Friday, 30 January 2015

5 reasons why Obama prodded Modi on secularism

After murdering King Duncan of Scotland in his sleep, Macbeth returns to his wife with his hands smeared in crimson blood.

He exclaims: “How is it with me, when every noise appalls me? What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes! Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.”

Lady Macbeth later says in a fit of madness whilst walking in her sleep, rubbing her hands:  “Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”

Likewise, all the perfumes of Arabia, great Neptune’s ocean, and holy Ganges cannot wash away the blood from the hands of those responsible for Gujarat riots. The world has not forgotten what happened in the streets, alleys, and homes of Gujarat in 2002. The world is watching what India's minorities are being subjected to. This fact was affirmed by the POTUS Barack Obama during his speech at the Siri Fort auditorium in south Delhi.

Obama said: “Our nations are strongest when we see that we are all God’s children -- all equal in His eyes and worthy of His love. Across our two great countries, we have Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and Jews and Buddhists and Jains and so many faiths.  And we remember the wisdom of Gandhiji, who said, for me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree.” 

While citing Article 25 of the Indian Constitution dealing with the Right to Freedom of religion, he said: "Your (Constitution) Article 25 says all people are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and have right to freely profess and practise and propagate religion. In both our countries, in all countries, upholding with freedom of religion is the utmost responsibility of the government but also the responsibility of every person.”

“The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts. And it finds its glorious expression when we look beyond any differences in religion or tribe and rejoice in the beauty of every soul.  And nowhere is that more important than India. Nowhere is it going to be more necessary for that foundational value to be upheld.  India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith -- so long as it's not splintered along any lines -- and is unified as one nation.

The big question here is: what could have prompted Obama to admonish Modi Sarkar thus on secularism? What could be the reasons behind POTUS’ apparent rebuke to Modi who pulled out all the stops for the former’s India visit, laying the red carpet for his ‘pal’? It seems Modi’s bear hug did not work at all.

Here are 5 reasons which I believe could have influenced Obama to say what he said.

1.      Gujarat riots
A shocking incident in the town of Godhra in which 59 Hindus, mostly pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, were burnt alive by a Muslim mob, triggered anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat which left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead right under the nose of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

So much so that the Supreme Court of India once likened Modi to Nero, the emperor who fiddled while Rome burned. PM Modi’s close aide Maya Kodnani was convicted and sent to jail for 28 years. He, however, denies any wrongdoing, duh.

In fact, when Modi was asked by Reuters in an interview in 2013 if he felt any regret for what happened in 2002, he replied by saying,

“Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.”

Obama must have read this interview.
2.      Growing attacks on churches
When Vikaspuri's Our Lady of Graces Church was vandalized early in the morning on January 14, 2015, it was fourth such attack in the recent past in Delhi. Delhi's Archbishop alleged a clear pattern was emerging in the attacks.

"One person came on a scooter, broke the glass, then returned a minute later and toppled the statue," Father Balraj said.

Earlier this month, a minor fire was reported from a church in Rohini in Outer Delhi. According to reports, the Christmas crib placed outside the building was completely charred.

On December 2, 2014, a church in East Delhi's Dilshad Garden area, namely the St Sebastian's Church, was burnt down in a fire. Police say it was a case of arson, for a forensic team found traces of kerosene inside the church premises.

"A clear pattern of orchestrated attacks is emerging as more and more churches are targeted, vandalised and set on fire," Archbishop Anil JT Couto said. "This is very disturbing and we request the authorities to take adequate measures to bring to book the miscreants who are threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation." 

Obama must have been apprised of these incidents. The US is a Christian majority nation.

3.      Raamzaaden and Haramzaaden
I am pretty sure Obama did not miss this. Talking through one’s hat and making offensive statements isn't an aberration anymore with Indian politicians. Apparently, it has become the norm of late, especially during this regime. I wish our leaders instead of running their mouths, not opened them at all.

For instance, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti caused a hullabaloo by using expletives in an election speech in Delhi.

“The people of Delhi have to decide if they want a government of Ramzaadon (descendants of Ram) or haramzaadon (those who are illegitimately born), "she said. PM Modi refused to sack her.

Another BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj believes that Gandhi’s murderer Nathuram Godse was a “patriot.” He was also not punished. Need I say more?

4.      Love Jihad
Benighted fellows of RSS and Hindu brigade have coined the term Love Jihad and their eyes these days are firmly fixated on Bollywood. Days after a morphed image of Kareena Kapoor with her face half-covered with a veil was used as the cover photo of VHP’s magazine Himalaya Dhwani, they have fired their latest salvo on the Khans of Bollywood.

In an editorial in its weekly publication Hindu Sabha Varta, the Hindu Mahasabha has challenged Shahrukh Khan, Amir Khan and Saif Ali Khan to convert to Hinduism if they really love their wives.

When contacted Munna Kumar Singh, the editor and publisher of the weekly, told the Hindu: “It is our challenge to these Khans of Bollywood if they actually love their wives then they should also try to convert to Hinduism and adopt their religion and culture.”

Mr. Singh alleged that there existed a conspiracy against Hindus and the Hindu country. According to him Sharmila Tagore, Kareena Kapoor, Gauri, Kiran Rao, Rina Dutt and Gauri Chhibbar are all victims of love jihad.

I would not take these people seriously, but for the fact that there is a government at the centre which is more than sympathetic to their cause. What are they going to do next? Will they ask the Khans to leave their own country? 

Obama must have also taken a notice of this and thus he mentioned Shahrukh Khan in his speech.

He said India will remain unified “when all Indians, whatever your faith, go to the movies and applaud actors like Shah Rukh Khan.  And when you celebrate athletes like Milkha Singh or Mary Kom.”

Are you listening, RSS?

5.      Ghar Wapsi
RSS believes most of the Muslims and Christians living in India today were once Hindus and thus they have every right to reconvert them to Hinduism.Several 'ghar wapsi' ceremonies have been conducted in Uttar Pradesh in the past few months in this regard.

But first such incident has been reported from West Bengal. According to reports, as many as 100 tribal Christians were allegedly converted to Hinduism in West Bengal’s Birbhum district on Wednesday. The ghar wapsi was allegedly conducted by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). VHP leaders claimed that the adivasis were originally Hindu by faith but were enticed by the Christian missionaries using money. They have been using same tactics in other parts of the country as well.

How could Obama have ignored these shenanigans of Sangh Pariwar? The US is not ignorant of the aggressive agenda being pursued by these iniquitous fellows who want to make India a Hindu Rashtra where people of other faiths will not be able to live a life of dignity. In other words, they will be treated as second-class citizens. In this manner, Modi’s India can become rich, but not great. For the greatness of a nation cannot be not measured by its GDP or how many weapons it possesses or how many glittering skyscrapers it can boast of.

We ought to respect each other for what we are. A Muslim deserves a life of dignity as much as a Hindu or Sikh does, for they are no children of a lesser God. We are all beautiful flowers from the same garden…branches of the same majestic tree. We all are human beings who have hands, bodily organs, a human shape, five senses, feelings and passions. Aren’t we?

And Sir, if being in power you cannot treat our minorities well, you do not have my respect. You will not have the world’s respect. At least listen to Obama and spare us the horror.

Friday, 9 January 2015

This is no Love Jihad, stupid!

But first an anecdote. A few days ago whilst looking for a flat in Delhi, I approached a broker. With a pleasant smile on his visage, the 27-year-old real estate agent ushered me into his two-room office. After I had apprised him of my requirement, in a serious vein he asked my name, as though everything depended on my reply.
“Sapan Kapoor," I said.

"This is good." 

"But what is in a name?”

He paused for a moment and then said laconically, “Hum Mohammedans ko ghar nahi dete hai (We do not rent out to Muslims).”  When I asked him the reason behind this discrimination against a particular community, he refused to elaborate. I feel ill at ease in the company of such people, so I left that place at once in a huff. Such is the current state of affairs in India. Sigh!

Now Love Jihad. I mean seriously?

It is one of the ridiculous things I have ever come across in my life heretofore. For those talking of it understand the true import of neither love nor jihad. Love is a beautiful feeling which can happen between two human beings. In the realm of love, one does not fall for somebody after asking his or her religion, caste, or nationality. One cannot plan for it, for it just happens. Those, who have been in love, will understand where I am coming from. And to the rest, was it all Greek?

Indeed, the term ‘Love Jihad’ has been coined by those benighted, ne’er-do-well fellows who have, perchance, not yet experienced this emotion. I pity them. The ignoramus cranks allege that Muslim boys are bent on proselytizing Hindu girls using the most potent weapon in their quiver i.e. ‘Love’ and therefore, they wish to create an awareness amongst the masses about this ‘serious threat to the very existence of Hindu religion’.

In this regard, a morphed image of Kareena Kapoor Khan - Saif Ali Khan’s wife - showing her face half-covered with a veil has been used as the cover photo of the latest issue of Himalaya Dhwani, a magazine brought out by the women’s wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad called Durga Vahini. A strap underneath reads, ‘dharmantaran se rashtraantaran’ meaning ‘conversion of nationality through religious conversion’.

Rajini Thukral, the coordinator of the magazine, has reportedly said, “She (Kareena) is a celebrity. The youth try to emulate celebrities. They think if she can do so, why not us?”

Kareena (34) has not converted to Islam but has added 'Khan' to her last name.

Thukral, further said in an interview to a Hindi publication, "The youth is influenced and attracted by people like Kareena, who at the time of her marriage had claimed that she would not embrace Islam and will not drop her surname, but only add 'Khan'. However, she is seen practicing various Muslim rituals and she is leading a dual life. She should completely embrace Islam for this dual behavior is affecting the youth.”

Firstly, what an independent woman like Kareena does in her personal life like whom she marries, which religion she follows or does not follow any at all, etc. should be none of the Hindutva brigade’s business. You are nobody, I mean nobody to comment on her personal life.

Alas, women are considered nothing but mere booty to be treated as property in the patriarchal societies of India and Pakistan. According to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Hindus have over the centuries lost a lot of maal (property) to other religions which they are now seeking to recover.

Referring to ‘ghar wapsi’, Bhagwat said: “Bhule bhatke jo bhai gaye hain, unko wapas layenge. Who log apne aap nahin gaye, unko loot kar, lalach de kar le kar gaye… Abhi chor pakda gaya hai. Mera maal chor ke paas hai. Aur yeh duniya jaanti hai. Mein apna maal wapas loonga, yeh kaunsi badi baat hai (We will bring back our brothers who have lost their way. They did not go on their own; they were robbed; tempted into leaving… Now the thief has been caught and the world knows my belongings are with the thief. I will retrieve my belongings. So why is this such a big issue?).”

So how exactly are they retrieving their ‘belongings’? By using the same tactics which they allege Muslims and Christians had used to convert Hindus. According to a report, it costs around Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh to convert a Muslim and a Christian respectively for RSS. Poor people are lured through promises of ration cards, cash, jobs, and scheduled caste status. They fall for it, for as they say - it’s economy, stupid.

Moreover, the Bajrang Dal – an offshoot of RSS – is planning to wage its ‘Reverse Love Jihad’ on Muslims and Christians through its ‘bahu lao, beti bachao’ campaign under which they will provide protection to those Hindu boys who get hitched with Muslim and Christian girls. Pharisaical and iniquitous, aren’t they? By my troth, it is actually a case of the pot calling the cattle black.

Things have indeed changed for worse ever since Modi Sarkar has taken over the reins. From treating minorities as third-class citizens and calling them ‘haramzadon’ to violent clashes, leading to deaths of innocent civilians on the border, this government has shown its true colors so soon. I wonder how one could hate a people so much. Do they not have hearts? Do they not have compassion?

Do not they know it is no bravery to make the troops fire on unarmed civilians? It is no courage to kill women and children. They are the worst of India; they want to turn everybody like them – killers and haters. But I do not want blood on my hands. They thrive and prosper in the climate of hatred. It acts like oxygen for them. Without it, such outfits would cease to exist. 

A Pakistani Facebook friend of mine recently confronted me following the Peshawar massacre and killings of civilians on the border.

The person said: “Do you realize you have an evil government?”


“Why did you guys vote for such people?”

I told the Pakistani categorically that I could not be held responsible for the possible evil deeds committed by my government. I did not vote for this government. In fact, I tried my best to stop them in my individual capacity. Now whatever happens between our two countries, we should at least not spoil our personal relations. I wish just once, for once we could see the people living across the border as fellow human beings and thus realize the worthlessness of this conflict.  

As I mentioned earlier, it is a fight between good and evil, love and hate. And in order to win this war, we ought to blot out the latter through the power of love. This, I believe, is true Love Jihad.