Friday, May 29, 2009

Chapter 1

  1. Gandhi says: 'Mahabharatha is not history; it is a dharma grantha. .... In this battle, moreover, the warriors were, on one side, the sons of Dharma, Vayu, Indra and Ashwanikumars and, on the other, a hundred brothers all born at the same instant. Have we ever heard of such a thing happening? ....the epic describes the battle ever raging between the countless Pandavas and Kauravas dwelling within us.'

  2. Besides Karna, Duryodhana had good men like Bhishma and Drona also on his side. This suggests that evil cannot by itself flourish in this world. It can only do so if it is allied with some good. This was the underlying non-cooperation that the evil system which the [Colonial British] Government represents, and which has endured only because of the support it receives from good people, cannot survive if that support is withdrawn.

  3. Arjuna is asking, not whether it is necessary that should fight, but against whom he has to fight. If he did not wish to fight, he would have told Krishna so on the previous day itself. Krishna could not give any advise other than he gave in the Gita to Arjun that he should not make a distinction between others and his kin. Had Arjuna refused to fight in the middle of the battle ground his army would have been trampled to death by a larger army of Duryodhana.

Some excerpts from Bhagvat Gita as interpretted by Gandhi

I am reading an book "The Bhagvat Gita by M K Gandhi" published by Diamond Books. I just want to record some the points that make a deep impression on my mind. I feel the interpetation of Gita by Gandhi would be most appropriate to study as he was the one who could realize the full potential of this great text and hence also didnot get trapped into bigotry and senseless contempt for other cultures and an arrogance for his own.

  1. Rules for studying Shastras:
    1. One must have a well cultivated moral sensibility and experience in the practice of their truths.
    2. One should not stick to its letter, but try to understand its spirit, its meaning in total context.

      For the second point he gives an interesting illustration:Tulsidas' Ramayana is one of the greatest works because its spirit is that of purity, compassion and devotion to God. He says 'an evil fate awaits one who beats his wife because Tulsidas has said in his work that a Sudra, a dull witted person, a beast and a woman merit chastisement. ' He explains that Rama never raised his hand against Sita, he did not even displease her at anytime (what abt the time he left her? I dunno, wish i could ask him). .... Ramayana was not composed to justify men beating their wives. It was composed to display the character of a perfect man, to tell us abt Sita, the noblest among chaste and devoted wives, and to delineate the ideal devotion of Bharath. He says "The support which the work seems to lend to evil customs should be ignored. Tulsidas did not compose his priceless work to teach geography. We should therefore reject any erroneous statements of geographical character which we may find in it." (I wanted to the mention the last sentence in the view of various controversies that surround us like Ram Sethu, Akhand Bharath and the location of birth place of Ram).

  2. It is the very beauty of a good poem that it is greater than its author.

  3. Did Arjuna's obsitnate refusal to fight had anything to do with non - violence? No. He had faught often enough in the past. In the present context he just did not wish to fight against his own kinsmen. Lord Krishna tells him 'You have already committed violence. By talking now like a wise man, you will not learn non-violence. Having started in this course, you must finish the job.' Gandhi further argues that had Arjuna had a general dislike for kiling anyone and had asked Krishna, the questions stated in Gita, the night before the battle he could have avoided bloodshed by trying to win over Duryodhana. Aksing the questions right in the middle of battle field changed the context.

  4. Duryodhana and his supporters represent the Satanic impulses in us, and Arjuna and others stand for Godward impulses. The Battlefield is our body.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Future Impeferfect: danger of wrong turns by Left, Right and Centre

I had voted for the Congress in 09 Lok Sabha Elections, but I am far from happy with these results. No no, I didn't wish for a absolute majority by the Congress on its own but quite the contrary. I have a bag of mixed feelings. While it is good for the country as present to have a stable government with a strong national party at the centre of gravity of the coalition and the complete rejection of Modi and Varun Gandhi style of politics and even to some extent the politics Mr. Advani had stood for and a longing for Vajpayee style of politics. I am quite concerned about the tectonic shift in the polity that has occurred. I am a firm votary of change one step at a time.

This rapid increase in the muscle power of the Congress scares me. It could only be explained by steroids of out of times left and right firmly clinging to their ideological positions which do not have any juice. But as the case with any steroids, this may have side effects for the Congress and the nation more importantly. It remains to be seen that this resurgence of Congress takes it to what style of politics:
  • The Nehru style where there is space for many many strong leaders at every level who make Nehru even taller whether they agree with him at every point or not. The democratic statesman who would never trade his principles for small gains or personal vengeance. The style where the adversaries are great leaders in their respect too and have great respect for each other irrespective of each other's views. The Congress which did not need a slogan to win elections but the constant effort of their government and party to make small positive changes every day in the lives of the citizens which accumulate to a good amount by the end of five years.
  • The Indira Gandhi style of politics, where any criticism is not welcome and can make you lose your position irrespective of whether the party or the leader has the right to do so. The style of politics which rules not by moral strength of the mission of changing peoples' lives but but infiltrating all institutions of governance and undermining them. The style of governance where Congress party can be described by the persona of a couple of leaders and a sham is put up as CWC (Congress Working Committee) where the supreme leaders appoints and sacks members at his own will. Where there is no space for two tall leaders because the sky is so low, hence no leader could be as towering as Nehru. (Actually I find Modi wrong when he says that the present congress party is 125 years old and thus crediting it with leading the Freedom movement. The present congress took birth in 1969 and the Congress which lead the freedom movement died then Congress(S) [it will be fair to say that Congress(s) was more in sync with the old Congress]).
Already the omens are pointing to towards Indira and not Nehru. Interestingly Nehru never caught the imagination of the average Indian as Indira Gandhi (ji, not putting a ji is considered blasphemy by some ) did. Thus it is not a surprise that the two Gandhi siblings often invoke Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi more than they invoke Nehru. The Congressmen have already become too complacent and arrogant with this victory. The infamous former chief minister of Maharashtra Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh ( who truly lived to his name during his stint as chief minister with countless number of suicides and 26/11 and the Ram Gopal Verma bollywood tour he took after 26/11 ) has arrogantly stated that Congress should go alone in the assembly elections. He comfortably ignores the terrible performance of Congress led government in Maharashtra and that the Congress wins is more due to the presence of Raj Thackeray than any other person (even Rahul Gandhi).

Same is the case with the new generation of leaders in Congress party who feel no shame in over praising Rahul (ji of course) and giving him complete credit to the election win discounting the the good performance of the UPA government and bad performance of BJP opposition to his election campaigns. The sycophancy has already reached considerable level, if they set a new record can be better answered by the men who have seen Indira Gandhi's times. Mr. Sindhia goes even further suggesting that Rahul Gandhi should be made the prime minister right now not caring about the public mandate given in favour of Manmohan Singh that too when for the first time Congress declared its prime ministerial candidate before elections. It is sad but not wonder that no Congress leader would even say that no its Dr. Singh for whom we asked votes for and he must remain in power for full five years. I pity Mr. Rahul Gandhi that he is like a king of fables surrounded by foot licking courtiers who would not blink even if he goes in his birthday suit in the crowd but thinks that he is wearing the most beautiful robe of all. I hope Mr. Rahul drops people who even when of the age of his grandfather calls him ji from his group of advisers and inducts some who would be critical of him when ever he takes a wrong step. Else he must keep his ears firmly stuck to the opposition mics which may be able to give him some direction, but they always ruin their value by criticizing on every issue. I hope the democratization process started by Rahul in Congress does not get impeded by this win ( as it removes the stimulus to do so if viewed in that perspective) and he gets a good set of colleagues where he may be the first among equals and finds meaningful opinions rather than foot licking at every idea of his. I hope he be as lucky as his great grandfather Mr. Nehru during the early days of free India to have strong leaders (Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Raja ji, Kriplani, and many more) to keep him in check.

Even in the present times, statements from leaders like Mr. Deshmukh indicate that Congressmen who consider it their divine right to rule the nation, the governance may take a back seat as the Congressmen discover that its the same mundane job of running the government that they have been doing for the past 50 years (Precisely for the same reason the NDA government did well as they were in power for the first time and were less corrupt and had less inertia if we go by the adage 'Power corrupts'). I seriously hope that these situations remain just on this blog and people do vote for progress and not like olden days as sheep vote for Congress no matter how the performance is.

I shall talk about the left and the right later.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Indira Gandhi and Julius Caesar

For a many days this thought has been haunting my mind that how similar politically were the times of Indira Gandhi and Julius Caesar. Caesar rose to popularity by defeating and literally burning down Carthege. Nothing was held more in awe by the Romans than the Carthege civilization and Caesar caught their imagination by destroying their worst nightmare. This demi God status kindled the arrogance and ambition in Caesar to spur him to cross the Rubicon. What happened next was that in loud and thunderous applause the very thing the Romans prized above all was lost, the republic was lost.

Now lets take the case of Indira Gandhi. She rose to the stature of Durga (called by none other than Mr. Vajpayee) by disintegrating the Carthege of India. Despite being better in every sense than the later Indians feared it and more hated it. It took not much time for Mrs. Gandhi to cross the Indian Rubicon. Emergency was just like reaching the other side of it. Much happened before. Democracy was again lost in most flattering and almost foot licking applause. The bureaucracy and the corruption we all have to bear today was seedling of this era which was carefully nurtured by all parties and governments (state and centre) from thereon.

Both these political and historical figures died violent deaths and used violence to turn around their hopeless careers. Particularly the case with Mrs. Gandhi, just few years before the Bangladesh war the congress had split with all the stalwarts of the congress in Congress(S) (S stands for syndicate, the Democratic group which decides the major policy issues) the democratic congress, true heir of the Congress which fought for freedom. I don't know what would have been the fate of Congress(I) (I stands for Indira) if the Bangladesh war had not happened. Quite similar was the case if I am correct with Caesar.

The sad part is that things have not changed in a thousands of years and still fear and hatred are the strongest movers. I want to ask, could there had been a solution to East Bengal (Bangladesh) problem which would keep Pakistan intact? Would it have generated an immense good will for India in the hearts of Pakistani people and helped India in the longer term? I feel it would have elevated the status of India as a statesman and we would have had far more friendly neighbours who have more common with us than with any other nation on the Earth. It would have given a lot of peace to the region and possibly there would have been no terrorism and an amicable solution to Kashmir problem as well. I may be stretching it bit far but it is a very likely possibility. Today the situation of the Tamils in Sri Lanka is very distressful but Indian government never talks of creating a separate state for them even if it electorally the right rhetoric. I am not fully aware of the options the Government had then so I concede that I may not be right when I state the arguments in this paragraph.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PM 's Resume

I dont think many of us would be able to match this even if we lived for 200 years.

BJP at Crossroads

The BJP has been steadily working to become a part of the main stream politics with respect to secularism, if one goes by their manifesto.

The Ram Mandir issue the manifesto says "The BJP will explore all possibilities, including negotiations and judicial proceedings, to facilitate the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya."

It has a progressive view on the Waqf properties "The BJP will examine the recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee regarding Waqf properties headed by Shri K Rahman Khan, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha, and would, in consultation with Muslim religious leaders, take steps to remove encroachments from and unauthorised occupation of waqf properties."

Also far from the VHP rhetoric the manifesto says "The Ministry of Minority Affairs, today a stagnant source of toxic politics, will be revitalised into a hub for economic projects specifically targeted towards employment creation. There will be special emphasis on crafts and small-scale industries that have been traditional employers of minorities...The success stories of Muslims in sports, cinema, industry and a host of other fields, as individuals and team players, makes every Indian proud...Terrorism does not have a religion. Those who espouse terrorism have stepped outside the moral code of their religion into barbarism. We must lift community-relations from the morass of misunderstanding."

The other side:
It is very sad to note that there is an ideological war going on with the BJP. It has not been able to free it self from the clutches of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar.

While all nice ideas has been put up in the manifesto, the implementation of the communal agenda goes without any manifesto and without the mandate of the people. The case in point can be Karnataka and Gujrat where the chief ministers ask for votes on development planks but the parivar organizations run their organized gangs to polarize the society and terrorize the minorities.

This civil war in BJP can be best represented by the two stalwarts of BJP Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Lal Krishan Advani. While Mr. Vajpayee was seen as a moderate who is proud of his culture and religion and is a through democrat and gentleman. Mr. Advani can be viewed as a hardliner who denigrates other religions and does not mind his crowd turning into a "vanar sena" and bringing a mosque down. While Mr. Vajpayee an eminent poet and a wonderful speaker built his political carrier patiently from 1952 and was elected to the post of PM in 1998, Mr. Advani chose a short cut to fame and rode the notorious rath tearing through the heart land of India and leaving a trail of bloodshed and an unforgettable wound.

Sadly today it seems that Mr. Vajpayee was a glorious exception to the rules of fame and hierarchy in BJP. Today, the Advanis call the shots and no one wants to make his name by treading a long and boring righteous route. It is sad to see that this trend continues more forcefully in the younger generation of BJP leaders. The biggest shame(not fame) Mr. Narandra Modi has earned is due to his connivance in the Gujrat pogrom. Being the most progressive CM is just a sham needed to deceive the middle class which does not find any merits in hard line hindutva. Gujrat is a state of entrepreneurs and was growing at the same pace as today long before Mr. Modi enetered Gujrat politics. Perhaps it could have done better if Mr. Modi was not there and Mr. Patel held the reins of power in Gujrat BJP. Today gujrat is socially divided into two parts Hindus and Muslims. The trade relations between the two have diminished to negligible. Had the polarisation of society not occurred Gujrat could have more inter co operation between industries and more trade. It is sad to see the Sangh foot lickers endorsing Mr. Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the next elections. It is said that symbolism plays a very important role in India. That way there will be very few things worse than having leaders who wreck the communal harmony of nation leading it from the front.

Just recently Mr. B.L. Sharma Prem, BJP candidate for Lok Sabha Elections in Delhi, let out his frustration of not being able to compete with congress in Delhi by spewing venom against the minorities. This was a direct result of his arithmetic going wrong when the BSP candidate openly declared support for Congress.

On the more talked about issue, it took just a speech for Mr. Varun Gandhi to become influential in the BJP and be one of its star campaigners. The impact was so high that people started talking about Varun Gandhi vs Rahul Gandhi battle for PM ship in 2014. Just a few days before it was uncertain whether Mr. Varun will be able to retain his seat of not.

Is it so easy to get to the top in the BJP? Does every leader have to be baptized with these irresponsible acts to be elevated to a larger role in the party? How much trust can we put on the BJP manifesto which advocates moderatism? How should we read into the coronation of venom spewers in the context of moderation of BJP? What is real the intent behind the manifesto or the manifesto evident from these acts? Will any new Vajpayees like Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Mr. Chauhan and Mr. Raman Singh find larger roles in BJP based on their hard work and moderatism or will their jump to national centre stage be a compulsion of alliances like the case was with Mr. Vajpayee?