Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A conflict between science and God

Martin Kettle

IT ISN'T very often that a mere visit to an exhibition counts as a political act, but that's certainly how it feels these days as you mount the steps of the American Museum of Natural History, overlooking New York's Central Park. Admittedly, there wasn't a protester in sight when I visited this week, and staff have not yet faced picket lines or hate mail. This is, after all, New York City not Salt Lake City. But organisers of the museum's terrific new exhibition on the life and work of Charles Darwin acknowledge that theirs is an explicit gesture of defiance towards an anti-scientific Christian fundamentalism that is again running fast and deep in contemporary America.

New York's Darwin exhibition is a model of its kind. It takes you comprehensively and fascinatingly through the great scientist's life story. But it is the exhibition's deeper message that matters most in modern America. It asserts without shame, fear or compromise that Darwin's theory of evolution is, quite simply, true. In other modern democracies this is an uncontroversial statement. In modern America it is an act not without bravery. That is why, for instance, corporate sponsors have run a mile from a £1.7 million event that elsewhere would have them queuing up for the privilege.

Reflect on this. Only one out of four Americans believes life on earth today has evolved through natural selection. Three-quarters of Americans, in other words, still do not accept what Darwin established 150 years ago. Just under half of all Americans believe the natural world was created in its present form by God in six days as described in Genesis. They believe, incredibly, that the earth is only a few thousand years old.

But these people are not content to disagree with Darwin and the scientists. They are up for a fresh fight with them. The notion that the scientists had won the argument in America after the reaction to the Scopes trial 80 years ago, when a Tennessee teacher was convicted of breaching a state ban on the teaching of evolution, has faced many reality checks in recent years. School boards and education authorities in several parts of America have mounted a series of anti-evolution challenges. These have often come under the guise of putting "intelligent design" — the conceit that the complexity of the natural world can only be explained by the intercession of a supreme being — on a par with evolutionary theory. This claim, advanced on spurious grounds of fairness to different theories, is utterly without any scientific validity, yet a Pennsylvania court will rule on the matter early in the new year.

In the 15 years since it surfaced as the strategy of choice for a new generation of biblical literalists, intelligent design has had an incredibly soft ride into many parts of American public life. When he was running for president in 1999, George Bush gave the idea his blessing in an interview, saying that he favoured the teaching of "different schools of thought" and adding: "I mean, after all, religion has been around a lot longer than Darwinism ... I believe God did create the world. And I think we're finding out more and more and more as to how it actually happened." Mr. Bush has avoided the issue since then, but the anti-evolution campaign has plenty of momentum of its own now.

Since 9/11 you often hear the argument that the liberal western world must study and learn more about Islam in order to better comprehend the fundamentalist Muslim mind. Maybe so. But you do not often hear people advocating similar inquisitiveness about the fundamentalist Christian mind. Perhaps that too ought to change, especially if we want to understand an America in which religious feeling is growing, not shrinking, and in which the outriders are becoming more audacious intellectually and politically by the day.

I challenge visitors to go into a good American bookshop and not be amazed at the scale and subject matter of the religious books on display. Particularly fascinating is the Religious Fiction section. Believe me, we're not talking C.S. Lewis here. Check out the biggest shelf presence of the lot, the Left Behind series of novels by "prophecy scholar" Tim LaHaye with Jerry B Jenkins — 60 million volumes sold so far — and you will get an inkling of the intensity of the apocalyptic "holy living in an unholy age" crusade against science in modern America.

One of the best bits in the former British diplomat Christopher Meyer's memoirs comes when he relates how, as British Ambassador to the U.S., he always made a point of stressing that America is a profoundly foreign country not a larger and more powerful version of Britain. Of course, as with all generalisations about the U.S., the reality is more complex and subtle. As recent presidential elections have shown, America is a divided country not a homogeneous one. But Mr. Meyer's point is right even so.

We live in a world dominated by the United States. The U.S. claims and asserts military and economic — and moral — primacy in that world. And yet, not least in the estimation of many of its people, the U.S. is not like the rest of the world. In their eyes, it is a special place whose specialness is part, and even proof, of a divine purpose. It is but a small step from there to say that divine claims should take precedence over science, and rhetoric over reason.

Is America a nation in the vanguard of the modern world? Or is it also a nation in revolt against the modern world? One thing is clear: America will not resolve this dilemma until it is more honest and courageous with itself about science and religion than many Americans are today. Against the onrush of this madness, the Darwin exhibition in New York attempts to draw a line. Perhaps we should see it as part of a wider fightback against the recent hijacking of America that can also be seen in the renewed energy of the U.S. domestic argument about Iraq. Either way, it surely deserves a global cheer.

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Globalization: A Gigantic Deception


For hundreds of years, western Christian colonialists and imperialists have plundered the wealth of India and other third world countries. Now these forces are back again in the name of Free Trade and Globalization. Multinational Corporations and Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO’s) supported by western Christian nations are facilitating their activities in India, Latin America and Africa. These multinational organizations could not exist or survive without hegemonic ideologies, the same ideology that promoted colonialism. The goals of Freed Trade and globalization include: endless accumulation of profits; the commercialization of everything; introduction of extreme, capitalist, Christian culture; restructuring of society to create hierarchies of inequality; and marketing of junk goods and throwaway values in the name of innovation, fashion, change, and economic expansion. The traditional economic system is reorganized, land is commodified into property that can be owned and sold, and the economy is reorganized for capitalist monopoly. As a result long-accepted life worlds become disruptive, the real people experience culturicide, suffer human indignity.

Dangerous consumer goods discarded in the west are dumped in India in the name of Free Trade and Globalization. TCO’s are investing huge amounts of drug money in infrastructure development, commercial property and banking. It is beneficial to these corporations, extremely harmful to India. Unrestrained western style consumerism is the true source of the social and family conflicts that are tearing our country apart, because it is depleting the non-economic side of life. In the name of consumerism, it imposes costs on those least able to pay, undermines traditional family values, and promotes inequality, division, and impoverishment, not just improvement.

Globalization tends toward cultural hegemony while promoting flimsy values and consumerism that obliterate national cultures. It is causing increased fragmentation adulteration of our sacred culture.

Globalization is a trick to pollute our culture; it is intrusive, invasive, introduces excessive consumerism, materialism and destroys traditional Hindu family values. It is just another deceptive name for de-construction of Hindu society, life style and culture. In the name of globalization, multinational corporations and Transnational Criminal Organizations are strengthening their dominance in India. They are supplanting the primacy of our nation, destroy our social fabric and tradition, promote religious conversion, and introducing western Christian values. This level of conflict and crisis represent an increase over earlier level of crisis created by colonialism, communism and imperialism. Contrary to the widespread economic perception, free trade and globalization would increase and distribute wealth; it has created communal conflict and terrorism across the nations. Multinational corporations and western governments with capitalist hegemonic policies rationalize surplus extractions, wealth concentration, and political inequalities. At the same time, rich nations constraints third world countries through policies of trade barrier, restrictive economic policies, exclusion, discrimination and repression. Then it constructs myths and stereotypes that “ideologically camouflage” their exploitation of third world economy. To maintain their dominance, western governments create, sustain social and ethnic crisis in other countries. At the end of 1990s, there were 275 groups in 116 countries-representing one-fifth of world population-at risk of (a) violent conflict. Western government and missionary organizations finance ethnic groups, cultural war, open rebellion, and ethnic conflict in countries posing a threat to the capitalist civilizational project,

Under the guise of free trade and investment opportunity, Transnational Criminal Organizations are facilitating their criminal activities in India. TCO’s are moving money and goods to India taking advantage of loose tax law enforcement, relaxed rules on money flows, easy facilitation of money laundering and increased inaction of customs and security forces. TCO’s work with little regard for the safety, security, integrity and social customs of our country. TCO’s routinely corrupt our law enforcement officials, politicians, and judges and eliminate anyone they are not able to buy and who dares to stand in their way. They rely on violence, murder, kidnapping and intimidation to achieve their goals of profit taking and looting money out of India.

Globalization and free trade enabled consumers to buy useless, glittering gadgets and goods. Yet, beneath the glittering show of western goods, there is a deepening social crisis in India. Take for example, in kerala, a highly westernized state; suicide rate is the highest in the world. There is spectacular rise in all forms of crime, family breakdown, child abuse, and teenage pregnancy, widespread adoption of ruinous lifestyles and destructive behavior, and exponential growth of drug and alcohol use. Then there is AIDS, mental illness, and moral cowardice, and promiscuous behavior.

Consumerism in the name of globalization destroys our traditional economic system and makes fundamental change of direction that will tear apart our family, society and nation. Uncontrolled power of the TCO’s and the economic power of transnational corporations will destroy the organic basis of Hindu families, causing insecurity, poverty, and depletion of earnings, family connections, violence and crime. The increasing disparity between family income and what they must pay for useless consumer goods force families to borrow money from loan sharks controlled by TCO’s. Moneylenders’ size and power allow them to charge exorbitant interest and families become victims of money mafia. Overwhelmed by debt, many commit suicide. It also leads to disintegrating families, persistent poverty, and high levels of divorce, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse.

In order to regain our eternal Hindu values of our nation, we must confront consumerism and materialism imported in the name of globalization. Unless it is stopped, the importation of discarded western goods and values will soon cause irreparable damage to our society. Hindu families, which once were both economic and non-economic and they were able to instill a sense of identity and cultural values. Multinational corporations have no interest in the welfare of families and they threaten the economic security of families and the nation.

What is needed is globalization of our all inclusive, pluralistic, spiritual philosophy. This globalization of our broad, eclectic and uplifting philosophy of life is essential for the good of humanity as a whole. Hindu Dharsanas contain infallible guidelines to personal enrichment. They contain the prescription for a good family, community and a good nation. India’s best hope lies in the renewed ascendance of Hindu values. Hindus have a duty to promote and globalize Hindu philosophy of life. Today or tomorrow someone’s values are going to prevail in India. Why not ours? Why not transmit our eternal, spiritual, universal values around the globe?

Krishna Followers Go On Hunger Strike Against Expulsion


MOSCOW, Nov 14 (VNN) — The conflict related to construction of Krishna Followers Temple gained momentum Saturday. Moscow authorities voiced intention to take out the allotment allocated for building the Vedic Culture Temple, Krishna followers responded by a hunger strike.

More than 500 people went on a long-term hunger strike Saturday, November 12, 2005, said Sergey Andreev, leader of the Moscow community of Krishna followers, in a move to preserve the allotment allocated in Moscow for the temple construction.

As a religious organization, Hare Krishna was officially acknowledged in Russia in 1988. Now the country has 106 registered communities of Krishna followers and over 300 parishes.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov sealed the ruling on constructing cultural premises for Krishna followers in Moscow in January 2004. The document sanctioned construction of the Vedic Center on the area of 1.05 hectares at 39 Leningrad Ave. to replace the two-store building demolished in Khoroshevkoe Avenue. To oppose construction, the orthodox followers staged a protest rally and vowed to lie under bulldozers at the constriction site, as this premise will desecrate Moscow, they said.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Calif. Textbooks Remove Anti-Jewish Claims

Sue Fishkoff
Special to the Jewish Times

NOVEMBER 17, 2005
Sacramento, Calif.

Sixth-graders in America's most populous state will soon learn that Romans, not Jews, crucified Jesus.

The lesson could have been different had some of the textbooks approved by California this week gone through in their proposed form.

But when the California state board of education voted Wednesday to adopt new social studies textbooks for elementary and middle school students, it required nearly 1,000 edits and corrections to be made to the materials.

As a result, students will also learn that the biblical story of Exodus commemorates national liberation, not Jewish tribal unity; and that the Jewish God is a god of justice and mercy, not just reward and punishment.

Far from the spotlight of the public debate over evolution and intelligent design in science textbooks, a less-publicized battle was being waged for months over the religion content of social studies and history materials.

In its Nov. 9 meeting, the state board of education voted unanimously to adopt 10 publishers' educational programs, including textbooks and related materials. Two publishers' materials were rejected for not meeting state standards.

Close to 200 of the nearly 1,000 edits and corrections had been put forward by the Institute for Curriculum Services, a project of the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council, which spent months reviewing all 12 of the proposed educational programs for bias against Judaism or inaccuracies in their depiction of Jewish history.

"You may be wondering why I and my colleagues are here today, why this meeting is being covered by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and why would Jews all over the world care about your actions today," JCRC educational consultant Jackie Berman told the board during its five-hour public meeting.

"The answer is clear. The sixth-grade textbooks you are about to adopt contain the lessons that children will learn about the religions of the world, Judaism among them."

Getting the coveted seal of approval from California means big money to educational publishers. California is the nation's largest purchaser of school textbooks, and schools throughout the state may use public funds to purchase approved programs. Not only do other states often follow California's lead in their own adoptions, but as one board of education member noted at the meeting, publishers "write for our state."

California has mandated the study of religion since 1987. Students learn about Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity in sixth grade, and Islam in seventh grade.

In its adoption approvals, the board followed in every respect but one the recommendations made a month earlier by the state's curriculum development and supplemental materials commission.

The exception was the sixth-grade program submitted by Oxford University Press, which had been rejected in September by the state curriculum commission largely because of complaints of bias and factual error by the Hindu and Jewish communities.

The board voted on Nov. 9 to accept Oxford's program, noting that the publisher had spent the last month working closely with Hindu and Jewish groups to correct errors, and had issued a written and verbal apology to the board.

"Oxford has been very cooperative, and we have reached agreement on changes with them," said Susan Mogull, a policy analyst with the Institute of Curriculum Services who urged the board this week to accept Oxford's sixth-grade program subject to those changes. She had spoken out strongly against the Oxford program in September.

"We're so pleased with the results," said an obviously relieved Casper Grathwohl, Oxford's reference division publisher, who had flown in from New York for the board of education meeting.

"We are extremely grateful for how gracious the ICS was in working with us and our scholars to better our program, and bring an appropriate respect for Judaism to it. That cooperation was the biggest factor in our being able to move the program back onto the table."

Board of education textbook adoption meetings are not heavily covered by the media, despite the fact that, as speaker after speaker reiterated, this is where tangible decisions are made that affect what and how children learn.

A special JTA investigation recently revealed how some Islamic organizations with political agendas were involved in the dissemination of biased and distorted teaching materials. It also showed how some groups were heavily involved in consulting with publishers on the development of textbooks. Some critics contend that these organizations promote an uncritical approach to Islam.

One textbook, "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond," published by the Teachers' Curriculum Institute, was piloted in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this year. But after a series of protests from parents -- who objected to what they saw as distortions of Christianity and Judaism, with an overarching positive spin on Islam -- the publisher decided to stop the trial.

"There was a lot of objection to the amount of coverage of Islam," Liz Russell, the development director of the Teachers' Curriculum Institute, which is based in Rancho Cordova, Calif., told JTA over the summer.

The book was developed to meet California standards, which require "a lot more on religion in general than most other states," she said.

"History Alive" was one of the programs adopted this week by California.

Close to 80 speakers addressed the education board during its five-hour meeting here, and the 13 board members listened to all them carefully, discussing their major points publicly before voting on adoption.

Looking at the overflowing room and the long line of speakers waiting to address the board, Michael Berson, associate education professor at the University of South Florida who worked on one of the programs that was eventually adopted, said, "Bringing all these people together who are concerned about children's education is exciting."

Although the public's criticism "can be divisive," he said, "I think it's welcomed, I really do."

The vast majority of the speakers were Hindu and Sikh, communities who said they felt slighted by all the publishers' offerings.

"Hinduism is not treated with the same respect as Christianity or Judaism," complained Dr. Mihir Meghani, president of the Hindu American Foundation. "The sacred scriptures of Hinduism are referred to as legends or myths," he said. In contrast, with Christian or Jewish biblical accounts, "they write 'the Bible says' or 'according to the Torah.' "

Sikh speakers told the board that although there are almost 600,000 Sikhs in the United States, half of them in California alone, none of the textbooks discusses Sikhism or shows pictures of Sikhs so children can learn to identify and respect them.

These complaints highlight some of the difficulties faced by board members as they waded through hundreds of pages of corrections and edits submitted to them.

Brandishing one of the heavy documents, board member Ruth Bloom asked her colleagues how they were supposed to judge the content of all these textbooks and related materials in order to make educated decisions.

"How do you teach about religion in the context of history? Accurately and with respect," responded board president Ruth Green.

Berman said 187 of the group's edits and corrections were accepted by the ad-hoc committee on Oct. 31, including all of the major problems her group had found in the various textbooks. Oxford, she noted, promised to make every change her group requested.

"We have found all the publishers to be very cooperative," she said. "We feel the process is working and the books will be enormously improved from the standpoint of the Jewish community."

This kind of watchdog activism is crucial, says Amanda Susskind, Pacific Southwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "If in our view a textbook is disseminating myths or untruths to children that perpetuate negative stereotypes about Jewish people or any other group of people, it is not only appropriate but necessary for us to respond," she said.

It is up to the publishers themselves to make the required changes, Berman said. She said her group would review the materials after they are published next spring "to make sure all the changes we requested were made."


Friday, November 18, 2005

Reservation in IIT, IIMs dangerous: BJP

Press Trust of India

Hyderabad, November 18: Terming the Centre's proposal to provide reservation to minorities in premier institutes like IITs and IIMs as "dangerous and divisive", BJP on Friday said such a move would create "social tension and mutual distrust among the communities" with serious implications.

"It shows how divisive the UPA government's thinking is. Instead of implementing a socio-economic agenda for the development of minorities, the government is playing a cheap political game," said party vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu at a press conference.

Pointing out that courts had struck down the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University and Andhra Pradesh government's ordinance on Muslim reservations, he said quotas based on religion were fraught with dangerous repercussions.

"If the same trend continues, it will lead to sowing the seeds for demand for another Partition in future," Naidu said adding that his party would oppose 'tooth and nail' any move to introduce quota system in IITs and IIMs.

The senior BJP leader's remarks came in the backdrop of Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh statement on Thursday, the government would consider the proposal for reservations for minorities in these premier institutions.

Naidu said the constituent Assembly had deliberated upon the issue soon after independence and had decided against religion-based reservations in the interest of the nation.

"Knowing fully well that such a move (reservations for Muslims) will not be able to stand the scrutiny of law, the government is going ahead with it only for publicity," Naidu said, warning that such a move would encourage fissiparous tendencies with "grave consequences" for the country.

"All these years, the successive Congress government have only shown lip sympathy for minorities. Nothing concrete has been done for them in terms of social advancement, employment and development," the BJP leader said.

He said the country was facing the twin danger of encouragement to divisive tendencies and allowing the extremist elements to have a free run.

The Jehanabad jailbreak and its aftermath brought to fore the "insensitivity" of the UPA government towards Maoist problem, Naidu contended.

"There is a lack of political will to tackle extremism head-on," he added.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Modi: Taken at the flood

by Sandhya Jain,

Few men in modern history have dared to meet a tide in flood and ride out boldly into the open sea. Yet this is precisely what Mr Narendra Modi has done. Baptised quite literally by fire, battered by a sensation-mongering media, chargesheeted by ideologically committed activists and hounded by an irrationally oppositionist Election Commission, the cornered Chief Minister battled formidable odds to present the Bharatiya Janata Party its most credible electoral victory in recent years.

The Gujarat elections are a major watershed in national politics. First and foremost, they have upheld Mahatma Gandhi's desire to give India's native religious and cultural traditions a place in the public arena. Gujarat has demonstrated that Hindus, whether Adivasis, Dalits or educated middle and upper classes, perceive themselves as one community. Surely it is poetic justice that this has happened in the Mahatma's own State. Of course, this centre-staging of the nation's civilisational ethos has gone down badly with Congressmen who blame Mr Modi's communal campaign for his spectacular victory. But this only proves that the Congress was insincere in accommodating Hindutva in its electoral strategy, and that it actually hoped to win the election on the basis of the old formula of en bloc minority vote plus support from certain castes.

Gujarat has given a fitting reply to such vulgar communalism, which lacks respect for the dharma and way of life of the majority community. It has demonstrated a grand affirmation of the Hindu identity and self-respect. Henceforth, political parties hoping to come to power on a minority of the total votes polled, and functioning on the basis of colonial stereotypes about the Hindu community being a mere aggregation of castes, will have to do serious rethinking.

I emphasise this because I have noticed the crystallisation of Hindu sentiments across the country, affecting the core support base of each party. Therefore, no political party will be able to trifle with Hindu sentiments while seeking votes on the basis of caste affiliations and minority votebanks. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, was the first leader to discern this trend, and accordingly made startling changes in the Bahujan Samaj Party's political rhetoric and electoral strategy. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J Jayalalithaa, showed equal deference to Hindu concerns by enacting the law against forcible conversions, brushing aside the protests of rootless secularists. Now, following Gujarat, Hindu-baiting parties may find the going politically counter-productive.

Politicians, however, can be trusted to learn some lessons sometimes, but not so the media. It would be an understatement to say that the media was biased against Mr Modi. Sitting in the Capital and subscribing to five newspapers daily, I can say that most newspapers failed to even hint that the BJP was heading towards a landslide victory. Common sense said that Mr Modi could not lose after Godhra; that after Akshardham even the Patel community could not afford to sulk over the loss of Mr Keshubhai Patel; and that the people of Gujarat were bound to give a sharp snub to the shameless aggression of the CEC, Mr JM Lyngdoh. But I had no clue about the mandate heading his way because the newspapers told me to place my bet on Mr Shankersinh Vaghela.

Besides the biased coverage, what is unforgivable is the complete failure of the media to introspect and take responsibility for the communal polarisation that it lays at Mr Modi's door. Now that the elections are over, it is time to state a few home truths. The entire media approach towards Godhra was driven by the attitude that it was a tragedy richly deserved by innocent children, women and men because they had dared to visit the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. That Godhra occurred without any provocation was simply blacked out. Even more despicable was the manner in which the subsequent riots were delinked from the Godhra carnage and treated as a suo moto aggression on the part of the Hindu community. The media-assisted international vilification of India was simply outrageous.

The scandalous commentary and visuals relayed by a television channel during those troubled times upset citizens across the country, yet the channel itself remains benignly unrepentant. On the very day of counting, a programme was aired live from Ahmedabad. And in a city that gave a thumping mandate to Mr Modi, the organisers were unable to find even a sprinkling of persons favourably inclined towards the BJP! Talk about fair play!

As if this were not bad enough, some sections of the media have taken to playing up minority fears, as though planned pogroms are in the offing. I think it is time to bell the cat about so-called minority fears and to challenge outright the media dishonesty in this regard.

To begin with, there is no truth in the insinuation that the minorities are in danger in this country by virtue of being minorities. This may be true in societies that practice monotheism (of whatever persuasion), but it has never been true of Hindu society on account of the enormous tolerance and innate decency of the Sanatana dharma. So we must no longer tolerate such canards about ourselves; nor should we permit people to disarm us with such vicious falsehoods.

The second issue we need to face is the sheer aggressiveness of the minorities and their intolerance towards the native faith and traditions of this country, as witnessed in their insistence on the right to convert. Moreover, readers may recall that Leftist historians have claimed for decades that medieval invaders who razed Hindu temples did not do so because they were iconoclasts but because they wanted the enormous wealth of the temples. This Leftist assertion was falsified by accounts of the invaders themselves, but citizens were not allowed to utter such politically incorrect truths! Yet today, given the fact that Hindu temples continue to be soft targets of fundamentalists, we need to ask why this is so. The fig-leaf of an economic motive does not exist, so another explanation will have to be found. I am waiting for our secular apologists to offer it.

Some Muslim analysts have noted with dismay the sharp drop in the number of tickets given by the Congress to Muslim candidates. Indeed, falling Muslim presence in State Assemblies and Parliament has been a matter of concern to Muslims for some time now, but has been generally disregarded on account of the specious claim for proportional representation. My suggestion is that the Muslim community can no longer avoid a long overdue introspection about its future course in a modern, forward-looking nation like India.

Muslims believe that secular parties take the Muslim vote en bloc but do not transfer their own committed Hindu vote to Muslim candidates (of whatever party) on account of a secret communal bias. This is not true. The reality is that Muslim candidates are unable to appeal to other groups in society because they do not have a modernising or non-communal agenda.

For instance, why should Hindus vote for a candidate who opposes the Shah Bano judgment giving alimony to an abandoned wife or supports triple talaq and polygamy? Muslim intellectuals have long lectured us about the nation's composite culture-it is time they let it take root on their own home and hearth.


Move for IIT, IIM minority quota


New Delhi, Nov. 16: A committee set up by the human resource development ministry has recommended reservation for minority students in professional institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.

The committee will meet tomorrow to discuss the report. Arjun Singh, who holds the ministry and will preside over the meeting, may find it difficult to ignore the recommendation, though it is likely to spark a huge furore. Improving the status of minority education has been high on Singh’s list of priorities since he took charge of the ministry.

A range of recommendations to improve the educational status of minorities has been made by the committee for minorities’ education.

Earlier, the ministry’s move to confer minority status on Aligarh Muslim University ran into trouble after a court order de-recognised it.

The recommendation for reservation in IITs and IIMs is likely to trigger a controversy with a section of experts arguing that quotas will not help minority students. They say students with a weak educational background may find it difficult to cope with the pressures at IITs and IIMs.

In its report, the committee says: “The number of minority students is falling in prestigious institutions like IIT, IIM, IIFT (institute of foreign trade), etc. The committee is of the opinion that reservations may be made for admission of minority students in such institutions.”

IITs and IIMs have mandatory quotas for SC/ST students. Scheduled castes have a 12.5 per cent reservation and scheduled tribes 7.5 per cent. Besides, there is a quota of 3 per cent for physically challenged students.

The committee has not specified the size of the quota for minorities in the report.

It also wants to improve representation of minorities and backward classes in the civil services.

“As in the case of SC/ST, a centre may be established in the existing IITs and IIMs where bright students from these communities can be identified through the qualifying examination,” says the committee.

“The centres can then coach them. The idea of associating IITs and IIMs with the coaching centres is to ensure a high standard of coaching which can easily be given by the highly competent faculty members,” it says.

After admission, SC/ST students are coached for a year to bring them up to the standard of these institutions.

The committee has made important recommendations for madarsa education. It has suggested scrapping the present scheme initiated in 1993-94.

“Its basic objective was to improve and bring the standard of minority education at par with general education. Unfortunately, the desired results could not be achieved with the existing parameters of the scheme,” says the report.

“The government may consider scrapping the existing scheme and introducing a new scheme. Under the new scheme, there can be a central madarsa board/sangathan,” it says.

India's heritage is in peril

by Sandhya Jain,

India is in serious danger of losing ownership and control over its civilisational heritage due to the machinations of an insidious combine of Left-wing academics, Page Three authorities on culture and urban development, and an architects' lobby posing as experts on archaeology and conservation.

Looming behind them is UNESCO, a body whose financial scams makes the United Nations oil-for-food programme smell of roses, which wishes to commodify Indian civilisation in the name of world heritage and detach it from the life of the Indian people. Complicit in these shabby manoeuvres is the Left-dependent United Progressive Alliance regime.

India, with its internationally acknowledged expertise, as demonstrated at Angkor Vat, does not need UNESCO to decide its top heritage sites (a very manipulative game), how they should be preserved, and how its living civilisation and culture should be interpreted.

We must realise that the mindset behind declaring some monuments as 'world heritage' is alien to our culture, and eventually extremely harmful. In fact, India should stop funding UNESCO, force a discussion on the Canadian Government's audit of that body some years ago (it was condemned as an international sinecure for wives and mistresses!), and press for its closure. Allow me to explain.

Those who have seen the pyramids of Giza are moved by their eternal beauty and mystery. In a deep sense they are part of world heritage and deserve to be saved from the fate of the Bamiyan Buddhas. Yet it is the Egyptian Government which protects and preserves the antiquities of Egypt.

The flip side of this picture is that the civilisation that created the great monuments along the Nile is dead and gone. Egypt is culturally alien to its historical past, and it has been left to Western experts to excavate and interpret that epoch. In the absence of continuity of civilisation and culture, the experts are free to make any interpretations and present them as established truths.

Foreign scholarship is never free of bias and cultural baggage; I am personally aware that some Western countries are teaching school students about 'hunger and poverty' in ancient Egypt (god alone knows on the basis of what evidence). There is no one to counter that poor and hungry people could not have built one of the greatest civilisations of the ancient world!

Mercifully, the Indian diaspora in America has woken up to the denigration of Hindus through viciously written textbooks, and the battle for a fair depiction of Indian history and culture has been joined on that continent. Yet India remains the primordial battlefield for the Soul of India. Can we allow a bunch of self-proclaimed experts to cannibalise our culture and heritage, declare it dead and preserve it in museums, where Western experts can freely pontificate about feudalism in pre-Islamic India?

I became acutely conscious of the danger of academic monopolies in July 1993, when Sir Vidia Naipaul spoke to a national daily about the importance of a sense of history. He said: "I recently received a document, the text of a lecture given by some sort of an expert on India who teaches at Trinity College, Cambridge. The lecture was on fundamentalism. In it we are told that Islam was brought to India by traders and merchants and that places of Hindu worship became absorbed into Mohammedan places of worship. Well, all this is absurd and it is said by a serious scholar..."

Naipaul endorsed the demolition of the Babri structure on December 6, 1992, as part of a "sense of history that the Hindus are now developing". It was a fascinating observation.

Readers may wonder why I have chosen to write about heritage at a time when jihadis have slit the throats of Hindus in Kashmir and Hindus in a Bharat Milap procession in Mau, Uttar Pradesh, have been attacked by culturally intolerant persons.

The UPA Government and the Congress party have maintained a stoic silence on both the episodes, which have happened in quick succession. But my objective is larger: Since the keynote of Indic civilisation is unity and continuity, we will not be able to preserve the people if we do not fight for the civilisation that once made them world leaders without reliance upon the barrel of the gun.

While Left-Congress split over the NCERT curriculum has received some media attention, there is complete ignorance about the September 2, 2005, meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA). A discordant note was struck with a notification dated 11 August 2005, appointing Dr Suraj Bhan, Dr D Mandal and Dr Sitaram Roy as members (all served Babri Masjid Action Committee during Court-ordered excavations at Ayodhya in 2003), when they did not figure in three previous notifications.

Their agenda was soon apparent. One worthy wanted rules changed so ASI could be headed by archaeologists from outside! This would open the way for Marxist historians to takeover this august body as self-styled archaeologists. The same expert wanted to delink ASI's explorations from conservation activities, to help Page Three Cultural Czars and their NGO fronts to grab public funds.

The political nominees exposed their non-academic agenda by making adverse remarks upon ASI's report to the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya excavations of 2003. Given the paucity of time and the pressure under which the team worked, with the court being asked to ensure 'communal representation' of even the labour force, the report was commendable.

Indian academics lack the honesty to appreciate evidence which contradicts their ideological fantasies, and we need to question the integrity of a regime that appoints such persons to premier institutions preserving national heritage.

The Ayodhya excavations established the occupation of the site from at least 1250 BC, through successive historical periods. ASI found the remains of a monumental building of the Medieval-Sultanate period (twelfth to sixteenth century AD), over which the disputed Babri structure was constructed during the early sixteenth century. This truth is indigestible to Marxist historians, who are determined to choke the ASI, which alone has the power to overturn the mythologies peddled by them.

Another episode that angered them and figured in CABA was the accidental discovery of vandalised medieval Jain temples during restoration work at Fatehpur Sikri in 2001; they insisted such 'discoveries' must never be made again! Yet, true art lovers are eternally indebted for the unearthing of some of the most beautiful statuary in Indian history, especially a breath-catching Devi Saraswati.

Jains have a fascination for the Goddess of learning, and it is an endearing irony of the Indic tradition that all famous Saraswati images found in India hail from Jaina temples. To my mind, only an iconoclast would wish to keep such an image from detection in order to protect the exposure of medieval vandalism.

Sadly, the Saraswati, honoured in Indian tradition as "best of mothers", became one of the first political casualties of the UPA, with the Ministry of Culture declaring there was no evidence of the river, even though it is being revived in Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan! Decades of work by Government organisations (and an accidental picture by NASA) have established the course of the 1600-km long river from the Himalayas to Gujarat; excavations along the route would establish the cultural chronology of the Vedic people. We must fight for our roots if we are to preserve our trees.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why this war on Hinduism?

By George Thundiparambil

(This is an article written in response to Atam Vetta’s “A dialogue between the Hindu diaspora and American Christians” which appeared in Organiser dated October 9. It is the first part of a two-part response to the call given by Shri K. S. Sudarshan for suggestions to counter the evangelists in India. The writer is an Indian and a free-lance writer and translator based in Freiburg, Germany. His interest is religion. He can be contacted at

What would you do if someone declared a war on you? Old wisdom says there are two options in such a scenario. Resist and fight back with all your might, even if the enemy is the strongest of giants. Or, if you cannot stomach the fight, switch sides and join the enemy!

In the fight against evangelists and jihadis, Hindus too have the choice. Fight and save dharma, or convert and submit to adharma! The enemies are not targeting the Hindus’ material wealth, but their spiritual wealth accumulated over numerous millennia by the immense yagas of their ancestors.

Shri K. S. Sudarshan’s request for suggestions to counter the war of conversions declared by the evangelists is legitimate and the need of the hour. But Atam Vetta’s advice (Organiser, October 9) to make friends with Christian extremists of the West sounds silly, if not utterly ludicrous. He advises Hindus to initiate a “Christian-Hindu bhai bhai” campaign. Vetta’s proposal could be extended to Al Qaeda and pray that even though the jihadi attacks would not stop immediately, there is a hope!

Even if the enemy were your brother, Hindu wisdom advises against making compromises with adharma. The greatest expositor of dharma, Sage Vyasa, speaks at the end of Mahabharata: “Dharma is that by which everything endures. It is the substratum of everything. It is untranslatable into any language. Through desire for wealth or out of greed or fear, do not give up dharma, aye even to save your own life. Dharma is eternal happiness.”

If the Christian and Islamic clergy do not propagate and force their ideologies down the throats of unsuspecting or helpless people through dubious means, or do not force them to stay on with censure and punishment, their religions would be wiped out. Europe is a primary example.

The underlying scriptural dynamics that make Muslims target Hindus is the same as those which make the Christians target Hindus. From the Hindu point of view, there is no difference perceivable between these two enemies, since it is the fundamental Hindu belief system that these two oppose. These two hostile ideologies, flawed because they are not based on human experience but on spurious and fantastic literature, are based on a priori illusion that human beings are genetically flawed and can be redeemed only by symbolic conversion and the acceptance of their bookish deity. These two religious groups target Hindus because they cannot tolerate the ideas tacitly mooted by the Hindu way of life that human beings are originally good and that dharma is innate and natural.

The phenomenal Hindu tolerance of other creeds, even of Christianity and Islam, arise from the fundamental belief that humans are basically innocent and that dharma is the innate element that connects with eternity. Individual freedom finds its utmost expression in human existence and propels every individual by his/her karma towards redemption and ultimate happiness. Ironically, it is this belief itself that makes the Hindu vulnerable to these two hostile religions, for the Hindus mistake these creeds for dharma and think of these two religions as valid as their own. This is the fundamental mistake Hindus should avoid in their defence against Christian and Islamic aggression.

Islam and Christianity by their fundamentally mooted concept of natural evil are natural enemies of the Hindu notion that humans, like all other beings, are born with the inherent right to redemption by their own means, whatever it may be. So, at the crux of things, there is a fundamental gulf between the Hindu standpoint and the Christian-Islamic standpoint that can never be bridged. Christianity and Islam sense this gulf much more than the Hindus, because their unnatural ideologies rightly perceive the mere continuance of the Hindu as a threat to their sustenance. For these primitive but acute intellects, the mere existence of the Hindu is a danger, because they unwittingly accept that their aberrant creed cannot subsist and grow naturally side by side with the Hindu (the natural religionists) without the aggressive pursuance of their ideological objectives such as evangelisation or jihad, combined with moral police, inquisition and the like.

For instance, if the Christian and Islamic clergy do not propagate and force their sterile ideologies down the throats of unsuspecting or helpless people through dubious means, or do not force them to stay on with censure and punishment, their religions would be wiped out in decades. Europe is a primary example. They also know that if all kinds of people were to become educated and come to know their rights and discern what is right and wrong (as mentioned in Genesis), the only religions that would continue to thrive would be Hinduism and all those natural religions that assume humankind and all natural existence as innocent and originally good. Moreover, they also know that the followers of natural religions can easily and fearlessly conduct pious lives without the need of a professional clergy or organised institutions to preach goodness or to carry out acts of compassion. Goodness and compassion are innate in every creature, at least as long as there are no professional god men walking around preaching original evil and hate. But most Hindus, like Atam Vetta, are not aware of the real nature of the enemy, or the war declared upon them.

Hindu wisdom advises against making compromises with adharma. The greatest expositor of dharma, Sage Vyasa, speaks at the end of Mahabharata: “Dharma is that by which everything endures. It is the substratum of everything. It is untranslatable into any language. Through desire for wealth or out of greed or fear, do not give up dharma, aye even to save your own life. Dharma is eternal happiness.”

The USA might remain a world super power for a long time to come, and the NeoCons (or by whatever names these Christian fanatics are called) might have a say in the US government for all time to come, but what can a Hindu (under attack) in India gain by making friends with these insane men, who are practically the same kind as all bin Ladens of this world? George Bush’s fight against Islamic terrorism might evoke a false sense of camaraderie with him and his entourage, but it is worthwhile to keep in mind that Bush is the major member of a big team from all over the world collecting money and resources for organisations and individuals who have vowed to convert all the remaining heathens of this world.

One might ask at this point: Why this obsession with the heathen? The motivational reason is twin pronged and a bit abstract, but nothing beyond easy comprehension by a simile. The first is based on cause and effect: if there is light, even a faint light, total darkness cannot prevail. Dharma is light and adharma is darkness. As long as the Hindu exists, the natural goodness that is dharma exists, and in the presence of dharma, adharma can prevail neither conceptually nor qualitatively. Darkness can prevail only in the absence of light. Therefore, for Christianity and Islam to prevail, they have to annihilate Hindu dharma. That is the innate force that drives the two adharmic forces to target Hinduism as the remaining and only hindrance to pursuing their scriptural objectives. Hindu dharma is the lamp these two asuric forces want to extinguish, so that their evil ideologies can prevail. Unfortunately, many Hindus fail to perceive their enemies as the forces of darkness.

The second prong of the enemy motivation is related to their spurious books, which verbally buttress the necessity to suppress the light of dharma. It is expressly mentioned in the Bible that the Christian objective of establishing perpetual adharma (“Kingdom of Heaven” in their terms) on earth can occur only if the remaining heathens either convert or perish. For the NeoCon fanatics, the two things that stand between them and their scriptural objective, which is the materialisation of the prophecy of doom (biblical apocalypse), are the Hindu heathens and the remaining stable ecology of the planet. According to their diabolical book, their Prophet of doom (Jesus Christ) will appear before them and take them to the netherworld of sinners only when no heathen exists on this earth and our blessed planet earth is completely destroyed.

As long as a Hindu lives and as long as a virgin tree stands on this earth, the two demonic religions and their ideologies cannot prevail. They know it, and hence the declaration of war on Hindus. The only redemption these two alien and hostile religions can offer human beings is the eternity of doom (as looked forward to by Christians and Muslims), which Hindus call adharma. It is the dharma of all Hindus to save Sanatana Dharma and offer all humankind the eternity of freedom and goodness. In order for dharma to prevail, all the Hindus have to do is to remain unconquered; whatever might be its costs. Not to let the light go out, so to speak. For this purpose, it is the imminent need of the Hindu community to organise and chart out an overarching and global plan to combat and subdue the enemies who scheme and work for their extinction.

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Bible thumpers

The Public Affairs Magazine-
Americans are being increasingly stereotyped as stupid.
By Arvind Kumar

An email that did the rounds recently in Hungary claimed that an American tourist had rented a car and ruined it by driving in first gear for over two hundred kilometres not realising that it was not equipped with automatic transmission. The email claimed that the barom (idiot) American had driven from Budapest to Pecs at a speed of eighty kilometers per hour burning the engine in the process. Although the story in the email turned out to be a hoax, the number of people who believed it illustrates the point that the stereotype of Americans being stupid is easily accepted outside the US. How true is this widespread stereotype? Is the usage of this sobriquet warranted? An analysis of the behaviour of Americans will throw light on the causes for the existence of this stereotype.

The main reasons for the existence of this stereotype can be traced to the region in the US known as the "Bible belt". Comprised mostly of the southern states, where Christianity has deep roots and the culture spread by evangelical Christians is all-pervasive, this region has an undue share of influence on American polity and the establishments that control political and intellectual discourse in America. So powerful is the region that it has become the norm for the two main political parties to make sure that at least one of the presidential candidate or his running mate is from this region.

A large section of the media, government bodies, universities, and non-profit organisations operate in the framework created by, as the noted American journalist, H.L.Mencken, termed them, the "Bible thumpers". As the rest of the world mostly encounters only these American institutions apart from the American corporations, a look at the ideas and actions of these establishments will give an understanding of the causes that shaped the opinion about Americans in the rest of the world. Not always are the employees of these institutions Christians, but since their agenda has been set by the Christian fundamentalists, even non-Christian employees are forced to further this agenda.

The religious nature of the American government has never been under question. The president and other office bearers take the oath of office on the Bible, utter the words "So help me God" as they take oath, their currency notes and coins have the words, "In God We Trust", their pledge of allegiance has the words, "One Nation Under God", and chaplains read prayers in the Congress and at presidential inaugurations.

While these points can be dismissed as either harmless or minor issues, it becomes worrisome when the government starts interfering in others' lives and forces them to live according to the Bible. Thus, it is truly a matter of concern that the American politicians base several policies based on Biblical teaching.

For example, opposition to cloning is a direct result of the religious right's opposition to violating the second commandment in the Bible, which says that one should not make an image of anything that is in the heavens above, on the earth, or in the waters. The fact that cloning would threaten the monopoly their god holds over creation agitates them.

Another ongoing controversy in the US is the issue of stem-cell research that could potentially find cures for many medical disorders. While it is not surprising that those opposed to stem-cell research thump the Bible in their defense, a less known fact is that even some of those who support stem-cell research quote the Bible and seek to interpret it in their favour. A supporter of stem-cell research, senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, quotes a verse from the second chapter of Genesis to buttress his claim that creation is a two-step process. According to him, god first created man, and in the second step, god breathed life into man. He claims that embryonic stem cells are like the finished product of the first stage, and placing them in the womb breathes life into them. He argues that it should therefore be okay to allow embryonic stem-cell research!

Influence of the Bible on American policy is not limited to areas that collide with scientific research. It affects almost every aspect of decision-making, including its foreign policy. For example, both the left wing and the right wing hate Jews. While the Left blames the "Jewish conspiracy" for almost any disaster or unpalatable event, the Right is guilty of anti-Semitism. Yet, the US supports Israel because many Americans believe that the land considered holy by Christians ought to be in the possession of Jews in order for Jesus Christ to return. This belief is so strong that they seek to fulfill the "prophecies" made in the Bible. Thus, in order to make true the "prophecy" that an all-red heifer will be sacrificed at the site of the Temple at Jerusalem, Christian fanatics, who normally object to anyone other than their god playing the creator, reversed their position on genetic engineering and decided to fund the creation of a red heifer using genetic engineering.

Perhaps, Indians who feel irked by the constant hostility of many Americans towards India, may have more luck in convincing them to be friendly if they pointed out that the ninth chapter of Revelation in the Bible states that those with the seal of god on their foreheads will be spared of torture by the locusts that will supposedly arise from the bottomless pit described in this chapter. After all, many Indians apply Tilak on their foreheads.

Two recent cases in the US Supreme Court that captured the attention of the nation were both related to Biblical concepts. The first one was to decide whether it is acceptable to have the words, "One nation under God", in the pledge of allegiance. Those who wanted the phrase removed argued that it violated the idea of separation of church and state, and that the god in the phrase was the Christian god. Eventually, the case was dismissed on a technicality and the court left the phrase intact. The second case was about the display of the Ten Commandments in a Texas courthouse. The Supreme Court gave a mixed ruling on this case, allowing the display if the motive was secular. Cases such as these, in which the Supreme Court does not rule against Christianity, give an idea of its real stance on the issue of separating Christianity from the state.

The US Supreme Court is a controversial body with its judges appointed for life by politicians. The rulings of its judges are usually aligned with the ideology of the political party that appointed them. The appointment of a Supreme Court judge can be a contentious affair with an intense struggle between the two dominant political parties and the religious views of the candidate coming into focus.

In addition to motives for several domestic policies, justifications for wars waged by the US can also be traced to Christian theology. Soon after the 9/ 11 attacks, Ann Coulter, a right-wing rabble-rouser who is not exactly known for high intellect, wanted to convert Muslims into Christians. In the din of the cheers that her comments elicited, what was lost was the irony that such thinking on her part is the result of Arab influence on the minds of her ancestors who were converted by the original Arab Christians, and the converted Christians in turn passing on the indoctrination down the generations.

Religious discrimination is rampant in the US armed forces. In a recent survey, many non-Christians in the training institutes of the US armed forces reported being discriminated against. During the bombing campaign in Iraq, a chaplain in the US army blackmailed soldiers and refused to give them water unless they underwent baptism.

Prejudice is so deep-rooted in the US that American officials routinely refuse permission for setting up Buddhist or Hindu temples, often citing frivolous reasons. There are several churches in every neighbourhood, but American officials place innumerable hurdles when Buddhists or Hindus, who between them number a few million in the country, wish to set up temples.

In South Plainfield, New Jersey, a borough zoning board voted against the construction of a temple claiming that it would cause traffic congestion. No such excuse is heard for churches that dot the New Jersey landscape. What was really noteworthy was that the township council of the neighbouring town of Edison, which has nothing to do with the town of Plainfield, expressed its hatred through official channels by passing a resolution against the construction of the temple.

The behaviour of many American people is no different from that of their officials. A few years back, white supremacist arsonists in Sacramento in so-called "liberal" California attacked three synagogues causing material and emotional damage to Jews. A proposed Vietnamese Buddhist temple in California has drawn protests from residents who oppose it on specious grounds such as "environmental impact" and chanting being "noise pollution". Hindus who wished to construct a temple in Chino Hills, California, faced protests from fanatic Christian residents, and a proposed Hare Krishna temple in Escondido, California, faced similar protests from Christian residents in the city.

The weird ideas of Christian fanatics are by no means limited to people of a specific ethnicity. "Bobby" Jindal, son of Indian immigrants and a member of the US Congress, is a staunch Christian and wrote in a descriptive article how he chanted "Hail Mary" and exhorted "all demons to leave in the name of Christ" in order to cure a person afflicted with cancer. Jindal has held important positions in the health departments of his home state, Louisiana, and the federal government, and seems to have ambitions of running for president of the United States. Imagine the possibilities if Christians like Jindal wield absolute power; they could decide to shut down hospitals and replace them with centres to beat the devil out of sick people.

Academia sets the tune

The influence of "Bible thumpers" has taken such deep roots in America that they are influential in the academia which is a very important aspect of America as it shapes the minds of Americans. The "Bible thumpers" are so well entrenched that they force science textbooks for schoolchildren to teach what they call "creation science". According to "creation science", god created the world around six thousand years ago, exactly according to descriptions found in the Bible. The argument goes that Darwin's Theory of Evolution is taught in schools even though it is just a theory, and so "creation science" too merits being taught to schoolchildren in science classes.

In any other country, "creation science" would have been termed as idiocy and its proponents laughed at in their faces, but not in America. Instead of the derision they deserve, the creation-theorists actually find people in the mainstream media and academia to debate their points and thus gain legitimacy as their ideas share a platform with scientific ideas. Such debates discuss "both sides" of the issue, as Americans consider it a sacrilege not to have a "balanced" debate that discusses "both sides" of the question.

After the courts ruled against the proponents of "creation science," they turned their attention to discrediting science, and recently came up with the bizarre idea of implementing a rule whereby it would be required to affix stickers on science textbooks with disclaimers stating that scientific theories were not necessarily facts. They now peddle creationism under a new label - "intelligent design." The result of it is that the education boards of several states require textbooks to be revised in order to accommodate the advocates of "intelligent design." Such actions by Christian fanatics only strengthen the common stereotype of Americans being stupid.

Christian influence in academia is not limited to school textbooks, but also extends to universities. Many American universities began as divinity schools run by churches, whose agenda the humanities departments continue to push. Recently, Harvard university appointed a Jesuit priest, Reverend Francis X.Clooney, as a professor for comparative theology. Professor Clooney has written that the souls of those who lack union with Rome are in peril. With such preconceived notions, it is a matter of curiosity what he intends to compare between various theologies.

Elsewhere, Bob Jones University in South Carolina states, "While most secular biologists are committed to evolution as the basic principle of biology, Bob Jones University trains Christian biologists who see the living world indelibly marked with the fingerprints of a God of limitless wisdom and power." Needless to say, in their pre-med courses, they teach Biblical "creation theory".

In late 2002, an article by Sankrant Sanu, an Indian thinker, about the Microsoft Encyclopedia Encarta entry on Hinduism authored by Professor Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago, spurred Indians to petition Microsoft to replace the biased entry. Sanu's piece pointed out that the entry on Hinduism was of poor quality, had factual inaccuracies, and was hostile in tone. He further pointed out that it was written by an "outsider" (that is, someone who was not a Hindu), while the corresponding Encarta entries for other major religions like Christianity and Islam were not only appreciative of those faiths, but had been authored by people who belonged to them.

To Microsoft's credit, after Sanu's criticism spurred an outrage and widespread accusations of poor scholarship on the part of Professor Wendy Doniger, it replaced the entry by a scholarly piece on Hinduism.

Sankrant Sanu's analysis of the Encarta piece holds true about American academics in general. While professors studying Christianity are usually Christians sympathetic to Christianity, professors who study Hinduism are usually Christians who are hostile to Hindu culture. If they happen to be Indians, they are usually Marxists who are hostile to these cultures. Even the top universities are not exempt from this malaise. As we will see later, this is also true of journalists in the media.

One of the reasons for this situation is that humanities departments are usually short of funds. Unlike their counterparts in science and technology departments, faculty members in humanities departments do not easily get grants. This also means that humanities departments do not attract the best brains resulting in poorer quality of research and as a result, even fewer grants. Thus, it is a vicious circle of poor brains not attracting grants and lack of grants keeping away the good brains. Christian fundamentalists, who have deep pockets, step in to fill this void by setting up endowments, and cash-strapped departments and professors are easy prey for them.

Though the Christian tilt is rampant in humanities departments and the quality of research in science departments is generally of high quality, the latter are not immune from the influence of Biblical ideas. Recently, Johns Hopkins university (JHU) announced the results of a "study" that can only be termed as pseudo-science. Apparently, they had conducted a "joint" study with Indian scientists and concluded that circumcision is an effective weapon against AIDS! The Bible requires human males to undergo circumcision, and this "study" did nothing but provide fodder for those who claim that the idea is backed by science. It is not uncommon to come across "scientific studies" in America suggesting that human males are quirks of nature and imperfect creations needing correction in a manner described in the Bible.

What really raised the suspicion about this "study" is that the JHU "scientists" seemed more than eager to give credit to their Indian collaborators and term the "study" as an international project, even though it is unusual for American scientists to involve others and share credit with them when they are on the verge of discovering something important. A closer look at this "study" is revealing. While the Indian scientists were in charge of data collection and manuscript preparation, the JHU folks were the ones who interpreted the data. Reaching conclusions by linking two separate events without an explanation of cause and effect may be acceptable in voodoo practices, not science.

Media blows the trumpet

American journalists and most of the media in the US are products of their education system, which moulds their thinking. Unlike in other countries, the American education system is such that it largely determines the way people think. This has resulted in the phenomenon of most Americans having predictable views on almost every issue. Mainstream American thinking can also be considered subliminally racist in nature, that is, they are racist without realising that they are racist. Even the media is not free of this attitude. Captions on photographs covering the disaster in New Orleans illustrate this point. While desperate white victims who helped themselves to food from grocery stores were described using positive words and were supposed to have "found" food, blacks in a similar predicament were supposed to have "looted" the grocery stores.

In a similar display of double standards, Amy Waldman of The New York Times (NYT) asserts the identity of the London bombers and repeats the claims of the London police without providing evidence. In her report on the terror bombings in Mumbai in 2003, she sought to rationalise the blasts as retaliation for the events in Gujarat the previous year, and wrote, "The Bombay police commissioner, R. S. Sharma, said on Monday night that law enforcement authorities suspected that so-called jihadi groups were also responsible for the blasts, although he offered no specific evidence for that assertion." In the same article, she justified the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993 that killed hundreds of innocent people as retaliation for riots that occurred in 1992. No one can be blamed for viewing this attitude of Amy Waldman as racism and concluding that NYT considers terrorism to be terrorism only when there are white Christian casualties.

Amy Waldman may or may not be overtly racist, but there is no denying that many American journalists are subliminal racists. This is due to the values they imbibe from their environment, and much of what they say is actually sincere conditioned response fitting in with the framework of mainstream thinking. Thus, when Amy Waldman tries to obfuscate the issue of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis being violent by lumping them together in the non-existent group called "South Asians", she is most likely not being deliberately racist. It is due to subliminal racism that almost every description of Native Americans involves mention of their mystical beliefs and projects them as far removed from modernity, while Christians are treated with reverence even if they indulge in laughable behaviour. For instance, people in New Jersey recently claimed that a Sacred Heart of Jesus statue in a church blinked, and the American media gave the impression that it might be a miracle.

The prejudice of the media folks in considering American thinking as the only acceptable form of mainstream thinking results in a curious phenomenon; they end up behaving like cheerleaders of their mainstream establishment. Despite its stated claims of being the watchdog of democracy, the American media acts as the propaganda arm of its government. This point was on display during the bombing of Iraq when the media faithfully parroted the false claims made by the US government. Instead of being watchdogs and indulging in critical analysis, the media behaved like lapdogs seeking to be petted by Uncle Sam.

The US government exploits this weakness of the media to its full advantage. During the bombing of Iraq, it figured that if secretary of state Colin Powell stood in the United Nations and claimed to have evidence of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the media would believe it. All he had to do was to have a couple of CIA agents next to him and this would lend him credibility.

The next day, The Washington Post's editorial stated, "After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." It went on to claim that he "offered a powerful new case that Saddam Hussein's regime is cooperating with a branch of the al Qaeda organization that is trying to acquire chemical weapons and stage attacks in Europe."

While the rest of the world dismissed Powell's claims, the media in the US fell for this cheap trick. Leading Indian journalist Ashok Row Kavi terms this as "desperate disinformation" - apart from those spreading the disinformation (in this case Americans), no one else believes it.

The Washington Post was not alone in falling for the government propaganda about Iraq. Bill O'Reilly of Fox TV fell for it completely, and ended up having to make a humiliating apology admitting that his "analysis" was wrong. He blamed George Tenet of the CIA for his flawed claims, and in doing so, made the tacit admission that it was not his analysis to begin with; he was just parroting CIA's bogus claims.

For their part, a majority of Americans believed their government, and in a stunning response to directions from their government to stock up on plastic sheets and duct tapes to seal their homes and shield themselves from germ warfare, many of them created a mad rush at department stores. Robert Bartley, an editor emeritus of The Wall Street Journal, even took credit for having "elaborated this threat" before the government had done it. For its part, the government used a colour-coded terror alert system to control the level of fear in the masses. Merely by changing the status from yellow to orange, the government could induce more fear in the minds of Americans. While this whole setup may seem amusing to those outside the US, it must be kept in mind that the government used fear as a mechanism to gain support from people.

Propaganda on behalf of the US government was also carried out by the so-called "embedded" journalists who were attached to the US army and had to get their reports about the war approved by the US army. That is, they were acting as typists for the press releases of the US army.

The American media has acted as the mouthpiece of its government for a long time. A prominent example is the coverage of the 1988 mid-air bombing of the Pan Am flight as it was flying over Lockerbie in Scotland. The American government claimed it was the handiwork of a Palestinian group in Syria, which was bankrolled by the Iranian intelligence agency, and the media faithfully carried these allegations. They even presented "evidence" of a wire transfer of several million dollars to buttress their claim. In 1989, after Libya's refusal to support the American response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, incensed Americans claimed to have found "new evidence" suggesting that the bombing was actually carried out by Libya. The American media obediently changed its tune and claimed that it was Libya after all that carried out the bombing.

The reason for the media's behavior is their lack of knowledge of things in general, and as a result, they look up to their government for authentication of facts. Complaints by American journalists that they are looked down upon by their peers from other countries for no reason are invalid. If other journalists feel superior and behave in an arrogant manner, Americans have only themselves to blame.

The media not only supports the government, but also the Christian evangelists. While the rest of the non-Islamic world has advanced, many Americans are still in a dilemma and have not decided whether women should be treated as human or sub-human. A Tennessee based newspaper, Knoxville News Sentinel, actually carried an exchange between those who wanted to keep women subservient and those who were against women being submissive. It is truly remarkable that they are still discussing this point.

Christianity also finds expression in the form of hateful articles about other religions. Some time back, Jon Carroll of San Francisco Chronicle made a factually incorrect and outrageous claim that Hinduism condones rape as a just form of punishment. Such ignorance is by no means an exception; it is rampant among Americans. Studies repeatedly find that many Americans are ignorant of geography and are unaware of the cultures of other countries. Thus, Carroll's hateful statements may have been sincere statements made out of ignorance about Hindus and India. However, what cannot be condoned is that even after Carroll's article was brought to the attention of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a self-proclaimed media watchdog group, it did not criticise the publication of this hateful article. There is definitely an unwritten rule among both conservatives and liberals in the US, to act as the foot soldiers of Christianity.

Denver Post, a newspaper in the state of Colorado where many staunch Christians live, published another shocking article. According to this article, the central tenets of Christianity and Islam were charity and love of one's neighbour, but Hindu gods were unconvincing and Hindus were despicable people. The article criticised Hindus for not surrendering their hard-earned wealth to the Christians and even termed their wealth as "commercial spoils."

Hatred against non-Christians, possibly subliminal like their racist attitudes, is rampant in the American media. A proposed Buddhist retreat at Berne in upstate New York resulted in a weekly magazine publishing a letter from a pastor, Jay T. Francis, inciting hatred against Buddhists and claiming that the "spiritual environment of our area and more importantly the destiny of our souls is at stake". Two weeks later, an editorial by Reverend C.W. Davis of Altamont was published in which he blamed Eastern religions for leading him into drug abuse in the 1960s, and mocked Buddha for not claiming to have the powers to cure cancers, broken bones, illnesses, and mental disabilities, powers that his god supposedly possessed. It is a well known fact that many Christian priests are recruited from drug rehabilitation centres and prisons and this is the reason for their continued errant behavior.

When a Hindu temple in St Louis was firebombed twice within days of each other in 2003, the media pretended that it was not motivated by hate and swept the news about it under the carpet. More recently, in a chilling reminiscence of Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan, statues at a Hindu temple at Orlando, Florida, were broken and paint poured into shoes left outside, but most of the media has not even bothered to mention the attack.

The same racist attitude made the journalists react with horror when India conducted its nuclear tests. Not long before the Indian tests, the French carried out tests in the Pacific Ocean, and the media found those acceptable. As noted earlier in the context of American academics, this attitude is a result of the bias in the choice of journalists who write about Hindus. They usually do not have a Hindu background, or if they do, they are usually Marxists.

American journalists also believe that it is the right of Christians, Muslims or Jews to be politically active, but brand Hindus fighting for their political rights as "Hindu fundamentalists". So deep is the antipathy that they do not realise they are prejudiced and consider a Hindu to be a criminal merely for being politically active. A reward of $100 was offered to the members of a journalism related mailing list if they could name just one organisation that asks for the rights of Hindus and yet has not been branded "Hindu fundamentalist" or an equivalent term. The offer resulted in a stunned silence and put an end to a noisy discussion on the topic. The reward lies unclaimed to this day and is now open to everyone. The first person to name just one such group can send in their entry and collect the reward of $100.

Despite the fact that the media indulges in propaganda on behalf of the government and Christian fundamentalists, there is always hope. The New York Times has started charging a fee for letting readers access some of its content on the web. This means that at least some of its propaganda will no longer be distributed for free. Small mercies, these.

Dangerous results of mindless "experts"

A pertinent question that needs to be raised is why the US ended up supporting the very people who carried out the 9/ 11 attacks. The American government seems to have poor judgment and does not seem to care for morals when it comes to choosing allies or implementing its foreign policy. There seems to be a pattern in the kind of people it trusts and works with - Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the House of Saud, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and a whole bunch of dictators and terrorists.

Why is it that they consistently support terrorists? Is it not dense of them to lend support to those who end up attacking them? To answer these questions, we need to turn our attention to the so-called "think tanks" which advice the government.

People from the humanities departments of various American universities form the staff of these self-described "think tanks," and each "think tank" has its own agenda usually defined by powerful Christian fundamentalists. Much of the analysis by the "experts" at these "think tanks" is inaccurate and very superficial. Occasionally, they get something right about another country, but it is usually well known information easily available from newspapers published in that country. When they hit upon such ordinary information, they feel good about it and brand themselves "experts". A few years back, one such "expert" on hearing that the person speaking to him was an Indian, is reputed to have exclaimed that it was wonderful that India and Malaysia were building a bridge connecting the two countries. He had probably read about a joint project between the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia.

To gauge the quality of scholars at these "think tanks," one just needs to look at the works churned out by them. In a remarkable piece, William Milam, former Ambassador to Pakistan and now attached to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, argues that Pakistan's rulers ought to be rewarded with F-16s in order to pacify them. In other words, the more violent they are, the more rewards they deserve. He also claimed that Pakistan was a "stable democracy." Even president Clinton, who appointed him ambassador, did not believe his cockamamie about Pakistan being a "stable democracy." During his official visit to Pakistan, Clinton ducked down, hid from public view, sent a decoy plane, and had a double walk out of it, before he quietly arrived by another plane and entered the country unnoticed.

Another "expert" familiar to Indians is Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution, who was a policy adviser to the state department in the Reagan administration. Known for his pedestrian analysis, he goes by the title of "South Asia expert". In June of this year, Cohen argued before the House International Relations Committee of the US Congress that Pakistan should be supplied with weapons, and that it had been helpful in its "cooperation in revealing its clandestine support for the Iranian, Libyan, North Korean and other missile and nuclear programs". The terrorists must have got the message - all they need to do after supplying nuclear arms to Libya, Iran, and North Korea, is to call up the South Asia "expert" at Brookings Institution and reveal their transactions, and Cohen is sure to argue that they must be rewarded with more arms! In the very first sentence of his testimony, Cohen did not fail to announce that he was pleased to share his "expertise".

For its part, the state department has been led by people equally naïve about the state of affairs in other countries.

The previous secretary of state, Madeleine Albright - who is supposed to have risen high in the ranks of power due to her father's reputation and her marriage to a wealthy media magnate - supported the Islamist group Kosovo Liberation Army, a group that has ties to Osama bin Laden. Condoleezaa Rice, the current secretary of state who has a PhD in international studies, claimed that Iran was trying to spread Islamic fundamentalism to the Taliban, and that it was "doing all kinds of things with Pakistan". At the time she made this claim, Iran was opposed to Pakistan as well as the Taliban. The only country that continually does "all kinds of things with Pakistan" is the US. In another display of its famed stupidity, the US airlifted a number of Taliban fighters and evacuated them from the war zone.

US support for terrorist groups and dictators is not limited to Islamists. It also extends to Communists. It is for this reason that Stalin termed them as "useful idiots". That they still support Communists can be seen from the fact that both conservatives and liberals support the Bengali Bolsheviks and Nehruvian-Stalinists in India. In fact, the Indian Communists have American politicians wrapped around their fingers, and use them at will. That is how they managed to get the US Library of Congress to appoint a Marxist from India to one of its chairs. This control by Indian Marxists over American politicians was also on display when along with their Islamist allies, they got the American government to spew their propaganda about Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, and rescind his visa. Among those who were used by the Communists and Islamists to act on behalf of them in pushing this agenda were Congressman Reverend Joe Pitts, Congressman John Conyers, and the US department of state. Many clueless Congressmen, including Reverend Joe Pitts and Dana Rohrabacher, are part of the lobby group that lobbies on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Many of the politicians who act against India are also driven by Christian fundamentalism. Over the years, US governments have implemented the agenda of Christian fundamentalists in their foreign policy as well as their domestic policies. James Watt, who served as the secretary of the interior in the Reagan administration, believed that the end of the world was imminent and allowed the pillaging of natural resources. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Watts said, "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns."

Christian fundamentalism in America is not limited to the right wing. The leftists too support Christianity. The number of religious people among their leadership over the years is revealing - Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton. Liberals definitely seem more comfortable rallying behind a church leader. Liberal thinking is also conditioned by subliminal racism. They have a hierarchy according to which they view people of various races. During his 2003 anti-war speech in Washington D.C., Bill Fletcher of the Trans Africa Forum opposed Bush's policies and stated that Bush ought to deal with the problem between India and Pakistan. In other words, Bush was not good enough to be trusted with policies that affect Americans, but it was okay to leave Indians in the care of Bush.

An important "think tank" that politicians rely on is the Rand Corporation - an organisation that works for various intelligence agencies in the US - which routinely publishes policy reports that end up as fodder for right-wing Christian fundamentalists. From an academic standpoint, most of its reports are of poor quality and full of factual inaccuracies, but it provides the fundamentalists with propaganda material. For example, a recent report authored by Greg Treverton and a few others made the factually incorrect claims that India was a "Hindu State" and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) was a religious movement that based its philosophy on hate. It went on to liken RSS with Islamic terrorist outfits that hijack planes and plant bombs in marketplaces.

Greg Treverton, former vice chair of the National Intelligence Council, who has also served on the National Security Council, runs the intelligence policy centre of the Rand Corporation. Had Treverton done his homework, he would have known about the RSS and not ended up with a shoddy piece of work.

RSS members who are part of the Bharatiya Janata Party at best indulge in a weasel war dance and make a lot of noise about restoring the rights of Hindus in India. When they were in power, they failed to liberate the Hindu temples from the control of the government, and actually helped the Islamic cause by increasing subsidies for Muslims. Gary Brecher, a writer for the website, made the perceptive comment about the term "Hindu militant", that burning Hallmark greeting cards does not qualify one to be classified as a "militant". It says a lot about American "think tanks" that an amateur writing for a website has a better understanding about India than the "experts" at various "think tanks" have.

The propaganda against the RSS is the result of Communists everywhere branding their opponents as fascists, and Rand Corporation seems to have swallowed the propaganda fed by Indian Communists. Privately, Indian Communists themselves admit that they use the label for political purposes and express surprise that Americans actually swallowed their propaganda. The ill-researched documents that the naïve staff members at Rand Corporation routinely come up with may explain why the CIA was caught by surprise over the 9/ 11 attacks, and believed that weapons of mass destruction were buried in the sands of Iraq.

Interestingly, Rand Corporation is headquartered in a building shaped like the "Jesus Fish". The "Jesus Fish" is a figure that consists of two intersecting arcs resulting in the shape of a fish, and many Americans place this figure on their cars in order to make the statement that they are Christian fanatics. Opponents consider it a badge of stupidity that advertises the backward thinking of those who display it. Early Christians, who had to go underground due to their violent activities, apparently used this figure as a secret sign to indicate their meeting place.

The view of Americans expressed here is not a judgment on the many hardworking Americans who have a scientific temper, are innovative, and whose contributions have benefited all of us around the world. Nor is it a judgment on media outlets like Frontpage Magazine, which has published insightful articles by writers such as Serge Trifkovic, or thinkers like Hugh Fitzgerald who have a good understanding about the world. It is a judgment on the Christian fanatics. The fanatics must take responsibility for the "Stupid American" stereotype.

Like their counterparts in the media and academia, those who work in the "think-tanks" have an inaccurate understanding of the world and feed wrong ideas to their politicians. While it is true that many Americans are intelligent and have a positive influence on the world, the establishments that form the power structure in America do not attract the best brains in the country. American policy is not scripted by the sharpest pencils in the box, and as a result, things have become dangerous for everyone in the world. Just as the stereotype of Americans being arrogant results from interacting with American corporations, the idea that they are stupid results from interacting with the American media, "think tanks," and policy makers. Between them, they have managed to make the world a dangerous place.

It is tough to watch the performers and ignore the dangerous fire started by their clumsy actions, but it may actually be exciting. After all, when geese dance and fools versify, there is bound to be sport.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

In secular Paris, saree is scary


BOBIGNY/PARIS: France’s first gurdwara, complete with three proudly-bulbous domes, soars high above the horizon in Bobigny, the satellite town north of Paris.

In the French capital, on the Rue Fauborg St Denis, half-a-hundred Sri Lankan and Pondicherry Tamil-owned shops with names like 'Saree Palace', 'Chola Voyages', 'Rio Sapna', 'Ayngaran DVDs' and 'Sakthi Jewellery' ply a thriving trade, secure in their USP as the 'Indiens quartier'.

But the gurdwara stands proud only on paper. And the mile-long Indian quarter is France's only visible, if impermanent and grossly commercial proof that it is home to a small but stable assortment of South Asian communities with disparate faiths and differing spiritual and social aspirations.

Says Rajaram, an IT entrepreneur who left Chennai for Paris 20 years ago, "I have been battling to get official recognition for Hinduism as a religion, but to no avail."

Adds Shingara Singh, a member of the Bobigny Gurdwara Management Committee, which currently runs a makeshift temple for the country's estimated 10,000 Sikhs and is raising money to build its grand architectural declaration of faith in France: "There is a Ramdas mandir near Paris, but there is no temple for the Hindus, no mosque for Pakistanis and South Asian Muslims. There is a definite void in the lives of our communities". If France's refusal officially to enfold minority religions seems dogmatic, it is meant to be. Nearly 400 years ago, Voltaire, the most eloquent and tireless advocate of the anti-dogmatic movement, the Enlightenment, famously declared, "If God did not exist it would be necessary for us to invent Him."

Since then, secularism, colour-blindness and ethnic-neutrality is the closest thing France has had to a state religion. The trouble, say non-white Frenchman, is that the principles of secularism do not appear to be set in stone for everyone and they seem well able to accommodate white Christian exceptions.

This includes allowing the eastern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine-which were German when the state officially stopped funding the church in 1905.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

'Is India waiting for more attacks to happen?'

NEW DELHI: Is India waiting for some one else to declare Pakistan a terrorist state? The fact of the matter is that India is the country worse hit by terrorism -- sponsored by none other than Pakistan. Over 50,000 people have been killed in terrorist-related violence in India since 1994. Why then should we wait for a declaration to this effect from the US -- and that too, knowing well that for over half a century, successive US governments have supported and sheltered Pakistan to achieve their own ends. Our readers have raised this and several other questions.

Mr V C Bhutani says that it was only post 9/11 that the US felt the need to counter terrorism. Then, Pakistan is supported by the US Congress, the Democratic party, and the US media. Then asks our reader, is the US dumb enough to not realise that a thief cannot be made a watchman?

Another reader, Mr Narender Pendyal, says that Pakistan has already had its Diwali blasts, celebrated the occasion. Mr Leoduman writes that it is a shame that India should offer $25 million to Pakistan -- a country that uses its funds to raise terrorists and send them into India to kill its people.

The sooner we wake, the better it is, says the reader. If we have enough self-respect, we must boycott Pakistan. Writes another reader that India must shut business, seal borders and end talks with Pakistan for Pakistan draws its satisfaction seeing India disintegrate.

Yet another TOI reader lashes out against Pakistan. He says, wake up Manmohan Singh. Give it back to them the same way they have done it to us. For God sake, rise, do it now, for we must save innocent lives.

Readers also opine that statements by successive Indian governments telling Pakistan that India would not tolerate terrorism have been of no use. Can we stay at peace with each other? Is India waiting fot more to happen before the devil Pakistan raises its hood to attack India again?

India must wake up, act for itself. No one else will come and solve out problem. No one at all. Not the US, not China, not anyone.

Another reader wonders that why on earth is India opening the LoC with the devil nation? Pakistan's basic goal is to kill innocent Indians. We don't need such friends. We are better off by ourselves. So are we looking for a friend in Pakistan? Politicians play dirty games. Be it the vocal Advani or off the scene Sonia, they are all busy criticising each other, says a reader, when they should be united to fight the enemies of the country.

Do we not realise that we have been wronged by Pakistan. Another reader opines that India must educate the world about terrorism and lead them to expect a decisive Indo-Pakistan showdown sooner than most of them think.

It is high time we realize that it is foolish to think that Pakistan's military establishment and fundamentalists will ever change their thinking. They are jealous of the progress we have made.

The fact that groups involved in New Delhi blasts still enjoy the support of Pakistan is no secret.

Pakistan is clever. It continues to support terrorism even as it condemns such acts. So are we in India allowing ourselves to be fooled? It is time, we look beyond negotiating table and take some action. Wake up India, writes Navpan. Wake up for us, unite and crush the enemy.

We invite more opinions from our readers on the issue. Please post in your comments.

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