Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Saffron Title with Fears

There is an uproar on the Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram's remarks in a meeting with police officers in India. Mr. Chidambaram expressed his concerns about a phenomenon called "saffron terror". The use of this phrase is understood to suggest something more than the colour of terrorists. The home minister was certainly not talking about a code worded plot of terrorists. He was referring to a concept as understood by him and others who might be agreeing to his approach to handling law and order in our country. 

It is not an easy situation after these remarks.

The home minister of a country like India is a very powerful person. The police officers present there in that meeting also wield a huge amount of power.

It is likely that many people would now start packing their baggages with more care when they leave for out-of-station visits. In case the baggage is checked and a saffron dress is found by the police officer on duty, it might be construed to be indicating to the same phenomenon that the honourable home minister mentioned.

And what if there is a religious book in the baggage? Most of the religious books published for majority community carry a cloth cover which is also saffron. What should be the plan of action in such a situation?

Then there is a problem with spiritual discourses too. The majority community preachers come dressed in saffron. Are we supposed to attend such spiritual discourses in future or we should avoid them till the preachers change the colour of their dress? After all, post the instructions and guidelines from the home minister, the saffron colour clothed spiritual preachers might be subject of police investigations and all those who attend such discourses could be called to the police station for extended inquiries!

Where all is the colour saffron used? It is present in our national flag too. We have so much pride in our national flag and the saffron, white and green colours on our flag have meanings that are unquestionable.

During the festival of colours - HOLI - we might have a problem if the law enforcement agencies doubt our motive in using saffron colour. One should be cautious there.

And yes, very important, in the drawing classes that our kids attend to in their schools, we must be watchful whether the teacher is more focussed on saffron colour. We must regularly scrutinize the drawing books when kids come back from schools and look for any signs of this saffron phenomenon.

This is becoming a serious and daunting task Mr. Home Minster. The implications are huge.

The majority community in India might be in need for a major change at cultural, traditional and spiritual levels if this wave of thought catches momentum. But we have no choice after your remarks Sir. You are too powerful to be questioned about the propriety of your remarks! We are just a speck of dust in front of your powers and the forces.

But we are committed to work on nation buliding and we are hopeful that you would allow us to participate in spite of our seemingly doubtful background after your meaningful remarks as we have so much association with this single colour - Saffron.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kashmir - For Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, ...for All Indians

The separatist thought that Kashmir belongs to them is flawed when judged on parameters of natural justice and historical perspective. Kashmir has remained part of greater definition of India since ages. Emperor Ashoka included Kashmir as part of his larger empire during his reign. Kashmir was a Hindu majority area till 1349 A.D. when Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir (1).

The above is important to note as by no arguments it can be claimed, as separatists try to explain, that Kashmir is a separate entity as a region and belongs to them only. Whole of India shares a great cultural, emotional, and national bond with Kashmir and we will not allow separatist demands to succeed. India is a democratic country and Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and all others have a right to live here and all have a duty to protect the unity and integrity of India.

We as Indians strongly oppose the idea of Autonomy to Kashmir and submit to the Government of India not to accept such demands of the separatists.

The hammer of autonomy will not throw separatists out of Kashmir, it would rather push the nail of separatism deeper into the Kashmir valley. The Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh must give attention to this issue and adopt an approach of integration of Kashmir through constitutional amendments. We in India are keen to embrace our Kasmiri fellow citizens in the mainstream with all love and affection!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let Me Reply Mr. M. F. Husain

The literary expressions abound in similes and the visual expressions of thought abound in images.

These expressions of art need to be creative with responsibility.

Nature is creative and is responsible too. When Mr. M. F. Husain painted, India thought he was painting as an Indian with a mature background of the ethos of tolerance and coexistence. He erred though, and took liberties in being creative with nudity of Goddesses of the majority community while teaching them lessons in tolerance and with the expectations of high monetary value of such controversial works. He certainly did not dare to do so to the faith that he himself followed. The things went out of hand and the result is that he feels sad that others could not tolerate such expressions of art. Mr. M. F. Husain could not hear the mourns of lakhs of Kashmiris (he would perhaps prefer to call them as Kashmiri Pandits or only Pandits rather) being forced out of their lands and he did not wish to paint the painful plight of those helpless Kashmiri kids who did not pelt stones, the Kashmiri women who did not beat the chests, the Kashmiri men who did not revolt...there was no one to listen to them, they were being asked to leave their own homes in Kashmir or else convert to Islam. The other option was death. Mr. M. F. Husain rather chose to enjoy the high price being offered to him for his paintings in India.

Now here are a set of people in Kashmir, wanting to take away a part of India by claiming it exclusively belonging to them and for achieving that purpose, they choose to take shelter behind children and women. These separatists indoctrinate young minds and influence the women for years and years with the help of cross border support. The seeds have been poisoned and the harvest is spoilt. Mr. M. F. Husain, you need to see this with a larger perspective and realize for yourself why the kids would pick stones...!!!

The need is to not to blame India itself, the need is that we must understand that the lessons of tolerance and coexistence are not for one community alone, they are for all and in this process we all have to join hands rather than fight for separation, because, fighting for separation will result in a counter fight for integration, and one may like it or not, the fights are always painful.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Militants in Kashmir issue Threats to Sikhs living there to either Convert to Islam or Leave the Valley

The inevitable has manifested. The last bastion of false hope has been destroyed. The ugly face of separatist politics of Kashmir is naked in front of us.

The militants in Kashmir have decided to hit at the last set of people other than those who follow Islam. Will ordinary citizens of India still sit silent and wait for the Government to act? Do we really believe that the Government would act without a pressure from the citizens of this country? I think the time has come that the battle has to be fought by every citizen of this country who believes that Kashmir belongs to us and we will not allow the separatists to take it away by force, coercion or whatever other means that they might adopt.

This is no simple threat. It is a challenge to the very concept of India.

This threat means that Islamic fundamentalist forces intend to take away entire India peice by piece. They want to convert whole of India step by step because they cannot devour the whole of it in a single go. They are on the job while we sit watching soap operas in front of our TV sets thinking that the problem is too far away.

Problem is not too far away. It is creeping towards all of us, step by step, and the days are not far off when it will knock right at our own doors. We need to create awareness. We need to mobilize mass movement. We need to be there by the side of our bretherens in Kashmir valley. We need to communicate to all concerned that if this is not handled with a tough hand and integrity of India remains at stake the same way as it is today, then, the patriots of India would be left with no option but to give a call for "Kashmir Chalo - March to Kashmir" and they would create a new Kashmir where the writ is run by Indians and not by the separatists. I'm sure the call would be answered by all those who believe in India - Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and all the rest.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Red Fort Address of the Prime Minister - Aug 15, 2010... "...We also consider it our duty to protect the minorities..."

The Independence Day speech of our respected Prime Minister is a valuable indicator of the policies of the Government and highlights what the political party in power considers paramount in its opinion.

We are a secular country and a democracy too. Our constitution provides the philosophical framework and executive and judicial mechanism to protect the rights of the citizens of our country in general.

Article 30 of the Constitution provides that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Apart from this there is no significant constitutional provision in my knowledge that delineates specific approach to minority protection. However, it must be due to some very important reasons that our honourable Prime Minister has chosen to state so on an Independence Day speech.

I, after due thought have a request to make to the leaders of our country. In the light of this resolve on the part of the PM, kindly take up the issue of the minorities in Kashmir, i.e. the Kashmiri Pandits. The reason why the separatists have become so bold in demanding separation form India is this: our government could not protect the right of Kashmiri Pandits to live with peace in the ancestoral homes in the Kashmir Valley.

The Kashmiri Pandits indeed are a minority in Kashmir. They were inhabitants in Kashmir for ages and were forced to leave when terrorists threatened them with dire consequences and violence erupted in the valley with their homes and property burnt. They need protection and safe passage back to the valley and an atmosphere needs to be created to generate trust amongst them. I hope the Government of India (GOI) would work in the true spirit of secularism and take care of the sad plight of Kashmiri Pandits who have become homeless because of terrorist violence.

Once this crucial step towards normalcy of situation in Kashmir is taken up, the separatist forces would be forced to reconcile with the fact that the GOI is serious about ensuring the rights of its people irrespective of religion, and is particularly conscious about protecting the minorities, even if it is in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

I hope our honourable Prime Minister would pay heed to this logical corollary of his speech on August 15, 2010 from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Proposal for Autonomy to Kasmir

My fellow Indians, the idea of Autonomy for Kashmir has generated deep anguish in my heart and I believe there would be hundreds of millions of Indians sharing this feeling. This idea is fraught with danger to Indian nationhood and the situation demands active attention of all those who care for this land of ours.

This proposal will take India towards one more partition. Such proposals are filled with false notion of grandness in the minds of the rulers of the day and are the result of the misconception that if one is unable to handle a situation one can give away a part of our country.

I'll express my opinion on this subject through this forum and I appeal to all of you to mobilize opinion, generate resources and create alliances to oppose this proposal.

Let us fight this out this time before this wrong decision harms our beloved country.