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Indian Secularism: Is There A Rationale For Defensiveness?

April 30, 2014 2 comments


Does Indian society and polity need to defend itself against random barbs of sectarianism? Any quantitative measure would indicate that no grounds exist for such barbs.
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Twitter exchange between - swapan55- and @_sabanaqvi We have agreement ... Screen shot on 2014-04-30 03-35-10 | Click on image to go actual tweet message

Twitter exchange between – swapan55- and @_sabanaqvi We have agreement … Screen shot on 2014-04-30 03-35-10 | Click on image to go actual tweet message

fter having to give away Pakistan and Bangladesh (now), which was about 20% of the Indian land-mass, India by rights could have decided to be a narrow, sectarian country.

End Games

Even before the Indian Partition, Indians in neighbouring countries (e.g. Sri Lanka, Burma) under British influence were expelled, excluded and made into second class citizens.

These were difficult political compromises made by Indian negotiators – to arrive at the outline of current political India. With a broken economy and no military back-up, negotiations with world’s pre-eminent military and economic power were never easy or straight-forward.

In any negotiations, British Raj usually started with an advantage.

Trading Losses

100-years before Independence, in 1840, Britain had already lost Afghanistan – which was a part of the Sikh Empire last ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and founded by Banda Bahadur.

Soon after Independence, Tibet was lost to China – while US made much noise and gave little support. Keeping Communist China with one foot outside the Soviet camp, to US was more important than Tibet or India.

After ceding Pakistan and losing traction in Burma, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet were major blows to India. These were major raw-materials sources for India and markets for Indian output. These countries were also important buffers from land-based military adventurers.

Polity Trends

After these kind of amputations, the modern India that was put together has a vast numbers of ‘minorities – with no singular elitist class. In Bharattantra, Brahmins and banias were excluded from political affairs and the State was excluded from academic and economic affairs.
In this kind of context, the Congress Party, painted as a ‘Hindu’ party, had to make special efforts to be seen as a national party. Above sectarian politics. After 70-years of seeing treatment in the West and in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh, the long-term fundamentals of Indian society should be plain.
Especially to Indian Muslims.

Worship vs Religion

Since, worship-practices in India have been so varied, to make that as a political point does not come easily to Indian polity or society. Unlike the West, where  secularism came about due to Napoleonic imposition to curtail excesses by the Church.
In Bharattantra, India’s traditional political philosophy, State intrusion into worship-practices or traditions is alien and unacceptable.
However, in most parts of the world, religion is usually a political weapon – controlled by One Book, One God, One Government, One Currency, One Morality, et al.
Hence, for and in India, wariness about making religion into a political issue is ever-present – which must be dealt with the contempt that it deserves.
Can there be any room for debate or discussion on this?

Can we?

Having granted Pakistan, midwifed Bangladesh, historical agreements are clear. Muslims from the Indian sub-continent, who wish to insert Islam into politics are free to do so.
In Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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Ignorant Teaching The Blind: Problem with the Parable

September 7, 2013 3 comments

To rebut shallow readings of Harishchandra story no external logic, data is needed Answers are in the criticism itself.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

I

ndian ignorance of Bharattantra (the classical Indian political system that governed India) is so colossal that it only be seen when ‘respected’ writers expound on Indian classics in mainstream media – from a position of total ignorance and bias.

From Darkness

Take this. We have today a post on Raja Harishchandra which is being faulted for all the values that it stands against.

Below is an excerpt.

Fifty generations have been told to emulate the virtuous monarch. In order to keep his word, Harish Chandra was prepared to endure the worst possible misery. The nobility of this is emphasised in every retelling. Gandhiji, for example, loved the story and, certainly, he lived by this principle of accepting extreme personal hardship in the pursuit of his moral principles.

What is not emphasised is that Harish Chandra was also prepared to put other people through equally great misery, without consulting them, in order to keep his word. He ruined his family and humiliated his wife by forcing her to strip in public (that particular theme has always fascinated Indians). Apart from the patriarchal assumption that his wife and son were disposable goods, he thought his word outweighed his responsibilities as a family man.

We are not told what happened to the kingdom’s per capita income in the period between his abdication and the divine intervention. Perhaps the place prospered. Perhaps not. Either way, Harish Chandra handed over executive responsibilities and the state’s resources to someone with unknown competencies when it came to making executive decisions, or managing state finances. As an absolute monarch, he did not, of course, consult his subjects on the regime transfer.

The story also contains a raft-load of caste stereotypes and biases. Brahmins are good; Kshatriyas are good; corpse disposers are dirty, unless they are gods or Kshatriyas in disguise. The biases and assumptions offer fascinating insights into the social structure of ancient India: absolute monarchy, absolute patriarchy, caste rigidities and a twisted code that placed personal honour above the well-being of the family, or of entire kingdoms. In itself, this would be only of historical interest.

The scary thing is that Harish Chandra’s behaviour is cited as being worth emulating in 21st-century school textbooks. The negative externalities of his behaviour are ignored even in the modern versions of the story. Caste and patriarchal prejudices are reinforced, and the concepts of democratic consultation and consensus are conspicuous by their absence.

By contemporary moral standards, Raja Harish Chandra was a monster. He should have broken his word and taken whatever punishment the Maharishi handed out, sooner than cause this sort of harm to his family. Nor should he have disposed of state resources in this irresponsible fashion and placed the lives and fortunes of all his subjects in potential jeopardy.

Moral standards change. When you read an old story, you have to cherry-pick the moral lessons you should imbibe from it. Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem to have internalised all the wrong lessons from Raja Harish Chandra.

His laudable commitment to the truth and to keeping his word has fallen by the wayside. But the monumental self-absorption and absolute indifference to the well-being of others that he displayed characterise both our public and private behaviour.

The parable also supposedly teaches us to rely upon divine intervention. Raja Harish Chandra beggared himself and abdicated responsibility for the state’s resources. Only divine intervention put things right again. We emulate him as best we can, by playing ducks-and-drakes with our public finances. Unfortunately, divine intervention is not that reliable when it comes to fixing fiscal deficits.

via Devangshu Datta: The problem with the parable | Business Standard.

Usual Stuff …

The writer of this post, Devangshu Dutta (DD), makes the usual five points.

  1. Rigid caste system
  2. Absolute monarchy
  3. State-controlled economy
  4. Slavery
  5. Self-absorbed Indians

To see how shallow DD’s reading of Harishchandra story is, no external logic or data is needed. All the answers are in the criticism itself.

Caste System: If Raja Harishchandra could from a king become a chandala to a king again, how rigid was the caste system?

In which society, in the history of the world has a king become a king again after having come down in his life to a lowly status as a chandala?

Rajas & Nawabs: What are the marks of absolute monarchy? Grand palaces, monuments, costly wars, humongous treasuries, over-taxed peasants groaning in misery, oppressive police and soldiery, et al.

How many such elements do we find in Indian history for 4000 years after Raja Harishchandra?

From Indus Valley-Saraswati Basin cities till Mughal India how many monuments do we find? Over-taxed peasants make an entry after Mughal India and the British.

Royal Patronage: It may come as a surprise to DD that the ‘Indispensable’ State was not the engine for Indian economic activity till about 100 years ago.

While economies in the Rest of the World depended on royal patronage, Indians had unfettered right to land and gold. Even currency and coinage were not controlled by the kings. So much for DD’s silly argument of ‘absolute’ Indian monarchs.

This ensured that local and national economy did not depend on royal patronage or initiatives.

Unlike in the ‘modern’ ‘free market’ or socialist economies.

Slavery: Slaves have no control over slavery.

From capture to death, slaves have no control over their destiny – and this loss of liberty has State protection. Indian classics have many stories how kings became ‘dasas’ and later freed themselves from the position of ‘dasas’.

Dasas controlled their servitude – whereas slaves cannot. Indian legal texts expounding Bharattantra have no laws that give State protection to slave-owners. India remains the only society in history that has never given legitimacy to slave owners. It appears that slave owning societies were described as asuric societies.

In fact, there is no Indian word for slaves – except imported words.

Self-absorbed Indians: From Matthew Arnold to Max Muller, we have seen how colonial Britain has painted Indians as inward looking.

Factually, from the Indian woman who was the inn-keeper at Babylon to the Yogi who met Socrates, Indians have travelled the world over. Indians are the second largest diaspora in the world today – after the Chinese. Unlike Christopher Columbus or Vasco da Gama who were sponsored by the State, the Indian diaspora has spread across the world at their own risk –

Without State sponsorship.

The skeptical and unbelievers, will have counter-arguments – which is a valid position. But DD’s post seems to show that as far as Indian classics go …

In modern India, we have the blind leading the ignorant.


 

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – Problem? Solution! Irrelevant?!

March 26, 2013 7 comments

It is time that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) went to the BJP for some lessons in ideology.

RSS has been a favorite whipping boy of the Congress  |  November 2010 cartoon by R.Prasad

RSS has been a favorite whipping boy of the Congress | November 2010 cartoon by R.Prasad

Ihave no idea what kind of people Ram Madhav is hanging around with!

Me and the people I hang around with, seem to have no problems with women – and women who know us and deal with us don’t seem to be having a problem.

Who are the men that Ram Madhav thinks, who need to change that he is talking about?

Now…

So is Ram Madhav talking about?

  1. His set of people – of whom I know nothing
  2. My set of people – who are not a problem
  3. All Indians – in India, which has a low rape percentage by any world standards.
  4. Rapists – who are a small minority; and unlikely to affected by such silly statements or silly laws made by Lok Sabha.

Why fault an entire society or a gender for the actions by a few deviants?

BjP has built  a comprehensive, consistent agenda  |  August 2009 cartoon by Unny; source & courtesy - churumuri.wordpress.com

BjP has built a comprehensive, consistent agenda | August 2009 cartoon by Unny; source & courtesy – churumuri.wordpress.com

Earlier…

Regular 2ndlookers will recall earlier cases of such obscurantism from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

We had Mohan Bhagwat the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)  chief comparing and promoting the British Raj a little over a year ago.

Soon after an ex-editor of Tarun Bharat, the RSS publication, MG Vaidya was pushing Nitin Gadkari as the BJP chief. Why? Because Nitin Gadkari  is a Maharashtrian – and MG Vaidya suspected non-Maharashtrians to be anti-Maharashtrian.

Over the last 3 decades we have had the BJP build an enviable rightist narrative for India – at variance with the rather steamy Congress propaganda – overdone now for 60 years too long.

A geriatric RSS leaderehip with last century's narrative in an post-modern India

A geriatric RSS leaderehip with last century’s narrative in an post-modern India

A Past Dead & Gone

RSS with the Western chuddies, (copied  from Nizamshahi police uniform), their pseudo-martial Western marching music, hand half-raised, open-palm salute are all dated and irrelevant.

It is time that RSS went to the BJP for some lessons in building ideology.


Looking At Mrinalini-Mallika Sarabhai: Progressive, Feminista, Activista

February 19, 2013 6 comments

Using State patronage, Mrinalini Sarabhai emasculated Bharatanatyam, making it sterile and esoteric.

Annie Besant in Cardiff (1924) with two Theosophical Society officials from India greeted by Cardiff Theosophists at Cardiff Central Station. Back Row: (Left to Right) Miss Chambers (looking to right) Miss Wallis (almost hidden), Mrs Freeman, Mr Peter Freeman (General Secretary, Wales), Mrs Graham Pole. Front Row: (Left to Right) Mr Graham Pole, Babu, Dr Annie Besant, The Right Honourable Sastie. Lad presenting flowers is David Freeman, son of Peter Freeman.

Annie Besant in Cardiff (1924) with two Theosophical Society officials from India greeted by Cardiff Theosophists at Cardiff Central Station. Back Row: (Left to Right) Miss Chambers (looking to right) Miss Wallis (almost hidden), Mrs Freeman, Mr Peter Freeman (General Secretary, Wales), Mrs Graham Pole. Front Row: (Left to Right) Mr Graham Pole, Babu, Dr Annie Besant, The Right Honourable Sastie. Lad presenting flowers is David Freeman, son of Peter Freeman.

Over the last ninety years, women from three generations of Sarabhai family have been a significant fixture of the Indian media-elitist press.

Look Down In Anger

Led by Mrinalini – widow of Vikram Sarabhai, the leader-pioneer of India’s successful space program. Looking down at her husband’s traditional Indian family, but hanging onto her revered husband’s coat-tails, Mrinalini Sarabhai inveigled herself into India’s ruling elites.

Using State patronage, Mrinalini Sarabhai emasculated Bharatanatyam, making it sterile and esoteric. So much so, thanks to Mrinalini and her acolytes, Bharatanatyam to an ordinary Indian has become a laughing matter.

In parallel was Rukmini Devi Arundale, married to British Theosophist Dr. George Arundale. Mainly responsible for ‘sanitizing Bharatanatyam by ‘removing the extraneous sringaar and erotic elements from the dance’ to obtain Western respectability. A dance form that was enriched by more than 2000-years of Indian culture, has now become dead in just 75 years.

Following in Mrinalini’s footsteps, is daughter Mallika Sarabhai and grand-daughter, Anahita. Promoting the toxic sludge leftover by the British Raj.

The Arundale-Sarabhai women are a small part of a larger picture. Rukmini Devi Arundale sought to ‘improve’ Bharatanatyam ‘inspired’ by ballerina, Anna Pavlova  – while Mrinalini Sarabhai went to USA, American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Col. Henry Steel Olcott,

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Col. Henry Steel Olcott,

Cogs In A Wheel

Rukmini Devi Arundale was influenced by her own family’s links with the Theosophical Society with its tangled roots and thinking.

From Germany.

The German nation is less than 150 years old. Born out of Napoleonic wars, the idea of Germany depended on Indian historiography for a national narrative. Indic concepts like Aryan values, were distorted by Anglo-German academics into an Aryan tribal identity. Taking this Aryan philosophy further, German thinkers progressed to create a new theology for their new nation – theosophy. From Germany, these ideas travelled to Britain, where Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky formed The Theosophical Society.

Theosophists were used by the British Raj to make a flanking attack on Indian society. The British Raj made prominent land grants to The Theosophical Society. Its HQ at Chennai is a landmark even today. Superficially ‘sympathetic’ to an Indian viewpoint, Theosophists subverted Indian history, building a base for the acceptance of trojan ideas like Aryan Invasion Theory. Theosophists promoted the image of ‘reasonable’ Britishers with whom Indians could do business with.

British Theosophists like Annie Besant and Allan Octavian Hume, of the Liberal Progressive kind, promoted the Congress.

Indians soon took over the Congress and made it into a raucous, Independence-demanding, anti-colonial organization. In the Congress, those with Theosophist-linkages were immediately welcome – and given important positions (like George and Rukmini Arundale).

Excerpts from a recent interview with three-generations of the Sarabhai women. Ideas that are toxic-sludge dressed attractively.

Mrinalini: My mother Ammu was a fashionable young lady. She drove her own horse and carriage, and was friendly with many of the women who were at the forefront of society. After my father’s death, my mother made our home, Gilchrist Gardens, a centre for both social and political circles.

Mallika: The legacy I got from my mother was to not have to think in terms of gender, to celebrate being a woman, a feminine feminist.

A flavor of Pre-Independence India

Mrinalini: With the growing unrest in the country and Gandhiji’s call to women to participate in the freedom struggle, she joined the Congress in the late 1930s, became President of the All India Women’s Conference,Sarojini Naidu visited us often, with her sisters Mrinalini and Subhashini and brother Harindranath. My mother was drawn into the women’s movement and became active in the struggle for their rights through them. Subhashini was an ardent communist, an enemy of the British, and once took refuge with us.

On marriage to Vikram Sarabhai

Mrinalini: For me, getting married and moving to Gujarat was a big challenge. Especially since I married into such an overpowering family like the Sarabhais, I felt very alone. Vikram was immediately immersed in the business and his laboratory, and did not have much time to be with me. The whole family was extremely self-contained, and seemingly so confident, which made me feel inadequate. To live up to the high ideals of the family, which were never put into words but very obvious from my mother-in-law’s behaviour, gave me a sense of isolation that has lasted all my life. They conversed in Gujarati, which I did not understand. People do not realise the trauma a girl goes through when she marries into an alien background. Perhaps that is why marriages in India are still arranged by the families whenever possible. Even little things like food suddenly take on enormous proportions. It was as though I did not exist, except when we met at lunch or dinner. It was so overwhelming. Small happenings, but they leave deep scars.

On economic ‘independence’ – and its effects

Mrinalini: I think economic independence is very much required to live the life of your choice. My father’s will was unusual. He had left my mother her own income, and equal shares to each of the four children. So all of us were financially secure.

Mallika: It’s been very, very hard. When I took over Darpana — the institution for performing arts which my mother had set up — in 1977, about 30 percent of its funding came from the government. I decided that if I wanted to chart an independent course, I had to reduce our dependence on the government. By the 1990s, we used to get a fair amount of corporate funding for either individual events or for festivals. But after 2002, and my stand against Narendra Modi and my public interest litigation against him in the Supreme Court, the corporate sponsorships gradually stopped. For instance, we have an amphitheatre space that Amul used to sponsor events at. Post 2002, that stopped. A lot of these CEOs are my classmates from IIM Ahmedabad, and they would say to me: “Mallika, we can sponsor you anywhere outside Gujarat. But in Gujarat we are told in no uncertain terms that we will not be allowed to operate here if we associate with Darpana.”

Mallika: In 2006-07, we were going to do a performance at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute in Gandhinagar. They were very keen to have us. The audience was in place and the show was set to begin at 6:30 PM. At 5:45 PM, the Director, looking very shame-faced, walked up to us and said, “Sorry, I have to cancel the show because I’ve just had a call from Anil Ambani’s office. The Chief Minister’s office called Anil Ambani’s office to say, ‘You will not have Mallika Sarabhai perform.’”

Activista Mallika

Mallika: But I continue the work because I believe it’s important. We’ve just done an outreach project in Jharkhand, in 400 villages. The performance was developed with the local people. It’s about the lives of two families — one has six children with one girl. At one stage, the woman is pregnant for the seventh time and she is brought in through the audience, screaming with pain. You had to see the faces of the women in the audience. Because this is all a nightmare they have lived. The woman goes into a government clinic behind the screen and there is silence. The doctor comes out and says, “We’ve lost her.” One year later, the university that sponsored this programme did a study and found that 85 percent of the people who saw that performance had adopted to family planning methods. It’s the highest they have seen anywhere in the world.

Mrinalini: It was always my desire to address the problems of life through dance. It was only when I came to Ahmedabad that I became aware of the problems of women. I was studying Gujarati and had begun to read the newspapers every morning. There were constant reports of young women who died, who were burnt alive. Slowly the horror of these incidents obsessed me and Memory, the dance drama about these hapless brides, was created. I set the plot in Saurashtra. It was the first time that Bharatanatyam spoke of a social problem. From then on, there was no looking back.

On their ‘brand’ of ‘feminism’

Mallika: I’m going to go back to Draupadi. Because in the Mahabharata, she said to Yudhishtra after he lost the game of dice, “I love you but you are a weak man and what you have done is wrong.” For us, when we say “I love you”, it means taking the whole package. We do not separate the fact that you can love somebody and still say, “you are wrong.” Draupadi also says: “I have a brain and a womb, and I’m proud of both.”

Mallika: I think where India can score is that our feminism does not have to equate with masculinity. I’m empowered because I’m empowered. Not because I’m powerful in relation to somebody else. It’s not a race with somebody else. That is essentially feminine. We were never a monoculture. The same woman could be a trident-wielding Kali and also become Parvati and who could then flow as Ganga. We are losing this.

via ‘Our feminism is not in opposition with masculinity. It’s not a race’.

Errata: Earlier version of this post wrongly linked the families of Rukmini Devi Arundale and Mrinalini Sarabhai families. Reader’s comments are pointers to the error. Suitable corrections made.

Does The State Have A Right To Decide Children Names?

February 17, 2013 2 comments

Talking of names, in parts of the Free World, names are State policy. Progressive, liberal and modern West.

M

any years ago, on a visit to Odisha, I met a gentleman named Duryodhana Nayak. At that time, to me Mahabharata was not itihaas but mythology. I could not imagine or fathom why any parents would name their child after Duryodhana.

The reason I found later, was that Duryodhana married a princess, the daughter of Chitrangadha, the Kalinga king. Kalinga part of the five eastern kingdoms, that included: Anga (east, central Bihar), Vanga (southern West Bengal and Bangladesh), Kalinga (Sea shore of Odisha), Pundra (western Bangladesh and West Bengal, India), Suhma (north-western Bangladesh and West Bengal).

Subsequent search showed that Odisha has many more Duryodhanas. I could find Duryodhana Rout, Duryodhana Kuanr, Duryodhana Singh, Duryodhana Bisoi, Duryodhana Mangaraj, Duryodhana Biswal, a minister named Duryodhana Majhi, Duryodhana Pradhan, Duryodhana Dehury, Duryodhana Mahapatra, Duryodhana Kanhar, Duryodhana Das, Duryodhana Jena, Duryodhana Roy, Duryodhana Samanata, Duryodhana Behera, Duryodhana Satapathy, Duryodhana Das – and Duryodhana Nayak who I met.

Talking of names, in parts of the Free World, names are State policy. In the Progressive, liberal and modern West.

A 15-year-old is suing the Icelandic state for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother. The problem? Blaer, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic, is not on a list approved by the government.

Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. In a country comfortable with a firm state role, most people don’t question the Personal Names Register, a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules and that officials maintain will protect children from embarrassment. Parents can take from the list or apply to a special committee that has the power to say yea or nay.

In Blaer’s case, her mother said she learned the name wasn’t on the register only after the priest who baptized the child later informed her he had mistakenly allowed it.”I had no idea that the name wasn’t on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from,” said Bjork Eidsdottir, adding she knew a Blaer whose name was accepted in 1973. This time, the panel turned it down on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland’s revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness.

Given names are even more significant in tiny Iceland that in many other countries: Everyone is listed in the phone book by their first names. Surnames are based on a parent’s given name. Even the president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is addressed simply as Olafur.

Blaer is identified as “Stulka” — or “girl” — on all her official documents, which has led to years of frustration as she has had to explain the whole story at the bank, renewing her passport and dealing with the country’s bureaucracy.

Her mother is hoping that will change with her suit, the first time someone has challenged a names committee decision in court.Though the law has become more relaxed in recent years — with the name Elvis permitted, inspired by the charismatic rock and roll icon whose name fits Icelandic guidelines — choices like Cara, Carolina, Cesil, and Christa have been rejected outright because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet.

The board also has veto power over people who want to change their names later in life, rejecting, for instance, middle names like Zeppelin and X.

via Icelandic girl fights for right to her own name.


 

Akbaruddin Owaisi – Hindus can keep their Ajanata Ellora Nudes

January 20, 2013 13 comments

India probably has the least monuments for each century of history. Most of monuments in India were built by India’s Islamic rulers – and later the British.

On a few things, I agree with Akbaruddin Owaisi.

Indeed, apart from a few monumental temples, what monuments has ‘Hindu’ India built?

Practically none.

India in the Image Of Desert Bloc

Most monuments in India were built by India’s Islamic rulers – and later the British. India probably has the least monuments for each century of history. From 2000-cities of the Saraswati Basin-Indus Valley without monuments – to modern India.

But Islamic and British monuments in India are grandiose, celebrating concentration of wealth. Of diverting attention – away from role that rulers have to play. These monuments are symbols of extortion, of loot and poverty. Of propaganda. Of false prestige.

Probably Pakistan built as many monuments in Pakistan – as India did.

Austere Leaders – Big Actions

‘Hindu’ rulers started monument building in India only in the last 200 years or so. Shivaji had a wooden ‘palace’ – that was burnt down in an accidental fire. Shivaji never built another palace – wooden, or otherwise.

Before Shivaji, was Rana Pratap.

Anyone seen an opulent palace used or built for Rana Pratap?

Owaisi is right

Islamic rulers did build most of Indian monuments. Though I agree with Owaisi, some other Muslims don’t agree with this thinking.

For one there was Chirkan (also spelt as Chirkin), the underground mascot of Hyderabad, a “poet” of dirty ditties.

Chirkan was the irreverent break from the feudal and colonial Indian mindset – before the Indian Republic. His rhymes on Qutub minar (a phallic symbol of feudal /colonial majesty of another era) have been repeated by every school child as his very own.

Chirkan was feted at cultural events – and was a legend in his lifetime. His “sher” on a princess (the Nizam’s daughter) is repeated by adoloscent schoolboys even today.  For his ‘crime’, Chirkan was not persecuted – but banished from Hyderabad.

Forgotten today by the mainstream, Chirkan’s books circulate in the underground. Chirkan’s rhymes and jokes spread to all of India. 75 years later, every teenager makes his rites of passage with Chirkan’s jokes. Most of Mumbai film industry’s dirty jokes are a take-off on Chirkan.

The other memorable anti-monument tirade was composed by Sahir Ludhianvi. A Muslim poet who migrated from a Muslim Pakistan to a ‘secular’ Hindu-majoity India, Sahir’s dismissal of the Taj Mahal (complete work at the bottom) is remembered more than 50-years later.

With Such ‘leaders’ …

An acolyte of Owaisi, Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri went further.

Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri’s for his remarks about Mahatma Gandhi‘s statue inside the state assembly.

“The Nizams built the state assembly building in Hyderabad, but see what has happened. They have installed a statue of Mahatma Gandhi there. Who constructed it and who has been installed there,” Quadri, who represents Charminar in the assembly, told a gathering in Karimanagar district’s Jagityal town on Thursday.

He said “we” have built all significant structures in India. “What have you done?” he asked. “We constructed Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Mecca Masjid and Charminar. What have you constructed in Hindustan?”

Analysts said Quadri’s speech was planned and designed to revive memories of Nizam’s rule and the old Hyderabad state that is bound strike a chord with the region’s Muslims. “But his ‘us and them’ rhetoric is dangerous,” an analyst said.

via MIM leader in trouble over remarks on Mahatma Gandhi – The Times of India.

What is Gandhiji’s statue doing in a Nizam Palace, implies Quadri.

An austere saint in a brothel?

Further Quadri went and asked (reports The Indian Express)

“Today whatever there is in India are our signs, you tell us what your achievements are.”

Then again in the midst of slogan shouting he continued his ‘us’ and ‘they’ rhetoric saying, “The colour of Red Fort has been given by us, the height of Qutub given by us, the beauty of Taj Mahal also given by us, historic monuments like Mecca Masjid and Charminar are presented by us… what have you done in Hindustan?”

via BJP furious as Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLA says ‘we built Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, what have you done?’ – Indian Express.

भैंस  के सामने बीन!

Many years ago, Owaisi’s predecessors had made similar claims – and demanded Pakistan. Making extravagant claims, Jinnah & Co., demanded and got Pakistan. We all know what is happening in Pakistan.

MIM has been running Hyderabad for more than 5-years now. If at all, Hyderabad has sunk deeper into a quicksand of bureaucracy, stagnation, public-sector sloth.

After Chandrababu Naidu reinvented Hyderabad.

But, I am sure, millions of Indians will join me in taking apart Qutub Minar, Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Charminar, Mecca Masjid – and send it with Akbaruddin Owaisi and Co., to wherever in the world, they want to go.

Free shipping. For now. Limited period offer.

The offer may soon be changed to compulsory shipping.

*  *  *  *

Sahir Ludhianvi, better captures the Indian attitude to slavery, pomp and grandiose designs.

ताज तेरे लीए एक मजहर-ऐ-उल्फत ही सही, तुझको इस वादी-ऐ-रंगीन से अकीदत ही सही

मेरे महबूब कहीं और मीला कर मुझसे, बज्म-ऐ-शाही में गरीबों का गुज़र क्या माने?

सब्त जीस राह पे हो सतावत-ऐ-शाही के नीशान, उस पे उल्फत भरी रूहों का सफर क्या माने?

मेरे महबूब पास-ऐ-परदा-ऐ-ताश हीर-ऐ-वफ़ा, तूने सतावत के निशानों को तो देखा होता

मुर्दा शाहों के मकाबिर से बहलने वाली, अपने तारीक मकानों को तो देखा होता

अन-गिनत लोगों ने दुनिया में मोहब्बत की हैं, कौन कहता है के सादिक न थे जज्बे उनके

लेकिन उनके लीए ताश हीर का समान नहीं, क्योंकि वोह लोग भी अपनी ही तरह मुफ्लीस थे

यह ईमारत-ओ-मकाबिर यह फसीले यह हिसार, मुतल-कुल-हुक्म शाहेंशाहों की अजमत के सुतून

दामन-ऐ-दहर पे उस रंग की गुलकारी है, जिसमे शामिल है तेरे और मेरे अजदाद का खून

मेरे महबूब! उन्हें भी तो मोहब्बत होगी, जीनकी सन्नी ने बक्शी है इसे शक्ल-ऐ-जमील

उनके प्यारों के मकाबिर रहे बे-नाम-ओ-नमूद, आज तक उन पे जलाई न किसी ने कंदील

यह चमनज़ार, यह जमना का किनारा, यह महल, यह मुनाक्काश डर-ओ-दीवार, यह मेहराब, यह ताक

एक शहेंशाह ने दौलत का सहारा लेकर, हम गरीबों के मोहब्बत का ऊडाए है मजाक

मेरे महबूब कहीं और मिला कर मुझसे.

– Abdul Hayee ‘Sahir’ Ludhianvi.

Translation by gyanputra

Even if the Taj for you is a symbol of great love, even though you prefer its pretty colorful setting
My dear, meet me somewhere else, what truck can the poor have with kingly courts?
The paths on which are seared the grandest Royal Arms, how can love-filled hearts journey on them?
My dear, behind the veil of this advertisement of love, had you seen the trappings of royal power and wealth
Instead of being beguiled by the tombs of dead kings, had you seen our dark homes
Uncounted peoples in this world have loved, who says their love was not true
But they did not have the means for advertising love, they were poor like us
This mausoleum, these decorations, these fort parapets, that the arrogance of kings considers symbols of Greatness
On the face of the world this is a decoration of floral vines, that has flowing in it your ancestors’ blood, and mine
My dear! they must have had loves too, those whose art granted this monument its acclaimed form
But those loves’ tombs are unnamed, untraced, no one has ever lit on them even a candle
This garden, this Jamna riverbank, this palace, these picturesque walls and doors, these pulpits, these arabesques
A king of kings aided by all his wealth, has mocked the love of us poor
My dear, meet me somewhere else.


Final Solution of Roma Gypsies: Hungarians Display their Racial Colors

January 12, 2013 1 comment

From Spain, across Italy, in Northern Ireland Europeans are targetting Roma Gypsy as racialism rears its head. Can Europe change?

Jobbik sparked an uproar by calling for Jews in the country to be registered. Jobbik supporters demonstrate outside a housing project with many Roma residents in October 2012.  |  REUTERS image, courtesy Der Spiegel

Jobbik sparked an uproar by calling for Jews in the country to be registered. Jobbik supporters demonstrate outside a housing project with many Roma residents in October 2012. | REUTERS image, courtesy Der Spiegel

I

t would be a mistake to think that the Roma gypsy will lie down and die just because Europeans have been trying to wipe them out for the last 500 years at least.

A little over 600 years ago, when Europe was under oppressive Catholic Church, it was the Roma Gypsy who probably liberated Europe.

People in modern India have little or no idea about the roots of Europe. A recent visitor from India, on a European holiday, ‘innocent’ of Europe’s past, came across the ‘real’ Europe.

Take a walk in one of the narrow, cobbled alleys that run round in a maze in the heart of the Jewish quarter adjoining the Mezquita. There is a little museum here, somewhat nondescript and often missed by tourists. What it displays stabs at your idea of a wondrous legacy. The Exhibition of Medieval Instruments of Torture is one of the most complete of its kind in Europe. It traces the 700 year history (13th-19th century) of refinement of torture methods used largely, but not exclusively, under the Spanish Inquisition. For the visitor, entering it is a free fall from the sense of grace and peace of the mosque-cathedral, a plunge into a den of madness. A reminder that the Middle Ages were not only about romance, knights and fair maidens, or ballads and religiosity, they were violent and bloodthirsty; that beauty and ugliness went hand in hand; that the most grotesque forms of cruelty lay just under the veneer of some of man’s most amazing deeds.

While torture was pervasive in all of Europe, it held a special place under the Inquisition, this ecclesiastical tribunal that rose in a response to what had been the multi-religious nature of Spanish society. It followed the reconquest of Spain from the Muslims (or Moors — the appellation is used in a general way) who had ruled over large parts of what are today Spain and Portugal (the capital Cordoba fell in 1236, Seville a few years later, while Granada held out till 1492). King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castille — under whose patronage began the great discoveries of the world, mariners setting sail for new lands — including the voyage of Christopher Columbus (she ordered a fleet to be fitted out for him) — intended to replace Medieval orthodoxy with their own Catholic orthodoxy. The rule of Catholic Monarchs (as Ferdinand and Isabella are known), called the Golden Age, strove for religious conformity and for the final reunification of Spain. Thus began the story of forced conversions, expulsions, detentions/torture and expulsions. The last Moorish king, Boabdil, it is said, wept and sighed as he surrendered his beloved Alhambra citadel in Granada. His mother’s response to his tears was icy: “Don’t weep like a woman for the city you could not defend like a man!”

The jungle of torture instruments in the Cordoba Museum have a longer history. They hark back to the early Middle Ages and would be in use until the 19th century. Torture was a normal way of extracting confessions, discouraging dissent and intellectual freedom and persuading Jews, Muslims, Protestants and heretics of all hues to accept the Catholic faith. But it was also inflicted on those practising bigamy, sodomy, superstition and witchcraft. Sex, age or gender made no difference. Women, children and the aged were all its victims. The arrest of an individual, done stealthily, was the first step in a harrowing path. The trial, or a charade rather, took place in a whimsically formed court, propelled as much by differences of creed as gossip and envy. The collection of authentic instruments shows how ingeniously the human mind worked, and how the process of “finding out the truth” was as crafty as it was vile in the extreme.

Among the most famous of these devices was the rack. The victim would be laid on this rectangular frame that had a board. His hand and legs would be tied to the ends of the board while the turning of rollers placed at the ends of the board would yank his body in opposite directions till every joint popped. Guy Fawkes (better known for his ‘gunpowder plot’ in Britain), and the Elizabethan playwright Thomas Kyd suffered the rack before they died. So, I believe, did Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII.

The Water Wheel, set in a pool of water, had the victim tied on its rim. The wheel would be turned, dunking the victim into water with every spin and inhumanly stretching his joints and muscles.

The garrotte was an ancient Roman contraption. Astonishingly, it was around in Spain till as recently as 1974. In an earlier day, the victim would be tied to a pole. This was later replaced by a chair. A cord, a wire or an iron collar with spikes would be tightened round the neck, leading to both strangulation and the breaking of the vertebrae.

The Inquisition devised the sickening Judas Cradle or a seat, atop of which was planted pyramid-like metal device. On this, the victim would be impaled, the pyramid penetrating his/her anus or vagina which would then be turned inside the organ. The word head crusher speaks for itself. As the head got crushed by the bloody instrument, it had the victim’s teeth imploding in their sockets, the jaw bones smashing, the eyes popping out and bits of brain squirting from the ears.

I hesitate to describe more. The museum has an array of torture devices, one more merciless than the other. What, one may ask, is the point of listing them? I realised in Cordoba that the mind is truly unhinged by this sudden plunge from the surrounding glory to a den of perversity. And yet you are trapped in a kind of fascination-revulsion, a deadly thrall, as you might be if you were suddenly pitted against a wild animal. If the aim was to frighten the wits (and life) out of real or fake suspects, these devices certainly did their job. Drowning, starving, whipping, crushing (head crushers were admirably efficient), burning, disfiguring, maiming with as much pain as you could possibly inflict — all this happened

via Sculpting Tools of Death.

From Library of entertaining knowledge, Volume 13  By Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain) - 1835 |   This has been particularly the case with the Gunpowder Treason The outlines of the transaction were indeed too notorious to be suppressed or disguised that a design had been formed to blow up the Parliament House with the King the Royal Family the Lords and Commons and that this design was formed by Catholic men and for Catholic purposes could never admit of controversy or concealment but the details of the conspiracy the causes which led to it the motives and objects of the conspirators the extent to which the knowledge of it prevailed amongst Catholics in England and abroad and the degree of encouragement it received from the Catholic clergy have been ever since the date of its occurrence to the present time subjects of doubt and dispute It be expected that the in

From Library of entertaining knowledge, Volume 13
By Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain) – 1835

The Hussite Wars broke the back of the Catholic armies –

never to regain their former power. As British power reared its head, in early 17th century, Guy Fawkes decided to blow up the power centre of Britain – the Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey.

In both these cases, the difference was gunpowder. Gunpowder and Roma gypsies.

From at least 12th century till a hundred years ago, for 800 years, the biggest source of gunpowder elements was India. The Roma Gypsies who trace their origin to India were the European experts in gunpowder.

Over the last 10 years there has been a rising tide of violence against the Roma Gypsy. In Northern Ireland, across Italy and now in Hungary.

Zsolt Bayer, a prominent conservative commentator, has sparked outrage in Hungary and abroad for comparing Roma to animals and calling for a ”

final solution to the gypsy question.” Criticism of the remarks is growing, but Prime Minister Orbán will likely keep silent.

Zsolt Bayer always pipes up whenever the Hungarian media mentions that Roma are suspected of involvement in a crime. The influential right-wing commentator then makes suggestions on what, in his words, a “final solution to the Gypsy question” could be. For example, he has written: “Whoever runs over a Gypsy child is acting correctly if he gives no thought to stopping and steps hard on the accelerator.”

ANZEIGE

Bayer’s most recent hate-filled tirade came last Saturday after a bar fight and stabbing on New Year’s Eve in which some of the attackers were reportedly Roma. Writing in the ultra-right-wing newspaper Magyar Hirlap, which has close ties to the conservative government, Bayer argued for what amounts to genocide. He wrote:

“A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the ‘achievements’ of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.”

At the same time, investigators have yet to nail down all the facts surrounding the crime. What is known is this: On New Year’s Eve, a massive brawl broke out in a bar in Szigethalom, a town near Budapest. During the fight, two young athletes — a wrestler and a boxer — suffered serious stabbing wounds. The police arrested one Roma, and another suspect is still being sought.

Bayer isn’t just some random pathological Roma-hater. Instead, the 49-year-old is one of the founding members of the country’s conservative governing Fidesz party and a close friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Although Bayer holds no official position, he is known within the party as someone with the pluck to express uncomfortable truths

Cracks in the Party

In recent years, Bayer’s anti-Roma and anti-Semitic articles have sparked repeated outrage. But no one within the Fidesz party leadership has ever taken public offense at the commentaries of its former chief press officer — until now. Tibor Navracsics, who is both justice minister and deputy prime minister, has joined Roma organizations and Hungary’s Jewish community in condemning Bayer’s most recent column — and called for his ouster from the party. On the private television channel ATV, he said that there is no place in an organization like Fidesz for someone who considers an entire group of people to be animals. In fact, even Tamás Deutsch, a prominent co-founder of Fidesz and member of the European Parliament who has publicly acknowledge being friends with Bayer, called the article “shameful.”

This is already the second time in recent weeks that prominent Fidesz politicians have openly distanced themselves from racial hatred. On Dec. 2, Antal Rogán, the party’s parliamentary floor leader, spoke at a protest against anti-Semitism after Márton Gyöngyösi, a representative of the right-wing extremist Jobbik party, had demanded in parliament that “all Jews living in Hungary be registered” and that “Jews, particularly those in parliament and the government, be evaluated for the potential danger they pose to Hungary.” The demonstration against anti-Semitism was noteworthy for marking the first time in two decades that all of the pro-democracy parties in Hungary’s parliament jointly attended a single event.

‘The Party Speaks with Two Tongues’

Nevertheless, critics doubt that Fidesz — and Prime Minister Orbán, in particular — will distance themselves from right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and antiziganism, a term denoting racism toward the Sinti and Roma.

Kristián Ungváry, a historian who has just published a 700-page book on the interwar years of the right-wing extremist Horthy regime, describes the party’s policies as a “sham.”

“The party speaks with two tongues,” Ungváry says. “On the one hand, one distances oneself from right-wing extremism in order to maintain a good reputation abroad and because one notes that the political damage would be too severe. On the other hand, Fidesz pays tribute to anti-Semitic writers of the interwar period, such as Albert Wass and József Nyírö, or expresses right-wing extremist positions in regime-friendly newspapers.”

This is especially the case with Prime Minister Orbán, whose public statements started moving farther and farther toward the right-wing extreme some time ago. This culminated last September, when Orbán delivered a “blood and soil” speech about the values of the Hungarian nation during a dedication ceremony for a monument. “The archetypal image of the Turul bird is the archetypal image of the Hungarians,” he said, referring to the most important bird in the origin myth of ethnic Hungarians. “It is part of blood and homeland. We, the Hungarians of national solidarity, must squeeze all disunity out of Hungarian life. Strong nations stick together; weak ones break apart.”

On the other hand, Orbán refrained from publicly commenting on Jobbik’s call for registering Jews in Hungary. Indeed, it wasn’t until a few days later that Orbán distanced himself in parliament from right-wing extremism, though in very general way. At the same time, a law was passed that permits monetary fines to be levied on parliamentarians who make racist statements.

A Deed Likely to Go Unpunished

György Dalos, a prominent writer and biographer, doesn’t believe that Fidesz will fundamentally alter its two-faced policies. “Voters on the left run away from it on account of its restrictive social policies, so they need the voters on the right,” Dalos says. “And it will continue to attract them with the appropriate rhetoric.”

Attila Nagy, a political scientist at Budapest’s Méltanyosság Institute, admits that there is genuine outrage about right-wing extremism in some parts of Fidesz. “But,” he adds, “this part, which backs a clearer pro-European course, is currently not a decisive one within the party.”This, along with the fact that Justice Minister Navracsics has a reputation for holding little sway within the party, also makes it more likely that his call to have Zsolt Bayer ejected from the party will go unheeded. In any case, Fidesz spokeswoman Gabriella Selmeczi made this clear during a televised interview on ATV last Monday. She said that since Bayer had expressed his opinion as a commentator rather than as a Fidesz member in the incriminating article, the party would not take a stance on it.

via Hungarian Journalist Calls for Final Solution of Roma Issue – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

 

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