Saturday, August 30, 2003
>>Most eastern religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism are not evangelical.
Is that so? "Not evangelical" at this point or never have been?
Friday, August 29, 2003
Back with a bang!
For those who missed me, I am back :D !! The tortuously long process of Candidacy exam getting over (and me passing it!!), it's time to roar again....
Quote from NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/29/international/middleeast/29JERU.html):
"...a senior Israeli security official, who spoke on condition his name not be published. "When you get political issues in a holy place, it's not good for all sides."
Reminds me of a place far far away from Jerusalem - a little town in UP called Ayodhya.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Ban on Conversion - Is it suppression?
This is in response to an article on TomPaine.com by Andrew Korfhage. I suggest that you read the article first, and then my response.
I am not going to comment on the specific law in Sri Lanka, because I have no knowledge abt it. But in a broader context, while criticizing Sri Lanka's law as oppression of religion, you are making a generalization that fails to appreciate the reality that exists in many third world nations.
I am an Indian. Despite all the allegations that are bandied about here in the US, India is generally a tolerant society, and the state does give the citizens the right to propagate one's religion.
I myself have had to suffer so-called evangelical pastors blaring over loudspeakers, calling us sinners into the fold. Fine... call us what you want. But, it is a truth that in the villages - especially backward tribal ones - so-called evangelists pay to gain converts. This has become a cheap business. They show numbers to gain donations and grants from overseas. And a part of it used as allurement.
Tell me, how is this fair, or Christian, for that matter?
Most eastern religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism are not evangelical. Hence, these communities lack the propaganda infrastructure that evangelical Christians have.
Due to the employment of underhand means such as these, Evangelism has come to be seen as a project of changing demography. The emergence of this view is not a healthy trend. Checking illicit ways of bringing about conversions is not oppression.
Monday, August 25, 2003
While the heinous crime depresses one and all, what followed cannot but lift our spirits. Mumbaikars showed that they deserve to be the real heart of the country. JJ Hospital had to turn away people who had come to offer blood because their blood bank had filled up. The taxiwallahs lined up to transport bloodied bodies people, injured and dead. That, my friends, is the reason our country survives. They did it last time - 48 hours hours the Big Blasts in 1993, the Indian Express office (which was destroyed) started functioning full blast from temporary quarters. They did it then. They are doing it again now.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Hope Bush follows...
What's the bet that Blair is cooked?
I was really angered by this so-called debate on why prostitution in India should be legalized. Some one mentioned provision of health, which to me seems the only valid point raised. The rest were really casual, immature analysis that barely skims the surface of the question.
One guy talks as though upon legalization, commercial sex workers will become commodities - not workers, mind you! And some the high pitched liberalism of some of the ladies was outright without any basis. There was no sensitivity, and the brash arguments would only rile the mainstream... Name three people, who are politcally neutral, who would accept CSWs being equated to freedom fighters!
The liberals in India have a cause. But there are a lot of people who mask as liberals just to sound hip. These people hurt these cause immeasurably. In effect, liberalism, esp things involving women, becomes a Ladies Club fashion topic. And then there are the politicos...
Re: Pokhran 2
Chairman Mao says that a loud fart is more effective than lots of talk. Moreover, it was a good enough time for India to announce a de facto possession, while it was too early for TSP to do so. Given the psychology of the Monkey Trap, TSP would have automatically followed us in testing, and borne the consequences. I think things will turn out for the best.
Newsweek Made My day!! :D
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Couldn't just resist it :-(!
You might have heard abt the controversy involving a Ten Commandments Monument installed by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in the Court complex. A fed court has ordered him to remove it - deciding that it is a violation of constitutional separation of Church and State. Well, today, Justice Moore has declared that he would continue defying that order.... but the funny part is that he is claiming a first amendment right to acknowledge God. Well, even a nincompoop at law knows that the Bill of Rights protects citizens and not the state, which Justice Moore represents. Had he installed this monument in his private property, no one would have questioned. But he has installed it in the court premesis. If he were not the CJ, and just a private citizen, this would amount to trespass. Either way, he is in the wrong.
I am officially on a sabattical from this blog now.... till the weekend after the coming... what with my candidacy, finals week, and a apt move coming up... However, I would like to start some conversation so that people do not forget this page!
In the recent (absolutely pointless) no-confidence motion debate in the parliament, one argument that kept popping up (from what I read in the papers) was Pokhran. While, obviously, NDA was preening, Sonia Gandhi came up with a lame statement that but for its predecessors, this govt could not have pulled that off. Seems Mani Shaker Aiyer asked Advani if "Chagai was a turning point in the history of Pakistan, just as Pokhran is supposed to be a turning point for us."
When I read this, the first question that popped into my mind was, after Pokhran II, are we safe? Has it proved to be a good idea? And where do we go from here?
Come on guys, shoot!
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Here is an editorial opinion from the Boston Globe. Pretty scathing words on the US occupation.
America's worst side in Iraq
Wish the lady luck...
But if she does pull it off, she is shooting for ABV's chair next.... which is quite a scary prospect.
Now, that's a tax cut too - only, it has some conscience in it...
Saturday, August 16, 2003
> My point is that its less black-white than that.
I am sure most, if not all, of us agree with u.
Friday, August 15, 2003
Two good articles by Shourie
I guess its because it so fundamental to India. Without respect for "diversity" India is doomed. So any debate about diversity may be seen to be seditious. My point is that its less black-white than that.
BTW, can you dig up any quotes from Gandhi, etc about why the two-nation theory is wrong?
> Why is diversity important? Has anybody sought explaining that? I think not!
That was a comment abt the interaction between politicians and populace in India - not u and me!!
> Why is diversity important? Has anybody sought explaining that? I think not!
You think wrong. On this very blog I remember posting stuff on diversity, "hard" and "soft".
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Saluting a Visionary
I have said this so many times in the past. But I never tire of repeating it - APJ is the kind of leaders India needs. For me, more than all those missiles he has worked on, what he says today - the mere upbeat talk abt what we should be twenty years hence - is his biggest contribution. I hope LKA picks up some of that - he is another person whom people seem to believe in - one who has this image of a person of strong character. When such leaders rise above partisan day-to-day politics and start setting out broad visions for the future, they become heroes - and founding fathers of modern states.
Logic and Polity
I was having a very engaging conversation with a friend this evening on a topic that has become a sort of obsession for me these days - what is it that fundamentally ails our society and our polity. As I was thinking abt it, I realized something... I was trying to analyze this very logically. That is why I was not ending up with a narrow answer. Sure, there IS no one reason to which all ills of any society could be attributed to. However, there usually is a way of tracing back concrete relaities to more abstract underlying problems. However, in the grand tumult that Indian polity is, there is no logic - and there is no discourse on logic. And hence, the system ends up being pretty illogical.
Look at one typical example - we have heard so much on "secularism" till date. But how many so-called secularists - real, as well as pseudo varieties, have actually explain just why secularism is important? To me, the discussion should focus on two things - diversity and fundamental rights. Why is diversity important? Has anybody sought explaining that? I think not!
One reason for it is that, there is a fundamental assumption that Indian population is not intelligent enough to understand ideas. The argument usually runs like, "of course, is it not true that a majority of Indian population is illiterate? True. But remember - though her constituency was made of an illiterate majority, Jayalalithaa lost in Bargur in 1996 - this in spite of the fact that she truly took special care to nurture the constituency. Indians - especially the rural folks - may not read. But they can understand. There is a fundamental lack of appreciation of this fact.
The other, more common reason is, of course, cynicism so rampant among our netas.
Will the Jews ever be spared? Literally millions of them have been killed for having supposedly caused the death of a man who supposedly lived two millenia back, and was supposedly the Son of God, and what's worse, who supposedly said he was going to suffer for the sins of all the believers - as in, Christians! And these guys are talking about barbarism of Islamic world?! Even Mandhara, who caused Rama's exile is, to a great extent, exculpated - for having helped him do his duty!!
So much is being said about Wahhabism in the west. But who is going to own up to the barbarism of criminalizing entire race for some thing that happened so long back?
What's ironic about all this is that the Great Church has never never thought twice before killing reformers who opposed its own corruption - the very thing Jesus was supposedly cricified for!! Oh well, who is to ask for conscience from the Great Pope!
One thing is for sure - I am not going to any movie of that numb nut Gibson again - even if it were Shyamalan's!
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
I'm all for people-to-people contact on our terms and according to strategic needs. Study visas for smart Paki kids (the younger the better, the longer the better). 'Medical tourism' for all the Noors. Selective trade, etc. Purely business, but selectively done in order to influence the social equations inside Pak. Engaging the already entrenched Rich Anglophone Paki Elite is of no use because anti-Indianism is their time-tested tool to control the other 99%. Right now the only socially subversive class emerging are the Islamists. One's worse than the other. So there is an urgent need to cultivate an India-friendly class within Pak. It is necessary to decorate our shop window with streamers and balloons like Kuldip Nayyar and other candle-knights, as long as they have zero say in real policy-making, and as long as counter-views ensure that their mushy views are not allowed to influence domestic public opinion to any significant extent.
This one is specially for Carl : 15 Pakistani lawmakers for candlelight vigil on Indo-Pak border
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Re: I-Day in Gujarat
If your concerns are humanitarian, then I'm astonished you're only beginning to get worried that "something terrible" is yet to happen in Gujarat. There was a major riot there recently.
If your concerns are social and cultural, then its too early to say. The names of some places, some monuments, and other reminders of an unpleasant past can jar on some people more than others. A simple re-assertion of shattered confidence is healthy. The comparison with southern US is invalid because the ones being assertive in India were the historically brutalized people, not the perpetrators. For the latter, look across Gujarat's western border.
But wake me up if Muslims aren't allowed to attend the I-Day celebrations at Patan, or there's a Sati celebration in the town square, or laws are amended to conform to Manusmriti.
Friday, August 08, 2003
Is Gujarat becoming a longterm headache?
I am increasingly worried that something is going horribly wrong with the BJP's experiment in Gujarat. I am worried that that state is becoming the Alabama or Mississippi of India - a place that, in the name of tradition, practices exclusivism, and to justify it, misuses terms such as state rights or state pride.
Rediff reports now that Modi is going to celebrate the coming I-Day in the erstwhile capital of Solankis - a city that fell in the 13th century. This is not good. Time and again, we seem to be digging deeper and deeper into our past to invent a claim to glory - instead of trying to produce proof in the present that we deserve being glorified. Societies that do this have a good record of ossifying.
Website on Kargil
This is disgusting:
Note this : "An army spokesperson told rediff.com, "It was not an official site. We were just asked to link to it from the official one, which we did."
This is outrageous, and highly irresponsible on the Army's part. When u link up to some site from your official web site, u are implicitly endorsing them. How could the Army do this, without having on record who is owning that site, and what is on it?
Think of the serious consequences of this - some guy comes and asks the army to add a link to his site... and they do. And then he puts up some secessionist material on it. What happens then?
This problem is bigger than one link. You will know what I am talking abt if u go to any Indian ministry's website. Half the links are broken, and in many pages, it's grammatical errors galore. Just shows how callous, insensitive and outright rotten the whole system is.
Enlightened minority action for a UCC could be encouraged through the legal process by providing optional adherence -- voluntary UCC. One could register oneself as a citizen who would like to be treated under UCC. The legalities of collision between sectarian CC and UCC could be worked out to give primacy to UCC.
Another way is to carry forward the mullah-logic and state that they should accept full Shariat and not just civil laws. So that includes stoning, amputations etc. for criminal offences. This would also have a disproportionately salutary effect on crime rate.
Re: Govt staff strikes
Govt jobs are also constitutionally sensitive and can be framed as a national internal security issue. They cannot sabotage the govt's basic social contract with the rest of the population by causing state machinery to fail. There are other ways of protest which are open to govt employees, such as resignation. Here these guys want to strike, but will create an even bigger halla if they're sacked for it.
There is an interview with Rev. Valson Thampu in Rediff today. Don't miss it. It shows a mature, and considered approach of a member of a minority community to the future of his community and that of India.
One noteworthy point in that interview is that Rev.Thampu views it as essentially a state-vs-church issue (" and before the government does it, the Muslim leadership should). I have, for quite some time now, argued that the separation of church from state is not to protect the state, but to protect the religion from being bespoilt by political agenda. Rev. Thampu's uregent appeal reflects this view.
More leaders from minority community should speak out for this. Otherwise, this starts looking like some insidious conspiracy of Hindu right. An attempt to smuggle in some of their agenda through this movement is definitely there. So is there an attempt to use the anti-UCC opinion to further the agenda of Muslim right. It is upto all of us to stop any move to discredit the constitutional process any further.
I have one idea (more of a dream). The so-called secular political lobby, incl the Congress (I do not accept the Left front as secular), should take the leadership, come up with a group of minority intellectuals (like Justice A.M.Ahmedi), and lobby for UCC. That would change the direction of the movement. Rev.Thampu shares this view!
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Re: SC ban on Strikes
Again, the "restriction" should not be on the people on whom the law is enforceable. Defining so would be dangerous, since it would only lead to selective laws. The restriction I was talking abt should be on the circumstances, and the compulsion of the state should be commensurate with the restrictions. As Carl has rightly pointed out, allowing strikes by the military/law enforcement personnel might lead to break down of law and order and endanger the national security - both immediate paramount concerns of the state. Hence, a blanket ban on strikes by these personnel could be justified. However, placing the government beyond punitive reaction is, to me, very much a stretch by the judiciary. If only the so-called government workers had not completely discredited themselves, there would be an outrage now.
However, those who are concerned abt the long term welfare of common people should definitely stop and think abt this now.
Re: Right to Strike
> Read carefully. The compelling reason has been spelt out pretty clearly by the Court.
Carl, a compelling reason should also restricted enough to just enable the state to fulfil its interest. In other words, there is an upper limit on how much sweep an act of the state can have, even if it can prove a genuine state interest. A blanket ban on strikes, IMV, does not meet this criterion.
>This is not a good development. The SC should not have denied a fundamental right of a class of people (here, the government employees), without giving a compelling reason for doing so.
Read carefully. The compelling reason has been spelt out pretty clearly by the Court. "India's Supreme Court has ruled that government employees have no right to strike because of the disruption it causes to other citizens and the economy." Government services are a fundamental entitlement of all citizens. This can also be framed as a national security issue. We cannot allow jawans to go on strike for similar reasons.
Meanwhile, an article: India tries to root out bureaucratic corruption
Right to Strike
The SC has ruled that the government staff have no right to strike work, though they do have the right to bargain collectively. This is not a good development. The SC should not have denied a fundamental right of a class of people (here, the government employees), without giving a compelling reason for doing so. That all the trade union leaders today are charlatans is a given. However, such a judgement of morality of the people involved should not be allowed to override the basic rights of some citizens.
Having said that, I should say this. The trade unions of India RICHLY deserve this shocker. The despicable way in which they have been treating the common people, who depended on them to realize what they deserve, has made them lose all support from the street. Indeed, Jayalalithaa if is being praised for cracking down so hard on them, these people better sit up and listen.
Re: UCC and cow slaughter
Two quick notes (and then some sleep for me):
1. That UCC being voluntary idea seems something novel - and a good way ahead! However, let me warn here itself - to me, UCC is NOT ABOUT MUSLIMS. It is about every religion and its personal law. It is as much abt the lack of option for divorce for Chritians (which is available to Hindus), and the special tax incentives for Hindu joint families (why not Muslim joint families too?).
2. I myself might have erred here - Ban on cow slaughter is just a part of the Cow issue. For many in the Go Samrakshna Movement, including the leading lights like HH Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the real task there is Cow protection. So, we need to discuss the expanded theme (also) when we discuss abt this.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Re: UCC and cow slaughter
No argument against moving toward a UCC. The main problem is that distorted politics has handed over exclusive rights of expressing Indian Muslim opinion to a bunch of retrogressive Ulema who have minimal interest in national well-being. So the beards presume to speak for all Muslims, and their politics is generally obstructionist in nature.
The idea is to pull the carpet from under their feet by undermining the authority that has been gifted to them by a skewed "secularist" mentality. The way to do this in the case of UCC is to have a Voluntary UCC for Muslim citizens. Here's a good article:
Make the UCC voluntary!
I'm sure a section of enlightened Muslims with a national consciousness would take this road and leave the nuts behind. Doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani, right in front of everyone.
As for cow-protection: It will contradict UCC and liberal values if it is made a law while still controversial, and the supposed mass aversion to cow-slaughter is unsupported by consumption statistics. If you feel strongly about it, spread awareness and the domestic market for beef will automatically shrink. The govt could then ban beef EXPORT after stats show that the overwhelming majority of Indians are averse to cow-slaughter. So if you have a value-opinion, then build up pressure for a law through social debate.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Whose sin is it anyways?
The Catholic Church famously blamed homosexuals for all its woes with those allegations from former altar boys. Well, may be it's the wrong of those unabashed sinners. Surely, they are headed to the lower netherworld! But now, it turns out that the heterosexual priests were no better either - a woman has just provided a paternity test result that confirms that a catholic priest is her dad!
Uh oh! Now, all heteros are damned to Hell too?! Good Gracious Lord in Rome!!!
The Church's reaction, you ask? Here it is:
Church spokeswoman Carolina Guevara said the church was offering Milla and her mother "support and prayers."
"We hope this information provides healing," Guevara said.
Wonder which future Pope would apologize for these crimes and shuffle upto which wall!
Just so u get the whole thing in perspective, I am going to quote a bit from Salon.com:
In 1991, Tamayo admitted he had sex with her and publicly apologized. He died in 1999.
Last year, Allred released documents showing the church urged Tamayo to stay in the Philippines after Jacqueline's birth and mailed checks to him there. In three letters, church officials advised him not to reveal the source of the payments "unless requested under oath," noting that he was "liable for personal suits arising out of your past actions."
So you see, the Church was not just an innocent crossfire victim - it was an active abettor and even funded the coverup of the crime.
And Gays are Sinners?
PS: May be we need a new slogan: "How much did the Pope know, and when?"
Re:Uniform Civil Code and Cow Protection Act
In my site on cow protection, there is a FAQ section, and a Legal sub-section in it. It essentially addresses the legal issues, and the replies given there are mine. One good way to go abt this "discussion" solo () would be to discuss what one could see as flaws in my own old explanations....
Here is the section....
Are not the rights of the slaughterer infringed by banning their profession?
This question is nothing new. The State of Louisiana tried to regulate the activities of butchers in 1869. They sued the state stating that their rights are being infringed upon and that under the amendments 13 and 14 to the Constitution of the United States' the state could not deprive them of the right to exercise their trade. The Supreme Court of The United States ruled in its December term of 1872 in the cases of The Butchers' Benevolent Association Of New Orleans V. The Crescent City Live-Stock Landing And Slaughter-House Company and Paul Esteben et al V. The State Of Louisiana. The majority holding was that the states have the proper police power to limit slaughterhouse operations for the health and safety of their residents.
That being the case, and given that the Indian Constitution is modelled on the constitutions of the democracies of the world including that of United States, and that precedents from such cases have been accepted by the Courts in India, it can be argued that a Ban on Slaughter can not be held as illegal or infringing on the Rights of the slaughterers. Definitely not, without being put to a constitutional test.
Can slaughtering be construed as a religious right?
No. In 1958, in the case of Mr H.M. Qureshi vs the State of Bihar, the Supreme Court had refused to accept the argument that the cow-killing was a religious right of a particular community.
Can ill treatment to animals be banned? Are there any precedents?
Yes. It can be banned and made an offence. In fact, even cruelty while killing is an offence by the English Statute. Adcock v Murrell is an instance of a conviction under the English statute in New Zealand for cruelly ill-treating a pig in attempting to slaughter it. The appellant had tried to kill one of his pigs, hacking at it with an axe, and inflicting four wounds on its head. He had sent for a butcher but was unable to find one for 2 days, during which time the pig was left to lie half-dead. It was held that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction.
Uniform Civil Code and Cow Protection Act
Okay, confession time. Amberish Diwanji's latest article on Rediff, UCC or Hindu Civil Code, is something I completely identify with (the title, at the first glance, is quite misleading - it is a fairly balanced piece). His analogy of cow protection and personal law set me thinking....
Hmmm... well, if we are going to insist that the law be absolutely blind to religion, how then could we justify a ban on cow slaughter? Is it not something we intend as a nod to the Hindu sensibilities? I am trying hard to come up with some way of explaining it. But as of now, no. I am not able to. As the host of a site demanding Cow Protection, I am bound to thinking abt this. Sure, I still say we must - absolutely must take action to protect the cows. But should the Indian state do that? I am having second thoughts.... I know there are people here who oppose cow slaughter. Can u explain?
Sunday, August 03, 2003
The War Over the War
In his column The War Over the War in The New York Times, Thomas L.Friedman argues that Bush and Blair were both fully aware that this war was one of choice and opted for it because it was a good choice. To quote him, the cause is good because the regime change would "unleash a process of reform in the Arab-Muslim region that will help it embrace modernity and make it less angry and more at ease with the world."
Basically, his argument is based on the theory of democratic peace, initially propounded by classical liberals like Thomas Paine. For instance, Paine, in Common Sense argues:
"... The republics of Europe are all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Switzerland are without wars, foreign or domestic: Monarchical governments, it is true, are never long at rest; the crown itself is a temptation to enterprising ruffians at HOME; and that degree of pride and insolence ever attendant on regal authority, swells into a rupture with foreign powers, in instances, where a republican government, by being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake."
The underlying logic goes thus (I think it was Paine who described this first): Since in a democracy (or, as Paine calls it, republic), the people decide to go to war knowing fully that ultimately they are going to foot the bill, in terms of money and toil, they will naturally be a hesitation to begin a war. There would be a careful weighing of the effects of not going to war. In monarchical systems (in modern days, this includes dictatorships) since the decider (the monarch/dictator) is going to transfer the pain of the war onto his subjects, wars would be more possible.
Sound logic, indeed. However, there is one tragic flaw in Friedman's logic... in the above argument, the people are assumed to be in the know of the cost of the war, and the disadvantages of not going in for it. However, today, we have two democracies, both claiming to be model ones, decidedly misleading its people, and starting a war of choice. Once this precedent is set, and followed, the logic democratic peace makes no sense at all - whether in the United States or a newly minted democratic Iraq.
Friedman has himself conceded that Bush administration has mislead the public on what the war entails. Thus, Friedman's own argument discredits his logic.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Pop Quiz :
You know, many times, slippery slope arguments are used to raise the bogey in questions of "morals" such as gay marriages... Sen. Santorum is just one case among many.... the history of this goes back some time. Just to drive home the point, I am going to ask u this question (courtesy: Andrew Sullivan)
What is the case, apparently more hoorrendous than Oedipus's marriage with him mom, is narrator talking abt in the following writing from Tennessee:
"We might have in Tennessee the father living with his daughter, the son with the mother, the brother with his sister, in lawful wedlock, because they had formed such relations in a state or country where they were not prohibited. The Turk or the Mohammedan, with his numerous wives, may establish his harem at the doors of the capitol, and we are without remedy. Yet none of these are more revolting, more to be avoided, or more unnatural than the case before us."
Friday, August 01, 2003
Out to humor you!
The Georgie boys of the world seem to be intent on giving others some good funny days.... check out this pic!