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.


Arun Shourie on Pakistan – Diplomacy or War

OCT 23, 2014
On August 18, 2014, India called off foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan which were scheduled to be held on August 25 in Islamabad. The talks were called off in the wake of Kashmiri separatist leaders being invited to meet Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit. This created lot of buzz in the national as well international media. Arun Shourie in his book “We must have no price” has dedicated an entire chapter to India having only a choice between Diplomacy and War when it came to Pakistan.

Mr. Shourie states that every time there is a change in the leadership in Pakistan the advocated in the Rajya Sabha use the well-tested argument: “Don’t you see, whenever there has been democracy in Pakistan, relations with India have been better? If we don’t reach out, these leaders will weaken. The Army will be back, and relations with India will worsen once again.” He states that India has only two options to deal with Pakistan which are Diplomacy and War. He adds that “I believe the current leadership understands that …”, can’t be the basis of policy with Pakistan as it has been able to use a third option against India for 30 years. The third option being terrorism as Pakistan has built the requisite capacities and we have not.

He further states that Diplomacy for India is going from one capital to the next requesting others to do our work for us. Sadly things don’t end at that for India and as no sane person wants to go to war, the only option India has is dialogue. Pakistan on its part has shown that it will not fulfil the pledge it had made of not allowing the territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, thus India recommences dialogue, confident that the next assault will make us forget the last one.

Mr. Shourie also brings to the notice that the Vajpayee-Musharraf Declaration had carefully chosen the words: Pakistan shall not allow the territory “under its control” to be used for terrorist attacks against India. This was replaced with “its territory” by former PM Manmohan Singh. This he said meant two things – 1. India recognises Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) as Pakistani territory. 2. Pakistan can use POK for terrorist attacks against India.

This Mr. Shourie said was not a case of bad drafting as pointed by the former PM Manmohan Singh but it was the indefensible concession which he has made for Pakistan. He says that this was all done to suit the conductor the US. This he said was because the US was dependent on Pakistan to curb the terrorists along its Afghan border and thus was delivering to Pakistan what our neighbour has not been able to get on its own.

The recent move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggests that he may have taken heed to what the renowned author, politician and the former economist with the World Bank had writren on Pakistan. The Modi government showed that like the past governments his government will not treat meetings between Hurriyat leaders and Pakistani government officials as non-events. Modi government made it clear that what was acceptable to the previous governments including the previous NDA government. This move meant that finally India made it clear to Pakistan that it will respond in appropriate manner if more red lines are breached by Pakistan.

Hindutva and Nationhood

On Vijaya Dashami, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat delivered a speech to mark the founding of the RSS in 1925. The RSS’s role in inculcating ideas of nationhood in the minds of youth for nearly nine decades has been consequential at least in the intellectual domain at the popular level. Bhagwat’s October 3 speech should, therefore, be examined for the assumptions and relevance of ideas he put forth before Indian youth. Ideas influence us as social beings when we listen to or visually imbibe them, whether or not we want to follow them.

Bhagwat noted the RSS’s role in building “a virtuous, strong and organised society”, urged “reconstruction of this great nation” and spoke of India’s rising status: “The entire world is today waiting for this eternal nation to stand up in its own form.” However, the speech leads to questions of ideas and assumptions that suck India into isolationism, teach moral relativism that precludes among Indians a conception of what is good and what must be opposed, and propel a world view that drowns the Indian mind into excessive spirituality that is not grounded, which means that Indian youth are good at writing software but are unable to invent hardware.

One, Bhagwat celebrated Indians who travelled “from Mexico to Siberia” and “without attempting to conquer any empire or without destroying way of life of any society, prayer systems or national identity” shared Indian ethos. It means India’s intellectual thought is caught in relativism in which Indians nurse a value-neutral world view. It also means: Indians going to work in Saudi Arabia will accept its burqa-based value system that subjugates women. The issue is not burqa, but the Indian inability to choose and reject. Bhagwat defined Hindutva as an “unbroken current of national thinking” that “assimilates and accepts all of them with full respect”. Think over: “full respect”.

Two, Bhagwat’s uncritical celebration of “without attempting to conquer” is an intellectual challenge that Indians must reject quickly. It is the reason foreigners invaded India while Indians rarely went beyond borders, barring exceptions. In 2005, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam reflected: “In 3000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. From Alexander onwards, the Greeks, the Turks, the Mughals, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and looted us… Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone.” Add here: Kargil and 26/11. Indians must embrace Kalam’s concern, reject Bhagwat’s indifference.

Three, Bhagwat criticised the Western powers who “want to expand their own empires in the name of establishing peace” and compel other countries to remain “helpless in the name of non-proliferation of (nuclear) weapons”. How history unfolds depends on three inter-dependent factors: process in which everything flows from the past; turning points such as wars after which we leave something irreversibly behind; leaders who proactively shape history. Foreigners cannot create empires if a people are intellectually capable and willing to militarily fight. The West’s rise derives from rational thought, a weakness of Indians, too, preoccupied with spirituality.

Bhagwat spoke in a received language, of the international Left; he blamed the West’s “oil interests” as cause of war, but wars have never taken place for oil. Indians must ask what the RSS leadership thinks about the use of nuclear weapons and India’s nuclear programme—also because Bhagwat dismissed the non-proliferation movement as mere Western politics.

Four, he blamed the Western countries for the rise of jihadists like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, noting that their “selfish interests… is responsible for a new incarnation of terror”. For Indian youth, two questions arise: is selfishness wrong in itself or is it something that fuels individual drive; secondly, is a reductionist view of history’s progress valid in which only the West charts its path, or wouldn’t others do the same if the West didn’t exist? Think about Islamists’ unprovoked invasions of Europe and India.

Five, Indian philosophy nurtures an inward-looking nation. On all international issues, Indian diplomats refrain from taking positions. The philosophical questions raised in this article can also be raised about prime minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the UN authored by diplomats, though Modi’s other speeches in which he takes personal interests do propel India forward. India must grasp a notion of power before claiming the UN Security Council seat. Bhagwat said India has been “the top leader of the world for centuries”. Think if this is a valid statement.

Six, the RSS leader rightly lauded the success of Indian scientists in sending Mangalyaan into the orbit of Mars but this is the result not of the original Indian intellectual thought that he advocated but of Western material sciences. Reproducing wheat is no contribution to human knowledge; the original thinker invented how to grow wheat. Perhaps, Bhagwat spoke from a higher intellectual plane, but his was not a statesman’s speech to propel India into the orbit of great powers in the international state system.

Positively, Bhagwat spoke about the concept of “integral humanism”, advocating an ecologically sustainable lifestyle. Hearteningly, he stepped into the real world when democracy spoke through him. To illustrate, he extolled the election of the Modi government and recognised India’s place in the world: “We have also made the world realise that the common citizen of Bharat takes part in the process of future-building of the nation through execution of her/his democratic responsibilities.” Earlier, Modi was clearer: “We can look in the eye of the world because we are a democracy.”

Insofar as Bhagwat was articulating a conception of India based on Hindutva, it appears Hindutva is intellectually incapable of engineering India’s rise in modern times. Indian youth must shun intellectual streams rooted in Ashoka’s renunciation of war and learn from Kautilya who conceived the Mauryan Empire’s rise. India’s thought leaders, or those who buy Fair & Lovely cream, cannot continue to blame our inferiority complex on foreign invasions, even if correct.


CHENNAI – 600 031
VISIT: http://rsschennai.blogspot.com/

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas on 31st October

Observance of the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas on 31st October

The Government has decided to observe the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as the ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ (National Unity Day) on 31st October every year. This occasion will provide an opportunity to re-affirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity and security of our country.
Saradar Ballav bai Pattel
All the Government Offices, Public Sector Undertakings and other Public Institutions will arrange a pledge taking ceremony to observe the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has been requested to issue suitable instructions that the students of Schools and Colleges may be administered the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas Pledge to motivate them to strive to maintain the unity and integrity of the country.

All Ministries/Departments of the Government of India and all the State Governments/Administrators of all the Union Territories have been requested to organize appropriate programmes on the occasion in a befitting manner, including the ‘Pledge-taking Ceremony’, ‘Run for Unity’ involving people from all sections of society, March-Past in the evening by the Police, the Central Armed Police Forces and other organizations like the National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS), Scouts and Guides, Home Guards etc.

Notes of a Jihadi

Covers of books authored by Maulana Asim Umar. His Dajjal, printed on high-quality paper, has run into eight print editions in Pakistan.
Written by Praveen Swami | Posted: October 19, 2014 12:00 am
Coca-Cola’s bright red logo, splashed across half a page. That’s the image that screams out from the dense exegesis on global jihad that is Maulana Asim Umar’s book Blackwater: The Army of Antichrist. Just below is the logo again, this time as its mirror image. “Look,” writes the cleric who heads al-Qaeda’s branch in the Indian subcontinent, “it reads, ‘Without Muhammad’, and ‘Without Mecca’.”
Maulana Umar’s writing, arguably the largest body of intellectual work by a South Asian jihadist, does not contain exhortations to become suicide bombers, or to behead unbelievers. Instead, it calls for the dismemberment of the modern world itself.
Early on September 4, India time, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had issued a video announcing the formation of a new wing of his terror group, dedicated to waging jihad in the subcontinent. The Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fi’Shibhi al-Qarrat al-Hindiya, or Organisation of The Base of Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent, would be led by Maulana Umar, al-Zawahiri announced.

Last month, The Indian Express was the first to report that Maulana Umar could be an Indian national. He is said to have studied at the famous Dar-ul-Uloom in Deoband — the seminary, however, said its records don’t show him as a student — before emigrating from the country in the late-1990s. As his books show, for Maulana Umar, the Apocalypse is upon us — it is an experienced reality, not a metaphor. In The Third World War and the Dajjal, or Antichrist, he describes omens of the reign of the Devil, a time that he says has crept up on us: “The propaganda during his time would be so ghastly that the truth would be presented as falsehood and the falsehood would be presented as the truth, and this twisted reality broadcast to the entire world.” The Dajjal, Maulana Umar continues, obtains power by obscuring the truth of our condition from us. “This so-called civilised world,” he writes, “is built on lies; so much so that even educated people take these lies to be the truth. Even if entire books were to be written about lies, propounded through the media of the disbelievers, their authors would soon tire”. He notes that the “gravity of the Dajjal’s strife can be realised from the fact that even Prophet Muhammad used to seek refuge from his deceptive ability”. Maulana Umar cites prophecy that the Apocalypse would be preceded by a time when “the sky would rain and the earth yield crops, but neither would benefit the people, who would face drought”. This, he says, is precisely what is happening, as a result of “policies concocted by the Jews”. It is clear that there is an audience for Maulana Umar’s vision of the modern world as deceit: Dajjal, printed on high-quality paper, has run into eight print editions in Pakistan. Pirated reprints are on sale in several Urdu book shops in Delhi. The case for jihad How then ought the believer to address the age of the Dajjal? In an essay in the Summer 2013 issue of the Taliban magazine Azan, Maulana Umar answered that question by laying out his utopian Islamist vision. “My Lord,” he wrote, “has declared that if jihad was not carried out, the earth would be filled with fasaad, meaning that everything would cease to be at its fitrah (natural state).” “There is no fasaad greater than the world being ruled by man-made law instead of Allah’s law! When this happens, the world is filled with fasaad! Even the animals and birds start crying out; the earth stops growing its produce.” The action needed to secure this utopia was jihad, Maulana Umar said: “Whatever system dares to stand against the word of Allah, and whatever way of life is implemented contrary to it, must be destroyed… This earth belongs to Allah, so only Allah’s system will be implemented upon it.” For Umar, democracy is a din, a system of faith, and thus in irreducible opposition to Islam. In Adyan ka Jang (War of Faiths): Islam aur Democracy, he wrote: “Democracy is one of the evils that has had a bad impact on the Muslim nation, replacing the system of Allah with an alternative that gives power to human beings, who are merely the creation of Allah. Democracy is evil and if you want to fight it, you have to destroy its four essential pillars: parliament, judiciary, civil bureaucracy and media.” Ideas such as these are, in fact, rooted in the Islamist intellectual tradition. In 1939, the patriarch of South Asian Islamism, Abul Ala Maududi, argued that the existence of Allah meant “no one has the right to appoint himself ruler of men, (or) to issue orders and prohibitions on his own authority. To acknowledge the personal authority of a human being as the source of commands and prohibitions is tantamount to admitting him as a partner in the power and authority of Allah.” Maududi argued that the pursuit of political power — rather than what he called “a hotchpotch of beliefs, prayers and rituals” — was integral to Islam. “Islam,” he wrote, “is a revolutionary ideology which seeks to alter the social order of the entire world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals.” It was, therefore, imperative for Muslims to “seize the authority of state, for an evil system takes root and flourishes under the patronage of an evil government and a pious cultural order can never be established until the authority of government is wrested from the wicked”. Populist Pamphleteer Maulana Umar’s success has been to make these ideas accessible to a conservative middle-class audience alarmed at the cultural strains imposed by modernity. In Dajjal, he wrote, “the tragedy of all Islamic societies is that they grow watching devilish Christian, Jewish and Hindu media… From childhood, our children are taught to dance to English and Hindi music. In fact, small children who are brothers and sisters are made to act in plays as husband and wife”. It is necessary, Umar wrote, for parents to ask “why they are educating their children in these Christian schools, instead of Islamic schools”. The maulana has been adroit, too, in utilising the religious chauvinism within Islam. He cites an article by Jaish-e-Muhammad propagandist Ismail Sagar blaming a Shi’a soldier for abandoning his post during the Kargil war. He describes Karachi’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement as agent of the Dajjal, for supporting the right of Ahmadis to preach and pray. Finally, there’s paranoic nationalism: Umar claims the US is using the security firm Blackwater to fulfil a secret Jewish agenda to destroy Pakistan, which he claims was authored by the Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion. DIGITAL MASK Experts say there is enough in Maulana Umar’s work to suggest it has been written by an Indian, or by someone who has lived in India for long. All his images online are digitally masked, suggesting, according to experts, a desire to hide — an impulse that is generally missing in the rest of the top jihadist leadership in Pakistan. ASIM UMAR, WHO? On September 4, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a video announcing the formation of the Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fi’Shibhi al-Qarrat al-Hindiya, or Organisation of The Base of Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent, a new wing of his terror group dedicated to waging jihad in the subcontinent. The new wing, he said, would be led by Asim Umar. TERROR CAREER Investigators running checks on Asim Umar’s background have questioned several figures linked to the Islamist movement in India in the 1990s, specifically the now proscribed SIMI. He is believed to have reached Pakistan in the late-1990s, where he joined the Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia, a Karachi seminary, which counts among its alumni Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who headed the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and Fazl-ur-Rehman Khalil, the leader of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. Asim Umar was mentored by Nizamuddin Shamzai, a cleric closely linked to the Taliban. After finishing his studies, Maulana Umar is believed to have joined the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and served at its training camps in PoK, and taught at the Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary in Peshawar. He lived again in Karachi from 2004 to 2006, and wrote a lot of his bestselling jihadi literature. After General Pervez Musharraf stormed Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, run by Umar’s old friend Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the maulana shifted allegiance to al-Qaeda, and established links with Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri. TARGETING INDIA In 2013, Maulana Umar spoke directly to Muslims in India. In an essay in the jihadist magazine Azan, he said: “The global jihad leadership feels justified in asking Indian Muslim scholars and masses as to why the jihad battlefields remain deprived of their blessed presence — especially when history shows that their ancestors always raised the banner of jihad against the enemies of Islam. “The Red Fort in front of the mosque cries tears of blood at your slavery and mass killing at the hands of the Hindus… Is there no mother left in UP who can sing to her sons the songs that would inspire them to decorate the battlefield of Shamli instead of wasting their times in marketplaces, parks and sports fields? Have the inheritors of Shaykh-ul-Hind left out hijrah and jihad from their lives forever? Has the land of Bihar become so barren that it is unable to produce even one jama’ah of the likes of the Mujahideen of Azeemabad? And which Kafir’s evil sight affected the land of Bengal that the eyes of history became weary awaiting another Siraj-ud-Daulah?” FIRST ATTACK Days after it was formed, al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent claimed credit for its first operation: an audacious bid — which was ultimately repelled — to hijack a Pakistani warship at the naval base in Karachi, and to turn the vessel against a US warship in the open seas. According to reports, four men, including one recently-sacked and two serving naval personnel, were killed in an intense firefight on or around the warship, PNS Zulfiqar. In a statement, al-Qaeda said, “The naval officers who died on Saturday in the attack in Karachi were al-Qaeda members. They were trying to attack American marines and their cronies. It was after they read the Quran that they agreed to leave the Pakistan military, which is a crony of the US, and undertake jihad. They were trained in training centres of the Qaidat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, and given a plan to attack (the ship) al-Zulfiqar and take the missiles, with which they were to attack an American carrier


Wednesday, 15 October 2014 | Ashok K Mehta
Prime Minister Modi has given a massive push to India-Nepal relations with his successful visit to the neighbouring country. Now it is for the political leadership in Nepal to build on that momentum
One country in the neighbourhood where the Modi magic has worked dramatically is Nepal. With his marvel of oratory and a few symbolically-choreographed acts in Kathmandu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conquered the hearts and minds of most Nepalis. This near-miracle was reflected late last month by a number of Nepalis I met in Nepalgunj, Dang-Ghorai and Kathmandu.
Nepalgunj was the venue of the Nepal-Bharat Awadh Maitri Samaj conference organised to highlight the problems confronted by residents living astride the India-Nepal open border, against the uptick in relations catalysed by Mr Modi. Reacting to Mr Modi’s Kathmandu visit, Ran Bahadur Shah (Goteh Babu), a veteran of the first revolution in 1950 who helped capture Dang, says, “Seventy five per cent of Nepal’s problems with India are over…the rest will settle…” Laxman Thapa a social activist from Ghorai, living in Kathmandu is completely bowled over Mr Modi. “After Nehru he is India’s tallest leader”. There is no one I met who was not a Modi fan. For someone visiting remote areas of Nepal since 1959, I found the Modi wave unprecedented. Does this mean the long-nurtured anti-India sentiment has evaporated? Not quite — that is why the 75 per cent quantification!

Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae fanned a euphoria at the conference, calling the post-Modi era a period of transformation. He added, “What could not be done in 60 years has been achieved in four months”. He was referring to the Power Trade Agreement, the Power Development Agreement on Upper Karnali bagged by GMR following a global tender involving 11 companies, and the PDA for Pancheswor Dam signed during Mr Modi’s visit. These events and the upswing in India Nepal relations were endorsed by former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who shrewdly acknowledged the fruits of border connectivity: The help given by BJP MP from Balrampur, Ajay Misra, who was present at the conference, in facilitating his election victory.

Mr Rae echoed the point I have always made: That of Nepal’s strategic centrality to the security of the Indian sub-continent; hence its great importance for India. Nepalis have to be frequently reminded of their own country’s geo-strategic primacy due to geography, history, open borders and their sons sacrificing their blood for protection of India’s sovereignty. No other relationship is remotely comparable to what is called in the borderland as roti, beti and khoon ka rishta. Still, there was one sceptic, a seasoned Nepal-watcher at the conference who must go unnamed, who confided: “Six months and the Modi tamasha will be over”. But another expert noted that these dramatic mood-changes and quick gains must be preserved and the momentum of the new-found faith in India backed by commitments turning into reality.
Mr Jagdambika Pal, former Congress leader and now BJP Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh, eulogised the Modi mantra of “finding samadhan for every samasya”. Hridayesh Tripathi and Ishwar Dayal Sharma, both former Nepal Government Ministers and now with the Tarai-Madhesh Loktantrik Party, ably steered the conference that yielded many instructive lessons which BJP MPs from Uttar Pradesh and their counterparts from west Nepal promised to address. The young Sadhvi Savitri Phule, first-time BJP MP from Bahraich, said: “One hears about holes in roads; the Bahraich-Nepalgunj road is a big hole with a road in it”. She promised to set it right in quick time. Other issues discussed were perennials like border connectivity, police, customs, trans-border movement and trade, especially in herbal products, ban on Rs500 and Rs1,000 Indian currency notes, water and flood control measures and hydropower. Many innovative solutions were offered to more effectively regulate cross-border activities.
It is a shame that Nepal, which has the potential of 83,000 MW, of which at least half is commercial, suffers from 12 hours to 14 hours load shedding. It is only now that agreements with India as well as China have materialised. The anti-India Maoist faction — the so-called untransformed and undemocratised Baidya group, among which like every other party, fissures have appeared — was protesting with a bandh last September 23 across Nepal against the power-sharing agreements with India. “They don’t matter any more, having marginalised themselves”, observed Vikas Agarwal, a Nepali businessman and politician from Ghorai. This leads to the larger question: What next in Nepal?
Sadly, the biggest deficit in this high season of post Dashain-Tihar festivities is leadership. After a 10-year drought in New Delhi, Mr Modi was discovered. In Kathmandu, just when you needed someone like GP Koirala, you get a well-meaning, scrupulously honest but a weak Koirala cousin, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. The second attempt at writing the Constitution is going nowhere. Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who was billed as a star speaker at the Nepalgunj conference but didn’t turn up, heads the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee. He announced recently that a Constitution by the promised deadline of January 22, 2015, is not possible — though the Government insists it will be delivered. A Constitution means fresh elections and none of the legislators wants one!

Political stability flowing from a new Constitution over which the country has fought a decade-long civil war, appears a bridge too far. A Modi intervention, strictly by invitation, may be one way out of the current impasse. Many Nepalis have suggested that India broker another landmark peace agreement to help overcome the tricky issues like federalism, form of government, judicial system and election system. New Delhi’s peace agenda has been one of mainstreaming the Maoists and the democratisation of Nepal. In Dang district, Maoists had won all five electoral seats in the 2008 election. In 2013, they lost all to the Nepali Congress. In these areas, and I am told elsewhere too, the byword for corruption regrettably is the transformed Maoists. I asked Mr Naresh Thapa, a political commentator from Ghorai what to make of this. His reply: “Janata le bujhiyo” (people have understood the Maoists). What he did not say was that the transformation of romantic revolutionaries to reasonably honest politicians will take time. While the Constitution will get written and border region problems get resolved the hope of people-first politics is fading away.
All the promises made by Mr Modi in Kathmandu are being delivered. Nepal’s political ruling class keeps signing five and six- point agreements at the drop of a hat without delivering any economic dividend to the people. That is the tragedy of Nepal.