Monday, January 28, 2008


The pictures above: 1) Fort wall of Gagan Mahal 2) View of Golgumbad from Masjid side 3) Partial view of Jal Mandir from an arch of sath Manzil stairs 4)Pasari Kaman, a path-way leading to Asar Mahal

Bijapur in early 1960s was a small town with a population of about 50000. It is a district head quarter. Till 1956 before the reorganisation of states on linguistic basis, Bijapur was in Bombay state. Four districts—Bijapur, Belagavi, Dharwad and Uttar Karnatak—were called Bombay Karnatak. From 1956 till 1973 it was in Mysore State. The State was renamed as Karnataka in 1973.
The seat of Chalukya Dynasty was Badami and Bijapur was possibly part of the dynasty. It was a part of bahamani Kingdom. One historian writes that zafar Khan, the founder, had once been a slave of a Brahmin and hence the name Bahamani. Infact the word Bahmani comes from Persian word Bahaman, which means a nobleman. The Bahamani Kingdom broke into five Sultanates—Adil Shahi of Bijapur, Khutubshahi of Golkonda, Nizamshahi of Ahmadnagar Imad shahi of Raichur and Baridshhi of Bidar.

“The kings of Bijapur ruled from 1489 to 1688, when the kingdom was annexed by Auragzeb.Its founder, Yousuf Adilshah, is reputed to have been a son of Amurath II, and brother of Muhammad II, the Ottomon conquerer of Constatinople, who fled Persia when the brothers of the king were put to death, became a Mamluk slave at the court of Bahamani king, and finally a successful and intrepid general. ----------The ruins of Bijapur attest the greatness of that kingdom; they are of wide extent, and some of them still in great beauty. The exquisite proportions, profuse yet graceful ornament, and lace-like carvings of of the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adilshah excite the admiration of visitors familiar with the Taj and other masterpieces of Saracenic archtecture, while Sultan Mahmud reposes beneath the largest dome in the world, which crowns a suitably imposing mass of plain masonry. Archtects have fully described this wonderous work, astonished at a covered area of upwardds 18000 square feet, uninterrupted by supports. They compare it with the Pantheon, the next largest space covered by a single dome, and with St. Paul’s, with which it is contemporary. The buildings are of a widely different character, and all technicalities apart, the Bijapur dome may be described as resembling an inverted tea cup, while that of the Pantheon the form of an inverted saucer.” *

There are many monuments of Adilshahi period, famous among them are, Gol Gumbad, Jama Masjid and Ibrahim Roza. Apart from these three, there are many monuments like Malike Jahan Masjid, Mecca Masjid, Ali ka Roza Gagan Mahal, Anand, Mahal, Mehtar Maha, Asar Mahal, Jal Mandir and Taj Bowli. Collectorate, District session’s court and many offices are housed in Adilshhi palaces and the main feature of the palace is Sat Manzil. Each monument reminds you of the glory of the period.

There are many Durgahs of Sufi saints. Anniversaries known as urs take place. There is a tomb of Ganjul Uloom, said to the spiritual mentor of Kwaja Bandanawaz of Gulbarga. This tomb is desolate and unattended. Ganjul Uloom litarally means treasure of knowledge. Government boys’ high school has a huge play ground and at one end there is grave of Mulla Nasarati, considered first Urdu poet. The grave is on a huge platform and the grave is carved out of sinle granite. I always wondered why it was government girls’ high school and not government high school for girls. Similarly boys’ high school was government boys’ high school.
There was a prominantly located Laxmi temple, which was a temple of largely Brahmin community. I do not recollect seeing any Lingayat visiting that temple. I do not recollect having seen any temple of Krishna or Saraswati. During Deepavali there used to be lot of worshippers.
There was a huge Shivaling temple and here the devotees were only Lingayats. During Sankranti there used to be huge crowd of devotees. Devotees from almost all parts of District used to visit Bijapur for Pooja. The festivities would continue at least for a week. One important feature of this festival was cattle fare. Cattle were bought and sold. The main beneficiaries of this mela were the traders. Innumerable hawkers would throng the streets. The villagers used to buy their requirements from household items to toys for their children. Inspite of huge arrival of villagers no untoward activities or any mishap was reported and I believe nothing untoward really occurred. But traders did make their money. Innocence of village folk was financially exploited. The highlights of this festival were ‘bailata’ and fire works on the final day. Bailata literally means open air play. It used to start late in the evening and continue till wee hours. They were tearjerkers for the innocent villagers. There were only two cinema halls—Laxmi and Tripura Sundari. Throughout the year only Hindi films were shown but during this period both the halls showed only Kannada films. Kannada film making was in its infancy those days. I think the phenomenon called Raj Kumar was yet to arrive.

* Muhammadans in India, book prited and published by Ballanfyne, Hanson and Co. pages107-108.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Present day Muslims are original inhabitants

It is a general belief particularly among upper caste Hindus that the caste Hindus are the original inhabitants of this land. They very strongly feel that only Muslims were invaders and that they plundered India. Historically this is absolutely wrong. Except perhaps Adivasis, all are invaders and settlers. Some came 3000 years ago while some others 1000 years ago. But invaders they all are! And all conquerors plunder. There is no exception. Aryans did it. So did others.

India is a land of invaders. The first to invade this country were the central Asian tibes called aryans. They were nomads. They were swift in warfare because they rode horses. They hardly new agriculture and had no regard for ecology. The earlier inhabitants were far too advanced in agriculture and irrigation. They destroyed our city civilisations, such as Harappa and Mohonjedaro.

I qoute from the web site . “

“By 1500 BC, the Harappan culture came to an end. Among various causes ascribed to the decay of Indus Valley Civilization are the invasion by the Aryans, the recurrent floods and other natural causes like earthquake, etc.”

One wonders why Shri Krishna and Arjuna destroyed the kandhava forest by burning it down.
I quote from Yuganta, a book by Irawati Karve. “How could Arjuna, whoprided himself on his name Bibhastu—one who does not do anything repulsive—indulge in this cruel hunt?”
They did not allow a single life to escape. If someone knows the reasons, please enlighten me.

Persians invaded around 500 B.C.Darius overran the Indus valley.the solar cult of Hindus is a Persian import.

Then came Kushans from Afghanistan, who claimed their descent from Sun or moon. They called themselves Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi respectively. They were accommodated and later assimilated as Khyatriyas. The present day Rajputs claim to be their descendents.

The next invaders were Greeks around 300 B.C. Greek invasions was a passing phenomenon.after Greeks came Sakas or synthians. Followed byParthians and Kushans around 100 A.D. One of the rulers of Kushans, Kanishka gave India a new calenderbeginning with his accenssion in 78 A.D.

history of:India
o India (in India: Central Asian rulers) The Bactrian control of Taxila was disturbed by an intrusion of the Scythians, known in Indian sources as the Sakas. They had attacked the kingdom of Bactria and subsequently moved into India. The determination of the Han rulers of China to keep the Central Asian nomadic tribes (the Hsiung-nu, Wu-sun, and Yüeh-chih) out of China forced these nomadic tribes in their search for fresh...
o India (in India: The Andhras and their successors) ...the kingdom reaching across the northern Deccan; subsequent to this the Satavahanas suffered an eclipse in the 1st century AD, when they were forced out of the northern Deccan by the Sakas and settled in Andhra. In the 2nd century AD, the Satavahanas reestablished their power in the northwestern Deccan, as evidenced by Saka coins from this region...
About 135 BC a loose confederation of five Central Asian nomadic tribes known as the Yuezhi wrested Bactria from the Bactrian Greeks. These tribes united under the banner of the Kushan (Kusana), one of the five tribes, and conquered the Afghan area. The zenith of Kushan power was reached in the 2nd century AD under King Kaniska (c. AD 78–144), whose empire stretched from Mathura in north-central India beyond Bactria as far as the frontiers of China in Central Asia.

Also spelled Ephthalite, member of a people important in the history of India and Persia during the 5th and 6th centuries AD. According to Chinese chronicles they were originally a tribe living to the north of the Great Wall and were known as Hoa or Hoa-tun. Elsewhere they were called White Huns or Hunas. They had no cities or system of writing, lived in felt tents, and practiced polyandry.
In the 5th and 6th centuries the Hephthalites repeatedly invaded Persia and India. In the middle of the 6th century under the attacks of the Turks they ceased to exist as a separate people and were probably absorbed in the surrounding population. Nothing is known of their language.
The earliest systematic description of the Huns is that given by the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, writing c. 395. They were apparently primitive pastoralists who knew nothing of agriculture. They had no settled homes and no kings; each group was led by primates, as Ammianus called them. Whether or not they had a single overall leader in the 4th century is still a matter of dispute.

The Hephthalites, who invaded Iran and India in the 5th and 6th centuries, and the Hsiung-nu, known earlier to the Chinese, are sometimes called Huns, but their relationship to the invaders of Europe is uncertain.
The invaders were accommodated because the local kings were weak and the invading armies were strong. Later they were assimilated within the Hindu hierarchy.
Then there were invasions by Afghans, Turks, Arabs and mongols. They all happened to be Muslims. But they also settled down in India like the earlier invaders.
But the subsequent invaders—British, Portigese and French—did not make India their home. They ruled here as representatives of their respective kings.
A majority of Muslims in India are converts from shudra caste or from those who were outside the four-fold Hindu society. They converted for various reasons including social and monetary considerations. Who does not want to upgrade oneself socially?
So, since majority of Indian Muslims are converts from ‘dasas, ashuras and rakshasas, they are the originnal inhabitants of India.
Does anyone say that jyoti Basu is not an Indian because he has taken to foreign ideology?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


A very high percentage of Muslims consider bank interest as forbidden. Firstly they do not even try to understand the difference between interest and usury. What is forbidden is usury. Anything that accrues fron exploitative means is forbidden not just usury. Very high percentage of Muslims does not consider mutual fund investment as forbidden. Stock market is basically based on speculation. Even the Initial Public Offering is much higher than the intrinsic value of the share. Both the concepts—interest is forbidden and investment in mutual funds is ok—are based on wrong interpretation of the spirit of Quranic guidance. During the middle ages there were only money lenders, the likes of Shylock and our own mahajans. Their dealings were exploitative in nature and purpose.

Let us examine Mutual fundds that essentially deal with stock market, a speculative trade. They buy shares on behalf of the members, those who buy bonds. The most important dealing of the mutual funds is in Futures and Options. It was called Badla before it was given this respectable name. There are Dalals, who are now respectfully called Stock Brokers. Remember Dalal Street in Mumbai?

What are Futures and Options? In this trade one buys shares without investing money but financed by brokers or mutual funds at an exorbitant interest. If the share value goes up the investor apart from interest also gets a share of the increase in share value. And this so called trade is acceptable to Muslims.

Even buying of shares from the brokers directly is based on hypothesis, a respectable name for speculation or gamble. The official term for such speculation is ‘efficient market hypothesis’. So how is it that investment in mutual funds is considered permitted? Should Allah have used the words mutual funds for Muslims today to understand that it is gambling?


Talking about Hindu tolerance, I would like to qoute swami Vivekanand “ No religion on earth preaches the dignity of humanity in such a lofty strain as Hinduism, and no religion on earth treads upon the necks of the poor and the low in such a fashion as Hinduism".
Mayawati will go down in history as empowering Dalits politically. It is not a small achievement! There was a time when socially oppressed could not even exercise their franchise according to their wish. Upper caste people always try to find fault with her. It is natural. No priledged section of society wants a social change.

Caste prejudices continue, though the upper caste people keep saying that the system has almost disappeared. Atrocities on lower castes continue openly in rural India. In urban areas discrimination and prejudices are subtle and sophisticated. They have replaced the word merit for caste.
The extracts from various news reports and studies given below support my view:

Bant Singh is a Dalit who lives in Mansa village in Punjab. Born a Dalit, his is an inheritance of loss. He has a minor daughter, Baljeet Kaur, who was gangraped by upper caste men of her village in January 2002.

Many Dalit girls are raped while calling them untouchable and denying them the right to draw water from the village well and other forms of social ostracism, upper caste men do not hesitate to sexually violate them. It is a well-planned strategy of subordination.
25 Oct, 2006 0003hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK

New Delhi-based research organisation Cfore, which conducts an annual B-school survey for a national weekly, used RTI Act to expose the fact that SC/ST students are paid way below general category students during placements and also that the recipient of lowest salary offered is usually a Dalit.

The survey found that the average salary for a Dalit is at least 2 lakh less than the average salary at IIMs. At IIM-A, while the average salary was Rs 9.6 lakh per annual, Dalit students were offered 7.8 lakh. IIMs reserve 22.5% seats for SC/ST students.
"During the survey, we found that Scheduled Castes/Tribes students were mostly recruited by PSUs rather than MNCs.
12 Sep, 2006 0051hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK
BHOPAL: A Dalit woman sarpanch of Mahoikala village in Chattarpur district of MP was beaten up, stripped and then paraded naked by upper caste men for not paying them Rs 50,000 from the village development fund.
Thursday, June 22, 2006 11:19:58 pm TIMES NEWS NETWORKShocking allegations of intimidation of Dalit students have surfaced in the country’s premier medical institute, AIIMS. Two first-year MBBS students have submitted written complaints to the director of being subjected to casteist remarks and other forms of harassment by seniors.
12 Sep, 2006 0011hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK

HYDERABAD: Parents of SC/ST students of the Hyderabad Public School (HPS) have alleged that their children faced discrimination in the school.

Addressing mediapersons on Thursday, HPS SC/ST Parents' Committee president M Samuel said there were 1,200 SC/ST students in both the campuses of the school — in Ramantapur and Begumpet. Out of these 400 are boarders but they are not allowed to live in the boarding rooms inside the school campuses. "They were asked to live in special hostels provided by the social welfare department which are in slum areas," Samuel said.
"The issue was raised in the assembly even in April and the school education minister held a meeting of all concerned. But we came to know that it was decided that SC/ST students should not be allowed to live inside the school premises," Samuel alleged.
0158hrs IST 6 Oct, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Pradip, a young Dalit man from a remote village in Madhya Pradesh, decided to fight back when upper caste people in his village refused him water.
Instead, the 20-year-old was beaten up and as a result, 250 Dalit families from his Chotiche village have been denied access to water.

Kalabai is a Dalit, but never before has she been so acutely conscious of her status. Her son Pradip has been missing since the incident.
The village gets its water supply from a government tubewell, but upper caste families determine how much water the Dalit families have access to.
June 23, 2006 (Khandwa) NDTV
BHUBANESWAR: Breaking a nearly 300-year-old ban, hundreds of Dalits on Thursday entered a Jagannath temple in Orissa's Kendrapada district. Prior to this, Dalits could have darshan only through the nine small holes on the walls of the temple located at Keredagada village.
15 Dec, 2006 0101hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK
BHUBANESWAR: Upper caste people on Friday responded to Dalits' entry into Jagannath temple at Keredagada by observing a bandh .

Some of the priests and upper caste people reportedly wanted to perform mahasnana , a ritual bath of the deities at the temple. The priests were trying to contact temple trust president Rabindra Narayan Bhanjadeo, a scion of the Kanika royal family.
16 Dec, 2006 0259hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK
JAIPUR, June 8: Even in the 21st century, life is not easy for dalits in the rural parts of the country. A scheduled caste community in a Rajasthan district has been ostracised for daring to seek police help to allow their grooms to ride horseback and for holding meetings to oppose atrocities of the upper castes.
Recently, in separate incidents, two Meghwal community grooms were not allowed to ride horseback in Udaipur district’s Amarpura and Nimdi villages. The marriage procession could move only after police protection was sought. The Meghwal community was ostracised in both villages for this misadventure.
Following these developments, the community called a meeting on 4 June. The community leaders there reportedly raised their voice against the atrocities of the upper castes. But Meghwals are being made to pay for this as they are facing a total boycott. Statesman--9th June,2006
Chandigarh, March 1: A group of incensed Rajput youngsters attacked and set fire to a number of dalit houses in Haryana’s Salwan village. A few policemen, who tried to stop the attackers were injured in the incident on Thursday afternoon. However, nearly 24 households in the dalit quarter of the village have been destroyed. After ransacking the homes, the mob made bonfires of the furniture and other belongings. Deccan Chronicle 2.3.2007
Despite India's bid to integrate itself into the global economy that counts more on merit than on lineage, Indian employers continue to follow age-old hiring practices that discriminate against lower castes.
This is the view of Katherine Newman, professor of sociology in Princeton University and Paul Attewell, professor of sociology at the City University of New York, who led a research study along with Surinder S Jodhka of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Sukhadeo Thorat.
"Indian employers, especially the large employers, do continue, despite their views that they do not rely on the caste factor for employment decisions, to have preconceptions or stereotypes about applicants in the labour market that reinforce caste as a source of employment discrimination," Newman said. Suman Guha Mozumdar in New York
a study was released by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies in collaboration with Princeton University.
The study was conducted against 548 job advertisements with 4808 applicants over 66 weeks, across five metros.

It reveals that in fact a person's caste and religion could be a hindrance in getting a job, despite equal qualification.
The study says that a dalit had 60 per cent less chances of being called for an interview, and a Muslim had 30 per cent less, as against their higher caste peers.

Of job hunting and Indian caste system. Suman Guha Mozumdar in New York
November 02, 2007

Monday, January 21, 2008

Market rises and crashes

Today is 22nd of January 2008. Front-page news hedlines are on sensex crash, how much Mukesh or Anil or Mittal or how much PSUs lost during the last few weeks.

Markets or for that matter GDP do not necessariry indicate the health of a nation’s economy.

“Even as Mukesh Ambani is reported (probably inaccurately) to have become the richest man in the world, the World Hunger Index of IFPRI has ranked India 94th out of 118 countries, just above Ethiopia and worse than any country in the subcontinent save Bangladesh. The contrast between rich and poor is stark”.
(4 Nov 2007, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar)
Now that Mukesh has become poorer by Rs 47476 crores ( front-page report of TOI) , has it made any difference to the Hunger Index? I thought his loss is merely notional unlike his gain.

"The Reagan-Bush years," Bill Clinton when he began his presidential campaign declared, "have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The Eighties ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect."

I am of the view that successive Governments Narrsimha Rao onwards have done what Clinton said of Reagan.

A Unicef report says India has the highest number of malnourished children in the world: One in three of the world's malnourished children is Indian. Of the world's 146 million malnourished children, 57 million are in India; they are 47 per cent of under-fives in the country—a TNN report.

A recently released report by the UN and Asian Development Bank points out that India is a laggard in meeting some of the millennium development goals (MDGs) identified in 2000. The MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. For a country that is growing at 9 per cent, there is no reason why India's social indicators should be embarrassingly poor even when compared to other middle-income countries. ( TOI- Disturbing diagnosis).
since Mr Aiyar used the following para in two separate articles of his own, I do not hesitate to repeat.
Even as Mukesh Ambani is reported (probably inaccurately) to have become the richest man in the world, the World Hunger Index of IFPRI has ranked India 94th out of 118 countries, just above Ethiopia and worse than any country in the subcontinent save Bangladesh. The contrast between rich and poor is stark.
(TOI- Bad marks yet first division)

“So when you talk of a nine point two per cent growth rate, it becomes a statistical abstraction: 0.2 per cent of our people are growing at 9.92 per cent per annum. But there is a very large number, I don’t know how many, whose growth rate is perhaps down to 0.2 per cent. But certainly, the number of those who are at the lower end of the growth sector is very much larger than those who are at the higher end”.

Patriotism of mercenaries

Swaminathan Iyer writes, Mangal Pandey was a mercenery. “He hired out his services to not even the British army but the east India Company. That made him a double mercenary; a mercinary soldier serving a mercenery corporation. Nor was he alone. Indians qued up to serve the British, who were reliable paymasters”

“Bengal army had a high presence of Brahmins. Lord William Bentick in 1826 was highly critical of the Bengal army, which had only a few low caste sepoys and was an inefficient and expensive army”, wrote Raja Shekhar Vundru.

Brave Martyr or Accidental Hero, a book by Rudranghsu Mukherjee has this to say: 'Nationalism creates its own myths. Mangal Pandey is part of that imagination of historians. He had no notion of patriotism or even of India. For him, mulk was a small village, Awadh.'
“Bankim Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim”, wrote Nirad Choudhary.
Bankim Babu was happy to have white men as his rulers. Let me dwell on his novel ‘Anand Math’.
The novel was not anti-British, either. In the last chapter, we find a supernatural figure persuading the leader of the sanyasis, Satyananda, to stop fighting. The dialogue that follows is interesting:3
"He: Your task is accomplished. The Muslim power is destroyed. There is nothing else for you to do. No good can come of needless slaughter.
"S: The Muslim power has indeed been destroyed, but the dominion of the Hindu has not yet been established. The British still hold Calcutta.
"He: Hindu dominion will not be established now. If you remain at your work, men will be killed to no purpose. Therefore come.
"S: (greatly pained) My lord, if Hindu dominion is not going to be established, who will rule? Will the Muslim kings return?
"He: No. The English will rule."
Satyananda protests, but is persuaded to lay down the sword.
"He: Your vow is fulfilled. You have brought fortune to your Mother. You have set up a British government. Give up your fighting. Let the people take to their ploughs. Let the earth be rich with harvest and the people rich with wealth.
"S: (weeping hot tears) I will make my Mother rich with harvest in the blood of her foes.
"He: Who is the foe? There are no foes now. The English are friends as well as rulers. And no one can defeat them in battle.
"S: If that is so, I will kill myself before the image of my Mother.
"He: In ignorance? Come and know. There is a temple of the Mother in the Himalayas. I will show you her image there.
"So saying, He took Satyananda by the hand."
The above narration is from Bankim Babus novel Anand Math.
Bengali upper caste had unimaginable dislike for Muslims. Their hatred was result of the fact that the lower caste, particularly untouchables had embraced Islam and they stopped considering them as superior. The lower caste had achieved a status, which the Brahmins never gave them. Bankim Babu was a Brahmin.
From the arguments of Swaminathan and Rudranghsu Mangal Pandey was a mercenary. From their logic I proceed further. All those soldiers in the Indian army prior to independence were mercenaries and not soldiers. Cariappa, Thimmayya, Manekshaw were all in army before independence.
I do not understand why president of India salutes mercenaries on republic day.


This news item appeared on the web.This news was also reported in The Times of India:


January 16, 2008
THE Rudd Government yesterday vetoed selling uranium to India while it was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced the decision after talks with India's visiting nuclear envoy, Shyam Saran.

In his first face-to-face meetings with the new Government, Mr Saran wanted to clarify whether Australian uranium sales were still possible, but the answer was a polite no.

Mr Smith reiterated Labor's longstanding policy on uranium in what were described as friendly talks held in Perth.

"We went into the election with a strong policy commitment (that) we would not export uranium to nation states who are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Mr Smith told reporters, adding Mr Saran was unsurprised by the decision.
After reading the news and considering the time the decision was announced, I could not help linking unpleasant Melbourn cricket episode to the decision. Have Harbahjan and Shri Pawar cost India uranium supply? I do not know the answer. May be it is a mere coincidence.
I was releived to see cartoon by Sudhir Telang, which almost covered my thinking.
Here is the cartoon:

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Most of the officials in Government undertakings are career minded but at the same time mediocre in their thinking and approach. They like to be pampered and are highly self-indulgent. The very same people in their formative years had dreams, dreams to change the system, which they then thought was rotten. As they grew they became part of the system. They shared the dreams of affluent poets, who wrote on poverty feelingly. They shared the dreams of filmmakers who projected poverty true to life spending their time in affluent surroundings. Did they do it out of conviction or just to get laurels, awards and appreciations? I am at a loss. None of them did anything to change the system.

These corporate managers must have heard ‘ woh subah kabhi to aayegi’ with moist eyes and seen Satyajit Ray’s films, after they were appreciated abroad.

Any new entrant is with dreams and fresh ideas. He is laughed at. Many times shouted down. In a meeting should he come up with a new idea, before the chairperson reacts his sycophants shout him down and look for the approval at the chair.

In the story ‘ the emperor’s new clothes, the little boy’s shouting is not shouted down. May be if the story were to be written today the end would be different.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Birds & animals suffer Cruelty-Zulm-Atyachar

Loving animals is different from keeping them as pets. Imagine a bird, even if it is in a golden cage (does it matter to the bird if the cage is of gold or iron?), what is its condition. It is deprived of its natural instinct to fly. Its freedom is taken away. Iqbal wrote a beautiful poem for children, parinde ki fariyad, an appeal of a bird.

Aata hai yaad mujhko guzrahuwa zamana
Wo bagh ki bahareyn wo sab ka chehchahana.

Take fish in an acquarium. To the delight of humans they swim round and round in a showcase of a drawing room. They are given best of food. Are they happy? May be they say ‘ Aata hai yaad mujhko guzra huwa zamana
Wo gaharaiyan nadi ki, wo mera tairana.

Worst case is with dogs. Chained, a belt round the neck, jumping, rolling to get a piece of bone from the master. The master commands him, cajoles him, hugs him, scraches behind his ears, bathes him and brushes him. He does all that he cannot do with his own children. He loves him but keeps him chained. Would his master do all that to earn his livelyhood without freedom? There is a difference between dogs as pets and fish or birds. Dogs are bred specially for keeping as pets. And they are bred under monitored condition. Many of the masters, when the dogs are sick or very old, leave them in places from where the pets cannot trace their masters.
Dogs cannot sing any version of Iqbal’s poem, as most of them never knew what freedom was.

I do not like raising cattle just for their meat. Poultry farming, I think, is one example. Cows and sheep reared just for human consumption is not done. In the West cows are reared just as poultry. As long as they live animals and birds should have their freedom. I am not advocating vagetarianism. Come to think of it, milking a cow or a buffellow in the presence of its offspring is unjust. Have you seen the process of milking? You must see into the eyes of cow and the calf. I am not against drinking milk. The calf should get atleast some portion of its legitimate share. The only animal that drinks another animal’s milk is human being.
Cows must be impregnated for them to begin producing milk. Therefore, when she reaches the age of around twelve months she has to go through Artificial Insemination.
In our villages the cows or buffellows are taken to a milkman who owns a sturdy ox or bull, where she is raped. They use evey possible way to get her there, including beating her on the head. The miserable animal is frightened, she wants to fight and resist, but ultimately succumbs. This gentle creature doesn't harm anyone, but still she is getting beaten. She does not understand. Do you? I have witnessed this process as a schoolboy.
Mass-produced chicken spend their short lives in huge sheds. Motherless, the chicks must fend for themselves from day one. They miss the warmth and protection of mother hen. The moment a hen fears danger for her chiks she takes them instinctively under her spread out wings. Many chics die because they cannot reach the feeding points.
I do not like to see any life in captivity. I hate visiting zoo. I also do not like to see fish in aquarium in any house. I do not like to see birds in cages, even if the cages are made of gold, even if the birds in captivity are fed best of fruit, which children of the underpriviledged do not even get to see. A bird in captivity is the worst sight one can see. It cannot fly. I do not like pets for the same reason. I see people walking with their chained dogs.

Nearly 50000 silk worms are killed to make a silk saree. All possible help is given to creation of silk worms only to be killed. Ahimsavadis, are you listening?

Let alone birds and animals a large number of human children suffer at the hands of their own species.

It is very common to see girl servents in many prosperous households working from morning till late in the evening. These girls are not sent to schools. It is very common to see young boys of school going age delivering newspapers every morning. It is very common to see young boys working in garages almost 14 hours a day. It is very common to see young boys cleaning tables and utensils in small retaurants. Their childhood is lost. Here I remember the famous lines of Sahir—who subah kabhi to aayegi.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


From the study of the Quran one gathers it is the fulfilment of huququl Ibad( rights of mankind) that is dearest to Allah.
It is here that the Muslims need reawakening. The Book of Allah is merely read by rote, respected, and kept aside. Muslims take pride in saying they are ‘ahle hadith’, the followers of Imam Shafi or Hanafi or Ambali or Maliki. The need of the hour is to understand the purpose of the Quran.
“ Those to whom We have sent the Book study it as it should be studied: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein, - the loss is their own”. 2:121.

“They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: ‘What is beyond your needs.’ 2:219.
“Believe in Allah and in His Apostle and give to others in need out of what He hath given you in trust ; and for such of you as believe and spend aright – for them there shall be a great reward” . 57 .7
It is unfortunate that the rates fixed by the Imams have come to replace the Quranic requirement. There is wide difference between Zakat and Sadaqa. Sadaqa is a temporary or immediate relief, to help to redress immediate distress. Zakat is an economic concept, which if implimented, the need for sadaqa does not exist. The concept of zakat is to make everyone self-reliant. It is said that such a state of economy was established during the period of rashadeen.

After Prophet Mohummad, during the period of Hazrat Abubakar a number of tribal cheifs refused to pay zakat. But Hazrat Abubakar insisted that it was Quranic requirement and hence cannot be waived. He had to fight for it. This goes to show that it was collected by the state for the welfare measures of the needy.

A trust could be formed to collect zakat, instead of the method that is prevalent. Such a trust can establish institutions such as self-employment training centres for the poor and needy, assist them out of the funds to establish their own work places. Create self-help groups, form cooperatives of needy women, who today do zari work for the middlemen and hardly get any renumerations for their hard work.

Establish schools and colleges for the rich with all modern facilities. The profits earned by such schools and colleges can go to establish schools and professional institutions for those who cannot efford. Till such time zakat is established sadaqa should continue for immediate redressal.

Every year Muslims offer animal sacrifice during the Haj period. According to the Quran this is compulsary only for persons performing Haj. We find, everyone sacrifices animals whether he is on pilgrimage or not. It is also mentioned that sacrifice by the hajis should be of animals, which are of no use to you any more.

There are uses for you in them for a specified term and thereafter their use is at the Ancient House.22: 33
What is happening is contrary to what has been stated in the Quran. The point I wish to make is that the amount you spend on animal sacrifice (not required) can be used for the upliftment of the poor among the Muslims.

It is very common to see girl servents in many prosperous households working from morning till late in the evening. These girls are not sent to schools. It is very common to see young boys of school going age delivering newspapers every morning. It is very common to see young boys working in garages almost 14 hours a day. It is very common to see young boys cleaning tables and utensils in small retaurants. Their childhood is lost.
Do we feel happy praying five times a day and turning a blind eye to what is happening around? Prayer without implementing the purpose behind it has just the placebo effect.

I wish to make an appeal to the prominent and prosporous individuals to come together for this noble cause and give it a beginning.

“ Allah does not alter the state of a people until they themselves make a move to change it.” 13:11


There has been a lot of talk on reservations for OBCs and BCs. This fresh talk has been triggered by Arjun Singh’s proposal for reservations in IITs and IIMs.

As a Muslim, I consider it basically an internal issue of Hindu society. Though a few Muslim communities are classified as OBCs, as MJ Akbar rightly says, “they are at the bottom of the heap”. However I do have my views on the subject.

Every upper caste person argues that the children of IAS and IPS officers should not be given reservation. One among them is my friend for 35 years. Though they are financially moved up, their social status has not changed much. Social prejudices have remained. I have personally come across many instances in my working life. While SCs and STs suffered for four thousand years, the present day upper caste is showing its intolerance in just fifty years. In my view the upper caste people should be willing to atone for the sins of their forefathers. There are news items very frequently about atrocities on Dalits not far from the cities. In cities upper caste people shed their status once they leave their home for work. But in social circles and at home they are very much upper caste. Out of social compulsion if he visits a Dalit home he puts forward many excuses for not taking even water. Muslims face the same problem.

About reservations for OBCs and BCs it is a different issue. They do not come in the same category as SCs and STs. Here the point is one of environment. How do you expect a boy or a girl from a municipal or Zilla parishad school to compete with boys and girls from Delhi Public School or Meridian or HPS? Infact it can also be argued that the upper caste poor face the same situation. But the difference is the upper caste boys and girls enjoy informal reservation.

Those who enter educational institutions on reservation take the same examinations as others. There are no separate examinations or any separate evaluation systems. Here all are judged on the basis of merit.

If there is no reservation, what is the remedy?

The list of OBCs and BCs needs review. I think much of political pressures have gone into inclusion of certains sections, who really do not fall into the category. OBCs were never subjected to social stigma as SCs and STs did. This should be the first step.

The remedy is in making available uniform education of same standard to every child upto twelfth standard. This will ensure equal level of education for all. This should be the responsibility of the government. One hundred crores are spent every year for maintaining armed forces in Saichin. I do not know how much is spent on free primary education. On an everage each one of us gives fifty to sixty percent of gross earnings to government by way of various taxes. Apart from income tax just calculate the amount that you give as excise duty, sales tax, customs duty (where applicable) and service taxes and professional tax. When you buy soap you pay tax. When you buy any item you pay tax. God! When you buy petroleum products you pay nearly half the cost on taxes. Government is required to be committed to the betterment of everyone, not just the previledged upper castes.

Here are extracts from Unicef reports published in The Statesman of 26th February 2005:

“The Unicef 2005 report also says millions of Indian children are equally deprived of their rights to survival, health, nutrition, education and safe drinking water. It is reported that 63 per cent of them go to bed hungry and 53 per cent suffer from chronic malnutrition.
The report says that 147 million children live in kuchcha houses, 77 million do not use drinking water from a tap, 85 million are not being immunised, 27 million are severely underweight and 33 million have never been to school. It was earlier reported that the country continues to have the highest number of malnourished children under five in the world having one-third of the world’s malnourished children. And every third new-born child in India is under-weight having the risk of impaired health and brain development.
The Supreme Court had earlier held that children’s right to dignified existence must be protected. The court also said that the government should work out a welfare scheme for the children working in pathetic conditions in hazardous industries.
The Child Mortality Evaluation Committee recently reported that around 160,000 infants died every year in Maharashtra owing to malnutrition particularly in the rural, tribal and urban slum areas. It criticised the indifferent attitude of the state government. Other states like Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh faced a similar situation where a number of starvation deaths among children took place. Malnutrition reduces life expectancy and leads to low productivity adversely affecting the country’s economic development.”
This is the plight of the children of underpreviledged.
Till such time the situation is rectified, reservation is necessary for genuine OBCs and BCs. As for informal reservation, upper caste should look within.

Reservation exists everywhere—in employment in private sector, admissions in private schools, promotions in public sectors and many many other fields. I am talking of informal reservation. How does one solve this problem? Infact informal reservation has done a great harm to the progress and development of India.
Some argue that reservations should be for the economically backward. The point they miss or do not even realise that social injustice is much much worse than economic injustice. Social injustice is a stigma and basis for prejudice.



Do Hindu women have right to their father's property?

Anil and Mukesh Ambani have divided Dhirubhai's business between them.
Dhirubhai has daughters too. It appears they have not received any share in the business assets. This is discrimination.

Similarly I find Muslims do not give share in the business establishments to their daughters. A woman gets half of what her brother gets only in property such as house, lands, bank deposits, but not in business. This needs to be clarified.

As I see it, uniform civil code is the only solution. More than Muslim, Hindu women will benefit. If bill on uniform civil code is introduced, Hindu MPs will not allow it to be passed. They will fight using unimaginative Muslim leaders.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Derogatory terms for Muslims

These days there is so much of protest against derogatory remarks against race or religion.

When I was admitted to school in 1949. Right from that day I heard my classmates or schoolmates calling me 'katela' ( a derogatory term for surcumcision), 'ulta'( derogatorily referring to Urdu being written from right to left) and 'musula' ( a derogatory term for Muslims).
As a boy of six I did not understand what they meant and I am sure neither did they. They must have heard their parents say that.
"Manohar Joshi, former speaker of the Lok Sabha, a post where you must prevent the use of unparliamentary language, defended the use of the pejorative 'landya' for Muslims when he deposed as Maharashtra chief minister in front of the Srikrishna commission". This is from TOI dated 12.12.2007. You know what 'landya' means, don't you?

Among Hindus it is very common to use derogatory terms against lower castes. The parents are responsible.

Om Sahana Vavatu Sahanau Bhunaktu
Sahaveeryam Karavavahai
Tejas Vinavati Tamastu ma vidhwishavahai
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

May He protect both of us. May He nourish both of us. May we both acquire the capacity. May our study be brilliant. May we not argue with each other. Om peace, peace, peace.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Khushwant Singh in his Sunday column of Deccan Chronicle of 9th July 2006 posed a very serious question. I quote:

Second, from where did the Mahajan family acquire the wealth for their offspring to splurge on champagne and drugs? Undoubtedly Pramod was the rising star of BJP and in charge of the party's election funds. Had the Lakshman Rekha separating private and the party's property been breached? A fair part of the BJP's money comes from Hindu communal organisations abroad - as did funds for Sikh extremists from their sympathisers in England, Canada and the United States. In both cases a good portion went into private pockets. This needs to be clarified.

Everyone including Income Tax Department ignored. Mahajan family needs to clarify.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Gurus and the hungry

Will someone tell me what spiritualism is? I have not been able to understand. The gurus, they call spiritual leaders, talk only of stress managemant, various aasanas and deep breathing called ‘pranayam’.
I read an article ‘twist of faith’, relating question answer session between a spiritual guru and his followers. I quote Edward Luce: “Someone asked how she could truly know she was a good person. “You don’t need to be sweetie sweetie, goodie goodie all the time,” said guruji. The audience broke into delighted laughter. Puzzled, I looked around to see hundreds of shining eyes and ecstatic expressions. The next question, which came by email and was read out by one of his followers ended with: “I love you so much guruji.” Someone asked about whether it was always wrong to pay bribes. “You shouldn’t be too idealistic all the time,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make little, little compromises,” he added. Again, the audience erupted in laughter. I was beginning to wonder about the Art of Living’s breathing techniques”.
Is this spirituality? A guru should teach morals. Answers given by the guru encourage wrong doings.
Muslims, who call themselves practicing Muslims, do all those rituals such as prayers, fasting and paying ‘zakat’ once a year. A large part of Quran deals with egalitarianism. Exploitation and profiteering is a sin. But the mullahs are satisfied if the Muslims pray and fast. Infact religion is what you do after you leave the prayer hall. A true Muslim is one who before doing anything asks himself, “ Will my action have the approval of Allah?”
Spirituality, if it means peace and satisfaction with oneself, is social justice. Gurus (sunni Muslims do not have gurus) and Shia Muslim gurus have a large following, which they can utilise for harmony in society. Imams, who lead prayes for Sunni Muslims should also emphasise the sins of profiteering and exploitation in their weekly sermons.
A large majority of Indians are poor and cannot afford basic necessities of life such as food, shelter and clothing (roti, kapada aur makan). Not that the poor do not work. Poverty is not because of unemployment. In many families almost all the members work including children. But they continue to live in poverty. Children distribue newspapers, milk, work in garages and retaurants. Still they are hungry and ill clad.
“One of the most important causes of mass poverty is that a large proportion of workers get inadequate income or wages for their work. A family remains poor even when two persons in a family of six are working. People who work should get at least that much income with which they can purchase all the basic goods and services required for a dignified human existence for themselves and their dependent family members”. Writes Jasvir Singh, an economist. He further says, “ People are poor despite being in work. According to the 2001 Census, there were 402 million workers in a total population of 1,027 million, or a work participation rate (WPR) of 39 per cent, which cannot be said to be low”.
Now to aggravate the situation the government has decided to abolish child labour, without any consideration of ground realities. If a person can earn enough to support a wife and two children giving them basic necessities of living, he will not send his children for work. Problem is not unemployment. Problem is of wages. Even the daily wage fixed by the Government does not give a man enough purchasing power for basic requirements of life for three people. Wages should be fixed to take care of basic needs of workers. In the unorganised sector even minimum wages are not paid. In organised sector many services have been privatised. The contractor does not pay what he shows as having paid. If the problem of wages is solved no parents will send their children for work. No legislation can work with our greedy and self-centered middle class. Most of the working population is in unorganised sector and the wages they get are are far below the existance level of a family of four. In the case of rural workers the condition is still worse. How much do the landlords pay them? Do the agricultural lords, who are exempted from income tax, pay their workers enough to buy their daily requirements?
The gurus with their following can teach the exploiters to pay wages that can take care of needs of the poor.

Friday, January 4, 2008


can anyone in the picture recognise all?

Gol Gumbad

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The ideology of the Quran is to make a man or woman virtuous for harmony in society. It preaches political and social justice and economic fairplay. Who is a virtuous person? A virtuous person is one, who fulfills the rights of Allah and rights of mankind.

A virtuous man or a woman is one who does not exploit the week or the needy, does not swallow the property of orphans. Islam preaches to establish a society where minimum needs of all the members of society are met. Quran wants Zakat to be established for this very purpose. Zakat is not charity. Sadaqa is charity. Zakat can be compared to the present day tax system. After the passing away of the prophet, certain tribes refused to pay zakat, saying it was only applicable during prophet’s period. Hazrat Abubakr insisted that it be collected though some others requested for liniency to keep the tribes together. This incidence goes to show that the zakat was collected centrally and was used for welfare and protection of the people. While Muslims paid zakat what non-Muslims paid for the same purpose was jiziya.

For establishing social and economic justice, quran instructs on proper weighment in trade, forbids excessive profits, accummulation of wealth. Wealth is considered a trust that Allah has bestowed on certain people for proper use. These are the rights of mankind.

There are certain rights of Allah just as there are certain rights of mankind. Allah is one and He alone is worthy of worship. Allah is defined by His attributes; there are 99 of them. Some of them can be listed as:
1) He is self sufficient and self-subsisting.
2) He is eternal.
3) He neither begets nor is He begotten.
4) He is the creator.
5) There is none like unto Him.

Quran is not a book of phylosophy. It is a book of guidance. Certain verses in the Quran are definite in meaning while some others are metaphorical. To understand the ideology one has to be clear about the distiction. Sayed Abdul Lateef has written very well on the approach to reading the Quran in his introduction to his own translation of the Holy Quran.

The ideology of the Quran has to be traced in the verses which are ( muhkamat) definite in meaning . Mutashabih means a similitude of something which otherwise is not possible to know or even to visualize .
If this view is accepted the descriptions of heaven ,hell , resurrection may be treated as figurative . The role of the prophet in the beginning , being that of a ‘nazir’ warner against evil and ‘bashir’, herald of good tidings . The picture of suffering which followed an evil deed or of happiness which followed a good deed was necessarily drawn in the form of physical pain or pleasure easily intelligible to them . What pain or pleasure should signify in a spiritual or non-physical state was beyond their comprehension .

It is well if the readers of the Qur’an keep this purpose of the ‘mutashabihat’ in view , if they are to profit by the rest of the Qur’an designated by it as its ‘muhkamat’ and endeavour to trace its ideology therein . A good portion of it deals with the stories of the prophets . The stories as stories are not of material importance to the student of ideology , except for the lesson drawn from them that deliberate flouting of Divine injunctions leads to the inevitable ruin of those who disregarded them openly . This principle applies equally to the descriptions given in the Qur’an of the several battles forced on the Prophet by the Meccans which properly belong to the history of the Prophets’mission . It is only the few verses dealing with the ethics of war which have a direct bearing on the ideology of the Qur’an .

All those verses that deal with creation, resurrection, the hereafter, heaven and hell are metaphorical and not literal.
Allama Iqbal has this to say on creation of man:
Thus we see that the Quranic legend of the Fall has nothing to do with the first appearance of man on this planet. Its purpose is rather to indicate man’s rise from a primitive state of instinctive appetite to the conscious possession of a free self, capable of doubt and disobedience. The Fall does not mean any moral depravity; it is man’s transition from simple consciousness to the first flash of self-consciousness, a kind of waking from the dream of nature with a throb of personal causality in one’s own being. Nor does the Qur’«n regard the earth as a torture-hall where an elementally wicked humanity is imprisoned for an original act of sin. Man’s first act of disobedience was also his first act of free choice; and that is why, according to the Quranic narration, Adam’s first transgression was forgiven. Now goodness is not a matter of compulsion; it is the self’s free surrender to the moral ideal and arises out of a willing co-operation of free egos.

Quran preaches that all mankind is family of Allah. Each nation or society has been guided through prophets. Quran mentions only those prophets in and around Arab penensula. But Quran also says there have been interpolations or deletions in what was revealed earlier to various prophets. For instance in the case of chritianity Jesus has been made son of God. This concept is not acceptable to Islam.

The Creator and His creations are different and there is no non-duality. Allah is Infinite while creation is finite. Creator is in his creation just as a carpenter is in his chair. The concept or vision of the carpenter is in his chair and not himself. To say that God exists in everything is pantheism. Islam does not recognise this concept.

Creation of universe was in 6 days. The word used in the Quran is ‘yaum’ which, apart from day also means ‘a period of time’. A day is also not an earth day.

In Islam men and women are equal. There are two students A and B and both get 80% marks in let us say 10th class examination. Where %is concerned they are equel. But if you see the marks card you find A has scored more in certain subjects while B has scored more in some other subjects. Though they are equel, they are not equel in every field. Same is the case with men and women.

Hijab or pardah is actually an Arab tradition. No one has ever seen a picture of Holy Mary without her head cover. It is not part of religion. The verse qouted in favour of hijab is liable to interpretations.
The best dress code for a woman is her virtue and modesty, says the Quran.

Every individual has freedom of choice. If there is no freedom of choice then that person cannot be accountable for his actions. Islam does not accept predestination. It is an individual who makes his own destiny with the freedom of choice Allah has given him.
Every right has its duties. The rights have to be exercised without infringing on the rights of others. Iqbal explains it thus: a tree in a garden is free to grow but without shifting its place where it is rooted, similarly an individual has to exercise his freedom within the constraints.

Quran stresses more on the rights of fellow individuals.

Islam does not advocate asceticism. One has to lead a normal life amidst temtations and still strive to be aright. This is a great test for achieving spirituality.

The quran says that each community has been given its rituals. Rituals do not make a religion. Islamic rituals such as namaz and roza (prayer and fasting) are to remind the Muslims of their obligations. Quran says that one must have thought of Allah constantly. It means one must think of Allah before any action so that one does not go astray. Prayer and fasting in themseves do not make one virtuous. It is the good deeds that make one virtuous.

Life hereafter is dealt with similitudes and metaphors. But it is certain that there is life beyond death.

Quran is a book of revelations from Allah to prophet Mohammad. There were followers of prophet who started recording whatever prophet said and did during his lifetime. It is on record that the prophet warned them not to do it and ordered the burning of whatever was recorded. A distinction is necessary between prophet as a man and prophet as a messenger of Allah. Quran asks us to follow the prophet. Prophet was a human being and there are verses in the Quran admonishing the prophet where he went wrong. But certain associates of prophet, despite prophet’s warning, went on passing on the traditions of prophet by word of mouth. The result was in about 200 years after the prophet there were nearly 8 lac traditions. The number was increasing by the day. To stop the oral additions Khalif Omer ibn Rashid ordered compilation. Hazrat Bukhari and Hazrat Muslim said to have scrutinised all the available traditions and came out with a list of authentic and fabricated traditions. Surprisingly, there were hardly 3000 authentic traditions. How they decided on this selection is a mystery. One does not know how many declared authentic are fabricated ones.
In the matter of food Quran forbids:

Forbidden to you are : carrion and blood and swine’s flesh and whatever that hath been sacrificed in the name of any other than Allah ,and also the strangled and that which is killed by a blow or a fall or by goring and anything that hath been partaken of by a beast of prey unless you have ( slain it in due form before its death ) and that which hath been slain on any alter and also that which has been apportioned by means of divining arrows . All this is evil.

Quran says, Lawful to you is the food prepared by those who have received the scriptures and lawful to them is food you prepare .

There are four verses on alchohol consumption. One says there is great harm as well as advantage. Another verse says not to come for prayer in a drunken state until you know what you utter. Yet another says wine, game of chance, stone alters and divining arrows are handiwork of satan and are abominable so avoid them. The fourth one says satan desires to breed enmity and spite and the verse questions—will you abstain from them? But the Quran does not forbid alchohol as it catagorically forbids flesh of swine or blood ect.

Quran has made sacrifice of cattle compulsory only during pilgrimage to Mecca. Cattle sacrificed should be of no use otherwise is also stated.

Many verses on jihad rightfully belong to the history of prophet’s mission. When a Muslim is not permitted to practice his religion jihad is necessary. The greatest jihad is against evil within oneself.

Islam is the first religion to give property and divorce rights to women.

Islam as it is practiced
Over the years Quran came to be respected and read only by rote as a ritual, as a result the religion has become just ritualistic.
Today a devout or practicing Muslim is one who prays five times a day, observes fasting during the month of Ramadan, pays two and a half percent of his accummulated wealth as zakat, gives fitra (alms in the form of wheat etc for whch the quantity is fixed.), performs Hajj if capable and reads Quran by rote. In addition grows beard and wears pajama above ankle level (these are considered part of traditions of the prophet). Faithfully offers sacrifice of cattle during Id-ul-adha (though accoding to Quran it is compulsary only for Muslims on pilgrimage) and terms the ritual as tradition of Abraham. Performs aqeeqa, a ritual sacrifice of cattle—two if boy is born and one if it is a girl child. Performs Bismillah, a ritual of initiating a child of four years plus to the reading of Quran (by rote). Some with good memory power commit the entire Quran to memory (knowledge of what is memorised is optional). They are called Hafiz-e-Quran. There are some who recite rhythmically and they are called Qari. All Muslims follow shariat, Islamic jurisprudence in matters of inheritance of property and divorce. Many rulings in the shriat are not in accordance with the guideline of the Quran.Among Sunni there are four different shariats. They differ from one another in many things. Quite understandably no one asks for enforcement of criminal code of shariat.

There are two major sects—Sunni and Shia. Sunnis believe that apart from Quran traditions of the prophet should be followed. There is no imam (guru) among Sunni. Imam’s duty is only to lead the prayes in a mosque. Shias believe that Hazrat Ali was a rightful successor to the prophet, but he was denied his right. They have imams to guide them. They believe that Quran and the family of prophet should be followed. They too have their shariat. There are four sects among shias just as there are four sects among Sunni. There are shias who believe in six imams while another group believes in twelve. They all believe that imam Qasim is going to come back before Qayamat. Ismailis are also shias and their imam is Agha Khan. Bohras are also shias whose imam is Sayadana Burhanuddin.
These days the month of Ramadan has almost become a month of food festival. Choicest dishes are made. All seasonal and non-seasonal fruit is made available in the market. Devout Muslims argue that fasting is to make one realise what hunger is. But he knows what awaits him for breaking the fast. The poor do not know what their next meal is going to be. Quran does not give any reasons though. It is a command from Allah.

Shias observe mourning during the month of Moharram. It was in the month of Moharram that the grandson of prophet was martyred. Moharram is the first month of Islamic calender but both shias and sunnis do not observe new year day as they all consider it a month of mourning.

Brahmins, vyshyas, Reddys-India is a land of minorities

Dr Arjun Appadurai, writer of ‘ fear of small numbers’, was interviewed by rediff. I qoute below one question and its answer:
“You argue that the Hindu majority is 'a double fiction in contemporary India'. Why? What is your objection to Hindus being termed a religious majority? Isn't it a reality that Hindus comprise about 85 per cent of India's population?
First, the category 'Hindu' is unthinkable in contemporary politics, apart from its birth in colonial ethnographies and census categories. Second, because of the deep divisions between the upper and lower castes that is always a feature of life in agrarian India, it has grown into one of the most important fissures in North Indian politics.
If you look at India as an anthropologist does, what you see is that it is made up of many small groups. A professor of mine once said, only half-jokingly, that India is historically made up only of minorities.”
My view is that the Hindu society is a confederation of minorities. This confederation is under an umbrella given by Persians. They believed to have called Indu as Hindu. Within the broad category of Varna and those ouside Varna system, each verna (caste) has innumerable groups who painstakingly try to retain their identity. Among shudra community in Andra Pradesh there are Kapus, Reddys, Munnur Kapus, Telagas, Khammas, Velamas and Naidus. You have kapu sangham and a function hall at Kachiguda, Khammas have their association at Srinagar colony, Munnur Kapus have their estabshment at Khairtabad and Velamas have association at Himayatnagar. Each group wants to keep its cultural identity and we-feeling intact. Brahmins have many catagories. Even scheduled caste have divisions like Madigas and Malas.
Similarly in each linguistic state you find similar groups. In north karnataka there are lingayats, who again have fissures. Though Basava srived to create a casteless society, there are many groups among Lingayats. Brahmins are also divided as deshastha, saraswat and the followers of Madhava, who advocated duality. Lingayats worship only Shivalinga. I never saw a Lingayat going to Laxmi Temple.
In Tamil Nadu there are many groups among Shudras.Each group is a minority within the Hindu fold. I have had opportunities of interacting with each group. Each is suspicious and fearful of every other group. Collectively all lower castes blame Brahmins for their ‘high handedness’. They believe, nay are convinced, that India is not progressing because they were running the Government at the centre. See how many Brahmin PMs we had—Nehru, Shastri, Indira, Narsimha Rao and Vajpayee. In 70s Brahmins dominated PSUs.
There was an assistant, a few years to retire, in Siliguri, where I worked for two years. He was a Kayasth. In west Bengal the shudra community calls itself Kayasth. The first ever cencus of 1909 gave an opportunity to upgrade one’s caste. It is said that all those Kayasthas in WB are the beneficiaries of Lord Kurson. There was an exclusive batch of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe officers in 1980. It is quite another matter that it was exclusive, which in a way was discriminatory. So it was common knowledge that all were SCs and STs. That move was ill advised. I happened to be incharge of stores for a month where this assistant was working. During a conversation he made a remark that the company will be doomed with inferior officers, meaning SCs and STs. I asked him why? He argued that they were inferior. I just asked him, “ You consider them inferior because you are slightly upper caste. But do you on the same grounds think that you are inferior to Brahmins?” He had no answer. Hindus, as a whole, may be in a majority in India but each individual sub-caste is in a small minority.

Informal education

About a few days back I saw a programme on one of the TV channels that NIIT has established offices in China. As the anchor was saying apart from learning Chinese the staff are also learning Chinese manners. She was shown seated at a dining table and pouring water from a jug into the glass of a person sitting next to her and saying,” in China you have to serve others before you serve yourself”. This was surprising. This is a common ettiquette we were taught when young. The anchor or the scriptwriter is from a generation where they live in very small families and had not had the occasion for informal education. Subjects like Civics, moral science and ‘Deeniyat are missing from school syllabus. Those were the days when elders taught table manners (most of us sat on floor to eat but I am using the word table manners because using ‘floor’ manners does not sound good) to children. Children were taught-not to serve yourself first, do not search for a good piece from a curry etc. Today it is missing.

But, parents do teach children to be competetive even if it amounted to usurping someone else’s right. You have to be one up. And all this in a society, which brands itself ‘spiritual’! Talking of spiriyualism I am reminded of Shri Ravi shankar’s interactions with his desciples. I am quoting from ‘A twist of faith’ by Edward Luce.

Someone asked how she could truly know she was a good person. “You don’t need to be sweetie sweetie, goodie goodie all the time,” said guruji. The audience broke into delighted laughter. Puzzled, I looked around to see hundreds of shining eyes and ecstatic expressions. The next question which came by email and was read out by one of the his followers ended with: “I love you so much guruji.” Someone asked about whether it was always wrong to pay bribes. “You shouldn’t be too idealistic all the time,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make little, little compromises,” he added. Again, the audience erupted in laughter. I was beginning to wonder about the Art of Living’s breathing techniques.
So much for spiritualism! If this is spiritualism what is not spiritualism. Spiritualism has to have social ramifications.
I have many times come across car drivers (I am referring to owner driven cars) trying to overtake a vehicle just in front. They keep blowing horn till the car in front gives way. The quest does not end just here, there is yet another car in front and the same exercise is repeated. He knows that the car in front is in the same pursuit as he and he also knows that the car ahead has hardly scope to give him the way. But! Is this competitiveness? Similar situations are repeated in work life. How can I be second to someone irrespective of my capabilities?


A large majority of Muslim women wear ‘burkha’. Of those who wear ‘burkha’ think that it is a command from Allah and hence compulsary. Afterall, violating Allah’s command means hell after death. Whether Allah really commanded so is a matter of dispute, I say matter of dispute because it depends on one’s interpretation of the relevant verse. For some it is liberation. It gives you anonimity. Even the girl’s father cannot recognise her if he happens to see her outside the house. Great emancipation!

My own interpretation of the relevent verse is that a woman should dress modestly, which means she should cover her breasts and not highlight her sexuality. I have never seen a painting of Mary without head cover.

While I am not in favour of ‘burkha’, I am also not in favour of displaying armpits, and heavy make up of face. Is displaying of armpits a sign of liberation?

You see men dressed from top to toe with that meaningless tie and women are ‘half naked’, to use a phrase Churchil did to describe Mahatma Gandhi. He used it contemptuously, while my sympathies are with western women. Or, are western women wearing minimum as a weapon?
Victorian age was puritanical to the extent the legs of a table were covered. Women were dressed top to toe. In 1890s it was said, ‘to breathe one had to break the windows’. Has the rebellion of women gone so far as to shedding their clothes bit by bit? Western women need to introspect. Their perceived freedom is perhaps becoming their hadicap