Back to contents
|'Nuclear India is more Bose's dream than Gandhi's vision'
Back to contents
Indo-Asian News Service
Chennai, September 27, 2003
Austrian political scientist Anton Pelinka's book Democracy Indian Style says that present day India is more Subhas Chandra Bose's dream than Gandhi's vision.
"It is industrial, it is modern, it is socialist, it is change driven, it walks the secular tightrope. It has put aside Mahatma Gandhi's tenets of non-violence and is a nuclear power," Pelinka said.
He said the country was more "Bose's India" by virtue of its being a nuclear power as "Bose was not convinced that the best way to fight British colonialism" was by non-violence. He wanted to wrest freedom from the colonial rulers.
Pelinka's book explores Bose's impact on India before and after independence and how the controversial leader of the 1940s shaped this nation's political culture.
Speaking at a lecture at the Asian College of Journalism, organised by the Madras Book Club in Chennai, Pelinka drew parallels between Gandhi's proteges Nehru and Bose, calling the former "Gandhi's good son" and Bose, the "prodigal son".
Pelinka, a professor at the University of Innsburk and director of the Institute of Conflict Research in Vienna, researched extensively on the life and times of Bose in Austria, Kolkata and Washington.
Bose, he said, "was a secular nationalist and a socialist moderniser. He understood that Indian identity was above religion, caste and language."
Bose led the Indian National Army (INA), formed by Indian nationalists to win India's independence from the British Empire.
"He maintained a certain balance of power even in his INA by having one Sikh, one Hindu and one Muslim general," said the author.
The book has been published by Transaction Publishers and translated by Rene Schell.
It also talks of how Indian democracy is not only moulded by India's hoary past but also shaped by its encounter with the West.
|Babri Mosque Ayodhya
Back to contents
Ayodhya excavation report says temple existed under mosque
Sharat Pradhan (Indo-Asian News Service)
Lucknow, August 25 2003.
In a potentially conflict-ridden report submitted here, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has concluded that a Hindu temple existed under the debris of the razed Babri mosque in Ayodhya.
The ASI submitted its 574-page report, on the vexed question of whether a temple existed at the site of the 16th-century Babri mosque, to the special bench of the Allahabad High Court here Friday, but the report was opened only Monday.
Said ASI counsel Ravi Mehrotra: "It was amply clear from the report that a huge 10th century structure with features resembling Hindu temples existed at the disputed site before the Babri mosque was erected in the 16th century."
The report stated, "... taking into account the archaeological evidence of a massive structure along with the yield of stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of divine couple and carved architectural members... are indicative of remains which are distinctive features found associated with the temples of North India."
"It was over the top of this construction during the early 16th century the disputed structure was constructed directly resting over it," the report added.
The special bench -- comprising Justices Rafat Alam, Bhanwar Singh and Khem Karan - gave all the parties six weeks to file their objections, following which hearings would resume in the half-a-century old litigation.
While the Hindu rightwing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) welcomed the report, the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) was highly critical.
Rejecting the findings of the report, BMAC convenor and counsel for Sunni Central Waqf Board Zafaryab Jilani said: "I find the report self-contradictory and erroneous."
Jilani had expected the report to contradict the Muslim claim and had already started preparing his objections well before the findings were made public.
"Our experts are already on the job and we will file our objections to the report," he told IANS.
But the VHP was jubilant.
"The ASI was assigned to carry out a fact-finding mission, which has proved our contention that a temple did exist well before the mosque was built by Mughal emperor Babur," said VHP counsel G.P. Verma.
Verma went on to add: "With this foolproof evidence, Muslims ought to abdicate their claim to the site as the holy Quran itself does not permit construction of a mosque on any disputed site."
The ASI had undertaken the excavations from March 12 under the court's directions essentially to determine "whether there was any temple/structure which was demolished and a mosque was constructed on the disputed site".
The excavations were finally concluded on August 7. The ASI submitted its report before the special court bench on August 22. However, the report was formally opened in the open court on Monday noon.
The excavation team had dug 90 trenches, which unearthed remains of articles and artefacts belonging to different periods of time dating from the 1st century BC.
Likewise the Taj Mahal was not built by the Moghuls. It was a Hindu Temple, Tejo Mahalaya, built by Raja Jai Singh
|NASA Images Discover Ancient Bridge
Back to contents
||NASA Images Discover Ancient Bridge between India and Sri LankaSpace images taken by NASA reveal a mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk
Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The recently discovered bridge currently
named as Adam's Bridge is made of chain of shoals, c.18 mi (30 km) long.
The bridge's unique curvature and composition by age reveals that it is man
made. The legends as well as Archeological studies reveal that the first
signs of human inhabitants in Sri Lanka date back to the a primitive age,
about 1,750,000 years ago and the bridge4s age is also almost equivalent.
This information is a crucial aspect for an insight into the mysterious
legend called Ramayana, which was supposed to have taken place in treta yuga
(more than 1,700,000 years ago).
In this epic, there is a mentioning about a bridge, which was built between
Rameshwaram (India) and Srilankan coast under the supervision of a dynamic
and invincible figure called Rama who is supposed to be the incarnation of
This information may not be of much importance to the archeologists who are
interested in exploring the origins of man, but it is sure to open the
spiritual gates of the people of the world to have come to know an ancient
history linked to the Indian mythology. (more....)
|An Indian disapproves Einstein's theory????
Back to contents
An Indian disapproves Einstein's theory????
It's incredible! But true. An Indian boy in his twelfth standard has disproved Einstein's "Theory of Relativity". Shocked???
Sudarshan Reddy has theoretically proven the existence of a sub-atomic
particle, which can travel at speed greater than that of light, thereby
challenging one of the fundamental postulates of the "Theory of
Relativity".In his recent research paper submitted to the "Institute of
Advanced Physics (IAP)" at Trieste, (Italy) Sudarshan has proved the
existence of a class of sub-atomic particles called 'leptons', which can travel faster than light.The international physics community has been shell shocked by this discovery.
Dr.Massimo Martelli, President of the IAP has this to say about the paper submitted by Sudarshan :" After a long, careful and critical analysis, I can confidently say that Sudarshan 's research paper show a tremendous leap in our understanding of physics as his investigation mounts up on 'leptons'. His work builds
substantially on the work of Einstein and others in the field of
relativity". When physicists from Princeton University tried to measure Sudarshan's IQ with an IQ-meter (at the American embassy in Delhi), the meter broke down, simply because it was not calibrated to measure such high IQ.
This was reported in 'Times of India'. Prof.Carl Uppsala, Chairman of the Nobel sub-committee for physics has confirmed that Sudarshan has been short listed for the Nobel Prize in physics for the year 2001. Sudarshan, incidentally, is the brother of Madhu Reddy, the Indian whiz kid who developed an operating system superior to Microsoft Windows. We should all be very proud of these boys.
There are 3.22 Million Indians in America.
(Total Population of Singapore is 3.2 million!!!)
- 38% of Doctors in America are Indians.
- 12% of Scientists in America are Indians.
- 36% of NASA employees are Indians.
- 34% of MICROSOFT employees are Indians.
- 28% of IBM employees are Indians.
- 17% of INTEL employees are Indians.
- 13% of XEROX employees are Indians.
|India - nuclear weapons of the past?
Back to contents
India - nuclear weapons of the past?
Excerpt from the World Island Review, January 1992.
A heavy layer of radioactive ash in Rajasthan, India, covers a three-square
mile area, ten miles west of Jodhpur. Scientists are investigating the
site, where a housing development was being built.
For some time it has been established that there is a very high rate of
birth defects and cancer in the area under construction. The levels of
radiation there have registered so high on investigators' gauges that the
Indian government has now cordoned off the region. Scientists have
unearthed an ancient city where evidence shows an atomic blast dating back
thousands of years, from 8,000 to 12,000 years, destroyed most of the
buildings and probably a half-million people.
The Mahabharata [an ancient book] clearly describes a catastrophic blast
that rocked the continent. "A single projectile charged with all the power
in the Universe...An incandescent column of smoke and flame as bright as
10,000 suns, rose in all its splendor...it was an unknown weapon, an iron
thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death which reduced to ashes an entire
race. The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. Their hair and
nails fell out, pottery broke without any apparent cause, and the birds
turned white. After a few hours, all foodstuffs were infected. To escape
from this fire, the soldiers threw themselves into the river."
A HISTORIAN COMMENTS
Historian Kisari Mohan Ganguli says that Indian sacred writings are full of
such descriptions...He says references mention fighting sky chariots and
final weapons. An ancient battle is described in the Drona Parva, a section
of the Mahabharata. "The passage tells of combat where explosions of final
weapons decimate entire armies, causing crowds of warriors with steeds and
elephants and weapons to be carried away as if they were dry leaves of
trees," says Ganguli.
"Instead of mushroom clouds, the writer describes a perpendicular explosion
with its billowing smoke clouds as consecutive openings of giant parasols.
There are comments about the contamination of food and people's hair
Archeologist Francis Taylor says that etchings in some nearby temples he
has managed to translate suggest that they prayed to be spared from the
great light that was coming to lay ruin to the city...The radioactive ash
adds credibility to the ancient Indian records that describe atomic
Housing construction in the area has halted while the five-member team
conducts the investigation. The foreman of the project is Lee Hundley, who
pioneered the investigation after the high level of radiation was
|India - the cradle of all civilization
Back to contents
Youtube - India cradle of civilization
Some of these facts may be known to you. These facts were recently
published in a German Magazine, which deals with WORLD HISTORY FACTS ABOUT INDIA.
QUOTES ABOUT INDIA
- India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history.
- India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.
- The World's first university was established in Takshila in 700BC.
More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than
60subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
- Sanskrit is the mother of all the European languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software reported in Forbes magazine, July 1987.
- Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.
- Although modern images of India often show poverty and lack of
development, India was the richest country on earth until the time of British invasion in the early 17th Century.
- The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindh 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit >'Nou'.
- Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: (5th century) 365.258756484 days.
- The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained
the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century long before the European mathematicians.
- Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India; Quadratic
equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11th century; The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 10 6 (10 to the power of6) whereas Aryans used numbers as big as 1053(10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 BCE during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera 1012(10 to the power of 12).
- According to the Gemological Institute of America, up until 1896,
India was the only source for diamonds to the world.
- USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion in the world scientific community that the pioneer of Wireless communication was Prof. Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.
- The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
- According to Saka King Rudradaman I of 150 CE a beautiful lake called Sudarshana' was constructed on the hills of Raivataka during Chandragupta Maurya's time.
- Chess (Shataranja or AshtaPada) was invented in India.
- Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health
scientists of his time conducted complicated surgeries like cesareans,
cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones and even plastic
surgery and brain surgery. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India. Over 125 surgical equipment were used. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity is also found in many texts.
- When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization).
- The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.
All the above is just the TIP of the iceberg, the list could be
endless. BUT, if we don't see even a glimpse of that great India in the India that we see today, it clearly means that we are not working up to our potential and that if we do, we could once again be an ever shining and inspiring country setting a bright path for rest of the world to follow.
- Albert Einstein said: "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made."
- Mark Twain said: "India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only."
- French scholar Romain Rolland said: "If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India."
- Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA said: "India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border."
|Msnbc - Science and Technology
Questioning the Big Bang
Back to contents
By Alan Boyle
Questioning the Big Bang
Could universe follow a cycle without end?
In the cyclic model, our three-dimensional universe is one of two surfaces, or "branes," separated by an extra dimension. The two branes bounce off each other to give rise to matter and radiation, and then expand and dissipate due to dark energy.
Princeton cosmologist Paul Steinhardt.
April 25, 2002 - How did the universe begin, and how will it end? Among cosmologists, the mainstream belief is that the universe began with a bang billions of years ago, and will fizzle out billions of years from now. But two theorists have just fired their latest volley at that belief, saying there could be a timeless cycle of expansion and contraction. It�s an idea as old as Hinduism, updated for the 21st century.
The �cyclic model,� developed by Princeton University�s Paul Steinhardt and Cambridge University�s Neil Turok, made its highest-profile appearance yet Thursday on Science Express, the Web site for the journal Science. But past incarnations of the idea have been hotly debated within the cosmological community for the past year � and Steinhardt acknowledges that he and Turok have an uphill battle on their hands.
�It will take people a while to get used to it,� Steinhardt told MSNBC.com. �This introduces a number of concepts that are quite unfamiliar, even to a cosmologist.�
Tinkering with the cosmos
Years ago, Steinhardt played a prominent role in formulating what is now the most widely accepted scientific picture of the universe�s beginnings, known as inflationary Big Bang theory: that a vanishingly small quantum fluctuation gave rise in an instant to an inflated region of space-time, kicking off an expansion that is now picking up speed.
The model has weathered repeated experimental tests, including studies of patterns in the microwave �afterglow� of the Big Bang.
�All the competing models were knocked off,� Steinhardt said. �So we had a situation where it looked as if we had converged on a single idea. But I was always disturbed by the idea that there were no competitors around.�
So Steinhardt, Turok and others began tinkering with alternate models. As successful as the inflationary theory was, there were some unexplained gaps: What sparked the universe in the first place? What is the role played by �dark energy,� a mysterious property that seems to be causing the universe�s expansion to accelerate? Is there any connection between the universe�s origins and a �theory of everything�?
Any alternate model should address such issues as well as explain the phenomena that the mainstream theory explains so well. The theorists came up with a doozy: Instead of one Big Bang, a succession of bangs could be sparked when rippling waves of space-time crash into each other in extra dimensions. It sounds like the cheesiest form of science fiction, but this scenario � dubbed the �ekpyrotic model,� which plays off the Greek word for �conflagration� � was put forward as the best rival to the mainstream model.
Responding to criticism
The theory touched off another kind of conflagration within the physics community. Some complained that the mathematical basis for the model was half-baked. Others said the theory depended on having just the right conditions to produce the desired results. Still others questioned why physicists needed to develop such a bizarre alternative.
�I was sharply critical of the ekpyrotic model,� said Andreas Albrecht, a cosmologist at the University of California at Davis. �I really do think it�s a step backwards. We could just declare that this is the state of the universe at the beginning. ... It�s a really hugely ambitious thing to do what inflation (theory) does, and it�s actually amazing that we can have something that can do that. So if we can do that, I don�t want to back off from that.�
Steinhardt and Turok took the criticism to heart, and their Science paper proposes a revised scenario called the cyclic model.
�I think now we�ve gotten into a situation where the model is much more ambitious, even more ambitious than the standard model,� Steinhardt said.
The revised theory still thinks of our universe as one of two multidimensional surfaces, or �branes,� separated by an extra dimension. Over the course of trillions of years, the surfaces bounce off each other, sparking a Big Bang. But in the cyclic scenario, dark energy plays an essential role.
At first, matter and radiation are dominant in a newly spawned cosmos. However, the accelerating dark energy gradually drives the expansion of the universe to such an extent that the cosmos is virtually cleared out. Then a weak force starts bringing the branes back together in the extra dimension, setting the stage for another bounce, or �Big Crunch,� that touches off the next Big Bang.
Even if the universe were disrupted from its periodic behavior, it would rapidly reconverge to the cyclic solution,� Steinhardt said, due to the clearing-out effect of dark energy. That means the cycles could continue without beginning or end.
The theorists acknowledge that their cyclic concept draws upon religious and scientific ideas going back for millennia � echoing the �oscillating universe� model that was in vogue in the 1930s, as well as the Hindu belief that the universe has no beginning or end, but follows a cosmic cycle of creation and dissolution.
�I didn�t start out liking this picture,� Steinhardt told MSNBC.com. �We�ve been led into this. All these concepts run into one another.�
Albrecht admits that the idea of a bouncing universe is an improvement over the ekpyrotic model.
�The coolest thing about this idea is that they actually use the fact that the universe is accelerating today in an interesting way,� he said. �Today�s acceleration is the inflation for the next cycle.�
But he still thinks proponents of the cyclic model haven�t made their case.
�How do you actually make a collapsing universe bounce back? No one ever had a good idea about that,� Albrecht said. �What these guys realized was that if they got their wish for an ekpyrotic universe, then they could have the universe bounce back.�
Albrecht and other skeptics agree, however, that questioning the inflationary Big Bang model is a healthy process.
�Right now inflation has destroyed all its competition, so we need some competing ideas,� University of Chicago astrophysicist Michael Turner told MSNBC.com. �These guys have set for themselves a very bold goal, which is to explain how it all began and make connections to superstring theory. And that�s something we should be engaged in. But I don�t think we�ve made much progress yet.�
Steinhardt expects the debate to continue for years and perhaps decades to come. �I don�t expect a debate to be decisive,� he said. �I expect observations to be decisive.�
What kinds of observations could determine whether the cyclic model is correct or cracked? In their paper, Steinhardt and Turok say that if scientists detect gravitational waves left behind by the inflationary Big Bang, that would disprove their theory. But if such waves are missing, that would strengthen their case.
|Muslims reconverting to Hinduism
Back to contents
586 families reconverted to Hinduism in Ajmer
Press Trust of India
Ajmer, February 16
As many as 586 families residing in 76 villages in Beawar sub-division of Ajmer district were reconverted to Hinduism in a ceremony organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
VHP chief Ashok Singhal who was present at village Andheri Deori presented tulsi garlands to the villagers who reconverted into the Hindu fold in a ceremony on Sunday.
"The villagers were converted into Islam by force a few centuries back and most of them were observing religious ceremonies of both the faiths," a VHP spokesman said in Ajmer.
"Now the villagers have joined back their original faith," he added.
Each of the villagers was given a copy of the Ram Charitmanas by the VHP on this occasion.
|'Super-Earth' spotted in distant sky
Back to contents
The planet was spotted orbiting a Sun-like star, mu Arae, which is located in a southern constellation called the Altar and which is bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, they said.
Yahoo! News Wed, Aug 25, 2004
'Super-Earth' spotted in distant sky
PARIS (AFP) -
European astronomers announced they had found a "super-Earth" orbiting a star some 50 light years away, a finding that could significantly boost the hunt for worlds beyond our Solar System.
The so-far unnamed world, which whizzes around mu Arae in just 9.5 days, is the smallest of the estimated 125 so-called extrasolar planets that have been detected so far.
"This new planet appears to be the smallest yet discovered around a star other than the Sun. This makes mu Arae a very exciting planetary system," French astronomer Francois Bouchy was quoted in a statement issued by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
With few exceptions, the extrasolar planets spotted so far have approximated the size of Jupiter, the giant of the Solar System.
But this latest find is far smaller, with a mass of only 14 times that of the Earth, which puts it in the same ballpark as Uranus for size.
The big difference, though, is that Uranus is an uninhabitable hell, a gassy planet on the far frigid fringes of the Solar System, whereas the new planet appears to be a rocky planet, as the Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury are, and orbits in a much balmier region.
It has a gassy atmosphere, amounting to about a tenth of its mass, although what this consists of is so far unknown.
The object qualifies "as a 'super-Earth," the ESO said.
Much about this enigmatic world remains to be uncovered, least of all whether it may be habitable.
However, there is the tantalising question as to whether it lies within the "Goldilocks Zone" -- a distance from its star that is not too hot, not too cold, just right.
In this zone, a planet would be close enough to the star to have liquid water -- yet not so close that its oceans would boil away -- and not so far that its oceans would freeze. That is one of the prime conditions for creating and sustaining life, according to a leading theoretical model.
The discovery was made thanks to a highly accurate spectrograph, a velocity-measuring instrument, on the ESO's 3.6-metre (11.7-feet) telescope at La Silla, Chile.
In a separate development, a team of American and Spanish astronomers, the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey (TrES), said they had found an extra-solar planet using a telescope with just a 10-centimeter (four-inch) diameter.
Telescopes of this size can typically be bought in department stores, so this is a remarkable technical breakthrough in planet-hunting.
The new-found planet is a Jupiter-sized gas giant orbiting a star located about 500 light years from Earth in the constellation of Lyra.
This world circles its star every 3.03 days at a distance of only 6.4 million kms (four million miles), far closer and faster than Mercury is in our Solar System.
To make the find, the astronomers used a network of small, inexpensive telescopes whose finds were then followed up and confirmed by the big lenses of the W.M. Keck Observatory on Hawaii.
Most known extra-solar planets have been found by using the "Doppler method" which measures changes to the composition of a star's light that are caused by the planet's gravitational tug.
In the US case, though, the astronomers looked for possible planets that were "transiting" their star -- that were in other words happened to be aligned between the star and Earth as they pursued their orbit. Such planets can then be detected indirectly because of the amount of light they block as they pass by.
The two findings will be published in leading astrophysics journals.
| Planet hunters find new Neptunes
Back to contents
Planet hunters have found two worlds roughly the mass of Neptune, each orbiting a star within 30 light-years of our solar system. The planets are likely gaseous or mixtures of ice and rock, but they might be barren rock worlds like Mercury.
Tuesday's announcement by a U.S. team comes just a week after a competing European group revealed a similar discovery of a slightly less massive planet that most likely has a rocky surface and was billed as a super Earth.
The discoveries pushed the limit of current search technology, revealing worlds of a sort never seen outside our solar system. Together they suggest is it just a matter of time before objects much like Earth are detected.
The planets were found using a Doppler-shift method that notes a wobble in a star caused by the gravity of the orbiting planet. No actual pictures are available � only artist's conceptions. The two newest discoveries were led by Geoff Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley and Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, this globe's most prolific planet-hunting duo, and will be discussed in papers to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.
In this artist's conception, a newly discovered planet the size of Neptune orbits the cool, reddish M-dwarf star Gliese 436.
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior science writer
Updated: 2:43 p.m. ET Aug. 31, 2004
Planet hunters have found two worlds roughly the mass of Neptune, each orbiting a star within 30 light-years of our solar system. The planets are likely gaseous or mixtures of ice and rock, but they might be barren rock worlds like Mercury.
Prior to Tuesday's announcement at a NASA press conference, Marcy detailed the pair of discoveries for Space.com.
One of the planets orbits the star 55 Cancri, already known to harbor three gas giant planets. Its fourth known world is 18 times as massive as Earth, just slightly more massive than Neptune, Marcy said. It completes a year in a mere 2.81 Earth-days, circling just 3.5 million miles (5.7 million kilometers) from the star.
Another Neptune-sized planet orbits the yellow, sunlike star 55 Cancri. Astronomers previously found three other planets around this star, lying further out.
"It could be made of gas, rock and iron, or rock and ice, and there may or may not be an atmosphere," Marcy said. "We don't know."
The discovery resulted from measurements taken by Lick Observatory. Barbara McArthur at the University of Texas helped pin it down with more observations from the ground-based Hobby-Eberly Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.
The other newest known planet is about 25 times as hefty as Earth. Its circular orbit is tight, too, a mere 2.64 Earth-days long, around the star Gliese 436. Marcy speculated that this world, too, could be gaseous like Saturn or Jupiter.
"But with a mass near that of Neptune, it could have a rock-ice core and a thick envelope of hydrogen and helium gas," he said. "Alternatively, it could be made of only rock and iron, like Mercury."
The Gliese 436 planet is probably tidally locked, Marcy said, always showing the same face to the star � just as our moon does with respect to Earth. If rocky and barren, the lit surface would be about 710 degrees Fahrenheit (377 degrees Celsius), and the back side far below zero. If the planet has a thick atmosphere like Venus, however, then the entire surface would be hot.
The discovery was made with the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
Next up: Other Earths
The Doppler method was used to find the first planet beyond our solar system in 1995. Initially it found only Jupiter-sized planets very close to stars, because those had the greatest gravitational influence on the stars being surveyed. The technique was later refined to spot large planets in more distant, Jupiterlike orbits and also less massive, Saturn-sized objects.
"We had found Jupiters and Saturns, and now we've found Neptunes," Marcy said. "The next destination is other Earths."
It is not clear just how long that breakthrough will take or who will do the finding, however.
The "super Earth" announced last week, by a competing team based in Switzerland, is just 14 times the mass of Earth and also in a tight orbit, around a star called mu Arae. It is almost surely rocky, experts say. The Europeans may have an edge in finding something smaller.
The European program "should be able to push down to masses of, say, eight Earth masses � twice Earth-size � for the shortest-period orbits, those of just a few days," said Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington."There could be claims of planets with masses of about eight Earth masses within the next year or less."
All three discoveries illustrate a wide range of solar systems.
The mu Arae planet found by the Europeans is bounded well to the outside by a Jupiter-mass planet. It must have formed inside the orbit of the larger planet, and theory suggests that it would have developed as a rocky world. It might have a thin atmosphere.
Boss does not think the two planets found by the U.S. team are made primarily of rock. They likely formed much farther out and migrated inward to their present orbits, Boss explained in an e-mail interview prior to the press conference.
"Hence the Gliese 436 and 55 Cancri Neptune-mass planets might actually be more like Neptune in composition as well as mass, with significant ice and gas in addition to rock," Boss said.
All this depends on how planets form and migrate, two things astronomers know surprisingly little about. Inward migration has also been used to explain the dozens of "hot Jupiters," the most massive gas planets found in orbits that last just a few days.
"Understanding planetary migration is now a major challenge for theorists," Boss said.
Leap of technology
Prior to Tuesday's announcement, the 55 Cancri system was seen as one that would, mathematically speaking, allow the presence an Earth-sized planet in a habitable, Earthlike orbit. That possibility seems less likely now. While such a planet could have a stable orbit, Boss said, "it is highly unlikely that it would have survived the orbital migration of the inner planets through this region."
The discovery of potentially habitable planets � roughly Earth-sized and in wider orbits � will require a leap of technology, one that's already planned. A pair of soon-to-launch space observatories will soon race to find planets just like Earth in size and orbit.
NASA's Kepler observatory is slated for launch in 2007. The European Space Agency's COROT mission will launch in 2006 under current plans. Both missions will survey large numbers of stars and are expected to detect several rocky planets, at least.
The newest discoveries suggest these space telescopes could find "hordes of close-in Earth-size planets," Boss said.
| 'Brazilian Stonehenge' discovered
Back to contents
| BBC news - May 13th 2006
Brazilian archaeologists have found an ancient stone structure in a remote corner of the Amazon that may cast new light on the region's past.
The site, thought to be an observatory or place of worship, pre-dates European colonisation and is said to suggest a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy.
Its appearance is being compared to the English site of Stonehenge.
It was traditionally thought that before European colonisation, the Amazon had no advanced societies.
The stones are well preserved and each weighs several tons
The archaeologists made the discovery in the state of Amapa, in the far north of Brazil.
A total of 127 large blocks of stone were found driven into the ground on top of a hill.
Well preserved and each weighing several tons, the stones were arranged upright and evenly spaced.
It is not yet known when the structure was built, but fragments of indigenous pottery found at the site are thought to be 2,000 years old.
What impressed researchers was the sophistication of the construction.
The stones appear to have been laid out to help pinpoint the winter solstice, when the sun is at its lowest in the sky.
It is thought the ancient people of the Amazon used the stars and phases of the moon to determine crop cycles.
Although the discovery at Amapa is being compared to Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle in southern England, the English site is considerably older.
It is thought to have been erected some time between 3000 and 1600 BC.
The layout suggests a temple or an observatory
|Who holds the Indian flag in the Kashmir valley?
Back to contents
Rediff India Abroad
Aug 22nd 2007
Last week, the nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of India's freedom. Indians all over the globe attended Independence Day celebrations, be it the flag hoisting ceremony at Lal Qila, or the Indian Mela in London [Images] or India Day celebrations in Boston or the Independence Day parades in state capitals all around the country.
Indian television channels also celebrated by airing the shows focused on India's journey over the last 60 years. Some shows focused on 'what is going right for the country' whereas some focused on 'what has gone wrong and what could we do to right the wrongs.'
Once again, we pledged to do whatever it takes to make our nation strong, united and self-sufficient. We remembered and honoured our fallen soldiers. We honoured our best and encouraged our 'better ones' to be the best. We were upbeat. We were positive. We believed in our strengths and pledged to remain focused on our goals. We reflected upon the 'past' and talked about the 'future.'
But sadly, we forgot the 'present.'
While the nation was celebrating the freedom, there were many amongst us who could not do the same. For these unfortunate ones, freedom means much more than hoisting the national pride -- the tricolour. For them, freedom means freedom from fear, freedom from persecution, freedom from governmental apathy, freedom from unemployment, and above all freedom from the shackles of pseudo-democracy.
Yes, my friends, I am talking about 7,000 odd Kashmiri Hindus who are still in the Kashmir valley. These faceless and voiceless human beings stayed put in the valley because that is where their home is. These unfortunate souls decided to weather the terrorism because they cannot leave the place where their heart is. One might argue that why they didn't leave the valley like other 400,000+ folks of their community.
But then one might also want to argue that why should they leave their place of abode. Why should they leave the lands that their forefathers had tilled? Why should they? They are patriotic souls who believed in the tricolour and the nationhood of India. They believed in the Indian Constitution that is supposed to guarantee them the security, dignity, honour and freedom of expression.
They are brave souls who decided to weather any and every storm they might have to face. But their bravery does not mean that we, the rest of the nation, leave them alone at the mercy of hegemonic behaviour of the majority community in the valley and indifferent and apathetic state and central government.
You might argue that there are more pressing issues that India faces and needs to tackle than care for these 7,000 odd Kashmiri Hindus' fundamental rights and I would not dispute that. But I would strongly argue back that while their numbers might look small, the strategic consequences of losing them would result in losing Kashmir altogether.
It is these 7,000 odd human beings who are still keeping the Indian tricolour alive in the valley.
Isn't it shameful that while we were hoisting flags all over the globe, the only tricolours that were hoisted in the valley were hoisted by ministers at official ceremonies? No one would dare to hoist the Indian tricolour openly at any other place.
If you visit the valley today, you will not see a single tricolour flying at any place. It is only these 7,000 human beings who, while living in ground zero, still 'unconditionally' believe in the Indian Constitution and its sovereignty. If we lose them, we lose Kashmir. And if we lose Kashmir, that would be the beginning of the end of one Indian Nation.
If we lose Kashmir, that would be the beginning of the Balkanisation of India. After losing Kashmir, it would be just a matter of time before we start losing other limbs of our nation.
So please decide which issue is more important for India's future as a nation.
My dear friends, can we afford to ignore these 7,000 brave souls and leave them at the mercy of terrorists? Can we afford to lose Kashmir and then see India gradually disintegrate? No. We cannot and should not.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] in his address to the nation, from the ramparts of the Lal Qila, talked about his vision of a new caring India -- 'An India in which the weak and downtrodden are empowered, the disabled find support, the destitute find succour and every individual is touched by the hand of progress and development... An India in which every citizen can live a life of dignity, self-respect, decency and hope; where every citizen feels proud to say -- I am Indian!'
Mr Prime Minister, these 7,000 Kashmiri Hindu souls already feel proud to be Indian but they are not living the life of dignity, self-respect, decency and hope. They are being subjected to perpetual humiliation at the hands of the majority community. Would you please stand up and take notice? Would you please direct your Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to take stock of their situation and provide relief and rehabilitation to them?
Would you please guarantee these minority citizens their fundamental rights? Would you, please?
Talking about industrialisation, agrarian change and the resultant displacement of rural masses, Dr Singh said, 'I agree that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that displacement does not lead to impoverishment; that those who lose land do not lose livelihoods; and, that those who have lost employment get better opportunities. We are, therefore, giving final shape to a National Policy for Rehabilitation and Resettlement for all those displaced by major projects.'
What about the people who are displaced due to the prevailing scourge of global terrorism? What about a National Policy for Rehabilitation and Resettlement for all those displaced by Islamic terrorism perpetrating in the state of Jammu & Kashmir? What about such a policy, Mr Prime Minister?
It is time that the Prime Minister's Office stops organising farcical round table conferences and working groups that do not produce any results. Those have been a total waste of time. It is a facade that the PMO creates to divert the attention and drag its feet.
It is about time that the PMO gets serious about Kashmir and implements initiatives and policies that protect the fundamental rights of its Kashmiri Hindu citizens in Jammu & Kashmir. It should seriously, with sincerity of purpose, look into the political, economic and social demands of these citizens who are the last bastion of hope within the valley.
These Kashmiri Hindus, refugees within their own state, need representation in the legislative bodies of the state so that their issues are properly represented in the corridors of power. It is first time since 1947 that there is no representation of Kashmiri Hindus in the state cabinet. Don't they deserve representation? Since these Kashmiri Hindus have lost their primary source of livelihood, they need to be provided with soft industrial loans and employment packages. They need proper secure environs where they can breathe freely without the fear of gun.
It should not come to a pass where these very Indian citizens, who day in and day out breath their Indian identity with pride, lose their last bit of hope from the Indian government and end up taking extreme measures.
I am afraid to say that if it did come to that, then those extreme measures will have serious long-term adverse consequences for the nation of India.
So, Mr Prime Minister: Are you listening? Would you take the lead, please?
HAPPY 60th to all the readers!
Looking forward to even happier 70th!
Lalit Koul is the editor and publisher of Kashmir Herald, an online news journal available at http://www.kashmirherald.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to contents
Doomsday vault begins deep freeze
BBC News - Friday, November 16th, 2007
| Engineers have begun the two-month process of cooling down a "doomsday vault", which will house seeds from all known varieties of key food crops.
The temperature inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will drop to -18C (0F) in order to preserve the seeds.
Built deep inside a mountain, it aims to safeguard the world's crops from future disasters, such as nuclear wars, asteroids or dangerous climate change.
The seed vault will be built 120m (390ft) inside a mountain on Spitsbergen, one of four islands that make up Svalbard......More >>>>>>
|The site, roughly 1,000km (600 miles) north of mainland Norway, was chosen as the location for the vault because it was very remote and it also offered the level of stability required for the long-term project.
|Vj ~ We have explained this last age (Kaliyug) as the iron or dark age, termed so because of civilization's complete fall from righteousness (Vedic), the cause of constant decay (pain and misery). As a result of it, this age will experience a continuous spread of retrogression and decadence.
As it happened 5000 years ago, a tremendous catastrophy wiped out most of civilization leaving pockets of inhabitants in nomadic conditions to fend for themselves. It took centuries for nature to repair itself and over 4000 years to bring us to our present state. And we are now again at that point (global warming, crime diseases, wars, nuclear weapons, etc.) due to neglect and wanton disregard for true religion, where such a castastrophy is imminent.
The storing of seeds is just a waste of money, time and labour, for when such a catastrophy strikes again we will again be reduced to the primitive state, separating the rest of the world from the source knowledge again. There won't be anyone left among those (western civilization) who are planning this event intelligent enough to find the vault muchless retrieving the seeds. The time, effort and money can be better spent to educate people to know the truth and thereby saving the soul instead.
Just keep in mind that the seeds we now have, did not come from any "doomsday vault" of an extinct civilization but refurbished by nature in a slow and gradual way.
George Carlin on Global Warming
|Solar System's 'look-alike' found
Back to contents
|Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own.
By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News, Belfast
They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun.
Martin Dominik, from St Andrews University in the UK, said the finding suggested systems like our own could be much more common than we thought.
And he told a major meeting that astronomers were on the brink of finding many more of them.
| BBC - Sunday, 6 April 2008 22:09 UK
Almost 300 planets have now been found outside our Solar System
| The St Andrews researcher said this planetary system, and others like it, could host terrestrial planets like Earth. It was just a matter of time before such worlds were detected, he explained.
Dr Dominik told BBC News: "We found a system with two planets that take the roles of Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System. These two planets have a similar mass ratio and similar orbital radius and a similar orbital period.
"It looks like this may have formed in a similar way to our Solar System. And if this is the case, it looks like [our] Solar System cannot be unique in the Universe. There should be other similar systems out there which could host terrestrial planets."
Dr Dominik presented his work at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast.
The newfound planetary system, which orbits the star OGLE-2006-BLG-109L, is more compact than our own and is about five thousand light-years away.
Although nearly 300 extrasolar planets have been identified, astronomers have consistently failed to find planetary systems which resemble our own. Dr Dominik said only 10% of systems discovered so far are known to host more than one planet.
But he explained that all the techniques currently used to find exoplanets were strongly biased towards detecting gas giant planets orbiting at short distances from their parent stars.
The OGLE planets were found using a technique called gravitational micro-lensing, in which light from the faraway planets is bent and magnified by the gravity of a foreground object, in this case a another star.
"It's a kind of scaled-down version of our Solar System. The star the planets are orbiting is half as massive as the Sun and they orbit half as distant to their host star as Jupiter and Saturn orbit around the Sun," said Dr Dominik.
He said that the ultimate goal for exoplanet researchers was to find habitable Earth-like and Mars-like planets. This aim was achievable, he said, because technology was improving all the time.
"I think it will happen quite soon," he said, adding: "Micro-lensing can already go below Earth mass and it has detected more massive planets in the habitable zone. So in the next few years, we will see something really exciting."
Dr Dominik said there was competition between teams of astronomers using micro-lensing and those who favoured the transit technique, which seeks to detect new planets when, from our point of view, they pass directly in front of the parent star they are orbiting. The planet blocks a tiny fraction of the star's light, causing the star to periodically dim.
But he added that there was little chance to detect Earth-like worlds in OGLE-2006-BLG-109L because the system was too distant for current techniques to resolve planets the size of our own.
|Primitive Alien Life May Exist
Back to contents
SPACE.com Mon Apr 21, 8:31 PM ET
Primitive Alien Life May Exists, Stephen Hawking Says
Alien life may well exist in a primitive form somewhere in our corner of the galaxy, famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Monday.
Given the size of the universe, it is unlikely that Earth is the only planet to develop some sort of life, Hawking told an audience at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He added that humanity must embrace space exploration, if only to ensure its long-term survival.
"While there may be primitive life in our region of the galaxy, there don't seem to be any advanced intelligent beings," said Hawking during a lecture as part of a series commemorating NASA's 50th anniversary this year.
The lack of success by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project to discover signals from an alien civilization suggests that none exist within several 100 light-years of Earth, Hawking said, though he offered three theories on the dearth of interplanetary communications.
AFP Photo: Professor Stephen Hawking gives a lecture entitled 'Why We Should Go Into Space' during the...
| The probability of primitive life developing on a suitable planet may be extremely low, or it may be high, but aliens intelligent enough to beam signals into space may also be smart enough to build civilization-destroying weapons like nuclear bombs, he said. More likely, he added, is that primitive life is likely to develop, but intelligent life as we know it is exceedingly rare.
"We don't appear to have been visited by aliens," Hawking said, adding that he discounts reports of UFOs. "Why would they only appear to cranks and weirdoes?"
Alien life aside, Hawking said humanity must pursue a long-term effort of space exploration that would span hundreds of years in order to ensure the survival of the species. He likened those opposed to spending money on space science and exploration to those who wrote off Christopher Columbus' trans-Atlantic Ocean voyage in 1492 as a waste of money.
"The discovery of the New World made a profound difference on the old. Just think, we wouldn't have had a Big Mac or KFC," Hawking said.
"Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect," he added. "It will completely change the future of the human race, and maybe determine whether we have any future at all."
Hawking, 66, is a renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist who suffers from the neurological disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He uses a wheelchair, communicates with the aid of a computer, and co-wrote a children's book about science - "George's Secret Key to the Universe" - with his daughter Lucy in the hope of inspiring youth to pursue studies in science and technology.
"We live in a society that is increasingly governed by science and technology," Hawking said. "Yet fewer and fewer people want to go into science."
Sending astronauts back to the moon, establishing a lunar base with a clear target of going on to Mars would do much to restore the public's support for spaceflight, he added.
"If the human race is to continue for another million years we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before," Hawking said.
| Belief in God 'childish,' Jews not chosen people: Einstein letter
Back to contents
As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish people but said they "have no different quality for me than all other people".
Tue May 13, 9:03 AM
LONDON (AFP) - Albert Einstein described belief in God as "childish superstition" and said Jews were not the chosen people, in a letter to be sold in London this week, an auctioneer said Tuesday.
The father of relativity, whose previously known views on religion have been more ambivalent and fuelled much discussion, made the comments in response to a philosopher in 1954.
German-born physicist Albert
Einstein, pictured here in 1948
"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.
"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this," he wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, cited by The Guardian newspaper.
The German-language letter is being sold Thursday by Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, said the auction house's managing director Rupert Powell.
In it, the renowned scientist, who declined an invitation to become Israel's second president, rejected the idea that the Jews are God's chosen people.
"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," he said.
"And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people."
And he added: "As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."
Previously the great scientist's comments on religion -- such as "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" -- have been the subject of much debate, used notably to back up arguments in favour of faith.
Powell said the letter being sold this week gave a clear reflection of Einstein's real thoughts on the subject. "He's fairly unequivocal as to what he's saying. There's no beating about the bush," he told AFP.
|Astronomers find batch of "super-Earths"
Back to contents
Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by John O'Callaghan WASHINGTON (Reuters Mon Jun 16, 7:53 AM ET
European researchers said on Monday they discovered a batch of three "super-Earths" orbiting a nearby star, and two other solar systems with small planets as well.
They said their findings, presented at a conference in France, suggest that Earth-like planets may be very common.
"Does every single star harbor planets and, if yes, how many?" asked Michel Mayor of Switzerland's Geneva Observatory. "We may not yet know the answer but we are making huge progress towards it," Mayor said in a statement.
Reuters Photo: An artist's impression of the trio of super-Earths discovered by an European team using the...
| The trio of planets orbit a star slightly less massive than our Sun, 42 light-years away towards the southern Doradus and Pictor constellations. A light-year is the distance light can travel in one year at a speed of 186,000 miles a second, or about 6 trillion miles.
The planets are bigger than Earth -- one is 4.2 times the mass, one is 6.7 times and the third is 9.4 times.
They orbit their star at extremely rapid speeds -- one whizzing around in just four days, compared with Earth's 365 days, one taking 10 days and the slowest taking 20 days.
Mayor and colleagues used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher or HARPS, a telescope at La Silla observatory in Chile, to find the planets.
More than 270 so-called exoplanets have been found. Most are giants, resembling Jupiter or Saturn. Smaller planets closer to the size of Earth are far more difficult to spot.
None can be imaged directly at such distances but can be spotted indirectly using radio waves or, in the case of HARPS, spectrographic measurements. As a planet orbits, it makes the star wobble very slightly and this can be measured.
"With the advent of much more precise instruments such as the HARPS spectrograph ... we can now discover smaller planets, with masses between 2 and 10 times the Earth's mass," said Stephane Udry, who also worked on the study.
The team also said they found a planet 7.5 times the mass of Earth orbiting the star HD 181433 in 9.5 days. This star also has a Jupiter-like planet that orbits every three years.
Another solar system has a planet 22 times the mass of Earth, orbiting every four days, and a Saturn-like planet with a 3-year period.
"Clearly these planets are only the tip of the iceberg," said Mayor.
"The analysis of all the stars studied with HARPS shows that about one third of all solar-like stars have either super-Earth or Neptune-like planets with orbital periods shorter than 50 days."
Back to contents
Volume I, Number 10, August 2008|
Among all living species, mother-child relationship bears some special features. This is true among us, too. The child feels totally secured with her mother. It's a two-way relationship void of selfishness. Vedic culture is strong on this front. This has led to strong bonding in our family relationships, too. Vedas encourage us to view our tiny soul's relationship with God in the images of the worldly relationships that we are familiar with, such as, our relationships with mother, father, teacher, friend, companion, etc. Let us discuss an important aspect of the mother-child relationship, namely, child's direct relationship with her mother. Every child has a direct link with her mother and nobody can ever become an intermediary between the child and her mother. No child will ever accept this. This is where a number of religions went wrong. They glorified one human being or another between our tiny spirit and the infinite spirit that God is. Christianity is based on accepting Christ as the saviour who was the only son of God. So is the story with Islam where instead of Christ, it is Mohammad and he claims to be 'the last prophet' of God after a whopping number of 100,000+ prophets before him. Can anyone believe that after sending these many prophets God suddenly decided to press the button for once and the final time? But, one billion+ population want to believe this. This is the kind of ignorance that prevails in the present age of science!
It has been almost 2000 and 1400 years that these two religions have been in existence, respectively and they have caused rivers of blood flowing with millions of human beings killed in the most barbaric manner. They know it well that such dogmatic ideas will never find universal acceptance among the entire humanity, and therefore, they will remain as a cause of strife, conflict and war in the years to come. But, they want to continue to exist and even attempt to bring more people under the shadow of their ignorance. India has been a civilization in its declining phase during the last 5000 years after its glorious past for several millions of years. The bottom trough came a few centuries ago when to outdo the above two religions the custodians of Hinduism floated the idea of incarnation of God. They declared that Rama and Krsna were God in human forms. Intellectual bankruptcy comes in many colors and shades that it can blind anybody! Let us accept this that the more you glorify one to a super-being, the more he/she will become mythological and the less historical. We have suffered a lot in the last 5000 years and so did the humanity. Nobody has gained except for a tiny minority of the custodians of these religions who have a selfish motive in maintaining the darkness of ignorance. The larger is the size of population in their fold, the more is their strength. The humanity as a whole must rise and throw away the yoke of these religions and bring a new dawn of humanism, what is called dharma � a universal religion for the entire humanity. If we rationalize the religions and/or spiritualize the science then what we get is humanism, the dharma and that's what Vedas talk about. It's high time that we heed the simple, natural and sensible message of the Vedas � that of Veda-Mata (the Mother Veda vide Atharvaveda 19.71.1) to Her children. The mother's words to her children are of pristine beauty and immense utility!
Being with the Cosmic Mother Apah
Indian tradition consists of Sandhya (also, called Sandhya-Vandanam or Sadhyo-Pasana) performed by every individual twice a day � before the sunrise and soon after the sunset. Sandhya means meditation properly performed � dhyana for meditation, the prefix sam for proper. One wants to be with the Cosmic Mother twice a day � once in the morning before the day begins and then as the day ends. We seek Her inspiration before we set out for the day and after the day gets over. No religion encourages its followers to sit alone in isolation and seek communion with God � to be like a child and enjoy being in the mother's lap. On the other hand, there are religions that do collective military style drill in the name of prayers! It is only the Vedic teachings that encourage us to sit alone and seek communion with God in real time conscious mode.
Sandhya begins with the following verse, Yajurveda (36.12):
Sanno devirabhistaya-apo bhavantu pitaye. Samyorabhi sravantu nah.
We want to discuss the word apah here. It's a peculiar word in the Vedas that it appears always in plural and it's feminine in gender. Maharshi Yaska's etymology states its meaning in the Vedas as one who is omnipresent (sarvatra vyapti, i.e. apah), and therefore, it refers to God. In day to day language usage, this word means water also. In the above verse, apah is a devi (note that this word is feminine) that quenches all types of our thirsts as water does to our bodily thirst. So, at the outset, the devotee reminds himself in the beginning of the Sandhya that now he wants to be with the Cosmic Mother who gives us everything that we seek, both material and non-material needs. Not only that apah is a multi-dimensional quenching agent, it has another property because of its being omnipresent. Let us consider an instance when we get thirsty Then we begin to search for water. Sometimes, there may be a significant duration that we require to get to a source of drinking water, and hence, we feel the pinch of thirst for quite some time. Imagine that we were under the shower of drinking water so that there could never be such painful moments - no sooner we felt the thirst, it was quenched because we had to go nowhere. That is the nature and character of apah � it quenches our thirst of any kind anywhere instantly.
The essence is that God has sent us into this world with wonderful assets of body and mind. The essential substances for our survival are present. What is more essential, is more easily available. For example, air is the most essential life support substance and air is available everywhere on the surface of the earth. We need to make no effort to get air. For water, we have to make some effort and still much more for food. As a child, I was born in my mother's lap who provided everything that I needed. As we grow, we begin to seek one pleasure after another. However, the feeling of genuine contentment gets farther and farther away as a mirage. The devotee has gained some maturity and begins to understand that the ultimate absolute pleasure can be obtained from apah devi only, the Cosmic Mother, the omnipresent God.
The paradox of human life is that what we seek is closest to us but we wander here and there in search for it. We overlook what is next to us. In an earlier issue we had discussed the beautiful Vedic verse yo vah sivatamo rasa... (Rgveda 10.9.2, Yajurveda 11.51, 36.15, Atharvaveda 1.5.2) � the absolute bliss is as easily available to us as is mother's milk to a newly born child. We have drifted far away from the Cosmic Mother. We forget that we are Her child.
The Vedas Say:
Apam madhye tasthivamsam trsnavidajjaritaram.
Mrda suksatra mrdaya. Rgveda 7.89.4
Its meaning: I am in the midst of water and I have grown old while remaining thirsty. O God! You are the saviour. You are the infinite reservoir of happiness; make me happy.
Purport: The human life has a strange characteristic that it never stops from its wants. It wants to fulfil all sorts of pleasure. But, the paradox is that the absolute pleasure is in our closest reach but we do not care to obtain the same, and keep wandering after a mirage-like illusion that the worldly pleasure will quench our thirst, and in so doing, we get old.
Where Do We Go Wrong?: We seek pleasures in life. We are ever thirsty for pleasures. There is nothing that quenches our thirst in a permanent sense. The result is that we keep wandering from one source of pleasure to another, endlessly to the extent that we get old enough when our strength to enjoy sensual pleasures diminishes. The wealth that we had gathered laboriously stares at us and we are even unable to enjoy it for the fact that our body has lost its vigor and strength. It never occurs to us that there is something called absolute pleasure and that is with God and He is in our closest proximity. We have to merely seek Him with genuine love and then and there He is with us. The paradox is that we are almost like a fish in water that is thirsty, too. We have nobody to blame except our own ignorance. We must come out of it. The moral is that we must everyday seek out God within us and purify ourselves out of our deeds that our inner self is chaste pure and clean. So, we would be able to 'see' Him and quench our thirst for pleasure in a permanent sense. Once that tastiest sap has been tasted, we will never be thirsty again.
- Dr Harish Chandra
B. Tech. (IIT Kanpur)
Ph. D. (Princeton, USA)
|Muslims out of Australia
Back to contents
|Prime Minister John Howard - Australia
Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote: 'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.'
|'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'
'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!'
'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'
'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'
'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,
'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.'
'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'
Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, American and Canadian citizens will find the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths.
If you agree ... please SEND THIS ON.
|India re-energises Africa
Back to contents
|June 22, 2011 | By KNews | Filed Under Editorial
As a colony of Britain, India played a very significant role in Africa, as the African countries themselves were colonised by one or another European power and struggling for independence. As Dr Walter Rodney explained in his book, �How Europe underdeveloped Africa�; the process was the same for India � and all other European colonies.
The independence of India in 1947 not only set the tone for the African anti-colonial struggle, but as they achieved that status, starting a decade later, it also pioneered the quest for a model of development that would be free from the domination by powerful states. This was the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which demanded a just international order for the ex-colonies � especially in Africa.
The Indian engagement with Africa then began with the idealistic goal of previously oppressed nations to cooperate towards developing their capabilities in order to survive and prosper in a treacherous neo-colonial world.
Poor as she was, India supported the African independence movements in every world fora to which she had access. India also extended monetary support and assistance to Africa at different phases through the Indian Technical and Economical Co-operation (ITEC) programme by sending Indian experts to different African countries in the field of new construction and development projects. African students were also given scholarships to Indian universities.
This continued beyond 1994 when apartheid was abolished in South Africa and democracy was instituted for all its peoples. By that time, the Chinese economy had been set on a new and vigorous course and was already engaged in Africa in its search for raw materials to feed its factories that served the world.
Africa had always been a land rich for its mineral resources and luxuriant forests. Minerals like gold, silver, platinum, cobalt, chromium; tantalite, manganese and uranium lie beneath the African sands � not to mention one of the world�s greatest oil reserves. But the Indian economy had remained moribund under its �License Raj� until that was finally overthrown in the 1990s. India�s engagement with Africa on a more firmly economic and commercial basis did not occur until the new millennium.
In late 2006, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travelled to South Africa to strengthen the India-Africa relationship as part of the inauguration of the centenary celebrations of the Gandhian Sathyagraha movement in Africa. High level visits continued, and in 2008, the first ever India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) was hosted in New Delhi. This imparted new momentum to the already existing relationship with a very comprehensive plan of engagement. In May 2011, the second India-Africa forum Summit was held in Addis Ababa and this was followed by the Indian Prime Minister�s bilateral visits to Ethiopia and Tanzania.
In the second IAFS, the programme from 2008 was given a more concrete footing � especially in regard to funding. India offered a US$5 billion line of credit; US$700 million for new institutions and training programmes and US$300 million for Ethiopia-Djibouti railway lines. All of this was in addition to the Pan-African e-Network which bridges the digital divide and is accelerating development on the African continent. The project, costing US$1 billion, supports tele-education, tele-medicine, resource mapping and e-commerce.
In this vein, in the2011 Addis Ababa declaration, India stressed that capacity-building would be the highest-priority in the India-Africa relationship and that infrastructure development and trade and investment would receive secondary preference.
| India's ancient university returns to life
Back to contents
BBCnews - India's ancient university returns to life
It was an eminent centre of learning long before Oxford, Cambridge and Europe's oldest university Bologna were founded.
Nalanda University in northern India drew scholars from all over Asia, surviving for hundreds of years before being destroyed by invaders in 1193.
The idea of Nalanda as an international centre of learning is being revived by a group of statesmen and scholars led by the Nobel prize winning economist, Amartya Sen.
The group wants to establish a new world-class residential university with top students and researchers from around the world, on a site close to ruins of the ancient Buddhist institution in the Indian state of Bihar.
The new Nalanda International University will focus on the humanities, economics and management, Asian integration, sustainable development and oriental languages.
But building a top university from scratch, let alone one in a poor under-developed part of India, is a tall order.
Some doubt that an international university can flourish in such an under-developed area.
"Are top students and faculty going to be attracted to rural Bihar?" says Philip Altbach, director of the Centre for International Higher Education at Boston College in the United States.
Amartya Sen, the university's chancellor, is undaunted.
"Our job is to get the new Nalanda University going and establish the teaching. This is just the beginning - the old Nalanda took 200 years to come to a flourishing state. We may not take 200 years but it will take some decades."
"After Nalanda was destroyed in the 1190s it lingered on for a while - from time to time some people noticed that there was some teaching going on in the following couple of hundred years, but it wasn't anything like the university it had been. There is now absolutely nothing. We have to start from scratch."
In 2006, India, China, Singapore, Japan and Thailand announced the plan to revive the university based on the vision of the old Nalanda. And it was backed by the East Asia Summit which also includes South East Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the US.
The new university will be built in Rajgir, 10 kilometres from the ancient site with buildings planned on old Buddhist principles.
For now temporary premises have been secured and the postgraduate university has already published invitations to research fellows and scholars from around the world.
The first two faculties will be history and ecology and the environment with the first intake of students due next year.
Prof Sen says there will be active co-operation with Yale's school of forestry studies, Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University department of history, Seoul University in South Korea and Peking University in China.
This international outlook could boost India's higher education sector which is seen as inward looking and less internationalised than other countries in Asia, including China.
The new Nalanda will be "Asian in inspiration, Asian in motivation but it is not Asian in terms of its knowledge or the range or expertise or personal involvement. If the knowledge works in Asia, it ought to work in Africa or Latin America as well," said Prof Sen.
If all goes well, it will do Nalanda's ancient reputation proud despite the intervening 800 years.
'Soaring into the clouds'
Founded around the 5th Century, Nalanda once had over 10,000 students, mostly Buddhist monks, many of them from China, Japan, Korea and countries across south-east, central and western Asia.
The Chinese monk Xuanzang, who studied there in the 7th Century, left behind an eye-popping account of the thriving, wealthy university, describing a nine-storey library "soaring into the clouds."
Shanghai-based author Mishi Saran followed Xuanzang's route across Asia in her book Chasing the Monk's Shadow.
Continue reading the main story
"Xuanzang was looking to study with the people who knew the (Buddhist) texts best. Nalanda was already reaching the heights of its power and prestige. It was known in Korea and Japan - its reputation had spread through the Asian trade routes," she said.
"When Xuanzang was at Nalanda, it was a vibrant place, packed with scholars, with seminars, teaching and debate. It was a kind of Buddhist Ivy League institution - all the deepest ideas about Buddhism were explored and dissected at Nalanda," said Ms Saran.
The influence of those scholars has survived to this day. While at the Jaipur literary festival in Rajasthan in January, the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said "the source of all the [Buddhist] knowledge we have, has come from Nalanda."
The new Nalanda hopes to match the intellectual rigour, but will not be a religious institution.
"Nalanda was not only interested in Buddhism. Even at that time it took from universal principles. It had secular studies, public health, it was interested in logic, astrology and mathematics and languages," said George Yeo, a former Singaporean Foreign Minister and head of the Nalanda international advisory panel.
Nonetheless, the "spirit of Nalanda" is part of the attraction. Nearby, the Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya.
But Prof Altbach, an expert on world-class universities, has "severe doubts" about the location.
"The site of an academic institution is important," he said. Nalanda "may attract a certain number of big thinkers, but academics like to be where the infrastructure is. They want culture and amenities and coffee shops, and a wider community of intellectuals than that on campus".
Yet Bihar, has also emerged as India's fastest growing state with economic growth of 12% last year.
"The countryside looked arid and impoverished. Today there are lush fields. The shops are fuller, the saris have become brighter," said Mr Yeo.
The university itself will help to develop the region, working with some 60 surrounding villages to improve livelihoods in agriculture and tourism, according to Nand Kishore Singh, a member of parliament from Bihar and a member of Nalanda's governing body.
The next two faculties to be put in place will be information technology, and management and economics which will help develop job opportunities "to enable Bihar to catch up with the rest of India", said Prof Sen.
Already a huge amount of infrastructure is planned for Bihar, including roads and an international airport at Gaya, with the Bihar State government fully committed to the university project.
But "building a top-class university is extraordinarily expensive, especially in a rural and undeveloped location, even with assistance of foreign donors and the central government", said Prof Altbach.
Soft power, hard cash
While the land has been provided by the state of Bihar, the Nalanda's supporters estimate around $1bn (�650m) will be needed. Even that is seen as a modest sum compared to some of the world's major universities.
Australia is funding a dean-level chair of ecology and environment. Singapore will design, build and donate library costing up to $7m (�4.5m). Thailand will contribute $100,000 (�65,000), and China has announced $1m (�650,000) in aid for construction.
"I don't see any dearth of money in the region but they are nowhere near the $1bn endowment, so far not many countries have come forward with their huge purses," said Sukh Deo Muni, a former Indian envoy to Laos and visiting professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.
Nalanda University - youtube
Back to contents
27 January 2014 Last updated at 01:00 ET
Hunter-gatherer European had blue eyes and dark skin
By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter,
BBC World Service
Commenting on the research, David Reich, from Harvard Medical School in the US, said: "The significance of this paper is that it reports the oldest European genome sequence reported to date - the first European genome sequence that predates the appearance of agriculture.
"The dark skin is a very interesting finding, as light skin is nearly universal across Europe today. These results suggest that the light skin seen across Europe today is a development of the last at least 7,000 years."
He added: "It will be very interesting to see how general this result is across ancient pre-agricultural Europe once additional genome sequences become available."
Early results of research that Prof Reich has been involved with were recently published on the biology preprint website bioRxiv.org and a paper has been submitted to a journal.
He has looked at the genomes of several hunter-gatherers and early farmers in Europe. This work suggests that present-day Europeans derive from three ancient populations of early inhabitants of the continent.
|Genetic tests reveal that a hunter-gatherer who lived 7,000 years ago had the unusual combination of dark skin and hair and blue eyes.
It has surprised scientists, who thought that the early inhabitants of Europe were fair.
The research, led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, is published in the journal Nature.
The lead author, Dr Carles Lalueza-Fox, said: "One explanation is that the lighter skin colour evolved much later than was previously assumed."
Two hunter-gatherer skeletons were discovered in a cave in the mountains of north-west Spain in 2006.
The cool, dark conditions meant the remains (called La Brana 1 and 2) were remarkably well preserved. Scientists were able to extract DNA from a tooth of one of the ancient men and sequence his genome.
The team found that the early European was most closely genetically related to people in Sweden and Finland.
But while his eyes were blue, his genes reveal that his hair was black or brown and his skin was dark.
"This was a result that was unexpected," said Dr Lalueza-Fox.
Scientists had thought the first Europeans became fair soon after they left Africa and moved to the continent about 45,000 years ago.
"It has been assumed that it is something that happens in response to going from Africa to higher latitudes where the UV radiation is very low and you need to synthesise vitamin D in your skin. Your skin becomes lighter quite soon," explained Dr Lalueza-Fox.
"It is obvious that this is not the case, because this guy has been in Europe for 40,000 years and he still has dark skin."
The hunter-gatherer's genome also gave the team an insight into how humans had changed as they moved from foraging to farming.
The early European would have subsisted on a diet of mainly protein, and his DNA reveals that he was lactose-intolerant and unable to digest starch. These are traits that came after agriculture was adopted and people changed what they ate.
It will be very interesting to see how general this result is across ancient pre-agricultural Europe�
End Quote David Reich Harvard Medical School
India in Europe
The team was surprised by the hunter gatherer's unusual colouring
Vj ~ The most populous continent is Asia. The two most populated countries in Asia and the world is China and India. Now, how difficult is to reason that civilization started somewhere between these two countries? It is India, and not China or any other country, that has the most ancient architecture (Harappa), religion (Hinduism), scripture (Vedas) and language (Sanskrit).
Again, it is only Indians change in complexion and feature, consistent with the different regions, climate and cultural practices they adapted to on migration.
Ancient migration: Genes link Australia with India
World's population unsustainable by 2100
Back to contents
|Cheryl Santa Maria
Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 1:41 PM - A new study suggests that the world's natural resources won't be able to sustain the planet's population by 2100 and even drastic measures -- like population control -- are unlikely to help.
"The planet�s large, growing, and over-consuming human population, especially the increasing affluent component, is rapidly eroding many of the Earth�s natural ecosystems," the study's authors write.
"We examined various scenarios for global human population change to the year 2100 by adjusting fertility and mortality rates (both chronic and short-term interventions) to determine the plausible range of outcomes. Even one-child policies imposed worldwide and catastrophic mortality events would still likely result in 5�10 billion people by 2100. Because of this demographic momentum, there are no easy ways to change the broad trends of human population size this century."
The research, led by Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide and Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania, suggests that a series of measures may need to be taken to mitigate the Earth's growing population.
Currently, there are about 7.1 billion people on Earth -- and projections based on current fertility rates suggest that could rise to 25 billion by 2100.
|GUYANESE MUST NEVER FORGET
Back to contents
|GUYANESE MUST NEVER FORGET
November 26, 2014
AS we look to celebrate our 49th year of independence next year, this reminded me of the good times and prosperity Guyanese enjoyed prior to 1962 but then the riots started. It was just a short 19 years later under Burnham�s Dictatorship, that the World Bank and IMF declared Guyana a bankrupt state as poor as Haiti.
Let us examine the achievements under Burnham�s illegal regime. No electricity. As soon as night fall Burnham�s goons were out in full force dressed in military fatigues raiding people�s homes along the East Coast, West Coast, East Bank and West Bank corridor robbing them at gunpoint.
Wherever street corner meetings were held by the main Opposition party or any other minor party, his goons appeared in truck loads armed with sticks and bottles led by Rabbi Washington (real name David Hill, a known criminal in the United States) and beat everyone. We have just seen similar behaviour played out once again in Linden and Agricola which were organised by the APNU and the AFC in 2012 (with both parties now jointly representing a one-seat majority political Opposition).
The sewer system backed up, filth oozing out the manholes, trenches and canals in the city stunk with putrid water that created a haven for mosquitoes. Corruption was at an all-time high, hence a complete breakdown of law and order. I remembered waiting at the Transport and Harbours Department (THD) wharf for my shipment of casareep, the transport ship �The Lady North Coat� ran out of diesel. On Burnham�s command by phone to Sprostons, a tugboat was sent out to the rescue. Burnham was the law!
Our entire railway system was sold out. This included two brand new engines that were presented as gifts from Ottawa, Canada to the state of Guyana on attaining our independence.
A colossal shame was brought on us when Jim Jones from the People�s Temple murdered 914 men, women and babies in our jungle.
Our airport facilities were in shambles and in a deplorable state. Two flights per week by B.W.I.A to ferry out the mass exodus of Guyanese migrating to foreign lands. This aircraft had to be refueled in Trinidad.
The dictatorship passed deliberate �show no mercy act� against our country by banning over 400 food items and medical supplies. The line ups were long for scarce food items even for sugar and rice, which were produced locally. Having a loaf of bread in your home was enough to land you in jail, while Burnham and his cronies enjoyed life abundance.
The astute and great narrator Burnham said in one of his many famous speeches and I quote: �Comrades, you better don�t get sick eh, they ain�t got no drugs and I ain�t bringing none in, if yuall get sick and go inside deh you ain�t coming back out alive and comrades I possess highly tempered steel and I give no quarter and I want none in return�. This was broadcasted simultaneously on both Radio Demerara and G.B.S radio stations. As faith would have it, LFS Burnham became ill, was admitted to �deh� Georgetown Hospital and did not make it out alive. This is poetic justice.
Rigging of elections continued even after Burnham�s demise by his successor Desmond Hoyte who grabbed 85% of the votes.
The deliverance of our great nation that possesses so much wealth came in October 1992 when the �Poverty Nakedness and Crime� (PNC) was voted out from office.
Please note that Hamilton Green, David Granger, Robert Corbin, Carl Greenidge and Raphael Trotman are all dead beats from Burnham�s illegal regime and are now under the disguise of APNU and AFC. They must never be voted into office ever again! Keep them out at all cost!
It is your time now Berbice for development. This has just started and I urge all of you to come out and vote overwhelmingly for the PPP/Civic Government at the next general elections.
Today what do we have after nonstop and relentless lobbying of foreign Governments for free and fair elections by overseas Guyanese who must never be forgotten? The year 1992 came around when we had our first free and fair elections after three decades of Burnham�s PNC dictatorship. Let us examine the list of achievements since 1992 under the PPP elected Government.
** Free and Fair elections were brought back as law
** Revamping of our constitution and reinstating a number of democratic measures
** Working feverishly hard to stamp out and closing all loop holes on corruption, a PNC legacy
** Restoring electricity, water and our phone systems
** Refurbish and building over 100 new schools and 2 universities
** Over 14 new hospitals in all three counties with modern state of the art technologies
** A new floating bridge in Berbice
** A new and improved C.J. International Airport/Timehri and a new one to start constructions in 2013
** The new Ogle International Airport
** New laws passed protecting women�s and children�s rights
** Construction of a four lane highway along the East Bank corridor and continuous road improvements
** Regaining the rights to our gold mines after Desmond Hoyte (slow-fyah-more-fyah) sold us out to Omai, who in turn rewarded him with $1M per month until death
** A new state of the art and modern sugar factory at Skeldon
** A new medical management unit with medical and pharmaceutical needs for our entire nation.
** Solar systems for Amerindians as part of the fair and equitable treatment to enhance their lives
** Pumping stations of water, kokers, canals and drains to prevent flooding
** A 25 mile stretch of highway up to Mahaica along the old train tracks (Railway Embankment)
** New traffic lights in Georgetown
** Housing for over 100,000 Guyanese, new communities rising up
** The new Providence Stadium
** One Laptop computer per house hold free of cost; a boost to our education system via the new TV learning channel
** The new Takutu Bridge on the Guyana-Brazil border near Lethem
** Over 700 million US dollars sitting in our Central Bank and the list goes on and on
Finally, I am proud to say that, as the LIAT aircraft that I travelled in approached the Coast line of Georgetown coming in from Barbados, I looked down and was in awe at the amount of lights. For a moment Georgetown appeared to look like Puerto Rico; what a lovely sight.
Kudos to the PPP/Civic Government and special thanks to former President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo who has shown the political will to lead and I have no doubt that President Donald Ramotar will elevate our Guyana to the next level of continued progress.
The holocaust is never forgotten. Guyanese must never forget!
Vj ~ And worst, we were asked to celebrate, at a certain date every year of that period of dictatorship, our independence.
|THE ENIGMAS OF SOCIALISM
Back to contents
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
|Stephen David Forbes
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for not sharing this?
Neither could I.
This will certainly amuse you!
Vj � Again, as I have always been saying, no country can become rich without wealthy people.
How far are socialists in the West willing to go?
|Muslim divide in India
Back to contents
By devindersingh gulati
In India, madrassas and institutions like the AMU (Aligarh Muslim University)play a significant role in strengthening the psyche that militates against the spirit of free inquiry. A question that emerges is whether the secular Indian state should fund religious activities and theological education at AMU, or for that matter at other universities.
The role of religion, at the cost of free inquiry which should be the natural instinct of universities, is also furthered by the Faculty of Theology at AMU. It has separate departments for Shia and Sunni theology. Between them, about two dozen staff members, including professors of theology, are funded by the tax payer. They are not producing Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; nor are they producing Avicenna, Ibn Rushd or Al-Farabi. So, one wonders how the Faculty of Theology is different from other madrassas in India.
Teaching of theology in itself cannot be objected to if its purpose is to inculcate critical thinking among students. If the purpose is indeed the advancement of critical thought among Indian Muslims, one could justify the Indian state's funding to the Faculty of Theology. But at present, critical thinking, advancement of knowledge and freedom of expression are not subjects for which AMU is known for.
A second question that arises is this: Since numerous religious educational institutions and madrassas exist to teach theology to Muslims, why should the secular Indian state feed more theological orthodoxies, and not scientific thought, into the minds of Muslims, whose lives are already overwhelmed by excessive religion?
Over the years, the AMU has sent a sociological message to Indian Muslims that it is the only university where they can come and study. This is contrary to facts because Muslims are eligible, like any other citizen, to enrol in any of the thousands of colleges and universities across India.
However, the AMU's existence as a minority institution strengthens Muslim isolation and aids their religious consolidation, preventing Muslims from integrating in India's social mainstream. Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing a case in which the government has asked the court to quash AMU's minority status.
"If the Supreme Court verdict goes against the minority character of AMU, the university will start behaving like any other secular educational institution in India," says Tariq. He says that the Congress government in 2005 awarded AMU a minority status, thereby allowing it to reserve 50 percent of the seats for Muslims. Such thinking pushes Muslims towards a ghetto mentality. The minority phenomenon is a rallying point for communal Muslims at AMU.
Tayyab Bashar, a research scholar in political science, says that on visits to Azamgarh he was "shocked to see that people have four-wheelers at the door but that they are not running educational institutions like the Christians and Hindus do. Muslims are only running madrassas, which cannot qualify as educational institutions."
"On the AMU campus, deen ka mahaul ziyadah hai (religion has a bigger presence)," he says, adding that the AMU campus was captured by Mullahs during the last 20 years and their only focus now is on religion. He says that even in departments such as engineering and sciences, those students get better marks who have long beards and spend time in religious camps of the Tablighi Jamaat, an international revivalist movement with headquarters in New Delhi.
Khalid reminds that this leads to the consolidation of Muslims on religious lines. 'Aligs', or the old boys of AMU, establish hostels in AMU, buy flats in Aligarh and have their children study at AMU, Khalid says, adding that such behaviour creates a cocoon.
A Muslim feels comfortable only with another Muslim. Such consolidation gave birth to the Pakistan Movement, leading to the division of India in 1947. Aligs have created a jannat (heaven) here in Aligarh and it is difficult to come out of this hisar (circle), he adds.
AMU might have become one of the largest degree-awarding institutions in the country, but scientific spirit and freedom of thought and expression, that define a university's purpose, cannot be found anywhere on campus. AMU can produce skilled professionals such as engineers and doctors, not innovators and philosophers. Intellectually, AMU is dead at the feet of excessive influence of Islam in its academic and social life.
Nowadays, Brigadier (Retired) Syed Ahmad Ali, the pro-vice chancellor of AMU, is leading a campaign for separate reservation for Muslims in educational institutions in India. He is not telling Muslims, however, that the OBCs among Muslims already come under the reservation umbrella. He is not asking for reservation for the backward groups among Muslims, but for anyone who believes in Islam. Muslims want everything separate because this is what Islam leads them to.
I asked Abdul Waheed, a professor at the sociology department, to tell me where this rise of burqas and skullcaps on AMU campus will lead to. Waheed cites historical studies, noting that during the Khilafat Movement in the 1920s, for restoration of the Turkey-led Islamic caliphate, Indian society witnessed the rise of beards and caps but adds that these disappeared after the Partition.
It is worth mentioning that it was on the AMU campus that the Pakistan Movement was born, because it was here that highly educated Muslims had coalesced together, ultimately forcing the demand for a separate territory for Muslims. Waheed's words, that the beards and caps disappeared after the Partition haunt me, as I am left wondering if the rise of burqas and skullcaps on AMU campus will disappear after another Partition, which need not be territorial in nature.
"Ignore your party, your religion, sect, language, occupation and region, and play your role in defeating the BJP by voting a candidate who has the ability and power to defeat the BJP," says an article published on 28 January in the Lucknow edition of the Urdu daily Roznama Avadhnama. Ideally, Muslims of Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere should be voting for all political parties. But Ansari's article seeks to mobilise Muslims for the reason that they are Muslims. Such mobilisation creates religion-based intellectual separatism. In the 1857 war, Muslims and Hindus had fought together against the British rule, but thereafter, Muslims went their separate ways, notably during the freedom struggle. So, while the separatist thinking remains a factor among Muslim intellectuals and writers, there is also a contrary strand: Integration, which requires Muslims to live in co-existence with Hindus.
The unfurling of the Indian flag at madrassas comes about despite the fact that the concept of "nation" among Muslims is essentially global in character � identified by words like "millat" and "Ummah", both of which mean the global Muslim nation. According to a Roznama Avadhnama report, madrassas and predominantly Muslim schools in Lucknow celebrated this year's Republic Day with full enthusiasm.
Such institutions included Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Darul Uloom Nizamia, Shoa-e-Fatima Girls College, Madrassa Aina-e-Islam, Jamia Nazmia, Nazmia Arabic College, Maaz Ibn-e-Jabal Public School, Madrassa Syed Ahmed Shaheed, Muhammadia Model School, among others. Of these, Syed Ahmed Shaheed is one name that figures frequently in the Pakistani Taliban's literature, because he had led the first jihad in India against Sikh rule in Punjab, in early 19th century.
At such a Republic Day event, Maulana Saeedur Rahman Al-Azmi Nadwi, principal at the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama seminary of Lucknow, said that India's independence is indebted to the contributions of "thousands of Ulama (Islamic scholars) and elders of the community" but "an unpious conspiracy is being hatched to erase their names from history."
Speaking at the Maulana Azad Memorial Academy, its secretary general, Abdul Quddus Hashmi, stressed on the need for education among Muslims. He added: "In the Indian constitution, followers of every religion are given the complete authority to build and run educational institutions and places of worship" but "unfortunately, instead of justice in this democratic country, discrimination and prejudice rule due to which minorities here, especially Muslims, are facing lots of difficulties."
Many of these madrassas invited non-Muslims from different walks of life to be chief guests on the occasion. Although their message was essentially one of communal harmony, the speeches delivered at these events were laced with grievance-mongering. The Roznama Avadhnama report indicates that words like "mujahid", "mujahidon" and "mujahideen" (i.e. jihadi and jihadist) were used frequently in several speeches for the Ulama who had fought against the British.
While some will argue that a mujahid is one whose jihad is against the negativities of his own self, what is striking is that at these largely peaceful Republic Day functions, the term "mujahid" is used essentially in the context of war, which most Muslim children subconsciously come to grasp of jihad. For now, the Indian Muslim resides at the cross-section of integration and separatism.
HOW POLITICOS HOLD DOWN THEIR COMMUNITIES
Bidding farewell to outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said �it is possible that there was some restlessness within you as well but from today you will not face that crisis�. He told Ansari �you now have the joy of being liberated, and the opportunity to work, think and speak according to your core beliefs�.
What was constraining Ansari? The constitution of the country:
�You were associated with West Asia for a major part of your career as a diplomat. You spent many years of your life in that circle, in that atmosphere, in that thought, its debate and amid such people. For a major part after your retirement, whether it was in Minority Commission or Aligarh University, you remained in that circle. But for 10 years, you got a different responsibility. Every moment, you had to remain confined to the Constitution and you tried your best to fulfill that responsibility,� Modi told Ansari.
BJP slams Hamid Ansari
Imagine this: I am a five-year-old girl, hungry since yesterday, wearing torn clothes, begging for a few coins at a traffic light. Vice-President Hamid Ansari�s (who stepped down yesterday) motorcade stops; my hands stretch out to him and he asks: Are you a Muslim? I fumble: my religion, I am hungry. He does not respond; he proceeds to the 50th anniversary celebrations of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), an Islamist organisation that has opposed reforms among Muslims. �Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful,� wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca.
Having served as a diplomat in Muslim countries, Ansari understands Islam�s role in politics. Addressing the AIMMM, he praised Narendra Modi�s slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas (Together with all, Development for all) but argued: �affirmative action� is a �pre-requisite� for Muslims� progress. In other words, he advocated quota for Muslims. Like Asaduddin Owaisi, Ansari is unhappy that backward castes among Muslims already get reservation.
Before 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was demanding separate territory for those who believed in Islam. Ansari wants quota for those who believe in Islam. For Jinnah and Ansari, Islam must become a criterion of politics and policy-making. Unfortunately for Ansari, when India was engulfed in the Partition�s religious bloodshed, the Indian Republic�s founders rose above religion and authored a Constitution that rejected any role for religion.
Any attempt by Ansari and others to insert Islam as a criterion of politics must be condemned. Keeping with the constitutional ideal, it is time India�s youth spoke outrageously against leaders who advocate quota in the name of religion and caste. Ansari�s concern might be Muslims, but youths� concern should be the nation�s daughter at the traffic light.
In the 1857 war, Hindus and Muslims fought together. After that, Muslims � noted the late Muslim reformer Hamid Dalwai � missed historical opportunities for progress: Sir Syed�s renaissance movement among Muslims emerged in opposition to Hindus; Muslim leaders failed to align with Hindus during the freedom struggle. After 1947, this Muslim separatism was bolstered through riots-for-vote politics and the practice of secularism to keep Muslims in their cocoon. Instead of ending this vacuum, Ansari is using the quota politics to keep Muslims separated from mainstream.
There are about 40 lakh central government jobs. To Ansari: let�s assume all jobs are given to Muslims. Will that end the Muslim backwardness? Barack Obama became America�s first black president because he led all Americans, not just the blacks. India is yet to produce a Muslim who could present himself as the leader of all Indians.
At the AIMMM event, Ansari spoke as the leader of Muslims, not as the nation�s Vice-President. Indians are in search of a Muslim politician in the mould of APJ Abdul Kalam, not Hamid Ansari.
Some journalists noted that Ansari also urged Muslims to begin reform through ijtihad, consensus by reasoning. Ansari too could do ijtihad in his thinking and come out with a new politics in tune with the Constitution, not compliant with Islam. A numerical definition of �minority� is inadequate to explain the Muslim situation. For example, the blacks were in majority during the Apartheid in South Africa, but practically a minority as they were subjugated.
Qualitatively, Indian Muslims do not qualify as a minority. Only women, Scheduled Castes and Tribes are India�s first sociological minorities because they are subjugated while Muslims conduct themselves as a politically vocal group, not a sign of subjugation. It is our criminal silence that Indian kids are begging at traffic lights while the nation�s debate is conducted in the name of religion.
Why Not Constitutional Path For Muslims?
Mubarakpur, less than an hour from Azamgarh town by an autorickshaw, is a small town with not even a government-run degree college or a railway station; and in the absence of the Indian State, it sits at the junction of leading Islamic sects. Barelvi Muslims are the dominant sect here. Deobandi Muslims come next in terms of their influence in the town and neighbouring villages, followed by the Ahle Hadith sect. All the three belong to the Sunni Islam, while the town also has a significant population of Shias, including Bohra Muslims, another sect among Shias. Although largely peaceful in recent years, Mubarak witnessed several Shia-Sunni riots in 1999-2000 over disputes involving religious land.
Jamiatul Ashrafia, the top educational institution of Barelvi Islam in India, has more than 11,000 students on its rolls in schools and colleges controlled by it in and around Mubarakpur. Firstpost/Tufail Ahmed
A key principle that helps to understand these doctrinal sects in Islam is taqleed, which means to follow one of the four schools of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) led by noted jurists Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi'i, Imam Malik and Imam Hanbal. Barelvi and Deobandi Muslims follow Imam Abu Hanifa. Ahle Hadith follow the Quran and Hadiths (sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad). While the Barelvis and Deobandis follow fiqh, Ahle Hadith follow only those points from Islamic jurisprudence which are also covered in the Quran and Hadiths. Since they do not follow any imam, Ahle Hadiths are known as ghairmuqallid, literally not following anyone. Shia Muslims also follow the principle of taqleed but to their own separate line of imams.
All these sects have their own educational institutions in Mubarakpur. Jamiatul Ashrafia is the top educational institution of Barelvi Islam in India, with students from many countries in Africa and North America studying here. The Deobandi sect has its own Jamia Arabia Ehyayul Uloom, while Madrasa Al-Arabia Darul Taleem belongs to the Ahle Hadith sect. Shia Muslims have their own Madrasa Babul Ilm. All these institutions might appear as small but their intellectual world is large and consequential in the life of Muslims. Their mosques are separate, their clerics are separate, their educational institutions are separate, and their followers are separate.
A current trend in Islam is to write the name of these sects on the doors of mosques. This is part of a deliberate movement to take control of mosques on sectarian lines. Each of these network of madrassas trains thousands of students every year. Of these, Jamiatul Ashrafia and Jamia Arabia Ehyayul Uloom also have a network of madrassas and schools conforming to the syllabi of the Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Board in villages around Mubarakpur. They have pockets of Muslims in the region following them precisely on the basis of doctrinal consideration. In future, these pockets will become communities, much like Shias and Sunnis became cultural communities.
Much like political differences for control of power after Prophet Mohammad's death transformed into differences of religious nature, thereby creating the Sunni and Shia sects, all the current doctrinal sects are also creating practices in the life of Muslims. Such differences cover the following: Into which sect it is right to marry, in what manner to offer prayers, should leaders of other sects be allowed to speak in a certain mosque, how many times to offer prayers and whether to accept the practice of taqleed. Among Shia Muslims, a new sect called Akhbari Muslims has emerged in recent years which is not following any Shia juristic headquarters (marja) � the two centres now led by Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq and Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran.
I met Mufti Nizamuddin, the principal of Jamiatul Ashrafia which has more than 11,000 students including 1,600 in its hostels, and asked him to comment on a Hadith as per which Prophet Mohammad said, "Do not teach women to write." This is a major issue because some Barelvi clerics continue to propagate that women should not be taught writing. Mufti Nizamuddin said the Hadith does exist but in Islam there are two types of prohibitions: One is haram as per which a certain act is "strictly forbidden" and the other is something that is "not wanted", and therefore one can adopt a stand as per the demands of changing times. "Today, a big section of the Muslim Ummah accepts that women can write, and they (Islamic scholars) have also established numerous madrassas for women," he explained.
Asked if a Muslim woman can pilot a plane, he said there's "nothing illegitimate, there is no ban" if she adheres to the etiquette of lifestyle as per Shariah. I conclude from my conversations on similar topics that many Islamic clerics, for example those at Madrassa Baitul Uloom in the nearby town of Saraimeer, do think that roles of a driver, pilot or soldier are allowed for women within the bounds of Shariah. Such clerics also approve of these roles but their presumption is that the Shariah's boundaries are extremely difficult to follow for Muslim women in modern times and therefore questions on these subjects are basically irrelevant. Therefore, I am left with the feeling that the same clerics would not permit roles like pilot and soldier to Muslim women.
Common Muslims are taught to follow the taqleed of one of the four schools of jurisprudence. Is it necessary for a Muslim to follow taqleed? Mufti Nizamuddin responds: "The Quran has ordered that in case there is no information about a certain issue, neither the Quran nor Hadiths have clear orders about it, one should trust the advice of experts of Islamic law." The mufti (someone who delivers fatwas) gave the example that if you go to a heart specialist, you follow his advice; and similarly, in the religious world, one must follow the advice of an Islamic jurist. Reminded that the principle of taqleed is leading to conflicts between two groups of dargahs (shrines) of the Barelvi sect itself in Bareilly, he added: "The principle of taqleed is not based on duniyaviranjish (worldly animosity) or some baseless difference."
During the interview, Mufti Nizamuddin took care of every word he spoke so as not to hurt the sentiments of any sect in Mubarakpur or elsewhere. But my conversations with Islamic clerics in the town indicate that at jalsas (religious congregations) of each sect, words and sentences are indeed spoken that cause heartburn to the other sect. Maulana Abdul Wafi Qasmi, the vice-chancellor of the Jamia Arabia Ehyayul Uloom which was established in 1899, said: "Sometimes they say some sentences against us and we are forced to organise a jalsa to respond (to give counter arguments)." Qasmi who declined to be photographed for religious reasons, noted some of the major differences, saying that the Barelvi sect believes that the prophet was alim-ul-ghaib (one who knew everything), builds concrete graves, allows music at mazars (shrines), and so on.
Both Barelvis and Deobandis accuse Ahle Hadith sect of being ghairmuqallid. So, I met Maulana Ateequr Rahman, who is a leading scholar at the Madrasa Al-Arabia Darul Taleem established in 1906. He too refused to be photographed for religious reasons. Although his madrassa belongs to the Ahle Hadith sect, Rahman noted that the textbooks are the same which are taught in Barelvi and Deobandi madrassas. "Our main basis are the Quran and Hadiths. And those who 'also' accept fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) get divided into maslaks (doctrinal sects)," Rahman said, adding: "The four leading jurists themselves used to accept Allah and the prophet (i.e. the Quran and Hadiths)." By his argument, these four leading jurists too were ghair muqallid, those who did not follow any imam but the Quran and the Hadiths.
The principle of taqleed has caused divisions among Muslims. "Due to the principle of taqleed, doctrinal differences are growing. There is groupism. Muslims and the Islamic scholars get divided. The biggest obstacle in the unity of Muslims is taqleed," Rahman said. I asked him to respond to a new argument forwarded by the Barelvis that their followers should follow among the Barelvi families only. He asked, "When it is permitted for Muslims to marry Ahle Kitab (people of the book such as the Bible and Torah), how come a Muslim cannot marry a Muslim (of non-Barelvi sect)?" His position is not entirely that of the European Enlightenment. Asked if the Sunnis should marry with men and women of Shia Muslims, Rahman observed: "We cannot marry into Shias. But we can marry into Barelvis, Deobandis and others." I left with the view that both Barelvis and the Ahle Hadith do not accept Shias as Muslims.
Madrasa Al-Arabia Darul Taleem, an educational institution established in 1906 in Mubarakpur and run by the Ahle Hadith sects who reject doctrinal divisions in Islamic jurisprudence.
Ali Imam, the former president of the Madrasa Babul Ilm of the Shia sect, reflects on the doctrinal divisions in Mubarakpur. "The Muslims of Mubarakpur are lagging politically. They are into politics but are divided into groups. Collectively, they do not consider any one as their leader," he says and for an example notes that although the Barelvis, like the Deobandis, follow Imam Abu Hanifa, "the founder of the Barelvi school Ala Hazrat Ahmad Raza Khan has become larger than Abu Hanifa himself." Unfortunately, each sect is fighting for the purer form of Islam and considers the other sects as dangerous to Islam itself. Sometime ago, I was told by Naila Inayat, the USA Today correspondent based in Lahore, "Here in Pakistan, Muslims are 98 percent but for them Islam is still in danger." In the long run, Mubarakpur too is on the same path of Pakistan.
In the majestic city of Lucknow once governed by the Shia ruler Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, journalist Kulsum Mustafa draws my attention to the following: "Sunni Muslims are a majority but they lack education. However, right among this majority there exists a minority of Shia Muslims who are doing exceptionally well in education." This profound observation sheds light on the minority syndrome which exists among Indian Muslims, but does not exist among other religious minorities such as the Sikhs, Parsis and Jains.
Noted Sunni scholar Maulana Salman Al-Husaini Al-Nadwi who issued a congratulatory leader to Islamic State chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi after he proclaimed himself as a caliph of all Muslims in 2014.
Asked to explain why Shia Muslims are doing educationally better than Sunni Muslims, Maulana Saidur Rahman, the principal of the world-famous Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama seminary of Lucknow, states: "There is bedari (awareness) among Shia Muslims. They understand that education is necessary for progress. The Sunnis too are becoming aware." However, the causes of Muslim backwardness in India cannot be attributed solely to a lack of awareness, especially since Sunni Muslims are politically assertive, and are demanding that the government fix their life and are unwilling to part with the 'minority' tag, a relevant political tool, especially at the time of elections.
Kalbe Jawwad, the leading Shia cleric of Lucknow who was travelling, told me by phone that the Sunni Muslims get into small businesses such as mechanics, tailoring, embroidery work, meat business and others, which excludes them from the education system early in life. In Jawwad's view, there is a strong emphasis on education among Shias who, unlike the Sunnis, first complete education before getting into work. Rakesh Dwivedi, who teaches social work at the Lucknow University, explains it further: "Small-scale entrepreneurship is prevalent more among [Sunni] Muslims than among Hindus because the latter start business activities after education while Muslims begin entrepreneurial activities before education." He suggests that any educational reform for Muslims must include a teaching component on entrepreneurship at early age.
Kulsum, who is a Shia Muslim married into a Sunni family, notes that the tradition of majlis (religious gathering) inculcates a strong emphasis on educational and social life of Shia Muslims. Majalis, the plural of majlis, are held throughout the year but especially during the month of Muharram in which Shias mourn the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE. Every majlis is a socio-religious platform and has two parts: the first half focuses on social issues, while the second half is devoted to remembering the difficulties suffered by Ahle Bait, the members of the prophet's household, she explains.
While this insight into the Sunni-Shia difference in the fields of education and religion is relevant to understanding the Muslim backwardness, it is also pertinent to explain the so-called 'minority' phenomenon, which appears to shackle the development of Sunni Muslims. Islam has always been a religion of war for power. In early days in Mecca, the prophet preached Islam peacefully. After Hijrah (migration) to Medina where he established the first Islamic state, the prophet waged many wars. And right after the prophet's death, disputes arose over succession leading to two divisions among Muslims: Shias and Sunnis. "Islam is basically a war for the Caliphate," Kulsum observes.
So, in the mid-2014 when Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the chief of the jihadi-terror group Islamic State (ISIS, also known as Daesh by its Arabic initials) declared himself as the caliph of all Muslims, a congratulatory letter was released by Maulana Salman Al-Husaini Al-Nadwi, a leading Sunni scholar of Islam at the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama of Lucknow. I met him at his office. I asked him questions on the Muslim educational backwardness, his support for the Bahujan Samaj Party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, role of Islamic scholars in the life of Muslims, lack of worldly education in the syllabi of madrassas and so on. His responses were sweet and short and in phrases and half-sentences, and I felt my conversation was not progressing anywhere until I questioned him on his controversial letter to Al-Baghdadi. He came to life because this is one subject on which he had to defend himself, as he was widely criticised for supporting the Islamic State.
The first response I got from him shocked me because it was rooted in the Sunni-Shia schism in Islam. "I congratulated Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on the point that he had registered victories against Shion ke zalimana mazalim (the cruel atrocities of Shias in Iraq)," said Maulana Salman, adding that in the letter he had advised Al-Baghdadi to establish good relations with other countries as well as with India and not to kill ordinary people just because they belong to different sects, i.e. mainly the Shia sect. However, Al-Baghdadi continued to promote sectarianism (anti-Shia killings), he said, and the violence spread to other countries. Maulana Salman gave a post-facto justification for his support to Islamic State saying that he continued to watch its initial role and later wrote an essay against Al-Baghdadi which was published as a booklet.
"Now, Daesh is on the path of Kharijites. They talk about Islam but Islam se bari hain (are out of Islam)." Maulana Salman said. Kharijites were Islamic State-like forces in Islam, religiously devout and offering five-time prayers, and they would kill Muslims who in their theological opinion had left Islam. I stopped for a second on the use of the word bari (expelled/out) and asked him if the Islamic State is out of Islam. To which, he responded: "We do not consider it kafir [infidel, or non-Muslim]. It is so violent that it only thinks about its own group [as an organisation]."
"The Islamic State is not the spokesman of Islam," he said and added correctly that the war underway in Iraq over the past decade and more is also rooted in the geostrategic roles played by the US, the UK, Israel and other western powers. He was dismissive about the Indian Muslim youths who have been arrested over pro-Islamic State radicalisation or went to fight in Syria. Such youths are devoid of hikmat (wisdom) and lose sense, he remarked.
In the booklet titled, "Daesh is neither the agent of America nor of Israel � It is a violent and extremist Salafi organisation," Maulana Salman emphatically states: "Lots of people understand that these people [i.e. Islamic State] are the agent of external enemies. I am saying it with full confidence that it is not so. They are gripped by their thought and beliefs. They are Salafis who do not feel at rest without declaring fatwas on takfir and apostasy." Declaring takfir means deciding theologically who among Muslims has left Islam and as an apostate is therefore liable to be killed. While the booklet correctly attributes the theological roots of the Islamic State to past theologians such as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Wahhab, it is significant for another issue: the writing of this booklet is driven by purely anti-Shia clamour to capture power, a key reason why Maulana Salman initially backed Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi, a Sunni.
And therefore in the booklet, Maulana Salman lauds a conference that was called in Riyadh of 40 jihadi groups from Syria which was held to unite them against the Bashar Al-Assad regime, who heads the Shia regime in Syria. The booklet is noticeable for the fact that it doesn't imagine space for the Sunni power of Islam to co-exist with the Shia powers of the day such as Iran, Iraq and Syria. In the booklet, he speaks for the need to end sectarianism (firqawariat) from countries like Iraq and Syria but in the context of the booklet and the politics in the Middle East, the word "sectarianism" essentially means the termination of Shia power from the Islamic world, which in the unwritten imagination of Maulana Salman is necessary for the rebirth of the Sunni-led global Caliphate, which existed till 1924 when the Ottoman caliphate ended in Turkey. The battle of Karbala was the bloodiest in Islam and in fact so bloody that Muslims felt ashamed of themselves and therefore used poisoning as a method to murder Shia imams in later centuries. The battle of Karbala was also fought for control of the caliphate.
Muslim intellectual and social anthropologist Nadeem Hasnain, who lives in Lucknow. Photo courtesy: Tufail Ahmad
Muslim intellectual and social anthropologist Nadeem Hasnain, who lives in Lucknow.
Both the viewpoints expressed by Maulana Salman and Kulsum Mustafa lead to only one definitive conclusion: the world is engaged in a continuing series of wars between the Sunnis and the Shias; it is a war of Islam for the capture and rebirth of the global Caliphate. It is Islam's war to lay siege to the global political power. This war in India transforms itself into what we understand as the minority syndrome, which is necessarily a Sunni Muslim phenomenon among the Muslims who lost power in 1857. Election times are the only times when the minority phenomenon forces the majority community to overtly behave as a minority community by wearing topi aur angochha (the Muslim cap and male scarf), Kulsum explains.
It is essentially the political behaviour of a community that does not want to behave as a minority, even though this behaviour creates victimhood and siege mentality, and therefore harms the Sunni community in educational and economic life. It is basically a Sunni Muslim tool to claim a stake in power, while the real minorities such as Shias, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs do not use it to play victimhood or to assert superiority. Lucknow-based social anthropologist Nadeem Hasnain wonders: "When will Muslims learn to live as a minority? Will they even learn or not? Why can't we understand that we cannot progress without the goodwill of the majority?" He adds: "I think our biggest complex is that we have ruled India for 800 years." When I asked Maulana Saidur Rahman, the principal of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, to explain the Muslim educational backwardness, he too diagnosed its causes in power, not in innovation, rational thought and individual initiative. "Samrajiyat (imperialism) kept Muslims backward. Everyone wants to keep Muslims backward," he said.
While it's true that Shias too lost power to the British, notably when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned by the British, the Shia loss of power was not much. Additionally, Shia Muslims learnt to march in step with the changing times while the Sunnis did not, observes Jeelani Khan Alig, who is based in Lucknow. So, the Sunni nature of the minority phenomenon forces them to look up to the government and power to fix their economic and educational life. This siege mentality gave birth to the Khilafat movement which paved the way for the creation of Pakistan. Post-independence, India has entered a new cycle of partition, as journalist Siddharth Singh tells me, which is dividing India right in its towns and cities. I have argued earlier that India is headed to multiple partitions. The only point to understand is that the nature of this conflict is raging at the intellectual and political levels in the forms of minority politics and the communal politics masquerading as secularism in India.
Sunni- Shia divide