No need for government intervention on conversion: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said the situation in the state on conversion did not warrant any government intervention.Replying to a question on the reconversion of 30 persons belonging to eight families of Scheduled Caste Christians to Hinduism under the auspicious of Vishwa Hindu Parishad near Cheppad in Alappuzha district on Decemebr 21, Chandy said ‘the situation did not warrant a state intervention’.’There is no compulsory recoversion in the state and it will not take place also. If somebody voluntarily takes any decision, what can the government do’, Chandy said during cabinet briefing here.

Mean while,SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Nateshan made a statement that there was nothing wrong in the reconversion of some people to Hinduism during;Ghar wapsi an event organized by VHP. He also asked what was wrong with people return to Hinduism after converting to some other religions. Conversion was a reality from the period of Tipu Sulthan, he said.

Inputs from : mathrubhumi

Right decision on Sanskrit
20 Dec 2014
SIR, In his excellent article, “German vs Sanskrit” (8 December), Arunabha Bagchi did not give his own opinion about the Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani’s fiat on reintroducing Sanskrit as a second language in Central schools or whether Sanskrit should replace German. Such sitting-on-the-fence won’t help address the crucial issue, either way. In West Bengal, teaching and learning of Sanskrit had a long and hallowed tradition in the land of its birth and growth until it was made optional in secondary classes, as a second language. In school, it was difficult to memorise Shabdarupa and Dhaturupa etc, but with a little effort, one could score a ‘letter’ (80 per cent). To serious students, it was a pleasure too, as it was the gateway to the study of the rich Sanskrit literature and as Mr. Bagchi says, ancient Hindu mathematics.
Many Sanskrit scholars occupied high posts in Western universities, pre-eminently Bimal Krishna Motilal who was Spalding Professor in Oxford. Romain Rolland and Max Mueller did pioneering work in ancient Hindu scriptures and other texts through the mastery of Sanskrit; T S Eliot read classic Sanskrit poetry and used bits in ‘The Waste Land’, ‘Four Quartets’ and other poems with great effect. Sometime ago, it was reported that in British schools, Sanskrit grammar was taught in higher primary classes to improve some students’ erratic English grammar.
Apart from seven in India, not less than a staggering 150 universities and institutes, (46 in Canada, USA and Mexico and over 40 in Japan), across the world, now teach and award degrees for studies in Sanskrit; of them the most renowned are the universities of Columbia, Cornell, John Hopkins, Harvard, Ohio, Sao Paolo, California (in Berkeley and Santa Barbara), Chicago, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Texas, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Toronto, Washington, Wisconsin, Yale, Queensland, Sydney, Vienna, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Sorbonne, Lyon, Berlin, Bonn, Heidelberg, Hamburg, Leipzig, Cambridge, Oxford, London, Bologna, Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Leiden, Oslo, Moscow, Stockholm, Lausanne, Zurich, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Oman, Beijing, Tokyo, Kyoto and Mahidol (in Thailand).
Jyoti Basu made Sanskrit an optional second language in 1980 to ring its death knell. Mrs. Irani is doing the right thing by reintroducing Sanskrit in school curricula. If the village tols (Sankrit learning centres), run by local pundits, which are practically defunct, are revived and research and teaching jobs are created in all rungs by the state governments, there will be students to learn this ‘language of the gods’ and thereby restore it to its pristine glory.
Yours, etc., Bibekananda Ray,
Kalyani, 9 December.

Why can’t Muslims convert?
December 12, 2014, 3:55 PM IST Mrutyuanjai Mishra
When the famous Pakistani cricket player-turned-playboy Imran Khan married Jemima Goldsmith in 1995, she converted to Islam. She was brought up as a Jew. She was just one example. In the first decade of the 21st century, more than one lakh people converted to Islam in Great Britain alone. Add to this the figures of other European countries, and you will get an idea of how conversions are becoming very normal, especially among non-Muslims.
But let me ask the difficult question that most people dare not ask in India. How many Muslims from Muslim countries are converting from Islam to another faith? And even those who dare convert are forced to keep it to themselves or escape the country in order to avoid persecution and penalty. In many cases, citizens are awarded some of the harshest punishment for what is considered a human right in most non-Muslim countries of the world.
The problem in India is not that a few dozen Muslims have decided to convert to Hinduism, but the fact that, historically, we have told sweet lies to ourselves and pacified ourselves in order to forget the traumatizing experience of the first Islamic colonization and later the British colonization. Millions of Hindus have been forcibly converted, and the British have forced Indians to sit in third-class compartments while they themselves travelled first class. Winston Churchill thought that we Indians did not deserve to get the life-saving grain, even though he had the powers to redirect the supply to India. It caused the death of millions in the ensuing famine. We have forgotten all that. But they are still facts of India’s historical life.
When Salman Rushdie was in Denmark a few years ago, he was interviewed by a leftist writer, Carsten Jensen. To one of the questions asked about India, Rushdie told a beautiful story of modern-day India. He said that he had researched very well the life of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and his conclusion was that the Indians have told fairy tales and made Bollywood films like Mughal-e-Azam about the life of Akbar. It is not true that Akbar’s wife remained a Hindu or Rajput. No, she converted and that can be proved, but Indians still want to believe that at least one Mughal emperor was wise, secular and interested in promoting the rights of all religious minorities.
No matter how much deeper we poke the ostrich’s nose into the sand, we cannot always avert the desert storm. So it is with some historical facts. We can tell some sweet lies that the Indian history is full of periods when all kinds of kings ruled softly and their subjects enjoyed most of the freedoms that we know of in the modern world. But it is a simple lie. Just as it is a lie that ostriches bury their heads in the sand. We have been told that and we keep telling that to others without thinking of how that poor bird would breathe.
What we should not do, of course, is blame the present-day Muslims for the evils of the past. Nor should we blame the present-day Hindus for the bad arithmetic of the caste system. A few Muslims converting to another faith is no big deal, especially when most of the Muslims of Southeast Asia are simply all converts. It is funny how they still use words like “Bhumiputra”, a Sanskrit word, to justify their demands for more rights in Malaysia.
By confronting the past, we should start making efforts to reconcile our history. The chance we are given at the present historical moment is to make the miracle of secular India work. An India where all are free to convert, marry and divorce. An India where the freedom of religion and conscience is a fundamental pillar whose existence is accepted by all.
But for Hanuman’s sake stop telling lies. Modern-day secularism is an unprecedented moment in our history. Let us cherish it. And let us be thankful that we do not have to live by the brutal standards of the previous centuries.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

A petty feudal at Jama Masjid
The Imams of Mecca, Medina do not possess hereditary rights. They are appointed by the Saudi court. But in Delhi, we have permitted a dynasty to prevail.

When ignorance marries bluster you get a functioning blunderbuss. Every scattershot gun should come with a safety catch, but human behaviour so often becomes vulnerable to the ego of a weak mind.

Muslims claim, with justified pride, that the age of jahilya, or ignorance, ended when the message of Islam came to the Prophet Muhammad in the desert city of Mecca. Regrettably, jihalat still lingers in parts of the Muslim world. It has found a temporary sanctuary in Delhi’s Jama Masjid, the iconic symbol of Indian Islam.

If the bluster of its Imam, Syed Ahmad Bukhari, were nothing more than self-inflicted wounds, it would not matter so much. But Bukhari gets media space, thanks to his position, and thereby affects the wider perception of Indian Muslims. When he claims that he will not invite India’s Prime Minister to his 19-year-old son Shaban Bukhari’s so-called investiture ceremony, but would like Pakistan’s leader to be present, Ahmad Bukhari is guilty of many varieties of stupidity. Indian Muslims relate to their country’s leaders, not to those of a foreign nation. But this is an appropriate moment to ask another question.

Since when has a mosque become, in Islamic doctrine, private property? Who has given the Bukhari family genetic rights over India’s most glorious mosque? Who has allowed him to pocket all the revenue from that institution, and use it for a lifestyle that is anything but pious? The mosque is wakf property, and therefore owned by the Delhi Wakf Board. Bukhari claims a hereditary right to the Imam’s position because an ancestor, sixteen times removed, was made Imam by the emperor who built the mosque, Shah Jehan. That is an illegitimate argument because of both religious practice and a democratic environment. If that principle were applicable, Shah Jehan’s woebegone heirs should send an application for the ruler’s job in Delhi.

A mosque is always owned by the Muslim community for which it was constructed. The first mosque was built by no less a person than the Prophet Muhammad in his adopted city, Medina. This glorious mosque is still a magnet for the faithful, wherever they may reside across the world. Did the Prophet bequeath that mosque to his son-in-law Hazrat Ali and his daughter Bibi Fatima? No. Why have Indian Muslims abandoned the precept established by the Prophet himself?

The two holy mosques are at Mecca, where Muslims go on Haj, and at Medina. For 14 centuries a succession of Caliphs and Sultans has protected these mosques from external threat and internal turmoil.

Every ruler has described himself as only a servant or custodian of the mosques. When the great Ottoman Sultan Selim the First became Caliph, after defeating the Mamelukes, he went to the grand mosque of Alleppo for Friday prayers. The nervous Imam described Selim as an overlord during the sermon. Selim corrected the cleric immediately. He was only a servant, said the Caliph.

The Imams of Mecca and Medina do not possess hereditary rights. They are appointed by an order of the Saudi court, and can be changed in their lifetimes. The selection criterion is familiar: knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah, combined with piety in character. But in Delhi’s Jama Masjid, we have permitted a dynasty to prevail. This is anathema to Islamic practice.

Why? No one really knows. The true answer is the community’s inertia.

There are countless mosques in India’s cities, towns and villages. In each one of them an Imam is chosen by the will of the community, through the mosque community. This principle should be applied to Delhi’s Jama Masjid as well, for, to reiterate, the place of worship belongs to the congregation, not to the person who leads the prayers. It is up to the Muslims of Old Delhi to establish the democratic process through which they elect the mosque committee, and then empower the elected body to choose the Imam for regular terms.

Perhaps it is also time media and politicians stopped catering to the arbitrary whims and fancies of an interloper like Ahmad Bukhari by according him importance. Who, after all, does he represent except himself? Would he ever dare contest an election in his local constituency? We might then find out precisely how much support he has in his own area. We could even test the trust he commands in an even smaller constituency, his congregation. I have little doubt that he would lose.

Institutions must be protected through institutional mechanisms. Bukhari has set himself up as some sort of petty Nawab of Jama Masjid, rather than as an Imam who serves the people. People have been afraid to intervene largely because they do not know how to go about it. The Bukharis have, in effect, acquired squatters’ rights.

It is time that honest Indian Muslims decided who is a good Imam, instead of a devious Imam deciding who is a good Muslim.

OVEMBER 8, 2014
On the 8 November edition of Tehelka, the well-known secular activist Ram Puniyani expressed disapproval of the Sangh’s so-called attempt to ‘hide historical truth’ of untouchability which he states is motivated by their political agenda. His allegation is based on the claims made by RSS leaders that ‘the shudras were never untouchables during the Vedic age, and that the stigma of untouchability entered Hindu society, following the Muslim invasions in the medieval era .’

These statements were made on 22 September during the release of three books penned by BJP spokesman Vijay Sonkar Shastri— “Hindu Charmakar Jati”, “Hindu Khatik Jati” and “Hindu Valmiki Jati”.

Regarding such statements, I already pointed out that the subject of caste must be studied with precision and in-depth research of reliable primary sources.

Mr. Puniyani while alleging the RSS of hiding truths, himself has diligently unveiled his unawareness on the matter as shown in the following extract:

…… the origin of the caste system predates the “Muslim invasion” by many centuries. The Aryans considered themselves superior and called the non-Aryans krshna varnya (dark skinned) and anasa(those with no nose). ……

…..Both the Rig Veda and Manusmriti prohibited the lower castes from coming close to the upper castes. They had to live outside the village. Society was divided into four varnas during the Rig Vedic times and this developed into a rigid caste system by the time ofManusmriti.

Firstly, Mr. Puniyani you do realize that this is 2014 and at least a decade has passed since the cessation of the discredited Aryan/Non-Aryan theory.The fact that you still believe in this Marxist-Colonial absurdity discounts your allegation of the RSS being truth deniers. Now unlike the secularists of your ilk, I place on record these uncomfortable truths beginning with this extract from Dr. BR Ambedkar’s ‘Who Were the Shudras’ :

(1) The Vedas do not know any such race as the Aryan race.

(2) There is no evidence in the Vedas of any invasion of India by the Aryan race and its having conquered the Dasas and Dasyus, supposed to be natives of India.

(3) There is no evidence to show that the distinction between Aryans, Dasas and Dasyus was a racial distinction.

(4) The Vedas do not support the contention that the Aryans were different in colour from the Dasas and Dasyus

…..Enough has been said to show how leaky is the Aryan theory expounded by western scholars….. Yet, the theory has such a hold on the people that what has been said against it may mean no more than scotching it. Like the snake, it must be killed…..In the face of the discovery of new facts, the theory can no longer stand and must be thrown on the scrap heap.

Now many scholars have often argued that many injunctions of the Manusmriti (which is more of a social text than sacred)were often at odds with the Vedas on several important points relating to the so-called caste system.

The reason for this is the fact that there was never a single body of an overarching law which legitimized a uniform legal code for Hindu community, and all smritis acknowledged that actual enforcement of the law was in the hands of the local communities. Lastly, the Hindu tradition has clearly mentioned that the Manusmriti is not to be followed in the Kali Yuga, that is, our age.

As far as regarding the Rg-Veda’s stance on caste, most of the discussions are centered on this verse of Purusha Sukta :

brahmanosya mukhamasit |
bahu raajyanyah krutah||
uroo tadasya yadvaishyah|
padbhyam shudro ajaayata||13||

The Brahmins came from the face, the kshatriyas came from the arms. The vaishyas came from the thighs and the shudras came from the feet.

In this hymn the Cosmic Man is pictured as the human body with the various parts embodying different classes of the society – scholars, kings, businessmen and workers.

But the Purusha Sukta does not stop with origin of the society as it also explains the origin of various other components of the universe:

Chandramaa manaso jaatah|
chakshoossuryo ajaayata||

sheershno dyau samavartata||
padbhyaam bhumirdishashrotraat|
tathaa lokam akalpayan||15||

The moon came from the mind of the Purusha while from his eyes the sun arose. Indra and Fire came from his mouth while the wind emanated from his breath. From the navel of the Purusha sprang the space, heavens arose from his head, the earth from his feet, and directions from his ears.

By extending the same spurious logic that Shudras are inferior because they originate from the feet, all human beings are inferior as well because planet earth also emanated from the cosmic man’s feet. This hymn which led to varna-vyavastha was intended to ensure the harmonious functioning of the society and not to enforce a brutish hierarchy.

And for your information Mr. Puniyani, this is what Babasaheb Ambedkar wrote on Varna in his splendid work Annihilation of Caste:

The principle underlying caste is fundamentally different from the principle underlying Varna. Not only are they fundamentally different but they are also fundamentally opposed. The former is based on worth.…. While I reject the Vedic Varna vyavastha I must admit that the Vedic theory of Varna as interpreted by Swami Dayanand and some others is a sensible and an inoffensive thing. It did not admit birth as a determining factor in fixing the place of an individual in society….Varna is based on the principle of each according to his worth-while Caste is based on the principle of each according to his birth. The two are as distinct as chalk is from cheese. In fact there is an antithesis between the two..

No attack on the RSS is complete without vilifying M S Golwalkar,and Mr. Puniyani does not disappoint us:

MS Golwalkar, a pioneering ideologue of the RSS, defended the caste system in a different way. “If a developed society realises that the existing differences are due to the scientific social structure and that they indicate the different limbs of the social body, the diversity would not be construed as a blemish,” he wrote in an article for theOrganiser in 1952.

How the aforementioned statement defends untouchability is for Mr. Puniyani to explain. But very conveniently, he does not mention this statement also made by Golwalkar:

As the older dried branches fall off a growing tree, to give place to the new ones, the society would shed Varna Vyavastha the existing social structure at one time and give place a new necessary one. This is a natural process of the development of the society. … I have told you once that for the sake of construction of a new house, old house requires to be destroyed.Similarly purturbed social system must be put to an end here and now and should be destroyed root and branch. Going further we should proceed to establish a pure and harmonious society on the basis of pure Nationalism. From Sri Guruji ka Samajik Darshan, 2006.

At the concluding stage of this uninformed piece Mr. Puniyani claims:

BR Ambedkar saw the struggles against the caste system as a ‘revolution’ and the reinforcement of the system as a ‘counter-revolution’. He divided the ‘pre-Muslim’ period into three stages: Brahminism (the Vedic period); Buddhism, connected with the rise of the first Magadh-Maurya State and representing the revolutionary denial of caste inequalities; and ‘Hinduism’, or the counter-revolution that consolidated Brahminical dominance and the caste hierarchy….. The rigidity and cruelty of the caste system and untouchability intensified during the post-Vedic and Gupta period.

It seems that Mr. Puniyani only read the preface and not the contents of Dr. Ambedkar’s Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India. This work of Ambedkar squarely disproves the earlier claims of Puniyani like ‘the Aryan/Non-Aryan theory’ and ‘Vedas prohibiting the lower castes from coming close to the upper castes:

The Shudra was accepted as an Aryan and as late as Kautilya’s Artha Shastra was addressed an Arya. The Shudra was an intergral, natural and valued member of the Aryan Society isproved by a prayer which is found in the Yajur Veda and which is offered by the Sacrificer. It runs as follows: “……… Gods, Give lustre to our holy priests, set lustre in our ruling chiefs, Lustre to Vaisyas, Sudras : Give, through lustre; Lustre unto me.”

It is a remarkable prayer, remarkable because it shows that the Shudra was a member of the Aryan Community and was also a respected member of it.

In the post-Vedic period preceding Manu there was group of the representatives of the people called the Ratnis. The Ratnis played a significant part in the investiture of the King. The Ratnis were so called because they held the Ratna (jewel) which was a symbol of sovereignty. …….It is a significant fact that the Shudra was one of the Ratnis.

Shudras were members of the two political Assemblies of ancient times namely the Janapada and Paura and as a member of this he was entitled to special respect even from a Brahmin. That the Shudra in the Ancient Aryan Society had reached a high political status is indisputable. They could become ministers of State. The Mahabharat bears testimony to this…….

…The system of Chaturvarna of the Pre-Buddhist days was a flexible system and was an open to system. This was because the Varna system had no connection with the marriage system. While Chaturvarna recognized the existence of four different classes, it did not prohibit inter-marriage between them. A male of one Varna could lawfully marry a female of another Varna…..

It is a historical truth that even under Buddhist rule in India, untouchables existed. Buddhism’s stress on asceticism and ahimsa made it condemn certain occupations like hunting, handling corpses, skinning dead animals and so on. The travelogues of the medieval Chinese pilgrim Hieun-Tsangmention how groups associated with the aforesaid occupations like the Nishadas andChandalas resided far from urban centres as they were not supposed to approach the virtuous residents due to the nature of their work.

In Sri Lanka and Japan, Buddhism incorporated itself into the existing socio-political set-up. There is no known case of any Buddhist works opposing the harsh treatment meted out to commoners in these countries by the landlords and the Samurais.

Also an important point to make here would be that rulers of almost all great Indic dynasties originally hailed from the Shudra “caste.” Mr. Puniyani is obviously oblivious of the fact that Hindu nationalists bestow admiration on two outstanding emperors neither of whom belonged to the much-derided upper-caste: Chandragupta Maurya and Shivaji.Chandragupta Maurya is hailed as the one who united ‘Bharatvarsha’ while Shivaji is hailed as the ‘savior of Hindus’ from Mughal tyranny.

And regarding medieval Muslim invasion, this is what Ambedkar stated:

The Muslim invaders, no doubt,came to India singing a hymn of hate against the Hindus. But, they did not merely sing their hymn of hate and go back burning a few temples on the way. That would have been a blessing. They were not content with so negative a result. They did a positive act, namely, to plant the seed of Islam. The growth of this plant is remarkable. It is not a summer sapling. It is as great and as strong as an oke. Its growth is the thickest in Northern India. The successive invasions have deposited their ‘ silt ‘ more there than anywhere else, and have served as watering exercises of devoted gardeners.

Its growth is so thick in Northern India that the remnants of Hindu and Buddhist culture are just shrubs. Even the Sikh axe could not fell this oak. Sikhs, no doubt, became the political masters of Northern India, but they did not gain back Northern India to that spiritual and cultural unity by which it was bound to the rest of India before HsuanTsang. ……..

For long, the self-styled secularists of Puniyani’s camp played hide and seek with the Indian public regarding historical facts but now that they are losing the plot, and with their patronage and ideology gone, accusations of foul play against the RSS are not surprising.

Monday, 27 October 2014 | Balbir Punj
As the Government of West Bengal is seen compromising security, the question for Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh is: How far will he tolerate the alarmingly rising threat to security in the entire region?
The trail of Burdwan blast looks like enveloping the Trinamool Congress like a python’s grip and squeezing the ruling coterie in West Bengal. Three weeks ago, a house owned by the West Bengal ruling party leader was rocked by a blast of a bomb in the making.

When the State police searched the place, a bomb in the making and a few other crumbs were all that were found. The persons who rented that house happened to be from Bangladesh, and what they were doing in that house got the media smelling around. Resultantly, more suspicious have come tumbling out.

The ruling party there seemed to be obfuscating issues and preventing a full-scale probe into the premises. The media revelations made it imperative that the Central agency dealing with terrorism, the National Investigation Agency, take over the probe.

Instead of welcoming such a move, the State’s Chief Minister and the TMC supremo sought to place all sorts of hurdles, quoting the Constitution and the law to prevent such intervention of a legal authority. The Centre had to act with your leave if possible, without it if necessary. The latter alternative got a National Security Guard contingent to enter the blast house.

What the NSG, led to the spot by a local boy, found was not only beyond description; it was a damning evidence of a long-standing Trinamool closing of the eye to jihadis making use of the TMC’s minority magnanimity to turn the place into a virtual factory to make bombs, grenades and other items, with some of them already dispatched to Bangladesh. Day by day the NIA probe exposed more and more the links to a host of jihadi elements both here and in the neighbouring nation.
That only confirmed what the Intelligence Bureau had told the Union Government, which New Delhi duly conveyed to Dhaka: The Islamic orthodoxy in Bangladesh under the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami was teaming up with some elements in that country’s Army to stage a military coupe to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Government and install a pro-jihadi regime.
The India part of the conspiracy was to light bomb fires across this country and try to seize and hold as hostage an Indian leader of great political value. In Bangladesh, pro-Jamaat leaders who had collaborated with the Pakistani Army to terrorise and suppress Bangladeshi leaders in 1970 had all been put behind bars and the trial courts had given death sentences to many of them — though an appeal got them to a lesser sentence of life-terms.

The liberal elements supporting the Hasina Government had got her to return the Constitution to its primal commitment to equality of all religions, had begun demonstrations against this reduction in the sentence on thesejihadi leaders. The warning to the Dhaka Government from New Delhi was timely in this context.
But what happened in Burdwan focuses equally or more on the TMC’s role in the entire affair. The very first question that arises is: Why was the TMC Government trying to block the NIA investigation into the Burdwan blast? The vast amount of bombs, grenades and other items discovered by the NSG team in the very house that the State police had searched the previous day and did not find this incendiary treasure, is enough of an evidence to question the desultory nature of the State police’s search.

Normally this discrepancy between what the State police found and the NSG acting on behalf of NIA found at the same spot later could also be attributed to the State police’s inefficiency. But the fact that the TMC Government sought to block the NIA from getting into this search shifts the finger of suspicion to the TMC’s own role in it.

More evidence has since come in. In another location in a Government land just outside the district headquarters of Birbhum, the NIA has found a terrorist training centre run by the jihadis. After the Burdwan blastoff October 2, all the occupants except one ‘disappeared’.
From these houses, the NIA had seized computers, data cards, and documents related to jihadi teachings. The NIA has revealed that the land that belonged to the Government and had been given to tribals, had been illegally ‘sold’ to the three jihadi trainers, out of whom only one could be apprehended by the agency.
From the Burdwan house to the Birbhum land, everywhere, where the jihadis were training personnel, making bombs and storing them, there is a chain of connections with the TMC.
To be fair to the TMC and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it is possible that all these house-owners and others in her party involved may not have come to her notice at all. And that the Islamist terror groups who misused these areas had got their real purpose in renting/buying these properties, hidden from the actual owners and the TMC cadres.

But this fig leaf falls to the ground when we examine the virulence with which the Chief Minister wanted to keep the NIA and the Union Government out of the probe. Considering Ms Banerjee’s role leading the movement against the Left Front regime — which itself was soft on the Islamist terror groups — and the Muslim orthodox clerics, she should have welcomed the NIA probe.

The TMC cadres are seen involved in facilitating terrorists activities. One does not know how many more Burdwan-like events are flourishing in West Bengal. We know that the Islamist and Muslim orthodox groups have shifted loyalty to the TMC ever since Ms Banerjee’s ascendence in West Bengal politics.

These events are indicators of the jihadi elements getting an upper hand in West Bengal politics, first with the Left Front and now with the TMC. Forget about the packaging and labels , the hard reality is all the ‘secular’ parties end up encouraging radical Islam in their relentless pursuit of Muslim votes.
Among events that strongly support these observations were the riots that shook Kolkata during the Left Front regime on the issue of some waste paper packages unloaded from a ship containing torn pages from the holy book of Islam. The most damning evidence of terror links is the finding of the police investigations into the Saradha chit fund scam.

The Sheikh Hasina Government has been cooperating with New Delhi in tracking down jihadi elements seeking refuge in her country. Its gesture of capturing and returning to India of many of the terror leaders from India, hiding in Bangladesh, is a shining example of a joint effort to curb terrorism.
But as the Government of West Bengal is seen compromising security, the question for Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh is: How far will he tolerate the alarmingly rising threat to security in the entire region?

Why Isro succeeds: It’s not that hard, other government departments must exploit its ABCD formula
October 25, 2014, 12:00 AM IST Kiran Karnik
The outstanding success of Isro’s mission to Mars has deservedly won wide acclaim, both in the country and abroad. Those with deeper knowledge of the challenges and complexities of the effort are even more appreciative of the achievement. The success of programmes like MoM and Chandrayaan (Isro’s Moon mission) generates national pride and widespread praise. However, there are ongoing activities (launch of a navigation satellite a few days ago) in technology development and applications which form the bedrock of the organisation’s achievements.

It is in this context that it is worth reflecting on the basic factors that make Isro so successful. There are certainly lessons here not only for government organisations, but also the private sector.

Success has no guaranteed magic formula but one can seek to glean some major contributory factors. Along these lines, a summarised and simplified Isro recipe can be codified in the acronym ABCD. First, A is for autonomy. While operating within the framework of government rules (Isro is part of department of space similar to any other in government), the Space Commission is a fully empowered body. It has the authority to make all financial and administrative decisions, barring those that are exceptional or of very high financial value. These go to the prime minister. This autonomy coupled with the fact that the PM is the minister of space, ensures there is no interference from politicians or other vested interests.

This structure also helps in keeping out the bureaucracy (the B of the mantra). Isro is managed by professionals, with all functional decisions being made by them. The few bureaucrats within Isro and department of space play an important, but supportive and service role, as opposed to a control function. The fact that the secretary is a space professional is an important element of this.

C is for capital: not of the financial kind, but of the country. It can hardly be a coincidence that the only two government departments which are not headquartered in Delhi (space and atomic energy) are probably the best performing ones by almost any criteria. Arguably, this may also account for the enviable reputation of RBI and SEBI. Being far from politicking, bureaucratic turf battles and power-and-money culture of Delhi clearly helps.

Collaboration is another key element of Isro’s success. Obviously, internal collaboration among various groups and centres within Isro is essential in developing any complex system or programme. The culture of collaboration is nurtured and ensured by structural arrangements, including a matrix management structure. This deepens domain expertise by ensuring that individuals work in and are guided by senior experts in their specialised area.

At the same time, individuals are also accountable to a project manager/director who integrates work across different domains to deliver a project. Equally special is the external collaboration with other government entities (especially for programmes of applications of space technology) and with industry. The long-standing and extremely fruitful interface with corporates — many of which are partners, rather than mere vendors — bodes well for commercial exploitation of India’s space capabilities.

The last alphabet of the acronym is for democracy. Its most valuable form in ISRO’s context is the openness and freedom of speech that is particularly manifest during design reviews, where everyone is equal and young junior engineers are free (and actually encouraged) to argue with their seniors and pick holes in their work.

In a field where there are so many unknowns, with high risk and failure rates globally, the comparatively more successful Isro programme undoubtedly owes a great deal to its rigorous and frank design reviews. They demonstrate the value of scientific temper, where knowledge trumps hierarchy; where not all questions have answers, but all answers can be questioned.

D is also for discussion, dialogue and dedication: all elements of Isro’s work culture.

This somewhat simplistic explanation of Isro’s success could be elaborated, contextualised and added to. For example, vision, motivation and cutting-edge work which provide intellectual challenge can be cited as other key factors. Yet, ABCD may be a formula that other government departments and corporates may well want to emulate.