Friday, December 18, 2015

Do The Hindus Have 33 Crore Gods?

Quite often we discuss among ourselves, with a slight tone of self-mockery, that we Hindus have thirty-three crore (330 million) gods. We think we have such a surfeit of gods that we do not mind accepting anything and everything. This opinion is shared by several scholars and writers. Who are all these gods?

Let us try to figure out. We can list out all the names we know – Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Venkateswara, etc, etc. We may associate our friends from all parts of the country, count all the local deities and we may come to a figure which may be in thousands. What, in fact, is the truth?

Vedanta categorically states that the Supreme Reality is the infinitely pervading consciousness. It is not a personal god whom we see in religion. It is not denoted as ‘he’ or ‘she’ but as ‘It’, an impersonal entity. The name given to this impersonal entity is Brahman. The creative power which is associated with this Brahman is called as prakriti or maaya. In order to facilitate our understanding Vedanta compares this entity to an ocean. An ocean is a huge mass of water. When a huge wave emerges from it, we distinguish it from the ocean and call it a wave. Similarly in the ocean of consciousness the creative power creates a notion of ‘I’ or ‘self’. This first appearance of ego is given a name – Hiranyagarbha. The Upanishads say that this is the source of all creation. The Taittiriya Upanishad gives a graphic description of such creation. The space emerged first, it says. From the space came air. From air the fire emerged. The fire became fluid and later it became a hard mass called earth. The whole plant kingdom originated from earth and became food for all beings. The purpose of this narration, we are told, is to say that there is nothing apart from Brahman and what all we see is a manifestation in Brahman.

This idea pervades the whole philosophy of Upanishads. The greatest spiritual exercise is to see that the seeker is an integral part of the organic whole which is the universe. Our sense organs and mind have evolved from the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. The flesh, blood and bones too are derived from the five elements.  In short, the microcosm is not different from the macrocosm. The enlightened person achieves a vision of oneness in which he sees one with every other being in the universe and loves all beings unconditionally.

Veda patha

This being so, who are the thirty-three crore gods? There is a chapter in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad dealing with this question. There used to be philosophical debates in the courts of kings in olden days. Several wise men and women used to gather, debate and sometimes argue about the nature of things. One such debate is between the questioner named Sakalya and Yajnavalkya, who probably was the greatest philosopher of that time. Sakalya questions – ‘how many are the gods?’. Yajnavalkya says – ‘three-thousand-three-hundred and six’. What a precise number? Sakalya puts the same question again. This time Yajnavalkya says – thirty-three gods. On further questioning, Yajnavalkya says that they are six, and then three and then two and then one and a half and finally one. This indeed is a strange reply and hence Sakalya demands explanation.

Yajnavalkya says that in fact there are only thirty-three gods. They are the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas plus Indra and Prajapati. All put together it comes to thirty-three. The three-thousand-three-hundred and six are merely different manifestations of the same 33 types of deities. The Upanishad explains the nature of the above types.

The human being sees birth and death every day. The texts call it creation, sustenance and dissolution. It means that from the man’s point of view there are certain factors in the cosmos which help him grow, some which make him feel unhappy and some others which are associated with his karma and the fruit of that karma, leading to ultimate dissolution. Those eight factors in the universe which nourish him and help him grow are the Vasus (the Sanskrit root ‘vas’ means ‘to live’). Those eleven factors which make him unhappy and cry are the Rudras (the Sanskrit root ‘rudir’ means ‘to cry’). Those twelve factors which are associated with a person’s karma and its fruits and gradually take away his life span are the Adityas (from the Sanskrit root ‘aadaana’ which means ‘to take away’). We need not go into the details of these factors, which are described in detail in the above text.

Gods of the above three types added up to thirty-one. The remaining two are Indra, symbolizing valour and Prajapati, symbolizing yajna. Thus we have the number thirty-three.
What about the word ‘crore’? The Sanskrit word for crore is ‘koti’. This word has several meanings such as the curved end of a bow, the edge or point in general, the point of a weapon, the peak of a hill, a category or class (used in expressions like jiva koti, prani koti etc.,), ten million and so on. In the present context it is used to mean a category or class of deities. The thirty-three (koti) types of deities manifest in several forms. The wind or fire manifest sometimes as a helpful agency and sometimes as a harmful agency. The three-thousand-three-hundred and six are but different forms of the same thirty-three deities.

From a different point of view, Yajnavalkya explains, the thirty-three can be reduced and seen as six. In other words, the thirty-three are included in these six. On further reduction, these six can be seen as three. This is from the point of view of deities connected with bhū (earth), bhuva (the intermediate space) and suva (heaven). “The earth and the fire taken together make one god, the sky and air make another and heaven and the sun make a third” (Swami Madhavananda tr. p: 373).
From yet another point of view the deities are only two (of two types). The whole universe can be classified as the prāa (vital force) and the matter (food) consumed by the vital force. On further reduction it is one and a half because it is the air which moves along and enlivens all that is covering. Finally, the one is the Hiranyagarbha, the first manifestation in the Supreme Consciousness. Thus all these names and forms, seen as thirty-three or more are merely different forms of the same Hiranyagarbha.

Curiously and mercifully we do not find the names such as Vishnu, Indra, Shiva, Ganesa and so on. Otherwise, there would have been a clamour among the devotees. The Vedic vision was not to count the different gods but to see different cosmic functions as due to one entity.

Surprisingly we find some of the teachers postulating that the thirty-three crore deities are located in the body of a cow. This is not the Vedic vision but the vision of someone who has authored a story in a purana (mythology). In fact the nourishing aspects, the troubling aspects and the depleting aspects are found in all beings including you and me and not only in the cow. You and I have the thirty-three deities as per the Vedic vision. We are a part and parcel of the macrocosm from a gross point of view, but on more subtle enquiry, we are not different from Brahman, says Vedanta.

The author is the former DGP of Andhra Pradesh and a practitioner of Vedanta

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Being Hindu : Old Faith, New World

Book Review -Being Hindu : Old Faith, New World and You

A thought-provoking and breezy account. Hindol hits the right points and notes. Informs and provokes in equal measure. Add this one to your year-end holiday reading list.
Being Hindu can be an amalgamation of many different things to many different people, at different times. Whatever being Hindu may be, it however – we need to be clear – cannot be about “discussing for years whether we should drink a glass of water with the right hand or the left, whether the hand should be washed three times or four times, whether we should gargle five or six times.” But this was what discourse on Hinduism had been reduced to in the nineteenth century, in the words of none other than a young, thirty-something ascetic, Vivekananda, speaking to “an inherently orthodox populace in nineteenth-century, British-ruled India.
Vivekananda and a handful of reformers pulled Hinduism out from the dark depths of mindless ritualism that it found itself in more than a century ago. Such was the greatest reformer Hinduism saw in a thousand years or more, and such was Hinduism that it accepted such a reformer.
Hinduism listened to, accepted, and reformed. Or why just Vivekananda; take even Mahatma Gandhi, who had this to say to Dr. Ambedkar (another of the great reformers of Hinduism) – “Caste has nothing to do with religion. It is a custom whose origin I do not know and do not need to know for the satisfaction of my spiritual hunger. But I do know that it is harmful both to spiritual and national growth.
But, Hindol warns us, “reform” itself has many different meanings, and consequences. Lost in the din of a mono-maniacal fervour with which the word “reform” is being hurled today is a recognition of what the history of reform actually has been.
As I wrote in my review of a high-priestess of Islamic “reform” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s – book, “Heretic” (first published in IndiaFacts here), Ali’s prescriptions are presented in almost as fundamental a manner as the religious fundamentalism it seeks to reform, and wholly western prescriptions for the ails of a faith middle-eastern in origin.
Hindol writes about British journalist Mehdi Hasan, who reminded all what “what reformation was in Christianity.
“He details, in case anyone has forgotten, that Martin Luther—the fourteenth century German cleric who was the Father of Reformation—not only broke the Bible free from Latin upper class domination by translating it into vernacular languages, but also wrote On the Jews and Their Lies (1543). In this, Luther referred to the Jews as ‘the devil’s people and called for the destruction of Jewish homes and synagogues’ The book is one of the seminal texts of German anti-Semitism, and later the Holocaust.”
Similarly, for Islam, Hindol writes, there has been reform. Indeed, there has been reform. The most successful “reformist” in Islam, to this day, remains Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, “the eighteenth-century purist, who bitterly critiqued the relative liberalism of Sufism and described both Jews and Christians as devil worshippers. The punishment for devil worshippers, said Wahhab, was the sword.
The word “reform”, is however still used as a silver bullet of sorts by those looking for silver bullets with which to slay the werewolves of radicalism. The consequences of such shallow thinking is of course paid only by future generations to come – rarely by the proponents of such reform.
Hindol gives reason to consider carefully when we use the word “reform.” Reform can mean something different, and more meaningful. Hindol provides two examples. The first, as we saw earlier, is with Hinduism and its cast of reformers. The second, surprisingly, is with Islam – and Dara Shukoh – in the second half of the seventeenth century.
Dara Shukoh was one of the sons of the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and a sibling of Aurangzeb. Dara had a spiritual bent of mind, and if you consider that it was in the year 1656 – the zenith of the Mughal empire in northern India – that he gathered “at Kashi (Benaras) a vast troupe of bilingual scholars” to try and find harmony between the Holy Qur’an and the Upanishads, it truly boggles the mind. Dara was not Akbar, who could have done this with the weight of the imperial throne behind him. This was Dara, locked in a deadly struggle with his vastly more orthodox brother Aurangzeb, and yet chose to embark on this quest, knowing that doing so would put him on the wrong side of the orthodox Muslim clergy of the time. Dara’s efforts led him to state that the Upanishads “‘are first of all heavenly books . . . in conformity with the holy Quran’ and that the Upanishads are ‘actually mentioned in the Quran and designated as scriptural texts’.” Such a claim would be considered radical – perhaps even heretical – even in the twenty-first century.
Dara’s quest was perhaps the last, truly great, attempt at meaningful reformation in Islam. That it ended with Dara’s imprisonment and subsequent execution by his brother, Aurangzeb, underscores a tragic, if not common, theme in Islam’s history of encounters with reform.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has nothing to write about Dara in her book on “reformation” in Islam. Hers is a very narrow, monochromatic prism through which she views solutions to complex issues.
Even if one is unsure about what makes or does not make a Hindu, even if one is or is not a Hindu, if one is not living in India, it is still a reasonably confident assertion that your view of Hinduism is being influenced by reading thinly-disguised racist screeds passing off as scholarly dissertations. How so?
Hindol has a brilliant – and biting – chapter titled “How to Write About Hindus?” that distills a century and more of western writing on Hinduism. I present here only a brief excerpt. The entire chapter is worth reading twice, and is perhaps alone worth the price of the book.
“‘Always use the word Hindu as if you really meant to write Hindoo (colonial spelling used to suggest parody) but are too polite. Words like “dusk”, “soul”, “heterodox”, “bourgeois”, “traditional”, “Orientalist”, naturally, help. Subtitles may include the words “ancient”, “plural”, “civilization”, “alternative”, “sex”. The last one is of the most vital significance. Without it, your book (article, essay) and Hinduism are doomed. Its soul will never be discovered. Worse, no one will tweet about your book (article, essay). Your book (article, essay) must have a picture. It must have the colour orange. Refer to it always as “saffron”. Without saffron, the sales (and readership) of your book (article, essay) are deep in the red. Which, as we all know, is not a nice colour. Especially when you are the one selling. The pictures you use along with the writing can never have kind, well-adjusted, pleasantly God-fearing folk. They should have great matted hair. A bushy chest. A trident in the hand really helps. They can’t wear too many clothes. It spoils the image of the warrior sadhu—the monk doth protest too much is a powerful tool. Don’t treat it lightly. Or you can have a bespectacled, grouchy old man holding a grammatically incorrect banner. Looking angry.”
And how can we talk about western “scholarship” about Hinduism without touching upon (I use the word “touching” in an entirely non-harassing and strictly metaphorical sense) the Hinduphobe scholar’s obsession with the prurient, and insistence on conjuring prurience where none exists. Sample the brilliant way in which Hindol takes down a certain, unnamed, Hindu “scholar.”
“Begin by writing that you love all gods and goddesses. The Hindus have many of these. So there are many books (articles, essays) to be written. But nowhere have you mentioned snake charmers or elephants. So your work is not about hunting down the exotic. It is scholarship. Oh, sorry, you did mention an elephant god. You said his trunk is the penis. Or his penis is the trunk. One can’t be entirely sure — but there is some cock (and bull) there. It is, after all, a way of life.”
And more so:
“Always subtly hint that while you have read and mastered all Hindu texts, there is actually nothing called Hinduism. This must be the great consistent revelation of your book. It is also great preparation just in case someone spots your errors and takes you to court. The more you write that you love the openness in Hinduism, the better it is for you. Because if nothing exists, and there are no rules, no facts, no realities and no texts — if there is no Hinduism — then you can write what you want. And anything you write will make you a scholar.”
This chapter served as a reminder of sorts for me of the ways in which Indians have lost self-respect for both themselves and for their culture and religion. Some may remember how there was a brouhaha of sorts on social media when some self-styled #science “intellectuals” had taken to asserting that there was no such thing as “Hindu or Indian science.”
When confronted by facts (for e.g., that Baudhyana’s discovery of the so-called Pythagoras’ theorem preceded Pythagoras by at least a few centuries), the #science intellectuals’ argument then morphed into stating that there was no such thing as “India” in medieval times, and finally, into mocking critics for lacking a sense of humour. I was reminded of it reading about Manjul Bhargava in Hindol’s book.
“A mathematician of Indian origin, Manjul Bhargava, won the Fields Medal, one of the highest prizes in excellence in mathematics. Bhargava’s biggest achievement was probably solving a 200-year-old mathematical problem. How did he do this? Bhargava says he was able to accomplish this by reading old Sanskrit manuscripts preserved by his grandfather, Purshottam Lal Bhargava, who was the head of the Sanskrit department at the University of Rajasthan. In their library reserves he found the work of seventh-century Indian mathematician Brahmagupta, and he realized, using Brahmagupta’s work,
that he could crack a problem unresolved for two centuries. Essentially, when two numbers, which are both the sum of two perfect squares, are multiplied together, what is arrived at is the sum of two perfect squares. He found a generalization of this principle in Brahmagupta’s work that helped him simplify the expansive Composition Law introduced by the German Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1801.”
A favourite chapter for most Indophiles is likely to be the one where Hindol briefly enumerates the Hindu’s contribution to science, and in many cases, these contributions were verily the foundations of science as the world knows today.
“The seventh-century mathematician Brahmagupta devised a formula ‘for the sum of n terms of the Arithmetic Progression of which the first term is unity and the common difference is unity’15. With this, Brahmagupta was able to accurately devise the rules to measure the volume of a prism, the area of a cyclic quadrilateral and the formula for the length of two diagonals of a cyclic quadrilateral. Needless to say, these are rules that are being used even today.

Brahmagupta formulated ‘a thousand years’ before the great European mathematician Euler (17-7 -1783 CE) ‘a theorem based on indeterminate equations’

Hindu mathematicians also knew what is now known as Pascal’s triangle long before Europe and called it meru prastara. The mathematician Pingala (third century BC) dealt with this in detail in his Chandas-sutra.

Astonishingly, Panini’s immortal fame is not even as a mathematician but as the definitive Sanskrit grammarian. But he also ‘introduced abstract symbols to denote various subsets of letters and words that would be treated in some common way in some rules; and he produced rewrite rules that were to be applied recursively in a precise order.’ Mumford says, ‘One could say without exaggeration that he anticipated the basic ideas of modern computer science.’”
Just as the Internet intellectual’s views of Hinduism’s seminal contributions to science and maths are formed within the hermetic cocoon of Eurocentrism, similarly the atheist’s view – especially the “Hindu” atheist – is formed by a cursory reading of the reigning prophet of atheism, Richard Dawkins, whose book “‘The God Delusion’ mentions Hinduism only twice. Only two times in a 460-page book.
Hindol elaborates:
Basically, each and every complaint of Dawkins about religion is aimed at the great monotheistic faiths—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—and his primary complaint that faith divides is one that can only be aimed at those faiths since they have clear boundaries between believers and unbelievers. For his entire intellectual prowess, Dawkins does not understand that there is an alternative to that version of religion. He does not understand that Vedic polytheism is not quite that because in polytheism ‘the gods worshipped retain their proper and well-defined places’. In Vedic culture though, ‘a god worshipped as the supreme deity pales into insignificance when another is adored as the highest’. This is the concept of the ishtadevata by which ancient Hindus chose a manifestation of God that appealed most to them and worked to reach the highest truth through this form or image.
In closing, I want to talk about the good cop – bad cop routine, “a psychological tactic used in negotiation and interrogation” (Wikipedia), where the “‘bad cop’ takes an aggressive, negative stance towards the subject, making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy between the subject and himself. This sets the stage for the “good cop” to act sympathetically, appearing supportive and understanding, and in general showing sympathy for the subject.
Hinduism studies in the West have for long had their cast of good-cops and bad-cops. The bad cop, it’s been clear for many years now, is Wendy Doniger, the reigning priestess of everything crude and lewd that can be imagined or conjured in Hinduism. I recently discovered who the good cop is. The good cop is Diana Eck, but the goal remains much the same – a multi-pronged delegitimisation of Hinduism and its symbols. I wrote about it in some detail in my review of her book, “India: A Sacred Geography”. Hindol quotes extensively from Diana’s work; I feel that perhaps Eck’s work at concealing her real agenda is better than I would have initially given her credit for!
The book is divided into ten chapters, each titled as a question for or about Hindus. For example, the first is “How to Write About Hindus?”, the second is “Who is a Hindu?”, the seventh is “Does Being Hindu Mean You Are Vegetarian?”, and so on… At 170 pages, excluding the acknowledgments, endnotes, and index, this book is a short read.
It is my hope that this book gives the reader reason to pause and reconsider the blind reverence that western studies on Hinduism have been accorded, it causes the casual Hindu to delve deeper into the meaning of his or her faith, it gives reason to the reader to question the basis for media-instigated anti-Hinduism hysteria.
Hindol’s book is a timely addition to the growing list of books that seek to question the bigoted and at times outright racist status quo that has been Hinduism studies for decades on the one hand, and endeavour to inform and gently correct mis-conceptions about Hinduism that have been unquestioned thus far.

Book info:
Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN-10 0143425323
ISBN-13 9780143425328
Disclaimer: views expressed are personal.
Abhinav Agarwal is a son, husband, father, technologist and an IIM-B Gold Medalist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Indian Secularism Views Indian Muslims As Pakistanis

Secularism as practised in India is a threat to Indian Muslims as this essay will demonstrate. As per purely academic definitions, there are primarily two meanings of secularism.

First, it is a movement of ideas that slowly removes influences of religion from social life. In this meaning, secularism undermines religious orthodoxies, frees individuals from the clutches of religion and empowers people to live their daily life in rational and meaningful ways.

Second, there is a constitutional meaning of secularism which requires the state to maintain distance from religion in policymaking and to treat all citizens equally.

However, there is a third, behavioural meaning of Indian secularism. In its behavioural meaning, secularism influences us as individuals in how we understand day-to-day developments in our societies and impacts on the minds of policymakers, government leaders, journalists, politicians and others.

To fully grasp the phenomenon of secularism, one has to understand the habits of secularism in India, and comprehend its influences on our communities and leaders at the practical level. In its practical meaning as secularism is practised in India, secularism is a threat to Indian Muslims, preventing their socio-economic and educational progress for the following reasons.

Secularism views Indian Muslims as Pakistanis, not as Indians. To convey this latent message to Indian Muslims, secular Hindus rush to release books and attend conferences in Pakistan, or to dine with Pakistani leaders such as General Pervez Musharraf. By any definition, Musharraf was the architect of the largest jihad against India in modern times. He not only launched the jihadist invasion of Kargil in 1999, it was on his watch that the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai were planned.

To look good, secular Hindu journalists routinely invite Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders to our television studios for celebratory interviews, i.e. interviews which are unwarranted by current affairs developments. This is because secular Hindus unconsciously, subconsciously and sometimes consciously view Indian Muslims as part of the Pakistani identity.

Indian secularism is a form of latent racism, notably against Bangladeshis. For example, secular Indians do not speak in favour of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen when she is attacked in Hyderabad, India. Secular Hindus who love to visit Pakistan do not visit Bangladesh.
India has played a critical military role in the creation of Bangladesh, but secular Hindus do not appreciate this Indian role. Bangladesh has truly liberal editors, unlike their Pakistani counterparts, but secular Hindus do not invite Bangladeshi journalists and writers to India for book events or conferences.


A number of secular Indian editors are from West Bengal but they identify themselves with Pakistanis, not with next-door Bangladeshi journalists. Even Nitish Kumar loves to visit Pakistan, certifying the message to his voters that Indian Muslims are with Pakistan.

Secularism is another word for communalism. Indian secularism sows seeds of communal poison that causes riots and creates siege mentality among Muslims. Secularism resides in the siege mentality of Muslims.

For example, at a village called Kangla Pahari in West Bengal, secular Hindu officials have banned Durga Puja because it is disliked by Muslims. Such secular Hindu decisions give birth to what is known as Hindu extremism.

Secularism engenders Hindu communalism and fosters Muslim insecurity. There were no ‘Hindutva’ forces in India before the secular Rajiv Gandhi made the following three decisions in the 1980s: the law that annulled the Supreme Court decision to give alimony to the destitute Muslim woman Shah Bano, the opening of Ayodhya locks that led to the demolition of Babri Mosque and the ban on The Satanic Verses.

Secularism does not seek to serve the interests of Muslims. It tells Indian Muslims: I will give you secularism and five per cent quota in educational institutions and government jobs. Secular Hindus know that there are not more than 40 lakh central government jobs and even if 100 per cent government jobs were given to Indian Muslims, it will not ensure their progress.
The progress of communities is empowered by new ideas. But secularism doesn’t tell Indian Muslims: I will give your daughters mathematics, economics and science from Grade 1. As per the Right to Education Act, all citizens of 6-14 years age must receive the same educational outcomes. But secular Hindus do not promise the same education to Muslims that they give their own kids. This is because secularism’s purpose is not to serve the interests of Indian Muslims. Secularism is anti-Muslim.

Secularism loves to forge Muslim communalism, more so at election times. For example, in the just-concluded Bihar elections, secularism drove about 84 per cent Muslims to vote communally for a single party.

Secularism creates herd mentality and pushes Muslims towards the minority syndrome. Over the past six decades, riots were caused by the Congress, but the Congress was routinely presented as secular.

Secularism thrives in the minority syndrome created by secularism itself. It prevents Indian Muslims from seeing that their actual progress could result from studying economics, mathematics and material sciences. But secular Hindus ally with orthodox Islamic clerics such as Imam Bukhari. Both serve each other. Secularism wants to give a few computers to madrasas but doesn’t advocate educational transformation or police reforms to end the minority syndrome.
Indian secularism is anti-women. Secularism is essentially against the interests of Muslim women. For example, secular Hindu intellectuals and journalists are totally silent on the issue of ending the Shah Bano legislation that denied alimony to Muslim women. This legislation was created by the secular Rajiv Gandhi to serve the cause of secularism in India. Secular Hindus know that if Muslim women progress, their secularism will die.

Secular writers and intellectuals do not advocate the cause of the Uniform Civil Code, one of the objectives of the Constitution. Even feminist Hindus do not oppose the mushrooming of Burqas and Islamism among Muslim communities. The silence of feminists serves secularism. At this point in time, the only section of Indian society advocating equality for Muslim women is the so-called Hindu right-wing, the hope of liberty.

The secular Hindu is a coward who walks away from responsibility by arguing this: change must come from within Muslims. Throughout the course of history, social change has essentially come through external sources: from interaction with foreign ideas occurring through wars, technologies and globalisation.

It is not surprising that there are no liberal Muslim writers and reformers in India. This is because if a true liberal Muslim writer arose, secularism would shun him. Secularism’s purpose is served not by liberal Muslim writers but by Islamists. The cause of Muslim reform in India is currently limited to interpreting Islamic texts, whether it be the case of late Marxist writer Asghar Ali Engineer, or social activist Shaista Amber. The secular Hindu will not welcome any Muslim who dares to question basic ideas of Islam.

India spends billions of rupees on departments of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Islamic studies in universities across the country. However, graduates from these departments do not even attempt to think. They do not ponder over the human condition or the power of new ideas to drive change; they fear new ideas, innovation and progress.

Subjugated by the secular Hindus and Islamic clerics, the Muslim youth is not a carrier of new ideas. In between there is a species called ‘Moderate Muslim’ who is mostly sleep-walking. But if a liberal Muslim challenges religious orthodoxies and clerics rose against him, the moderate Muslim rises up and attacks both. The moderate Muslim serves the purpose of secularism just in time. Indian secularism is a plot against Indian Muslims.
(Published first in

Tufail Ahmad is a former journalist with the BBC Urdu Service and Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. He can be reached at:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Secularism : In the Name of Secularism

Secularism : In the Name of Secularism

Persistent appeasement philosophy of Congress culminated in the Muslim League demanding Pakistan for Muslims and eviction of Hindus and Sikhs from east and west Pakistan.
Congressmen at any given opportunity do not spare to mention that theirs is a secular party and that it is the only party that understands secularism and champions its cause.  As the debate in the winter session of the Parliament rages over the Constitution and its making and subsequent changes made during emergency there are many questions that come to the fore about what really is the mainstay of Congress’ politics. The Congress says that its policy is that of equal justice to everyone but the people doubt whether the policy is being implemented or not said AK Antony after the Congress rout in 2014 Lok Sabha elections in his post electoral analysis . The Antony thesis, as it is called, was set up to find the reason for the rout and in its report was said that the Congress was leaning too much towards the Muslims.
Much of this tag that the Congress has acquired is because of its appeasement policy towards the Muslims which it garbs under the guise of secularism. It has left no opportunity to resort to Blackmail Secularism threatening the Muslims covertly with ‘Vote for us if you do not want the BJP to rule because things are going to be worse for you under them’. Congress has in the past made it a point on every possible occasion to fan communal frenzy and then pose as the messiah of minorities. This was an art invented by the British to keep themselves in power and Congress has perfected it post independence.
The Congress’ history of being a communal party is long and deserves some mentions here: In 1920 after the demise of Bal Gangadhar Tilak when Gandhiji took over as leader of the Congress party, he would openly speak about Ram Rajya and the ways in which it was to be achieved. Gandhiji was so keen that he gave various interpretations of how the Ram Rajya would actually be achieved. The turning point for Congress’ communal politics was the Khilafat Movement when the Muslims and the Muslim League started demanding separate electorates. It was here that Gandhiji fearing the loss of Muslim support started to bring in religion into politics. Persistent appeasement philosophy of Congress culminated in the Muslim League demanding Pakistan for Muslims in March, 1940, and creation of Pakistan in 1947 and eviction of Hindus and Sikhs from present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Congress Government under Jawaharlal Nehru started ‘Haj subsidy’ for Muslims in 1959. Is such a subsidy secular? Indira Gandhi when faced by a losing vote-bank to the Opposition changed the Constitution Preamble and inserted the word ‘secularism’ in a bid to woo Muslims so as to dispel any ambiguity that might be in the minds of the minorities. This word the original architect of the Constitution Dr BR Ambedkar did not feel necessary to insert as he was against the appeasement politics of
the Congress. He said that appeasement sets no limits to the demand of aggressor.
Continuation of Article 370 conferring a special status on Muslim majority Jammu & Kashmir; Genocide and eviction of Hindus from Kashmir to be made refugees in their own country. To placate Muslim uproar over Supreme Court’s judgement in Shah Bano’s case, the then Congress Government under Rajiv Gandhi passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 and nullified the said judgement.
 The same Congress which had rejected ‘Communal Award’ in 1932 (which meant separate electorates for Muslims, Christians etc) that was promulgated by the British on the reasoning that it will divide the Hindu society is now spearheading Muslim reservation in government jobs and announcing quotas.
The Congress Government repealed Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) the way it had repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in 1995 so as to prevent trail of those who get caught under terrorist activities these being mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In 2005, Supreme Court termed Bangladeshi infiltration as ‘external aggression’ and directed that “the Bangladesh nationals who have illegally crossed the border and have trespassed into Assam or are living in other parts of the country have no legal right of any kind to remain in Bharat and they are liable to be deported.” It struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 as unconstitutional; termed Bangladeshi infiltration as ‘external aggression’ and directed that “the Bangladesh nationals who have illegally crossed the border and have trespassed into Assam or are living in other parts of the country have no legal right of any kind to remain in Bharat and they are liable to be deported.” But instead of deporting the infiltrators, on February 10, 2006, UPA Government brought in the Foreigners (Tribunals for Assam) Order to nullify the Apex Court’s judgement. However, on December 5, 2006, Supreme Court quashed this Order also as illegal and unconstitutional, and called for a strict implementation of its earlier judgement dated July 12, 2005 “so as to ensure that illegal immigrants are sent out of this country.” Shockingly, despite the Supreme Court’s clear directions, no infiltrators have been deported by the government.
Bharat became the first country to ban The Satanic Verses in 1988 as a pre-emptive measure. Muslim fundamentalists threatened massive protests against the allegedly blasphemous novel. Muslim politicians attacked Rushdie, stating all the while that they had not themselves read the book. Fundamentalists have incessantly targeted Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, whose stance against the discriminatory Islamic practices against women has seen her exiled in Bharat. She too was hounded out from Kolkatta and Hyderabad with no politician let alone Muslim politician uttering a word.
In 2014 elections, the fight for the Muslim vote has intensified as Salman Khurshid, Union Law minister and the Muslim face for the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, took on the Election Commission of Bharat. The Commission censured his blatant attempt to entice Muslim voters through a series of quotas for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions. At an electoral rally, Khurshid challenged the Commission by asserting that his fight for ‘Muslim rights’ would go on, even if the ‘Election Commission hanged him.’
 Bharat’s fight against terror is also being compromised for the sake of Muslim votes. The controversial Batla House encounter in New Delhi in 2008 is being communalised in the electoral battle. Politicians like Khurshid and Digvijay Singh of the Congress party are questioning the authenticity of the encounter despite the fact that the Union Home Minister has repeatedly vouched for its genuineness.
The UPA’s two governments were so committed to vote-bank politics that its Prime Minister went so far as to suggest Muslims had first claim on development funds. But all this did not cut much ice. The election results in Muslim pockets in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Andhra Pradesh were particularly galling for the party.  A section within the Congress doubts the efficacy of Muslim appeasement as an electoral strategy. It would be worth mentioning from Congress’ own analysis that Muslims have begun to walk past the quota and other religious guises. The bulk of the Bharateeya population has begun to respond to an all-round developmental agenda, jobs, infrastructure, liveable cities and towns, improving livelihoods.  The communal politics of Congress has come to a situation that  it lacks credibility for the Muslim community especially the youth which is exasperated  with quota politics, as they know it will get them nowhere in the emerging competitive world.
For a religiously divided country like Bharat, the ghettoisation of a community resulting in rising fundamentalism has dire consequences. Assimilation, not appeasement, is the requirement of the hour. ‘An appeaser’, said Winston Churchill, “is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” This is the fate that stares Congress today.

Bhagyashree Pande (The writer is a senior journalist)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Who is intolerant, speak up secular communalists?

          We are living in interesting times. A comical debate about intolerance of  Hindus, initiated by  a  communal  cabal supported by the Congress Party, is raging across the country.  A number of  communalists, masquerading  as secularists, have been railing against the Narendra Modi led  government by painting it as intolerant.   Some  Bollywood  biggies  like Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan have joined the raucous mob of  protestors.  Even  the well known musician, A R Rahman, has jumped into the flawed debate.
          Worldwide  Hindus  are known  to be one of the most tolerant and pacifist communities. The narrative  of  their immense  tolerance of the  savage persecution by the Muslim and Christian  invaders  is  a  heart-rending chapter of our eerie history.
          Taking undue advantage of the  Hindu tolerance the UPA government led by Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh practiced blatant discrimination against them on several occasions  in broad daylight.  Yet  no secular -communalist  protested, nor raised his or her voice against discrimination against the majority community.
          To set the record straight, some  prominent instances of  intolerance   against Hindus  perpetrated during  the ten year long UPA regime must be recounted to set the record straight. 
          In the year 2011 , the then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, announced with the beat of drum that  a Muslim IPS officer was being appointed as Director of the Intelligence Bureau. In the process three Hindu competent IPS officers, senior to the Muslim incumbent  were superceded unceremoniously. The three senior officers having better record  than the Muslim officer were V. Rajagopal,  R.N. Gupta and Yashovardhan Azad.  Astoundingly neither  the ever-ebullient media, nor any secular busy body dare accuse the ruling duo, Sonia-G and Dr. Manmohan Singh  of intolerance and discrimination.
          Another instance of intolerance  and  gross discrimination against Hindus  was displayed  in 2013 when a new Lt. Governor  of  Delhi was to be appointed.  In response to an RTI  inquiry by Subhash Agarwal it was revealed that a panel of  the following  names had been proposed for the post of  Lt. Governor  in a Home Ministry note on 5th October, 2012 : 
1.     S.Y. Quraishi, former  Chief Election Commisioner
2.     Salauddin Ahmed, former Chief Secretary of Rajasthan
3.     Anwar Ahsan Ahmed, former Secretary, Border Management
in the Ministry of Home Affairs 
4.     Shamim Banu, former Additional Chief Secretary, Karnataka
5.     G.S. Kang, former Chief Secretary of  Bihar 
It was clear that a decision had already been taken by the powers-that-be  to
ensure that  no  Hindu shall  be appointed as Lt. Governor of Delhi. According to the Lutyen’s gossip gazette a verbal command to this had been given by an adviser close to Sonia Gandhi.  Ultimately the choice of the Adviser  fell  on  Najeeb Jung, a former Vice Chancellor of  Jamia Millia Islamia who had organized a demonstration alleging  that  the Batla House shoot out of  September 19, 2008, was a fake encounter staged by Delhi Police against the Indian Mujahideen.
          Interestingly one of  the retired officer on the panel had faced a CBI investigation. The total exclusion of  Hindus, howsoever honest,  from the panel reminds one of the infamous remark of  Maulana Mohamed Ali in April 1924, that even a fallen Muslim was better than a good Hindu like Mahatma Gandhi !  
          The most important instance of  intolerance, however,  was the famously infamous statement of  Dr. Manmohan Singh on December 9, 2006, was that in future the Muslims and minorities will have the first claim to India’s resources. With that historic statement  of the then Prime Minister the fate of Hindus was sealed by pushing them down as second class citizens who will have to be content with the crumbs left-over by the Muslims and other minorities. The said statement was made by the then Prime Minister on the birthday of  Sonia Gandhi due to some mysterious reason.  And thereby hangs a shadowy tale ! 
          Another glaring instance of  intolerance was the  appointment by the UPA of Leela Samson as chief of the Kalakshetra and the Censor Board. Her sole qualification for selection for the two top posts was her close connection with Sonia Gandhi on  the Christian net. She had been a dance teacher to Priyanka Vadra, too.   During her tenure she worked over-actively to erase the Hindu identity of  Kalakshetra by removing the Hindu symbols and  icons like Lord Ganesha, apart from being neck dcep into corruption. She also cleared Aamir Khan’s controversial movie  ‘PK’ despite the film  containing highly objectionable scenes casting slur on the Hindu faith.
Discrimination Against Poorest Hindus 
          Not many people know that by using the flawed and fabricated  findings of Sachar Committee, Salman Khurshid, the  former Minister of Minorities Affairs, robbed the unlettered daughters and sons of nearly 34 crore Hindus living below the poverty line, mostly in rural areas. The High Level Committee chaired by Justice Sachar was born in sin of  grave constitutional impropriety. The task assigned to Justice Sachar had been entrusted in 1992 by the Indian Parliament to the National Minorities Commission by enacting a special law called The Minorities Commission Act, 1992. All  responsibilities for  protection of the rights of minorities   and ensuring their welfare had been assigned by the Parliament in terms of the  aforesaid legislation to the Minorities Commission.  Therefore the very act of the Prime Minister constituting a High Level Committee in March 2005, by an executive fiat for one single religious minority was  patently unconstitutional and bad in law.  The worst  aspect of the sinister move, however, was that Justice Sachar did not inform the PM that what was being was a blatant violation of the Constitution.
          For  decades a false  and  unsubstantiated  bogey has  been  propagated  across the country that economically and educationally, Muslims are more disadvantaged than the Hindus.  This falsehood  is  being  unabashedly  used  by the  powerful  pro-Muslim  vote bank lobby to bestow many unmerited benefits and  concessions, including  nearly twenty million scholarships and concessional educational loans exclusively on the Muslims and four other minorities.  But it was revealed by Salman Khurshid’s Press Conference on May 29, 2012, that not one single scholarship was given to the daughter or son of the poorest Hindu.  Nor was any cheaper educational or entrepreneurial  loans advanced to any Hindu poor, while funds worth several lakh crores  were advanced to the  children of doubly blessed five minorities, namely the Muslims, the Christians, the Buddhists, the Parsis and the Sikhs.
Religion-baed Strategy of Discrimination
          This strategy of religion-based discrimination was implemented in pursuance  of  the  communally divisive  vote bank policy enunciated in the Prime Minister’s notoriously  famous  “Muslims First”  policy  statement made on December 9, 2006. Inexplicably the aforesaid policy statement was made by Dr. Manmohan Singh  on the  birthday  of  Sonia Gandhi,  Chairperson  of  the  United Progressive Alliance.
          The worst aspect of the ongoing discrimination is that crores of  poor Hindus belonging to the perennially  famished  hoi polloi  of  rural India and those living in jhuggies have been deliberately deprived of any share in  the 20 million scholarships awarded to the  five minorities,  including  four economically and educationally better placed  communities than the Hindus. These four super-privileged minorities are the Christians, the Parsis,the  Buddhists and  the Sikhs all of whom happen to be show stealers in literacy average, economic  prosperity and education.
          The data  pertaining to infant and child mortality, degree of urbanization and life expectancy at birth available in public domain proves that it is the Hindus, not the Muslims, who are the most disadvantaged religious group. Following are the five major globally recognized human development indicators :
i)   Infant Mortality;
ii)  Child Mortality;
iii)  Life Expectancy at Birth;
iv)  Degree of Urbanisation ;
v)  Literacy.
Clearly the Hindus are far behind the Muslims in the first four human development indices, except literacy in which Hindus with 65.1 percent literacy are marginally ahead of Muslims who have the literacy average of  59.1 percent. But Justice Sachar did not have the moral courage to identify and write that one single factor responsible for lower Muslim literacy average was the lower ratio of literacy among  Muslim women at a meagre  50.1 percent.  It was lower by 3.6 percent than the national average of female literacy at 53.7.  Thus, this  important cause of lower female literacy among Muslims ignored by Justice Sachar was the diktats of Muslim religious leaders restricting education of girls beyond a certain age and insistence on the customary  veil.
Plight of Hindus Living Below Poverty Line
          Unfortunately  most Hindus,  including their  spiritual gurus, telemedia analysts, self-anointed intellectuals and political leaders  belong to the prosperous fraternity and well-to-do middle class.  Their children do not need free scholarships.  No wonder they have thus remained indifferent  to the pathetic economic condition of the  poorest Hindu masses, especially those trapped in the terminally ill rural areas.   These busybodies strutting across the political and spiritual universe have never cared to know that in four out of the five  globally recognised human development  indices, the  majority community is lagging behind the Muslims, the Christians, the Buddhists, the Parsis and the Sikhs.
That explains how the children of  34-35 crore  poorest Hindus were led to slaughter on the altar of Sachar Report!  The daughters and sons  of nearly 340 million poorest Hindus were robbed in broad daylight of their rightful share in 20 million scholarships by the ruling politicians  in an ugly bid to promote the ‘exclusive development’ of five minority communities. And lo and behold, this deprivation of the poorest Hindu children was done in the garb of ‘inclusive development’ !
          The ongoing  discriminatory policy  against the majority  religious group, mostly the rural Hindus,  was launched by the Prime Minister with great fanfare in June, 2006, in the garb of  Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for Welfare of  Minorities.  Through a sleight of hand, the poorest Hindu children were deprived of  any share in twenty million scholarships showered on Muslim, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and the Sikhs.
          The most shocking aspect of this biggest post-independence conspiratorial scam is that the Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and the Sikhs are the real show-stealers in literacy and education   –  miles  ahead of  the Hindus.
Falsehood  Publicised in Sachar Report
          A careful  examination of Sachar Report reveals a series of  ugly tricks devised  to  trample  upon  the  Right to Equality of  eighty  percent  citizens  of  India on the  ground of  religion.  Could it  be  that the poorest  students belonging to the majority community   are being denied  proportionate share in millions of  scholarships and financial largesse worth thousands of crores because they happen to belong to the politically-pariahed  religion called Hinduism?  No Hindu or non-Hindu political leader showed the guts to question this  implementation of  ‘exclusive  minority  development’  programme tom-tomed as  ‘inclusive growth’.   
          Enumerated below are two  prominent instances of fudging of facts by Justice Sachar in his report.
1.     Justice Sachar deliberately refused to consider the documented fact that according to the National Family Health Surveys  Nos. 1 (1992-93)  and 2 (1998-1999)  the Muslims were better placed than Hindus in four major human development indicators, namely the Infant Mortality, Child Mortality, degree of Urbanisatioin and Life Expectancy at Birth. After admitting this important fact on pages  37-38 of his report, Justice Sachar took recourse to suppressio veri, suggestio fallaci, by attributing it to the highly inventive argument that it could be due to better child feeding practices prevalent among Muslims.  Instead of candidly admitting that the Muslims were better fed and had access to better medical care the retired Chief Justice decided to weave the yarn of ‘better child feeding’  practices among Muslims. Could there be a worse example of falsification of  the data available in public domain?
2.     Another instance of  suppressio veri, suggestio falsi  is the horrid description of the plight of Muslim women on page 13 (Chapter 2) which was  false beyond belief.  It boggles the mind:
“Everything beyond the walls of the ghetto is seen as unsafe and hostile–markets, roads, lanes and public transport, schools and hospitals, Police Stations and government  offices.” 
Can any Indian honestly believe that Muslim women are treated so shabbily in India ?  Many of them like  Sabah Naqvi, Teesta Setalvad  and Shazia Ilmi  have been  boldly participating in debates on several  television channels.
          Many more instances of fudging of facts and propagating lies can be cited from the report  of  Justice Sachar.   These  are  being left out because of  shortage of space.
          To sum up, a systematic and rational  analysis of the comparative  scores of the Hindus and the Muslims in various human development indices reveals  that in the first four globally recognised economic development indicators the Hindus are lagging far behind  the Muslims and four other religious minorities, namely the Christians, the Buddhists, the Parsis and the Sikhs. This truth was established four times by four different studies, though Justice Sachar ignored  the documented truth  for reasons best known to him.
Rebuttals Galore  of  Justice Sachar’s  Report
          The  first well-documented  rebuttal of the  flawed findings of Justice Sachar  came on September 2, 2006, when a paper  was  circulated by Prof. Sanjay Kumar of the Centre of Studies for Developing Studies, New  Delhi, in a seminar organized at the prestigious Indian Institute of Public Administration. The  research of Prof. Sanjay Kumar presented in a packed hall of  distinguished scholars in the auditorium of  the I.I.P.A. revealed that there was hardly any difference in the economic and educational status of the Hindus and the  Muslims.
          The  indepth research based on a survey by the  Centre for Developing Societies further highlighted that the proportion of  ‘the very poor’  Indians was higher among  the Hindus than among the  Muslims.  The survey conducted in the year 2004 showed that the percentage of ‘very poor’ Hindus was 31 percent while the percentage of the ‘ very poor’  among Muslims was only 24 percent. Thus, on the basis of  the CDS survey the percentage of the ‘very poor’ people among the Hindus was nearly 25 percent higher than among the Muslims ! It was a very  significant finding of Prof. Sanjay Kumar, based on a survey comprising 27,000 random samples.
          Mysteriously  this important finding based on a survey  was ignored by Justice Sachar despite a  clear directive in the Prime Minister’s Notification dated  March 9, 2005 to the  High Level Committee to “obtain relevant information from Departments/  agencies of  the Central  & State Governments and also  conduct an intensive literature survey to identify  the published data, articles, and research on  relative   social, economic and educational status of Muslims in India at the  State, regional and district levels”  to address the problems faced by Muslims.
          More  importantly,  Prof. Sanjay Kumar’s research paper highlighting these important  findings was duly sent to Justice Sachar by our  Thinktank ,Patriots’ Forum  with a formal request to give us an audience.  But the former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court  chose to ignore the truth altogether.
          The second rebuttal  of Justice Sachar’s fabricated findings came in October, 2010 when the National Health Survey- 3 (2005-2006)  revealed a quantum jump of  5.4 years from 62.6 years in the life expectancy of Muslims within a short span of 7 years, i.e., between 1998 and 2005.  The advantage  which  Muslims had over their Hindu counterparts in life expectancy at birth was  barely 1.2 years in 1998-1999, but it grew to 3 years in 2005-2006, as revealed by the  National Family Health Survey -3.
          And the  master mystery of mysteries was that the results of the National Family Health Survey of 2005-2006 were released in October, 2010–i.e. after a long delay of four years!  This inordinate delay was responsible for facilitating the implementation of Sachar Committee’s recommendations favouring the Muslim community. The  discriminatory largesse of 20 million scholarships and cheaper educational and entrepreneurial loans of several lakh crore rupees was showered on Muslims, along with 4 minorities in gross violation of the Right to Equality enshrined in the Constitution.
          The third rebuttal  of Justice Sachar’s fudged facts was made public in the findings of Rajesh Shukla, a Senior Fellow of the National Council of Applied Economic Research published in the Economic Times, New Delhi, on April 5, 2007,  reconfirming that there was hardly any difference in the economic status of the Hindus and Muslims. Among other things Rajesh Shukla’s survey disclosed that the Sikh community were ‘the Sardars in Prosperity’ with Christians closely following behind  them.
          The fourth rebuttal of Justice Sachar’s  false findings came on February 24, 2011, in the reply to a Parliament Question answered by Vincent H.  Pala, the  Minister of State for Minorities  in Lok Sabha  admitting that  the central government  had   no data pertaining to  the number of persons living below the poverty line according to religious denominations.  If as late as  the year 2011, the government  had no data about  the number of  Muslims and Hindus living  below the poverty line, why were the fudged  findings of   Justice  Sachar  accepted and implemented  several years ago?
          The fifth   demolition  of  the lies propagated by Sachar  Committee came on October 24-25, 2011, when in a Seminar jointly  organized  by the  United Nations Development Programme and India’s Planning Commission at Claridge’s Hotel,  two scholars of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (Sukhdeo Thorat and Amaresh Pandey) presented a research paper  reconfirming that there had been far greater poverty reduction  among the Muslims than among the Hindus  between 2004-2005  to 2009-2010.
          Despite these five research-based rebuttals of  Sachar Report, the multidimensional discrimination against the unwashed daughters and sons of the  poorest Hindus, living below the poverty line has continued at a fast  pace,  perhaps in deference to the policy announcement made by the Prime Minister  in  December, 2006, on Sonia  Gandhi’s birthday.
          It is, however,  for the self-anointed  Hindu secularists  to analyse and explain  why no poorest of the poor Hindu child was considered eligible for even one  single scholarship out of twenty million freeships showered by Salman Khurshid on the  privileged children of  Muslim and Christian parents. According to a half page advertisement published in The Pioneer, New Delhi, on February 15, 2014, “over Rs. 1,95,000 crore of bank credit was showered on 5 minorities”. In sharp contrast, not one  rupee worth of bank credit was made available to anyone among  the 34  crores  Hindus living below the poverty line.
          Most importantly, Prof. Suresh Tendulkar’s  research  had revealed that  in 2009 approximately 37.2 percent Indians were living  below the poverty line. It meant that roughly, the unwashed  children of 34-35 crore Hindu les miserables were  debarred from applying for scholarships and educational loans in an unethical  bid to consolidate a  vote bank of five minorities. Such a policy of robbing the  poorest on the ground of religion by recourse to a  sleight of hand has no parallel  in the history of any democratic country. Only an over-clever  legal eagle like Salman Khurshid could do it with remarkable dexterity !
          Now  time has come for the  former Prime Minister to explain to  34 crore Hindus living below the poverty line, mostly in rural areas, why their unwashed, emaciated and unlettered children were robbed of the rightful share in 20 million scholarships and educational loans totalling several  lakh crore rupees.
Copyright  @  Ram Kumar Ohri