Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hindu Temples are not Government Property

Hinduism Would be Better off if the Government of India Left it Alone

Hindu temples in India are run by the government through its Endowment Boards. The Endowment Boards are indirectly run by the government (both state and center) by nominating Chairman and members to the Endowment Boards. The temples are run akin to businesses selling all the services in the temple. I have not seen any religious institutions in the world run in this way. Devotees pay for entering the temple complex and continue to pay for every service in the temple. The donations and daily earnings (through fees charged for temple visits and other services) are used not to develop the temple, help Hinduism or at least provide services for the devotees, but diverted by the government according to its own needs.

If the government does not divert the temple funds, the temples would be able to establish Hindu educational institutions and serve the masses. Educational awareness of Hinduism among the masses  is dismal for lack of educational and theological institutions dedicated to the study of Hinduism. 

Another recurring problem for Hinduism is unique and uncommon to any other religion in the world. Since Government is managing Hindu temples, some people are always requesting government to manage Hindu life and practice one way or another. Somebody is always going to court to force temples to give up their traditions: Rallies at Sani temple in Sani Singanapur and Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala are but only a few examples. However no such demands are made on restrictions at places of worship belonging to other religions in India or any where else in the world. Enthusiasts are also going to courts to force temples in to surrendering their ancient practices. There is also demand for canceling traditional celebrations and festivals. Bull runs and Bull fights, are great cultural celebrations in Europe, but India is asked to ban them, as it is part of festival celebrations. And all Hindu festivals and celebrations always attract negative publicity and enthusiasts take to court. Why not leave the local tradition take its own course and let it evolve itself? Why must the government interfere and ban? Wasn't the state supposed to not interfere in the religious practices of any religious community in a democracy?

Hindu temples and sacred sites are spread across the world. There are especially numerous important temples in India's neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It is great that India announced roadway connecting India to East Asia with roadways going through Bangladesh, Mayanmar, Cambodia, Thailand to Vietnam. The land previously referred to as Indo-China is finally joining India through road and railway connectivity.

However, it is not useful in itself useful until government withdraws all involvement with Hindu temples and their management. If the government withdraws the Hindu temples would be able to manage themselves similar to the other religions in India (Christianity, Islam and others) and organize pilgrimages to their religious complexes. Any way what does a secular democratic government doing managing Hindu temples? Is not the state and religion separate in a democracy, especially, when it touts itself as secular as in the case of Indian government. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Are Indian Leftists Anti-India Activists?

Leftists in India have always taken anti-India stand historically including supporting China during Indo-China war. They continue to perpetrate such anti-India activities in the guise of supporting secularism. A number of recent events indicate that the so called communists (leftists of a number of shades) of India continue these policies. Communism and left ideologies have died every where in the world, but they are still going strong in India by creating controversies based in anti-India rhetoric even in the twenty-first century. 

A recent example is from America. Left leaning intellectuals sent letter to CEOs of Silicon valley companies, who rightfully put it in their trash cans, and welcomed Prime Minister Modi with open arms. 

Another example is the award-vapasi groups, members of which returned or threatened to return awards such as those awarded by Sahitya Akademy. It dragged on for a couple of months finally a compromise was worked out as the awardees agreed to take their awards back. A double-award. May be the awardees did not deserve their awards, which they gave up very easily. 

Another favorite catch phrase these so called secularists of India regularly use is 'intolerance' in India. It looks like they don't know the meaning of the word 'intolerance'. The fact that they are saying this and happily living in India is itself evident that intolerance does not exist in India. The example of the death of a popular blogger of Bangladesh or several such examples from Pakistan help illustrate this point well. 

These leftist groups organized and staged dharnas (rallies) across India for hanging terrorists in India, such a Kasab and Memen. No other country has such anti-national activities constantly perpetrated in the guise of secularism. Secularist groups of India must wake up to the reality of twenty-first century  or move to the only communist country in the world, China. 

Equality, Opportunity and Independent India: How the Poor are Left Behind

Sixty-five years of reservation system is leaving the poor behind

Sixty-five years of reservation system implemented in the name of bringing equality and opportunity in independent India, has turned reservation system into a privilege system. Misuse of the system is rampant. Many non-lower caste people abuse the system by moving from their home towns and registering and obtaining a lower-caste certificates. It is particularly easy where birth registration is not very common. The local governments don't register births or issue birth certificates. This came to the frontlines, when Rohit Vemula committed suicide in the University of Hyderabad. Rohit belonged to Vaddera caste (a OBC category of caste), but was registered as a scheduled caste (SC category) student, which may have given him access to scholarships and other help for a number of years, which may have been allotted to a truly deserving SC student, but wrongfully claimed by him. Such misuse is not uncommon, which denies the true beneficiaries their share and left them behind. For every misused case like this, there is always a poor well-deserving family that is deprived of its benefits.  

Rohit Vemula's case is only one example. The swelling numbers of lower caste demographics with each census is an evidence of this disturbing trend. How can the government evaluate if one is making a false claim or not when it does not  maintain a birth registry of its citizens. In Rohit Vemula's case unfortunately his true caste came out due to his suicide, but in many other such cases, the true caste of the person never emerges. 

Such misuse is doubly dangerous. First level of danger is that it leaves the truly deserving person behind. Second level of danger is that it leaves his community behind, because, an SC person's   lost  opportunity left the SC community behind, since the community never had the chance to send one of their own to the university and learn how higher education can benefit their community. 

Unless caste-based reservations are paired with economic  status (limiting it to the poorest sections), while restricting it to the first time college- students, such misuse will continue to exist, and the poor will never have an opportunity to benefit from it. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Delhi's Odd and Even Drive Policy

Delhi! Ditch the Numbers, Use the Colors
    Delhi's odd and even number drive policy permitting cars to drive on alternate days on the roads of Delhi is as arbitrary as picking random colors of cars to drive on certain days of the week. It would have at least been ingenious if Delhi government tried to use the color policy rather than the number policy. The number policy is a copy cat policy borrowed from the communist regime of China, which used it in 2008 during the Olympics. China used it to reduce air pollution during the Beijing Olympics, and adopted it only for the duration of a couple of months, that too only in the city of Beijing and nowhere else.

     Even the communist regime understood the arbitrary nature of the policy of odd and even numbers and used it only for a short-time, never to use it again in Beijing and any other city in China for that matter. Implimentation of odd and even number car drive policy, a failed policy of China, by the Delhi government only signals its totalitarian tendency and arbitrary nature. The city of Delhi has been praised historically as the heart of India, but it seems it is experiencing a heart-ache under the rule of the new Chief Miniter, Mr. Kejriwal. 

     If the Delhi government were to ditch the number policy and adopt the color policy it would at least make the roads look beautiful in traffic and make the children of Delhi happy. A better policy for the government of Delhi would be improving mass transit in the city for which the government does not seem to be committed.

Friday, November 27, 2015

India's Search for National Spirit

What is India? Is it an Idea, an Imagination or a Spirited Nation?

Debates are raging currently among the intelligentsia about the national identity of India. Opinion writers repeatedly refer to it as the idea of India. The question of equating India to an idea or somebody's idea is misplaced and completely misunderstands the nature of nationhood in India. It also completely misses the notion of spirit of India that pervades every national action known in the history of India. Western notions of idea or imagination of nationhood is not suitable to understand the spirit of India.
The spirit of India rests in its cultural and religious heritage, which the colonial regimes and post-colonial socialist governments tried to shatter by writing history suitable to their purpose of perpetrating their power and supremacy, while disenfranchising the masses from their traditional culture and history.
Constitutional Day
National government recently introduced a new national holiday, the Constitution Day. While constitution day and developing national understanding of constitution may help develop and affirm national unity among the citizens of India, it cannot foster national spirit. National spirit and common values of national affirmation could only be asserted by nurturing its cultural, linguistic, and religious heritage. 
Food, dance, music, language, religion and art are neglected at each stage of education. School education at various stages teaches language only superficially, while dance, music and religion are not part of school curriculum. Publicly funded Universities in India that teach religion, and arts (music, dance and painting) are less than ten across the country. Religious education in Christian and Islamic religions is offered in public universities and wide spread than Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. While numerous state universities host departments of Islamic studies in addition to numerous Madrasas run by Wakf boards across India, which enjoy generous grants of public money from the Government of India, Hinduism does not enjoy such support. Hinduism is the religion of almost 80% of Indians. China even though a communist state without religion teaches Confucianism in schools and supports Confucian studies at university level in China as well as abroad through creation of Confucian Institutes.
Indian Values of Nonviolence and Tolerance
Indian values of nonviolence and tolerance are projected as the responsibility and duty of only Hindus, but no such values are expected from other groups, especially Muslims. The opposition asserts and calls of ‘Hindu terrorism’ at its every public meeting and event, while staying mute in the face of acts of Islamic terrorism. While there is no evidence that any Hindu activist had ever landed in a foreign country akin to Mumbai attacks or Paris attacks to self-detonate a suicide bomb or shoot innocent citizens, opposition party continues to perpetrate blatant misinformation on Hindus in a majority Hindu nation with utter disregard for the sentiments of the majority Hindus of the nation. All citizens of India regardless of their caste must embrace nonviolence and tolerance. Acts of terrorism should be regarded as acts of war on the sovereignty of India and its perpetrators should be prosecuted in military courts not municipal or state courts.
Education Reform and Change in History Education
History of India had been treated as Lego building blocks set for far too long. Pieces of historical evidence were arranged and rearranged with utter disregard for understanding the true history and cultural heritage of India. Any one can obtain a Ph.D. in History without learning Sanskrit, or the language of the historical period they are studying, which compounds the problem of historical study in India and leads to misinterpretation of the historical evidence. India must revise its history education and include methods that require language training and historical methods.
India must begin rewriting its history incorporating new evidence and classical sources. Citizens of India have a right to learn their true history and cultural heritage.
Uniform Civil Code
Every citizen living in India must be subject to the same civil code.  It should not change based on religion, tribe and region. A uniform civil code is the requirement for any nation to foster the spirit of nationhood.
Religious Freedom
Religious freedom must mean the same for all religions in India: not something different for minority religions and majority religion. It should not change based on each religious group. Each minority religion has freedom to maintain its religious places worship and institutions. Hinduism and its practice is restricted by government and Hindu temples are maintained by government through endowment boards. Hindu temples are run as businesses charging for every service right from the time a Hindu devotee enters in to the temple. Resulting money is spent according to the plans of the government implemented by the endowment boards rather than serving the cause of Hinduism. Hindu temples must be freed from government supervision and run by Hindus themselves. State should not have any interest or interference with any religion. Each religion must be free to run its institutions and temples as it deems necessary. For a modern state to promote national spirit it is essential that the government is completely separated from all spheres of religious activity.

Equal Opportunity
Every citizen in India must have equal opportunity for jobs, housing, loans, and political positions. The current reservation system has failed to help lower castes and also the poor rural folks of India. Quota based reservation system in India benefits SC/STs (Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes) and creates wage discrimination against other castes of India. There are two issues with this reservation system. Firstly, it still uses and asks persons of lower castes to certify their caste at every stage reinforcing the use of caste instead of helping them proceed beyond the caste system. Secondly, the reservations are currently capped at 50% of all the educational seats in all the educational institutions, public sector jobs, and local bodies, central and state political positions. Certain OBCs (other backward castes) are still left out of the reservation system even though they are living in similar social and economic conditions. This results in periodical discontent and reservation agitations. India should lift its conventional reservation system and replace it with the more efficient affirmative action system that is based on economic status and be restricted only to first time college students.  
For India to move forward in the twenty-first century it is important to develop its national spirit and foster co-operation among its citizens.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Is It Time to Go Beyond Caste?

Is It Time to Go Beyond Caste to Determine Eligibility for Reservations?

India needs to adapt a new way to support economically and socially disadvantaged sections of Indian society than caste based reservation system. Caste based reservations have left millions of people across India helpless although it helped urban and literate sections of the society. India should replace caste based reservation system with class based affirmative action system similar to the United States of America. Affirmative action system adapted by the higher educational institutions in the United States has helped economically disadvantaged students of America, as well as the African-American and Latino students tremendously.

The new affirmative action system can also include preferences for both low-income students and the students who are first in the family to attend college. This system will help economically and socially disadvantaged groups and it might not also cause dissatisfaction among the general population, since first generation-students generally tend come from low-income families and may also be the only ones to attend college in their. Allowing the first generation students attending college to utilize affirmative action also might stop abuse of reservation system commonly noted since generations of the wealthy and successful SC/STs and BCs continue to use reservations, while their less fortunate brethren are left in a position of disadvantage.

Affirmative action program similar to the United States or a class-based action program will be more equitable and may also help rid Indian society of the caste system.

Indian government policies are solely to blame for the survival of caste in India in the twentieth century and for its successful continuation into the twenty-first century. Indian society would have moved away from caste in the last sixty-eight years since independence, if the government had not used it as a parameter to determine eligibility for reservations in education and jobs. At least, after seventy years of Indian independence, hopefully, Indian government would come forward with a policy to help economically and socially weaker sections, but move away from the caste system at the same time.  

Caste is an Outdated Parameter to Determine Backwardness

Caste is an Outdated Parameter to Determine Social Backwardness and Underdevelopment

Government of India used caste as a parameter to assign social programs for almost seventy years after independence. People of lower castes have enjoyed free education, caste based admissions programs favoring lower castes to be admitted in to educational institutions even though they had only sub par merit. The lower castes also enjoyed quotas in jobs, as well as promotions based on their castes. The reservations system has done miracles for peoples who utilized them. However, it has also left numerous people, especially poor landed caste people as farm laborers and workers on the country-side without much help.
Landed castes are left with small landholdings, often very small farms with very small annual per capita yield that does not support their families, let alone their educational advancement. Landed castes should also be allowed to enjoy the fruits of reservation system under the quota system. Landed caste regardless of ownership of land are the modern backward castes since they face discrimination at every level due to their poverty.
Caste should not serve as a parameter to determine the eligibility to quality for government programs. In the modern world every person living in poverty faces the same discrimination from educated and elite classes regardless of caste.

Asking someone for caste is meaningless in this modern world. Castes that have enjoyed admissions to privileged colleges, and jobs might find it hard to let go of the facilities caste provides them. However, it is necessary that caste should no longer matter for those living in poverty. Every farmer holding less than five acres of land or every person with annual income of less than Rs. five lakhs should qualify for quotas in schools and colleges, with no such preference extended in jobs. Providing equal educational opportunity should be the prerogative of the government. The young people should take advantage of the opportunities to perform to the best of their ability to quality for a variety of employment opportunities the modern world offers.