Thursday, February 2, 2012
Why this blog?
As Vice President, Asianet, I had a column in our website. In fact the first to write a column was former diplomat T.P.Srinivasan. Dr.Raji Menon persuaded me to write one too, and I started writing on subjects that interested me, infuriated me, etc. I also wrote on developments in the field of science and technology. Earlier, I had a stint as paid writer of speeches and articles for Indian Roads and Transport Development Association, Mumbai when I had even written speeches for Nani Palkhiwala (Nani never read, but only distributed mine) Some of my friends who liked what I wrote suggested that I should publish the articles in my column, now discontinued. That would have just cost money, I thought. A blog site is where I could upload them for what they are worth. And now that I have nothing meaningful to do, I might as well continue to write what I feel strongly about. I used to write these letters to the editor – sometimes pithy, sometimes longer, and always full of passion. The Indian Express used to publish them all, and in the days when one had to give full postal address, I had my share of hate-mail because some readers cannot take any questioning of their ideology or practices. Asianet website had to remove the response column when some people went on sending abusive mail against my articles particularly the one defending the most indefensible – Coca Cola!
I believe strongly that Hinduism's greatest strength is that it grants other religions the utmost respect. Christianity, on the other hand, holds that if you are not a Christian you will never go to Heaven. (Missionaries travelled to ‘’save’’ heathens.) Islam regards followers of other faiths as being misguided and regards itself as the only true faith. In its conquering days, the vanquished people had a choice between Islam and death. (When Hindus were willing to opt for death, mechanisms as jaziya were introduced to tax those who did not follow the true faith in the realm.) Whenever other religions have not taken arms against Hinduism, they have been co-opted into the Hindu faith. Buddhism may have overshadowed Hinduism centuries ago but now Hinduism recognises the Buddha as an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Most Hindus venerate him as `Bhagwan Buddh' and speak and act as though Buddhism is only a sect of Hinduism. Hinduism has done the same to Jainism. Lord Mahavir is also regarded as a Vishnu avatar today. And today most Jains celebrate Hindu festivals and treat themselves as honorary Hindus. I believe that Indians belonging to different faiths have more in common than against each other. The minuscule minority of Jews live India in peace and complete agreement with the mother society. When their call comes, they leave for their Promised Land.
My view on secularism is an extension of what is said above. “SECULARISM” has been debased from being bedrock of the Indian republic to a catchphrase for vote-bank politics. I believe India is secular and would remain secular as long as the majority community, the Hindus remain secular. I also believe that “secularism” as preached and practiced by the so-called secular, and liberal-Left movements is a political ploy to garner minority votes which generally get them the crucial margins to tip the scales against their opponents whom they brand as “communal”. Those who have a clear conscience, intelligence and intellectual integrity will have to accept this truth and stop shadow-boxing with communalism and fight corruption which is the cancer that corrodes India, and deprives its people, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and , the life and a future they deserve. To drive my point, I invite readers of this column to the following farce: At the recent plenary session of the 126th of the Grand Old Party of Indian politics Sonia and her Rahul appeared to focus on the two biggest evils confronting our nation today: corruption and communalism. The heir apparent described corruption as a "symptom of a closed and opaque economic and political structure (which)... snatches away the common man's opportunity to progress", and called for "severe" and swift punishment for all those found guilty of graft. This at a time when the scams and swindles involved in the Commonwealth Games, the Adarsh housing society, and the auction of the 2G spectrum are making headlines in the national media and Congress=led government at the Centre is making every effort to pull them under the carpet. There are many more huge scams coming with the biggest Plan expenditures coming up. For example, our PM has just realised, as he read a survey report that malnutrition is a huge problem in India, and the allocation that is likely to go in to ameliorate the condition among the poor children is a whopping 20000Crore rupees. I see so many people from politicians, administrators down to NGOs smacking their lips in sweet anticipation of this manna falling amidst them, before the elections, because the EC will find it an essential component of routine governance they have to approve if not applaud. If you want know, in 2011 January, the Union home minister P Chidambaram had told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that there is a "deficit in governance" and revealed that "nearly half the money allocated for roads is not spent on roads." In 2005 the Planning Commission revealed that of every rupee spent on poverty alleviation only 27 paise actually reach the intended beneficiary. 8. In 2010, the Government’s budget was 10,00,00,000 Crores (Rs 10 Lakh Crores) and if the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s analysis of only 15 paise out of every Rupee reaching the people is right, then the leakages was of the order of Rs 8,50,00,000 Crores (of which Raja took 1,76,000 Crores!). And they still tell you “communalism” is the worst problem in this country, not corruption. The bogey of communalism is raised to create politically convenient divisions in the society. Think of it, following the scare created by the politicians aided and abetted by the media, has communalism been brought down, or has it been aggravated since the demolition of the Babari structure in 1992 December?
As an Indian citizen I feel strongly for the territorial integrity of India and cannot love our neighbours who invade, occuppy or covet our land. I cannot love Pakistan or its people who are yet to show any genuine friendly gesture towards India and Indians. (Former Indian Ambassador to Pakistan, G.Parthasarathy had clarified this once without mincing words: |The assassinations of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistani capital, and the reaction in Pakistan to these events, should shake the basic assumptions of Indian liberal elite, about the civil society of Pakistan. The whole world watched in dismay Salmaan Taseer's assassin being showered with flower petals when brought to trial. The prime accused in the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai the LeT operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, is still organising Lashkar operations from his jail cell. He is treated like a VIP in Pakistan.”)
Similarly, I hate the Chinese government run by the Communists. For the people of China I only have utmost sympathy. They are enslaved by an ideological-military apparatus that manages to now provide them bread as well as circus! But I hope eventually the Chinese people will shake off their political yokes and extend friendship towards Indian people. I believe the two cultures are superior and compatible. India and China are historical superpowers that accounted for 70% of world industrial production before the Industrial Revolution. They declined during 300 years of western colonialism, but are now clawing themselves back to their initial high position. As s well-known, Indian bankers and traders in the 17th century were bigger than the East India Company. Remember, Robert Clive thought that Murshidabad, which he entered after the Battle of Plassey, was richer than London in his time! India had the wealth to build huge temples and palaces it’s European contemporaries did not have then. Seen in this light, the decline of India and China in the last 300 years was a temporary blip. Africa and Latin America will find it difficult to replicate the growth spurt in China and India because of very different initial conditions.
I come from an INC (Indian National Congress)family in Kerala which elected a Communist government in the first elections to the state legislature following the State’s formation, and where people now elect in every alternate term a Congress-led coalition government followed by a Communist-led one. Both are shamelessly communal-caste alliances but profess secular ideological convictions! But I hated both these formations as long as I can remember. The last Chief Minister of Kerala whom I respected was Sri.Panampilly Govinda Menon, and that was in spite of his politics. He was a learned man, a great orator, and astute administrator. The only time I didn’t like him was when he joined Mrs.Indira Gandhi but then I has happy that he had a Cabinet berth at the Centre. He died before his time, without making any money, and without bringing his children into politics. I was the first to quit Congress politics in my family, and the reason was that the Nehrus appeared to establish a dynasty of sorts here, and I used the expression in a ‘Composition’ article I wrote in college. A senior lecturer found it appalling and interesting in equal measure, and advised me to be ‘apolitical’. I always thought and I WOULD ASSERT this, that the Nehrus come close to the Indian equivalent of what Constitutional expert Bagehot called English ideal of “a family on the throne”. I cannot digest it. If you remember, the Congress Party had vehemently maintained during the years of Mrs.Indira Gandhi's and Rajiv's rule, that the media's unrelenting criticism and exposure of personal failures of the duo and also the systemic failures eroded rather than fostered public confidence in the democratic polity and destabilized the nation. Yes, indeed the Press then had demystified and delegitimised the rule of the Nehrus. How many of you remember Jim Hacker, the PM in 'Yes Prime Minister' saying: "It cannot be in the national interest to publish something that undermines the confidence in the leader of the nation". This was precisely what the two Supreme Court Judges, Justices M.P.Thakkar and S.Natarajan said in their hilarious report on VP Singh employing foreign investigators Fairfax Group, probe into the financial irregularities of Indian business houses! The inquiry would have spread its tentacles to the Bofors, HDW and many such deals and produced evidence of traitorous people siphoning out money from the country as VP Singh said in his veiled rejoinder to Rajiv Gandhi who had compared him to Mir Jafir and Jai Chand. How important these honourable judges were to the Congress Party and its government was clear when Thakkar Commission inquiring into the Indira Gandhi assassination, had found the ‘needle of suspicion’ turning to R.K.Dhawan, Indira Gandhi’s former confident, P.V.Narsinha Rao appointed him a Minister in the Cabinet and he continues to be a senior functionary of the party! Justice Thakkar had averred that "There are reasonable grounds to suspect the involvement of R.K. Dhawan, the then special assistant to the late PM, in the crime." Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, in 1997 had spoken passionately against the Congress Party touching with a ten-foot pole the DMK accused by Jain Commission of being a party to the conspiracy leading to the assassinate her husband. She swallowed her words later and has been presiding over an alliance at the Centre with the “friends of LTTE” for eight years now. Where is honesty, where is integrity, where is truth in our midst? Sathyameva Jayate is the motto of this country and untruth is strutting about as the prime mover of our government. We have to do something about this sorry state of affairs.