Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eminent Dr. Kambara gets Jnanapeetha - Towering Dr. Byrappa is sidelined again

Dr. Chandrashekhara Kambara with his family
Dr Chandrashekhara Kambara, Veteran Kannada Writer and the founder vice chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi now gets India’s highest literary Award, Jnanapith for the year 2009

The selection of the poet, playwright and novelist Dr Chandrasekhar Kambar for the Jnanpith Award has strengthened the perception of ideological bias in the selection process that was suspected in the selection of previous two winners from Kannada, U.R. Anantha Murthy and Girish Karnad. Veteran wrtier Kambars choice has generated a feeling that Bhyrappa is being sidelined for his right-wing views. Out of the seven Jnanpith awardees so far in Kannada, all were giants except the last two - U.R. Anantha Murthy and Girish Karnad. It is now perceived that the award selection is being subtly influenced by so-called secularists with leftist leanings in recent years.

Churmuri blog has articulated the public feeling with clarity. The lobby of the secularists, here in Bangalore and there in Delhi, apparently has worked overtime to deprive a deserving candidate, S.L. Bhyrappa, a rightful place in the world of Kannada literature adorned with the ultimate stamp of recognition — a Jnanpith award. It is believed that S.L. Bhyrappa is branded as one with rightist orientation or as being a pro-Hindu in his writings. If this is so, one can also brand U.R. Anantha Murthy, Girish Karnad and Kambar as those with leftist orientation and as being anti-Hindu. No literature of creative kind should be evaluated on the basis of its ideology. It happens only in a totalitarian or a communist country. It should be evaluated on its pure literary quality — style, technic, use of language, rhetoric and above all, artistic merit. Further more, even if one takes into account the volume of works turned out by the last three winners of Jnanpith award, it is not comparable to other earlier winners and of S.L. Bhyrappa.

Dr. S. L. Bhyrappa
Patil Puttappa while reacting to the selection of 2011 award, has demanded more transparency in the selection process. It could be noted that the members of the Regional Advisory Committee are mostly out of the public view and their names are not available in the official website of Jnanapeeth Trust. The Jnanpith award panel should make the selection process more transparent and rectify some of these mistakes. Otherwise, it may have to to be apologetic one day in future for not giving its award to S.L. Bhyrappa. Also, such ommissions and controversies around them will be embarassing to other eminent desrving recipients of the award like Chandrasekara Kambara.

Selection process for the Jnanapeetha Award
The process of selection begins with the submission of proposals by a large number of litterateurs, teachers, critics and discriminating readers, also from various universities, literary and language associations and other similar organisations. Once a language gets the award, it is not eligible for consideration during the next three years. Thus three languages are out of reckoning for the award every year. There is an Advisory Committee for each language, consisting of three eminent literary critics and scholars. These committees are reconstituted every three years. The proposals received are scrutinised by the concerned Language Advisory Committee. A Language Advisory Committee is not obliged to make its recommendations out of these proposals only. It is free to consider other writers before making its recommendation for the award. In fact, a Language Advisory Committee is expected to ensure that no deserving writer of the language concerned is left out of its consideration. A committee is expected to take into account the entire literary creativity of the author and evaluate it in the background of contemporary writing.

The rule has been slightly revised since the 18th Award. The works of a writer during the period of last 20 years, excluding the year for which the award is to be given, are taken into account for the award. The recommendations of various Language Advisory Committees are placed before the Selection Board. The Board consists of not less than seven and not more than eleven members, who are all of high repute and integrity. The Board, to begin with, was constituted by the Bharatiya Jnanpith Trust but, subsequently, vacancies continue to be filled in on the recommendations of the Selection Board itself. Each member has a term of three years but is eligible to continue for a further period of two more terms. Eminent scholars and writers of the country have become chairman or members of the Selection Board. The Selection Board makes a comparative evaluation of the recommendations of the Language Advisory Committees. The final selection is the result of comprehensive and in depth deliberations of the Selection Board. The entire responsibility for selection is that of the Selection Board.

Present Selection Board

1. Dr. Sitakant Mahapatra (Chairman)
2. Dr. K. Satchidanandan
3. Shri Gurdial Singh
4. Shri Keshubhai Desai
5. Shri Manager Pandey
6. Dr. Gopi Chand Narang
7. Shri Dinesh Misra (Ex-officio)
8. Shri Ravindra Kalia (Ex-officio)

Some of the prominent members in the past include Dr. Karan Singh, Smt. Rama Jain, Dr. Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Dr. Vinayak K. Gokak (Chairman), Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao (Chairman), Dr. H.M. Nayak, Prof. U.R. Anantha Murthy, Shri M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Smt. Mahasveta Devi and Shri Ashok Vajpeyi

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anti corruption agitation by Anna - Final analysis

Anna Hazare
On 27th Aug 2011, Team Anna has succeeded in extracting an assurance from the parliament to enact a stronger Lokpal bill.  Here is an analysis of the responses of various social stakeholders.

First of all, Team Anna had not done their homework on circumventing the difficulties that they would face while pressing the political class to toe their line. They had a draft bill of their version. But rest of the dynamics of the agitation was not worked out by them. They were expecting that the fast by Anna will do the rest of the work.

The communication by Team Anna was not accurate and simple. People were rallying behind them. But, it was not easy for the public to understand the reasons behind the delay in progress when the negations between the Team Anna and the government. Team Anna was reluctant to initiate a matured debate on corruption. They were engaged in rhetoric and increasing the public anger. Probably their lack of home work forced them to toe this line and it was clear that they could not raise the quality of the public debate and understanding of the systemic issues involved.

Initially, Team Anna was suspected by the Left, The Congress and the BJP. Social organizations like Sangh Parivar were not admitted eagerly by the Team Anna. Tactical mistakes by Team Anna were delaying the support from various quarters which they deserved.

Congress, the ruling party at the centre, made several mistakes in responding to the demands. It initially showed insensitivity to the demands with underestimated public support. Even when the wider support base was revealed, it tried to scuttle the agitation by creating several hurdles in the form of technicalities and procedures. It made an attempt to portray the agitation as a mask of Leftist, Maoist and Anarchist forces who are waiting to dismantle the democratic institutions in India. They tried to arrest Anna to prevent him from starting a fasting agitation. Even when everything has failed, it still took time to come to terms with the agitation.

BJP took a very long time to assess the nature of the agitation. Only after 10 days of fasting their representatives met meaningfully with Team Anna for a detailed understanding of various issues. Till then they refused to respond to the public agitation and they were watching the difficulties of the government and were probably making an assessment of electoral gain that they may be able to get because of the agitation.

Left inspired Dalit leaders opposed Team Anna citing lack of Dalit representation in the movement. Muslim leaders stayed away from the agitation opposing Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai slogan used by agitators. Among the social organizations, RSS was a big success in responding to the public agitation. They announced their support early even when the equations of Team Anna with other ideologies and interest groups was very hazy. Sangh Parivar could calibrate their position carefully. They faced the risk of being labeled as opportunistic in attempting to ride the wave created by Team Anna. Their simple approach of committing to the cause could not be imitated by either Leftist, Muslim or Dalit intellectuals. Christians stayed completely outside the mass movement.

In the final analysis, Team Anna will be remembered for their contribution towards anti corruption agitation. Congress needs to introspect and adopt more honest approach in dealing with issues of public interest. BJP too has to be more social conscious and less political in its thinking and actions. Sangh Parivar might have moved ahead in reinforcing the public attitude in terms of cultural nationalistic mannerisms.


Tactical moves of Team Anna
Now, Anna demands poll reforms, farmers rights.

Government / Political Response

Social response

Muslim leaders oppose – common people support

Leftist intellectuals

Friday, July 15, 2011

Preventing future terrorist attacks

US has successfully prevented all terror attacks after Sept 11th. Why are we failing?

Implication of a terror incident

1. Shows that it is an ongoing tussle
  • The tussle between the civil society and the barbaric society has not ended. Terrorists are still making their determined attempt to dominate and control the civic system.
  • A terror attack is a tactical move towards a strategic goal - Tactical wins strengthen their position and take terrorists near to their strategic goals.
  • It reminds us that the final outcome is still uncertain. It is possible that civic society may be miscalculating the dynamics of the tussle. And terrorists are know better what they are doing

2. Underlines the need for policy changes
  • The incident is a definite pointer to the need of changes in legal and administrative measures and implementation of newer laws are needed to effectively contain future terrorist attacks.
  • Hints inadequacy of the contribution of intellectuals, opinion makers in the fight against terrorism
  • Exhibits lack of political will in containing the continuing menace

3. Demands review of fundamental concepts of internal security

  • Policy options are generated typically based on a certain widely accepted axioms, conjectures and thumb rules. Continued terror incidents highlight the necessity of revisiting these concepts
  • Specifically, it is time to analyze our perceptions about tolerance, peace, secularism, religion, politics and freedom and to debate them in the context of terrorism.

4. Calls for redefining / Calibrating our social attitudes
  • Basic rules of engagement among different players in the society determines the way we implement our policies and programmes. They need to be reviewed.
  • Specific aspects of our social interactions are to be changed, modified or calibrated in the light of the above points


Lull between two consecutive terror attacks is misleading the public to perceive it as something different than the war. Terrorist modules are, in fact, engaged in unconventional war against civic society. Each successfully launched terror act is similar to a battle with specific objective. It is like running over a post. It may be true that the number of attacks foiled by the security agencies may be more than the number of terror incidents, it is not an indication that civic society is advancing in the battlefield of terror war. Assessment of the war on terror can be done in an relatively more abstract framework.

Recurring terror attacks is an indication of inadequacy of existing policies - legal and administrative measures apart from the well understood intelligence aspect. Policy change management starts in democracy from opinion makers. Policy options are generated by intellectuals and media. Politicians respond to the need and adopt suitably policy changes. Focus on fine-tuning the policies is an important activity till the strategic superiority of civic society over the terrorist modules is achieved.

When a solution is offered for a problem, it is built upon observations, assumptions and conjectures. When the proposed solution does not end the problem, it is an indication that the offered solution is not working. Then it is evident that at least some of the assumptions and conjectures are not in tune with the reality. First thing that has to be done is to revisit these things thoroughly and reformulate our solution.

In US, after the Sept 11 attack, the conjecture that internal terrorist attack as a near impossibility based on which the Homeland security was built up, was given up. Many fundamental security concepts were modified as a measure to tackle the new terrorist threat. To dismantle state support to the terrorists, two wars - Iraq and Afghanistan - were waged at an enormous cost. Although US was the most powerful country in the world, it had to deal with the duplicity of Pakistan cautiously with utmost patience.

In Europe, before the Sept 11, multiculturalism was promoted by many countries. After the emergence of global Jihadi meanace by Al-Queda, multiculturalism was givenup as a failed concept. Israel, in order to continue its existence and to protect its people from terrorism, is constantly finding ingenuous ways to preserve its tactical / strategic interests.

In all these instances, adaptability of the society and its institutions to the newer situation is clearly seen. None of the axioms, conjectures or conclusions are considered as more sacred than the objective of preventing anti national elements from gaining tactical advantage.

In India, the debate after every terrorist attack does not go beyond superficial level. Except for a series of investigations around the incident of terrorist act, none of additional measures are taken either in legal or judicial systems. Social systems and political discourse are not being affected by shocks created by the terrorist attacks.

Who should do what?

Should enforce existing laws and create newer laws to effectively tackle the problem. Pressure from civic society should not influence the political class in delaying the necessary measures

Media and Intellectuals
Should initiate discussion about the change that needs to be brought in the government /social institutions in a focused way. Generating effective policy options is a an important activity to manage change for solving national problems.

Elected representatives
Elected representatives, especially local body representatives, find minimal role in the fight against terrorism. They can play an important role in establishing basic rules dictating interactions among various entities of society. They need to give prominence to the security angle while discharging their duties as elected representatives.

Common people
Awareness about the issues of current affairs, discharging their duties, observing the performance of the government, elected representatives and media is an important duty of the common people. At the same time, supporting security agencies, government and elected representatives towards the smooth functioning of the system is the duty of all citizens of this country. More basically, it is important to have a clear understanding of the true nature of the individuals and organizations who are are involved in promoting and sustaining terrorism.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Black Money - A Recapitulation

Income earned without reporting to the government (without paying taxes) is called Black Money. Illegally earned money becomes black. Black money includes embezzled government funds, private money hidden from tax collectors, and the profits of illegal enterprises. Black money is concealed in form of gold, land and building, apartment, big bazaars, farm houses, private professional colleges.

Black money is a major source for corruption. The Black Money is not accounted by the system and therefore its circulation in the system will have destabilizing effect. Many illegal activities are conducted around the black money. A parallel economy based on Black money is called Black Economy.

Hawala is an alternative or parallel remittance system. Hawala system is called underground banking. A unique feature of hawala transaction is that it is built over trust. Unlike traditional banking hawala makes minimal (often no) use of any sort of negotiable instrument. Transfers of money take place based on communications between members of a network of hawaladars, or hawala dealers and in most of the cases actual money transfers does not take place between the Hawala dealers.

In 2006, the most recent Global Financial Integrity study, shows that the average amount stashed away from India annually during 2002-06 is $27.3 billion (about 136,466 crore). Similar amounts ofBlack money is generated every year. This money is preserved in Swiss banks and in different tax and secret shelters. The share of Swiss banks in black money being a third of the global aggregate. It has been estimated that in India, about 1.4 trillion dollars of Black money is generated from Independence. Out of this about $500 billion have been hoarded in Swiss banks.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a Paris-based group of 34 countries. These countries accounts for nearly 80 percent of world trade. Although India is not a member of OECD, it has close relations with it and has joined its multilateral platform initiative to check tax evasion and money laundering. G20 and OECD are putting enormous pressure on tax havens like Switzerland, Luxembourg and Ausria including threat of sanctions, to change opaque laws and share information that will help countries like India trace huge sums of black money stashed abroad.

The root cause of corruption and black money is greedy individuals and private companies. Political parties who are in charge of Governments realize that black moneys are amassed by people who were responsible for bringing them to power.

International legal framework for recovering more of these funds is slowly emerging with the signing of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) by 140 countries. India recently ratified the treaty, which binds countries to adopt a standardized set of laws for handling corruption. Without these standards in place, countries like Switzerland may be disinclined to help recover stolen assets. It will take a couple years at least to implement UNCAC, says a Western diplomat.

Many experts around the world feels that States are not willing to tackle corruption and take action to recover assets. Moves are afoot to interpret UNCAC in a way that allows private citizens – not just governments – to initiate legal proceedings to recover black money on behalf of victim states. But some government representatives rejected that interpretation saying “these are government dues, so government has to do it.”

Acording to the Indian Government, the government is spending $1.7 million to figure out just how much black money is at home and abroad. On top of ratifying UNCAC, India has signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements that can penetrate bank secrecy with 27 countries. The finance ministry says it is prosecuting black money cases totaling some $17 million from accounts in Germany. At home, the ministry claims recovering $6.7 billion in unpaid income tax and detection of $12.4 billion in other tax scams over the past two years. Experts say, however, that implementation of UNCAC should surmount most hurdles to asset recovery – so long as a country’s government keeps working to recover black money.

Many people are not convinced of Government sincerity. There are a couple of reasons for this mistrust. Recently, a series of corruption cases have been exposed. Commonwealth and the 2G scam, the bigger ones among them were carried out by the people who were involved with the government. Role of money in winning elections is very well known. Major political parties are not able to reverse the trend. Governments, typically run by these parties, are not able to initiate anything significant in tackling corruption. They are also seen as scuttling the adoption of newer measures proposed by NGOs into the legal system.

Anticorruption activism is gaining momentum. Anna Hazare and his team successfully staged a protest and entered the committee to draft Lokpal (anticorruption) bill. Baba Ramdev is creating awareness among people about the need to bring black money back to India. He is also protesting against government to initiate actions immediately. One of the big Social organization RSS has passed resolutions and are ready to participate in anti corruption movements. All political parties are vocal in exttending their support against corruption. Recently, Baba Ramdev spoke of raising an army of youths – unarmed. Statements made at an April convention held by Transparency International India at the Habitat Center, were much more critical. One speaker, a formear income tax commissioner named Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, lamented that during the 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament some policemen gave their lives to save these scoundrels. He claimed another problem was that most Indian media has been bought off. Many in the audience cheered and offered drastic remedies. One suggested it was time for the Army to take over and clean house. Another spoke of creating a paramilitary army to target the corrupt.Feeding off such energy, Mr. Gupta suggested it was time to boycott Switzerland, a country where Indians suspect much of the black money is stashed in secret accounts.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama's death - Too late, if not too little?

Almost after 10 years since we saw one of the biggest atrocities committed on earth by Islamic terrorists, we hear the news that Osama is dead today. But is it too late, if not too little?

Sure, there is a sigh of relief among all who vehemently or even passively opposed terrorism. There is also a great sense of satisfaction among those who lost the loved ones in the 9/11 crime. But, if we analyze carefully this should have had a great impact had it happened soon after the incident happened. By taking so much time, it looks, there was ample time for Osama to have set a wrong precedence that terrorists can roam scott- free for years after committing a crime - that too of such a high level crime. It also seems like Osama found enough time to have preached his ugly skills to others, has misled others to take up more such heinous acts.

Incidents in Glasgow, India stand as open examples of such acts. We also saw incidents such as protests against Jiladi Posten, French communal clashes in the past decade. They all show either the aggression of Islamic terrorists or the "siege mentality" set among the Muslims who are just a step away from joining the radical groups.

Today Osama might be dead. But the problem is far from over. One way out is to strengthen the community level intelligence, educating the public, making them aware of how to spot & prevent an "about to happen crime". The other way is to make the Muslim community think more rationally about the inciting talks provided by some of their leaders. Educate them that they are being utilized for some kind of mileage by their leaders. Unless we actively engage in multiple strategies to alleviate the issue, it is far from over.

Contributed by: Ananda

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga at Sringeri by Jagadguru Shankaracharya

Several Yagas and Homas were conducted in a grand manner at Sringeri beginning from 4th April 2011 - 16th April 2011. Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga, Ati Rudra Mahayaga, Rik-Samhita Yaga, Yajus-Samhita Yaga and Sama-Samhita Yagas were performed as part of the Shashtyabdapurti Vardhanti Mahotsava celebrating the (completion of) 60 years of the Jagadguru Shankaracharya, Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji. Along with Yagas, Mrityunjaya Homa, Lakshamodaka Ganapati Homa, Ugra-ratha homa, Ayushya Homa and Navagraha Homas were also performed during this period. All these Dharmic activities were performed in accordance with the scriptural injunctions.

The Shastras have prescribed parayana of this Durga Saptashati one, ten, hundred or thousand times known as Chandi, Nava-Chandi, Shata Chandi and Sahasra Chandi respectively for the fulfilment of various wishes. Ayuta means ten thousand in Sanskrit. Ten thousand parayanas of Durga Saptashati will be performed in Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga.

Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga was conducted by the Math for the welfare of the world as resolved by Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji. This great Yajna was conducted perhaps for the first time in the known History of Sringeri or even South India. In this Yagna,, over one thousand Ritwijas performed a total of ten thousand parayanas of Durga Saptashati, one crore japas of Chandi-Navakshari Mantra throughout the five days. Kalpokta Avarana Puja, was performed by the Pradhana-Acharya to the newly made murti and yantra of Sri Chandika Parameshwari as a part of Purashcharana. Sahasranamarchana, Mahamangalarati and Ashtavadhana Seva and other ceremonies were performed in the evening throughout the five days.

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji graced the Yagashala for the Sankalpa ceremony at around 9:00 A.M on 5th April 2011, and offered Diksha-Vastram, Rudraksha-mala and other atrefacts required for the performance of the Yajna to the officiating preists in the Varunam ceremony.

As a part of the ceremony, the chief priest of the Yajna, Sri-Vidya-Upasana Dhurandhara Veda Brahmasri Narahari Subrahmanya Bhatt, Asthana Archaka of the Math at the temple of Sri Sharadamba performed Kalpokta Avarana Pujas to the newly made murti and yantra of Devi Chandika throught the five days.

Yagas were performed at a specially built Chandi Yagashala at Narasimhavanam. Oblations of Payasa were offered by the thousand officiating priests in one hundred Homa-Kundas blazing with the sacrificial fire on the final sixth day. The Yaga was concluded with the Purnahuti ceremony conducted by the Pradhana-Acharya or the chief officiating priest in the august presence of the Jagadguru Shankaracharya, on completion of the Homa.

Chief priest of the Yagas led the 1,200 odd priests in performing the Yajna and also conducted the Purnahuti ceremony in the august presence of the Jagadguru on the 11th of April 2011.

Ati-Rudra Mahayaga commenced on 5th of April 2011 at  around 8:30 AM. 121 ritwijas who have come from all the four states of South India and from Maharashtra to participate in the event, chanted Rudra mantras of the Yajur Veda eleven times every day in the morning followed by Mangalarati at noon for ten days. Rudra-Kramapatha and archana were conducted every evening followed by Mahamangalarati, throughout the ten days. The eleven day long event concluded on the 16th of April 2011 with the Purnahuti ceremony at noon which was also be conducted in the august presence of the Jagadguru.

Samhita Yajna of the three Vedas namely Rigveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda were conducted in three seperately constructed Yagashalas opposite Sri Sacchidananda Vilas in Narasimhavanam.

Officiating priests from South India, the Yajus-Samhita Yaga was performed for three days while the Sama and Rik Samhita Yagas were conducted for five days. In the Rik-samhita Yaga, Mantras comprising the 64 adhyayas of the Samhita of the Shakala school of Rigveda were chanted and oblations of clarified butter (ghee) were poured in the sacrificial fire to the chanting while Mantras of the Taittiriya Samhita belonging to the Krishna Yajur Veda were chanted and oblations of clarified butter were poured to the chanting in the Yajus Samhita Yaga. Mantras of the Kauthuma school of Samaveda were chanted while pouring oblations of ghee in the Scrificial fire.

Purnahuti of the Rik-Samhita yaga and Sama-Samhita yaga were conducted on the 15th of April 2011 while that of the Yajus-Samhita Yaga was conducted on the 12th of April 2011 at noon in the august presence of the Jagadguru.
Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri  Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji, worshipped Lord Malahanikareshwara at the hill-top shrine located at the centre of Sringeri on the 8th of April 2011.

It is customary for the Jagadguru Shankaracharya to propitiate Lord Shiva at the hoary shrine of Lord Sri Malahanikareshwara on the eve of Vardhanti. In continuation of this practice, the Jagadguru arrived at the hill top to the accompaniment of Vadya Ghosha at around 11:00 A.M. after having darshanam of Goddess Sri Sharadamba and performing Sankalpa for the Ugra-ratha shanti and other homas conducted in conjunction with the Vardhanti festivities.

The Jagadguru first propitiated Lord Ganesha at the shrine of Sri Stambha Ganapati to the accompaniment of Sri Ganapati Atharvashirsha, Ganapati Sukta and other Vedic Mantras chanted by the Math pandits and students of Sadvidya Sanjeevini Samskrita Mahapathashala. Lord Ganapati was worshipped with Panchamrita ahisheka, archana, Modaka Naivedya and deeparadhana. Thence, the Jagadguru entered the age old shrine of Lord Malahanikareshwara and propiatiated Lord Shiva by offerings of Milk, Panchamrita and Udaka Abhisheka, to the accompaniment of Rudradhyaya and other Vedic mantras by Pandits - of Math and those who had gathered to officiate in various ceremonies from the four corners of the country and students of the Sadvidya Sanjeevini Samskrita Maha-Pathashala. The Jagadguru performed Mahamangalarati to Lord Shiva upon completion of the Puja and thereafter worshipped Goddess Bhavani at the shrine adjacent to the Lord.

The event concluded at around 3:00 P.M. with the distribution of Prasadam to  all devotees who had gathered at the temple by the Math authorities.

Shastric basis for Ayuta Chandi Mahayaga
The Shastras proclaim that such happiness can be begotten by worship of the Divine Godhead.

By propitiating Devi, the mother of all creation all misery can be overcome and happiness can be derived. Puja, Japa, Parayana, Homa are aspects of worshipping the Divine mother. The greatness of the Divine mother has been extolled in the Devi Bhagavata, Brahmanda Purana, Skanda Mahapurana, Mahabharata and other scriptures. However the Durga-Saptashati or Devi-Mahatmya occuring in the Markandeya Purana is of paramount importance. The greatness of this text, Sri Durga Saptashati as occuring in the Markandeya Purana has been extolled in Damara Tantra and other tantrik texts. By the parayana of this sacred text, difficulties are over come, diseases are cured and wishes fulfilled.
The Durga Saptashati is comprised of three Charitras, namely Prathama, Madhyama and Uttama in thirteen chapters.

The Prathama Charitra describes the glories of the Divine mother as revealed by a Rishi to a Vaishya and Raja Suratha who prayed to the Rishi to alleviate his problems while roaming about the forest after being abandoned by his kith and kin.

In the second Charitra, the Avatara of Goddess Mahalakshmi, the slaying of Mahishasura along with his entire army of warriors, Eulogy of the Divine mother by the Gods, and granting of boons to Indra and other Gods by the Divine Mother have been described vividly.

The third Charitra describes
○ the slaying of Chanda-Munda and other demons by the Divine mother through her Fiery eye as an answer to the prayer by the Gods who were aggrieved by the pains inflicted by Shumba and other wicked demons
○ the Avatara of Brahmi, Maheshwari and other divine goddesses from the body of the Divine Mother
○ the slaying of Raktabija, Nishumbha and Shumba by the Divine Mother
○ Eulogy of the Divine Mother by the Gods and her granting wishes to them
○ worship of the Divine Mother by Suratha and Samadhi, and vision of the pleased Divine mother granted to them
○ granting of Kingdom to King Suratha and Divine knowledge to the Vaishya.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

White Paper on Public Review for Media Regulation

Published by media.syndicate   PDF File

Executive Summary
Media (print, audio and visual) is a guardian of Public Interest among other things. In a Democracy, media has prominence next to Judiciary, Legislature and Executive - custodians of the constitution. In general, the sentiment that media should not be regulated by the state is accepted. In India, media has been allowed to regulate itself through its own institutions like Press Council of India (PCI) and Editors Guild (EG). With the growth of media business and its commercialization, there are some new trends in media business and newer practices among media professionals. The problem of media bias has been known from a very long time. Sensationalism and trivialization of news were some of the effects of the new trends in media. With the exposure of the Paid News phenomenon, the credibility of the media and the very basis of the journalistic ethics is presently under discussion. Public Interest has been compromised as an institutional practice. In this context, there is a need to strengthen the regulation mechanism for the media. Many of the available suggestions fall within the self regulation framework. Here, the opportunity for Citizen Activism through social groups as public ombudsman is mooted.

Media as a guardian of Public Interest
The role of media in preserving the public interest in a democratic setup is very well understood. Media provides critical feedback to the three limbs of the constitution – The Judiciary, The Legislature and The Executive. Media has the responsibility of informing the Public at large with facts and figures in the appropriate form so that their participation in governance becomes possible. It has the mandate of directing the public opinion along the right track. Historically, journalism, in India has been considered to be sacred.

Regulations and Business Trends
In recent decades, media business has been commercialized. Increased competition has resulted in a fall in journalistic standards, and public interest by and large has been compromised. The Government, aligning itself to strong public opinion favoring press freedom, has allowed self regulation of media. In India, the Press Council of India (PCI), an organization mainly composed of professional journalists and eminent people from different fields, has been assigned the role of regulating media affairs.
From a long time, the problems arising from media bias and yellow journalism were known to both the working journalists and to the general public. Yellow journalism with its tabloid manifestations was easily recognized whereas the media bias problem was misleading the general public. The main stream media reflected one particular set of ideas, prescribed in general a particular approach for addressing problems reiterating similar policies and solutions.

Hindus, Traditionalists and Brahmins, Dalits¸ Poor and Uneducated, and Women constantly complained of media bias against them. The bias was apparent, but still it was not considered seriously. For a very long time, political adversaries of The Congress were neglected by the media. Policy alternatives were never covered seriously. Still, self regulatory mechanisms were never activated in the media circles. No one found it necessary to do something more in this direction.

Recently, with the media houses becoming bigger and more powerful, the increasing competition gave rise to sensationalism and trivialization of news which were noticed both by discerning media professionals as well as by the general public. Impact of such news on the youth was discussed. Ineffectiveness of the media in public education as well as inability of the media to create a strong public opinion were evident. Journalists were lured with gifts by the powerful and the wealthy. With journalism influenced by leftist ideology, journalists in general deviated from conservatism in their view point.

Editors became rich and joined the elite class. Journalists were accused of blackmailing. Corruption - both financial and ideological – was not unknown in journalism.

Paid News
As the motive of profit making became deep rooted, journalism became subordinate to the bottom line. Advertisement revenues became indispensable. Dependency on the governments was unavoidable for sustenance. PR (Public Relation) business entities came into the picture. Those who had self interest in public debate owned media houses and editorial policies were formulated preserving their own interests.

Till this point of time, a fairly distinct demarcation was observed between the news content and the advertisements. A reader would have distinguished an advertisement from the news. Editorial preferences were noticed but it was viewed as the considered opinion of the editorial board within the boundaries of freedom of expression.

Existence of Paid News phenomenon, revealed in 2009, exposed the blurring of the distinction line between the news and the advertisement. According to PCI, paid news is “Any news or analysis appearing in any media (Print & Electronic) for a price in cash or kind as consideration.” Paid News was found to play a significant role during elections trying to mislead people in favor for or against a particular candidate. There is a realization that, this new trend may undermine the democratic process and can have serious destabilizing effects.

Public scrutiny of Nira Radia tapes in the background of 2G spectrum scam, has once again confirmed the influence of money on the working of the media.

Implications and Examples

Paid –news is a fraud operating at three levels.

1. The reader does not distinguish the paid content from other news/views

2. The person who is paying hides his/her expenditure from legal scrutiny (EC)

3. Income of Media Company is not disclosed in the balance sheet.

A couple of examples are cited. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL) started a paid content service in 2003 called Medianet. In 2005, it initiated Private Treaties with Corporates – about 200 companies entered private treaties with BCCL exchanging their equity to the advertisement space. The deal size with each of those companies was 15-20crores making BCCL biggest private equity investor with a worth of approximately 4000 crores. Paid news service is being argued as the remedy for corrupt PR agencies influencing the journalists of BCCL. CNN-IBN initiated Exclusive Partnerships with companies, Gillette being one of the known examples. During elections, media houses offered several packages to the contesting candidates for a price. Advertorials, advertisements in the form of editorials, were offered for sale. Although, very little material is available which can act as clinching evidence that pins responsibility for such malpractices on particular persons and organizations, a huge volume of circumstantial evidence is available. Fortunately, there is a wide agreement in the media circles about the presence of Paid News.

Suggestions for Reforms
Self Regulatory mechanism of media has come under scrutiny with the revelation of Paid News phenomenon. Present regulatory mechanisms involving PCI is not very effective. Additional checks by the government agencies required to curb the Paid News menace could interfere with the self regulatory mechanism of the media. Following reforms have been suggested to tackle the corrupt practices in media.

1. Amendment of Representation of the People Act 1951 making incidence of paid news a punishable electoral malpractice

2. Empowering Press Council of India to adjudicate the complaints of “paid news’ and give final judgment in the matter.

3. Making the recommendations of the Press Council binding on the authorities

4. Expanding purview of PCI to include Electronic media

5. Media professionals should declare their commitment to good journalism

6. Additional self regulatory mechanisms like Peer review and Public Review of media performance

Readers responsibility – Public Review
Educating readers about the role of media in Democracy and expected deliverables from publications could go a long way in addressing the emerging corrupt practices. Learning to identify media bias, acquiring the ability to distinguish paid content from the legitimate news accurately would help in sustaining citizen activism to monitor media. NGOs and emerging media channels could take the responsibility of institutionalizing the Public Review Process for evaluating the media performance.

Public Review of media could take the following forms

• Media watch activity

• Identify Paid content and help the general public to filter it out

• Act as ombudsman, from public perspective

• Assist present mechanisms like PCI and EC to ensure public interest.

Media, the fourth estate, is a vital organ of Democracy. Regulatory mechanisms of media are to be made effective with additional assistance from government agencies without basically changing the Self Regulatory framework. Public Review as a new regulatory mechanism for media involving Citizens and Non Governmental Organizations has to be institutionalized. Focus on higher journalistic standards ha to be sustained by addressing media bias, sensationalism / trivialization of news and Paid News.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

The Principle of Separation

Any two entities A & B can be separated if and only if

A is separated from B and also

B is separated from A.

So two persons can be separated if person A goes to another place and at the same time person B remains in another place A. A divorce, on grounds of separation, happens when one spouse goes away to another location and at the same time the other spouse remains in another location. In case the second person goes to the place of the first person, then separation is not effected and hence divorce does not happen.

In other words, there must be control over both the entities and at the same time each entity must not encroach on the space of the other.

So if religion and the state have to be separated, in any sense, then if the state stays away from religion, then the religion must also stay away and separate itself from the state at the same time. So if the state becomes ‘secular’, the religion must also stay away from the state in order for the separation to be effected. However, for state religions, the religion explicitly has a characteristic of a state and gets into the affairs of the state. In other words, if the religion or followers of the religion want to implement Nizam-e-Mustafa or the Shariat, then it is explicitly stating that it wants to implement the divine law or the religious law in the state. So even if the state stays away from religion, as long as the (state) religion has this characteristic, for such religions, separation cannot be achieved as they themselves get into the affairs of the state or behave like another state. Hence, for state religions, secularism is a false and unachievable concept, precisely because it is the religion which does not separate itself from the state.

Note that in terms of the subjects addressed by the state and by any or all religions, there is a great overlap. So the separation, if at all, can be in whether the authorities, the implementation apparatus or the power / administrative structure is different between the state and the religion or if the legal code can be permitted to be different from the moral code / divine law.

State religions have the latter characteristics and hence do not leave the state alone. For this reason, for state religions, the concept of separation and hence secularism is ab-initio void and false. Hence such a religion, system or institution, cannot be recognized or admitted by a secular state and the followers of such religions are not secular.

In other words, if the state separates itself from the religion, and becomes secular, i.e. “secularises” itself, then at the same time, the religion in question must separate itself from the state and “de-statise” itself, in order to ensure and effect the principle of separation.

The problem arises for the state because the while the state can define itself in a certain way, there is no control over how the religion defines itself. So if the religion defines itself (or is given by Divine Law) such that it has a principle of dictating divine law to be the only law and excludes everything else, such a religion is not secular nor is separation or secularism possible for such religions, once they are admitted or recognized.

Choice of the individual v/s demand from the other side:

Gifts may voluntarily be given or exchanged in a marriage. However, if there is a demand from the other side (note: even a mere mention is sufficient as per the Supreme Court), it amounts to a demand of dowry, which is a cognizable and punishable offence. Similarly, the Constitution protects the right of the individual i.e. the citizen, to move into or adopt another belief system. In other words, the right to change the belief and practice belongs to the individual/citizen, i.e. the ‘outgoing’ individual, and not of the other side, the potentially ‘incoming’ system.

However, the statement, or assertion, or demand as a right from the other side i.e. the proselytizing belief system, is like asking for dowry. Hence, this must also be a cognizable and punishable offence.

Certain belief systems or institutions may or may not be able to perceive the trespass here because they have a priori arrogated the right to ‘own and convert’ to themselves, which in reality is a statement as to the end result of the exercise which is a foregone conclusion, by the ‘incoming’ system, like a dictate. Arrogating the right to exclusive ownership and implementing it also precludes the concept of ownership or possibility of trespass happening to the target, the victim of the ‘conversion’ activity.

The most fundamental attribute in democracy, of an individual, of a citizen, is choice, or election. This attribute is so fundamental that it is implicit in many concepts and even does not need to be stated. However, it belongs to the individual, the citizen. This is the exact opposite of some other ‘incoming’/’to be elected’ entity arrogating something or some end result to itself and hence would dictate and in doing so see itself as committing no trespass.

Propagation v/s ‘conversion’ and multiplication of numbers:

Mathematics and logic permeate every activity, and every person uses this explicitly or implicitly in a small or big manner. If instruction is given in this subject i.e. Mathematics say, then one can use it for whatever purposes or improve based on the acquisition and application of this skill. However, this does not mean that such persons need to leave whatever they are doing or alter it and become a mathematician. So the propagation and practice of the subject does not imply or necessitate a ‘conversion’. Note that the Supreme Court has observed that the right to practice and propagate religion does not imply the right to convert.

The statement or claim of belief, practice and propagation = conversion i.e., it implies and necessitates conversion, is a statement of their particular Divine Law which cannot be modified or excluded. Hence this is a statement about such a religion and its followers being non- or anti-secular.

Written by - onimusha

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tormentor or Savior, the language is the same!

Arundhati Roy in her ramblings on Naxalism, social justice etc. uses the phrase the ‘Brahmanic Hindu state’ to vent her anger against the Indian state. Justice Michael F. Saldhana speaks about Brahmanic dominance of Hindu society. Both are Roman Catholics and they are often joined by deracinated Hindus who either are ignorant or deliberately feign ignorance about the origin, structures, religious and cultural practices of the Hindus. [Article by Dr. Vijaya Rajiva]

Justice Saldhana, disagreeing with Somashekar report on attacks on Chrristians in Karnataka, says that impartial inquiry cannot emanate from government steered by a ‘Hindu’ nationalist party.

Brahmins, according to Hindu baiters, have played a leading role in Karnataka’s Hindutva movement. Hindu nationalism is driven primarily by Brahmins desperate to preserve caste privilege. As those at the very top of the Hindu caste system, powerful Brahmins have the most to lose from any spread of Christian egalitarianism. So they are compelled to fight Christianity – unless ofcourse the Holy Spirit transforms and humbles their hearts.

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva, The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university, analyses these reactions. The writer correctly identifies the assault on Bharat by the two proselytizing faiths : Islam and Christianity.

"Since independence missionaries have conspired to balkanize the country so that the Christian faith can spread unquestioned and unopposed. It also helps that real political power is in the hands of an Italian Roman Catholic, quite indifferent to Hindu India, and is said to be behind much of the discrimination practiced against Hindu religious centres and institutions. People like Saldhana spread various canards ....".

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva attempts to prove that Hinduism is as much non brahminical as Brahminical as alleged by Saldana or Arundhati Roy. He shows that at present, increasing number of non Brahmin Hindus are taking important positions in all walks of life. And finally says that both Arundhati and Saldana set up a straw man, a Brahman, and then try to demolish it.

Increasing number of pro Hindu thinkers are toeing similar line. They articulate the insignificance of Brahmins in the overall Hindu map. They stress the minority nature of Brahmins and highlight the increasing number of non - Brahmins in all prominent walks of life. In summary,

1. Votaries of Christian egalitarianism and Islamic Universal Brotherhood are painting non-Brahmins as the exploited population within the Hindu society.

2. They are also accusing Brahmins as discriminators and practicers of untouchability.

3. Increasing number of supporters of Hinduism are highlighting the non-Brahmin aspects of Hinduism and undermining Brahminical aspects of Hinduism.

By 1, non-Brahmins are being provoked against Brahmins and as their anger grows, they are made to believe that Hinduism as a synonym to Brahminism. A non-Brahmin could easily be separated from Hinduism to be later converted to non-Hindu fold.

By 2, Brahmins are made defensive and apologetic so that their reasoning is blunted against conversions.

By 3, Hindu supporters are trying to neutralise the arguments of anti Hindu accusers - by demonstrating that non-Brahmins are as much part of Hinduism as Brahmins.

Hindu reformists are advocating reservation in education and jobs, discouraging caste practices in food, vocation, marriage and customs. Some of the fundamental tenets of Hinduism related to non-materialistic view point are compromised in the process.

By the way these reforms are being carried out, the argument that non-Brahmins are exploited population within the Hindu society is reinforced. This implies that Brahminical practices created discrimination in the society at some point of time knowingly (or unknowingly) by the Brahmins.

By reinfrocing the arguments of a Hindu baiter, a misled non-Brahmin will grow more conviction in his/her erroneous judgements about Hinduism. By reforming Hinduism through materialistic lens, both a Brahmin and a non-Brahmin, will go further away from a thinking process which may be the only path available to us for achieving world peace and individual realization.

[Contributed by SS, SH and KHB]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kashmir and Varnashrama - problems due to propaganda

Propaganda by definition is spreading biased information for the purpose of promoting some cause. It helps in creating and strengthening an environment which is conducive to take steps towards the goal that it is intended to achieve. Understandably, a typical propaganda will create some negative consequences and subsequently undesirable situations. To understand and reduce ill effects of any propaganda, the extent of damage it has already created has to be assessed.

In any propaganda, there will be two groups - propagandists, those who design propaganda and the target group - those who are recipients of the propaganda.

In this context, it is instructive to list the stages of progression of propaganda. To decide on how to tackle the ill effects of the propaganda, the first step would be to identify the maturity level of the propaganda campaign.

A propaganda campaign has four sequential stages.

  1. Exposure - Distribution of material, Making aware of the argument - The target group of the propaganda is aware of the allegations or criticisms stated by the propagandists against them.
  2. Compel - Making one to respond In this stage, the members of the target group are compelled to react and respond to the allegations hurled at them.
  3. Involve - Make someone to reinforce, reiterate or approve As the propaganda becomes stronger, many groups in the target group start reinforcing the ideas, allegations or criticisms of the propagandists while making an attempt to respond to ward off the criticisms.
  4. Ambassadorial - Advocate, vouch A member of the target group internalizes the criticisms but continues to respond simultaneously - exhibit dichotomy in thoughts and actions

A propaganda becomes more successful as it proceeds from one stage to the next. It becomes more difficult to reverse the ill effects the propaganda in higher stages.

In India, there are two problems which are influenced by the sustained propaganda from a very long period of time. Here they are identified and an assessment of the stage of the propaganda in each of these cases is made.

Propaganda against Varnashrama of Hinduism is going on at least from last 400 years. Propaganda has already reached the 4th stage and we see many Hindus, especially socially active, vouching for the points raised by the anti Varnashrama propagandists. More number of Hindus reiterate and reinforce the allegations and conclusions about Varnashrama in a casual way even addressing topics that are not directly related to Varnashrama in particular and Hinduism in general. Awareness about the allegation is so high (almost 100%) and internalization of the allegations is so complete that most of the time, reactions / response / discussion about these things is not seen.

Kashmir as a disputed land and Pakistan and China as parties to it has wider acceptance. Arguments in favor of India is less widely known compared to the arguments in favor of Pakistan. Response is typically high from official circles and it appears as it there are few takers among the general public. Reinforcement of Pakistani / Jihadi allegations against India is seen in most of the discussions about Kashmir in India. The propaganda against Kashmir as integral part of India has reached third stage

[Contributed by VS and SH]