“Modi will recover black money from abroad,” says Gurumurthy – Shobha Warrier

S. Gurumurthy

Swaminathan GurumurthyShobha Warrier, convener, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, launched his investigation into black money in 1986.

He was a member of the task force created by Bharatiya Janata Party leader L. K. Advani just before the 2009 election. The BJP had promised then and before the 2014 election that it would bring back the black money stashed away in various banks outside India if it were voted to power.

HSBC Bank, Geneva, SwitzerlandWhen the Narendra Modi government informed the Supreme Court that it could not disclose certain details about black money because of the double LGT Group Logotaxation avoidance agreement India had with certain countries, it angered lawyer Ram Jethmalani, on whose plea the Supreme Court had constituted a Special Investigating Team on black money. Jethmalani accused the Modi government of toeing the United Progressive Alliance line.

In this exclusive interview Gurumurthy explains his expectations of the Modi government on the black money issue. – Shobha Warrier

In 2009 when we met before the parliamentary elections, you had just submitted the task force report on black money to Mr Advani. Did you continue with your investigation even after the BJP lost the elections?

• Let me first talk about the initial hurdles in pursuing black money. There was an opinion among many leaders that there was no black money at all. [Former Union minister] Jairam Ramesh openly said it was complete nonsense. First the Congress said there was no black money, then they said there was no black money of this kind. Such opinion was shared even among some in the National Democratic Alliance.

Leaders from the BJP too?

• Yes, there were some BJP leaders. They genuinely felt there was no black money. That is also because some of them could not understand that black money was not kept as currency. So the initial difficulty that had to be crossed after submitting the task force report, was making people agree that there was black money.Sonia-G world's fourth richest politician ! When Advani started talking about it strongly during the elections, it became a public issue. Unless something becomes a public issue, it will never be an issue at all. Because of the elections, it got enough publicity.

Pictet & Cie Bank, Zurich, SwitzerlandWhen it became an issue, even [Congress President] Sonia Gandhi had to come out with a statement that they would bring black money from abroad. Then [then prime minister] Manmohan Singh had to repeat it.

Thus, it became an issue common to the political system. Till then, it was resisted. This was the biggest public hurdle that had to be overcome.

Today, no political party can say that black money is not an issue; it has become a national issue. Who drives it, who is more sincere, who has more commitment, is a different issue.

Was it not a global issue by then?

• At the 2010 G-20 meeting, France and Germany took it up and said that casino capitalism was the product of the Anglo-Saxon economic model. It was the first time in the history of the world that a virtually racial term was used to describe economic behaviour.

They said this model fostered tax havens as respected, accepted and legitimate. France and Germany said, unless you take on the tax havens and the secret banking system, they would walk out of G-20. So America had to cave in.

Unless you understand the functioning of the global financial system and the role of secret money in it, you will never be able to understand the forces that prevent the campaign and exposure of black money.

The global GDP is about $72 trillion and the high net worth individuals’ wealth is $54 trillion out of which $20 trillion is called offshore money. Offshore money is nothing but secret money.

We must understand that this does not mean cash alone; it is in the form of shares, real estate, bonds, yacht, ships, companies, gold, platinum. So this $20 trillion also is in the form of government bonds especially in America.

Much of this $20 trillion black money is from Asia and Africa. This is what drives the American stock market. And 55 per cent of American families are hooked to the stock market and nearly 60 per cent of retirement benefits and pension funds are invested in the stock market. It was less than 10 per cent in 1980 and gradually all the monies shifted from the bank to the stock market.

This connection of black money with the American stock market was what France and Germany resisted. They wanted the secrecy to be broken open.

International Black MoneyThat was how what we have been trying to do got global recognition. The black money issue can ever be tackled at home. After 2010, the world began to view it as a menace, but only as tax evaded money. But it is not only tax evaded money but it is money taken out of the country.

So the difference between black money in India and the black money out of India is, in India, it is tax evaded money and Indian money outside India is not only tax evaded money, but money which has been taken out of India’s capital resources needed for India.

So it is not only tax evasion, but treason too.

Do you think all political parties are involved in this, and that is why they do not want to pursue this with enthusiasm?

• Not only politicians, but bureaucrats, businessmen, some even in the judiciary are also corrupt. Then there is also drug money, gold smuggling etc. Politicians, who have been in power for too long, can be involved.

Most politicians are locally corrupt and they keep the money here itself. There was a politician in Jharkhand who said, when questioned about corruption, “Did I put the money in a Swiss bank? I only invested here.” He implicitly claimed to be a nationalist in corruption.

The Global Financial Integrity organisation came out with a calculation that between 1948 and 2008, $500 billion [about 30 lakh crore] has gone out of India. And between 2003 and 2011, $350 billion [about 21 lakh crore] has gone out of India. Most of it had gone out of India after India liberalised the economy.

Are you connecting black money with liberalisation?

• I am not saying the economy should not be liberalised. But there is a connection. It allows people to have more opportunities to spirit away money. There is no safeguard.

The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act is not there. The money laundering law, not in effective form, came too late. The threat of arrest is not there.

What I want to say is, it is now certain that funds have gone out of India and what has gone out of India is not a very small amount, but very large.

Also, it is not a one nation’s problem, but a global issue. It means we can form global partnership and pursue this money.

Is it possible for countries to take black money back?

• By legal action, money siphoned off by Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines has been recovered. African dictators’ money has been recovered. It is possible to recover. But I don’t think our income tax department and Enforcement Directorate can do it because it consists of people who have colluded with these things.

The only possibility is that our intelligence agencies must be used for this purpose.

First, you must get clues, vital leads, names of the account holders and bank names. Only then you can start legal action.

When you were with the task force, could you get all these details, like the names of people and banks?

• We could get information, but only in respect of businessmen and not those of corrupt politicians.

Narendra ModiIn my view, this government must act and it has the opportunity to act. They have got to put together a set of very committed people with passion who will go about with this task.

I am sure Narendra Modi is quite keen about it. I have absolutely no doubt on that aspect.

At present, he has too many things to handle and I am sure he must be thinking about how to handle this. The matter is also with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had constituted a SIT on black money on Ram Jethmalani’s plea. He accuses the Modi government of protecting the culprits. He said the Modi government is following the UPA path when it refused to divulge the names to the Supreme Court citing the treaty….

• There are two sets of names. In Liechtenstein Bank accounts, the German government announced that anybody could take the information, but the Government of India asked them to give it under the direct taxation avoidance agreement under which it is a secret. That’s why the Supreme Court asked why did they obtain it under a secret clause what is available in the open?

Ram JethmalaniBut the most important thing is the HSBC account particulars which we got from France. France got it from records stolen by a disgruntled employee in the HSBC bank in Switzerland. But the bank is in the Swiss jurisdiction. We got reportedly about 600 Indian names from France under the double taxation avoidance agreement.

The government view is that under terms of the bilateral the details can be disclosed it only after prosecution is launched. This is the claim of the government saying this is the international practice.

The other view is, with which I agree, is that in public court proceedings, the government can disclose the names. The government seems to say that the Supreme Court cannot over-rule the DTAA. But my view is no over-ruling is needed because the DTAA itself says that it can be disclosed in public court proceedings.

My view is when the court says the government has to disclose, it must disclose.

Yes, there are two views in this. Obviously, the bureaucrats will take a view which is very defensive and conservative. The more serious thing is they have filed an application saying the original order the Supreme Court had passed must be modified.

The original judgement says the government should not enter into any agreement with any country which says the information must be kept confidential and it is prohibiting the government from entering into inter-government agreement with the US for automatic and mutual sharing of financial information which is due in December

According to me, the government is wrong in filing this application because the DTAA with America specifically says you can disclose this information in public court proceedings. In my view, signing the inter-governmental agreement with America will not violate the Supreme Court judgment.

The perception among people is that the Modi government is not very enthusiastic about the black money issue and going slow like the UPA….

• I won’t take that view. Action to recover black money abroad will be in any way a slow process. It needs the world’s cooperation. The government has to create an atmosphere in which the world sees that the Indian government is keen on fast action.

Till the UPA was in power, the world had had a feeling that India was not keen to recover black money. This has to be reversed.

The first thing the government can do today is to expeditiously file prosecutions against people who have concealed the money in HSBC and disclose their names.

Recovering black money is a very strategic issue as the Indian government has to make alliances with many countries for which we took no efforts at all so far. This government can take these efforts because it has high level of influence with most of the countries. The credibility of this government is high.

Do you have confidence in this government that it would pursue the issue honestly?

• A hundred percent. This is going to be a very important agenda for Modi. He has made his intention clear to me many times before and after coming to power.

Modi may want to pursue it, but what about the others?

• There is no one in the government who can think otherwise if the most powerful person, the PM, wants action to recover black money.

In my view, Modi is the person who will do it. Others will fall in line, even if they genuinely doubt whether there is so much money.

• Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hinted that the name of a certain UPA minister is there. Is the issue only about UPA ministers and the Congress party? Is it not much bigger and deeper than that?

• He was talking about the 600 names in the HSBC list; he was not talking about the entire gamut of black money. He was actually answering the Congress which was taunting the NDA government for not acting on black money.

It was a political statement and that was needed because the Congress was trying to take advantage of the secrecy. That is why Jaitley said, be careful, you are likely to be embarrassed.

Do you think the Modi government will pursue the matter as seriously if there are names of politicians from the BJP?

• As yet, there is not even a suspicion of anybody from the BJP in it. So this is a hypothetical question. Even if somebody from the NDA is involved, public opinion and judicial opinion will force the disclosure.

L. K. AdvaniThe media must pursue it relentlessly. The problem is that some powerful sections of the media in India are also corrupt. If public opinion is generated, it will have its effect.

In spite of most media underplaying the black money issue and toeing the Congress, it has become an issue because it was made into an election issue by Advani. The credit for making it a huge public issue must go to Advani.

I am confident that the government will pursue the matter seriously. If not, people like us will not keep quiet. It is not to see the issue goes unattended that I have spent 30 years of my life on this. There are many people like me within and outside the system.

Have you got any startling revelations while pursuing the issue?

• There are many leads, but to give startling revelations, you need facts.

Without facts, you will be making allegations. I do not make allegations without facts. We can only go to a certain extent and after that, we have no powers to probe them. – Rediff, 27 October 2014

Supreme Court demands foreign account holder names

Legalism and Government Stand in Black Money Case – S. Gurumurthy – The New Indian Express – 30 October 2014

S. Gurumurthy“The government has concealed nothing from the SIT or the court. But the court rapped the government despite the government’s affidavit day before saying it has given all the names months ago. Neither the court nor the media is going to take back the strong comments. The damage is done. But morally, the Modi Government has won.” – S. Gurumurthy

Mukul RohatgiThe way the Supreme Court slammed the government on October 28 for not disclosing the names of black money holders given by the French government is like the classic case of both eating 100 onions and taking 100 lashes when the option was given to a person to do either of the two.

The short story of this paradox is this. The Supreme Court, moved by a public interest petition filed by Ram Jethmalani in 2009, delivered its judgment in July 2011, directing the government to appoint a Special Investigation Team (SIT). It was to be headed by two former Judges of the Supreme Court and consisted of the enforcement and intelligence agencies to probe the issue and recovery of huge black money suspected to be stashed away by Indians abroad.

The estimate of the rogue money, according to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), was $500 billion till 2008 and still counting. The UPA government, which had received information from Germany about black money account holders in Liechtenstein Bank and from France about such account holders in HSBC Bank in Geneva, was dodging the court’s insistence to disclose the details. It was taking refuge in some provisions of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) under which it said it had received the information. This forced the court to direct and get the government to disclose the Liechtenstein Bank details to the SIT. But before the court could direct the government to give details of HSBC account holders, the government filed a review petition asking the court to take back the judgment. After that the matter went into hibernation till it came back alive when the new government took over. The very first act of  Modi Government was to appoint the SIT – which the UPA was stalling – to which all investigations of black money stood transferred under the court’s orders. When everything seemed to be going well, the Finance Ministry filed an application on October 15, asking the court to vary its judgment of July 2011 since the government was advised that the direction of the court to disclose names overriding the DTAA was impeding the government’s efforts to secure an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the US for exchange of banking information. The IGA had the same provisions regarding disclosure as the DTAA with the US and most other nations.

The government said that since court orders seemed to prevent the government from signing the IGA with restrictions on disclosure, the judgment needed to be recast. Many, particularly Ram Jethmalani and others, who had worked on the black money issue for years, saw in this effort the same stonewalling which the UPA Government was doing to block the black money probe. The government’s October application lacked a sense of timing and ran contrary to the sentiments of its supporters on black money recovery agenda. Hell broke loose. Critics and friends alike began drawing parallels between the UPA and the NDA regimes, and sceptics began to feel that one was not different from the other. The ill-conceived and ill-timed application made everyone feel that this government too wanted to protect the black money holders.

But the facts were the other way round, as the clarification affidavit filed by the Finance Ministry on October 27 revealed. The affidavit unfolded how the government had not only been transparent with the SIT appointed by the court but also had been following its directions. The affidavit asserted that a complete list of cases where information had been obtained from the German and French governments, with the status of the action taken by the government was submitted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes on June 27. It added that the CBDT officials also met and briefed the SIT on the status of the cases, background of the information received, non-sharing of information by Swiss authorities, and constraints faced by the government and alternative methods of securing account details.

Arun JaitleyShockingly, his disclosure of how transparent the government had been and how it had parted with the details to the SIT was not mentioned when the Finance Minister briefed the media two days later on October 17, when already its critics and some friends had begun saying that the present government was no different from the UPA.

The Finance Minister’s briefing took the position that the DTAA prohibited the disclosure of information received under its provisions till the prosecution proceedings were started. This was precisely the argument of the UPA, which the Supreme Court in its judgment of July 2009 had overruled. This coupled with not mentioning that the government had already parted with the details to the SIT proved to be a disaster. In the huge negative publicity, the further affidavit of the government, which claimed that the list of names had been given to the SIT was not noticed at all.

In this situation came the application filed by the government asking for modification of the July 2011 judgment. The Attorney General did not sense the mood of the court and the nation, of course, and set out on legalism to justify the application, which the AG himself had personally approved. The fact that the government had already given the details was lost in the din. The court ordered the government to give the details in a sealed envelope to the court on October 29.

Did the AG tell the court that the details are already with the SIT? Even if he had, it was lost in the legalistic arguments on how justified the application for modification was. The result was bad imaging of the government in the court and in the public domain. Result, the government, which had already disclosed the details to the SIT, got a drubbing for not disclosing it – precisely like eating 100 onions and taking 100 lashes instead of either.

But even the AG’s legalism seems to be wrong. The hard fact is that the DTAA with France does not prohibit disclosure of information on the account holders in HSBC received from France in public court proceedings. The DTAA with France disciplines the disclosure of information received by India under it thus: One, the information shall have the same confidentiality as under India’s domestic law, that is the Income Tax Act and the Right To Information Act read together.

Two, if originally the information was secret in the hands of France (the sender) it shall be kept secret by India (the receiver). Apply the two norms now. First, the Income Tax and the RTI law permit disclosure and so no secrecy attaches to the HSBC details under the Indian law.

Next, the French got stolen information about bank account holders in HSBC in Switzerland. It is therefore not a secret in sender France’s hands. It is secret only in Switzerland. So under both the norms disclosure of HSBC information cannot be denied. And there is an overriding third norm.

The DTAA with France permits disclosure in public court proceedings in addition to disclosure in tax proceedings. It means when a court – the highest court in this case – directs the disclosure the government is empowered to disclose under the DTAA. Move further. The DTAA with the US is on identical terms as with France and the proposed IGA with the US is identical to the DTAA with the US on the disclosure of information. Consequently, the application of the government to the Supreme Court that the judgment prohibits disclosure of information is clearly misconceived, if not unnecessary. It is all confusion compounded at every stage.

How then should the government move forward now? The government should consult the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court whenever it has any doubt on how to go forward. It is the SIT that should ask the court for directions. The Supreme Court has already made it clear: the SIT will handle the investigation on black money. Will the government heed?

Narendra ModiPost Script: After all the strong words from the Supreme Court, which ordered the government forthwith to give to it the list of black money holders and critics saying that this government is no different from its predecessor, the SIT chief quietly confirmed last evening(on Tuesday) that the list handed to the court yesterday morning(on Tuesday) was the same as the list given to the SIT by the government four months ago, on June 27, 2014! Means what? The government has concealed nothing from the SIT or the court. But the court rapped the government despite the government’s affidavit day before saying it has given all the names months ago. Neither the court nor the media is going to take back the strong comments. The damage is done. But morally, the Modi Government has won. – The New Indian Express, 30 October 2014

The strange teachings of Prophet Muhammad – FPM

Zakaria Botros

FrontPage MagazineThis is the Frontpage Magazine interview of the famous Egyptian Coptic priest Fr. Zakaria Botros, who Al Qaeda has  called  “one of the most wanted infidels in the world,” issuing a 60 million dollar bounty on his head. Popular Arabic magazines also call him “Islam’s public enemy #1″. He is an informed critic of Islam and a zealous missionary who is reported to have converted 6 million Muslims to Christianity through his lectures, books and TV appearances.  His two websites are Islam-Christianity.net and FatherZakaria.net

• FP: In what way can you summarize for us why you think that Islam is a “false” religion?

Prophet Muhammad• Botros:  Theologically, as I am a Christian priest, I believe that only Christianity offers the truth. Based on my faith in Christ, I reject all other religious systems as man-made and thus not reflective of divine truths. Moreover, one of the greatest crimes committed by Muhammad—a crime which he shall surely never be forgiven for—is that he denied the grace and mercy that Christ brought, and took humanity back to the age of the law.

But faith aside, common sense alone makes it clear that, of all the world’s major religions, Islam is most certainly false. After all, while I may not believe in, say, Buddhism, still, it obviously offers a good philosophical system and people follow it apparently for its own intrinsic worth. The same cannot be said about Islam. Of all the religions it is the only one that has to threaten its adherents with death if they try to break away; that, from its inception, in order to “buy” followers, has been dedicated to fulfilling some of the worst impulses of man—for conquest, sex, plunder, pride.  History alone demonstrates all this: while Christianity was spread far and wide by Christians who altruistically gave up their lives, simply because they believed in Christ, Islam spread by force, by the edge of the sword, by fear, threats, and lurid enticements to the basest desires of man. Islam is by far the falsest religion—an assertion that is at once theologically, philosophically, and historically demonstrable.

• FP: You always document your discussions with Islamic sources. Why do Muslim clerics and imams have such a difficulty discussing what Islam itself teaches and instead just attack you personally?

• Botros: I think the answer is obvious. The Islamic sources, the texts, speak for themselves. Muslims have no greater enemy than their own scriptures—particularly the Hadith and Sira—which constantly scandalize and embarrass Muslims. To date, I have done well over 500 different episodes dedicated to various topics regarding Islam. And for every one of these episodes, all my material comes directly from Islam’s textual sources, particularly usul al-fiqh—the Koran, hadith, and ijma of the ulema as found in their tafsirs.

So what can the sheikhs of Islam do?  If they try to address the issue I raise based on Islam’s texts and sharia, they will have no choice but to agree—for instance that concubinage is legal, or that drinking camel urine is advocated.  The only strategy left them, then, is to ignore all that I present and attack my person, instead.

And when well-meaning Muslims ask their leaders to respond to these charges, one of their favorite responses is to quote the Koran, where it says “Do not ask questions of things that will hurt you.”

• FP: So what does it say about a religion whose religious teachers and members have to ignore their own theological texts because they cannot endure what those texts really say? What sense does any of this make?

• Botros: Again, this is a reflection of the fact that Islam is less a faith, more a vehicle for empowerment. As you say, what is the point for a person to closely guard and follow a religion that he himself has to rationalize, ignore, minimize, constantly reinterpret, dissemble over, and so forth? The fact is, most Muslims do not know what is in their own texts; at best, they know, and here and there try to follow, the Five Pillars.  This is why the issues I broach often traumatize Muslims—like a freshening slap across the face: a short, sharp, shock.  The stubborn, who take it as an attack of “us versus them,” irrespective of truths, just fume and plot to kill me; the other, more reasonable Muslims, who are really searching for the truth, end up waking up to the biggest hoax perpetrated on the human race in 1400 years, and many come to the ultimate Truth.

A better question is why do the ulema hide these issues from both infidel scrutiny as well as the eyes of the average Muslim? One would think that if anyone is dedicated to the truth it would be the ulema; yet their deceptive tactics reveal the opposite. For instance, it is often the case that, after I quote problematic passages from certain Islamic books, they have a strange tendency of disappearing from the book shelves of the Arabic world.

The bottom line is, many Muslims think of Islam less as a spiritual system dedicated to ascertaining and putting one on the course of the truth, and more a way of life—first and foremost not to be questioned—that if followed closely, will result, not only in future paradise, but earthly success, honor, and power.

• FP: You have pointed to a hadith that instructs women to breastfeed men. What exactly is going on here and what do the ulema (prominent Muslim theologians past and present) have to say? 

• Botros: This is a perfect example of what I just said. After I made popular the Islamic notion of rida‘ al-kabir—wherein women must “breastfeed” strange men in order to be in their presence—instead of confronting their own hadiths which documented this, the ulema attacked me. Why? Because they have no answer. Much easier to turn it around and slander me, instead of simply addressing their own texts.

Past and present, the ulema have by and large supported this shameful practice—including Ibn Taymiyya, “sheikh al-Islam.”  Moreover, sometime after I publicly documented rida‘ al-kabir, a top Islamic scholar in al-Azhar—the most authoritative institution in Sunni Islam—actually issued a fatwa authorizing Muslim women to “breastfeed” strange men, to which the Egyptian populace (happily) revolted. Yet when I alone mentioned it earlier, I was accused of “distorting” Islam.

• FP: So Islamic texts command that women must breastfeed strange men. Ok, so who would create such an instruction? For what purpose? Who even wrote this down and thought of it? Let’s even say that I am being open-minded and am ready to accept this as an understandable teaching. What’s the rationale here? Yes, women should breastfeed strange men because. . . .?

• Botros: Because Muhammad—“Allah’s prayers and blessings be upon him”—said so. Period. Who created such a practice? Muhammad. Why? Who knows; the texts say he laughed after commanding the woman to breastfeed that man. Maybe he was joking around, trying to see how far people will believe in him as a prophet? The top hadith compilers wrote it down, preserving it for later generations. As for what purpose does it serve, one can ask that question about any number of things Muhammad said: what purpose does drinking camel urine serve? What purpose does commanding men to wear only silver as opposed to gold serve? What purpose does banning music serve? What purpose does anathematizing dogs serve? What purpose does commanding people to eat only with their right hands, never their left, serve? What purpose does commanding Muslims to lick all their fingers after eating serve? Simple: Sharia law’s totalitarian approach serves to brainwash Muslims, making them automatons that never question their religion, or, in the words of their own Koran, “Do not ask questions that may prove harmful to them.”

• FP: Tell us a bit about Muhammed’s sex life as documented by Islamic sources. 

Boys like pearls in the Muslim paradise!• Botros: This is a very embarrassing topic for me to discuss; and I only do so out of my love for Muslims—though I know it is painful for them to hear. Yet such is how healing begins, through initial pain and suffering.  In short, according to Islam’s scriptures, Muhammad was, well, a pervert: he used to suck on the tongues of young boys and girls; he dressed in women’s clothing (and received “revelations” in this state); he had at least 66 “wives”;  Allah supposedly sent  him special “revelations” allowing him to have sex with his step-daughter-in-law, Zainab, and to have more wives than the rest of Muslims; he constantly dwelt and obsessed over sex—his first question to a “talking donkey” was if the latter “liked sex”—and he painted a very lurid and lusty picture of paradise, where, according to some top Muslim interpreters, Muslims will be “busy deflowering virgins” all day; and he had sex with a dead woman. There is more, but why dwell on such shameful things? Again, I stress, it is not I who maintains this but rather Islam’s own books—much, of course, not known to non-Arabic readers, as they have never been translated (except, as I understand, by some heroes at a website called Jihad Watch).

• FP: Yes, that’s our friend Robert Spencer’s website.

But wait, here’s the key. Many people right now will point at you and make accusations against you for saying these supposedly horrible things. But again, the issue is not that you are making these allegations. The issue is that Islamic scriptures themselves say it. So if Muslims are offended or shocked by these realities then they must confront their own scriptures and deal with them. They need to confront who wrote them and why, and either accept them or categorically reject them as lies, etc.

For the record, pinpoint some Islamic scriptures for us that detail these ingredients of Muhammad’s sex life so that, once again, we crystallize that the issue is not you making accusations, but simply revealing what Islamic scriptures themselves say.

• Botros: Where does one start? According to the Koran alone (33:37), Allah made it legitimate for Muhammad to marry his own daughter-in-law, whom he lusted after. A few verses later (33:50), Allah made it legitimate for Muhammad to have sex with any woman who “offered” herself to him—a privilege which was allowed for Muhammad alone. Indeed, these “revelations” which granted Muhammad all his sexual desires were so frequent that his child-wife, Aisha, would often say to Muhammad, “My, your Lord is always quick to fulfill your desires!” And to his faithful followers,  Muhammad permitted all the infidel woman that they could capture, as concubines (Koran 4:3).  All this is from the Koran alone; it would take several hours just to go over the hadiths and sira accounts dealing with the sexual perversions of Muhammad. In fact, I have devoted numerous episodes dealing specifically with Muhammad’s sexual depravities—including his sleeping with a dead woman, have a fetish for the smell of menstruation blood, dressing in women’s clothing, and so forth.  (Jihad Watch has translated many of these.)

• FP: In your view, who was Muhammad? 

• Botros: Well, I have received the answer from Islam’s own books. Ironically, Ibn Taymiyya, who happens to be the hero of the modern mujahid movement, explained the prerequisites of prophet-hood very well.  One of the things he stressed is that, in order to know if a prophet is in fact from God, we must study his sira, or his biography, much like the Christ’s statement that “You shall know them from their fruits.”  So, taking Ibn Taymiyya’s advice, I recently devoted a number of episodes analyzing the biography of Muhammad, which unequivocally proves that he was not a prophet, that his only “fruits” were death, destruction, and lust.  Indeed, he himself confessed and believed that he was being visited and tormented by a “jinn,” or basically a demon, until his wife Khadija convinced him that it was the angel Gabriel—which, of course is ironic, since Muhammad himself later went on to say that the testimony of a woman is half that of a man: maybe over time he realized she was wrong, and that his first assumption was right.

• FP: Fr. Zakaria Botros, thank you for visiting us today. – FrontPageMag, Jun 2, 2009

Pakistan Sex Search Stats

Zakir Naik

De-iconisation of a few icons is an urgent task – Rakesh Sinha

Prince Dara Shukoh (undecorated elephant on right) paraded in public before being executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb.

Prof Rakesh Sinha“We’ve a road named after a religious bigot and tyrannical ruler Aurangzeb, but not after his brother Dara Shikoh, who staked his very life to Indianise Islam. These are of no less significance to understand the psyche of misguided post-independent social philosophy. Secularists have imposed certain figures on our popular mind, who are injurious to our inclusive social and intellectual life, and philosophy.” – Prof Rakesh Sinha

Dara ShikohIndian politics and history may now witness a war of sorts between national heroes and other icons. Post-independent India has witnessed systematic efforts to iconise certain figures as the only ‘true heroes’ of the national movement and political life, while banishing and suppressing others. There are innumerable institutions, projects and roads named after the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. But the Lal-Bal-Pal trio, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and leaders and thinkers associated with the RSS and the socialist movement were denied legitimate space. 

This year has witnessed the ascendency of a different politico-ideological consanguinity (gotra). Intellectual and popular discourse, therefore, will also witness iconisation as well as de-iconisation of historical figures. Interestingly, the debate on non-Hindu figures is all the more important for strengthening secularism and nationalism in India. 

We’ve a road named after a religious bigot and tyrannical ruler Aurangzeb, but not after his brother Dara Shikoh, who staked his very life to Indianise Islam. These are of no less significance to understand the psyche of misguided post-independent social philosophy. Secularists have imposed certain figures on our popular mind, who are injurious to our inclusive social and intellectual life, and philosophy.

Badruddin TyabjiThe most glaring instance is of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, who introduced modern education among Muslims. Does this alone merit his status of a modern leader and icon worthy of celebration? There are two fundamental criteria to judge any social reformer and thinker. First, inclusive politics and social philosophy, and second, egalitarian thought. Khan was one of the first Muslim elites to systematically campaign against the Indian National Congress (INC) and left no stone unturned to alienate it from India’s Muslims. He condemned the INC as “civil war without arms” and wasn’t inconsistent in his approach to the national movement till his last breath. India’s non-Muslims didn’t care who was at the helm of the Congress as they folked together to strengthen the national outfit increasingly evolving as a platform against imperialism.

Congress’ first president W. C. Banerjee was a Christian, the second in 1886 was Dadabhai Naoroji, a Parsi, the third in 1887 was Badruddin Tyabji, a Muslim. The fourth and fifth were Europeans—Yule and Wedderburn—and the sixth president in 1890 was Pherozeshah Mehta, a Parsi. This did not deter Hindu participation in the Congress. While in 1885, the number of Hindu delegates was 55, and Muslims had only two, the Parsis who formed a microscopic part of the total population and stood nowhere in comparison to Muslims, had nine delegates. At the Bombay session of 1904, the Parsis with 65 delegates were Sir Syed Ahmed Khanalmost double that of the Muslims (35 delegates). In the 1908 Madras session, Muslims had 10 delegates to the Parsis’ 20. What led Parsis to participate way beyond the proportion of their population, while Muslims had mental reservation? Tyabji was ineffective before the Aligarh clique.

Khan justified the need for separate educational institutions for Muslims. The reason he put forth has tragically continued to influence Muslim elites long after Independence. He said the education of Muslims suffer by studying amid other religious communities, particularly Hindus. He believed both had their different needs and modes of life. Khan cautioned Muslims against mutual sympathy and national feeling, which were born due to common schooling and education, as it would dilute Muslims’ religious identity. Is it a secular and democratic proposition?

Last but not the least, Khan was opposed to competitive examinations, as according to him, it would bring feudal lords and fiefs to the level of the commoner. Yet, history books eulogise Khan more but not Tyabji. De-iconisation must proceed, though backed by strong intellectual arguments and empiricism. – The New Indian Express, 19 October 2014

» Sinha is Hony. Director of India Policy Foundation. Email him at  rakeshsinha46@gmail.com

Majma-ul-Bahrain by Dara Shikoh

Jagdish Bhagwati is seriously wrong about Indian American lobbying – Ashok Chowgule

Ashok Chowgule“The US government’s official position regarding the eligibility of entry of Modi to US is that the section based on which the tourist/business visa was revoked does not apply in case of a diplomatic visa. This means that they still hold Modi guilty of the charges made against him in 2005, implying that he will not be able to visit the US (if he so desires) when he is no longer the prime minister of India. Thus their present position is pure and simple chicanery, using deception to achieve goals they have in mind.” – Ashok Chowgule

Prof. Jagdish BhagwatiI fully agree with Professor Jagdish Bhagati’s approach with respect to economic policies – creating an environment for growth is a necessary condition to make resources available for social initiatives. However, he is seriously wrong when he said that the Indian-American community does not lobby. He made this assertion during a programme organised by the publication house, the India Today group, in New York in the context of the visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the USA. He said that Indian-Americans are into a darshan mentality – they are happy to have a photo taken with the president of the USA, but will not lobby.

There are some Indian-Americans who do not have this darshan mentality, and do not make an effort to have their photo taken with the president of the USA. But, they have established organisations that make resolute efforts to lobby. They make special attempt to meet the media, speak to US government officials, and actively seek out certain members of the Congress and the Senate in the US. Where a person’s organisation is not part of the coalition that is lobbying on a particular issue, he or she will come out in the public in an individual capacity. Their modus operandi is the same as any other lobbyist that swarm Washington.

Each takes the help of the other lobbying organisations set up by another American-Indians , even though they may have ideological opposition in each other’s core agenda. In this lobbying they are actively helped by Indians living in India, in academia and in media. They are also assisted by non-Indian-Americans – in media, in ‘think tanks’, in academia, etc. The correspondents for foreign publications – Indian citizens, foreign citizens (Indian born, Indian origin, and non-Indian origin) – in India also play an active role. They are all part of the Public Relations (PR) machinery working for the lobbyists.

They lobby against the interests of India.

It is done to present a false picture of India to the people all over the world. It is done to make an attempt to demonise the people of India. They have had a measure of success – until recently.

Before I go forward, let me make a comment about what Bhagwati said in the same programme about two lobbying efforts in the USA which he considers to be successful.

Lobbying by United States Steel

The first relates to the lobbying by United States Steel (USS) in the early 1960s. At the time, Bhagwati was working in Delhi with the Indian government. He said that the then USA Ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, conveyed a message that John F. Kennedy, the President of USA, had agreed to support the setting up of the Bokaro Steel Plant. However, Bhagwati said that the USS was lobbying with the USA Congress against the deal, because it was the assessment of the USS that the coming up of the plant would affect its own business interest. And the deal was scuttled.

But was it really a success? USS could not stop Bokaro Steel from coming into existence, which happened with the support of the then Soviet Union. The lobbying of USS gave another handle to those in India who wanted to create ill-will towards the USA. Today, Bokaro Steel is growing, while USS is a bit-player in the steel industry in the world. So, was it really a success?

Lobbying by the Hispanics

Bhagwati also gave an example of the Hispanic community in the USA, which he says is well organised. It makes specific demands from the government, and, he says, it makes threats if their demands are not fulfilled. In contrast, Bhagwati says, the Democrats can get the Indian-American votes for the asking, and President Obama does not have to worry about it one bit.

I would like to contend that this lobbying effort is the equivalent of vote bank politics that happens in India. The threat that the Hispanic community makes is that it will vote en-bloc in a particular way, so that the one seeking the votes has to pander to its desires – or perhaps the desires of those who claim to be the leaders of the Hispanics. The issue is not whether the demands are good for the nation or not – it is the demands of a community, and is pure and simple communal politics.

If this is allowed to succeed, and if the demands of the Hispanics are against the interests of the non-Hispanics, the non-Hispanics can organise themselves and issue similar threats. Can such a nation be called a secular state? Can such a nation really stay united?

A contented Indian-American community

Let me give another perspective. I trust that Bhagwati is consciously aware of the fact that the Indian-American community is far ahead of many other communities, in absolute and/or relative terms, including the Hispanics, in parameters that would indicate its state of contentment – income levels, education levels, position in the corporate world, doctors, academia, etc. Members of the Indian-American community assist their family members in India either by sending money or supporting their education needs in the USA, and give donations to many genuine charity projects in India.

While the Indian-American community is contented, it is also grateful to the hosts for giving them an opportunity to do better than they would otherwise have done. In return, they ask for very little, because they feel that they should really not be a burden on their hosts more than is minimally required. They believe in the principle of Atithi Deo Bhava (treat the guest as god) and so behave in a godly manner so that their hosts would treat them as gods.

Even as they ask for minimal considerations from the hosts, the Indian-American community has set up temples to meet their spiritual needs, organised Bal Vihars so that children can be inculcated with the values that they received from their parents, made Yoga popular so that even the hosts are able to deal with stress that is a natural part of life today, introduced the principles of pluralism and the spirit of tolerance, and innumerable such positive things. They also contribute to the well-being of the society at large. They are well assimilated in the larger community, even while being proud of their ancestral identity.

So, without making any demands from the state, is the Indian-American community any worse off?

Sadly, instead of applauding this admirable contribution, Bhagwati is criticising them for not lobbying without realising that they have achieved so much without lobbying. Bhagwati would do wonderful service to his fellow community by highlighting their achievements. And then say: “If the Indian-American community behaves in such a secular manner, should not others emulate them?”

The revocation of the visa of Narendra Modi

Now let me turn to those Indian-Americans who have not imbibed the darshan culture that Bhagwati talked about, and yet do the lobbying, which, as I contend, is against the interests of India.

The classic example of the success of this lobbying is the revocation of the visa of Narendra Modi in 2005. The history of this effort has been narrated by Zahir Janmohamed in an article titled “U.S. Evangelicals, Indian Expats Teamed Up to Push Through Modi Visa Ban”, and published by The New York Times (probably only on its website and not print).

The author claims: “I had a front-row seat to these events as they unfolded. I worked in Washington. D.C., from 2003 to 2011, mostly at Amnesty International and in the United States Congress, and I was a part of the campaign to deny Mr. Modi a visa.” He also says: “(I)t came about from a highly unusual coalition made up of Indian-born activists, evangelical Christians, Jewish leaders and Republican members of Congress concerned about religious freedom around the globe.”

(The article gives lots of names of persons and organisations, and is actually a mine of information for an inquiry of the type I will be recommending later. And the modus operandi as explained by Janmohamed will indicate how cunningly the whole lobbying effort was conducted. The article also mentions about the attack on India Development and Relief Fund, and I will dwell on it in some detail later.)

This lobbying effort is supposed to have convinced the US government that Narendra Modi was guilty of a crime that made him ineligible to visit the USA. A press release from the US Embassy in India had said: “Mr. Modi’s existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to the United States.”

The lobbyists were happy with their success. According to the criteria set earlier by Bhagwati, one would probably conclude that this is another example of successful lobbying. Instead, I would like to suggest that we should apply the perspective mentioned by me regarding the lobbying by USS, and then make up our mind about the present case.

The revocation and the analysts

The real tragedy is that very, very few of the analysts in the US – both Indians and non-Indians – have written about the history of the visa revocation. I would like to think that they KNOW the history – otherwise I would have to conclude that they are incompetent since they have not made an effort to know what is already available in the public domain.

Some do say that Narendra Modi is gracious enough not to let this grave personal insult to him come in the way of what is in the interest of India. Yet, many are still continuing to call him as sorts of derogatory names – names that they have used for him since 2002.

The US government’s official position regarding the eligibility of entry of Modi to US is that the section based on which the tourist/business visa was revoked does not apply in case of a diplomatic visa. This means that they still hold Modi guilty of the charges made against him in 2005, implying that he will not be able to visit the US (if he so desires) when he is no longer the prime minister of India. Thus their present position is pure and simple chicanery, using deception to achieve goals they have in mind.

On the subject of the visa revocation, I have had interaction with two Americans, both academics with stints in the US government, and I asked them of their views on the subject. One of them, with whom I had an email exchange, is William Avery, an ex-diplomat. His website says that he advises corporate on international trade, besides other issues, and that he served as ‘served in the United States diplomatic service as an Economic Officer’ in India and other countries. His response was: “… we cannot undo the past and should focus on the future.” Cleary he expected Modi to just swallow the deep insult, and I said so to Avery in so many words.

The other is Robert Blackwill, who had a stint as the US ambassador to India, prior to 2005. In June, 2014, he was in New Delhi to give a public talk, where I asked him what the President of USA should do about the revocation of the visa in 2005. I had introduced myself as a senior office bearer of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an organisation within the larger fold of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

After giving a fairly elaborate exposition about the wrongness of the action, both originally and continuing it, he said: “If I was back in the White House yet again, I would not have the American president apologise to (Modi). I would just try to take the relationship forward. And I don’t get the sense that the PM is looking to get an apology from the American president. Everything that the PM has done is to indicate that he wishes to turn the page. He is the PM of India, and no longer the CM of Gujarat. I don’t see an apology is in the works.”

Blackwill made the above statement to an audience of over 100 people, mostly Indians. There were retired government of India servants and those who had served the Indian defence forces. There were some business people, mostly from companies with American investment. There were also some from foreign diplomatic missions.

Since I did not specifically ask whether the USA should apologise, I personally found the comment by Blackwill to be highly patronising, arrogant and insensitive, particularly when made to an audience of Indians and said on Indian soil. Like the Avery comment, it was also deeply offensive. Based on an interaction with Girish Dhume, a retired member of the Indian Foreign Service, after the programme, I have strong reasons to believe that other Indians, at least, would concur with this assessment. I really wonder if Blackwill realised his complete lack of diplomacy, considering that he has a desire to be accepted as a friend of India. His body language clearly gave me a message that he seemed to be very happy to have been able to make the statement to Indians on Indian soil. And I wonder if there was anyone who told him so in private at the personal level. Probably not.

I have asked the same questions to some Indian-Americans who work in organisations claiming to be think-tanks. These Indian-Americans have come on many seminars, lectures, discussion groups, etc., both on TV and public sessions in Washington and New York. In each case my question was completely ignored. Some of them are: Ashutosh Varshney, Milan Vaishnav, Sadanand Dhume, Ashley Tellis.

Other Indian-Americans

The Indian-Americans who diligently lobbied the US government to revoke the visa will continue to lobby through some members of the Congress. Other Indian-Americans who have the ear of the members of the US administration have taken a position that they will be silent on the issue of whether the US should apologise or not. At the same time, the young Indian-Americans who had come to New York to hear Narendra Modi at Madison Gardens would be very much in favour of their government making personal amends on the issue. Rajdeep Sardesai, the ex-IBN journalist but now with the India Today group, had said that these people are with money but had no class. I will use the abbreviation WMNC for them.

But Bhagwati interacts in a 5-star hotel environment with those who are silent, and not the WMNC who were on the streets of the US. He has to change tack, and come out on the issue himself. It is not just a question of apology to Modi, but also to the people of India. The US government has to understand and accept that they made a huge blunder in coming to the false conclusion of Modi’s guilt. And they should know that the WMNCs know that this was done without any basis, except the say-so of the lobbyists. They did not wait for the judicial procedure in India to play its role. And even when the judicial verdict has been given, they still want to continue to play the charade. They do not wish to take a position similar to what the Australian prime minister has taken, as narrated below.

Some say that the US government will not and does not apologise. I would like to propose the following principle: “Lesser time is needed to rectify than justify any mistake; besides peace and relationship is guaranteed.” I think an apology will actually raise the status of the US in the eyes of not just the people of India, but also of the people of the rest of the world. Some in various governments and those with an anti-US ideological axe to grind may gloat. But the people will applaud the decision.

The US government should also isolate those who lobbied in favour of the revocation, because the advice was mischievously motivated, and legally and morally false. The role of these lobbyists should be investigated, particularly to find out on which other issues they lobbied against India. While doing the investigation the US government should keep in mind that these lobbyists could be using the name of another organisation for the lobbying. If they scratch a little below the surface they will find that it is the same set of persons involved. These lobbyists can no longer be interlocutors, if the US government wishes to have genuine and mutually beneficial relationship with India.

In line with the Hindu tradition, Modi has taken nine steps forward to try and repair the relationship with the USA. But, it seems that the US has actually taken one step back, and expects Modi to take two additional steps (eleven in all) to meet up.

The Australian prime minister

There is at least one leader of a foreign country who has had the decency to publicly accept the judgement of Indian legal system stating that Narendra Modi is not guilty of the crimes alleged by the lobbyists. A report in India Today says:

“Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday said Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister should not be blamed for the 2002 riots in the state. ‘Modi was just a presiding officer who has been cleared in endless inquiries,’ said Abbott. ‘My understanding is that there has been endless inquiries into this and Mr Modi has always been cleared. That certainly is good enough for me,’ Abbott said in an interview to Karan Thapar on Headlines Today. Elaborating his thoughts on the issue, the Australian prime minister said he accepts that sometimes ‘we’ (leaders) are presiding when terrible things happen. ‘I don’t believe the presiding officer should be blamed just because something terrible happens in the country over which he is presiding,’ he said.”

Of course most other publications found it most uncomfortable to carry this forthright statement from Abbott. It would seem that the Australian media also was silent on the statement, and would like to continue the line that Modi was responsible for the deaths during the riots.

Lobbying against IDRF

These lobbyists, with the help of the usual suspects, have also been indulging in working against the interests of Hindu organisations and Hindus in the USA and India. I will give two examples. The first relates to India Development and Relief Fund, which was started in 1987 by Dr Vinod Prakash and his wife, Sarla Prakash – a lovely couple whom I had the great pleasure to personally meet during a trip to Washington.

Dr Prakash left a job at World Bank many years before he would have retired. I wonder if there is another example, in the Indian diaspora, of a person leaving a high-profile job to devote full-time to help people in India. Dr Prakash decided that he had enough savings available to lead a life of reasonable comfort without having to work even part-time. In this effort, he was joined by his wife.

But what did the Indian-Americans in the business of lobbying do? They hounded the couple, alleging that they are raising money from the Hindus in the US to be used for attacking the religious minorities in India. In the US, the campaign’s faces were Vijay Prashad, Biju Mathew and Anjana Chatterjee. All of them are hard-core communists, naturalised citizens, and working in the academia where their salaries are paid by the people of the US. I would not be surprised if the various entities whose primary motive for existence is to be inimical to Hindu organisations, Hinduism and India, supplemented their academic salaries.

I personally know that the Praksashes went through much mental trauma in defending themselves. The publicity that was given to these lobbyists, both in India and in the US, created a serious doubt in the minds of the Hindu donors in the US about the motives of IDRF. The Prakashes had to defend not just the IDRF but also their personal reputation, based on which they were able to motivate their friends and others to donate to IDRF.

The tragedy is that the media decided to support these lobbyists and gave oxygen to the false and malicious propaganda by the lobbyists even in this case. The various correspondents of Indian publications based in Washington volunteered themselves to be part of the PR machinery and made themselves available to carry out their evil message to the public.

The US administration took cognisance of the news reports and asked the Prakashes to provide data for scrutiny. Such an investigation can be truly harrowing for people who are sincere and are undertaking charity for purely spiritual reasons. One can be caught on the basis of a trifle technicality, and even though the investigating authority may make light of it, the lobbyists can magnify the technicality. And given the media support, a Mount Everest could have been created out of a mole-hill.

I have prepared an analysis of the report ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate – IDRF’ which is available here.

You will find the names of the usual suspects – the notorious husband-wife duo in India, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, in addition to the three American academics mentioned above and many others. These are the people who are also active members of the ‘unusual coalition’ that was responsible for the revocation of the Modi visa in 2005.

The California text-book case

The second example is the case of the California school text books on Hinduism. The books are reviewed with a certain frequency. Over a two-year period, two Hindu groups in the USA, the Vedic Foundation and Hindu Education Foundation made a number of suggestions which would teach Hinduism with a certain amount of empathy. These suggestions were evaluated by the California State Board of Education (CSBE) with the help of Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus at the California State University, Northridge. The Hindus followed the method of evaluation meticulously. So did the CSBE up till the day before the final approval.

This was when Michael Witzel, Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, got to know that changes were being proposed. He did not know anything about the changes, nor did he know about the Hindu organisations that had made the suggestions. However, his side-kick, Dr Steve Farmer, sent an email to CSBE alleging that the changes have no merit, and that the organisations were part of the political groups in India propagating Hindutva. The right words and idioms were used to terrorise the members of CSBE into keeping the changes on hold.

The email had names of about 140 people from different parts of the world. Some of them were active academics, some were retired, some were students, and some were something or the other. Many had Hindu names, and some were living in the USA. Some of them were only remotely connected with teaching Hinduism. And the past writings of most of them would indicate that they had deep antipathy towards Hinduism.

Given the time between Witzel and Farmer getting to know about the changes and the sending of the email, it would have been impossible to get the concurrence of so many from different parts of the world. Knowing how such lobbyist work, I have a strong feeling that the names were added by Farmer without their consent. Farmer knows that these people would not say that they did not know about their names being included, because that would mean incurring the wrath of Witzel, who, until recently, controlled the dispensation of patronage in Indology studies.

Instead of coming out in support of the two Hindu groups, some of the other academics in Hinduism studies found all sorts of petty reasons to criticise the Hindu groups. One of the favourite was that these Hindu groups were not ‘street smart’, another that they did not accept that Hinduism is polytheistic. None of them came out and criticised the CSBE for allowing an illegal intervention by Witzel and his side-kick, or condemned the tactics of intellectual terrorism by the good professor.

I had a brief email correspondence with one of them – Dr Jakob de Roover, a Belgian who studied at Ghent University under Dr S. N. Balagangadhara. De Roover said that the Hindu groups should have said that Hinduism is polytheistic rather than monist. I wrote to him saying that he seems not to realise that the books are for students whose exposure to anything to do with religious studies at the academic level would be the few hours he would spend in the schools for a course with no credit marks. The student may have forgotten what he read as soon as the term ended!

People have been brainwashed into thinking that polytheism (which is the way Hinduism was projected in the school textbooks) means something evil. Do the Hindu groups try and reverse the years of brainwashing or try to do the best that is possible in the circumstances? I think they were street smart enough to understand that the best way would be to first wean away the young minds from the notion that Hinduism is evil. They also knew that saying that Hinduism is monotheist is factually wrong, and so used the term monist.

I then suggested to De Roover that it is really up to him, as an academic, to start a discussion in the universities about the difference between monotheism and polytheism, and their respective merits. Once this is done then polytheism will not be viewed as something evil. I do not know if De Roover acted on my suggestion.

One of the signatories to the letter by Witzel is Professor Robert Goldman of Berkley University. He gave a presentation at one of the public hearings that was held as a result of the terrorism that Witzel indulged in. The Hindu groups were most confused as to how to respond, because his presentation seemed to support their case than that of Witzel. This is what happens when one looks at the issue with the tainted glass of politics.

After he sent the letter to CSBE, Witzel started to mobilise resources, particularly financial, to support the war that he started. One organisation that came forward was the Dalit Freedom Network, which is a front for some Christian churches in the USA. The Network claims to work for uplifting the Hindu Dalits in India, and not the ones who have converted to Christianity. The Network is quite happy to continue the system of different churches and different graveyards for Dalit Christians in India, so that the ‘purity’ of the non-Dalit Christians is maintained.

Given the desperation of Witzel, he had no problem of accepting support from the Network, on the principle of ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

As in the case of IDRF, the media lent their services, with the same vigour, to support the PR machinery of the lobbyist. And it is the same culprits as earlier – the US correspondents of Indian publication as well as those with Indian names writing for US publications. The Indian supporters for these lobbyists also used the opportunity to score what they thought were brownie points in the electoral battle they were waging in India. And in such battles, truth and journalistic professionalism are of no consideration.

To underscore the lack of their professionalism, it should be mentioned that the media in the US and in India never asked these lobbyists what kind of positive work they were doing for India and its people. In fact, by supporting the lobbyist, the media was trying to obstruct the Indian-Americans from doing something positive.

I would like Bhagwati to come out and speak against these lobbyists, instead of berating other Indian-Americans for not lobbying. Bhagwati should also recognise that the media who have become part of the PR machinery of the Indian-American lobbyists. This includes the journalists in the India Today group, and the head of the group, Aroon Purie, actually does nothing to ensure his journalists conduct themselves in a professional way. Not that Purie himself is any better.

There are many such cases of lobbying by these Indian-Americans. In all the cases it is the WMNCs who have come out against the lobbyists. But, since the media, in India and outside, decided that they would be part of the PR machinery of the lobbyist, the opposition by the WMNCs received no coverage. Worse these WMNCs are being projected as aggressors in the physical confrontation that Sardesai himself started outside Madison Square Garden.

The third category of Indian-Americans

The third category of Indian-Americans, the ones with lots of money and (as per Sardesai) with class, thought the lobbyists had a lot of support in the public in the US and in India. This third category was represented in full force in the India Today programme where Bhagwati spoke. And this was the category which was alienated from Prakash due to the lobbying mentioned above. Prakash had to waste a lot of time trying to disabuse them – time that he could otherwise use productively in helping the people of India.

This third category actually get terrorised by the lobbyists and their PR machinery. Two or three prominent members of this category publicly spoke in support of the allegations made against IDRF. (The names are in the analysis that is referred to above.) They became part of the machinery, perhaps inadvertently, that created the confusion – which is exactly what the lobbyists wanted. It needs to be mentioned that even when the reality should have dawned on them, they have not apologised to Prakash for their earlier position.

Additionally, those American-Indians who work in academia and what are called think-tanks, almost never try and expose the role of the lobbyists. Even today, when it is known that the Modi visa revocation in 2005 was a blunder, these American-Indians would like to go along with the notion that because Modi has not made it into an issue, there is no need for them to make any comment other than highlight that Modi has not made it into an issue. By their silence, they give support to the lobbyists. I have been in touch with Ashley Tellis, Sadanand Dhume, Milan Vaishnav, Ashutosh Varshney, and others, on the issue.

Coalition Against Genocide

The WMNCs have always made effort to expose the agenda and the lack of representation of the lobbyists. Recently, one of these WMNC has come out with a report, exposing the composition of a group called Coalition Against Genocide, which is always prominent in the lobbying on issues of the type narrated above. This is what he said in an email to me:

The Indian American community never seriously challenged or analysed the decision of the US Government as well as the background of the Coalition Against Genocide. In addition, the group’s falsities and anti-India prejudice were never seriously brought to surface either.

Therefore, on the eve of Mr. Modi’s Prime Ministerial visit to the US and as a humble tribute to the Indian people, I am happy to present an Investigative Report on the Coalition Against Genocide. The attached report – A House of Cards: Coalition Against Genocide and the Politics of Deception as well as the website A House of Cards is an effort to research each of the constituent members of the coalition as well as their religious, political and ideological leanings.

The Report brings forth several important conclusions:

1) CAG is deceiving the regulators, media and the general public by inflating or maliciously falsifying the number of organizations in the coalition. Of the 40 organizations or groups forming the core of the CAG, seventeen Organizations are affiliated with the Forum of Inquilabi Leftists (FOIL) while six Organizations are affiliated with the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). Fourteen Organizations are Defunct. The three Hindu sounding Organizations are purely Paper-Based and run by Shrikumar Poddar and his family, while seven Organizations are Questionable in Existence. Note: Some of the groups can be a combination of the above. For example, Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS), South Asian Collective (SAC) and Association of South Asian Progressives (ASAP) are all defunct organizations that are part of or affiliated with FOIL.

2) CAG’s anti-India and political activities are also evident. For example, CAG members have supported Jihadist groups aiming to destabilize India; a Pakistani ISI Agent found guilty of lobbying the US Government to pressure India on Kashmir; Maoists, Naxalites and Khalistanis; the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE); as well as political parties such as the Communist Ghadar Party of India (CGPI), the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPIML) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM). Working with aggressive Christian evangelicals, they portray India as a “super-violator” of human rights and have supplied atrocity literature to Right-Wing US lawmakers to label India a terrorist state and call for its balkanization.

This report is being circulated in the WMNC group online, and I hope it gets traction in the third group of Indian-Americans mentioned above. This would give them the necessary ammunition to stand up to the terrorism of the lobbyists. At the same time, based on past experience, it is highly likely that the report will not get any media attention, except to rubbish it.

Expatriates in India

It is necessary to mention the names of some expatriate writers, living in India, who are part of the PR machinery for the lobbyists.

There is William Dalrymple, who likes people in the world to think that he is historian of repute with specialisation on aspects relating to the Mughal rule in India. His approach is to whitewash the role of the vandalism of Islamic rule, and want the Hindus to be actually grateful to the Mughals for ruling them. In commenting about the BJP’s election manifesto for the 2014 national elections, he wrote, “There is no mention of the glories of Mughal architecture or miniature painting or Urdu poetry, nor any of the wonders of the syncretic Indo-Islamic civilisation that flourished with such panache until British colonialism snuffed it out.” For Dalrymple, the Islamic vandalism of both the Hindu structures and the civilization is something that did not really happen.

He has been living in India for a long time. Some Indians and many from outside think that he is an expert on issues relating to India. And this alleged expertise is not just in history, but also in current affairs. So, he is sought after by foreign journals to write for them. Or maybe he just sends his anti-India articles to them, and, since the publication find the projection as fitting its agenda, print them, highlighting the ‘fact’ that he is an India expert.

Recently, in covering the visit of Modi to the USA, The Economist published an article titled “I give you Narendra Modi” whose original opening line was: “Which pain-in-the-ass sports star or musician is snarling traffic around Madison Square Garden, an arena normally graced by WrestleMania, the Knicks and the Rolling Stones? Actually, today’s performer is a politician: Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister.” This was subsequently changed to attribute to a New York policeman the phrase (pain-in-the-ass) used by The Economist for Modi. I guess The Economist thinks poorly of the intelligence and awareness of its readers. But it did not reckon with the intelligence and awareness of the WMNCs, and was therefore forced to make the changes. This it did in a most ungracious manner, clearly indicating that it was angry that the WMNCs have the gumption to question them.

One of the persons who loved The Economist article is Dalrymple, who gleefully tweeted: “Fabulous Economist piece on Modi in America. This is how it’s done.” He subsequently deleted it, when he realised that there are more people in India who would relate with the WMNCs than the lobbyists.

Then there is our own sort of English royalty, Sir Mark Tully, who has also awarded a Padma Bhushan in 2005 by the UPA-2 government, headed by the Congress Party. Right in the midst of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections he spent a day or so in Western Uttar Pradesh, and announced that there is no Modi wave. And after the elections he wrote that Modi is not a good listener. I wonder whether to be considered as an expert on India one has to be RSS phobic!

I had said earlier, “The WMNCs believe in the principle of Atithi Deo Bhava (the guest should be treated as gods) and so behave in a godly manner so that their hosts would treat them as gods.” Instead, the expatriate India ‘experts’ expect to be treated as gods irrespective of how they behave. They also think that India is still a white man’s colony, and the natives should actually be grateful that they have deigned to have stayed amongst them. During the time of the colony, the rulers extorted money from the natives to get their salaries. Today these expatriate experts expect the natives to part with their money willingly.

Both know that if they were to work and stay in the country of their birth they would be nobodies. No one would ask them of their opinions on any matter, let alone relating to India. And they would have great difficulty of earning a living which would keep them in a life-style that they are used to while staying in India.

Furthermore, while in India they get fawned over by the bold and the beautiful in the Indian Capital of New Delhi. They are essentially on a huge ego trip, which would come crashing down if the people in India get to know who they really are.

Then there is the former correspondent in India for the Financial Times, Edward Luce. While in India, he had taken it upon himself to demonise the Hindu organisations both in the UK and in India, in the same line as the lobbyists attack on IDRF mentioned above. This demonisation made the UK Charity Commission to set up an inquiry on some of the Sangh-related Hindu organisations in his country. And the office bearers of the organisations suffered the same type of mental trauma that Prakash did in the USA.

Luce got his editors in the UK to write to the Charity Commission a letter in which it was said that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, the trust set up to rebuild the temple in Ayodhya, has an apparent wealth of $350 million, and the unaccounted wealth is many times more. When I asked him the source of his information, he said that this is what he was told. He merely parroted the lies that the lobbyists and the PR machinery were spreading, and so allowed himself to be a part of the same machinery. He did not check the public documents that are available in the concerned government office. But then he would have to tell the truth, I guess – which would be very uncomfortable.

But it is not just the non-Indian journalists who are part of the effort to help in the lobbying against India. In New York, we have the Indian-American, Pankaj Mishra, to do their job. He seems to be very popular for his anti-India writings for left-inclined publications in the US and the UK.

There is another expatriate, an American citizen of Indian origin, Siddharth Varadarajan, who is also a part of the PR machinery for the lobbyist in US. Except for two or three years teaching in the US right after completing his education, Varadarajan has been working with the English media in India since 1995. His wife, Nandini Sundar, teaches at Delhi University, and is a known supporter of Naxalite causes, and other issues that are very popular with the Marxists (of various shades) in India.

The role of Indian analysts

In the context of the visit of Modi to the US, Dr Arvind Virmani tweeted: “I am amazed how personal agendas of some Indian’s are inducing them to undermine celebrations/success of their PMs visit to USA. Shame on them.” Since Virmani has been working in senior positions in the Indian government for a long time I emailed to him as follows: “Unless people in your position name and shame them, the tweet of yours will be mere platitude and not solve the problem.” He has chosen not to respond, despite a couple of follow-up email.

Many believe, and I concur, that Virmani was referring to Rajdeep Sardesai, amongst others, in this tweet. So, I sent him the following tweet by Sardesai: “Glad we caught the idiots on cam. The only way to shame the mob was to show them.” The idiots he is referring to are the WMNCs. And what he ‘showed’ was selective, that is he did not show that it was he who started the verbal abuse as well as the physical fight. But Virmani chooses to remain silent.

As with the Indian-American analysts in the US think-tanks, most of the Indian journalists, who would not like to be called left-liberals, also choose to be silent on the activities of the lobbyists in America. I have provided information and perspectives to Swapan Dasgupta and Ashok Malik, amongst others. I have contended with them that unless the lobbyists are exposed and isolated, their own voices will not get the attention that is deserved.

Galbraith and Durant

In the early 1960s, Galbraith called India a functioning anarchy. In 2001, he said:

“There are some things you say to attract attention. I wanted to emphasise the point … that the success of India did not depend on the government. It depended on the energy, ingenuity and other qualifications of the Indian people. And the Indian quality to put ideas into practice. I was urging an obvious point that the progress of India did not depend on the government, as important as that might be, but was enormously dependent on the initiative, individual and group – of the Indian people. I feel the same way now (as I did some forty years ago) but I would even emphasise it more. We’ve seen many years of Indian progress, and that is attributable to the energy and genius of the Indian people and the Indian culture.”

This truly explains why India has been able to survive as a vibrant nation despite the considerable efforts that were made to put it down. Will Durant, the American historian, found out what the British colonisers did to India. After a lengthy visit to India, he wrote:

“I came away resolved to study living India as well as the India with the brilliant past; to learn more of this unique Revolution that fought with suffering accepted but never returned; to read the Gandhi of today as well as the Buddha of long ago. And the more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history.”

Conclusion

The WMNCs in America, and the Indian counterparts all over the world, just wish to be left alone, and not hounded by the lobbyists. They wish that Bhagwati and the Indian-Americans who are very rich and have class muster the courage to stand up to the destructive programmes of the lobbyists. Unless these lobbyists are exposed for the evil that they are, Bhagwati’s ideas will not be implemented with the speed that is necessary to solve the many problems that India faces.

The WMNCs will always consciously recognise these problems – all that they want is that the lobbyists quietly slink away and stop making life difficult for them. The WMNCs wish to solve the problems in a positive way, and not having to waste their time in defending themselves against the canards that are spread against them. The WMNCs want the media, in India and abroad, to be professional in their journalism and not be a part of the PR machinery of the lobbyists.

The WMNCs in America, and elsewhere are more than willing to lend their shoulders to resist Islamic terrorism and the designs of China. In this effort, if there is an opportunity to have their photos taken with important personalities, they will not say no. But they will not make it a condition. And they would like Jagdish Bhagwati to join them in the effort. – Hindu Vivek Kendra, 13 October 2014

» Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

 

Swamy the Giant Killer – Debaashish Bhattacharya

Subramanian Swamy

Justice“In 1996, Swamy filed the corruption case against Jayalalithaa in a sessions court in Tamil Nadu. He subsequently filed a few more cases against her. ‘She has now been convicted of those charges I brought against her,’ he says.” – Debaashish Bhattacharya

Call him destiny’s child. Subramanian Swamy, the 75-year-old enfant terrible of Indian politics, firmly believes in destiny. Destiny has always played a key role in his life, he thinks. He was destined to bring down the late Karnataka chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde in the phone-tapping scandal in the late 1980s, former telecom minister A. Raja in the 2G-spectrum scam and now J. Jayalalithaa, till recently Tamil Nadu chief minister. In all the three cases, Swamy was the prime mover, the main petitioner.

I am meeting him at his Nizamuddin East house in New Delhi at 10am on the seventh of this month, which happens to be a Tuesday — just as I did four years ago. In 2010, I had interviewed him at the same Nizamuddin East house on a Tuesday on the seventh of the month at 10 in the morning, although this was in December. Coincidence or destiny?

When I point this out to him, Swamy, dressed in his trademark white kurta and pyajama, chuckles. He says he has always “functioned on” the premise that destiny dictates human lives. And that’s precisely why he “never gets disappointed” when something goes wrong.

Not even when he failed to find his name on the list of ministers in the Narendra Modi Cabinet? “There were expectations. But it didn’t happen,” he replies. Had he been prepared for this? “It’s not a question of being prepared or not. I had led the anti-corruption campaign and so everybody assumed I would be a minister. I never asked for it,” he says.

But given a choice, the former Harvard economics professor would have liked to be India’s finance minister. “I am an economist by training. So, obviously, if there is a ministry I should serve, it should be finance, nothing else,” Swamy says.

“My philosophy is, I do what I want to do. The outcome is destiny, as the Gita says.” When I press him further about his ministerial aspirations, he bristles. “Are you a psychoanalyst? It seems you are more disappointed than I am.”

On that morning, Swamy looks refreshed. He started his day at 4am as usual by reciting for 45 minutes the mantras of his guru, whom he won’t name. He has already done his morning round of yoga and has taken an Subramanian Swamyhour-long walk in a nearby park, shadowed by an automatic-toting plainclothesman. He has had Z-plus security since 1993, following threats to his life. He was once the target of the LTTE and is now the target of Islamic militants, whom he rips apart.

Back in his study, Swamy’s seven-year-old golden retriever Kiky sits at my feet. Swamy gets dwarfed by the dog when she rises on her hind legs. “I love dogs but I have never had more than one. They need affection and you can be affectionate to one only,” he says.

His cellphone trills every now and then and he tells callers that he will soon have to leave for the Supreme Court to file a petition in the defamation cases the former Tamil Nadu chief minister has filed against him.

Court cases take up much of his time these days. He argues his cases himself, though he does take legal advice from his wife Roxna, a Supreme Court lawyer. His study on the ground floor of his house is lined with shelves packed with law books. “I have other books in a basement room but I hardly have time for them nowadays,” Swamy confesses.

Politically, Swamy and Jayalalithaa have shared a somewhat tumultuous “on-again-off-again” relationship over the years.

In some ways, the former Janata Party leader, who merged his party with the BJP when he joined it in August 2013, says he “likes” Jayalalithaa. “She is an intelligent woman. She suffered a lot in the cinema world and then poverty hit her,” he says. But when she “picked a fight” with him, Swamy says he had no option but to “fight back”.

In 1996, Swamy filed the corruption case against Jayalalithaa in a sessions court in Tamil Nadu. He subsequently filed a few more cases against her. “She has now been convicted of those charges I brought against her,” he says.

Oddly enough, Swamy’s Janata Party forged an alliance with Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK in Tamil Nadu a year later in 1997, a tie that lasted till 2000. Predictably, some critics regard him as a political opportunist.

But he defends what happened. “It was a political decision. I was dealing with a bigger enemy in DMK‘s M. Karunanidhi who was in power then. So if Jayalalithaa was agreeable to an alliance with me, why should I oppose it?” he asks, adding that he’d made it clear then to the AIADMK leader that he was not going to withdraw the cases against her.

Defining Subramanian Swamy is not easy. His supporters laud him as an anti-corruption crusader; his detractors slam him as a publicity hound who likes to fish in troubled waters. Whatever the case, Swamy clearly thrives on controversy.

With Jayalalithaa lodged in jail, Swamy believes he has emerged as a threat to several politicians he has been trying to expose. “I am exposing them, ruining their political careers,” exclaims Swamy, who gave up teaching at Harvard in 2012 to be a full-time politician. “I have more problems with politicians trying to kill me. They don’t like me to investigate them. Even the home ministry knows this,” he says.

Swamy thinks that many people “speak from both sides of their mouths” when it comes to him. “If I go only after the Opposition, they call it political vendetta. But If I go after my own party, as I did against Ramakrishna JayalalithaHegde, they call me untrustworthy. It is useless to listen to criticism because they will criticise anything you do,” he maintains.

With Jayalalithaa behind bars, the former Union law and commerce minister is now busy gunning for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald newspaper case he filed a few months ago, accusing them of profiting from the closed newspaper building, among others. The Congress president and vice-president have denied the allegations.

“I waited 18 years to see Jayalalithaa convicted. I could now wait half that, to see the mother and son convicted,” he says.

Another case he wants to pursue is the death of Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Congress MP from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor. “It was not a natural death. There are reasons to suspect there was foul play,” he says, adding the Union home minister Rajnath Singh assured him in a letter that the government would pursue this. “If they don’t, I will,” he says.

Swamy, who did his MA in statistics from Indian Statistical Institute near Calcutta in 1962 before doing a PhD Mamata Banerjee doing namazin economics from Harvard, feels “sad about the sorry state of affairs” in Bengal, a state he says he was proud of for its culture and leadership.

“I have always admired Mamata Banerjee for driving the Communists from Bengal. But it now seems that Islamic militants are gaining ground in Bengal under her regime while her party indulges in politics of appeasement. Her party is also neck-deep in the Saradha scam. It’s time the chief minister was brought to book,” he says grimly.

Hit list

• Moved the Supreme Court against former telecom minister A. Raja for wrongdoings in the allocation of 2G licences. Raja was arrested by the CBI in February 2011.

• In 1996 filed a case accusing J. Jayalalithaa of amassing properties disproportionate to her income during her tenure as Tamil Nadu chief minister (1991-1996).

Jayalalithaa was convicted on September 27, 2014, and had to step down as CM.

• Exposed Ramakrishna Hegde, the late Janata Party leader and then chief minister of Karnataka, in a phone tapping scandal in the late 1980s. Hedge resigned.

• Accused Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi of criminal breach of trust in the National Herald case. The newspaper was once run by the Congress.

• Wants to expose the mystery behind the death of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. The death was a result of foul play, he says. – The Telegraph, 12 October 2014

» Debaashish Bhattacharya is a corespondent for The Telegraph Kolkata

Kailash Satyarthi deserves the Peace Prize, but these guys? – Madhu Trehan

Kailash Satyarthi

Madhu Trehan“Did Obama deserve the Peace Prize? Hell, I like the guy, would have voted for him if I was American, but you can’t run away from the sheer violence American propagates around the world. No, he did not deserve the Peace Prize.” – Madhu Trehan

Nobel Peace MedalKailash Satyarthi [of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan] wins the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and we Indians have to google him to find out who he is.  Satyarthi is on Twitter as @k_satyarthi, has 7,373 followers, follows 53 and has tweeted 77 times. He last tweeted on October 5 on World Teachers’ Day.

Is that the measure of the man? Obviously not, if the Nobel Committee has chosen to honour him. His silence on receiving the Nobel Prize says a lot. TV channels are hunting him down. He is probably in shock.

But, without denigrating this particular choice, which seems a most honourable one, I have to ask – what’s with this Nobel Prize Committee?

In 1973, Henry Kissinger was awarded the Peace Prize “For the 1973 Paris Agreement intended to bring about a ceasefire in the Vietnam War and a withdrawal of the American forces.”

Henry KissingerFrom Fred Branfman’s, “America Keeps Honoring One of Its Worst Mass Murderers: Henry Kissinger”:

“Henry Kissinger’s quote recently released by Wikileaks, ‘the illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer’, likely brought a smile to his legions of elite media, government, corporate and high society admirers. Oh that Henry! That rapier wit! That trademark insouciance! That naughtiness! It is unlikely, however, that the descendants of his more than 6 million victims in Indochina, and Americans of conscience appalled by his murder of non-Americans, will share in the amusement. For his illegal and unconstitutional actions had real-world consequences: the ruined lives of millions of Indochinese innocents in a new form of secret, automated, amoral U.S. Executive warfare which haunts the world until today.”

“Mr. Kissinger’s most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon’s orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs** between January 1969 and January 1973 – nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people; quadrupled the bombing of Laos and laid waste to the 700-year old civilization on the Plain of Jars; and struck civilian targets throughout North Vietnam – Haiphong harbor, dikes, cities, Bach Mai Hospital – which even Lyndon Johnson had avoided. His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings**, mostly civilians who posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. national security and had committed no offense against it. There is a word for the aerial mass murder that Henry Kissinger committed in Indochina, and that word is ‘evil’.”

You should be asking why he was never tried for crimes against humanity. Did he deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? Hell, no.

Barak ObamaBarack Obama won it in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people”. Since taking office, Obama escalated US involvement, launched a new war in Libya and the ‘70’s quotation: “The sun never sets on blood, shed by the United States of America”, can be safely repeated because they are always involved in some form of war in some part of the world. Why? Because, remember “Read my lips”? Because the arms and oil industry decide their foreign policy. So, did Obama deserve the Peace Prize? Hell, I like the guy, would have voted for him if I was American, but you can’t run away from the sheer violence American propagates around the world. No, he did not deserve the Peace Prize.

In 2012, European Union won it, which was arguably the oddest choice so far. Perhaps they were helping them out because Europe so needed the money.

M.K. Gandhi in 1929You may well ask: Why did the greatest apostle of peace and non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, never receive the Peace Prize? He was nominated FIVE times between 1937 to 1948. He was rejected finally in 1948 when he was assassinated two days before the closing date of the nominations. They could have awarded it posthumously, but chose not to. Why did they keep rejecting him? Here are some answers. I think they kept rejecting him for a very simple reason. Not very complicated, actually. The Norwegian Nobel Committee looks so white-white-white. They just didn’t like him.

Congratulations to Kailash Satyarthi who obviously deserves it and will use the money well. Malala Yousafzai? I guess everyone in Pakistan is now googling her name. – News Laundry, 10 October 2014

» Madhu Purie Trehan is a veteran Indian journalist and the founding editor of the leading Indian news magazine India Today.

Nai Duniya fans Muslim fears – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“Siddiqui’s Nai Duniya is engaged in keeping Indian Muslims psychologically sick and while he should continue to publish in India’s liberty, the Indian government must order an inquiry into its four decades of reportage to find out what keeps Muslims alienated from the country’s mainstream.” – Tufail Ahmad

Shahid SiddiquiOf all categories of people in our societies, journalists understand meanings of words instinctively and the societal context in which they are understood by common readers. Shahid Siddiqui is the chief editor and owner of Nai Duniya, an Urdu newspaper that has been read by Indian Muslims for over 41 years. Siddiqui controls the weekly newspaper and decides images, headlines and articles that are published. Since it is generally accepted that Muslims have low literacy levels and cannot evolve Nai Duniyaenlightened responses to emerging issues, it is reasonable to expect Siddiqui’s newspaper to show a positive path for Indian Muslims.

As a school-going youth in the 1980s, this writer watched Siddiqui’s newspaper arrive regularly in bookstalls at railway stations with cover pages that would leap to our eyes with messages such as: Islam is in danger; Muslims are under siege; the West is hunting Muslims; Jews are evil. It hasn’t changed. A review of Nai Duniya, of its digital issues over the past few years, indicates that Siddiqui sells siege mentality, conspiracy theories and mass fears to unsuspecting Muslims. The magazine’s current issue has a cover page image of a Muslim girl crying with folded hands as numerous arrows are unleashed at her face and a menacing man lurches to harm her; the headline reads: “Why is the whole world the enemy of Muslims?”

Prime minister Narendra Modi made an extraordinary effort to tell the world that al-Qaeda is delusional to think it can attract Indian Muslims. Modi’s statement was brave amid reports of some Indian Muslims joining jihadists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. However, in the current issue Siddiqui questions Modi’s effort: “Muslim lives for India, dies for India—Modi’s statement: how much truth, how much politics?” It is journalistic duty to question politicians’ statements, but headlines reflect on an editor’s mind: “If he got power, what will Modi become—Akbar or Hitler”; “To occupy India, the Hindu card by Modi and Rajnath—from the pen of Shahid Siddiqui”; “Modi [rubs] salt on the wounds of Muslims”; “To install Modi as prime minister, RSS’s ‘antakwadi [terror] plan’—special investigative report”; “Who will become the prime minister—feku or pappu”; “Sex CD made—Noose around Modi’s neck? ‘Sahab’ should tell what was after all his relationship with this girl?”

In the worldview that Siddiqui injects into Muslim consciousness, courageous reformist Taslima Nasreen and litterateur Salman Rushdie are shown as Satan as in the cover page headlines: “Satan’s daughter [Taslima Nasreen]—how long will she have fun on the Indian soil”; “On the back of Satan [Salman Rushdie], the Congress’s hand”; “The attack of Satan [Salman Rushdie] on Muslims and Imran [Khan of Pakistan]”. While legitimate criticisms of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land must be welcomed, Siddiqui doesn’t differentiate between Jews and Israel as his mind is clouded by the tide of global anti-Semitism. Cover page headlines read: “Before attack on Iran, the Jewish conspiracy to have the Islamic world fight against the whole world”; “The Jews’ satanic propaganda in America—Muslims [are] animal; the world of Islam stunned by ad campaign in New York”. The ad was given by a pro-Israel group urging people to defeat jihad.

Of all Western leaders, Barack Obama has gone out of his way to forge goodwill with Muslims, delivering an address in Cairo, urging NASA to help Muslim scientists, opening negotiations with Iran, releasing Guantanamo inmates. However, Siddiqui’s newspaper blamed him for backing anti-Islam forces like pastor Terry Jones. A cover page headline reads: “Obama on the back of the Satan blaspheming the Quran”; a detailed sub-headline reads: “In order to win elections for the second time, American president Obama is proving himself a fanatical Christian and is encouraging Islam-enemy elements such as Terry Jones”. Siddiqui also accused Obama of planning a nuclear attack on Mecca. A cover page headline reads: “At the hint of American president’s finger—atom bomb on the House of Kaaba; Nai Duniya had presented this truth before the world four months ago”; another headline: “Drop atom bomb on the House of Kaaba—the beginning of a new Crusade war in America”. Another cover page carries a Dracula-like image of Obama with a headline: “America’s war against Islam—Obama’s filthy face unmasked”.

Siddiqui exerts extraordinary influence in shaping the minds of Muslims. His newspaper not only damages the Muslim psychology for the long term, it also harms India’s cohesion, the democratic ethos of Indian republic, as well as India’s national security interests. On the Kashmir issue, it carried this cover page headline: “Modiji! Let the jinn of 370 stay in the bottle.” In a cover page image, a single noose hangs around half the faces of Ajmal Kasab and Manmohan Singh as the headline reads: “Who after Kasab?” Similar headlines about terror threat to India read: “Indian Mujahideen—how much reality, how much fiction”; “Does Modi really have a [security] threat?”; “Ishrat’s blood will take revenge of all Muslim youths”; “Muslim youths—terrorists or targets of terror?” In an article, Siddiqui juxtaposed Muslims against India; the headline reads: “Hyderabad blasts—Hindustan or Muslims in terror”.

In its issue of November 18-24, 2013, Siddiqui insinuated that even Pakistan wanted Modi as the prime minister. The cover page headline without a question mark reads: “Does Pakistan also want that Modi become prime minister”; a sub-headline insinuated that intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan were working together to make Modi the prime minister. The sub-head reads: “The spy agencies of both the countries are playing a game to make Modi the prime minister—a special report by Nai Duniya”; another headline reads: “Does ISI want that Modi become India’s prime minister”; the report’s opening sentences include: “Does IB [Intelligence Bureau] desire that he should sit on the country’s most powerful chair?” Siddiqui’s Nai Duniya is engaged in keeping Indian Muslims psychologically sick and while he should continue to publish in India’s liberty, the Indian government must order an inquiry into its four decades of reportage to find out what keeps Muslims alienated from the country’s mainstream. – The New Indian Express, 9 October 2014

» Tufail Ahmad is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk

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