Monday, February 25, 2008

Comment on my post "The psychology of the new Hindutva terrorists"

As you know, I generally do not publish comments from people who do not now me or at least enter into some minimum relationship with me by giving me some minimum information on themselves (though they do not have to reveal that information to the public on my Blogsite).

However, an anonymous person who calls herself/ himself "universalhindu" has sent me a comment on my post "The psychology of the new Hindutva terrorists". I feel that her/ his comment merit publication under the right to reply (usually, anonymous comments are simply hate-mail).

She or he says: "When somebody from the film world distorts history blatantly just for the sake of box office affecting Hindu sentiments Hindus naturally will feel hurt and point out the injustice and protest. Anybody who sees 'Jodha Akbar' will definitely feel the armtwisting of history to suit purse linings of the film team. "

This is a very similar argument to those used by Muslims who wanted to ban THE SATANIC VERSES, and those of Christians who wanted to ban some of the filmy/ novels of Dan Brown. No doubt there are some Buddhists who are indulging or have indulged in similar behaviour somewhere - and Marxists - and so on.

The question is what to do when someone is distorting, you believe, the truth about something or someone you hold dear.

The first matter to explore is whether the "distortion" is meant as entertainment or as a serious attack.

If it is intended as entertainment, then one naturally will not like things that are dear to one being used for that purpose. However, in the modern world, it is not possible to prevent entertainment even if it is offensive to you. One person's joke is another person's insult. We should all learn to grow up and not have infantile prickliness about things that are not intended seriously.

A film or a novel is not a work of history. It is an imaginative exploration of some theme for the purpose of whiling away the time. If one happens to get some instruction from it, that is a bonus. But one does not go to these sorts of things for instruction. One goes for escape, for emotional release, for fun.

Naturally, the novelist or film-maker wants to make money. But at least he/she is trying to make money by doing something productive, and not simply by cheating or by getting bribes. If he/she/they produce a moderately satisfactory product they will make a moderate amount of money; if they provide an outstanding product, they will make an outstanding amount of money; if they provide a poor product, they will end up losing a lot of money. In all such matters, the market decides. Either you believe in the virtues of a free market or you don't. If you don't, then you believe in controlled markets and the limitations and foolishnesses of controlled markets have been demonstrated for decades if not centuries.

In India, it has historically been proven that "devotional" type films produce many times more money than "anti-religious films". So I doubt if the people involved in "Jodhaa Akbar" were actually trying to attack any religion, let alone any of the religions of us hindus. These filmi guys were simply trying to produce a piece of entertainment - but they did it in a way that happens to hurt our sentiments.

However, today the situation is that one gets "distortions" even in works that present themselves as serious works of history!

For these, as for works of entertainment, the best strategy is rational debate in the open market of ideas. Ultimately, people believe what they want to - and whatever they believe shapes not only their individual lives but also their family lives and their community and national lives. Ultimately, history judges the fruit of whatever one believes. The difference between secular, atheist, marxist, buddhist, etc beliefs is clear for all to see in the communities and nations such beliefs have produced and are producing.

THE SATANIC VERSES was not the first "attack" on Islam. In fact, there are any number of much more blasphemous literary works (well, at least poems!) available in Urdu and Persian to my knowledge (I don't know Arabic, but I can't imagine that they don't exist in that language too). Many of these go back some centuries. Similarly, attacks on Christ go back right to his own time, two thousand years ago. But the followers of Christ continue to grow and grow (not only within the horrible thing called "Christianity"). And the followers of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) are today the 2nd largest conglomeration of religious people in the world.

Dear "universalhindu", please focus your efforts on positive rational debate that commends whatever you believe to thinking people and not on such negative things as violence - that will bring only disrepute to whatever kind of belief you hold.

In most parts of the world, mobilisation of the "faithful" for violence is merely a pretext or a mechanism to mobilise them for the sake of grabbing political power. But once political power has been grabbed in this way, it is usually only to the benefit of the few who have grabbed power in terms of money under the table to them.

We see this under Bush in the USA, we have seen this in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other so-called "Islamic countries" for nearly a century now. We have even seen it in our own country, when the BJP was in power. Not that the other political parties were or are any better!

My point is only that religious mobilisation can land a corrupt group of people in power but that does not help the nation or even the community that allowed itself to be mobilised for the purpose. Sphere: Related Content

The psychology of the new Hindutva terrorists

I have just received a mail, from someone claiming to be a Hindu, with the following text: Namaskar
This is an awareness drive to awake people to boycott movie 'Jodhaa Akbar'.The movie Jodhaa Akbar is a vile, vicious, and covert attempt by a mischievous producer/director from Bollywood (Mumbai) to make quick bucks by denigrating and vilifying the Hindu (Rajput) people. ...
Visit - to -
Know true story of Cruel Akbar and Jodhaabai
Know the people behind this conspiracy (The movie crew)
View glimpses of protests

Send this mail to your friends for creating awareness and protecting self-respect.
Shameful Hindus who throng to watch Jodhaa-Akbar, a film which glorifies Hindu hater Cruel Akbar, are worthy of getting killed by Terrorists!

So, according to "Hindu Jagruti", it is now not only "Christian missionaries" and "muslim mobsters" who are to be targeted, it is also "shameful Hindus".

The definition of "shameful Hindus" is interesting: everyone who sees this film!

Today, all "non-shameful Hindus" are told to avoid watching this film (and a few others), and the paintings of M. F. Husain (and of a few others). Tomorrow we will be told what to wear and what we can think.

The aim of Hindu Jagruti and other groups like it is simple: totalitarian control.

Exactly what was sought by the German Nazis, the Italian Fascists, the Russian Marxists, the Chinese Maoists and the contemporary political right-wing in Europe and (particularly) the UK and USA. Like them all, Hindu Jagruti will also fail in its quest for totalitarian control.

However, the attitude of Hindu Jagruti is exactly equivalent to that of Muslims who wanted to target Salman Rushdie for writing THE SATANIC VERSES.

The psychology of the new Hindutva terrorist seems to me no different from the psychology of the Muslim suicide-bomber: both are so totally consumed by hatred that they are unable to see the distinction between art and history, philosophy and sociology, politics and life.

As the vast majority of Hindus around the world are "shameful Hindus" on one count or another, we had better all watch out. Sphere: Related Content


In response to my query regarding this word, Professor Dr. Rahul Peter Das of the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, in Germany, has sent me a personal e-mail which he has kindly allowed me to quote:
"The most common meaning (in Hindi and Bengali, and I suppose in other South Asian languages too) is 'moneylender, banker' (apart from 'great person'). However, in Sanskrit 'mahâjana' is actually found in the sense of 'mass of the populace'. It is, of course, common practice for modern South Asian languages to borrow from Sanskrit, and thus there is theoretically no bar to using 'mahâjan' in the meaning which the Sanskrit expression can have. Whether that is in accord with the nature of the word in the modern languages is another matter. I would very much doubt whether a modern speaker confronted with "mahâjan" would even know the meaning "mass of the populace", unless he be quite learned." Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can Western civilisation be saved? Why imitate those who are messed up?

My friend Kuru Chandy from Lucknow has sent me the following, which he says has been doing the rounds since last year. But it is so good/funny/tragic that I have decided to include it here:

"Stop this madness: The Westernisation of Child Rearing"
School 1960 vs. School 2008

SCENARIO: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1960 Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2008 Police are called, SWAT team arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. Mobiles with video of fight confiscated as evidence. They are charged with assault, AVOs are taken out and both are suspended even though Johnny started it. Diversionary conferences and parent meetings conducted. Video shown on 6 internet sites.

SCENARIO: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.
1960 Jeffrey is sent to the principal's office and given a good paddling. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2008 Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Counselled to death. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra funding because Jeffrey has a disability. Drops out of school.

SCENARIO: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1960 Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2008 Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mum has an affair with the psychologist. Psychologist gets a promotion.

SCENARIO: Mark, a student, chews gum in class
1960 Mark shares gum with the school principal.
2008 Police are called and Mark is expelled from School for drug possession. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

SCENARIO: Johnny falls during recess and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.
1960 Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2008 Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. Becomes gay.

SCENARIO: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers, puts them in a model plane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.
1960 Ants die.
2008 Security and ASIO are called and Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

SCENARIO: Raju I.M. Indian fails high school English.
1960 Raju gets special coaching in Remedial English, passes and goes to college.
2008 Raju's cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for graduation is racist. Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuit against state school system and his English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Raju is allowed to pass anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 18, 2008

What is the right basis for recognising Kosovo?

I gather that the EU's leaders are about to commit a historical and legal (and historic) absurdity, not by recognising Kosovo, but by the basis on which they are proposing to do so.

This basis appears to be to exempt the case from the rule saying international borders can only be changed with the agreement of all parties - because of the province's history of "conflict, ethnic cleansing and humanitarian catastrophe".

If the maximum claimed figure of 12,000 Kosovan casualties can be called "ethnic cleansing" then, on that basis, the world should recognise Scotland and Wales (and probably Yorkshire and several other regions) if these regions choose to bid for independence, as these regions were also subject to such "ethnic cleansing" by the English in the past. In what is France today, the world should recognise the independence of, for example La Rochelle and Lyons where the Huguenots were wiped out or expelled. In India today, the world should immediately recognise Kashmir, Mizoram and Nagaland. In China, the same applies to Tibet, Sinkiang and other regions. And so on.

In fact, accepting such a basis for recognising Kosovo is tantamount to sanctioning, as a prelude to independence, the start of ethnic cleansing in other areas where we have not yet seen this . Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Collected Poems of the British-Asian poet Reginald Massey

It brings one up short to be confronted with the Collected Poems of a contemporary who one knows more or less well personally: I used to produce poems a little more often but have over the last several years succeeded in completing only about one a year!

Masseyji's collection falls into 2 sections. The first part consists substantially of a long poem "Lament of a Lost Hero" and nine short poems - including those to Vikram Seth, Ambika Paul, "Saeed" (presumably Jaffrey) and W.H. Auden. The second section consists of older poems, some of which were published in magazines, journals and anthologies.

The other poems are interesting and even good but it is "Lament of a Lost Hero" which rightly takes pride of place in the collection - every callow youth writes love poems.

If one ignores Sri Aurobindo (or Aurobindo Ghosh as his name was before he was ennobled), whose turgid Greek classical metre is overpoweringly soporific, "Lament of a Lost Hero" is the most technically competent and socially aware long poem embodying a contemporary Indian consciousness to have emerged from our land in our 60 years of independence.

In any case, here is one of his lovely short poems:


The autumn moon
beckons her silent love
the pool;
For she knows
his patient eye
will soon be glazed
with a cataract
of ice. Sphere: Related Content

Azaadi! (collection of short stories by Reginald Massey)

As Massey is a guest of mine at present, I really could not put off reading a book that has been on my reading list ever since it was published in 2005.

"Azaadi!" is a bit of a mixed bag of short stories in terms of its themes - military, politics, national leaders, prostitution, wife abuse and, most poignantly, stories of friendship across the murderous hindu-muslim divide at the time of the partition of India and Pakistan, or the independence of Bangladesh.

The collection testifies to Massey's dictum that "the world is a stranger place than is dreamt of in the philosophies of foolish men". Here is indeed evidence (albeit in fictional form) that "in spite of the hatreds, the massacres, the migrations, the flame of humanity - often small and dangerously flickering - was not extinguished. We have produced killers and monsters but we have also produced ...Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan". The pity is that not many of today's Indians know even the name of the Khan.

In any case, Massey writes in his introduction to the book, "the thousands of books that pour out of publishing houses every year, not single one, so far as I am aware, celebrates the heroism, goodness, decency and sheer selflessness of the few that kept the flame of humanity alive. This collection of stories takeas as its protagonists those Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who ... very simply, placed their lives on the line". Such are inspiring and weighty themes of "Azaadi!".

If you have ever met Massey, he may strike you as an "English gentleman manque". However, it is clear from this collection that, if you scratch beneath the surface, his sensibility is entirely Asian. No wonder the book is selling very well in the subcontinent.

Never having read any of his short stories earlier, I had no idea what to expect. I see that his work is closer to the work of the iconic Hindi short story writer Munshi Premchand than any other writer I know in English, and I am now convinced that Massey is undoubtedly one of our best living short story writers.

Masseyji, please abandon everything else - all your work on drama and music, all your novels and poetry - and simply give us more of your short stories for all the the rest of your life. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Should we welcome Kosovo's independence?

So one of the most corrupt and under-developed economies in Europe (per capita income only around Euros 1,700) is about to become a nation, principally because of the sponsorship of the United States and the EU.

Well, I believe in self-determination as the only grounds on which a nation or country should exist, so I must and do welcome Kosovo.

At the same time, I have a foreboding for the future of Kosovo. In the old Yugoslavia, despite all the political peculiarities of that country under Tito, the area of Kosovo was the poorest in Yugoslavia - though Kosovo received substantial development subsidies from all the other Yugoslav republics! Kosovo's economy remains weak today, principally because of corruption. One of the main exports of the country has been drugs and organised crime.

Though Kosovans are highly optimistic about their prospects after independence, I fear they are being a little unrealistic. Yes, there has been a bit of an economic boom over the last few years, but that is mainly in trade, retail and construction, with unreliable electricity supply (even more than in India!) a key constraint to the development of industries. Unemployment is around 40%. There is a massive black economy.

It remains to be seen whether the influence of the Muslim world, the EU and the USA can help Kosovans develop and clean up their country, or whether Kosovo will simply go down the economic charts even faster. The answer actually depends, not on other nations, but on whether the leaders and the people of Kosovo are prepared to pay the cost of creating the right culture. I pray for the best. Sphere: Related Content

India: Definitions and Clarifications (new book by Reginald Massey)

Mr Massey's new book, with the title above, crossed my horizon a short while ago, and it is written with passion, displaying incredibly wide historical and geographical knowledge of people, history, culture and politics to do with the peoples of South Asia (though India is of course in the foreground).

He likes to say that he is "a Pakistani by birth" (he was born in Lahore) but, because his family chose India at the time of Partition, he is "an Indian by choice".

Bred therefore in Simla and Delhi, he has been based in the UK for some decades now, for professional reasons. Mr Massey's appearance belies his age (he is MUCH older than I am, so I have to treat him with due respect! From henceforth he is therefore "Masseyji").

I must confess that I have one regret about the book. It is published by such a small publisher (Hansib, UK)! When I ask Masseyji about this, he argues that it is better to be published by an activist publisher which will do its best for you rather than by a large publishing house if they won't exert themselves for you. There is a trace of truth in this assertion but, from my perspective, only a trace: most big publishers, even if they do not particularly exert themselves for you, will outperform a small publisher which does exert itself, because of the difference in the respective weight of the publishers in the market.

In any case, the book is Masseyji's cry from the heart to the rising generation of India's young people, a plea for them to reject the various forms of political correctness (or, rather, historical falsification) with which they have been indoctrinated by their elders, discover the key truths about their history (however uncomfortable the process and the results may be), so as to be able to work for true liberation and a genuinely better future for our peoples and for the world.

Well, I don't agree that historical falsification is the principal reason for the ills of the subcontinent. My view is that the historical falsifications arose from more fundamental definciencies or ills in our respective cultures (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Burmese, Nepalese). In other words, Masseyji's book addresses a major symptom rather than the basic cause. But it is easy to see why Masseyji makes this mistake. He is a large-hearted, generous, alarmingly honest man who does not trim his sails even when that results in his distinct disadvantage - and he romantically imagines that everyone else (particularly from the subcontinent) is like him or is prepared to be like him. At the very least he seems to believe that if a large number of Indians (and South Asians) *were* like that, then the problems of the subcontinent would disappear. Actually, with the last statement, I do agree: if our people were so transformed, our problems would certainly start shrinking - and, because our people are not being so transformed, our problems are expanding at present.

However, I welcome the book and have enjoyed reading it (even where I do not agree with it), just as I enjoy Masseyji's poetry and fiction. His thoroughly authoritative books on Indian music and on Indian dance (written with his lovely wife, the actress Jamila Massey) are definitely worth keeping in one's personal library and using for reference - because one simply can't take them in at one sitting.

I greatly look forward to Masseyji's next book, on which he tells me he has started working, tentatively titled: INDIA: THE 21ST CENTURY AND THE FUTURE.

Dear Masseyji, do make sure that THAT book goes to the biggest possible publisher! Sphere: Related Content

Does anyone know the exact source of this quotation?

I wonder if any of my readers knows the source of the following quote: "When a culture attempts to be exclusive, it does not last long".

There is at least one attribution of this, on the Internet, to "Gandhi". Presumably, Mahatma Gandhi is meant.

However, I don't recollect the quote from my reading of Gandhiji's work (which I must confess was last some decades ago).

So chapter and verse please, if possible. Sphere: Related Content

A school to inspire new idealism

As one travels around India, one is struck by two apparently contradictory facts:

1. The main developmental problem faced by India today is not the physical infrastructure, it is the mental and cultural infrastructure. The required new physical infrastructure has not been built (most of what we have is what the British left us 60 years ago). And such mental and cultural infrastructure as existed on the occasion of India's independence has become weathered, eroded and degenerate, so that we are not producing enough graduates to meet the demand with the result that salaries are exploding and Western companies (even Indian companies) are beginning to look at less developed countries to find people with the right qualities and trainin, at the right salary.,

2. The above is true inspite of a huge number of schools, tutorial institutions, colleges and universities that have come up in the last 60 years.

What explains this contradition? At least two factors: (a) most of the new institutions do not serve the lower levels of India's caste structure (specially in north India, where the bulk of our population is located), and (b) such institutions may graduate people with paper qualifications, but according to at least one study only 10% of these graduates are employable and, more important, the graduates that are being produced have no ideals beyond making money as quickly as possible for themselves (and the rest of the world can go hang). I am aware that, in order to make my point, I am exaggerating - but the exaggeration is not substantial.

How refreshing then to come across a recently-established school which intends to pursue the nurture of not just intellectual development but also moral development, and not primarily for the upper castes and classes, but specifically for the lower castes and classes:

I will watch its progress with interest: many schools were started with such idealism in the past (and indeed it could be argued that whatever secularism, pluralism and democracy we still have in India is a direct result of the contribution made by such schools), but most such schools shed their "naivety" and started adjusting to the "realities" of India some decades ago, and so have lost whatever inspirational power they once possessed.

Will Gyankur School not also inevitably follow in their "realist" train?

I will watch with bated breath to see whether and how the school keeps and feeds and grows its idealism, and whether and how the school resists the blandishments of so-called pragmatism and realism.

Gyanankur is of course not the only school of this sort.

I have earlier drawn attention to Satya Niketan School in Nagod, Madhya Pradesh, central India ( So far, Satya Niketan has survived - at huge personal cost to the founders, particularly in terms of health - but it has only just survived. The question for Satya Niketan is how the next generation can continue and grow the founders' vision. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 04, 2008

Responses to my Blogs - which do I publish?

I am always happy to see responses to my Blog postings.

However, I do not publish all responses to my posts.

Some responses are in the nature of private communications even though they come through my Blog site. So these do not even get considered for publication, except by the permission of the senders.

Any incoherent or intemperate mails naturally do not usually get published.

Nor do I generally publish mails by people about whom I know nothing.

I have published one or two "Anonymous" responses, but these are exceptions. Often because I know the person and s/he does not wish to have their name mentioned for some very good reason.

In other cases, I do some due diligence on the Internet and, if there is information on the person available on the Internet, that's fine.

If there is no information that I can track down via the Internet, then I ask to have some minimum information about people who write in before I consider publishing their responses.

A few folk consider this intrusive and unnecessary. But, hey, its *my* website and that is simply the way I wish to operate it :-)

So if you want me to consider publishing your responses, its very simple: Either ensure that there is some minimum information available about you on the Internet (e.g. your own webpage or website) or respond to my request for minimum information about you.

Apart from anything else, that means that we might even become friends :) Sphere: Related Content

Bugging row breaks out in the UK

According to an article in this morning's Financial Times, titled "Brown denies he knew of bugging claims", an internal inquiry has been ordered into accusations that anti-terrorism officers bugged conversations between a Muslim Labour MP and a constituent who is in prison.

Apparently, David Davis, shadow home secretary, said he had written to the prime minister in December saying he was aware of a specific MP being bugged while in conversation with “a constituent, arrested and detained as a terrorist suspect since 2003”.

Whether or not Prime Minister Brown knew of the letter from the Shadow Home Secretary might attest to the PM's memory or to the internal organisation of his office - not great, if Mr. Davis's letter was in fact received by the PM's office.

But what no one seems to be asking is: how was Mr Davis "aware" of the MP's conversation in prison being bugged.

Where did the leak come from? Were established procedures followed in such cases if someone inside and in the know wanted to bring an abuse of justice to the attention of the responsible authorities, before a failure of such procedures led to her/ his leaking the matter to Mr. Davis? Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 02, 2008

So how is Bulgaria really doing?

A recent optimistic assessment from Europe is at:

However, the following is the view a friend who is actually on the ground: "While Bulgaria has some reasonable economic stats over the last decade for a country in transition, its just catch up - and, considering the recent entry to the EU, I would have expected more, quite frankly. I would have expected the odd year of 10%, and we are far from that. The people are still despondent, the politicians only interested in money (i.e. how to get it into their own pockets) and the current account is a real cause for concern - given the credit issues at present" Sphere: Related Content