Tuesday, April 22, 2014


“Give Modi a chance and the nation will make great progress.” “We need someone strong who will set the things right.”   “Anything is better than the Congress.” “2002 is an old story and people have forgotten it”, “See how many deaths happened in riots during Congress rule”. “He will give Industry a boost”. “The rupee will go up”. “India will have some hope”. “This is our best chance”.  “He will tackle corruption”. “We can restore Dharma”……  This total picture being projected sounds very tempting alright… But what does a reality check say…? Can the promises be fulfilled? And whether the promises are fulfilled or not, what would be the cost?  

1.       Modi is constrained by his grooming: Let us start with the idea that Modi was a disciplined Pracharak of the RSS. The discipline part is indeed good; it entails a lot of sacrifice too. But what about the negatives that are inherent in the philosophy of the RSS? The very same discipline also ingrains those negatives into him… It is so much a part of him now that he feels offended when he is offered a skull cap. He finds it difficult to come out vociferously and say “All those who murdered innocents during the Godhara incident and in the riots after that deserve the harshest punishment”.  His grooming makes it impossible for him to condemn all the murders in one breath. This indicates the potential to go against the interest of righteousness if it suits his own group. His grooming makes it impossible for him to see Indians as a homogenous group.
2.       An exclusive nationalism: This inability to see homogeneity is also inbuilt into the sense of ‘nationalism’ which he stands for. His nationalism is exclusive, his nation is the nation of the RSS; it is about a “Hindu” nation by name, but anti-Hindu in content.  For example, the RSS ideology professes belief in, among other things, Vasudaivakutumbakam; but dig a little deeper and one sees that the vision defies the core of this very all-embracing principle.   
3.       Hindus are nice big brothers: To elaborate, when Advani went over to Pakistan and said to the Pakistanis, ‘see…? Your founder said you must take care of the Hindus’, he was expressing his belief that the elder brother (in Pakistan the Muslim is the elder brother) must take care of the younger brother (the Hindu). Advani believes that in India we, being Hindus, do a better job of taking care of our younger brothers. This is an essential belief of the RSS and it is what Modi and his partners stand for. Let us call it the “big-brother/small-brother” perspective. Though the use of the term ‘brother’ makes it sound sweet from the outside, the position violates two important principles that defines us as a nation.
4.       Big Brother-small brother Vs Democracy: Democracy has inbuilt mechanisms to protect the citizens from majoritarianism. These include a) the formulation of the fundamental rights b) institution of checks and balances in the power structure and c) the higher level of difficulty involved in changing the constitution of India. These defences are set up to protect the citizens from exactly the kind of forces which Modi represents. The defences are set up to dissuade those big brothers who want to impose their views and aspirations on others. Democracy does not want anyone to run rough shod over anyone else—not even the majority can run over the minority; instead democracy aspires that the decisions made by elected government must not violate the wisdom that went into the setting up of the nation and the constitution; or in other words decisions must be based on ageless wisdom. The big-brother syndrome on the other hand tends to suggest that ‘since I am in majority I get to boss over you’.   
5.       Big Brother-small brother Vs Vasudaivakutumbakam: The ‘big brother-small brother’ principle also violates the broad mindedness of the Indian civilization. In the principle of “Vasudaiva”, Hinduism believes that we are all the same because we are all spirit; differences are superficial. From this principle it follows that every individual must pursue the “Highest Self” as the primary goal of life. It adds that ‘Self Realized’ souls must all be respected/worshipped. It also follows that every individual has the right to find his own Guru and follow his Guru Parampara diligently. It says that we cannot discriminate between men and women either—they are equal though their roles may differ. This is the same belief expressed in Islam that there is only One God—but of course said in a different format and in a different context. Lord Krishna teaches us not to look down even upon criminals—this follows from the way he treated both Dhuriyodhana and Arjuna equally when they came to him for help in the war. The same lesson also is apparent when lord Rama sends Lakshmana to learn from Ravana when Ravana was on his deathbed. All these indicate that according to the Indian Civilization, though there are differences amongst humans these are to be considered insignificant in comparison to the oneness we all share—therefore the term ‘world is one family’ or ‘Vasudaivakutumbakam’. But in the big brother/small-brother perspective the differences are excessively stressed upon.   
6.       Double standards: Clearly, in expressing a belief in the big-brother/small brother syndrome, and treating different sets of people as different, the extreme right is violating/rejecting this ancient principle of Vasudaivakutumbakam. And this brings to fore what many thinkers today call as the hypocrisy of the hindutwa brigade—shout from the roof tops that the principle on which Hinduism stands is Vasudaivakutumbakam and at the same time violate it.  
7.       Even Gandhiji disapproved: It was not without reason that Gandhiji did not see light for India in the RSS ideology. It must be after a lot of thought that he instead asked Sardar Patel and Nehru to create alternate teams from the Congress itself and fight elections against each other. Indeed, that philosophy, which cannot outright condemn Godse’s act of assassinating the Mahatma, which cannot outright condemn the act of goons knifing pregnant women, pulling out un-born children and slaughtering them… you know that closed minds are at work.   
8.       Modi’s driving force: Modi recently said that he does not decide—this is true. The inherent groupie mentality, majoritarianism, intolerance of ‘other’ ways and beliefs, reaction to provocation by fundamentalists of ‘opponent’ teams, and the non-inclusive nationalism of the RSS decide for him—automatically.  
9.       We all stand to lose: Note that we are all minorities one way or the other, the Brahmins are a minority, the Sikhs are a minority, the Tamils are a minority, the North-eastern states are a minority, the women are a minority, eunuchs are a minority, Kashmir is a minority, city dwellers are a minority, people of one language staying in another state are a minority, every village, every tribe and every caste is a minority, doctors are a minority and fortunately politicians too are a minority.  Do we want a situation where some of these people get together and start imposing their views on any of the given minorities?   Modi will say that some people are going to be unhappy… surely it is right, that when a thief is caught and put in prison he will be unhappy. But even the thief knows that the king who did it to him is fair/just; he will respect that king because the king did his job righteously. A king can make people unhappy but he cannot violate the principles of justice and rule-of-law. But look what happened in Gujarat, neither the victims of Godhra nor the victims of the riots that followed have got justice. And if you carry a tag “Muslim” you can be targeted just because you carry that tag. This is not fairness nor just. And be warned that “Muslim” is not the only tag that can be targeted. Historically it has been long established that those who play big-brother use other terms like terrorists, traitors, infidels, enemies of the state and non-patriots in order to target small groups and spread fear. The idea is to force people to be loyal—to the dictator. Do you now see why you will be sent to Pakistan if you oppose Modi? … and Modi calls them well-wishers…
10.   India will lose its Global promise: India has experimented with something very beautiful in the way it deals with its diversity through its civil code (different personal laws for different groups). By so doing it is pumping energy towards uniting the people of the world. Through such laws the peoples of the nations of the world can understand each other’s needs and peacefully give each other the respective spaces to operate. This can be developed to bring much needed peace to the world. But contrary to this the right wing stands for an idea in which they want India to do away with this accommodation of diversity. This is a step backward from India’s destiny as a leader of the 21st century. This denial of diversity will destroy the beauty and promise of what it is to be Indian. The founders of Pakistan started building Pakistan up saying that they will use Islam to build up a gracious and accommodating state… but like all gracious fundamentalists they placed trust in the big-brother/small-brother principle rather than God-is-One principle; and see what they have made of their nation… Do we want to follow suit…?  

Hindutwa is not the promised destiny of Hinduism…  As the former PM originally said, “This is not Raj Dharma”. Modi may be promising that he will pull the moon down and place it on Delhi—ok Great! But we need to see that the indigenous culture may not be willing to pay the cost. And resilient as this ancient heritage is, the victory of Good over Evil is certain…  

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The nation cannot accept the BJP because its inherent communal beliefs can lead to bloodletting. And the nation cannot throw out the BJP because the nation needs an alternative to the Congress; and there is no other party that is big enough to fill those shoes. BJP therefore represents a party which the Indian can neither swallow nor spit out. If, however, the AAP stands up to its destiny India can release the BJP from its misery.   
The following ten points will bring to fore the various ideas that are contained in this debate. Let’s see the points first and the merits of the case will become readily apparent.   
1)  In the last days of his life Gandhiji proposed, among other things, that the Congress split into two formations, one under Nehru and the other under Sardar Patel and fight elections against each other.
2)  The reason he said this was because:
a.  if in the future (it was 1940’s at that time) the congress failed to live up to the high ideals of the freedom struggle then the citizens of India needed an alternative
b.  The alternate ideologies that existed at that time were divisive. They did not have the vision to take India forward as one nation of united people; all of them propagated fragmented nationalism.
c.   Gandhiji wanted the political atmosphere in the country to be free of chauvinism and fragmentation; or in other words he wanted to avoid the poison of groupism based on cooked-up human barriers
3)  A look at today’s situation proves that Gandhiji was again right—as he most often was:   
a.  As Gandhiji feared, the Congress has let values slip—a long way—and it has not stood up credibly to the ideals of the freedom struggle.
b.  There is no alternative basic political ideology that unites Indians. None of them take India forward as a homogenous unit; none of them treat Indians as one.    
c.   The alternative that came up in 1998 was created out of one of the divisive ideologies that existed in Gandhiji’s times; besides using the divisive ideology to spread unrest in society this alternate team too patronized a system that was not free from corruption.
4)  The episodes of 1984 and 2002 demonstrate how the difference in founding ideology matters to the nation. In 1984 when goons went on to the street their ideology screamed at them to “Stop it”; in 3 days the mayhem stopped. Though of course, true to the fall in values—of the Congress—those responsible have not been made to face the law. In 2002 however the ideology itself said “continue”… and so the mayhem went on for months together. This ideology is dangerous for the nation… This particular ideology is essentially fascist in nature.
5)  And the most amazing thing is that though it claims to stand up for Hinduism it is truly anti-Hindu. The tussle is between the Hindutwa of Godse and Hinduism of Gandhi. True that the charge on Congress that it practices pseudo-secularism has some truth in it. But the pseudo-Hinduism of the right wing is far worse. In the garb of ‘nationalism’ Godse acted like an insane man; this approach is apparent even in today’s extreme right. The line that separates courage and foolishness is very narrow; similarly the line that separates nationalism from fragmented nationalism is also narrow. Godse’s was a fragmented nationalism.  
6)  Also do not bother about those who would encourage Arjuna not to fight the Mahabharata war but instead go to a forest and do penance. In today’s system there are no hereditary kings… instead there are political parties and elections. The success of today’s democracy requires that people must take up assignments in the political hierarchy as part of their ‘duty/dharma’. AAP you must do your duty for the nation. And when some people tell you that ‘you are in politics just for selfish interests’, tell them in return that ‘all drivers learn driving only because they want to put sudden break so that girls will come and fall on them’.
7)  The moment is opportune. The well-meaning voters of India are on the desperate lookout for an alternative party to give direction to this nation. Those totally unsatisfied with the Congress are even contemplating giving a divisive ideology one more chance—this tells you how desperate they are.
8)  AAP you have it going your way since you stand up:
a.  Against corruption
b.  Against all kinds of divisions in society
9)  Along with the above two you must also ensure that you inherit the legacy of the Gandhian struggle for freedom; for values, for the poor, for peace and prosperity.
10)              Set up systems; set up procedures; pursue the alternate politics you have come to represent. There is enough grey matter in India to guide you as you go along. If you can institutionalize your uniqueness it holds great promise for the nation.  
Nixon Fernando: Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai nixfdo@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Team Anna: Let it not be Blind-leading-the-blind

Dear Aravind Khejeriwal, 

Though there is reason in your arguments on the issue of taking on individuals, if it is done incorrectly the odds are stacked against you. The wise have something important to convey. It may sound harsh but one would not mind it if he takes into consideration the impact it could have on your team effort at national development. 

For starters there is this idea that comes in from the west—supposedly an accepted bench mark for wisdom—which says “Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events and great minds discuss principles”… And there is some truth in it…  

When taking on individuals and judging them Jesus Christ cautions people against seeing the SPECK in the other’s eye while failing to see the LOG in their own… This of course does NOT have to do with the accuser (team Anna) also doing the same mistake (supposed corruption as the ministers)… rather it is about the accuser creating a mistake at a higher level; the log-in-the-eye is considered as the propensity to ‘judge’ and ‘accuse’ people with a holier-than-thou attitude. And Jesus terms this to be a bigger mistake… 

The Brahma Kumaris point out that the issue of branding anyone (as anything, including criminal) goes against our basic nature of humans and it prevents us from touching our inner highest natures. And Sirshree Tejparkhiji of Tej Gyan foundation suggests that the true leader is one that is in tune with his inner nature; he says, ‘Only he must lead the world who is lead by his heart—by his Highest Nature…’ 

Jesus Christ also adds that if we instead resort to judgment when we deal with other people, then, our attempts to lead others with that perspective, is equivalent to the “blind leading the blind—both fall into the ditch…” A team effort of this kind would therefore surely grind to a halt sooner rather than later…  

What the ministers have DONE can be judged but the ministers themselves must not be judged… there is a subtle difference… true leadership lies in acknowledging the divine even in the ministers and only then, after we have rejected the tendency to judge, objectively find out what mistake they have committed and let them meet their destiny as the law dictates. 

Truly speaking, those who have displayed dishonesty in their dealings are not the ideal people for leadership positions; it damages the prospects of the future, in this case it is the destiny of the nation… the ministers therefore, if they have erred, need to be taken to task. Even so, it is important to separate the people from their actions when we deal with them… ACTIONS can be good or bad according to law… but PEOPLE are not good or bad… as Jesus Christ points out… “Only God is good…”

One hopes and prays that the error of ‘Blind leading the blind’ does not manifest in the efforts of Team Anna; the nation looks up to you and this would do great harm to the wonderful and much needed initiative… 


Sunday, May 20, 2012


There seems to be three or four central ideas owing to which Islam seems to be at loggerheads with other religions and if Islam can resolve these along the lines of what the Holy Prophet and God truly desired, culprits can be pinned down and the world can be a better place.
A basic presumption that has not been condemned outright is that ‘God of the Muslims is not the same as the God of the Jews and is not the same as the God of the Christians and is not the same as the God of the Hindus….’ 

Connecting the others first, there is absolutely no doubt that ‘The Father’ of Jesus Christ is the same as the ‘Yahweh’ of Moses and the prophets… incidentally Jesus Christ was a Jew till he was crucified. The equivalence is clearly established in the Bible. Next, Jesus Christ’s answer ‘I am who I am’ and his saying that ‘I will be in you and you in me just as The Father is in me and I in The Father’, proves the equivalence of his perspective to the Adwita perspective of the Hindus. 

So if the Quran upholds the equivalence of the ‘God of the Muslims’ to any of the other three then it can be established, that the Holy Quran  indeed mentions the very same Principle that has been brought forward by the sages of these various nations.  

Check the verses from the Quran I.2:47-61 and no sane person will say that there is any difference between the true God of the Muslims and the true God of the Jews.  So that must kill the issue… and having said that the verse I.2:62 clearly says:- 

“Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, who ever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their lord, on them shall be no fear, nor will they grieve”
So the followers of other faiths, provided they are faithful to This One God, will have the promised rewards. Now the question arises as to why, despite this being so clearly said, some followers of Islam do not accept the fact that the faithful of other religions are also faithful. And the answer is that it is on account of an interpretation of a set of verses which could mean either of two things and people think it is their privilege to ‘interpret’ it as ‘they’ choose.
Check out these verses for instance, translated into English by Dr Muhammad TAqi-ud-din Al-Hilali and Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan:

I:2:81. Yes! Whosoever earns evil and his sin has surrounded him, they are dwellers of the Fire (i.e. Hell); they will dwell therein forever.
1:2:82 And those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah ___ - Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, they are dwellers of paradise, the will dwell therein forever
The corresponding verses are numbered differently in the translation by Maulawi Sher Ali:

I.2.82 Aye, whoso does evil and is encompassed by his sins—those are the inmates of the Fire; therein shall they abide
I.2:83 But they who believe and do good works—those are the dwellers of Heaven; therein shall they abide
Clearly there is a mismatch. In the second verse of the first translation it was kind of the translators to put their interpolations and interpretations in brackets. But what is there in the bracket clearly is an ‘addition’. In fact it also gives insight into the colored perspective with which the entire translation has been done. The original text does not apparently give any advantage to somebody who calls himself ‘Muslim’ or ‘practices’ the rituals of Islam. But in the interpretation the scholar conveniently adds things about Islamic Monotheism… thus excluding those practicing Christian Monotheism for instance—which is not the idea mentioned in the Original Book. 

When it is said that the original must not be changed in as much as an addition or deletion of a dot, can translators take such liberties? 

That is not all; there is mention of people who do not do the will of God and at such places if the translator adds ‘Jews’ in a bracket while translating, it reveals further that it is a ‘colored’ translation. Therefore, instead of judging people on the basis of the actions of good and evil, such translators are instead judging on the basis of the labels of ‘Jew’ and ‘Muslim’. This is mischief. It defies the dictum that even a single dot must not be changed both in letter and spirit. 

This takes us to the second question. Who is the Kafir? 

Clearly, if there is Oneness in the Supreme Being, meaning that the various perceptions of the Supreme Being are but different views of the Same Thing, then the correct test for whether a person is faithful or not is not the label (Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh), it is the good deeds – bad deeds part which distinguishes the faithful and the unfaithful within each group.   

So it is about giving up one’s ego and bowing down in surrender to a Higher Power. If that ego remains (I am a ‘Good’ Muslim/Christian/Hindu said with pride also has elements of ego in it) then one is unfaithful, irrespective of what label he carries. 

And here comes the next part; Jihad: 

There is this person who is unfaithful—does not believe—and is therefore a kaafir. So then, must he be eliminated…? Absolutely not, the Quran clearly says that even with the unfaithful, if an agreement or pact has been made, then it must be honored by the faithful. 

The only place one can take to arms against the unfaithful is when the faithful are under mortal attack by them. And this has been associated with the term ‘Jihad’. 

‘Jihad’ is nothing other than doing what God wills of you, come what may. That is what Jesus Christ did when he laid down his life; it was The Father’s will which he held above his own. The equivalent term in Hinduism is Dharma. One must fulfill his Dharma—that is what the Highest Self desires—without pandering to his ‘individual’ ego. And if every act is guided by what God the Father expects, then a person is performing Jihad. 

Instead of seeing this equivalence which God has revealed to the various nations of the world, if a person gets stuck in his ‘personal interpretation’ that it is about ‘labels’ and not about ‘deeds’ and ‘kindness’, he is truly unfaithful—a Kafir if you may—does not matter even if he is flawless in his rituals and/or is labeled by himself or his fellowmen as a ‘Muslim’…  

The only thing that needs to be done is this: “Not a dot must be changed”, accept that in both letter and spirit. Produce a faithful translation of the Holy Book without coloring it with ‘perspective’; it will answer all questions and help better identify the wolf in sheep’s clothing—from all religions.