven points for the next five years, he would earn the goodwill of the people and could hope to be the Prime Minister of India for several terms.

Democracy and pluralism (i.e., respecting the otherness of others) runs in our veins, so let's have faith in our system. If Mr. Modi fails us, we can dump him through ballot or a no-confidence vote, as we did with Indira Gandhi and Vajpayee. To attain greatness and a place in the annals of history, Mr. Modi has a lot more to prove than we can demand. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/indias-modi-on-his-best-behavior-can-we-trust-him_b_5280892.html#es_share_ended

Please read the caveat at: http://mikeghouse.net/Articles/Narendra-Modi-India.asp before you read the articles I have written about Modi.

The 250 Million figures is outrageously wrong - no statistics has put Muslims over 180 Million.

Mike Ghouse is an author, speaker, activist and a pluralist offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day - his work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net
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For India’s 250 million Muslims, Modi’s victory is a welcome development, says Prof Rashid Shaz, Leader of the Milli Parliament

Mr Modi’s victory is a welcome development. Now, for the first time in independent India, Muslims are able to see the ‘stark political realities that otherwise have been hidden by the secular hypocrisy of the Congress’, said Prof Rashid Shaz while addressing a group of students on the side-lines of a debate at the Aligarh Muslim University. Prof Shaz, an internationally acclaimed author known for his reform writings on Islam and formerly President of the Milli Parliament, is probably the first Muslim heavy-weight who has openly asked the Muslim Indians to welcome and adjust to the new political reality. According to Shaz, the Nehruvian secularism was a mirage; an unending trail of false hopes and hallow promises. It created a fear psychosis among Muslims.

The Congress demonised ‘the political other’, posing itself as protector of Muslims – a promise that it never kept. From communal riots to the illegal ban on Muslim organizations and from arbitrary arrest of Muslim youths to the refusal of their demand for a judicial probe of Batla-House encounter, the Congress displayed a ruthless insensitivity towards Muslims. Now, that dark era of pseudo-secularism is over. The new political reality may look even more depressing to many of us, but at least we are able to see today where we really stand. Those who believe in the protection of the Congress and its ilk should know that they are no more in a position to defend us, but those who believe in Allah Almighty should know that He is all-powerful and hence no need to despair.
One of the most positive aspects of the new political development is the fall of un-Godly Muslim clergy who worked as middle-men between the Muslim masses and the ruling elite. They were the Congress satellites constantly beaming message of fear and false hopes. With long flowing beards and empty rhetoric they made us belief as if without the support of their Congressite masters, Islam had no future in India. They are the criminals of Islam, working for their political masters yet posing to be true to their faith. Now in the new situation the Muslims have got an opportunity to build a direct bridge with a party that has no obfuscating mullas and no middlemen.

The BJP does not feel shy of declaring what it stands for. And this is the first pre-requite of a true dialogue. Mr Modi’s recent remarks that in his victory he sees the victory of 1.25 billion Indians and that he wants to create a 21st century India, are all indicative of the fact that he is open to a meaningful dialogue with Muslims. Mr Modi wants to consolidate what he has achieved through hard work and determination. He has been sending feelers for mending, rather improving his relations with India’s 250 million strong Muslims. But are Muslim leaders ready for a meaningful dialogue. Those accustomed to receiving only a patting from the Congress may find it difficult to inter into a bridge-building dialogue on equal footing. But this is the only way to survive and prosper. I believe, it’s a God-sent opportunity, said Dr Shaz. There is no need to be apprehensive.

The new rulers too are humans. They have a human heart. There is no reason then, that we cannot reach out to them. Today, we Muslim Indians may find ourselves in a crisis, but never mind, a crisis is always full of new opportunities. It is on us how we make use of the new situation.

Prof Rashid Shaz teaches at the Aligarh Muslim University. Mail him at: futureislam@gmail.com