Unsolicited Suggestion for RSS uniform

There have been reports that the RSS is considering a change in its dress code. Such a contemplation typically happens internally, and it is unlikely that external inputs are sought or considered. Updates about the decision to change and the progress towards the decision are usually not communicated to the media or to the public. However, many who are sympathetic or supportive of the organization would volunteer to provide suggestions unsolicited. Here is one such suggestion from a traditional perspective.

RSS leadership in traditional dress in 1939

What are the requirements for the uniform of a cultural organization such as RSS?
1.   The uniform should reflect the Hindu culture. At least, it should have the elements, look and feel, and the spirit of Indian ethos.
2.  The uniform should be helpful in fostering unity, discipline, and invoke a sense of cultural nationalism.
3.  It should be simple, flexible, cost effective, and widely available.

Strictly speaking, the present Khaki shorts and full-sleeved white shirt may not have some of the above features. Similar is the case of the shoes and the belt. While some of them may not have an Indian origin, components of the uniform such as the Sangh cap are truly Indian. After decades of use, however, all components of the uniform have become elements of Brand Hindutva. The uniform does not generate an alien feeling, but is seen as very much Indian.
However, if a decision is taken to change the uniform, then it is necessary to ensure that the new uniform meets more of the requirements listed above.

Firstly, it should be noted that the very concept of a uniform inevitably dismisses diversity. The Indian ethos includes a multitude of attires and dress codes – all in harmony with diverse lifestyles, and some even in tune with ancient values. One uniform for all means some people having to give up their own clothing style and adopt a different one. But trying to accommodate diversity results in the dilution of the uniform and the discipline of RSS could become a casualty. The point here is not take the argument to an extreme, but to buttress a subtle point – related uniquely to the Sangh.

There is no doubt that traditional attire in an Indian’s daily (and especially professional) life is a thing of the distant past. At first glance, this seems to be a pan-cultural and ubiquitous scenario that can be owed to westernization. The Arab world and even some non-Muslim countries of Asia and Europe, however, seem to tell a different story. The prevalence of Islamic traditional attire is only increasing among Muslims in both their private and public lives. This observation is not for comparison or competition, but to communicate that a retention of tradition is possible in the 21st century.

It is possible to argue that there is no need to accommodate traditional substitutes in the RSS uniform, as after a decade or so, whatever is chosen would carry the Brand Hindutva again. It may be true, but such an argument is also a reflection of the prevalent public discourse and may not stand the test of time.

Any uniform – existing or new, brings with it possibilities of reinforcing westernization or destroying diversity. RSS, whose purpose statement includes addressing these two problems, therefore needs to take precautions. The first precaution to be taken is to include an escape mechanism from these two traps of deviation from Indian ethos and not accommodating diversity.

Is it possible? Is it required?
Those who are familiar with the concept of a uniform and impressed by its advantages may find it difficult to accommodate an option of not wearing one – perhaps even term it as a route towards indiscipline and one that sows the seeds of division. But those who have understood the strength of the Hindu society vouch for the genuine diversity that is inherent in our society. The concept of diversity is matured in its fullest form in India and is a strong basis for true freedom and true equality that is taught by Hinduism. A lifestyle that integrates daily conduct and the conceptual framework is the corner stone of Hindutva. Prescribed good conduct is person, context, time, and space dependent, among other things. It pervades everything – attire included. That means, survival (or revival) of Hinduism is dependent on the ability of an individual to follow and align with the prescribed good conduct. A uniform, in its conventional sense, excludes those who are willing to follow, or unknowingly following the prescribed conduct.

While it may be true that such people are in minuscule numbers, and such a population may not be following the prescribed conduct in a consistent way, such excuses for not incorporating traditional substitutes in the uniform is indicative of an approach that is not elegant.

The crux of the suggestion – working of a proposed uniform
The uniform can be decided in the same way the old uniform was. Khaki can be replaced by green, shorts by pants, shirts by t-shirts, etc. But an option that accommodates Indian diversity should be provided along with the new uniform. An optional list of attires such as dhoti, different headgear, and traditional substitutes of shirts may be listed – not as an exhaustive, but as a enlargeable list. Guidelines can be provided to participants as to who should be taking the option of alternative attires. Those who wear alternate attires can participate in programs as separate units, sit in a group, and form one column of a route march. All scenarios are to be listed and details of participation of traditional substitutes should be worked out.

This would be a new, superior and elegant model for ensuring discipline and unity without comprising on diversity and without imposing uniformity. The new model would be a testimony to the RSS commitment to bring a much needed Hindu perspective in Indian public affairs.



Land Provision for Development Projects

Infrastructure development, Industrialization, and developmental activities require agriculture land to be converted for non-agricultural purposes. Land acquisition bills have been introduced in many states and by the central government that provide procedures for accessing land for developmental purposes.

Broadly, the land requirements for non-agricultural purposes have been identified under three categories. The first category of land is required for public infrastructure such as roads, and other common public utilities. The second category includes land required for projects under public-private partnership and the third category includes land required for private projects.

Presently, the land acquisition is effected by a government notification acquiring the agricultural land required for a project. There are some differences in the way the land from an agriculturist is acquired for three different categories, but the summary is that the owner of the land is divested with the ownership when the notification is issued in return to a compensation.

There are some social consequences from the process of land acquisition provided by the existing laws. Land ownership is changed when a land is acquired for a development project. Farmers, many of them dependent on agriculture and rooted in and around their lands for hundreds of years would be disconnected from their native places and new set of people would move into the area. Both the new and old people struggle to adjust to the new realities. This is being viewed as an emotional issue – but in the globalized, industrial world order, this pattern also has a security and sustainability angle.

From the economic sense, the land price is steadily increasing and the compensation for the acquired land will prove to be much less comapared to a future market price. The difference is typically very high over a short period of few years and the original owner will perceive a notional loss of value for his land.

To address the social consequences, the following proposal is presented.

1. A land requirement notice is to be issued by the government with details of the project, preferred region for establishing the project, land requirement details.

2. A land co-operative society is to be established for managing the land required for the project

3. Farmers are given option of joining the land co-operative society. Land swapping options are facilitated by the government for those who would like to retain land / or participate in the project with suitable one time compensation. Land would be converted to land certificates in the name of the farmers for easy handling of the claims.

4. The land co-operative society will negotiate with the project owners and arrive at a set of terms and conditions including financial aspects. The financial aspects would be linked with the market value of the land in that region.

5. Land owners will continue to be the owners of their land – they are free to sell, divide, and acquire other portions of the land as before without any constraints.

6. The only constraint on the land owned by the land co-operative society would be to safeguard the venture of the project as planned in the project proposal. When the project ends or closed, an alternative venture would replace and the arrangement would continue. In case of absence of an alternate arrangement, the land should be prepared for the agricultural purposes. The land co-operative society would take up collective farming activities.

7. If that is not possible, the government would provide alternate land certificates to the owners of the land so that their revenue stream continues.

8. If the owner does not prefer alternative land certificates, the government would notify exclusion of the farmer from the co-operative society and would return the land to the owner.



Dr. Kalam – Obituary with an action point for media

Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam is remembered with high reverence by Indians and the world. He is an icon for Students, Technologists, Managers, Policy makers, Politicians, and general public. Every section of the society is enthusiastic to identify him with them and flaunt him as their icon. But, he is not seen as as a icon of Muslims, Islam or at least of Indian Muslims. He is not a role model for Muslim youth.

Dr APJ the Muslim2Why should his role as a model be restricted to youth of a community? Why should he be diminished to an Islamic icon when he consistently exhibited his leadership to much wider audience overcoming many barriers. These are invalid questions. The valid answer is that Kalam may be much above a section of the society. But, the point of analysis is that why a section of the society is reluctant to own him up as a role model despite having many commonalities between him and that particular section of the society?

When Dr. Abdul Kalam was nominated for president post, Dr Rafiq Zakaria, a Islamic scholar and a Congressman – wrote in The Asian Age that presidential nominee A P J Abdul Kalam cannot be considered a Muslim. The main reasons were three. First, APJ was not involved in the affairs of the community. Second, he did not follow Islamic tenets like fasting during Ramzaan, saying namaaz five times a day. Third, Kalam referred Bhagvad Gita for guidance and was fascinated with if not devoted to Sri Krishna. Dr. Zakaria concluded that except for the fact that Dr. APJ was born with a Muslim name, there was nothing Muslim about Kalam.

The logic is treated as convoluted. But, the same logic is at work in the minds of those who are not willing to project Kalam as a role model of Muslims – before when he was living and now after he is dead.

The relevance of this question was raised by Saisuresh Sivaswamy, in his aticle in Rediff on 22nd June 2002. At present, there are constant stream of reports of Muslims bursting crackers when Pakistan wins, Muslims getting involved in crime, and Muslims creating trouble and generating public nuisance in the excuse of practicing of Islam. Muslims are cursed for reducing Hindus to refugees when not gunning them down. The fear of communal riots, and the fear of Jihadi violence is lurking the society. A real solution, uncompromising with the distorted concepts and trouble mongers, is a necessity of the day.

As part of such solution, India needs more Muslims like Dr Kalam, who represent the awesome synthesis between culture and religion. Shashi Tharoor in his article published in BBC, considers Dr. KPJ as eclectic. Dr. KPJ melded the Islam into which he was born with a strong sense of the traditions in which his civilization was anchored. Those real Muslims, according to Dr. Zakaria, may not be able to provide the solution as evident from the happenings of the Levant region. It is in this context, that Muslim youth need the role model of Dr. APJ more than any other section of the society. Islamic scholars or Congress leaders such as Dr. Zakaria need to explain Islam in the context of life and values of Dr. APJ instead of those unworthy examples of Yakub, Salman, and Owaisi.

Dr. APJ, acccording to Shashi Tharoor, offered Namaz and lived the life of a Muslim. Dr. APJ has lived a model life overcoming the narrow interpretations of Islam. Now, it is the responsibility of the media to take that model to the needy populations.



Hidden Civic Problems

Residents of many localities across major cities face a different class of civic problems in areas of mixed communities, especially during community events.  Problems list include playing, noise making, wheeling, riding vehicles without silencers, or using outdated two wheelers with two stroke engines.  The list is not exhaustive.  In fact, normal civic issues of garbage disposal, parking in front of others residents, occupying pedestrian paths, dominating public spaces such as parks and other amenities, pollution and other such problems become more intensive in these areas.   Problems such as petty fights, eve-teasing, small thefts create an uneasy environment and relationships.

Ramzan_NuisanceDevout Muslims dismiss any remote connection between the public nuisance during Muslim community events and the Islamic religion.  According to them, civic problems are created by those who deviate from the norms of festivities.  Shab-e-Barat, or Ramzan is not an occasion to play on streets either during the day or in the night.  Pray, preferably in silence, is the recommended method of celebrating such festivities.  However, there is another streak of response from the community.  Complaints by affected people or the Initiatives of authorities responding to those complaints are seen as an attempt to curb religious freedom or stifle the community.

While corruption, water, and such other problems are highlighted in everyday discussion, the problems like the ones listed above are not discussed anywhere.  Forums and activists addressing conventional familiar civic problems are not addressing these less understood invisible problems.  Hidden civic problems, have additional facets due to the interplay of religious, governance and social dynamics.  The nuisances in residential areas are yet to be understood, quantified and acted upon by the authorities.  Although the problem of public nuisances is usually dismissed as insignificant problem, authorities are forced to take action about speeding vehicles during festivities.

Here is a list of major hidden civic problems that are prevalent in India

In major cities of India, hundreds of people are fined on occasions of Shab-e-Barat and thousands of violations are recorded by surveillance cameras.  The police and district administration organize a peace march to maintain communal harmony.   Public nuisance is experienced by people in localities where people following different faiths reside.  Social interactions in these localities is often hostile.  The problem resolution mechanism in these localities is weak.  Smaller differences have potential of igniting bigger group conflicts.  Increased number of hostile social interactions is witnessed in localities having moderate to significant Muslim population.

Illegal meat market provides cheap meat to the consumers but adopts unacceptable practices such as cruelty to animals, providing unhygienic meat to consumers and disposal of meat residuals in garbage bins.  Indiscreet disposal of waste meat is enhancing the severity of the problem of stray dogs.  Cow slaughter is either illegal or restricted in majority of the states of India.  Beef supply is provided majorly by Illegal slaughter houses.   Illegal slaughter houses supply beef to internal market.  There are allegations that the illegal slaughtering is feeding to a parallel economy and even funding insurgency and terrorism.   Cruelty to animals, unhygienic meat are common in illegal slaughter houses.  During community events, cows are Halal slaughtered on streets of congested localities in violation of all legal provisions.

Love Jihad, a recent trend in the era of Jihad, is a marriage of a Muslim boy with a non-Muslim girl (read a Hindu girl) with a deceptive intent after a love affair.  This is turning to be a very confusing civic problem creating apprehensions about safety and well-being of the girl involved.  Girls from disciplined families belonging to open and pluralistic communities are marrying boys of closed dominating communities having less restrictive family life-styles.  Typically, inter religious love affairs culminate with a Hindu boy or girl usually converting to Islam or Christianity. There is a greater possibility of women(girls) being victimized in these kinds of marriages.  In many instances, women are forced to adopt a different lifestyle after the marriage in a phased manner.  There are reports of psychological pressure, physical torture and killings of woman by her close relatives .Increased encouragement to love marriages has created a conducive environment for the phenomenon of Love Jihad.  Parents are playing increasingly lesser role in the marriage, conflict resolution or divorce of their children.  They are not effective in Girls from disciplined families belonging to open and pluralistic communities are marrying boys of closed dominating communities having less restrictive family life-styles.

Induced conversions to Christianity are widespread on ground in contrast to the stated opposition of the Church towards conversion by fraudulent means.  Almost all slums, economically underprivileged areas and Dalit localities are specially focused, especially in almost all localities of major cities.  Monetary help is extended to selected individuals and families among the target populations and a soft approach is followed to create a dual religious identity without being noticed by legal systems.

Probably the most severe and well-understood problem among the category of hidden problem is the problem of sound pollution caused by Horn loudspeakers of Mosques.  The loudspeakers from mosques, and madrasas are used at least five times a day for broadcasting prayers.  Special prayers, lectures, announcements, periodic cultural programmes, songs, are additionally amplified by horn loudspeakers.  Processions are always accompanied by many horn loudspeakers mounted on a truck.  The decibel level of the noise is observed to be well above the legal limits.  It is not clear how licenses are issued for continuous use of loudspeakers violating all legal norms.  Several Supreme Court and high court judgments prohibiting Horn loud speakers in Mosques are not implemented by Government authorities and politicians.

The first thing that happens in any new locality of a city is establishment of a place of worship in the form of a totem pole, a tree, a shed or a tomb.  One individual or a small family supervises the place for months and years before a better structure is built.  Typically such structure is established in the vicinity, but just outside of a planned layout.  The amount of background work, access to official information to encroach areas is a puzzle to normal citizens.

Religious institutions, authorities and social groups are yet to synchronize their actions towards finding a solution to hidden civic problems. Although living problems are seen as separate from the religious issues, there are interlinkages between the two.  There is a widespread assumption that economic and infrastructure development would simultaneously solve the hidden civic problems.  However, such an outlook may be a self deception emanating from lack of conceptual clarity and coordinated action.

URL Aseema article July 2015



India moves ahead protecting animals


With the introduction of bill in Maharashtra banning slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks, a major step has been taken to fulfill a long standing demand of majority of people in India. The demand was sensible from environment, health, and cultural aspects and the present decision is expected to promote social harmony and peace in the society.

The enactment of the law needed political will and commitment to the aspiration of the people. The decision is favorable to the agrarian sector. An ailing bullock or ox sells for about 10,000 to 14,000 and farmers almost always deny to sell it to slaughterhouses. They sell to middlemen who in turn sell them to slaughter houses. Changed lifestyle and modernity are forcing farmers to resort to selling of cows.

The cows are treated cruelly in both legal and illegal slaughter houses. Halal meat, the meat sanctioned by Islam, can be obtained by bleeding the animal to death when the animal is fully conscious. Modern methods of slaughtering includes stunning the animal before cutting. Routine practices in slaughter houses show that none of the methods are adopted as prescribed. Those who witness the slaughter can conclude that even the prescribed methods are very tortures to say the least. Animals are hung and sharp razors are used to cut them. In many occasions, about 40% are not stunned properly and the animals are fully conscious when they are killed. Most of the consumers of meat are completely unaware of the conditions of slaughter houses. From the time of procuring to the killing, the animals are treated like non-living beings for reducing the cost. During transportation, animals are cramped in small spaces of vehicles. They are placed in cramped unhygienic places till they are taken to slaughter houses. Animals express anxiety, fear and restlessness during these occasions.

As far back as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a vegetarian diet could prevent 90-97% of heart diseases. There is also a strong link between consumption of meat and bowel cancer. The kidneys of the meat-eater has to work three times harder than the kidneys of the vegetarian, putting more pressure on that organ.

When people think they are eating one type of meat, it can actually be a different type of meat that is cheaper to produce and there are many instances in the past when such things have undetected by the consumers.

When meat is rejected by one retailer because of its sub-standard condition when delivered, the same is offered to another retailer, and another, until it is accepted. There, it is packed and sold to the public. The meat is often unlabeled and not identifiable as one particular type of meat. The meat packers often marinate rotten meat to disguise the smell.
In many cases, meat available in the market contains staph infection bacteria, including the hard-to-kill MRSA. Turkey products were most likely to harbor staph bacteria, followed by pork and chicken products. MRSA kills more people than AIDS. Beef burgers can contain bacteria from 1000 different cows.

Lazy employees leave hair, ear canal debris, and teeth in products. Chicken and ham are soaked in chlorine baths to remove odor, and red dye is added to beef to make it appear fresh when it is not.

Increasingly, slaughterhouses have adopted the process of mechanically tenderizing steaks and other high-quality cuts of beef. Doing so involves driving blades and needles into steak — which in turn, drive any bacteria living on the surface of a steak deep into the flesh. This is because all the antibiotics that are pumped into cattle, and other modern-day farming practices, lead to tough, chewy meat. When your meat is cooked, it has to be 75 degrees centigrade in the centre, otherwise all that bacteria that has been pushed in to the center of the meat is still alive. More than half of the 82 outbreaks linked to steak in the past ten years can be definitively linked to E. coli. Meat packaging does not tell you whether the meat has been mechanically tenderised or not. The majority of beef is more likely to harbor deadly E. coli germs. It’s natural for cows to eat grass, but not grains. Still, most cows today chomp down lots of grain to speed growth. This changes the natural chemistry in a cow’s gut, making it easier for potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 strain to survive.

World Starvation is also connected to meat production. If the USA stopped feeding grain to cattle, Half a Billion people could be fed the excess grain – life saving food for nations such as Africa.

In Mumbai alone, there are about 900 licensed legal beef traders. The city consumes about 20,000 kilograms of beef every day. At Deonar (the slaughter house in Mumbai), about 500 bullocks and ox and about 30 to 40 buffaloes are legally slaughtered every day. Pune is the next big market with about 14,000 kg consumed daily. There are about 500 licensed shops selling beef in Pimpri, Chinchwad, Sholapur, Malegaon, Kolhapur and Sangli.

Although, about 10 lakh people are connected with the trade, the affected portion is just about 1.5% of the 60million workforce in the state. Further, these traders are not completely dependent on the beef and the law would not affect their entire business. Majority of those who are connected with the trade are minimally dependent on the beef trade. Some people, who are more dependent on the beef trade claim that the law would afftect about 70% of their business. Maharashtra’s beef traders have decided on seeking legal recourse following the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks.

Hindus have protested against cow slaughter and especially between 1975 and 1990, Gau Raksha Abhiyan and Jain community members have protested routinely at the gates of Deonar slaughter house on a daily basis. They protested for years peacefully and they never turned violent.

Sometimes, the majority with legitimate demands have lost their patience resulting in police complaints, and intercepting of transport vehicles carrying cattle by VHP the transport authorities. In recent years, protests have increased both in terms of magnitude and frequency. Earlier, areas like Dhulia, Malegaon and Solapur have seen frequent protests but safer areas like Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik and Sangli are also seeing more protests. On January 2 this year, the protest in Paltan area of Sangli turned violent over 100 meat traders were attacked. The beef traders came to Mumbai and decided to strike work. On February 15, they decided to call off the strike after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured them of a “safe working environment.

Although the trade was legal all these years, traders complained harassment from non-governmental associations and general public. Alert officials under constant pressure from anti cattle slaughter social activists overseeing illegal cow slaughter constantly monitored transportation of the cattle. Gau Raksha Abhiyan president Milind Ekbote said that the activists only stop those engaging in illegal cow slaughter business. “We have caught several people while cows were being transported in their vehicles,” he said.



Unbroken Tradition of Sanatana Dharma Continues at Sringeri

“I have successfully handled and discharged the responsibilities passed on to me by Sri Abhinava Vidhya Tirth Swamiji(35th pontiff) in 1974 and the same responsibilities I am passing on today to the new seer.”  

Sri Bharathee Theertha Mahaswamiji during the occasion of anointing Sri. Vidhushekhara Bharathi as his successor designate.

“According to Shasttras, Taking birth as a human being is a great thing. But one has to strive to make use of the opportunity.  I am blessed to receive infinite blessings of Guru and keen to lead a life aligned with Shastras.  I am happy to receive Sansyasa and I would deliver my responsibilities with the blessings of my Guru”

Sri Vidhushekhara Bharathi Mahaswamiji in his anugraha Bhashana during Shishya Sweekaara Celebrations





Vidhu is a synonym for Chandra -Sri Vidhushekahra Bharathi has been selected to remember Sri. Chandrashekhara Bharathi Swamiji, 34th Pontiff of Sringeri by Sri Bharathi  Theertha Swamiji, 36th Pontiff of Sringeri  and at the same time to maintain distinction of names between his paramacharya and direct disciple.

Jagadguru Sri. Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamiji announced the decision to annoint Sri. Kuppa Venkateshwara Prasad as his successor designate in a public meeting held on 4th January 2015 at Sringeri. (See Press release )

The 36th Jagadguru Sri. Bharathi Theertha made the announcement as ordained by Goddess Sri. Sharada, continuing the unbroken tradition of Sanatana Dharma.  When establishing this Peetham about 1200 years ago in Sringeri, Sri Adi Shankaracharya consecrated the idol of Goddess Sharada (the Goddess of Learning and Knowledge) and invoked Her divine presence and blessings to ever preside over this Peetham. Since then, the Jagadguru Shankaracharyas of Sringeri have always announced their successor only after Goddess Sharada’s divinely ordained-will is revealed to them. (Invitation to the Shishya Sweekaara Celebrations)

The Sanyasa sweekaara celebrations were held on Magha Shuddha Bidige (22nd Jan) and Magha Shuddha Tadige (23rd January) of  Jayanama Samvatsara (AD 2015) at Sringeri.  (See Press release on Bidige, Tadige )






History and Future of Slavery

There were no slaves and slavery in ancient India. These English words have no direct, universally accepted equivalent in Sanskrit or other Indian languages.  Some people have attempted to equate the word ‘dasa’ as slaves.  However, the status and rights of ‘dasa’ in ancient India was no way comparable to the exploitative, barbaric treatment of slaves and inhuman status in which they lived.  The confusion of translating dasa as slave may be due to Shamasastry’s translation of dasa as slave.  However, Kangle corrects this by retaining the word ‘dasa’ or ‘karmakaara’ in his translations of Arthashastra. The Greek historian Arrian, who chronicled India about the time of Alexander the Great, wrote in his Indika, “The Indians do not even use aliens as slaves, much less a countryman of their own.” [Dasas of India are not slaves]

An undated newspaper advertisement offers a family of slaves for sale, highlighting their various skills. Slave families were not always sold together.
An undated newspaper advertisement offers a family of slaves for sale, highlighting their various skills. Slave families were not always sold together.

In ancient Rome, slaves performed many domestic services, and might be employed at highly skilled jobs and professions. Teachers, accountants, and physicians were often slaves.  Roman military expansion was a major source of slaves and slaves performed manual labor.  In Roman Empire, slaves were freed and this was referred to as manumission.  A freed slave was allowed to become Roman citizen. A freed slave enjoyed not only passive freedom from ownership, but active political freedom (libertas), including the right to vote, though he could not run for public office.  In Greek, Unskilled slaves, or those condemned to slavery as punishment, worked on farms, in mines, and at mills.  It was also possible that educated turning to be slaves.  Available documentation is primarily focused on Athens and Greek treatises on jurisprudence, arts, and plays relate slavery to artisans and as a source of revenue.

Jewish practices record the enslavement of men and women, mainly captured in war and alien people.  Women captured by Israelite armies could be adopted forcibly as wives, but first they had to have their heads shaved and undergo a period of mourning. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) However, “If you are not pleased with her, then you must let her go where she pleases. You cannot in any case sell her; you must not take advantage of her, since you have already humiliated her.” non-Israelite slaves shall serve forever

There was a continuity of practice of slavery from pre-Christian times throughout next 1500 years among Christian populations.  Slavery was in a variety of forms and each of them was an expression of brutal exploitation of one human being by another. Muslim populations in Saudi region continued, approved and adopted practices and philosophy of slavery in their framework.   Europeans who colonized Americas enslaved native populations extensively.  They also moved large populations of Africans to the Americas as slaves.  All denominations of Christianity endorsed slavery actively and there was almost no debate on the treatment of the slaves for hundreds of years.  The slaves were killed, raped, plundered, and tortured.  They were made to work in inhuman conditions, and were killed and abused for flimsy reasons in large numbers. Their families of slaves were broken, and burnt.  Individuals and groups of people were arbitrarily accused of heresy and tortured through methods of inquisition. [Europeans Devastated Non-Christian populations]

In Australia, and New Zealand, the land was colonized by Europeans. Non-Christian populations were devastated and enslaved.  Before the arrival of European settlers, each Maori group of New Zealand was considered itself a separate entity equivalent to a nation. There were conflicts between the groups and enslavement is assumed by the Western historians.  After the invasion of European settlers, the Maori groups were conquered, converted, and subjugated to slavery.   In Australia, until 1904, lakhs of men and boys from the South Pacific islands, and an unknown number of women and girls, were kidnaped and brought to Australia to work as slaves on the sugar plantations that still dot the country’s northeast coast. They were shackled, flogged with kangaroo hide whips and raped at will. There were thousands of deaths among enslaved populations.  White historians ignored to record the facts of the enslavement and 150 years later, few Australians are aware of this brutal period of their history.

Judaism accommodates slavery.    Numerous laws governing the ownership and treatment of slaves may be found in the Tanaka, the Talmud, the 12th century Mishneh Torah by noted rabbi Maimonides, and the 16th century Shulchan Aruch by rabbi Yosef Karo . The slavery laws of Tanaka have similarities with the 18th century BCE slavery laws of Hammurabi. In the modern era, when the abolitionist movement sought to outlaw slavery, supporters of slavery used the laws to provide religious justification for the practice of slavery.

The Bible contains several references to slavery, which was a common practice from antiquity. The Bible stipulates the treatment of slaves both in Old Testament and in the New Testament. Male slaves were, theoretically were allowed to be free after seven years of service. However, in practice there were methods to prevent such a release.  Female slaves are not freed in any way.  Exodus (Exodus 21:7-11) explicitly says, “If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners.” Women were enslaved and sexual gratification from them is implied. Only when the woman slave is married by the master or son of the master, the slavery is ended. But, she continues to be in the same environment where she served as a slave [Slavery in Bible].

In Islam, the slavery is largely slavery of women that includes forced marriages, slavery for manual labor and more importantly sexual slavery.  Women and children are considered as war spoils. After the war victory, men of the enemy camp are killed and young children and women are shared among the Islamic army.  Islam permits sexual intercourse with virgin women immediately after the capture. If the captured woman is not a virgin, then Muslims have to wait till their womb is cleansed before they can have sexual intercourse.  There is no restriction to force sexual intercourse against the wishes of the woman as the captured woman is merely a property like cattle.  The woman can be sold, purchased, and gifted or freed. It is not correct, according to Islam, to interpret these actions as ‘not recommended’.  The wife cannot object a Muslim man to have sexual intercourse with his slave.  Such an objection is also considered as improper and against the scholarly opinion. [Slavery in Islam]

Thus, the slavery existed in populations associated with Europe, Colonized America, Australia, and New Zealand.  The slavery was approved by populations associated with Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  In the modern times, the dominant discussion in the Jewish and Christian world is supportive of banning slavery. However, a minority stream is still advocating continuing the slavery.  The dominant Islam advocated slavery of non-Muslim women and elimination of adult men without any hesitation.  Feeble voices among minority Muslims who are not politically not empowered are heard against slavery.  In the white worlds of Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand, African populations, and Asian populations are discriminated systematically based on their skin color. Modern democratic institutions – executive, judiciary, and legislature as well as media systematically sustain the practices of discrimination rooted in slavery, often in subtler ways.

Officially, the slavery was abolished in a gradual manner.  In 1800s, European states abolished slavery and in 1900s, Muslim countries followed the suit.  UN abolished slavery globally in 1948 through Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It appears that those who committed the sins of slavery have just started atoning for the crimes.  However, suddenly they have become researchers of slavery, reformers against slavery and preachers to the world, which never practiced slavery.

The discussion of modern slavery is a distorted debate initiated by perpetrators of slavery.  They are trying to transfer the blame of their sins on to the gullible populations who are either victims or ignorant of the slavery problem.  The age-old sacred institution of traditional marriage of India is slowly being included in the categories of ‘modern slavery’.  Low wage employments are being interpreted as modern slavery. In addition, India is suddenly appearing on the top of the modern slavery list.  A nascent NGO with the blessings of prominent American politicians such as Hillary Clinton.  The head of the Catholic Church – The Pope – organizes a meet of representatives of religions and Dharmic traditions and cultures endorsing the modern day slavery report.

Hindus are set to receive the sins of the world once again and emancipate the world of slavery.



Objectives of a Samskrita University

The course of history was changed for India, when British government stopped government funding for Samskrita based traditional education and initiated European education introducing modern science, history and English language.   The decision intended to strengthen the eco-system and sustain the rule of British over India was well thought out and was systematically rolled out.  Today, even after 65 years of departure of British from India, support for English education is growing among Indians.

There is one more subtle effect of replacing the Indian system of education by the European education, often missed from analysis.  That is the way Samskrita is learnt by Indians.  Today, the teaching methodology adopted in universities to teach Samskrita is different approach compared to the traditional learning method.  Samskrita scholars coming out of these two institutions have differences.  The capabilities acquired by scholars from traditional, and official frameworks are same.  It is not uncommon to see their approach and behavior being incompatible with each other.  A systematic study between the differences in the two approaches and consequences thereof are to be taken up and corrective actions are to be taken as early as possible.  Because the study of Samskrita is aimed at preserving the treasure of our heritage and guide the world.

The Samskrita education was weakened by British by diverting funds to European education that taught modern science, history and English. The education system present today is continuation of the system introduced by British and sustained by us in the independent India.  The decision of British to change the education system was to strengthen an eco-system favorable to the British Empire and to sustain the rule of British over India.  Post-independence, we believe that the same system can be used to correct and consolidate an eco-system favorable to India.

Primarily, the university is responsible for creating a framework for imparting knowledge and training, certification, and human resource management in the domain of Samskrita.  Samskrita education should start at an early age in schools and continue throughout the schooling period.  For those who have missed formal opportunities, alternate routes of learning have to be provided by the university in collaboration with contributors in social sector.  These alternate routes could be in the form of evening classes, short-term courses, distance learning, and specialized full time and part time courses.

Today, Indians are accessing Samskrita through English.  This is because, the education system introduces English systematically and the newer generation is less familiar with Indian languages, especially the Samskrita.  The contents of Vedas, Smrithis, Puraanas are not accessed directly.  Without English, it is almost impossible to have a fair understanding of our heritage.  Universities have a significant role in creating an atmosphere where the contents of Samskrita would be accessed through Samskrita.

Samskrita University can also lead in providing content from Samskrita to other languages.  At any given point of time, there should be authoritative scholars who are well versed in Vedas, Smrithis, Puraanas, Itihaasa, Dracaenas, and Matas.  Universities should provide an institutional support, may be in the form of professors, to reorganize and present the contents to the general public in a systematic way.

A new class of Samskrita scholars rooted in the Samskrita tradition is needed to generate Samskrita content equivalent of modern science, technology and other advances.  Is it not possible to understand bible or Quran through Samskrita if Upanishads are understood through English?  Of course, care is to be taken while undertaking such a project. Probably, it would be prudent to wait little more time and take several other steps before planning these aspects.

India is facing language problem.  There is no national language for India.  There are confusions in rolling out a policy identifying the role of Indian languages, foreign languages, English and Samskrita.  The confusions around language of instruction, link languages, official languages of the states, minority languages, and international languages may be clarified if Samskrita comes to prominence.

Immediately after independence, centers of excellence related to Samskrita were shut and there was a severe disruption in the eco-system and affected lives of Samskrita scholars.  Alternate systems have been built but the rigor and the quality of rote learning is missing leading to logical consequences.  Traditional social institutions are striving to sustain traditional framework facing additional hurdles associated with unofficial status and difficulty of resource mobilization.  The need to integrate Samskrita learning systems is not felt and compartmentalized approach has set in even in ideation.

Veda was preserved from time immemorial – traditional Vedic schools have played a significant role in preserving the Vedas to the present generation.  Even an ardent opponent of Vedic tradition would agree to the antiquity of Vedas and need to preserve it.  There are Vedic teachers throughout India in nook and corners of the country facilitating rote learning of Vedas in a structured way. There is need to provide institutional support to them immediately. Samskrita University could take leadership in resolving the confusions preventing extension of government support to traditional Vedic schools without distorting them.



Legal provisions for protecting cows in Karnataka

The cows are protected in Karnataka state. The Karnataka prevention of Cow slaughter and cattle preservation act. 1964 provides legal provisions for preventing cow slaughter. With demand for cattle protection increasing, there is a renewed debate for stricter version of cow protection laws. While the discussion for better laws should continue, there is a need to review the existing legal provisions and make an attempt to comply with them.

History of the bill

There were two laws in the Karnataka state to protect cows.  In the Mysore region, the Mysore Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1948, was applicable.  In the areas which were part of the Bombay area, the Bombay Animal Preservation Act, 1954 was in force. In view of some case laws and administrative convenience a uniform law for the whole State was proposed  The . THE KARNATAKA PREVENTION OF COW SLAUGHTER AND CATTLE PRESERVATION ACT, 1964 was published in the Karnataka Gazette (Extraordinary), Part IV-2A dated 20th November 1963 as No. 144 at page. 9.)

 Amendments to the 1964 act

Two amendments have been made to the 1964 act, one in 1966 and another one in 1975.  Both the amendments provided exceptions to the act of 1964 under different circumstances.  The 1966 amendment exempts cow or animals that have been subjected to medical, research and experimental purposes.  The 1966 amendment also exempts cows or animals belonging to the Indian army.  The 1975 act exempts animals belonging to the Ministry of defense or to the state government under certain conditions.

 Which animals are protected by the law?

The term ‘animal’ means bull, bullock, buffalo-male or female, or calf of she-buffalo, whether male or female.  The term ‘cow’ includes cows, calf of a cow, whether male or female.

 Who are authorized to take action?

The term ‘competent authority’ means a person or a body of persons appointed by the state government to perform the functions required to enforce the law in specific areas under this act.  The term ‘notification’ means a notification published in the official Gazette.  The term ‘prescribed’ means prescribed by rules made under this act.

 What exactly is prohibited?

Slaughtering, offer for slaughter, intentionally kill, offer for killing of cow, or calf of she-buffalo is prohibited.  Similarly causing others to slaughter, cause to be offered for slaughter, cause to be offered for killing are also prohibited. It should be noted herein that any law, custom would not resist the ban on slaughtering of the animal.  Transportation or offer for transportation or causing to be transported of any animal or cow from any place within the State to any place outside the State, for the purpose of its slaughter is prohibited.

 Purchasing, selling or offering to purchase, sell or otherwise dispose of or causing to be purchased, sold or otherwise disposed of, cows or calves of she-buffaloes for slaughter is prohibited.

 Legal slaughtering – what is allowed in the law?

Slaughtering is possible with respect to a cow or an animal if a certificate in writing from the competent authority appointed for the area certifying that the animal is fit for slaughter is available.

 A certificate may be granted by competent authority for

  1. the animal is over the age of twelve years; or
  2. the animal has become permanently incapacitated for breeding, draught or giving milk due to injury, deformity or any other cause.

The certificate may be granted in such form and on payment of such fee as may be prescribed. No certificate can be granted if the animal is suffering from any disease, which makes its meat unwholesome for human consumption.

 The animal allowed for slaughtering through a certificate may be slaughtered in a place specified by an authority or officer designated by the State Government.

The following animals are exempted from the act

  1. Animals operated upon for vaccine lymph, serum or for any experimental or research purpose at an institution established, conducted or recognized by the State Government;
  2. Animals certified by a Veterinary Officer authorized by the State Government, to be necessary in the interest of the public health;
  3. Animal which is suffering from any disease which is certified by a Veterinary Officer authorized by the State Government as being contagious and dangerous to other animals;
  4. Animals certified for slaughter on the ground that it is suffering from an incurable disease or injury;
  5. Animals belonging to the Central Government in the Ministry of Defense, by a Veterinary Officer of the Indian Army; and
  6. Animals authorized by the State Government. and slaughtered by a Veterinary Officer.

 What is the punishment for illegal cow slaughter?

Conviction based on this act would be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Conviction based on this act would be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

All offenses are cognizable under this act.  Abetment under this act or attempts would be punished in a similar way.

Powers of the Authorized person

The competent authority or any person authorized in this behalf by the competent authority (hereinafter referred to as the “authorized person”) shall have power to enter and inspect any premises where the competent authority or the authorized person has reason to believe that an offence of slaughter has been or is likely to be committed.  Each and every person in occupation of any such premises should allow the competent authority or the authorized person such access to the premises as may be necessary for the inspection and shall answer questions by the competent authority or by the authorized person.

 All persons exercising powers under this Act shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. The authorized persons acting in good faith are protected under this act. No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall be instituted against the competent authority or any person exercising powers under this Act for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or the rule made thereunder.

 Implementation of the law

The State Government may, by notification, delegate its powers to any local authority or to any officer of the State Government. The State Government may also establish, or direct any local authority or society registered under the 1[Karnataka]1 Societies Registration Act, 1960, or any association or body of persons to establish institutions at such places as may be deemed necessary for taking care of cows or other animals sent thereto.  Those who take care of animals legally may levy such fees as may be prescribed for the maintenance of such institutions. The State Government may provide by rules for the proper management of such institutions for the care of cows or other animals therein and also for the class or variety of cows or other animals.

 The State Government may by notification, after previous publication, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act. In particular, such rules may provide for

  1. the powers and duties of competent authority
  2. the form of the certificate to be issued to allow legal slaughter
  3. the amount of the fee to be paid
  4. the conditions subject to which this Act shall not apply to any animal
  5. the management of Institutions established and the fee to be levied for their maintenance; and
  6. any other matter which is to be or may be, prescribed.

 The rules formulated by the state government has to be passed by each House of the State Legislature while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if before the expiry of the session in which it is so laid or the session immediately following, and both houses should approve the rules.

 The State Government has the power of revision of the orders passed by the competent authority and can call for and examine the records of the case and may pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit.  Any order passed by the competent or by the State Government cannot be called in question in any court.

Also see Aseema November 2014 issue



Harmonizing Sharia Legal Systems

Uthman ibn Affan, third Caliph, ordered four of the best reciters among the Companions of the Prophet(Sahabah) to transcribe several copies of the manuscript of the Qur’an(Mus-haf), which was compiled into one manuscript by the command of Abu Bakr. When they finished Uthman sent a copy of the transcribed manuscript to every territory. He also ordered that any other versions of the Qur’an be burnt. This story about the present version of the Quaran is cited as a guideline for disposal of unusable copy of Quran in book form.

According to some, Quran may be disposed by wrapping it in cloth and burying on holy ground where it is unlikely to be trampled on or “safely” placed where it is unlikely to come into contact with impurity. According to an Arab source, Muslims are forbidden to recycle, pulp, or shred worn-out copies of the text; instead, burning or burying the worn-out copies is allowed. Some online discusssions suggest burning, wrapping in a clean piece of cloth and burying, or disposing in a flowing river as possible ways of disposing. Few others suggest using a shredder, where the papers of the copy are to be shredded so that the form of a letter cannot be seen. Some people suggest disposing in a trash but inside a black plastic trash cover so that it is not visible to others. The burying is not advised by some to avoid the text being walked on.

These contradictory views and actions aligned to them are intended to avoid descration. Desecration is defined in abstract terms as ‘dishonoring’ or ‘showing disrespect’. Since there are differing view points on the way of disposal, the desecration may not be easy to identify. The case of a desecration is determined based on intent behind the act rather than the act itself. So the same act of disposal may be a desecration is one situation and a non-objectionable disposal in anohter situation. Who decides this issue?

In a recent incident in Pakistan, a trash collector reported collecting pages of Quran from the trash disposed by the Christian couple. The trash was generated from the belongings of an elderly person of the house of the couple. The act of disposing Quran in trash was perceived as desecration either by trash collector who reported it to the Mullah of the mosque or by the Mullah of the mosque after receiving the report. While the act of disposing the Quran in trash is not a deciding factor, the reason that a case of desecration is suspected in this case needs analysis of intent. While, the trash collector and/or Mullah might have seen bad intent in the disposal, the Christian couple have denied such an intent from beginning to the end. So, there were contradictory view points. The views of the Mullah and/or the trash collector have been presumed to be conclusive and the views of the Christian couple have been neglected or rejected.  (Expecting couple were burnt by a mob incited by loudspeakers of a local mosque declaring them as “blasphemous” and saying they should be “killed”).

What were the other options for the Christian couple? Burn the Quran? Since, burning is not recommended by some, such an act could have been interpreted as desecration by another set of people, and the Christian couple would have landed in a similar situation. Burn inside the house? Burning secretly by a Christian couple is definitely would create more suspicion about the intent behind the disposal, if and when it is known to the outside world. What about the burial? Since there is a possibility of stepping on this or there could be some interpretations on the details of the burial that leads to a conclusion of bad intent. Even if the Christian couple handed over the unusable Quran or its pages to a Mullah for disposal, one may suspect desecration of Quran and an attempt to cover it up by submitting the torn pages to a cleric. A bad intent in the descreation of the Quran and a decenptive intent in reporting it to the cleric may be concluded.

The Pakistani law provides life imprisonment for the desecration of Quran. But, the mob punished the Christian couple by burning them after the local Mullah concluded about the desecration. The official courts did not hear this case and so according to the constitution of Pakistan the trial and burning is unofficial and illegal. So, there are two parallel legal systems in Pakistan. One managed by Muftis and Maulvis of local Mosques. The other one by the courts approved by the Constitution. Both follow Sharia law – but the working of the Sharia law is different in both cases.

The trial of desecration, thus remains problematic from the perspective of the non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are not able to get justice from the constitution of the country because before it operates, the Islamic law is applied on them. This is true in many other countries and in many situations, Muslims are also affected in a similar way. There are many way of resolving this difficulty. Firstly, as stated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the rule of law is to be established in Pakistan with Constitution approved Sharia law superceding the Mosque implemented Sharia law.

There is another option.  The Sharia courts managed by local mosques and Mullahs may be recognised by the formal court system of Pakistan. Punishments of the traditional Sharia to be included as a possible option in the national legal system. Appeal system should be systematized to have a meaningful relook at the higher courts. Implementation of judgements from such a legal proceedings would be more meaningful.