Why ‘Citizenship Law Change’ is Just and Fair?

R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

India has amended its citizenship law. Now it helps some non-Muslims, viz., Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians of three nations to become citizens of India. The three countries are India’s Muslim-majority neighbours: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Beneficiaries under the changed law should have come into India by 31st December 2014 and been here for five years to apply for citizenship.

Renowned lawyers say the amendment is Constitutionally sound. But leaving legal issues to the Supreme Court, why is the new law just and fair, and why do the Congress and some other parties oppose it?

First, some basics. All nations have to make some key laws and regulations in tune with the psyche and aspirations of its people – in a democracy, according to the wishes of a majority of its voters, as reasonably gauged by a government or as found in a referendum where it works. Like, the UK may make a law or regulation for exiting from EEC, though a minority of voters may prefer their country remaining within EEC.

Hindus make nearly 80% of India’s population, Muslims about 14%, and others 6% as per the 2011 census. India is the land of origin of Hinduism, and this emotionally and eternally means a lot for Indian Hindus – and for Hindus elsewhere too – though the Indian Constitution may be silent about it. Indian laws do not just treat non-Hindus equally with the Hindu majority. They give minorities some privileges which the 80% Hindus don’t get. Legally, Hindus are treated somewhat unequally in the land of their origin and culture. When that inequality is worked on the ground, abused and also maladministered, it hurts the Hindus more, though that was unforeseen by the law.

Now, look at citizens of minority religions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, mainly Hindus who have ethnic links with Indian Hindus. They have been persecuted over there for years and have vastly shrunk in their numbers in those countries. Many among them have taken refuge in India. Where else will the Hindus among them go or gain sympathy and acceptance?

Hindus of India will naturally feel for the tormented members of their religion in other nations – especially Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – and would welcome India giving relief to those distressed men and women. That is natural. But something more is needed for action to help. It needs an extraordinary daring to espouse and do the right thing while governing a nation, more so when faced with opposition and protests stoked by rival political parties. This is what the BJP-led government has done through changes in the citizenship law.  While doing this right thing, the BJP will also be appreciated by large sections of Indian voters, which the Congress party and many other Opposition parties are worried about. So, the Congress and other parties oppose this measure as discriminatory – in an attempt to embrace imagined Muslim victims of the new law, and unaware that their stance distances them from a large number of voters even further.

Look at this. Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan tweets his condemnation of our changed citizenship law. The Congress party and its leader Rahul Gandhi too issue statements opposing the new law. Would you believe that Pakistan never wishes India well and so opposes India’s citizenship amendment – and that the Congress party too reflects Pakistan’s views against India? Or would you imagine that the Congress party always does things right for India and so opposes the new law – and that Pakistan too allies with Congress sentiments for the good of India? Pakistan and the Congress party together faulting the present Indian government on our domestic issue shows their desperation against the Modi government.  After all, Modi is a hurdle to both of them on their plans for India and for themselves.

Critiques in the media question why Muslims who came to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as refugees are not offered Indian citizenship on par with other refugees.  This is also the voice of some Opposition political parties.  First, Muslim nations have to take care of their Muslim citizens, and there can be no religious persecution of Muslims by Muslims. Second, this criticism is adding insult to injury for the Indian Hindus who are already being outgrown in their land by privileged minorities, especially Muslims. Accelerating the fall in the strength of the native Hindu population in any way is against the interests and well-being of Indian Hindus. You don’t need big brains to sense this. If you have doubts, ask people forming the majority religion in any other country if they would be at peace when minorities on their land steadily grow fast to outnumber the majority. India’s Hindus are beginning to realise that their tolerance, goodness and hospitality have been abused by some rulers and political parties who overly appease India’s vociferous minorities and neglect genuine Hindu concerns and anxieties.

The average Indian Muslim, whose ancestors were Hindus, is harmless and could peacefully co-exist with Indian Hindus. But he is in the grip of his religious and political exploiters and is misled by them in harbouring a needless antipathy to Hindus or imagined insecurity in India, though enjoying privileges he cannot get in any other country, even in a Muslim-majority nation.

The political and religious exploitation of Indian Muslims for the selfish gains of a few leaders plays a part in the protests stirred up against the amended citizenship law in parts of India. Concerns expressed by citizens in India’s north-eastern states are on a different footing, and the government must listen to them and resolve those issues separately. Otherwise, it is a test of strength for India’s political leadership to do the right thing, and stand by it with tact, diplomacy and resolve. Who else is our best bet on this except Narendra Modi, with Amit Shah by his side?

Copyright: R. Veera Raghavan. Article borrowed with thanks from HERE.

Why ‘Howdy Modi’ Worked Magic at Houston?

By: R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

A riveting political spectacle of 2019 was witnessed on 22nd September, themed ‘Howdy Modi’. The venue was NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas, thronged by over 50,000 Indian Americans to welcome and hear India’s prime minister Narendra Modi. He gave a rousing speech and proved he was the super hero of the event.

At the stadium, US President Donald Trump also took the stage along with Modi for some time, and later Trump came down to occupy the front row and watched the huge crowd react to the Indian leader repeatedly in rapturous applause. Trump has also recalled that the stadium scene was like rock star Elvis Presley coming back. How could Modi work his magic?

If Indian voters are delighted to see Modi and wish to give him a huge mandate in elections, that is understandable. They would want to see development around them and a better life for themselves and so they keep high hopes on a leader they perceive as strong, able and incorruptible. But Modi doesn’t hold any elective office in the US. As India’s prime minister, he didn’t do anything, and has no role to play, for the welfare of Indian Americans living in a different continent. Why should those people go in ecstasy to welcome and be with Modi?

A good number of Indian Americans who assembled at the Houston stadium should be US citizens, and many more among them would be wanting to join their ranks. But citizenship is only a matter of legal allegiance, and all of them have a soul-level attachment to India, more so when they are Hindus. If you are a Hindu born in India or if your Hindu parents were born in India and you are proud about your Hindu lineage you cannot turn your heart away from India, and a part of you will be longing for India even as you work and live abroad. Hindus look upon India as a land of holy places they revere and hence their special bond with this country. This applied to nearly everyone who was present in the NRG Stadium – and to many several times the stadium capacity who watched Modi live on television across America that day.

Look at how Sikhs deeply revere Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartapur, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, that became part of Pakistan after partition. That location is now enemy territory, but Sikhs in India – and from around the world – have unfading sentimental attachment to Kartapur and look for a pilgrimage to that gurudwara. This tells us, in a parallel, about the special attachment Indian American Hindus will have for India that is full of holy sites in its rivers, mountains, puranic locales and innumerable temples. And yes, this phenomenon has a connection with the Howdy Modi event.

An average Indian American has a higher level of education than an average native American citizen. Indian Americans know very well why their education, knowledge and competence are valued and used for the development of America, but not in India which needs those human resources more dearly. They know who the villains in India are in this story – all typical Indian politicians who entrenched themselves in power throughout India for the past several years to reap personal gains, stifling merit and talent and pampering mediocrity and letting corruption grow all round.

Most  Indians  with  a  good  academic  record  and  high merit find themselves suffocated by the country’s corrupt and degraded political atmosphere and the shackles it lays on ability, personal progress and national development. Those who can get out of the country to grow and prosper do so, and many of them reach American shores. Once there, they would be happy working their talent and reaping its benefits. They would surely be contented in a life which offers clean water, good civic services, efficient transport and assured quality education for their children, which remain a dream for the people of India. But still they won’t forget their contempt and hatred for the Indian political leaders who stunted the development of a country which the emigrated Indians emotionally love.

If those Indian Americans, and possibly their children too, spot an Indian political leader whose heart beats for India and who is honest, hard-working, humble and astute, and he looks a gift of the gods for India’s redemption and development, they are overjoyed. To them, applauding and rooting for such a new-found Indian leader is like hitting back at the other grade of Indian politicians they despise for what those politicians do or did to India.  And so Modi came and conquered the hearts and minds of Indian Americans and dazzled at the NRG Stadium.  As he also spoke credibly and evocatively to Indian Americans, they naturally warmed up to Modi with euphoria – which also meant they were gleefully kicking many rascal politicians of India who all along betrayed the land those Indian Americans deem sacrosanct.  This is why Howdy Modi glowed and galvanised Indian Americans.

Can you still not grasp why the Modi magic worked with Indian Americans in Houston? Then you don’t know how Indian politicians in government, with their little minds, let down India for long. Those politicians ruled amidst the Congress party’s shoddy track record at the Centre and in many states – specifically, when the Congress has been led by Indira Gandhi and by worse leaders later. They constantly drove bright disgruntled and choiceless Indians, still loving India, out of the country. These Indians – who are now largely spread over USA, Britain and Australia – will always cheer and celebrate Modi, the different leader. But don’t worry – in India you will still benefit from Modi.

Copyright: R. Veera Ravhavan

(This article is borrowed with thanks from here)

Rahul Gandhi Quits as Congress President and Remains Big Boss

R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

Rahul Gandhi has resigned as president of the Congress after his party performed poorly in this year’s Lok Sabha elections. Does he appear a principled leader? A screaming no.

Assume you and your doting mother hold a huge majority shareholding in a company which hires a few officers and a large number of employees, and you are its chief executive officer on the mere strength of your family shareholding, not on leadership qualities. If you resign as CEO when your company flounders in business and you ask your officers to choose a new CEO, mostly one of them, you can’t expect any of them to take your place readily, can you? You know, and they know, and the world knows, that you will be the back-seat driver for any new CEO who should carry out your wishes or implement your orders. If he fails, he will humbly accept responsibility and you won’t take blame again, but if the company sees some success under his leadership, he and the whole company will credit you for all your advice and support to the new CEO and you’ll be projected the real winner. So when you announce you are resigning, all officers will feel secure in first appealing to you to take back your resignation to ensure you don’t spite them for any impertinence of independence – some clever officer could even tell you, to signal his loyalty, that unless you stick on as CEO a few employees of his department might commit suicide, though it will never happen. When they keep pleading with you for weeks, one of the company officers could be installed the new CEO whom you will have approved in the backroom.

The picture is no different in the Congress, with Rahul and his indulgent mother Sonia Gandhi enjoying a tight grip over the party, and the son announcing he is quitting as president after failing in a national election campaign. The party’s second-rung leaders and managers will disfavour Rahul’s resignation and want Sonia family leadership to continue, since they benefit personally from the present dynastic arrangement. That’s another story.

For public consumption, Rahul said he won’t be president anymore since he led the party in the last Lok Sabha polls and he must show ‘accountability’ for the result. If he is honest about this reason, he should wish that if the party fares much better in the next Lok Sabha elections under a new president that leader will be the party’s candidate for prime minister too – which is the other side of accountability. But you know that Rahul cannot stretch accountability to such logic or sense. Even if Rahul offers the prime minister’s post to another Congress leader, be sure that Rahul will merrily carry on with back-seat driving – like his mother did for ten years without losing primacy in the party.

For a recent view of true accountability among political leaders, look at David Cameron of UK’s Conservative Party. In 2016, one year into the second term of his British prime ministership, he campaigned throughout the country in the Brexit referendum, urging voters to say yes for UK remaining within the European Union. When a majority of the voting people rejected his appeal and opted to leave, he resigned as prime minister, aware that his chances of leading the party or the government later were quite remote, and in any case that could not be taken for granted. But India’s Rahul Gandhi knows that his sense of accountability is phoney, and he will wield the same power within the Congress after resigning as president.  Here is proof, as you compare some thoughts of the two leaders.

      Listen to these words David Cameron uttered in June 2016 outside 10 Downing Street when he announced he was stepping down as prime minister after the Brexit referendum.

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected…… Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made……. I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul…. But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path ….. The British people have made a choice, that not only needs to be respected but those on the losing side of the argument – myself included – should help to make it work.”

That was David Cameron.  Now read parts of Rahul Gandhi’s statement of 3rdJuly 2019 about the defeat his party suffered in the recent Lok Sabha polls, when he had spearheaded the Congress campaign. Did he say he respected the will of the people and that he looked upon the newly elected BJP government as people’s choice? No, nothing of that kind. Did he acknowledge any shortcoming in his party’s policies or in his leadership as the cause for people’s rejection? Not at all. What did he say? He shamelessly hinted and said enough to mean that the press, the election commission and even the judiciary and also “the entire machinery of the Indian state” and every institution in the country were ranged against him or the Congress party – and that is why the party lost in the polls. Here, some excerpts from Rahul Gandhi’s statement:

“A free and fair election requires the neutrality of a country’s institutions; an election cannot be fair without arbiters – a free press, an independent judiciary, and a transparent election commission that is objective and neutral. Nor can an election be free if one party has a complete monopoly on financial resources. ….. We didn’t fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather, we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution of which was marshalled against the opposition. It is now crystal clear that our once cherished institutional neutrality no longer exists in India.”

      While campaigning, if David Cameron spoke ‘head, heart and soul’,  Rahul Gandhi spoke tongue, cheek and foul. Post results, unlike the  Englishman, Rahul cares   nothing for  people’s  mandate in favour of his political opponents and he faults the “entire machinery of the Indian state” – whatever he meant by the high-sounding phrase – for losing an election. Is this the path to accountability? Is it not plain arrogance?  If the entire machinery of the Indian state is working against the Congress party, how will a new president of that party change such horrible ground realities, even if this joke is reality? Or, if what Rahul meant was that he as an individual, rather than the Congress party, was the victim of the entire machinery of the Indian state, should he not quit the party and remove the sole obstacle to its victory in elections?  Rahul is either arrogant or comical, and sometimes both. What a tragedy for a party that had a glorious past.

      Three days ago, The Hindu carried an interview with senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid who described an essential attribute of the successor for Rahul Gandhi as party president. He said the new leader would not be a ‘replacement’ for Rahul Gandhi – like anyone might think about a successor to a post. Describing Rahul Gandhi as a “larger-than-life leader”, Salman said something more which anybody would guess as Rahul’s wish. That is, the next party president in the Congress “should be someone who can work in tandem” with Rahul.  Mind you, Rahul and other leaders in the party will not work in tandem with the new president. The new head of the party should work in tandem with Rahul. Well, that’s what happened with every other Congressman when Rahul was president, and it’s going to be the same after a new president comes in. Ask any child who will answer you right: who is always the big boss in the Congress now?

(This article is borrowed with thanks from HERE.

Copyright © R. Veera Raghavan 2019)

Why You Should Stand up for Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi

1 of 2: By: R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

You know the latest Indian high functionary who faces allegations of sexual misconduct – it doesn’t get bigger than this, at least for now. He is the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi who is accused of sexual harassment by a former woman employee of the supreme court.

Denying the allegations, the Chief Justice wondered whether a ‘bigger force’ might be at work to “deactivate the office of the Chief Justice of India” and he regretted that “things have gone too far”. You would empathise with him if you sniff the air over India’s public life and sense your conscience, keeping aside any lawyerly instincts in you.

True, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not quite realise an earlier attempt to denigrate the office he now holds, when Justice Dipak Misra was his predecessor Chief Justice in the same court. That was in Jan. 2018 when Justice Gogoi, as the next CJI in line, joined three other sitting judges of the supreme court to call a press conference and voice their grievance publicly against Chief Justice Dipak Misra on administrative issues. Doing that was a blatant indiscretion for a judge, apart from anything more as it could be. If you faulted Justice Gogoi for such indiscretion you did it for a higher cause – to cherish the independence and dignity of the office of India’s Chief Justice. It is that higher cause that tells you now to back him and help him stand tall and uphold the prestige of his present office as Chief Justice of India.

It should have been really hard for Justice Ranjan Gogoi to live down his image in the backdrop of that infamous press meet and then, after he became CJI, establish himself as an upright no-nonsense non-partisan head of the nation’s judiciary, clearing any lurking doubts on the way. It is a transformation for the good, and now he needs and deserves our support.

When Chief Justice Dipak Misra headed the supreme court, surely a ‘bigger force’ was at work against him. That was a desperate political force that tried to get him impeached but failed. Don’t be surprised if the same political force has grown more desperate and is turning against the current Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who has been straightforward and has given clear signs of independence. No marks for answering this no-brainer: which political party as of today will be most troubled by an independent chief justice leading the supreme court, and so it could be behind or alongside any move to shame and intimidate him? You’ll get it right – though you may say it or hide it depending on your political affiliation and how clean you keep your conscience.

Some clever lawyers and their tutored political clients might ask with a chuckle, “What’s the proof for the ‘bigger force’ Chief Justice Gogoi suspects?” Well, the bigger force that rooted for Justice Ranjan Gogoi before his elevation as Chief Justice of India and applauded his joint press conference against the previous Chief Justice, does not stand with him now. That force cannot remain aloof or silent, and the only thing it should be doing now is this: work against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, because after his elevation as the top most judge he has belied some expectations and he functions fairly and independently.

Remember the unforgettable Justice Kurian Joseph? He was one of the four sitting judges of the supreme court who appeared at their joint press meet against the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Quickly after his retirement, Kurian Joseph was interviewed on television and by newspapers when he dropped a bombshell. He said that he and the other three press-conference judges, as also many other unnamed brother judges and the media too, had perceived that Chief Justice Dipak Misra was under some external influence and was losing his independence. In the same breath, Kurian Joseph said with a straight face that he or anybody else could not identify that external influence and could only perceive its presence. Did any of the other sources Kurian Joseph claimed as sharing his perception on Chief Justice Dipak Misra come out to confirm his assertion? No.

Through his post-retirement interviews, did Kurian Joseph severely assault the dignity of the leader of India’s judiciary? Absolutely. Did he furnish any scrap of proof? Nothing, as he owned up.  Was he, for what he expressed, in contempt of the supreme court? Yes – he was just lucky not to be tried for contempt. Did television channels and newspapers, and other prominent lawyers and critics who fault Chief Justice Gogoi at this moment, criticise Kurian Joseph at that time for his vague and flimsy allegation against Chief Justice Dipak Misra? No, not at all. Now, don’t you see who the chief actors are in the ‘bigger force’ Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi spoke about as a real threat to an independent judiciary? India should beware, or pay a heavy price.

Let’s also remember that with right objectives we have made some wrong laws, conferring excessive rights on some groups of persons and resulting in excessive disabilities on another group of persons.  We don’t find any significant betterment or upliftment of the group that is given such excessive rights, but we see some mischief makers among that group uncontrollably abuse their special rights and torment their victims. One such law gives excessive rights to women, enabling them to name a man with an allegation of the widely-defined ‘rape’ or related offences but restraining all from revealing her name and identity.  Any sexual offender should be severely punished.  But there is no justification for leaving an open field for tormenting innocent men or keeping men in fear of being named and shamed – for as long as it goes – by mischievous women who could remain anonymous or by any ‘bigger force’ partnering with such a woman to intimidate a man who doesn’t yield to that force.

Many men would  wish they don’t  work closely with women at offices and risk false charges of any kind of sexual harassment coming at them later to settle personal scores. This is truer with men supervising women in the workplace since anybody likes to go around, not near, a suspected pitfall. Even a judge, even the Chief Justice of India, has to watch out. This is due to the nature of ordinary humans in any country, race or religion, to abuse a benefit or advantage and score over others if there is no effective check.  There is no gender bias in this view.

If you read the complaint of the former woman employee of the supreme court, you’ll find that the offence she details and describes comes close to the legal definition for the offence of rape though she has not used that term.  That’s why the media – in compliance with a perceived legal prohibition – has not published the accuser’s name, but anyone is free to mention the name of CJI Ranjan Gogoi. If you, whether a man or woman, feel he has been falsely and maliciously accused, you cannot know the identity of the dubious complainant even if you just wish to curse her for her motive. The offence allegedly took place in October 2018, the complainant later faced a departmental enquiry on some unrelated charges and she was dismissed from the supreme court in December 2018. Now, on 19th April 2019, she has come out with a sexual harassment charge against the CJI.

As Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi remarked, “things have gone too far”. And so, the complaint against him has to be prudently handled.  But surely the time has come to insulate all judges of the supreme court, as long as they are in office, from any criminal proceeding. Like the President and Governor of a State have such protection, judges of the supreme court need it for more weighty reasons. When some thirty Governors of our States, who are mostly retired politicians, are kept out of any criminal prosecution with no harm occurring to anyone, do it for all supreme court judges too.

As we should take care in the selection of upright independent judges to the supreme court, they should not also be left vulnerable to easy threats of blackmail and intimidation when they are in office. We need a sensible balancing of the public interest, and we should fashion our laws accordingly. After all, we know what some nasty politicians and cunning businessmen are capable of, and to what lengths they may go, to subdue a judge who may be the last hurdle on their mad run. Let’s not be fake and pretentious. Let’s be real and honest.

(Note: This article is borrowed with thanks from HERE)

Copyright R. Veera Raghavan

2 of 2: By: Shreepal Singh

It was said a long time ago – exactly in 1993. And in the efforts to destablize Indian judiciary – first reflected in the holding of a Press Conference against the Chief Justice of India (Justice Deepak Mishra) and again reflected in the allegation of sexual assault on a woman employee by the Chief Justice of India (Justice Ranjan Gogoi) now – it has come true. It was almost a prediction based on commonsense. It was – then – said that the corrupt money generated by economic liberalization “without imposing an iron-discipline of an enlightened life and its values” would step by step destroy all organs of Indian democratic institutions.

The exact words used – linked to the original writing – are thus:

They felt that the money power generated by such economic liberalization would percolate down step by step to a large number of middle and higher sections of the Indian society, which sections in turn, with the help of their money power, would eat away the purity of all democratic institutions of national governance, viz., political parties, Parliament, judiciary, bureaucracy etc. It was the foreboding of a coming corrupt India.

Pulwama Tragedy: Does It Prick Your Conscience?

By: R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

Loving your motherland, you should be quite disturbed over the massacre witnessed at Pulwama three days ago – when a nineteen-year old Islamic terrorist triggered explosives and killed more than forty of India’s security forces moving on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. You will have some troubling questions too.

A chief reason for India not decisively succeeding in the war on terror in Kashmir is this: much of the regional population, including local political leaders in the Valley, are more beholden to separatists and extremists than to India. When militants hold sway over there, and many local politicians too have open or concealed allegiance to them – out of choice and out of fear – people will also tend to trust militants as their true protectors and saviours more than a law-abiding Indian government.  So, militants appear even more powerful to all, and people growing up in Kashmir naturally look up to militants as heroes and saviours.  Pakistan too trains and aids those militants and has gained a soft corner among Muslims of Kashmir. This is well known.

We are repeatedly failing to win over much of the local population in the Kashmir Valley, alienate the terrorists and vanquish terrorism in the Valley. After all, as a huge nation India is capable of ushering in development in Jammu and Kashmir state, including the Kashmir Valley, on a larger scale and faster pace than what a decadent Pakistan or J&K’s selfish local politicians and chieftains could do. This should be obvious to everyone including the Kashmiris. Why is a great nation continuously faltering in Kashmir and suffering such a loss of honour and authority in a tiny part of its land, in the Kashmir Valley?

Assume for a moment that Kashmir, its people and its militancy stay, but that the geography of the rest of India is composed of the United States of America, with Americans living here and Trump ruling from Delhi. Do you think a Delhi-based American government will be failing for long to stamp out terrorism on its own territory, Kashmir Valley, and losing its soldiers like Indians who actually rule from Delhi? No is the answer you’ll get.

In the US, Americans take pride in being Americans, as simply belonging to that country. Their Christianity plays no part here. They feel proud as a nation which is affluent and dominating the world in many spheres.  They would feel ashamed to let any group of people in a miniscule part of their own territory hold the nation to ransom and kill or injure American troops for long. The whole of American people and Opposition politicians will also back their government in any stern action on terrorists to impose government’s authority on disturbed areas. India is not strong that way, and we have problems among people too.

In India, Hindus form 80% of the population.  Here, Hindus take pride being in the Hindu religion and revere the many temples, holy places, holy rivers and holy mountains that dot the Indian landscape. They derivatively love India which houses such venerable kshetras or localities. They look upon their land as a protective mother, and almost worship their land as Mother India or Bharat Mata. It is this sentiment of being Hindus that holds them together, and it is that way Indian Hindus love being Indians – not the way of Americans in the US.

Now, look at Muslims of India who form about 13% of the country’s population. They do not revere the land of India for the presence of any place they consider holy, and have no such religious or emotional attachment to the land of India. Their allegiance to their religion is a stand-alone, and it stops there. They don’t have much of relish being Indians for non-religious reasons, like Americans love being Americans. Not being idol worshippers, they don’t relish calling their country as Mother India and do not share any such sentiment with Hindus.  Still however, many of them would like to multiply and expand their presence in India and diminish the presence of Hindus, which is simply a desire to subjugate Hindus in the land of their origin.

Sadly, from a very young age many Muslims get infused with a passion to consolidate among themselves and not bond with Hindus. Since it is difficult for anyone to pull away from one’s religious masters, especially among a preaching-oriented Islam, the mental divide between Hindus and Muslims of India is not easy to bridge. This phenomenon is most pronounced in Kashmir, where Muslims vastly outnumber Hindus and the urge to dominate Hindus and distance themselves from a Hindu India is proportionately intense.  Separatists, militants and terrorists among those Muslims appear as protectors of the common people and rule their minds. With all this, when India’s Constitution too supports a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and sanctions exclusive privileges to persons considered permanent residents in that state, the militants and separatists in the Valley feel more entrenched – because, for them, this legal provision automatically separates their state from the rest of India half-way. It is like thrusting an AK47 in the hands of someone who is just wielding a lathi. These combined realities in Kashmir stand in the background of the Pulwama tragedy.

Let the Indian government act against the plotters of the Pulwama carnage. It should know when and how. But Hindus across India have an important thing to do. They must bond among themselves in a deeper and more demonstrative way.  They must not remain disjointed or loosely-joined in their mutual relations. This is not to cause any harm to Muslims of India, but to signal to them that India is the land of origin for the Hindus and that the Hindu character of India cannot be weakened by anyone, but is to be respected by all others in India practising other religions.  This will announce that Hindus are a giant in India, though gentle, and that a giant is not to be teased and tossed. Nothing is a greater tragedy than a giant mentally cowering before a pigmy and not looking a giant. Nothing is a pleasanter sight than a giant treating a pigmy gently and honourably – not also letting the pigmy ride on the shoulders of the giant to look taller and stronger than the biggie. Hindus of India must come together and show such an image of a giant which they are.

Centuries back, when alien Muslims invaded India and killed and humiliated Hindus, the invaders held strong swords and had their way.  Now Muslims of India hold strong nerves and overawe Hindus in the same India. So there is a need for a robust psychological unity among Hindus themselves for a just equation to settle among all in Indian society. If that happens, wily politicians will realise that taking Hindus for granted and appeasing Muslims for narrow politicking will not be rewarding. We have already seen the benefits of Hindu unity in the protests against Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu who denigrated Goddess Andal, and in the recent Sabarimala solidarity movement in Kerala.

Indian Muslims, including their mullahs, should know that their ancestors were Hindus, and in any case Indian Muslims live in a Hindu majority nation. They cannot hope to live a better life elsewhere, even in a Muslim majority nation – least of all in Pakistan – and should be grateful for being in India.

Recognising the strength of the majority people of a nation where one lives as a minority group is no insult, and is the normal courtesy to be shown to the majority. Indian Hindus living in the US or Britain as a minority do it and are happy for it – enjoying no special privileges in those nations. Indian Hindus living in Saudi Arabia or Dubai have also no special privileges for them in those countries and they could be subject to some restrictions over there, and are still contended.

With a healthy and honourable outlook, Indian Muslims too can live with dignity in India without causing anxiety or suffocation to Hindus of India. This awareness among Indian Muslims will promote a true fellow-feeling among Hindus and Muslims who have to co-exist in this nation. So, in different ways Pulwama should prick the conscience of India’s Hindus and Muslims and prod them to introspect for their mutual good. But first, the giant should fully wake up, realise his strength and stature and reveal the same, so his gentleness is not abused. He has to help himself, and no government can do it for him. Will he? That’s the big question.

Copy right @ R. Veera Raghavan 2019

This article is thankfully borrowed from HERE

Sabarimala and the Supreme Court Judgment

By: R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

Can you name the most talked about judgment of the supreme court in recent years? You are right, if you answered “the Sabarimala judgement”.

By a 4:1 majority, supreme court judges declared a week ago that women aged 10 to 50 could also worship at Sabarimala temple in Kerala, as part of their religious freedom.  But this ruling is not relished by an incredibly large number of women whom the court thought was rescuing from an unlawful denial of freedom. Huge numbers of women have come out in the open in Kerala, displaying their resentment spontaneously through rallies everyone can see, while political-minded Hindu-bashers are elated.  What has gone wrong, and where?

Hindus have been observing a rule in their pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple where the presiding deity is Lord Ayyappa. That is, women in menstruating age do not, and are not allowed to, visit the temple. For convenience, the Travancore Devaswom Board determined that age group as 10 to 50.  This practice has been followed for centuries in Sabarimala, since the temple first opened. Kerala had also recognized this practice by making it a statutory rule which was questioned before the supreme court. After a hearing, the court struck down that rule as opposed to its parent statute and violative of the Constitution too. Now there is no legal bar on women of any age to visit Sabarimala temple.

Don’t you know: Hinduism is not observed the same way in all of India’s regions or amidst all its people or even between those within a family. Believers express their submission to God or their acknowledgement of a supreme being in diverse ways – privately, publicly, ceremonially, subtly, joyfully or as a penance.  If men alone pray in a temple or women alone worship at a shrine, and neither group feels left out or excluded, law must recognize and protect those practices.

All religious beliefs and practices are a matter of faith. Keep or follow them, as a member of that religion, if you have faith. No one should object to those beliefs and practices, unless they or the way they are observed inflict suffering on another person.  So why not legally recognize those practices and let them prevail? After all, even Communists whose political beliefs and objectives do not honestly go with democracy are allowed a free play under our democratic Constitution.

If a law lets people follow a religion without asking for rational proof of existence of the God they pray – that’s good – but forcibly thrusts its idea of equality between men and women for the way they worship their God, is that law rational?

To be sure, don’t imagine that the law aims to liberate Muslim and Hindu women on an equal footing, and that just as the supreme court invalidated triple talaq and saved Muslim women, so it helped Hindu women by lifting the bar for their entry into Sabarimala temple. There is no comparison between these issues. Better say it and explain, in case anyone thinks otherwise.

To start with, marriages are also a protection for a woman, unlike for a man. No woman of any religion, certainly no Indian woman, would relish her husband having a right to divorce her at his unquestioned sweet will by uttering a word three times. So, the supreme court’s judgement of doing away with triple talaq is a true liberation from a clear injustice for Muslim women. The Sabarimala verdict does not cure any injustice on Hindu women. Nor does it create any equality for them with men.  It dismantles no discrimination against Hindu women. In fact, they cheerfully stand by the men in their families who gear up for 41 days before journeying to Sabarimala, and support in preparatory ceremonies in their homes. They feel blessed for their men’s journey to the hill temple and for the backstage roles they play at home.  To look upon women in the age group of 10 to 50 as suffering some inequality or injustice here is to blindfold reality.

A Constitution and a law will evoke respect among men and women it is meant to serve if it reflects the peaceful aspirations of those people.  The law contained in the Sabarimala judgement doesn’t score high marks on this touchstone – because the Sabarimala temple is perceived in the mind of Hindu men and women differently from other temples, even other Ayyappa temples. There are about 1,000 other temples for Lord Ayyappa which all women freely visit.  But the Lord’s deity in Sabarimala temple is believed to be in the form of anaisthik brahmachari (an eternal celibate), and legend says that the mode and manner of worship at this temple was revealed by the Lord himself. So, Hindus view the Sabarimala deity and its rules of worship uniquely, though they may not explain their sensibilities in cold logic to the satisfaction of an inquiring court. You will appreciate this better with an example.

If a mad government or temple administration bans the entry of women of any age group in Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameswaram, or Kashi Vishwanath temple at Varanasi, Indian women are not going to take it. Nor will Indian men. And, when that happens, if the supreme court steps in and overturns the ban, that verdict is going to be hailed by all women, and men too.  Do you now get an idea of the different perceptions of Hindus about their different Gods?

To be sure again, sensible persons don’t expect the law to stand aside and permit every action or practice prevalent in a society on the strength of a religion, even if it hurts others unfairly and cannot survive in modern times.  Law has to do its pruning on such actions or practices, wherever it nurtures people’s mental health, unity, freedom and happiness – as was done with the abolition of sati or with the codification of the Hindu law. As in good pruning, law makers should know where and how far to click their scissors and where to stop.

The Sabarimala judgement could also trouble Hindus for a psychological reason, in the environment they live in.  Indian law, law enforcers and politicians treat adherents of alien minority religions more indulgently and respectfully, and they have privileges that are denied to Hindus in the land of their forefathers.  With all this, when Hindus witness on the ground more of antipathy and conversion agents from other religions fiercely at work, any sort of hit Hindus take from the State gives them more hurt than the real blow. So, Hindus deserve some sympathy and a soothing touch at this time from fellow Hindus.  Now let us move on.

Where do we go from here? Hindu women aged 10 to 50 have something to do – the very young ones will of course be advised by adult women in the family.  If a third person has to view them as genuine and serious with their long-held Sabarimala faith and practices, they just have to keep off Sabarimala temple till they reach 50 as they did before the supreme court verdict. As long as they do this, their sense of pride and dignity about their religious beliefs will shine more than before.  If a few women in that age group will be seen in Sabarimala temple from now on, it makes no difference – that scene will only highlight the fact many are not coming.  If abstainers can stick to their resolve they stand taller for what they assert on their wish or belief. Succeeding generations can take their call, as the present generation has done for itself. Fair enough?

(Note: This article is borrowed with thanks from HERE)

Copyright © R. Veera Raghavan 2018

A note by: Shreepal Singh

Equality under Indian Constitution is NOT absolute. Those who have anything to do with law in India, like lawyers, know very well that Supreme Court itself propounded the law of “reasonable classification” under the very concept of equality.

This enunciation of law is that there cannot be an absolute equality; that there can be classification; that this classification must  be to seek an objective; that this classification must have a reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved (by such classification).

Now, as the Hindu belief goes, it is the temple of Lord Ayyappa and it is HIS wish or dictates that must prevail here in the matter of granting PRIVILEGE to whom HE wishes to bestow upon: Men or Women or Both or None.

Humans are not supposed to have any rights or claims enforceable against HIM. Constitution applies to humans and not to God – God, the way HE is believed by humans.

Simply put, it is a matter of faith – whatever this faith be and Constitution itself protects such religious faith and belief, even if it looks discriminatory.

Thus, where the Supreme Court finds  it discriminatory, the women in large number in Kerala do not find any discrimination in this practice, and these very women are now out in agitation against the supreme Court judgment that gives these women equality with men!

Does it not sound very strange that those who got right are agitating against the grant of that right?

Indeed, it is very strange; because faith does not demand reason in its application in the form of religious practices and traditions. Faith and belief are something else! And they are very valuable ones. They are protected by the Constitution – unless, of course, they seek to sabotage the State established by this very Constitution, either by their intent or by words or by actions!!

Pranab Mukherjee at RSS Meet: He Came, He Spoke, He Conveyed Nothing

(1) of (2): By: R. Veera Raghavan, Advocate, Chennai

Blog site at: rvr-india.blogspot.com

Former President Pranab Mukherjee addressed volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at its Nagpur headquarters on the 7th of this month. His speech was keenly awaited by leaders of the RSS, while his very presence at an RSS meet was openly disfavoured by the Congress party.  Now what he spoke matters.

“Any attempts at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity…… We derive our strength from tolerance ……” were some of the formal high-sounding words Pranab Mukherjee uttered at Nagpur.  At one end these words seem to convey right and noble thoughts, but at the other end they really ride over reality. Anyone who remembers the bloodied history of India’s many regions and the attack on its ancient Hindu religion – the assault continuing to this day in creeping milder forms– will know that the former President skillfully said nothing worth remembering.

No one quarrels with Pranab that “hatred and intolerance” cannot be the proud hallmarks of a nation’s character. Hatred generally connotes a blind unreasoned dislike for another person, and it cannot help a peaceful society.  As for intolerance, no doubt the former President spoke of it as a cousin of hatred, i.e., an attitude that allows little room for free speech and legitimate dissent in a democracy.  So far so good.  As for “dogmas of religion”, we know that the Indian Constitution does not allow such dogmas guiding the affairs of central and state governments – as in the Vatican City or in Saudi Arabia. So dogmas are not a real issue with anyone.  What Pranab spoke in the same breath calls for criticism.

Pranab said that our nationhood is not to be defined in terms of “identities of religion, region” also. Did he mean that no one should imagine India as a Hindu nation or Muslim nation or Christian nation or a nation of any other religion? No, he meant only one religion. He spoke his words when, amidst forced and enticed conversions witnessed all through in India, Hindus make up for nearly 80% of India’s population, Muslims 14% and persons of other religions 6% – according to 2011 census. He frowned on “identities of region” when followers of the majority religion in India consider Kasi, Mathura, Ayodhya and Rameswaram among their holy places and the Ganges and a few other rivers specially sacred, and so hold the whole of India dear to them.

India is the heartland of Hindus. Hindus take pride in being Hindus and passionately look upon India as a Hindu nation, with its fabled Hindu history and epics. Though Indian Hindus speak different languages, their religion is their unifying force.  It is the deep widespread Hindu faith of its people that holds India together, and nothing else comes close, not even the Constitution. Then why should they not feel proud about something that keeps them together and not say it aloud too?  Whom does it bother if they do it?

Though Pranab did not specify a religion, obviously he sensed an urge among Indian Hindus to view India as a Hindu nation and so he spoke of it disapprovingly. If their urge was not real and widespread, he would not have talked about a non-existent wish among any sizeable group of people.  So it is clear he was really cautioning about the Indian Hindus.

No other country, no other people, will find it odd that Hindus of India consider their land a Hindu nation – just as, for good reason, Pakistanis look at their land as a Muslim nation or the Israelis call their country a Jewish state.  It is some Indians who, aiming for domestic political gains, do not relish Indian Hindus calling India a Hindu nation. Congressmen in India take this stance in the hope of harvesting bulk votes in some quarters. Perhaps the Congressman in Pranab intrinsically got the better of the Hindu in him.

Every society may look upon something it possesses to feel special and proud about itself. Such a feeling binds them more and helps their progress.  That sentiment is to be welcomed and applauded, so long as it is not a tool to subjugate or attack other people.  For Indian Hindus, forming 80% of the Indian population, their religion and their land are special.  They will naturally identify their country with them and with their religion, even as they are friendly with religious minorities.  Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are religions born in India, out of the  Hindu religion, but to this day Hindus keep friendly relations with people of those faiths. That is enough proof that Hindus are a tolerant society, not easily found elsewhere. But if some religions and their heads pose a threat to Hindu beliefs and culture, why will Hindus of today not resist and rally among themselves to guard their religion?

It was because India’s regions and Hindu religion were tolerant to other faiths – and overly accommodating too – that foreign religions could enter and thrive in India.  As late as 1950 when India’s Constitution was adopted, when Hindus formed 84% of the Indian population as found in the census of 1951, some special favours too were conferred on religious minorities. Which other people of a country have denied some special favours to themselves though forming 84% of the population, while granting them to religious minorities under a Constitution?  And then going down on numbers in their land once conquered and ruled by people of other faiths who are now growing in size within the country? Facing the prospect of its majority religion slowly turned into a minority? And still getting a rap from a former President for its people being naturally proud of their region and religion?  Out of this bakwas, let my country awake.

Note: Copyright © R. Veera Raghavan 2018


(2) of (2) By: Shreepal Singh

Pranab Mukherji comes from Bengal, a place that taught India in the voice of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo what Indian nationalism stands for. But unfortunately Pranabda did not seem to know the A B Cs of what these two great sons of Mother India taught.

He is a learned man, comes from the place where these great personalities played their epoch making roles and has been the President of India, and he is supposed to know what they taught. Alas, he apparently seems to know nothing.

He spoke at the RSS meet by quoting dictionary about the meaning of nationalism and about the ‘need of an Indian nationalism that is inclusive and diverse.’ Does he not know that in India Hindus are in overwhelming majority and it is because of these Hindus that India and Indian nationalism have been inclusive of all kinds of diversity –  religious and not religious? Who have been accommodated – and included – here by Hindus – they who do not accommodate others where they are in Hindu like majority! He should have underlined this merit of Hindu nationalism in his address but he parroted a Nehruvian punchlines by implication that RSS’ brand Hindu nationalism should be ‘inclusive of diversity’ as if it had a history of atrocities on non-conforming diverse segments.

Why did Pranabda fail to underscore this reality? Perhaps, he is too indebted to Congress – because we give him a benefit of doubt that he is naive or a fool !

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