2ndlook

Elections – In The Land Of The Free

Posted in Current Affairs, Feminist Issues, History, Islamic Demonization, Media, Satire by Anuraag Sanghi on March 6, 2008

This is the first blog that I have written on the US Presidential election (some presidents … some election … with apologies to Winston Churchill). I hope it is the last.

‘Mizaru’ Obama

A viral email, doing the rounds, accusses Sen. Barrack Obama of a grave crime. It claims that Obama is a Muslim. The Associated Press report, says, “Presidential candidate battles misconception that he’s a Muslim”

Poor Obama! He had to take time off from his campaign to fight innuendo and smear. Fight to remove the slur from his name. Desperately, he re-butted, “I’ve been to the same church, the same Christian church, for almost 20 years” He emphasised, “in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” In case anyone gets such an email, “send it back to whoever sent it and tell them this is all crazy. Educate” the Senator earnestly advised.

Is it a crime in the land-of-the-free not to be a Christian? Does the US Constitution forbid non-Christians from holding the highest office in the land-of-the-free?

I am pretty uneducated about the land-of-the-free, Senator. In a backward country like India, voters don’t bother about religion. Our recent President was a Muslim. I rather liked him. But I must be wrong. After all, I am from a backward country. And then the Indian voter is uneducated. Can you please educate me, Senator Obama. I have heard so much about your land-of-the-free.

‘Iwazaru’ McCain

John McCain has written an inspiring bookCharacter Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember, (co authored by Mike Salter, October 25, 2005). A review (From Publishers Weekly)says that McCain is “telling 34 stories of heroes … and … the pantheon is inclusive enough to hold Aung San Suu Kyi and Gandhi alongside Churchill and Eisenhower.”

A few weeks later, after releasing this book, at the “Charlie Rose Show” Senator McCain informed the world that a Muslim had killed Gandhiji. I come from a backward country, Senator McCain. The backward school (in my backward country) I went to , told me that a Hindu killed Gandhi. Thank you for telling me the truth, Senator. I do hope you understand my disadvantage, Senator.

Only Americans tell the truth (especially if they want to become Presidents). It is not like that in my country, India. In my backward country, India, we have been told lies that Gandhi was killed by Hindus. Just imagine the lies. I am now sure that Rajiv Gandhi was also killed by Muslims and Indira Gandhi must have also been killed by a Muslim. Thank you, Senator. I can see the truth. For as they say, the truth will set you free.

‘Kikazaru’ Clinton

Now we come to the friend of India – Hillary Clinton.

She is one helluva brave lady. Imagine a woman trying to become a President in the United States of America. The US has real men. They do not want to burden women with the Presidency.

Hillary Clinton, the Brave, has further threatened, all the caveman that they should not attack America. She has cautioned America, “We have real enemies who are sitting in some cave somewhere trying to figure out how to hurt us again.” I now understand why millions of Native Americans (then aka ‘Red Indians’) were killed. The Native American Cavemen must have also done something. Otherwise, the peace loving, land-of-the-free, American nation, will not attack anybody.

American men are not backward like South Asia ‘men.’ In fact South Asia does not have enough men. Otherwise, why does South Asia have so many women leaders. Tell me.

Three Monkeys, Toshogu Temple, Nikko, Japan

The Toshogu Temple

About 80 years ago, the Japanese sent a gift to Gandhiji. The Three monkeys from Toshogu Temple, Nikko, Japan. These three monkeys (imagine that, monkeys) tell us that we should not see, hear or talk evil. Gandhiji (that half naked … apologies to Churchill again) loved these monkeys and carried them around.

I am sure that three American Senators, still in the Presidential race, have taken inspiration from these three monkeys – Mizaru, Iwazaru and Kikazaru.

See no evil, say no evil, hear no evil

‘Mizaru’ Obama cannot see the evil of Islamic demonisation. It is not happening. ‘Iwazaru’ McCain does not want to talk about the evil of Islamic demonisation. It is not happening. ‘Kikazaru’ Clinton cannot hear the evil of Islamic demonisation. It is not happening.

God bless America, the-land-of-the-free.

Three Monkeys, Toshogu Temple, Nikko, JapanI have changed my plans. I was one day thinking of retiring to the caves – in the Indian tradition. But, with Hillary’s threat hanging over my head, I am afraid. Senators, looking at your source of inspiration, I also now understand, why the favorite Hindu god is a monkey.

I wonder

I dont want to raise embarrassing questions to my US Brothers about women Presidents and Muslim or Catholic Candidates. But I am puzzled ….

In the last 60 years, in 15 US elections, only one bald US president has been elected – and only 5 bald presidents in the nearly 250 years of Republican US. Seemingly, the US Voter and political system selects people with a headful of hair!

Does the US of A have another kind of a caste system – which discriminates against the Bald and Beautiful? I am a backward Indian, you see. So, I dont know, Senators.

You, from the Great Land of The Free, will have to enlighten me!

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India – Beyond Individuals

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on January 26, 2008

Bhagvad Geeta4, 7Bhagvad Geeta4, 8“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in righteousness, O descendant of Bharata, and a rise of evil — at that time I manifest myself. To deliver all those who believe in goodness and to annihilate the evil, to reestablish righteousness, I will appear, in millennium after millennium.” Bhagwad Geetha IV, 7-8.

Who was Kalidasa? No one quite knows. After composing some of the best lyrical poetry ever, (in Sanskrit), little is known about him. His life lives in his works. Who was Ved Vyasa – the writer of Mahabharata? Or for that matter Valmiki! No one knows. About any one of these people.

Yet, whenever, India had needed, inspirations have come. To lead us … असतो मा सद्गमय From untruth to the truth … तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय … From darkness to light … मृतयोर् मा अमृतं गमय … from termination, to eternity …

Portrait Of Tipu SultanTipu Sultan unceasing opposition for more than 30 years (The Mysore Wars – 1767-1799) to the foreign rule before the 1857 War made the British rulers cautious about waging war in India. Immediately thereafter was the challenge of the Sikh qaum – led by Ranjit Singh. The death of Ranjit SinghRanjit Singh & Laili - His Favorite Horse in (1839) gave them another opportunity. Then followed the Afghan wars and the Sikh Wars (between 1839-1850). In 1857 was the India‘s first war of Independence.

From 1857 to the 1900, the British colonial government decimated Indian leadership. Bahadur Shah Zafar was sent to Rangoon. Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Ahalyabai Holkar. Tantia Tope. Leader after leader came to the fore. And India continued to redefine itself.

Swami VivekanandaFrom feudal and hereditary leaders, the leadership slowly changed. From political to social. In parallel. In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj. In 1875, Swami Dayanand formed the Arya Samaj. On 24th December 1892, Swami Vivekananda reached Kanyakumari – after travelling across India. He was entertained by rajas and the रंकDadabhai Naoroji (commoners) of his day.

Then followed the political leadership. Dadabhai Naoroji’s (Congress President in 1886, 1893 1906) research and quantification of the British Loot from India started a new set of leaders against colonial rule – and a new definition of India. Tilak’s demand for ‘swaraj’ and ‘swadeshi’ Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilakgoods unnerved the colonialists. The colonial British Government deported Balgangadhar Tilak to Rangoon. He came back stronger than before. In other countries, when old leaders and rulers were removed or replaced, those countries descended into dictatorship, confusion, poverty. In India, we had wave after wave of leaders – and each time India moved forward. In a direction which has no precedents in world history.

What Happened In Other Countries

Why do Australia and Canada still acknowledge the British Queen as the head of the state? Spain has Juan Carlos I as its king! Did you know that Belgium has Albert II as it King? And Queen Beatrix rules over Holland (The Netherlands). King Akihito is venerated by the Japanese – and is the head of the state. Sweden is ruled by King Carl XVI Gustaf. Luxembourg has the Grand Duke Henri as its equivalent to a King! King Harald V lords over Norway! Queen Margrethe II rules over Denmark. The world still has quite a few monarchies – especially in the OECD. Why?

France removed and guillotined the monarchs – and they got Napoleon Bonaparte, as dictator! Russia tried – and they got 70 years of communist dictatorship. Italy asked King Victor Emmanuel III to go – and got Mussolini. The British exiled the Kaiser of Germany – and the Germans had to put up with Hitler thereafter.

Britain terminated the Turkish Ottoman Empire – and Turkey got a benign dictator, Mustafa Kemal Attaturk, and then not so benign dictators – and is yet to recover! East Europe (Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, etc) promptly started fighting with each other, within and without – after the kings were removed. China became communist after the last emperor – and still has a communist dictatorship. Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, most of Africa, South America – same or similar story.

This history is why Canada and Australia cling to the skirts of British Monarchy.

Republican Democracy

America became one of the first successful Republican democracies – from 1789, when George Washington became the first elected President of USA. (70 years later there was a Civil War). America survived.

Israel, (propped up by massive US aid) is another country which has been a republican democracy for more than 50 years. Switzerland (with guaranteed neutrality from the European powers) is another in modern history to survive 50 years of republican democracy. Srilanka has been another country which has survived 50 years as republican democracy – but just about.

India is the youngest Republican democracy – and we have completed a historic 50 years as republican democracy – Jan 26th 1950, till date.

Gandhiji’s Conquest

But before the republic, came the unification of India – the crowning achievement of Gandhiji. Not the political union (achieved by Sardar Patel) – but the ideological union!

Garibaldi (united Italy), Bismarck (united Germany), Simon Bolivar (liberated and united South American countries) were unifiers who succeeded with the help of armies.

Gandhiji (armed with a walking stick) unified a larger India (and Pakistan) without an army. An India and a Pakistan – bigger than what the largest empire in the history of the world, the British Empire could not conquer with its armies.

One Clean Break

To make a one clean break from the feudal-colonial past – and succeed! That is a dream – never before in the history of the world. India made history – by surviving for 50 years with a republican democracy.

In 1947, India was a feudal society with more than 500 Kings and (some) Queens at the time of Independence. (No, the British did not rule over all of modern India). Large parts of India also had to change from a colonial mindset.

How Is India Unique

However, no other country has 15 official languages.

Switzerland has only 4. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalas do not want to accept Sri Lankan Tamils as full and equal citizens – hence the 20 year old civil war.

Social Equality

The liberation of Blacks in the USA is a 1970s phenomenon. It took non-violent protests (Martin Luther King) and violent threats (Malcolm X) for some kind of real emancipation and equity to come in.

Blacks in the USA legally got full and equal liberty only in 1964 after President Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964. Earlier in 1954, President Eisenhower had to send in the army (the National Guard). In the Cold War scenario, under international media glare, during the Little Rock School stand-off, Eisenhower (a Southerner himself) reacted. The Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas closed down the school rather than de-segregate. De-segregation (between the Blacks and Whites) happened clearly and fully only by 1970-75. Non-violent protests by Martin Luther King (inspired by Gandhiji’s) till 1968 and violent threats by Malcolm X thereafter, made desegregation a reality. Not to forget Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation during the Kennedy years produced the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But, Gandhiji’s first step, after coming back from South Africa, (many decades before India’s Independence, Unification and the creation of the Republic) was to start social reform against untouchability.

Enforcement – or Help

India and America, created their own constitutions without external enforcement. Republican democracy in Germany was imposed by the Allied Powers – hence their record is blemished.

Religions

In most countries, religion divides. In India, we are different. India has the world’s second /third largest Muslim population. The Indian Christian population is equal to that of most majority-Christian countries – excluding just a few big one like USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, etc. Buddhists number nearly 50 lakhs. Sikhs, Parsis (Zoorastrians), Bahais, follows their own religion. Iranians, Armenians, Jews, Chinese have come to India – when persecuted in their homelands.

Racism! Anyone?

No, thanks!

India has the Caucasoid stock – spread over the North and West India; Australoid stock spread over South India and the Mongoloid stock spread over of East and North East. There is also a very small sprinkling of the Negroid stock – less than 1%.

The Challenges Ahead

The challenges ahead are defence and economics.

India’s defence unpreparedness is beyond comprehension. Worse, is the lack of threat perception. Indians (sadly and truly) limit their threat perception to the Pakistanis – and the Chinese. with the world’s largest private reserves of gold India becomes a target. The resultant global and emerging threats are unrealised. We spend billions of dollars on buying arms all over the world – but our domestic arms industry is starving.

The second is economics. The world trade systems, financial agreements, currency management continue to drag down India – and many other countries. Navigating these uncharted waters successfully is the other.

And I am sure that another set of new leaders will arrive and take India forward to another level.

Sooner – not later.

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