India’s not so dismal Justice Shah!

Justice A.P. Shah shares his initials with the first two letters of the adjective “apocalyptic” which aptly describes his M.N.Roy Memorial Lecture.

His prophesies of doom notwithstanding, India is not in so grim a condition as he suggests.

Yes there is a tumultuous clamour within the political landscape today. But is that not the norm of a free society? As long as a polity retains the legal capacity to control the consequences of social encounters between competing ideologies – which India undoubtedly possesses – dislike for a contrary point of view should provide no cause for apprehension or alarm.

Preference to one of a competing set of opinions and condemning the contrary as dangerous has little to do with the content of the opinion and is based exclusively upon the values the self appointed arbiter subscribes to. Justice Shah may be attaching little value to the legally enjoined political integrity of India giving preference to freedom to divide the country over its being kept intact as is constitutionally prescribed and hence worry about “attacks” on “institutions of learning” but how does he conclude therefrom that a view contrary to what he holds is dangerous or wrong and harmful for the country? What is misdescribed as an “attack” is actually the repulsing of an assault on a perception of India as envisaged by its constitution. A tolerant society without self-defence is doomed to destruction.

Reference to “online hate, abuse and threats” to a “21 year old university student” is clearly a case of cherry picking suggesting, wrongly, that one point of view alone is made subject of online harassment. Similar abuses and ad-hominem attacks apply to almost every point of view which is expressed. The partisan approach of Justice Shah sows a predisposition towards a particular point of view which robs his view both of balance and perspective.

UP finds a mention with a pointed reference to “harassment of Muslims” but are Muslims alone harassed in the country? What about the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Kashmir or the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda on Janmashtmi by Christians in Orissa? Similar examples can be multiplied. India did not yet break into tumult nor into an uncontrollable frenzy or disorder! Is ignoring a large number of related cases which contradict one’s stated position not unprincipled and unfair ?

Yes, as Justice Shah said, we must be “wary of enforcing a single ideology on a country as diverse as India”. The comment was made in the context of Mohan Bhagwat’s call for a national law against cow slaughter. Notwithstanding Bhagwat, under the Indian constitution the state legislatures alone have exclusive powers to legislate on the subject which is the reason why many of the states have enacted no legislation on the slaughter of cows. Bhagwat is, however, entitled to his views. Committed as he is to freedom of speech, can Justice Shah deny Bhagwat the right to hold views which Justice Shah may not like? Or is he intending, through negative verbal remarks, to create an antipathy towards a contrary point of view not shared by him and imposing a “single ideology” on a country as diverse as India. In any event there is no prescription in India about what one may or may not eat and laws in place to deal with any form of intimidation or coercion.

Justice Shah referred to the Censor Board rendering Hanuman Chalisa silent because prayer was not answered but chose to ignore referring to the movie PK which dealt with fraudulent godmen (all of whom were incidentally Hindus) nor even to 3 Idiots where students were shown to be worshipping several Hindu Gods and even feeding a cow in a desperate attempt to pass the examination. I doubt if as liberal or expansive satirizing or mocking of religious habits of any religion other than Hinduism could have been dared by any director or producer of any movie in India. This is a tribute to its maturity, sense and large-heartedness.

There is nothing wrong with the retention of the offence of sedition, to which Justice Shah objects, as law must reconcile the right of private criticism with the necessity of securing safety and stability of state. Prosecution for sedition is in the interest of public order which is included in clause 2 of Article 19 of the Constitution. And his regret that defamation was not decriminalised does not detract from the fact the judgment the Supreme Court rendered was indeed a well reasoned one.

A prejudiced mind can easily stigmatise. And cherry picking facts to resonate with your belief system can only bring about a doctored reality. While becoming a Cassandra of doom Justice Shah forgot that what he felt was reality was actually one feigned, invented and imagined by him only. India needs no moralising discourses from Justice Shah or others.

Raas Leela comment & Bhushan Buffoonery!

A fool’s brain, said George Bernard Shaw, digests philosophy into folly! Prashant Bhushan’s buffoonery in calling Lord Krishna an “eve teaser” proves Bernard Shaw right. Forget knowledge of religion or philosophy (which he demonstrably lacks) this man seems to be unfamiliar with elementary English and the utter shamelessness with which he yet comments (on topics he does not know and in a language whose nuances he is yet to grasp) makes him the perfect illustration of the idiom – Fools rush where angels fear to tread! The “clarification” of his original tweet proves this point too. It is a different matter that the clarifications make things worse!

But it is not mere foolishness of Bhushan which troubles me. I feel he is suffering from a psychiatric disorder. He used the words “legendary eve teaser” for Lord Krishna. God is no fable or fiction to be described as “legendary”. Besides eve teasing is defined as the act of annoying a woman in a public place for example by making sexual comments. but Raas leela takes place in a metaphysical plane. Thus anyone who suggests that Lord Krishna “annoyed women through sexual comments” suffers from cognitive distortion – an irrational thought pattern which makes one perceive reality inaccurately. This is generally the result of depression and anxiety and the fact that Kashmir is still part of India may be the reason for the same for him.

I am sure Prashant Bhushan is not mad. However in the spectrum of human behaviour he does lean towards the abnormal. And while Bhushan must surely be having a brain, it is health of the mind which is the issue. I have been informed a criminal complaint has been filed against him. Criminal charges, however, may never stick – not because there was no crime but for want of intent, it being easy to show Bhushan is non compos mentis – without a sound mind!

Raas Leela is transcendental that is in the spiritual plane. It has no carnal aspect. It symbolises union of jeev (male AND female) in God. God in Hinduism is not a man but energy. And the physical reality (including gender) a mere illusion. Gender thus is irrelevant  to Raas Leela (Gopis are but ALL devotees) and it signifies nothing except immersing of the soul – Atma- into the metaphysical reality – Brahman! Lord Krishna was not male lover like Romeo nor Gopis female like Juliet! No one can emulate the Raas, just imbibe the idea.

But Bhushan wants “Anti Krishna squads.” This means he wants to reinforce gender, emphasise physical attachments, accentuate carnal desires and move AWAY from the spiritual plane into the physical plane and indulge in orgies of free love (which I presume he understands only as sex.) This aspect of his depravity I was completely ignorant of! This is re-enforced by the lament expressed in a later tweet where he frets anti romeo squads “would criminalise teasing gopis!”- He, thus, WANTS to tease gopis!! And then see his desperation – so frantic is he that teasing should be allowed he invokes GOD to justify it and protests the organising of Romeo Brigades because he feels that this would make Lord Krishna look like an eve teaser!!!

Indulge in your fantasies Mr Bhushan. Dont take to Twitter next time to make them public.

Cow Slaughter & the REAL Gaurakshak!

The insensitivity with which we treat our bovines shows a callousness which makes the brouhaha against cow-slaughter sound hollow. We need to care for the living before we can justifiably grieve about their death.

Actions, after all, are the real icons of sanctity and mere lip-service as veneration is nothing but an insult of the revered. Even symbolism should never be empty nor faith just a formal iteration.

I cannot convince another about the truth of my position without first being true to my own beliefs and I cannot condemn an agnostic without being a true adherent myself.

The ordeal faced by our cows has often caused me immense distress. Whether precariously roaming in heavy traffic or rummaging through filth to find food often swallowing plastic which causes slow painful death, these meek and gentle creatures are denied respect and veneration due to what is held sacred.

Condemned to live in unnatural environment and denied water, feed and veterinary attention their life is indeed brutal and, as Maneka Gandhi pointed out, they are kept in dark, dingy rooms with no ventilation. The harrowing tale of their existence can be described best in her words: “The flooring material of these dairies is concrete, often cracked and uneven. The edges of the broken concrete are sharp. They are covered with dung and urine on which these permanently tethered animals are forced to sit and stand. Imagine yourself sitting on a sharp edged uneven floor covered with your own faeces. When given an option, milch cattle sit and lie on soft floors. Consequently, their joints are bruised and tender and most of them become painfully lame.”

The licences under which dairy owners work impose obligations which are observed only in breach. Law requires adequate space for the animals, enough food, cleanliness, ventilation and care. This is not undertaken, endemic violations being continued with impunity. I have seen no political party take up this issue with any seriousness. Cows and calves are dying in hostile conditions they are being made to live in; they are not dying only when they are being butchered in slaughter-houses. How they are made to live, if that life is nasty and brutish for them, is as important a concern as being concerned about their being killed.

Yes the cow HAS religious significance. But will a higher spiritual truth steeped in virtues of compassion and reverence be debased into an empty ritual of mere war cry with complete disconnect between exhortations and actions? Let us stop playing with words and evolve a consciousness. We must change ourselves before we start reforming others. Faith, it cannot be forgotten, can never be passive if one’s belief is true. It is thus time we act to redeem our cows’ lives before working ourselves into frenzy over their death. If we feel they must not be killed are we not obliged guarantee them a life?

Elections are due in Delhi to the Municipal Corporation. This is one of the issues the Corporation can be seized with. Any commitment to a blueprint for the same? It is time the REAL Gaurakshaks step forward!