Hindus in Spain organise to create a united voice – PNE

A Hindus gathering in MadridThere are about 50,000 Hindus in Spain, including Hindus of Indian descent and Spanish followers of Hinduism. They are spread all over the country but Canary Islands have the largest concentration of them. – Punjab News Express

Hindus in Spain are reportedly coming together to form a united platform to work on issues of common interest and be a voice for the community.

A Federación Hindú de España (FHE) has reportedly been formed in Spain to unite all Hindus, defend, preserve, and promote Hinduism, challenge and correct academic misrepresentation of Hinduism, advise local, regional, and national governments on Hinduism, make Hindu representation, promote authentic yoga, and claim equal standing with other religions.

FHE reportedly intends to approach and enroll or affiliate other Hindu temples, organizations, and groups all over Spain who are not members yet. In future, it also plans to conduct educational programs, train Hindu priests, and create a directory of Hindu temples, institutions, associations, and groups in Spain.

According to reports, founding Hindu groups included Veda Dharma (Madrid), Sudha Satva (Valencia), Arsha Vidya (Madrid) and Advaita Vidya (Barcelona); while Centro Védico Dharma (Alicante) and Om Shiva Shakti (Barcelona) joined later. FHE is expecting three other Hindu groups to join.

Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended efforts of Hindu groups and community in Spain to unite in order to give Hinduism a voice.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this Hindu federation would help in this direction in Spain. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism. Zed also urged the federation to actively indulge in interfaith dialogue with other religions to help promote harmony in the Spanish society.

Per a rough estimate, there are about 50,000 Hindus in Spain, including Hindus of Indian descent and Spanish followers of Hinduism. They are spread all over the country but Canary Islands have a large concentration of them.

There are various Hindu groups in Spain; some of which are reportedly officially registered, while many are not registered yet. There are about 40 Hindu temples, worship-places, and worship-groups in Spain, including temples in Valencia, Malaga, Melilla and Madrid; Hare Krishna temples in Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife, Malaga, besides an institute and a farm, plus followers, groups, and movements of Brahma-Kumaris, Mata Amritanandamayi Amma, Sathya Sai Baba, Siddha Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, etc. Various Hindu festivals, including Rath-Yatra, are celebrated. There is also a Hindu temple in neighbouring Gibraltar. – Punjab News Express, 8 June 2017

Hindu temple in Benalmádena, Malaga, Spain

Freeing temples from state control – Subramanian Swamy

Srirangam Temple Gopuram

Subramanian SwamyWhat is scandalous is the corruption after the takeover of temples as politicians and officials loot the temple’s wealth and land, and divert donations of devotees to non-religious purposes. – Dr Subramanian Swamy

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment on January 6, 2013, allowing my Special Leave Petition that sought the quashing of the Tamil Nadu Government’s G.O. of 2006 which had mandated the government takeover of the hallowed Sri Sabhanayagar Temple (popularly known as the Nataraja Temple).

The Madras High Court Single Judge and Division Bench had in 2009 upheld the constitutionality of the G.O. by a tortuous and convoluted logic that new laws can overturn past court judgments that had attained finality earlier. The Supreme Court in 1953 had dismissed the then Madras Government’s SLP seeking the quashing of a Madras High Court Division Bench judgment of 1952 that had upheld the right of Podu Dikshitars to administer the affairs of the Nataraja Temple while dismissing all charges of misappropriation of temple funds against the Dikshitars. The Supreme Court thus made this judgment final and hence that which cannot be re-opened. But in 2009 the Madras High Court did precisely that. In 2014, in my SLP, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde therefore termed this re-opening of the matter as “judicial indiscipline” and set aside the 2009 Madras High Court judgment as null and void on the principle of res judicata.

In their lengthy judgment, the Bench has clearly set the constitutional parameters on the scope of governmental intervention in the management of religious institutions. In particular, the Court has opined that any G.O. that legally mandates a takeover of a temple must be for a fixed limited period, which I had suggested as three years.

The Dravidian movement intellectuals and politicians in various parties in Tamil Nadu are incensed with the judgment. The recent article “Reforms in the House of God” (A. Srivathsan in The Hindu January 13, 2013) is one such example that laments the Supreme Court judgment.

In this Dravidian movement background, it is not difficult to understand the views of those who believe that Hindu temples ought to be managed by the government, and that any deviation is a social, ethical, moral and legal sacrilege! In Mr. Srivathsan’s article it is stated that: “For almost a century, the Tamil Nadu government has been trying to bring the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple or the Sabanayagar Temple as it is officially known, under state administration”. This is one expression of the outlook that only Hindu religious affairs need to be managed by the government. The obvious question, why should a “secular, socialist” government control only Hindu places of worship, but not Muslim and Christian religious institutions clearly has been avoided.

But the country has moved on after the phase of British imperialist grip on Tamil Nadu during which phase the Dravidian Movement was founded. Prominent leaders of this Movement had declared that “blowing up of the Nataraja Temple by a cannon is the goal of the Dravidian Movement”. Unfortunately for them, in the last two decades, the rising popularity of the Hindu religion among the youth, and the debilitating corruption in financial affairs of the Dravidian movement have made such a violent aim unattainable. But the biggest roadblock is the Constitution of India.

In fact, what is scandalous is the corruption after takeover of temples by the Tamil Nadu officials, MLAs and Ministers by looting the temple wealth, lands, and jewels, and the reckless diversion of donations of devotees to non-religious purposes.

For example, temple properties: Tamil Nadu temples, under Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department, has control over more than 4.7 lakh acres of agricultural land, 2.6 crore square feet of buildings and 29 crore square feet of urban sites of temples. By any reasonable measure, the income from these properties should be in thousand of crores of rupees. The government, however, collects a mere Rs. 36 crore in rent against a “demand” of mere Rs. 304 crore—around 12 per cent realisation. How much is under the table only a court-monitored inquiry can reveal. In any corporate or well-managed organisation with accountability, those responsible would have been sacked. Yet, we have people rooting for “government administration”.

Temples themselves: The Srirangam Ranganathar Temple paid the government a (yearly) fee of Rs. 18.56 crore (2010-11) for “administering the temple”; for employees rendering religious services, like reciting Vedas, pasurams during the deity procession, no salary is paid. There are 36 priests in Srirangam who perform the daily pujas—they are not paid a monthly fixed salary. They are entitled to offerings made by devotees and a share in the sale of archana tickets. Yet the temple pays a monthly salary ranging from Rs.8,000 to Rs.20,000 for the temple’s government-appointed employees, like watchman, car drivers etc. who perform no religious duties.

The situation is “significantly” better at the famous Nelliappar Temple in Tirunelveli. In this temple, priests performing daily pujas are paid monthly salaries, but ranging from Rs. 55 to Rs. 72 (and this is during 2010-11). But did some politician not say you can have a hearty meal for Rs. 5 per day? But it is just Rs. 1.65 per day, going by the standards of the “secular” government.

Many large temples maintain a fleet of luxury vehicles, typically the “fully loaded Toyota Innova”, for the use of VIPs! And for the use of assorted Joint and Additional Commissioners and, of course, the Commissioner himself. It is very difficult to understand the religious purpose such extravagance serves or even a ‘secular’ purpose! The HR & CE Dept takes away annually around Rs. 89 crore from the temples as administrative fee. The expenditure of the department including salaries is only Rs. 49 crore. Why does the government overcharge the temples—literally scourging the deities—for a sub standard service?

Temple antiquity: The third “contribution” of the government is the mindless destruction of priceless architectural heritage of our temples.

There are several instances of sand blasting of temple walls resulting in loss of historical inscriptions; wholesale demolition of temple structures and their replacement by concrete monstrosities; in a temple in Nasiyanur near Salem, an entire temple mandapam disappeared, leaving behind a deep hole in the ground, literally.

Recently the government started covering the floor of Tiruvotriyur Thyagaraja Temple with marble, a stone never used in south Indian temples. The original floor was of ancient granite slabs with historical inscriptions. There are several initiatives for “renovation” of temples—the bureaucrats rarely consult archaeologists or heritage experts. Without knowledge, experience, competence or appreciation and with great insensitivity they use inappropriate chemicals on ancient murals, insert concrete/cement structures, use ceramic tiles to “embellish” sanctum sanctorum and construct “offices” within temple premises. Ancient monuments 300 to 1000 plus years old are never “renovated”, only “restored”, a distinction that escapes the babus.

More importantly, the Supreme Court, in the 2014 Chidambaram case has held that the government cannot arbitrarily take over temples, which is what has been happening in Tamil Nadu under the Dravidian movement’s influence.

In the case of Trusts and Societies, takeover of temples can happen, the Supreme Court held, only on establishing a clear case of mal-administration and that too the takeover can be for a limited period, and the management of the temple will have to be handed back immediately after the “evil has been remedied”.

There are several large temples in Tamil Nadu under government control for several decades. If the Supreme Court judgment is applied, then the government is in illegal, unethical and unfair control of these temples. apart from being answerable for innumerable acts of dereliction of duty, defiling of temples that has resulted in loss of several thousands of crores of rupees to the temples and to their antiquity. That is my next move—to liberate all Hindu temples presently in government control on expired GOs. In the future we need to bring some mosques and churches to rectify the mismanagement going on in these places. Then the secularism of India’s intellectuals will be truly tested. – The Hindu, 12 September 2016

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple

Gujarat: Life imprisonment for killing cows – Parimal A. Dabhi

Vijay Rupani

NewsChief Minister Vijay Rupani said that while he was “not against any food,” he wanted to make Gujarat “shakahari (vegetarian),” “We do not want Jersey cows, but Gir and Kankreji cows instead,” he said. – Parimal A. Dabhi

The Gujarat government Friday amended the state’s Animal Preservation Bill to entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a minimum of 10 years for cow slaughter after it was passed in the assembly in the absence of the Opposition Congress and with the visitors’ gallery packed with saffron-clad Hindu priests.

Speaking on the amendment, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that while he was “not against any food”, he wanted to make Gujarat “shakahari (vegetarian)”, “We do not want Jersey cows, but Gir and Kankreji cows instead,” he said.

Rupani also described Gujarat as a “unique state”, which followed the tenets of Mahatma Gandhi—“non-violence and truth”. “This is Gandhi’s Gujarat, Sardar’s (Vallabhbhai Patel) Gujarat and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s Gujarat,” said Rupani.

The passage of the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 came eight months after seven Dalits were beaten by self-styled cow vigilantes for alleged cow slaughter in Una.

The punishment for cow slaughter under the earlier law was imprisonment ranging from three to seven years. The new law also makes offences under the amended Act non-bailable.

The amendment was cleared after the Speaker suspended members of the Congress for creating a ruckus before the Bill was passed.

When the amendment Bill was introduced over a month ago, it had a maximum punishment of ten years imprisonment. On Friday, however, the ruling BJP moved to enhance the punishment to a life-term.

In another major amendment, the Bill included a provision that vehicles caught in transporting cows, beef or beef products illegally will be forfeited to the state government. The maximum fine for the offence has also been increased from Rs 50,000 to one ranging from Rs 1 lakh-Rs 5 lakh.

Besides, the punishment for conviction for illegal transportation of cow, beef or beef products has been increased from three years imprisonment to seven years.

The Act allows transportation of animals of cow progeny with permission, but not between 7 pm and 5 am.

The statement of the Bill reads, “In the year 2011, the State Government had made certain amendments in the said Act for better implementation of the Act. It is, however, experienced while implementing the said Act that still more stringent provisions are required to be made by amending the said Act for curbing the menace of illegal slaughtering of the animals covered under the said Act to provide for more stringent punishment and effectively check the rampant use of vehicles for transporting such animals.”

During the discussion on the Bill, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said, “This is not a Bill, but a feeling of crores of Indians. It is my humble attempt to give voice to the cows being killed by butchers. A single drop of cow blood falling on earth pains Hindus. With this law, Vijaybhai Rupani’s government will make Gujarat cow-slaughter-free.”

Jadeja also offered his respects to the “Hindu saints” in the visitors gallery, and said that he was “feeling proud as a Hindu” to introduce the Bill in the House.

One of those present in the gallery, Kaniramji Bapu of Dudhrej in Surendranagar district, an important religious seat of the Maldhari community (cattle herders) in Gujarat, said, “We oppose cow slaughter and believe in its preservation. And so, we came here in support of the Act. Cows should be preserved and their slaughtering must end.”

Another religious figure, Mahant Vikramgiri from Ghela-Somnath of Jasdan in Rajkot district, said, “Around 300 sadhu-sants have come to Assembly. Since the government had announced that they will bring the Bill, we knew it in advance and are here to support it.”

In 2011, when Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, the state government had imposed a complete ban on slaughter of cows, transportation and selling of cow meat by amending the Act. – Indian Express, 1 April 2017

» Parimal A. Dabhi reports for The Indian Express in Gujarat.

Gujarati Sadhus

Aghora’s radical egalitarianism makes Reza Aslan yearn for inequality – Bharavi

Man Sitting Under Tree IconAslan is truly a worthy heir to Sufi luminaries like Amir Khusrau and Ahmed Sirhindi who so eloquently expressed their contempt and detestation for the stench of idolatory and polytheism in the land of Hind. – Bharavi

Now that there is a lot of indignation in the Hindu community about the way the Muslim, Iranian-American religious writer Reza Aslan has gone about depicting Hinduism in a CNN program titled “Believer,”[1] it would help to understand issues at hand that run deeper than overt “Hinduphobia” and stereotyping.  Mr. Rajiv Malhotra and some members of the Hindu Students Council have broadcast a video “rebuttal” of sorts, questioning Aslan’s intentions in reaffirming western stereotypes of Hinduism.  

For starters, it must be noticed that Reza Aslan finds himself in the U.S.A. because his family fled the Islamic revolution in his native Iran, circa 1979. Though born in a Muslim family, he converted to Christianity, but returned or, as the terminology goes, “reverted” to Islam.  Currently, he is a professing Muslim. Had he been a true heir to his brutally extinguished Aryan-Iranian heritage, he would surely have been at least more balanced, if not more respectful and nuanced, in his depiction of the last vestiges of the common Indo-Iranian religious heritage in the multifarious forms of Hinduism in India, a civilization that gave refuge to Zoroastrian Iranians fleeing before their equally Iranian compatriots who converted to Islam. But, having been put through the wringer, as it were, of the Religions of Love and Peace, all Understanding and Compassion has been conclusively wrung out of him. What Ishwar Sharan perceptively stated of the betrayal of Hindus to the Portuguese Catholic invaders by Syrian Christians applies to him in its totality: “… [the] Christian religion … harbours in its heart a demon that divides mankind into friend and foe on ideological grounds.”[2]  The Qu’ran, which is but the “Bible in Arabic” insofar as its basic contents are concerned, bettered the instruction by summarily and firmly reinstating the original Yahvist spirit by abolishing all hints of Jesus’ divinity and Mary’s phantom gestation that, according to Christians, resulted in a case of human parthenogenesis.  

It matters little that Aslan piously proclaims his personal preference for Islam while proclaiming “good will and peace to all men” on his website, which deserves to be read in full by befuddled Hindus:[3]

That’s where religion comes in. Beyond the doctrines and dogma, the do’s and the don’t’s, religion is simply a framework for thinking about the existential questions we all struggle with as human beings.

It is, as the Sufi mystics say, a “signpost to God.”

Can you have faith without religion? Of course! But as the Buddha said, if you want to strike water, you don’t dig six 1-foot wells; you dig one 6-foot well. In other words, if you want to have a deep and meaningful faith experience, it helps—though it is by no means necessary—to have a language with which to do so.

So then, pick a well.

Different words, same thing

My well is Islam, and in particular, the Sufi tradition. Let me be clear, I am Muslim not because I think Islam is “truer” than other religions (it isn’t), but because Islam provides me with the “language” I feel most comfortable with in expressing my faith. It provides me with certain symbols and metaphors for thinking about God that I find useful in making sense of the universe and my place in it.

So … what do you believe?

But I know, just as the Buddha did, that while my personal well may be different and unique, the water I draw from it is the same water drawn from everyone else’s wells. Indeed, having drunk from many wells in my spiritual journey, I consider it my mission in life to inform the world that, no matter the well, the water tastes just as sweet.

Consider the following parable by the great Sufi master Jalal ad-Din Rumi, which I recount in my book, No god but God:

A Persian, a Turk, an Arab and a Greek are traveling to a distant land when they begin arguing over how to spend the single coin they share in common. The Persian wants to spend the coin on angur; the Turk, on uzum; the Arab, on inab; and the Greek, on stafil.

A linguist passing by overhears the argument. “Give the coin to me,” he says. Taking the coin, the linguist goes to a nearby shop and buys the travelers four small bunches of grapes.

“This is my angur!” cries the Persian.

“But this is what I call uzum,” replies the Turk.

“You have brought me my inab,” the Arab says.

“No! This in my language is stafil,” says the Greek.

The travelers suddenly realize that they were all asking for the same thing, but in different languages.

My goal—as a scholar, as a person of faith, and now as the host of “Believer” —is to be the linguist, to demonstrate that, while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.

And that, regardless of whether you, too, are a believer or not, is a lesson worth learning.

See, multiple wells, same water! Multiple languages, same grapes! Aslan’s stated goal in the series “Believer” is to convince you, like a latter-day Gandhi, that “while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.” Hell, why can’t we all just get along like one big happy family!? Where are those vasudhaiva kutumbakam hippies when you need them?

Firstly, note that the Buddha (a rank Pagan) was the one who talked about multiple wells reaching the same water. Any Abrahamic prophet worth his salt would have taken umbrage at this kind of laissez-faire approach, so there are no matching quotations from the Abrahamic traditions, especially Reza’s own. Even the oft-quoted sura 109 of the Qu’ran often bandied about by Muslims as evidence of Islam’s “tolerance” declares:

Say: O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
Nor will I worship those whom you have worshipped,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way, and to me mine.

The sura is also suggestively titled “Al-Kafirun”—The Unbelievers. For different wells with the same water, you definitely have to summon Kafir help and surreptitiously slip it in while ostensibly taking a stand as a convinced Muslim.

Hindus should additionally note that even for an aspiring Sufi mystic like Aslan, it becomes a positive strain to extend real courtesy about “more often than not, expressing the same faith” to the rank Pagans/Kafirs that Hindus are with their pantheism and polytheism, thereby revelling in the great “sin” of kufr and shirk—of “associating partners with Allah.” Aslan’s pir Rumi frequently and variously uses “Hindu” as a symbol of all that is wrong, the (despicable) colour black, darkness, evil influence, and especially the nafs (the base soul) that is in urgent need of reforming. That is the lineage of teachers (guru-shishya parampara) that Aslan subscribes to. So, Hindus should thank Reza Aslan, and take his timely reminder as an opportunity to examine the true sayings and history of Sufis and their silsilas from original sources, as also the accounts of the havoc that they wrought to Hinduism, rather than the homilies dished out by several negationists who also masquerade as “eminent historians.”  No Sufi is known to have protested the treatement of Hindus and Hinduism by any sultan—no wonder Aurangzeb was lionized as a “zinda pir”—a living saint. Aslan is truly a worthy heir to Sufi luminaries like Amir Khusrau and Ahmed Sirhindi who so eloquently expressed their contempt and detestation for the stench of idolatory and polytheism in the land of Hind.

Aslan’s preoccupation with the Hindu “obsession” with purity deserves close examination. While on that job, it might perhaps not hurt to remind Aslan that, in strains of traditional Islam, especially the Shi’ism rampant in his native Iran, the Kafir is also “Najis—impure—at par with urine and feces. This is also why Pakistan was so named, for the “Pak” or “Pure” thereby separated themselves from the “najis” Hindus. Incidentally, this objective fact of Islamic jurisprudence also gives the lie to Aslan’s sanctimonious statements about the allegedly unique Hindu “obsession with ritual purity.” Islam is also concerned with ritual purity, only it is based on different assumptions (or “obsessions”). And, the very ritual act of wudu (ablutions) performed by the believers before each of their five daily prayers are testimony to the selfsame “obsession” with ritual purity. Indeed, in this case at least, while “while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.” Or obsession, just for consistency. For those who care to inquire further, the hadiths are quite explicit about “correct” methods of purifying oneself after communing with nature, based on prophetic precedent and a traceable chain of transmission (isnad), no less. We hope Aslan will remember this during the next time he rolls out his prayer mat or ascends the metaphorical CNN tower for the broadcast of the next episode of “Believer.”

Aslan was apparently attracted to Aghora because he discerned in the members of this sect a group of proto-revolutionaries who actively flouted Hindu norms of purity and caste exclusiveness (i.e. “obsessions”). Now, Aghora literally means non-ghora i.e. “non-terrible.” The followers of the Aghora path, the Aghoris, literally try to view the entire world as “non-terrible,” not merely in a metaphysical sense or for reasons of political correctness, but also in a very physical sense. They seek to go beyond the “pairs of opposites” that, in their view, arise from the illusory sensory perception of differences, of personal likes and dislikes, and feelings of pleasure and pain. And, to truly follow this idea, they conduct themselves indifferently in the extreme, even eating substances that humans normally find bizarre or disgusting, which provides what presstitutes (journalists) call a “good copy” for Aslan and his handlers at CNN.

The Aghori sadhu in the CNN video first drank some of his own urine—as in his view—there was nothing that was intrinsically “disgusting” about it. We may say that he did not just walk the talk, but also drank it and lived it. Then, he graciously wanted to extend the same courtesy to his newest acolyte in the person of Reza Aslan who promptly voted with his heels. The urine in the Aghori’s palm was, to borrow Aslan’s cordial and engaging phraseology, a very unique form of water from a very unique well that exorcised Aslan of his revolutionary zeal.

Notes

  1. CNN: Face to face with a cannibalistic sect (video clip).
  2. Ishwar Sharan, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (2010), Chapter Nine
  3. CNN: Reza Aslan: Why I am a Muslim.

Despite religious opposition the Bank of England will keep beef fat in its banknotes – Akshat Rathi

New plastic five pound note

Akshat RathiCritics … have strong philosophical or religious grounds for rejecting animal-derived products in money. “This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK,” reads the petition [to the Bank of England]. –  Akshat Rathi

“We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency.” More than 130,000 people recently signed this petition, aimed at the Bank of England. (Who says central banking doesn’t stir up passions?)

The animal product in question is tallow, derived from beef or mutton. The bank admitted that its new plastic notes, launched with the £5 in September last year, contain trace amounts of it, stoking some controversy.

But after an extensive investigation into alternative methods to make the money, the bank said, essentially, “deal with it.” The fat-laced fiver will continue to be printed, as will a new plastic tenner, starting in September this year.

“Trace,” chemically speaking, means a substance is present in fewer than 100 parts per million, or 0.01% of the total. But when all the paper £5 and £10 notes are replaced over the next few years, there will be some 1.1 billion plastic banknotes in circulation, each containing trace amounts of tallow. How many cows, then, will die in the name of British money?

On average, slaughtering one cow yields 40 kilograms of tallow. Considering that a banknote weighs about 0.7 grams, each contains roughly 0.00007 grams of tallow. That means the total amount of tallow that those new £5 and £10 plastic notes will need is around 77 kilograms. That means the Bank of England’s move to plastic notes, which Bank of England Logoare more secure and durable than paper notes, comes at the cost of two cows to date. By comparison, the UK slaughters some 2.6 million cattle each year for food.

This still may not satisfy critics who have strong philosophical or religious grounds for rejecting animal-derived products in money. “This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK,” reads the petition.

Weighing these concerns against the cost of changing course, the bank decided that the tallow will remain. The bank has already spent £70 million ($88 million) on printing notes now in circulation and buying materials for more in the future. In its opinion, the outrage caused by an “extremely small amount” of tallow does not outweigh the advantages of the newfangled notes, nor justify spending more taxpayer money to produce notes in a different way.

For now, the £20 and £50 notes, which are printed on paper, will remain free from animal fat. The bank is looking for plant-based alternatives in time for 2020, when the £20 is scheduled to get its plastic makeover. – Quartz, 16 February 2017

» Akshat Rathi is a reporter for Quartz in London.

Beef Tallow

 

Scheduled Castes vs. Caste Hindus: About a colonial distinction and its legal impact – Jakob De Roover

CasteDr Jakob De RooverThe leaders and intellectuals of post-colonial India not only succumbed to the colonial account of “the caste system,” but also accepted the social divisions among the people of India created by British legislation. – Prof Dr Jakob De Roover

Jakob De Roover of Ghent University here published today an insightful paper, “Scheduled Castes vs. Caste Hindus About a Colonial Distinction and Its Legal Impact.” We excerpt from his conclusion:

Today, commentators often react with indignation when one points out the anomalies confronting the classical account of the caste system. Worse, questioning this orthodoxy and its hackneyed claims about “the plight of the Dalits” is often equated to denying the existence of injustice in Indian society. The fact that there are groups in Indian society much poorer and more deprived than others is not in doubt. Neither is the fact that members of some jatis treat members of other jatis in unethical and inhumane ways. However, the point is that these situations and events cannot be coherently conceptualized in terms of “the caste system” and its oppression of “the Untouchables” or “Dalits.”

The idea that there are two distinct categories or groups in Indian society—namely, Caste Hindus and Scheduled Castes—never described its social structure. No common characteristics are available that allow(ed) one to recognize these as two communities or categories across India. Thus, no empirical investigation could show that they existed in the Indian social world. Since this distinction is flawed, it cannot offer a stable foundation for legislation that aims to address injustice in Indian society. In fact, the available facts indicate that the laws providing caste-based benefits fail to pass the Supreme Court’s test of reasonable classification: there appear to be no intelligible differentiae that distinguish all the persons grouped together as Scheduled Castes from others excluded from that group.

Indeed, the class of Scheduled Castes exists, but only in the Indian legal and political system. Through their caste policies and censuses, the British spread the idea that “Hindu society” was characterized by an opposition between Caste Hindus and Untouchables. Thus, in spite of the recurring discovery that this distinction failed, it could not but have its effects in a society under colonial rule. The crucial step came in the Government of India Act of 1935 and its caste schedules. Eventually, the Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1936 ordered that “the castes, races or tribes, or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes specified in Parts I to IX of the Schedule to this Order shall, in the Provinces to which those Parts respectively relate, be deemed to be scheduled castes so far as regards members thereof resident in the localities specified in relation to them respectively in those Parts of that Schedule.”

Strikingly, the leaders and intellectuals of post-colonial India not only succumbed to the colonial account of “the caste system,” but also accepted the social divisions among the people of India created by British legislation. It is as though they felt compelled to transform the tenuous distinctions inherent to the colonial account into existing social divisions in India. The King’s Excellent Majesty, Edward VIII, had ordered how the people of India should be divided into Scheduled Castes and others. After 1947, Indian political and intellectual elites began to enforce this royal decree in their country. This is the work that the caste legislation of contemporary India continues unto this day. – Hinduism Today, 15 January 2016

See the original article HERE

» Prof Jakob De Roover is an assistant professor at the Department of Comparative Science of Cultures, Ghent University, Belgium.

Vivekananda Quote

New British £5 note is made with tallow – Prasun Sonwalkar

New British Fiver

JournalistAmid reports that some temples in Britain were refusing to accept the new polymer notes, Satish Sharma of NCHTUK said: “From the Hindu and Dharmic perspective, producing currency and casually incorporating substances which are derived from acts of violence upon vulnerable non-aggressive creatures is not the behaviour of civilised beings.” – Prasun Sonwalkar

Beef Tallow (Fat)It’s not exactly an uprising on the scale of the 1857 revolt, but Hindu organisations, vegetarians and others in Britain are not amused at last week’s revelation that the new £5 polymer note issued by the Bank of England uses tallow as part of its production process.

As the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) recalled the use of tallow in cartridges that sparked the 1857 uprising in colonial north India, the bank said an “extremely small amount” of tallow was used in an early stage of production of the note.

The bank said: “We are aware of some people’s concerns about traces of tallow in our new five pound note. We respect those concerns and are treating them with the utmost seriousness. This issue has only just come to light, and the Bank did not know about it when the contract was signed.”

“Information recently provided by our supplier, Innovia, and its supply chain shows that an extremely small amount of tallow is used in an early stage of the production process of polymer pellets, which are then used to create the base substrate for the five pound note,” it added.

The supplier, the bank said, was working intensively with its supply chain and would keep it informed on progress towards potential solutions.

Amid reports that some temples in Britain were refusing to accept the new polymer notes, Satish Sharma of NCHTUK said: “From the Hindu and Dharmic perspective, producing currency and casually incorporating substances which are derived from acts of violence upon vulnerable non-aggressive creatures is not the behaviour of civilised beings.”

“The £5 note ceases to be a simple medium of exchange but becomes a medium for communicating pain and suffering and we would not want to come into contact with it.  Hindu temples are centres of positive holistic compassionate humanity and we can fully understand that Hindu temples would consider that they wish to remain free of a symbol of the wholesale barbaric slaughter of tranquil, vulnerable and fully sentient beings,” he added.

The Hindu Forum of Britain widely circulated and encouraged people to complete a petition calling on the bank to withdraw the note, which had been signed by over 125,000 people by Saturday afternoon.

The new £5 note introduced in September was described by the bank as one that can survive a splash of Claret, a flick of cigar ash, the nip of a bulldog, and even a spin in the washing machine. It was introduced with the idea that it is cleaner, safer and stronger than the current cotton-paper generation of banknotes.

Of the four denominations—5, 10, 20 and 50—the first to be introduced in polymer form is the fiver, featuring an iconic image of Winston Churchill on one side and that of Queen Elizabeth on the other.

The fiver features Churchill’s portrait, and behind the portrait is an illustration of the Houses of Parliament.The hands on the Big Ben are set to the time on 13 May 1940 when Churchill made his inaugural speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister. – Hindustan Times, 4 December 2016

» Prasun Sonwalkar is the Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times, London.

Seapoys : Two officers and a private 1820s.