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.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Two nations with visions of manifest destiny

by Rajeev Srinivasan
February 25, 2006

The visit of the French President, Jacques Chirac, to India was a relatively low-key affair, as the chatterati did not pay much attention to it. The forthcoming visit of�US President George W Bush looms much larger in the pundits' imagination, partly because of the huge buildup of expectations about nuclear cooperation. Alas, in the quaint Indianism used by sportswriters, the Americans are merely 'flattering to deceive'.

American diplomats and non-proliferation Cold Warriors are running circles around their Indian counterparts -- seducing them with faint praise -- and so I am glad to note that a number of scientists and administrators have said that the July 18, 2005 accord amounts to a massive sell-out of Indian interests under pressure. Strategic analysts who opposed the deal from the beginning -- such as Brahma Chellaney -- should feel vindicated.

In this context, the French offer of nuclear fuel and reactors -- under IAEA safeguards -- amounts to a useful Plan B for India. France has an advanced nuclear power industry of its own, which supplies a good fraction of the country's needs, and they most probably have more up-to-date designs than the Americans. The latter have been handicapped by negative public opinion after Three Mile Island, and have not built new civilian reactors for decades.

In any case, having a second source is a major factor in limiting supplier power. It is the potential for American supplier monopoly and therefore veto-power over India's nuclear future that has worried Indian analysts. The prospect of France -- and possibly Japan, with its own advanced nuclear power industry -- bidding for India's business would greatly enhance India's own buyer power vis-�-vis American arm-twisting.

As usual, India is inept at exerting its leverage. For instance, in response to American pressure (Ambassador Mulford's dire threats) India should have announced that it was rethinking Air-India's big order of aircraft to Boeing, and re-opened negotiations with Airbus. This would have brought the US Trade Representative running to Delhi ('airdashed' in Indian journalese), and would have silenced the non-proliferation ayatollahs at Foggy Bottom.

It is worth noting that American commercial interests -- notably Westinghouse -- had been in the forefront of American approval of $5 billion worth of nuclear power plant sales to China, which has been a consistent proliferators and flouter of international norms. I read recently that Westinghouse had been sold to Toshiba of Japan, and I wonder what effect that has on things. What are Toshiba's (and Japan, Inc.'s) thoughts on selling nuclear material to China with which Japan's relations are, to put it mildly, tenuous? And more to the point, how keen is Toshiba on selling power plants to India?

Apart from the nuclear deal, it is worthwhile for India in general to have a good relationship with France, which is prone to act as a gadfly, often indulging in knee-jerk anti-Americanism. India should play off the Americans against the French (and Europeans in general) as both are keen on the billion-person Indian market. India can wrest concessions from both.

Neither America nor France is particularly India's bosom buddy, but that they are both jockeying for position in support of their national interest. This is a clich�, but it is not clear that Indian negotiators have internalised this.

For instance, in the current furore over Mittal Steel's proposed takeover of French rival Arcelor, European chauvinism and racism has come to the fore -- for instance note Arcelor chief Guy Dolle sniffing that his steel was 'perfume', while Mittal's was 'eau de cologne'. Excuse me, I thought steel was steel was steel. Perfume? Surely he jests!

What are the roots of the tension between America and France? A few months ago, Americans were up in arms against France, renaming 'French fries' as 'Freedom fries' and so forth, over something so trivial that they have (and I have) now forgotten what the fuss was all about. And French condescension towards parvenu, uncultured Americans is legendary.

Bernand-Henri Levy, the French author, in his recent book American Vertigo takes a look at this question -- and he acknowledges explicitly that he is following in the footsteps of his celebrated compatriot Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote, 170 years ago, one of the most penetrating analyses ever of what makes American society tick. Levy believes that part of the reason for this animosity is that both nations believe in a sort of 'manifest destiny' -- that they are uniquely qualified to lead the world to a new vision of egalite, liberte, fraternite in one case and 'democracy' in the other.

Of course, we all know that these fine sentiments do not always jive with action on the ground. The French were keen imperialists, and the Americans have always preferred ruthless military dictatorships over mere democracies when it comes to choosing allies. Levy calls himself an 'anti-anti-American' meaning that he opposes the reflexive anti-Americanism endemic in Europe, which perspective he believes opposes everything that is actually good in America.

Levy asserts that in fact it is the French Right that hates America, not the French Left. Coming from the former leftist, this may have credence. According to Levy, the French Right believes in a mythology of homogeneity, of blood and race and color, and of that as the basis of nationality. America, a nation that luxuriates in the diversity of its population, is clearly the very antithesis of this belief, and apparently that is the thing that sticks in the craw for the French Right: it repudiates their fundamental beliefs.

Of course, India shares the element of diversity with America, in a manner reminiscent of Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass: 'I am large, I contain multitudes.' And the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita, XI:5:

Pasyay may Partha roopani shatasho'tha sahasrasha:

Nanavidhani divyani nanavarna krtani cha |

Arjuna, behold presently in hundreds and thousands

My multifarious divine forms, of diverse colors and shapes.�

India is the ultimate in heterogeneity, a mixture of people and ideas that somehow, out of this diversity -- and despite the active attempts of its current ruling class to, well, divide and rule -- has always been a nation and a civilisation. And despite the best efforts of its rulers to destroy the nation by destroying its millennia-old cultural roots, the idea of India survives.

Neither the old culture of Europe, as embodied in the idea of France, or the brash new culture of America, is an exact analog of India's culture. They may complement each other: India needs to work with each of them and gain whatever it can from both. India has been generous with its cultural gifts to Europe and now America, and it is time to call in the favours. It was after all, a Frenchman, Voltaire, who said, memorably, the following:

'I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis'�

Comments welcome at my blog at

Secularism: cleansing agent of Indian Politics

by Apratim Verma
February 20, 2006

Indian politics is dirty. We all agree over that. Indian politicians are corrupt. There is even more agreement. That national parties in India have indulged in sabotage and treason inspired by foreign ideological gurus (shall we refer to Mitrokhin, Volcker or anybody else?), and even governments have taken donations to fuel foreign ideologies in India, elicits an even louder ‘yes’ from Indians. That presents us with a black face of Indian politics. Doesn’t it? But wait! Things are not so bad. There is a purifier, an amrita, an ideological Ganga which washes away all the dirt of Indian politics. Guess what it is? Secularism. What else?

Secularism indeed is the cleansing agent of Indian Politics. For 60 years it has washed away the sins of politicians. Some say that Indian Politics is very complicated. On the contrary, it is very simple. There is only one rule in the Realpolitik grammar of India. You want to commit a crime? No probs. Do it. But do it the Secular way.

In India a crime is a crime, until it becomes a secular one. The moment a crime becomes secular, it ceases to be one. With the transforming touch of Secularism a crime mutates into the service of the poor, the masses and the nation, and in worst scenario it passes unnoticed. So, secularism in India is not just a purifying agent, it is an electron cloud with a minus charge on it. It reverses the direction of a particular event or deed completely. A crime in general becomes a favour to masses in Secular terms.

About a year ago, an issue over the insult of Gandhi was raked up. The instigator was none other than Mani Shankar Aiyer, the secularist cum Communist par excellence of India. The new shining portfolio of Petroleum ministry, and the defeat of supposedly ‘non-secular’ BJP had added ammo to his Communist salvos, and boosted his secular morals.

The issue was that of a slab with the name of Veer Savarkar engraved on it, which was displayed on a pillar in the jail of Andaman and Nicobar islands, where the leader had been imprisoned by the British. Mani Shankar Aiyer had charged that this was an insult of Gandhi. Now one wonders what an innocent little slab of marble with only the name of Veer Savarkar engraved on it, could have done to offend the Secular emotions. But Secularism is a touchy ideology and Secularists, sentimental creatures. Mr. Aiyer’s logic was that since the name of fanatic Hindutvawadi (an ignominious breed, ungrateful enough to be present in India) like Veer Savarkar was present on the slab, the absence of a slab with Gandhi’s name was a great insult to the Mahatma.

Now, common human logic tells us that the names of only those freedom fighters must be engraved in the Andaman and Nicobar jail, who were really imprisoned there. But Secularism is not common, and human logic is unworthy of the lofty ideals of Secularism.

Much hullabaloo followed the chivalrous deed of our Secular knight. But Mr. Aiyer being true to the Secular ethos, remained absolutely defiant and insolent in his obstinacy and got the slab removed from the pillar. So much for the victory of Secularism. Now we must turn to another recent event.

The chief guest of this Republic Day Parade was none other than Saudi King, an autocrat ruling over an extremist Wahabi Islamic State, financing terrorism and producing terrorism at supersonic pace. While Indian Secularists and Communists leave no breast unbeaten in denouncing the Hindu King of Nepal because he has suspended democracy in order to combat with the Maoist menace, they have not even a single time implored the Saudi dictator to renounce his throne and bring democracy to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, while the Nepali King gets the regular bashing by our Secular Armada in all of leading Indian dailies, the Saudi King gets both an invitation to India on the Republic Day, plus a red carpet treatment by Indian media. The ‘doublespeak’ of our Secular Armada is quite evident with this partiality towards the Muslim dictator and the animosity towards the Hindu King of Nepal.

Things would still be bearable for the infinitely patient Indian populace, but it did not stop over here. Saudi King while on his tour in Delhi with his counterparts skipped Rajghat, the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi.

Now by analyzing the history of Secularism and applying deterministic logic, one reaches to the conclusion that the disrespect of Mahatma Gandhi of such a great degree would produce an insuppressible din from the Leftists, Congressites, Secularists and Communists all of those who vouchsafe the legitimacy of all their actions by allying themselves to his prophet like charisma.

But Secularism is not deterministic. It is chaotic in nature. Nobody can ever what predict what course it will take. The ever-screaming throats of our Secularists suddenly went quiet. Not a single howl was heard form our Teutonic Knights of Secularism. This act of Saudi autocrat was never considered as an insult to Gandhi. So, the lesson we learn from this episode is that you can insult Gandhi, but only through the secular way.

These two events show us the extent to which our Secularists can perfect the ‘doublespeak’ and double standards. Now if one is trying to discover the truth about Indian Secularism, his search ends here. In plain terms Indian Secularism is an intense hatred of everything India and Hindu, whether it be history, culture, religion or literature. It is a cover for Islamic apologism and Muslim appeasement. It is a facilitator of the Christian Missionary agenda in India.

Overall, it is anti-national in character. We need not go into the debate of genuine secularism or pseudo-secularism, or about the origin of secularism in Europe. By observing Indian Secularism, one can easily guess its aims and intentions. Even, the slightest observation reveals the ‘doublespeak’ of Secularists in India, their animosity towards ancient Indian culture and their partiality of Islamic fundamentalism, Christian proselytism, Maoist terrorism and every other form of subversive agendas and anti-nationalisms.

But how great a specialist you may be of Indian Secularism it will always leave you gasping for breath by its U, M, W and Z turns. At last the clownish somersaults of Secularism elicit a laugh from Indians, and they wonder whether they must dispense with jokers, for a better replacement in the Secularists.

According to the survey of an American daily, India is the happiest nation in the world, despite its social, political and economical worries. I wonder, whether Secularism is the cause for this happiness!


Misrepresentation by Marxists and media cronies
Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sudharshan K Kapur, Educator and author of textbooks

On June 29, 1966, Dr DS Kothari submitted a monumental report of the first post-Independence educational commission to the then Union Education Minister, MC Chagla. The report, which was about 760 pages long, was aptly titled Education and National Development but was later simply known as the "Kothari Report". It covered matters like education and national objectives, education system, its structure and levels, status of teacher and teacher-education, school education, school curriculum, higher education aims, administration of universities, etc.

It goes to the credit of the Kothari Commission that the report was based on proper and sound understanding of concepts and basic principles of education with recommendations logically delineated. The report contained a summary of as many as 230 recommendations , which are as valid, relevant and practicable today as they were four decades back. It is perhaps for this very reason that the Kothari Commission Report is still regarded by the educationists as the "Bible on Indian education".

The National Policy on Education, 1968, was entirely based on this report. It is another matter that those who were at the helm of affairs in the 1970s were not sincere enough to implement these recommendations in letter and spirit and made a mess of the whole thing and arbitrarily imposed upon the country an educational system which negated the recommendations of the 1966 Education Commission and the stipulations of NPE, 1968.

The Government had established NCERT as an autonomous body with the objective to assist and advise the Ministry of Education (now MHRD) in the implementation of its policies and major programmes in the field of education, particularly school education. One of the principal responsibilities of NCERT was to develop curriculum and prepare model textbooks and instructional materials in all school subjects from Classes I to XII.Obviously, it became the responsibility of NCERT to implement the recommendations made by the Kothari Commission. In 1976, Education was brought in the Concurrent List by a Constitutional Amendment.

It was during the Emergency that NCERT was subject to public mischief, committed by the concerned authorities of the Ministry of Education, which deprived NCERT of whatever little autonomy it ever had. The central government of the time superimposed 19 subject committees, each consisting of four or five members, upon NCERT to develop curriculum and prepare textbooks in various subjects.

Most of the subject experts in these committees belonged to Jawaharlal Nehru University or were their bedfellows who had no experience in school education and pedagogy. They either selected themselves or their bedfellows as authors to write school textbooks to be published by NCERT. They exploited the situation and monopolised the authorship of NCERT textbooks and grabbed huge amounts of money as royalties.

Much can be said about their character and standards of integrity. Thanks to their artful manipulations, NCERT, which was supposedly an autonomous organisation comprising experts, academicians and educationists, was reduced to the status of a servile and slavish institution serving the interests of these exploiter-masters occupying important positions and chairs in JNU, ICHR, ICSSR and other institutions. Some of these artful manipulators later started writing for the Press and a few of their bedfellows have monopolised columns in the English Press of today.

Over the past six years, most of the English newspapers have madly engaged themselves in discussing and debating irrelevant and insignificant issues, or rather non-issues, like "saffronisation" or "detoxification" of education. Our worthy editors and armchair columnists wasted hundreds of columns on these topics without having a knowledge of how much history is taught in Classes III to X and what was the quantum of the contents to be detoxified by Arjun Singh. Everybody started beating about the bush without knowledge of the A, B or C of school education whatsoever.

And, what has been the contribution of Arjun Singh as HRD Minister in the last 20 months? Replacement of one set by another set of tricksters, uncalled for and unwarranted reprinting and publication of unrevised and unreviewed History textbooks in thousands of copies each to benefit his bedfellows, the Marxist historians, and serve their vested interests.

It is a sad reflection on the functioning of the Press that it has failed to take notice of a landmark Judgement, with wide-ranging implications, delivered by the Supreme Court of India on September 6, 2004. It is going to benefit millions of school and college level students who opt for HIndi or any other Indian language as medium of instruction. The Order was passed on a Public Interest Litigation praying for directions to the Union of India, the HRD Ministry, NCERT and CBSE to implement Presidential Order on recommendations made by the Committee of Parliament on Official Languages in the First Part of its Report vide Resolution No. 1/20012/1/87-OL(A-1) dated 30.12.1988. This Presidential Order was not implemented for all of 12 years.

The entire Media, including the national English Press, almost blacked out this Judgement and did not take due notice of something which concerned the quality of education of crores of students. Perhaps, the all-knowing journalists and editors did not comprehend the requirements and implications of this revolutionary order of the Supreme Court. One implication is that NCERT would have to withdraw HIndi versions of all its textbooks which had not used technical terminology evolved by the Commission for Scientific Technical Terminology.

Education shorn of values
Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's that time of the year when children leave the school system. By the Indian reality, most will never enter the portals of an educational institution again. JS Rajput feels for the new batch of rootless creatures released by the educational system

There are occasions when one wonders why people the world over still admire India for its past contributions to the growth of civilisation and the evolution of thought. How could Indians achieve such spiritual insights that have eternal relevance on the time scale of history? This puzzle now has a contemporary context.

The aura and influence of India in the ancient world was not confined to the shores of India alone. The invaders and the conquerors did retard the progress of India's search for knowledge and the quest for understanding what lies beyond this world. The systems of generating, disseminating and utilising information and knowledge were relegated to the background for obvious reasons.

Yet, we managed to become the world's most illiterate nation. There can be no more comprehensive articulation of the distressing state of education in India than the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi, delivered at Chatham lines, London, on October 20, 1931: "I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was 50 years ago or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of the things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished."

A couple of points that emerged in the scrutiny of the educational records, prepared and authenticated by the British officers between 1813 and 1830 established that almost every village had a school. GL. Pendergast, a senior British officer, wrote about the Presidency of Bombay around 1920: "There is hardly a village great or small throughout our territories, in which there is not at least one school; in larger villages, more."

Several such details have been unearthed from the records and indicate the existence of a widespread educational network extending to higher education in various disciplines. Supported entirely by charity and funding from the rulers of the area, these had more than 800 per cent students from what are classified as the lower strata of the society. Poverty or social status never debarred a young learner.

The British began a process of dispossession, ensuring that the revenue sources to the educational institutions got dried up. The collector of Bellary, in his report on indigenous education wrote :"In many villages where formerly there were schools, there are now none." This indicates how the system was allowed to whither away. It's inner strength, combined with India's collective indomitable spirit, however, helped it maintain a semblance of continuity.

Education and literacy relate to every aspect of human life. It applies to both the lettered and the unlettered. In the current context, there is hardly any need to reiterate the importance of education which is good in quality and acceptable in its content, apart from being envisioned as of relevance and utility by the individual and his larger society.

It's natural for people everywhere to be concerned about education and the systems that administer and mange it in their locale. This valid concern extends to the content and process of education, which have to respond to the ever-changing needs and requirements of their society and, hence, have to change simultaneously. Education helps people to learn and know who they are. It acquaints people with their roots, traditions, culture and the systems of learning and knowing. It augments their relationship to their heritage, gives them a sense of achievement and opens new vistas before them.

Every Indian is an inheritor of that powerful ancient heritage that attracts even the most modern-minded young person from every corner of the globe in search of peace, spirituality and in locating the real meaning of life and living.

Growth and evolution of cultures rarely follow linear paths. By the end of the 20th century, it was clear to everyone that the colonial era had damaged the cultural and educational context of hundreds of nations who were materially exploited for centuries.

They needed their own futuristic education systems in place of the transplanted models forced upon them by their alien rulers.

UNESCO now accepts that education in every country must be "rooted to culture and committed progress". Unfortunately, in India, the very usage of terms like "Ancient Indian culture", "Civilisation", "Vedanta", "Sanskrit", etc., makes our Marxist intellectuals squirm. Character assasination, the most potent weapon in their armoury, is thrown in to action: the canard of "Saffronisation".

In his Presidential address for the 1921 session of the Indian National Congress (sadly, it could not be delivered but was taken as read), Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das wrote: "Who can contemplate with equanimity that every year many crores of rupees go out of India without corres-ponding advantage? Morally, we are becoming a nation of slaves, and have acquired most vices of the slaves, we speak the language of the master, and ape his manners, and we rush with alacrity to adopt his institutions, while our own lie languishing in the villages. Intellectually, we have become willing victims to the imposition of foreign culture on us; and the humiliation is complete when we are deliberately breaking away from the past, recognising no virtue in its continuity".

Even after eight decades, this paragraph has relevance. It should be read and understood in word and spirit by those who have inherited the legacy of the great Indian National Congress of the pre-Independence era. It also must be realised that these people, now in power with Left support, are becoming willing partners in the designs of their supporters to cut off India's new generation from its glorious heritage and legacy.

The leaders of the freedom struggle considered the issue of educational change in India with great anticipation and commitment. All of us are familiar with "Basic Education" (Buniyadi Talim) formulation of Gandhi, Zakir Hussain and others. Chakravarty Rajagopalachari expressed serous doubts on what would happen to India when the generation that was in schools in 1950 took over the reins.His concerns arose out of the fact that the young ones were being imparted only "materialistic values", and were totally cut off from their Indian roots. One could cite several reports, resolutions, documents and deliberations emphasising the need to link the Indian education system to the Indian value ethos.thought and intellect. But vested interests resisted it successfully and are still going strong after it.

How does a vocal minority group of Indian intellectuals manage to garner so much publicity in its campaign against Indian culture and heritage? This can be understood if one recalls Kulpati Munshi's reflections on his college days in the early years of the 20th century. He recalled: "I was in the college and came under the influence of John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer. Like some of you, we thought ourselves 'progressives' only when we looked down on our ancient heritage, and looked up to whatever came from the West. Even our great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, about which we knew quiet a lot from our childhood, came into disrepute with us. The Mission houses, through their little books, told us that those of us who drew sustenance from these epics were no better than savages!"

KM Munshi was an exception. He raised a question to himself: "How was it that Indian culture had survived when so many ancient cultures in History had withered away? How was it that the vitality of Indian culture had continued through the ages despite historical vicissitudes?"

Who cares about the Policy and the manner in which it is changed? Otherwise how can those who swear by the name of Rajiv Gandhi become a party to the violation of the National Policy of Education-1986 (NPE-86), which was one of his most progressive and visionary contributions? Half a page specifically devoted to value education in Rajiv's Education Policy vanished totally from the 2005 "prescriptions", which deliberately avoid focus on value-based education. NPE-1986 had emphasised the need for research in Indology, the search of the country's treasure of ancient knowledge and relating that knowledge to the modern reality. All this stands totally wiped out.

(The writer, a former Director of NCERT, is recipient of UNESCO's highest honour in the field of education, the Jan Comenius Medal for 2004)

Divide and rule

Sunday, February 26, 2006
Daily Pioneer
By Udayan Namboodiri

This is crossroads time for Indian education. In just a couple of weeks from now, a bizarre format will be in operation in India's schools, one that is totally out of sync with the needs and aspirations of this country. The National Curriculum Format (NCF-2005), was developed in secrecy and passed with the help of brute force by a Government which owes its survival to the same elements that once backed India's partition and lobbied for support for the Chinese invasion of India.

To its cheerleaders it is immaterial that the new system violates the National Policy on Education in letter and spirit. Arjun Singh and his cohorts have so managed to sex up education that issues like developing national temper, environment awareness and awareness of heritage are immaterial. The only aspect that matters is whether the minorities are being appeased. Or whether the "load" (whatever it means) is reduced. All kinds of frothy, peripheral questions which nobody ever imagined could enter the world of the schoolgoer, are set to become the summum bonum of education.

Even India's erstwhile colonisers would not have dreamed of imposing a pedagogy as spurious as the one that Arjun Singh and his jholawalla backers have designed for the new generation. They would like Indian children to know more about Ho Chi Minh and Count Cavour than Adi Shankaracharya and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. A Government that professes to uphold the interests of the Aam Admi has introduced a format that gives a natural advantage to children going to schools with well stocked libraries and returning to homes fitted out with internet-enabled computers.

Therefore, it is important at this juncture to recall the educational vision of Mahatma Gandhi, the searchlight for the future developed by the famous DS Kothari and the Chakravarthy Rajagopalachari's emphasis on didactic matter based on India's spiritual tradition. Nobody is better in interpreting those high ideals for a contemporary context than Jagmohan Singh Rajput, the writer of this week's lead article. He wanted to end the anarchy of a value-devoid educational format and wanted to link India's present generations with their rich tradition. The Communists hated his guts even though the Supreme Court upheld the validity of his enterprise. UNICEF decided to confer on him its highest award, but the loonie Left succeeded in thwarting it by clamping outlandish charges against his service record, knowing full well that the culture of procrastination in the Executive and Judiciary would serve an automatic sentence on their enemy.

Citizens of every right thinking nation have the duty to ensure that the cherished ideals inherited from their founding fathers are not abandoned. "Nation above all" is the guiding principle while determining what their children must learn in school. There can be no scope for overstating the importance of this goal. Developing a nuclear doctrine or an energy security policy are relatively simpler affairs. For, in the case of education, there are no clear-cut models to emulate, no question of roping in foreign experts to supplement indigenous talent. This is about minds, not tangible things like bombs and oil tankers. Only people with a good idea of their nationhood and a clear-cut conception of what should be the goal over the next millennia should be involved. Tragically, Arjun Singh has roped in only like-minded vote bankers for the all-important purpose.

The Rajiv Gandhi Government, which developed the National Policy on Education (1986), designated NCERT as the nodal agency to deploy all the expertise at its command to evolve a new curriculum every five years. But, as Sudharshan K. Kapur writes ( see The Other Voice), NCERT had been finished off as an institution by the Communists during the Emergency. It had been reduced to a shell of its former self by self-seeking academics who danced to the tune of Moscow and had little concern for promoting true professionalism in pedagogical research.

When Rajput, as NCERT's Director at the turn of the 20th Century decided to honour Rajiv Gandhi's commitment of renewing the 1988 curriculum, he found to his surprise that not only was the exercise overdue by 12 years, but even books written three decades earlier were in circulation. The reason for that is not hard to seek. As Kapur points out, there was big money involved. The Marxist historians were not only enjoying an undertaking given to them by Indira Gandhi of non-stop flow of royalty against minimum labour. That is why books informing students that the Aryans were "outsiders" to India and that the Soviet Union "intervened" in Afghanistan were in circulation till as recently as 2002, that is, a year before NCF-2000 was implemented.

Writing in these columns, the noted educationist and BJP Rajya Sabha Member, Bal Apte ( The soul goes out of education, September 10, 2005) drew attention to a draconian plan to reintroduce the colonial strategy of mutating India's cultural unity.The emphasis on minorityism and tribalism, the ill-concealed sub-text promoting distinctiveness among ethnic and religious groups, and above all, the provocating remarks against the so-called "upper castes", point to a plan to atomise Indian society by planting seeds of divisiveness in the minds of schoolgoers. This would have stunned even Thomas Babington Macaulay.

No previous educational policy adopted by a government of free India has invited as much scorn as this one.The NDA-ruled States have already announced that they would not allow the implementation of NCF-2005. It won't be long before the Leftists too reject it because the Marxists, once the loyal Alsatians of the Congress, are now a bitter lot. Their disenchantment is not so much over flaws in the policy, but over the encroachment made by Singh on turf they long considered their exclusive domain - the right to interpret India's past.


Go elsewhere for sharia law: Costello


ANYONE who believes Islamic sharia law can co-exist with Australian law should move to a country where they feel more comfortable, Treasurer Peter Costello said today.

All Australian citizens must adhere to the framework in society which maintains tolerance and protects the rights and liberties of all, he said. It is a pre-condition for citizenship of Australia.

Mr Costello was giving a speech on the meaning of Australian citizenship to the Sydney Institute.

"There is one law we are all expected to abide by," Mr Costello said.

"It is the law enacted by the Parliament under the Australian Constitution.

"If you can't accept that, then you don't accept the fundamentals of what Australia is and what it stands for."

Mr Costello, the son of a Methodist lay preacher and who was raised a Baptist, emphasised that Australia is a secular state under which the freedom of all religions is protected.

"But there is not a separate stream of law derived from religious sources that competes with or supplants Australian law in governing our civil society," he said.

"The source of our law is the democratically elected legislature.

"There are countries that apply religious or sharia law – Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind.

"If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease.

"But not Australia."

Mr Costello said there were some beliefs and values which were so central to Australian society that those who refused to accept them refused to accept the nature of Australian society.

"If someone cannot honestly make the citizenship pledge, they cannot honestly take out citizenship," he said.

"If they have taken it out already they should not be able to keep it where they have citizenship in some other country."

It was more difficult for those born in Australia or who had no dual citizenship, Mr Costello said.

"In these cases, we have on our hands citizens who are apparently so alienated that they do not support what their country stands for," he said.

"Such alienation could become a threat to the rights and liberties of others.

"And so it is important to explain our values, explain why they are important and engage leadership they respect to assist us in this process.

"Ultimately, however, it is important that they know that there is only one law and it is going to be enforced whether they acknowledge its legitimacy or not."

Vote to protect Hindutva

11th Dharma Sansad in Puri
From Sanjaya Jena in Puri

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will no more extend its exclusive support to any political party. Instead it would create at least 15 crore voters’ base—Hindu vote-bank—which would later be transferred to those parties that accept its 13-point charter of agenda approved by saints and sadhus at the 11th Dharma Sansad held in Puri, Orissa.

Apart from creation of Hindu vote-bank, through eight other resolutions the saints called upon the government and Hindus to rise to the cause of Hindus, which is necessary for furthering the interest of Indian nation as a whole.

More than 2,000 saints from Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Sikkim unanimously endorsed the resolution urging all political parties to accept Hindu agenda to get the Hindu votes. The Sansad in Puri was fifth in a row.

Saying that all political parties in India are on the path of appeasing Muslims for their consolidated vote-bank, the firebrand VHP general secretary, Dr Pravin Togadia announced that with a powerful Hindu vote-bank at place, all political parties would bend backward to support the Hindu cause.

Saying that they do not have any interest in any party or individual, the VHP announced that the Hindu cause, which is synonymous with the interest of the great Bharatmata, is supreme to them and any party that accepts the Hindu charter of agenda and commits to implement them would get blessings of saints and support of Hindus in general.

Saying that they do not have any interest in any party or individual, the VHP announced that the Hindu cause, which is synonymous with the interest of the great Bharatmata, is supreme to them and any party that accepts the Hindu charter of agenda and commits to implement them would get blessings of saints and support of Hindus in general.

Taking another landmark decision, the saints decided to campaign throughout the country to convince Hindus in India to not restrict themselves to two children norm.

“As demographers have forecasted that Hindus in India would come at par with Muslim population by 2060, if present trend of population growth continues, the saints thought it necessary to campaign among their disciples to have more children,” Shri Ashok Singhal, VHP president, said.

While resolving to go ahead with its agenda to reconstruct Shri Ram temple at Ayodhya, the saints called upon the central government to pave the way for reconstruction of the temple respecting the sentiments of the Hindus, through a central legislation. The Sansad fixed a deadline for this till the next Sansad to be held at Prayagraj in 2007. If the government does that then there would be no need to go for another people’s movement. Otherwise, saints would have no option but to again go to streets for another mass mobilisation, the VHP said.

The saints, while comparing terrorist’s attack on Ram Janmabhoomi in July 2005 with Babar’s attack on the shrine in 1528, praised the valiant act of jawans who killed the jehadis on the spot.

The Sansad further demanded autonomy to Hindu temples and maths and urged the government to hand over these institutions to saints and Hindu society. The saints also called upon Hindus to meet on regular basis and organise weekly religious congregations in the math-mandirs.

The saints in another resolution demanded to accord the status of national scripture to Bhagvad Gita. The Sansad unanimously said it would be improper to restrict the scripture to any sect or religion. Saying that Gita has the power to transform any evil man into a normal person, the saints urged the government to accept their advice.

The saints unanimously blessed the seven-member constitution bench of the Supreme Court, which gave favourable strictures on protection of cows. The saints challenged the constitutional validity of cow slaughter on the pretext of earning livelihood, bypassing directives of directive principles of state policy to scientifically promote cow and other milch cattle.

Objecting to the government initiative to check Ganga waters through embankments, the saints said this violates religious freedom enumerated in Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution.

Alleging that as part of a greater conspiracy both Protestants and Catholics have joined hands to convert 10 crore Hindus to their faith and to construct nine lakh churches in length and breadth of India in next 10 years, the saints said huge foreign funds are made available both legally and illegally to various NGOs to work in rural parts of the country and become instruments to facilitate conversions.

The Sansad demanded a legislation both in Parliament and in state legislatures to put an end to conversion activities in India. Saying that conversion was the root-cause of Partition of India in 1947, the saints saw strong reasons for another partition if conversion was not brought to an end once and for all.

Dubbing Congress president Sonia Gandhi an agent of Christian lobby in the country, the Sansad in a resolution supported their contention with the fact that with 2.34 crore population the community has five Chief Ministers. Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the states where Chief Ministers belong to Sonia Gandhi’s religion, they added.

Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, President of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, Acharya Dharmendra and Acharya Giriraj Kishore also attended the Sansad.

13-point Hindu Agenda as decided
by the Dharma Sansad

1. Bharat is an Hindu Rastra.
2. Commitment to Akhand Bharat.
3. Construction of temples at Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura to be done by a legislation in Indian Parliament.
4. Effective central legislation to be framed to put complete ban on cow slaughter.
5. Law to stop conversion.
6. Repeal of Article 370.
7. Uniform Civil Code to be formulated for the entire country.
8. To make India free from three crore Bangladeshi infiltrators and terrorists.
9. To give autonomy to Hindu temples and maths after making them free from government control.
10. To put an end to jehadi terrorism, madrasas to be regulated, ban on jehadi course courriculum and commitment to formulate a stringent law to root out jehadi terrorism.
11. To check cultural pollution, appropriate control over mass media.
12. To promote swadeshi economy to save the country from imperial powers.
13. To preserve sanctity of rivers.


The UPA’s divisive agenda

By Shyam Khosla

The Congress party that is never tired of shouting itself hoarse about its “secular” credential is notorious for pursuing communal policies for petty electoral gains. Muslim appeasement has been one of its distinct features even in the pre-Independence era. It wooed Muslims in the mistaken belief that by offering concessions to Muslims even if these were unreasonable will help in bringing them into national mainstream and persuade them to join the freedom movement.

Hindu nationalists were totally disillusioned with this weak and rabidly communal policy as they could see through the game plan of colonial ruler and Muslim leadership. They tried without much success to convince the Congress leadership that Hindu-Muslim unity couldn’t be achieved by bowing to unreasonable and communal demands of the Muslim leadership. Unfortunately, a large section of Hindu society condescended with the Congress party’s Muslim appeasement on the premise that no price was too high to get freedom from the exploitative colonial rule. Barring a handful of Muslims who joined the freedom movement, a large section of the community kept aloof and supported the demand for a separate homeland for Muslims.

The 1946 elections to the Central Assembly proved it beyond any shadow of doubt when almost the entire Muslim community voted for Muslim League that sought votes on its demand for Pakistan and the Congress won handsomely in Hindu constituencies on the one-India platform. Rest, as they say, is history.

The party doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons from its disastrous appeasement policy. The UPA Government’s decision to amend the Foreigners’ Act is a case in point. Sonia Gandhi has left no one in doubt about the Government’s intentions in proposing amendment to the Act. She told a public meeting in Assam recently that tribunals to be set up under the amended law would give the same protection to “alleged Bangladeshis” as was available under the IMDT Act. It is now crystal clear that the Congress-led Government wants to ensure that infiltrators from Bangladesh are duly protected from prosecution and deportation so that they continue to live in India.

The question that needs to be answered is who was behind the Congress-led Government’s flawed, dangerous and blatantly communal move. Was it Prime Minister’s brainchild or he constituted the committee on orders from the de facto Prime Minister?

The Congress party’s desire is to protect infiltrators who constitute its vote bank in Assam where assembly elections are due knowing fully well that Bangladesh is emerging as a hub of Islamic fundamentalists and exporter of terrorism. It is doing a great disservice to the society, as the impact of its policy would be devastating for national security. The Government’s decision to declare Aligarh Muslim University that is funded by the public exchequer a minority institution falls in the same category. Equally disturbing and questionable was the decision of the Congress-led Government in Andhra Pradesh to make reservations for Muslims in government services. But for judicial intervention the Congress would have got away with these utterly communal acts.

The survey ordered by the Union Government for a head count of Muslims in the military is the worst kind of communalism. The Prime Minister appointed a high powered committee headed by a rabid “secularist” Justice (retired) Rajendra Sachar to study the social, economic and educational status of Muslims in what the Government claimed was part of its efforts to promote “minority welfare”. The Sachar Committee sought information about the number of Muslims and their status in the armed forces. The army resisted the move saying it would send wrong signals to the soldiers but the Committee and the PMO insisted that the military conduct the survey and furnish the data. Army Chief’s efforts to seek Defence Minister’s intervention didn’t help. He too insisted that the military should carry out the survey. Army Chief J.J. Singh resisted the move with all the authority at his command by pointing out that the Indian armed forces are “apolitical, secular and professional” and the survey would do no good to the army.

There was a massive public outcry against the Government’s rabidly communal approach once The Indian Express exposed the government’s move. Many a retired General voiced their protest and in a rare gesture some of them took to the streets demanding a reversal of this politically motivated move. They averred that the move had the potential to affect the morale of the military and destroy its non-communal character. Although military personnel are deeply religious, they don’t discriminate on caste and religious consideration. Their admirable role in dealing with communal riots and natural calamities leave no one in doubt about their commitment to ethical and moral principles. The UPA Government’s move outraged the civil society to no end. The BJP-led NDA wanted to know if the survey was a prelude to religious based quotas in the military. Its leaders called on the President who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces to request him to use his moral authority to stop this communal exercise.

Acutely embarrassed by the stringent criticism of the controversial Muslim headcount and presumably because of the speculation that the President might seek clarification from the Government on the issue, the Union Government backtracked. The Defence Minister came up with the assurance that the data received from the armed forces would not be shared with the Sachar Committee. Good, so far as it goes. However, the core issue is why in the first place the military was asked to collect and submit this data? Was the information sought to rectify the “imbalance”, if any, by introducing religion-based quotas in recruitment to armed forces.

Since the data has been collected and is in the possession of the PMO, there is reasonable doubt in public mind and the military brass that it may be used to introduce communal element in the defence forces. Interestingly, besides the Congress party, it is the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari who came out in support of the survey. The Imam asserted that the Muslim headcount was necessary for the benefit of the community and that it was the responsibility of the Government to recruit Muslims in all services according to the population pattern of the community. It confirmed worst apprehensions in public mind about the real purpose of the exercise. What is the Government’s intention? Does it propose to provide religious-based quotas in government services, including armed forces? It is for the Prime Minister to ally these apprehensions by making a statement in Parliament that is in session.

The question that needs to be answered is who was behind the Congress-led government’s flawed, dangerous and blatantly communal move. Was it Prime Minister’s brainchild or he constituted the committee on orders from the de facto Prime Minister? Equally important is to know the identity of the author of the questionnaire sent to the military. Was it the PMO or the Sachar Committee? The Congress party’s intentions are not above board. It doesn’t appear to be genuinely interested in welfare of the minorities. It is obsessed with winning back its Muslim vote bank that it had lost to regional parties in the Hindi heartland.


French ‘Carry On Film’ demeans Hindu Divinities

From Ashok Chowgule

Hindus from Britain and across the world are in uproar over the latest examples of exploitation of Hindu gods. A record breaking French film and a drinks company’s advertising campaign in Greece mock Lord Shiva and the Goddess Durga.

Les Bronzes 3: Amis Pour La Vie (The Tanned 3, Friends Forever), which set record film ticket sales for an opening weekend in France and is the French equivalent of the ‘Carry On Film’, shows the main characters in the film swearing, laughing and tearing up images of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme being and is the third member of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.

Dioramas promoting Southern Comfort Whiskey in Greece depict the Goddess Durga-the multi-armed deity-carrying bottles of Southern Comfort. Two-dimensional wooden displays of the wife of Lord Shiva and a unified symbol of all divine forces were displayed both inside and outside of the Balon Oriental Disco Bar in Athens.

However, following protests from Hindus, Brown-Forman owners of the Southern Comfort brand has withdrawn the offending images.

Sandhiya Patel, an executive of the Hindu Forum of Britain, who spoke and wrote to Brown-Forman said: “I wrote to lodge my disgust at the use of the Goddess Durga, especially as it is against the practice of Hinduism to take any intoxications including alcohol. Therefore to depict a Hindu Goddess holding bottles of alcohol is extremely offensive. The fact that the company has removed the images shows that voicing our opinions can make a difference, it’s just a shame that businesses don’t do their research before implementing such campaigns.”

The Goddess Durga protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces such as selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, and ego and the weapons in the hands of Durga such as a conch, mace, sword, disc, arrow, and trident convey the idea that one weapon cannot destroy all different kinds of enemies. Different weapons must be used to fight enemies depending upon the circumstances, for example, selfishness must be destroyed by detachment, jealousy by desirelessness, prejudice by self-knowledge, and ego by discrimination.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, added: “These latest insensitive caricatures of Hindu gods demonstrates extreme intolerance and disregard of Hindu practices and the portrayal of such deities in any context other than the most reverential one is totally unacceptable. The Hindu Goddess holding bottles of alcohol is and the lack of respect shown to Hindus most sacred deities most extremely offensive and blasphemous.

“And to mock the worship of the Hindu religion, as this French film does, does little to increase understanding our different cultures or even help all communities to live together in an harmonious way, so I would urge people to write to Warner Brothers, who are distributing this film, to complain about this blatant exploitation of the Hindus’ most revered prophet.”

In the past the Hindu community has been incensed by the way Hindu Deities-the pictures of Lord Krishna on shoes and Hindu deities on toilet seats-and Hinduism generally, have been depicted for commercial gain.

Those wishing to complain about the film should write to Warner Bros. Distributors Limited, Warner House, 98 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8WB United Kingdom. Or email:

Congress Madrasa Politics


After communalising government jobs and educational institutions, the UPA government has turned it’s attention to Indian Armed Forces. The reservation for Muslims in the state government jobs in Andhra Pradesh and minority status for Aligarh Muslim University have been received well in a section of the Muslim community, who are working for Dar-ul-Islam. Setting up of enquiry committee to look into the ranks of Muslims in the Indian Armed Forces, which is another appeasement stunt of Congress party and the constituents of UPA, will have long term negative impact on the morale of Indian Armed Forces as well as national security.

Congress party’s attempt of creating a ground for advocating reservation of Muslims in the Armed Forces is clearly aimed at projecting itself as more Muslim friendly than the other pseudo-secular political parties-SP, RJD, Left parties and a number of other UPA constituents-in the objective of recovering the lost ground. Keeping an eye on the coming assembly elections in Kerala and West Bengal the grand old party, which has lost its vision and objective, thought that the “reservation stunt” is the best weapon to deal with the Left parties. At one hand, the self-proclaimed custodians of secularism in the country promote Madrasa education for their electoral advantage and on the other hand has set up an enquiry committee to look into the number of Muslims in the Indian Armed Forces. How a Madrasa educated Muslim will uphold the secular credential of the Armed Forces?

There is no disagreement that Madrasas preach fundamentalist views deviating young mind towards militancy in the aim of creating a barrier free Islamic world. Muslim appeasement policy in India started with Congress’ support to Khilafat movement. At that time the Congress leadership had not thought that the Muslim community will be main hurdle in the path of India’s independence and also integrity. The appeasement of Muslims by a section of Congress leadership during 20’s and 30’s was to neutralise the strength of nationalists within the Party and also to curtail the influence of Hindu Mahasabha. The Partition of the country on the basis of religion has taught us that when and where there is a little chance of Partition the greatmen like Mahatma Gandhi can not prevent it.

The call in the name of Allah by shrewd politicians like Mohammad Ali Jinnah for fulfilling their own political ambition make the whole community dumb towards the voice of national leaders like Gandhiji. During the period of Partition there were nationalist leaders like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Khan Abdul Gafar Khan, who were against division of the country, but they were no match to the communal army of Jinnah, as he was fighting for the cause of Islam and faithfuls. “Islam in danger” cry has been used many times to protect an unholy cause whether it is support to terrorism or destruction of famous sculptures like Bamiyan Buddha.


'Why are the Communists bugging me?'

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ranchi, February 25: Seeking to give his yoga camps a secular identity, yoga guru Swami Ramdev today claimed that people of all faiths were being attracted to them as they consider yoga as a therapy for their physical welfare.

"Secularism is manifest in my camps as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians congregate spurred by health consciousness," he said while talking to some Muslim participants at his week-long 'Yoga Science Camp.'

"But I don't know why the Communists are bugging me," he said reacting to reported remarks by Left leaders seeking a probe into donations received by the Swami.

"I am prepared to give the account for every rupee given to the ashram," he said before thousands of people who turned up on the last day of the camp.

The Left parties have been accusing him of commercialising yoga and had alleged that the Arjun Munda government had made the yoga camp a political platform, from where the swami had praised the Chief Minister.

In reply to his queries to Muslim participants, a woman who identified herself as Sanjida, a resident of Saudi Arabia said there were no religious overtones at the camp and that she had come purely out of the consideration that it was a yoga health camp.

The woman said she had lost 5 kg weight and her blood pressure was normal after attending the camp.

Another woman, Gulaar who had brought her son a patient of diabetes and yoga said the camp had helped him a lot. Mohammad Kurshid and Mohammad Yunus, other participants echoed similar experiences.

Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay, Chief Minister Arjun Munda, Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari and leader of the Opposition Sudhir Mahto (JMM) were among those who participated in the camp.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The madness must end

by Dina Nath Mishra

A cartoon was published in a September 2005 edition in a Danish daily. As the cartoon depicted Hazrat Mohammed Sahab, it had the potential of a global flare-up. Thereafter, it was published in some bigger and more important papers the world over, inviting world-wide protest from Muslims in general and Islamists in particular.

The protest took a violent turn last month, dozens of people getting killed either by protesters or the police in 40 countries. This generated a global debate and a clash of civilisations. The US attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, vanquished Taliban, arrested and humbled Saddam Hussein. Future designs are clear. It has chosen one more target - Iran. The message from General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, is pregnant with disastrous consequences: "We are at a critical time in the history of this great country in ways we did not expect. We face a ruthless enemy intent on destroying our way of life and an uncertain future."

The message is indicative of the long war and war on terror. Looking beyond the Iraqi and Afghan battlefields, a US commander envisages a war unlimited in time and space against global Islamic terrorism. On February 7 this year, an Arab-Muslim cleric Abu Hamza was sent to jail for seven years. The Egypt born Hamza, former Imam of Finsbury Park Mosque in London, has gained notoriety for his fire and brimstone preaching against kafirs.

He was charged with 15 offences of instigating murder, stirring racial hatred and possessing terrorist documents, a 10-volume encyclopaedia of Afghan jehad, which explained how to make explosives and organise terrorist units, suggesting potential targets.

He used to say, "killing a kafir for any reason, you can say is ok even if there is no reason for it." This explains the mindset of two civilisations. It is no coincidence that the countries where these cartoons were published, Christianity dominates. This, too, is no coincidence that a major attack on Swedish and western Embassies has taken place in the countries where Islam dominates.

As per the Sharia, the cartoonist and the publishers, all deserved death by stoning. No doubt, common Muslim masses are pious and God-fearing but the face of Islam represented by jehadis is anybody's guess. Before we witness the civilisational wars between these two, this cartoon war should bring in some sense among the mad establishments of the two civilisations.

The seeds of clashes are there in both the Koran and the Bible. Each one of them de-legitimises the existence of the other. As per their thinking, the "others" are fit to be converted or executed. Harmonious co-existence is not an option anymore. There are dozens of ayats in Koran which justify what Abu Hamza has been saying. Fortunately, there are countries where these ayats are not found in the Koran as these have been gently deleted. Similarly, there are many Churches like the Russian Church and the Syrian Church in India who do not believe in conversion. Blasphemy is not practised in Christian countries.

There have been many films, produced by Christians criticising Christ. There have been serious efforts by the West to inculcate the virtue of tolerance. Values of democracy works as governing guidance. Individualism, personal liberty and freedom of speech have been tending to be the absolute resulting in ever increasing licentiousness dismantling the culture of a family value system in unabashed materialism which ultimately draws on human sensitivity.

Today, freedom tends to be absolute though there is no absolute freedom anywhere in the world, including the most democratic countries.

Like "national interest" can there a globally applicable restrictive rider of "human interest"? Can there be consensus in global body like UN to put the symbols of religious hurt or insult, outside the ambit of Press freedom?

Today, Paigamber Mohammed Sahab has been targeted. Maqbool Fida Hussain had depicted Goddess Saraswati in the nude, hurting sentiments of the Hindus. When there was an outcry, he apologised and escaped. Recently, a liquor baron showed Goddess Durga holding four bottles of whisky in her four hands. The protest gathered momentum. The advertisement was withdrawn.

Religions and civilisations will have to be more tolerant towards those considered "others". India has learnt this during her history of the millennia. It can contribute a lot only if mad powers having physical veto powers to annihilate "others" are brought to their senses.


Husain slur on Bharat Mata

By Sandhya Jain

In its second secular overture to Hindu opinion after the CPM MP, Brinda Karat publicly targeted Ayurveda and yoga guru, Swami Ramdev, the Maharashtra coalition has booked the controversial artist, M.F. Husain, for hurting the sentiments of the people. The NCP action comes in the wake of pressure from activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, who managed to get Maharashtra Governor S.M. Krishna to back out of a function on February 2, 2006, where he was slated to be chief guest, in which Husain was to be honoured for his oeuvre. Though the organisers hastily dis-invited the artist in a bid to salvage the function, the Governor refused to change his mind, resulting in its cancellation.

Now, in the wake of pressure from the Hindus over Husain’s continued offensive against Hindu goddesses, an art gallery in Mumbai has withdrawn a picture depicting a nude Bharat Mata. The picture was put up for auction for victims of the Kashmir earthquake. The auction organiser and the Hindu-baiter Nafisa Ali said the controversy was because the Shiv Sena had no other issues, the gallery owner said that devoted Hindus had expressed anguish over the picture. Husain later apologised and claimed that he had withdrawn the picture himself.

NCP has realised that it may be politically remunerative to honour the Hindu sentiments on issues that can excite and mobilise people. Maharashtra deputy chief minister and home minister R.R. Patil ordered that a case should be registered against the painter. The BJP state unit president, Nitin Gadkari has supported the demand for Husain’s arrest.

There are a number of lessons to be learnt from these two episodes. The first is that if the Hindus take the trouble to raise their voices against all deliberate insults to the community, they will be heard. What is more, the political class will act with greater alacrity against issues of cultural assault against the Hindus. This was noticed in the case of the widespread and spontaneous public anger when the popular Swami Ramdev was targetted by the CPM; the Party was forced to beat a retreat as politicians across party lines did not dare incur the wrath of the majority of their constituents by siding with the communists.

Muslims must condemn Husain

The second is the sheer hypocrisy of so-called secular Muslim intellectuals, who routinely gang up against the Hindu community on a number of issues, but do not dare or care to speak up against Husain’s deliberate act of religious disrespect to the Hindus. Yet in a refreshing contrast, believing Muslims like actor Farooq Sheikh and AIMPLB member Kamal Faruqi condemned the nude Saraswati saying that Saraswati was never depicted nude and that the picture shocked even Muslims, so it certainly offended Hindu sentiments. Sheikh said artists have no license to trample over people’s sentiments in the name of creativity. They were reacting to worldwide Muslim anger over the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammad, published in several European newspapers, at a programme on NDTV. It is to be hoped that their attitude will have a salutary effect upon Husain’s proclivity to repeatedly show Hindu goddesses in demeaning postures.

Indeed, orthodox and sensitive Muslims should come forward and negotiate the thin line between tolerance and dissent on the issue of portraiture by fellow Muslims. Islam, like Judaism, forbids portraiture, and Muslims do not make portraits of the Prophet or Allah at all. This is theoretically true of Christianity as well, and Christians do not draw portraits of God, the Father, or the Holy Spirit. However, in order to extend its appeal among the people, Christianity compromised early in its innings, and idols of Christ and his mother, Mary, are an established part of Christian reliquary. The Jews tolerated some amount of Christian depiction of their Prophets.

Some Indian writers have claimed that in previous centuries when Islam had powerful empires, Turk rulers patronized art forms regarding the Prophet that would be considered blasphemous today. I have no personal knowledge on this score, but it is true that the Mughal Emperors encouraged portraits of themselves and their royal consorts. In the contemporary world, Muslim despots like Saddam Hussain have revelled in erecting huge statues of themselves, while Muslims keep photographs of popular leaders like Yasser Arafat, Osama bin Laden, Ayatollah Khomeini and so on. To that extent, Islam has compromised on the issue of drawing the human likeness.

In this context, Muslims must decide what is tolerable and what is unacceptable, to themselves and to others. They have called upon Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to condemn the caricatures of Prophet Mohammad in some European countries, and to recall the envoy to Denmark. Now they must make up for a two-decade long silence on the offensive portraitures by co-religionist M.F. Husain. Former MP, Prafull Goradia has meticulously documented (Anti Hindus, Contemporary Targett, 2003) how Husain always paints figures from monotheistic traditions with respect (e.g. Mother Teresa) and almost always singles out the Hindus for demeaning portraitures of Durga, Saraswati and Sita. Secular Muslim intellectuals are far too bigoted to care for the Hindu sensitivities, but sensible and pious Muslims are beginning to understand and empathize with the Hindu sense of outrage. They must make themselves heard. There is no such thing as the freedom to offend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What's the Indian State's fault in the cartoon controversy?

February 21, 2006

There have been rows and rows over insults to religious sentiments of the many groups that make up the Indian mosaic. Off the top of my mind I can easily rattle off a few: A company in the United States put Hindu deities on toilet covers; someone else put them on footwear; while another put them on underwear. Only last week, there was a report about a European company putting Durga images on beer bottles.

Those are by no means it. For a more detailed account, you can go to and get the whole lowdown on how Hindu gods and goddesses have been shamed in various countries at various times.

I can understand the sentiments that are hurt, even though I don't believe faith is so weak as to come tumbling down because of such acts born out of ignorance. Personally I don't give a damn, probably I will wince once at reports of such stupidity, tell myself 'forgive them my lord, for they know not what they do', and move on.

A healthy practice, I have always believed, but prudent? I have been harbouring serious misgivings over that of late in the light of the snowballing row over the Prophet cartoons.

The row, let's get it straight, has nothing to do with India. The cartoons appeared in a European country, and does not violate any of the laws prevailing there. Yet, look at the protests that are mushrooming across the Indian landscape, from Kashmir to Hyderabad, taking in Uttar Pradesh and other regions on the way.

In the protests in UP, a state where the government is precariously perched and could see elections anytime, a five-star hotel was vandalised by the protestors. And, in a first of its kind in independent India, a Samajwadi Party minister offered a bounty of Rs 51 crore on the cartoonist's head, plus gold -- which will be raised from the Muslim community.

And now, a Shariat court has ordered the cartoonist's death under Islamic law.

Amidst all this, one can be forgiven for believing s/he is not living in a secular democracy but in some medieval kingdom to our west.

I have the deepest sympathies for those offended by the cartoons, as I have for those offended by other similar portrayals, but I have always held that calling for censorship in the face of such expression is an assault on the freedoms we profess and which set us apart, and that democracies all over must band together to keep out such demands and stick by each other.

Why is public property in India being damaged over the hurt sentiments, why is the Indian legal process being subverted by extra-official authorities who are issuing edicts? Why is an Indian minister, sworn to uphold the Indian Constitution, abetting murder and why is no action being taken against him?

What exactly is the Indian State's fault in the cartoon controversy? That it is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world, because of which it must be subject to every ebb and flow in the Muslim world?

A related query: when Hindu deities were being, correction, are being defiled in many parts of the world, how come Hindus in India, from where the faith originated, never demonstrated although they must number a billion, how come the religious heads did not issue any edict like 'off with his head' etc? In the light of the cartoons row, wouldn't such behaviour have made sense?

Now that I have raised some uncomfortable questions, let me brace for the inevitable charge that will follow, that I am a closet Hindu fundamentalist, someone who is entirely bereft of feelings for the minority community's feelings, and who is so blinded by his prejudice that he cannot see the full picture. Which is that Islam does not recognise national boundaries; Muslims all over are one community; what affects them in one corner of the world affects everyone equally; since 9/11, the faith and its practitioners have been branded as a terrorist bunch, and the cartoons are the latest in a long line of the Western/Free World's refusal to accept its religious icons and so on.

Sure, there's a stereotype in place, why just about the Muslim community but about all communities. And the Muslims who are protesting out on the streets, damaging public property, calling for death etc are doing their faith, or their cause, no good; on the contrary, their behaviour only reinforces the stereotype. I wish the community will stop blaming the world at large for its many ills and pause to look within.

Why am I saying all this now? Because I notice a disturbing similarity with the past in the present protests that threaten to snowball. Because I don't think the United Progressive Alliance government is looking at the greater danger its inaction, I daresay actual encouragement, in the face of challenges to the Indian State, is doing to the nation.

Last week a colleague and I were in Bangalore to interview Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living Foundation, on AoL's 25 years. Among the questions we asked him was if he still believed, as he did four years ago, that a Hindu cannot be a fundamentalist. And this what he said:

'Fundamentalism in one religion will cast a shadow over the other religion as well. You can't expect one religion to not have fundamentalism if it's there in other religions.' You can accept the wisdom therein, or pour scorn over it and move on.

Now rewind to the late 1980s. It was the time of the Congress government under Rajiv Gandhi and his brute majority in the Lok Sabha, and the Bharatiya Janata Party was a decimated lot, with just two MPs. The main Opposition party then was the Telugu Desam Party, actor N T Rama Rao's party that had withstood the mighty Rajiv wave, that's right.

In 1989, however, the Congress had lost power, the BJP had almost 90 MPs, in 1996 the BJP formed a 13-day government and from 1998 to 2004 it ruled India in league with other parties. How did that happen? The easiest answer is that it consolidated the Hindu vote.

But the truth is, it managed to prey on the misgivings in the Hindu community that in the name of secularism it was being given the short shrift, while Muslims were being pampered.

Were Muslims being pampered? They still remain on the fringes of development, so there was no real pampering in terms of jobs, benefits etc. But what gave the impression that they were a special lot was that the government bowed before the community's vocal leaders, who were mostly fundamentalist.

A series of genuflection by Rajiv Gandhi's government reinforced this belief. First was the Satanic Verses controversy. Then, as now, the community took to the streets, rallied that Islam was in danger, and the Congress government decided to ban the book even before our Islamic neighbour Pakistan had done so.

Then came the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case, where a poor old divorced woman was granted alimony by the court. The court, in passing, also pointed out that a Uniform Civil Code, envisaged by the Constitution, remained a dream despite so many years since independence.

I still recall some of the names from the dusty confines of my memory. Forest Minister Z A Ansari was one, diplomat turned politician Syed Shahabuddin was another. Many made their careers as custodians of the Muslim votebank; faced with the cry that Islam was in danger, and a fear the Muslim votes will slip away (that was before Mulayam Singh Yadav had become the community's sole guardian, mind), the Rajiv Gandhi government overturned the court verdict in Parliament.

Next, to assuage 'hurt' Hindu sentiments, the government also threw open the doors to a ramshackle mosque/temple in Ayodhya and allowed the shilanyas at the site.

As it turned out, the BJP walked away with the aggrieved Hindu votes; and V P Singh, Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Yadav et al garnered the hurt Muslim votes, and the Congress was left facing the darkest phase of its existence.

The Congress, thus, cannot escape its contribution to the BJP's growth. And I am not sure how much of the lessons from the 1980s it has learnt today. Many if not all who are in positions of authority both in the Congress party and the government were witness to the events of those days, did they not learn anything?

If they did, what is the need for us to protest with the Danish government, or for Sonia Gandhi to write to Imam Bukhari expressing her regret over the cartoons? Why oh why conduct a survey of Muslims in the defence forces, the last and only establishment to have escaped the poison our political class has injected into every single institution?

I don't recall the government or Parliament doing any of this for the many instances of religious insensitivity to singe other faiths, so why single out a case where street power is once against being mobilised?

What will it take for the Indian State to develop some steel, tell the protestors 'sure, we are sorry your sentiments are hurt, we will convey them to the Danish authorities, but beyond that we have nothing to do with the controversy, can we get on with our life here?' and enforce the Indian laws if the protests get out of hand rather than stand by and watch meekly?

Just as democracies need to huddle together in the face of terrorism, they need to also unitedly stave off attacks on liberty, both individual and collective. India cannot expect liberal democracies to come to its aid when it is fighting a war against terror on the ground, and turn its back on the same nations when it comes to a terror battle for the head and heart. And as a democracy, its interests are in tune with the West, not to our west.

Saisuresh Sivaswamy

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More surveys on minorities at Sonia behest: Dasmunshi

DH News Service Kolkata:

In a new dimension to the ongoing debate on the headcount of minorities in the Army, the government has been working on identical survey on the minority community in other sectors as telecom, power, health and education following a categorical directive from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

In a new dimension to the ongoing debate on the headcount of minorities in the Army, the government has been working on identical survey on the minority community in other sectors as telecom, power, health and education following a categorical directive from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Union Information Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said in Maldah on Saturday.

Mr Dasmunshi, who was addressing a Congress-sponsored meeting at Maldah in North Bengal, said Mrs Gandhi had asked for a list of minorities employed in education, health, telecom and power sectors in the states as also the Centre.

“This data is sought for initiating more development work for them,” Mr Dasmunshi clarified.

According to him, the Centre would shortly be introducting more developmental programmes for minorities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and discussions are at a final stage for implementing a modernisation scheme for minority educational institutions.

Headcount a threat to Army’s secular mindset

Saturday February 18 2006 00:00 IST

S Gurumurthy

‘‘I felt a tremendous sense of pride when, at an Independence Day function in Pune in 2002 (in the aftermath of the horrible Gujarat riots), Qutbuddin Ansari, the tailor from Ahmedabad who became famous as the face of that tragedy, told me it was the Indian Army’s timely arrival that had saved him and his family. In a choked voice, he said throughout his life he would pray for the success of the Indian Army. Many officers and men have told me how Muslims greeted the Army’s arrival by showering them with flowers. The Army’s impartial conduct in quelling riots is a matter of great pride to all soldiers.’’ So writes a proud ex-serviceman, Col (Dr) Anil Athale.

How was it that when the post-Godhra tempers ran high, the entire Gujarat society seemingly divided as Hindus and Muslims, the Army could remain neutral? Here is the answer: ‘‘It is no surprise to see a Mohammed Zaki commanding Garhwali troops or a Y N Sharma as commanding officer of the Grenadiers (which incidentally has Muslim soldiers),’’ says Col Athale. Not just that. ‘‘It is common for Zaki to conduct the puja on Janmashtami, celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, or for Sharma to lead the namaz on Id Ul-Fitr after Ramzan,’’ he says.

Writes another ex-serviceman, Lt General V.R. Raghavan, ‘‘The Indian Army has Maulvis and mosques as authorised components of military organisations. Gallantry award-winners in all categories - including the Param Vir Chakra - have Muslims. In military locations, Mandir, Masjid, Gurdwara and Church are placed close together and sometimes share common space. In Siachen, the religious place first visited and last prayed at by officers and soldiers has all Gods under one roof. The Kaaba, Gods of the Hindu pantheon, the Virgin Mother and Sikh Gurus are content to live under one roof. There are no disputes there or elsewhere in the Armed Forces about numbers or quotas.’’

This is what the Indian Army is. This is how the Army men are proud of its character as a truly professional, secular institution. While pseudo ‘secular’ politics turns Muslims into mere ballot papers and privilege-seeking minority, the Army makes them martyrs for the nation like Abdul Hamid.

Raghavan says further, ‘‘As the soldier’s saying goes, ‘there are no atheists when the bombs begin to fall’.’’ So every soldier is a believer, not a godless secularist. So, a Hindu or Muslim, Sikh or Christian, recruited to the Indian Army is intensely religious, worships as his religion calls upon him to. Yet he owes his place in the Army not to his religion. He is not recruited because he is a Muslim; in fact, regardless of being one. That is what makes him a soldier, not a Muslim soldier. The Army reality is that one who is a soldier just happens to be a Hindu or a Muslim. Result: Indian soldiers, recruited without reference to their faiths, are as much protective of Muslims as they are of others. That is why the Muslims of Ahmedabad greeted the arrival of the Army with flowers.

Thus, in Hindu-Muslim riots, when the Army is called in it is always an issue. The Army’s arrival invariably stops the riots.

Will the Army’s trans-religious mindset survive if soldiers are recruited on the basis of religious quota? Obviously not. The reason is simple. If a Muslim is recruited as a soldier because his faith is Islam he knows he is a soldier because he is a Muslim, not a soldier who incidentally is a Muslim. Others too would see him as a Muslim-recruit and relate to him accordingly.

Still, the amorphous Prime Minister’s Office in the UPA government seems keen on the dangerous idea of quota for Muslims in Army recruitment. With that end in view, it had secretly asked for headcount of Muslims in the Army under the pretext of responding to the Sachar Committee on Minorities. The Army has given the details under protest, but has asked the government not to mark it to Sachar. The government first lied, denied it had not asked for headcount, but, finally, admitted it did. It now says it would not transfer the data to Sachar.

Could Manmohan Singh, with all his headaches, have been so irresponsible as to think of Islamic quota in the Army? Never. Is it then just a slip? Definitely not. The drive for this disastrous agenda seems to come from elsewhere. Its roots are in a secret, pernicious internal note circulated by Sonia Gandhi to the Congress party. Sonia’s note, according to CNN-IBN, says ‘‘Muslims have always been our natural allies. We must take steps to ensure them that they hold a special place for us.’’ If Muslims are her natural allies, what about others? The words ‘‘we must take steps’’ indicated the action that unfolded.

First a ministry for minority affairs; the second, headcount of Muslims, as a prelude to Islamic quota in Army; and the third, a law under way to undo the Supreme Court judgment on Bangladesh infiltrators and to regularise the infiltration. The Natural Allies-agenda is designed to dynamite India.

The Army’s composition cannot be made to mirror the matrix of the society without bringing in social realities and conflicts into the Army in return. The Army has to be insulated from social conflicts within, to be able to handle them outside.

This naturalised citizen of India from Italy seems to be seeking natural allies in India at the cost of the most stable constitutional institution, the Army. Muslims are made just pawns in this insidious game. The issue is pretty serious. Do we want riots in barracks, not just on the streets? Do we want Hindu-Muslim clashes in Army cantonments? No one born in India or has basic concern for India will wish the nation such a horrible fate.

Writer’s email:

Not just appeasement, but a design to undo India

Wednesday February 22 2006 00:00 IST

‘Sonia Gandhi has asked for a list of minorities – read Muslims – employed in the education, health, telecom and power sectors in the states and also at the Centre. This is not any Bajrang Dal activist accusing Sonia of appeasing Muslims. This is what Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, the Information Minister in the UPA headed by Sonia Gandhi as the chairperson, proudly claims.

Thus, what would be normally an accusation against Sonia is proudly proclaimed as her programme by her fans! The news report from Kolkata says quoting Dasmunshi that following a ‘‘categorical directive’’ from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the government is working on an ‘identical survey’, that is, headcount in other areas. Thus that she was the one who directed the Muslim headcount in the Army is now admitted by her own UPA minister.

It would be unintelligent to dismiss the ‘categorical directive’ as just another ‘secular’ game for votes. The directive conceals far more. A deeper danger – than mere desire to transform Muslims into ballot papers – is inherent in it. Not just as a consequence, may also be as a design. It needs a closer look as it touches a sensitive issue, the Hindu-Muslim issue.

Balanced Hindu-Muslim relation is key to India’s progress. Yet, it has been mishandled time and again. Tinkering with this sensitive relation on trivial political expediency has cost the nation dear both in the pre-partition India and in free India. Most national issues have been converted by pseudo- secular politics into Hindu-Muslim issues, like Article 370, Common Civil Code, Bangladeshi infiltration, even TADA and POTA.

It is in this background that Sonia is unveiling the agenda of headcount and reservation in the Army. She knows that ‘secular’ India will not oppose it as that will be perceived as opposing Muslim interests. It will fall on Hindus to oppose this anti-national agenda. Once this happens, yet another national issue will be turned into a Hindu-Muslim issue! More. Reservation for Muslims in the Army will be opposed by the Army and by the Hindus and, therefore, will not happen. This will persuade many Muslims to feel that the Army which is a truly secular and constitutional institution is a Hindu outfit.

One can imagine how anti-national the Sonia agenda is. It will not stop here. From there the vote-hungry political parties will poll-promise to the Muslims that they would make what cannot happen to happen. The consequence will be a Hindu-Muslim clash with the ‘secular’ politics taking sides with Muslims.

This is precisely the West would want in India today. The present-day West, which is founded on Christian civilisational values, is in direct clash with traditional Islam. What started of as a political clash has expanded into civilisational and religious clashes and has begun retailing violence even as it incubates more of it.

The West is today seen as anti-Islamic and Islam is seen as anti-West. The cartoon controversy is only the tip of the iceberg. So the West desperately needs to deflect the attention and energies of Islam away from itself. It has to share its anti-Islamic game with non-western geographies. What other geography is ideally suited for this experiment than the India which houses the second largest Islamic population along with overwhelming majority of non-Muslims, essentially Hindus.

So a clash between the Hindus and Muslims in India will suit the western strategists as that will dilute the image of the West as anti-Islamic and also reduce the volume of the threats it faces from Islam. The agenda unveiled by Sonia Gandhi, even though seen as a vote-catching gimmick, has the potential to create clashes between the Hindus and Muslims in India, even if it is not aimed at such result. So what Sonia is doing compliments the agenda of the West for India. So Sonia’s new agenda should not see as just an appeasement of Muslims. It is designed to undo India.

Writer’s email:


The Religion of Love vs the Religion of Peace

Monday February 13 2006 11:23 IST

S Gurumurthy

"Massacre those who insult Islam." "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come." These slogans were raised not in Damascus or Teheran. Not in Riyadh or Karachi. In London! The occasion: Protest outside the Danish Embassy there. The violent slogans shook the British Government. Tony Blair said that such intolerance and incitement were unacceptable. The police said arrests would be made. London is just an illustration.

The provocation for the protest was some dozen objectionable cartoons that appeared in a Danish newspaper on the sacred icons of Islam, the Prophet and Allah. The cartoons were offensive to Muslims. One need not have to be a fanatic Muslim or Jihadi to feel offended at the high points of their faith being subjected to fun. The Islamic protests are normally considered as unjustified overreactions. But the protest against the Danish cartoons seems clearly justified. The West must understand, when Islamists protest, it will be Islamic, not Gandhian. The Islamic world already prone to violence is on the boil. In the Syrian capital Damascus, the Danish Embassy has been burnt. Iran has cut off diplomatic links with Denmark.

A few cartoons, in a language most cannot understand, have set the world on fire. Thinkers in the West must know that the God of aggressive faiths is not humour-friendly. In contrast, the Hindus, for instance, have religious literature that subjects their Gods to humour, to fun. But single God religions cannot tolerate their Gods being treated to fun. For them God is a serious business. The Hindus may not understand this rigidity, but Christians whose God is equally unfriendly to fun and the Christian West must.

But, the West with freedom of expression on the one hand and freedom of faith on the other would not disapprove of the cartoons. That will destroy the very pillars of the West, liberty and freedom. And they cannot support the cartoons. That would mean denying freedom of faith, particularly to the minorities. Also, it may trigger popular support for Islamic terror against the West. Yet, the West is converting the cartoon issue into a debate on freedom versus Islam. Questions like ‘‘Are Muslim sensitivity and Western liberty doomed to clash?’’ are raised in the debate.

Now a quick recall is relevant. More than a decade before the Danish cartoons appeared, Samuel Huntington prophesied the rise of civilisational clashes between the West and the Rest, and particularly between the modern West and Orthodox Islam. The very intelligentsia of the West, who today sees clash between Islam and liberty, had trivialised him then. Their response to Huntington’s hard analysis was that a universal global culture symbolised by Colas, McDonalds and Discotheques – yes Colas and their cousins – would sweep aside all dissent to modernisation and globalisation! But the past decade has dwarfed Huntington’s dissenters into just urchins.

So freedom versus Islam debate is just a veneer. Deep inside it lies a deeper, historic malaise, the centuries-old fraternal hate between two faiths, Christianity and Islam.

As the ‘Time’ has rightly put it, the Danish cartoonists have contributed a wave of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘Muslim bashing’ throughout Europe. A closer look will show that geo-political Christianity operates more through West-centric modernity than through the Churches. In geo-political terms Christianity today is more a geo-political civilisation powered by the Western societies, and less a faith marketed by the churches, even though both coalesce and complement each other. The West has no utility for the churches or religion.

Half the churches had remained closed in the West on the Christmas Day 2005, as the statistical Christians and their ‘secular’ cousins were on bay watch and holidays. Christian faith and churches in the West are now meant for export, not for domestic consumption.

That is why the previous Pope spoke of planting the cross on Asia in the new millennium.

Yet the Christian social thinkers always keep asserting that market capitalism and its latest edition, globalisation, are products of Protestant Christianity. Secularism in the West first privatised the Christian faith into mere personal concern of the faithfuls.

It robbed the church of its power over the faithfuls. But gradually individuals of faith in the West turned into faithless individuals. Agnostics, even atheists, yet, in civilisational terms, they remained Christians as the ancestral civilisations had been reduced to artefacts! Thus Christianity in the secularised West has transformed into a common geo-Christian civilisation with liberty replacing old faith as the new faith.

It is of course true that many in US particularly are anxious to reinvent Christianity post 9/11, to recall the Christian roots of modern western civilisation to counter the rise of militant Islam. But that is more out of dislike for Islam, than for love of Christ.

QED: The hidden drive behind the labels of liberty and freedom is geo-political Christianity. The clashes, symbolised by 9/11 or the Danish cartoons, are not between freedom and Islam as the West is at pains to explain. It is between geo-political Christian civilisation and Islam. In substance it is a clash between the modern version of the Religion of Love and the rigidity of the Religion of Peace.

Writer’s e-mail:

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wooing Muslims: Maya raises stake

Subodh Ghildiyal
Sunday, February 19, 2006

NEW DELHI: With Bahujan Samaj Party deciding to engage arch-rival Samajwadi Party in oneupmanship over the cartoon controversy, anti-Iran vote and Muslim headcount in the Army, Congress faces the threat of being relegated to the margins of politics in UP.

Forced into a corner by the aggression adopted by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati on Sunday chose to spell out a policy clearly matching the SP.

In a detailed statement, she spoke in favour of the controversial survey in the Army, demanded that the government snap diplomatic ties with Denmark over the offending cartoons and slammed the UPA regime's vote against Iran.

With just a year to go for assembly polls in UP, the two parties have plunged headlong into political mobilisation but Mayawati's statement seems to have raised the stakes.

Mayawati slammed the Congress decision to "dump Iran under US pressure", and also warned "people to beware of SP which, while not leaving no stone unturned in entertaining ex-US president Bill Clinton, goes to uncivilised levels to criticise US for votebank politics".

Mayawati's political positioning came as bete-noire Mulayam appeared to steal a march in the race for the Muslim vote with an assault on Congress on the Iran issue, making country's stand appear as an anti-Muslim measure.

The BSP felt that SP's moves could neutralise the inroads it has made among the Muslims in the recent years.

The SP leadership has been working the streets at fever pitch.

Close on the heels of its indulgence of the outrageous rabble-rousing by the UP Haj minister Yaqoob Qureshi in Meerut, where he announced a bounty on the head of the Danish cartoonist, UP police on Sunday winked at a fiery demonstration in Lucknow where the protestors brandished weapons and fired shots in the air.

TOON TROUBLE: Protestors fired shots in the air and damaged the BJP state office

Press Trust Of India

Lucknow: Demonstrators, protesting the publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammad in European newspapers, fired shots in the air and damaged the BJP state office as they marched towards the Lucknow Assembly on Sunday.

Thousands of Muslims assembled at the historic Tilewali Masjid in the old city before staging a noisy demonstration in front of the Vidhan Sabha.

Addressing the gathering, Islamic scholars and religious leaders demanded cancellation of US President George W Bush's upcoming visit to the country and also demanded the recall of India's ambassador to Denmark.

The demonstrators carried placards and shouted slogans against Denmark, Britain and the US. They also torched an effigy of US President George W Bush.

Islamic scholars Maulana Kalbe Jawwad and Maulana Fazlur Rehman and United Muslim Morcha Vice-President Salahuddin Shibu accused the UPA Government of "surrendering before the imperialist Bush".

They also wanted an apology from the Government for voting against Iran at the IAEA and asked it to restore the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim Univesrity.

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