Sunday, May 10, 2009

Prepare for a Marathon at the 2009 Racecourse

Prepare for a Marathon at the 2009 Racecourse
By M J Akbar

Astrologers and bookies rise to the top of the trust-totem-pole in the last lap of any election because neurosis is healthy for both callings. Here is a less expensive option: those who want to look ahead might want to look behind.

The excitement of May 2009 has blotted out the excitement of May 2008. The seeds of this election were laid in the glory days of "Singh is King", when Dr Manmohan Singh celebrated independence from Left-slavery and pushed through the nuclear deal amidst chaos in Parliament and hallelujahs on television.

The curse of Prime Ministers is surely the adulation of journalists.

In May 2008, Congress not only undermined the alliance that had kept it in power for four years, but also the equilibrium that could have ensured its return to power. Instability is contagious; it has spread to every relationship within the UPA.

It is curious that the nuclear deal, on which Dr Singh staked the future of the Congress, does not even figure, except through stray references, in the party campaign. Kingdoms have been famously lost for want of a horse. Was a kingdom in Delhi lost for want of horse sense?

We do not know the results yet, and it would require a braver columnist than me to venture into that swamp. We can only read the tea leaves that are strewn after any press conference. But the wounds of actual or perceived betrayal are on public display. They will demand a price when the time comes to patch a government.

We have had many kinds of government in Delhi since 1952, from predictable to stable to ideological to accidental to opportunistic. The next one may be safely labeled a patchwork. It will be a quilt in which each patch struggles for more space than it has been allotted by hasty needlework.

Uncertainty has prompted the inexplicable. It is customary for parties to claim victory before the result, but why would they want to claim defeat? Digvijay Singh envisaged the Congress in opposition. Mrs Sheila Dikshit praised Nitish Kumar, implying that the two politicians who had been unstinting in their praise for Mrs Sonia Gandhi since 2004, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, had collapsed. Rahul Gandhi, who has now taken over as leader of the Congress Party, snubbed Lalu Prasad on the eve of his crucial second election in Patliputra. Such flexibility suggests that Karunanidhi should not make the costly mistake of losing an election.

Dr Singh has suddenly remembered that Buddhadev Bhattacharya is his friend. Sentiment is a weak argument against hard policy. As Marx should have said, if he didn't, politics is not a tea party. There is still some legislation necessary (on liability-cover) in the next Parliament to implement the nuclear deal. Will Congress abandon the deal and the efforts it has made to become a strategic partner of the United States in order to remain in power with the Left's support? The Congress would prefer Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan to become as irrelevant to its needs as Mulayam Singh Yadav was in 2004. But would it be blowing come-hither kisses to the Left if it believed that the Congress would remain natural leader of a new coalition after May 16?

Both know that the only compulsion that could bring them together is a desire to keep the BJP out of power. That argument seems to have been overridden by other considerations. The Congress has said repeatedly that it would prefer to sit in Opposition rather than see anyone other than Dr Singh as Prime Minister. Dr Singh is unacceptable to the Left. What gives?

There is more than a single negative in play. Kings and kingmakers both know that there is a zero-sum game in the states. The Left and Mamata Banerjee will not sit at the same table, nor will Mayawati and Mulayam. Can Rajashekhar Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu co-exist? The government in 2004 was formed by straight arithmetic. The one in 2009 will need algebra.

Perhaps the only states where it might be reasonable to predict the outcome are Bihar and Tamil Nadu. The politician who has matured best in the rigors of battle is Nitish Kumar. Anyone who can keep his cool in the ebullience of victory, instead of slipping into fantasy, has the capacity for leadership. Bihar is giving him victory, and he has responded by reasserting his commitment to Bihar. He has the legs for a marathon.

For the rest of India, back to astrologers and bookies. Bookies are considered superior because they seem to put their money where their mouth is. A friend who was born intelligent but has grown wise over many an educational afternoon spent in the exquisite environment of the Kolkata race course, reminded me of the first law of racing. Bookies only make money when the favourite loses. What would a bookie prefer? To get it right, or to get rich? Dumb question.

Appeared in Times of India - May 10, 2009


R.Alamsha Karnan said...

Had Karnan, the great warrior and hero of Mahabharata, been a Brahman....?.

Karnan's struggle against caste:

1. Karnan's birth story and lineage was kept as a secret and was not revealed to him till the end. He was born accidentally to an unmarried virgin mother Kunti, gifted by the son God Surya, when she tried to test the boon granted to her by sage Durvasa. Kunti did not want to face the world as an unmarried mother and abandoned Karnan, setting him afloat in a box in a river.

2. The child Karnan was picked up from the river water by Adhiratha, who was the charioteer of King Dhritarashtra. As Karnan grew up, he decided to be a warrior. Karnan approached Dronacharya who was the trainer of Kuru princes. But Drona refused Karnan, as he was of low caste, a Sutaputra or the son of a charioteer. Drona even made Ekalavya give up his thumb as guru-dakshina so that there would be no threat to Arjun's status as the ultimate warrior.

3. Karnan sensed that his caste would be a barrier in his quest for knowledge. Karnan decided to approach Parashurama, who taught the Brahmans alone. Karnan lied to Parashuram that he was a Brahmin and was accepted as his student. Karnan was an efficient and diligent student. Parashurama trained Karnan and declared that he was equal to his guru in the art of warfare.

4. Later, Parashurama finds that Karnan had bluffed that he was a Brahman and curses Karnan that when he would require an Astra (weapon) the most, he would forget it.

5. Dronacharya arranged a tournament to display the skills of Kuru princes. Arjuna was the chief attraction of the tournament as a gifted archer. Karnan then appeared in the scene, successfully matched all the skills of Arjuna and then challenged him in the duel. However Karnan was refused to perform the duel as he was asked to introduce him by Kripacharya and was said that only a prince could challenge another prince. Then, Duryodhana, the eldest of Kauravas, offers Karna the throne of Anga so that he became a king and could be eligible to duel his cousins. Karnan was emotionally stirred at this incident. He asked Duryodhana how he could repay him, Duryodhana told him that he only wanted his friendship. Karna had already given him his heart.

This is where everything goes wrong....

Varnashram Dharma - By RK Lakhi Kant:

Those who adhere to the principles of the Varnashram system of living are considered to be human beings whereas those who neglect it are considered to be only living at a sub-human level by the Vedas. The principles propounded by the Varnashram system are not in any way rigid or discriminatory but rather provide an opportunity to every human being, wherever or in whatever circumstances he is born, to elevate himself spiritually by following his occupational and spiritual duties as a human, in consonance with his aptitude.

In short, Varnashram means the four occupational classes of society and the four spiritual orders, viz. Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra.

The Brahmanas are the intellectual class, the Kshatriyas the administrative class, the Vaishyas the farming and trading class and the Sudras the labourer class who shall serve the other three higher classes.

Had Karnan been brought up by a Brahman....?:

Eventhough Karnan was much superior than Arjun, he was destined to loose the war basically because of his inferior caste. Does it mean, Karnan tried to break the code of Varnashram Dharma by aspiring to become a warrior, a profession reserved for Kshatriyas, instead of following his family profession of a charioteer?.

Had Karnan been brought up by a Brahman Instead of a charioteer, a low caste, what would have been the verdict of Mahabharata?.

R.Alamsha Karnan said...

Hindu Convert - A casteless Hindu?

There is no Hindu without a caste. One has to be born and can NOT be adopted or converted into a Brahman/Kshatriya/Vaisya caste. This is the reason, the child Karnan was probably pushed into the hands of a Charioteer, a low caste Shudra.

A casteless Hindu is another Shudra without SC/ST benefits by default. If GOI removes the lid called SC/ST reservation, the Shudra genie will come out.

This is the basis for pseudo-secularism.

R.Alamsha Karnan said...

Why Shudras renounced Hinduism and embraced Islam, Christianity and Budhism?.

The lowest of the four Hindu varnas, believed to have been born of Brahma's feet.

A Shudra enjoyed no rights or privileges. He was not permitted to perform any sacrifices or homa, read or learn the Vedas or recite the mantras. A Shudra could marry only another Shudra. He/She was not allowed to enter temples and could only serve the upper three castes as a slave, farmer, sweeper, night soil cleaner, barber, blacksmith, cobbler, devadasis(servant of God - Serving a Brahman is like serving the Brahma) and any other menial jobs one can imagine.

Because of these strict and harsh social regulations, the Shudras were very supportive of the anti-Brahminical sects that evolved around the 6th century BC, like Buddhism and Jainism. Later, they also converted in large numbers to Islam and Christianity, finding solace in the egalitarianism preached by these faiths.

Why Islam was the best choice for our Shudra forefathers?.

Shudras were carrying night soil, tilling the lands, living and drinking unclean water outside the upper caste community zone, Shudra women were untouchable in day time and touchables by night and most important, Shudras did NOT hve the right for dignity and honour. They lived under this social order and performed their karma, generations after generation for 10,000 years, secretly hoping that one day some one will liberate them out of this slavery.

Vertical and horizontal divisions:

One day 3 people, a Christian priest, A Budhist monk and an ordinay Muslim came to the door steps of a Shudra and promised that they can liberate him from this slavery. The Christian priest said that he can baptise him and convert to Christianity which has no caste and he can practice any profession he liked, henceforth. The Shudra asked, can he become a priest like him?. The Priest replied, of course he can become but one has to study in a convent and be ordained as a priest by other high priests in order to offer the Mass and receive Confession.

Budhism also has no caste divisions but to become a Buddhist monk, one has to be accepted and ordained by the elder monks in the temple of one's choice.

Thus Christianity and Budhism have shattered the evil of caste and social order but still retained the vertical hierarchy of high priest.

Now the Shudra asked the Muslim, what Islam can offer?. The Muslim replied that, in order to become a Muslim, all one has to do is just say:


No more baptism or ordinance ritual by any high priest. There is NO high priest in Islam. Even Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) is just a messenger and NOT a high priest. No more castes or any divine social orders. No more karmas. All are equal and everyone has the right to seek dignity, justice and honour. All of us can eat from the same plate and drink water from the same glass.

All vertical and horizontal barriers have been demolished. One can call for prayer and lead the prayer from the moment one has become a Muslim. Every affordable Muslim should give away 2.5% of his wealth, every year, to the have nots. Answer for wealth distribution and povery elimination.

Now, the Shudra replied, well it sounds really nice but will the Manuvadis (high caste) change their attitude towards us?. After all, we have been living as low caste Shudras for 10,000 years and we can NOT stop them from insulting us and forcing the Manusmriti again on us. Now, the Muslim replied, whenever the Manuvadi comes to you, say this:

Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful

1. Qul ya ayyuha alkafiroona
Say: O unbelievers!

2. La aAAbudu ma taAAbudoona
I do not serve that which you serve

3. Wala antum AAabidoona ma aAAbudu
Nor do you serve Him Whom I serve

4. Wala ana AAabidun ma AAabadtum
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship

5. Wala antum AAabidoona ma aAAbudu
Nor are you going to serve Him Whom I serve

6. Lakum deenukum waliya deeni
You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion

Jesus said, when someone slaps you on your cheek, turn the other cheek. But when someone insults you, you can not ask him to insult again. You better learn to insult him back. Insult for insult. Whenever he comes to you, you call him Kaafir. Again and again. One day, he will ask you, do you think a Muslim is superior than a Kaafir?. Oh yes. You have been waiting to hear this for 10,000 years. Only another Shudra can realize the pain of insult, suppression, discrimination, injustice and indignity. Kaafir is the answer for Shudra.

I don't mean Islam is a flawless religion and ultimate answer for humanity. But no other ideology offers a better mechanism to break the social discrimination, suppression and bring equality and justice.

Many may wonder, why do i speak about unpalatable truths?. The reason is, every one thinks holier than thou and takes the liberty to insult Islam, our Prophet(PBUH) and makes us feel that it's a crime to be born as a Muslim. Today, a Muslim is branded as a dole eater and a national burden. Muslims are openly discriminated. Muslims are branded as terrorists and are forced to prove their patriotism and loyalty, again and again. They are made to feel like second class citizens.

The only way to break this barrier is, to talk. Learn the art of dialogue. Let us NOT get emotional. Don't quarrel but learn to convince with hard facts. Let us learn to accept the shortcomings and flaw in each other.

Let us talk. Very soon, we will become equals.