Sunday, July 26, 2009

INDIAN ELECTIONS 2009 - ANALYSIS

INDIAN ELECTIONS 2009 - AN OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS
by
Dr. Seshachalam Dutta

Edited and modified by Shree Vinekar

Indian elections are over for now. The pollsters who were cautious this time are breathing a sigh of relief having botched their job in the previous elections. But, the partisan journalists are writing analytical reviews as to who won and who lost and why. The defeated are licking their wounds, their leaders accusing each other for their defeat. The Congress, formerly also known as the Indira Congress Party, a derivative of the Indian National Congress, who managed to come to power without a majority constituency of its own is regaling in its victory. Really considering the complexities of Indian elections, it is more difficult to attribute the cause of success or failure to a single or simple cause. But really, who won and who lost the Indian elections?


One decisive loss was for the Communists: marginal is the loss of others as well as the victory of Congress. Communist loss is significant since they played, for many years, constructive and moderating role in their support of Congress which is otherwise the party of feudal establishment, although claiming to be the left on the political spectrum.

Some defeated parties like TDP in Andhra Pradesh began attributing the loss to the elections voting machine (EVM) that can be tampered-not that they are tampered but can easily be tampered by IT and computer experts! After the results of the elections, this party is in such disarray, if given another chance they would fare even worse. The fault is not in the ballots EVM’s or the voting boxes, it is in them. In an election where some 970 million voters were involved a few discrepancies would not materially change the final outcome. The defeated should gracefully admit their fate.


In my opinion the elections were fair and the victory goes to not any party but to the amazingly enlightened Voters, the People of India.

I have watched on the T.V. and followed the elections in my State, Andhra Pradesh, and a crucial state for any coalition to survive. It is evident from what we have seen that the new voters in India are well educated and extremely mature. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia crisscrossed Andhra Pradesh, currency bundles to bribe and entice the voters were confiscated by the police and what was not confiscated was freely thrown at the people and liquor supplied by the Congress candidates flowed like water. Rallies were conducted by each party bringing crowds of hundreds of thousand - by paying Rs.150 to each attendee creating an illusion that each candidate was overwhelmingly popular, confounding the pollsters. New York Times compared the election expenses to that in the U.S wherein 2.7 Billion US dollars were spent. Indian elections did cost an estimated three Billion dollars!!! What is alarming is that a common man cannot afford to run for public office in future as the country becomes even more prosperous. This is the time for Indian leaders to structure their political process to make it resilient impervious to the influence of excesses of financing, including, perhaps, to the inflow of foreign exchange where super powers might be eager to play their role as we witnessed in the breakaway states of former Soviet Union.

What was the result of this entire extravaganza? Half of the Congress Ministers in state of Andhra Pradesh were defeated. The president of the State Congress of Andhra was defeated. The Central cabinet Minister from Andhra Pradesh, Renuka Choudhary, was defeated. Neither Rahul’s nor Sonia’s campaigning could save them from the debacle: these two were previously extolled for their magical leadership of success of the Congress! It is disingenuous to suggest that the elections were rigged. Elsewhere, Varun Gandhi was arrested and maligned, but he won – convincingly! Cine actress Jayaprada, whose doctored nude pictures were pasted all over in public in her constituency in U.P, had won. Chidambaram, the Central Senior Cabinet Minister, nearly lost in Shiva Ganga constituency. This shows the maturity of the Indian voter. Neither scandal nor money, nor booze would make the voters vote for whom they considered rascals.

Congress survived to have enough seats to form a coalition, as usual, with shady partners. This is hardly a victory to bring jubilation... One analysis (Gailes Verniers) showed that the Congress gained only 3.32% while BJP lost 1.99% of voters in absolute terms. However, BJP never had a chance to form a coalition with their shady partners whom they call NDA. They lost before the votes were counted. Orissa Chief turned against them, TDP of Andhra, a major supporter of BJP Joined the communists and vowed not to join the “communal coalition”. TRS, a seditionist party wanting separation of former Nizam districts from Andhra, which was courted by Advani, was wiped out along with the BJP president of Andhra. Advani did not mind that KSR, the leader of TRS, extolled the Muslim reign of Nizam of Hyderabad as generous and great. So there was no surprise that BJP lost a chance to form a government. With the kind of fair weather partners, what kind of Government could they form, even if they won a few more seats? They actually were expected to win and needed absolute majority and not a coalition to defeat the Congress to become the true ruling opposition party. There are indeed 800 million Hindus in India, an absolute majority in most parts of India that BJP should be able to get on its side and have a landslide victory, if its performance in politics is exemplary. But that is not to be.

WHY DIDN’T BJP WIN?

Why didn’t BJP win? The more poignant question is- why can’t they win? This is a hot topic inside BJP and outside. Some say BJP should abandon Hindutva, others that it should distance from RSS, and some others say that they should field more Muslim and minority candidates. None of this will work. BJP has to address basic problem of why they cannot win? Why there is no BJP in Tamil Nadu or in Andhra Pradesh which are very traditional and extremely religious States? Why can’t they win in Maharashtra, the very birth place of RSS? If they can answer these questions they can start winning.

BJP which came into power in last elections failed to convince people that they were any better than the Congress and failed to cultivate good press, develop and control its own popularized media instead of concentrating on the personalities and personal feuds within the party and with leaders of other parties. This time they had nothing different to offer. The entire country was behind them when they led India to war at Cargill. But they botched when they buckled under International pressure with the feeble response when the parliament was attacked - an act of war - with all the bravado of bragging about the ideals of heroism of Shivaji and Rana Pratap. The President of the US, George W. Bush, asked them to “stand down” and they did. They paid meekly ransom to the Muslim terrorists for the release of Hostages. Their rule could not be differentiated from that of the Congress in this respect in pandering to the Muslims and not staying on the agenda of Hindutva; they could not resettle Kashmir Pundits in their State, as Israelis proudly did for its refugees in their country. They tested nuclear weapons. All expatriates sided with BJP and it helped to withstand the U.S sanctions, but backed off disappointingly by BJP their act of not weaponising the nuclear arsenal, only which would define India as a nuclear power. Every two years they only talked of Ram mandir in Ayodhya and nothing came out of this talk; BJP did not have the courage to stop subsidizing Haj pilgrimage, nor change the antiquated Hindu endowment law; or stop the stealing of the wealth of Tirupati Balaji temple. In short, they failed every which way and were so defeated losing the confidence of the majority Hindus. Then they went on to build the party with malcontents of Congress and its deserters.

One of the remarkable features in these elections is the defeat of both CPI and CPM. The latter ruled Bengal for 30 years. One has to analyze first; how did they keep winning before losing? Whereas the victory of BJP is ephemeral in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh - BJP lost the elections in Madhya Pradesh because of the rise in the price of onions- communist governments in Bengal and Kerala were much more stable for decades! The basic principle of management is: be innovative!! Failing which BJP should be ready to follow the ways of its competitors and improve over their model and at the least become equal to them. BJP has much to learn from Communists!



First of all, BJP has to develop an organizational structure at the village, county and district levels with strong charismatic leadership at all levels. These political leaders need to be full-time and need to be groomed to become seasoned politicians, non-corrupt but worldly-wise, fully and keenly aware of the corrupt ways of their political opposition. These workers should address the day to day concern of the people including the economic needs of the local populations. Ideology, dedication to service is important for building the cadre of leaders -not just workers- but leaders. They cannot expect RSS swayam sevaks to carry the water for the political junkies. RSS is naturally sympathetic to BJP because of Hindutva identity and viewing BJP as a part of Sangh Parivar. Hindutva is an identity rather than an ideology as wrongly characterized by the supporter as well as detractors of BJP. After ten years in BJP Yashwant Sinha left wondering what Hindutva was! Dr. Swamy, not being a Swayam Sevak got it wrong when he said recently in a conference that RSS would supply man power, but RSS is not a political party. Although many dedicated Swayam Sevaks like Modi could be potential leaders of BJP, it cannot solely depend on RSS to man its large scale operation and needs to have its own leadership training camps. Young charismatic blood is sorely lacking in the BJP cadres. The mission of RSS is different. It is non-political which the way it should be is. All formers RSS leaders are not with BJP. Bal Raj Madhok is still with Jana Sangh and there is some in opposition to Modi. Both Madhok and Modi identify themselves as Swayam Sevaks; we shall call them so since RSS has not said they are not, “official” membership of RSS being strictly voluntary, as it is a volunteer organization.

PEOPLE VOTE FOR AGENDA AND PERFORMANCE AND NOT FOR IDEOLOGY ALONE

It should be recognized that elections are determined by the quality of leadership and not on ideology. If the contest is between socialism and Hindutva ideology, if there is such, or secularism and Hindutva, why do we need election every five years? Ideology does not change every four years, but performance of the leaders does. This is a point missed by many. BJP should desist from using the cheap slogans like Ram Raj (Mahatma Gandhi also used those expressions to the annoyance of Nehru). Ram had not to deal with deficit financing, internally supported terrorism on his own land, and export tariffs. We live in a different world now.

I hope BJP will find a unique process of development of leadership at grass roots. Currently, no party (with the exception of Communists Parties) has a process to develop internal leadership. Congress and regional parties sell their “tickets” to contest elections. Without developing internal democracy and opportunity to personal growth the party will not succeed. Prime-Minister Manmohan Singh wondered why there are so many regional parties. The answer is simple and he should have known. If anybody criticizes Sonia, he is kicked out of the party- it is called disciplinary action. Chidambaram left congress twice and Pranab Mukherjee left once and they formed their own parties and finally came back to Congress. In Maharashtra Sharad Pawar is another example as also Rane. When the leaders don’t respect freedom of speech and expression of other leaders in their own party, when disenfranchised, they may have their own little parties when they are disciplined by their central commands for expressing their dissent. This may happen to BJP also. Why should Dr. Swamy join BJP and lose his freedom to the so called discipline of the party? It is just that simple as to why there are multiple parties in India- it is the lack of internal democracy in the parties that encourages formation of multiple parties besides lack of clear-cut guidelines in the Indian Constitution itself with any limits on the number or nature of the political parties. The constitution in the Indian democracy allows an official place to a party that is espousing the manifesto to eventually destroy the democratic government itself by participating initially in the democratic process and after gaining power at the centre. There was time in early days of independence when the leaders freely expressed their views, even within Congress. To the dismay of many, Rajaji made a statement that formation of Pakistan was inevitable, especially at the time Congress leaders were trying to convince Muslim leaders to stay within India. He was not kicked out of Congress, but instead was made the first Governor General of Independent India. How sadly things changed over the next the six decades!

It is gracious of Advani to offer to resign. It is proper that when a leader fails, he should give a chance to another worthy leader and there is no entitlement to power, no matter how great the leader is. In the U.S., Al Gore cannot come back and claim leadership, since he polled more votes than George Bush by some later counts. He lost officially and he was out. If Advani cannot be replaced, it is a sad state of affairs for BJP. The crucial assignments for leadership in both the houses need not be tied to seniority alone nor to the capacity to execute general elections. The two roles are different and need different competencies. For example S. K. Patil was a whiz at electioneering but was not a leader in the Lok Sabha or Rajyasabha. Likewise V. Krishna Menon had different talents and never could lead the masses. This simple understanding could mitigate the internal rivalries and jealousies among the national level BJP leaders whose recent unbecoming intolerance of their colleagues brought the appellation of Bharatiya Jhagada Party to BJP.



BJP could become another alternative in the game of politics providing alternative to the same feudal and professional politicians with no differentiation with Congress in tactics, without any strongly appealing social, economic, or political ideology or any substantive content. But, the need for BJP as a strong opposition party as originally formed is more important than ever in view of the external and internal dangers the country is currently facing. Externally the danger is from the neighbors, Pakistan Militant Islamists and ever aggressive encirclement of China and internally, lack of National identity, with dissimilation of National character resulting in servility to super powers. BJP still can be seen as the champion for National security and defense. Dr. Subramanian Swamy alluded to this in his conference in the U.S. Dr. Swamy obviously had a change of outlook here. He was formerly a strong critic of BJP 10 years ago; he used to publicly state that BJP has a siege mentality and paranoia about Muslims and Pakistan. He now acknowledged the dire need of a party like BJP since there are coordinated attempts in India (and abroad?) to undermine “Hindus” by distorting their history and by all other means including promoting conversion which is a demographic attack on the majority of India. While Hindus are tolerant of other religions and cultures, Islam never respected the freedom of other religions in the countries where they are in a majority. Though intolerant of “others” where Islam rules, the Islamic people are vociferous in asserting their right to practice even their questionable discriminatory customs when rationally objected to in other countries that are far more broadminded than the theocratic Islamic states, the case in point being the controversy over the ban on “burkha” in France. Even in India, where ever regionally they have a majority, their behavior is intolerant even in small communities. A Kerala Minister, a Muslim, went so far as to forbid breaking coconut (in puja) in public functions! If we ignore this fact, there will come a time when India will become an Islamic State. After all it took only 15 years to convert the great culture of Iran to Islam. Christianity took only 50 years to convert the whole of Europe. Then there is the threat of Pakistan. The Al Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan will have an upper hand in Pakistan in a few years. The real power being of military generals who are in favor of religious groups (Zardari doesn’t have any real power other than that given by them); the junior officers who will replace them will be the extremists and will spell major problem for India. These scenarios clearly bring forth the importance of BJP as a necessity for India to hold the banner of nationalism, and its geographic integrity as well as to protect it from external and internal threats which the Congress is paralyzed from doing because of its vote-bank politics and reliance on the minority support to win the elections. Remember the 3.32% gain of the Congress in this election is the minority votes tenaciously expressed in minority communities who are afraid to lose the Congress power in the Centre because of the overwhelming paranoia against BJP created by the Indian media and the economic gains from their pandering by the Congress. BJP has failed to create and control its own popular media for public relation. BJP is depicted through the lenses of the “secular” media for the majority of Indians usually in a pejorative manner. Even so, BJP has its rightful pride of place in Indian democracy.


India is at cross roads at this point, caught up dynasty politics served by sycophants. Sonia Gandhi lied on her citizenship papers and got away. According to Swamy she has 30,000 crores of rupees stashed in foreign banks. She and Rahul even allegedly travel on foreign passports. Rahul was arrested in the U.S but the weak BJP government asked Condoleezza Rice to get him released, while the Indian Congressites in U.S demonstrated to take away the visa for Narendra Modi who one day could very well become the Prime Minister of India. No M.P could dare question Sonia, because she blackmailed them using the letters of apologies written by them to Indira Gandhi during the emergency. Also, to retaliate, the Government may use Income tax Department to dig into the finances of the critics as is happening in the case of Mayavati. This is the threat used too to intimidate the press. Rahul’s ascension may come sooner, say in two years, says Swami. If the political parties are scared of courageously exposing Sonia and Rahul they have no prayer when Rahul comes to power.

Dr. Swamy’s postulate that Hindus are resilient to conversion follows the familiar na├»ve refrain of many modern Hindu leaders devoid of the knowledge of the history of Chritist and Islamist imperialism. We cannot forget that Hindus of half of Aryavarta from Afghanistan, Kashmir, East Bengal and the present Pakistan were truly converted to Islam either by force or by persuasion or both. Hindus are not invincible. Buddhists and Jains are more vulnerable to conversions but Hindus are not strong enough to protect themselves at this time. Conversion by force, forced marriages, or deceit and allurement does not take time. Once the conversion succeeds, it will be no longer the fight between Hindus and Muslims, but between Evangelists and Jehadis, as is happening in Africa, Iraq and other Muslim dominated lands. Since Hindus will be reduced to hopeless minority as in Kashmir and Bangladesh they could easily be decimated with little political say even if they retain their identity. So this unfortunate country, hijacked by the demonarchy and minority support of the Congress Party, needs a BJP or a similar party that will not be a copy of feudal Congress.

* www.sookta-sumana.com and www.sookta-sumana.blogspot.com for the discussion of Demonarchy, Hindutva, and Hinduness. Also, see articles on www.swaveda.com by Shree Vinekar especially "Dhee: The Essence of Hinduness." And sookta-sumana.blog.com on Hindutva

DON'T PREACH MR. PAUL BECKETT, LEARN


Don’t preach, Mr. Beckett. Learn

To: paul.beckett@wsj.com

It is interesting that even in this era of decentralized information some people do not hesitate to spread cultural stereotypes they have inherited from their colonial past. Paul Beckett’s writing “India's Rich, Open Your Wallets” is one such example.

See: (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124840931940378415.html)

He writes about the “lack of dramatic, sustained, well-organized individual giving – practically a competitive sport in U.S. business circles” which he states is sadly conspicuous by its absence in India. Tax avoidance is at least a partial motivation for large charities in the U.S.

But, had the writer bothered to look into annals of history, he would have discovered that long before Bill Gates, Tata, the forerunner of Indian industries, popularized the motto of “Give back what you get”. Even during the colonial regime, which discouraged science and technology studies in India, Tata inspired by the nationalist monk Vivekananda, founded the Indian Institute of Science, which is today a national monument of excellence. How much does that account for “dramatic, sustained, well-organized individual giving” Mr. Beckett? The tradition continues. In 2004, Tata alone spent Rs 450 million on social services. It is not just Tata but also others. For example, Birla group also excels in such acts of “sustained well-organized individual giving” – like for example Priyamvada Birla Aravind Eye Hospital inaugurated last year at Kolkata that is performing every month 1000 eye surgeries of which 750 are free.

That said let us also remember that long before open-source and Microsoft’s war on open-source, that now belongs to the annals of software mythologies, India has fostered a tradition of open-source in vital areas of humanitarian technology.

Jaipur Foot technology brings legs to 20,000 leg amputees every year. It was invented by an unskilled Master Ramachandra of Jaipur-based Jain NGO which had not taken any patent of their light and flexible artificial legs. In the developing countries where the colonial narratives and stereotypes have nurtured countless conflicts which claim limbs of toddlers through landmines, patent less artificial limbs have become a blessing. Let me be more specific for Mr. Beckett's edification

Right in Afghanistan where US troops bomb the Taliban (who were the Frankenstein created by the “dramatic, sustained, well-organized” charity of CIA of course), these so un-American and so Indian open-source no-patent artificial limbs bring smile and lives back to natives who have lost their legs to landmines the conflicts US-USSR meddling created in the first place. In fact this open-sourcing of humanitarian technology with no hidden economic or theological costs is uniquely Indian ethos. For example, the reluctance for holding patents that Indian scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose exhibited is embedded today in the value system of Bose Institute of Science. Incidentally it is Bose institute which pioneered in the discovery of Cholera Toxin leading to the breakthrough in understanding of the molecular mechanism of toxin-receptor interaction in microbial pathogenesis, thus saving millions of human lives in developing countries.

Now instead of shifting the blames for colonial impoverishments on the so-called “Hindu rate of growth” and offering unsolicited lectures on “dramatic, sustained, well-organized individual giving” to Indians, Beckett would do well to ask his US companies and charities to take a lesson or two from the Hindu ethos of open-source humanitarian service to fellow humanity and not the so-called “I, the rich lucky Yankee me, give the poor damned you of the third world” charity.


Now that is a lesson Bill Gates could have taken very well from India and that would have saved him from the despairs and defeats he had in trying to quell the open-source onslaught on Microsoft.

-S. Aravindan Neelakandan

Editor's comment: India sincerely appreciates the generosity of Bill Gates, who is not hopefully
arrogant and condescending like Mr. Paul Beckett.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HARVARD PROFESSOR WITZEL'S FOLLIES


California School Text Book Controversy
Attack on Hindu groups by
Harvard Professor Witzel
by
Dr. Seshachalam Dutta

Hindu parents in California found that the textbooks used in the elementary grades in California public schools contained descriptions of Hindu religion in derogatory terms such as “Heathenistic,” “tribal,” “idolatry,” etc., describing Indian society as “primitive” in terms of treatment of women and caste discrimination. Hindu groups of parents protested demanding the revision of the texts that demeaned their children in the eyes of their peers and also undermined their self image. California Curriculum Authorities at first ignored the pleas of the Hindus. Much later, as a result of a law suit that had been filed in 2006 by an organization called CAPEEM representing socially active Hindu parents, the State settled the case in 2009 with a payment of $175,000 to CAPEEM.
Prior to the settlement, during 2006-2007 the State Board appointed a group of consultants of so called “experts,” who were obviously hostile to Hindu sentiments headed by Michael Witzel, himself an East European immigrant and a Sanskrit professor at Harvard. More recently it has come to light that he was closely associated with a White Nationalist Church. He had virtually acted as an agent of the Colorado church which runs an evangelical outfit mischievously named, 'Dalit Freedom Network' to target the conversions of poor people in India through evangelists posing themselves as supporters of the poor people. Witzel is also associated with a Colorado Evangelist group dedicated to proselytizing the heathens and advocating teaching of creationism in schools. This group was in immense praise of Witzel in his denigration of Hindus. There were no Hindu Scholars in this group. After vehement protests by Hindu groups, the State of California yielded to the demands of the Hindu scholars and accepted extensive revisions. Since then, and especially after the State of California offered a hefty settlement to CAPEEM, Prof. Witzel has gone on a crusade to denigrate all Hindu groups attacking them as falling under the title of “Hindutva,” otherwise known as Hindu Nationalists. In so doing, he distracted the education board and his other readers from the main issue which was the age inappropriate instruction of school children leading to negative self image. It was this commonsense understanding regarding need for the curriculum to be suitable for the age and emotional development as well as cognitive maturity of the targeted children that has totally escaped the Harvard Professor who has become the sergeant of arms to promulgate his own theory of Aryan invasion (AIT) in ancient India as the basis for the ancient advanced civilizations of Indian subcontinent and the expansive ancient India that had spread up to current Iran occupying Afghanistan and other areas of Asia minor with North to South and South to North, as well as East to West and West to East, travel, navigation and intercourse a millennium or more before 1500 BCE. Witzel’s pet theory of Aryan Invasion or Migration does not hold water since the sophisticated genetics studies in the last decade unraveled the migrations of human race and the clear absence of evidence for a distinct “Aryan” race in the antiquity or at present.
Professor Michael Witzel
Michael Witzel is the professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, in a little known Department of Sanskrit and recently named “Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies” which has no Indian trained Sanskrit Scholars on its faculty, although there are many accomplished Indian Sanskrit scholars available here in the U.S itself. For instance, there are eminent Sanskrit scholars and poets like Dr. Vedala in Midwest, who can compose Sanskrit poetry extempore! Witzel claims to have learned Sanskrit in Nepal and does some work on Rig-Veda, the ancient text of Hindu antiquity posing as the leading current sole authority on the Vedas and now on all matters Indian in the world. He has not written anything of value from his studies except contemptuous interpretation of the Vedas, describing, Shiva as Pashupati, a “cattle killer” and Chamundy as a round headed widow mentioned in the Vedas. He is neither qualified as a historian nor as an anthropologist, with doubtful credentials as a Sanskritist but tries to draw anthropological conclusions from the linguistics, which is an impossible task, based on similarities of words in Iranian (Persian) and European languages to those in Indian Sanskrit. In his deliberations and on his Website he has exhibited utter disdain for all Indians settled in this country. He is reputed to have cynically satirized “NRI” (Non Resident Indians) as Non Returning Indians, meaning they would not return to their home land. It is a mean-spirited characterization, if not outright bigotry for a man who according to Wikipedia emigrated from a former German territory (now a part of Poland) to resort to such utterances. In any event, turning to his academic qualifications, there is no original Sanskrit work of contemporary value in his publications. Witzel, strongly influenced by Nazi doctrine of Aryan superiority, believes in the debunked theory of Aryan invasions of India. It is not worthy paying attention to his campaign of denigration of Hindus, except for that he has recently acquired collaboration of three Indian women scholars of doubtful self-respect and self-knowledge and has published his views in the Georgetown J. Intl. Affairs (Winter-Spring 2009). Prof. Witzel gets away with any worthless commentaries on Sanskrit classics in his university, since there are no peers at Harvard to scrutinize his publications.
The issue of Textbook Revisions in the USA
It is generally accepted that textbook revisions at the elementary and High school level are a requirement in the USA, especially in History and Social Sciences, since they are subject to racial and ethnic bias and contain distortions demeaning to the minorities like Blacks and Hispanics and some times to Jews. After a long struggle, often they have been corrected. Distortions relating to South Asian groups have received scant attention until recently. In the context of Indian education, which is not the subject of this discussion, there are similar problems of British colonialists who have distorted Indian History along the similar lines as of Witzel.
The presentation of History, religion and culture at lower grade levels should be age and grade appropriate, infusing pride in ones culture and respect for each other’s. To give familiar examples, it is appropriate to teach the great contributions made to the foundation of American democracy and freedom by Thomas Jefferson at 5th grade level, but inappropriate to teach the class that Jefferson maintained slaves and sired children from his slave woman, albeit historically accurate!!!
Likewise it is appropriate to teach about Jesus as a prophet who brought a message of love and forgiveness, and not appropriate to teach children of tender age that the historicity of Jesus was doubted by many, including Napoleon Bonaparte, and that he might have been the son of a Roman soldier Panther as mentioned in Encyclopedia Britannica! Another example is Mohammed appropriating his duaghter-in-law for his own bed, citing the difference between an adopted son and a natural born son. Witzel did not have the courage to say that in his opinion such accounts are factual, historically, and should be taught to elementary school children belonging to these respective religions. However, when Hindu children were concerned, he campaigned for similar demeaning, inaccurate and distorted material that was incorporated in text book revisions relative to Hindus in California and other states. In the present India or even in antiquity, no Hindu texts mentions an Aryan and non-Aryan “race” distinctions. There are no longer four castes in India but 400 castes (Ref: Seshachalam Dutta, http://www.sookta-sumana.blogspot.com/ "Indian Secularism: A Sham, Part I & II, {Overview of Caste-ism & Caste-ism Revisited} posted April 11, 2009), an issue beyond the competence of 5th grade teachers to explain. Significant and salient admirable point of Hindu culture is that it is all inclusive, and pluralistic. Hinduism is “non-fundamental” religion accepting variety of believers including atheists in their fold. California educational Board has successfully amended the texts except for the Aryan Invasion story claimed as only one of many accepted versions of the history of ancient India at the insistence of and in deference to Witzel and his pet theory.
These revisions giving his pet views a place in the revised textbooks have not stopped Witzel from his crusade against Hindu groups. Recently he obtained collaboration of three Indian women academics and launched an attack on Hindu groups calling them, “Sangh Parivar” or “Hindutva” (Hindu Nationalist) groups in an article in Georgetown J. Intl. Affairs (Winter-Spring 2009).
The article is not properly reviewed prior to publication, since there are several obvious factual inaccuracies and misinterpretations. Suffice it to mention a few here. There are schemata linking all known Hindu organizations here and in India under one umbrella. There is no basis for it. Similarity of views on Hindu Nationalism cannot be insinuated as organizational unity. It is like postulating that Ku Klux Clan, Republican Party, NRA, and Southern Baptist Church are a part of one and the same organization, since they are all advocates of “Right to Life.” This comparison should not be construed even as remotely suggesting similarity between these American organizations and those espousing the principle of Hindutva, but is made only to illustrate the absurdity of lumping independent groups together for the convenience of rhetorical attacks. Such rhetoric may have place in High School debates and in politics where the slogans like “liberal” or “conservative” are used to attack the opponents, but it has no place in objective academics’.
While his own views of Aryan invasion of India are akin to those espoused in the old Nazi Germany, his Fatherland, Witzel curiously imputes Nazi sympathies to all Hindu Nationalists and particularly BJP. Here, he shows total ignorance of current Indian History. Israel was not recognized throughout the “secular” tenure of Nehru as Prime Minister (17 years), to the annoyance of Jewish groups in the U.S and disappointment of Israel - disappointment expressed in an editorial in Jerusalem Post (1964) saying that the Jews of Israel had all along supported India’s struggle against the British, as Israelis were themselves victims of British colonialism in places. Nehru and his party pandered to the Muslim influence at home and chose to resort to use appeasement of Middle Eastern Islamic countries in refusing to recognize Israel. It was the Prime Minister Vajpayee of BJP, a veteran Hindu Nationalist, who gave full recognition to Israel. Also it was Dr. Bhishma Agnihotri, the Head of Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh (HSS) of U.S.A. who mediated the change in policy and was honored for his efforts by Israel. It is a crafty attempt by Witzel to project Nazi sympathies on the Hindu Nationalists in a calculated attempt to drive a wedge between Jewish and Hindu groups. While one can debate the merits of the concept of Hindu Nationalism, it is for Hindus the same as Zionism for Jewish people, a concept based on culture and ethnicity. Curiously both share their opposition to proselytizing, the proselytization being an underlying motivating force of Witzel.
Mentioning the premier proponent of Hindutva, (Hindu Nationalism), Savarkar was incorrectly depicted by Witzel, et al, as a member of RSS and conspiring in the assassination of Gandhi: Witzel’s collaborating Indian authors, if they reviewed this article with any care, should have known that Savarkar was the Founder of Hindu Maha Sabha, who was never in RSS and RSS was acquitted of complacency in the Assassination of Gandhi by the highest Judiciary in India. Despite their differences, Gandhi admired Savarkar as a great freedom fighter and it was
Gandhi who titled him ‘Veer’ Savarkar- the Great Hero Savarkar. Witzel, et al, may be admonished that RSS has successfully sued many who have attempted to slander its reputation by associating it with Gandhi’s assassination.
The discussion of women’s rights and the alleged lack of them are inappropriate at 5th grade level. Women were, throughout history, before the dawn of modern times, and in all cultures were treated as inferior to men. India unfortunately is no exception but, in fact, proud to be a little better in recognizing the woman’s exalted status than all other contemporary cultures. Hindus in India are mainly matriarchic in their culture. India is their “Mother” Land – unlike the Father Land of Witzel. In Hindu culture mother is next to God. It was to his mother, not to his father, Gandhi promised not to drink or eat Meat when he left for England and kept his promise throughout his life. There are regions of India where, as in Kerala, the inheritances pass from women to women and the heads of the household are women. Unlike in U.S.A. and in England, Indian women did not have to fight to get voting rights. There was so much publicity as to how Hillary Clinton was facing sex discrimination in her campaign in 2008 whereas in India Indira Gandhi was easily elected as early as in 1967. In 1967 there were less than 10% of women admitted into Medical Schools in the U.S.A., whereas in India they were in equal numbers to men.
Hindu Nationalism does not teach hatred towards other religious groups; one of the Author’s (Visweswaran) impression of intolerance of Hindu students towards Muslims in her class is anecdotal and not worthy of publication.
Finally, it is inappropriate to teach school age Hindu Students in USA that their women are discriminated against when nearly 100 % educated Hindu women in their social group are professionals and that most of them do not live by caste distinctions. Whereas Hindus in Western countries have no caste demarcations and Rig Veda is not considered as fundamental to Hinduism by the Hindus as Bible to Christianity or Koran to Islam. In fact, there is no one book that is fundamental to Hinduism, which has evolved from polytheism to monotheism and to monism through millennia. Witzel is stuck in Rig-Veda whose Gods are no longer worshiped by Hindus in India, leave alone are known to second generation Indians in the U.S. However, Vedic traditions continue to be the spring of inspiration for every cultural and spiritual (aadhyatmika) quest in the history of Hindu civilization.
The sorry episode of California Text Book controversy is finally one of California Education Board rejecting the expertise of Indian scholars and the sensitivities of Hindu parents in preference to the prejudices of a Sanskrit teacher, simply valued for his being on Harvard University roster, never mind in an insignificant department with no peers to evaluate and judge his academic performance. Thus the Board gave inappropriate weight to Witzel, an East European immigrant (a non-returning immigrant himself!), who entertained narcissistic Nazi view of Aryan superiority and who presented himself as if he alone is the ultimate authority on Hindu culture, social structure, and history - both modern and ancient; and although divorced from common sense, he alone could determine what is appropriate to teach Hindu children. He was the mouthpiece for the proselytizing Christists, dancing to their tune, and was discovered to be belaboring as a politician rather than a Scholarly Sanskritist and an academician. That is a travesty that ended in the Courts for adjudication where it should not belong in the first place. Hindus happily have won-for now.