Heavenly foods of India

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Source : Google photo of the Golden temple in Amritsar, India

Synopsis : I usually write about social issues so I thought what could be more social than food in India where people really go out to enjoy food in other’s company which is a great social event. India is known for its great food but only very few who have visited have learned its rich diversity in food and its very rich culinary history where various recipes from various parts of the world have been blended to create something unique to each region.

You will find  dazzling varieties of food with the local twist in each part of the great country called India , some vegetarian and others non vegetarian that will surprise you and your taste buds in a way that will make you feel that you are literally in heaven. That is why I named this blog The heavenly foods of India that will show you foods from Imphal to Chennai and Bengaluru in the south. The videos are self explanatory so do not need my comments.

I have tasted foods in many countries but none compare to the taste and quality of Indian food some of which are displayed in the following videos. It is not for nothing that India is called the country of spices but what is amazing is how they use the spices to bring out so unique taste in food that only Indians know how.

But I start the blog with not food but the visit to Amritsar Golden  temple and the Sikh religion that makes Amritsar the holiest city of their very unique religion. In the later part of the video the reporter will also show you a very unique feature of Sikh religion that welcomes anyone irrespective of their religion, caste, color, race or ethnicity to their temple and feeds everyone who so wishes all day , every day of the year. They never stop. You will see them feeding Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Jews and the Sikhs all together because they welcome all. This is a very unique feature of their faith. Other faiths have a lot to learn from them about their tolerance of other faiths.

Most people outside India do not know much about the Sikh religion and how it originated hundreds of years ago there , what are its main features and why the Sikhs wear turban and do not shave their facial hair. Some Sikhs living in the United States have been mistakenly identified as Muslims and have been attacked by the ignorant people who have never heard about their great religion.

Here in the Philippines the Sikhs are misunderstood and stereo typed as Indians . They are Indians but they are unlike any other people in India where all the religions of the world thrive and co exist peacefully although there have been some communal tensions due to some quarrels because of some misunderstanding or fanatical zeal that I will write about here.

In summary, some Sikh militant activists rallied to separate from India and form their own country, Khalistan and took refuge in the Golden Temple of Amritsar, from where they tried to mobilize all Sikhs to their cause through an armed revolt. The Indian army encircled the temple and, after a long battle, killed all the militants but the temple was also damaged by the fighting. This undermined the feeling of some Sikhs in the armed forces who tried to reach Amritsar to provide military assistance to the rebels, but were arrested. The Sikhs who were the bodyguards of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi murdered her in New Delhi because she had ordered the attack on their temple in Amritsar. Later, the temple was repaired thoroughly.

Birth of Sikhism in India: (source: Wikipedia)

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, with about 20 to 30 million Sikhs. There are about 500,000 Sikhs each in the United States and Great Britain. Here are 5 things to know about faith. The sacred book of Sikhs, “Guru Granth Sahib,” teaches that there is one God, that men and women are fundamentally good and equal before God, that everyone has direct access to God. and that the way to get closer to God is to serve our fellow men. Sikh religion was founded in 1469 by Guru Nanak in the Punjab region of India. Guru Nanak and his nine successors shaped the fundamental beliefs of religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Sikhism has evolved in times of religious persecution. Two of the Sikh gurus – Guru Arjan (1563-1605) and Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675) – were tortured and executed by the Mughal rulers after refusing to convert to Islam. The persecution of the Sikhs triggered the founding of the Khalsa as an order to protect freedom of conscience and religion, endowed with the qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī” – a holy soldier. The Khalsa was founded by the last Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

All Sikhs must believe in five K (Kirpan, Kachcha, Kesh, Kara and Kanghi), which means that they must always wear a dagger or a small knife (Kirpan), an undergarment called kachcha, should not cut hair or shave (Kesh), wear a steel or silver bracelet (Kara) and hold a comb in the hair (Kanghi). They are forbidden to drink alcohol, cut their hair, have sex with Muslims, commit adultery, eat halal meat and have priests.

The Muslims who invaded India several centuries ago brought with them the ideology that Hindus must accept Islam, either by coercion or by force, so they massacred the population en masse while they refused to do it. A particular group of Hindus who were so persecuted and threatened with death fought back and swore never to give up their faith, so they became armed and protected themselves.

They lived a harsh life so they grew their hair and beard and learned martial art to protect themselves and their women laying the foundation of a new faith called Sikhhism and built a magnificent temple in Amritsar that they covered entirely with gold. This temple keeps the original and sacred scripture called Guru Granth sahib that is read everyday throughout the year. This recitation has not stopped since the temple was built centuries ago.

It is the sacred duty of all Sikhs to visit the temple at least once in their lifetime no matter where in the world they live. Photography is not allowed inside the temple so you can’t see the splendor and breathtaking view from inside but a visit to the grounds in itself is awe inspiring as the video will show you.

The Sikhs carry Hindu names as a testament to the fact that they were Hindus but with a twist. They spell their names slightly differently from Hindus to differentiate themselves from the rest so Jitendra becomes Jatinder, Surendra becomes Surinder etc. Sikhs are wonderful people. They are fierce fighters in the defense forces of India. They are very hard working and honest and they are very intelligent and have attained very high posts in the government. One became the President of India and another became the most decorated chief of the Indian Air Force.  They have also spread out through out the world and can be found in many countries where they have settled down.

So I hope you will learn something about the great Sikh people by watching this video.

1.  The Golden temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India

2. Food in Chennai , South India

3. Food in Bengaluru in Karnataka, South India

4. Food in Imphal in North Eastern State Manipur, India.

Note: Imphal is the capital of Manipur State in northeastern India. Netaji Bose and his army fought the British and deployed the Indian flag for the first time after victory there though he did not succeed to liberate all of India. The inhabitants of this region seem different from the rest of the Indians because of their ethnic origin in the mountain tribes of Myanmarand southern China. Their food is also different from other spicy dishes in the country, but it is delicious.

 

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Forced conversion

Source: Google photo of forced conversion

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Synopsis:  The epidemic of forced conversion in many parts of the world is a very serious issue that has enormous social and religious implications that many countries have started to take seriously. New laws are needed to ban such practices to protect the poor and the vulnerable who are easy prey for the fundamentalists. We can all live in peace and harmony if we accept that all faiths must emphasize that tolerance and acceptance of others who are different is the only way forward.  

There was a Peace Corps volunteer working in a country in South America where he saw a missionary mistreating a native person to force him to convert to his brand of Christianity. When the poor fellow refused, he was chained and beaten to submission. He was starved and physically abused daily by this so called missionary who said that he was doing God’s work and trying to bring the light of Jesus to this heathen so any means was fair to him including torture.

The Peace Corps volunteer was horrified and published this account in a book to inform his countrymen what was being done by these missionaries to spread Christianity among the non-believers but soon the book was taken off the shelves of bookstores under the pressure of the Bible thumpers. They said that the author was deliberately spreading fake news about their missionaries who were doing God’s work by spreading the Christianity among the non-believers so it was noble work.

The media stopped reporting about it and the story was quickly shoved under the rug because they were afraid of the pressure groups that wield enormous power who use it frequently to suppress any news that they consider unfriendly and misleading that may put their business of faith in jeopardy.

They put pressure on any Hindu preacher who was promoting Hindu religion, Hindu culture and philosophy in the Western world to stop their evangelical activities that were corrupting their countrymen and women so they banned the practice of Yoga in many schools. They said that it was a very unchristian thing to do so they opposed successfully. The worldwide evangelization of Christianity was solely reserved for their missionaries because they were doing God’s work so it was their duty to support such work financially or by any other means.

They raise millions of dollars to support the missionaries who are sent to the remotest parts of the world where they do whatever they need to do to bring the light of truth to the so called uncivilized people. They routinely abuse the followers of other religions and actively spread falsehood to demonize them and persecute them just because they prefer their own religion.

Source : Google photo of Osho who was persecuted in America for preaching Hinduism

There was a Hindu monk who was called Osho by his followers worldwide. He set up an ashram in Oregon where thousands of his followers came to listen to what he had to say about the Hindu philosophy, its culture and its Vedic religion that they adopted. When Osho became very well known in the world, he came under the radar of the fundamentalist Christians who found his preaching to be a threat to their brand of religion and demanded Osho to be put in jail. The government complied because they could not be seen as tolerant of a faith that the Bible thumpers were so uncomfortable about so Osho was treated as a criminal and very badly treated in a jail somewhere. His ashram in Oregon was bulldozed and all the property they had was confiscated.

When Osho was released from his jail because there was no evidence against him of the false charges, he was deported but his private plane was denied landing and refueling permission by many countries under the pressure of the US government. When Osho finally reached India where he died soon after his arrival, it led to the belief that he was given a slow working poison in the jail but it could not be substantiated.

The followers of Jesus during his lifetime suffered persecution and torture in the hands of the Romans and later others so they had to bury their dead in secret underground labyrinth of tunnels they dug outside Rome and under the streets of Paris. I have been to such places of burial outside Rome along the old Roman road called via Appia that are over 2 thousand years old. There are ossuaries in Rome that are just as old that will give your shivers if you dare to see them. The monks guarding the old bones do not allow photography because they want to sell you their photos and slides.

Later the Catholic Church established in Vatican became the spiritual guidance center of all the faithful from where the Pope still reigns supreme on spiritual matters related to their faith and routinely issues rules and directives that all the Catholic faithful have to obey.

What they do not like to focus on is the shameful chapter in their history when the infamous Inquisition tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people whom they labeled as heretics. The Inquisition was approved and supported by the Vatican for a long time so that they could write their history of persecution with the blood of the innocent people.

The question to ask here is this. Why the followers of Jesus who were persecuted by the Romans and the Jews at the time of Jesus became persecutors themselves later. What made them so intolerant of others who had different faith and why such intolerance persists even today? I will discuss this issue here and cite examples of other faiths that are taking this intolerance and hatred of others to new levels of hypocrisy leading to violence and great social turmoil in many parts of the world.

Recently a beautiful Hindu girl was murdered by her Moslem boyfriend who chopped her into 35 parts just because she had refused to be converted to his faith. He had tortured her for months with severe beatings and burning her with cigarettes but she refused so he killed her. He has been arrested by the Delhi police and is under investigation.

This is not the sole incident that has shocked the whole country. There are many such cases where people have been beaten and killed just because they refused to be converted. In fact the forceful conversion of Hindus into Islam has been going on for centuries giving rise to the phenomenal increase in the Moslem population worldwide that teaches and practices their religious intolerance of other faiths. In their Koranic schools, the Maulanas teach hate and intolerance to children that makes them Talibans later. Now the Indian government is cracking down on these madrasas to bring in necessary reforms in them.

The conversion of poor people using threats, intimidation or outright violence goes on unabated by the jihadists who are supported and funded in their activities by many Moslem countries. They consider it to be their duty to spread their brand using any means just like the missionaries in some countries I mentioned earlier.

The forced conversion is an old method used by the Christian and Moslem rulers since a very long time and still continues using deceit, lure of money, food and used clothes or the promise of a better future. The slavery of Africans and in the Latin American countries was a very profitable business for the British, Dutch and many Europeans but the practice of slavery is very ancient. The Egyptians, Romans, the Aztecs and the Maya people all practiced slavery. In Islam slavery is practiced and has the approval of their Holy book.

The Arab Moslem slave traders who captured Africans from their remote villages frog marched them to the ports like Zanzibar to ship them to various lucrative markets but those who converted to Islam by force were spared and freed. Those who refused were tortured and starved so many captives died in transit. Dr. Livingstone freed many such captives in Africa. 

Recently it has come to light how the Catholic and Protestant missionaries in India are targeting the tribal and other poor people whom they convince to become Christians. They offer money, food or other forms of enticement so that they accept Christianity. This way the missionaries are destroying the tribal culture, their belief system, their ancient faith and their society based on tribal laws and rules that are very old.

I have seen the same thing in Haiti where the Protestant missionaries are working hard to destroy the Haitian culture, their Catholic identity and their African culture their forefathers brought with them. They fill the minds of young Haitians with poison who then go from village to village shouting insults to all who listen. They condemn the Haitians who practice Voodoo and believe in Catholic practices. I have seen myself such young people in their villages who shout insults while frothing in their mouth. James Michener wrote in his epic novel called Hawaii where he wrote about the American missionaries who did the same to the Hawaii culture, language and their heritage.

The spread of evangelization among the poor and the destitute people has gained speed in many countries because of the financial support they receive from their backers. An Armenian nun called Mother Teresa who lived in India became well known as a savior of the poor and destitute people whom she gave succor but the fact that she gave help only to those who accepted Christianity was hidden. She was declared a saint by the Vatican that ignored her methods because they believed that she was just doing God’s work. Now her methods are being questioned and her missionaries have come under the radar of the Government agencies that are investigating their financial irregularities. One of their sisters in Sudan hoodwinked me out of 250 liters of precious gasoline with their pathetic plea for help. In this they are very successful.

The conversion of people has now become a very profitable business run by very shrewd and cunning people who paint a glorious picture of new adherents, their new churches or madrasas and their church run schools and madrasas where they teach religious intolerance and hatred of others. (Read my blog here called the Faith as business )

The dark side of their activities is often revealed when some nuns report to the authorities how they were sexually abused by their priests or bishops so some padres have been arrested and are under trial in India. There are many stories of abuse of native children in orphanages by the nuns in many countries and the sexual abuse of children in Koranic madrasas by the mullahs come to light daily. Read my blog here called Abuse of native children in this context Please also read the blog called The bane of negative programming here )

It is known that no one is as devout as a newly converted person. Such a person becomes a tool in the hands of those who have converted him. They send him as their agent to convert more people because he speaks the native language and knows the weakness of the poor people that he exploits and gains credit to his own benefit. It can be a scholarship to go abroad and get a degree somewhere that then qualifies him as a preacher who gets a green card and a job in the United States or other countries. I have met such people here in the Philippines myself and kept them from us as far as possible when I knew who they were.

The Protestant missionaries in Africa are a very determined lot who spend years learning the local language and try to translate the Bible so that the local uneducated people can be reached and converted. They are funded by their churches back home and are provided with all the tools they need to convert people in Africa, Latin America and even the natives who live in the deep forests of Papua New Guinea. One such fellow in Mali lived in a village where he used to go down a well and sit in the water to cool down and polluted the water as well so the villagers could not use it.

Once they showed me a folded cardboard with a pin attached to it that is used to play a small record. The sound vibrates through the triangular shaped form when you turn the record with a pencil or stick. It was truly a piece of authentic ingenuity that impresses a native living in the forests of New Guinea in complete isolation. They think that sound coming from a card board is nothing short of a miracle or a wizardry of immense proportion. The missionaries use such tools to impress their audience and succeed in converting them. To make it very effective, they produce a record in the native language so the people are doubly impressed.

Then they use the tools of temptation like free food and used clothes so you will see the African women wearing bras with wire that cuts into their skin and suppurates due to infection, but they are told to cover up their breasts.

The Moslems use the trick of what is now called Love jihad where a Moslem entices a Hindu woman into a relationship using the social media where there are numerous dating apps. Young and lonely girls looking for a boyfriend fall into their trap and learn to their regret that the so called Hindu boyfriend is actually a Moslem who hides his identity at first but later pressures the girl to accept Islam. One such girl ended up dead when she refused but there are many such cases that come to light daily.

Often very poor people sell their daughters to people who take them to other countries to keep them as sex slaves or sell them to brothels. The sex trafficking of young girls has now become a multibillion-dollar industry that is very profitable and completely tax free. These poor girls are also forced to convert to the religion of their abusers because they cannot escape.

Now the Supreme Court of India has warned the Government of the danger of such practices and demands new laws they must enact to stop this practice. They say that no one should be forced to convert because it violates their human right and the freedom to choose their faith out of their own volition. But this practice of forced conversion goes on in undemocratic countries where the fanatic mullahs preach conversion and use blasphemy laws to falsely accuse a Hindu or a Sikh and force him or her to convert to avoid harsh punishment and long jail terms.

In India, the Hindu religious NGOs organize “return home” events routinely for people who want to return to their native faith because they were deceived into believing the Padres or Mullahs and were disillusioned. So all over the world, huge numbers of Moslems and Christians are now embracing Hinduism and are building new temples where they can pray.

What is interesting is the fact many Moslem countries are now allowing Hindu scriptures like Geeta and Ramayana to be taught in their schools and colleges. Some are allowing the building of Hindu temples which is a sign that not all are convinced that conversion to their faith is the only way forward.

This world will be a better place where people of all faith can live in harmony without imposing their views and ideology on others. Bertrand Russell was once asked what his faith was. He answered that he was a humanist. I could have never imagined a better answer.

Source : Google photo of Bertrand Russell who was a humanist

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Electoral reforms

Source: Google photo

Note: If you use Microsoft Edge as your browser to read this blog then you will see the letter A on top right. If you click on this letter A and select a voice from the menu as American English, it will then read the blog to you if you have reading difficulties.

Synopsis: The honest governance anywhere needs serious electoral reforms that can make the election process transparent and weed out the corrupt people so that honest and poor but qualified people can get the chance to serve the country. Such reforms if implemented can serve the entire country and propel it toward development and prosperity.

The democracy is a beautiful word. All over the world, people long for the freedom to choose their own government that will truly represent them and serve their needs and fulfill their aspirations. There is nothing better than an honest representative government that serves the people, but we live in an imperfect world where the greed for power makes people corrupt. They will do anything to win election that may include outright bribing the voters to get their votes or intimidation and threat of physical violence against those who do not vote for the corrupt politicians.

It is no secret that most politicians become immensely rich when they get elected and start getting commission money from rich contracts when the government buys what it needs to modernize the country. It may be the massive infrastructure development or the purchase of military hardware from abroad or other sources. The commission these middlemen and women make from such deals runs into millions of dollars that make them super rich.

Often these corrupt politicians’ resort to outright extortion of businesspeople and middle-income businessmen with the threat of closing down their business unless they pay the so-called protection money. This is just like the mafia people who forcibly take over the properties of people who refuse to pay them the “protection money” or even kill them.

When they become super rich through corruption, they run for the elected office to become ministers, members of the parliament or other such posts. Some have become leaders of their country while people suffer. They ultimately regret voting for the corrupt people and desire to vote for those candidates who promise to bring in an honest government so that they can live in a free democratic society where the government serves the people and not rule over them with tyranny.

I have lived and worked in many countries where I have seen first-hand the devastating effect of the corrupt governments on the people. We all have heard of the dictator in Romania who built a 1000 room palace for himself and bathed in a bathtub made of gold and we also know what happened to him and his family when people could not tolerate it anymore.

In a totalitarian society where they have a one-man rule, such abuse of power makes people poor and desperate for change, so they start to protest on the streets or through strikes to shut down the factories or the transportation system to paralyze the country but often pay a high price of getting killed or jailed where they are very badly treated.

When poor people asked for bread from the Tsar of Russia, he sent brutal police force to open fire on them outside his palace gate. It led to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia that shot dead the entire family of the Tsar.

Unfortunately, people who want a change in their government in a peaceful manner can only cast their votes in favor of those who promise better governance, reap the consequence of electing corrupt people who make all sorts of promises but forget about them as soon as they get elected.

In fact, it is now very common for the politicians to make fake promises to the voters before the election because they want to win an election through any means. A win means a sure way to get rich quickly with no accountability to the people who elected such a person.

So, a question arises here – why the politicians become so corrupt? The answer lies in the cost of the election process. It takes a lot of money to win an election. It takes money to make rallies during campaign, pay for the cost of assembling a large audience, pay for their transport, often their food and printing the campaign paraphernalia like the manifesto. It takes a lot of money to advertise on TV and radio and it takes a lot of money to charter planes or helicopters to fly to different parts of the country on a short notice for the election campaign rallies.

So, the politicians belong to the political parties that allot tickets to certain candidates who may have a chance to win election in a certain state or region. The political party raises funds to support their candidate and provides on the ground support through their cadres who do not work for free so they must be paid, fed and transported that costs money.

One way they raise funds for their campaign is through the rich businesspeople who make donations to their campaign but in many countries, such donations are made secretly so that the donors are not exposed for their support to a corrupt person. The donors in return demand huge benefits to their business if their candidate wins who may give them huge government contracts to provide certain services.

We all know about the lobbyists in the United States who walk the corridors of power to influence the senators and the congressmen to pass bills that favor their business. They actively try to prevent bills that may hurt their business like the case of the tobacco tycoons who lobbied hard to prevent bills that warned people of the danger of smoking. They failed and are now compelled to print on the cigarette packets the warning that smoking causes cancer, so it hurts their business.

Another way that is more popular with the politicians is the extortion racket they operate to raise funds for their political campaigns. All they have to do is to send their goons to extort money from the rich people. It happens in many countries where such practices discourage the businesspeople to set up business and re-invest money in new projects, so the country suffers. The extortion is not limited to the rich businessmen. It hurts the common people as well. If you set up a small store or build a house, they come to extort money from you. They take commission from the suppliers of the building materials who pass on the added cost to you.

But the most popular way the corrupt politicians make money is through the widespread system of taking commission from any purchase the government makes and from illegal mining, illegal logging, illegal cattle smuggling, drug trafficking etc. They always find new ways of taking commission to enrich themselves like taking huge bribes to give employment to unqualified people for numerous government jobs.

They bribe the police, the border security forces, the lawyers and even the judges to look the other way so that no one takes them to a court of law. They maintain an army of goons who carry on such activities freely who in return get a share of the loot. In case someone is caught and brought to the court, the corrupt lawyers go to defend them and get them released.

I have written a blog on corruption that you should read here called the bane of middlemen.)

This type of corruption filters down to the lowest level of the society where a low-level constable starts to take extortion money from truckers or motorists. Our tour bus in South India was stopped by a policeman who would not let the bus pass unless the driver coughed up some money. The tour operator was legitimate, the bus was legally registered, and the driver made no traffic violation, but the policeman extorted money just the same because he could. There is no accountability for such corrupt people.

There is another blog that you should read in this context called the Allure of black money)

There is a third blog called An evil nexus here that you should also read.

So, all over the world wherever they practice voting to elect their government, people are demanding electoral reforms that should include transparency in collecting legitimate campaign funding and in spending the money for legitimate reasons.

The corrupt politicians who are not popular, find new ways to suppress the voting rights of people who may not vote for such candidates when threats and intimidation does not work. They can tamper with the voting machines to get votes cast for someone else. They bus in flying voters or illegitimate voters who are given fraudulent voter’s ID.

Many countries have tried and failed to make laws to make meaningful electoral reforms because the law makers are corrupt, so they defeat the bills that do not favor their corrupt practices. If a candidate only campaigns using the free social media to reach the voters, the powerful TV stations cannot make any money from the political advertisement. If the unpaid volunteers who go door to door to campaign for a candidate who is honest, then the paid field workers who work for the corrupt candidate will not like it and may clash with the volunteers.

A change is coming:

Now the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi has started the process of making the entire electoral process transparent that has put the corrupt people in a bind. The voter’s list is purged of all the fake voters, flying voters and non-citizens by linking their national ID with their tax ID and their bank accounts. Those who have fake national ID are easily caught and removed from the voter’s list throughout the country.

Every candidate fighting election anywhere in the country must submit his or her tax returns for the last so many years, must declare his assets and how he has acquired them, must show transparency in collecting campaign funds and list of their donors and lastly must present the correct accounting of all expenses to the Election Commission that oversees the election process anywhere.

If a person is found to hoard black money or has properties illegally acquired, he is summoned by the Enforcement Directorate for questioning. ED has put many such people behind bars who are facing years of jail term. Many politicians and businessmen are already in jail in India while a number of them are on bail but may end up in jail in the future as more and more evidence against them pile up through investigation by the crime branch of the NBI and other such branches of the government.

Once found to be guilty of a crime, such people are banned to take part in any future election and their properties and bank accounts are frozen in favor of the government. Those who have fled the country to evade prosecution are being sought through legal means to repatriate them so that justice is served.

Those who are hiding their loot in foreign banks are now being exposed and prosecuted. Their foreign accounts are frozen and their properties in India seized and auctioned off to pay their victims. The chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh state of India sends in the bulldozers to demolish the illegal properties of the corrupt people no matter who they are and what political position they hold. It has made him many mortal enemies, but it does not dissuade him to make life very hard for the criminals.

There is an ongoing effort in India to bring about the judicial reform as well so that the guilty people are punished by the fast-track courts, to send a message to the corrupt people. The long and slow judicial process that may take years to give a verdict needs to change.

Source: Google photo of bulldozers demolishing illegal properties

The electoral reforms that are currently being implemented in India by Mr. Modi is a step in the right direction to bring in fundamental changes in the whole process of election in the country that will make it easy for the poor but honest people to fight an election and win. Barack Obama proved that he could win an election and become the President of the United States without the monetary support from the rich businesspeople. Millions of people volunteered for free to campaign for him.

It is another story that Obama could not bring the electoral reforms by enacting laws because such a move greatly inconvenienced the corrupt people who want to maintain their corrupt practices to win election.

But the electoral process reform is not impossible as Mr. Modi is proving. You cannot change the whole system overnight, but many steps can be taken to allow the honest people to participate in the governance of the country. Only then you can have a government for the people, by the people and of the people that will only serve the people and not rule over them.

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

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Finicky birds

Note: If you use Microsoft Edge as your browser to read this blog then you will see the letter A on top right. If you click on this letter A and select a voice from the menu as American English, it will then read the blog to you if you have reading difficulties.

I usually write about serious social issues but today I am in the mood of writing about finicky birds that will put you in a lighter mood of laughing and enjoying the caprices of birds.

Source : Photo of the bird nest I made and ignored by the finicky birds

One day I decided to make a bird nest to put up high in my lychee tree so I found a piece of PVC pipe and put a wire screen on one side of it, drilled some holes and tied it nicely with wire so that the nest will be safe from tree climbing snakes that make raiding the bird nests for their tasty dinner as their favorite pastime.

I then climbed up the tree with a ladder and tied the nest securely in between a fork of the branches with a nylon rope so that the nest does not fall off during typhoons because this country is cursed with numerous typhoons all the time.

To make the nest more comfortable for the prospecting birds, I put soft grass in it to make it more inviting and then I anxiously waited to see if some birds got curious enough to check out my sturdy and comfortable nest.

Now I am sure the birds took notice of my offer being naturally curious and checked it out for its suitability but alas they found it not to their taste. It is unbelievable how finicky they can get to my disappointment. If I was the bird, I would not have wasted any time to occupy the nest and defend it with my claws and beak from the encroachment by other birds, but I am not a bird, just a bird lover.

So today I took a photo of the nest to prove the point that you can bring a mule to a water trough but cannot make it drink from it so I think these birds are like the mule. They believe in their own ability of making a nest that they are proud of so I reluctantly salute their independent spirit although still a bit peeved at their refusal to accept my masterpiece.

Source : Google photo of BulBuli birds of India

I have been saving bird chicks since my childhood and one day found a baby bulbuli that had fallen off the tree during a storm and needed saving. It had no feathers and was quite ugly to look at but I brought it home and fed it gruel and other tasty tidbits several times a day so it gained weight and developed beautiful feathers of myriad of colors. It was now a beautiful bird that chirped with melodious sound.

My happiness had no limits, but the feral cats had ideas of their own because there was no word for love in their dictionary so one day, they grabbed the bird from its perch that was high on the wall, ate it and smirked at me to show me who was the boss. I was crestfallen at their audacity.

Source : Google photo of Khanjani bird in India

Then later one day I found a bird called khanjani trying to make a nest in a hole in the wall that was only 4 feet off the ground, so I was struck by its stupidity and decided to give it a hand. Not all birds are so stupid, but Khananis probably rate quite high. I could not persuade it to make a nest much higher up in another hole in the wall to keep it safe from the feral cats that were always around and making plans of their own, so I decided to help the stupid bird.

I made a clay wall in front of the nest and made a nice circular hole in it that no fat cat could enter. My effort was successful because the bird came and went frequently making me suspicious of its intent. Then one day I heard a chorus of chirping when the mama bird returned with a mouthful of tasty worms. Now I did not have to wait long to see the result of all the effort of the bird and baby chicks started to look through the hole and waiting eagerly for the mama to return with more food for them.

In their eagerness to prove their growing up status they started to make hesitant efforts to fly but landed on the ground, so I had to pick them up one by one and put them inside their nest to save them from the cats. I kept up this effort to save them until their feathers grew enough to enable them to fly so one day they did to the great disappointment of the feral cats.

In the nature we find some very clever birds although khanjani is not one of them and some very stupid birds like ostriches who just dig a big hole in the ground and lay their eggs in it then they stand guard on it by turns to protect the eggs. I can understand their conundrum as they are big birds that cannot fly so they have no choice but to make a nest in the sand.

The clever birds know how to make nests high up the ground where their chicks are safe until they can fly. I will put some photos of their nests that wildly vary from each other in style and substance depending on their ability and the resources available to them.

Source: Google photo of a cuckoo

But no bird I know is as clever as the cuckoo. It is not only super clever, but also the laziest bird. It lays its eggs in the nest of crows where the crow does all the hard work of incubating the eggs and then feeds the chicks once they hatch. Even when the chicks grow their feathers that are black, the crow still thinks, it is her chicks and assiduously feeds it all kinds of tasty tidbits. The cuckoo probably gets a kick out of making a fool of the crows.

Source: Google photo of a crow

The crow has a very low IQ among birds so has no idea that it has been duped while the cuckoo goes around laying more eggs in other nests and enjoys the free ride. We humans should take lessons from the cuckoo and start putting our babies in other nests of stupid people so that we too can get a free ride and start sowing our wild oats. I am just joking so do not take it seriously.

Some birds show extraordinary skills in making their nest while others do a ramshackle job of making a nest that are not only ugly but fall apart during strong storms. If you ever see a crow nest, you may find surprising things in it like a key ring with a bunch of keys you lost some time ago or bit of wire, spokes of bicycle and all sorts of other junks. A crow has no sense of aesthetics in making a nest like some other birds.

Here is a power point to show you different types of bird’s nest although it is not comprehensive.

It is called Bird’s nests

https://1drv.ms/p/s!AhEN7UwabCmTcVVXvgDXpvB3VVQ?

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Power of music

Source: Google photo of Madonna

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Synopsis: The changing times have a strong influence on the music that are produced reflecting the changes. We have come from the whining and tiring country music to boring love songs sung by old people of yesteryears to the current era of the great performing artists/singers like Madonna but that too is changing. The blog looks at the evolution of the singer/activists over the years who send strong messages through their songs they wrote and sang.

When Madonna appeared on a cross wearing a crown of thorns ,the audience was transfixed not knowing what was she going to do next but she gave a clue. There was a digital counter over her head where the digits were changing at a furious rate.

Then she started singing in her melodious voice while slowly coming down from the cross and sang about millions of children in Africa and elsewhere orphaned by the war and communal violence. She sang about famine and devastation that left the land littered with bodies. She sang about the misery brought upon the humanity by others who wanted to kill democracy and freedom of people. In the background flashed the scenes of starving children and burning villages on giant screens.

When she stopped singing, a message flashed on the screen. It said that God looked at the humanity with pity and said, “What you have done to each other, you have done it to me”. At this time the digital counter stopped and showed that a million men women and even children died in the violence done to them by others in the name of religion, tribal hatred, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Madonna is not only a singer. She is an activist who spreads her message like this through her songs and a graphic display to tell the whole world that she takes a stand on such issues. She has also adopted several children from Malawi to raise them with her love and care. She is adored worldwide for her great talent and her activism.

In this hour-long video, she sings about domestic violence where a dancer behind her wriggles in moves to show the torture he suffers while a girl in a cage tries to get free of her cage and flies away as a dove in the end while Madonna sings and mesmerizes her audience. She lies down on the stage in exhaustion and drinks some water but soon gets up again to continue her show.

Next, she has two men wearing Jewish and Arabic signs on their bodies who seem to be tormented by their differences while Madonna sings about love and understanding, about forgiving and embracing each other in order to forget their religious animosities while a third man in Middle Eastern dress sings in Arabic in a captivating voice about love and peace. Her message is clear. There is no room for hate and animosity among people in the modern world due to religion, faith and terrorism.

After watching the video of Madonna, I started to think what tremendous power she has in her songs and how her message is seen or heard worldwide. She acknowledges and thanks her team, her dancers, her band, her people who work behind the scenes controlling the lights, the electronic displays, the sound and all the rest and her fans for the success of her shows. They in return give her a standing ovation while the lights focus on their ecstatic faces.

Madonna represents a new breed of performing artists who not only sing and dance but encourage the vast audience to sing with them and captivating them with their live performance on a massive stage where the huge display boards flash computer generated imagery and sound to create a dreamlike environment that literally engulfs the entire audience. Numerous cameras capture her every move and every sound byte in digital details to make a video CD later that brings them a lot of money.

When I was young, the singers were called playback singers who sang for the movies but were not seen. The actors and actresses lip synced the songs, but no one cared. The singers who sang in public just sat in front of a microphone while a band played in the background. They did not sing and dance or interact with their audience. There were no digital displays and flashing images to highlight their songs. The singers took no stand on the social issues but sang about love and broken hearts so most of their songs had the same theme. They also sang religious songs written by some people long ago that the older audience liked.

Then came the era of performing artists/singers like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Shakira, Jenifer Lopez among many others who took over the world of music in a storm because they like Madonna took over the stage with their songs and dazzling displays of flashing lights and imagery. They are popular with the younger generation because their songs carry deep messages that makes them think or act.

But it was not Madonna or others who set this trend of activism through music. The credit should go to earlier singers like Joan Baez, Judy Collins, John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and country singers like Johnny Cash among many others who sang about social issues, gun violence, racial hatred, alcoholism etc. but they rarely performed in front of vast audience like Madonna or Shakira.

Some famous singers like the Beatles did not like to perform in front of audience so they recorded their songs in a studio where they could make mistakes and rerecord their songs many times before they got it right. In a live performance there is no room for mistakes because the audience watches and hears everything. John Lennon would be remembered forever just for his song “Imagine”.

Sometimes some singers are known to cheat by lip-syncing their songs because they may have sore throat or are not in top shape but that is very risky. People can tell if an artist is lip syncing so they may not like it. Good singers know that lip syncing is immoral and akin to cheating.

So, the singers like Madonna have a lot of rehearsals before they appear in public to sing. All their songs and dances are meticulously choreographed under the scrutiny of a professional director who oversees all aspects of the show be it lights, make up, clothes, band, electronic display etc. so it takes weeks of preparation and rehearsal before an artist like Madonna or Shakira appears on the stage.

But all the preparation for a show count for nothing if the singer does not have the magnetic charm, voice and personality so some artists like Madonna and Shakira have become very successful and popular while others fail to hold candle to them and fade away into oblivion. Some have died in their bathtubs overdosed with drugs and alcohol while others have ended their career by becoming anorexic although initially, they were successful in selling their records.

The activist singers like Joan Baez, Don McLean and Bob Dylan gained popularity among the college students who were protesting the endless war in Vietnam, so they liked what message Joan Baez and Bob Dylan spread through their songs. They were the original singers/ activists who did not fear the hard-core warmongers who hated them and their songs the educated population liked so much and took to the streets in very large numbers nationwide to protest.

Judy Collins and Linda Ronstadt, Jean Ferrat (in France) and Khanh Ly (Vietnam) were great activists who sang freely against oppression, war, religious hatred and injustice that made them liked and famous. Jean Ferrat’s song called Air de Liberte and the song on Pablo Neruda should be heard again and again. I have published blogs on Jean Ferrat and Khanh Ly called Legend of Jean Ferrat and Songbird Khanh Ly that you may read here Jean Ferrat is a legend.) (The world of music ).

I have an LP record of Joan Baez where she sings “When the Sun sets in the West, die a million people in Bangladesh “highlighting the atrocities committed in Bangladesh during the war of 1971. I believe she was the first such singer who recorded the song on Bangladesh at that time.

Source: Google photo of Michael Jackson

Among the performing artists/singers, no one came near Michael Jackson in terms of popularity who attracted vast crowd no matter where he put up his shows. People went crazy when he appeared on stage and started to sing, Women cried and fainted because they were so excited just to see Michael. There is a video of Michael performing in Bucharest, Romania that is worth watching and worth listening to his songs. His Moonwalk and his dancing drove his audience crazy. They got so excited that the security people got very anxious. Several women who fainted had to be taken away in stretchers.

Just like a war produces heroes who come forward to save the country, the antiwar heroes are also born who lend their strong voice in support of peace that influences a lot of people. No one can undervalue the effect Joan Baez and Dylan had on young people everywhere who were deeply troubled by the war in Vietnam and sought ways to escape the draft.

I stood with a lot of people one night in Santa Barbara, California in 1969 who sang “We shall overcome “that was I think sung by Joan Baez and inspired a lot of people to sing along including myself.

Many of these famous performing artists like Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson or Madonna came from poverty and struggled very hard to reach superstardom. Taylor Swift sang at first in small clubs just to earn a few dollars. Her mother gave her support and encouragement. What I know is that one has to struggle for a long time before people start paying attention so what makes people notice them?

Is it just their melodious voice or something else? I think when they sing about the pressing social issues to send a strong message, it touches the hearts of millions of people worldwide. Now a days such message spreads faster than the speed of light due to the era of technology so a song can be heard anywhere in the world through the social media, Spotify and many such platforms.

A little girl in Holland named Amira Willighagen who learned to sing watching U. Tube Video became an international star when she appeared in a talent show in Europe. She was only a child of 8 years, but people could not believe she had such commanding voice. (Read my blog here called Two extraordinary child prodigies here).

I feel tired of old singers of 1940 and 1950 who were famous during that period, but their audience was very different from today. They were less educated and more diehard nationalists. They grew up during the great depression of the dust bowl years of Steinbeck and suffered poverty and deprivation of all sorts. They actively supported the World War II and the atom bomb.

The song writers of that period wrote songs reflecting the conditions in which most people lived then. Such people who only a generation ago had known poverty and hard struggle of life became the ardent supporters of the war mongers in Washington and even applauded when My Lai massacre happened in Vietnam. But their children who were dying in the war in Vietnam had a very different perspective. They listened to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.

The Vietnamese today who were young in 1967 but old now remember the songs of Khanh Ly who was then a teenager singing in some night clubs about war and peace. I still get shivers listening to her songs in my stereo because her message in her songs is still valid after so many years.

The music industry is constantly changing reflecting the mood of the nation and the likes and dislikes of the present generation. Some records and CDs that they produce cannot be seriously called music that should inspire people, but the record companies produce them because they sell. People will sell garbage if there is a market for it.

What I miss now is the beautiful lyrics written by great song writers like Lennon, Dylan and others like Elton John who wrote and sang “The candle in the wind” when Diana died. Who can write songs like that today?

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A nation awaits

Source: Google photo of the statue of Netaji Bose unveiled by PM Modi in front of the India Gate in New Delhi on September 8th, 2022

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Synopsis: As India celebrates the newly established statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in the most prominent place in New Delhi, it also gives a clear message to the world that a new India is rising and rising fast. With its Central Vista project in which a part of the completed section was opened by the Prime Minister, it clearly shows what a beautiful capital city Delhi has become that is befitting to a rising star.

As the glowing Sun set behind the President’s palace in New Delhi on September 8, 2022, a reporter asked her cameraman to focus on the setting Sun and said that the Sun will set on the scene today for the last time because tomorrow it will shine on a completely different vista that the country will see for the first time.

Source : Google photo of Netaji Bose and his statue in New Delhi

On this 8th day of September of 2022, the Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi will unveil the 28 ft tall statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose carved in black granite for the first time under the canopy where the white marble statue of King George V used to stay.

The stone weighing over 300 tons was cut from a quarry in Telangana from where it was brought to Delhi on a specially made truck with 100 wheels that had to travel slowly to cover the distance of over 1650 kms. It was then carved by a group of sculptors and polished to perfection. It is the first such massive hand carved statue in India that inspires awe and admiration.

The British ruled India for over 250 years and left behind their signs of rule everywhere when they left India in 1947 that included numerous statues of their kings and queens, lords and viceroys, roads and public buildings named after their royalty to remind their enslaved subjects who was their master.

In 1911 they decided to move their capital from Kolkata to Delhi, so they brought in an architect called Edwin Landseer Lutyens who was tasked to lay out a grandiose plan for their new capital called New Delhi which was to be right next to the Old City of Delhi of the Moghul Empire. So Lutyens made plans for the Viceroy’s palace, North block, South block to house various government ministries, the parliament building to be circular in shape and a grand boulevard in the front called King’s Way with wide canals on both sides. They built a massive monument called The India gate at the end of the King’s Way and numerous temporary shelters for the armed services as their office and nothing more.

It took many years to complete the buildings but they did not complete the entire plan of Lutyens due to perhaps shortage of funds or the apathy of the British at that point.

They placed the white marble statue of their king George V under the stone canopy from where the cold eyes of the king gazed at his Empire and the new secretariat, the President’s palace that was then called the Viceroy’s palace, the round shaped parliament building, and all other buildings built of red sandstone and grandiose in character in line with their arrogance and ambition. (Read my blog here called A broken nose)

They left India in 1947 but not willingly. In fact, they were forced out by a great freedom fighter named Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who organized the Indian National Army (INA) that he headed and fought the British forces tooth and nail to gain freedom for all Indians. Most of the INA soldiers were the well-trained ex-soldiers of the British Army who knew how to fight their erstwhile masters. Then came the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Americans so Japan surrendered, and the World War II ended thus the Japanese support of the INA and Netaji waned and finally ended resulting in the disbanding of the INA.

The British then arrested the key leaders of the INA and put them on trial in the Red Fort in Delhi and charged them with treason that was punishable with death. This was the fuse that lit the nationwide anger of the people who took to the streets for violent protests. They could not tolerate their freedom fighters to be treated like common criminals and demanded their immediate release. This protest took the lives of over 450 British officers before it spread to the British Navy where the Indian officers raised the Indian flag on all their ships and tore down the British flags.

This put tremendous fear into the British authorities who realized that the protests everywhere had taken a very nasty turn for them, so they made complete evacuation plans for all the British from India from two ports of Bombay and Karachi. They knew that their rule in India was over because of Netaji Bose and his army of dedicated patriots who had already liberated parts of Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Bose had formed his government in exile and marched on to Delhi. When the war in Japan ended, Bose vanished but claims were made that he had died in a plane crash in Taiwan.

The British left India in a hurry but made sure to leave behind a sycophant Congress Party and their leaders who promised to continue to look after the British interest after 1947. They also made sure that India is divided into three parts creating Pakistan so that India could never rise as a nation due to its enemies on both sides. This was the revenge they took for their humiliation and exit from India in a shameful manner because of a patriot like Bose who made sure that the British Sun did set never to rise again. It also started the collapse of the British colonial rule elsewhere in the World.

The sycophants of the British had no intention of honoring the national hero Bose in any shape or form and banned the now disbanded soldiers of the INA to include them in the New Indian Army and Netaji Bose was declared a war criminal to be caught and handed over to the British for trial. But Bose had simply vanished and could never be found.

This bit of history is important to know how Netaji became such a national hero who brought Independence to India, but the Congress Party denied him a place in the history and any importance, so their paid historians said that all credit for Independence goes to Gandhi and Nehru. This was the propaganda the Congress Party continued to spread around the world and named numerous roads and buildings in their name in order to glorify them, but the Indians knew better and grieved for this neglect of their hero.

Then came a change in India in 2014 when a nationalist leader called Narendra Modi emerged and won massive support of the voters who wanted a change that Mr. Modi had promised. He promised to end the family and dynastic rule forever and end the corruption. He promised that the true heroes of the Independence movement will be recognized and honored.

He recognized the INA and its contribution in the freedom struggle, so the remaining soldiers were given pension and their sons and daughters were given jobs. They were included in the parade on January 26th Republic Day in Delhi for the first time and the floats of the INA were included. Netaji was remembered and eulogized as the great hero of India who brought freedom to all.

It did not sit well with the sycophants of the British, but they were out of power and have steadily lost elections in most states of the country because people have realized how corrupt they are and how much money they have stolen since 1947. Most of them are charged with corruption and are on bail awaiting trial.

Modi also inaugurated the INA museum in the Red Fort that shows how INA fought the British and how it liberated parts of India. It shows how Netaji escaped from his house arrest in Kolkata to reach Berlin where he met with Adolf Hitler and asked for his help in defeating their mutual enemy England.

But his dream of setting up a grand statue in the heart of New Delhi of Bose came true yesterday when he unveiled a 28 ft. tall granite statue of Netaji and offered flowers after taking off his shoes as a profound show of respect to the national hero. It was a poetic justice to see Netaji statue at the same spot where King George V statue was seen until 1968. It had remained empty since then until yesterday because the previous attempts to glorify Nehru or Gandhi there had resulted in massive protest from all who love Netaji.

Perhaps King George V is squirming in his grave somewhere to know that his enemy now occupies the place from where he used to look down on his Empire so heartlessly. If Gandhi and Nehru had been buried, they too would have squirmed in their graves to see such a majestic statue of the hero they had scorned in the name of their own personal ambitions.

I am sure the invited guests of the diplomatic corps listening to the Prime Minister’s speech also included the British who probably felt uneasy to witness such a ceremony to honor a man whom they wanted to prosecute as war criminal and who forced them out of India in great humiliation. How the times have changed!

Here is a video that will show you with English narration the unveiling of the Netaji statue and the inauguration of the Central Vista project by the Prime Minister yesterday. The parliament house is nearly complete but the rest of the buildings that will house all the ministries and numerous other buildings to house the officers of the armed forces are under construction. The project is supposed to be completed by the end of 2023.

Only Washington D.C. and Paris have the Central Vista, but I have seen both of them. None are as impressive and as beautiful as the Central Vista of New Delhi. With its acres of garden, trees and lakes, it sparkles with lights in the evening as a wonderland.

Source : U Tube video of the inauguration of the statue of Netaji Bose

Then Modi did something else. He had promised that all vestige of the British rule in India must end so that the people can feel that they are indeed free and can decide their own future without outside interference. So, he changed the name of Raaj Path (King’s Way) to Kartavya Path meaning Duty so that all who tread on it will know that they have a duty toward the country be they high or lowly officials. No one henceforth will rule over the people but will have a duty to serve them.

He then inaugurated the splendid Central Vista project that starts at the President’s palace and ends in the India gate covering a distance of 3 kms or more. This entire length of the road has been widened and with red stone sidewalks. It is now well lit with hundreds of modern streetlamp posts, has improved underground drainage system, acres of green lawns and hundreds of trees planted on both side of the majestic canals.

There are 66 public toilets, hundreds of red sandstone benches for the people to sit on and boating facilities in the 3 km long rectangular lakes on both sides. There are parking spaces and dedicated stalls for vendors of ice creams and other foods for those who may now enjoy the Central Vista as never before. When Modi vowed to remove all symbols of the British occupation of India in his Red Fort speech a few days ago, he meant it.

When Modi inducted into the Indian Navy the most modern aircraft carrier INS- Vikrant built entirely in the Kochi shipyard, it ushered in the new era of self-reliance in the production of all its defense needs so that India will become self-sufficient. While India still imports Rafale fighter jets from France and S-400 missile system from Russia, the dependence on foreign weapons will decrease as the country speeds up the Make in India process. (Read my blog here called INS Vikrant )

He proudly displayed the Naval flag fluttering on the mighty INS –Vikrant bearing the Indian flag and the 0ctagonal symbol of the navy of Shivaji who had fought the Moghuls in the 15th century with his mighty navy of over 500 ships. The symbol of King’s Cross has been removed from the Navy flag.

I used to pass by the empty canopy near the India Gate and always wished it to be a place for a grand statue of Netaji Bose someday, but I never said anything to anyone. May be Mr. Modi heard this wish in the heart of millions of Indians like me and decided that this honor to Bose was long overdue. It has gladdened the hearts of all who loved Netaji Bose including myself.

Modi did not create new history yesterday. Rather he rewrote the history that had denied the honor deserved by the hero called Bose. From his pedestal he now looks at the new India rising to its full glory in the rising sun behind the Presidential palace and knows that the country he loved and sacrificed his life for now grows steadily to take its rightful place as a mighty and modern nation.

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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INS Vikrant


Source : Google photo of INS Vikrant of the Indian Navy

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Synopsis: All countries need to have the ability to protect itself from its enemies, so India is no exception. With its 7000 kms of shoreline, its navy faces special challenges to safeguard the country from sea invaders. Now a modern warship INS Vikrant designed and made in India joins the Navy to bolster its ability in projecting it’s power anywhere.

On September 2, 2022, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kochi to induct the most powerful war ship called the beast of the sea INS Vikrant into the Indian Navy that was built at the Kochi shipyard and equipped there with the latest state of the art defensive and offensive weaponry. The launching of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in the Arabian Sea has made the world news because of its sheer size and its modern weaponry that has greatly disturbed India’s enemies.

India is now in the elite group of few nations that can build aircraft carriers and put it to sea with their formidable defensive and offensive abilities. It can project the might of the Indian Navy anywhere in the world when needed with the ability to put fear into its enemies. Often this fear alone of such an immense warship that can cause terrible damage to the enemy morale in the sea or land prevents war. Its utter destructive power persuades them to leave the battlefield.

India has over 7000 kms of shoreline that face the Arabian Sea in the West, the Indian Ocean in the South and the Bay of Bengal in the East that need to be protected at all times so India needed a second carrier like Vikrant to give the Indian Navy more power and capability to protect the country.

What the world saw for the first time was the ability of India to build a complex war ship like INS Vikrant that was designed by the Indian naval engineers and architects and built by the workers of the Kochi shipyard. It is the largest of the ships in the navy and proudly shows the flag of India and the emblem resembling the war ships of Shivaji that fought and repelled the enemies in the 15th century.

The Cross of St. George was removed from the flag that was a relic of the British Navy to usher in the new era of the dominance of the seas by India now and announcing to the world of the arrival of India with its powerful Navy, Army and the Air force to protect the country all the time. The Indian navy is now a strong navy with its frigates, destroyers, aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers and most lethal of them all the nuclear submarines that are equipped with nuclear tipped missiles. This armada is unbelievably powerful that the enemies of India are mortally afraid of. China and Pakistan have plenty of reasons to be very worried.

The keel of the carrier Vikrant was laid a long time ago, but it suffered the hurdles the bureaucracy placed on its construction, poor will of the previous governments that failed to allocate the funding necessary to build such a mammoth ship, so the skeleton of the ship languished in the shipyard for years until Mr. Modi became the Prime Minister of the country in 2014.

From then on the work on the ship was speeded up, all hurdles removed and the completion was prioritized by his government. It became one of Mr. Modi’s dream projects when he determined that such a warship must be built as soon as possible to give the Navy the ships it needs. Now many new ships and submarines are under construction that will soon augment the power of the Indian Navy to fight any war in the seas that surround India on its three sides.

An air craft carrier is not just a war ship that carries fighter jets, helicopters and other types of aircrafts for surveillance. It is a floating city that generates its own power and carries all the things its soldiers need like food, water, weapons, ammunitions, fuel for its massive engines etc. that allows it to remain at sea for a prolonged time and travel to any part of the world where it is needed. It has a very modern very well equipped hospital that can treat any kind of injury during an actual conflict.

Source : U Tube video of INS Vikrant ,the pride of Indian navy

It carries surface to air missiles, powerful guns that can bombard a target 40 kms away with pin point accuracy, track and target any underwater enemy submarine or other enemy ships and communicates with the Naval Command via satellite based system through encryption. In short a carrier like Vikrant is built to put fear into the heart of India’s enemies because it is a fearful floating war machine.

Source : U Tube video on INS Vikrant inside look

This type of carrier is equipped with the latest naval technology for self-defense and damage control in case of accidental fire on board during a sea battle. It is always flanked by several destroyers and a very lethal nuclear powered submarine below that is equipped with ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear weapons. So it is called a Carrier Group that projects power wherever it goes.

During the war with Pakistan in 1971, such a group of war ships effectively blockaded the Karachi port so no Pakistani war ships could venture out to fight with the Indian army that had sent its army, navy and air force to liberate East Pakistan that later came to be known as Bangladesh. Indian navy destroyed the Pakistani submarine en route to East Pakistan near Vishkhapatnam that sank with all its crews.

Recently the Indian navy placed its nuclear capable submarine with its lethal ballistic missiles near Karachi to put pressure on the Pakistan Army to release Wing Commander Avinandan within 24 hours of his capture after his MiG 21 fighter plane was shot down over Pakistan. This is the power of the Indian Navy and its carriers and destroyers. Mr. Modi demanded his release without any pre conditions so Commander Avinandan was released fearing the consequences of not releasing him.

Only a few countries can project such power anywhere in the world. USA. China, France , Russia ,England and Italy have aircraft carriers and now it is India that has joined this elite group of nations that can build carriers and equip them with the latest weapons .

Narendra Modi has declared that India will develop and build its fighter planes, missiles, tanks and carriers with the help of the finest engineers and scientists so that the country will not import such hardware. The made in India Tejas fighter plane is already in service. Many countries want to include it in their air force. The hypersonic missiles, the Brahmos missile and numerous other types of short and long range missiles are being made in India that have won world acclaim.

This will make India independent of other arms producing countries and save the money it used to spend on such purchases in the past. India still buys some fighter planes like Rafale from France and the powerful S-400 missile system from Russia but aims to reduce such imports in the future by developing its own offensive and defensive weapons.

India has developed its own GPS system and placed a number of communication satellites in space to meet its military communication needs with complete encryptions. Its satellites keep an eye on the enemy countries 24 hours a day to know their movements. Now all the services like Army, Navy, Air Force and other arms of the military work in complete sync with maximum coordination during conflict so a Chief of the Defense Staff ( CDS ) will now be responsible for it.

What Mr. Narendra Modi has achieved in only 8 years to modernize the defense forces is unprecedented. Now women are integrated into all branches of armed services for the first time in Independent India although it was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who formed the first female brigade in his Indian national Army ( INA ) that fought the British tooth and nail to make the British leave India in 1947. It was called Rani Laksmibai brigade.

Source: U Tube video of the awesome INS Vikrant

With the INS Vikrant in the Navy, a demand for more carriers like Vikrant will rise so that the Navy becomes more powerful to protect the country better. The confidence the ship builders have now achieved by building Vikrant will surely make it easy for the construction of the next carrier. I wish that the next carrier will be named Netaji Bose who is a national hero.

To achieve it they will need the total support of the Modi government that has to remain in power by winning the next election due in 2024.

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Tricksters and fraudsters

Source : Google photo of tricksters and scammers

Note: If you use Microsoft Edge as your browser to read this blog then you will see the letter A on top right. If you click on this letter A and select a voice from the menu as American English, it will then read the blog to you if you have reading difficulties

Synopsis: There have always been tricksters and fraudulent people who took advantage of the gullible and greedy people but now they have become more sophisticated because they now use computers in call centers to scam people around the world. It has become a multibillion-dollar industry that shows no sign of abating. The blog looks at their modus operandi and warns you to stay away from them.

As we see the development of the computer technology that has made it easy for anyone to send e mail messages, photos and videos or talk for free on Skype or Zoom to anyone anywhere anytime, we also notice a phenomenal rise in Cybercrime. It affects the older generation more than anyone else because they tend to be less computer savvy and have no idea how the computer works and how some bad people get hold of them and cajole them to reveal their credit card numbers or other sensitive bank data. They are called the cyber criminals who are mostly young meaning less than 30 years of age and who speak English fluently although with an accent.

It works like this. Just suppose you are an old woman in California, and you have a glitch with your computer, so you click on a link for the technical service of the manufacturer of your hardware and ask for their help in resolving your problems. What you do not know is that clicking the link will bring you to a website the cyber criminals operate somewhere in the world and promise to solve your technical issues.

They will talk to you in a soothing and smart voice and assure you that your problems will be solved if you answer a few questions and provide some information about your credit card number or bank account number. These criminals can see your screen and what you are typing so nothing is hidden from them. They will also say that the service to solve your particular problem will cost you 350 dollars and 99 cents or some such figure and ask if you are willing to proceed. If you agree, then they will deduct this amount from your account within seconds. The USD 350.99 is the red flag so turn off your PC immediately although it may be too late.

If you have doubts about them because of their Un-American accent and ask them who they are and from where they are calling, they will tell you that they are located somewhere in California and they represent the company that sold you the hardware.

What they will never tell you is that they are calling you from a call center in India or the Philippines or some other location and they are scammers who will empty your account as soon as you call them for their service, and they will vanish leaving no trace like a phantom. They are very computer savvy people who know how to bait an old person who does not understand how the Internet works and how they can see your screen, what you are typing and what you look like. They do not represent any company that sold you your computer but are experts in guiding you to their trap and gently cajole you to reveal your sensitive information.

This type of cybercrime is committed daily to victimize millions of people all over the world and has become a multibillion-dollar industry that keeps on growing but the authorities have a very difficult time to catch them, arrest them and prosecute them because the policemen are not well educated to understand the complexity of the technology, so these fake call centers are sprouting like mushrooms in big cities of India and the Philippines.

The policemen often say that the crime was committed in another country, so it is outside their jurisdiction or some such lame excuse. Believe it or not, most people still do not understand how the Internet works and how it connects to computers in other countries with blazing speed so these criminals take advantage of the technology ignorance of their victims and openly brag that the police will never catch them and prosecute them.

This crime is so lucrative for them that they say that just in 24 hours they can earn enough money to last a month so now you can understand why young people of both sexes are attracted to work in these spurious call centers where they can make so much money just by making some calls.

Many cyber criminals start out as legitimate technical experts working for some big companies where they learn all the intricacies of how to work on the computer and its various programs. Later they open up their own call centers to work fulltime because they know that they cannot be caught easily or sent to jail. With the money earned they move into posh residences, buy fancy cars and other things but their greed for more money is insatiable.

There is a modern multistory glass and steel building in the posh business district of Gurugram that is just near Delhi where the ground and a few floors are occupied by the big technology companies who operate their legitimate business, but all the rest of the floors are filled with these fake call centers reaping millions of dollars from their illegal activities. Such call centers have sprouted in most of the big cities like Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai just to name a few. They are very busy making calls in the middle of the night when it is the daytime somewhere else in the world and use late model computers and peripherals like cameras, high speed computers, modems and super sensitive microphones etc.

These call centers have also become vice centers where young men and women come in close contact with each other day after day, so the biology starts to kick in when they are alone during the night. You can imagine the rest. It is inevitable that at some point drugs and alcohol start flowing as well.

Here is a video that explains it all in vivid details :

Source : U tube video

Now the smart phones serve the same purpose as a personal computer so you can use your phone to connect to the Internet, call someone on skype or send e mails, photos and videos to anyone anytime. The smart phones come with high-definition camera that can take still or video photos even in dim light.

These smart phones have become so popular that the scammers in rural areas use them to lure in their victims and promise them the delivery of a new car or something to their doors if they simply pay the reservation fee of few thousand Rupees. Once they receive the money in their account, they vanish while the victim waits for his car that never arrives. When they see the police, vans are approaching their village, they scatter like birds. They even fill the dirt roads with water so that the police vehicles bog down in the mud while the criminal’s escape.

They say that they are retired army men because people trust Army people more than others. These scams are mostly local, so the scammers need only know fluent Hindi. They destroy their SIM cards every three days so that their phones cannot be traced by the police.

Now the Indian government is hiring young people who are experts in IT (Information technology) and have rich experience to fight Cybercrimes. They infiltrate the call centers by posing as their customers and can remotely see their computer screen to see what they are typing to expose them. The data thus obtained are then used by the police to shut them down, but they sprout up somewhere else within days. Rarely these types of criminals are prosecuted so they carry on just like before. They are also very good in hiding their identity because they know how.

It is like the FBI in the United States that often hires ex-cons and ex cyber criminals who have served their time and now teach the FBI how to catch the scammers. There was a movie made on the subject, but I have forgotten the title.

So, if you are over 50, living alone and have technical glitches with your PC, please do not click on these toll-free numbers. Turn off your PC immediately before the scammers download your data. You should see a red flag as soon as the scammer in a foreign accent asks for your credit card number or your bank account number. A reputed company that sells the hardware will never ask you for these data so the safest way is to go to a reliable store where a trained technician will easily solve your problem for a small fee. These technicians are trained by the big companies in problem solving so you should ask the companies where their legitimate service centers are.

Unfortunately, our world is full of con people who pose as door-to-door salesmen or insurance sellers, property sellers etc. They are found in every country who take advantage of old and vulnerable people.

Once I started receiving e mails that said that I had won a huge amount in a lottery that I had never participated in and asked for a big amount as a service fee before they will send me the money. I knew it was a scam, so I answered in big red letters … You have been notified to the Interpol that will soon arrest you no matter where you live.  It was a bluff, but the scammer did not know that.

The emails stopped coming because it put fear in them. Then I started receiving e mails from a Nigerian scammer who claimed that she is the daughter of a general who is in prison somewhere, but she had access to his loot. Now she needs me to give her my bank account number so that she can transfer this loot to my account for a 10 percent fee that she will pay me. Again, I warned this con person that he or she will be prosecuted soon because I have alerted the authorities and have given them his e mail address. The e mails stopped. I do not know why there are so many scammers in Nigeria in particular.

I know a city in India called Jalandhar in Punjab state that is well known for all sorts of scammers. They are so bold that they advertise their racket in Newspapers and find some suckers who are greedy so easily fall into their trap. We all know about the pyramid scammers so beware. There was one pyramid scammer in the United States who was called Madoff who is now serving time for all the money he stole.

If his name alone did not raise a red flag, then you need some serious counseling my friend. If something is too good to be true, then you can be sure it never is.

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

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My blogs at Wix site

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Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

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Биография Анила по-русски

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Bane of negative programming

Source: Google photo of a religious school called madrasa in India

Note: If you use Microsoft Edge as your browser, you can listen to this blog by clicking the A button in the browser after choosing a voice of your choice. In this case just select American English.

Synopsis: The spread of radicalism in some religions has brought upon the humanity the curse of hatred, intolerance of others and outright violence that the whole world suffers from. Now people are demanding reforms that will eliminate radical thinking and promote peace and harmony among all people. This can only be achieved through a holistic approach to education of a child that opens his mind to the world of knowledge that prepares him better to cope with the challenges of the modern world.

We are conditioned to think and act in a certain way that starts to define who we are at a certain age. This conditioning starts at an early stage of our life when a child comes under pressure to conform to the strict rules and regulations as spelled out for him by his elders. While it may be necessary for a child to learn what he can do or cannot do so that he can easily conform, often the methods used by his elders to make him conform can and should be questioned.

We should ask if a child must be subjected to harsh training to conform at an age when he needs the freedom of expression and to choose what he or she wants to do that should be his or her fundamental right. The elders who are his parents, schoolteachers or relatives may feel that it is their duty to teach the kids what is right and what is wrong so that he acts accordingly later in his life. The methods used to imprint their ideas of right or wrong on the child varies from country to country, from one religion to other and from one set of parents to another within a given community. (read my blog here called Imprinting https://aumolc.wordpress.com/2021/03/20/imprinting/  )

Some families teach tolerance of other faiths and set of beliefs to the child while others take a more radical approach where a child is taught to believe and practice a belief system that borders on fundamentalism that later may have a very negative impact on the development of a child making him unfit to live in harmony with others who are not like him. This is called negative programming that is the subject of this blog today.

A child is born innocent and is free from any belief or guidelines at first but it does not last long because the negative programing of his brain starts early meaning as soon as he or she learns to understand words and their impact on him or her. If the parents, his teachers and his elders try to teach him good moral values, good habits and manners then it may have a positive impact on his development. The teachers play a crucial role in the development of a child when they teach him how to read and write and provide books to read to gain knowledge.

Later the child develops the habit of reading books on various subjects because he is naturally curious to learn about zillion things, so a good teacher provides him with the opportunity to do so. The parents may provide him with books other than what is prescribed in his school so that he may gain wider knowledge of history, geography, social science or technical matters depending on his interest so that he can develop a healthy personality with keen interest in reading and learning about subjects that are not covered in his school.

But some people think that it is their duty to imprint on their kids their belief system early so that they become their clones in order to perpetuate their religious beliefs generation after generation. This action on their part is motivated by their belief system that they learned from their parents who often use harsh methods like physical punishment for a recalcitrant kid who shows signs of rebellion against strict learning regimes.

We have heard of young girls or boys raised by their parents with strict rules running away from their suffocating conditions so that they can breathe the free air of liberty of choice, but we also know that such kids often run into trouble by running away and joining a group that leads them into more trouble.

The hippie movement of the 1960 that grew out of the protest against war and persecution of others in the United States spread to many countries that made millions of young people join. It led to street protest, jail terms for many and an exodus of young people to other countries to avoid mandatory draft into the army.

But this sort of protest nationwide and even worldwide had a positive impact on their governments to end the war in Vietnam and other wars. The massive protest in France against the colonial rule in Algeria and the torture of a teen-age girl Djamila Boupacha led to the independence of Algeria. This protest was based on moral grounds because they fought for justice.

But when the negative programming starts in a child’s life, it has a far sinister consequence for him that at first, he fails to understand but later begins to realize that he has painted himself into a corner that he finds difficult to come out of. The rise of worldwide terrorism in every continent is one such outcome due to this harsh negative programming they were subjected to in their religious schools where they were taught intolerance of other faiths and hatred for people who are not like them.

The question to ask here is why some people feel that it is their duty to teach their kids intolerance and dislike for others who are not like them. There was a child who sought me out every Sunday in our college cafeteria where I worked to ask me why I was not following Jesus. She always said “my mom says…’ I could not make her understand that people have a right to be different and have a choice to believe or not to believe in something, but she always said that “her mom said… etc.

Obviously, she was an innocent child who was curious and wanted to know more on the subject of belief system but was being negatively programmed by her mother who was an avid church goer and a Bible thumper to boot. So, I consider the children to be the innocent victims of those who try to make them clones like them who in their own childhood were made clones of their parents.

It is logical to think that the parents who were harshly raised by their parents when young would consider for their children the freedom of choice and be more supportive of them in their all-round development, but the opposite happens.  

The solution as being introduced in India for the first time is to give children of certain community’s access to modern education that can wean them away from the fundamentalist schools that only teach intolerance and hatred for other faiths. The modern education provides them with the knowledge of numerous subjects, the use of computers and access to the worldwide pool of knowledge on any subject. Such modern schools are opening up in numerous states in India where the government provides the funding, qualified teachers and the computers for the children. It is wildly popular with the children who were previously taught by their religious teachers the fundamentalism of their religion and nothing else.

Source: Google photo of a modern school for children in India

Children who attend madrassas in both India and Pakistan are from backward, poor, underprivileged and financially impoverished families. These families however are also unfortunately large. In essence poverty and ignorance at work simultaneously results in the inability of parents to fully provide for their children resulting in madrassa enrollments. So, children are sent to madrassas as a result of this poverty. There, children are taught not just religious education, but are clothed, fed and raised – something these families simply cannot manage.

There is a dire need to revisit madrassa curriculum. There are loud voices in Pakistan demanding this reform; to include sciences, mathematics and general sciences along with religion to be imparted to these students, to eliminate the threat of nefarious forces using these innocent children for their nefarious designs.

Madrasas teach kids to become radical Islamist, but such teachings have no real-life value in modern times. That’s the same reason why the Father of the nation of Turkey Kemal Ataturk banned Madrasa education from Turkey to make it a modern country. Hence, Turkish culture is the most forward and modern culture in the Islamic world.

On the other hand, we have countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan etc where Madrasa culture has deteriorated the social fabric of those countries and has made them epicenter of radical Islam. Madrasas work by depriving a person of his critical thinking regimen. Once a person is deprived of critical thinking by age 16, it’s safe to assume he can easily be radicalized.

So, while most madrasas directly don’t encourage radicalism, they indirectly end up contributing to radicalism by making their students more vulnerable to it by depriving them of critical thinking.

In a typical madrasa, the most glaring difference with a public school is how the teacher handles a cross questioning student. In a public school, the cross question will either be entertained or at worst ignored. In a madrasa asking a cross question to the teacher results in severe thrashing. So, the student just becomes an instruction taking tool like a hard disc. He can only digest info, not process it.

The hard-core fundamentalism is not unique to Islam. It exists in many religions but with the spread of education, people have started to realize the value of education that prepares the young people to meet the challenges in their life better than their parents. The study of numerous subjects including religion makes them more knowledgeable and tolerant of people of other faiths, ethnicity, race and beliefs. This leads to better social harmony in any country.

In Europe, people have started to move away from the fundamentalist practices of the previous generation by rejecting it and not attending churches and not joining convents or religious schools that train the future priests and nuns. As a result, the church attendance has drastically fallen in many countries. Many countries face a shortage of priests and nuns so one priest is required to service many churches by turn. In other countries the churches employ foreign priests and nuns.

The only way to discourage the spread of radicalism is to give the young people the tools that they can use to meet all their challenges in life. It means giving them all the opportunities to get the kind of education and skills that prepares them better in the modern world. This is how each individual becomes a better person who contributes to the development of his country. Such a person becomes an asset and not a liability to any community and country because he is an educated person who is tolerant and respectful of others who are not like him.

Shouldn’t your child be one of them?  

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски



Where are they now?

Source : Google photo

Note: If you use Microsoft Edge as your browser, you can listen to this blog by clicking the A button in the browser after choosing a voice of your choice. In this case just select American English.

Synopsis: We all have the tendency to remember good people who are our friends or mentored us when we needed them, but we tend to forget those who were only acquaintances and never our friends. A real friend who remains steadfast and loyal is hard to find so they must be cherished.

When I was seven or eight years old, I used to go to the park nearby where I played with a few youngsters like myself who gathered there to play. We were not supervised by our parents or elders like in some countries, so we were free to do whatever we wanted like climbing trees to pluck a few forbidden fruits or jump over the neatly cut hedges only to fall flat on the flower beds.

There were girls of our age also but mostly they were not a part of our group because we at that age were not really interested in girls in ways boys look at girls or vice versa because our hormones had not started to kick in because we were just children. We did what other children did that mostly included having fun without having to pay for it. We did not have pocket money or fancy toys to play with, so we improvised a lot that included many types of mischief making like grabbing nasty hornets to attach a string in it and make it fly like a kite. There were other mischiefs that I will not write about here because the list is long.

In the process of growing up, I got to know some kids better than others like Nantu who never told me his real name nor did I to him because everyone had a nick name like Nantu. The formal introduction was not needed. Nantu came from a prosperous family of 2 more brothers older than him, but his father was a well-known doctor who was also a very religious man, so his three sons were also given good training at home to be religious.

How religious they were was hard to tell but Nantu was often required to do the evening Lakhsmi Pooja at home that he did well. He memorized all the chants and hymns and knew all the rituals by heart while I waited patiently for him to finish so that we could go to the park to play.

Nantu went to an expensive English medium school like his brothers and proudly showed off his dark blue shorts and light blue shirt uniform while I went to a poor school with leaking classrooms and worn-out desks and stools so there was a big gap between us, but it did not stop us to become friends. Our parents knew his parents and we went to their house on special occasions like Durga Pooja.

Nantu and I were inseparable. We talked of many things’ children talk about and we played together. At that age we did not have big dreams and a solid plan for our future, but we did make plans to steal a few fruits from the garden and risked the wrath of the gardeners who were always on the lookout for the naughty kids like us. Sometimes we quarreled over petty things but were also quick to make up and be friends again.

We exchanged small gifts like marbles or a colored glass bead, so it was simple. I often kept the nasty hornets in a match box in my pocket that too served as a prize gift Nantu loved. I made many kites land on our roof with the help of a stone attached to a string so that too I shared with Nantu and taught him how to bring down a kite while the kite fliers never guessed who the kids were and where.

Thus a few more years passed, and we started to grow up and move up to the next level in our school where eventually we reached 10th grade that meant taking the Board exam. But by this time, we had moved into our new home quite far from the neighborhood where we had lived so I did not see Nantu again until one day many years later when he suddenly showed up. He had grown taller and more handsome but essentially the same old childish Nantu I had known so long ago.

I was delighted to see him again and asked him what he was doing all these years. He said that he had run away from his home and joined the Army by faking his real age and slowly rose in ranks to become a captain in the signal corps. While we were thus talking, a postman came to deliver a brown envelop to me that contained my passport. Nantu was excited and asked me why I needed a passport and where I was going. He showed great delight to know that I was going to Vietnam, so he said that it needed a celebration of sorts. We spent the rest of the day eating and talking together.

Then Nantu said goodbye and disappeared from my life forever leaving a void that only a dear friend like him could. Nantu took his life one day, but I will not get into the why and how, but I do miss him and cherish all the time we spent together as children.

In our life we meet many people while growing up, later in school and college. After graduation we get a job somewhere so we meet new people in our work place. We settle down at a certain age with a wife and have children so we get to meet new people in our new community so in each phase of our life we get to meet new people who may or may not become our friends.

I too knew many people, but they did not become my friends like my classmate in high school who was my seatmate for 7 years and I often played with him in his house but when I met him again after some 20 years, he simply said Hi and then disappeared claiming that he had an appointment to keep somewhere. Many of my playmates of yesteryears are aloof and do not even ask what I am doing or where in the world I live. I could have told them many things, but they showed no interest except superficiality. One guy showed fake excitement and promised to come to our house later for a longer talk but he never showed up.

Another fellow who was passing by our gate showed no emotions on seeing me some 30 years later and disappeared saying that he was in a hurry. This was the same fellow who I used to walk with every evening and who went to the airport to see me off when I was leaving for Vietnam but now, he had no time.

So, in life we get to meet all sorts of people. It starts from our childhood and continues until we die but how many of them, we consider our friends? I can now say that most people we get to meet and know fall into the category of mere acquaintances because they remain aloof and show no interest in you as a person unless they want something from you.

Many of them said that I should bring them a camera or something from abroad. One even asked me to buy French perfume for his wife but backed off when I said that a small vial of Poison can cost over 60 dollars. Poison is a very famous and expensive perfume.

So, when a friendship solely depends on what gifts you can bring for them then a true friendship does not develop. One of my classmates in college who now lives in Delhi said to me that I must bring him a bottle of blue label Johnny Walker whiskey the next time and derided the red label Johnny Walker, I gifted him.

We used to study whole night together to prepare for our final year exams and he was supposed to be my friend, but he let me down big time when he promised to do something very important but failed to do so and gave the job to someone who ran away with my money. It had to do with the renewal of my wife’s passport. All he had to do was to deposit the money at the Embassy.

My sweet wife often says that friends are for a reason and a season. When the reasons and seasons pass, they too disappear leaving no trace. A fake friendship falls apart quickly when jealousy is involved as it happened in my case. My classmate in high school got less marks than me in our Sanskrit class so he got very jealous of me because I got distinction in the Board exam. I never saw him again which was good.

This sort of thing can and does happen in schools, colleges and in workplaces where your school mates, college mates or your work mates may get jealous of you if you excel in what you do and get the attention of your teacher or your boss who may promote you to a higher-level position because they notice your intelligence and better creative abilities.

I had to contend with classmate jealousy because our professors always singled me out for any assignment because I did it well and always asked me questions in the class that I was usually well prepared to answer. I did my homework well.

This feeling of jealousy starts early in high school and may continue in college, so a smart girl is often bullied by those girls who are not smart but villainous in nature because of arrogance of rich parents, fine clothes or latest gadgets they bring to the school. They do not even try to understand the qualities of a smart girl or a boy so who do you think ends up being a top scientist or a doctor or a great engineer later in life? Vain and jealous people do not become friends to anyone because they think that they are superior to others so they cannot accept someone better than them.

Basically, a friendship starts because of shared values, shared ideas, shared toys or books. When we do things together like playing, it brings others closer to you but not all of them become your friends no matter how many years you have played with them. So, what brings two persons together who become friends like Nantu and I and why others have disappeared?

I think true friendship develops like a sapling at first that later can grow into a tree given a chance. So, a friendship must be nurtured like a frail sapling at first and maintained until well established. I still wonder what great length Nantu and I would have gone to maintain and grow our friendship given half a chance. Sadly, I was not given that chance, so I still miss my childhood friend who was so innocent and loyal.

There are a few who have left an impression on me whom I miss today because I know that I will never get to see them again. There are those whom I never wish to see again because they were not my friends so have disappeared from my memory. My brain thankfully deletes their memories and keeps only the memory of those who were my friends and who left an impression on me.

You are lucky if you just have one true friend you can count on. Most people are not so lucky so in their old age they become alone. The email, Facebook or numerous social media can bring you in contact with a lot of people but only very superficially. They tend to disappear just like a photo or a message at the press of a button so remember that people become friends for a reason or for a season.

I remember some very good people like Eberhard from Hamburg, Monique from Domremy aux bois, Marie Françoise from Compiegne, Pierre, Catherine Leguier of Paris, Mechell and Russell, my mentors like Dr.Ghosh and Dr.De Datta, my friend and mentor Dr.Kennedy, my professor Mr.Dey, Prof. Leighty, my friend and librarian Miss Thomas. Many are dead while others have disappeared leaving no trace.

I often wonder where they are now who are still living. Do they still have a tiny space in their heart for me? Do they still remember me as much as I remember them and miss them? I guess I will never know.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

The idea of Indian union

Source: Google photo of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia

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Synopsis: The idea of an Indian Union just like the EU does not seem too far-fetched, but it has many hurdles to overcome. Great visionaries like Dr.Ram Manohar Lohia and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay put forth this idea long ago but said that it could be more of a union of shared cultural values and traditions making physical and political boundaries less important between nations. The blog looks at the benefits of such Union.

I am not a political person so normally I do not like to write about the politics of any country, nor do I support any political party or its agenda, but I watched a video where a gentleman was talking about how an Indian Union could be created that would be similar to the European Union. It made me think about the idea so I wanted to explain this idea to you in plain words because the author of the video was speaking in Hindi that you may not understand.

It was not his original idea. He was simply explaining it on behalf of the persons who wrote about it, talked about it and encouraged everyone to promulgate it so that one day in the future their ideas could turn into a reality for the benefit of the human kind that is hell bent on harming each other in the name of ideology, religion and hard core fundamentalism that has taken millions of lives and continues to divide the people in the Indian sub-continent.

These visionary men are no longer alive, but they have left the seed in the minds of progressive people who think about the idea of an Indian Union that does not seem so far-fetched. They were some of the most fertile minds in the recent Indian history who left their huge footprints that no one seems to measure up to.

Such a man was Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia who openly challenged the so called visionary Prime Minister Nehru in the Parliament on his faulty policies that Nehru could not counter and kept mum. Lohia was a firebrand politician and a member of the parliament who never hesitated to speak his mind openly, but he was respected and listened to. He was fearless as an opposition member of the Parliament.

Another leader and a man of great wisdom was Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Deendayal Upadhyaya (25 September 1916 – 11 February 1968) was an Indian politician, proponent of Hindutva ideology espoused by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and leader of the political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sadly, he was murdered by the opposition political party people who saw him as a threat to their existence.

There was a time long ago when India stretched from Afghanistan to Burma that included Afghanistan, Pakistan, present India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka ruled by Hindu Kings before the advent of Islam in the sub-continent called South Asia. Later the Buddhist religion spread to many parts of this empire including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Much later the Moslems spread to all the countries where they tried to suppress the Hindus and people of other faith like in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Sadly, this process still continues. We all know how Buddhism was eliminated in Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to declare Islamic Republics, so Buddhist and Hindu statues and relics were systematically destroyed like in Bamiyan.

Here I would like to first mention how the European Union came into being and how many treaties were signed, where and how many countries in Europe joined so I will quote this paragraph from Wikipedia that explains it better than I.

“The European Union is a geo-political entity covering a large portion of the European continent. It is founded upon numerous treaties and has undergone expansions and secessions that have taken it from 6 member states to 27, a majority of the states in Europe.

Apart from the ideas of federationconfederation, or customs union such as Winston Churchill‘s 1946 call for a “United States of Europe“, the original development of the European Union was based on a supranational foundation that would “make war unthinkable and materially impossible”[1][2] and reinforce democracy amongst its members[3] as laid out by Robert Schuman and other leaders in the Schuman Declaration (1950) and the Europe Declaration (1951). This principle was at the heart of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) (1951), the Treaty of Paris (1951), and later the Treaty of Rome (1958) which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The ECSC expired in 2002, while the EAEC maintains a distinct legal identity despite sharing members and institutions.

The Maastricht Treaty (1992) created the European Union with its pillars system, including foreign and home affairs alongside the European Community. This in turn led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro (launched 1999). The Maastricht Treaty has been amended by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2007).   ( Source : Wikipedia )”

Now 27 countries in Europe have become part of the European Union making it the single most important economic block where all members retain their sovereignty, their cultural identities, their religions, their integrity of their national territories, their food, their distinct languages etc. yet they have all become a part of the European Union.

All their national currencies have disappeared that have been replaced by a single currency called Euro so you can travel anywhere in Europe and use the same Euro. Their national borders remain but now all members can freely travel to any country in Europe without visas or other restrictions, can choose to stay and work in another country without any problem and even buy properties. They can marry in another country and their children can go to a school there.

The trade rules within the Union have been simplified so a farmer can sell his products anywhere in Europe easily. The manufactured goods are traded freely without any fuss within the Union. So, you can imagine the benefits of such a Union.

Perhaps the Indian visionaries like Dr. Lohia and Pandit Upadhyay could be called the fathers of the idea long before the EU came into being and thought that it could be possible to create an Indian Union just like EU. I will explain now why there are some people who do not like this idea, so they oppose vehemently. Dr. Lohia died in 1967 and Pandit Upadhyay died in 1968. India misses these two great men and their profound wisdom.

To understand their disagreement, one has to understand the bloody history of the past 75 years when India fought 4 wars with its neighbor Pakistan and beat them each time, but they are preparing for a 5th war over Kashmir with the threat of using their atomic weapons. India counters by saying that its nuclear arsenals are not just for show and deploys S 400 missile system near the border with Pakistan and China that gives India a complete air superiority over the enemy weaponry.

Both India and Pakistan spend huge amount of money on defensive and offensive weapons and maintain huge army, navy and air force that keep an eye on the enemies all the time to take appropriate measures when necessary. India is a rich country of multi trillion-dollar economy, so it has a huge budget and a very large defense industry that manufactures most of what the country needs for its defense, but Pakistan is not in the same league, so it carries a heavy burden of its defense expenses with difficulties.

Bangladesh became free after the 1971 war with Pakistan and has made progress in developing its economy by improving its agriculture and industries that earns them revenue from its exports of manufactured goods. But it too suffers like Pakistan from poverty, malnutrition and communal violence from time to time instigated by the hard-core fundamentalists who are intolerant of those who are not like them.

Afghanistan is another failed state that has seen nothing but war that has lasted over 40 years and has practically decimated the country, its economy and its infrastructure so people starve, beg on the streets and live in a state of hopelessness. There is a high rate of drug addiction among them because they see the bleak future so take to drugs while their government earns money from the export of illegal drugs like opium, cocaine and hashish to many countries. The fundamentalists who are in power there insist on archaic Stone Age rules to govern their country that brings more misery to the people there.

Now Sri Lanka finds itself in dire straits because the country is bankrupt and cannot pay back its huge external debt to China. People are fighting for a loaf of bread in the streets, so the army is trying to maintain peace and order. India has sent them thousands of tons of wheat and millions of liters of gasoline, but it can only go so far. They also suffer from communal violence because of the fundamentalism that divides the people there.

Now let us just think for a minute what could happen if an Indian Union just like the European Union could be created bringing all these desperate countries into one Union under the same rules like in EU.

There could be just one currency, easy trade between them, easy travel without visa, no customs or heavy import tariffs, no restrictions on buying properties or on investment. There would be no war between them because there will be no reason for it so they could all unite to fight a common enemy like China that has aggressive policy of grabbing land outside its borders. Instead of spending a huge amount of money on their defense, they could spend it on development of agriculture and industries. They could make education for everyone possible and give everyone good medical care.

The benefits are easy to see but the hard-core fundamentalists will find such an idea very hard to digest given their history of intolerance of India and the 75-year-old animosity that does not seem to die down.

The idea of bringing together Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India under one Union can work if people of these countries want it and give their full support to the idea through plebiscite but it is not easy because people are afraid of losing their cultural, religious or ethnic identity.

But this fear is not based on hard reality on the ground that suggests such a union but on emotions that are stirred up by those who oppose modernization, progress through development, education and healthcare for all. In fact, there are more things that can unite them than divide them if they are willing. To live in a failed state in dire poverty and uncertain future with the constant fear of war with neighbors makes people lose their hopes and aspirations.

When two countries that have common culture, language and the same ethnicity are separated by force then a time will come when they reunite. It has happened when East and West Germany reunited but North and South Korea remain separated and wait for the day when they too will be reunited like Germany. Similarly, Burundi and Rwanda are separated by politics, but they have more in common than their differences.

What Dr. Lohia and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay were talking about was not just a physical union of various countries under one umbrella but rather the cultural union of them because after all they all have something in common that can bring them together. All Moslems were Hindus who were forcefully converted but they still share a common heritage and culture with their neighbors and still carry Hindu family names. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains all share a common heritage and culture. They have the same DNA no matter what their religion says.

No country in Europe that is a member of the EU has lost its identity, culture, language, food or traditions, its ethnicity or religious values. They remain sovereign within the Union that has given them a freedom they never had before like the freedom of movement, the freedom of trade, owning property or marriage etc. It has given them choices they never had because all Europeans remember the horror of the past wars and the enormity of their sufferings.

What such a Union gives them all is better governance under the democratically elected governments using free and fair election but working together with other countries under one umbrella of a Union that drastically reduces the possibility of war between them through dialogue and arbitration. Thus, disputes between the countries can be amicably and justly resolved. One currency for all strengthens the Central Bank that can loan huge amount of money to member states for development.

Now imagine how much prosperity can be brought to the poor people in such a Union. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay believed it could.

Source : Google photo of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay

Many Indians today think of the Greater India as it used to be so the idea of something similar to European Union mentioned by Dr. Lohia and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay long ago is again seriously discussed. Some say that it is not just a dream but will happen some day when people realize that everybody will benefit from it.

I am a diehard optimist so I too believe that Lohia and Pandit Upadhyay were both right but only the time will tell if their vision will someday become a reality. Their souls will be appeased.

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски