Monday, May 30, 2011


The Absent Hero in Lord Meghnad Desai’s Narrative

05/29/2011 02:11:22


Dr. Vijaya Rajiva


Two recent books one by a historian of modern India and another by an intellectual/economist focus on the history of modern India. Ramachandra Guha’s "India After Gandhi"(2008) is mainly about the the freedom struggle and its aftermath and Lord Meghnad Desai’s "Rediscovering India" (2009) starts with the 15th century and highlights the British rule of India and the subsequent independence struggle and the sixty years after. Guha’s is a straightforward historical chronicle, while Lord Meghnad’s is a quasi theoretical excursion into the subject. He writes well and is quite frank in his disclosures about what his arguments are going to be. Both books share one thing in common. Both ignore the silent ever present hero of the vast movements and episodes they discuss: Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism.

(Editor's Note: Astute politician Mahatma Gandhi even more than implicitly recognized this and used the basics of "Sanatana Dharma" in formulating and marketing his "Ahinsa" and "Satyagraha" strategy. So, this omission by both of these prominent histoicans becomes conspicuous by lack of its mention.)

This absence is especially relevant to Lord Meghnad’s narrative since he rejects the role of Sanatana Dharma as the central unifying factor in Indian history and claims that India was never a nation till the British Occupation, and that it became a nation state only after independence. He presents his evidence, first through his account of what went on in British political life and governmental policies and by a deliberate narrowing down of the situation within India, seen primarily through British eyes. Secondly, and this is more crucial than any other factor, he places India only within the context of international trade since earliest times,as early as the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization (circa 3,000 BCE), and ignores local developments that provided the unifying factor in the country, which in turn made possible the international interaction. He continues this narrative of internationalism all through the Christian era, and begins a chapter called the "Vasco Da Gama moment" in 1498 (the arrival of the Portuguese in India), when India became further drawn into the ambit of international trade, conquest, etc, and which continues to the present day through globalization. This was India’s fate then and according to Lord Meghnad, is India’s fate now. Domestic history, upheld by Sanatana Dharma as the moving force is completely ignored.

Two overarching points made by Lord Meghnad, therefore, merit attention in this volume of more than 400 pages :

1. That India was never a nation
2. That unrestricted opening up to globalization is India’s manifest destiny

That India was never a nation is a canard spread by the British themselves to point out with pride to their role in creating the "Indian nation," and thereby justifying their Occupation. Lord Meghnad repeats this faithfully and unquestioningly. But the real facts are as follows: since the time of the Vedas (dated even at a conservative estimate at 2000 BCE, possibly earlier) the Hindu nation began its inception expressed in the following lines from the Rig Veda uttered by the Goddess Sarasvati:

“aham rashtrii sanghamanii . . . . . ( I am the rashtra moving people together for abhyudayam, RV 10.125). The word ‘abhyudayam’ means ‘welfare’and 'prosperity'. The word ‘rashtram’ in Sanskrit means ‘nation.’

Some Indic scholars such as Dr. S. Kalyanraman (Director of the Sarasvati Centre)would argue that the Vedic tradition can be detected in the artifacts, cultural traditions and linguistic symbols of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization (formerly called Indus Valley civilization). It should be pointed out that Lord Meghnad is blissfully unaware of the work of Indic scholars on the "Aryan Invasion" theory, which they reject, and he is as well unaware of the discovery of the ancient river Sarasvati, mentioned in the Rig Veda several times, and which disappeared post the Vedic period (see the present writer’s article on this site ‘Sarasvati Regained’). He does not even mention that the Aryan invasion theory is a controversial one or that even the former advocates of the theory such as Romila Thapar now speak of migrations.

Since a larger number of Harappan artifacts are to be found on the now dried up ancient river Sarasvati banks it is perfectly valid to call the "Indus Valley" civilization the "Sarasvati Sindhu" civilisation. Dr. Kalyanraman’s recent book "Indus Cipher" (2010) is a vast encyclopedic study of the artifacts and language symbols of this civilization and its continuity into later Hindu times, including our times.

Dr. Shrinivas Tilak’s study of the all ecompassing foundations of Hindu Dharmic values throughout India’s history is another recent contribution to the theme of a continuous Hindu Nation (Reawakening to a secular Hindu Nation, 2008). Hence, one can have a secular constitution such as the Indian Constitution without any contradictions, since the ethical values of that constitution are already contained in Hindu Dharma. In his short excellent foreword Dr.Shreekumar Vinekar emphasizes the founding role of the Vedas in the formation of Dharma. As understood in India, the word ‘secular’ stands for tolerance and diversity.

(Editor's Note: The ethic of "Dharma-sahinshnuta," "Sarva-dharma sama bhaava," forming the foundation of "Secular Hindu Nation" which guided the Hindu political philosophy of all Hindu rulers thoughout Indian antiquity including that of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaaj and of the subsequent so-called "Maratha" empire founded by Shivaji that ruled over most of India for nearly one hundred years before the British acquired control over India by defeating the Peshvas or so-called Maratha Hindu empire." This fact is rarely emphsized by most historians.)

Geographically and territorially a Hindu Nation bound by Dharma existed since time immemorial and consisted of the entire subcontinent from east to west and south to north and even extending into Afghanistan and slightly beyond. The diverse peoples of this subcontinent were predominantly Hindu (with even the tribals practising the Vedic worship of the terrestrial, atmospheric, and celestial forces), and they had centres of worship called temples and places of pilgrimage. This is why an anti- Hindu personality such as Swami Agnivesh wants to strike at Hinduism by asking the seemingly bland (but actually loaded) question as to why Indians should undertake the age-old traditional Amarnath pilgrimage in Kashmir, a tradition practiced for centuries or millennia before the fact of partition and the creation of the Kashmir problems by modern Indian politicians, (this neatly coincides with the terrorist elements threatening Hindus with dire consequences for coming to Amarnath). Neverthless, Hindus will continue to go to Amarnath despite all obstacles and will continue to defend their holy sites and continue to celebrate their festivals and holy days. This applies to the Ramajanmasthan in Ayodhya also.

And the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and all the sacred books of the Hindus will contiue to be read by Hindus as they have been since time immemorial. Hindu festivals will continue to be celebrated. Hindu worship will continue. Hence, the Hindu Nation has been and will continue to be a Nation much to the chagrin of the anti-Hindu elements of the country. These are the ground realities. E. Ahmed, former minister of railways, can call for the stopping of the custom of lighting Hindu lamps at public festivals, but it is not going to happen. Arundhati Roy can jump up and down and call for non-Hindu names for Indian defence units but that is not going to happen (a strong suggestion to Ms. Roy: perhaps she can change her Hindu name to a ‘secular’ one !).

Now, State formations existed in India long before the two Occupations (the Islamic and the British) and these formations were both monarchies and republics at different periods of Indian history. Had Lord Meghnad even done a cursory reading of Indian history this would have been useful. These state formations were defeated by invaders and occupiers but the Hindu Nation continued throughout it all. Today, the state formation is a government and people bound by a secular Indian Constitution. Neverthless, the Hindu Nation continues on. Hence, Lord Meghnad’s invocation of the experiences of European nation states is beside the point, not relevant to India.

His second focus on internationalism in the economic sphere is equally questionable. While the liberalization which started in the 90's brought some welcome changes, its unrestrained excesses today are being challenged both by nationalist parties and the Left and by ordinary NGOs. In his overall study Lord Meghnad completely ignores the historic role of agriculture in India’s famed cosmopolitan prosperity of yore and how this was destroyed by colonial British agricultural policy. He ignores, as does ultra liberalization, the importance of agriculture for the Indian economy, both on humanistic grounds and economic viability. One has only to read Romesh Dutt’s 2 volume Economic History of India (1902) to get a detailed account of the famines caused by Britain’s agricultural policy in India. It is unfortunate that Lord Meghnad chose not to consult this source.

Shri S. Gurumurthy, Convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, has written one of the best critiques of liberalization in his lengthy article ‘A Debate on GATT’ (Vigilonline,1994-01-15). Since then he has continued to write and lecture on the anti-national aspects of breakneck liberalization. Senior journalist Sandhya Jain also has written articles on the subject, which Lord Meghnad might have consulted. Her most recent article is a short but telling critique of land acquisition policy of the UPA government:

“ . . . . . the farming community nationwide is facing the growing menace of State driven expropriation of land for crony capitalists. This trend, which we may designate as the corporatisation of private property, parallels the other disturbing tendency towards the privatization of public resources; both may be said to comprise the Indian face of Globalisation.” (‘Expropriating the Indian Farmer’ 24 May 2011,

Since Lord Meghnad has his own passionate conservative/liberal view of India, the present writer sincerely hopes that he will update himself on current realities and as well inform himself of the trajectory of the Hindu nation. He cannot be accused of not being loyal to the country of his origin. What is being suggested/requested, is that he seriously take time off to study the above. He left India as a very young person and is now a knighted British citizen. He might also want to put on his reading list the recent book Breaking India (2011) by authors Rajiv Malhotra and co-author Aravindan Neelakandan, which describes with authentic and extensive documentation the medley of forces which have tried to break India in the past and continue to do so in their nefarious designs today.

(The author is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. Her academic training is in Philosophy, Politcal Science, Political Economy and History).

Friday, May 20, 2011



India in crisis


Dr. Gautam Sen

A weak PM, an infirm Center, crumbling democratic institutions and a corrupt political class are worsening the dangers to the nation from foreign threats, writes Gautam Sen.

London, 18 May 2011: Indian economic growth is masking grave problems bedevilling the country, placing it in some significant jeopardy. The political class as a whole is unable to comprehend the scale of the potential threats to India's well-being because it is almost exclusively focused on the struggle for political power and the extraordinary rewards that political success now bring. Having prospered unconscionably, independent India has deflected its ability to reflexively apprehend dangers the nation may be facing. This is not a problem of good or bad individuals alone, but sclerotic institutional arrangements, although having the corrupt and incompetent at the helm worsens matters immeasurably.

Economic growth is clearly desirable, but it intensifies inequality because some sectors and regions unavoidably advance faster. Unless such inequalities are alleviated private resentments manifest in political disaffection. The Indian political system does respond to popular resentment and protest, but in a haphazard and inefficient way. It is apt to throw money, sometimes very large sums, reactively to buy short-term political respite rather than address underlying reasons for socio-political tensions as a matter of course. These cleavages can end up taking a more dangerous shape in separatism and the desire to overthrow the established political order. Politicians with short-term horizons and a preoccupation to acquire wealth quickly in a relentlessly competitive political system that offers no guarantee of longevity are ill-suited to deal with such complex issues.

Worse, internal societal fissures create opportunities for hostile countries in competition with India to engage in mischief. A variety of outsiders are now actively working to acquire leverage over the Indian polity and often succeeding. In the case of Pakistan little novel need be said, except to reiterate that its multifarious acts of sabotage are increasingly facilitated by intermediaries in Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, which exercise influence within India by deploying their enormous financial clout. And, quite clearly, there is little that is not for sale in India at a price. Chinese subversion is extensive and they have some Indian political dispensations at their beck and call. The US is also hyperactive in an advancing India that is now well worth controlling. And their myriad local assets, including state-sponsored NGOs, sometimes masquerading as religious orders, are being used to encroach upon Indian decision-making autonomy.

In recent decades India has suffered profound political and constitutional upheavals. Political fragmentation prevents a single national party dominating decision-making at the centre. It results in negative outcomes that can be deemed worse than the disadvantages of an overweening single political party wielding power. Such asymmetric primacy would afford the space to respond to crises without constantly being prisoner to short-term imperatives and recalcitrant allies. Nowadays, the latter seem to regard their sojourn in Delhi as an opportunity for enrichment and consolidation in their own regional backyard. Unfortunately, the rise of the BJP merely institutionalised the political division of mainstream votes at the centre without adding anything noteworthy to Indian politics. India's deepening constitutional crisis is a product of internal Congress politics that has delivered a grievous blow to the vital office of the prime minister. Historically, the Indian PM's office was usually able to act purposefully when the body politic encountered serious stress. But the alarming disempowerment of the contemporary PM's office and loss of dignity have emboldened egregious misconduct that should have been restrained by its authority.

It is also necessary to comprehend fully the hostile measures being instigated against India by a dramatically resurgent China. The only reason China might be hesitating to launch a direct military assault to inflict long-term setback on India is the cost it may entail. But a weak India, considered likely to succumb in short order, will constitute an invitation to Chinese belligerence. In the event of such a catastrophe India's regional enemies may hope to benefit by pressing their own claims simultaneously. An Indian retreat in the face of Chinese assault will surely prompt immediate Pakistani military action against it. And the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh border may witness unprecedented historic challenges since both neighbours have begun advancing claims to huge territorial swathes of India. China has endorsed them and is suggesting that India should be broken up into a number of small polities, much as the departing British had earnestly wished before August 1947.

Finally, the most depressing spectacle to behold is a thoroughly decent man's reputation irreparably tarnished as he presides nominally over shameful levels of malfeasance. He surely ought to have resigned since he can have nothing to gain from association with the on-going descent into ethical bankruptcy, but that is another matter. More to the point are the dangers of runaway corruption that, by its very nature, cannot be instinctively self-limiting by some concern for the public interest. Such a self-serving phenomenon of corruption, animating much of the ruling order and driven by the self-propelled logic of individual greed, may be hard to curb even if India's economic prosperity falters and buoyant tax revenues diminish. In that case a fiscal crisis, of the kind that has historically accompanied national collapse, could combine with even more intense rivalry for shrinking opportunities to plunder in a demoralised and disaffected nation. This was the prelude to the French revolution and its bloodletting, in which France's foolish nobility and clergy perished en masse under the guillotine.

Dr Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics & Political Science for two decades.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


A response by Dr Shrinivas Tilak*:


Review of Breaking India by Gita Ramaswamy

Review of Breaking India by Gita Ramaswamy: a response by Dr Shrinivas Tilak*

When I first heard of “Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan (hereafter M&N) I said to myself “Oh my God, India is finally coming apart at seams by any number of hostile forces interior to India itself: caste divisions or religious, regional, and linguistic differences. Then reason prevailed: I remembered Mark Twain’s witty (and yet remarkably insightful) one-liner: Reports of India’s forthcoming demise are exaggerated and premature. Knowing Mr Malhotra as I do, I also realized that such a fine patriot and a seminal thinker must have in mind another possible meaning of the title: a design to break up India by external forces hostile to India’s very existence and aided by some disenchanted group/s indigenous to India. Indeed, that is what M&N have done in this very thoughtful yet unsettling book with endnotes and glossary running to more than eighty ages and a bibliography to sixty pages. Breaking India is not about political rabble rousing; it records the agony of a deeply wounded civilization of India that may die a slow death. It records with dispassion the ongoing Christian missionary objectives and campaigns in India and how they ruthlessly devalued and eventually decimated other ancient cultures and peoples. It seeks to spark an honest debate on the extent to which human rights and other “empowerment” projects are cover-ups for these activities.

Ilaiah and his ilk

While visiting Kolkata recently, I showed a copy of Breaking India to a young, IT professional, who eagerly leafed through it for a few minutes. While returning it to me he said with obvious unease “very alarmist!”Indeed, the book will rudely alarm (and hopefully awaken) those Indians who smugly retire to bed in the belief that India and the sanatana dharma (that sustains and holds it together) will be here for ever. But more importantly, it throws a gauntlet to those disgruntled and hateful Indians like Dr. Kancha Ilaiah, a professor and a former head of the department of political science at Osmania University, Hyderabad) (he is also the author of Why I am Not a Hindu: A Critique of Sudra Philosophy, Culture and Political Economy published in 1996) who retire to bed every night dreaming that the next morning will bring an India without Hinduism.

Review of Breaking India by Gita Ramaswamy (OutlookIndia, May 16-23, 2011; hereafter GR) is representative of the writings by Indians like Ilaiah and his ilk. A strong anti-Hindu and a left wing bias obtain in the Indian print and visual media particularly in the English language media. Most young Indians who enter university journalism departments or the media are already thoroughly ‘secularized’ and ‘westernized.’ The fact that most of them happen to be graduates of the English medium high schools operated by the Christian missions reinforces their anti-tradition and anti-Hindu stance. They are not trained to think and write about cultural, political, religious or social issues from an insider’s (i.e. an emic) perspective. The humanities and social science departments of the universities they typically attend (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi [JNU] for instance) are regrettably politicized where the search for truth is subordinated to left wing ideology. Commonly, graduates of these departments see Indian culture and society through an ideological prism of Marxism-Leninism and secularism that reinforces perceptions of Hinduism and hindutva not on the basis of ‘objective’ observation and fact but on an ideological ground and emotion.

Lookout for OutlookIndia

A prevailing belief, endemic among the secularized Indian elites, that India’s ills are the result of its Hindu legacy pervades Ramaswamy’s shabby and shallow piece. Obviously, she is a product of an academia that is convinced that Hindus, Hinduism, advocates of hindutva, and the RSS are all responsible for the sorry state that India finds itself in. It is not surprising that Ramaswamy’s tirade has appeared in OutlookIndia, a newsweekly published from Delhi that is more interested in subverting hindutva; not reporting objectively on it. Vinod Mehta, editor of OutlookIndia, once openly admitted, “I am giving away no secrets when I reveal that for some years Mr [Narendra] Modi [the Chief Minister of the Western state of Gujarat and the leader of the state BJP] has been Villain Number No. 1 for our journal.” This admission comes even after his acknowledgment that “Modern day journalism requires publications to present a balanced and holistic portrait of a public figure they unreservedly abhor” (OutlookIndia, Feb 5, 2007).

François Gautier, a French journalist now based in India, has noted that although most of India's intellectual elite is Hindu, the great majority of them are Hindu haters who are ashamed to identify themselves as Hindu. Their reports always come out sprinkled with the same clichés to slam Hinduism and hindutva: the Saffron Brigade, the Hindu fundamentalists, fanatics, fascists, or communalists (Gautier 2002). Courier International, a prestigious French magazine, which is read by diplomats and politicians, published a special issue on ‘Hindu fundamentalism’ with a cover photo of the RSS members doing their drill holding a wooden staff. The ignorant Westerner who read it must have had the impression that India indeed is in the grip of fascist, nazi-like Hindu groups where civil liberties are curtailed. When the editor-in-chief of that magazine was contacted, he pointed out that all the pieces had been translated from articles written in the Indian Press by Indian journalists. “If I did not know India,” wrote Gautier in one of his writings, “I would tend also to believe what I read about India in the Western press: a nation torn by caste discrimination, and Hindu extremism. But after living more than thirty years in this country, my experience is totally different: Hindus are probably the most tolerant people in the world” (Gautier 2002).

GR’s shoddy review of Breaking India betrays how the English media in India have more regard for the principles enunciated by Thomas Babbington Macaulay and Karl Marx than the culture of India while demonizing everything that is traditional and Hindu in India. India is the only major country, which while historically continuous with its past in terms of culture and languages, cultivates a Macaulayan mentality that rejects its past in order to appear modern and progressive. Reading Ramaswamy’s review, one might get the impression that India indeed is being invaded by “Yankee Hindutvavadins” or that the Christian, Dalit, and Muslim minorities of India are being cruelly persecuted.

Divide and demonize

Ramaswamy cleverly isolates Rajiv Malhotra from his co-author Aravindan Neelakandan (a Tamil like herself) and targets Malhotra for her vicious attacks. She does not really provide any specific cases or instances where Breaking India does injustice to the Tamils, Tamilnadu or the Dalits in Tamil Nadu; nor does she explain what her understanding of hindutva is. Her piece is sanctimonious and infused with a holier-than-thou attitude that talks down to Mr. Malhotra and engages in name-calling. It is amusing to read that Mr. Malhotra is a Hindutvavadin! She does specify if Mr. Neelakandan, too, is a Hindutvavadin. As far as I know, Mr. Malhotra makes it quite clear, at every possible occasion available to him, his distance from hindutva as it is commonly understood. Having said that, it must also be recognized that he is deeply committed to securing a fair deal and play for Hindus everywhere: in India or abroad. There is no evidence in Breaking India or in Malhotra’s other writings to suggest that he is ill-disposed towards non-Hindus though he would refuse to abandon or throw Hindus to the wolves simply to please non-Hindus or to embellish his credentials as a secularist. There is no question of him ignoring, ridiculing, or distrusting non-Hindus, but there is also no intention on his part of giving them the power of a veto over the destiny of India or over Hindus in India or abroad either. To him all action is “grist to the mill of the Indian nation.” In that faith, he is ready to meet in the political field with his adversaries just as they will choose: a friendly clasp of the brother/sister or the resolute grip of the wrestler.

Dalit dalliance with the [Yankee] doodle

In her review, GR asserts: As long as the Indian state and society oppress Muslims, Northeasterners, Kashmiris and Dalits, it is natural for [Dalits] to garner what support they can. She therefore is not averse to the Dalits seeking help even from the Yankees she hates so much and after denouncing Malhotra for [allegedly] seeking help from them! As far as I can see, Breaking India is critical of the Dalit leadership for trying to lead the Dalits away from the mainstream Indian society by claiming special rights and privileges for them. M&N argue that appeasing the Dalits (or the Christians for that matter) as minorities by conferring upon them special rights and privileges in order to promote social peace or harmony is really paving the way for India’s disintegration.

It seems that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (who heads the Art of Living Foundation in India with branches all over the world) would support M&N on this point. In an article published in The Times of India (November 5, 2005; Pune edition), he criticized the actions of Dalit leaders like Kancha Ilaiah who took the issue of discrimination against the Dalits and deprivation of their human rights in India to the United States Congress. In the name of Dalit upliftment, Shankar believed, they were pursuing an ideological agenda and damaging the image of the country. “If they were really interested in the betterment of the Dalits, they should work in the villages in India instead of going to the US Congress,” argued Shankar.

Kancha Ilaiah, Gita Ramaswamy and company would do well to learn a thing or two from the [accursed] Yankees: national pride. There are three million homeless beggars in America, a little over one percent of the population. Yet, the American media generally does not publicize this fact abroad and, on the whole, American blacks have not asked the United Nations or any another country to interfere in the internal matters of the United States on their behalf (Shankar 2005).

What hindutva is and is not

Hindutva does not imply a Hindu hegemony in the public life of India. When Dr Radhakrishnan described Hinduism as a way of life, he was only partly right. Actually, it is hindutva that is a way of life for the people of India and Hinduism is only one of the modes of worship for the majority of Indians. Literally, the term hindutva denotes ‘hinduness’ i.e. a cultural, economic, political, and social way of life (mind you this does not include ‘religious’) in India that is informed and colored by the master signifier of the majority population of India--hinduness. In a landmark decision the Supreme Court of India concluded that simply referring to hindutva in a speech does not automatically constitute an appeal to [Hindu] religion. Nor, in the Court’s view, does such a reference necessarily “depict an attitude hostile to all persons practising any other religion other than Hinduism.” The Court rejected the argument that the use of hindutva per se necessarily constitutes a violation of sections 123(3) 2r (3A0 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. There is nothing inherent in the term hindutva that betrays any overt or covert hostility, enmity or intolerance to any other community (see Tilak 2008 for more details).

Hindutva also does not connote the imposition of a Hindu state in India. It was Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966), one of the prominent leaders of the freedom struggle and a revolutionary, who developed the term hindutva as a cultural concept in a small tract called Hindutva: Who is a Hindu first published in 1923. In his presidential address given to the Hindu Mahasabha session at Ahmedabad in 1937, Savarkar made quite clear that hindutva did nor connote a Hindu state where only those who belonged to the Hindu religion will be in power and those Indians who are adherents of non-Hindu religions will have no rights. He further stated emphatically: “Let the Indian state be purely Indian. Let it not recognize any invidious distinction whatsoever as regards franchise, public services, offices, taxation on the grounds of religion and race. Let no cognizance be taken whatsoever of man’s being Hindu or Mohammedan, Christian or Jew. Let all citizens of that Indian state be treated according to their individual worth irrespective of their religious or racial percentage in general population” (Savarkar 1964: 290).

Savarkar thus considered Hinduism and other religions to be encompassed within hindutva as a composite Indian culture. The religion of Hindus was not directly implicated in the formulation of the ideology of Hhindutva. M.S. Golwalkar (second leader of the RSS; 1906-1973) similarly located hindutva within the framework of the nationalist discourse and his understanding of hindutva provided ample space and opportunities to sub-identities, sub-cultures, languages, personal laws, cults, and philosophies to exist and flourish in a secular milieu. But he also mounted a slashing attack on the modern Hindus’ deeply ingrained habit of seeking the sources of their ills within Hinduism, but their cures outside of it: more particularly in secularism and ‘communalism’ (see Tilak 2001).

Indian secularists, subalternists, and media personnel routinely slam advocates of hindutva for seeking to impose a monolithic culture upon all Indians. Golwalkar was commonly asked: “India typically exhibits a wide diversity of sects, castes, languages, customs, and races. How can you call its society one? How can you call it one lifestyle?” Golwalkar’s reply was, “This question arises only if you look at the heritage of India and the Hindu lifestyle superficially. Take an example of a tree: it has different parts: from root, stem, branches, leaves, flowers, to fruits. There is lot of divergence among them in terms of color, shape, size, fabric, form etc. They all look very different from one another. But this difference (which is quite welcome) is only external. They all are manifestations arising out of one root: dharma. They arise from that one life source; one sap runs through them all” (see Golwalkar 9: 115).

The pashmina variety of expensive shawl, for instance, is not produced by stitching different pieces together. It has to be carefully woven from one fabric with much care. India’s integration is only possible if it is attained organically and when Indians do not betray a feeling of separate identity. India’s history records that not all minority communities saw themselves as distinct or apart from the majority Hindu community. In 1943 the then Secretary of State, L.S. Amery, invited some prominent representatives of the Zoroastrian community and suggested that they should ask for separate representation in various legislatures. The suggestion was emphatically spurned in a representation sent to Mr Amery signed by nearly two thousand leading Zoroastrians and which affirmed that ‘our interests are safe in the hands of sister communities.’ Recalling this episode, Sir R.K. Sidhwa, a prominent Zoroastrian member of the Constituent Assembly, said that if minorities were encouraged to think in terms of permanent minority safeguards, “there will be a perpetual instinct in the mind of the minority community representatives that the safeguards are to remain for ever and it will be difficult for these small communities to come nearer to major communities.” Sir Sidhwa added, “The ultimate phase of political life of all Indians should be one nation, not communities” (Golwalkar 9: 173).

In other words, the term ‘Hindu’ for him connoted a master signifier of India’s national and cultural (not a religious) identity and Sir Sidhwa was quite happy with it. Golwalkar gave another example in support of his thesis: In the 1960s Indonesia passed a bill requiring all citizens to belong to one of the religions recognized by the government. This measure was taken to neutralize the communist declaration of their creed that they did not believe in religion. When the bill forced the communists to opt for one of three recognized religions of Indonesia: Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism they generally declared themselves as Hindu (Golwalkar’s speech at VHP convention, Hardwar; 5: 83). In the ultimate analysis, the communists felt more at ease with a Hindu identity since it was least likely to interfere in their political activity.

Cut the funk

As far as I am concerned, an important message of Breaking India is: Cut the funk and say what you mean and mean what you say. Let me explain by first narrating an actual incident that occurred in Pune some time ago: A gentleman goes to a book store owned and operated by a Muslim. As he is browsing, the owner asks him "Are you a Muslim?" "Ye….s," replies the gentleman sheepishly, "and a Christian, and a Buddhist and a J..." "Stop" interjects the exasperated owner. "I know who you really are. You are a Hindu!" "Yes," came the confession finally. Professor K. Dad Prithipaul (born of Hindu parents in Fiji), a retired professor of Hinduism from University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, has called this Hindu denial (or hiding) of self identity 'funk' (from Flemish fonck = terror, panic, fear). The educated Hindu of today (says Prithipaul) has to overcome an inner resistance when the occasion requires him to say: “I am a Hindu” as a noun or “I am Hindu” as an adjective. He is afraid to say it or to own it. The funk which inhabits his consciousness is evident when he hastens to qualify his Hinduness with a ‘but’ when he sets forth the damper: “I am a Hindu, but I am an Indian first.” In the West it would be difficult to hear someone saying: “I am Christian (or a Christian), but I am a Canadian, or a Frenchman, or an American first” (see Prithipaul 2005).

“There are some people against whom you build up malice without knowing them” wrote Khushwant Singh (editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India), the doyen of modern Indian ‘secular’ journalism, with exceptional candor, “and Guru Golwalkar had long been on the top of my hate list.” Singh was indeed honest and courageous enough to openly admit and make public his bias. Yet, he did not hesitate to seek an interview with Golwalkar and come away from it with many of his misconceptions dispelled (see Illustrated Weekly of India, November 17, 1972). Will Vinod Mehta and Gita Ramaswamy extend a similar grace to Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan?


Gautier, Fançois. 2002. Marxism and Saffron Wave. accessed on Dec 22, 2006.
Golwalkar, M.S. 2005. Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan [12 vols in Hindi]. New Delhi: Suruchi Prakashan.
Malhotra, Rajiv and Aravind Neelakandan. 2011. Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines. New Delhi: Amaryllis.
Mehta, Vinod. 2007. Delhi diary. Outlook, February 5, 2007.
Prithipaul, K. Dad. 2005. Hindu Dharma and Indian Funk. Dharma The Categorial Imperative, edited by Arvind Sharma, Ashok Vohra, Mrinal Miri. Delhi: D. K. Printworld.
Savarkar, V.D. 1964. Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya [Writings of Swantrya Veer V.D. Savarkar] Vol.VI. Poona: Maharashtra Prantik Hindu Sabha.
Singh, Khushwant. 1972. Interview with M. S. Golwalkar. Illustrated
Weekly of India, November 17, 1972.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. 2005. Stick to your ground. Pune: The Times of India, November 5, 2005.
Tilak, Shrinivas. 2001. Hindutva—the Indian Secularists’ Metaphor for Illness and Perversion. Hinduism and Secularism After Ayodhya edited by Arvind Sharma, 123-134, London: Pallgrave Publishers.
Tilak, Shrinivas. 2008. Reawakening to a secular Hindu nation: M. S. Golwalkar’s vision of a dharmasapeksha Hindurashtra (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publications .

*Shrinivas Tilak (PhD history of religions, McGill University, Montreal, Canada) is an independent researcher based in Montreal. His publications include Religion and aging in the Indian tradition (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989), Understanding karma in light of Paul Ricoeur’s philosophical anthropology and hermeneutics (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publications, 2007), and Reawakening to a secular Hindu nation: M. S. Golwalkar’s vision of a dharmasapeksha Hindurashtra (Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publications, 2008).

Saturday, May 14, 2011




There is a crisis of awareness about the ubiquitous corruption in India. Everyone of us who considers that this practice of corruption needs to be eradicated must act now. We are all public servants for India. This is your web-site.

In the service of creating a new corruption free society all of us have an obligation to share our authentic knowledge of the existence of this practice with the society at large so the corrupt individuals will refrain from engaging in such practice. To that end, please send the NAME, TITLE, AGENCY, CITY AND STATE of the corrupt person to by e-mail and indicate the amount of bribe you know he/she has accepted. It will be posted on the “N.D.B.C.P-INDIA” with the understanding that your anonymity will be honored. This is done on honor system in that it is presumed you are honest and you have first hand knowledge of the person accepting the bribe. To begin with, to stop this list from becoming too large to manage, this web-site will publish only those names that are reported to have accepted Rs. 100,000 or more at any one time or in aggregate.

We are anticipatig this site to be flooded with names very soon. These names will be arranged in alphabetical order.


P.S.: This is public service and not a defamation campaign. It is expected that the person/s reporting will be responsible for verifying the facts before reporting. This blog will not assume any liability for erroneous information. This data bank is for information to caution the public and not to incriminate, punish, defame or scandalize the individuals listed herein. This blog respects the public’s right to information. The listed individual will be given the information about the person reporting his/her name only with the express consent of the reporter. The editor, nokidding101, will reserve all the rights for placing on or removing the names from this data bank and will not accept responsibiltiy to verify the authenticity of the reported unacceptable practice. No harm or economic damage to persons listed herein is anticipated merely as a result of such listing. Most of these will be Government Employees or politicians whose positions and incomes will not suffer except possibly from reduction of income from bribes. The mere listing of the name on this blog will not imply legally established guilt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The Disconnect: Smear Campaign Against Sai Baba


Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

In a previous article ‘Smear Campaign Against Sai Baba’ (Haindava Keralam 05/05/2011) the present writer had pointed out that Christian evangelism has influenced some Hindus to denigrate their religion and religious figures, amongst whom Satya Sai Baba had long been the target. He is one of the great religious figures of contemporary India and also a social reformer who has upheld the best traditions of Hinduism and has advocated peace and prosperity for all sections of Indian society. He has made no distinction between castes, creeds, religions or nationalities. By and large these Hindu critics (and non Hindus) were composed of young people, shady characters, politicians looking for vote banks, opportunists and careerists hoping to benefit from monetary and other incentives, Christian converts playing into the hands of the evangelicals etc. The path breaking book Breaking India (2011) by authors Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan examines the role of evangelism in India and its origins in the West.

In this article we shall look at another phenomenon, the disconnect between people who consider themselves Hindu patriots, and are seemingly interested in the country’s welfare, but who target Hindu religious figures such as Sai Baba. These people are from well educated backgrounds and economically self sufficient, often running their own large businesses etc. One recent example is the businessman Atanyu Dey who shortly after Satya Sai Baba’s funeral (April 24, 2011) wrote what, in the present writer’s opinion, is a ‘scurrilous’ piece against the religious leader in an article titled ‘Satya Sai Baba: The Confederacy of Criminals’ (April 28, 2011 on his blog site).

The article accuses Sai Baba of virtually every crime under the sun. It is written in poor taste and the reader is encouraged to read the blog to get an idea of its content. The contents of the article are not worth repeating here.

On that blog site among many other topics Dey speaks about a topic which is dear to his heart: economic development. An article prominent on this site is ‘Think Big about India’s Urbanization' (It is a collection of blogs).The central theme of this piece is the need for the urbanization of the 600,000 odd villages of India. To make a fine point Dey points out that the operative word is not the ‘village’, but the flesh and blood inhabitants of the village. They are living in poor conditions and must be lifted out of their misery.

He has two lines of approach: the historical importance of cities in ancient India and the advantages of urbanization for the villagers themselves, who can now share in the prosperity of the current urban population. Here he distinguishes between mere economic growth and development, the first being straightforward material prosperity and the latter being related to quality of life and civilized standards of living. He is not advocating moving villagers to the already crowded cities. He is suggesting creating citylike complexes in the open spaces of the villages. No mention is made of agriculture in his scheme.

Historically, in his references to the Harappan civilization and their glorious cities, he ignores the presence of agricultural life without which no ancient civilization or for that matter modern ones can flourish. It is simply a matter of bread and butter issues. One need not labor that point. And Vedic India and subsequent centuries of high urban economies had flourishing agricultural life. The subsequent poverty of the Indian village was the result of the two Occupations (Islamic and British). The latter has been written about endlessly, but in the early years of the twentieth century, in 1902 we have the first sustained serious account of the economic history of India under British rule by Romesh Dutt, who was a civil servant in the British civil service and who travelled the countryside during and after some of the great famines that occurred directly owing to Britain’s misguided agricultural policies.

Mahatma Gandhi tells us in his Hind Swaraj (1908-1909) that he wept when he first read those volumes. The Occupiers left, but little has changed in post Independence India. The poverty of the villages and their neglect can be seen in the poor implementation of one budget after another. Even as we speak we have the plight of the farmers in various states, their suicides, their protests as in Mayavati’s Uttar Pradesh where the building of the expressway has led to the driving of the agricultural population from the land.

The mega corruption of the UPA government has led to the sucking of taxpayer money to a small creamy layer that enjoys the benefits of urban living. Hence, Atanyu Dey’s scenario of a happy urbanization of village spaces is a sleight of hand. It cannot be argued for in any serious way. What is needed is not his ill thought out schemes, but better planning and its strict implementation and the slowing down of a reckless liberalization of the economy, and the resistance to some of the negative aspects of globalization along
with the sensible exercise of monetary and fiscal policies, etc. These are the beginnings of wisdom.

And it is here, that Hindu civilizational wisdom and culture can come to the rescue of the village. From Mahatma Gandhi to Baba Ramdev, there is a fund of practical measures and wisdom to sustain good quality agricultural life in India, while sustaining economic growth in all sectors. Satya Sai Baba belongs in that tradition. Hence the attacks against him from both the evangelical forces and the neo liberalism of people like Atanyu Dey. This is where the seemingly unrelated two groups connect. This is not simply about ‘scurrilous’ articles, thrown in for good measure.

The evangelicals want to convert the Indian masses to Christianity. The neo liberals, while seemingly concerned for growth and development want the wrong kind of growth and development. Hindu India, except for the long night of the two Occupations, has always supported the harmonious development of both city and village. This is the uniqueness of Hindu civilization. This must be consciously recovered. Satya Sai Baba helped millions of Hindus to regain this genuine prosperity. He advocated the removal of social injustices and set an example by providing water to drought ridden land, setting up educational institutions, medical institutions and hospitals where all services were free of charge to anyone who came, regardless of caste or community. He upheld this high ideal to the business community. He redefined in meaningful ways the balance found in varnashrama dharma (for example he emphasized that the famed Gayantri mantra is for all people, regardless of caste, creed, nationality, ethnicity or gender). He emphasized the integrated city-village nexus of Hindu dharma. The integrated city-village nexus is the enduring strength of Hindu civilization.

Any Hindu who attacks authentic Hindu religious figures such as Satya Sai Baba, is attacking this nexus, and wittingly or unwittingly is a pawn in the evangelical and the neo liberal globalization game.

(The writer taught Political Philosophy in a Canadian university. Her academic training has been in Political Science, Political Economy, Philosophy and History).

Friday, May 6, 2011


Smear campaign against Sai Baba

05/05/2011 13:07:10


Dr Vijaya Rajiva
Courtesy: ""

The nation has been mourning the death of Sri Satya Sai Baba,an outstanding religious figure and considered by many Hindus both in India and abroad as a godly figure. During the funeral ceremony he was referred to as an avatar purusha and a siddha purusha. Since his spiritual mission began in the 50s he has been an inspirational figure in the Indian landscape.

His message of peace and universalism are in the best traditions of Hinduism. He has advocated peace and amity amidst the multi religious, mutlti ethnic population of India. He has provided solace and comfort to millions of Hindus and confirmed them in their faith. Above all, his social work and the many projects that he instituted such as providing irrigation to drought ridden areas, starting educational institutions, starting state of the art medical institutions and hospitals (where all service is free) mark him not only as a great religious figure in modern India, but also as a great social reformer.

However, within days of his demise, some articles have started to appear questioning the spirituality of Satya Sai Baba and even making wild unsubstantiated allegations, accusing him of all crimes under the sun. This trend has been there from the earliest years of Baba’s spiritual career and is clearly the result of a combination of trends.

The first, ofcourse, is the age old attempt by the two monotheistic faiths (Islam and Christianity) to denigrate everything connected to Hinduism and Hindu India. The Christian attempt began as early as the 18th century and continues to the present day. It has been well documented in the recent book published by well known intellectual in the Indian diaspora Rajiv Malhotra in his path breaking book Breaking India (2011, co authored by Aravindan Neelakandhan).

The smear campaign against Baba fits into this category. Several unsavoury characters are associated with this, but the most important one is the fundamentalist and evangelist Christian Tal Brooke who hates the non monotheistic faiths with a sacred passion. His writings are deliberately calculated to tarnish the religious figures of Hinduism of whom the most well known both within India and internationally is Sri Satya Sai Baba. Tal Brooke has tried to propagate the notion that all Gurus are in a state of perfect demon possession and that all Eastern philosophy, New Age Beliefs and Hindu beliefs are evil paths leading to Satan.

This is reminiscent of the European Middle Ages, where all evil resided with Satan. It is estimated that 99% of the scurrilous writings against Sai Baba are inspired by Tal Brooke’s work. None of the allegations have ever been proven. They remain the wild ravings of an evangelist and his camp followers.

He has drawn into his net some Hindus also who are ignorant of Hindu traditions and are eager to be more Roman than the Romans, as it were. Some are genuinely ignorant and some have an agenda made attractive by financial and other inducements. Some are just talking wildly about a subject they know very little about, but want to be considered ‘cool.’
They manage temporarily at least togather a following among the young college going crowd.

Interestingly, some even consider themselves patriots who want to bring economic development to their country. Their schemes are uneven and are somewhat impractical and unrealistic, as for instance the scheme of urbanizing all of India’s villages ! Beware of the Greek who comes bearing gifts !

Hindus have to be doubly vigilant. Senior journalist Sandhya Jain has written a definitive article on the exposure of at least one prominent smear campaigner against Satya Sai. This is Alaya Rahm whose wild allegations caused the BBC to produce the sensational program The Secret Swami (2004) and broadcast the world over. Jain examines the fraudulent case and its subsequent withdrawal in ‘Move to malign Sai Baba fails’ (The Pioneer, 31 March, 2009).

Millions of devout Hindus worship Baba as a godly figure. They have been spat upon by the evangelical crowd, both national and international. But the wannabe bringers of their brand of Enlightenment, their dogmas of monotheism and so on, are doomed to fail. And, Hindus will continue to defend a great and ancient civilization against all assaults. This is not the first time that Hindu India has had to bear the attacks against their religious figures and it won’t be the last.

(The writer taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university).