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Monday, August 20, 2007

Stronger at Sixty

The Times of India
15 August 2007

Tarun Vijay

It's a wonderful feeling being 60 and going strong. Good to find that the whole world looks at us with admiration. Certainly Bharat that is India has once again become a land of hope and immense possibilities. In spite of inefficient governance, a blinkered polity that doesn't own India and a hundred other reasons to complain, we have risen like the phoenix showing our civilisational strength and a will to prove the Geeta's message -- that wherever there is dharma (righteousness), there is victory -- true. The only thing we have lost is respect for the politician and trust in the government's efficacy. The story of India's progress is a saga of peoples' power and a will to move ahead despite netas and all other odds.
August 15 also happens to be Sri Aurobindo's birthday, the great revolutionary seer who foretold India's destiny thus, "India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human people. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicized oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma."
A long range traveller never gets into small squabbles on the way; like Arjuna's concentration on the eye of the fish, a nation too does well if her targets are ambitious, high and instruments trustworthy. Just ignore the dwarfs in our Parliament and parties, the wind of change is blowing, bypassing them and in Indian interest. The strides that our people have made in medical sciences, technology, bio- sciences, engineering, global industrial empires, energy and defence are unbelievable, even though we would have liked a bit more here and there.
No other nation has ever been tormented so much and or so long as ours, yet, no other nation can claim to have preserved her inner core's sanctity and the fire like we have.
We fought wars and won. We shattered the Islamist barbaric arrogance on December 16, 1971. Cared for the West's arrogant sanctions neither in the Pokharan of 1974 nor in that of 1998. Our girls and boys studied in village schools and built up empires of knowledge and acumen around the globe.
True, we lost a major part of Kashmir; saw half-a-million Hindus turning refugees in their own motherland, a bloody Jihad and a bloodier Left extremism. We saw illiterate and semi-literate deciding the fate of the nation through sackfuls of hot money, but Parliament's unanimous resolve to take back lost territories is alive still and we have witnessed many political crooks behind bars and others waiting for their moment of truth. The new trends in media invited the wrath of the traditionalists, like the metric system was frowned upon by anna-pai-seer generation, but it has set the tone for the youngest nation on this planet and the new vibrations of Gen X can also be seen finding solace in Sanskrit, Yoga and Sanatan Dharma with a pride that was hard to find since the days of Raj Raj Chola or Shivaji.
Nowhere in the world would you find a mosque, a Jain temple, a Shiva temple, a church and a Gurudwara all within 500 yards from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation - the ramparts of the Red Fort overlooking all these major places of faith in one row. Our pride in being a Hindu majority nation is best expressed through a space and a respect for all -- unlike what we see in Islamic nations or in a Communist regime.
We were partitioned in 1947 to gain a truncated Independence, yet look at the land parted for being a different religionist. That was further divided into two, none has a stable democratic polity; revenge, killings, intolerance, a medieval mentality and military interventions mark their map and while one is known as an NGO country, the other as Washington's extended state.
We are unique in every sense of the term. We negotiated a nuke deal so hardy, it won admiration from "the arch foes" too and one of them quipped if anything is criticised by Pakistan, China and the Communists, be sure that it serves best our national interest. Still, we must keep our options open. Like blind faith, sometimes 'anti-anything that Communists say' can also be wrong like their blind anti-Americanism. Our security concerns alone should guide us to judge the soundness of any deal.
This is the only nation on this earth where there is an unbelievable continuity of traditions, daily household rituals and languages for the last five thousand years and more while other civilisations have become bound in books and libraries.
One thousand years we spent in fighting, to keep our soul and body intact, to keep the saffron flag flying high in various areas and we did it valiantly. Pioneers in science, technology, medicine and architecture, our saffron fragrance has permeated the entire east Asia, China, going beyond Korea up to the Mayans and Mesopotamians.
A recently published book The Pride of India (Samskrita Bharati) is a must read for anyone proud of being a citizen of this land. Contributed by some of the most eminent scholars in science, history, archaeology and ancient scriptures it tells point by point, word by word, our ancestors' great achievements in mathematics, metallurgy, life science, town planning, surgery, algebra, trigonometry, astronomy etc, winning laurels from scientists of AEC and IT wizards alike.
Our Tatas, Kumarmangalams, Azim Premjis, Mittals, Mahindras, Dhoots and Big B's legendary roles are writing another book of contemporary achievements for us. We make the best of films and the worst of them too, have the most exhilarating free space of creativity and though preachers on high-pedestals sometimes give the worst models of indiscipline too, yet the trains move with a better track record, highways are laid, most ambitious freight corridors are planned, bio products find a big market, experiments in retail set new trends, spiritual masters link nirvana for the soul with the nation's new rise, SEZs are becoming a reality and though Nandigrams remain a bad unacceptable patch, the farming sector will never be the same again in the next decade and farmers' suicides will be avenged by an agrarian facelift brewing underneath.
Not so bad for a nation which was never looked upon as a land of the capable by colonialist butchers and their cigar puffing bullies like Churchill, who predicted the most humiliating future for us.
In spite of a deep-rooted inferiority complex, a lack of solidarity --remember we provided men and facilities to the invaders and killed our own kith and kin at their orders to earn a few annas and lost our education system (before yielding to the British we were more literate and knowledgeable than the entire West was) -- we produced a Gandhi, the most admirable icon of peace and non-violence the world recognises and restored a pride in being an Indian.
Though we have our quota of problems and disagreements too - a leadership negotiating Kashmir's honour and damaging the Ramsethu, a state soft on terror, a prejudiced media, an academia in perpetual self denial and a people driven by caste and sectarian concerns -- yet if we have crossed the 60th milestone so successfully in spite of such odds, no power on earth can stop us from a total recovery and becoming the supreme centre of strength and achieving that ultimate might that provides succour to the noble and fills hearts of the wicked with fear.
The main focus has to be on attaining military supremacy. The world respects the powerful and a confident nation. Those who go begging for others' support get ridicule. We have learnt it the hard way. Friendly ties with China and East Asian countries, a working strategic partnership with the West and Russia, a strong will to take on terrorism are needed. A stable economy and well-oiled infrastructure, a service sector believing in excellence and enough technological and science colleges to empower the nation with capable minds and hands would fuel the growth engines further.
Hope for the best and be ready to face the worst. A Gilgit regained and a highway connecting Skardu to Kanyakumari, a channel from Chennai to Port Blair, a friendly Bangladesh providing a corridor to link Kolkata and Silchar via Sylhet, a Tawang to Thiruvananthapuram and Itanagar to Okha expressway, a ban on extremist organisations espousing the cause of ideologically "friendly" foreign powers but hurting their own Swades , a ruthless tit-for-tat policy against cowardly violence of the Islamists, North East insurgents and the Maoists, a time-bound programme to ensure the safe and honourable return of Kashmiri Hindus back home, getting away with the two flags and separate constitutional provisions for J&K, a uniformly applicable code of law and identifying ourselves as Indians first and Indians last in a perfect Chak De India spirit -- if these and some more are the dreams, we can hope to materialise them too. A big shabash to Shahrukh for giving us such a wholesome inspirational entertainment on the 60th Independence Day.
And there across the border, nobody had imagined that a Pakistani would make a film like Khuda Kay Liye, a strong dig at Islamist extremism, yet it happened and has done well. If people and leaders of the social sector can change and brave the wicked there, we too can move forward in the direction of social harmony and empowering the disadvantaged, eliminating extreme ideologies through a collective effort. In fact it has to happen as the quintessential Indianness, the Hindu ethos, abhors obscurantism and intolerance fundamentally.
The Taslima-tormenters represent a defeated Mafiosi of the Jihadi variety reviving the ugly memories of the Rajakar days and the foreign element in our midst, which may create a bubble but remains unsustainable in the long run.
This is the time when we must shun all hatred for the ideologically different people; let Bharat be our god, our ultimate symbol of faith and a reference point of united colours of our existence, let us recognise contributions of all belonging to different hues, with a resolve to work together for a greater tomorrow. Because the nation belongs to us all -- every shade and colour and voice within the constitutional framework.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The pyramid and the ants

8 Aug 2007, 1056 hrs IST ,

Tarun Vijay

Ms Priya Dutt is a Member of Parliament representing more than one voter of her constituency. As a lawmaker she has a responsibility to speak for the nation on national issues. Having considered her present turmoil borne out of brotherly affection, one has full sympathies with her. But her constituents have a right to ask whether she had ever raised the voice of terror victims or 'innocent' convicts who are not film actors? How many Congressmen or the self-proclaimed 'down-to-earth champions of the proletariat', the Communists, have ever visited the families of those slain barbarically by the jihadis ? The day the Mumbai judgement came; a blast in a tourist bus in Srinagar killed two women and injured many. They were Indians and Muslims, and had gone to enjoy the Valley's beauty. There was hardly a reflection of their sorrow in the papers or a condemnation for the killers. What we see is an anger against the brave and considerate Judge P D Kode who delivered a balanced yet forthright judgement which otherwise is a delayed one –thirteen years after the bloody incident which left 250 dead and 700 injured. Who spoke for the families of the dead and injured? Priyaranjan or Kapil Sibal or Munnabhai media? The parents of the security personnel martyred defending Indian Parliament returned their bravery medals to the government for its lackadaisical attitude over Afzal's hanging. Who spoke for the anguish and frustration of the patriotic parents who gave their best for the nation? Priya or net surfers campaigning for a convict who had links with the anti-national mafia? So is it a new unwritten law that to be saved from the punishment you need to be on the right side of secularism, political affiliation and popularity? Who thinks for the family of the men in uniform who get killed in Kashmir or Chhattisgarh fighting against Islamists and Maoists? An average Army personnel earns very modestly, yet risks his life so that Members of Parliament can perform their duties and industrialists and filmmakers earn a lot of money and squander on buying a fleet of seventeen, seventy or more cars. The politician, the ugly money-maker machine, protects every Ashok Malhotra and Telgi but smarter part is that he is seldom caught. The more the exposures of his corruption, the greater are his chances of elevation in the party or in the Cabinet. When temples were razed in Kashmir and Hindu women raped and their bodies dismembered, neither the fashionable women rights lobby spoke which otherwise goes gaga over heavily-covered Islamists women campaigners for 'freedom', nor the filmy brotherhood of Sibals and Priyas. It’s noteworthy that none of the accused in the Mumbai blasts or later terror acts has expressed remorse or regrets on the killings of hundreds of innocents. Who speaks for those Indians who were killed while shopping for Diwali or playing Holi or offering prayers inside the temple? When Hindus are converted through dubious means and a head of the Christian sect, the Pope, issues religious dictates' to 'harvest' Hindus in their own Hindustan, do those sitting at the top of the power pyramid declare that the Pope has violated the sanctity of his host's hospitality? The freedom of expression wallahs and the peace candle variety have kept a well-studied silence over every single atrocity against Hindus. Why?
How do they gauge the appropriateness of their status at the top where access is restricted and the sky looks closer? I think they just don't care to realise the 'appropriateness' factor at all, because the biggest fear to them is from their own misdeeds that they know and hence hesitate to reflect .More than a hundred thousand cast their vote to provide a Membership of Parliament to a candidate. Much fewer numbers vote for a corporator or an MLA. It's like a pyramid. More people at the base support a candidate to reach at the top and it's incumbent upon the top position holder never to miss this fact. The winner is not there just because of his great brilliance exercised in isolation, but because he could convince the millions constituting the base and the upper layers that his elevation could bring good to the entire structure. It happens in everybody's life. A student receives a degree with the support of thousands of contributors, from a carpenter to a teacher, gardener, policeman, printer, publisher, driver and postman. Does he ever think to repay the social debt in return of his status gained? What's the social responsibility factor in a public man's life? Or in the industrial, corporate world? Hardly anyone gives a damn to the social responsibility element. The stinking rich want to get richer and crave for more cars, bigger apartments. More luxury keeps on growing in a Bharat where wheels to our economy – farmers, labourers, teachers, security personnel, landless workers commit suicide or live in sub-human conditions described as bare survival. Go and see after nine lives in and around old Delhi's station, JJ Colonies and the footpaths of Malabar Hill. Those who are killed by drunken careless sons of politicians and actors and industrialists driving their Pajeros and Land Cruisers and BMWs while going to discotheques post-nine, can't even murmur 'justice' and the witnesses are turned hostile and judgement always delayed crossing extreme unfair time limits. Who speaks for them in the pyramid of power? Look at any IIFA or similar awards, they may have various categories of fun-filled decorations, but have you ever heard an award for social awakening or the patriotism category? They will laugh if anyone suggests the idea, because the love for the personal gains has not been allowed to incorporate love for the nation too by the Left-secular hypocrisy of progressivism. Entertainment means Bipasha's bidi jalailo and Amit ji's dances and patriotism remains in isolation in the courtyards of a Manoj Kumar or Sunny Deol. If the pyramid philosophy of respecting the basic constituents by the top-position holder ants is not followed, anarchy and rebellion won't be far off. Small things matter most. Although a thin line demarcates national boundaries, the resultant difference is far greater in its impact, triggering sometimes wars that kill millions on both sides. Violating a thin line, tearing a simple piece of cloth recognised as a national flag, a single weird comment on any person's modesty can make a difference of life and death.
But those who reach at the top of a pyramid in their region- whether it's a company, filmdom, politics or academics, seldom realise that they owe a lot to those who provided their shoulders and moral approval to climb up and stay put. Like a thin line boundary, there may be a little difference in overall qualities of a Lakshmi Mittal and his juniormost supervisors. What makes Mittal reach at the top is his ability of leadership that comes with how much he cares for the last man at the bottom of the pyramid he is donning. Priyas, Sibals and Dasmunshis don't understand or appreciate the overriding burden that comes along with the position they enjoy at the top of their respective pyramids. They play with it, abuse it, and mould it as if the top end is hanging in the air, not needing any foundational support once they are up there. They are like ants, small in fact but having reached at the top thinking they have become elephants. They fall soon. First in the eyes and esteem of people, who form the base that facilitates the emergence of a top cone-end followed, of course, by a decisive fall in position and fame. Such people are more interested to talk to terrorists, engage them in dinner diplomacy and ignore the victims as they are neither a violent threat nor organised. Thousands of billionaires were born here and died. How many of those remain in the collective national memory? People remember one modestly rich man Bhama Shah who dedicated all his wealth to Rana Pratap when critical times befell on his motherland. In Rajasthan it's considered better to be a Rana Pratap and die heroically battling in the rough ravines of Haldighati, than to be a Raja Mansingh and live a spineless life full of compromises for the sake of enjoying extreme luxuries of forts and palaces and immense wealth. That's the Indian spirit of valour and meaningful living. Gandhi, in spite of many of his failed experiments, lived a perfect life of a Hindu Vaishnavite and fulfilled the requirements of being at the top of a socio-political pyramid of people’s power. He cared for the last soul at the bottom of his pyramid, merging himself with the identity of the smallest and the weakest and rose to the dizzy heights this mankind has seen so rarely becoming an immortal symbol of patience and leadership. Today the arrogant ants in politics and media violating this code of 'being at the top of your pyramid', are becoming more and more irrelevant for the masses and country's future. There is hardly an exciting innovation, an out of the box presentation of a grand vision or a path breaking initiative I any such field Whatever good is happening is in the fields where there is minimal touch of governance or the state power and politics. On the other hand, companies and organisations following the pyramid rules provide all the necessary space for the welfare of their last constituent the bottom layer. The gyms, yoga rooms, dance floors, subsidised canteens, video games parlours –all these are parts of a new futuristic endeavour in California or Gurgaon, just for the sake of enhancing quality and the number of productive hours. But those who defy this, become special invitees to the kingdom of self-destruction. The only way out is to strive for a proactive positive self. The change should begin with our own heart and then the required strength to change others would emerge naturally.
Readers Opinion
The pyramid and the ants
Ajey , Mumbai , says:

Thanks to TOI for publishing this article. Mr. Tarun, seems to be really courageous to write such an article. The Nation's secular-left people should explain, why are they overlooking (or glorifying) acts of terrorism. Terrorist should be punished, as great the Maratha King Shivaji punished Afzal Khan. We know what Ghouri did to Prithviraj Chouhan, even through the great Prithviraj pardoned him several times.There is a greater need for secular-left and fashionable humanist to act responsibly, if they want their names not to be counted in the list traitors of the Nation.9 Aug, 2007 1615hrs IST

Kalpana , Rajkot , says:

Great. A very good article.9 Aug, 2007 1155hrs IST

Sheetal , Pune , says:

Hi, It was really a good article. I agree with each and every word. Simply superb. 9 Aug, 2007 1125hrs IST

shailesh iyer , us , says:

Awesome article.9 Aug, 2007 0422hrs IST

Ktej , USA , says:

A very thought provoking and sincere column. 9 Aug, 2007 0252hrs IST

Siddiqui , Jeddah , says:

An excellent title, unlike the makers of the pyramid the writer gets lost in an unnecessarily complicated issue which defies logic ,to point out one of the many illogical bits,....."winner is not there just because of his great brilliance exercised in isolation, but because he could convince the millions constituting the base and the upper layers that his elevation could bring good to the entire structure." C'mon from present going ons if u r trying to mean the winner as a Sonia or Atalji one may agree, but the vast majority with shady backgrounds, criminal records may spend their lifetimes in convincing millions to elect them seems fanciful. Clearly other factors are at play.9 Aug, 2007 0216hrs IST

Rohit , Mumbai , says:

An excellent article that exposes the shallowness & hypocrisy of our politicians. But the situation is so because of us - the people. We have for too long had the 'chalta hai' and 'politics is for scoundrels' attitude which is why most of us do nothing beyond visiting the election booth every 5 years and then lament the state of affairs our elected representatives bring upon us. We, the ordinary people need to break this 'politics is for scoundrels' attitude and jump into the political process. Only then will things improve. Otherwise who else but the scoundrels are left to work for the country's politics - and they seem to be enjoying their job.8 Aug, 2007 1609hrs IST

david , Auckland , says:

Bravo, well said.8 Aug, 2007 1455hrs IST

Love knows no boundaries

1 Aug 2007, 1930 hrs IST ,

Tarun Vijay
Love is the only factor in our lives that finds fulfilment in just giving. Those who love god love all His creation too and those who say they are atheists love noble values and nature, which to me is equivalent to surrendering before something beautiful and aesthetic beyond human sensations, to borrow Pluto's words. But in our everyday life, a life which touches Haneef's smile back home and Sanjay Dutt in Arthur Road Jail, we continue with a mindless journey enveloped in political issues, often going against our professed faith's enlightening dictates and the voice of conscience. At least the way we, the Hindus treat our own people, often wrongly termed as low castes, is a shame and shows an embarrassingly un-Hindu attitude. And all this happens when there can't be more loftier and elevating ideals that we, the Vedic people have on this universe. We say and believe that Ram lives in every creation, even in stones. We worship god in form of idols, made of marble, but refuse to see the same Ram in living humans if they belong to the same so called low caste. In spite of the proven fact that they are our own, our flesh and blood and soul mates, we find it a great 'newsworthy' achievement if one of them becomes a president, a chief justice or a chief minister or a temple brings the Govinda to their habitat. It happens because such a thing is still an exception and not a normal, usual happening. Young couples are killed, humiliated to the extent that they commit suicide or expelled from biradari (community) and the village for committing the sin of marrying outside the caste. The so called high caste people, who to me are the real low caste people if castes have to be decided by their behaviour, have ensured that while speeches are delivered and public funds allocated for their 'upliftment' (a derogatory colonial word used by the political illiterates), they remain outside of every decision making forum and no gateway to a new brave word is opened to them in a natural, obvious manner. And no use quoting Manusmriti, scripture, Ramayana or Mahabharata to show that untouchability was never a part our dharma, our society. That's true, but shouldn't we be more concerned about applied doctrines rather than the written ones? What's the use of such quotes if we still find the discrimination against our grain? Amrit Lal Nagar, a great litterateur has written a novel based on his more than thirty years of research amongst the scheduled caste people, especially amongst those who were called Bhangis previously. He concluded that these were the Shishodias, Rajputs and when Turks defeated them, they asked accept Islam or get punished. The Rajputs accepted the punishment that was to carry night soil on their heads. It's an un-Indian practice brought here by Turks and Moghuls, that's what he says. This is an area of extensive research though. Their numbers are almost negligible in media-print or channels, in the highest political bodies of every single party, with an exception of the one which is their creation, their priests are different, their presence is nil amongst the high echelons of the dharma they profess , their contribution to the freedom struggle and protection emancipation of religious tenets is completely absent in our textbooks and schools and religious mathas , their educational institutions are run in a most despicable way and not a single great soul preaching harmony has established a centre of excellence devoted to remove the educational backwardness from these sections who are otherwise richer, brilliant and more stronger in culture, civilisational traditions and physical prowess.
Revolt. That's the only key to change and let people hear what you want to say. Inspite of all the efforts of great souls like Shahu Chatrapati, Tukdo ji, Samarth Guru Ramdas, Ravi Das, Meera ( who didn't choose any so called high caste guru but Ravi Das centuries ago), Nanak, Vivekananda and Gandhi, we had to have Ambedkar embrace Buddhism to make society listen to the voice of deprived sections. He was a great patriot and a social harmoniser, hence he refused to be lured by Islamists or the Christian proselytizers, and wrote a wonderful book Thoughts on Pakistan, but that's for another day's column. Ambedkar didn't want to poison relations between various castes and advocated a harmonious society. Exactly what Dr. Hedgewar preached and applied. Contrary to the hateful diatribes of some of the so-called champions of the deprived sections, there are a number of Hindu organisations bringing a silent revolution worth taking note of. Swadhyaya Pariwar, Mata Amritanandmayi's bhakti movement, Nirankaris, Swaminarayan movement, Gayatri Pariwar, Swami Satyamitranand Giri's Bharat Mata Mandir movement, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Vivekananda Kendra and the millions of RSS workers and their affiliates like Deen Dayal Research Institute under Nanaji Deshmukh are working to crate an egalitarian society refusing to accept or practice caste based discriminations. Yet time and again we see our weaker sections assaulted and bruised. It's because perhaps we, the Hindus are the most hypocritical society. Ask yourself, how many deprived friends you had in school in college, during preparing for entrance exams? How many you have today? In a marriage ceremony or on an auspicious occasion, or even on a sad moment, do we have some one whom other would identify as the low caste person? Visit any media mela , a talk show, a general debate, a political party's convention or a president's or PM;s banquet, how many would be representing these classes? There would be enough number of identifiable Muslims, specially underlined these days, leaders of different hues, but in a very natural and obvious manner, deprived ones would be simply absent. Like women were called to such forums only to express on women's issues, deprived are called only when there is a gang rape or a shoot-out, so that there is a burst of anger and that certainly makes a better copy. It's the obsession for a copy, my dear that enlists them and not their own merit and status. This exclusion has got into our blood, the so called upper caste blood, on an average scale, as exceptions are found everywhere. I can't forget an experience years ago when as an activist of a tribal organization Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram I went to work in the heavily tribal union territory of Dadra Nagar Haveli. Second day, a local sub-inspector, a big gun in such remote and backward areas, called me and almost for an hour asked all questions about my family and education, topping it with his last sermon, 'why are you wasting your life for these people (the hate shown in his eyes when he uttered-these people), whatever you do, they wont change. Better find a career at this young age.' I wished to shoot him down that very moment without any remorse. He was in a tribal area, getting his salary out of a tribal sub plan and here he was discouraging a young man to work for them as these 'wretched' people wont change. I remembered Victor Hugo's lines in Les Misérables , as if written only for our deprived people "an ineffable smile beam on those pale lips and in those dim eyes." The police, bureaucrat, leader and the common Indian is especially rude to these fellow Indians, at any given time. Any fault in the office would be blamed on someone who is a 'schedules caste or tribe' in familiar words-these people are never up to the mark ,get promotions just because of their status, work nothing and all that you know. No body is interested in finding a solution or doing his bit. Cursing them has become a habit turning many of the deprived an avowed foe of the rest or becoming hateful. Its so natural, that a so called high caste walla will never understand. The discrimination on the basis of birth is bad in every sense. This has to go if Hindus want to survive as Hindus. True there are economically weaker segments amongst Brahmins also and one has to read an illuminating article of a reputed French journalist Francois Gautier regarding how Brahmins are cleaning toilets or sweeping roads and earning two meals by a days hard work, their woes should also be addressed through strong measures like any other India deserves. Though I feel doing any kind of work by any caste walla is fine unless one is pushed to a particular job just because he or she was born in a different family, the politics of appeasement and vote banks has taken its toll on societal fabric and helping deprived classes along with all the economically weaker sections through empowering them in the best possible manner is not the goal of the political masters, but to keep them segregated, never create a situation for their inclusion of the mainstream of progress and upward mobility and have them isolated for the votes seems to them the only attractive and a shorter way to reach corridors power. Still I can sense a strong wind of change is coming, especially by the younger generation belonging to all sections . It's this generation that has the courage and a will to say an emphatic 'no' to all such bakwas practices. They may refuse to go to a temple where deprived are not allowed, nay, they would proclaim, going to temples is not at all necessary, neither building the new ones, unless such discriminations are done away completely. My Ram resides in a human being more than in a structure of bricks and marble. All it needs is a strong will, in Danton's famous words "To Dare, to Dare Again, Ever to Dare!" Let the love for nature and Ram also envelope deprived, Dalit and tribals too, then alone being a Hindu would be complete
Readers Opinion
Love knows no boundaries
Ktej , USA , says:

Very timely and well-written article. If this is not a wake-up call, what will it be? Good job, Tarun and TOI. Keep it up!7 Aug, 2007 0106hrs IST

garima dixit , usa , says:

I agree with the author. But what is conspicuous and yet unspoken is the role of the media and the designs of the political mind. The lower and middle sections of the working society do not make much difference. The high society is too involved in being above all, and it would be ludicrous to expect anything from them. People do not have, in this age, the time to form an opinion. Their opinion is an amalgamation of what is already being served to them. What we need is pure simple "Gaandhigiri" and what is meant by that is the simple act of being considerate to the other human being without taking into accounts his caste and religion. Caste and religion will then cease to matter. 4 Aug, 2007 2304hrs IST

surendra nath tiwari , new jersey, usa , says:

Great article, Tarun ji. I like your line `We are the most hypocritical society`. Anyone who works in right earnest for people sees it everyday; amongst his relatives, amongst politicians and general folk, amongst friends and foes, alike. It almost seems like we need to develop a social-character. Keep reminding us of our follies and hope we will learn someday. 3 Aug, 2007 2018hrs IST

raynah sivaraman , manila , says:

"Discrimination on the basis of birth is bad in every sense"; "Ram resides in human beings". It doesn't sound too genuine, and seems to have a political motive, but still, it's a good start.3 Aug, 2007 1441hrs IST

tejasvi , seoul , says:

Excellently put, Tarun. Casteism is a scourge of our society and needs to be shunned in every form. I believe 80% of all religious conversions will stop if we get over this. This situation can only be changed completely when politicians stop playing vote bank politics. 3 Aug, 2007 0725hrs IST

pancham , haryana , says:

I am writing this with the most regret and shame as being a Hindu myself. Today our country is changing and we often hear people say that it is for the best. But do we realise what is happening in our own homes? Today not a single soul can show courage to stand against the so called religious teaching of the so called social workers. Let me ask you a question, when did love become a sin if lord Krishna did it? How did being a member of any class (lower or upper) matter when lord Rama lived 14 years in a forest despite him being a prince? Why can't we live under a free sky without the fear of getting stopped if trying to express ourselves? When did art and literature turn into obscenity and since when did people start to behave like wardens more than the up lifters of the society? What do we expect to see in our future when we do not even respect our present? We usually say that our economy is bad but how easily do we forget the seed of corruption that we plant in the minds of our youth. How can we think of a clean and crime free nation when we ourselves are not following laws? These are some questions everybody thinks at any point of any day and then we forget. Just the same way as we forget our responsibilities. This problem is even more heightened by the use of God's pure name in sleazy politics. Today I, as a simple student and a citizen of this country, ask our media persons and civilians to join hands and start a movement to change our future so that we may not have to stand before our children with our heads low. I know that this is just another emotional appeal by another emotional man, but, I ask you how many emotional men have to write how many speeches before we get some help from you to voice a normal man's voice in public. Please help bring peace and prosperity to our nation. This is "our" responsibility.2 Aug, 2007 0341hrs IST

Where is the citizen?

25 Jul 2007, 1234 hrs IST ,

Tarun Vijay

“We wanted only a Muslim candidate for vice-presidential elections”, a daily quoted a senior Left leader on why they chose Hamid Ansari. And every other party fell in line. It was not that everybody, just by sheer divine coincidence zeroed in on a Muslim, but all of them wanted it. It has become so obvious and natural to emphasise the need and assert the demand for a Muslim or anyone other than a Hindu that none found it pertinent to ask a question, even in a feeble voice, why sir, didn't you say, we need a deserving Indian? Although personally I find all the three candidates good, people who have brought the vice-presidential election to a far superior and dignified level than the murky Presidential one, yet the reason behind the selection of “only Muslim” candidates is a disturbing one for India's secular fabric. It’s nothing but a brazen manifestation of a reactionary secular-communalism being practiced by all – without even a face-saving exception. Why has being an Indian become a matter of less significance than being a Muslim, Christian, Yadav, or a backward? This fragmentation of polity is a result of a fragmented society and weakening of a pan-national outlook. The thread that binds Indians and India together was never a political one but cultural and civilisational. That is being abused by political expediency so much that it has been strained to the limit of breaking up. So far, a strong sense of nationalism, a pride in being an Indian, and equally in our Hindu identity - i.e. a majority that has woven the nation's extreme corners into a oneness of cultural flow -- from Parashuram Kund and Rukmini's Bhishmak Nagar in Arunachal to Hanuman's Andamans, Sindhu's (Indus) Ladakh and Krishna's Dwarka to Rama's bridge of victory over the wicked in Rameshwaram -- held us together. It's our grandmother's concept of unity in diversity that has survived the vicissitudes of millenniums, and the same is now under threat from those who do not have any feeling for the past, no vision for the future but try to earn their daily bread of governance walking present times with their sullied footmark. Nobody seems interested in questioning the wisdom or discretion of politicians any more. Is it despondency or a sign of utter hopelessness or is there a storm brewing underneath which we fail to feel or understand? Do we have to blame only the neta for everything bad that's happening to us and there the matter ends? Even if we agree that the politicians are bad, bureaucracy corrupt and the police in khaki a wretched lot, what about those who vote them to power, send their children to man officialdom and the police force and yet keep on complaining? The easiest part to play is to complain, watch TV, and complain again that everything is turning into an anarchical situation. And then go to sleep. There was a time when we used to see some rebellion against the systemic flaws, against the corrupt and immoral. No more now. People may remember that at every incident of terrorist violence in Punjab and Kashmir, there would be a Delhi bandh call and even cinema houses and paanwallahs would shut their doors in anger. It showed symbolically that citizens cared for their fellow citizen's pains and problems. When terrorism became a routine matter, like an inseparable part of our body politic, people stopped reacting to it. The same is true about corruption and immorality in public life. You may try to ask a senior, seasoned politician that “why sir, is corruption not made an issue to fight an election?” The candid answer, if he is frank with you, would be, “now people don't care whether a politician is corrupt or not.” May be they have become so disillusioned by the overwhelming majority of politicians behaving in the same manner that they have given up on this front. And this is exactly the point to ponder. Why does this happen? We saw the Navnirman Andolan and JP's Total Revolution, and then the great All-Assam Students' Union's anti-infiltration movement. They all shook the nation and people hoped something positive would come about. The power engines and the inheritors of these movement were brought to power as a logical culmination of their struggle, which saw them indulging in the same corrupt practices and infighting against which they had begun their struggle.
Similarly, Ramaswamy Naicker's Self Pride movement saw a complete change in the polity and social dynamics in Tamil Nadu. Rama was insulted, Ravana became a celebrated hero, marriages were solemnized reading the red book of Periyar, and it all resulted in the great Brahmin exodus from all quarters of public life and even administration. What fruits did this social reformist movement bring ultimately? We have seen three icons of Periyar's legacy after Anna Durai's departure from the scene -- MGR, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa. The ugly charges of corruption, family feuds, autocratic landlordism, marking their exalted selves convey nothing to feel proud about them. So Periyar's ideological heirs too failed to provide a socially responsible, administratively clean state marching towards a casteless society as was supposed to have been envisioned by the revered initiator. The nationalist movements saw an avowed position of not allowing two flags and separate constitutional provisions for Kashmir. They also began a movement to “reconstruct” the Ram temple at Ayodhya. Both stirred up the nation's soul in their respective times. And what's the result? Kashmir still has two flags, every official and politician authorised to display a flag on his car and office has a national tricolor on the left and the red one with a plough – the ‘Jammu-Kashmir flag' on the right. And the temple issue is yet to be resolved. All of this should naturally have generated disenchantment with the politicians who think promising everything in their election manifesto is good enough to get votes. No, they think nobody reads manifestos so print them for the media and the real voter would make choices on the basis of caste, ad campaigns, charisma of the leaders, road shows and emotional issues. This is a self-possessed voter, for whom it hardly matters who the ruler is, as long as his interests are taken care of. And invariably these interests are personal. So Kolkata's Kali Bari temple priests blessed the flag of the East India Company without thinking that these were foreigners, a plague to our nation. All the witnesses against Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were Indians, and they helped a colonial barbaric power against their own brothers. Dyre was a firang but his brute soldiers were Indians who fired on innocent nonviolent Indians at Jalianwala Bagh. When I interviewed Morarji Desai, which perhaps was his last, he said that Indians had hardly put up resistance even during the freedom movement which saw not more than five per cent of the Indian population actively participating. The rest was happy either to be Rai Bahadurs, Raisahibs, Khan sahibs, ICSs or just clerks – babus to the evil empire. They never had any shame about what their foreigner masters had done to their own fellow men and women -- cut their thumbs, facilitated forcible conversions, hanged thousands on trees for being patriotic to their motherland, and changed the education system to produce copycat brown sahibs. If the citizen doesn't care who the ruler is and what has he done for the nation, we get what we have and in such circumstances how can the nation expect a clean polity? Why blame the netas when their supporters or those who vote them to power belong to the same “I don't care” mindset?
This citizen spreads dirt on the roads, defiles the holy rivers, leaves plastic and other garbage at Gau Mukh -- the source of Ganga -- bribes anyone to buy tickets out of the queue and then writes letters to the editor that the government is bad, politicians don't do enough for the public. After all, who has made nice people abhor politics and who votes the Shahabuddins and apologists for a traitor like Afzal? People vote for candidates who have bought ticket from certain parties in an open-window system and politics is just another investment area for him to earn ten times or more. Yet such candidates get elected with a thumping majority. Try to browse the Internet and see how our honourable members of Parliament, women MPs included, were climbing the benches of the Central Hall just to shake hands with Bill Clinton, who had arrived while the Monica adventure's stink was still in the air. They were simply mad just for a handshake. And you expect them to be a model for the rest of the praja ? But aren't people who vote such people in to be blamed for this in the first place? This underlines a complete absence of those non-political leaders who can influence public opinion for the good of society and the nation. We have any number of religious preachers, faith healers and miracle men. Yet not a single soul is able to influence our political leadership so that the nation can feel a whiff of fresh air. Everyone is busy in his or her personal agenda -- sermons, donations, huge fiefdoms. Every politician has a religious mentor, and every religious preacher has a politician as his follower. Yet the mess that we find ourselves in refuses to end. I would rather blame the unassertive voter and the “apathetic” citizen more than the bad neta for bad politics and unresponsive governance. The patriotism of such voters is aroused only when channels bring a Kargil to our bedrooms and not when Kashmiri pundits are driven out of their homes or killers of security personnel are invited to dinner by the vote bankers. We see thousands of youngsters coming out on roads and risking their lives when their career is threatened by a new reservation policy. But never have we seen them as agitated to demand that the government should take back the land we lost to the enemies after 1947 – 1,25,000 sq km to quote government records. Or to make doctors in public and private hospitals a little more humane towards their patients. I have a beautiful story to tell about this attitude and the results it brings. It was emailed to me by a friend and is shared with readers by Thomas Strider: ''I used to know a man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II. He was a German Jew. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since. "Very few people were true Nazis," he said, "but many enjoyed the return of German pride; and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us; and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp, and the Allies destroyed my factories." These are the so-called “peaceful” people. They say, let's do what we have to do for a living. The nation's affairs are not our concern. The same people were mute spectators to the rise of Communism in Russia and the resultant massacre of over two million Russians under Stalin. The same happened in China under Mao. They provided soldiers to the British to kill their own countrymen in India. I have yet to see an heir of a Raibahadur who is ashamed of the fact that one of his forefathers was a servant in the service of the brutal foreign colonists. Rather, they display their ancestors receiving honours from the firangs who hanged our revolutionaries. And they, who think material progress alone is the aim of living, continue to have that attitude even today. Citizenship dharma demands a different material altogether. When that is realised, then alone would India regain her lost status based on knowledge i.e. vidya , strength of the brave and character.

Readers Opinion

Where is the citizen?

Raj Bhatnagar , USA , says:

This is a shame for the Indian democracy that the entire political spectrum considered a person's religion to be the primary determinant of his/her suitability for the Vice-President's position. Some people express pride in stating that Kalam (Muslim), Sonia (Christian), and Manmohan (Sikh) are ruling the nation of Hindus and consider it to be a tribute to the secular nature of Indian polity. But with the strong desire to have a Muslim and only a Muslim for a VP post seems to expose that fact that ma be, maybe, and yes, maybe, there is a conspiracy in all this to keep the Hindus out. 31 Jul, 2007 2318hrs IST

jha , rinku , says:

Brilliant! I appreciate your outlook.30 Jul, 2007 2316hrs IST

Jitendra Desai , Surat , says:

Mr Tarun Vijay is voicing the obvious frustrations of millions of decent Indians. But he could be mistaken ! Millions have "written off" the State; hence they don't participate in the so called political processes. But they are all working and working very hard to make the politicians and the State completely irrelevant to their lives. Time is not far off when the writ of the 'Darbaris' in Delhi will not run beyond the Red Fort. That will usher in the true Swaraj.30 Jul, 2007 1201hrs IST

Buddhu , Patna , says:

Where is the citizen? Wake Up, dear. Go and educate people about the beauty of seeking knowledge and things would be taken care of. Stop berating people like a school master. 29 Jul, 2007 0719hrs IST

sameer goyal , canada , says:

Thought provoking? Intelligent? This just shows how little we know about our history. Most people have liked the article without questioning the merits. The points illustrated in the article whether good or bad are a personality trait of Indians and more importantly Hindu Indians. They tend to be more docile and unchallenging. Bound in tradition and blinded by faith, they follow the preset norms without ever questioning it. From the early days, partiality and favouring your chosen few and political appointments based on preference has been prevalent in India. All through the reigns of Hindu kings and even after that. When the Mughals were attacking and looting India, Hindus were assembling in front of temples and praying in front of idols to protect them instead of putting up a resistance . This has continued till today. 125000 sq kms surrendered to the enemy never makes news because that would be confrontational. 1993 Bombay bomb blasts, 1999 Kargil attack, 1999 Kandhar hijack, 2001 parliament attack - nothing seems to bother the ordinary citizen . Maybe he has given up on the political leadership and as a result India is one of the very few soft states in the world. Today a George Fernandes can be strip searched in the USA or a Narenda Modi denied a USA visa. An Indian can be detained for over 2 weeks in Australia but hey, it does not affect you, does it?28 Jul, 2007 0657hrs IST

Tejbahadur , USA , says:

One of the most fascinating and eye opener articles for those who care for India. Thanks.28 Jul, 2007 0040hrs IST

Ashutosh Singh , Hyderabad , says:

That is the voice of a true citizen. We need to have a uniform civil code so that everybody could flow into the mainstream & make our motherland the greatest nation.27 Jul, 2007 1129hrs IST

Kamalesh Sharda , Toronto, Canada , says:

Article by Shri Tarunji is highly intelligent and a must for all politicians and thinking people. Well done Tarunji!. Thanks to TOI for having the will to allow such priceless articles by Shri Tarunji.27 Jul, 2007 0828hrs IST

Manpreet Singh Chhatwal , Sydney , says:

What an excellent peice from Tarun Viay. Thought provoking to the core so much so that certain sections even gave me goose bumps. almost revolutionary. We are a society of selfloading, matrialistic, corrupt individuals who are looking for short cuts all the time. The most we do these days is forward emails of "renowned india facts" and feel proud of this special nation (though, most of the facts in such emails relate to the ancient history of India)(india tought the world to count, india hasn't invaded any country for 1,000 years, so on and so forth...) I may be living the so called "indian dream" settled in a white collar job in a developed 'western' city - but all the morals i was tought as a child dont seem to carry any value in this (and even in india's society) society. I have an urge to come back and work in public admin in India, i have expressed this desire with a few close family and friends in India - not a single one has supported this idea, some of them even going to the extent of saying - after living in a place like Sydney, if you come back to Delhi and try and work in governance - you may become suicidal in a few months. I hope the situation is not that hopeless and that I hope and others like me will get to make a "real" contribution to the nation. Thanks for the article Manpreet 27 Jul, 2007 0729hrs IST

Cool Earth and hot tempers

18 Jul 2007, 1307 hrs IST,

Tarun Vijay

There is only one Earth, the coolest place that sustains us with a mother's warmth. And we identify a small piece on it as our nation, where we live and die.
We inherited a borderless Earth, with water and air and nature's bounties freely available to all. But the humans, more “intelligent” (or cunning?), created boundaries of nations, language, religion and interest regions and fought and killed each other for keeping more and more in the personal domain.
Those who were closer to nature and their spiritual yearnings, like the Hindus, American Indians, Mayans, indigenous people of Brazil, New Zealand, Australia etc faced assaults of unimaginable scale by forces that came to their doorsteps in order to “civilise” them. Religion became the biggest glue to bind communities and it also triggered off the highest number of wars and mass killings. Now, having consumed a great part of freely available natural resources, we are reaping the harvest of greed and mindless destruction of the Earth's warmth. How do we cope with it?
There is a solution that has come from the land of Buddha – Japan. Its energetic Prime Minister Abe, visiting India next month, has put up an ambitious proposal to halve emissions by 2050 and move toward a carbonless atmosphere. Difficult proposition, yes, but living peacefully too demands some sacrifices and unless we are ready to say oui , we are all doomed.
And here comes the Vedic seer who had envisaged the Earth as a large family prescribing the quantum and the limits of sharing the resources of nature. Earth is worshipped as mother, and hence what it provides should be taken as a blessing. Never have the Vedas used an ugly word like “exploiting natural resources”, but the principal theme has been to share and then give her our due in return so that she may feel happy and bless us with more fruits of joy.
Not many would know that there is a fifth Veda too, known as Vriksha Veda, or the holy scripture of the tree, defining and describing the age-old ancient wisdom to protect and nourish trees and other vegetation for the good of humanity. Our mantras, chanted at the time of birth or death always end with a prayer for the peace and growth of all vegetation on this Earth. If we begin to learn what our Hindu scriptures have said for the greater peace and welfare of all, the Earth would be a cooler and a calmer place once again.
The most painful exercise is to see the morning papers and realize what we have done to the Earth's warmth and nation's love. The week this column appears we shall be flooded with how a new President has been thrust upon us in the name of a democracy nobody follows.
Most of the parties have a totalitarian leadership, which doesn't believe in fairly allowing voices of its cadres and people it claims to represent. What they call elections within the party are simply nominations by the top leader and every decision about ministry-making or new alignments or choosing a candidate for a post as important as the President or a Vice President is not by the procedure of any democratic norm but by the choice of his or her majesty donning the supreme mantle of the organisation's hierarchy. Does anyone amongst the decision-makers of the nation -- the real governors -- have a moment or a will to think what's happening to the Earth and the dreams and ambitions of the new generation that make today's India the most young nation in the world? Or do they devote time to change the system, make it more people-oriented, safer highways, better and less costly basic education, cleaner and hospitable railway stations, airports and banks?
Our capital's airport and the railway station must be declared among the dirtiest places even when compared to an African banana republic. The drawing rooms and gardens of our ministers and politicians present a highly mobile and forward-looking society of the elite that vies with a developed European country's pomp and show. But these very gentlemen do not feel any shame to see our public places stinking and like a huge dustbin. And, either the murky politics of the Presidential elections or religious fanaticism make the headlines and the channels dish out crime reports and sloppy page three items as if the thousand million plus souls of this nation have hardly anything positive or worthwhile to report about.
The media reports less than a one percent segment of the nation, hardly devoting space to how the harvest seasons have been affected by global warming, why Punjab farmers too are driven to committing suicide, the new exciting experiments to help tribal farmers grow more produce per acre with rain-water harvesting , how some of the technology wizards have been helping poor and disadvantaged sections to join the global mainstream of new age progress and like the AIDS scandalous falsehood of overwhelming spread, even the IT revolution has become meaningless plastic for the greatest part of our population, taking our neighbours miles ahead of us.
There is a Connaught Place to NOIDA syndrome that has gripped our polity and papers alike. Like the old saying that these north Indians feel their India doesn't go beyond Kolkata, the papers and politicians have their nation shrunk to the Gurgaon-Mumbai-Chennai boundaries.
There was a grand Buddhist celebration in Leh on July 17 with the head of the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and Ladakhi people. They were there in thousands led by the 12 th Gyalwang Drukpa, to mark the 800 th anniversary of Avalokiteshwara's reincarnation. Have you seen any one-line mention of this fabulously rich, enchanting and colourful heritage festival? If a Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman party was held there or a Liz Hurley-Arun Nayar marriage was solemnized there, the entire media would have forgotten even the Presidential elections.
It's the rich and famous and the corrupt that make or break in every field; they decide in politics, they approach the judicial system easily, the passwords to open all locks are money in the pocket and English on your lips. The language of election is invariably an Indian one, but the script to rule and move ahead is Roman and the language English, keeping the vast millions out of even the primary circles of the good life.
The poor and non-English-speaking population of the nation are used only to vote so that the same stinking lot is brought to power. The real Brahmas, the true Jana Gana Mana that write the destiny of our nation with their blood and sweat, do not make the picture but the killers, extortionists, theatrical performers on high pedestals and the loud mouths. Hardly anyone reports or cares for the North East, reeling under a massive Bangladeshi infiltration, extortion raj of the insurgents, or the two flags and two constitutional provisions in Kashmir, which we claim is “ours” and how children of Chushul or Tawang are studying and what material.
They remain out of our world view where London and Washington are closer to Tejpur and Turtuk. Unless there is a wild outbreak, a heist or a mass killing they are not considered “newsy” enough to be reported. There have been floods in the Indus River in our territory, bordering the LAC, a strange phenomenon in a snow desert region none has reported. And pray how many know that the Indus that gave an identity and a name to our nation and civilisation, passes through Ladakh and is 550 km long before it reaches present Pakistan?
No wonder our memory sticks have not registered the faces of north-eastern fellow citizens as one of us, and they often feel embarrassed by stereotyped Indians calling them a Burmese or a Chinese.
It's all about a mindset. A mindset that represents trivia and believes in exploitation, domination and annihilation. It's too individualistic and abhors collective spirit. It has to be replaced with the Vedic seers' charter of the Earth as a family and a sustainable growth that allows all creation to flower in the vast garden that this planet is.

Readers Opinion
Cool Earth and hot tempers
Tejbahadur , USA , says: Simply brilliant!!28 Jul, 2007 0038hrs IST

Rahul , Alwar , says:

A very good article indeed. Quite clearly the 'ruler' mentality has to change and people at the individual level also have to make more efforts to improve themselves 'despite' the education system that we are currently stuck in that doesn't foster 'personality development', which should be the aim of any education besides knowledge.20 Jul, 2007 2023hrs IST

Naved , Delhi , says:

A cool article no doubt. I have distributed a hundred copies of it to my friends. But I must say, Tarun Vijay should also write about where the Hindus have gone wrong in their assessment of Muslims, why Muslims do not feel confident to trust Hindus, why is a normal friendly relation between Hindus and Muslims so rare? How many Hindus would know what's happening in a Muslim mind? Being a majority it's their initiative for coming closer that counts. Moreover, the great Hindu organisations do not represent the majority Hindus, who are outside the pale of Hindutva brigade. Like Leftist in India, I think Hindutva politics has also reached its point of descent.20 Jul, 2007 1418hrs IST

kapil , USA , says:

Brilliant article by Tarun Vijay. I have become a big fan of him.18 Jul, 2007 2206hrs IST

Jayant , USA , says:

Dear Shri Tarun Vijay, I am glad you were able to find voice in TOI. Kudos for a great article. sincerely, Jayant18 Jul, 2007 2205hrs IST

Pratima Dutta , Bloomington, Indiana, USA , says:

Dear Sir, In reference to the column by Tarun Vijay, titled "Cool Earth and Hot Tempers", I would like to express discontent with attributing Japan as the "Land of Buddha". As every child in this great country of ours is aware, the land of Buddha is India and definitely not Japan or any other country in the Far East. Worst yet, to attribute Japan with Buddhism in this day and age is similar to associating China with great religious tolerance. Japan and its people barely have any remnants of the religion left in them. They have proudly, in the name of economic prosperity, since the war, have willfully relegated anything and everything associated with the east; for in their opinion, the East symbolizes tradition, age-old customs, proletarians--all of which is associated with underdevelopment, which of course the Japanese are not to be a part of. Economic prosperity for them is synonymous with vending machines, the typical American white wedding (although Christianity is not a fad either), brilliant stake houses and pizzas that harbor a brief whiff of sushi if one is not paying too much attention. All in all, let us not make the mistake of pandering to our neighbors to such an extant that we give up a part of our soul in that process. Japan was never the land of Buddha and will never be either. Sincerely, Pratima Dutta 18 Jul, 2007 1856hrs IST

An Osama in his pocket

11 Jul 2007, 2005 hrs IST ,

Tarun Vijay

On a Shanghai -Los Angeles flight, it was not the threat of missiles but a 24-hour-45-minute boredom that threatened to kill. But thank god I was saved. On my left was seated Maria, a chirpy young girl who was returning home after spending a month with her Pakistani boy friend who runs a software business in China's best known industrial city. It was like a John Grisham novel unfolding 30,000 feet above the ground level. Maria met her boy friend at a seminar for young wizards in the IT sector in New York, found him "interesting", rebelled at home and got her grand ma's approval to visit him in Shanghai. And now, having spent a month there was returning a little worried. The first reason that made her anxious was the sweet little bunny she purchased from a village near Shanghai and couldn't resist taking to LA. The second reason for her anxiety related with humans and we shall talk about it later. So the well-being of her bunny -- kept in the cargo by ruthless airport staff, as they wouldn't allow her to keep him on her lap and to be subject to a month's quarantine before finally handing him over in LA -- took up our first three hours. She wanted to cry. Bunny seemed to have possessed her like a roaming spirit. And suddenly, while we were talking more about her bunny, the plane got deep into a real bad air pocket and shook as if a witch from Harry Potter's latest had collided with it head on. It was a real horror and almost took our lives. Passengers screamed. And for the first time I sensed a creeping fear of death emerging in me, nimble-footed but sure. And my poor neighbour. She turned white with fear, wept, folded her hands in prayer, bent on her knees, defied the air hostess' instructions and put her head on my lap and began confessing: "Supreme and adorable Majesty, God of heaven and earth, I firmly believe that you are present" What she said was hardly audible but she was offering her last prayers for sure. After a couple of minutes when the plane began to stabilise a little, she calmed down and thanked me profusely for "saving her life" at a very critical time. She felt death moved away after her true confession, and felt, perhaps embarrassed as happens with most of us after such traumatic situations when we are unable to control emotions and may be to overcome that feeling of embarrassment, she wanted to thank everyone for saving her. So after me, it was the steward, passengers who had gathered around her and then her grandma and parents in that order, though the latter ones in absentia. "So you like your grandma most?" I asked. "Yes, and Bunny next" she giggled and said, "Yes". "And your Pakistani friend?" "Yeah sure." Then she raised her voice, "did you listen to my confessions? You know it's a sin to recall them or to tell anyone." I tried to make her feel comfortable honestly: "I couldn't understand a word of what you had confessed." "But now I want to tell you something that would unburden me," she said. "Can't even tell my grandma this." Ok, I was willing to know what was bothering her, about which she wanted to speak at the first instance but gave only a vague hint. That was before the air pocket arrived. Having seen death so close, she became bolder, perhaps. "You know, Vijay, everything is fine with him. He is very nice, very decent." "Your friend?" I wanted to be sure. "Yeah, he," she replied. "So what bothers you?" "Nothing, but I saw a picture of Osama in his wallet and when I wanted to know the reason for this, he ignored and changed the subject never allowing me to know why on earth a nice gentleman like him was admiring of that rogue. So much that instead of keeping his parents' photo, he keeps one of that bearded, wretched person. Vijay, you come from India, can you tell me what attracted him to Osama? I love him, but I can't accept Osama as well in his pocket. That time I simply tried to calm her down with some Indian stories of saints and said that perhaps her love could change him. She was not convinced and now after the Bangalore incident I feel her mind was more focused. As a normal, common westerner she was a sensitive, caring and a transparent believer who loved anything that looked nice and decent. Like her bunny, like her boy friend. And she trusted them both. But she wouldn't let her emotions overpower her logic and hence a photo of Osama bothered her more than Osama's men killing 60,000 Indians in my country has bothered us. Rather we try to obfuscate the real issues, chant the mantra that all religions are equal, refuse to see the real source of hate and violence and skirt the demands of the times to analyse why even highly qualified persons, educated in the most secular environs of learning centres, turn traitors to their country and fellow citizens of other faiths just because they believe it's more important to "serve" the cause of their religion through bullets and bombs than anything else. I don't know what happened to the nascent love that began taking shape between Maria and her boy friend, because though she sent me photos of her bunny, safe and happy in her California home, she never spoke about other things including the young Pakistani. But the Bangalore experience has not only proved many of our more cautious friends right, who were blasted as hate mongers till now by even the closest of their fellow travellers, it has shaken the faith of a common Indian in his neighbour, who would have been quite vocal in denouncing America's devilish designs and hence in a way justified what the "boys" do in anger. This one is an oft-repeated "logic" heard universally from Karachi's food bazaar to Nabi Karim and Chandni Chowk's paanwallahs. No sir, the problem has to be sourced in the education that creates a mindset ready to bomb his very own - country or people -- for the sake of "faith". America or for that matter any other western country comes handy to be blamed for every evil, but why the "evil empire" creates a blood thirsty anger in one community alone and not in a hundred other people who can also claim to be equal victims of the US' "arrogance" and "colonialist attitude"? And what did the US have to do in our valley that made "brave Jihadis" (read it with red mosque surrenders) to kill little kids, old men and women? What drives them to rape and maim innocent defenceless fellow citizens in Jammu, Rajouri and Doda? Here are a few lines from a news channel's website that discussed an issue of vital importance for us -- Who were the two Bangloreans caught in the act of terror? Says the English TV channel, "An aeronautical engineer by profession, Kafeel Ahmed and his brother Sabeel Ahmed, a qualified doctor in UK -- both were born and educated in Bangalore. They possessed top-notch degrees, joined the best professions in UK, and were the most qualified in their respective fields.' Why were they where they were, as terrorists? It further said that, "Most Islamic countries are autocratic and despotic in nature and do not allow freedom of speech and expression. So, does that mean that a community must use terror as a method to express its disagreement?" "There have been Communists, Fascists etc who have conspired against the country they have lived in. Now since there is a whole way of Islamism propagated by terrorist masterminds like Osama bin Laden, some Muslim boys have also got caught up in that. These people are a minority and we must see why they got into such destructive acts," Lord Meghnad Desai said in response. Now Lord Meghnad is not a RSS buddy, nor an Indian citizen. Yet, his views are candid and without mincing words he has hinted where the problem lies. I must also quote from a recent report on the terrible changes occurring in Indonesia. It's from a lead article in the Far Eastern Economic Review by Sadanand Dhume, a Bernard Schwartz Fellow with Asia Society. Writing about Indonesia, which has a modest original Javanese Hindu population famous as Balinese Hindus, he says, "Barely 10 years ago it was a poster child for the East Asian miracle, lauded by the World Bank for having pulled tens of millions out of poverty, and increasingly mentioned in the same breath as Korea and Taiwan. Today, to the degree that Indonesia occupies the world's attention at all, it is as a cesspool of corruption, buffeted in turn by natural disasters, medical emergencies and terrorism.' He further adds, "it is radical Islam or Islamism-the ideology that seeks to run 21st century societies according to the seventh century Arabian precepts of Shariah law-that poses the biggest danger to Indonesia's future. Islamism already threatens Indonesia's founding principle of non-sectarianism and its proud tradition of pluralism, and hobbles the country's efforts to modernize its economy." Whether it's the Osama photo in Maria's boyfriend's pocket or his men killing Hindus in Kashmir and turning Malaysia and Indonesia into cesspools of inhuman barbarities on non-Muslim minorities, they all point to one source of hate and intolerance -- i.e. Arabian Islamism. It has endangered the existence of democratic, human and caring societies who love to give freedom to all shades of civil thoughts. These values of pluralism are under severe threat from violent Islamism shielded by an escapist attitude that denies Jihadi inhumanities in the name of a fake secularism, often described as negationism or Dhimmitude. Unless we prepare ourselves to face this truth squarely the solution too will continue to elude us making the globe more unliveable each passing day.

Readers Opinion
An Osama in his pocket

rohit,bangalore,says:Excellent article.....17 Jul, 2007 1924hrs IST

Farhan Ahmed,Riyadh, KSA,says:

These days the favourite pass time of the non muslim media and their associates is to blame the Shari ah and hard line Islamic values for all the ills of the world I've heard all this before, why doesn't the author have the guts to talk about Hindu extremism in India? The rape of Muslim women in riots almost as a practice, the rape of Kashmiri women by Indian forces as well as killing of innocent Muslims all over the country. One doesn't need a telescope to see that almost every time a riot happens the victims are always Muslims. The Indian justice system falls over itself to convict criminals of the Bombay Blasts but what happened to the fascists of the Shiva Sena who instigated the Bombay riots subsequent to the demolition of the Babri Masjid no one seems to be too concerned about convicting those criminals, I have this to say to Mr. Tarun Vijay, While the killing of innocents be they Muslims or Non Muslims is a heinous act punishable by death as per the "medieval" Shariah it is also very easy to sit on the side of the oppressor and cry foul when the oppressed tries to fight back simply because the majority is on your side.17 Jul, 2007 1910hrs IST
Bnatesh,Thailand,says:very well written bold article that does not mince words and issues17 Jul, 2007 1337hrs IST

Kumar,San Diego,says:

Well put. All religions have all had their share of violence which reformers have helped contain. It started 1000's of years ago and still continues. However, either due to threat of life or violence, reformers in Islam have been cowed down in recent past. And the ummah and the pseudo-secularists are guilty of condoning it and even worse fueling it. 17 Jul, 2007 0027hrs IST


why do you guys even post Tarun's articles. Instead you could post a big banner saying "RSS RULES" and we would still get the message. Tarun's thinly veiled attacks against Islam are shocking. Not only do they portray the narrow mindedness that he possesses, they are infact repelling. If you could please spare us the time and effort in future of reading through his agenda, we all would be very grateful to you.15 Jul, 2007 2155hrs IST
Dhruva,Bangalore,says:Great article! It should be noted that in all the countries where majority of the people follow Islam, like Bangladesh population of the minorities is decreasing. This can be attributed to fact that radical Islamism is becoming the norm in these countries. However in India, minorities enjoy more freedom than the majority population.This speaks volumes about the Hindu tolerance which has over the centuries accommodated everyone from conquering Muslims to Parsis seeking shelter. 15 Jul, 2007 0013hrs IST
Jimmy,USA,says:Great story were right on target! Good Job! 14 Jul, 2007 0312hrs IST
Western mail,Australia,says:

It's about time Muslims stopped crying innocence and started doing something about their fundamentalists. Try ridiculing and exposing them before they wreak more havoc on the world.13 Jul, 2007 1251hrs IST

nice story pal .. I aint an Osama fan .. but u gotta to look at both sides of the coin and try to gain some knowledge about Islam as well before commenting on Islam.. and ya STOP LINKING ISLAM AND OSAMA ACTIVITIES .. IF YOU ARE EDUCATED THEN ACT LIKE ONE.. hope u r brainy enough to understand.13 Jul, 2007 0815hrs IST

Very well-written. I agree with what you have written about pesudo-secularism. The sooner it is dealt with, the better.13 Jul, 2007 0459hrs IST