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Is India really “secular” ?

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The word which has been used or should I say misused most in Indian political drama is “Secular”.  Even without getting into what this word actually means.

I looked up on Wikipedia for the essence of the word which has decided political fortunes of many leaders and parties of India and this is what I got.

“A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.[1] A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/nonreligion over other religions/nonreligion. Secular states do not have a state religion (established religion) or equivalent, although the absence of a state religion does not necessarily mean that a state is fully secular.”

India, for whatever reasons, do have inequality regarding the treatment of its citizens whether its personal laws of Muslims different from other population or Muslims being given a subsidy for their religious pilgrimage HAJ.

Religious symbols of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity merged into one to form OM, Vedic Symbol

This is one dimension of the issue. Every government project is inaugurated with Hindu rituals in a state which calls itself “Secular”. It certainly doesn’t add up to the “Secular” credentials of India. Then there are scholarships and financial assistance dolled out to people from a specific religion in one state ruled by a party which pat itself on the back for being “secular”.

The we have rules and regulation which give government the right over temple funds while no such regualation is done on Sikh Gurudwras or  Muslim Waqf-Boards and Mosques.

These examples clearly showcase deviance of India from the universally accepted definition and  values of “Secularism”

When we go into the definition of a “Secular” person more amazing results are found and if applied to present scenario in India, very few would want themselves to be called “secular” in that sense.

So in globally accepted definition and values of “secularism” a “secular” person is most likely perceived to be an atheist in India and in a way socially and politically un-touchable.It amuses me then how some politicians and their  supporter shout from the rooftop how “secular” they are completely unaware of the fact that by doing so they are presenting themselves in completely opposite manner than what they intended to do.

In India, one more thing is very common. Opposing main opposition party BJP is also considered a benchmark of being “Secular”.  And whoever  support them is branded “communal”. They really think that “Communal” is antonym of “Secular”.
If you say, you are a Proud Muslim, Sikh or Buddhist, you are good, secular and patriotic. But if you say you are a proud Hindu, all hell break loose.  You are branded Fascist, Nazi and what not in a country full of Hindus, which never attacked any other country, never even tried to convert a single person of other religion and was one of the few places to give Jews protection when whole world was thirsty of their blood.
Being Hindu is no different From Being a “Secular” notwithstanding what definition you apply.
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Height of Hypocrisy !!!

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                                                                                “I HATE RACIST, BLACKS AND HYPOCRITES.”

I never really understood this word until when I came into contact with people who were un-apologetically having double standard over some very important issues. Hypocrisy comes in every shape and sizes. In every color and shades. In every sound and bits.

Hypocrisy is mostly generated by the intentional absence of logic and ability to see the facts in totality. Hypocrisy thrives on selective morality and worldview over different  issues. Hypocrisy is outcome of partial bend of mind.

Take a look at history of India. Its full of foreign invaders plundering  it mercilessly and looting its riches. That is a historical fact. To justify the present condition of India totally on it would not be fair as other factors would also count. But to ignore it completely would also not be justified as the amount of wealth which has gone out of India through series of such foreign invasion is too vast to ignore.

What irks me is that whenever I mention of this historical robbery of Indian wealth as one of the main reasons of misery of present day Indians, I am met with hypocritical response from people who are fully convinced that it doesn’t have anything to do with current state of affairs in India. And these are the same people who would quote historical facts about western world to prove how  some specific action and events are dependent of certain historic events. The hypocrisy is evident.  These same people would justify bombing of some Muslim countries by countries like USA, self-proclaimed DAROGA of the world, on the pretext that these countries were involved in terrorist activities. Height of Hypocrisy !!!

There is no denying that Nehru Dynasty( It sounds like Indian Democracy) couldn’t have done worse managing social and economical affairs of India, but my point is that even bestest management of Indian affairs could not have compensated  the socio-economical devastation which British and other invaders brought on India. Just a little glance at the fact that India contributed a whopping 25% of total GDP of world when British came and only 3% when they exited the country, speaks enough volume of what bad effects British brought on India.

Those who deny this fact are like ostrich. And they are plenty.

While talking about hypocrisy, how can I forget the atmosphere at blog of a foreigner living in India. The rule there are very clear cut. There is absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever. The rule is that if you have anything bad to tell about Indian men, specially Hindu men, India, Hinduism, you are most welcome. Write so many passages you wish to describe how this species is worse among all the Homo-Sapiens.  As and when you try to defend your views or yourself, a confused moderator, who would actually allow certain people to call other people BASTARD but would not ‘tolerate’ a subtle ‘BS’ in a casual usage, would come and say, its going off-the topic when the truth is that most of the comments before and after the comments of that poor soul were out off-the-topic.

Its very cool to talk about the lack of  logic, moral in Hindus of India but same group of people are totally spineless in discussing even the very obvious logical fallacy in Islam.

There is a certain American character  (sometimes she visit this blog too)  on that blog, who every now and then keeps abusing Indian males in every possible western slang. She can convert any topic in to a discussion of malnutrition children in India. That, no doubt, is a very critical issue on which the future and existence of our country stand. We should do our best to tackle that problem in our best capacity.  But then there is time an place for everything. She would always rants about Indian males and is always off-topic but she never get caught. Is it a co-incidenc e or double standards ( a euphemism for hypocrisy)..??

She, in one instance, says that Indian should never talk about the foreign invasion so many generations after freedom. According to her, even Rome was looted and plundered. This argument is like saying that even plants have life so vegetarians should get off their high horse of morality over meat-eaters. On another instance she keeps digging in to the history to look for ‘facts’ to prove her silly points.

She would talk about how many Kashmiri innocent youth have been killed by Army but never talk about the plight of Kashmiri Pundits. Its no surprise considering that she is converted and married in to a Kashmiri Separatist family. She keeps reminding people about wisdom, knowledge and age of Google but is so ignorant that doesn’t even know that citizens of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi require visa to visit each other countries. She think of Indian subcontinent as a Schengen Area’.

I wish these people to get some sense in their senses.

Enough rating for today 🙂

Jai Mata Di !

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India is not called a Land of surprises and contradiction without a reason. For example lets talk about its religious practices. In most of the modern religions people built their place of worship at location which are easily accessible. Most of the Churches , Mosque and Gurudwaras would sit at a very pretty good location with in the city. But just look at us Hindus. There is not a single entity in the nature we have not utilized to make our temples. More the difficult location, more the famous and pious it is.

Amarnath, Kailash-Mansarovar, Vaishnodevi, BadriNath-Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kanyakumari are some  of the well known religious pilgrimages  which are testimony to this mostly ignored matter of facts and faith which seemed to encourage a physical activity, and a difficult one, to perform our religious duty. Over the time we have neglected our tradition which for me is like an ancient version of ‘Come n Play’ campaign run by Delhi Government during CWG Games.

Apart from the physical activity and sporting environment there is a joyous celebration related to Hindu festivals and religious events. Otherwise most modern religions are very serious to the extent of boring in their outlook and process. No offense but I have rarely seen people in Church, Mosque or even Gurudwara smiling. People act as if they have been given a punishment. Some People take their religion so seriously. But in Hinduism its totally different. We celebrate our religion in loudest of voices and highest of places.

One such religious pilgrimage is Vaishno-Devin in Katra in J&K.

The temple is near the town of Katra, in the Reasi district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the most revered places of worship in India. The shrine is at an altitude of 5300 feet and a distance of approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from Katra. Approximately 8 million pilgrims (yatris) visit the temple every year and it is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple.

One have to get to the town of Katra to start the journey and the best way is to get to Jammu and then take Pre-paid taxis or Buses. After reaching in Katra town you would have plenty of hotels and Dharamshala to choose from. But don’t expect the standards of hotel rooms as found in other touristic place. They are very expensive for the facilities they provide. Renowned hotel chains are preferable if you don’t have any budget constraints.

The journey start from the place Baand-Ganga, and it has two sub-destination  salong the way to Bhawan, the main temple, and they are called ‘Ardhkumari’, ‘Sanjhi-Chat’ and finally Bhawan. There is a temple of Bhairon Baba above the Bhawan and its considered that the pilgrimage of Vaishno-Devi is incomplete without visiting Bhairon-Baba.

Upto Ardhkumari, which is on halfway as the name suggests, we have a continuous line of small eateries, restaurants, book/dvd stalls and some general shops selling items of religious importance. Its more of a religious picnic. Everybody from children to elders in their 80s enjoy the atmosphere which is filled with chanting of “Jai Mata Di” with prefix of “Aage wale”, “Piche wale”, “Zor se Bolo”, ‘Awaz na aayi”.

There is a certain camaraderie among people which is unusual in normal lives. Nobody pushes you, poor and rich all are same here though not fully free from commercialization , you get greeted by strangers. You get support and encouragement from your fellow devotees.

From Ardhakumari there are two different ways to approach the Bhawan. One is an old one which is difficult, relatively narrow and steep. But its somewhat short. Another alternate way was made to make the journey more easy and comfortable. This way is much broader, comfortable and scenic. We have MNC eateries like CCD also.On this road even two truck can move side by side. And thankfully for older people battery driven tempos are also plied on this way.

The whole journey from Katra to Bhawan and back can take up to 20 Hours or even more. Its very demanding physically.But you can use Pitthus and Khacchar but its amazing to see that the people with even disabilities go to the place and complete the journey.

Helipad at Sanjhi Chat

Another comfortable and alarmingly cheap way of going to Bhawan is by Helicopter and the price is dirt cheap. For just 700 INR. Rarely do we get a chance to ride a chopper, though now airplane is in the reach of general public. So this is an exciting idea and a inexpensive one. Helicopter takes you from Katra to Sanjhi Chat from where you have to move on your legs up to Bhawan.

Vaishn-Devi

Once specific incidence over there consolidated my faith on the fact of life that whatever we have achieved in life is much more than what millions of people can only dream of. So don’t always complain.

A HERO ON THE FLOOR.

This guy whose both legs were disabled crossed our way at two kilometers away from Bhawan. I was just speechless and shocked. He was using the empty water bottle to slide on the floor and thus moving forward. The problems in my life and others seemed nothing. All the problem we mention in our daily lives were looking like a beautiful joke to myself. I literally clapped and had my eyes wet. God bless him.

On a religious journey, I confronted the cruel realities of life of people and realized that whatever I have is enough than I deserve. I thanked God for that and  I couldn’t ask anything except that to wish that this world becomes more beautiful and livable for all.

Back to Blogging !

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This pic was clicked by me on the way back from Elephanta Caves

It has been a long since I posted here anything. Actually the things were happening too fast to write about them. I happened to visit Rajasthan, Goa, Maharashtra, J&K and Punjab. I worked hard in office. Partied harder. (For me party means being near to family and food an occasionally a drink 😉 ) Now I feel like translating those experience in words.

I have in past years traveled more countries in the world than states I have visited in my country. And I regret that. Because India has been gifted with unmatched variety of tourist locations which are full of natural, social and cultural beauty  You don’t have to worry about visa too, obviously only if you are an Indian.

What I have realized is that diversity of India and its people is amazing. On one hand you have conservative areas of UP, Rajasthan where you can still have a game with its charming history of fighters and forts and on the other hand there is Goa whose character is anything but Indian in a general sense. Its like any other coastal town in Europe specially Portugal. Not denying that image is also the reflection of its historical connection with Portuguese culture.

Sometimes its history of various culture or sometimes its culture of history that makes this part of the world an amazing thing to look and visit at.

I would in coming day be sharing such small and amazing Indian stories with you all of the places which I visited in last months.

Panun Kashmir

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Recently I was seeing a debate on a news channel over the state and future of Kashmiri Pundits, who are almost forgotten by their country, their people and once their neighbors Kashmiri Muslims. Kashmiri pundits are never considered a party in the issue which is so close to their heart and home. Because they don’t form a group big enough to affect the outcome of any election in J&K or in rest of India.

The real life accounts of Kashmiri Pundits on how they were forcibly threatened, raped murdered, killed, burned and perished is a heart-breaking story. It attacks your sensibilities instantly as an Indian. Most of the arguments from the separatist and Pakistan side are based on the fact that Kashmir is Muslim majority state and that is why it should have been joined with Pakistan and not India. What these people forget that-

First- Having a nation on the basis of majority-religion has been proved a failed idea and can not guarantee a peaceful and prosperous country-Just have a look at the condition of Muslims in Pakistan.

Second- Muslim-majority in Kashmir is a relatively new phenomenon as the vast history of that area clearly indicates that the region was a Hindu/Baudhhist cultural center for a long time. So while defining the majority should we consider the history of  an extended period in past rather than the recent past.

Now come to the reality of Kashmir. The terrorism is always justified as the reaction to the “injustice” done by security forces. But this arguments falls flat when we observe that the start of militancy in Kashmir happened only in the late eighties. Why not before? Because by then Pakistan had understood well that it can not beat India in a traditional warfare so it applied gorilla tactics to destabilize Kashmir and instill fear in the common men of Kashmir.

What was more appalling was that the same Kashmiris who were living with Kashmiri Pundits for centuries started threatening and killing them mercilessly leaving no option for Kashmir Pandits but to leave the valley. And those Kashmiri Muslims were same people who talk about the unjust and unfair killing of Kashmiris by Indian forces. So here the face of obscene hypocrisy on the part of Kashmiri Muslims was uncovered and their intentions brutally expressed in the form of fearful slogans and brutal killings.

Now why Kashmiri Hindus were targeted ? Because they were soft target and considered an easy prey to satisfy the ego of extremist-Islam against the Hindus of India. It was a very obvious hint that Hindus/Indians would not be tolerated in Kashmir. What surprises most is that why it was unheard for so long? Was Indian government not capable of defending its Hindu citizen in a Hindu-majority country from handful of  Muslim Extremist? No, they were fully capable. But all things boil down to the same dirty face of politics in India where its almost sinful to raise your voice for the right of Hindus. Because they are so fractured in their cultural, social and political affiliation that they can hardly affect any policy decision as a collective group. So most of the ‘secular-parties’ of India lick the toes of Muslims vote-bank for two reasons. One because they vote in hoards and they collectively can changes the direction and state of any election.

The height of Muslim-appeasement in this country is that even hard-core terrorist like Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab are treated like state-guest and not hanged as per the supreme courts order because it can ‘hurt’ Muslim sentiments. While it is very unfortunate for the tax-payer of India to contribute to the expenses of these dreaded terrorists, its also not good for Muslims to become part of evil designs of so-called ‘secular’ parties. Because such decision try to reinforce the popular assumption that Muslims of India have sympathy for terrorists which is not true.

There can not be a reconciliation till the perpetrators of inhumane crime done on Kashmiri Pundits are not brought to justice. All talks of Kashmiri Pundits going back to valley is a farce till the article 370 is not removed and UCC(Uniform Civil Code) is not applied in India.

Benefits of being a government employee in India !

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As petrol prices in India have been deregulated, they keep climbing towards upwards direction more often than not. But unfortunately our salary remain fix for whole year. To fight the effect of  price rise of petrol, we have to be innovative all the time. We have to keep inventing new ways to set our monthly expenses at minimum level. One of those two methods that I found very effective was to get CNG-KIT fitted in our car. It was a one time investment which would recover it’s cost in just 4-5 month considering the amount of travel I have to do in a month. With CNG the cost of fuel per kilometer come at a drastic low level of 1.6 Rs/Km, which is around 5 Rs/Km with petrol. Second solution was to POOL my car. I advertised on many car-pooling website and got many response. Of all those, I finalized one lady who resides in close proximity in my neighborhood and her office is just 4 km apart from mine ;).

Having pooled my car and using an alternative cheap and green fuel solved at least a major part of my worries about petrol prices. Now I can drive as long as I want without worrying about the tantrums of oil rich countries. (But I suspect they can affect the price of CNG also-My worst fear )

The lady who pooled my car has returned from USA and is in government Job. Her husband is still there in states. She has come here to raise her children here in India. Her reasons for shifting here from USA were-

* She thinks that school education in USA is not good and that she wanted her children to have schooling in India.

* She don’t want to sacrifice her government job. Yes she was on a five year leave from duty.

Both reasons were interesting for me. I never thought that school education of India was better than US. Not that I don’t find it good enough.I do, but I also think same for other western countries specially USA, considering the level of higher education in that country from what is reported in media and education circles.

I was even more surprised to know that we can take 5 years leave from government office. When her husband got a job in US, she had just joined her job and then she had to move there. And now when her leave period was going to be ended, she returned to India and joined the job. What she is ignoring perhaps is the side-effect of this transition on her children. She has two babies, one a 9 year girl and second a 2 year boy. Girl child, though has retained Indian accent as she was four when she shifted to US, speaks very fluent English and also has a strong reluctance to speak her mother tongue, in this case Bengali, or other major Indian languages like Hindi, because she think she can be mocked by her friends in school. So she think its better not to speak it at all. But if she continues to behave like this, she would become more of an ‘attraction’ rather than a ‘talent’. She has been made class-head and is appointed to teach English to other students. Inability to speak any other Indian language may hamper her social and professional life as Hindi is defacto National language of India and its impossible to survive in north India without being able to speak Hindi.

The baby boy has got American accent as he was born there and only speaks English as of now. I think it would be very difficult for him to shed that. Transition from one culture and society to another is easy for adults but it confuses children very much. Though its useful to encourage your children to speak English, as this is de-facto official language of the world, but at the same time we must make sure that our children must be taught where they belong so that the effect of transition is handled better by them.

Lets back to government office issue and give me freedom to ask one question from who are reading this post-

Can we avail five years leave in a government organization in other countries also ? 

OK, I could worry less about that because I am more interested in that I got someone who would share some part of the money spent on CNG for my car.  🙂

Clean India, Green India !