Daily Archives: October 8, 2013
National song, national anthem and more-I
Monday, 18 January, 2010 , 04:54 PM It is now ‘very clear’ that the singing of the National Anthem will be offi cially avoided at all Government of India functions in which our Prime Minister is going to participate. Our Prime Minister had recently gone to Thiruvananthapuram to participate in the inaugural session of the 97th Indian Science Congress. The local organisers had planned and rehearsed the National Anthem for the Science Congress. However, the Government of India officials who had come to review security and other arrangements the previous day, ‘clipped the National Anthem from the order of events’, CITING A DIRECTIVE from the ever-neutral Prime Minister’s Office.
Rabindranath Tagore Bankim Chandra Chaterjee
(1861 – 1941) (1838 – 1894)
It is a matter of National shame and dishonour to know the background for this decision. It seems that such a fateful decision was taken as there were instances when the audience did not pay full respect to the National Anthem by either refusing to stand up or stand in attention when it was played. It was following such reports that it was decided to exclude the National Anthem from the PM’s public functions rather than play it and allowing it to be insulted under officially uncontrollable situations.
P Parameswaran who is the President of Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee, Kanyakumariand Director of Bharateeya Vichara Kendram, Thiruvananthapuram has given me shocking news to the fact that Shashi Tharoor, Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram and Union Minister of State for External Affairs delivered a speech at a public function in the CSI Church premises in Thiruvananthapuram in November 2009 in which he had stated that the singing of Vande Matharam, the Officially approved National Song of India, is purely a matter of personal choice, to be left to the sweet will and pleasure of the person concerned. The same view was also taken by the Union Minister Arjun Singh in 2006. Decided only to be undecided, resolved only to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity only to be politically impotent, such a Prime Minister officially avoided the National Anthem at the Science Congress held in the first week of January 2010 at Thiruvananthapuram. The Union Minister of State Shashi Tharoor officially exhorted the people present at a public function at Thiruvananthapuram to keep in mind the fact that the singing of Vande Mataram — the National Song — is a purely voluntary, optional affair, totally subject to the whims and caprices of individual citizens, rather than a sacred, patriotic and emotionally stirring national duty! We can see from the postures of our Prime Minister towards our National Anthem and of Shashi Tharoor to the singing ofVande Mataram that the UPA government is steeped in self-chosen conceptual confusion on all vital national issues which have been settled once for all by the Founding Fathers of our Constitution.
Dr Rajendra Prasad, while presiding over the Constituent Assembly on 24 January, 1950, made the following statement which was also adopted as the basis for the final decision on the issue: ‘The composition consisting of words and music known as JANA GANA MANA is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations as the Government may authorise as occasion arises, and the song VANDE MATARAM, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honored equally with Jana Gana Mana and SHALL HAVE EQUAL STATUS WITH IT. (Applause) I hope this will satisfy members.’ (Constituent Assembly of India, Vol. XII, 24-1-1950)’
Even before our Prime Minister had officially chosen to ignore the National Anthem at Thiruvananthapuram in January 2010, Shashi Tharoor, MP and Union Minister of State for External Affairs had officially prepared the ground in November 2009 when he told an audience at Thiruvananthapuram that the singing of Vande Mataram — the National Song — is purely optional. P Parameswaran sent a letter to Shashi Tharoor on 17-11-2009. Portions of it are worth quoting in the larger public and national interests: ‘
Respected Shashi Tharoor,Namaskar ‘Mathrubhumi’ the popular Malayalam daily dated 16-11-2009, carried prominently a news item with the title ‘Vande Matharam need not be sung’. It was part of the speech, which you delivered at a gathering in the premises of the CSI church, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram. You are reported to have stated that singing of Vande Matharam is purely a matter of personal choice, left to the sweet will and pleasure of the person concerned. At first I was literally shocked and could hardly believe that the MP representing this enlightened capital city of Kerala could have made such a statement. I made enquires and got confirmed that it was a verbatim report of the speech you made at the church premises. I am also told that it was a suo motto statement without any provocation or to clarify any point and therefore quiet unwarranted. It has no justification what so ever. Our constitution is very clear on the point that Vande Matharam is our National song having equal status with our National Anthem. Therefore it goes without saying that every citizen is supposed to pay due respect by singing it without any reservation. I understand that of late there have been some negative voices regarding singing Vande Matharam among some communal circles. But that is not a justification for a Congress MP and a Central Minister to come out with a public statement endorsing such sentiments, which lowers the status and dignity of Vande Matharam. On the other hand I sincerely feel that it was your duty to create a congenial atmosphere in favour of Vande Matharam by using your good will and also your authority. You have done just the opposite.
Any student of India‘s freedom movement knows pretty well the historic role played by Vande Matharam. In the year 1905, Lord Curson, the then Viceroy of India, made a declaration partitioning Bengal into West Bengal and East Bengal, basically on communal (Hindu and Muslim )consideration. The entire Bengal rose up against the partition. There was an upsurge of nationalist feeling, which engulfed, not only Bengal, but the whole of India . It was the song Vande Matharam, publicly led by great men like Ravindra Natha Tagore which inspired the people to fight against the colonial dictate. Many of them laid down their lives singing this patriotic song. Ultimately the haughty Viceroy had to eat the humble pie and withdraw the declaration of partition. …’ After freedom and adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of India , which gave equal status to both Janaganamana and Vande Matharam, the demand now is being made from religious obscurantists to give up the great song , which expresses the spirit and soul of Bharat in toto. I am sure, any sign of weakness and any further compromise on this is bound to lead, to further weakening of the national fabric and accentuate dangerous divisive forces. It will be suicidal for India. It is against this historical background, that I make bold to say that your public statement on Vande Matharam is nothing short of denigrating this symbol of nationalism and also questioning the validity of the relevant constitutional provision. As a Central minister, who has taken the oath promising to defend the constitution of the country, it is my firm view that you have acted against the spirit of the constitution and your own solemn oath. …
I WISH AND HOPE THAT YOU WILL MAKE A PUBLIC STATEMENT EXPRESSING YOUR REGRETS FOR THIS UNWARRANTED AND OBJECTIONABLE STATEMENT.’ The Union Minister has not even bothered to send a reply to Parameswaran, one of the senior most and respected Hindu leaders in Kerala today.
Taking note of this attitude of this Union Minister,Parameswaran wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India on 10 December 2009 inviting his attention to the conduct of Shashi Tharoor. I am quoting below the relevant excerpts from this letter: ’
This is to invite your kind attention to a serious lapse, bordering on the violation of the ministerial oath, taken by Shri. Shasi Tharoor, Hon ble Minister for State, External Affairs, in a public speech organized by the Church of South India, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 15/11/2009. The Hon‘ble Minister made a suo motto statement. ‘… The national song, like the national sport, is optional. Sing it out of respect for the mother land. Do not sing it if you do not want to. No one forces you’ (Times of India). Such a statement is derogatory and denigrating Vande Mataram which has been accorded equal status with ‘Janaganamana’, our National Anthem.” As a post script (PS) his letter to the PM, Parameswaran also added that: ‘It is extremely regrettable, and throws very bad light on the minister, that even though I had written a personal letter (copy enclosed) to him about the matter on 17/11/2009, he has not yet shown the elementary courtesy of even acknowledging the same. A member of Parliament is expected to behave better and be more responsible to public institutions and personalities.’ Shashi Tharoor, the Union Minister cavalierly trampled upon the soul of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee with pseudo-secular enthusiasm at Thiruvananthapuram in November 2009 by saying that the singing of Vande Mataram is purely voluntary and optional.
A month later in January 2010, the ‘Minority First’ Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh tortured the soul of Rabindranath Tagore at the Indian Science Congress by officially by-passing the National Anthem. Thus the UPA has outraged the modesty of Bharat Mata.
(To be continued) (The writer is a retired IAS officer) e-mail the writer at email@example.com
National song, national anthem and more-II
Tuesday, 19 January, 2010 , 03:36 PM In these columns yesterday, (Monday, 18-1-2010), I had narrated the shameful story of how the Union Minister of State for External Affairs hashi Tharoor showed his contempt for Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s “heathenish and paganish” National Song ‘Vande Mataram’. Lest Tharoor should shine in solitary splendour, our ‘neutral’ between Neutrals Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh outclassed him within 50 days by dropping the singing of National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ by Rabindranath Tagore at the official function of the Indian Science Congress held in Thiruvananthapuram in the first week of January 2010. This diktat from the PMO runs counter to long-established tradition of Official Protocol regarding the playing of National Anthem at functions attended by the Prime Minister or the President of India.
When the Muslim clerics in India today dismiss the sacred National Song of Vande Mataram with scorn and contempt, we should not forget the fact that their spiritual and cultural progenitor in this sordid drama was Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar (1878-1931) who was the most important Muslim leader in the days of the Khillafat Movement immediately after World War I. Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar paid his Islamic tribute to Maha-KafirMahatma Gandhi in these immortal words: “However pure Gandhiji’s character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character. Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mahatma Gandhi”. All this he said in 1921. It has to be borne in mind that Mahatma Gandhi was the President of the Khilafat Movement at that time.
Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar who had thus politically stabbed Mahatma Gandhi in the back even in the days of the Khillafat Movement was given the supreme honour of presiding over the Kakinada Session of the Congress in 1923. It was in that Session THAT THE FIRST ISLAMIC BLOW WAS STRUCK AT THE NATIONAL SONG OF INDIA, ‘VANDE MATARAM’ BY THE CONGRESS PRESIDENT MAULANA MOHAMMAD ALI JAUHAR HIMSELF. During those years, (particularly from 1917 to 1922) the reputed singer and patriot Vishnu Digambar Paluskar of Maharashtra used to sway the inaugural session of Congress with his deep and resonant singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ song.However, when Paluskar came on the dais to sing at the Kakinada Session in 1923, he was stopped by the President Maulana Mohammed Ali. The Maulana exclaimed that singing of music was taboo in Islam and as such he would not permit it. The entire Assembly was stunned; everyone, including the top leaders and stalwarts adorning the dais like Mahatma Gandhi, Madan Mohan Malaviya, and others sat dumbstruck, unable to think of a proper reply or retort to the Congress President. Paluskar, however stuck to his post of duty. In a voice filled with righteous indignation he retorted to the Maulana: ‘The Indian National Congress is not the monopoly of any one particular sect nor is this place a mosque, where singing could be prohibited. You have therefore no authority to prevent me from singing VANDE MATARAM. Moreover, if singing in this place is against your particular religion, HOW IS IT YOU COULD TOLERATE MUSIC IN YOUR PRESIDENTIAL PROCESSION?’
This infamous tradition established by Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar in 1923 was continued by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Party and this tradition continues even today. The next stage in the strenuous and tortured story of ‘Vande Mataram’ was reached in 1937 when Congress Party formed the Government in seven Provinces under the Government of India Act of 1935. In keeping with its past tradition, the Congress Party began commencing the Provincial Assembly proceedings with the singing of VANDE MATARAM. The Muslim League, equally true to its separatist Maulana tradition declared war against it. The League Members in the various Provincial Legislative Assemblies raised a storm of protest and staged walk-outs. The Muslim League conducted its session earlier and denounced Congress-ruled States as ‘HINDU STATES’. And the weightiest testimony it adduced was the singing of the VANDE MATARAM in the PROVINCIAL Assemblies!!
The Muslim League condemned the Congress for imposing ‘VANDE MATARAM as the national anthem upon the country’ and termed it as ‘callous, positively anti-Islamic, idolatrous in its inspiration and ideas, and definitely subversive of the growth of genuine nationalism in India’. The MUSLIM LEAGUE further called upon ‘MUSLIM MEMBERS OF VARIOUS LEGISLATURES AND PUBLIC BODIES IN THE COUNTRY NOT TO ASSOCIATE THEMSELVES IN ANY MANNER WITH THIS HIGHLY OBJECTIONABLE SONG’. H V Sheshadri has brilliantly summed up the ideological surrender of the Congress party to the machinations of the Muslim League in 1937: ‘When the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met a few days later, it was haunted by the spectre of the Muslim League’s opposition and formulated ITS POLICY ON ‘MINORITY RIGHTS’. If HINDU-MUSLIM unity “without which the British would not part with power” was to be achieved, the Muslims should not, AT ANY COST(of course only to the Hindus of India!!), be allowed to feel displeased. Their sentiments should never be injured, for whatever reason. Accordingly, the Congress decided to ‘cut out’ those portions of ‘Vande Mataram‘ which were likely to offend the Muslim susceptibilities as indicated in the Muslim League’s resolution. Only the first two stanzas of the song depicting the physical picture of the motherland-were retained and the rest ‘dropped’. INDEED, IT WAS IN THOSE SUBSEQUENT STANZAS THAT THE REAL ESSENCE OF OUR NATIONALISM AND THE SPIRIT OF THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE WERE ENSHRINED.”
I have carefully scrutinized the pro-Islamic and patently anti-Hindu 1937 Congress Working Committee Resolution on ‘Bande Mataram’. I am quoting below the relevant excerpts from that Resolution to prove my point:
“A controversy having recently arisen about the Bande Mataram song, the Working Committee desire to explain the significance of this song. … During the past thirty years, innumerable instances of sacrifices and suffering all over the country have been associated with “Bande Mataram” and men and women have not hesitated to face death even with that cry on their lips. The song and the words thus became symbols of national resistance to British imperialism in Bengal especially and generally in other parts of India. The words “Bande Mataram” became a slogan of power which inspired our people, and a greeting which ever reminds us of our struggle for national freedom.” “Gradually the use of the song spread to other provinces and a certain national significance began to attach to them. The rest of the song was very seldom used and is even now known by few persons. These two stanzas described in tender language the beauty of the motherland and the abundance of her gifts. There was absolutely nothing in them to which objections could be taken from the religious or other point of view. The song was never sung as a challenge to any group or community in India and was never considered as such or offending the sentiments of any community. Indeed the reference in it to thirty crores of Indians makes it clear that it was meant to apply to all the people of India. … The Working Committee feel that past associations, with their long record of suffering for the cause, a well as popular usage, have made the first two stanzas of this song a living and inseparable part of our national movement and as such they must command our affection and respect. There is nothing in these stanzas to which any one can take exception. The other stanzas of this song are little known and hardly ever sung. …” “The Committee recognize the validity of objections raised by Muslim friends to certain parts of the song. While the Committee have taken note of the objection in so far as it has intrinsic value, the Committee wish to point out that the modern evolution of the use of the song as part of national life is of infinitely greater importance than its setting in a historical novel before the national movement had taken shape. …” “But while there can be no question about the place that “Bande Mataram” has come to occupy in the national life, the same cannot be said as to the other songs. …”
Thus the Congress party laid the cultural, religious and ideological foundation for the communal partition of India as early as in 1937, by abjectly surrendering to the black-mailing tactics of the Muslim League in 1937 by tearing apart the ‘Vande Mataram’ Song on communal grounds and dishonouring Bharat Mata with pseudo-secular fervour and passion. This task begun in 1937 was completed by Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru in 1947. Today the Imam of Jamma Masjid and the other Muslim Clerics are asking the Congress Party to give up even the so called ‘secular portions’ of Vande Mataram as identified by the Congress Party in 1937. I have already referred to the abusive language used by Maulana Mohammed Ali Jauhar against Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. The British Government at that time rightly viewed him as an international Islamic terrorist and jailed him. Such a back-stabbing Muslim fanatic who heaped his Islamic abuse on Mahatma Gandhi was honoured by the Government of India by the issue of a postage stamp on the occasion of his Birth Centenary in 1978. I have presented this postage stamp above.
A Very Powerful Indictment of Congress and Manmohan Singh- a must read for all
In Hindu tradition and culture the concept of renunciation has always been valued more than the idea of acquisition, and even though you may not accept this for fear of offending your party’s minority vote bank, let me allay your fears by reminding you that this is something preached by the Abrahamic religions also.
I would, therefore, urge you to seriously consider this option in your own interest as well as in the larger interest of this unfortunate country.
The government headed by you has already taken the country back to 1990 in sheer economic terms, and in terms of other social and public values we have reached the nadir of the Dark Ages.
The country had great hopes from you when it voted you to power in 2004, and even higher expectations when it renewed your mandate in 2009 after your sterling display of vision and courage in the nuclear deal. But you only flattered to deceive, and for reasons which are now becoming obvious, relinquished any pretense of leadership or governance.
A big ship needs a strong hand at the rudder-your hand- but you have handed it over to a motley crew of rank opportunists and faceless lascars who can only run it aground.
You were never a politician- a positive for most of the voters – and the two qualities that made us repose our trust in you were your honesty and your acknowledged status as an eminent economist. Today, both lie in tatters- you have betrayed our trust, not substantially but wholly, and therefore you must go.
Time to go Mr Prime Minister
Honesty is not divisible, and for those who exercise power there can be no nuances between personal honesty and public honesty. A person who allows others to loot cannot be honest. A Manager who does not raise his voice when illegalities are being committed by his subordinates cannot be honest.
A law maker who protects criminals cannot be honest. And a Prime Minister who does all this simply to remain in power cannot be honest. Your honesty has already cost the country dearly, Mr. Prime Minister, and we cannot sustain this cost any longer.
Your reputation as an economist may still follow you to Harvard or to the LSE after your retirement, but in this country its devaluation is proportionate to the devaluation of the Indian rupee. Where did you lose the plot?
You had everything going for you when you took over in 2004– an economy growing at 8-9%, a Current Account SURPLUS of US$ 10.56 billion, Foreign Exchange reserves in excess of US$ 400 billion, a comfortable net INFLOW of Foreign Direct Investment.
After nine years of your being at the helm, the growth rate is down to between 5% and 6% and falling, the Current Account has gone into a DEFICIT of US$ 20 billion and increasing, Foreign Exchange reserves are down to seven months’ import and depleting, the Fiscal Deficit is going to hit 6%, Foreign Exchange reserves are down to US $ 200 billions (with repayments of US$ 150 due before March 2014), there is a net OUTFLOW of FDI funds to the tune of almost US$ 7-10 billions every month.
The Rupee has reached an exchange rate of 65 to the dollar. Nobody believes Mr. Chidambaram anymore, the RBI Governor can only hyper-ventilate, and you, of course, continue to maintain your sphinx-like silence.
In the meantime inflation continues unabated, jobs are being lost by the millions ( unemployment actually rose by 2% between July 2011 and June 2012), Indian industry prefers to take its money abroad, infrastructure projects languish somewhere between Messers Jaiswal, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and a litre of cooking oil now costs more than two litres of beer! (Can you imagine, Mr. Prime Minister, what a field day Marie Antoinette would have had with this?!).
And this is at the precise time when the rest of the world is coming out of its downturn! No, sir, you and your band of forty thieves have been so busy with your petty politicking, with ensuring the survival of a particular dynasty, securing the financial well being of future generations of your party colleagues and allies, dividing communities and classes, that you have had no time for planning and taking decisions.
The only decisions you HAVE taken boggle the mind. We are already spending 75000 crores every year on our Public Distribution System: every single survey indicates that at least 40% of this, or 30000 crores is siphoned off by politicians, bureaucrats and middle-men. And now your govt. is determined to pour another 50000 crores into this bottomless pit through the Food Security Act! What for?
The BPL( Below Poverty Line) families and the Antyodaya (poorest of the poor) families are already covered under the existing PDS-the FSA will make no difference to them. Govt.’s own figures state that only 27% of our population is now below the poverty line; why then do you want to bring 67% of the population under the FSA, and spend a whopping 50000 crore on people who do not deserve this largesse?
And that too at a time when you have no money for infrastructure development or health and education( in both of which we now lag behind even Sri Lanka and Bangladesh!). Is it worth destroying a country just so your motley crew can win another election? Is this honesty, Mr. Prime Minister?
Had it been only the economic downturn we could perhaps have been more generous. For economics, as we all know, is not only a dismal science, it is also an uncertain one: as they say, even if one were to lay down all economists end to end, we still wouldn’t reach a conclusion!
After all, if Mr. Amartya Sen and Mr. Bhagwati cannot agree on what is good for India we can hardly expect you to have the answer. No sir, the economics is only a part of the mess: let me recount what the others are.
You have systematically sought to destroy every fibre of the democratic fabric of this nation. Constitutional authorities have been attacked publicly by your minions and sought to be humiliated at every turn: remember the diatribes against Vinod Rai and the Central Information Commissioner?
Statutory authorities like the CBI and the office of the Attorney General have been subverted and made to fall in line, your party’s line. Your oath of office demanded that you protect them, but you remained mute, as is your wont.
You have even done the unthinkable: set the Intelligence Bureau against the CBI, ensuring for ever that our premier intelligence agency will never cooperate with our premier criminal investigating agency- every terrorist, insurgent and crooks of all assorted types must be lining up outside Teksons to buy ” thank you” cards for you!
Such is your hubris that you have shown contempt for the orders of the Supreme Court even. The Court’s judgments, instead of being respected and seen as a matter for serious contemplation, are publicly criticised and sought to be by-passed by the collation of a consensus of those affected by the judgments (!) and a brute legislative majority.
So criminals can continue in Parliament. Merit will find no place in the selection of Doctors (at the senior most, Professor, level) even in Super specialty disciplines; minorities will get reservations in government jobs even though the Constitution forbids it.
This lack of respect for the final arbiter of the Constitution and the law is not only breeding a competitive defiance of the Court among other political parties but is also setting the stage for a show down with the judiciary a-la Pakistan and other banana republics.
You behave as if the Opposition is not part of the democratic process, that it is a nuisance that is best ignored; consequently, all communication between the two has now snapped, and the nation is a helpless witness to a Parliament that resembles a rugby locker room in both language and action and is in a permanent state of adjournment.
All parties are to blame for this, of course, but it is your party which laid down the rules of engagement. By refusing to walk the extra mile to accommodate even the legitimate demands of the Opposition, and by sabotaging time and again the Committees of Parliament, you have eviscerated this vital organ of democracy which under you has become as vestigious and irrelevant as your appendix.
Practically no legislative work has been done in the last two years: there are 116 bills pending in both Houses, of which 19 and 21 relate to financial and educational reforms, respectively, two of the areas that need immediate attention.
But your lack of concern is matched only by your shocking sense of priorities: instead of trying to push these bills, you have instead chosen to concentrate your fading energies on two other amendments that can only make politics murkier and more criminalised: removing the disqualification of convicted legislators, and exempting political parties from the RTI Act!
Perhaps the biggest price for your incompetence and your colleagues’ venality is being paid by our defense forces: all three are many years behind in terms of armaments and weaponry ( because another ” honest” Minister, Mr. Antony, will neither effect purchases from abroad nor allow FDI in defense production) and their very capacity to defend the country has been seriously eroded.
Who will defend our borders in such a scenario, Mr. Prime Minister- the lethal barbs of Mr. Manish Tewari, or the boomerangs of Mr. Digvijay Singh or the IEDs of Mr. Mani Shankar Iyer? Even worse, you have demoralized our armed forces by the constant interference of your Ministry and completely taken away their operational and tactical independence.
A succession of retired Army commanders have said so in recent times and the pusillanimous approach of our troops in response to violations of the LOC testify to this. (Of course, these same Army Commanders who have suddenly found their conscience and their voice also need to explain why they didn’t defend their operational independence more vigorously when they were enjoying the perks of their office!).
Under you we have become a whining nation- we whine when Pakistani troops shoot our soldiers, we whine when Chinese troops camp on our territory for weeks on end, we whine when Italian marines shoot our sailors, we whine when the Sri Lanka navy arrests our fishermen, we whine when our ex-President is frisked at an American airport.
Under you a once-proud nation is being kicked around by even a Maldives or a Bhutan. What in God’s name have you done to our image?
In communal terms we have always been a fractured society. But true leaders have in the past tried to bridge these fissures. To you, however, will go the dubious credit of widening and deepening these cracks between communities and castes.
In order to survive, your party has countenanced the retrograde decisions of allies that can only raise the confrontational pitch: earmarking of state budgets for a religious minority, reservations in jobs for the same community (which goes against the express provisions of our Constitution), reservations in promotions (which has been struck down by the courts), setting up of a central Commission to review the (criminal) cases of suspects of one community only.
It is your party which has put communalism at the center of the campaign for next year’s election, not the BJP or Mr. Modi. The former has consciously downplayed the Ram Mandir issue, and Modi had made it clear that development was going to be his plank. But this did not suit you since your party couldn’t possibly debate him on this plank, what with your miserable record of the last five years.
So you deliberately inserted the communal element, as did your allies, by harping only on the 2002 Gujarat riots. To his credit, Mr. Modi has so far not agreed to stoop so low, and I do not think your strategy will work.
But you have in the process vitiated the atmosphere for a long time to come, reopened old wounds that were beginning to heal, and provided a legitimate space for hot heads on both sides of the divide.
How much damage to the country is one Parliamentary seat worth, Mr. Prime Minister? How many more Partitions will you recreate to satisfy your party’s lust for power?
Your opportunistic creation of Telangana has sown the seeds of disputes and blood-letting in all parts of the country that will sorely test the federal integrity of our country for many years to come. There are twenty one more statehood specters waiting in the wings and by the time they are exorcised we may have ceased to exist as one nation.
Do I need to refer to the endemic corruption that your government has been indulging in these last ten years? And to your pathetic attempts to distance yourself from them, even though it is gradually becoming clearer with each passing day that you were aware of what was happening and did nothing to stop it? Why?
The quality of honesty, like that of mercy, cannot be strained: one cannot be honest and yet knowingly allow dishonesty on one’s watch.
Even worse, your increasing brazenness in the face of evidence against you boggles the mind: the Minister who doctored the Coalgate report has been made Special Envoy to Japan, a Minister whose nephew sold posts in The Railways for crores has not even been named in the charge sheet, the Minister on whose watch files relating to YOUR period of the coal scam have gone missing continues to bestride Shastri Bhavan like a colossus.
Who is this Faustian devil you have sold your soul to, Mr. Prime Minister?
Your deafening silence on all these matters-you have spoken in both houses of Parliament only fifty times in ten years-defies logic and conventional wisdom. And that leads me to speculate whether we are underestimating you.
Is there, after all, a method in your madness? Could it be that you are reconciled to losing the next elections and are therefore deliberately implementing a scorched earth policy?
That you will leave behind as a legacy for the next government an India that is bankrupt, ungovernable, riven by caste and communal conflicts, all its institutions destroyed?
An India that will soon be on its knees, begging for your party- the lone horseman riding in from the sunset, in Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s words, don’t forget-to take over the reins again, and save the country from perdition? But I forget, you never speak- so we’ll never know till the horseman is upon us.
Mr. Prime Minister, your party has stripped this country like a cloud of locusts. You have sown every type of poisonous seed known to your ilk and we shall be reaping the bitter harvest for many years hence. You have engendered an atmosphere of uncertainty,venality, indecision, communalism, opportunism, criminalisation and defiance of constitutional and statutory institutions which cannot be allowed to continue, for that way lies certain disaster.
Elections are nine months’ hence but we cannot allow this conception to come to full term: the seed sown by you can only destroy this country and must be aborted. The time has come for you to go, Mr. Prime Minister, and to go immediately.
Call for elections now, end the uncertainty, let us get on with our lives, give this country a chance to redeem itself. Do one last service to this nation, sir- stand not upon the order of your going, but go!
With best wishes,
A VOTING STATISTIC
The author retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains- he has made them his home.
THE SWAMI’S IDEA OF INDIA
The common educated people of this country must raise their voice against fanatics, who are emboldened by the silence of the pseudo-secular intellectuals, the support of the vote-bank seeking political class and the crusades of a biased media
The country’s Left-wing intelligentsia and the so-called progressive media, which goes hammer and tongs every time any one talks of Sanskrit, Surya Namaskar, Vande Mataram or even Yoga, were strangely silent when a few days ago some Islamic radicals forced authorities at the Mahatma Gandhi University at Kottayam in Kerala to call off the inauguration of a Chair named after Swami Vivekananda, whose 150th birth anniversary the nation is celebrating.
The Chair is headed by Professor OM Mathew, a well known academic, who belongs to a Jewish family which subsequently converted to Christianity. The incident took place days ahead of the anniversary of the Monk’s address to the Chicago World Parliament of Religions, which catapulted Indian spirituality to the global arena.
Apart from the fact that Swamiji’s 150th birth centenary celebrations were inaugurated by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself, the youth icon has never been viewed by any section of the society as a sectarian or divisive personality.
In fact, paying rich tribute to Swami Vivekananda, Mr Abdul Salam of Kerala’s Calicut University had recently written thus: “His remarkable speech at Chicago on September 11, 1893, is a call for tolerance and universal brotherhood — the enduring foundations on which the modern Indian nation is built.”
Therefore, the so-called ‘Muslim opposition’ to Swami Vivekananda is beyond comprehension, if one takes into account the latter’s famous letter, dated June 10, 1898, written in Almora to Mohammed Sarfaraz Husain of Naini Tal.
“We want to lead mankind to the place where there is neither the Vedas, nor the Bible, nor the Koran; yet this has to be done by harmonising the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran. Mankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expressions of THE RELIGION, which is Oneness, so that each may choose that path that suits him best.
“For our own motherland, a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam — Vedanta brain and Islam body — is the only hope. I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.”
The Swami had all along maintained that the only rational way to cope with differences was to accept them not only as inevitable but also as essential. “One must learn that truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand different ways, and that each of these ways is true as far as it goes. We must learn that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different standpoints, and yet be the same thing…
“Suppose we all go with vessels in our hands to draw water from the lake. One has a cup, another a jar, another a bucket, and so forth, and we all fill our vessels. The water in each case takes the form of the vessel carried by each of us, but in every case, water, and nothing but water is in the vessel… God is like that water filling these different vessels, and in each vessel, the vision of God comes in the form of the vessel. Yet He is One…”
Could there have been a more stronger message of universal harmony and brotherhood? Yet, there cannot be anything more unfortunate than the fact that such a protest took place in the highly literate State of Kerala, where the Swami had lit the first sparks of social reform.
Shocked by the untouchability and casteism during his visit to the southern State, Swami Vivekananda described its social condition as a “lunatic asylum”.
In the words of Justice VR Krishna Iyer, known for his Left leanings, “The outright condemnation of the deplorable social condition in Kerala expressed by Vivekananda luckily acted as a clarion call for reform for the succeeding generation of Kerala. The generation that succeeded, I must say, rose to the occasion and an era of social and spiritual reform followed…in one sense, the emergence of progressive classes and high level education in India and Kerala especially can be attributed to Swamiji’s powerful campaign which created new thinking.”
There is growing concern over the Islamic radicalisation in Kerala, where majority of the Muslims are not only educated and prosperous but also politically influential, unlike in many parts of the country. Led by the Popular Front of India, these radicalised youth have spread terror not only among the Hindus and Christians in the State but also among progressive members of the Muslim community. It was not long back that a bunch of PFI cadres chopped off the right palm of a college teacher TJ Joseph for setting a question paper that allegedly insulted the Prophet.
Recently, attempts were made to include in the Calicut University syllabus the poem Ode to the Sea by the Saudi-born poet and Al Qaeda’s Mufti Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh alias Ibrahim al-Rubaish. However, good sense prevailed and following nationwide outrage, the university withdrew the move.
Forewarning about religious extremism, Swami Vivekananda had said, “The greatest harm comes from the fanatic. We may not doubt the sincerity of the fanatic but often he has the irresponsibility of a lunatic. The fanatic is the greatest enemy of mankind.”
The protests against the Vivekananda Chair was also in a way an attempt to tear apart the State’s secular fabric represented by academics such as Mr Mathew.
Mr Mathew, who was deeply influenced by the teachings of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa during his days as an intermediate student, epitomises the universal values of tolerance and pluralism.
In fact, he not only preaches but also practices the same in his personal life. When it came to naming his three sons, who are Jewish Rabbis, he combined the names of Hindu and Judaist historical personalities. Thus, Rabbi Akkibangiras, Rabbi Brighu Hillel and Rabbi Maimonides Kashyap, have names of Hindu sages and Jewish personalities. His granddaughter, Jessie Hellel, is a singing sensation in New Zealand.
Unfortunately, such saner voices are getting suppressed in an increasingly radicalised Kerala society. As the Vice-Chancellor of the Calicut University, Mr Abdul Salam aptly put it in an article on Swami Vivekananda published recently, “The ideas of Swami Vivekananda continue to guide our nation in many ways. I wish that this year of celebration of his 150th birth anniversary be an ideal time to re-look at his ideals in constituting an India that is tolerant and inclusive and at the same time vibrant and challenging.”
As we commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s 150th anniversary, there cannot be a more befitting tribute than working for realising his vision of a universal religion. As he famously stated, “but is there any way of practically working out this harmony in religions? …I have also my little plan…In the first place, I would ask mankind to recognise the maxim ‘Do not destroy’…iconoclastic religions do no good to this world…
“Given these cleavages, is the idea of the universal religion realistic or just idealistic? But behind all these differences, we must recognise a deeper level of commonality that suggests that the universal religion already exists, and is constantly evolving and taking clearer shape. No two persons are exactly alike, yet, despite these differences, there is a common thread of humanity.”
It is high time the common educated people of this country stand up and raise their voice against fanatics, who are emboldened by the silence of the pseudo-secular intellectuals, the support of the vote-bank seeking political class and the unidimensional crusades of a biased media. These fanatics pose a threat to the very idea of India.
(The author is Senior Fellow and Editor at the Vivekananda International Foundation)