Why the Sabarimala case is different from that of Triple Talaq or Haji Ali Dargah – J. Sai Deepak

Men and women pilgrims at Sabarimala

J. Sai DeepakIf the scriptures that apply to the Temple reveal that misogyny plays no role in the decision to bar entry of women of a certain age group, and that the bar flows from the edict of the Presiding Deity of the Temple given the Deity’s celibate nature, the bar will have to be upheld because that would be consistent with the Constitutional mandate. – J. Sai Deepak

On May 18, 2017, the Supreme Court concluded hearing arguments and reserved its judgement in the Triple Talaq case wherein the constitutional validity of the practice among Muslims has been challenged by a Muslim lady, Ms. Shayara Bano, in W.P (C). No. 118/2016. In her Petition, Ms. Bano has sought a declaration to the effect that the practices of Talaq-e-bidat, Nikah-Halala and polygamy under Muslim personal laws are illegal and unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.

This Petition was heard along with an earlier Writ Petition, S.M W.P. (C) No. 2/2015, taken up suo moto by the Apex Court on the same issue. As part of these proceedings, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was also heard by the Supreme Court as an intervenor. The AIMPLB took the position that the issue before the Court was inextricably connected to Muslim Personal Law and hence Islam, and therefore interference by the Supreme Court with religious beliefs and personal laws is Constitutionally barred.

On the evening of May 18, I was invited by Rajya Sabha TV to take part in a panel discussion on the topic “Religious Beliefs versus Constitutional Morality: Challenges for Republic of India” on the program The Big Picture. Before I proceed further, I would be remiss to not point out that discussions on Rajya Sabha TV, especially on the programme The Big Picture, under the stewardship of the anchor Mr. Frank Rausan Pereira, are worth watching given the deft treatment of topics and sober handling of the discussions. Coming back to the topic, here’s the substance of some of the views expressed by some of the panellists on the programme:

1. That religious beliefs and personal laws are completely outside the purview of judicial review or intervention by the State;

2. That Constitution, being man-made law, must give way to Quran since the latter is God’s Word;

3. That the manner in which Triple Talaq is being contemporarily practised has no basis in the Quran and is a distortion of the original intent and practice;

4. That the Supreme Court must consider the sensitivities of the Muslim community in pronouncing its verdict and must endeavour to seek “maximum acceptability” from the community;

5. That the Muslim community must be given time to gradually evolve and that reform cannot be imposed overnight

While I will spell out my position in the ensuing portions of this piece (which I did in some detail on the programme), after the panel discussion I was asked by a well-meaning colleague from the legal fraternity as to how I could justify supporting the intervention by the Supreme Court in the case of Triple Talaq and also represent the “Ready to Wait” women devotees of Lord Ayyappa in the Sabarimala Temple case.

Although I did expect this question, which I think needs to be asked and answered, I do believe that any reasonable, objective and discerning person who doesn’t let confirmation bias affect her or his judgement, can distinguish between the issues thrown up by the Triple Talaq case and the Sabarimala Temple case.

Importantly, apart from the legal position that applies to these issues, the divergent positions taken by the AIMPLB and the Ready to Wait intervenors must also be taken note of before we paint them both with the same brush. While on the topic, it is important to discuss the Haji Ali Dargah case as well since the right of entry of Muslim women into the Dargah was in issue in the case. I will deal with these cases comparatively after setting out the legal position.

Position under the Constitution

In my ongoing six-part series in IndiaFacts on the rights of Hindu Religious Institutions under the Constitution, I have distilled the following legal position that emerges from a reading of Articles 25 and 26 and judgements of the Supreme Court which have dealt with their interplay:

A. Under the Constitution, no religious belief or practice, except those which are essential and integral to the character of the religion, can be considered to be outside the scope of intervention or review by the State so long as the manner and degree of intervention is in accordance with the Constitution;

B. The converse of this position is that the Constitution gives primacy to religious laws to the extent they are not based on discrimination or do not violate other Constitutional touchstones;

C. Therefore, it is evident that in any event, whether or not a religious practice or personal law rooted in religion is based on discrimination, needs to be necessarily tested on the anvils of the Constitution by Constitutional Courts;

D. To this end, before forming a view on the constitutionality of a religious practice or personal law, the Court needs to understand the practice/law, its origins, examine whether it has any basis in the scriptures of the faith, examine whether the practice/law is central to the tenets of the faith and whether it is based on values which are antithetical to the Constitution.

E. It is only after undertaking such a detailed examination required by law that a Constitutional Court can arrive at a finding with respect to a religious practice/law.

In light of the above legal position, it is not available for any community or religious denomination to take the position that the State has no business concerning itself with its religious beliefs or personal laws no matter how discriminatory or barbaric they are. In my view, this position equally applies to a practice which is central to the faith if it is based on discrimination or is downright barbaric. For instance, if hatred of another religion or a faith system is the very basis of a faith, can it be defended merely on the ground that the essential tenets of a faith cannot be interfered with by the State? That being said, a community or religious denomination, however, has the right to expect the Court to take an informed call instead of getting carried away by a “Saviour or Messiah Complex”.

A Muslim bride waits for the start of a marriage ceremony in Ahmedabad

Comparing and Reconciling Triple Talaq, Haji Ali Dargah and Sabarimala Temple

Since the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce its verdict in the Triple Talaq case, suffice it to say that the position of the AIMPLB that Muslim Personal Laws are beyond the scope of judicial review or Statist intervention, has no basis in law. If the Supreme Court arrives at the finding that the practice of Triple Talaq is not an essential tenet of Islam and is discriminatory, it does have the power to strike it down as unconstitutional applying the tests that apply to personal laws, customs and usages which too qualify as law under Article 13 of the Constitution. What would be interesting to see is the manner in which the Supreme Court deals with the practice if it finds it central to Islam.

As for the Haji Ali Dargah case, the Dargah Trustees took the following unanimous position before the Bombay High Court:

“The Trustees are unanimous on the point that entry of women in close proximity to the grave of a Male Muslim Saint is a grievous sin as per the Islam and as such the Trust is governed by the Constitution Law and particularly Article 26 of the Constitution of India which confers upon the Trust a Fundamental Right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion and as such interference is uncalled for by any Third Agency.

The existing arrangement for Women provides a Secure Place to them to offer prayers. This has been decided in the interest of safety and security of the women and they are close to the inner sanctorum of the Tomb as possible, considering the rush of Men, this arrangement has been welcomed by the women Pilgrims.

Hence the trustees unanimously, hold that at no point of time were women allowed to enter near the close proximity of the tomb of the saint and in fact the current arrangement at a Separate Entrance for women is more proximate to the Tomb than it earlier was.”

It was further submitted on behalf of the Dargah Trust that “menstruating women were unclean and impure in Islam and hence, could not offer prayers or visit the Dargah/Mosque, and that Islam refers to the issue of separation of men and boys from women and girls in social settings in Holy places.” Certain Quranic verses and Hadiths too were cited to support this position.

The Trust also contended that restricting the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah was `an essential and integral part of Islam’ and that such restriction was permissible and protected under Article 26(b) of the Constitution as “matters of religion”. Therefore, according to the Trust, if women were permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum, the very nature of the religion would change.

However, the High Court took the view that none of the verses cited by the Trust threw light on how close proximity of women to the grave of a male Muslim Saint was sinful in Islam, as claimed by the Trust. Coupled with the fact that the bar on entry of women into the Dargah was not supported by any custom or usage, and women were allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah until 2012, the High Court held that the Trust had no right to discriminate entry of women into a public place of worship under the guise of `managing the affairs of religion’ under Article 26.

Critically, the Court held that the Trust does not qualify as a “religious denomination” under Article 26 in order for it to assert rights under it. Therefore, it is clear that the outcome of the case was directly connected to the inability of the Trust to marshal support for its position in the Quran, Hadiths or any other custom or usage or demonstrate its entitlement to fundamental rights under Article 26. On October 24, 2016, in the Special Leave Petition filed by the Dargah Trust, the Trust undertook before the Supreme Court to restore status quo ante i.e. to allow entry of women into the sanctum sanctorum at par with men as was the case until 2012.

Coming to the Sabarimala Temple case, I have written earlier that the questions that will need to be addressed by the Supremes are (a) whether the bar on entry of women of a certain age group in the Temple is rooted in the history and customs of the Temple and (b) whether misogyny and discrimination form the basis of such history/tradition.

If the scriptures that apply to the Temple reveal that misogyny plays no role in the decision to bar entry of women of a certain age group, and that the bar flows from the edict of the Presiding Deity of the Temple given the Deity’s celibate nature, the bar will have to be upheld because that would be consistent with the Constitutional mandate. This was the sum and substance of my submissions before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Ready to Wait group of women devotees of the Deity. Pertinently, it was never contended, unlike the AIMPLB, that religious beliefs are completely outside the pale of judicial review.

Therefore, in light of this reasoned, balanced and nuanced position taken in the Sabarimala Temple case, which was endorsed by a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court in 1991, comparisons with the position of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust or with that of the AIMPLB in the Triple Talaq case do not hold water.

In conclusion, all I would like to say is that the critical distinctions between the cases and issues are really not that difficult to comprehend. However, facts and logic can make a difference only to someone who is open to receiving them without preconceived notions. To those interested in peddling and regurgitating the Left’s borrowed and done-to-death tropes of class hatred, misogyny and patriarchy, facts and reason don’t matter. – Swarajya, 23 May 2017

» J. Sai Deepak is an engineer-turned-advocate, High Court of Delhi. He tweets @jsaideepak.

Haji Ali Dargah Mumbai

The Sugriva Syndrome – Bharavi

Narendra Modi

Man Sitting Under Tree IconOne may rightfully ask what the BJP has done so far … in terms of providing long-denied and unexceptionable rights to Hindu citizens of a purportedly democratic and egalitarian modern nation. – Bharavi

During the recently concluded elections in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was found to be appealing to the electorate to end their ‘vanavas’ (forest exile) of 14 years.[1]  The ‘exile of  14 years’ is, obviously, a reference to Rama’s exile at the insistence of his step-mother Kaikeyi, at the end of which he made a triumphant return to Ayodhya with his wife and brother. Now that the BJP is safely in power in India’s most populous state as well as at the national level, the Hindu constituency that made this possible should make sure that this ‘return of the exiles’ does not end up resembling the results of another vanavas, also in the Ramayana.    

Rama, exiled in the forest and his wife abducted, was moving southward with his brother Lakshmana to recover her. He met Hanuman, who led him to Sugriva—brother and inveterate enemy of Vali, king of the Vanaras of Kishkindha. Owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding between the brothers, Vali had driven away Sugriva into the forests, and had also taken Sugriva’s wife Ruma for himself. Long story short, Rama and Sugriva had a quid pro quo.  Rama was to kill Vali and restore Sugriva to his kingdom. In return, Sugriva would help him, as King of the Vanaras of Kishkindha, to recover Sita.  

Rama carried out his part of the bargain, risking his reputation as a fair and just kshatriya, and Sugriva was crowned king. Soon after Sugriva’s coronation, he gave himself up to sensual pleasures, understandable in one who had been in exile as a fugitive from the royal palace for years. At this stage, Hanuman presciently warned Sugriva that he should consider making good his promise to Rama. His remarks are most noteworthy and relevant to the current situation:  “One must be punctual in achieving the objectives of one’s close friends. If Rama were to eventually prod you to action consider it a lapse on your part regardless of what you do thereafter.”   

To his credit, Sugriva summoned his Vanara warriors from near and far, under pain of death for delay. However, as luck would have it, the monsoons began soon after, rendering all tracks impassable and army movements impossible. There was nothing to do but wait. But then, even after the rainy season ended, Sugriva wasn’t showing any signs of movement on Rama’s case.  It took an irate Lakshmana to storm his castle when Sugriva was in the midst of revelry in the depths of his harem to remind him of his unfulfilled promise. Of course, things started moving after that and Rama did recover Sita with Sugriva’s help.

In its earlier avatars, the BJP kept pointing to the Common Minimum Program and similar compulsions of coalition ‘dharma.’ This was taken to mean that the party would not be able to back any initiatives regarding ‘contentious  issues’ such as the full integration or Jammu and Kashmir state with the Indian republic by the abolition of Article 370, the building of the temple of Rama at Ayodhya or legislating a uniform civil code.  Three years ago, on May 26, 2014 Narendra Modi assumed office as the Prime Minister of India, with the BJP achieving a simple majority of its own, though still as part of the National Democratic Alliance. Not unexpectedly, the insistent demand from the party’s core supporters is to pay attention to those contentious issues that couldn’t be touched earlier.   

Before asking for the moon, as it were, these supporters should first examine what the BJP has done about consequential, but non-contentious issues. The clear front-runner among such issues is the historical problem of the misapplication of Article 30 of the Indian Constitution that guarantees religious and linguistic minorities the right to autonomously manage their own educational and religious institutions.  There is nothing wrong with this. However, there is no explicit statement providing similar rights to the majority Hindus. This has provided a legal loophole that has made Hindu religious establishments, temples, educational institutions, trusts etc. the target of state governments and politicians avid for easy money and a penchant for generously distributing temple collections and assets among their special interest groups. Hindu religious institutions have thus been subjected to asymmetric and chronic adverse discrimination ever since independence under a ‘native’ dispensation. The state of temples in Tamil Nadu and the siphoning off of their assets and lands is but one symptom of an all-India epidemic, whose end result can only be the death of temples and Hindu institutions by a thousand cuts.[2]

More recently, Hindus have been understandably riled by the effects of the Right to Education Act (2009) on Hindu schools and educational institutions.[3] The ‘minorities’ on the other hand, simply threw the constitution on the government’s face, specifically the provisions of this act citing Art. 30, and claimed exemption.[4] No such courtesy was available to the Hindus whose schools were sitting ducks, resulting in the closure of many ‘non-minority’ schools all over the country. Thus, the effective denial of the right to administer their own educational and religious institutions amounts to a chronic systemic bias against Hindus in India, and will continue to have adverse effects for a long time to come, regardless of the party in power at the centre.  

And, pray (pardon the pun), what has the BJP done about this terrible injustice? Specifically, nothing, nada, zilch.  Leave alone do anything about it, it does not even talk about it. Allowing Hindus the same rights as minorities, we might naïvely think, would be a much easier thing for a government to do, compared with the backlash that is feared upon say, the abolition of Article 370 that gives a separate status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. An interesting case is that of the Congress government in the state of Himachal Pradesh that is trying to ‘monetize’ gold deposited in the state’s temples by devotees over ages, by the simple expedient of melting it to make medallions for sale. Predictably, the idea of using these funds for ‘public welfare,’ an obscene euphemism in this age of kleptocratic democracies, is also found keeping obligatory company with this charade.[5] But BJP supporters eager to blame the Congress, please cease and desist. The Congress state government is merely implementing national policy mooted by the BJP-anointed prime minister Narendra Modi.[6] Again predictably, there is no similar suggestion to  ‘remonetize’ vast swathes of real estate ‘lying idle’ in the possession of say, the Indian Catholic Church,[7] by selling those to housing developers or mall-builders.  Better still, these parcels of land could be freely distributed among the ‘poor and needy‘ that are the stated recipients of the munificent Church’s solicitude as an integral part of its apostolic mission. Of course, that was merely a rhetorical suggestion, for we know from their actual record that the Churches’ ‘vow of poverty’ holds as much (holy) water as their ‘vow of celibacy.’[8]         

In this context, one may rightfully ask what the BJP has done so far, not in terms of withdrawing minority privileges (like ending the Haj subsidy or legislating a Uniform Civil Code), but in terms of providing long-denied and unexceptionable rights to Hindu citizens of a purportedly democratic and egalitarian modern nation, allegedly fast transforming into a ‘developed’ nation, all thanks to the Midas touch of its mercantile administrators.     

So, while Sugriva’s lapse was a sin of omission, for which he made up later, the BJP seems determined to indulge in sins of both omission and commission that portend grave long-term consequences for dharmic society. Winning elections has apparently become a full-time job for the BJP.  

In an instance of poetic irony, Sugriva advised Rama against accepting Vibhishana (Ravana’s estranged brother) as a supplicant and an ally, as the Rakshasas are intrinsically undependable. Of course, the Vanara king was spectacularly wrong about that, as Vibhishana was able to provide crucial advice and aid during critical stages of the war with Ravana. Sugriva would have had better luck had he advised Rama against favoring the Jai-Shree-Ram-chanting BJP. Where is that Sugriva when you really need him?   

We may therefore conclude that Rama’s run of bad luck hasn’t ended. He and his much-derided and electorally exploited followers are still waiting for signs of commitment to some relatively innocuous dharmic cause from those they propelled to the portals of power nearly three decades ago. That’s partly Rama’s own fault—he was always such a sentimental sucker for sob-stories peddled by people in physical or political wilderness. Ms. Sushma Swaraj would doubtless agree, for she presciently (but honestly) termed him a ‘cashed cheque’ for her party way back in 1996,[9] and was more recently (2016) spotted in dutiful attendance as a representative of the ostensibly ‘right-wing Hindu nationalist government’ holding court at the Vatican, on the momentous occasion of the canonization of Teresa of Albania.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj & Pope Francis (Sept. 2016)
Notes

  1. See:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRY9R9hOUZs
  2. See, for example:  http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/freeing-temples-from-state-control/article5594132.ece
  3. See:  https://swarajyamag.com/politics/strict-implementation-of-rte-by-devendra-fadnavis-will-destroy-hindu-run-budget-schools
  4. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ruled that “…the 2009 Act insofar as it applies to minority schools, aided or unaided, covered under clause (1) of Article 30 of the Constitution A is ultra vires the Constitution.”  Plain English:  If you apply the RTE act of 2009 to minority schools, it is a violation of Article 30 clause (1). http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/sc-rte-act-not-applicable-to-minority-schools/1/359483.html 
  5. See:  http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/himachal-govt-makes-fresh-bid-to-persuade-temples-to-melt-gold/story-UlzgCxsHLeEwaH1klJegrL.html
  6. See:  http://in.reuters.com/article/india-gold-modi-monetisation-idINKCN0ST1IY20151104
  7. See:  http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance-business/guess-who-indias-largest-landowners-are-1129773.html
  8. For example, it took a Karnataka High Court order to restrain the holy greed for land displayed by the Church of South India, worthy successor to the Church of England, of East India Company fame.  See: http://mattersindia.com/2016/04/church-fails-to-prove-ownership-of-land/.  Since there is also much wheeling and real-estate dealing within the holy precincts, Mr. Philip Matthew, a Bengaluru-based journalist issued a clarion call for a law to protect the assets of the church (See: http://www.ucanindia.in/news/law-needed-to-safeguard-church-properties/17945/daily).  Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t resist proclaiming in passing that:  “The Church properties and assets belong to a wider Christian community in the country and not to a handful of present-day selfish leaders and profiteers in the churches.” Intolerant and unwashed Hindus may please note: Churches are the fixed deposits of the Christian community alone, but Hindu temples are emphatically and irrevocably joint expense accounts for all human beings, regardless of ‘caste, creed, color, sex or religion.’  Public welfare!  
  9. See:  http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/books/bjp/section5.html

Dharmanomics: For the welfare of all – Krishnarjun

West Bengal Paddy Farmer

Engineer Modern India needs its own plan for prosperity. Borrowed models can’t fit its numbers, geography, social and spiritual temperament. – Krishnarjun

India is at a crossroads. There is rising debate and discussion on development, about aspirations and the virtues of entrepreneurship. In the last two decades, the global exposure of the average Indian has increased, and people are becoming increasingly impatient about the state of affairs in India vis-à-vis other nations, particularly the West. The neo-enlightened globe-trotting Indians are fascinated by the glitz of modern economies and strongly believe India should follow them. Some of the more enlightened, armed with Ivy League degrees, tend to sermonize about the virtues of capitalism, free market, economic right philosophies, libertarianism et al. Some, like this writer, disagree with this popular rhetoric borrowed from West and peddled by the neo-economically enlightened class as the panacea for India’s poverty.

Of course, the neo-enlightened are sincere and want India to prosper and end the misery of the impoverished millions. But they are borrowing models that have already failed. Capitalism as practiced in the so-called advanced economies is in crisis. It has turned into imperialism and tyranny of fiat money backed by military might. It steals others resources by deception and protests are silenced with brute force. The majority of citizens of these advanced economies also suffer from this systemic deception and tyranny though in a different way, being forced into wage slavery to either state or corporation.

The model dislikes interference of any other institution between state, corporation and citizen. Laws are made to discourage strong family or community bonding, to increase mistrust among citizens and between professions. Though the standard of life is made high with borrowed prosperity, insecurity is all-pervasive. The system won’t let people save or live independently. The giant corporation is omnipotent and omnipresent with limited space left for self-employment. The farm, the city, the house, the work space is directly or indirectly at the mercy of the corporation.

In recent years, glaring holes have surfaced in the corporate capitalist model that can no longer be hidden. The lifeline of this model is material innovation to create new markets for business and growth. The model managed to flourish for little over a century with new product innovation, beginning with mechanical gadgets followed by a revolution in electrical and electronics engineering.

Currently, the pace of innovation is coming down and is limited by current knowledge. It seems humanity has not progressed much in core physical knowledge for over half a century, and any further progress is unlikely to create big markets. The unlimited product innovation and market creation to satisfy perennial hunger of corporations is no longer guaranteed.

So, the big corporation has turned its eye on appropriating nature, its flora and fauna. Nature has created and evolved the most inert elements for the life to flourish and progress. The big corporation wants to muddle the equilibrium to appropriate in the name of intellectual property rights. It wants to engineer the seed of life in the name of genetic modification. Corporates can’t bear to see anything on the planet as a free gift of nature to life. They are addicted to measure everything with money. The fiat money they have created now dictates that they control life itself.

This is a brief summary of the capitalistic model that enamours neo-enlightened India. How can India prosper if it adopts this failed model?

India has to prosper and can prosper without compromising its timeless priceless institutions like family, community and dharma. It has to evolve a system rooted in dharma and natural justice. The model is not new; India lived with real prosperity for millennia following dharma. It worshiped all the elements of its prosperity from rivers, mountains to flora and fauna. The secret of its perennial prosperity was its love for the divine nature. The Indic civilisation begged Mother Nature for milk, never tried to draw blood. Its innovation was to facilitate and nourish life; it was more concerned about how to innovate and cause more rain for life than about manufacturing the intercontinental ballistic missile.

How can we adopt this model of dharma in the present scenario; does dharmanomics mean going back into an obscure past and shunning modernity? The answer is no. Many enthusiasts of the neo-economic right in India try to project any alternatives to their borrowed economic model as statist and regressive. Dharmanomics is about blending natural economy and natural justice to the modern situation.

India can’t live an isolated economic and cultural existence. It has to engage with the contemporary world on its own terms. For that it needs to be at par with rest of the world in technology and military strength. Military strength is linked with the best technology and high-end manufacturing. Research and innovation in these areas have to be encouraged. If private and foreign investment can help such innovation it should be facilitated. High-end manufacturing clusters can be established on wastelands along the coast. Some clusters could emerge into mega cities.

But can these urban manufacturing centers be allowed to dominate the whole economy? If India is successful in hi-tech manufacturing, will that ensure prosperity? Real prosperity means good food, clean water and air, a comfortable home, a profession, good health, good family and social life. If the land gives enough food, the rest can be achieved with proper organization of society. Food economy is the root of prosperity. In other words, balancing the food economy and high-end manufacturing is critical for prosperity and to defend that prosperity from external threats.

India’s food economy and manufacturing should complement each other. City-states can be centers of modern manufacturing and economic organization while a decentralized panchayat structure could support life with all its diversity. The city capitalist or corporation shouldn’t be allowed to monopolize the food and rural economy. Farmland should not become an instrument of investment for profit. Only working farmers must be allowed ownership of farmland and the community panchayat must certify him as a farmer. This protects the farmer and as a consequence rural life gets a boost, along with small manufacturing and services. The model optimizes self-employment.

The farm economy has to be self-organized to optimize food production and must be allowed to fix the prices of the produce. The farmer can be taxed like any other profession. Gujarat restricts farmland ownership by non-farmers and rural economy here is self-organized.

Modern India needs its own plan for prosperity. Borrowed models can’t fit its numbers, geography, social and spiritual temperament. Fortunately, the Indian population is so huge that it can support diverse economic models. The traditional system can co-exist in harmony with modern organization without one preying on other. Harmony of self and environment is the essence of Dharma and the possibility of such harmony in economy is Dharmanomics. – Vijayvaani, 9 May 2013

» Krishnarjun is an engineer and political observer from Andhra Pradesh. His twitter handle is https://twitter.com/krishnarjun108

Antilia : Ambani's Billion Dollar House

Dharavi Mumbai

India must end self-imposed strategic restraint to safeguard national interest – G. D. Bakshi

Al Weimorts (right), the creator of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, and Joseph Fellenz, lead model maker, look over the prototype before it was painted and tested.

Maj. Gen. G. D. BakshiIn counter-insurgency campaigns and counter-terror operations also, India has consciously been reducing the level of military force. … All use of violence is being reduced to the level of police forces, armed with nothing more than lathis and small arms. – Maj. Gen. G. D. Bakshi

The Westphalian system of nation-states that emerged in 1648 were premised on the monopoly of violence. Each nation-state disarmed its population, and the right to bear and use arms was confined to the armed forces and some police units. The use of force in inter-state wars reached a peak in the two World Wars. The First World War cost us 8.4 million casualties, the second 48 million and ended with the use of atomic weapons against Japan. The 50-year long Cold War that followed was not entirely cold. It cost us over 7.2 million casualties in small-scale brush fire wars.

However, in this period there was a stable balance of power between the two super powers—the USA and USSR. In fact, the balance of terror (caused by the existence of huge nuclear arsenals that threatened to wipe out the world) actually held the peace. This ushered in an era of strategic restraint, which began to wear down by the decade of the 1970s. Major conflicts broke out in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. By 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed. The US emerged as the sole super power and brazenly used its conventional military superiority to wage wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and then Syria. Though it easily won the conventional military conflicts, it was soon bogged down by local insurgencies which wasted huge resources and drained its will power for further intervention. The two tenures of President Obama saw the outbreak of relative peace.

So will this period of peace continue? A study of our recent history indicates that the global patterns are fast undergoing major changes. The new patterns are ominously similar to the ones that prevailed before the two World Wars. We are increasingly reverting to a situation characterised by the following patterns:

• A multi-polar world order is fast emerging with America, Russia, China, India, Japan and Europe as the new poles of power. This is similar to the global power architecture before the two World Wars. Multi-polar world orders have inherently been unstable.

• We see the sharp rise of nationalism in China, Japan, India, Russia and now even Donald Trump’s America.

• We see a retreat of globalisation and an ominous rise of protectionism—precisely as it was before the two wars. Protectionism had led to trade wars and these ended in shooting wars.

• We see the rise of industrialisation and urbanisation in Asia—just as it had occurred in Europe before the two wars. Huge concentrations of human population in major cities lead to a rise in the levels of aggression.

• Asia, with China and India leading, is fast becoming the economic and military power house. Of the world’s nine nuclear powers, six are in Asia and the second, third and fourth largest economies are also located here. Asia could well become the arena of major conflicts, even as Europe was before the two World Wars.

Huge military arsenals have existed earlier. What is worrying is the new tendency to use such arsenals. The levels of the use of force are rising ominously around the globe, in terms of scale, lethality and frequency. Recently the Russians employed large scale military force in Ukraine and Syria. They used Syria as a test laboratory to demonstrate their weapons—especially bombers, cruise missiles and multi-barrelled rocket launchers.

Trump’s administration has also demonstrated its ability to use heavy fire power. It fired 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield and then dropped a 10,000 kg Mother of All Bombs in Eastern Afghanistan. Its carrier battle groups are currently prowling around North Korea.

The only exception to this trend of increasing use of military force is India. Though the size and armament patterns of its armed forces is rising—albeit very slowly—its level of force usage has come down alarmingly. After the overt nuclearisation of South Asia, there was a school of thought that wars just won’t happen anymore. The Kargil war happened within months. It, however, was a limited tactical engagement confined to our own side of the border. In counter-insurgency (CI) campaigns and counter-terror operations also, India has consciously been reducing the level of military force. It has made the CRPF the primary CI force (despite its patent lack of capacity for these operations). All use of violence is being reduced to the level of police forces, armed with nothing more than lathis and small arms. The Supreme Court, with its latest ruling, has sought to curtail even the use of small arms by diluting the legal cover provided to the Armed Forces under AFSPA.

The result of this nanny state’s tragic unwillingness to use force to defend itself is most evident in J&K. The state has virtually retreated in the face of stone-pelters and quailed from enforcing law and order against violent mobs driven by communal frenzy. On the LoC, it is yet to react strongly to Pakistani provocations of beheading two of our soldiers. We hope this self-imposed spell of restraint will soon be overcome and the Indian State will take its cue from an international environment characterised by the increasing use of military force and violence to safeguard perceived national interests. – The New Indian Express, 21 May 2017

» Major General G. D. Bakshi (SM, VSM) is a retired Indian army officer. He has served at the Directorate General of Military Operations and has dealt with Information Warfare and Psychological Operations.

Security officer victim of stone throwing (2016)

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

Beware of media painting BJP and RSS as fascists – David Frawley

Rahul Gandhi & Chidambaram

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)Apart from manufacturing perpetual outrage, the Left has no positive agenda for national growth or futuristic development of the country. Congress and the Left are leaderless and self-destructing, with a number of their prominent representatives becoming figures of public derision. – Dr David Frawley

The old Leftist rhetoric that has dominated India’s politics for decades is now falling on deaf ears and becoming rejected by voters. Both recent UP and Delhi elections indicate this trend. Though the old Indian media continues to raise a shrill campaign of Leftist outrage against the dangers of Narendra Modi and the BJP, voters have gone over to them in a landslide.

Strategies

Special media and campaign strategies were implemented in India prior to 2014 to keep the BJP out of power, and after Modi’s victory in 2014 to weaken his influence and remove him from power. These strategies reflect the propaganda approaches of the old socialist-communist mind-set, with exaggerations, allegations, and name-calling, but little by way of actual facts. Let us examine the most relevant of these charges.

The charge of fascism has been made for decades against BJP/RSS, even comparing the Sangh with the Islamic State. Yet, the fact is that the BJP national and state governments are the most competent in recent India, doing more for the poor and to improve administration and infrastructure. This is a welcome change from the corruption of the old Congress dynasty and its regional warlords, with their divide-and-rule policies that prevented development and perpetuated social unrest. The truth is that the Left historically has promoted militancy and genocide, extending to the murdering of Hindu workers in communist Kerala and Maoist violence in India today.

Similarly, a charge of intolerance is raised against Hindus, as if they were the main group inhibiting harmony in India. This includes exaggerating or inventing Hindu attacks on Muslims and Christians. The fact is that Hindus are more tolerant than any other religious group because they don’t follow any theology of salvation and damnation. Far from suppressing other religions, Hindus continue to be targeted by missionary aggression inside India and outside. In addition, Christians and Muslims in India have more freedom than in any other country in Asia. Hindus in Pakistan comparatively have a marginal existence and are being systematically eliminated.

The charge of majoritarianism is another key part of the anti-Modi agenda with the claim is that there is now an oppressive Hindu majority in power. Actually democracy is majority-ruled, so the majority does have a right to rule within the bounds of the law. In this regard, the majority in India, which is largely Hindu, is much more accommodating than the majority in any Islamic country. Those who make the charge of majoritarianism have long been cultivating minority vote banks, defined on caste and religious grounds. They are afraid of national unity that would compromise their electoral base.

The charge of Hindu or saffron terrorism is perhaps the most extreme Leftist claim. This is one of the biggest falsifications brought about by affording repeated media attention to a few isolated cases eventually dismissed as false. All Hindu terrorist charges could highlight is a Hindu woman swami, Sadhvi Pragya, kept in jail without bail for nine years until the case against her was dismissed for lack of evidence. Compare this to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Taliban, with their organised armies, massacres and terrorist attacks that the media hesitates to call Islamic terror.

Danger

Cow vigilantism and the attempt to make cow protectors as dangerous as ISIS and jihadi terrorism are false equivalents. Incidents of violence relative to cow smuggling and cow protection have occurred for decades, but this is hardly a Hindu attack on non-Hindus, much less a national security issue. In addition, India, like all countries, would benefit by less meat in the diet. Only in India do liberals emphasise beef eating rather than reduction of unnecessary meat consumption.

Assault on student freedoms relative to JNU student protests is another frequent item of Leftist outrage. Yet JNU communist student unions have long promoted anti-government, pro-Maoist, pro-Kashmiri separatist sentiments under the guise of freedom of expression. India’s sympathetic media has portrayed such students as innocent victims of state aggression, for questioning their motives or actions. The same JNU students try to prevent any pro-Hindu speakers from doing programmes.

Allegation

A new allegation is the danger of having a swami as chief minister, mixing religion and politics, with Yogi Adityanath taking up the reins of Uttar Pradesh. Since before Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual voice has been present in Indian politics and social discourse. Yogi Adityanath is performing better as CM than did the previous so-called secular government known for its corruption and decay of law and order, and the Yogi is gaining respect accordingly. It is performance that matters today, not simply name or background.

Apart from manufacturing perpetual outrage, the Left has no positive agenda for national growth or futuristic development of the country. Congress and the Left are leaderless and self-destructing, with a number of their prominent representatives becoming figures of public derision.

Meanwhile the BJP has come to represent aspirational India at both economic and cultural levels. There is nothing wrong with such national pride and enthusiasm. It is a long overdue change from the old socialist era in which individual initiative was blocked and India’s culture denigrated. Such unity is needed for India to progress in the world of nations, which the Nehruvian-Marxist alliance could never deliver.

India has a great dharmic civilisation with much to offer the world. The world should be happy that India is willing to move forward according to its own civilisational ethos and no longer function as another failed socialist state looking for global sympathy. Yet, it seems the Leftist media was happier with a Lalu Prasad and his backward Bihar than Narendra Modi and his new dynamic India. Fortunately, voters can no longer be deceived. – Daily-O, 13 May 2017

» Dr. David Frawley (Pandit  Vamadeva Shastri) D. Litt., is a teacher in the Vedic tradition. He is recognized as a Vedacharya, and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient Vedic teachings going back to the Rigveda.

Sitaram Yechury at JNU

Communists see politics in everything – Anirban Ganguly

Brinda Karat (CPI-M)

Dr Anirban GangulyIt is the essential refusal of the Left to acknowledge the right to disagree—in the political and intellectual sphere—that has vitiated India’s political atmosphere since many decades. – Dr Anirban Ganguly

When asked what advice would he give the Left-wing writers, leading British conservative philosopher and writer Roger Scruton replied “acknowledge the legitimacy of disagreement”. Scruton’s description of the Left and Communist intelligentsia, and his analysis of their methods of political and intellectual impositions are applicable in the Indian context as well. It is the essential refusal of theirs to acknowledge the right to disagree—in the political and intellectual sphere—that has vitiated India’s political atmosphere since many decades.

Unable to generate any new thinking, incapable of political expansion or of self-renewal and having failed to ideologically evolve and restate themselves, the Left in India is not only stagnating but increasingly taking recourse to intellectual and political thuggery and charlatanism. Their counterparts in the West also work in close coordination and disrupt, hiss and boo anyone who has an alternate view-point or espouses a world view which is not in consonance or opposed to theirs. They refuse to seriously engage in an argument or in articulating counter-points, as Scruton observes, “People on the left don’t, on the whole, engage with their opponents. They dismiss and sneer at them, and, if they can, they will accuse them of things like racism or whatever the evil of the day might be.” It is always a concocted and conjured evil that these come up with it, so that they can continue with perpetuating their false positions.

The other obsession that the Left has is to politicise and to think that ‘everything is political’. The latest expression of this reductionist mindset is reflected in Sitaram Yechury’s observation on PM Narendra Modi’s repeated appeal to not politicise the triple talaq discussion. Modi had called for a serious and dispassionate discussion on the issue. In his meeting with leading maulanas on May 9, he appealed to them to see the issue in terms of ending discrimination against women, and asked them to initiate this reform from within their society and desist from seeing it in political terms.

The response to Modi’s appeal on the issue has been heartening and is coming in from across the country, especially from the community to which his appeal is addressed. While a positive atmosphere of debate and discussion is being generated across a cross-section, the communists, under direction from the puny leadership, are seeing politics and communal angle in it. Sans seriously engaging, they are displaying how out of tune they have become with the realities of India and with the dimensions of her collective thought.

Sir Roger ScrutonTheir receiving a microscopic and disgustingly paltry share of votes in recent Delhi civic polls has not shaken them out of their intellectual arrogance-induced stupor. Scruton explains it best, “People on the left think that everything (sic) is political. Even if you are discussing the foundations of arithmetic they will look for the hidden political agenda. Every question and every answer, when you are fully immersed in the left-wing way of thinking, is part of a political posture. Indeed, to suppose that there are purely impartial and objective questions is itself to be guilty of ‘right-wing’ deviationism. Against that way of arguing you cannot possibly win, and that, I came to realise, is its point.”

This refusal to ‘acknowledge the legitimacy of disagreement’, both politically and intellectually, is seen latest in the intellectual intolerance displayed against Professor Makarand Paranjape who is on a lecture of the West and politically seen in the manner in which veteran BJP leader and MLA O. Rajagopal in Kerala was attacked and scores of BJP and RSS workers killed by leftist cadres.

» Anirban Ganguly is the Director of the Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Follow him on Twitter @anirbanganguly

BJPs Amit Shah exposes Kerala's Leftist violence

Communist Holocaust