Neither Right, Nor Honourable


Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh – deliberately suppressed
A NEWS ITEM about an Indian being killed in Canada, made a young relative comment that it must be the work of a ‘nigga gang’

This is the popular conception — that negroes (nigga gang) — are all evil. In the US many teenage blacks,innocent and not armed, get shot dead by police who ‘presume’ that they were armed, just because they are black.
Becoming‘, Michelle Obama’s new book, speaks of several cases of such racial discrimination. The entre problem of racialism is addressed without any bitterness, in sharp contrast with the ‘Dalit’ debate in India. On the other hand, when blacks get shot President Donald Trump argues they are to blame for not being armed. Indians know how prevalent victim-blaming is there in this country.
Guns are not free. Most blacks cannot afford them. Big money from guns makes the National Rifle Association (NRA) so powerful that it runs USA. No party can touch them.
It reminds me of freedom fighter Rt.Hon. Srinivasa Sastry, one of the top experts in English. Chided by the Principal of his college for not wearing a shirt,he replied: ‘Sir, if I had money to buy a shirt, I’d have bought a book with it.’

Perhaps you have never heard of Rt.Hon. Srinivasa Sastry (always addressed as Rt. Hon. and never just Mr or Sri) History in India is written and taught for generations to suit one dynasty.

Rt. Hon
Rightly honourable

Valangaiman Sankaranarayana Srinivasa Sastri, CH PC, was an Indian politician, administrator, educator, orator and an activist in the Indian freedom struggle, acclaimed for his oratory and command over the English language.

Srinivasa Sastri was born to a poor temple priest in the village of Valangaiman near Kumbakonam, India. — says Wikipedia. Today he would have been condemned by the ‘liberals’ as a Brahmin.

Born on September 22, 1869, he died on April 17, 1946 at Mylapore in Chennai.

It is said there was a dispute about the pronunciation of a word in the British House of Commons. An MP said his was correct: he had heard Rt.Hon. Srinivasa Satry pronounce it that way!

Gandhiji took him to the London Round Table Conference on India’s freedom struggle to draft the English resolutions. The shirt story NEVER fails to bring tears to my eyes, even if I tell it 100 times. But we know nothing about him but know all about third-rate White leaders and writers.

Many, born in Telangana, never heard of the,20-year-old Urdu newspaper editor Shoebullah Khan of Imroze, brutally killed by Razahars (now MIM) for opposing the accession of Nizam’s state of Hyderabad to Pakistan.

All because Congress wanted to deny that Sardar Patel and many others, like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maghfoor Ahmed Ajazi, Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, Veer Savarkar, Rajguru, Chandrasekhar Azad, Prafulla Chandra Roy, Rasbehari Bose, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Alluri Seetarama Raju and thousands more, played any role in freedom struggle.
Alluding to all of them as dogs, the party’s Lok Sabha leader Kharge said “not a dog barked” for freedom when only the Nehru family and Congress were fighting for it. He, obviously, does not know that Congress then was not a political party but and umbrella organisation – a movement – under which all, including socialists and Hindu groups, functioned. Then one family appropriated it by naming its party Congress and falsely calling themselves Gandhi.

British called M. K. Gandhi a “half-naked fakir.” Congress wanted to do even better.

It ignored all others but Nehru and his dynasty.

It ignored all others but Nehru and his dynasty.

C All Rights Reserved

Go Go…Goa

 

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Beautiful sunset scene at a Goa beach
VISITING  GOA IS, today, considered the very symbol of romanticism. Goa is not only the ‘honeymoon destination’ but also the one for those who want to renew the thrill of being married.
News from Goa is mostly either about health of Manohar Parrikar or about flesh trade by women coming from Uzbekistan, Russia or one of the countries around them.
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Tell-tale sign board in Goa

Years ago, it was about hippies coming there in large numbers and sunbathing, often nude,  on the beaches – to the chagrin of the locals. Protests over the nudism were frequently in news.

The Rajbhavan of Goa has very picturesque surroundings and every visitor should see it.
When I went to Goa decades ago,  Nakul  Sain, Congress leader Ambika Soni’s father, was the Lt. Governor  of Goa (then a union territory). He asked me what was the most striking thing about Goa.
I said it was that the people were very conservative and not ‘mod’  –  unlike the image of Mumbai Goans.
He told me the reason: When the Portuguese invasion came  villagers en bloc became Catholic just changing surnames, with the village inner  power structure unchanged. Joshis became D’Costas,  Chavans became Fonsecas and so on.
Customs remained the same. So was the region’s culture.
A Catholic bride wore green bangles and went to the famous Mangesh temple from the Cathedral after marriage – or so I was told then. In Mangesh temple, a modern brick and mortar structure, there is a protocol: locals  stand first in a row (they stand in  two rows not yo  block a view of the sanctum and  light from a mirror is reflected from outside on the idol at aarati time).
And that local may be a Catholic. Hindus visited the superb Cathedrals too. Hindu-Christian rivalry came much later when Congress resorted to caste politics
Konkani is spoken by all locals, with Christians writing it in Roman script and others in Devnagari (Marathi). So there is a Konkani daily newspaper in Roman and another in Marathi script.
Only when you are in Goa do you realise Konkani has a good literature and cultural heritage.  I was invited there to a Konkani poets’ seminar of on the impact Telugu poet Sri Sri on Konkani poetry.
The invite came when I went to a “Sankranti celebration” by a Telugu organisation and found a very poor veedhinatakam or nautanki  (poor, amateurish, show) being performed.
The man sitting next to me (who later  invited me to the seminar) responding to my sarcastic comment on it, said  they were all labourers who were building a bridge on Mandovi river at Panaji . (The bridge, in Panaji or Panjim, collapsed later.)
The organisation lent them the stage as they were homesick,  being away for a long time.
He told me they all come from one or two villages of Medak district (Telangana)  and are called Palamur (original name of the place) labour, a form of bonded labour where a lump sum is paid in advance and the entire joint family (except one brother who stays back to look after the house or land) goes to work.
All major Indian projects including Bhakra Nangal and Koyna were built by them as they are specialists in earth work, I was told.
I thought it (overnight conversion and Palamur labour) was good information. Now it would be called “unnecessary trash” and not as interesting as Taimur Khan’s diaper changes widely covered by our TV channels.
It was the pre-Google era. Now it would be considered “rubbish”.

Books Forgotten, But Worth Reading

Eliza_Gaskell
Elizabeth C. Gaskell

 THE SOCRATIC concept of true knowledge is the ability to know how little one knows. The world’s greatest scientist, Newton compared all known knowledge to one grain of sand on a beach.  These equally apply to books: Those who are regarded as well-read or voracious readers know that they had read a microscopic fraction of all the good books written – even in one genre. And some great books are forgotten and remain almost unknown.

One lifetime is not enough to read all the works (including the critical analyses and interpretations) of the books of only Shakespeare in English or of Kalidasa in Sanskrit.

That was, perhaps, how the sarcastic adage that “Classics are books everyone knows about, but no one reads” came into being. But, though unread, classics are known.

Millions of people go through their entire lives without reading a single book (except class books mugged up to pass exams) and talk derisively of ‘bookish knowledge’ or proud of learning from life as ‘graduates of the school of knocks.’ A few authors are known for one or two of their books but many of their works are lost in history,

Will Durant, the American author and philosopher, is famous for his classic ‘ The Story of Civilisation’. How many know of his ‘The Case for India’?  The book moved me so much that I felt the government should have bought millions of its copies to distribute them free to anyone who can read English. Another of his books, Our Oriental Heritage also would have made India proud.

I once toyed with the idea of pirating ‘The Case for India’ and distributing it free to thousands or making it a free e-book.

Some very good books are forgotten and stay unknown, hidden under the dust of history. I (and perhaps most readers) had not heard of Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, a contemporary of the great Charles Dickens in the mid-1800s.I would never have known about her if I was not listening to an audiobook of D.H. Lawrence, found it boring and moved on to readers’ comments. One of them said Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’ was much more interesting. I had not even heard of her and downloaded that audio book.

Besides Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life” she also wrote A Dark Night’s Work, The Grey Woman, The Life of Charlotte Bronte. My Lady Ludlow, Round the Sofa, North and South, Mr Harrison’s Confession, Wives and Daughters, Ruth, Cousin Phillis, Cranford and the Cage at Cranford, The Moorland Cottage, Sylvia’s Lover and The Pastor’s Wife.

All these books are available on the free audiobook site, Librivox.  I would not have known about the book had I not discovered, due to the fear of impending blindness, audiobook sites (I subscribe to several such sites) and Librivox, a site which has most books whose copyright had expired, enabling them to be put ‘in public domain’ with the help of volunteers who read them. Librivox also has an e-book version GuteBooks for those who can read on screen.

ALL the books by Gaskell have received 4, 4.5 or 5-star (out of 5) ratings from the listeners. Some books are available in more than one version, read by a different person.

Here is a writer-up on the book by Martin Geeson, on the Librivox site:

Mary Barton was Elizabeth Gaskell’s first full-length novel. It was published anonymously in that tumultuous year of political change, 1848 – only a few months after the Communist Manifesto co-authored by her fellow Manchester-resident, Friedrich Engels. Engels’s experience as agent in his father’s cotton-spinning factory motivated him to write “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, a classic account of the sufferings of the poor under the factory-system.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s own personal contact with the plight of the poor cotton workers of Lancashire also compelled her to a compassionate examination of their lives; but as a middle-class woman, married to an Unitarian minister, her approach to her subject took on a more emotionally complex significance; influenced by religious faith but also by more personal considerations. In the brief preface to the novel, Mrs Gaskell hints at her initial impulse. The loss of a beloved child in infancy led her to seek a therapeutic outlet, but one which left her uncertain of her capacity to contextualize her public, writerly response to the tragedies occurring in the surrounding society of Manchester’s poorest classes:
“I know nothing of Political Economy, or the theories of trade…” She was, however, determined to portray, in novelistic form, the intimate connection between the private experience of her characters and the social forces of her time. The success of the novel led her to proclaim her authorship and move on to further works of fiction, which have secured her in our times a mounting reputation as one of the leading novelists of the mid-Victorian period.
Certainly, the novel features numerous death-scenes, all conveyed with a depth of sympathy that contrasts with the queasy iambics with which Dickens orchestrated the notorious demise of Little Nell. Mrs Gaskell was not, like Dickens, a London-based novelist observing the sufferings of the provincial poor with a journalistic detachment – as evidenced in his own admirable, Lancashire-based novel “Hard Times”. Gaskell lived among the people whose attenuated lives she chronicled – and however hesitantly, as a début novelist, she rendered their experience in literary terms, her writing presents us with a true insight into the sufferings of individuals at a point in history when the mass of human beings fell casualty to the forms of economic progress following upon the Industrial Revolution. Most impressively she called into question the political and social cost of creating a resentful proletariat despairing of survival in (to quote Karl Marx) a “heartless world”.
Our reader Tony Foster is a resident of Manchester and a near-neighbour of Mrs Gaskell (allowing for their separation in time). His superb narration renders the native speech of her characters with an authenticity which ideally conveys the spirit of this book. A truly moving experience awaits everyone who gives ear to this ‘Tale of Manchester Life’.

Much has been written about India’s poverty and books or films (like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali) which portray it have a big market (and win awards) in the West where the common man still thinks Indians live on trees. But the picture of utter poverty of the working class in 19th century England is startling.

Most of the readers must have read Mulk Raj Anand’s classic ‘The Untouchable’, at least as a prescribed reading for examinations if not out of concern for an oppressed class of the country and a reflection of India’s greatest evil, the caste system.

However, in my reading for 70 years, I had not come across any mention of the Cagots of western France. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote of them in a story ‘An Accursed Race’ included in book of stories ‘Round the Sofa’.  Her portrayal of the inhuman way the Cagot tribe was treated all over Europe and even by the Church is not just appalling; it shows the Indian ‘Dalits’ were not treated half as badly. The other stories expose how the aristocracy discriminated against the ‘commoners’ and even denied them education.

And yet the world knows of only the Indian untouchables and caste. The same Church used that oppression and deprivation to convert millions, adding only to its numbers without improving their social status in any way. Other religions followed the same technique besides coercion. All that came of the conversions was creation of vote banks and politics of hatred.

It is significant that fiction and literature took up the social issues of discrimination, poverty and inequality, strengthening the efforts to set right the system. Very little of such use of literature and fiction is seen in India. True some films and books did come out against economic inequality, corruption and caste system, but they were very few or executed badly. I am not aware of any literary works that exposed the crimes against Kashmiri pandits or victims of caste reservations, sexual harassment or other evils.

With smart phone usage going up day by day in India, it is time a free audio and electronic book site of Indian books comes into being. On one of the audiobook sites I borrow books from the Toronto Public Library in Canada.

 Is there a single public library in India which has such a facility?

 

On My Blindness, With Apologies to Milton

white cane
Are we blind towards the blind?

ONE OF THE FAMOUS POEMS by John Milton (Don’t know? Ask Google) is ‘On His Blindness‘. That set me thinking —  of MY future blindness.

One of my parents went blind due to glaucoma (eye pressure) months before death. I was told that it was genetic and so I must get checked. Expectedly, when I did, it was glaucoma. Anyone whose parents (or one  one them) had glaucoma MUST have an eye-check, I was told, After expensive field vision tests thrice, I was just told to take care. No surgery was advised. Perhaps it was too late.

So, resigned to turning blind (again, I hope, just for months before death) I downloaded seveImage result for John Miltonral  of Librivox audio books. After hearing 19 books of  P. G. Wodehouse,  it occurred to the old cerebrum: Without sight, how can I know which book to hear and how to start it on the device?

 

So that set me thinking about blindness and trying to find my way around with eyes closed. I recalled a delightful essay by E. V. Lucas, (who? Google again) which I read decades ago, about a small puppy he named ‘Lord of Life’ for its liveliness. Just to know how  the puppy looked at the world,  Lucas went around on all-fours looking up at people and things.

 

That gave him a new view of the world.  But how about people who had no vision, or sight, at all? After my social work  group organized a vintage car rally with blind navigators carrying route directions in braille, it occurred to me that the whole society/community/country is blind – to the plight of the blind.

So I planned (but could not put through) a public awareness drive with several persons marching blindfolded, running into people, bumping into things,  carrying placards on how to treat the blind and respect the white cane – the worldwide symbol of the blind.

It was again  in my social work days that I learnt about white cane, mobility training and serving blind people (“The curry is at 9  0’clock and Dal at 3”  would make it clear to them when an Indian food plate is kept before the blind).  In those days a blind Ph.D.  student told me how she could match the colours of her saree and blouse. She associated a colour with each texture she knew by touch – like rayon, linen, cotton, silk, poplin or Georgette.

Editing reports for a consultancy firm, Erin, I found there a blind telephone operator who remembered people by voice, could dial numbers and give extensions. He was also the captain of the state’s blind cricket team.

I recalled interviewing as a cub reporter some 60 years ago, an Indian professor of  New School of Social Research, New York, who went around that bustling city with the help of just a  white cane.

In India he would have fallen into road potholes or on uneven footpaths, abused, pushed around, bumped into and shouted at by many: “Are you blind?”

He WAS blind.

Or was it the sighted people around, blind to his white cane and black goggles, who were really blind?

 

Poem: “Time To Stand Up?” (Reblogged)

Reblogging a poem that really moved me  — UnstoppableAfterSeventy

Date: May 3, 2017

by John Kaniecki

When Pilgrim pride
Committed genocide
Did you stand?
When from across the sea
Merchants dealt chattel slavery
Did you stand?
When immigrants of all ages
Were paid starvation wages
Did you stand?
When Jim Crow did reign
Inflicting bitter pain
Did you stand?
When they desecrated sacred Mother Earth
Violating indigenous worth
Did you stand?
When imperialism dominated
And atrocities were created
Did you stand?
When the police time and time again
Gun down black young men
Did you stand?
When the C.I.A. in sin
Flooded the hood with heroin
Did you stand?
When trillions were spent on war
And nothing to the poor
Did you stand?
Did you stand for every injustice and wrong?
Then why should I stand for your racist song?

Author’s Links:

amazon.com/John-Kaniecki/e/B00NV8AU76

  Will a hundred more bloggers reblog this?   I hope they do.

What India Can Teach Us

kRIYANAND
J. Donald Walters a k a Swami Kriyananda,  a proponent of yogic teachings,  became in 1948,  at the age of 22, a disciple of  the master, Paramhansa Yogananda, knownfor his famous book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’
HERE IS ONE POST THAT MAKES US THINK. Many Westerners have studied Indian philosophy and spiritualism deeply and considered India their spiritual motherland. He brought back to me memories of a book I cam across in the 1960s, ‘The Ocher Robe’ written by Swami Agehananda  Bharati, an Austrian who had was with the Ramakrishna Mission.
The following post  is by Swami Kriyananda, born in 1926 to American parents in Romania and a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.
WHAT  INDIA  CAN    TEACH US
Since my childhood I have   traveled extensively, visiting more than fifty countries. I have enjoyed observing the superficial differences of national outlook and temperament, while at the same time recognizing underneath them a shared humanity. It was in India, however, where I lived for four years, that I met my greatest challenges.

Propaganda, Yes, But Answers Needed

Bali
Hindu cultural practices  prevail in Indonesian areas of Bali and Sumatra, still it is an Islamic country. Malaysia too  has Hindu imprints, but it has not  been  converted to Hinduism.The spread of other religions in India is a proof that Hinduism is tolerant

Continue reading Propaganda, Yes, But Answers Needed

Why The World Survives

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A ‘mother’ to many orphans

WHEN I POSTED ON THIS BLOG. THE STORY (sent by a friend) of Harakchand Salwa , who has been feeding free thousands of cancer patients and the relatives accompanying them to the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, Mumbai, many friends responded.

Some agreed with the post (Our Blind, Frivolous Media, Feb,13) and

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Amitabh  with  Maaii

on the obsession of Indian media with with frivolous hype and gossip. Others said they had read about Salwa and I was wrong to say she was not written about. One said that for decades the much maligned RSS  was helping the cancer patients and relatives accompanying them, without any publicity.

They all agreed that such actions were inspiring and touched the hearts of readers. So I am reproducing here another such inspiring story – again anonymously sent by a friend. Many may have already received it in their mail box or on WhatsApp, but it bears repetition.While mainstream print and electronic media are  full of frivolity  like politicians foibles and celebrities’ flirtations,  social media and apps  like Facebook and WhatsApp make up by  bringing into light stories like those of Salwa and Sindhutai Sapkal.  Continue reading Why The World Survives

The Northeast Again

kamakhya-temple
<Assam’s Kamakhya temple

THANKS TO THE MANY who liked th<e post ‘The Need To Rediscover India‘, though many conveyed it in mails without clicking ‘like’ at the bottom

Some people are attracted to the Northeast only as tourists as there are many beautiful spots there. Some like it for the wildlife sanctuaries. Others because it is one part of the country facing many invasions Continue reading The Northeast Again

Need To Re-discover India

REMEMBER THE TIME, NOT LONG AGO, when every gaidinliuSouth Indian in Delhi, Lucknow, or Rajasthan or anywhere in the North was referred to by the locals as a ‘Madrasi’?  Or every North Indian in the South a Marwari?

The ignorance of, and misconceptions about, linguistic or ethnic groups other than their own  has been massive, but is reducing gradually. Earlier people from south moved north for jobs. Most ‘babus’ were Tamilians and almost all nurses, anywhere in India, Malayalees (they mostly are,  even now).

Migration, to some extent, brought Indians with different languages, faiths and cultures a little closer. There used to be a National Integration Council and when a crisis like war or a major disaster occurred efforts were made to make all the citizens feel united.

RANI GAIDINLIU                 Continue reading Need To Re-discover India