Returning Sahitya Akademi Award is a PM-bashing snob story which must stop

There’s a small part of India where intellectual snobbery reigns. Books are considered the source of ultimate wisdom. But here’s the thing: great people get books written on them, book-readers don’t necessarily do great things. Amid the current wave of intellectual snobbery sweeping India, many would do well to think about this.

There are not many people in India today who would proudly assert unintellectual credentials or refuse to sing reverential hosannas to those who flaunt bookish haloes. But there exists a vast portion of India that is cocooned from the scorn of writers and their diehard readers.

Does the smarts to run a company or a country stem from the ability to tell a Tagore from a Turgenev, or even a Saraswatichandra from Saratchandra, as a writer sneeringly pondered about our current prime minister? Had that been so, West Bengal with its cache of ‘intellectuals’ would certainly not have been where it is today.

So everyone’s a critic

Sadly, this misplaced reverence for anyone who writes, wins awards — and occasionally returns them decades later — or merely reads, has led to many aberrations. Not the least of which is the continuation of moribund institutions like the Sahitya Akademi, whose internal corruption is masked by the glow of its ‘intellectual’ halo.

Since 1964, a little over a decade after they were set up by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, several high-powered investigating committees looked into the affairs of the Akademis. Yet, their foibles, including scores of questions over selection of annual awardees, invoke no opprobrium.

In 2012, a parliamentary standing committee — headed by no less a bluetickmarked ‘intellectual’ as the CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury — even pronounced that “Akademis…are always mired in one controversy or the other. Our founding fathers gave them autonomy to keep politics away from culture, but politics seems to have crept in from the back door.”

Malfeasance flourishing in the garb of ‘culture’ is obviously a tricky asura to vanquish. Especially when culture —’good’ literature, music, art, etc — is determined by who writes, performs, promotes, befriends or opposes it. But if this astonishingly subjective rule is hijacked by new cabals, it is derided by the older one.

Given their lemming-like solidarity now, this forbearance of writers and readers, and the non-return of awards earlier despite evidence of egregious excesses by the Akademis, is curious. The silence of the bona fide bookish, Oxford-educated previous prime minister is odder still. Or was that a case of (intellectual) unity in adversity?

The current prime minister ‘breaking his silence’ about the Dadri lynching and incidents of cultural intolerance targeting Pakistanis will not stop the return of more cobwebbed plaques — not until the media loses interest, that is. Nor will it quell the fulminations of some writers and their devoted readers, and Twitterverse shadowboxers.

With ‘Better the devil I know than the Hindutward devil I don’t’ as their motto, there will be no stopping this snooty cabal’s frenzied multimedia vituperation as long as the Orange Other stubbornly occupies Centre-stage. All this, of course, even as they paradoxically proclaim the demise of dissent under ‘fascist suit-boots’.

The future will determine whether reading books — or humbly seeking approval and endorsements from their writers and perusers — really matters. And, hopefully, the result of this bout of self-righteous resignations and returns will be a clean-up of the Akademis.


Indian Secularism is Colour Blind

People are angry at the murder of Muhammad Akhlaq in Dadri over allegations that he ate beef. Some say they are angry at Akhlaq’s murder, while others say they are angry at the murder of the cow. Some people are angry at the cancellation of Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s show of 9 October in Mumbai due to the Shiv Sena’s threat, while others are angry at Pakistani actors and singers being invited in India.

In the natural world, animals are made of meat and bones. Humans too, made of bones and meat, are animals. What angers them? Let’s look at their habits and ideas.

It is a bogus claim that we as humans are concerned about life, whether the life be of an animal or of a human being. For example, lots of people who argue that they believe in non-violence are non-vegetarians and eat meat in full awareness that an animal has been murdered.

In purely humanist considerations, the life of an animal cannot be less precious than the life of a human being. Among vegetarians, Jains deserve respect as they strive not to hurt even insects. It does not automatically mean that all Jains are vegetarians and pacifists, or that vegetarians do not murder.

On 23 June, Pakistani police killed a boy after he posed for selfie with a toy gun in Faisalabad, but Pakistani people did not protest. But if a Palestinian child is injured in firing by Israeli police, there are global protests by leftists and journalists file numerous outraged reports.

When the U.S. launched the war in Iraq, there were protests across the world by anti-war activists. When Saudi Arabia launched the current air strikes on Yemen, anti-war activists went to sleep. Pakistani army regularly kills people in Balochistan, but Pakistanis do not rise up. In India, secular journalists who claim they are concerned about human rights do not get angry when victims are Hindu.

Indian secularism is colour-blind.

Secular journalists who are angry at Akhlaq’s killing adopted total silence on a number of murders recently. Last August, army jawan Vedmitra Chaudhury was lynched to death in Hardevnagar, near Meerut, for saving a girl from molesters. In March, a Hindu man was abducted and murdered in Hajipur of Bihar for marrying a Muslim girl. Last June, a man was lynched to death near Eluru in Andhra Pradesh. A mob killed a man in Bhandup West area of Mumbai in June.

Secular journalists’ colour-blindness prevents them from seeing these murders: they do not get angry; they want Muslims to be murdered; only then they speak up. Indian secularism has tasted the Muslim blood.

Indian secularism is not only colour-blind, it is also half-Pakistani.

Secular leader Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, spoke with Ghulam Ali after his show was cancelled and will host him in Delhi. Secular leader Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, organised Ghulam Ali’s show in Lucknow.

But Kejriwal and Akhilesh didn’t invite our own Oscar-winning musician A. R. Rahman when his music show of 13 September in Delhi was cancelled due to a fatwa by the Barelvi group Raza Academy.Secularism does not like Indian Muslim singers; it does not like Indian writers like Salman Rushdie. Mamata Banerjee, another secular leader, supported Ghulam Ali, saying music has no international boundaries but she will not support Taslima Nasreen, the Bangladeshi writer.

Indian secularism is truly Pakistani, not even a quarter-Bangladeshi.

Indian secularism is also counter-nationalist: secular lawyers turned out at midnight before the Supreme Court to save the life of convicted terrorist Yakub Menon but remain silent on death sentences of common Indians.

Secular journalist Nikhil Wagle wrote: “Without secularism, India is a Hindu Pakistan.

Indian secularism is not even Indian: it is incomplete without eating beefIt loves to eat beef because Pakistanis eat beef. It is essentially Pakistani. It aligns with Pakistanis.

In 1947, our people thought that they could give away a piece of India’s territory to buy permanent peace. The secular government of Manmohan Singh came close to conceding a part of Kashmir to Pakistan in talks with General Pervez Musharraf, the architect of arguably the largest jihad in modern times in Kargil.  Indian secularism is without sex, without consummating with Pakistan.

In his landmark book “On War”, German military strategist Carl von Clausewitz observed: “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” The reason Indians do not want Pakistani singers here is because Pakistan is practically in a state of war against India for nearly seven decades.

Through television and social media, common Indians can understand Pakistan’s war by other means. Pakistan has not formally declared a war, but Indians have grasped the obvious fact of our times that we are in a state of war because Pakistan continues to send jihadists into India. Aamir Khan’s movie Sarfarosh showed us that Pakistan sends arms dealers posing as ghazal singers.

Indian secularism is also Islamist.

In 2012, the secular Congress government did not allow Salman Rushdie to speak in Jaipur because secularism is in an incestuous relationship with Islamists. Mamata Banerjee does not support Taslima Nasreen because the West Bengal CM is in league with Islamists in the state.

Kejriwal’s secularism is in open alliance with Islamists. In 2013, Kejriwal visited Bareilly to meet Islamic cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan to seek Muslim votes. Last year, he sent Alka Lamba to meet Imam Bukhari’s brother to seek Muslim votes. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi’s secularism surrendered before Islamic clerics in the Shah Bano case. Indian secularism is incomplete without its ideological cohabitation with Islamists.

On 1 October, secular gossip columnist Shobhaa De tweeted: “I just ate beef. Come and murder me.” The question also is: Will she draw a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad at the Gateway of India?

In a tweet dated 4 October, secular journalist Sagarika Ghose wrote: “Citizens of India, we need a campaign like Je Suis Charlie. Hold your head high and say ‘I am a beef eater’.” The question is: Will secular journalists draw the same cartoon in front of Delhi’s Jamaa Masjid?

The outrage is not about beef or cartoon. Indian youths are concerned over secularism’s double standards; they will support your right to eat beef if you are willing to draw a cartoon, even from your kitchen. The secular NDTV, supported by Aircel, began Save Our Tiger campaign. Why not a Save the Cow campaign?

India is a great nation. Its reality is this: Bollywood actor Aamir Khan makes the movie #PK in which Hindu god Lord Shiva is locked up in a bathroom and threatened, but he cannot make a movie on Prophet Muhammad. This is the imbalance in our national conversation that threatens India’s social cohesion. It is fostered by journalists.

India is witnessing the emergence of fascism from newsrooms, a movement of totalitarian ideas that divides us in order to win. Indian journalists are beaten up by Indians in New York or Dadri for their double standards. On social media, they are being called pimps and presstitutes, bimbos and bazaaru media because they sell their souls for a bungalow or a Rajya Sabha seat.

This secular fascism, in league with Islamic totalitarianism, wins by dividing us, but police must deal ruthlessly with any Indian who takes law into their own hands.

 (A version of this article was published on October 15 by Dainik Jagran, India’s largest Hindi-language newspaper under the title “Secular Qabeeley Ke Log”)

Uniform Civil Code: Supreme Court asks Govt why can’t it be done, tell us your plan

A bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and Shiva Kirti Singh questioned the government about its mandate on framing the Uniform Civil Code so that all religions are regulated by the same yardsticks in matters of law.

Underlining “total confusion” owing to personal laws governing religious practices, the Supreme Court sought to know from the government Monday whether it is willing to bring the Uniform Civil Code in the country. It asked the Solicitor General to seek the government’s view and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks. A bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and Shiva Kirti Singh questioned the government about its mandate on framing the Uniform Civil Code so that unvarying standards are ushered in and all religions are regulated by the same yardsticks in matters of law. “There is total confusion… we should work on the Uniform Civil Code. What happened to it? If you (government) want to do it, then you should do it. Why don’t you frame and implement it,” the bench asked the counsel appearing for the Centre. The bench was hearing a petition, challenging the legal provision that compels Christian couples to wait for at least two years for divorce, whereas this period of separation is one year for other religions.

In previous hearings, the bench had been apprised by the government that it had agreed to consider amending Section 10A (1) of the Divorce Act and the Law Ministry had also initiated a proposal. Christians file for divorce under Section 10A (1) which states that a petition for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent can be presented before a court only after a judicial separation of two years. However, the period of separation is one year in other statutes such as the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act and the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. During the hearing Monday, the bench was displeased that even three months after the last date, the provision had not been amended. “What happened? Why this cannot be done? You should tell us if you want to do it,” the bench said as the government counsel sought some more time. Dissatisfied with the counsel’s response, the bench then sought assistance of Solicitor General of India Ranjit Kumar who was present in court to attend some other matter. It asked Kumar about the government’s position with respect to bringing uniformity in the divorce laws across religions. Kumar said he was not aware of the case and would require some time to go through the papers for properly assisting the bench on the issue as well as to get instructions from the authority concerned regarding the amendment in law. The bench asked the Solicitor General to also seek the government’s views on the Uniform Civil Code and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks. In the last hearing, the court said Section 10A (1) lacked rationale and asked the government why it did not amend the law even after some high courts held it to be violative of Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). While hearing a separate matter in February, a bench led by Justice Sen had asserted: “We have to stamp out religion from civil laws. It is very necessary. There are already too many problems.” The bench was then hearing a PIL by advocate Clarence Pais who wanted the apex court to put its stamp of approval on the decrees of divorce and other such decrees issued by an ecclesiastical court or tribunal. An ecclesiastical court, set up under the Canon Law, is an institution for Catholic Christians. “This cannot be accepted, otherwise every religion will say it has a right to decide various issues as a matter of its personal law. We don’t agree with this at all. It has to be done though a decree of a court,” the court had observed. -

Why Sangh Parivar Must Frequent Nehru Memorial

Surya Prakash

Barring historians, scholars and serious students of modern Indian history who are regular visitors to Teen Murti House and who have a fair idea of what is on offer, everyone else, including the aam aadmi is certain to be utterly confused about the activities of The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) Society that runs the place. The cacophonous debate over the future of this Society and its plans for development have drowned out saner voices and resulted in needless controversies and disinformation with regard to the activities of this institution, which will celebrate its golden jubilee next year. At the heart of this political wrangle is propaganda that the NMML Society’s remit is confined to Nehru, his papers, his thoughts, his family and nothing else. Second, that the key personalities of the so-called Right can have no place in the NMML premises.

Some facts about how this institution was conceived and run over the last 49 years should not only set the record straight but also help the general public wade through the disinformation and get closer to the truth. As decided by its founders, the NMML Society has three main constituents: a Nehru memorial museum; a library on modern India; and a centre for research in modern Indian history. These are the three main functions of the institution. The NMML’s Memorandum of Association mandates the institution to acquire, maintain and preserve papers of nationalist leaders of modern India and other eminent Indians who distinguished themselves in any field. It is also called upon to organise lectures and seminars to encourage the study of modern Indian history. Further, it has the responsibility to maintain a library of books, pamphlets among other things and other materials bearing on the history of modern India, with special reference to the freedom movement. In addition, the society has to institute fellowships and maintain records of non-official organisations and associations.

As the society’s remit covers such a wide range of activities specific to modern Indian history, it has, despite the resistance from some individuals claiming proprietorial rights over the institution, carried on its task as ordained by the society’s founders. Since modern Indian history is central to the institution’s work, the NMML Library has diligently gone about collecting manuscripts, personal papers and published works of individuals and documents pertaining to institutions. Notwithstanding the myopic view, intellectual dishonesty and pressures from leftist academicians and some members of the Nehruvian school, the society has had curators who have remained loyal to the Memorandum of Association. That is why the library boasts of material pertaining to icons of the so-called Right. These include personal papers and letters written by Dr Hedgewar, the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (Guru Golwalkar), who succeeded Hedgewar as Sarsanghchalak of the RSS in 1940 and headed the organisation for over three decades; Dr B S Moonje, who was the President of the Hindu Mahasabhaand; Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and founder of the Jana Sangh.

The institution papers in the possession of the library include that of the All India Hindu Mahasabha. The library has published works of Mr Deendayal Upadhyaya, the co-founder of the Jana Sangh and its chief ideologue. The material available in the library is documented in the publication NMML Manuscripts: An Introduction, brought out by the institution.

Some excerpts from this publication are listed below: The library has 949 letters written by Dr Hedgewar to various individuals in Marathi and English between 1903-37. These documents, which were donated by the Shri Guruji Smriti-Sankalan Samithi, are valuable because of Dr Hedgewar’s political activities during that period, including his participation in the Home Rule campaign in 1918. He organised the volunteer corps at the Nagpur Session of the Congress and was jailed for his involvement in the non-cooperation movement in 1921. He founded the RSS in 1925. Dr Moonje’s papers include his diaries between 1926-36, his correspondence with various personalities prior to 1936 with considerable material on the affairs of the Hindu Mahasabha. Dr Moonje lived with Mahatma Gandhi in Durban, took part in the Home Rule Movement and was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly. He also headed the Hindu Mahasabha.

On Guru Golwalkar, the material available includes his correspondence with Hedgewar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Govinda Menon, Babasaheb Apte and many others. The letters deal chiefly with the activities and organisational work of the RSS. Interestingly, the Golwalkar Papers were handed over to the library by the person in-charge of the RSS office in New Delhi.

The library boasts of a huge collection of papers pertaining to Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, running to 70,000 pages. These papers, which include over 3,000 letters, speeches and writings and press clippings, were gifted to the library by Justice Rama Prasad Mookerjee and Mr Uma Prasad Mookerjee. It has the exchange of correspondence between Dr Mookerjee and Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Sir M Visveswaraya and many others. The library states that a bulk of these papers pertain to the Bengal Legislative Assembly, the Constituent Assembly, Hindu Mahasabha, the Wavell Plan, the partition of Bengal, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, and the formation of the Jana Sangh. It also includes his diaries between 1939-46. These papers are of immense value to students of modern Indian history because of Dr Mookerjee’s extraordinary life and achievements. He became Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University at the age of 33; was Member of the Bengal Legislative Council, the Constituent Assembly and the first Lok Sabha. He was Finance Minister in Bengal and later, the Union Minister for Industry and Supply. He resigned from the Nehru Cabinet over the Nehru-Liaqat Pact in 1950 and went on to launch the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), which in later years became the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Given these facts, the controversy whipped up in some quarters over an exhibition at the NMML outlining the life and work of Deendayal Upadhyaya, seems rather silly. Mr Upadhyaya joined Dr Mookerjee to launch the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, became the party’s first General Secretary and chief ideologue. His mantra of Integral Humanism and his concept of Antyodayais at the core of the policies pursued by India’s largest political party — the BJP — today and his imprint is already there in many socio-economic programmes launched by the Narendra Modi Government at the Centre.

So, the question really is not why the Sangh Parivar is now visible in these precincts. We need to ask why members of this political family stayed away from the NMML all these years when the library had such a wealth of original material on their icons?

The author is chairperson of  Prasar Bharati.


It is strange that the Government of India did not occupy the Gilgit-Baltistan area, despite the opportunity available during the final days of 1947-48 war. Even now, there has been no effort to reach out to the people of this region, who have been subjugated and exploited

A recent video footage shown on television across the globe, has highlighted the atrocities committed by the brutal Pakistani forces on the residents of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. It reminded one of the gory tales of the atrocities committed in the erstwhile east Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

Global community is now evincing a keen interest in this area, its people and their plight. The fact is that the people of this region have been leading a life of subjugation ever since 1947, but received no media coverage that could highlight their miserable plight. The print media occasionally tried to portray their problems, but very little heed was paid by the global community. Even the citizens did not take much notice of the same, despite the fact that the residents of this area were citizens of the Dogra kingdom of Jammu & Kashmir that acceded to the Union of India in October 1947.

During partition, Gilgit and Baltistan were an integral part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. In a treacherous conspiracy, Major WA Brown, a British commander of the Gilgit Scouts, mutinied against the Maharaja of Kashmir and brought the area under illegal administrative control of Pakistan in November 1947, after the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession with India.

Many military historians wonder as to why India did not occupy the area, despite the opportunity available during the final days of the war. After the ceasefire, in 1949, Pakistan, in a master stroke, kept Gilgit, Baltistan, Hunza and Nagar under its direct control, rather than include them in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or the so-called Azad Kashmir.

For reasons unknown, the Government of India, turned a blind eye to this legal and historic blunder by Pakistan. Thus, the people of these areas, mainly Shias, were left at the mercy of the Sunni-dominated Pakistan, which has through a well executed plan, changed the demography of the region.

In 1970, the area was named as ‘northern areas’. The nadir was reached in 1974, when ZA Bhutto scrapped the Citizenship Act, allowing outsiders to freely buy property and settle in the region. Terror camps were also established in the area, much against the wishes of the locals.

Pakistan ever since continues to be the illegal occupier of Gilgit-Baltistan, exploiting its mineral and hydraulic wealth and denying the people, basic human and fundamental rights. There are no legal institutions, no medical facilities and no professional colleges. The revenue generated from tourism and other assets in the area is not utilised for the development of the area/welfare of the local residents.

The Government of India made no effort to reach out to the people of this region. Pakistan, on the other hand, played the religion card to its advantage, by creating hatred against Hindus and India, through the state-controlled media and school textbooks. India was portrayed as an enemy of the Muslims and Islam, and Pakistan as a citadel of Islam.

Reality dawned on the people in 1988, when more than one lakh Pakistani troopers and militants, under the command of then Brigadier Pervez Musharraf, brutally attacked them and subjected them to rape, loot, arson and forced conversion. Former President and former Pakistan Army chief Pervez Musharraf was given the title,‘Butcher of Shias’.

This incident compelled the people there to realise the actualities and have a re-think about their adopted country. They were also chary of joining hands with PoK, fearing Kashmiri domination. They continued to live like slaves and subjugated people. The area also became a victim of terrorism. To compound their miseries, the footfall of Chinese soldiers and natives also increased manifold with the active collaboration of Pakistani establishment.

Chinese investment in the area is illegal since the entire area is disputed. In a brazen contempt of international conventions, Pakistan has also illegally ceded a part of the area to China. Senge Sering, a scholar-activist from the area, has expressed surprise that nobody in India talks about Gilgit-Baltistan and Chinese illegal investments there.

Pakistan uses the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as cannon fodder, to achieve its politico-strategic interests in the region, particularly in Kashmir. In 1998, Gen Musharraf once again was the architect of a meaningless Kargil war, that not only led to the loss of about 4,000 innocent natives, but also to the displacement of hundreds and thousands of people, who till date remain internally displaced and economically deprived.

Pakistan continues to hold hostage the innocent people of the region for its economic and strategic reasons. The status of the area, though disputed, has been kept ambiguous by Pakistan. Through a sham ordinance in 2009, the area was re-designated as Gilgit-Baltistan and made a Province of Pakistan, with its own Governor and Chief Minister, but without representation in Pakistan’s highest decision-making elected body.

It was to be headed by a nominated Governor. Gilgit-Baltistan Council, headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was also formed as a supreme body. The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly, an elected body, has 24 elected and nine nominated members. It has an elected Chief Minister. The arrangement has been termed by the natives as ‘colonial’. Thus, the subjugation, exploitation, discrimination and federal domination continue unabated on the hapless residents of the area.

People there want freedom from the oppressive Pakistan regime. They look up to India and seek its support. New Delhi must provide moral, psychological and financial support to the residents of the area. After all, they are our people living under illegal Pakistani occupation. People-to-people contact and local trade should be encouraged through the opening of trade routes across the Line of Control. India must object to Chinese investments and presence in the area.

Whenever, Pakistan raises the ‘K’ word, it should be sternly reminded that the Kashmir issue is not confined to the Sunni-dominated Valley that comprises 11 per cent of the geographical area of the State and is inhabited by only 22 per cent of its total population, but also other areas and ethnic groups that form the majority in Jammu & Kashmir State, including Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK. The State Subject Act should be restored and the people of Gilgit-Baltistan must have complete control over their land and resources.

(The writer is a retired Army officer and security & strategic affairs analyst)

RSS is in it and outside it: M.G. Vaidya


At 92, M.G. Vaidya has seen it all when it comes to the nine-decade-old history of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—the three bans, isolation, internal conflicts over joining politics, ferment and resurgence, changing power equations with the BJP, and finally the storming to power [of the BJP] with a forceful majority in 2014.

The RSS is “unfolding” and “in bloom,” says the patriarch, former spokesperson and ideologue of the Hindu nationalist organisation. The Hindu met him at his Nagpur residence and spoke on the context of the recent coordination meeting between the top brass of the RSS and the Modi government, attended by the Prime Minister himself.

Has the RSS now truly come out of the shadows? Meetings between the BJP and the RSS leadership are nothing new, even while the party was in power under Vajpayee. But then things were discreet….
The media is coming to know of it now; that such meetings exist…because [top NDA] ministers attended the meeting. Earlier too, they [BJP Ministers] would come. L.K Advani would come. Because Modi has come to power, the media’s attention has shifted to this. Nobody would come to cover these meetings earlier. When I became the first spokesperson, in our first press conference there were only two people (laughs).

There are strong allegations that the country is being run from Nagpur—the remote control of the Narendra Modi government is in Mahal, the RSS headquarters.
(Chuckles) Our remote control is Modi? Or [VHP leaders] Togadia or Ashok Singhal? I am amused by these allegations. How is it possible? Are we experts in different fields? For example, the Adhivakta Parishad (RSS’ lawyers’ cell) runs its own services. What advice can I give it? Because Modi, BJP is in power in centre, the media is engaging in allegations that RSS controls…

But don’t senior RSS leaders and cadre feel more ownership over the government today? The Ministers presented their ‘report cards’ to the RSS…
No such thought can come to my mind. The Prime Minister is a swayamsevak. I am happy. Even if a swayamsevak becomes a collector, I will be happy. As a collector, it is protocol that he will not attend the shakhas. But there is guru dakshina and on particular days he will come and sit in the audience [of the RSS?]. RSS need not progress because of any government help. There are so many [RSS-run] Vidya Bharti schools, but they don’t take any grant from the government (BJP). RSS members can go to any political party.

Are you happy with Prime Minister Modi? Is he working according to the RSS agenda?
That is not required. He needs to work to his ideology. What is the RSS ideology? The Nation; cultural nationalism. He is working well, increasing India’s pride globally. The RSS’ goals, its long-term aspirations cannot be fulfilled just by a political party. They need to prepare their goals in the light of cultural nationalism, which we call ‘Hindu Nation.’

Has RSS-BJP coordination improved over the years?
It is not necessary to have coordination. The method is, there is some person in-charge of so many activities, who need not come to the general secretary or the sarsanghchalak. Now, Ramlal and Ram Madhav (general secretaries) are in the BJP, they are both pracharaks. Do they not know what the RSS wants? Is it necessary for Modi and Amit Shah to come and consult? People say the RSS is guiding BJP. The RSS is ‘in it’ and ‘outside it.’ Does not Modi know what RSS wants? He was a full-time worker for so many years. Is it necessary to guide and direct Ashok Singhal? This coordination meeting happens every year or once in two years. And for the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha meeting, representatives of all these [Sangh Parivar] organisations meet. Those who want to ask them questions on what they did over the year can do so. Yes, there are also special coordination meetings, where activities connected with the masses are discussed. Like the political outfit [BJP] or the VHP, or BMS, or Vidyarthi Parishad. All these will be present at the All-India meeting. Strength of the delegations may vary but all these units are represented. In every outfit, you will have Sangh full-timers.

A senior RSS leader told me that the ‘RSS does not change, only the approach of people towards it changes.’ How has the organisation changed over the years?
It is in vikas [development]. This ‘unfoldment,’ is this not a change? From a bud, you become a flower. It is blooming. Just like ‘Hindu’ is a growing tradition, the RSS is growing. Blooming of the RSS means blooming of the organisation of the entire society.

The spotlight has been on the RSS, ever since it ran a successful campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after Modi came to power. How has the organisation changed after…
[Interrupts] Have you heard any RSS functionary giving a direction to vote for a particular party? What Mohan Bhagwat has said is you are a citizen you should exercise your vote. Do I not know whom I am to vote for?

But isn’t his appeal a direct call to vote for BJP?
Naturally…But have you ever heard of any RSS member persecuted for indiscipline? Never. A foreign correspondent once asked me, ‘what is the secret of discipline in the RSS?’ Because, probably, we don’t have any anti- disciplinary action committee. This does not mean there is no indiscipline. I have seen an RSS swayamsevak contest against another RSS swayamsevak. When this happens, we try to make them understand but the RSS will never persecute them.

If the RSS gives advice to the BJP on matters of policy, national importance and politics, why can’t it openly acknowledge its political role? What’s the harm?
Not necessarily. The political interest is the domain of the political parties. How does the RSS come into the picture? Unless asked for, no advice will be given. RSS is inside it and outside it. It does not watch every item. It watches its own shakhas, own problems, and its own 55,000 seva projects.

The RSS is not open to scrutiny..
We understand the importance of publicity but mere publicity cannot become the cause of your strength. The workers are the real cause of your strength. We don’t invite workers. There is no application form in the RSS. We meet a person and invite him to the shakhas. He takes a pledge. Some do not take a pledge. That’s alright. We work in the open. Every day for one hour we meet… The RSS does not fit into any existing model of institution or organisation. The aim of the RSS has been, after independence, the organisation ‘of’ the ‘entire’ society. It is not an organisation within the society, but ‘of’ the ‘entire’ society.

The RSS has been very quiet on issues such as the Vyapam scam…
Vyapam scam pertains to a State and it is a State function. Is it a national disaster ? For example, if there is a war against another country then RSS will come forward.

What was the most difficult phase in the RSS’ history?
Definitely, the first ban (after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination). Everyone was against the RSS—the janata, sarkar and akhbar [people, government and the press].

RSS Body’s Way of Bridging Past and Present as Vedas Meet Modernity in Science

Richa Sharma

Synergy between the past and the present is on the National Democratic Alliances’s ideological policy agenda. So when in doubt, consult the Vedas. And the Union Government is closely working on the convergence of traditional knowledge with modern science.
Vijnana Bharati, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated body spearheading a movement for Swadeshi sciences, is providing important inputs to the government in shaping up the policy in sectors of science and technology, health, education, environment and engineering among others.
The organisation, which boasts of having nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar and former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) head G Madhavan Nair as patrons and Vijay Bhatkar, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Delhi, as its National President, has held several meetings with Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu, Smriti Irani, Harsh Vardhan, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar in the last one year.
Also known as ‘Vibha’, the organisation claims that its inputs to government are based on scientific evidence well scripted in the Vedas.
Vijnana Bharati’s efforts are already showing results like the inclusion of a session on traditional and ancient sciences in the Indian Science Congress (ISC) earlier this year, a first in many decades.
It has provided important inputs from sciences in the Vedas and how that can be included in modern system of education starting from primary level to engineering colleges.
This is also an effort to get rid of the taboo associated with traditional sciences. It has already collected about 800 research papers on sciences in manuscripts and is also encouraging people to do more research in Vedic sciences.
The organisation has cited examples like Kedarnath and Pashupatinath Temple which survived massive flash floods and earthquake, stating that it was the ancient architectural build that saved them.
The organisation also talks of architectural marvels of famous Ajanta and Elora that protected the caves from the fury of many invaders.
“It is about ancient methods of engineering and architecture. The frame of Pashupatinath Temple is made out of timber, which is even today used in earthquake-resistant designs.
The pillars have been joined together using wooden wedges rather than iron nails, making it earthquake-resistant,” said a member of Vijnana Bharati.
A big event on relevance of traditional Indian sciences is being planned in IIT Delhi on December 4-8 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate it. Renowned scientists from across the world are scheduled to attend the event.

India, Solar Technology, and the Monkey Problem

Richard Martin

In central Karnataka state, 120 miles north of Bangalore, the lush jungle of India’s west coast gives way to dry scrubland. Sunflowers, onions, chilis, and groundnuts grow in parched fields. In scattered, populous villages, concrete buildings alternate with ramshackle thatched huts. Cows nose through the garbage, and wooden carts drawn by horned oxen crowd the streets. Rough brick-producing factories belch black smoke into the air. Much of the scene appears as it did a century ago. But in a walled compound just beyond the town of Challakere sits an installation that could hold one of the keys to India’s energy future.

The project, run by the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (known as IISC), is a test array for concentrated solar power. Rows of shallow parabolic troughs, made of specially coated aluminum, stretch for more than the length of two and a half football fields. Above them are water pipes set to catch sunlight reflected from the troughs. When the project begins operation in a few weeks, the water in the pipes will be heated to 200 °C (392 °F); the hot water will go to a heat exchanger attached to a small turbine that will produce 100 kilowatts of electricity.

A part of the Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States(SERIIUS), this small solar array will be used to test various reflective materials and heat-transfer fluids (including, for instance, molten salt in addition to water) from multiple manufacturers. Dozens of small wireless sensors will collect data and send it via the Internet to a dashboard at IISC, where it can be analyzed and catalogued. The objective, says Praveen Ramamurthy, a professor of materials engineering at IISC, is to find the combinations of components that best suit conditions in India, which under the National Solar Mission of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is poised to become one of the world’s largest solar markets in the next seven years.

The Indian subcontinent, as has often been noted, is a world unto itself, encompassing the rainforests of Assam, the deserts of Rajasthan, and the Himalayan plateaus of Ladakh. Finding solar panels that will stand up to these extreme conditions will be critical to Modi’s goal of building 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022. “Nobody is testing for the aging [of solar equipment] in India,” says Ramamurthy. “We get solar panels, but they’re certified for moderate climates in the U.S. and Europe, and we just adapt.”

India’s solar mission is important not only to India but to the entire world. The world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India is an energy-starved, coal-dependent country, where more than 300 million people, according to official estimates, live without electricity and millions more have only spotty service from the grid. Modi has pledged to create dozens of “ultra mega solar power parks,” of 500 megawatts and above, to feed power to the grid, even as the National Institute for Rural Development embarks on a program to bring rooftop solar panels to thousands of India’s impoverished villages. Piyush Goyal, the minister of power, has said that the government’s energy policies will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 550 million tons. Whether India can industrialize and provide universal electricity access while reining in greenhouse-gas emissions will help determine whether the world can avoid catastrophic climate change.

The Challakere test array will eventually include solar photovoltaic installations, as well as concentrated solar. Ramamurthy’s own research focuses on developing polymers to encapsulate solar panels and seal them against high temperatures and humidity, which tend to rot the adhesives that hold conventional solar panels together. Dust and degradation are also major problems in India. And then there are the monkeys.

Like many places in India, IISC’s leafy Bangalore campus abounds with tribes of monkeys that like to lick the dew off solar panels and chew the electrical cables. Various methods have been tried to drive them off, but so far none have worked, including an ultrasonic monkey repeller that actually seems to attract the primates. “We’ve tried giving them food to lure them away, but they just sit there,” says an exasperated Ramamurthy. “I don’t know what to do.”

While solar PV is expected to provide the majority of solar power generation in India, concentrated solar is also of keen interest, as it can be put to a variety of non-electricity applications. Those brick factories in Karnataka, for instance, are mostly illegal, and they bake the bricks using firewood. That causes deforestation and heavy emissions of carbon dioxide. Using concentrated solar power to bake bricks would be a huge boon to the environment.

In other words, the work being carried out at Challakere will help India, whose energy sector in many ways has progressed little since the 1960s, leapfrog its way to a 21st-century solar industry.

Unspoken Story of Indian Holocaust: UK Remains Silent About Its Atrocities

Ekaterina Blinova

While London has rushed to point the accusing finger at Serbs for the Srebrenica tragedy, the British have apparently forgotten their own shameful history of the genocide of the people of India, Rakesh Krishnan Simha told Sputnik.

While British policy makers are expressing their “righteous” anger over Russia’s decision to veto their resolution on the Srebrenica “genocide” of 1995 discussed by the UN Security Council earlier this month, London should obviously look in the mirror and recall its own colonial past, New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst Rakesh Krishnan Simha told Sputnik.

There is no need to delve deep into history, the analyst noted, referring to the infamous Bengal Famine of 1943-44 that can be classified as the greatest disaster in the subcontinent in the 20th century.

Citing Australian biochemist Dr. Gideon Polya, Rakesh Krishnan Simha underscored that the Bengal Famine was a “manmade holocaust” directly caused by UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s policies.

“Bengal had a bountiful harvest in 1942, but the British started diverting vast quantities of food grain from India to Britain, contributing to a massive food shortage in the areas comprising present-day West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh,” the foreign affairs analyst narrated in his article “Remembering India’s Forgotten Holocaust” in 2014.

Just in a year, the manmade famine had claimed the lives of over 3 million Indians.

“Winston Churchill was just the last of the many murderous despots who presided over India’s fate during the over 200 years of British rule. He said, “I hate Indians. They are beastly people with a beastly religion”,” Rakesh Krishnan Simha told Sputnik.

Can We Classify the Bengal Famine as Genocide? 
Can we classify the Bengal Famine as genocide? Genocide is a systematic killing of a people in great numbers and Churchill intentionally, and with open malice towards Indians, diverted grain from India to Europe, the analyst pointed out. He added that even when desperate pleas came from the administration in Bengal, Churchill refused to dispatch emergency food supplies. The UK prime minister even went so far as to blame Indians for the famine, saying that they “breed like rabbits.”

“When the British representatives in India asked Churchill to stop diverting Indian food grains to Europe and to supply India with wheat from Australia, he replied: “If there is famine in India, then why is Gandhi still alive?”” the analyst remarked bitterly.

The Bengal Famine happened despite India being a food-surplus country with a bumper harvest that year, he stressed. And that had not been the first time when the British rulers facilitated food shortages in India.
Rakesh Krishnan Simha stressed that during over 200 years of British rule, India saw at least two dozen major famines, which collectively killed 60 million people. The journalist added that the figure is based on numbers collated by British officials and economists and in reality it is significantly higher.

The analyst pointed out that during the 1877 famine in India, the only acquire to get some food was to work in the British labor camps. Within those camps, starving Indians received only 16 ounces of rice per day — less than the Jewish inmates of Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp of the Second World War.

One would say that India had faced famines even before the British colonial rule. However, “in the past 2000 years of Indian history, there were very few famine deaths because the Indian rulers ensured the well-being of the people through emergency food supplies and field kitchens,” the journalist underscored.

India’s Forgotten Holocaust 

The history of manmade famines in India under the British rule can be obviously compared to the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War, according to Rakesh Krishnan Simha.

“Hitler’s hatred for Jews led to the Holocaust and Britain’s malice towards Indians caused the deaths of at least 60 million Indians, including three million people during the Bengal Famine. Proportionately, the Bengal Famine was a holocaust on a bigger scale than the Jewish Holocaust. It took Hitler 12 years to murder 6 million Jews, but the British starved at least 3 million Indians to death in a 15 month period from 1943 to 1944. Indian estimates put the toll at 7 million,” the journalist told Sputnik.
Rakesh Krishnan Simha pointed out that Hitler wanted to destroy the entire Jewish population of Europe because of race and religious reasons; furthermore, Hitler saw Jews as competitors in the German economy.

“Hitler also wanted to create Lebensraum in Europe for pure Germans. If you look at the history of English colonialism, they have created their own versions of Lebensraum in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand after the genocide of native populations,” the analyst underscored.

“They [the British] may have wanted to do the same in India. But the British couldn’t replicate armed genocide in India because Indians put up a ferocious counter attack and defeated the British in several wars. So the British may have decided to systematically eradicate Indians through famines. In fact, Churchill’s scorched earth policy was intended to enfeeble the Indian population so the Japanese-armed Indian National Army which was planning to liberate India from the east would not find able bodied men in Bengal,” he elaborated.

Why Does the Story of the Indian Genocide Remain Unspoken?

So, why does the story of the Indian genocide still remain unspoken? Why does the West that has recently rushed to blame Serbs for “genocide” of Bosnian Muslims remains suspiciously silent about its own hideous atrocities?

“First up, why would the US, UK, Spain or France admit at all to genocides they have committed? It is precisely because the scale of their own crimes is so staggering that they quickly latch on to other countries’ internal problems. For instance, after an alleged 100,000 East Timorese were killed by the Indonesians, the West suddenly adopted the role of savior, conscience keeper and protector. It then invaded East Timor and illegally made it an independent country. It did the same in Kosovo,” Rakesh Krishnan Simha elaborated.
“The UK and British immigrants in America wiped out Native Indians by the tens of millions. In Africa, the British massacred Kenyans,” he added.

According to the journalist, considering the scale of the atrocities, the international community should conduct an official investigation into the Indian genocide.

“If the US Congress can condemn the Turkish genocide of Armenians a 100 years ago, then they can also censure Britain for even bigger holocausts in India. For this to happen, private Indian individuals must come forward to demand apology and reparations. There are a number of Indians who remember the holocaust and were affected by it,” the analyst pointed out.
And there is a precedent, he stressed: “Kenya has asked Britain for an apology, and the British have rendered one.”

However, there are a number of obstacles in the way of restoring justice. First of all it is not in the British interests to recognize such a hideous crime. Furthermore, the Indian elite have already established close ties with the British nobilities. Many of them have their children studying in American and British colleges, or have business connections, or have family living in Britain, Rakesh Krishnan Simha noted. Maybe that is why most Indians have no memory of these holocausts because they are not taught in Indian schools, the foreign affairs analyst emphasized.

Hindu Temples and Government Control – Where is Transparency & Accountability ?

How is the Government accountable to you for the Hindu Temples it controls ?

How much do you know of how the Government spends the money you donate to Hindu Temples ?

Namma Devasthana, a group focused on reinstating the Hindu temples as center of social and cultural exchange, held a press conference yesterday addressing the need for transparency and accountability in the temple administration.

Nagarajan of the Temple Worshipper’s Society (Chennai), Advocate Kiran Bettadapur and K Gopinath, Professor IISC addressed the audience.

The writ petition filed by Swami Dayanand Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Peetha in the Supreme Court in 2012 is  significant as it challenges the government legislations  under which Hindu temples are managed. The petition  requests the Supreme Court to null the power of the State to appoint Executive officers, appoint trustees, levy fee on the temples and mismanage temple funds.

Nagarajan highlighted the draconian laws encouraging the government to allocate to itself alone the right to manage temples. The government’s failure to address the audit objections over temple assets and expenditures is a fact that needs to be taken cognizance by the Supreme Court immediately.

Nagarajan also mentioned that Supreme Court needs to clear the duration for which the Executive Officers are appointed in the temples.

Advocate and member of Karnataka State Bar Council Kiran Bettadapur pointed out that the government needs to have a structured route to exit temple administration.

“Temples cannot be indefinitely managed. The government needs to specify an exit policy also.”

Kiran stated the shortcomings in the present temple management scenario:

The temple jewels for example can be sold after permission is granted by the Executive officer, who takes the weight of the ornament and states its value as per temple records. Such practices ultimately lead to the misappropriation of funds by government officials.

To maintain the temples an Architectural Committee is present. It however has only 3 members to look after 35,000 temples which is impossible. Hence threat to the upkeep of temples and temple architecture dating back to centuries.

The government is acting as the judge as well as the jury, as all personnel trusted with temple management are government appointed including auditors and charted accountants, which is against good governance.

RTIs filed against the Karnataka government are not replied to citing reference to other cases where a state government refused to reply to RTIs, strongly indicating lack of transparency.

K Gopinath stated that there has to be a time frame within which the government can enter temple administration, rectify the mistake and exit.

The Karnataka Endowments Department (Muzrai) is endowed with the upkeep of about 35,000 temples. However, the government’s interference in religious affairs under the pretext of being secular has not been justified. To add to the issue, temple funds are transferred to government coffers, and audit fees are levied on the temples as administrative charges.

Voicing his deep concern over the current state of Hindu temples, Kiran Bettadapur said that this could be merely a glimpse into what could be a huge scam, relieving the temples in South India of their wealth, by shrewd malpractice.

Strong audit measures need to be introduced, to keep a check on the wealth and expenditures associated with temples. Regulatory mechanisms not contrary to the secular principles of the constitution need to be urgently invoked.

The Movement to Free Hindu Temples has come a long way since these baby steps last year and earlier this year.  The manner in which the Puri Jagannath Temple Brahma Paribartan was mismanaged is a reminder of how widespread the malaise is. It will however have to assume the scale of a Mass Movement so extraordinary pressure is brought to bear on the Governments and the Courts to address this constitutional assault on Hindu Temples.