All posts in the Bhaarat category

Modi Sarkar and The Farmer : The Achilles Heel

Published May 2, 2015 by vishalvkale


It has taken a long time to manifest itself, but at long last, we see a developing Achilles Heel in our famed Modi Sarkar; a sad development indeed, given that this is the best government we have had in the past several decades. The only good thing is that the Achilles Heel has manifested itself from a totally unexpected direction; not only that, it also holds serious potential of rekindling a genuine opposition on a national scale, which is a needed and vital component of a functioning democracy.

It has taken twin developments in two connected areas for the weakness to manifest itself : Farmers’ Suicides, and The Land Bill. Taken together, this has created a situation in which, if properly strategized, the opposition can rebuild itself, while simultaneously undermining the central government.

The sad part is that once again,  it is the Congress that has the opportunity to rise from the ashes. This is sad because it has yet again failed to democratize, and has placed its faith on Dynasty. I have nothing against Rahul Gandhi; he may be an excellent potential leader for all I know; then again, he might not. That is not relevant; what is relevant is the fact that The Congress does not have any leader it feels can connect with the people, despite having some good people on its roster.

Be that as it may, the  Congress has taken what seems to be the right step; change track from the all-too-familiar “communal politics” track to a far more sensible and development oriented focus : that of the farmer and their issues. This bodes well for our democracy, for our economy and for our society, as now there is a chance the real issues might get a much needed attention and focus.

The best way to tackle communalism is not to fan it; all the while building solid relationships within communities. A politically charged message has a polarizing impact, and if the community specific plank is being abandoned by all parties, this is a development worth celebrating. If all parties can abandon a community specific focus, the only way India can go is up and forward. Aag ko jitnaa tool doge, jitni hawaa doge, utni failegi.

And harping on the communal message, which was not making a connect with any definable voter base was always a suspect strategy. Besides, there has to be a provable base for such a strategy that can be directly traced back to your opposition; and this is clearly absent in the BJP.

The BJP, meanwhile, is basking in the glory of its rise to power, and ignoring these undercurrents, which might yet turn into a deluge. While it is doing excellent work in any number of areas, its approach and presentation to the people on these two issues is strange and more than a little disturbing, given the party’s admirable understanding of the pulse of India and the Indian people.

Please note my choice of words : in this article, I am taking no position on the Central Government’s Agricultural and Land Policies – that is the subject of another, research based and supported article/s that I shall take up a little later on the Agricultural challenges being faced by India. I am only analyzing the potential impact of the presentation in front of the people, and the angst among them.

It adheres to a top-down development ideology, counting on investment in infrastructure, amenities to drive rural upliftment and employment, while attempting to ensure good governance at all levels of Government. It has also taken a few good steps in the Agriculture sector {Analysed on my blog here : Union Budget Analysis}; these will require time to properly strategise and implement.

What is more pertinent that it has done little to meet head-on the anti-farmer label that is being leveled against it by some, beyond messages to the farming community by the PM. More and more parties and  groups are now coming into the open, calling its policies as pro-Urban India and anti-farmer. The most important aspect that the BJP seems to have forgotten is the population of India – the top 200 Urban Agglomerations account for only around 15.46% of population as per Census 2011

Thus, any message targeted at the rural community that is focused not on ideology, religion, regionalism but rather on their bread and butter is certain to get the attention of the people. That is a foregone conclusion; the needs of the stomach will take primacy; that is a primordial fear. The BJP is giving a message of development : how is this message being received by the population? Is it making a connect with the people?

For Urban India, it means investments, growth and jobs. What does it mean for Rural India? What have the prior experiences of Rural India been in this regard? It should mean the same for them : but is this the way it is being perceived in Rural India? Farmers stand to lose their lands; what will they get in return? Each piece of land further supports landless labourers, input vendors etc – we are talking of snatching an entire ecosystem.

What is the history, the prior experiences of the farming community in India? As This Article : Why Farmers Have Every Right to Feel Gypped explores in painful detail – there is a sad, almost terrifying history of governmental failure of monumental  proportions behind this rising tide of protests against the BJP Government with regard to the Agricultural Sector;  what is sad is that this Government has actually started a series of steps that drive some hope into the refurbishment of this sector in the budget, which makes this image of anti-farmer a real tragedy in itself.

And look at the third and recent case reported this month in The Times of India which makes you want to cry and laugh – both at the same time!
The gist of the case is: in 1998, the Railways acquired land from Mela Ram and Madan Lal to lay the Una-Amb track in Himachal Pradesh. As usual, the Railways adopted delaying tactics when it came to paying up. The farmers filed a case for enhanced compensation. After a fair amount of legal to-ing and fro-ing,  in 2013, the HP High Court directed the railways to pay the money within six weeks. “But the railways hasn’t deposited the amount until now”, the farmers’ advocate AK Saini said a few weeks ago. Typical.
So, on April 9, 2015, Mukesh Bansal, the additional district and sessions judge of Una ordered the attachment of the train if the railways failed to pay compensation to the two farmers!! The court said if Mela Ram and Madan Lal did not get Rs. 8.91 lakh and Rs. 26.53 lakh respectively, the train would be stopped at Una station at 5 am on April 16 and attached by it. The farmers were asked to select one out of four trains – and they selected The Delhi-Una Janshatabdi Express!

My point is simple : the steps taken by the BJP Government have exposed a chink in their armoury, one that is now being exploited by the opposition. This is the Achilles Heel; their weakness. And there is nothing they can do about it; not over the short term. I have purposely taken an isolated case history above : the point is that there is a feeling of inadequacy and helplessness that is rooted in genuine truth and a terrifying history of crass incompetence on the part of successive central governments over the years.

And this atmosphere is giving rise to an opposition movement that is, for the first time in my memory {correct me if I am wrong}, focused on real issues that make a powerful connect with the target audience in Rural India as on solid whole. For the first time, we now have an issue-based discussion in Indian Politics, which is bringing this issue mainstream.

All it really requires to bring the BJP juggernaut to a grinding halt is a solid loss in a few upcoming state elections; were that to happen, coming on top of the shock in Delhi, things will get interesting, as the BJP will be forced to recalibrate and reassess its approach and its communication. Unless the BJP can get its house in order and connect with Rural India and its real issues in light of the historical experience and the on-ground realities and challenges in Rural India, they stand to lose ground…

India Versus Japan 1947

Published April 2, 2015 by vishalvkale

One of the most common rejoinders of our failure to develop ourselves, at least among the Urban Educated Indians, is a straight-on comparison with Japan, about how it was destroyed by World War 2, and how it is now a developed country, taking on The West on its own terms, standing tall among the committee of nations as a developed country with a tremendous set of achievements in its past 60 years, a nation with every comfort the West has, and more; whereas we stumbled from mistake to mistake, resulting in a massive gap between the two of us.
From an outside perspective, it seems like Japan and India were at comparable stages; 2 destroyed economies; and that today, Japan is years ahead. While the above statement is completely true in every respect, it also hides the reality that lies underneath. Let us peel away the above statement and take a look at the reality of the situation, which goes a long way in explaining this riddle. While we did make some mistakes, we cannot extrapolate those mistakes to the complete story, not without looking at some underlying facts that tend to throw rather a different light on things.
Just one statistic is enough to drive home the difference between Japan and India – and that we cannot compare the incomparables. The literacy rate in Japan in 1929 was 43.8%, with over 90% enrollments in schools. In India, in 2001, the literacy rate is 62.8%. Japan was at this level of literacy around 1960 or thereabouts. Whatever economic strategy we took, we would never have been able to catch up Japan, given this reality.
The net result of this high level of education in Japan can be seen in the inventions that happened between 1900 – 1945. Inventions and discoveries like The Power Loom, Aberic Acid, B Vitamin, Portable ECG Machine, VectorCardiograph, Epinephrine, Thiamine, Monosodium Glutamate, Japanese Typewriter, Electric Rice Cooker were all discovered or invented by Japanese scientists between 1900 – 1950. These are symptomatic of the overall climate in Japan in those days, as well as act as indicators of the readiness and potential of the Japanese to innovate. For, War can take away everything – but it cannot take away the basic indices of Human Development; in which Japan in 1947 was already approaching developed economy levels. War also cannot take away the culture of innovation and the internal climate from the people.
It is thus a complete fallacy if we compare India and Japan in 1947, or indeed today. The Japanese were as ahead of us in 1947 as they are today. You cannot compare the incomparables. In 1947, India was a new nation, whereas Japan was a colonial power with established nationhood concept going back a century or more. India was a shattered and demoralised new nation, who had achieved near-static GDP growth between 1900 – 1945, whereas Japan had clocked a GDP growth rate that fluctuated between -0.53 to as high as 15.85% in the run-up to 1939. There were only 4 negative years; the others were between 4 – 16 %! Japan was the first non-European country to Industrialise in 1868. Japan had hospitals, schools, basic infrastructure in place; India had nothing. Japan had an educated population with a per capita GDP that India enjoys today. In fact, as far back as 1868, the Japanese per capita GDP was 740 dollars – and the Japanese were independent to boot.  It would not be wrong to state that we are only today at the position where Japan was at in 1947!
It is thus no surprise that Japan is where it is today. And, unless we set basic parameters – Education, Health etc – we will never be able to catch up Japan – regardless of the economic model we follow. The Japanese success is the demostrated success of concentrating on the Human Development Indices. And the most critical difference of all: Japan was a colonial power, India was not. It had access to colonies, which it could harvest so that investments could be made in their own country. This is a vital factor; for 80 years, the Japanese were brought up on a diet of we-are-as-good-as-the-west; this fuels national sentiment and confidence. Take this factor, add high education levels, and established record of innovation – the result is there for all to see.
Japan is ahead today because it was comparably ahead in 1947 – along any parameter you may choose to assess. And I have not even considered the factor of diversity and national size- and the attendant difficulties being faced by a diverse  large nation as compared to a small homogenous nation. I have not even started to look at the absence of the basics of life and governance in newly independent India, or its security challenges, its internal problems or its varied challenges. We could have done better with better economic planning, yes – but that does not change the fact that Japan is ahead, primarily because it always was ahead… as we shall see in detail in this series, as I move into the Mieji Restoration in the next part…
We can be justifiably proud of our achievements, even while acknowledging our mistakes. Our mistakes harmed only us, not anyone else – unlike The West, whose mistakes destroyed civilizations and resulted – and still do result – in untold and incalculable misery across the planet. We have developed ourselves, fought our own battles, made and learnt from our own mistakes, paying for them ourselves. And in the light of the status we were in at Independence, our achievements are tremendous and a matter of intense, and thoroughly justifiable pride and celebration! Be confident of this lovely miracle called India, of this lovely, mesmerising and stunningly beautiful nation we call Bhaarat!

Jai Hind!  

{In the next part of the article, I shall look at the Japanese Mieji Restoration, and try and draw learnings for Modern India}

The Myth Of The Aryans

Published February 25, 2015 by vishalvkale

This post is an attempt to tackle the Aryan Myth, that still holds as true in some Indians; in the post below, I have attempted to tabulate all the known points about this theory’s rebuttal in an attempt to spread the word among Indians – at least the ones that I have come across, as one body of reading; references are provided at the end of the article. 
I have also attempted to place a logical extension- that the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization {Indus Valley Civilization} may also have been the Vedic Civilization, although a lot more needs to be investigated and revealed if that needs to be commonly accepted as fact. 
1.   Literature: First, the RigVeda. The geographical area of the Rug Veda (Rig Ved) is clearly delineated as North West India; there is no room for any doubt. It specifically mentions the Saraswati as between the Yamuna and the Sutlej, That can only be the Ghaggar river bed. Satellite imagery has established that this used to be a massive river system in the old days. The Rugved does not mention a drying Saraswati, clearly meaning that it must have been written well before 1900 – 2600 BC. There is no mention of either invasion or Migration in the Rugved; if any migration occured, it happened before 3000 BC – if at all. There is also no mention of a central asian landscape in the RugVed; it is specific in that it mentions the Kabul river to the west and the Ganga to the east. There is awareness of the Himalayas.
2.   A Radio Metric Dating of the Indus Saraswati places the real age of this civilization to 7200 BC or thereabouts. This was announced by the ASI in an international conference on 5th November 2012. This also suggests that migration did not happen 3500 years ago, or even 9000 years ago.
3.   Second, Genetics. a 2006 study clearly identifies that the Indian population has been generally stable for a very long time, and that there has been no major injection of Central Asian Genes for over 10000 years at least. So, if any migration did happen, it was long before settlements emerged, before domestication of the horse, before the Iron or Bronze ages. We are talking about hunter gatherers, small bands of nomads etc. The latest dating of the Indus Saraswati Civilization is 9000 years – as per Radio Metric Dating; the genetic evidence is older by this than 1000+ years at least.
4.   The R1a1a gene mutation is found in North India and East Europeans, South Siberia, Tajikistan and North Eastern Iran, A study on this conducted in 2010 found that the oldest strain of the R1a1a branch was concentrated in the Gujarat-Sindh-Western Rajasthan region of India, suggesting that this was close to the origin of the genetic group. A mutation M458 is found in Europeans, but is not found at all in Asians. This M458 mutation is at least 8000 years old, thus lending credence to the observations above
From this we can see that the Aryan Migration never happened; Literary, Archeological as well as genetic evidence all points to the reverse. There is no longer any room for any doubt whatsoever…
There are 2 prominent theories of the Aryans. The first and the older one places the aryans as people from Western Asia – specifically Iran. The newer theory places the Aryans as residents of Afghanistan, Northwest India. The newer is now gaining prominence, with the only disagreement being Afghanistan or India? Central to the second theory is the identification of the river referred to in Vedic scriptures as Saraswati or Ila. Some people refer it to Northwest India, citing satellite research (which is to me pretty convincing), while others place it as a river system in Afghanistan. 
 Let us now look at the evidence regarding the above. This rests on scientific, archeological, scriptural and linguistic basis. The scientific evidence is the identification of The Saraswati as flowing nearly parallel to the Indus, which has now been identified by satellite imagery to be the Ghaggar Basin. The scriptural evidence has to do with the Vedas, which represent the Ila (Saraswati) as initially being a massive river, which subsequently dried up. There are other descriptions in Vedic literature regarding the flora and fauna etc which identify the place as Northern India – or Afghanistan upto Iran borders.
Archeological evidence  has to do with sites around the Indus – most critically, 70% sites of the civilization have been found to be precisely along the banks of the Saraswati River bed. Further evidence are the pottery, the seals, the water baths, the ritual fires etc. The linguistic evidence is the clincher in that if you compare the Avestan language with Vedic sanskrit, the similarities are simply too uncanny to be ignored, The Gods in Vedas are the bad ones in Avesta, for ex. There are many such similarities which make it crystal clear that if you are to identify the Aryans, we can only look to Eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Northwestern India. 
The Aryans were a people living along the banks of a massive river system (let us leave which one for the time being to avoid argument); as the river dried up, there was a natural migration. The people on the west bank migrated to Iran and regions west, while the people on the east bank migrated to the Gangetic plains of India. This satisfies the critical  linguistic evidence, as it is the only explanation that holds water for the similarity between Avestan and Vedic language. It also fits in with the scriptural evidence, as well as the archeological evidence on all points

Next, consider migration out of Africa – starting 75000 – 60000 years ago. A small band of hunter migrated to Arabia; all modern Humans in Eurasia are thought to be from this group. 

In those days, the sea level was much lower; which meant a low-lying and rich path to India. This is also an established scientific fact. Thus, there was no European link at all even in the initial stages. At the most, there may have been some inward drifting during the ice-age – the last of which was in 18000 BC. This is 16500 years before the supposed Aryan Invasion Theory. After this time, there was no inward migration or invasion. 

This is also borne out by archeological, linguistic and scriptural evidence. The Rugved is specific: the landscape is Northwest India. The Rugved is known to be prior to 3000 BC, as it mentions a flowing and mighty Saraswati. It is now a known  scientific fact that the Saraswati flowed precisely where the Rugved says; that it was one of the mightiest rivers known; and that it dried up in 1900BC, with a reduced flow from 2500BC. The Rugved does not mention any invasion or inward drift; it does not mention a shift; it does not mention anything. The description is specific: North-West India. All mentioned places have been found – including Dwarka. 

Further, the cultural contiguity of the Rugvedic traditions also confirm the above; by no stretch of imagination would a conquering tribe have completely converted to Sanaatani thoughts. If the Rugevedic people were in India from 3000BC-plus, who were they?  The wide prevalence of linguistic lineages in India from Sanrkrut and Prakrut also indicate an origin in India. All evidence from Genetics to Archeology point to an Indian origin; migration – if any – must have been prior to 40000 years ago – as evidenced in the genetic studies above. All 4 cant be wrong!

References {The ones I have studied so far in my hunt to understand my lovely nation: 

·      The Land of the Seven Rivers – A Brief History of India’s Geography;
·… : Article on Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Y chromosomes within haplogroup R1a; Refer the bibliography of the book for Genetics research papers references
· : The Ghaggar River Basin
·      What India Should Know – Laxmikanthan and Devi

·      I have also looked through :
 Reconstructing Indian Population History – David Reich et al – 2009
 Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distribution in India Sengupta at al – 2006
 A Prehistory of Indian Y Chromosomes Evaluating Demic diffusion scenarios – Sanghamitra Sahoo et al
 Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1 S Sharma at al 2009

Underhill is not the only 1; second, sample size has almost nothing to do with accuracy; it is the representativeness of the sample components that holds greater weightage.

The study above does not challenge that the the mutation does not occur is Asians ; the Underhill study specifically states that the mutation, thought to be 8000 years old, is not found in Asians.

Further, Sengupta study specifies that the Indian gene pool has been stable for 10000 years at least. In an interview, geneticist Thiagarajan specifically stated that ASI and ANI groups may date to 60000 and 40000 years. The combination of the 3 is unmistakable: that there was no migration or invasion since at least 8000BC

An unsolicited word of advice; avoid internet resources totally. Start with a book, go to its bibliography, do a google search; read the articles (prefer PDF files as they can be saved onto disk as well as the fact that generally pdf files are reproductions of actual research papers). This will enable a deep understanindg of the subject matter as well as deal with any questions the book might leave

Indian Culture : Being Indian, Truly Indian – An Examination

Published February 20, 2015 by vishalvkale

Being and becoming is definitely the flavor of the season… there are a few trends that are now clearly discernible in the national discourse in India along these lines: one is the yearning for a return to our culture and our roots, the second being a push to be Indian and buy Indian, a third is the rising tide that pushes a national narrative of a Hindu subjugation, and a fourth being the rising tide of Hindu sentiment for a golden Hindu period, with Hindu values, and morals. The icing on the cake is the moral brigade, and the attendant reverse, with the pillorying and vilifying reactions to this moral brigade. Intermingled among all these is the single viewpoint of contempt and disdain some educated Indians have for ancient Indian culture.

In the atmosphere of Ghar Waapsi, I noted that the true Ghar Waapsi will happen when we stop giving bribes, stop eulogizing The West etc. Similarly, in the light of the rise of the AAP, we are talking of a rising hope, which is great, and a rising euphoria, which is misplaced. In both the cases above, as well as the scenarios in the first paragraph,  we are talking about a complete change in a people being dreamt and imagined by a people who first of all only pay superficial obeisance to Indian Values,  Sanaatani Vichaardhaaraa and our culture, and have little or limited knowledge of history.  As a small example, just try and tell anyone the fact that Hinduism is a British creation; that our real religion is Sanaatan Dharm; note the aggressive reaction, and the ignorance.  

Being “Indian” in culture, in this context, is taken to mean something either completely superficial and  external, without getting to the core of the issue – by and large, equated with language, dress, and such like – things that have precisely nothing to do with culture, and are manifestly superficial; or something based on a biased, one sided and incorrect narrative of History. This article delves into the first aspect, and the historical narrative forms the 2nd part of this mini-series.

Being Indian is being taken and interpreted as a stance of morality in relations between the sexes, which is a loaded and one-sided sentiment even at the best of times, as another example. Some of the more interesting views is the political landmine of Hindi being needlessly and incorrectly termed the national language by some people. Being Indian is taken to mean eulogizing the ancient culture we had, with a more hardline stance pillorying even the Mughal and Arabic rulers of New Delhi from 1150AD onwards

These people forget that the very language they go ballistic over – Hindi – is a borrowed tongue, being born out of Arabaic, Persian, Awadhi, Braj and a couple of other dialects. 300 years ago, this language had not even been invented, and was in the process of being crafted – whereas some modern languages like Marathi had already evolved out of Maharashtri Prakrut and Apabhramsa several hundred years before this time. Yet, it is Hindi which is spoken across Northern India, not the other ancient languages. What does this tell us about our culture?

India has come under one political yoke many times in ancient days, and yet a single language did not evolve, and was never enforced. Even in Muslim central rule, when Persian was the official tongue, one single language did not evolve; the language that did evolve from this – Hindi – was more akin to Marathi and other Indian languages than to Persian and Arabic. Not only that, at no point did an indigenous arts and literature evolve around the foreign language in India. Point is the openness and non-interference in cultural affairs and the cultural tolerance even during Muslim rule!

On the topic of women, one side of the argument vociferously denounces the changes happening, while the other, quite naturally, in automatic and justified outrage, goes the other extreme! For the moral brigade : technically, you might have been right – had you decided to approach the problem as a point of education and awareness, rather than moral policing; an issue which meant that Indian Values need to be inculcated… but even there, we run into problems, as becomes evident in the next paragraph. On the other side: it is your life, your decision; I personally see no locus standi of anyone not from your respective families.

I am all for a reversal for the role of women to that in ancient India, provided it is in keeping with the genuine Indian culture, not what is normally pandered in the guise of Indian Culture. What was the role of women in those days, and in what societal context? Women have always had a position of primacy in the Indian household, society and politics – right from ancient times. Even in normal lives, women were not oppressed – yes, there were some practices which are unacceptable in the current societal context, like age of marriage – but by and large, they were relatively free.

If you say women should marry as per male family members’ wishes, fine by me. If you say open display of love is a no-no, fine by me. But… it can’t be a one-way street; you then have to re-examine the entire scenario: what was the overall attitude towards women in those days in our society? How safe were they on the streets? What was their contribution towards the economy, the society and politics? How were they treated, and how were they viewed? Were they objectified and treated as showpieces, as men are habitual of doing today, openly staring a women, treating them as objects? Was open display of love really a no-no in those days – within the then prevalent societal norms?

Women were treated with respect, given a pride of place, were safe in ancient India, and were not objectified, were actually honoured. Can we say that today? Display of affection was allowed within the norms of that society. Further, their contribution in economics, politics and society was valued. Given the nature of that society, and the role of women as home-makers, that was relevant. In the modern context, women are important contributors to economics, politics and society far in excess of ancient times.

If we then say that the old norms stay paramount, then revert them to their old roles, stop their contribution in various fields. Fine by me – but what about the damage to politics, economics, livelihoods of males working in organizations formed by women etc? You cant have your cake and eat it too! In other words, males want to benefit from female efforts from other families, while simultaneously keeping and treating them as property! They are fine if other women do it, their family should remain in their control… what If everyone thinks the same? What will be the difference between us and the Middle East in that case?

As a matter of fact,  a powerful case can be made for the fall of the Indian Political power in the medieval times as being a result of the rise in the maltreatment of two classes in our society: women, and the downtrodden. The rise of norms such as Sati, increasing obstruction of women coincided with the fall in our fortunes – this tallies with our scriptures, which specifically state that Gruhalaxmi has to be respected, else wealth flies away. We started ill-treating women, and our wealth went bye-bye! Remember, Goddess Sita opted to bury herself in Mother Earth rather than go back to Ayodhya!

Moving on, the easiest aspect to tackle in this narrative is the be-Indian-buy-Indian brigade, which has both economic and cultural aspects; the economic side of the argument has been well covered in mainstream media, and needs no repetition. The cultural side of the argument deals with a narrative of re-colonisation, and is a very popular and oft-forwarded message on Whatsapp and even Facebook, as well as blogs and digital media. This narrative actually is completely the opposite of “Indian” from an ancient perspective! Ancient and Medieval India was a trading powerhouse, with a vast and massive trade of a large number of goods with the entire world from the past 5000 years, which is a known and established fact.

We had trading outposts as far away as Central Asia, a busy land trade route as well as extensive commercial guilds that traded with other ancient cultures, as is evident from the mentions of India in other ancient literature from other cultures, as well as the interchanges with diverse visitors and invaders like the Greeks and the Huns. India flourished as it learned to trade far better than others – giving what it did best, and taking what it could not specialize in. This is essentially what Modern Economics states, and we did it 3000 and more years before the birth of Economics!

But this narrative never reaches the public, who focus only on be-Indian-buy-Indian, which is not only against all economic logic, but is also against our own culture, history and learnings from the past! Far from learning from our mistakes, as we saw in the case of language, women or in this case of trade, we are reacting in a way that holds some serious questions for us as a people and as a culture. Sad part is, there is no attempt in the mainstream to handle this logically, and without passion… the good part is, that the first stirrings of a logical debate on these matters has now started.

The point of the article is that “Being Indian” in culture is more about what you THINK, what you do and how you behave : Vedic values are more about honesty, cultural and religious tolerance, openness, free trade across political borders, equality of the sexes {viewed in the context of the respective era}, etc. It has to be viewed holistically, not piecemeal as per our convenience and vested interests. It also has to take into account our prevalent societal, socio-economic and other paradigms, and cannot be viewed in isolation. And lastly, it has to be based in light of facts, not a desired fiction or a notion or even an imagined Golden Period;

My small suggestion for what it is worth,,, can we all try and really be Indian in every sense of the term?

The Big Question Of Vedic Planes and Modern Arrogance!

Published January 16, 2015 by vishalvkale

The latest controversy, or discussion topic : Ancient Indian advances, sciences… and the attendant noise around it is giving rise to claims and counter claims of various and sundry theories on either side; which is sad, since this is only taking the attention away from the need of the hour! 

There is no conspiracy either way, it is just a cultural backlash that has started, as a new and confident India begins to question the European version of history. This is also strengthened by a politico-religious movement, on which I shall remain silent, given that I do not comment on Religion as a rule. What has happened is that a good number of so-called European facts have been proven wrong; add to this the rise of the Hindu right wing, which has been driven by a repression during British times, when Indian culture was systematically targeted in everything-  religion, music, arts everything. The pendulum is now swinging back the other way; and will settle somewhere in the middle. 

The other side of the equation is just ridicule, and arrogance. From where I stand, both sides are wrong. The ridicule side tends to forget that the version of history they love to extol as Gospel has been proven wrong on innumerable occasions already, and is thus not infallible. Further, as science gets more and more advanced, timelines are being revised, old “facts” are being rediscovered to be pure myth, and so on. As one side rises, in response the other side rises equally in the other direction, creating a ludicrous dance full of abject stupidity and arrogance on both sides of the coin! 


First, let us look at Modern India. We Indians have an unfortunate tendency to accept anything in written form as gospel, without attendant analysis of its accuracy. And if the source of this writing is Western, then it has to be accurate. Unfortunately for such people, any number of so called western “facts” about India have been laid bare as complete lies, and malicious lies at that.

Be it casteism, or Sati, all we know about it are lies, blunt and straight. You can say that these things cannot be proven; in that case, look at Economics. There are any number of period documents : documents written in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s testify to the reality. The fact of the matter is plainly evident – that India was one of the most developed – in every thing from economics to manufacturing. 

My point in this preamble is that it has now been proven that a good bit of western history was pure myth, and based on deliberate lies. And add to that the fact that the West is, till date, racist and has no real understanding of the orient. The icing on the cake is this  observation from one of my earlier articles :

3 continents were exterminated; several civilizations gutted into nothingness; Africans reduced to animals, chained and sold as slaves, and some who survived – like the Chinese and the Indians – were subjugated with a bestial and venal ferocity that involved taking away every dignity from them; so fierce was the repression that its after effects are still apparent 66 years after independence. As I said, go ahead and tom-tom your achievements. But keep a thought somewhere in your hearts for the sins of the Europeans, as outlined above. No one else in documented history has done as many” 

And it is this lovely civilization’s views we are now accepting. Well, the whole world can if it wants to. I refuse, blunt frank and straight. The Europeans versions have already been proven as total lies on several points; how can then we accept that the rest is true? On one side, we have a version from a source now known to be bigoted, which has been proven wrong on several points; on the other, we have a literary record that hasn’t even been  studied properly and in an unbiased manner, and which has no proofs either way – not in the modern sense. From an impartial stance, given the European record of lies, rape, bloodshed, and bigotry, I think the Europeans are wrong. I dont accept anything they state, period. Not on Indian History, at any rate.  I dont lay claim that the right wing Hindus are right, but I just dont accept Western versions as the full truth, period.


With that. we finally enter the dragon. When was Ashok born? 300-400 BC? How about I show you a spotless analysis that proves Ashok was born 1200 years before this? That this timeline does not tally with Western-written  history does not necessarily mean it is inaccurate; it only means that  questions still remain, unanswered questions – especially since the  logic presented  in the research that laid this claim forward is not so easy to dismiss

Just 10 years ago, the timeline for Indian civilization was around 2000BC. As on today, that has been pushed back to 7380BC at a minimum, as per the ASI. There are several sites that have been dated to 6000 – 7000 BC. Ten years ago, everyone would have laughed and ridiculed. 40 years ago, Aryan Invasion was a hard fact; now most people know that it is a pure myth. I could go on and on. 

Note this paragraph from my review of a book “What India Should Know” : “The  last section of the book is a veritable treasure trove of our literary  history, with a succinct presentation of our Vedic Literature, The  Concepts of Sanatan Dharma, and Vedic Society. This section is the piece de resistance of the book, as one wonders at the level of development and thought  processes of our ancestors. At least in my case, this section has  kindled a desire to know more, and to learn more. The last 4-5 chapters  deal exclusively with Vedic Society and Literature, and will take your  breath away in the simplicity of their concepts, and of the clarity of  their thoughts. Any description from my side would be superfluous, as  also wholly inadequate.

This is a level of analysis and thought that we are still struggling to understand; so brilliant and stunning are the concepts, so advanced in thought, that one marvels at the development of those intellectuals, who were far more advanced than we are today. This is a level of intellect and knowledge that we cannot even grasp. Fine, we dont have evidence of quite a few things stated therein, but that does not mean we reject those statements. 

Furthermore, if we accept either the statements of modern people who have studied those original manuscripts, or if we accept the original manuscripts without proof – then we have not understood the manuscripts; then we are not worthy of this knowledge, we are not fully enlightened; our path- please dont call it a religion – our path of Sanaatan Dharm explicitly teaches you to question life, and focus on your Karma. The moment we start accepting anything without questioning it, we go wrong

My point : challenge the right wingers of Hinduism; that is what Sanaatani thoughts instruct you to do; you can and should question if your intellect does not accept it. But you cannot ridicule – if you ridicule, you are showing your arrogance  and ignorance both. And the modern metrosexual Indian male and female loves to ridicule such thoughts. The focus should be on the tragedy that is unfolding; we dont require this nonsense. We require a quiet, impartial study to get at the truth behind the many, many unanswered questions of Ancient India; not this rubbish!

The other side – well, the less said the better. My only advice to them : at times, silence is golden. And when you do speak, do so with irrefutable proof. A lot of genuine questions remain over the real history of India, that is a fact. Rather than scream dramatic claims from rooftops, it is better to focus on chronicling, studying and furthering the cause of Vedic studies in India, and setting the record straight in a proper and defined above-board method. 

I dont hold the European and American civilization in any regard {contempt is closer to the feeling I have}; neither do I accept their version of Indian History. I have an open mind, and am willing to wait for proof to manifest itself. Even if it means waiting a lifetime. It is possible that what the right wingers are saying is at least partially true on some points; the reverse is also equally plausible. We just dont know enough. What is important is that the true reality be placed before India, and Western misinformation identified and purged. The saddest part is that in this idiotic battle, truth is the only casualty; truth requires an impartial analysis without vested interests. 

Earlier, Europeans ensured obfuscation; now the reverse is happening, with right wingers making unsubstantiated claims, and the Westernised Indians ridiculing them!  Will we ever know the reality? I sometimes wonder… for one thing is certain, we dont know a lot of the reality of Ancient India. Too many unanswered questions remain; way too many. The European version is all cockeyed; right from the Aryan nonsense to other stuff. 

Do We Really Want Change {Part-2} : Our Cultural History Of Tolerance

Published October 18, 2014 by vishalvkale

This is the 4th article in the reality series, and is the second part of the article Do We Really Want Change?

The sad reality of growing intolerance is readily seen in Modern India in any number of facets of Modern Life. While it can be argued, and argued with conviction that intolerance is a fact of Modern Life regardless of nationality, the fact remains that this is a truism in India – a nation known not for intolerance, but for  the exact opposite. And that is what makes it an especially sad reality. 

While the divides that pervade modern life in India are a subject unto themselves, ranging as they do from caste to rich-poor to religion, and are thus beyond the scope of a blog-post; a few questions can nevertheless be asked of  ourselves in such outlets as blogs and social media. The first and most pertinent of these questions is what I deal with in this post – how is it that the most tolerant and open people on the face of this planet have been reduced to such a sad scene of rapidly breeding intolerance? 

Please note that I am not referring to religious intolerance alone- let me be specific on that point. I am referring to our growing rejection of competing but less prominent views – for example, our entire NaMo fan following, our decreasing acceptance of discourse and open sharing of views on contentious aspects, and increasing propensity to get into bitter fights over competing views. 

I am referring to our blind unthinking devotion to public figures, our habit of accepting anything without conscious thought, our herd mentality, our growing insecurity in the sphere of religion, our lack of peaceful or calm acceptance of divergent views – as was seen with crystal clarity in the recently concluded elections of a few months ago. 

At this point of time in our life as a nation, it is vitally essential that we, all of us, read these lines from Swami Vivekanand : “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world tolerance and univerasal acceptance. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth… Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and The Hindu has recognied it. The Hindus have discovered that the absolute can only be realised or thought of, or stated through the relative and the image, crosses, crescents are simple so many symbols – so many pegs to hand spiritual ideas on. The Hindus have their faults, but mark this – they are always for punishing their own bodies, and never for cutting the throats of their neighbours. – Swami Vivekanad, Chicago, 1893.”

India is the land where people of all types of thoughts, religions, practices, lifestyles, skin-colours settled; where everyone was accepted, and their space respected; the land where Jews found peace; the land where religions were born and grew without concomitant violence on the scale seen elsewhere; the land where everyone was only a human being. That much is not conjecture; it is plain and simple fact. This is the India that was – a land of philosophy, and highly advanced people who were comfortable with themselves and their identity. 

This was a land at peace with itself; a land that had learned to accept radically different and divergent views and mindsets, religions and races without excessive pain and violence; where everyone had a place to stay, a land which was an open and welcoming land. It was also a land of deep thought and analyses, a land which gave birth to a stream of thinkers like Aryabhatt in science to Panini in Literature; it was  a golden land that was the cradle of civilization, civilised thought, and relative calm and peace. 

This was a land where open discussion was the norm rather than the exception. As late as the 1800s there are recorded events of open religious discourse and open vibrant discussion even on religious matters in an apolitical atmosphere of relative calm and quiet – a mature, advanced discussion between mature, thinking and highly civilized people – a land which was tolerent, quiet and at peace. 

It is this habit of openness, of questioning in an open, mature and highly civilized fashion that have  led to the famous scientists or thinkers or philosophers of ancient and medieval times to propound their works, and lay the ground for the advances that came later, as immortalised in that famous hindi song – Jab Zero Diyaa Mere Bhaarat Ne… It is this habit of tolerance that allowed people of divergent views to co-exist, and prosper together from pre-historic eras; it was this open habit that led to India being called The Golden Land. 

A look at Modern India will belie all of the above in its totality. We have become a people who can heckle a TV reporter for challenging one of our admittedly best Prime Ministers; where the slightest challenge to a famous figure leads to street protests; we have become a people and a land where open discussion on religion is now next to impossible. We have become a land where open discussion on the problems that confront India is totally absent and where in its place symbolic gestures can be idolised, of which there are examples aplenty. 

I have been deliberately circumspect in this article, as I want to avoid a head-on confrontation, and in its place just want people to think – why cant we accept views divergent to ours – be it in religion, or in politics? In both cases, I have alluded to real-world examples; in these matters, it is best not to be more specific. Why cant we stop idolising, rise above our herd mentality – especially when, given our history of tolerance, we possess the innate habit and inbuilt culture to do exactly that – be tolerant, thinking and analytical?

The key point here is that the problems the nation faces require a circumspect and thoughtful approach in some facets, and a mature, thinking and analytical approach in others. Our history is proof that we have both traits, and in abundance. High time we recognised our own potential, rose above these damaging habits, and took the nation to where it belongs – at the top of the totem pole- The Land Of Gold, Sone Ki Chidiyaa, The Land Of Noble People  {Aryavarta} – the land, nay, the wonderful land that it used to be. 

Jaago, Sonewaalon!

Three Indias and a Bhaarat…

Published October 6, 2013 by vishalvkale

India is known as a land of diversity; one of the most clichéd descriptions about India has been its unity in diversity aspect, and this can be readily seen in the varied linguistic and cultural traditions that span our land in addition to the religious diversity. This is a known positive about our motherland, and widely acknowledged as such. And yet, within this diversity, within this cultural cosmos that is India, is hidden a set of several “Indias” whose divergent agendas are a cause of concern. I call them Three Indias and a Bhaarat…
The first India is the so-called upper strata, the educated elite – and by that, I mean the educated English-spouting elite of the cities. Specifically, the educated elite in the top cities of India, who are discernibly a distinct identity group, and are a pretty exclusive group. These people stick together like glue on most issues, and breaking into this select group is extraordinarily difficult for someone from Bhaarat. These are the people who read The Economic Times, The Times Of India, The Business Standard, India Today etc. These are the people who frequent your pubs and CCD outlets. These are the people who can be spotted in malls and cinemas. These are the well-dressed and nattily turned out ladies and gentlemen in swank offices, and young boys and girls in elite colleges that dot the landscape of the bigger cities in India. 
To the members of this exclusive club GDP growth, economic growth, posh cities, swank highways are the important parameters of a nation. To these people, it is the companies and the salaries and PL statements of these companies that determine the real status of a person and by extension the country. These are the people who would readily pay up a bribe to achieve something, on the specious argument that “My job depended on it//everyone does it/without it approvals don’t come etc” . These are the people who are too important to vote, or don’t consider anti-corruption an electoral plank – to say nothing of inclusive growth. In fact, most would not even be aware of the need for inclusive growth, and are staunch proponents of the trickle-down theory. 
The first India is in a majority as compared to the second India… these are a set of people, identical in shape and form, in language and attitudes to the first India. But there is a significant difference: these citizens of the second India are beginning to get frustrated with things as they are, and are just beginning to root for change. The members of the second India club are getting more and more vocal in their demands for clean governance, zero-corruption, effective administration, swift punishment for defaulters. Some of these Indians are beginning to realize the pull of Indian culture, and are increasingly throwing off the western masks for a distinct pro-Indian outlook and identity, with an increasing preference for all things Indian in terms of culture. The second India is the one which is asking the real tough questions – where are we, where are we headed, how to solve these problems, how to clean politics, what is real growth and what is the political alternative. 
This, the second India, is an amazingly complex group, as it has many, many sub-groups with widely diverging views and demographic profiles. The vernacular speaking successful businessman is as much a part of this group, as is the anti-corruption brigade; The optimistic go-getter who leaves the first India to try make a difference in Bhaarat is as much a part of this India as is the Indian-culture-is the-best claimer. The one defining characteristic of this group is that all of them are unwilling to accept the status quo and are rooting for change. 
The first two Indias represent the creamy layer; the top 5%… the third India is the set of people who just don’t care, or are a part of the establishment. Here you will find the people who vote their caste. Here you will find the the fundamentalists. Here you will find the political class. Here you will find the babus of the government. Here you will find the people who look at the problems, shrug, and move on. Here you will find an easy mobility between the first and the third India; they are in many cases interchangeable. Here you will find both the bribe takers and the bribe givers. Here you will find the I-Me-Myselfers. Here you will find the people who are not in the top rung; who were unlucky to miss out on the advantages of a metro upbringing, or of a top college. Here you will find those urban Indians who just don’t care one way or the other…
And with that, we come to Bhaaarat. The only thing common in all the 3 Indias above is that all three don’t care about, or are not fully aware of Bhaarat. It is only in the second India that there is the beginning of an awakening towards Bhaarat and its plight. The First India is not even aware Bhaarat exists, let alone how Bhaarat lives. In Bhaarat – you will find the real problems of India. Here you will find the farmer who commits suicide. Here who will find the farmer who cannot make a profit from his farms, and who has to double as a laborer,  whose wife has to work as well as whose kids miss school so that the can work and earn to eat and fill their stomachs. Here you will find the starving beggars form Urban India. Here you will find the malnourished children. Here you will find the uneducated unfortunate, who has nothing to do and nowhere to go. Here you will find the woman who has only 1 saari, sometimes even less. Here you will find bad roads. Here you will find despair. Here you will find hopelessness. Here you will find struggle, a struggle that has no end for generations to come. Here you will find the landless laborer.  Here you will find the low-hygiene slums which the first three Indias do everything within their considerable power to avoid thinking of – let alone looking at. Here you will find the villages that still look like time has stopped. Here you will find the real India. And these Indians outnumber the other three Indias by a factor of at least 3 to 1; maybe more. 
Unless the three Indias can come together, and take care of Bhaarat; unless the three Indias and Bhaarat can unite as one in political vision, national outlook, attitudes and access to basics like health and education – a developed and superpower India will remain a pipe dream. Unfortunately, The First and Third Indias don’t care; and it is they who have the power. The second India is our only hope; it has the momentum and the will…  Let us all do all we can to ensure that the second India grows in size!
Jaago, Sonewaalon!