Category Archives: Opinion

Apologia for Islamism in Kashmir has been rendered ineffective by the changes in Kashmir

Rajiv Lochan

Dr. Ramesh Tamiri has expressed much distress at what he considers the sidelining of Kashmiri Pandits in the ongoing talks between the government of India and the Gupkar gang in Kashmir. His concerns remind me of the article that another friend of mine wrote many months ago. Swaran Preet Singh wrote in the context of Kashmir about the absence of a recognition that Sikhs are a persecuted community. Any community which wishes to be heard needs to become extraordinarily touchy about its existence. It is the touchiness that communicates to the rest of the world that a community exists and it needs to be respected. The Sikhs, by creating an identity around the Indian state of Punjab, have used such touchiness in the past two decades to assert a distinct Sikh identity. In the case of the Kashmiri Pandits, their initial stoic silences worked against them. Far from appreciating their suffering, there were some, journalists, Kashmiri Pandits, academics in general, who began to construct an image of the Kashmiri P andits being an oppressor group. Despite all the persecution they have suffered at the hands of the radicalised Islamists in Kashmir, the broad vision as propagated till recently by the likes of Barkha Dutt was that they were actually exploiters of the Muslims in Kashmir. That apologia for Islamism in Kashmir was fortunately rendered ineffective by the changes in Kashmir introduced by the Narendra Modi government. Today even Pakistan hesitates in providing overt military backup to Islamists crossing the border.

Pic. from c. 1870, shows the ruins of the Martand Temple, the sun temple in Kashmir which was destroyed by an Islamist ruler. The destruction, according to the historical records left behind by him, took over a year to accomplish but such was his commitment to destroy that he and his men persisted for long to eradicate the signs of the Hindu God from Kashmir.

Rajiv Lochan is a renowned scholar, historian and columnist

Is casteism intrinsic to Hinduism

khalid Umar

Hindu devotees: Cutting across caste lines

I have reasons to believe that Caste system is more of a socio-economic phenomenon than part of the Dharma.

How castes were institutionalised

First we observe that CASTE system is found not only in India, but it is found throughout in South Asian countries deep rooted in the non-urban & tribal lives. In any village or tribal society, predating industrialisation, we see that individual’s identify comes with identifying with his clan or group.

For millennia, the whole social fabric was based upon co-operation with others in the pecking order. An individual’s first loyalty was with his immediate family and then with his clan, group.

Division of labour gave rise to hereditary jobs. The people who held jobs deemed to be particularly contaminating were stuck into these for generations and became outcasts. These included sweepers, leather workers and crematorium attendants. These developed into strict social orders, restricting upward social mobility.

Do Hindu religious scriptures allow caste system in Hinduism?

I can’t find any Hinduism scriptures where they have supported the caste system. The caste system survived in South Asia because of factors that ranged from the socio-economic to the ecological. It helped sustain and preserve balance among communities in a non-modern world.

Caste is not merely the decision to restrict or expand the marriageable pool; it is characterised by the language, customs, faith, cooking, clothing, moral values, region, and so many other things that create the intense ‘with-us vs against-us’ kind of sentiment that are the prime movers of the caste system.

I reason that for the CASTE SYSTEM TO BE SOLELY A HINDU LEGACY, other Indian religions like CHRISTIANITY & ISLAM must NOT practice it. However, I find that South Asians of ALL religions identify with caste system.

Casteism in Muslims of India

Social stratification among Muslims over the Centuries in India

Muslims have it in a very elaborate and well defined form of Ashraaf and Ajlaaf. Ashrafs were the light-skinned Muslims who had come from Central Asia while the term Ajlaf was used for native converts who were generally darker skinned mostly from the lower Hindu castes. Largely , this term was reserved for converts to Islam from occupational castes such as Darzi (tailors), Hajjam or Nai (barber), Julaha (Weaver) , etc. Pakistani Biradri system is a social and ethnic segregation system still strong at the grass roots level in villages.

Castes in Christians of India

Christian converts in Kerala, Goa, UP, Punjab, Tamil Nadu who converted from Hindus has retained their Caste prejudices. Sikhs, even after Guru Gobind Singh abolished castes in 1699, have some Caste divisions although in a diluted form.

Dilution of casteism in Hindus

It is seen that when Hindus move away from the village and / or into other countries, their attachment to the caste system dissipates accordingly. Among urbanites, the likelihood of inter-caste marriages is more than non-urban societies. This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that Non-Indian origin Hindus and Hindu converts don’t practice it.

Is caste based system fundamental of Hinduism?

I find that Hindus do not identify themselves with caste as a critical feature of their religion to follow. When questioned, the features of Hinduism that most Hindus identify as being of great relevance and importance to their spiritual practice is the Bhagavad Gita, Ashtanga yoga, Karma, Seva, Meditation, Bhakti, Ahimsa, Pluralism, Vedanta. None of which has something to do with caste.

The most fundamental Hindu scriptures do not speak of caste at all. In the Medieval period, many Hindu religious leaders, tried to give divine sanction to caste-based discrimination. But the reformists rose against it and so Casteism could not become the ethos of Hinduism.

Postscript

The liberals and the western world denounce the caste system in theory. In practice, they all do it but camouflage it by attaching more neutral words like “community” to it.

The next time it is claimed that Hinduism is solely associated with caste, it is worth recalling that;

1- all South Asians practice caste,
2- Hindus themselves are less caste-oriented when they leave the villages and much less so when they join the religion by conversion, and
3- Hindu scriptures don’t associate with caste.

I believe that as the Indian society would move towards post-industrial stage, the economic progression will accelerate the processes that will bring caste-based discrimination to an end.


Khalid Umar lives in UK and describes himself as a secular humanist, supporting freedom of speech as a Universal Right.

Watchout: Film, TV and OTT players are taking Indian citizens for a ride

Anand Prakash

Across the country, whether you are in the capital or or other big cities, towns, and villages; whether you live in a hut, makeshift shanty, a single-room tenement, a two room house or a three-bedroom luxury apartment. At a time when the Corona virus has locked everyone in their homes, you will find one thing common everywhere. It is the TV connected to the set top box or the broadband OTT platforms. This is the only means of entertainment. That too entertainment 24×7.

This contraption brings direct to your homes films – short films to the shortest and also the full-length movies. Apart from these, there are the Web movies, dramas and serials. Their theme is good, plot, acting, direction, music, everything is impeccable. Suspense also remains at peak.The whole family wants to watch it. But as there is only one TV in most houses, all have to watch it together! The latest films are now most easily available. When you start watching a films or tele-drama on your TV set, it is not easy to leave it midway.

Now the big question is…Can you watch most of what gets shown by different platforms and channels along with the whole family?

Answer is no. Why – Because often the characters are shown hurling the worst of abuses and there is no censor mechanism to mind their profanities.

In addition to these abuses, one also ends up watching crude gestures, endless sarcasm, inane scenes, sex perversions and a narrative that is often demeaning for a particular religion — all of it crossing the boundaries of vulgarity; all this is unnecessarily inserted in the movies and TV episodes. As if all this is the soul of these films and the non-inclusion of such trash will mean the film or the TV drama will fail to collect TRP.

There is another common scene that will be found in every film – the urinal -where the hero, the villain or his companions, while urinating, talk, make plans, make love and if there are enemies, they plot, play enmity, fight, and go for kidnappings and demonstrate shameless ways to urinate.

The Curse

Members of cultured and civilised families find it difficult to make eye contact with others within the family after going through the routine of watching stuff on TV. They are only filled with regret – Why were they watching all this!

Anger against the TV Set

When mind is filled with anger, the heart wants to pick up the TV and just slam it; But it is not Pakistan where on losing a cricket match with India, they take out all their anger on TV.
Here, in most households, there is just one TV that too more often than not is purchased on installments. So breaking the TV is out of question and the heart ends up grieving.

Why such movies & Drama

When ever a question is raised, the film makers say, they only produce what people want. One does not understand what is the compulsion of these filmmakers? What kind of mental deformity is this, why do they jump into the filth of excessive permissiveness, abuses, and vulgar dialogues.

The producers don’t even realise what they are serving to the masses in the name of films? What absurdity, and obscenity they are teaching to the younger generation, to what depths of promiscuity are they bent upon pushing our young boys and girls to. Unfortunately, all this us now within easy reach of our minor and innocent children through their smart phones?

Feeling of loss

Is it that no body is responsibility towards the country, towards the audience, and towards the society?

Answer is, Probably not. 

Even if one agrees that no one is responsible towards the society, then what about the responsibility of the leaders towards their immediate families, parents, siblings, wives and children? It may be that they see no wrong and have also got their whole families in the same mould and they care a hoot for norms and the value system. 

One fails to understand, who told them that only by riding piggyback on abusive riff-raff and filthy language and dialogues, and by using freedom of expression as excuse, their films will have better TRP,  and they would climb the ladders of success and become rich by cutting the pockets of the audience?

Only once

Hey, every film Director and producer who is in the top bracket and is recognised for making good international standard films – for once, just once, make these films are free of dirt, then see how it will captivate millions of viewers like me.

Why is the Minister silent?

Even if one were to forgive these producers, one fails to understand what has happened to the I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, his ministry, and the so-called Censor Board (The Board of Film Certification) and ruling party seniors? All of them claim to be upholders of Indian culture. They shout from rooftops about their commitment to the eternal cultural splendor of India. Is this the culture that they inherited from their ancestors? Is this the culture they have blindly accepted?


Anand Prakash, has been a career journalist. In Madhya Pradesh, he was the Bureau Chief of Hindustan for the Hindustan Times Group from mid-60s to mid-70s. Then he moved over to Delhi and covered Parliament for long years as a trail blazing Special Correspondent. He has also had a marathon innings, the longest by anybody, as President of the Hindustan Times Employees Union.

Why the District Magistrate should be sacked

Newsroom24x7 Network

A video showing a District Magistrate’s tyranny and his brutal and unlawful behaviour towards the hosts and guests at a wedding function, when they had overstepped the time limit permitted under prohibitory orders for COVID, has gone viral on social networks and people are cursing the officer without end.

When a gentleman approached the District Magistrate seeking some degree of consideration in the most polite manner the officer asked of him “What time is the night curfew”. The gentleman replied “it is at 10 but the auspicious time is 11”.

The DM shot back saying “Then you do it at home inside a room. You please read 144 order carefully”. At this moment the District Magistrate suddenly went hyper and without minding his profanities said in the most hideous, uncouth and demeaning manner: 

“You seem to be an educated person. Don’t talk like a bloody villager and an uneducated person”. With these words, the District Magistrate even ended up casting aspersions and insulting all the villagers of India. For this one remark, he should be dismissed from service and made to serve a sentence.

It is important to note, when the gentleman politely said: “Don’t talk to me like this, I’m a surgeon”, the DM pulled him by his collar, manhandled him and ordered the police to “catch hold of the guy, adding he was “obstructing public servant on duty”.

When the doctor pleaded that it was his sister’s wedding, the DM blabbered “no, no, no, obstructing District Magistrate on duty. Arrest him. 353 Arrest him”.

The District Magistrate is seen ordering the arrest of even women. One wonders, whether or not the District Magistrate is aware of the law of the land. Does he not know that women police officers should be associated where women are arrested, that too, arrest of women between sunset or sunrise has to be avoided, according to National Human Rights Commission guidelines on arrest.

The District Magistrate in this video should be tried for misuse of authority, for taking the law into his own hands,  raising his hands on people who were not posing any threat to enforcement of prohibitory orders under CrPC 144. Question arises: Who made him a District Magistrate? 


5 Tripura MLAs write to state chief secretary demanding enquiry into the incident & immediate suspension of West Tripura DM Shailesh Kumar Yadav for his actions in marriage ceremonies at Manikya Court, Agartala