Much ado about a mosque – Prafull Goradia

Related image

Similarly, it is difficult to think of a masjid without a minaret or several of them. As it is well-known, the function of a minaret is to enable a muezzin to stand as high as possible before he issues the azaan or the call for worship. The higher he can stand, the greater the distance his voice or baang would carry and more would be the worshippers, who would attend the prayer. In the days where there were no loudspeakers, the height of the minaret was most crucial. An outstanding example of height is the masjid built by Aurangzeb on the banks of Ganga at Varanasi, which has two extremely tall minarets.

Taking a foreign example, the big mosque at Istanbul was earlier a church of Hagia Sophia. There, the church was converted into a masjid by raising four minarets as tall as the pinnacle of the dome. In rural Anatolia and its wheat lands, most masjids have a single minaret. But a minaret was there nevertheless. Or else, the baang would not carry.

Was the edifice Babri maqbara rather than a masjid? If so, why is the Sunni Personal Law Board making so much hue and cry about the structure and the land on which it stood?

When this writer visited Ayodhya, he had heard a great deal about the Babri Masjid, as if it was some historic piece of architecture. This was early in 1991. The writer was surprised at the uncomely sight of this enormous rough-looking trinity of domes. More surprising was the total absence of anything like a minaret. This made him suspicious enough to enquire one by one, from three passing Muslim gentlemen, as to whether there was a mehrab or a mimbar inside, or a wuzooh for a wash before the prayer. A few minutes earlier, the writer was categorically informed by a skull cap-wearing gentleman that he could not go inside, hence the queries.

Whoever the writer talked to, including two shopkeepers, referred to it as the ‘Babri’ Masjid. The writer had not earlier, or even later, come across a mosque named after any individual. His suspicion continued about the nature of the edifice in the absence of a minaret and the presence of the name Babri. On subsequent contemplation, the writer felt that perhaps, the edifice was a maqbara of Mir Baqi, one of the military commanders of Babar in the latter’s invasion of India. The date of the building has been consistently given as 1528 AD.

Much ado about a mosqueBabar won the First Battle of Panipat in April 1526. He and his immediate men were new to India and were generally busy establishing their rule at Agra. How could Mir Baqi get the opportunity to visit Ayodhya; have the Ram temple demolished and have the huge Babri structure constructed — all in a matter of two years? In those days, five centuries ago, everything had to be done manually — breaking, building and all. It must have taken longer than two years. Babar died in 1530 while beseeching Allah, the merciful, to save the life of his ailing son Humayun.

Taking all these circumstances, — the lack of minaret and the presence of the name Babri among others — could it be possible that Mir Baqi did not forget the King he was beholden to, and admiring of? He took his time to build this maqbarah, probably larger than any in India, as a compact building in the loving memory of Zaheeruddin Mohammad Babar. In short, was the edifice Babri maqbarah rather than a masjid? If so, why is the Sunni Personal Law Board making so much song and dance about the edifice and the land on which it stood? Up to a dozen of maqbarahs were demolished under the British rule in order to lay out Delhi’s Golf Course.

Incidentally, Sir Arnold Toynbee had visited Delhi and Bombay in the 1950s to deliver the Azad Memorial Lectures. This was at the personal invitation of Jawaharlal Nehru. During the course of his lectures, Arnold expressed surprise at having seen the masjid with tall minarets, as we mentioned above, on the banks of the Ganga, still standing. This despite India’s independence, at the holiest of holy places of the Hindus. He went on to say that on his recent visit to Warsaw in Poland, he saw the cathedral in that city as a Roman Catholic edifice. When the Russians had conquered Warsaw a century or more ago, they had converted the earlier Catholic cathedral into a Russian orthodox church. The poles could not tolerate this but were helpless. When they regained independence towards the end of World War I, they demolished the Russian church and rebuilt their own.

This pattern of behaviour was in evidence elsewhere too. Several wars were fought during the 1990s after the collapse of the Socialist Federated Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly the 1991-1995 war in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This was the biggest conflict in Europe since the World War II, causing massive terror and brutality with approximately 150,000 deaths and several million people forcibly resettled. Although the Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims, who fought this war, were Europeans of Slavonic ancestry, they had significant and irreconcilable differences in religion. The Serbs are eastern-orthodox Christians, the Croats were Roman Catholics, and the Bosnian Muslims are Slavs Islamised after the Turkish conquest. The Serbs have always defended Christian Europe from invaders, most notably the Ottoman Turks. The heroic Serbian defence in the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman invaders in 1389 AD stands out as a landmark.

Conquering militias or armies in this 1992 inter-Yugoslav conflict destroyed the enemy’s religious symbols and built their own to symbolically mark the territory. For example, the capital city of what is today called the ‘Serb Republic’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was ethnically cleansed of all its numerous historic and newer mosques, with the Serbs also expelling the local Muslims, ostensibly in retribution for centuries of Ottoman humiliation.

Not only that, the Orthodox Serbs destroyed about 200 Catholic churches in Krajina in Croatia during their four year occupation of the town. This was Serb revenge on atrocities against the orthodox Church by the Croat Nazi puppet state during World War II. The Catholic Croats had then murdered over a 100 orthodox priests and three bishops, massacred about 1,000 Serbs in a town Glina and also razed its orthodox Church of the nativity.

Similar is the tale of Córdoba in Spain. It was originally a cathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) but was conquered by the invading Moors and turned into a mosque in 784 AD by Abd al-Rahman. It was reconquered by 1236 AD by King Ferdinand III of Castile during the Reconquista. The centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. The kings who followed added further Christian features.

(The writer is a well-known columnist and an author)

Courtesy The Pioneer , 28 December 2018

Veda and Yoga are One: Dr. David Frawley

Veda and Yoga are One: Veda is knowledge and Yoga is its practice

Dr. David Frawley

Veda is knowledge and Yoga is its practice. It is that simple. They are two sides of the same truth. Yoga not only leads us to Veda, but also expresses it. Veda embodies itself through Yoga as its manifestation.

Veda, from the root “vid” to know, refers to Knowledge in the highest sense as direct perception of the Eternal and Infinite Consciousness called Brahman. Brahman is present as the Atman or inner Self of all beings at an individual level.

The practice of Vedic knowledge is Yoga, meaning integration and unification. Knowledge of our true nature as pure consciousness beyond all limitations of time and space naturally brings us Yoga or harmony and oneness with all.Veda


Paths of Yoga

There are three primary traditional paths of Yoga. First is Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of Knowledge, which is the Yoga of Veda as the way of inner wisdom. It is the path of Self-knowledge, Self-realization and the unity of our inner most Self with all, the Universal Being, gained through mental purity, inquiry and meditation.

The second path of Yoga is Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of Devotion and Divine Love. Bhakti Yoga is the love of the Self in the form of the Universal Being and all of his/her formations and manifestations. It proceeds through surrender to the Divine Presence within the heart.

Third is Karma Yoga or the Yoga of right action, service and ritual, which is action in harmony with the Universal Being. It consists of aligning our outer lives with the inner reality that we access through knowledge and devotion. These three paths are interrelated, with Self-knowledge expressing itself as Divine Love and working through selfless service for all.

Out of these three primary paths, many other Yoga paths arise. Most known are Raja Yoga or the Yoga of meditation and samadhi and Hatha Yoga or the Yoga of psychophysical techniques. There are many other types of Yoga, such as Mantra Yoga, Nada Yoga and Laya Yoga that deal with cosmic sound, and Prana Yoga and Kundalini Yoga that deal with internal energies.


The Vedas as Yogic Teachings

The Vedic mantras, starting with the oldest Rigveda, form first of all, a path of Mantra Yoga. The Vedas are said to manifest from the cosmic sound, OM that is the foremost of all mantras, the very Divine Word itself. Hindus continue to chant mantras from the Rigveda after thousands of years, such as the Gayatri Mantra to Surya/Savitri, the solar Godhead and the Mrityunjaya Mantra to Lord Shiva in order to access the highest wisdom and grace. But, every one of the ten thousand verses of the Rigveda holds this mantric power.

Mantra is not only the language of the Veda, but also the language of the Yoga. Jnana and Bhakti or knowledge and devotion are the two ways of reading the Vedic mantras. The Vedas extol the Self as the Supreme Reality, which is Jnana, but also approach it through deities and devotional attitudes, which is Bhakti. The attitude of devotion or Bhakti Bhava takes us to knowledge or Jnana.

Vedic rituals arise from the Vedic mantras as Karma Yoga. Typical books on Karma Yoga in India have always dealt with the performance of Vedic rituals, including yajnas, havans and pujas, as well as daily lifestyle practices, according to the tenets of Dharma. Veda is the teaching of Dharma on all levels.


The Four Goals of Life

The Vedic tradition recognizes four great goals of human life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Dharma here refers to our true purpose in life, which is our inner work to manifest our higher spiritual potential. Artha is the goals that we need to achieve to fulfill our Dharma. Kama is the lasting happiness that we experience in rightly pursuing our Dharma. This takes us to Moksha or liberation. Yoga is said to be the primary means of achieving Moksha or liberation, the highest goal of life. So, all life is Yoga. That is why the practice of the eight limbs of Yoga begins with the dharmic values and disciplines of the Yamas and Niyamas, like ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truthfulness).


Yoga Darshana and Yoga Sutras

Apart from these general branches of Yoga is Yoga Darshana – Yoga as one of the schools of Hindu/Vedic philosophy, as explained in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, regarded as the prime text on Yoga.

Yoga Darshana has its roots in the Vedas as is explained in the Mahabharata. Its founder is Hiranyagarbha, often a name for Lord Brahma as the source of cosmic knowledge. The classical Yoga lineage is from Hiranyagarbha to the great Rishi Vasishta, who has the largest number of mantras in the Rigveda, which lineage eventually comes down to Rishi Patanjali.

Patanjali is the Sutrakara or compiler of teachings for the older Vedic Darshana, not its originator or founder, as some today wrong assume. He dates from the post-Vedic period, when the older teachings were being correlated and systematized. The darshanas are part of Hindu Smriti literature that rests upon the Vedas as Shruti or the source teaching. Yoga Darshana as a Vedic philosophy accepts the authority or Pramana of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, in which Yoga and Veda, or the higher knowledge and its practice, are commonly discussed under different names, forms and approaches.

Patanjali describes Ishvara, which refers to Brahman as the Cosmic Lord, as the Adiguru, the first teacher, of Yoga [1]. We must note that in Vedantic metaphysical thought Ishvara is the Self of the universal causal body and Hiranyagarbha is the Self of the universal subtle body, or two aspects of the same cosmic reality.

Patanjali teaches us that Ishvara’s indicator is Pranava or Omkara, which is the main means of contacting his power within us [2]. Pranava or Omkara is also the origin of the Vedas, which are similarly said to be the word of Ishvara or the Supreme Divine. Patanjali was also well known as a Sanskrit grammarian, so was clearly aware of this fact. It again shows that Veda and Yoga are one. Veda is OM as knowledge and Yoga is OM as practice.


Krishna, the Gita and Manu

Another prime text of Yoga is the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna is said to be Yogavatara, the avatar of Yoga. He says that he taught Yoga to Vivasvan, a form of the solar deity like Hiranyagarbha, who in turn taught it to Manu, who was also the original teacher of the Vedas [3].


Yoga and Hinduism

Some misinformed scholars today tell us that Veda and Yoga are different, that Yoga is pre-Vedic, Buddhist, anything, but Hindu, though all main Yoga groups in modern times follow traditions and practices based in the Hindu tradition. This idea reflects their inability to connect Yoga with the Upanishadic quest for the Supreme Self and to the older Vedic mantras that aim at the highest light of truth. It is not the view of the great Yogis of India, like Sri Aurobindo or Paramahansa Yogananda, who recognize the Vedic roots of Yoga.

As the Vedas are the prime scriptures or source books of Hinduism, Yoga is also the practice of Hindu Dharma. Yoga permeates every aspect of the Hindu way of life. Hindu rituals and temple worship are Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Hindu prayers, chants and songs are Mantra Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Hindu scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita are Yoga Shastras. Hindu dharmic values like truthfulness are yogic values. Yoga Sadhana is prescribed for every Hindu, according to his or her Ishta Devata or chosen form of the Divine that they are free to worship.

Yoga may be taken up by members of other religious communities or by atheists to some degree – but there is no community or culture that Yoga is such an integral part of, as it is of Hinduism.

There is no Yoga tradition apart from Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma, from which it arises as way of spiritual practice. Whatever universality people find in Yoga rests upon the universality of Sanatana Dharma, not upon any single group or guru coming out of it. Veda is our natural universal Dharma and Yoga is its unifying expression. If we return to that unity of Veda and Yoga, there will be wisdom, peace and happiness for all.

References:

Yoga Sutras I.26
Yoga Sutras I.27
Bhagavad Gita IV.1

Link- https://www.vedanet.com/veda-and-yoga-are-one-veda-is-knowledge-and-yoga-is-its-practice/

Courtesy: www.vedanet.com/ JUNE 21, 2018

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: AYODHYA AND JERUSALEM- Balbir Punj

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: AYODHYA AND JERUSALEM

By- Balbir Punj

                     Balbir PunjA TALE OF TWO CITIES- While the world is busy getting ready to welcome 2018, two ancient cities — Ayodhya and Jerusalem — have been in the news for civilization reasons in the last month of the outgoing year. Jerusalem, the focus and spiritual centre of the Jews, hit the headlines when the Trump Administrationdecided to shift the US embassy in Israel there from its current location in Tel Aviv. Ayodhya, one of the holiest cities of Hindus, figured in public discourse recently after the Supreme Court decided to hear the Babri Masjid-Ram Janam Bhumi case. Appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict in this case have been pending before the apex court for the last seven years.

Both Ayodhya and Jerusalem, located in two different parts of the globe, have a lot in common in terms of travails and the trauma they have suffered at the hands of successive invaders, who claimed divine inspiration from their respective religious texts while repeatedly sacking the ancient cities.

Like Ayodhya, whose existence pre-dates even Lord Rama, the history of Jerusalem too is lost in antiquity, tracing its hoary past to Adam, the first man created by god. It is believed that Adam lived in Jerusalem all of his life.
A TALE OF TWO CITIESDuring its chequered history, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured, and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times and destroyed twice. In the 1st century CE, Jerusalem became the birthplace of early Christianity. The Emperor Constantine developed the city as a Christian centre of worship and the Jews were banned from their city.

In 638 CE, the city was over-run by Muslims, led by their first Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab. However, in July 1099, crusaders captured the city and nearly all the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants were massacred. In 1517, Jerusalem was taken over by the Ottoman empire and after its collapse, by the British.

The way the name of Lord Rama (and by association that of Ayodhya) permeates India and Hindus the world over, the city of Jerusalem is central to the faith and identity of Jews. Here are some Jewish customs.

A tiny amount of ash is touched to the forehead of a Jewish groom before he goes to stand beneath the bridal canopy. This symbolically reminds him not to allow his own rejoicing to be greater than the ongoing need to recall Jerusalem’s repeated destruction.

While the world is gearing up to welcome yet another year, two ancient cities, which have lots in common in terms of travails and trauma they have suffered, are undergoing civilisational trials

Another ancient custom is to leave a path of interior wall opposite the door to one’s home unpainted, as a remembrance of the destruction of the temples and city of Jerusalem at the hands of successive invaders.

According to the Bible, Jewish temples stood on Temple Mount. According to Jewish tradition and scripture, the first temple was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. Jewish tradition maintains it is here that a third and final temple will also be built.

The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the divine presence is still present at the site.

However, after Islamic take-over in 638 CE, the Mount was declared the third holiest site for Sunni Muslims. It is revered as the Noble Sanctuary, the location of Prophet  Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven.

The Prophet is believed to have been taken by the miraculous Steed, Buraq, to visit Jerusalem, where he prayed and then to visit heaven, in a single night in the year 610.

While the Hindus are repeatedly told to prove Lord Rama’s birthplace at Ayodhya, none has ever asked for evidence for the Islamic belief about the Prophet’s sojourn to heaven on a flying horse.

Thanks to their steadfast commitment to their culture and faith, unity, and clarity of purpose, the Jews today have complete control over Jerusalem. On the other hand, divided Hindus have been struggling to build a Ram temple at his birth place for hundreds of years, but without any tangible results.

The Hindu aspiration to build a grand Ram temple, at the site believed to be his birth place in Ayodhya, is not directed against Islam or Muslims. What the Karsevaks demolished on December 6, 1992, was not a place of worship (a mosque) but a monument built by an invader to humiliate the locals. The situation is best summed up in the words of  Arnold Toynbee, one of the great historians of the present century. While delivering the Azad Memorial Lecture, he said:

“As I have been speaking, some vivid visual memories have been flashing up in my mind’s eye. One of these is a mental picture of the principal square in the Polish City of Warsaw sometime in the late nineteen twenties. In the course of the first Russian occupation of Warsaw (1614-1915) the Russians had built an Eastern Orthodox Christian Cathedral on this central spot in the city that had been the capital of the once independent Roman Catholic Christian country, Poland.

“The Russians had done this to give the Poles a continuous ocular demonstration that the Russians were now their masters. After the reestablishment of Poland’s independence in 1918, the Poles had pulled this cathedral down. Demolition had been completed just before the date of my visit. I do not greatly blame the Polish Government for having pulled down that Russian Church. The purpose for which the Russians had built it had been not religious but political, and the purpose had also been intentionally offensive.

“Aurangzeb’s purpose in building those three Mosques was the same intentionally offensive political purpose that moved the Russians to build their Orthodox Cathedral in the city centre at Warsaw. Those three Mosques were intended to signify that an Islamic Government was reigning supreme, even over Hinduism’s holiest of holy places.

“I must say that Aurangzeb had a veritable genius for picking out provocative sites. Aurangzeb and Philip II of Spain are a pair. They are incarnations of the gloomily fanatical vein in the Christian-Muslim-Jewish family of religions.

“Aurangzeb — a poor wretched misguided bad man spent a lifetime of hard labour in raising massive monuments to his own discredit. Perhaps the Poles were really kinder in destroying the Russians self-discrediting monuments in Warsaw than you have been in sparing Aurangzeb’s Mosques. Anyway, it is Aurangzeb, and not the Hindu holy ground on which his Mosques are planted, that suffers from their very conspicuous presence…” (One World and India, compiled by National Book Trust, pp 59-61)

(The writer is a political commentator and a former BJP Rajya Sabha MP)

Courtesy-The Pioneer, 18 December 2017

HINDU ROOTS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH By-Jagdish Kaur

HINDU ROOTS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH

By- Jagdish Kaur

Arunachal Pradesh, the abode of the sun god,  has a long international boundary, which it shares with Bhutan on the west, China on the north and north-east and Myanmar on the south-east side. The history of Arunachal Pradesh goes back to hundreds of years in time into the mist of traditions and myths. The limited ethno-historical and ethno-archaeological Jagdish Kaurworks undertaken in the State hamper the reconstruction of the history and culture of the State in a strict chronological order.

Although the history of pre-modern Arunachal Pradesh remains shrouded in mystery, the historiography of religion in the State is overwhelmed primarily with discussion on tribal religion and partially, on Buddhism. Historians have recorded the existence of the Hindu culture and religious motifs in the State from the times of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (c 500-400 BC). Puranic literatures strengthen this evidence as well. The Lohit River, which feeds into the Parshuram Kund, was known as Lauhitya in Puranic times.

Various places in Arunachal Pradesh find mention in the Hindu epics. Kalika Purana describes upper Lohit valley as prabhu kutar and Subansiri valley as prabhu parbat. The present ruins of Bhismaknagar near Sadiya are said to represent the palace of King Bhismaka, alluded to in the Bhagavata Purana. Two copper plates with Sanskrit inscriptions have been discovered from the copper temple near Bhismaknagar.

Various tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, such as the Karbi, consider themselves as the descendants of Bali and Sugriva (from Ramayana). The Tiwas are proud of being the descendants of Devi Sita.

Archaeological explorations have established the presence of Hindu culture in Arunachal Pradesh. Concerted efforts are needed to historically evaluate the ancient history of the State

The Mishmis trace their ancestry to the legendary king Bhismak and through him to his daughter Rukmini and Lord Krishna. The presence of Shaivism influence with phallic worship in the sub-hills bordering the Brahamaputra valley and remote areas of Tawang is also evident.

During the 19th century, British administrators and scholars recorded oral history of various tribes and also explored Bhismaknagar, Tameshwari temple, Bhalukpong, Rukmini nagar, Ita fort among others.

The archaeological section of the Directorate of Research in the State conducted excavations and explorations towards the later decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. A large Shiva Lingam was unearthed in Lohit district during excavations during 1965-67. A series of excavations followed in Bhismaknagar, Malinithan, Vijaynagar, Rukmininagar and Naksa Parbat over the next decades.

The inscriptions found at Tamresari temple and  Bhismaknagar fort was written in Sanskrit, Assamese and Bengali script. One of the inscriptions is translated to ‘Sri Sri Lakshmi Narayan Japa’. Parshuram Kund, located near Tezu in the Lohit district, has been visited by Hindu devotees since long. The legend described in the Kalika Purana of the eighth century mentions that Lord Parasurama washed off his sin of matricide by taking bath at this place.

Bhismaknagar, located near Roing in the lower Dibang valley district, also finds mention in Kalika Purana. The place was ruled by King Bhismaka, father of Rukmini, wife of Lord Krishna. Malinithan is a complex of temple ruins located in the foothills of west Siang district.  Excavations conducted over the years have unearthed four separate temple bases and a large number of sculptures and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Well carved and decorated stone structures speak volumes about the glorious past of the temple complex. The place is associated with the legend of Lord Krishna who rested at this place with his wife Rukmini on their way back from Bhismaknagar as described in Kalika Purana. They were welcomed by Lord Shiva and his consort goddess Parvati with garlands and flowers. Lord Krishna addressed the goddess Parvati as ‘Malini’ and said that she would be worshipped at this place with this new name and the place has since become famous as Malinithan or the ‘abode of Malini’.

The temple complex dates back to ninth to 13th century AD and the influence of earlier period rulers of Assam dating back to 700 to 950 AD cannot be ruled out. Directorate of Research has extensively studied and recorded these excavations. Many sculptures/stone structures are either lying in the open or are preserved in the site museum, including temple parts, idols of gods/deities, rishis and sages, gandharvas, apasaras and other human and animal figures.

The presiding deity of the temple is Durga (Malini). The present image of the goddess was reconstructed from broken pieces found during the excavation. Besides Durga, idols of Nandi, Indra, Surya, Brahama, Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Varaha, Radha, Krishna, Shiva Linga and numerous other stone figures can be seen in the temple complex.

Akashiganga, located near Malinithan, is considered as one of the 51 sacred shakti peethas associated with the legend of goddess Parvati. The legend says that the head of the sati had fallen at this place. Malinithan and Akashiganga draw huge number of pilgrims and tourists from different parts of the country.

Arunachal PradeshThe latest surface discovery in the State is that of the tallest Shiva Linga in the world at Ziro in the Lower Subansiri district. The miraculous discovery of Shiva Linga happened in the holy month of Shravan in the year 2004 in the deep forest. It is believed that the appearance of the Linga at this place finds mention in chapter 17 of Rudra Khand of the Shiva Purana. The natural rock mass Shiva Linga is 25 feet high and 22 feet in circumference.  A constant stream of water flows beneath the Linga which is surrounded by other members of the Shiva parivar. The trunk of Lord Ganesha is in the front side while the goddess Parvati and Lord Kartikeya are on the back side in the form of smaller Lingas.

Sources have reported unearthing and discovery of idols and images of Hindu gods and goddesses in the fields and at various construction sites in the State. Some of the idols have been installed in the newly-built temples while local people worship the others at their homes. Archeological evidence corroborates the mythological legends and beliefs prevalent over the centuries.

The ‘Nehruvian policy’ in post-independent India encouraged various tribes in the State to grow as per their own genius and tradition overlooking the danger of complete annihilation of the existing cultural ethos. Subsequent decades witnessed intensive studies of various ethnic groups/tribes by the historians and scholars to the extent of projecting tribal religion as the only authentic form of religion in Arunachal Pradesh.

However, archaeological evidence and explorationsin in the recent past have established the presence of Hindu religion in Arunachal Pradesh dating back to many centuries. Concerted efforts are needed to historically evaluate and appropriately integrate these findings to reconstitute the ancient history of the State.

(The writer is a doctor with deep interest in the history and culture of India and is author of, ‘Arunachal Pradesh- Rediscovering Hinduism in the Himalayas’)

Courtesy- The Pioneer| 21 December 2017

Where are the investors for Unhatched Startups? By Nalinikant Patro

Where are the investors for Unhatched Startups?

By Nalinikant Patro

02-minGOOD OLD DAYS ARE HARD TO FORGET

Back in the days where .com boom didn’t cross our country, retailers were the prime rulers of the market and consumer market was only limited to hyper-local marketing, everything was simple and sane, until the TV shopping line opened up. Yes that’s where all the drama came along. The strategy to uplift the materialistic greed of middle class society through advertising and discount offers made people buy things they didn’t feel the need to buy in the first place.

CHANGE WAS GOOD

The .com boom swayed the market setup by the TV shopping marts and giants like Flipkart and Snap deal made their dominating entry to Indian market and consumed more than 20% of the total B2C e-commerce business, seeing growth of some of these web pioneers the startup boom followed and everything, entirely everything was sold or advertised online.

EVEN THE GIANTS FACED SIMILAR OR WORSE PROBLEMS ONCE

Every tree was once just a fragile seed, like the most valuable website on earth: FACEBOOK.

“In 2004 when there wasn’t any outside funding available, Mark put his own money into his business. It was a challenge for Mark Zuckerberg to find potential lead investors and it was required that Facebook must reach 1.5 million users by the end of 2004”

While one would argue that situation in Silicon Valley and India are very different, a similar situation occurred to our biggest online shopping mart of our country: FLIPKART

“Initially, they had spent ₹400,000 (US$5,900) only for making the website to set up the business”

Reference : www.wikipedia.com

PAST HAS SHOWN US SOME HOPE AND DISAPPOINTMENT TOO

While the big F’s were dominating the world it seemed we were gaining pace and investors were pouring money after their venture started generating profits as farmer draws water to its land after the first rain. While a lot of startups were lost in darkness like weed plants within the shadow of a banyan tree, some ventures gained high end connections like OYO did,

“Oravels pvt ltd couldn’t raise funds through acceleration programs to suffice for a big impact on the market, yet OYO received a $ 100,000 through Thiel fellowship and with VCs like peter Thiel backing Ritesh Agarwal, OYO is set to become one of the fastest unicorn companies in India”

While Ritesh Agarwal received a hefty amount at such a young age, his modest idea wasn’t very much praised by the elite community of India.

THE ONES WHO ARE CRAZY ENOUGH TO THINK THEY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Whereas this was seen as a positive growth from youth of India, 3 college students from Chennai contemplated its cons. they started with a simple peer to peer online delivery site with 2 small clothing shops. As they began to start they failed miserably, but these shops were renowned and trusted from nearby people, but as they entered the market they were revealed to the dark side of the startup system which they were going to be a part of and that answered their failure’s reason.

THE CUBS OF YESTERDAY HAVE BECOME THE LIONS TODAY

They realized that the price of products which are provided by the e-commerce giants and the discounts offered by the service apps were unparalleled to that of any retail store or service shops. with this and the amount invested on advertising of these products through several foreign banks it has literally become a one-sided war for the miserably loosing newbie startups, and thus even after getting funded lots and lots of these startups close their doors or referred to as imitators. With this in mind the 3 young entrepreneurs knew they have entered the Chakravyuh of the Mahabharata.

TRIED UNTIL THEY FAILED AGAIN

But this time they changed from their domain and tried to change the whole e-commerce market instead and redeem the retailers which were lost to e-commerce but this needed a relatively bigger seed capital and networking with high end brands. As the hunt for investor began they realized accelerators have taken over the internet pioneering startups and as sheep they too enrolled in one amongst hundreds. But with each time they sat back and waited the giants started to collaborate and started suppressing the newbie startups. With the fear to be diminished many of these newbies were bought too and many who struggled craved for more investors. All these things were so intimidating for the unhatched startups that the guys started to lose their faith on accelerators and started to approach VCs directly.

THE BIG BAD WORLD DIDN’T GIVE THEM A WARM WELCOME AT ALL

But what they saw as a revolutionizing social marketing site, VCs saw it as merely a hyper-local marketing aggregator. Come as it may, still the

“Hyper-local marketing target audience was estimated around 334 million $ in India in 2016”.

But as many e-commerce startups have drowned their precious thin papers, they hesitated to even consider their proposal. And the reasons they delivered were horrendous, like one of the high end advertising company’s VP said to them after reading their proposal (if at all he has):

“This lacks the guarantee on returns of the invested capital and can be risk for me” one of the biggest clichés used by todays capital owners,

But my question is, is there any business in this entire world which can guarantee a profit repeatedly? Our esteemed Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the MAKE IN INDIA program the same year their quest was on going. With rejection from VCs and distrust on accelerator programs, they turned their heads towards this opportunity as their start up could not only help India’s retailers but also degrade the foreign e-commerce site’s dominance over Indian startups. But their prayers remained unanswered, as the program was specifically for manufacturing and trading sector. But the drop in growth of retailer industry doesn’t seem to worry the Indian government somehow, as the growth of .com business is smartly creaming out the profits from India and the foreign banks backing these companies are piling up their profits day by day.

As the total retailer market of India is 2nd highest in world, with a whopping 600 billion $, the failure rate of their startup was grievingly less”,

and thus with the hope that someday they’d change the e-commerce system with help of Indian government they’re still struggling, struggling  to survive and waiting to thrive. like many other in our entrepreneurial community, even they began with a small dream, but the helplessness of retailers have put a responsibility on their shoulders, responsibility for their young minds to help them change their situation. And so with faith in their stars and passion in their hearts, they’re trying, cause that’s the only word that can truly describe the word entrepreneurs.

WHAT HAPPENS WITH OTHER TYPES OF START UPS?

Internet ventures aside, the manufacturing startups have their own kind of problems too, whereas the government has taken the liberty of assisting them to fulfill their dreams of becoming the future GDP  growing pioneers of India, they face problems like, vendor management, loan sanction delaying, lack of advertisement capital.

While attending an entrepreneurship workshop at NISBUD, 2 particular individuals faced problems of 2 different kinds and that wasn’t end of it they were even unable to get cleared of all the return policies and complexities of the market itself.

Mr. Prem Prakash, a former bartender at five star restaurant gave away his job to pursue his dream of availing a bar in a place which was considered great even by the banks to give a credit line of Rs. 10,000,00/-, however how to cross the return guarantee if it cannot draw enough customer base.

“yes full marketing and set up of business has been handled by banks and some with my own purse, however the capital raised doesn’t involve the advertisement cost which could very well become the reason for not beating the matured bars out there”

Not only the geographically profitable business faced the problem some of the trading sector set up business faced similar kind of problem.

Pragati nair of Bangaluru who runs a boutique through profit on exchange said,

“the bankers wouldn’t give credit at all if the business has taken a degradation in its past record and if the personal bank records have been faulty once, with this if a business needs to expand it’ll have to take a hit in the present to grow in the future”

ONLY 1 % OF THE START UPS GET FUNDED

End of the line, the 1 % rule stands in the way for every incompetent and different project, they start with a different idea and while 60% of them would eventually become extinct and 20% wouldn’t meet the exact requirements of the long run, what about the rest 19%?

Whether its pre-ACHE DINN, or post-ACHE DINN the results for the startup funding scenario remains the same, while connections to high end society and party culture easily cream out the required capital and the creamy layer society of India and the fairer sex have also been given the best opportunities to showcase something they feel would work, the underdogs of corporate world are still waiting for their golden opportunity to hatch out of the unprecedented circle of doomed startups.

Here are some startup failure rates as given below:

list of startups

Whether or not we admit to this, the money speaks its charms and as long as investors decide to play it safe, the startup scenario would remain same.

Reference: http://tech.co/startup-failure-rates-industry-2016-01

(-The writer is a Budding Entrepreneur and  can be contacted at patronalinikant@gmail.com)

Chronicle of the Ayodhya controversy-Dr Koenraad Elst

Chronicle of the Ayodhya controversy

By-Dr. Koenraad Elst

Koenraad Elst-The controversy on Rama’s birthplace in Ayodhya, where a Hindu temple was forcibly replaced with a mosque known as the Babri Masjid, was very consequential.

It raged at its fiercest around 1990, when it led to the fall of two national governments, the dismissal of four state governments, two electoral victories of the BJP  ultimately leading to its present power position, riots claiming a few thousands of lives, dozens of temple demolitions from England to Bangladesh, and terrorist attacks pioneering a now-popular new tactic, viz. many  synchronous attacks at different locations within one city, first tried in Mumbai on 12 March 1993. While that seemed to be the closing date of Ayodhya-related violence, the controversy again played a minor role in the next major communal conflagration, the Gujarat riots of 2002. These started with the arson of a train coach carrying Hindu pilgrims from Ayodhya, and helping to make CM Narendra Modi the undisputed Hindu leader and today the PM.

So many books are published about religion and politics in India, that one would expect such a consequential affair to generate a whole library. Very partly, this has indeed been the case. In the 1990s, every Indian political “scientist” and every foreign India-watcher hurried to publish an account of or comment on the Ayodhya controversy. On that occasion, almost all of them followed in the footsteps of the “Eminent Historians”, who had decreed in 1989 that there had never been a Hindu temple at the site. This way, they overruled the consensus existing till then (even among the Muslims and Britons), viz. that the mosque had of course been built in forcible replacement of a temple. These “experts” all took it as a given that any pro-temple voice was that of a history-falsifier or Hindu fanatic.

In 1991 already, an officially organized scholars’ debate highlighted plenty of evidence for the demolished-temple scenario, but it effectively got drowned out by all the loud anti-temple shouting that bullied most public figures into conformity. In the Court-ordered excavations of 2003, however, archaeologists dug up the foundations of the temple and provided the definitive proof: the Eminent Historians had taken the nation for a ride. All the “experts” who had parroted their mendacious account were left with egg on their faces. This explains why all of them have firmly looked the other way and discouraged anyone from further writing about the affair.

So we are happy to report that at last, the Ayodhya library is starting to grow. After the 2010 Court ruling essentially leaving the site to the Hindu litigants, we had as yet only one new Ayodhya book: history professor Meenakshi Jain’s Rama and Ayodhya (2013), meticulously detailing the evidence and revealing the complete loss of face by the Eminent Historians when questioned in Court. Three years later, we can welcome Anuradha Dutt’s book Sri Ram Mandir, published by Shubhi Publications (Gurgaon 2016). As a veteran journalist, she has followed the whole controversy from day to day since the 1980s. Naturally, the format here is looser, more journalistic, but covering far more ground than just the historical data.

In his foreword, retired historian Prof. Saradindu Mukherji already surveys the evidence and the misbehaviour by the Eminent Historians. He highlights the contribution to the debate by outsiders, especially by Arun Shourie and by the late AK Chatterjee, two people with a reputation for uprightness and incorruptibility. His opening line sums it all up: “The sacred spot in Ayodhya, worshipped by Hindus since time immemorial, (…) has unfortunately been made the subject of a contrived and unnecessary controversy in the last three decades.” (p.7)

Mrs. Dutt chronicles the history before Independence very briefly, the more recent history in detail. The evidence (p.29-116) is interwoven with the polemic between real and would-be professionals and the mediacrats. Then she relates the politics of the affair, including background facts (Shah Bano divorce rights, Mandal reservations), successive governments, the internal faction struggle among Dharmacharyas, and the hostile spin which the Dravidianists and their Marxist supporters put on any story involving Rama. On the way, she does of course present the episodes in the narrative of the “temple liberation” movement itself. Since I don’t want to spoil the reader’s pleasure, I will give no further details here.

She also gives the theological background, with the Puranic lore about the divine incarnations and the pilgrimages, and the Islamic theology of iconoclasm. This does not base itself on Hindu precedent, as the secularists nowadays claim, but on the Prophet’s precedent: “The first polytheistic shrine that was taken over by Mohammed and his followers was the Kaaba in Mecca, an old pilgrimage centre, on December 11, 629 AD.” (p.119)

While this book is packed with data, for the more recent period even many hitherto unknown data, a reviewer may be forgiven for nitpicking about a few shortcomings. One is a fine point that most readers won’t even notice: she posits in passing that at the time of “militant Islamic intrusion, (…) Adi Shankara and other theistic crusaders succeeded in worsting heterodox preachers in debate”. (p.144) This suggests a relation between Islam and these polemics. But in fact, there isn’t any connection between the Islamic invasions and Sankara’s polemic against intra-Hindu “heterodoxy”. Not that he was entirely unaware of them. For most of India, these invasions had not started yet, but Sindh was already under Muslim occupation. That is where Shankara had planned to establish the westernmost of his four abbeys: in Hinglaj on the western side of the Indus. But because of the Islamic occupation, he had to settle for Dwarka in Gujarat.

Yet, his writings, as well as those of numerous later Dharmacharyas, show no awareness at all of the Islamic challenge. More than a thousand years after confronting the Islamic presence did Hindu society first spawn a critique of the Quran, viz. by Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayananda Saraswati. It is one of the worst failings of Hindu society that it has responded to the Islamic challenge only with lying low or with being heroic and dying, and never with informed arguments against the ideology that motivated them.

The second point pertains to the Ayodhya narrative itself, particularly the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. “Analysts debated, as they still do, whether the demolition was a spontaneous act (…) or a planned move.” (p.26) And she leaves it at that non-committal observation. But shouldn’t a journalist be curious about the responsibility? And not just the present author, but the hundreds of reporters on the Ayodhya events?

The vast majority of commentators refrained from wondering about the mechanics of the demolition. Out of a desire for maximum damage to the hated BJP, they declared LK Advani responsible, the BJP leader who presided over the gathering, though the demolition took place against his will. Most of the activists who achieved the demolition, assure us that it was all spontaneous. But from some voices inside the RSS, I have heard the name of an engineer who prepared a few technical aspects of the demolition. After he and his assistents had given a lead, the mass of unprepared volunteers joined in. All these years I have kept this name to myself, and I will continue to do so. I want to leave the honour of revealing this name to an inquisitive Indian journalist. Very belatedly, he can make headlines with a photograph captioned: “This man demolished the Babri Masjid”, or: “Meet the Demolition mastermind”. This is what any of the hundreds of journalists could have done in 1992, but they were so partisan that they spurned this moment of glory for a predictable and untrue accusation against Advani.

The last point is a partisan attitude that shines through. I do not mean: partisan in favour of the temple thesis, for that would cast aspersions on a stand for the truth. After the tons of filth thrown at the truth about the Ayodhya history, it is only right for an author to set the record straight. I mean the choice for one political party over another, as if more naturally favouring the Hindu ownership. She writes that after the BJP was put on the defensive by the Demolition, as a “clever strategist, [PM Narasimha] Rao formulated a plan for the Congress to hijack the temple cause”. (p.182) How so, “hijack”? This is not the property of a political party. And if it were, then more of the Congress than of the BJP.

The first major politician to call for the liberation of the Rama Janmabhumi was Gulzarilal Nanda, the former Congress interim-PM. Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi was working on a peaceful arrangement for a Hindu temple at the site, a move thwarted by the shrill and mendacious claims made from the Eminent Historians’ pulpit. And the “clever strategist” Narasimha Rao (the best PM independent India ever had) allowed the Demolition to take its course because that way, not only would the BJP be embarrassed, but at least the mosque would be out of the way and a solution that much closer. Meanwhile, the BJP used the Ayodhya enthusiasm to make gains in the 1989 and 1991 elections, then dropped it like a hot potato.

In spite of these minor remarks, this book contains such a wealth of material on the facts and backgrounds of the Ayodhya controversy that I can unreservedly recommend it. And if you don’t care for the text, then at least enjoy the many pictures of the Hindu implements dug up at the contentious site.

– APRIL 10, 2016
Courtesy-http://koenraadelst.blogspot.in/

Link- http://koenraadelst.blogspot.in/2016/04/chronicle-of-ayodhya-controversy.html

Rise and Rise of Cyber Security challenges in India – Divyanshu Verma

Rise and Rise of Cyber Security challenges in India

By– Divyanshu Verma  

D Verma
With the growth of digitization in all aspects of governance, critical infrastructure and Industries, healthcare, defense, and finance etc, today Cyber Security is a subject of national importance for any country and especially for India where IT infrastructure offers a wide attack surface to our adversaries and the awareness on IT security is in infancy state.

In today’s technologically fast moving world, IT is the nerve of governance, be it Income tax and other taxation affairs, citizen welfare programs such bill payment, land record data, railway reservation, banking services etc.

CS

Smart-Governance challenges

The web and mobile based accessibility for all these smart governance initiatives are based on the fundamental principle of data and privacy protection guarantee to be provided to citizens apart from assurance of fairness in commercial transaction. Any breach in data or any malfunction in the algorithms may break the backbone of entire governance and create chaos.

The breach of data from these smart governance initiatives can provide ultimate advantages for the illegal migrants where they can easily assume the name and identity of a legal citizen without raising any eyebrow. This will have an extremely adverse impact on any government initiatives in terms of budget allocation, rightful use of funds and resources etc.

In the border areas of the country, where armed forces and other security agencies need to have strategic advantage based on information hiding, any unwanted intruder can hide for long duration with stolen data and legal documents and compromise the strategic position of the country.

In today’s world the rightful citizen identification programs are extremely dependent on safety and security of the digital data.

Threat on Industrial and Critical Infrastructure

Similarly the new industrial control paradigm has an extremely high dependency of Sensors, PLCs, SCADA systems for various functions, such as environment control, machine control, decision support systems etc. All of these have very minimal human interventions since these machines are designed to avoid human errors and work at 6 sigma( 99.999999) and above accuracy.

However, if this digital infrastructure is not properly “Digitally Protected” through proper Network Sanity, End point Protection and Privilage protection rules, it can be breached from thousands of miles way, through few clicks on a computers and has the ability to create a havoc of unimaginable scale. One such example of such as act is the Stuxnet attack, that pushed back Iran’s nuclear program by years back if not decades.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet

Similarly at the beginning of this decade, Indian main stream media broke the news that same Stuxnet was also responsible for the  INSAT-4B failure, where a power glitch in the solar panels of India’s INSAT-4B satellite resulted in 12 of its 24 transponders shutting down.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/firewall/2010/09/29/did-the-stuxnet-worm-kill-indias-insat-4b-satellite/#9beb8b14f0af

Now the impact of failure of INSAT-4B was not at all a onetime write off for the cost of satellite. It also diminished the confidence of Indian DTH operators on ISRO launched satellite and made the business owners move to other alternatives.

“Since it became apparent that INSAT-4B was effectively dead, SunDirect ordered  its servicemen to redirect customer satellite dishes to point to ASIASAT-5, a Chinese satellite owned and operated by Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co., Ltd (AsiaSat). AsiaSat’s two primary shareholders are General Electric and China International Trust and Investment Co. (CITIC), a state-owned company. China and India are competing with each other to see who will be the first to land another astronaut on the Moon. China has announced a date of 2025 while India is claiming 2020.”

No Shots fired, no collateral damage, no trace of enemy to retaliate !!

In the new world Order the new James Bonds are Stuxnet, Gauss, Turla, Flame Duqu, which are names of  some of the most infamous viruses or cyber weapons developed by countries and other cyber-attack agencies .

The wave of attacks often termed as APT( Advanced Persistent Attacks) are skillfully created state of art  malicious software which are as dangerous as any smart missile or smart bombs without any return address.

Law Enforcement and civil unrest

Similarly for law enforcement agencies today need to monitor the social media platforms on equal footing as they monitor any suspected individuals.

The type of uprising a Twitter/Facebook updates can create is much more impactful than any other form of street protest, since implanting of rumors and co-ordination of unrest can be done through social media, without any noise or physical suspicion.

Social media has also become the new dimension for laying Honey Traps and extract critical secrets from professionals serving in Armed forces and other strategic professions.

Guarding the Cyber Boundaries

Just like our physical boundaries of the nation-land, sea and air, it is equally important for government to guard our cyber frontier a well. This requires coming up with a clear cyber doctrine for the protection of data, critical infrastructure, citizen participation in digital programs, creating core IT assets such as developing our own micro-processors, micro controllers, Operating system, firewalls, and guidelines to deploy and maintain web based software.

What also is needed is to create an offensive and defensive capabilities for countering the cyber-attacks and if required launch those attacks against adversaries.

This amounts to investment in the cyber security innovation primarily by the government in PPP model so that newer technologies can be developed to guard our digital frontiers.

The other critical aspect is to develop common–criteria, FIPS other certification agencies that will certify what hardware and software can be deployed.

In many US and European countries Huawai and many such companies are banned from the approved vendors list because of security reasons.

Similarly encryption, cryptography and steganography capabilities needs to be developed for  various usages to guard the secrets of the country. The irony is most of the standards used today are having backdoors and provide easy access to NSA of USA  etc.

Say for example  “Clipper chip”chipset  program of  NSA allowed Backdoors for Skipjack encryption.On the same lines it is important that country to develop proprietary encryption capabilities to avoid any “Bullrun” decryption program run by NSA

“The NSA encourages the manufacturers of security technology to disclose backdoors to their products or encryption keys so that they may access the encrypted data.However, fearing widespread adoption of encryption, the NSA set out to stealthily influence and weaken encryption standards and obtain master keys—either by agreement, by force of law, or by computer network exploitation hacking.
According to a Bullrun briefing document, the agency had successfully infiltrated both the Secure Sockets Layer as well as virtual private network (VPN). The New York Times reported that: “But by 2006, an N.S.A. document notes, the agency had broken into communications for three foreign airlines, one travel reservation system, one foreign government’s nuclear department and another’s Internet service by cracking the virtual private networks that protected them. By 2010, the Edgehill program, the British counterencryption effort, was unscrambling VPN traffic for 30 targets and had set a goal of an additional 300.“

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullrun_%28decryption_program%29

 

Summary

In summary, growth of digitization is forcing nations to harness their cyber security capabilities, so that country can be safe and secure. This requires formulation of cyber policy with a 360 degree view of usability, security and certainty.


The Writer is an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Bangalore.

He has close to 18 years of experience in technology industry along with 4 years of international work experience in US and Europe, with companies such as Ericsson, Broadcom, GE etc. Divyanshu’s current interest are  role and definition of cyber security in the national context.

Divyanshu holds 2 patents and has been a speaker at many national and international technology conferences.

You may reach out to him at divyanshuv@gmail.com

(The views expressed here are personal and has nothing to do with his employment)

Politics gains, Nation Loses- Amba Charan Vashishth

Amendment to President’s Address

POLITICS GAINS, NATION LOSES

AC VashishthBy Amba Charan Vashishth

 


On March 9 the opposition led by Congress succeeded in carrying through its amendment to the Vote of Thanks to the President for his Address to the joint session of Parliament regretting that the President’s Address did not support the rights of citizens to contest in panchayat elections, in the backdrop of restrictions imposed in Haryana and Rajasthan. If the objective of was just to score a political point the attempt did succeed. Deliberately or otherwise, however the Congress party glossed over the fact that the constitutional validity of the law passed by the BJP government in Haryana to which Congress referred to while pressing for the amendment, had been upheld by the Supreme Court (SC) of India. The amendment is also, in no way, a binding obligation on the government. In the process, however, it was no gain for the nation.

Earlier, arguing that the amendment could not be moved in Parliament as it was a State subject, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said:  “If we put this to vote, every State will have the right to move a resolution criticising the decisions made by Parliament.”  Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu pointed out that the right to contest elections was not a fundamental right, unlike the right to vote.

A bench comprising justices J. Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre in December 2015 had dismissed a plea challenging the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015, and upheld all the amendments which provided for criteria of minimum essential educational qualification of matriculation for general candidates and Class VIII for women in the general category as well as scheduled caste candidates; they should have a functional toilet at home, not having defaulted in cooperative loans or having outstanding dues on rural domestic electricity connections and not charged by a court for a grave criminal offence to be eligible to contest local body elections.

“It is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad,” the court said while upholding the imposition of specific educational qualifications.

December 2014, Rajasthan too had brought in the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 providing for a minimum qualification of Class X for contesting the zilla parishad or panchayat samiti polls and Class VIII to contest sarpanch elections.

It is pertinent to recall that a Cabinet minister in Bihar had recently to be administered oath for a second time because he had failed to read some words correctly. In the second attempt too, he fumbled. He had studied upto XII and his brother, also a minister, had quit class IX.

A news channel recently showed that some candidates contesting Panchayat Pradhan election in UP did not know even the name of the Prime Minister and the President of India.

These incidents once again highlight the need for some minimum educational qualification not just for Panchayatiraj and urban local body institutions but also for our lawmakers both in the State and at the national level. The quality of legislation is determined by the quality of our legislature to usher in a better life for the people. Elected persons need to be able to read, write and understand what is brought before them for consideration and orders.

But, it looks the forces of status quo do not wish to come out of the 20th century ethos to join the present 21stcentury running in its second decade.  They seem bent upon thwarting any attempt at making the process of administration, legislation and justice more relevant to the situation that has changed during the past 68 years.

In the Constituent Assembly Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who later became India’s first President, did insist on providing some minimum qualification for legislators but Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru rejected the proposal. Yet, the suggestion remains not unreasonable and illogical. Pandit Nehru was then only trying to be more pragmatic to the situation then prevailing. When the British left India free in 1947, the country had a literacy percentage of just 12. Providing minimum qualifications then would certainly have deprived an overwhelming majority of 88 percent from the opportunity to contest elections. But the literacy situation in the country has gone through a revolutionary upsurge since then. India now commands a literacy percentage of 74.4 in 2011 and it should have improved further by now.

It is also a fact that members of the Constituent Assembly which framed our Constitution were persons of eminence in their own right despite the fact that at that time there was no essential minimum educational qualification to be a member of the house. So about the council of ministers headed by Pandit Nehru at the Centre and Congress leaders in States at that time.

It is a fallacious assumption and argument to say that the Haryana law, in any way, deprives citizens of their “right to participate in the affairs of the polity of the country” because persons contesting an election to such bodies do not constitute even 0.00001 percent of the total electorate.

Let us also not forget that on August 27, 2014 SC opined that “time has come for Parliament to prescribe some minimum qualifications for Parliamentarians/Legislators as prescribed in other fields”. It “recalled the words of the first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, in the Constituent Assembly that he would have liked to have some qualifications laid down for Members of Legislatures”.

A member of the zila parishad, panchayat samiti, and gram panchayat — as also to State and Central legislatures — should be a literate person able to appreciate and understand the intricacies of law governing Panchayati Raj institutions. Otherwise, he/she will end up a parasite on others unable to do justice either to the office to which he has been elected or to those who elected him.

The executive, legislature and judiciary are the three pillars of democracy. These must be run by literate persons of wisdom, intelligence and merit and not by illiterate and mediocre ones. Some of the ills facing the country owe their origin to the lack of essentials the States of Haryana and Rajasthan have provided. Let us shun away from turning our executive and legislature to be the institutions of the elite or aristocracy and, at the same time, not reduce these to be institutions of mediocrity — a situation the country can afford only at its peril.                                                 

 – The writer is a Delhi based political commentator

History beneath our feet- Satish Nandgaonkar

History beneath our feet

By Satish Nandgaonkar 

When surveys showed two ancient water tanks buried under a planned section of Metro rail in Jaipur, the government worked quickly to preserve and incorporate them into the overall design

For a hundred years, the people of Jaipur had no clue about what lay right beneath their homes. Until last year the Rajasthan government launched its Rs. 3,149 crore Phase I of the Jaipur Metro. As the government made preparations to dismantle two roundabouts in the heart of the city, Choti and Badi Chaupar on the Chandpole-Surajpole stretch, ground surveys indicated that underneath lay buried two nearly 250-year-old bavdis or kunds (tanks) that once brought water to the city centre from the surrounding Aravalli Hills.

The square in the 1890s, shot by Lala Deen DayalThe kunds were right in the path of the 12.06 km Mansarovar to Badi Chaupar metro line. The rail portion between Chandpole and Badi Chaupar had been planned as an underground section to protect several heritage monuments in the area. As debates raged about how to proceed after the discovery of the kunds, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia asked the Jaipur Metro Rail and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation officials to alter the design, if required, but to protect the heritage structures at any cost.

The Rajasthan government engaged the services of leading Mumbai-based conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah to map the heritage structures and old buildings. “We convinced people that proven technology, which has been used in fragile areas the world over, would be used and no harm would come to any of the monuments,” says Nihal Chand Goel, CMD, Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation.

“Mr. Goel has a strong connection with Jaipur, and he said there are old photographs of Jaipur taken around this area. We began researching, and found pictures shot by Lala Deen Dayal in the 1890s, which showed the two chaupars,” says Lambah.

Two retired Archaeological Survey of India officials joined Lambah’s team of conservation architects and excavations began in August 2014. “Nobody living knew about these kunds. Around the 1870s, when piped water supply arrived, people were apprehensive and the then ruler of Jaipur had to convince his people that piped water was not bad. The water tanks then slowly became redundant; they were filled with earth and converted into places of beauty and recreation,” says Goel. Later, when Prince Albert painted the city pink, gardens were built around the tanks, which gradually transformed into one of the most congested traffic circles in the old city.

The square kunds had eleven steps and tunnels entering them from four sides, with water bubbling out of beautifully carved marble gaumukhs. “It was a total surprise for us to find the kunds, made of stone masonry, completely intact. We have now mapped and numbered each stone and gaumukh. Everything has been preserved at the government-run Albert Hall until the metro project is complete. We will then restore it all as it was originally,” says Lambah.

According to her team’s research, the tanks brought water from the Aravalli Hills through tunnels into the city centre. The tunnels run along long lengths of Jaipur city and probably connected to the Jal Mahal or Talkatora reservoirs. The teams found them to be well-preserved with arched masonry and lime plaster-lined walls of 500 mm thickness, and large enough for a man to pass through.

Says Lambah, “There is an ancient Persian system of Qanats, an elaborate tunnel network, used for irrigation where there was no surface water. The archaeologists also found material from Bikaner archives that showed that even pitrupaksha rituals were performed in these kunds; like the Banganga tank in Mumbai. Where else will the poor go for water?”

To preserve the tanks, the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation has altered its design. “We lowered the railway tracks by about one metre and make incidental design changes to accommodate the tanks above the metro stations at Choti and Badi Chaupar,” says Goel. He talks of how people often see development and heritage as two opposing things. “There is no dichotomy; both can co-exist and work with each other. The metro rail rejuvenates the city, and we can also restore a lost chapter of history which becomes a tourist attraction.”

Lambah visited several metro stations, including at Athens and Lisbon, where the developers have used heritage buildings discovered during excavations as part of the railway system. “Lisbon metro station is located in an old heritage building. You come out of the station and you are in a heritage building, with a Starbucks coffee shop, escalators and ticketing,” she says.

The Athens model was chosen for Jaipur. “In Athens, it is open to the sky. It doesn’t rain too much in Jaipur. So we decided to have a sandstone railing as enclosure and keep the station open-air. In Athens, they found 2,000-year-old ruins and they put a glass wall to protect it and made a museum out of it,” she says.

The Rajasthan government plans to set up a museum in the underground station area and use the tunnel heads to let people walk into the tanks. It is also thinking of converting the surface into a pedestrian urban plaza in the evenings, where arts and crafts can be displayed. When completed, this could become a model project for other parts of India on heritage preservation during development.

Courtesy- The Hindu

-Link http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/satish-nandgaonkar-on-ancient-water-tanks-discovered-during-a-metro-rail-project-in-jaipur/article8113763.ece?homepage=true

The Vedic Harappans excavated- Koenraad Elst

The Vedic Harappans excavated

By Koenraad Elst

Koenraad-Elst Nonagenarian archaeologist B.B. Lal has synthesized his findings of the latest decades in the book The Rigvedic People: Invaders/Immigrants or Indigenous (Aryan Books, Delhi 2015). In it, he seeks to answer three questions: (1) did the Vedic Aryans originate outside India? (2) Did the Harappan civilization originate outside India? Were the Harappans Vedic Aryans?

We need not maintain the suspense; his answers are very straightforward. There is no sign of a foreign origin of either the Indus-Saraswati civilization or the Vedic Aryans. Indeed, recent excavations in Kunal and Bhirrana have pointedly confirmed an already existing impression of civilizational continuity since the 6th millennium BC. Neither has anything “proto-Harappan” been found in Mesopotamia or anywhere else outside India, of which the typically Harappan lifestyle could have descended. Moreover, the area known to the Vedic Aryans and described in the youngest layer of the Rig-Veda (10:75:5-6) reaches from the Ganga to the Western tributaries of the Sindhu, thus coinciding with the Harappan territory (minus its Gujarati borderland). In earlier layers, the Vedic heartland is already on the then-mighty Saraswati river in Haryana, exactly where the highest concentration of Harappan settlements is found.Finally, Lal’s spade has never bumped into any trace of Aryans penetrating India.

Especially in his case, this latter fact is remarkable. It was he who, as a young archaeologist in the 1950s, made his name by finally digging up the long-awaited proof of an Aryan invasion. He had identified a pottery style, the Painted Grey Ware (1200-800), as typifying the Aryans penetrating deeper into India. That is what was taught to us in university, and even recently-published books upholding the Aryan Invasion Theory cite this finding as “proof”. But Lal himself has grown away from it. At the time, he had simply applied the reigning invasionist framework, until he understood that this was but a hypothetical construct unsupported by hard findings.

Linguistic-archaeological disconnect

Sketching the earlier Homeland theories, Lal notes that in the late 18th century, India itself became the first preferred Homeland, but was discarded in the early 19th century. All in all, he takes a rather skeptical view of this Homeland search, as do some of the Western Homeland searchers themselves.

“The latest” among the Homeland theories is said to be the one by Johanna Nichols (1997): “She holds that the dispersal of the Indo-European languages commenced from a region somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana, thus bringing the scenario closer to the Indian subcontinent, but not quite there.” (p.6)

As a philologist, I may be forgiven for doing some nitpicking here: the Bactria region is not her innovation as a Homeland candidate. It has been in the running for two hundred years, but was discarded in the course of the 20th century in favour of the Pontic steppe area. But then she revived it with newer linguistic arguments. She did her work in ignorance of the archeological findings on which Lal relies to push the Homeland even farther east, into India.

Similarly, Lal asserts: “However, an important postulate in Nichols’ thesis is that it was only the language that got dispersed and not the people.” (p.6) This needs some explaining.

Indian critics of the Aryan Invasion Theory easily lapse into fulminations against the racial interpretation of the Indo-European dispersal. This tends to raise smiles (or worse) among Western specialists, because they discarded this interpretation ca. 1945, all while confidently maintaining a more westerly Homeland than India. They have faced the proven fact that languages can cross racial frontiers, e.g. Jamaicans are predominantly Black eventhough they speak the language imparted to them by the White Britons; Turks are European-looking through many generations of capture or enslavement of White women, eventhough their ancestors in Western Mongolia were (and fellow Turkic tribes like the Kirghiz and the Yakut still are) Mongoloid.

So, the Indo-European language too may have changed races. Indeed, it certainly has: either it started among Europeans and was adopted, through a very minoritarian migration, by differently-looking Indians (that would be the invasion theory), or else it was originally spoken by Indians and adopted by Europeans. For Nichols and her colleagues, this was already a given, and she did not have to contend with a theory that Indo-Europeans, all while migrating, retained their race without admixture. But she did privilege the linguistic evidence because that has persisted through the centuries and is available as a living remnant of ancient migrations.

Anyway, there is a slightly defective understanding among archaeologists of what linguists are busy with. And the reverse is also true. The findings that, to Lal, form such clinching evidence for an Indian Homeland, are mostly not even known by Western linguists (the main support base of the belief in a westerly Homeland), and at any rate their relevance to the whole debate is little understood.

They might, however, start to see the point by studying the European part of Indo-European archaeology. Around 2900 BCE, Central Europe witnessed an enormous upheaval caused by an invasion from the east, easily traceble in the material record, and a partial population replacement, now traceable with the new science of genetics. So that is what an Aryan invasion looks like. And that precisely is what is totally missing in the archaeological record of India. As robustly as the Aryan invasion of Europe has been proven, as conspicuously absent is the evidence for an Aryan invasion of India.

Chronology

Lal shows how the assumption of a non-Aryan identity for the Harappan Civilization in the 1920s followed from the chronology established (in spite of his later doubts about it) by Friedrich Max Müller. He had put the first Vedic hymns as late as 1200 BC, centuries after the demise of the Harappan cities. As a consequence, for almost a century, we have had to sail upstream against the non-Vedic and non-Aryan paradigm of the Harappan civilization. But his chronology was completely arbitrary, eventhough it is still commonly followed.

Like Umapada Sen and Shrikant Talageri, Lal dates the Rg-Veda mostly to the 3rd millennium BCE. This is one or two millennia earlier than in Max Müller’s account, but more moderate and sober than the ages or eternities proposed by some zealous Hindu scripturalists.

Reply to critics

As some points had been made by Lal in earlier publications, the opposite camp has tried to refute these. Unlike the many would-be decipherers of the Harappan script, who have smugly installed themselves in their own pretended solution and not taken account of criticisms or rival decipherments, Lal does take issue with his critics.

He opposes the attempts to understand the “Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex” (BMAC) as a settlement of pre-Vedic Indo-Aryans on the way from Russia to India. (p.26-33-) Thus, he mentions Viktor Sarianidi as citing a bas-relief found in Bactria from some 2000 BCE and relating it to objects found in Mitanni (Syria), where the local Hurrian language in 1500 BCE contained many Sanskrit words. Lal correctly remarks that this does not prove they were ancestral to the (India-based) “Vedic Aryans”, whom the invasion theory assumes to be more recent than the Mitanni Aryans. But it does prove (or at least indicate) something else: that the Bactrian culture was ancestral to the Mitanni culture. As per Sarianidi’s own evidence, an east-to-west migration from Bactria to Mitanni is indicated. And this may have been the second leg of a migration beginning in India.

Similarly, Lal opposes a claim made by the late Gregory Possehl that a horse find in Bactria indicates a Vedic horse sacrifice, performed by Aryans on their way to India. He points out that the horse was beheaded and does not satisfy the Vedic prescriptions for a horse sacrifice. We remark that there was no need for being so defensive: for argument’s sake, just let this horse be a Vedic sacrificial victim. Since the Rg-Veda was composed in the 3rd millennium (and not in 1200 BCE as Possehl assumed), earlier than this Bactrian horse, it only confirms an India-to-Bactria migration, not the other way around.

Speaking of horses, it is widely claimed that the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization could not have been Vedic because it lacked the Vedic glamour animal, the horse. Admittedly, the horse remains are few in number,– as they were in later, definitely Aryan cities such as Hastinapura, and even in the BMAC, where horses are native. Yet, they did exist, both in depictions and in reality. Apart from mentioning Lothal and Mohenjo Daro, Lal goes through the evidence for horse bones from Surkutada, certified by the Hungarian horse specialist Sándor Bökönyi,

Likewise it is often claimed that there were no spoked wheels in Harappa, though they make their appearance halfway through the Rg-Veda (as Talageri has shown). True, India’s hot and humid climate is not conducive to the preservation of wooden implements, but a number of terracotta models of the same spoked wheel have been dug up.

Finally, Lal’s claim that the excavated “fire altars”, of the kind Vedic priests used for fire ceremonies, has been ridiculed in the West. A typical Hindu mysitification when obviously these are just kitchen hearths, so they said. Therefore, Lal quotes a leading Western archaeologist, the late Raymond Allchin, as confirming the ritual purpose of these fire-pits. He also takes the trouble of showing in detail why these cannot be kitchen hearths. Among non-technical reasons, he highlights a finding of fire-altars where a genuine cooking hearth stood close by, as if to demonstrate the  difference.

Vedic Harappa

The continuity of the Harappan civilization is expressed in many ways. Several findings confirm the presence of Shiva in Harappa: lingam-yoni motifs are associated with a male figure seated in meditation posture, the same figure is the addressee of a bull sacrifice, and two attributes of Shiva are found together: a bull with a trident engraved on his hip. Ascetics are found depicted as sitting in Bhadrâsana (noble pose), Vajrâsana(diamond pose) or Siddhâsana (yogi pose).

There is also a depiction of a well-known Hindu fable: The Thirsty Crow. A deer could not drink from a narrow pitcher, but a crow could stick its beak in. When the water was still too low, it dropped stones into the pitcher so the water level rose, and he could drink.

Statuettes show the Namaste salute with folded hands. Married women are shown wearing red powder in the parting of their hair, like their modern granddaughters. The Harappan ladies wore spiraled bangles and other cosmetic gadgetry that is still in use today.

Concludes the dean of Indian archaeology: “So, it is abundantly clear that

all the objections against a Harappan-Vedic equation are baseless.” (p.151) Indeed, “the Harappan civilization and the Vedas are but two faces of the same coin.” (p.123)

Finishing the Aryan Homeland debate

The last fifteen years, two heady developments have made the westerly Homeland hard to sustain. Philological work, mainly by Talageri and by the Greek Sanskrit professor Nicholas Kazanas, has given flesh to an Indian Homeland framework and traced it deeper in ancient Indian literature. The new genetic approach has discovered new proof for westward migrations from India.

The archaeological progress has been slower but no less spectacular. Though not given the proper publicity outside India, excavations in ever more Harappan cities have confirmed the emerging picture of full cultural continuity with early Neolithic as well as with later Hindu society. None of Lal’s colleagues has discovered the long-awaited trace of an invasion.

We ought to be happy that a synthesis of the archaeological arguments against the Aryan invasion has now been published. B.B. Lal’s life work has earned him a memorable place in history. After he had first discovered pillar-bases of the demolished Rama temple in Ayodhya, he was ridiculed and denounced as “Hindu fundamentalist”. Then, when he shifted from the invasionist to the “Vedic Harappa” position, he was denounced as that “known propagator of the non-existent temple”. Yet, later Court-ordered excavations laid bare the entire foundation of the temple, proving him right. Likewise, new findings confirm his stand on the Vedic Sindhi-Saraswati civilization.

-(Hinduism Today, Dec. 2015)

Courtesy-http://koenraadelst.blogspot.in/2016/01/the-vedic-harappans-excavated.html