June 05, 2011

Baba stuff

I got my dose of Baba-stuff some years ago in Delhi. Found an ad for one of them in a newspaper, touting all kinds of wondrous things he could do for you, physically and mentally, with words like "pranayam" and "asana" sprinkled about liberally. It was all just a bit too good to be true, and I was just a bit younger than I am today and intent on some leg-pulling, so I found a phone and called.

Man answered.

"Is that Baba XYZ?" I asked.

"Ji", said the man.

"You are a fake", I said.

Came the response, without missing a beat: "You are a bahenchod."

Now admittedly I had been provocative. Admittedly I have no way to tell if all Babas are like this. But this incident only bolstered the total scepticism I have for Babas and godmen of all stripes.

This one who went on a "fast", no exception.

I mean, this is a guy who wants a law that prescribes death for the corrupt. This is a guy who has never, to my knowledge, said a single thing about the slide in ethics among us all. This is a guy who wears a woman's clothes and hides among women to evade the cops. This is a guy who thinks corruption is manifest in currency notes. This is a guy who claims that breathing techniques will cure for the world's most intractable diseases. This is a guy who abhors homosexuals. This is a guy who sees excellence in a CM who presided over one of the worst massacres in our history. This is a guy who undermines his own faithful by promising the government, without their knowledge, that he will give up his fast within hours of starting.

I mean, I am incensed and horrified by the corruption that's all around us -- from CWG to telecom to Adarsh. I am sick of a government that chooses only to wink at it. I am repelled by the guys waiting in the wings who cannot rise above their obsession with … yes, a temple.

And yet it is possibly more horrifying that we see a saviour from all this in a man whose every antic and utterance smack of the most superficial half-heartedness, and that's the kindest way I can describe his behaviour.

Do we really want to end corruption in this country? Let's get used to a few truths (there are many more) then.

* It won't happen with fasts.

* It won't happen if we cannot see a CM's failure to do his constitutional duty to protect his citizens for what it is: corruption as well.

* It won't happen if we see corruption only in our governments, and not in the corporate world, not among us in our ordinary everyday lives.

* It won't happen as long as we seek heroes in half-men and charlatans.

And there are times when I worry that:

* It won't happen, ever.

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

i am not sure where baba wore womens clothes has got anything do with his purpose and this fast?

looks like you have a past grievance and you just decided to bash ramdev.

you are totally wrong on this one.
take a chill pill dilip.

Anonymous said...

baba R puts on a sari (whatever) and hides in the middle of women so the police wont find him, thats okay with you? thats your kind of anti-corruption leader?

not mine, fershure.

Suresh said...

I remember reading an essay of Martin Gardner where he says something along the lines that "India is the home to every psuedoscience." (Sorry, don't remember the reference but I think it was in a volume of his collected essays.) I thought it was an exaggeration but no longer think so.

What can one make of a society where a ayurved, a homeopath, and of course, your MBBS trained doctor can all legally use the honorific "Dr." I am not sure but this might also include a unani hakim. A little web trawl showed that our central government actually funds "research in ayurveda, siddha, unani medicine, yoga and homeopathy." Pretty much equal opportunity, that's us.

I can understand that in every society, vestiges of the past never quite die and there are always some people who believe in the most weird things. In the US, for instance, you have the "Flat Earth Society", people who believe that it is a lie that man went to the moon, and of course, people who believe that Barack Obama was not born in the US despite a birth certificate. What distinguishes India (I think) is the sheer scale. As Martin Gardner puts it, we seem to tolerate every psuedoscience. I don't know why that should be so.

It is absolutely frightening that someone like Baba Ramdev can get taken so seriously.

Anonymous said...

So his peaceful protests do not find favour. Well he is good at marketing. Perhaps we can use him for selling products. Why is he so bad? Aside from being a charlatan? The latter is common everywhere in the world. See your tele-evangelist's promises.

Vincent said...

Dilip, you have proved to be someone who does not care about free-speech but are a biased person.

First and foremost, this is a free-speech issue and as a skeptic who does not believe in any sort of unscientific stuff like miracles of M Teresa or the Pope's foolish faith-healing claims or the claims of Baba Ramdev or Sai Baba, I have to state that I was horrified that the freedom of expression of Indians has been suppressed.

It is not enough that you memorize Voltaire's statement that you may disagree with your opponent but will defend to the death his right to say it. It is clear that it does not apply in your case. If the very first reaction was not one of horror at the suppression of free-speech, it just shows your position on freedom of expression.

I also have to add that we Christians have had it easy. Had it been a Christian who was dragged off, our own brothers would be running off to the White guys to complain about the "savage Hindus." Remember how we got the Da Vinci code banned in several states in India? When the Supreme Court overturned it, there was hatred being spewed from pulpits in churches around the country that only Christians will know about.

Again, I have done a lot of introspection and I think we owe Hindus not only thanks for their hospitality, but also an apology for all the suffering that Christians have caused them (primarily by the British and Portuguese, but also in the form of the privileges that we Indians have made them give us).

It makes my toe curl and also saddens me to think that we were allowed to set up colleges which were autonomous but we have deprived them the same right for several decades.

Pareshaan said...

Dilip Sahib,
not a big fan of Baba Ram Dev myself but I am surprised that you chose to write about Baba Ram Dev's shortcomngs and not about the overtly extra-constitutional actions of the Congress government. I mean surely Baba Ram Dev should not worry us - his activity has been well-within his democratically protected rights.
The Government in this case is so wrong that Baba Ram Dev's peccadilloes are hardly the issue.
How come you didn't have anything to say about that? Not fair.

Chandru K said...

Vincent, your sentiments are commendable, but who is identifying Indian Christians with the British and the Portuguese? Perhaps only those Indian Christians who choose to identify with them! It's a smaller version of the problem with Moslems in the subcontinent. A majority of them do seem to identify with foreign invaders of India, rather than with the larger and more ancient( and greater) Indic culture. But with Christians, it never appeared to be a serious problem.

Vincent said...

Chandru,

You have no idea what goes on in the Christian community on the Konkan coast extending all the way down to Mangalore. If you are part of this community, you will see that Christians feel nostalgic about the Portuguese.

The newest trend is imitating the Americans and tracing one's ancestors and feeling thrilled if one of the ancestors happens to be a White. The whole concept that the West is superior rests on their premise that the West is part of Christiandom. They know nothing about nothing about the poverty of Latin America and somehow are blind to the fact that much of Africa is Christian.

Please, I know exactly what I am talking about. This opposition to Baba Ramdev just because he is a Hindu should stop. Who cares if he is religious or believes in religious claims? He is entitled to his beliefs and to propagate his religious claims.

If we oppose his rights, it just shows our intolerance. And if he opposes corruption, more power to him. Is there a rule that engineers, doctors, journalists and lawyers can fight corruption but Hindu religious leaders are forbidden from doing so? I am tired of scapegoating Hindus.

Anonymous said...

Dilip,

What kind of punishment do you recommend for the corrupt?

When politicians eat money, have no ethics and have no definition of enough, effects of their actions are most probably felt by the weak/least powerful, the masses.

Could we estimate how many farmer deaths have occurred due to aid/help not reaching them due to corruption?

Jails for politicians seem to be safe havens and less of kala pani type deals.

What would be wrong if they are tried and court and if proven guilty be given prison for life/hanged?

Don't see much wrong there.

Kshitij

Chandru K said...

Vincent, you are correct. I suppose my experience with Indian Christians is limited, though in a good way! The ones I have met, whether in India or in Canada, are certainly not aggressive proselytizing types, and take pride in, and feel affinity to, India as a whole, not just Christianity or Christian countries. I figure the neo-converts to be the most zealous in distancing themselves from the Indic heritage and consciousness.

Dilip D'Souza said...

August 29 2009, this observation: "a large part of the problem [is] the unwillingness, if not downright opposition of the minorities, particularly the Moslems, to identify with Indian/Hindu symbolism, history, literature, ideas."

After much back and forth, on September 8 2009, this observation: "it is too sweeping to say that all Moslems and Christians have difficulty identifying with anything that could be labelled 'Hindu'."

This apparent evolution occasioned a "Bravo" from me.

And today, this observation: "A majority of [Muslims in India] do seem to identify with foreign invaders of India."

No evolution, after all.

Dilip D'Souza said...

we Christians have had it easy.

Perhaps, but exactly who do you mean by "we"?

Please do learn to speak for yourself -- one step in that is the courage and substance to use your own name -- before attempting to speak for others.

Dilip D'Souza said...

First and foremost, this is a free-speech issue...

Really? None of the champions of free speech whom I know and admire would choose to dress up in women's clothes and hide among women to evade an advancing posse of cops. They'd stand their ground and stand for free speech.

My first reaction at this whole tamasha of a fast was of amazement that anyone would take this man with any degree of seriousness. Not even a police action has changed that.

What the Da Vinci code and colleges and the Portuguese and privileges and pulpits has to do with all this is beyond me; I am only surprised that St Thomas has not made his appearance on this page yet.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Pareshaan, what do you take away from these two sentences I wrote? "I mean, I am incensed and horrified by the corruption that's all around us -- from CWG to telecom to Adarsh. I am sick of a government that chooses only to wink at it."

Of course I am nauseated by the Congress, and that nausea goes back at least 35 years. But that doesn't mean I should overlook the crazy antics of a half-man.

Kshitij: I want the sternest possible punishment our laws allow for corruption. Here's the point: I believe our existing laws spell out exactly such stern punishment. The problem, an old one now, is that we don't find the will to apply our laws (whether for corruption or for other crimes).

There is nothing wrong if powerful people accused of crimes are tried in court and punished if guilty. The problem is that they never are.

Therefore simply cobbling together one more law that we will not find the will to apply is not going to rid us of corruption.

asanandan said...

Baba also caught in corruption case. May be he would not like to show that fear.


asanandan
rupees4gigs
http://www.rupees4gigs.com

Mayank said...

Hi Dileep,
firstly I am completely with you at the shoddy state of affairs and the unwillingness of government to own up. It is not surprising that on fundamental governance issues like corruption even the opposition wait on the fence. Who would want to kill the golden goose. amidst all this, there are 2 leaders who have caught public fancy.
Anna with his group of loyalist - a darling of elite and educated class for being logical and rationale. for being savvy as well when it comes to communication. He connected with the urban class like no other on this issue.
And we had the half naked Baba, who has leveraged his yoga/medicine to his advantage, drumming fervor amidst the rural folks - largely. to my mind, the core issues are same. You may be right about his not so impeccable character.. but then how many of them are out there. I will rather support the cause he stood for, and may not agree with his ways and means. Period.

Ps:Many a post of yours find way to CM- Gujarat. Clearly the issue is extremely close to you. So if Anna supported and applauded his efforts in development, does that make Anna untouchable too?

Pareshaan said...

Boss, all I am saying is this: In our country Gilani cannot say what he wants to - Roy can't either - neither can Ramdev. This secular suppression makes me a bit nervous.
In my case a lot more nervous than the Baba Ramdev Drama.
I wonder if these guys can't have their say then what chance do I have. None.

Chandru K said...

A majority of Moslems do seem to identify with foreign invaders of India, but it would be incorrect to say that *all* of them do. So there's no contradiction.

Dilip D'Souza said...

All right, you asked for it. (Again).

You identify with foreign invaders of India, rather than with the larger and more ancient (and greater) Indic culture. You even live in a foreign land, which proves your identification with them.

Please make amends as soon as you can.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Mayank,

I don't see Anna H and Baba R as a urban/rural divide at all. I had my problems with Anna's effort too.

But Baba seems to me to be a man with no substance at all. Sure, I'm with you when you say you'd like to support the cause he stood for, but I can't see that he stood for anything. (Why would he cheat his own supporters by giving the government an undertaking saying he would give up his fast at 4pm?)

I don't believe he has any notion of the issues he mentions: they are just things he has heard about and spouts.

About Gujarat: my only point is this -- it is meaningless to say "well, yes, he allowed that massacre to happen, but at least he is a clean and efficient administrator who is stopping corruption in Gujarat!"

Because when you do nothing to protect the lives of your constituents, i.e. to do the job you are constitutionally sworn to do, in my mind that's corruption.

Pareshaan, part of being able to say what you want is to simply have the guts to stand up and say it and face the consequences. Freedoms don't come easy, and they exist in the teeth of plenty of folks who try to pull them away. Gilani and Roy know about that spirit: they stand up and say what they want to even if there are consequences they have to face.

Baba R, on the other hand, chooses to disguise himself as a woman and run.

Chandru K said...

"I had my problems with Anna's effort too. "

But not with Roy's and the Osama loving, Pak supporting, Islamist Gilani! Wow, what courageous, principled, elevated characters. Unlike the cowardly, shifty Hindus like Ramdev, and the wishy washy Anna.

Chandru K said...

Last I heard, Canada never invaded India. The British did. But yes, those old, colonial Tory farts in Canada who identify with the British, including the Raj, are despicable.

Dilip D'Souza said...

You evaded the point. You live in a foreign land. Therefore it's clear you identify more with foreigners and foreign invaders of India rather than with the larger and more ancient (and greater) Indic culture.

Please make amends. Simply calling people "farts" doesn't cut it. How will you prove to anyone that you don't identify with them?

Anirudh said...

don't think there's anything wrong with baba dressing in a salwar and trying to escape a mindless attack by the police. besides, the photograph was worth it.

Anonymous said...

Dilip: you are wrong again. Chandru K does not identify with the foreigners among whom he lives. He is a mere serf, who works for a daily wage in Canada - a sort of bondman who, if he didn't have to, would not live that "hellhole of a country". Chandru K is akin to an exiled king of Indic culture in all manner except one: he is a serf. Not being invaded in these modern times, he has wilfully cast himself into the bonds of foreigners. He is a debit to his origins. Go on Chandru, state your case.

Suresh said...

it is meaningless to say "well, yes, he allowed that massacre to happen, but at least he is a clean and efficient administrator who is stopping corruption in Gujarat!"

Agree here, totally, but disagree with the following:

Because when you do nothing to protect the lives of your constituents, i.e. to do the job you are constitutionally sworn to do, in my mind that's corruption.

I think of corruption as involving financial wrongdoing (with public money) and I would limit it to that. Failing to protect the lives of your constituents is a much more serious crime.

Financial wrongdoings are undoubtedly bad they do not leave scars the way state mandated killings do. Getting over them is much harder, particularly when justice is delayed and eventually denied. We may think that everything is fine in the Punjab but rest assured it is not. The killings have not been forgotten and the wounds, far from being healed, are made worse by the persistent denial of justice. If you don't believe me, take a look at this column by the BJP MP Manavendra Singh.

R. said...

If ever there was a blog post that I could stand up and applaud, this was it. Terrific writing as usual Dilip!

Surya said...

...do you have tears only for Gujarat? not a word on the police brutality? As we told before anything that is safforn is abhored by you and your types. you have an agenda.
Surya

Dilip D'Souza said...

I've written plenty of times about police brutality and torture, met and written about plenty of victims of police actions. (And about cops responsible for them). That being the case, I have a pretty good idea of the methods the cops must have used at the Ramlila grounds that night.

And even so, to pretend that that night was as bad as what happened in Gujarat in 2002, or in Jallianwalla Bagh in 1919, is to display the moral compass of a coconut.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Failing to protect the lives of your constituents is a much more serious crime.

Thanks for saying it, Suresh.

Chandru K said...

And what are you anonymous, a self-pitying, arrogant and slimey all at once Pakistani? Yes, the combination does exist. Christopher Hitchens really gives it to Pakistan in a recent article in Vanity Fair. And the Pakistanis like anonymous want Indians to give them money for flood relief, while excusing them for exporting terror. Good show!

As for myself, it was my parents who came to Canada, or decided to stay in Canada. I grew up here, so I do feel some affinity for the country. But I also have become fascinated and somewhat immersed in the grand, fascinating spectacle of India. Got a problem with that? It is the typical Pakistani martial race/ Moslem League mentality, that they can only think in terms of weak-strong, victory-defeat, serf-master. That's the kind of neighbour India has.

Aditya said...

From TOI, this:

"I appeal that 20 young men from every district should come here. We will train them in both shahstra (vedas) and shastra (weapons)," Ramdev, who is continuing his hunger strike, told his followers here.

Baba finally shows his true colors.

1. This proves that all this while he had no business sharing the stage with Anna Hazare.

2. If Anna Hazare is truly Gandhian, he would not even want to be seen standing near Baba.

3. I don't see this approach being any different than any armed struggle against any state. These things have no place in a democracy. A yoga teacher with Gandhian friends can never say all this. My doubts of RSS being a part of all this have only deepened now.

Anonymous said...

Chandru K:

"And what are you anonymous, a self-pitying, arrogant and slimey all at once Pakistani?"

Actually - no. Not so easy!

However I thoroughly enjoyed your vitriolic response. You say your parents brought you into the Canadian bondage. If they came as kings, why do you display the feelings of a serf? I would say you are old enough to take matters into your hands and move back to the India that fascinates you. Unless you love the foreigners among whom you live, like to the invader-loving residents of the Indian sub-continent. Show your loyalties. Vote with your feet, not utterances alone. Or accept your self-contradictory and indefensible stance with silence.

K said...

Suresh, you wrote :

"Financial wrongdoings are undoubtedly bad they do not leave scars the way state mandated killings do. "

On what basis can you say that?

How do you know the money eaten by politicians was not supposed to reach the destitute or farmers on verge of suicide?

What if lives were lost due to help not reaching in time?

I don't see how stuffing money people's tax money in tax haven's is any less of a crime.

The fact that he got the all that money means someone else was denied help/resources/

How can we say with full confidence that that did not cost people's lives?

I don't get it, what's wrong with this guy asking the government to punish the tax evaders?

Also, what's wrong if he charges people to learn yoga from him? who doesn't. If he charges a few he can make it free for a few.

Much rather have an honest business man in charge than these (politicians) people faking patriotism and filling their pockets.

Suresh said...

On what basis can you say that?

Simply because we are *all* victims when public money is misappropriated. Undoubtedly, the poor suffer disproportionately more due to corruption but there is no doubt that we all suffer.

If you cannot see the difference between this and a scenario where a group is deliberately targeted for violence and the state either encourages the violence or fails to do its constitutional duty to protect all citizens (or both), then I have nothing to say.

To repeat (for the last time), I do not condone corruption but I do make a distinction between that and the failure of a government to protect citizens of a group which is deliberately targeted for violence. You may disagree but I think the latter is a much more serious crime.

Chandru K said...

Actually, a perspective from afar can be good; one can contrast the good and bad, the strengths and weaknesses of one's land of residence/adoption with one's ancestral country. And also compare political, ideological, historical and economic conditions and values.

I feel very free doing that, as an independent observer; there is no Pakistani martial race/ Moslem League dichotomy of master/serf, victory/defeat, strong/weak at work in the least.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, a perspective from afar can be good"

I don't see how. Your entire outlook is based on a hatred of Pakistan and Moslems in general. Where DID you get that? It is a most Pakistani-like attitude. It is obvious you didn't live in India long so it must have come with your previous generation. In today's world you need to reach beyond your ancestral prejudices, as a true Indian or even as a false Canadian. Serfdom inspires hatred and this is why I use that adjective in your case - your continued exposition of hatred makes me believe in your servitude.

K said...

Suresh said : "I do make a distinction between that and the failure of a government to protect citizens of a group which is deliberately targeted for violence. You may disagree but I think the latter is a much more serious crime."

Right on this blog, Dilip keeps writing about how many indians cannot afford 1 kg of rice @5 Rs or less". I might have the number wrong.

May be you pick and chose the posts you read, not sure.

But clearly, the funds/resources eaten in midstream is affecting a ton of indians. I am only talking about the ones in worst conditions, forget you and me.

In your view it may make a less of a story.

Both are failures, in one case it is failure to act/protect in other it is failure due to resources not reaching in needy due to corruption.

Chandru K said...

Why are you on this blog, Anonymous? Why not work for secularism and pluralism in Pakistan, rather than comment on what you think someone else is writing about whatever? Do you need to feel alive by citing what other are writing about Moslems or whatever else? Not too strong, and sounding very, uh, serf-like.

Anonymous said...

"comment on what you think someone else is writing about whatever?"

hey but isnt that what your'e doing, "chandru"??

Anonymous said...

" Not too strong, and sounding very, uh, serf-like"

Chandru K: excellent! You learn fast. I appreciate your positive comments about working towards secularism and pluralism in Pakistan - or elsewhere in the world as the case may be. You may yet transform your serfdom to a kingdom - now that you can distinguish between the two, and the attitudes reflected by each.

As for why I am on this blog? The same reason everyone else is - to exchange ideas. Well excepting those who make ad hominem attacks on the blogger or communities at large. I don't subscribe to that and look forward to your continued cooperation.

Chandru K said...

I am commenting on what D'Souza writes, and pointing out often how false his 'equivalances' are. And I'm not the only one- Nikhil and a few others have denounced the equation of repeated, relentless, ideological, seemingly unending terror = riots against Sikhs in 1984 and Moslems in 1993 spheel.

Chandru K said...

For the record, this is what Christopher Hitchens wrote about Pakistan. As an Indo-Canadian with a large degree of affinity and sympathy for my country of origin, I am aghast and disgusted that India has this kind of neighbour. I want India to have progressive, dynamic, mature, self-respecting neighbours, who can be intelligently critical of India when the situation demands it. But not be constantly paranoid, arrogant, petty, whiny, self-pitying and boastful, that too when there's little to boast of! The problem afflicts Nepal and Sri Lanka as well, but not to the same degree as Pakistan.

Chandru K said...

Here is the Hitchens article:

Again to quote myself from 2001, if Pakistan were a person, he (and it would have to be a he) would have to be completely humorless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offense, and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. That last triptych of vices is intimately connected. The self-righteousness comes from the claim to represent a religion: the very name “Pakistan” is an acronym of Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and so forth, the resulting word in the Urdu language meaning “Land of the Pure.” The self-pity derives from the sad fact that the country has almost nothing else to be proud of: virtually barren of achievements and historically based on the amputation and mutilation of India in 1947 and its own self-mutilation in Bangladesh. The self-hatred is the consequence of being pathetically, permanently mendicant: an abject begging-bowl country that is nonetheless run by a super-rich and hyper-corrupt Punjabi elite. As for paranoia: This not so hypothetical Pakistani would also be a hardened anti-Semite, moaning with pleasure at the butchery of Daniel Pearl and addicted to blaming his self-inflicted woes on the all-powerful Jews.

Anonymous said...

Chandru K: I understand you don't agree that the Sikh killings and Moslem killings are forms of terrorism. How would you describe them? "Riots" is not enough. Do you personally condemn these (and other similar) acts of senseless slaughter?

You or I did not choose our parents; nor could one have chosen India's neighbours. Regrettably Pakistan has gone from bad to worse, over time. However putting down Pakistan alone( as does your favourite Hitchins, UK-US person that he is ) is not going to help India. Pakistan can only be reformed from within.

Have you ever considered, incidentally, why India has been time, time and time again the hapless victim of external attackers? From Alexander down to the Portuguese and the British? "We are a peace-loving peoples" is not enough - there is and has been enough violence in India. Perhaps you could explain your assessment of the historically proven vanquish-me phenomenon of India?

Dilip D'Souza said...

riots against Sikhs in 1984 and Moslems in 1993.

3000 massacred in 1984, another 1000+ in 1993 - and these years later, we can call all that "riots against Sikhs and Moslems".

3000 massacred is nearly 20 times the number who were slaughtered in Nov 2008 in Bombay. But no, it's a just a "riot".

No, I suspect even coconuts have a better notion of morality than this.

Anonymous said...

... & as an Indian-Indian with a large degree of affinity and sympathy for my country, I dont want some Canadian telling me what kind of neighbour he wants my country to have. so If thats your motivation, please stuff it.

Chandru K said...

So anon@ 1044pm doesn't want 'some Canadian' telling him what kind of neighbours India should have? Would he rather have 'some Pakistani' or 'some Sri Lankan' tell him that?
The problem in India's neighbourhood, is that the neighbouring countries are not progressive and pluralistic, and the US-UK combine, lately joined by China, have tried in their own way, to prevent these countries from being so. It's almost as if they want self-pitying, hyper-corrupt, arrogant and super-paranoid elites in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal( Bangladesh has improved a bit of late) who constantly harp on the Indian threat. And that Indian threat is really nothing other than the threat of pluralism, secularism, democracy and rationality underming the position of those elites. Pakistan has had that problem while it was still being conceived, in the pre-independence era.It's in its blood. Sri Lanka's injustice and idiocy was the grotesque "Sinhala only" policy that it followed for 4 decades. And this while India was accommodating 18 languages and scores more dialects.

Chandru K said...

"we can call all that "riots against Sikhs and Moslems".

3000 massacred is nearly 20 times the number who were slaughtered in Nov 2008 in Bombay. But no, it's a just a "riot"."

Number, range, type, frequency and motivation/ideology are important. The Naxals, Kashmiris and Khalistanis are/were relentless in their use of terror as an instrument to overthrow the existing democratic,pluralistic state, and form a new totalitarian, Islamist or Sikh-Khalsa entity, devoid of freedom, secularism and pluralism. They are/were very willing to kill large numbers of even the people they claim to represent, if they were not sufficiently Naxal, Islamist or Khalistani enough.

Vincent said...

Really? None of the champions of free speech whom I know and admire would choose to dress up in women's clothes and hide among women to evade an advancing posse of cops. They'd stand their ground and stand for free speech.


So according to you, if a man disguises as a woman to escape the police, he is not entitled to the rights of free-speech? It just exposes your understanding of free-specch.

Vincent said...

By "we" I mean those have been classified by the Government of India as having been born in the Christian religion. This includes those like me who have shunned it and people like you too. Whether you claim to be a Christian or not, the Indian government at some point of time classified you as one even if you refuse to reveal your religion affiliation or lack of it now.

Yes, we have had it easier than Hindus. We could operate colleges and hospitals while they could not without government interference. Sad, but true. We must look within our hearts and repent for the sorrow we have inflicted on our Hindu brothers and sisters.

The ban on the Da Vinci Code was an example of how we have had it better than Hindus in India. They have been magnanimous enough to accept Christians and George Fernandes, a Christian, was the Defence Minister a few years back. This just shows their magnanimity.

Dilip D'Souza said...

So according to you, if a man disguises as a woman to escape the police, he is not entitled to the rights of free-speech?

No (and you know it). According to me, if a man says he wants to speak his mind freely but then runs away from the consequences (whatever they are), he knows nothing about free speech.

Even so, he is entitled to free speech.

Try not to twist that into something other "according to you" position I never took.

I also believe that those who understand the meaning of free speech have the courage to speak their minds using their own names.

Anonymous said...

"I also believe that those who understand the meaning of free speech have the courage to speak their minds using their own names"

I don't want to open another discussion front here since I am working on Chandru K: - explain the "vanquish-me" India, Chandru please, I want to hear your thoughts in that difficult area.

However - anonymous blogging and courage have almost nothing in common. For instance voting in a free democratic system is always by secret ballot. Referees in reputed journals write their comments anonymously. Your blog permits ( and therefore supports ) anonymous comments. So you cannot use that fact against your commentators. Have the courage to disable anonymous comments or agree that you like them.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Let me say this unambiguously: I have no problem with anonymous comments.

My point in this discussion was about free speech. To me, it is also about responsibility. If you want the freedom to stand up and criticize something, you have to be prepared to face the consequences, whatever they are. If not, you don't know what free speech really means.

To me, a man hiding from such consequences in a woman's clothes is not very different from someone hiding from such consequences behind a fake name.

Vincent said...

Dilip, you are just spinning your statements a lot. If running away when faced with enormous state power (governments chill free-speech more than anyone else) makes a person undeserving of the title of a votary of free-speech, then he joins the ranks of Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange.

History is replete with examples of people who escaped their government and continued speaking out while in exile. Your arguments are just getting plain silly.

This was a shameful crackdown by the government and it had a chilling effect on the freedom of expression of Hindus.

Vincent said...

To me, a man hiding from such consequences in a woman's clothes is not very different from someone hiding from such consequences behind a fake name.


Ramdev did not hide under any identity to make his point. He made his point under his own identity. When the state came after him and used violence, he disguised himself to escape them. They were two different issues. One was the expression of his ideas and the other was to escape from killers who came after him.

Chandru K said...

"vanquish-me" India, Chandru please, I want to hear your thoughts in that difficult area.

India was a civilisational entity, with an underlying unity, but one divided by politics, egos and individual rivalries. Added to that is the fact that Indians felt secure in their traditional prosperity and traditional weapons, and had little inkling of the ferocious invaders and their ferocious ideology, from the North and West. Thus, Indians left themselves handicapped and open for invasion. But none of the invaders had a walk over. They were defeated repeatedly. However, they possessed a relentless, single-minded ideology of violence and conquest, which was alien to the Indian ethos. Coupled with internal divisions among the Indians, that ferocious ideology "won" at the end of the day-for a time and /or place. We should note the great resistance put up by Vijayanagar, Colachel( where a small Kerala kingdom defeated the Dutch in their heydey) Mewar in Rajasthan, the Sikhs, Marathas, Jats, Bundelas and Assamese, who were never really conquered. So yes, the experience of the last 800 years was negative, but containing innumerable bright spots. And 1947 ended essentially centuries of foreign domination, keeping in mind the independence of large areas of the subcontinent from Moslem rule for hundreds of years.

Chandru K said...

Oh, and while some blame can be attached to India with its internal divisions and inequalities, the far, far greater blame rests on the invaders themselves for invading India and despoiling and ravaging the country. They are the ones who should really have the guilt complex, not India. The victim is not the guilty party here.

Dilip D'Souza said...

killers who came after him.

Who did they kill?

it had a chilling effect on the freedom of expression of Hindus.

Who, Hindu or otherwise, has been chilled into silence?

Vincent said...

Who, Hindu or otherwise, has been chilled into silence?


Hindus have definitely been chilled into silence. Guess you have not heard the phrase "chilling effect" and are hearing it for the first time. It is a very common expression in every single lawsuit in the US that challenges the infringement of free-speech rights. The idea is simple - the government is so powerful that if they win, it results in so much penalty that it instills fear.


Evidence for the chilling effect is determined very easily. Did anyone attempt to run away? If so, the government's actions had a chilling effect on free-speech. It does not matter if one individual is braver than another and willing to take bullets. The law must protect the weak and the strong equally. Yes, there were people who attempted escape.


There is at least one lady who is in a coma as a result of police brutalities and the suppression of free-speech by the government. This is attempted murder and makes the government into killers.


All this is common sense, no matter how you spin it and try to justify the brutal attack on free-speech. This is a much bigger issue than Baba Ramdev. It is about free-speech.


And remember, someday you can say, "First they came after the Hindus, I supported it..."

Dilip D'Souza said...

Amazing.

It is possible to condemn the police atrocity of that Saturday night, which we all must do. (More reason to understand that possibly the most urgent issue India faces is police reform).

It is possible to do that without following the garden path the Baba's followers, like on this page, are trying so hard to lead us on. With his fast fizzled out, with the issues he claimed to be focusing on now obscured by his actions, with his fibre now exposed by his running away in a woman's clothes, with his various business affairs now showing up with not a lot of credit to him ... with all this happening, the followers have no choice but to find such a garden path.

This noise about freedom of speech and the suppression of Hindus is exactly such a garden path.

I know plenty of Indians who have (putting it kindly) minimal respect for Baba after the last few days. Like the population of this country, about 80% of them are Hindu. Please don't speak for them, even under assumed names.

Vincent said...

What is amazing is your inability to comprehend the issue of freedom of expression and to set up strawman arguments. As a person born as a Christian, I don't care about yoga or anything Hindu.

What I do care is the oppressive nature of the Indian state under UPA and the pliant and corrupt journalists (google for radiagate for evidence of this) who refuse to condemn police brutalities. Who cares if he ran away disguised as a woman? It is still a free-speech issue and a case of police brutality which you stubbornly refuse to condemn.

Besides, he was merely one of the lakhs of people assembled at the ground. What is your justification for the brutality on the others? That they are Hindu? I don't agree that only Christians are entitled to freedom of expression or that such rules must be applicable only in the White man's country. For a wonderful exposition on this thought process, I would recommend you read Richard Crasta's "Impressing the Whites: The New International Slavery."

Your illogical justification to deny Ramdev of the rights to express his views because he was disguised as a woman does not cut it. That is a bad argument.

Anonymous said...

"Thus, Indians left themselves handicapped and open for invasion. But none of the invaders had a walk over.... violence and conquest.... which was alien to the Indian ethos".

Chandru K: So the invaders were "ferocious", like beasts, while Indians were not. Does that display a predator-prey relationship, albeit at the human level? Should Indians become more ferocious now, in response? Do you not think Indians are still too busy in-fighting, ferocious but to their own kind, for instance by despising their black-sheep neighbours and/or minorities? How can India take on more of a regional leadership role rather than express a sibling rivalry - and how can persons and attitudes like yours have a positive role?

Dilip D'Souza said...

I am tired of scapegoating Hindus...

Hindus have definitely been chilled into silence...

We must look within our hearts and repent for the sorrow we have inflicted on our Hindu brothers and sisters...

a chilling effect on the freedom of expression of Hindus...

All sentiments to applaud. But then it's followed up with this:

I don't care about anything Hindu.

So which is it, actually? You do care or you don't?

That apart. Earlier on this page, I wrote this line:

Even so, he [Baba R] is entitled to free speech.

Of course, for people with obfuscation on their minds, it works well to twist that into:

Your illogical justification to deny Ramdev of the rights to express his views.

Bravo.

Vincent said...

"I don't care about anything Hindu." So which is it, actually? You do care or you don't?


Scapegoating Hindus, the rights of Hindus to express themselves, brutality on Hindus, etc., have nothing to do with Hindu religion. They are entitled to these rights just as any other group. These are universal values. It just so happens that Hindus are targeted here by the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh government. Sad, but true.


Defending the freedom of Jews does not make me someone who cares about Judaism. Defending the rights of Muslims does not make me someone where cares about the Quran. Defending the rights of Hindus does not make me someone who cares about the Hindu religion.


This is exactly the problem with your logic - the inability to separate out issues from people, which is why you have ended up supporting the attack on Ramdev. Maybe you object to his religious views (I do not agree with those views either, but unlike you, I think he has a right to be a Hindu), but why should that mean that his rights should be abridged?


Excuse me, but isn't this what was the reason behind the Crusades and the Inquisitions?

Chandru K said...

"Do you not think Indians are still too busy in-fighting, ferocious but to their own kind, for instance by despising their black-sheep neighbours and/or minorities?"

India is hardly what you call ferocious. Defensive, cautious, disdainful( rightly), but not ferocious.

"How can India take on more of a regional leadership role"

What ideas do you have? If they include paying baksheesh to Pakistan( i.e its military or elite), or handing over tracts of territory, forget about it. The cure in that case is far worse than the disease.

India can simply 'lead' by example, in continuing to maintain its democracy, pluralism, secularism and rationality. This is what Shashi Tharoor calls India's soft power, the power of example. Other developing countries can learn and/or be inspired by the good in India, which is plentiful. And reject the bad and harmful.