Saturday, May 18, 2019

Gandhi a Saint or a Shrewd Politician

Gandhi was a Shrewd Politician and a Saint.
It may sound a bit oxymoron. With a shrewd politician, one conjectures someone like maybe Modi or Indira Gandhi. Both exude lot of negative connotations.
Gandhi was popularly known as Mahatma. That would mean someone with a great soul.  We need to remember he was a political leader. He had spent 23 years being a political leader of Indentured Indians in South Africa before he became a Mahatma or Father of the Nation.
People either deify him or try to deconstruct him basing on Boolean searches about his differences with Ambedkar or Subhas Bose or the court room speech of Godse yes the Nathuram Godse.
It is indeed easy to deconstruct any being by holding him under a microscope of prejudices. Till date it has not been possible to draw a perfect circle, without any tolerances. How can people expect perfection in an individual, without any margin of tolerances. Maybe in near future the creatures with AI would have perfection built in their algorithm. God has not done that. 
Gandhi had differences with everyone including his own self. He often contradicted himself and told his followers, not to get confused by his contradictory statements, but believe the latter one, as he knew better by then.
Gandhi’s controversial behaviour and speeches have become famous as it sounds INTELLECTUAL to deconstruct Gandhi.
I would hereby try to do a lego image of Gandhi. He was never a single homogeneous subject. He was made of several small pieces and each small piece would never look like Gandhi. It is only once the assembling was completed the image would resemble Gandhi.
Gandhi before he landed in India never had to contend with a halo of Mahatma. He was a leader and a politician and provided leadership to the 1.5 lakh indentured Indians and was able to ensure certain wrongs corrected viz., The Act demanding all Indentured Indians to register themselves and carry an ID card. This was a discriminatory act and Gandhi’s Satyagrah was borne out of this protest.
Gandhi left South Africa and returned to India after being advised by his the then mentor Gokhale. Gandhi also saw an opportunity of expanding his canvas. He was a leader of 1.5 lakhs indentured Indians there in South Africa. In India he would have the opportunity to play a role of leadership among 30 crore Indians living in India.
Gandhi’s first public campaign was in Champaran. He changed the trajectory of Indian National Congress. First time INC became a public movement away from a being a drawing room party.  
Gandhi’s joining Khilafat movement, was not exactly in line with the agenda of Indian National Congress. Khilafat movement was exclusively an Islamist issue. It had nothing to do with the aspirations of Independence of a secular India. Jinnah had opposed INC’s joining the Khilafat movement.     
These two important sorties of his early political journey show that he was an astute politician. Champaran campaign worked to change the paradigm of Congress. He had executed a coup within a couple of years and soon emerged as the new chief. In this new edition of Congress, he rose above all his contenders.
Khilafat movement  gave him a great lead over his contemporaries. First time the volunteers of Khilafat movement aka Khudai Khidamatagar  worked shoulder to shoulder with Congress. Gandhi was accepted as the headman of INC within five years of his reaching India.
He was the first leader who could understand the street power aka common man. INC before Gandhi was a party of elites. This party of “BUND GALA” lawyers could had never achieved what the history has credited INC with.
Gandhi could see the limitations of the trajectory being followed by Indian National Congress. That made him set sails with his ideas that he was convinced about. He had tested the strength of Satyagrah in South Africa and that needed participation of common men.
The TWO persons who carried strong reservation against Gandhi were Jinnah and Ambedkar. Both had sectarian approach and both were used by British to counter Gandhi. Yet neither could match Gandhi in popular appeal.
Ambedkar had his confrontation with Gandhi in the second Round Table Conference. Ambedkar wished to carry the mantle of being the sole representative of the Untouchables, whereas Gandhi’s perspective was that the Untouchables were subset of the larger set of Hindus and Gandhi represented all the Hindus. Ambedkar lost the battle of separate electorate for Schedule Castes or Untouchable on the face of a Fast by Gandhi. He signed the now famous Poona pact. Ambedkar carried the bitterness of this defeat all his life and that made him extremely bitter of Gandhi.  
This was reflected in his famous interview to BBC. Though the interview was quite pedestrian, is often quoted to sort of deconstruct Gandhi. The most potent quote in the interview is that Gandhi supported Caste system and Untouchability in Gujarati publications whereas in English publications (largely meant for westerns) he opposed the caste system and Untouchability.
This was a blatant false statement. Gandhi had opposed untouchability both in Gujarati publications and in English publication. Irrespective of all his dislike for Gandhi, Ambedkar (he was not a member of INC) did become law minister in Congress Government courtesy Nehru a protégé of Gandhi. It is obvious that the first cabinet formed immediately after Independence was made by Nehru under the guidance of Gandhi. Ambedkar could had never been made a Law Minister without express desire of Gandhi. This very fact enhances Gandhi’s status. Gandhi did not allow Ambedkar’s bitterness towards himself, to influence his decision
Ambedkar had even tried to trifurcate India by colluding with Jinnah. He and Jinnah both knew that they could not compete with Gandhi in popular support. After a long battle, Congress agreed for a partition i.e. a separate homeland for Muslims. Jinnah’s 11th August 1947 speech betrays his faith in two nation theory.
For both Jinnah and Ambedkar the struggle was for gaining power or hegemony.
I can not fathom how Ambedkar’s becoming a Buddhist helped his fellowmen’s battle against Untouchability.
Babu Jagjeevan Ram another Icon of Schedule Castes scored a vital goal when he abolished the concept of Hindu Pani and Muslim Pani on the Railway Station. On Indian Railway stations there was rarely a running water facility on the smaller stations during 50s. Railways used to employ Hindus and Muslims to serve water to the train passengers. Hindus had reservations to be served water that had been touched by a Muslim.  Jagjeevan Ram as Railway Minister removed the concept of Hindu Pani and Muslim Pani. He appointed Untouchables to serve water to both Hindus and Muslims. Consequently in one stroke, he was able to strike at untouchability among the people travelling by train. Till early 80s Jagjeevan Ram, was a bigger Iconic leader of the untouchables than Ambedkar.  
Gandhi’s sainthood has been parroted by the Nakali Gandhians hundreds of times and hence does not need to be reiterated by me. They have deified him and assassinated him. Gandhi was neither a deity nor a perfect individual. To deify a person is the ultimate option to erase his ideas.
Gandhi was both ethical and pragmatic. He used religiosity to achieve political objectives. His power of fasting was to move people who respected him. He was a saint and he was a shrewd politician. British saw him as a wily politician and Indians saw a saint in him.
A LEGO structure is made of several small bits. No individual bit has the image of the final structure. Gandhi too was sum of all in his personality.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Democracy and Demagogues

Mahathir Mohammed the Ex Prime Minister of Malaysia while addressing certain Nation heads (2011) diagnosed the virus effecting India and Hindering it’s growth and observed that it was “Too Much of Democracy” that hindered India’s growth  potential. His prescription was that India needed a strong  “Central” leadership to restore Order.
In India when we speak of “Strong” leaders in Indian context the first name that ignites public imagination is of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The 1971 war was the Cause Celebre that granted her the halo of being a strong leader.  Dismemberment of Pakistan transformed her from a Goongi Gudia or a “Dumb Doll”  to Durga the deity of Strength.
When we examine her credentials on the anvil of democracy, she falls short grossly. She assassinated  democracy by imposing Emergency.  Running Parliament after imprisoning all the opposition leaders was a sad mockery of democracy. She destroyed the Indian National Congress a Grand Old Party by planting YES men as state chiefs and thence a new genre of careerist politicians replaced the rank of Cadre. Making S S Ray as CM of West Bengal was an out of turn favor to a family friend and a close acquaintance who had zero footprint in WB.
Much before Emergency too India did come too close to losing it’s democratic set up. The Strong leader Indira Gandhi  did try to take away the fundamental rights of citizens of India vide the three amendments to the constitution namely 24th, 25th and 29th  (1971-72) and several other. People of India need to thank their Stars that democracy was saved by a Whisker when in the Keshavanand Bharati case the verdict was Seven is to Six in the favor of individual against the State. Had one more Judge wilted, maybe Indira would had slowly chiseled away all the pillars of democracy and India would have had to bid goodbye to Democracy for all times.
History is replete with strong leaders, who did more harm than good.  
The most significant example is that of Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was a charismatic and unconventional politician who knew what the masses wanted to hear. He fought his way to the highest ranks of political power. The old guard politicians of Rome were horrified at his rise and did everything they could to stop him, but nothing worked. The more the establishment spoke against him, the more the common people loved him. Ultimately he did declare himself as The Dictator for Life.
In a democracy the Right of an Individual  to make a difference is only in the case of a TIE. Probability of the same is so small that masses do not make any efforts in understanding the politics or having an adequately informed opinion. Thence in nations such as India people vote their castes, biases or prejudices.
The oft repeated dictum that Power corrupts and absolute Power corrupts absolutely holds true in case of Strong Leaders and democracy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pakistan's atttack on URI

Attack in URI army base is obviously a handiwork of Pakistan.
It is in continuation of the Pakistan policy of exacting Thousand Cuts and bleeding of India. Till India is able to break up Pakistan once again, India shall have to pay these prices.
Unless India is able to ensure that Pakistan is unable to get away cheap, it will continue with these adventures. Hence the crux of the matter is how to increase the HEAT on Pakistan. Isolating it diplomatically has limited payback. Every nation viz., USA shall act as per it’s own agenda. Morality has never been an essential element of any nation’s FOREIGN POLICY. USA,China and Saudi Arabia shall continue to support Pakistan i.e. unless the Muslim hater Trump gets to sit in the white house.
India needs to engage with all who are having issues with Pakistan. Afghanistan can be useful in creating a pincer effect on Pakistan. India can seek help from Afghanistan’s Government to create problems on their western front.
Instigating Afghanistan and Balochs can jeopardize the FATE LINE or भाग्य रेखा of Pakistan i.e. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan is majorly pinning it’s hopes and aspirations on the CPEC. Pakistan hopes to add 2.5% to it’s GDP courtesy CPEC. Once again it is hinging it’s destiny to a foreign power. Jinnah extracted the rent from USA by positioning it as a strategic location to counter the hegemony of USSR. Now Nawaz Sharif is trying to extract a similar rent, from current super power i.e. China. China needed Pakistan to fulfill it’s aspirations of One Belt-One Road vision. It desires a direct market route to European and African market. The crown jewel of the CPEC is the Gwadar Port.
If India is able to throw a spanner in this ambitious project and ensure a disruption of work in CPEC, it could cost Pakistan very steep. Ensuring a 5 or 10 years delay may diminish the China’s ardor and possibility of abandoning of the project.
Except for a small sliver of a border being shared with China, Pakistan shares it’s border with three nations. That is India, Afghanistan and Iran. If India is able to finagle support of Afghanistan, Pakistan would be caught in a pincer. Iran is in little position to play any significant role. The 95% Shia population of Iran and it’s recent spar over Haj with Saudi Arab has complicated their role in Islamic arena.
In 1971 USA and China were dead against India and yet none interfered effectively. India should not give much credence to the rhetoric of China. India is a major customer for China. Our import from China is in excess of 60 Billion dollars. No one shoots at his customer.
Besides वही मार सकता है जो मार खाने की हिम्मत रखता है. Yes we need to do our homework and not resort to vacuous forward movement like the ones of 1962 Indo China War. Once Pakistan gets hit in the groins, our problems in J&K will deescalate. Today India has been bearing the cost unilaterally. Once Pakistan gets a bill, it will desist in supping with the separatists of J&K. The war would cost India dearly in terms of economy. This cost needs to be treated as a Capital Investment to be amortized over the next decade. The ROI looks attractive.

Monday, September 12, 2016


एक अदना सा
एक बेवजूद बेजुबान दाना माझी
मीडिया के निशाने पर आ गया
एक रोजमर्रे की घटना को
कतिपय कुछ आतंकवादियों ने सुर्खियों में तबदील कर दिया
मौन वेदना के प्रत्युत्तर में
बहरीन की नौलखा मुखर सवेदना
उसके दरवाजे पर दस्तक दे गयी
बेचारा एक अदना दाना माझी
एक करोड़ दाना माझियों का प्रतीक बन
सहमा ठिठका बदहवास दाना माझी
ऊचे रसूख वाले IAS अधिकारियों के
आखों की किरकिरी बन गया
अब एक करोड़ के
शेष बचे ९९,९९,९९९  दाना माझियों
का वेताल उन ऊचे रसूख वाले IAS अधिकारियों से
पूछ रहा एक यक्ष प्रश्न
कि अगर उनके परिवार का कोई निहत हो
और वे भी चल दे,
उसके शव को कंधे पर लाद के
तब क्या वे भी गरीबी  की रेखा
को लांघने में सफल हो पायेगे
 क्या इस सवेदना के स्वर
एक बार फिर बहरीन से फूटेंगे
या फूटेंगे अपनी गणतंत्र के चौपाल से. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Good, The Bad and Ugly

I have not posted any musings on Face Book since last 8 or 9 days. Yes did post a link challenging the Myth of Mother Teressa. Received both derisive and appreciative comments.
Today while waiting for my flight at Kolkata airport I did pen my musings as under.
Yes I do enjoy challenging lot of so called basic datums. Certain friends react and certain others respond  to my irksome posts. I do not mind any Good, Bad or Ugly responses to my Posts and even knee jerk reactions. Yes  I do invite derision by being irksome. If I have been able to evoke a response, means the pebble thrown did cause ripples, the only objective of casting a pebble. One of the Koans of Zen philosophy.  
Truth exists therefore it is. Illusion exists therefore it is. Truth and Illusion exists therefore it is. A new truth evolves out of the intercourse of the truth and illusion.  I often see it something similar to building a brick wall. In building a brick wall, a new brick is always placed over two adjoining bricks, bridging and linking up both. All bricks essentially link two bricks lying below it. Never one on top of the other. This results in interlinking of all bricks and gives the brick work strength and stability. If all bricks were placed one above the other, they would not support each other and the individual brick work would have very little or no structural strength. One cannot rationally state or identify any individual brick principally contributing to the strength of the wall. It is the composite interlinking alone that makes a wall stand straight. If someone wishes to build a thick wall, one needs to place bricks facing different directions. Interlinking evolves into a Bi planner grid. Thence truth and illusion often are relative and are dependent on their direction. In short all the arguments, must be taken cognizance of and interlinked to give structural strength to the wall or idea being built and thence only we may conclusively seek evolution to the next level.  

All arguments contribute in evolving to the next level of truth. The ultimate truth is as much an oxymoron as is drawing a finishing line to human consciousness.
My last post was a link that did not agree with the widely proclaimed and accorded Sainthood of Mother Teressa. In India and specially on Face Book too we very have HOLY COWS and GAU RAKSHAK syndrome. One must distinguish that all cows being carted are not consigned to slaughter house. I was not consigning Mother Teressa to Devil hood. I was merely trying to demarcate the premises of truth and illusion.
The Gau Rakshaks among my friends in their misplaced zeal launched into vigilantism and raised arguments not germane to the basic concept of the post.
The post did not say that Mother Teressa did not do anything good. Even often ridiculed Double Shree Ravi Shankar and Puttapurti Sai Baba have done lot of good to the society. The much vilified RSS has worked wonders during any and all Natural Calamities. The schools managed by RSS are providing quality education at affordable cost to millions of not so economically privileged children of LESSER GOD. Ramdev has spread a fresh awareness towards Yoga improving health of millions. His performance or training of yogic exercises  is available to all for free every morning on Television. Yet the same brigade challenges these people/institutions by pointing out the real or virtual chinks in their armors. Ramdev is challenged saying if Yoga could cure so many diseases why Ramdev does not correct his eye problem.There must be thousand others who have tendered yeoman service to the society, with ZERO fan fare and without involving the MUCH SUTO BE WARY OF “WORD OF GOD”.  Mother Teressa too did not believe in miracles or suffering pain to perceive divinity, when it reached her personal self. Unlike her Nirmal Hruday Hospice inmates, she readily accepted medical help for herself in the best of the facilities available.
Lot of my friends would instantly react and say “It is foolish to compare two different individuals/saints”. Well whenever any accolades viz., Bharat Ratna or Nobels are awarded, it is always by comparing several different people or SAINTS in the said category. 
The State or Institutions ordained Halos such as Bharat Ratna and or Nobel create certain myths around ordinary mortal individuals. As I said earlier, that Truth and Illusion both exist conjointly.  My friends have asked questions about Low Salaries to the teachers in RSS sponsored schools. They fight shy in speaking about the unhygienic conditions and the reuse of injection needles in Sisters of Charity aka Mother Teressa’s NIrmal Hruday Hospice. Any word about her accepting money from dubious characters is brushed under you know what. Her comments about Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, by any lesser mortal would had horrified the society and invited intense derision.
My take Bharat Ratna and Nobel prizes are the illusions and not the truth. They can not belittle unsung efforts of thousands of indigenous heroes viz., the Mountain Man who never had access to any means leave aside millions in green backs and or First Class International Flight Tickets. The ultimate perjury underlining an individual’s sainthood is the Vatican City’s process of canonization, which substantially leans on MIRACLES.
I wish the state had done a proper audit of monies received by Mother Teressa. I would like to quote Swami Vivekanand here. He said,” In your quest for truth, examine all and discard all that do not meet the basic rules of a scientific investigation.”
Like Face Book, society too likes to revel into a propaganda based public perception. Haloes are awarded too easily based on populism. Hitler was declared Man of the Year by Time magazine. Mussolini was declared as God’s child by Pope. Whereas Socrates was sentenced to death by public mandate.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


सत्यम् ब्रुयात , प्रियम् ब्रुयात, अप्रिय सत्यम् ब्रुयात। 
This inadvertently means that The Inconvenient Truths need not be spoken. Geeta has two distinct words. श्रेयस and  प्रेयस I The word श्रेयस means what is GOOD and Credible for the people and प्रेयस means what is convenient and or Palatable.
Can the Convenience gain immediacy over Credibility and or Truth.
A news from Neighbouring country i.e. Nepal has made me indulge in this drivel. In Nepal about 80% of the Muslims have expressed their desire that Nepal should opt for a Hindu Rashtra concept and reject secularism.  The word SECULARISM means that matters of Religion must not influence issues of State i.e. Governance.
Religion being a personal affair should never ideally be a subject of state. Yet the Muslims in Nepal have shown pragmatism and dared to speak out “The Inconvenient Truth” i.e.  the अप्रिय सत्यम्  or is it a mere submission to Majoritarianism.
Ideally Secularism must hold sway over any form of State’s allegiance to a subject that is private between an individual and his/her God. It is a cry from a child directed to his/her mother seeking HIS attention.  No reason for state to get itself involved in such private matters.
Yet state matters need a Reality Check and not an idealistic drool.
India has three principal streams of religion vying for it’s people’s attention. Hinduism (that includes Sikkhism, Buddhism and Jainism) followed by approx. 82%, Islam (Shia,Sunni,Ahmedias all included) approx 14% , Christians about 3% and smaller sects like Parsis, Jews etc., make up the rest.
When we practice secularism, we treat all religions  at par and give equal importance to each of them. We have EID and Christmas celebrated as Public Holidays. 
If state is declaring Holidays on religious festivals it can not be ideally said that State is not involving itself in the matters of religion. Ideally State may give 10 or 15 optional Festival Holidays and allow each individual to avail holiday as per his option. No compulsory holiday on Diwali or Eid. Indian style of secularism means giving equal importance to all religions and not ignoring any. Christians with a miniscule population of 2 to 3% have several designated holidays under N I Act.
In the matters of reality check, let us examine the basic tenets of each and try to understand where do they support the Nationalism of it’s nationals.
Whereas Christianity:: Pope declared while traveling in India that “Conversion is a basic tenet of Christianity”. I have seen several Christian Dharm gurus on TV emphasizing that indeed there can not be any restriction on Conversion as it would mean a restriction on one’s conscience.

Basic Tenets of Islam:: Shahada and Caliphate

"There is no god but God (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God."
Caliphate again another fundamental concept of Islam is alien to Modern society and concepts of Nationalism.
Hinduism:: " जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी"  depicts that Hinduism is close to Nationalism. The basic tenet अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि means ascendancy to Godhood by good deeds. No room for sectarianism unlike other two religions.
My belief a TRUE HINDU Rashtra would have Real Secularism as it’s core philosophy instead of the current pseudo secularism, wherein Christian NGOs peddle conversion and Islam that is competing for establishing of a Caliphate.