Rajendra's Blog

40. निशान साहेब

शीकांच्या धर्मध्वजला निशान साहेब व त्यावरील चिन्हाला खांडा म्हणतात: दोन कटारी (किरपान), दुधारी तलवार (खांडा) आणी चक्र (चक्कर). तसं त्यांच्या धर्मग्रंथ (गुरुग्रंथ साहब) वरील  चिन्ह आहे: ੴ, म्हणजे "एक ओंकार". शीक गरजूं साठी अन्न पुरवण्याची आणि पीडितांना संरक्षण देण्याची जबाबदारी घेतात. त्यांचं घोषवाक्य आहे: देग तेग फतेह (ਦੇਗ ਤੇਗ਼ ਫਤਿਹ). देग (देगची) म्हणजे अन्न शिजवतात ते पात्र. "देग तेग फतेह" म्हणून त्याचं (धर्म)गान आंगावर शहारे आणतं.

39. बौद्धांचा धर्म-ध्वज

बौद्धांचा धर्म-ध्वज. असं म्हणतात, बुद्धांंना ज्ञान प्राप्त झाले तेंव्हा त्यांच्या शरीरातून आभाळाचे सहा रंग उत्सर्जित झाले. ध्वजातील पट्टे त्याचे प्रतिनिधित्व करतात— निळा: वैश्विक करुणा; पिवळा: मध्य मार्ग; लाल: धर्म-पालनचे फळ (कर्तृत्व, बुद्धीमत्ता, सद्गुण, भाग्य आणि प्रतिष्ठा); पांढरा: धर्माची मुक्तीकडे नेणारी कालातीत शुद्धता; केशरी: बुद्धाच्या शिकवणींचे तत्वज्ञान. सहाव्या, उभ्या पट्टयांतील मिश्रित रंग बुद्धांच्या शिकवणीचे सत्य किंवा प्रभसार (प्रभ=प्रकाश) दाखवितात. जैनांसारखंच बौद्ध दर्शनात सुद्धा सर्वशक्तिमान परमेश्वर दिसून येत नाही. भारतात बौद्ध (0.7%) आणी जैन (0.4%) अल्पसंख्यक आहेत. देश बहुधर्मी असल्याने घटनेच्या basic structure प्रमाणे सन 1950 पासूनच आपलं शासन धर्मनिरपेक्ष आहे.

38. जैन ध्वज

जैनांच्या झेंड्यात त्यांचे संपूर्ण दर्शन आले आहे. पाच रंग पंच-परमेष्ठीचे प्रतिनिधीत्व करतात: अरिहंत, सिद्ध, आचार्य, उपाध्याय आणी साधु/साध्वी. स्वस्तिकचे चार भाग आत्म्याचे चार अस्तित्व दाखवितात. वरील तीन ठिपके या धर्माचे तीन रत्न आहेत: सम्यक दर्शन/ ज्ञान/ चरित्र. चंद्राकार सिद्धशिला (बृह्माडंतील सर्वोच्च स्थान) दर्शवितो. तेथे मोक्षला प्राप्त झालेला आत्मा निवास करतो. जैन दर्शनात देवी-देवता आहेत पण सर्वशक्तिमान परमेश्वर नाही.

37. एक पुणं, तीन हिंदू 

"हिंदू" शब्द पुरातन काळात देशाबाहेरून आला. मुगल शासकांनी (सन 1526, बाबर), ईस्ट-इंडिया कंपनीने (सन 1608), इंग्रजी सरकारने (सन 1958) व शेवटी स्वतंत्र भारताने (सन 1950) "हिंदू" शब्द भारताचा बहुसंख्य धर्म म्हणून स्वीकारला. मुस्लिम, ख्रिस्ती यांच्या पेक्षा वेगळे "हिंदू" अधिनियम झाले. तेच अधिनियम जैन, बौद्ध शीक धर्मां करिता सुद्धा लागू आहेत. निरखून बाघितले तर आज रोजी पुण्यात तीन प्रकारचे हिंदू दिसून येतात: पुरोगामी, जातीवादी, आणि हिंदू-राष्ट्रवादी  हिंदू. 

पुरोगामी  हिंदू 

हा जातिवादच्या वर उठलेला हिंदू धर्मनिरपेक्ष, उदारवादी, भारतीय घटनेचा समर्थक, अहिंसक हिंदू आहे. त्याचा आदर्श: "सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः। सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः। सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु। मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत्॥". भगवा झेंडा पुरोगामी हिंदू करिता घोर त्याग आणि तपस्येचा चिन्ह असून अ-हिंदूला त्याच्या पासून कोणतेच भय नाही.

जातीवादी हिंदू

मनुस्मृतिच्या वर्णव्यवस्थेत अडकलेला गतीहीन हिंदू; तो जातीबाहेर लग्न करत नाही. तसं स्पष्ट बोलत नसला तरी व्यवहाराने त्याच्या पुढे जन्माने ब्राह्मण सर्वश्रेष्ठ, नंतर क्षत्रिय/ वैश्य/ शूद्र क्रमश: निकृष्ट -- स्त्री, ट्रान्सजेंडर दुय्यम. "गे" वगेरे या हिंदूला कळतच नाही. स्त्रियांना रा.स्व.स. मध्ये प्रवेश नाही, म्हणून या संस्थेची सामाजिक संस्था म्हणून नोंदणी भारतीय घटनेनुसार शक्य नाही. 

हिंदु-राष्ट्रवादी हिंदू

याची "हिंदू" शब्दाची (चालाख) व्याख्या: ज्यांची पुण्यभूमि भारत, ते सगळे हिंदू.  भगवा झेंड्याखाली "इस्लामिक रिपब्लिक ऑफ पाकिस्तान"च्या चाली वर देशाचा "हिंदू रिपब्लिक ऑफ भारत" करणे हे या प्रतिगामी हिंदूचे राजकारणी दिवास्वप्न आहे. हे भयानक नसतं तर इतर भारतीयांना हास्यास्पद वाटलं असतं. 

36. Joe says it better

I wish to quote Joe Simonetta, Co-managing Director of the TSC board: 

Reminds me of two words I find disturbing: atheist and secular. [Just b]ecause I do not believe in supernatural beings, products of the infancy of our intelligence, I do not want to be defined as an “atheist.” I do not want to be defined by what I do not believe. I can be define somewhat by what I do believe in. Similarly,  [just] because I do not ascribe to one of countless religions, again products of thousands of years ago, I do not want to be defined as “secular.” 

I don’t want to be pigeon-holed.

35. Are we on track?

To: friends on India WhatsApp group of TSC: 

It seems our group has still not grasped the purpose why we have this community called TSC. Promoting secular values is important but not our sole purpose. And we are definitely not here to argue the religious folks out of their religions and convert to atheism. That would be like any religious mission. Indeed, we are not into any ism at all. 

When we say we have moved beyond religion it means religion is not for us to debate. We have no reason to doubt our rational, irreligious position. Besides, converting religious folks into atheism by argument is impossible. Argument and religion are (shall we say) oxymorons. Even converting from one religion to another religion requires a lot of incentives as Christian missionaries offer.

Crowds behave like children, and according to psychologists the best way to take a child's attention away from a negative activity is to distract it towards a positive activity. So, instead of promoting secular'ism' we do and draw society's attention to everything that is rational necessary. We simply lead by example. 

So to say "environment is just an irreligious issue" and "it does not highlight secular way of life" is contrary to the truth. Rather  environment is a very important irreligious issue, and it totally highlights the secular way of life. When we engage with society on environment (and other rational) issues, through our secular approach we are sending out the message that it's the best to be rational. 

True, environmental protection, as an awareness activity, is not limited to secular people alone. Religious will join, and that is the point. This activity itself does not involve religion, therefore we can freely lead or work with such groups: Conditionally. 

That is, we do not allow religion to enter into such a work or collaborative work. For instance, as lawyer, I represent pro-bono one environment group in the National Green Tribunal (West Zone) in their cases against indiscriminate felling of trees by civic body. But in case of another group, I publicly objected (giving detailed reason) to a saffron flag fixed by one participant on his bicycle at a bicycle rally for clean air recently. 

This sent out a clear message, and the group has promised to introduce a rule against religious symbolism in all their activities. If more TSC members in a city join such activities of social significance we shall lend a strong voice to the cause of secularism even though we are a miniscule minority in India. 

On the other hand, discussing secularism in the comfort zone of our closed WhatsApp group among like-minded people lends us emotional security but gets us no further in the world. We can use WhatsApp groups to brain-storm and strategize. But stepping out, 'out in the cold', I think, is necessary.

34. Atheist Organizations

      Atheism is a personal position—like being (say) vegan, or lesbian. In general, being an atheist, or being a member of an atheist organization does not automatically make one rational. LGBTQs may huddle together for safety (laws are sketchy), but atheism is no crime in India. It is not dangerous to be an atheist. Therefore, safety is not a ground for atheists to huddle into an organization. At best an atheist organization could function as an efficient institution to provide a platform for free, rational conversation in a structured way without any attempt of indoctrination.  Otherwise, and also given generations of conditioning, organized atheism is prone to developing features of an organized religion with atheist leaders replacing spiritual leaders: The followers remaining the same: sheep (citing from Christianity) blessed to be led into green pastures near still water and equally mean toward fellow humans. Such organizations cannot bring about any social change around them.

      In contrast, organized opposition to blind faith on the scientific grounds is brave rationalism (note the dangers of the word “blind”). An organization with members devoted to promote secularism is also rationalism. Still, we can talk about them only as organizations with specific agenda., like ANiS or TSC. There can be no ‘organized rationalism’ just like there cannot be ‘organized big-bang theory’.

      Atheist rationalism can be discerned from irrationality by conduct of the atheists. Whether individually or as organization, do our atheists embrace democratic principles? Are they tolerant to dissent? Do they follow ‘due process’ in resolving differences? Do they fight local corruption? What they do against the filth in our streets and rivers? Do they hold their elected representatives accountable? Will they unite for asking public offices, Courts, to remove temples from their premises? Or, at least, will they be vocal in support of politically subdued 2017 GR of Fadnavis Government directing all government institutions to keep religion out of their premises? (On my RTI query the Government never said the GR was revoked, as then claimed by Press.)

      Rationalism is about living rationalism, not speaking about it. Someone living rationalism is on a journey to eventually go beyond religion to become an atheist or secular. If our atheists / organizations draw a blank on rationally dealing with issues facing citizens (themselves), then it is all about speeches, high tea and misguided politics. Not rationalism.

33. These "Sick"ular people

Secularism is a sinful political doctrine that represents state–religion seperation. When a nation adopts this doctrine, the most pious thing of our life, the religion, must exit its institutions. Meaning, religion and spirituality have no place in the matter of decision making in governance! What a sacrilegious thing to even say!! How can one govern without the blessing of the God? Knowing this, our PM always has temple visits on his official itinerary. 

If it weren't for this idiotic doctrine of secularism, it would be legal for Parliament to pass a law (for instance) that every public office have a temple. After marking attendance every public servant will pray and invoke the blessings of the God. They will perform an "aarati" before closing their office. Thank God despite the doctrine, a temple is always made and the first of these two absolutely necessary acts (prayer) does voluntarily happen daily in most of our public offices (except in those anti-national southern states). 

The second of these necessary acts (aarati) doesn't happen daily in public offices only because it is not possible for a worldly public servant to commit him/herself to stay in the office till the closing hour.  Still, the "aarati" part is performed on special occasions (like Ganapati) at the office for few days in a year. We do our best. Thank God, all heads and senior officers of our public Institutions duly cooperate. During Ganesh utsav the Pune police commissioner can be seen running from mandal to mandal to perform Ganesh aarati in crisp uniform (minus the shoes). This keeps the city free of crimes round the year.

So the good news for the religious Indian is although Nehru–Ambedkar guys tried to destroy ancient Indian ethos by declaring India a secular nation, the Indian citizen has fearlessly rejected this atrocious Constitutional notion. India as a proud nation will never allow this Nehruvian conspiracy to succeed. It is the sins of our previous lives (and the sins of Nehru–Gandhi family) that India keeps slipping down in hunger index and income gap is increasing. We must be patient untill all our sins are washed away by this God-given penance. Religion is the greatest of all. There is no salvation without religion.

32. Motivation

Or, what motivates us: a thought, an idea, a conviction, or a leader? Or a new Shephard of Psalm 23 in the town?

I reached out to 250 (Brights') + 500 (Bhagat Singh manch) atheists of the region + two leaders + one Human Rights activist, for support for raising a small voice against a small temple in a small local court. This small act was in a small but direct defence of the local atheists' rights and in support of the larger idea of atheism. 

And yet, not ONE came forward on the ground. This has left me wondering if we are moved by an idea, a conviction of our own, or the  religious sanskar of reverence (faith, belief in a deity, a person, a Guru), which actually marks theism. Aren't we back to square one. 

I am reminded of a prayer-leaflet I was give at a Brugge church that read from Psalm 23:The Lord (read 'leader') is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing. He will make me lie down in green pastures: and lead me beside still waters. He will refresh my soul: and guide me in right pathways for His name's sake ...

This will never happen. The right pathway could be just a small rational idea that we embraced for its own sake. Several such ideas lend meaning to our life, naturally. Not because someone told us to in a lecture at a gathering we attended.

31. रोबोट अडवोकेट 

This article is contributed by Advocate Sanghamitra of Pune

तू आमच्या क्षेत्रात येशील अशी बातमी कळली आणि मनात खूप प्रश्न निर्माण झाले. तुझं खूप कौतुक काही वाटलं आणि तितकीच उत्सुकता पण निर्माण झाली. वाटलं किती छान सगळी काम कशी पटापट होतील. डिजिटल इंडिया झाल्याचं सार्थक झाल्यासारखं वाटलं. वाटलं किती छान पटकन सगळं तुझ्या लक्षात राहील ड्राफ्टिंग आर्ग्युमेंट सगळं कसं धडाक्यात करशील. सगळं कसं भरभरा स्कॅन, झेरॉक्स, कॉपी करत जाशील आणि तुझ्या मेमरी मध्ये स्टोअर करत जाशील. तुझ्या एका क्लिकवर सगळं तुला मिळेल.

पण मनातलं खरं सांगू का?

ट्राफिक मध्ये अडकलोय कोर्टात पोहोचायला वेळ लागेल असं तू कधी बोलशील? 

बाळाची तब्येत ठीक नाहीये मी जरा लवकर घरी जाऊ का असं कधी विचारशील? 

साहेब आजच्या आर्ग्युमेंट वर आजच ऑर्डर करतील का अशी उत्सुकता तुला पण कधी लागेल?

भाऊसाहेब पटकन नीट काही सांगतच नाहीत अशी त्यांची तक्रार कधी  करशील?

कोर्टातली ऑर्डर चांगल्या अक्षरात का लिहून आणली नाही म्हणून कधी ओरडा खाशील?

आज किती छान ड्रेस घातलाय खूप छान दिसताय अस दिलखुलास कौतुक करशील?

आज काय भारी क्रॉस घेतली असं म्हंटल्यावर  हुरळून जाशील?

जेवण झालं का चला जरा चहा घेऊन येऊ असं आम्ही एकमेकांना विचारतो तसं काळजीने विचारशील?

कुणी पुढे चाललं तर त्याला प्रोत्साहन देशील की त्याचे पाय खेचशील, सोबत काम करताना एकमेकांच्या अडचणी समजून घेशील का गृहीत धरशील की परीक्षा बघशील का पक्षपातीपणा करशील?

End of the day खिशात पैसे येतील का याचं तुला पण टेन्शन येईल का?

बरोबर काय यापेक्षा बरोबर कोण यात अडकून गोंधळून जाशील ?

पक्षकारांचे दुःख भावना नाराजी त्रागा तेवढ्याच आत्मियतेने समजून घेशील, केसची लाईन ऑफ ऍक्शन ठरवताना, प्रत्येक स्ट्रॅटजीत आम्हाला सोबत घेशील?

तू पण मागशील का आमच्यासारखे फ्री मध्ये वाचनालय, स्वच्छ वॉशरूम कोर्ट आणि बाररुम, कपाटे, पार्किंग, विमा, आर्थिक सुरक्षा, स्टायफंड आणि सीनियर्सचा ज्ञानाचा अनुभवाचा वारसा?

सगळे लॉ, रुल्स, रेगुलेशन्स, केस लॉज, प्रोसिजर्स सगळं अधाशासारखं वाचशील की कधी कधी कंटाळा पण करशील?

तू पण जगशील का एकत्र जमून एकमेकांच्या वाढदिवसाचे- गॅदरिंगचे, ज्ञानाच्या अनुभवाच्या देवाणघेवाणीचे उत्साहाचे क्षण?

आमच्यातल्या कुणाच्याही अचानक एक्झिट ने तुझ्या काळजात पण कालवा कालव होईल काय तुझे डोळे तसेच पाणवतील का?

जनतेच्या - आमच्या प्रश्नासाठी अन्याय - विषमते विरुद्धची समान संधीसाठीची  कायद्याची न्यायालयीन - रस्त्यावरची लढाई करशील?

अतिथी देवो भव म्हणून तुझं स्वागतच करावं, पण मग जमेल तुला आमच्यासारखं राहायला आमच्या अस्तित्वाची लढाई लढायला .

[13/1/2023]

30. Bharat Jodo and how

Rahul Gandhi has earned accolades of all right-thinking Indians in that his nation-long march is the only political initiative to counter the divide being created by lowly media and their owners. I attended one 1.5-km long Bharat Jodo subsidiary march recently at Pune. It was organized by local Congress body and attended by social activists who carried placards, raised slogans and delivered speeches generating positive vibes. The 'march' ended with people sitting around tables at a restaurant chatting over breakfast. People had come from long distances.

We parted after exchanging numbers that were soon forgotten. Once home, the routine commenced. The unity that was visible in the 'march' did not accompany us to our neighborhood. We were the same old society, divided over petty issues and false pride with no common sense of purpose. Then the question arose in my mind if the national-level Bharat Jodo will ever connect Indians at the local level. 

The Indians unite under a leader, then fragment apart no sooner than the leader leaves the scene. Leaderless, eventually people turn strangers to each other. I think more than Bharat Jodo we need neighborhood-jodo campaigns. A democratic roundtable, a group walk, a social meet, where everyone leads and joins hands for unity with the aim of improving the quality of life. Then they translate their talk into appropriate action to eradicate corruption, mis-governance and inequality, as also the garbage from their footpaths long neglected by local administration. [14/1/2023]

29. Friendship and love

There is always an intrigue associated with the terms love and friendship, with the element of sex thrown in. When two or more sexually opposites get acquainted, they may build friendship and with time, natural hormones may come into play to confuse and complicate the equation. For anyone not guided by traditional religious models of relationship it is necessary to define, recognize and weigh its various facets and establish (or demolish) boundaries with a clear understanding of what to expect from a relationship. Hence, this brief article based on my thoughts and web research.

According to the triangular theory of love by the American psychologist Robert Sternberg three factors (constituting a triangle) determine the type of relationship between two individuals: passion (a strong feeling of emotion, an intense desire, “P”), intimacy (a feeling of closeness, familiarity, “I”) and commitment (“C”). The reader may draw or imagine this triangle PIC, with its three corners and three sides to get a grasp of the concept. 

When the parties share all P, I and C, the love is consummate, the model that tops all relationships but may not last for ever. Other relationships exist on the corners and the sides of the triangle PIC. 

Let us take the case when the parties are at one of the three corners of the triangle PIC. When parties are only passionate about each other (P) without intimacy or commitment, there is this silly, stupid infatuation.

Friendship emerges when both share intimacy (I) but not mutual passion and commitment. Friendship can be without or with benefits. Friendship with benefit refers to non-committal sex added to friendship. Presence of only commitment (C) without intimacy and passion signifies empty love. Perhaps a case of a couple long bored of each other. 

Moving from the corners to the sides of the triangle, when intimacy combines with passion (PI) without commitment, the romantic relationship is established that craves to consummate love by adding commitment.  But passion with commitment (PC) without intimacy is fatuous, or pointless love. Rather no love. It is confusing and creates strain between parties. Lastly, intimacy and commitment (IC) without passion constitute companiate love—as between an ageing, devoted couple. 

In society the relationships are often governed by religious and traditional prejudices. Rational individuals while taking responsibility of their actions are only concerned with the legal consequences and ethics of the relationship. Therefore, they may choose to be in what is known as ‘relationship anarchy’ wherein parties adhere to only mutually established rules, and to no external rule. [06/1/2023]

28. Politically-right rationalists of India

Vishwambhar Choudhari (in his lecture at a Brights' event at Pune on 18/12/2022) granted atheists the same sanctuary in India as the BJP grants to Muslims. Live here ("you have right to not believe") but you must recognize our ethos, meaning our religions. (Hindustan me rehna hoga to jai shriram kehna hoga.) How can one (be) progress(ive) carrying the baggage of the dead past on the back? 

He mentioned at the outset that religion is necessary for political correctness. Indeed, his entire speech reflects political correctness. Extra marks for simultaneously being both Gandhian and Ambedkarite. This is quite a feat: To claim the support of two large but opposing constituencies. 

His reading of Constitution is limited to inclusiveness. When he says Constitution doesn't recognize any one religion, he implies it recognizes all religions. This is not the same thing as Constitution declaring India as a secular nation. 

He says he's neither atheist nor theist. There is a simple phrase to describe such people: fence-sitters. They are quick to drop any side as per the convenience, usually the winning side. Can't trust them for any counsel when you're in a moral dilemma. 

After his narrow reading of the Preamble, his I am progressive within the framework of Constitution doesn't get us anywhere. In his 11:20 min of my-me-myself I liked his saying he doesn't approve religious processions in the streets, but the temples (almost all are on encroached public lands) are ok by him.

Atheism need not be a revolution. It need not be a political ambition. It is an intellectual position and a way of bringing such people out of anonymity into open spaces where they can breath and feel they have option to not take compulsory religious doses on daily basis in order to socialize with fellow-humans. So to get an urban pravachankar who cites from Gyaneshwari ("guru konta changla?") in a Brights' event is the least I, as atheist, would care for. 

So his invitation to critique the god, or to study scripture to beat the religious guys with their own shastras is indeed an invitation to enter what was called shastrartha in the ancient times. That's a trap to get us to recognize religion we have discarded after applying our own vivekvad (Vishwambhar's word). 

He suggests strategies to 'fight' religion, not knowing that atheists don't exist merely to fight any religion (though we may get dragged into arguments), but to promote rationalism, pragmatism. He louds Gandhi for his गोड (gentle) Ram, a family god with wife Sita at side as against the aggressive Ram of the far right. Both the Rams threw out a pregnant Sita to retain the kingdom.

Yes, Vishwambhar, धर्म सगळीकडे दिसतो. So what? Yes, our secular culture is poor in art and music. And here the ethos, culture make sense: we admire religious arts and culture as our historical heritage (not for worship of course). They are all around us because we have evolved from a past of centuries and centuries where religion (in the absence of science, which is just 200-year old) was omnipresent. 

That doesn't mean we don't or shall not see the secular art and music. See the modern urban architecture (even a mall) and their interiors to witness splendor of the secular arts. No gods staring down from the roofs. Enjoy the modern music of the west (if not of Bollywood) that celebrates diversity and free thought. (My generation needs lyrics.) Yes, not enough to beat the beautiful and ample ancient religious art and music around the world, but compare the time spans. 

The point is, atheists would not reject any piece of traditional art or music just because they celebrated religion. But only, and only as art and music. Let all artfully-built temples be cleared of façade defacing them (thanks to temple trusts), stop all worship, and you will see that atheists will throng to relish them. Pune's Dagdu ganapati included. 

27. Amazing Odisha

We (R and S) back-packed across the State of Odisha in India enjoying the heart-warming Oriya hospitality. We witnessed the ancient architecture at Konark and Puri. We soaked in the beauty of Satkosia on the banks of the majestic river Mahanadi. We walked and took waterways across Bhitarkanika, the most spectacular wildlife sanctuary of Asia.

“शेयर मार्केट मे नुकसान हो ही नहीं सकता (It is impossible to lose money in the share market)”, my travel companion told me with a condescending smile. When I raised eyebrows in disbelief he clarified, “Will SBI ever fail? If it does, will not (a large chunk of) India’s economy be wiped out?” I got his point about smart trading. To my earlier “What do you do?” he had told me with a smile, “Nothing!”, and then added, “I only trade in shares.” 

We were on the Bhubaneshwar bound Konark Express from Pune. With the long-distance train already running one hour 40 minutes late, even the ‘smart’ phones looked dumb after a while. So, most passengers got to talking and knowing each other. My own next-seat-share-trading neighbor was from Gorakhpur, settled in Telangana. He was traveling with his cheerful wife who, after an ice-breaking conversation, had produced and popped a coil of chewing tobacco, “a Secunderabad specialty” she informed us assuring, “I will go and spit in the toilet”. We shared our compartment with an Oriya finance professional working at Pune and a Maharashtrian group on pilgrimage to Jagannath temple at the holy city of Puri.

We ourselves were on the way to our 10-day sojourn across Odisha. We had carefully planned it months ago, not without some help from the local ‘Couch Surfing’ ambassador. Couch Surfing, for the uninitiated, is a global community of the travel bugged, and one of us (R) is its member. 

Our luggage consisted of each carrying a 30-L back-pack with adjustable shoulder straps and a fold-down cloth bag with strings to carry food. The latter is sold as shoe bag in the sports shops and when empty, folds to pocket size. S, like many of her tribe, cannot travel without a purse: Hers went into her own cloth bag that made her (few) valuables inconspicuous to any roving eye. My own valuables (cards, cash, etc.) went into the buttoned or zipped pockets of my attire. We took modest accommodations near train/bus stations we could walk to/from anytime of the day or night. We travelled either on foot or by public transport: train, bus, boat, ferry, tuk-tuks (six-seaters – shared, whenever possible). We ensured adequate rest periods to avoid fatigue and irritability.

Our movement across Odisha was our destination. At every moment of the journey, we curiously observed our surroundings: the streets, the houses, the activities; and the existential struggles of the diverse people, which gave us a sense of belongingness and made an emotional bond.  We constantly relished the beauty, the wisdom, the humor, the care, the love, and the hospitality of the people of Odisha: Whether the local Oriya, or the migrants from across the nation who made their living in the State. We cannot wait to share our Odisha experience, with some useful travel tips thrown in that the readers might find useful.   

26. Universal Etiquette

Are their rules of etiquette that should be acceptable to all civilized human societies across the world regardless of their culture or nationality? I had come across the answer to this question long ago. I have forgotten the sources, but here they are from my old diary:

(1) Do not interpret for people

(2) Do not evaluate for people,

(3) Do not reveal or use anything people say to you in confidence for any purpose except tor those agreed upon by them,

(4) Take full responsibility for situations involving other people,

(5) Make sure you comprehend what people are saying to you

(6) Be interested in other people; don't try to be interesting to them

(7) Always include an intention to help in your dealings with others

(8) In your dealings with people, take into account their physical and mental condition

(9) Make sure that interactions you have with people occur in a suitable space and at a suitable time

(10) Act in a predictable way so as not to surprise people

(11) Do not try to force people to do things against their will or over protest

(12) Stay focused on the activity in which you are engaged

(13) Let people complete cycles they start with you

I still find them very logical.  We shall discuss them in with The Secular Community: India Chapter

25. जगण्यासाठी मूलभूत मार्गदर्शक तत्त्वे

बहुतेक धर्म आपल्याला एका तथाकथित सर्वशक्तिमान अलौकिक अस्तित्वाने दिलेले पितृसत्ताक प्राचीन ग्रंथांचे अनुसरण करण्यास सांगतात, जे परस्परविरोधी संदेशांनी भरलेले आहेत. ते ग्रंथ तेंव्हा लिहिले होते जेव्हा निसर्गाच्या नियमांचे ज्ञान अस्तित्वात नव्हते. आज आपण स्वतः आपल्याकरीता योग्य मार्गदर्शक तत्त्वे तयार करण्यास सक्षम आहोत, जेणे  करून आपण एकमेकांशी आणि निसर्गाशी सुसंवाद साधून आनंदाने जगू शकतो. 

मूळातच बहुतेक लोक चांगलेच असतात. आपल्या सकारात्मक प्रेरणेनुसार जीवन जगण्यास प्रवृत्त होण्यासाठी एखाद्या तथाकथित अलौकिक अस्तित्वाची भीती बाळगण्याची गरज नाही. मार्गदर्शक तत्त्वांचा असा एक मूलभूत संच आहे, कि ज्याच्याशी सहमत होऊन समजूतदार लोक जीवन जगण्यासाठी त्याचे अनुसरण करू शकतात. आपल्याच इतिहासातील विविध संस्कृतींद्वारे अनेक पिढ्यांमध्ये विकसित आणि परिपक्व झालेले काही नियम पुढीलप्रमाणे आहेत:

इतरांनी आपल्याशी जसं वागायला हवं आपल्याला वाटतं तसंच आपण त्यांच्याशी वागावं.

आपण सर्वांना आपले कृत्य निवडण्याचे स्वातंत्र्य आहे, परंतु आपल्या कृत्यांच्या परिणामांची जबाबदारी देखील आपण घ्यायला हवी.

कोणाबरोबरही लिंग, वंश, संस्कृती, लैंगिक अभिमुखता, रंग, धर्म, वय किंवा वैयक्तिक श्रद्धा यावर आधारित कोणताही भेदभाव करू नये.

पर्यावरण आणि निसर्गाचा चा आदर करावा, आणि आपल्या कोणत्याही कृत्याने पुढच्या पिढ्यांसाठी निसर्गाच्या सौंदर्याचे व कृपेचे सुख कमी होणार नाही किंवा त्यांस धोका निर्माण होणार नाही याची सक्रियतेने  काळजी घ्यावी.

सक्षम व्यक्तीने आयुष्यभर स्वतः कमावले पाहिजे: इतरांवर बोजा टाकून स्वार्थीपणाने जगू नये.

(Translated from the website of The Secular Community. Retaining the meaning, the sentences have been edited to suit Marathi expressions.)

24. The Secular Community: India Chapter

29/9/2022

India Chapter of The Secular Community  aiming to organize 7000 members from India will be formally launched on 08/10/2022 at Pune.  While these members always existed on the Community database, their mutual interaction has been absent. The national chapter will allow members of this vast nation to organize themselves into regional groups and local groups for better coordination among themselves and with local population. It is also planned to provide India members with an organizational umbrella: A Cooperative, or a Trust, or a section-8 (not-for-profit) company registered under the Indian law, while remaining ideologically affiliated to the parent organization. 

If promoting secular values in India is the primary aim, then the challenges before the India Chapter are many.  Consider the language barrier: only 10% speak English.  And we have the social barriers: 81% are Hindus who are huddled into numerous castes, which they believe provide them some sort of security, despite the anti-caste laws. Thus, Hindus do not represent a homogenous society rendering communication of secular ideas across these castes very difficult. With major political parties relying on caste divide and religious sentiments to attract votes, the caste divide among Hindus and inter-faith divide among various religions are further widening. The current debate of the followers of the most powerful political parties is not around the missing secular values any more. Secularism is taking a back seat in a nation declared secular by its own Constitution. 

As against the developed world, vast education gap and income gap have created communities in India that live in social isolation from each other.  An elite housing colony may be contiguous with a huge slum area that provides cheap domestic help to that colony, but both represent two different worlds. There is no social connect between a family owning a swanky car and that of its underpaid domestic help or those in rags selling tea and biscuits on the footpath. And yet, the latter constitute the real India.

The India members joining The Secular Community on its English website represent an English-speaking computer-savvy educated minority, whose influence on the Indian polity is negligible. Many of these do not even vote. It is the other, economically backward classes among Indians, who vote: wooed as they are by politicians whom they vote to power, and in turn are made poorer by them. These are the people who are fed with religious beliefs on daily basis so they have no energy to consider the real issues. Touching the lives of this real India and to imbibe the much needed secular ideas in it will be a Himalayan challenge before the India Chapter.

I shall deal with the question of how to overcome those barriers in another article. As of now, there are other reasons to rejoice. For one, the India Chapter shall bring the secular citizens of India out of isolation they face even in their own families. This isolation is not surprising considering that only 3% of Indians are atheists or agnostics.  This is not to say that The Secular Community aims at creating an atheist society. On the contrary, secularism is to be free from any "ism": to lead a rational life free of all blind faiths. Atheist /agnostic may have argument: "there is no God" or "is there a God?". The secular has none.  Secular community shall go about living their daily life without such arguments but with ideals they believe in. For one, they take the world for what it is: the real world, not an imaginary one in some afterlife painted out in scriptures or defined by spiritual leaders. This reminds me of the archaic meaning of the word secular: of this world. Calling secular as 'non-religious' has an unnecessary negative connotation.

India Chapter will, hopefully, bind the secular Indians into a community spread across this vast subcontinent in which they can be themselves, ignoring the 24/7 scrutiny of the 97% other. That they will change the lives of the people they deal with, shall be a natural outcome.

23. Cooperative Housing Societies: Awareness, with a Constitutional perspective is the key to harmony

30/10/2021

A registered cooperative housing society (CHS) is a Constitutionally empowered self-governing community. It has its own bye-laws, for which an elaborate draft is provided by the Ministry. So, a CHS with educated members should hardly need any 'legal advice' on how to run its affairs.

Yet, Societies do engage lawyers and I too like to help when a Society asks for advice. It is like helping a little nation within a nation. A Society recently sought my answers to multiple questions from its members. I suggested them to compile them and send to me. A coordinating member WhatsApped me a questionnaire and a series of hyperlinks leading to newspaper articles airing conflicting information. I found that most of the questions arose from those articles. Ideed, those articles, may have been the main source of information, rather misinformation, for most members.

What CHS members need is a clear view of their own bye-laws and, equally importantly, the Constitutional principles in which they are grounded. Therefore I changed my focus from rending 'legal advice' to helping them learn how to interpret bye-laws -- necessarily in the Constitutional backdrop -- so they can resolve their conflicts on their own. This article elaborates that process.

The Constitution of India provides the framework: Chapter IX-B is devoted to cooperative societies. This chapter is the foundation on which the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (MCS) Act, 1960, is built as the law of this land. But it needs a manual of procedures: The Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Rules, 1961. The former is called a substantive law, the later, the associated procedural law. Lawyers would be interested in them. 

All that the members of a CHS (say ABC CHS) need for leading a harmonious community life is the book they have in their own office: "Bye-laws of the ABC CHS". But not before they have fully assimilated the democratic values enshrined in the Preamble of our Constitution. This is what I meant by "the Constitutional priciples in which they are grounded". 

Yes, the first guiding principle of any CHS should be the Preamble. Preamble is our public mantra. It defines us as Indian communities. On the other hand, to the ABC CHS, the document "the Bye-laws of the ABC CHS" is what is a religious book is to a devout. An atheist living in the ABC CHS can avoid religious books, but not the bye-laws. When in doubt, read the bye-laws. Still in doubt? Read the bye-laws again.

But not to forget that all our laws emanate from the Constitution. If there is a law that conflicts with the Constitution, the Constitutional interpretation prevails. As a small example, if Bye-laws of the ABC CHS lead to exploitation of a section, it should be red-flagged invoking the Fundamental Rights mentioned in the Constitution.

Preamble of our Constitution tells us we are secular and democratic people striving for justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. The Fundamental Rights and Duties given further in the Constitution tell us how, and I leave it for reader to examine them. That should be the starting point for understanding "the Bye-laws of the ABC CHS". Because then we know that we have friends not enemies around us and we all share the same values. We are a family, and there are gives and takes among family members. We don't always split hair. In a family, we share a cake in approximate portions, not with geometrical precision. 

Then comes the bye-laws themselves. The most common mistake is to download and argue on the latest model bye-laws from some website. Like all laws the bye-laws see occasional changes; often marginal. However, the amendments not duly adopted by amending the registered book of bye-laws are not binding on the CHS. The basis of administration is only, and only the book called "The Bye-laws of the ABC CHS" that is registered with the Registrar of Societies and bears their officer's seal and signature under the signatures of the constituting members. A copy is issued to any member on demand on nominal charges, which are also specified in the same book.

When new law arrives on the horizon, it does not invalidate the existing bye-laws but, may require the CHS to amend their bye-laws following the procedure given in their own bye-laws. Till such time as the bye-laws are not amended, the existing bye-laws continue to remain binding. This concept is called "savings". For instance, the Ordinance No. IX of 2019 promulgated by the State Government to amend the MCS Act, 1960 has the section 154B-31 as its Savings clause. It says, continue with your existing bye-laws till you amend it by due process. So don't let the scary news articles bother you.

Now, coming back to the Bye-laws of the ABC CHS, look at how the bye-laws are structured: Eighteen sections (or so in your specific book) addressing every possible issue. First, the definitions, which are absolutely essential to interpret the bye-laws.

When you read the definitions, you know that a flat means not just the flat but also a shop, a row-house, a shop, an office, a godown, a garage, a dispensary, a clinic, and so on, under the CHS for the purpose of the bye-laws. Are you raising an eyebrow? Well, for the Indian Penal Code, "he" can be male or female. That is how it works. And yet the bye-laws may not be absolutely flawless.

From the definitions, you know that "elevators" are among the "Common Areas and Facilities". The bye-laws further say (under the chapter on Levy of Charges) that the "expenses on repair and maintenance of the lift including charges for running the lift" should be apportioned to be paid "equally by all the members of the building in which lift is provided". No doubt on that since everybody has signed the bye-laws. But another bye-law in the same book (that we skimmed through) provides that  the repair and maintenance of lifts must be carried out "by the society at its cost", which can be interpreted as the common fund. This contrast is a bone of contention because both bye-laws can be argued for or against.  Here, the General Body, the top decision-making agency of the CHS, must step in to decide in a rational manner and amend the bye-laws following the procedure given therein.

There may be occasions when there is, apparently, no specific mandate on an issue of concern. After all, there is no limit to nuisance a thoughtless member can think up. There, some general clauses come to the rescue. Under "Maintenance of the Property" section, the Committee is responsible to maintain the society in good condition at all times. So if a member, violating the bye-laws laid down for parking refuses to remove his vehicle from an unauthorized spot, the committee is well within its powers to take its possession using a jammer and return the vehicle against charges that may be fixed by the society. It works.

So it is the duty of the office bearers and dispute redress committee members to be fully familiar with their own bye-laws, again, meaning the registered book called, "The Bye-laws of the ABC CHS", and take no cognizance of news articles for society administration. As for the non-office bearer members, it should be remembered that the law does not condone violation of law on the excuse that the member did not know the law. So if you mistrust the committee, read your bye-laws and confront them  with the book. Only, raise your argument not voice. Argument is healthy in democracy, anger reflects ignorance.

The last of the bye-laws do provide for complaint mechanism and list the various external forums with their respective jurisdictions. But disputes are best resolved within the CHS. A good CHS is so well self-governed that it will never need those external forums. That is the spirit with which the Constitution was amended to include a full chapter on cooperatives.  It must be remembered that all those forums, be it Registrar, police or cooperative court, are heavily loaded with pending cases and receiving a quick redress to complaints is a far dream. Justice delayed is as bad as the justice denied. Most likely, the only person who will benefit from avoidable disputes is the lawyer.

A CHS is like a little nation within the nation: Of course not a sovereign one. You can't have your own currency, but you can do everything lawful and no questions asked. A CHS has to build its own character and become a pride of its members. This is possible only if members imbibe the values of the Constitution and contribute selflessly. 

22. Frivolous FIR's in Pune District

07/8/2021

Supreme Court has time and again observed that registering frivolous FIRs is a lucrative source of corruption in police. You must have read in the press that the Home Minister had to quit, and the CP has been accused of illegal vasooli (extortion) from businesses in Mumbai. In Pune district also, some incidences of filing of false FIRs on frivolous grounds for the sole purpose of extortion of money from businesses have come to my notice. This is done by abusing administrative powers over young IOs (APIs) hailing from small towns of Maharashtra, and some mediators including lawyers who negotiate extortion amount between police and victims. 

On the moral grounds, such  mediators beat pimps of the flesh trade: The pimps at least give some money to victims of prostitution but here, an innocent businessman is made to pay for NOT getting arrested and have his reputation and business destroyed against a frivolous FIR. 

This practice is hurting the future of the honest police officers, of our own children, and also hurting our economy. It is destroying our nation during pandemic where businesses are already in distress and many young people have lost their jobs leading to avoidable hunger.

The problem cannot be brushed aside as corruption, a broader issue. Corruption and extortion are as distinct as civil and criminal wrongs. Corruption or bribery is a payment to recevie gratification not due. Extortion is payment to retain what belongs to you -- in this case, your freedom.

This is also an assault on the self respect and intelligence of lawyers. Therefore, some of us, local advocates, have decided to take this menace head on in the Pune District on case-to-case basis. We shall, however, avoid the cases arising from UAPA and the sedition laws: They are better handled by the high-profile lawyers, the kind of Prashant Bhushan and Dushyant Dave.

I shall soon write fact-finding articles on the cases that come to my notice and share with the concerned authorities for corrective measures as they may think fit. My aim being not to defame the institutions but uphold the Truth in the matter in the national interest.

21. Religion is a private matter

Come September and the society is in a frenzy over the 5-day long annual celebrations dedicated to Lord Ganesha -- in the houses and on the streets. Messages are raining -- every Hindu is wishing blessings of the Lord to family and friends.

Ganesha, for the uninitiated is a God with four hands and the head of an elephant. The original (human like?) head was chopped off by his angry father, Lord Shiva, who subsequently, on his wife's pleadings, brought their son back to life by planting the head of an elephant (killed by him for the purpose) on his dead son's torso. 

That is an unquestionable belief. There is no problem in any religions belief. Democracy gives that right. The problem is about a religion -- any religion -- spilling out on the streets intimidating those who have nothing to do with these beliefs.

Religion and spirituality are deeply personal matters. Like pajamas. Everyone is at liberty to celebrate a personal belief but its public display would be weird. An onslaught on the non-believers. Sending "Happy Ganesh Chaturthi" to unsuspecting recipient is equally weird. [24/8/2020]

20. Life after lockdown

Following a day-long nation-wide home quarantine on 22/3/2020 we saw a complete lock down across the country starting 25/3/2020 (21 days) that seamlessly continued from 15/4/2020 to 03/5/2020 for another 19 days. Yet another lock down from 04/5/2020 followed with considerable relaxations: All shops have been opened even in Red zones except in dozens of containment zones across the city. This phase is expected to end on 17/5/2020, and there is much speculation if another extension shall been announced.

Meanwhile, no cure for COVID-19 has arrived. If the purpose of the lock down was to "break the chain of infections", the data shows that the same has not been achieved. At best, hospitals are better equipped to deal with the pandemic. The good work has, however, been marred by divisive politics and immense suffering inflicted on the poor, particularly the migrant workers, due to systemic failure and want of leadership. Pro-people institutions including judiciary have been eroded and laws (e.g., labour laws in UP) are being scrapped to make way for exploitation. This has precipitated an economic and human rights crisis of unprecedented magnitude. In this backdrop the States are ready to open up economic activities and let people take chance with their health under WHO-recommended precautions and developing new norms for community living.

Those like you and me dwelling in our safe homes wonder what is in store for us and what can we do about it after the lock down ends on 17/5/2020. Let us answer these questions under the following premises: Firstly, not going out to work is not an option, and secondly, life after lock down comes with risk of infection (that cannot be quantified because the efforts like Arogyasetu application have numerous limitations) followed by a very good chance of survival (death rate is well under 5% in India depending on age and comorbidity). More importantly, the economic crisis will bring about unrest that will affect everybody except Ambanis and Modiji in more ways than cost of living.

Some answers are clear. We can embrace life duly prepared with precautionary measures (including for additional safety and security) and plan for illness followed by possible death, particularly in the case of comorbidity. The precautions toward health would include: Arogyasetu app while moving around, masks, physical distancing, extreme personal hygiene and sanitized environment. Personal safety would require assessing and minimizing risks against thefts and mugging arising from social unrest due to hunger. Travel would be minimal.

Planning must include: Dividing calculated risk between family members to ensure that a healthy adult is available to help the ill; registering a carefully prepared Will; developing new norms for living, for example, video conferencing at Societies and working from home as far as possible; and improving physical safety net against looming social unrest. Solidarity will assume greater importance as we, as the human race, help each other survive. Intellectual pursuits will be the order of the day to bring about reforms in all sectors.

Politically there is little the sensible minority can do (and that little must be done) in the environment of brutal bigotry. According to C-Voter Modiji's popularity has not waned. It appears that there is nobody to challenge him or to replace BJP in power for decades to come. While doing your bit, you ought to be one of the new-generation, rational leaders, or look for one who will save India from the sociological-political crisis.

An important aspect of life after lock down should be avoidance of fear psychosis, intellectual acceptance of the situation and maintaining a positive attitude toward it. The human spirit of survival must win over the pessimism of remotely possible early death. In the absence of optimism, a person is a living dead, a burden on the family and the society. To take this further, we need to choose from psychotic, neurotic and positivistic responses to our times. More about them in the next article. [10/5/2020]

19. Why I did not light a lamp for 9 minutes at 9 PM on [5+4=9]/2020 

It was 9 AM on the 9th day of the lockout. Ram-9mi had just passed. Prime Minister Modiji had asked all citizens to [voluntarily] give him 9 minutes at 9 PM on 05/4/2020, that is, 9 days before the end of lockout when the date+month equaled 9. It also happened to be the eve of the foundation day of the BJP, Modiji's political party. On the appointed day and during the said time duration, I was to switch off my house lights and stand in the balcony or at the door  (I have a house) with a lighted lamp/ candle/ torch/ mobile to spread the message of unity as India fights COVID-19 with a lock-down. Power of Light was the phrase coined to signify the event. Regretfully, I could not afford those nine minutes for the event for the following reasons:

Was there an alternative? [07/4/2020]

१८. आस्तिकों में फंसे नास्तिक

विकीपेडिया के अनुसार सिर्फ ३% भारतीय नास्तिक हैं. याने अगर आप एक भारतीय नास्तिक हैं तो हर समय आप औसतन ३३ आस्तिकों से घिरे होते हैं:  इनमें औसतन २७ हिंदू, ५ मुसलमान, ०.८ ईसाई और बाकी सिक्ख, बौद्ध, जैन वगेरे होंगे. आपके रिश्तेदारों और परिवारजनों सहित इन ३३ लोगों में आपके कुछ हितचिंतक समय-समय पर आपको घार्मिक संदेश और शुभकामनाएं जरूर भेजते होंगेै. खास कर धार्मिक त्यौहारों के अवसर पर तो धार्मिक संदेशों की झड़ी लग जाती है. देवी, देवता और उनसे जुडे त्यौहार आपके लिये कोई मायने नहीं रखते, लेकिन संकोच के कारण आप कुछ कह नहीं पाते. प्यार भरे इस धार्मिक हमले से आप त्रस्त हो जाते हैं, पर मित्रों का, परिवारजनों का सीधे सीधे यह कह कर दिल दुखाना नहीं चाहते कि "भाई मैं तो नास्तिक हूँ, मुझे बख्श दीजिए".

ऐसे समय विनम्र जवाब देना ही मेरी अब तक की रणनीति थी; जैसे: "Thank you! Same to you and your family", या एक-दो "नमस्कार" वाले ईमोजी. लेकिन अब सोचता हूँ धार्मिक संदेशों का जवाब नास्तिकता के संदेशों से दूँ ताकि तर्कवाद का भी कुछ प्रचार-प्रसार हो जाए. ऐसे ही कुछ संदेशों को मैने यहां संकलित किया है, जो आप अपने गूगल एकाउंट से अपने फोन पर डाउनलोड कर सकते हैं. लेकिन जरूरी है कि आप किसी की धार्मिक भावनाओं भूल कर भी ठेस ना पहुंचाएं.

हाल ही में अपने युनिवर्सिटी के पुराने सहपाठियों के WhatsApp ग्रुप पर रामनवमी के दिन कुछ "मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम राम" वाले संदेश आए, तो उक्ता कर मैं एक गलती कर बैठा. मैने मजाक में यह पोस्ट कर दिया: अरे भाई सत्ता के लिये अपनी निरपराध, गर्भवती बीबी को छोडने वाला मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम कैसे हो गया? फिर थोडी बहस भी हो गई. इसपर एक परम मित्र इतने क्रोधित हुए कि उन्होनें मुझपर "रामनवमी के दिन भगवान के लिये अपशब्द" कहने का आरोप लगा कर ग्रुप छोड दिया. मुझे उनकी इतनी कठोर प्रतिक्रिया पर आश्चर्य तो हुआ पर तुरंत अपनी गलती का एहसास भी हो गया. मैने अनजाने में ही अपने परम मित्र की धार्मिक भावना को ठेस पहुंचा दी थी, जो किसी समझदार नास्तिक को शोभा नहीं देता. अगले ही क्षण मैने (WhatsApp पर ही) माफी मांगी. कई बार मांगी. पर बात नहीं बनी.

रामनवमी के अगले दिन उन्ही मित्र का प्रायवेट संदेश आया कि उनके पिता का, जो बहुत दिनों से बीमार थे, देहांत हो गया है. मित्र की तीक्ष्ण प्रतिक्रिया की गुत्थी तो सुलझ गई लेकिन मेरी वेदना विषाद में बदल गई. खैर, समय बडे से बडे घाव भर देता है और मुझे विश्वास ही कि हमारे बीच की दूरी (जिसके मूल में मुख्यत: मेरी नास्तिकता से और उनकी आस्तिकता ही हैं) भी जल्दी ही भर जाएगी.

लेकिन एक प्रश्न रह जाता है. क्या हम व्यक्ति पूजा की सामूहिक मानसिकता से आज इतने ज्यादा ग्रासित हैं जितना राम राज्य में भी नहीं थे? राम राज्य में आम जनता (धोबी) ने राम पर (सीता के बारे में) अंगुली उठाई लेकिन उसे शासन से पूरी सुरक्षा मिली. पर आज के हिंदू राम की छोडिए, मोदीजी की निंदा भी नहीं सह सकते. मेरे अनेक रिश्तेदारों ने मोदी-निंदा के कारण मेरा वैचारिक त्याग कर दिया है: मोदीजी पर कोई समझौता नहीं होगा, इस विषय पर कोई बात नहीं होगी. तो क्या राम भी उस जमाने के मोदी थे जिन्हें बहुसंख्यक समाज पूजने लगा और हजारों सालों बाद वे भगवान बन गये? और यदि पारिस्थितियां अनुकूल रहीं तो क्या कुछ हजार साल बाद मोदीजी को भी इस देश में भगवान का पद प्राप्त हो जाएगा? 

सचमुच आज देश में मोदी समर्थन की भावना लगभग धार्मिक भावना की सीमा तक जा पहुंची है. मोदी समर्थक उनके हर निर्णय में जनता का हित देखते हैं: नोटबंदी, जीएसटी, अनुच्छेद ३७०, सीएए, एनआरसी, घंटी-थाली, दिया-जलाना, सब कुछ. भारतीय लोकतंत्र में बहुमत की आवाज ही देश की आवाज होती है. जो जनता द्वारा लिखा जाता है वही इतिहास बनता है. इससे कोई फर्क नहीं पडता कि यह बहुमत किस तरह -- अपेक्षित परिणामों या शक्तिशाली प्रचार माध्यमों द्वारा -- हासिल किया गया है.

यह भी संयोग ही है कि राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ (रा.स्व.सं.) का कार्य करते हुए मोदीजी ने भी (भगवान राम की तरह) अपने परिवार का त्याग कर दिया और आज तक उनके व्यक्तिगत या सार्वजनिक जीवन में उनकी पत्नी के लिये कोई स्थान नहीं है. रा.स्व.सं. की विचारधारा के अनुसार यह देश की सेवा के लिये किया हुआ उनका उच्च कोटि का त्याग है.

मैं स्वयं दशकों तक रा.स्व.सं. की विचारधारा से जुडा हुआ था. बचपन से शाखा में गया, शिविर भी किये. रा.स्व.सं. के प्रचारकों के लिये हमारी रसोई हमेशा खुली रहती थी. राजस्थान में, फिर मध्य प्रदेश में, जब पिता दौरे पर नहीं होते, हमारा शाम का खाना अक्सर किसी संघ प्रचारक के साथ ही होता था जिन्हें पिताजी शाखा से घर ले आया करते थे. संघ के वातावरण में रहते हुए ही कॉलेज में पहुंचा. सन १९७५ से १९७७ तक कॉलेज की पढाई छोड कर रा.स्व.सं. की एक भूमिगत प्रेस में संपादन-लेखन, छपाई, स्केचिंग और वितरण का काम करता था. इसका उल्लेख यह बताने के लिये किया है कि मैं मोदीजी की अपूर्ण शिक्षा और उनके परिवार को त्यागने के पीछे रही देशभक्ति की भावना को उसके सही परिपेक्ष्य में समझ सकता हूँ, जो वामपंथी और अन्य लोग, जो कभी रा.स्व.सं. के संपर्क में न आये होंं, नहीं समझ सकते.

लेकिन कई भारतीय रा.स्व.सं. की विचारधारा से सहमत नहीं हैं. आज मैं भी सहमत नहीं हूँ. और असहमति हमारा संवैधानिक अधिकार है. तो आज जो रा.स्व.सं. की विचारधारा से सहमत नहीं हैं वह, शायद, श्रीमती यशोदाबेन का इंटरव्यू  लेने तक, या इस विषय पर खुली बहस होने तक, मोदीजी के वैवाहिक विषय पर अपना दृष्टीकोण सुरक्षित रखना चाहें. कुछ वकील शायद कहें कि तलाक लिये बिना पत्नी का त्याग करना गैर कानूनी है. लिंगभेद के विरोधी इसे स्त्री के अधिकारों का हनन समझें. तो क्या इस वैचारिक स्वतंत्रता को मोदीजी का अपमान (शायद कुछ लोगों द्वारा देशद्रोह) माना जा सकता है? यही बात 'भगवान' राम, जो कभी राजा थे, पर भी लागू होती है और आस्तिकों को कोई हक नहीं कि वह हम नास्तिकों के ऐसे सवालों का बुरा मान जाएं. लेकिन जहां धार्मिक विश्वास है, वहां तर्क के लिये कोई जगह नहीं होती. और जहां तर्क न हो वहां विज्ञान नहीं होगा, प्रगति नहीं होगी, न्याय नहीं होगा. इसलिये नास्तिकता का प्रचार व प्रसार आवश्यक हो गया है. [06/4/2020]

17. Partition 2.0 reveals itself

The year 1947 divided us into Islamic and Secular states. Starting 2014 the Secular India started drifting toward realization of RSS' dream of a Hindu Rashtra. The foundation was laid with the CAA, a law that defines citizenship to religious exclusion (see CAB IS NOT WHAT HM TELLS US below). However, before the mission Rashtra launched by Modi government could be completed, a tragedy called COVID-19 struck several parts of the world, and then, India.

Soon sanitized clean beds awaited passengers from abroad arriving at international airports where they were respectfully tested, segregated and, where necessary, quarantined. That did not stop the spread of the virus and the Prime Minister had to make another 8-pm speech on 24/3/2020 (the last infamous 8-pm speech being for demonetization that unleashed immense misery on the poor) locking out India for 21 days.

"Stay indoors for 21 days, starting midnight" was the directive from The Dear Leader who had successfully got all of India to bang thalis, ring bells, beat drums and blow conch earlier on 22/3/2020 post 5:00 pm (see SO, THE PM HAD NO IDEA OF THE POOR AND THE HOMELESS below). 

At the midnight between 24/3/2020 and 25/3/2020 the second Partition of India revealed itself. It was long dormant, buried as mere statistics in the government files.

This time India stood physically divided between the haves and have-nots. As against the haves, who arrived to grand welcome at the international airports writing great reviews of the clean beds and smiling doctors awaiting them, unprecedented exodus of millions of migrant workers commenced from Indian metros. Chased out of the streets by brutal police force and driven by days of hunger, the homeless workers set out on foot journey home 200, 500, 1000 km from their city of work. To live or to die among their own. One of them died of exhaustion at his own doorstep in Agra district after walking 200 km from Delhi. The young heart failed of exhaustion. Soon the State borders were sealed and multitudes who arrived on way home were stopped and herded behind iron gates, locked, awaiting an uncertain future. So much for the social distancing to ward of the virus.

At the time of writing 24 deaths have been attributed to this exodus post unplanned lock-down. Hungry kids eating grass with salt were filmed in PM's own constituency in UP. A batch of migrants arriving in UP were made to sit on cement road and 'sanitized' by a powerful spray, under 'due' instructions from police to each of them: "घूम जा, आंखे बंद कर ले": They were to turn to face the spraying nozzle after having their backs 'treated'.

The independent YouTube news channels are questioning planning skills of the Center. But the same Center has only recently wonderfully planned the grand welcome of US President. To the minutest detail of walling away the sight of ugly shanties from President's motorcade. It is not training, stupid. It is the problem of attitude. Attitude toward the poor.

As the State governments and civil societies are rising to the occasion, to heal a bleeding society, India itself stands divided, for the second time. Something URGENT will need to be done to bring these two Indias -- the haves India and the have-nots India -- together after they both survive COVID-19. 

16. So, the leadership had no idea of the poor and the homeless

Janata Curfew on 22/3/2020 announced by the PM had ended with Modi fanatics prematurely banging thalis, blowing conch, ringing bells and clapping hard to celebrate the great service being rendered by public servants toward eradicating COVID-19. It didn't matter to gullible public that little has been done by Center to facilitate the fight against the fast-spreading virus.

This drama was followed by another 8-PM address by the PM on 24/3/2020 declaring a 21-day long lock out wherein he advised the entire nation to remain completely home bound for 21 days, ending 14/4/2020. The skeptic asked, "what about the people who didn't have a home and money to buy food?", but nobody bothered.

The tragedy soon unfolded as several hungry kids in PM's own parliamentary constituency were found eating grass with salt. Thousands and thousands of migrant workers, out of work, out of money and brutally beaten out of streets of metros by police set out on long, long journeys home on foot as far as 1000 km.

"If we stay we die of hunger", they said, while the Government took its own time to declare a relief package that didn't benefit the migrants. As of my writing The Wire has reported 17 deaths of migrant workers and kin trying to return home. This is said to be the largest exodus after the Partition. The criticism has now turned to grief.

Shows, how far dissociated are the PM and his advisers from the ground reality of the people who elected him twice to power, in 2014 and 2019. From the package announced by Finance Ministers (for about 20 Cr ration card holders) a reporter estimated 80 Cr as the number of poor, that is, 60% of India. Clearly, the PM has thoughtlessly monkeyed the lock downs of some developed countries of Europe without any thought for the ground reality or necessary preparation.

When will this tragedy end?

Published: 30/3/2020

15. CAB is not what the HM tells us

Home Minister's speech to Rajya Sabha on 11/12/2019 defending Citizens Amendment Bill has one simple message: We are extending citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted minorities of the three neighboring Islamic countries, because, after all, who will persecute followers of Islam in Islamic countries? This logic has convinced the common Indian. But scratch the surface and you will see the serious problem.

When asked what about Mahmadiyyas and Shiyas who are not accepted as Muslims in those Islamic countries, prompt came the response of Subranian Swami: Persecuted Shiyas can go to Iran and Ahmadiyyas to Bahrain where they have majority. So he suggests shelter for persecuted minorities be extended by states where their religion is the religion of the state. In other words, the religions of our state are religions other than Islam only! The 14% of Indians following Islam have overnight become second-class citizens.

Clearly, the Government has put India in the league of Islamic states. That it accepts Christians makes no difference -- they may be next target. Jains and Sikkhs are anyways "part of larger Hinduism" according to  most Hindus, and Parsis (most of them speak Gujrati) don't matter. 

The message is, now we have become a majoritarian State where Hindus will get preferential treatment over Muslims. This strikes at the very root of our Constitution and violates international law adopted by India. 

Theories that it is a reasonable classification allowed by Article 14 of the Constitution are being floated. It is being said that nothing is taken away but a window is opened to allow the persecuted and that, hence, even if politically or morally not tenable, it is legally tenable. 

But the religious filter, blocking even atheists, violates the spirit of Constitution and not permitted under the law upheld in Kesavananda Bharti vs. State of Kerala case. I only hope that the Supreme Court will not do a Ram Janma Bhumi this time and save the basic character of India where religion has nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, to do with citizenship under any law.

14. Revisiting Krishnamurti

It was very quiet, serene and beautiful when I stepped out for an early-morning walk through the Sahyadri forest. The day had just broken and dewdrops dripping down the large leaves of teak trees was the only sound I could hear. A floating cloud of thick fog enveloped the distant waters of the Chas dam below the hill and it was slowly rising. Soon I was walking on the winding road down the hill and meeting the cloud below as it enveloped and soaked me in mist of pure love. Butterflies were the only traffic crossing my path.

That was a typical winter morning at Sahyadri Study Center of the Krishnamurti Foundation India (KFI), 65 km from Pune.  My last visit to a KFI study center was at Benaras, UP, in the eighties when I attended some of the last talks of JK before he died at the age of 90.

No, neither KFI is any religious or spiritual order, nor JK was any revered spiritual guide or guru to any following. He was a philosopher par excellence who left a treasure trove of spoken and written words of original wisdom, which the free-thinking and independent rationals, agnostics and atheists across the world love to hear and read, and often relate with.

To make the point, let me say you will find no portrait (statue) of JK on the walls (premises) of any of the KFI establishments. The message is, no one can be your spiritual guide, no one can lead you to Truth. In JK's own words quoted not lightly, Truth is a pathless land.

13. The Ayodhya judgment

It is, finally, out. Their Lordships have cleared the way for construction of the Rama temple at the disputed site, long cherished by warring Hindus. What does it change for the common Indian? Every critic of the Government is addressing this question. However, I would like to touch upon altogether different question.

Who was Rama? Rama was a prince who was sent on a 14-year exile by his father and step mother. 

Sita, Rama's wife, followed him as did his brother Lakshmana. On return of Rama (it is believed by the same Hindus again) the question of chastity of Sita was thrown up by a citizen and the State set up a weird 'test' (walking through fire) to ascertain her chastity. Sita passed the 'test'.

What followed? Going by the scriptures (Hindus swear by), Rama faced the situation where he had to choose between his wife and his kingdom. He chose the later. Sita left her home to live in the forest with hermits where she gave birth to Rama's twin sons. Rama never returned to take his family back. Instead, to further expand his political power, he organized ashwamegh yagnya sitting by a statute of Sita whose presence was mandatory for the yagnya. This hypocrisy was nothing but adding injury to insult of Sita as wife, as human, and as woman.

Paying little heed to the injustices meted out to Sita, Hindus observe Diwali to celebrate the return of the unjust king, that was so different from The Return of the King in the Lord of the Rings! While celebrating the legal victory for Rama's birthplace at Ayodhya by a partisan judgment Hindus are forgetting the little (?) detail of how a woman and a wife was wronged by Rama and whether India could have spent its time and energy for a better cause than worrying about the birthplace of a lord who failed to protect the rights of his own wife. [11/11/2019]

12. The purpose of life?

This is one common question thrown up by the spiritual gurus who, as against the scientists, claim to know everything under (and over) the sky. 

There is a logical flaw in this question. A purpose is assigned to an activity or enterprise undertaken voluntarily. Life is imposed on us; or (if you like) 'gifted' to us without our choice. From infancy through childhood to adulthood and old age the journey of life is meant to be spontaneous. Even the death cannot be planned.

The phrase "purpose of life" is learned from others who seek to define our life for us and so to enslave us to their self-defined "purpose of life". However, for the wise the 'journey' (of life) is relevant not the term 'purpose'. Purpose can be assigned to specific activities we undertake through this journey called life.

Perhaps the question of "purpose of life" can be rephrased as "how should I lead this journey of life?", to which, each person should have their own answer. Because every journey has its pleasures, pain and boredom based on individual character the question further reduces to "what do I love most?". 19/9/2019

Clearly, the answer to this question is also unique for everyone. The question must be answered in one's social context. One's pleasure should not be other's pain.

11. Pune police Vs PC police

It is heartening to note that Pune Police has launched very effective communication channels and mobile apps. Commissioner apparently has his own twitter account, which -- Twitter being open to public tweets -- speaks volumes about the transparency of the Pune Police leadership. Information sent to a central WhatsApp number is instantly relayed to the concerned police stations who ring up the informants to resolve their issues. The sincerity of the commissionerate is very conspicuous but is it contagious enough to percolate down the police ranks and files? To be fair, the wo/men on the ground face much louder music than the HQs (IPS) officials in their air-conditioned cabins. But that is the deal and citizens demand safety.

While the woes of citizens of the twin cities of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad well extend to both areas, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Police, having gained its independent commissionerate not very long ago, could do more on transparency. At the time of writing, There is no website, no twitter account, no WhatsApp/phone number of control room, not even official email address of Commissioner of Police, Pimpri-Chinchwad in the public domain. Trust this will change for better with time. Posted on 27/7/2019

10. Advocate and ethics

Is honest lawyer an oxymoron? I am afraid it seems so. I am yet to come across a lawyer who will not grease the palm of court clerk for an occasional favor.

The bribe money of court staff scales up by several orders of magnitude as you go up. If Rupees in hundreds works in trial courts, it is thousands and lakhs in High Court and Supreme Court, respectively. And as Justice Katju tells us, Hon'ble judges and Their Lordships are open to bribe too.

To roughly quantify the malice let us use the Transparency International report. It places India at 81 among 180 countries with an index of 40 on the scale of 100. This shows that among every 10 public servants in India, six are open to accepting bribe. Of course, statistics works only when you have a large sample but that report is a pointer to the state of affairs. Indeed, my friends would swear nine out of 10 public servants are corrupt.

I am not sure about the figure. What I am sure is the code of ethics for advocate is a phrase reduced to mere words. It is my ambition to meet one lawyer who will swear that s/he never bribed a court clerk or a judge whether directly or through his junior/client whether to meet just or unjust end. Posted 08/6/2019

9. Life of an atheist

An atheist takes full responsibility; s/he has no luxury of attributing life events to a Supreme, unseen power. Faith, to an atheist, is being blind to reason and hence irrational. Everyone knows that such faith has led and is daily leading to much blood shed around the world.

On the positive side, theism may lead to altruism. A judge has recently declared all animals as legal persons with their own legal rights [click here for the news]. Such judgments are quashed by the Supreme Court because it has great ramifications: for instance, anyone can file an FIR for murder of a goat for for food. Protecting the right of a goat to live may seem 'absurd' to the larger population given that 65% of humans are non-vegetarians, but ask a Jain and s/he will swear by the right to life of a goat -- a right to be not killed and eaten. Larger question is, should what is ethical be decided by people at large? That is another absurdity, because then the Gujarat carnage becomes ethical. Returning to the question of a God to worship, it seems to me a primitive idea. In any case it is the man who made (his own) God.

8. The leader and the lamb

Civil servants of the Indian State come in two shades: the leaders and the lambs. Alas, the latter category constitutes majority of them.

The leaders among officers lead by example, the lambs bleat for crumbs, the undeserving lot. Two gentleman officers appear in the news today.

District Collector of Katni in Madhya Pradesh, Pankaj Jain, sends his daughter to an Anganwadi (a rural child-care centre that caters to the poor) for the pre-school learning, saying it was better than many private play schools in the area. "When responsible officers send their children to these places, the condition there improves automatically", he said. A friend tells me his mother was a Physics professor.

Ramdas Kokare, "the then Chief Officer" of Vengurla Municipality in Sinhdurg District of Maharashtra achieved the seemingly impossible feet of making his town waste free in four months! He personally looked into, and matured, the procedure of segregation, collection, re-segregation, conversion and selling products of waste management for profit. He converted the stinking dump yards into parks visited by lakhs every year, the report said.

Who said there aren't enough leaders around us.

7. Modi 2.0: "Strategy for new India @ 75"

On a second thought (following my earlier article Can this Government Deliver?), I feel we could take this document seriously. Pages 178 to 182 deal with judiciary and police reforms. Surprisingly (as I have mentioned on the homepage) there isn't any dependable, unified, authentic and central source of laws and rules in India and the policy document rightly contemplates (!) a repository of them in the following words: "Create a repository of all existing central and state laws, rules and regulations • The centre and state(s) need to create repositories of laws, rules, regulations and government orders. • Alternatively, a three-tier repository system can be considered in line with the system of governance enshrined in the Constitution. "

I wonder if some lawyer--activist will launch something like a Lawyers' Initiative for new India @ 75  as a lawyers' movement to realize the strategy document to the extent of judiciary and police reforms by way of interacting and assisting Government.

6. Can this government deliver?

A friend shared a purportedly Niti Ayog document titled, Strategy for New India @ 75 saying I will witness a lot of (great) changes in near future. I have my doubts which I wrote back to him as follows.

Logically it seems that it remains impossible for this Government to deliver what it promised five years ago. According to the news reports, BJP has returned to power receiving opaque money of Electoral Bonds to the tune of Rs 210 Crore comprising 94.5 % of the total bonds issued presumably on payment by large corporate houses. Now no corporation will pay for nothing. Once the ministries are formed these corporations are bound to book profit on their 'investment' for the next five years by obtaining policies and contracts, which favor them, not the common public.

Simultaneously, there is nothing to prevent the ministers who formulate the policies, the executive that drafts and implements the policies, the MPs on committees who clear projects, and bureaucrats who run the governance machinery, and so on, from claiming their own share of dirty money.

Wouldn't money also go to keep voters drugged and amused by advertisements, propaganda and unnecessary dramatic events -- an example is project Shakti that "shot down" a satellite using a technology that had already matured with Agni. Given all these and other holes in the system, there is little hope that more than some crumbs would be available to the poor. But I would love to have my view proven wrong in the days to come. [Posted on 27/5/2019.]

5. (Gruh-)Karm Yoga

I have coined this term (after the famous Karma Yoga, the Yoga of Doing) to describe the humble menial household work as means to attain mental peace in a world marked by daily rat race for achieving highly competitive goals.

When my family moved from a spacious Government accommodation, which had numerous servants to take care of the housekeeping into a small flat of our own, my wife, who is a freelance editor and holds a doctorate (that being relevant here), declared that she would have no servant and do the house keeping all by herself. Her reasons ranged from privacy to quality.

As a male brought up in the culture where men did noting of the sort, I was uncomfortable. But, given ethical compulsions, I cautiously committed myself to assist her "as much as my own routine would allow".

To my surprise, with time, I found my limited commitment relaxing and rewarding. I discovered that an hour with humble mop or dusting cloth or doing dishes or laundry with your wife can bring as much peace and harmony as any Yoga session. Maybe my readers will try this Yoga and derive benefits. [Posted on 27/5/2017]

4. Marriage and discrimination

Are the unmarried discriminated against? Many think so. Marriage certificate  though a symbol of recognition by society and State is not necessary for a couple in love; and it is meaningless for a couple without love. Either way, as between partners, marriage as a ceremony and legal sanction has no value. However, the state is discriminatory against non-married live-in couples: None of the protections of marriage, e.g., family pension, are available to the unmarried partners.

This protection comes at the cost of interference of the State in relationships. The State will decide who can marry whom and who cannot marry whom -- whether man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman, for instance.

State also decides what is moral or immoral. For instance, the polyamory: intimate relationships with more than one partner with the consent of all partners involved. The social scientist have a case against declaring consensual polygamy as immoral. Poly-amorous relationship, to them, is as valid a behavior as same-sex relationship.

Naturally, Indian law is far from prepared to accommodate anything but stereotyped matrimony. In Joseph Shine v. Union of India, Supreme Court did take a baby step by decriminalizing Section 497 having a skewed definition of adultery. Madras High Court has recognized marriage of trans-women. As society develops it will have to leave behind taboos around natural intimate relationships and rebuild its laws around them rather than forcing individuals to build relationships based on social--legal stereotypes. And that will not be easy. [Posted on 25/5/2019]

3. The CJI saga

On 20/4/2019 a former employee of the Supreme Court, through a very detailed affidavit, accused the Chief Justice of India of unsolicited sexual advances, which when spurned, were followed by persecution of her entire family. She supported her affidavit with video grabs of her complaint to a police officer and various documents. The response of the the top judiciary should go down as the most shameful response in the history of Indian (or world?) judiciary. [Posted on 21/4/2019]

First, the Supreme Court called a simple sexual harassment complaint a threat to the "independence of judiciary" and a three-judge bench chaired by the accuse himself passed a high-handed "order" (signed by two judges other than the accused who actually headed the bench) that said the bench isn't passing any order! No female judge was included. No inquiry.

One sane voice came from the Women in Criminal Law Association, a recently established collaborative group for women in criminal litigation.

We always knew that courts, like any other institution of India, are not easily approachable for the poor. The judiciary largely serves only the rich and famous . But this saga tops it all.

2. 'Annihilation of caste'

22/4/2019. 'Annihilation of caste' is the famous work of Bhimrao (Baba Saheb) Ambedkar, the architect of Constitution of India. Arundhati Roy's A doctor and a saint, which compares Gandhi and Ambedkar, has recently been translated into Hindi at a good price of Rs 150. In this context the caste divide in India leading to inhuman treatment meted out to dalits are being widely discussed.

1. Introduction

I created this web page when India was close to General Elections 2019 -- a five-year ritual to elect new central government. The full term of BJP, a far-right-wing political party, had left a divide in the society that made many feel that we lived in times where reason had taken flight from among us.

Post elections, the same party, the BJP led by Narendra Modi, returned to power with thumping majority further consolidating its position. This is despite the fact that only 37% of the voters (as against 31% in the year 2014) endorsed it; those other, who voted, did not vote the BJP. But that is how democracy works in India.

Many, including me (rightly or wrongly) were left worried, aghast, wounded and feeling helpless. The 'Modi wave' is clearly seen everywhere among the middle class and the upper middle class. Going by the daily news a new-wave vigilantism emboldened by the unprecedented electoral mandate accompanies BJP's victory. It appears that political dialogue of diverse opinion has come to a grinding halt among the citizens around me including my own relatives and friends who adore Modi as a savior.

But to those opposed to BJP, who dreamed of Renaissance, it appears that regressive forces have taken firm control of polity, administration, press, electoral processes and judiciary to take India back to the middle ages. It appears that while the poor remain neglected, the emerging middle- and upper-middle-class India is drugged by consumerism. The larger population remains ridden with poverty, corruption, religious divide, pseudo nationalism and inequality.

info@advocaterajendra.com