Friday, January 25, 2013

Satyamev Jayate: Respect your women, India:

Satyamev Jayate: Respect your women, India: Republic Day 2013

"Satyameva Jayate" in English means: Truth Alone Triumphs. This is a mantra from the ancient Indian scripture. Upon independence of India, it was adopted as the national motto of India. The history of the Republic of India began on 26 January 1950. The country became an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth  on 15 August 1947.

"Satyamev Jayate": It is inscribed in Devanagari script at the base of the Indian national emblem. The emblem is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Asoka which was erected around 250 BC

Need to change mindset of Hindu and Indian males towards women

This 2013 Republic Day, I wish to pass a message of truth-Satyamev Jayte, in an effort to change the mindset of Hindu and Indian male about the place and respect of women in our society and homes. We say Sita - Ram, Radhe - Shyam, Gauri - Shankar, Latchmi - Vishnu, always reciting women’s names first. Mythologically, all deities are supposed to have evolved from women - Shakti. We Hindus have so many festivals honoring our Goddesses. But this honour and respect are only confined to lifeless foreign made (mostly Chinese) murtis, idols, images and statues made of metals, stones and plastics. Why in reality we treat our living Goddesses, our women with such contempt, disrespect and scorn, contrary to the teachings of our religion? Doesn’t that make us big hypocrites?
India is great-some of its leaders and people shame it
India is a great country, we can boast about success stories and past leaders. But how about NOW? Which way, India? In Manoj Kumar’s Bollywood movie, Purab aur Pacchim, there is a song...” Hai preet jahan ki reet sada...” (Where love is our custom....).  In a London hotel, Manoj Kumar boasts about India...sabbhayta jahan pehle janmi... where civilization took birth. Some may argue this.
Manoj Kumar's exemplary Bollywood movie on virtues of cultures of east or India. He boasts about civilisation taking birth in India. That, however is questionable, given the mistreatment bestowed on many Indian women by men.
As a primary school child at Vaqia Indian School in rural Ba, Fiji in 1960s, we grew up reading Jules Vernes “ Around the World in 80 Days”  In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his  French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days. In 1873 India, on the way to Allahabad, they come across a procession, in which a young Indian woman, Aouda, is led to a sanctuary to be forcefully sacrificed by the process of suttee (Sati) the next day by Brahmins. They rescue her from a ritualistic death.
Jules Verne's 1873 novel tells the tale of Suttee pratha (Sati system) in India where an Indian princess is rescued by an Englishman from a ritualistic death. The book has been adopted in films and plays as well.
I learnt this dark Indian treatment of its women at a very early age. Though fiction, it was a fact, which was later depicted in Aamir Khan’s historical movie, Mangal Pandey-the Rising where a young widow is rescued by a British soldier. It made me wondering. How is civilization supposed to have started in a place where the British have to rescue women, who against their will, are burnt on the pyre (funeral fire, chita) of their dead husbands? British passed laws in 1800s, outlawing this uncivilized act of atrocity and others by Brahmins male in particular and Indian men in general, towards women.
Aamir Khan's "Mangal Pandey-the rising" depicts a widow being rescues by a British soldier during the barbaric system of Sutte pratha ( Sati System of widow burning)
You will say, but in our scriptures, we show a great deal of respect and fairness for women. Wrong again. Ahilya in Ramayan was wrongfully punished, and depicts a man’s injustice towards women. Look at Mahabharat, where Pandavas wager Draupadi in a game of gambling, as if women were common chattels of men. It appears we still have numerous men in India today, disrobing Draupadis, without any Krishna in sight. None came to rescue the Delhi victim in a bus.
Draupadi being disrobed by men in  mythology Mahabharat, but was saved the honour by Lord Krishna. But there is no Lord Krishna in reality for other hundreds and thousands of Indian women in institutionalised system of mistreatment ignored and tolerated by a male-dominated system
Some say, when Mother earth, Dharti Mata came to take away her ever-suffering daughter, Sita for Dhari-Prawesh , a curse is rendered that our women will always be suffering and crying as Sita was made to do. It appears that curse has become a reality in India when a G20 survey revealed that India is the worst country for a woman to be born. As the tip of the iceberg is tilting after revolution caused by Delhi rape, we are now seeing the full picture of an unjust Hindu and Indian system against women.
Painting of Sutti pratha, the ceremony of burning of a Hindu widow with the body of her late husband on the funeral pyre (Chita). Is that what civilisation is about? Are we still tolerating similar barbaric and nonsensical rituals degrading our Hindu and Indian women?

Lajja (Shame, modesty)
As Indians are obsessed with Bollywood, I normally use those examples to send home a message. One of the best Indian movies on rights and plight of women is Lajja, meaning shame and modesty. Lajja is a 2001 Hindi film, based on the plight of women in India. The movie recounts the story of four women, and stars some of the best known names in Hindi cinema, including Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala, Mahima Chaudhry, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, and Ajay Devgan.

Bollywood movie 'Lajja" (Shame) depicts  plight of four women named in various names of Sita: Maithali, Janaki, Ramdulari and Vaidehi. Perhaps one of the best Indian movies on rights of women in India, and ranges from issues of Dowry, Infanticide and violence against women.
The movie satirizes the honor with which women are placed in society and the restrictions on them. The fact that the four women's names (Maithali, Janaki, Ramdulhari, and Vaidehi) are all versions of Sita, the ideal Hindu woman's name, is a message in itself. It ranges from dowry to infanticide, to violence, male chauvinism and gross inequality for women in India.

Rekha boldly fights infanticide in "Lajja" but how many women are really fighting against this criminal activity and that of foeticide (killing females in womb) as depicted by Aamir Khan's TV serial 'Satyamev Jayate.
One highlight for me was when Madhuri Dixit raises a commotion in a stage play Ramayan and this leads to an outcry where she is assaulted by the audience. What she raises is that why should Sita alone go through Agni paricha? (Purity test via fire). Ram was also away from Sita, so should he not, like Sita, also prove his purity. I suppose it does make sense, and implies discrimination against women rooted in epics and mythologies which are causing problems in parts of India today.  In this modern world with equality and human rights, many of these rituals and beliefs are outdated and excess luggage. In this 21st century India, we need to show greater respect and honour for women in society and homes, and not confine them to stone statues in temples and tales in scriptures.

Agni Paricha (Purity through test of fire) - do women in India still have to prove their chastity when men can get away with anything, including bigamy and extra -marital affairs? Women need to stand up and fight against a male-initiated system and rituals unsuitable for 21st century. Gone are the days when women need to suffer at the hands of men, blaming their Karma.
This India Republic Day, I thank the departed British for bringing in laws to protect our mothers, sisters and daughters from some of the barbaric systems, rituals and practices taking place where civilization is supposed to have taken birth. Like indentured Indo Fijians in Fiji, Indians in India owe a great deal, apart from Indian Railways and English language, to the British.

On this Republic Day, I urge all Indians in Indian Diaspora, to raise objections against the mistreatment of women in India through their respective Indian High Commissions, so Delhi can listen to international objections about their poor governance and tolerance for mistreatment of women. Foreign Indian High Commissions need to pass a message to Delhi and Congress that India cannot forever take pride and bask in glory of  their military, IT, science, medical and economic prowess. NOT when half the population, its women, have yet to feel the equality, social justice and human rights that a civilised democracy, in fact the largest democracy on universe, is supposed to deliver. Satyamev Jayate  We thank British for leaving India more civilised.

Bharat Mata and Indian women have been depicted as Shakti, accompanied by a lion. it is time Shakti took its power and started fighting an unjust system and stand up to ancient religious and cultural system subjugating and downgrading women.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To India with Love - “Jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...”

To India with Love - “Jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...”   - the land where Mother Ganges flows freely.

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand.

India Republic Day 2013- an advance preview. Celebrating, commemorating and marking 63rd anniversary of India’s Republic Day on 26 January, 2013. This article was originally written in 2007 for India’s Independence Day celebration and has been modified.

As the Airbus 320 of Lufthansa Airlines nosed towards Delhi Airport on flight from Frankfurt Germany, around midnight of 20 October, 2003, I was filled with emotions and unprecedented feelings of delight. I had pledged on the burning pyre of my father that I would go around the world and visit my grandfather’s birth land, India to trace my roots, and also visit the places that we only read in Holy Scriptures.

Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai - the country where River Ganges flows-India. The great country where  this author went in 2003 to trace his roots in Rajasthan. This Raj Kapoor movie gave world a lesson on how to treat your visitors- Atithi Deva Bhava - visitors are our Gods. But do they really treat their visitors as they preach?
 I had travelled with my wife from Fiji to Los Angeles, Sacramento, Vancouver, Calgary, London, and Frankfurt and was on the final leg to my girmitiya (indentured labourer) grandfather Bansi’s birthplace.

Thakur Ranjit Singh's Girmitiya (indentured) grandfather Thakur Bansi Chauhan, whose roots he went to trace in Karouli  Rajasthan, India in 2003.

From the aircraft I could see city lights and was filled with excitement and joy. After the touch down, we descended on the land that my deceased grandfather and parents had craved to visit at least once in their lifetime, but could not achieve this. I touched the Holy earth and rubbed to my forehead as greetings the land of sages and Ram and Krishna.

I had good and exciting memorable times in tracing my roots to my lineage and the land of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, near Jaipur in a small town called Karauli in Rajasthan. This is very close to Vrindavan, Mathura and Taj Mahal, but those things some other day.

Today I take this opportunity to congratulate my Grand Motherland, India on the occasion of its 63rd Republic Day celebration. The history of the Republic of India began on 26 January 1950. The country became an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth on 15 August 1947. George VI was King until the Republic was proclaimed in 1950.

I post this on behalf of Indian Diaspora in Auckland to mark this auspicious day. I am third generation Indo Fijian, displaced from India when my grandfather was torn and tricked from his roots by British to slave in Fiji to fill their coffers.  

When the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi visited Fiji over three decades ago in 1981, she had good advice for descendants of indentured Indian labourers or girmitiyas as they are known there. She told Indo Fijians that Fiji was their country, they belonged there and they needed to have allegiance, loyalty and love for their country.

When Fiji’s racist and ethno-nationalist deposed Prime Minister Qarase visited India a decade, he failed to learn anything from Indian hospitality.  The uncrowned father of Indian movies, Raj Kapoor immortalized this aspect of Indian culture in his film, “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hai” (the land where Ganges flows) with this song….”Mehmaan jo hamara hota hai, woh jaan se pyara hota hai, jyada ki nahin laalach humko thore mein gujara hota hai... hum us desh ke waasi hai jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...” His song translates to say that we value our visitors more than our life; we do not lust or greed for much as we manage in little that we have... We hail from the land where the Ganges flows…. And from that land if Qarase had learnt that language of Indian love, he may still be ruling Fiji today. But he failed to do so at his peril.

Uncrowned King of Bollywood movie, Raj Kapoor immortalised the Indian theme of Athi Deva Bhava-visitors are like our Gods. Unfortunately Fiji's deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase could not learn any love or anything from Indian hospitality or this theme, and is in jail now.
 There was one very important lesson for Fiji’s Prime Minister and his group from the Indian visit. India is the only country on the planet where no Fijian Prime Minister would be able to sell the 'Indigenous Race Card' to justify Fijian nationalism, racism, and exclusive political control of the country.

Fiji’s nationalist’s leaders and others around the world should gain immensely from Indian history and way of life. Those Anglo Saxons, Europeans and other ignorant people who still regard India as a land of snake charmers and rope tricks need to see Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood movie Namastey London. (Greetings to London) They need to get a translation of episode where the hero shuts up the great grandson of an English East Indian Company employee who was running down India and its people.

Namastey London (Greetings to/from London), another Bollywood movie that speaks good things about India.

By clasping his hands, he says that when we Indians greet each other in the tradition of 5,000 year old civilization, we fold our hands close to heart in Namastey because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being.

We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic Religion to step aside for a Sikh to be sworn as the Prime Minister by a Muslim President to govern a nation with over 80% Hindus.

It may also interest you to know that many versions of English language come from Sanskrit. For example, matr becomes mother, bhrata becomes brother, jamity become geometry and trikonmity becomes trigonometry.

English is spoken and read more widely in India than in England. India has 5,600 newspapers, 35,000 magazines and 21 major languages with combined readership of 120 million, many more than in England. We have reached the moon and back but yet many Anglo Saxons still feel that India has reached only as far as gourd flute of snake charmers. We have third largest pool in the world of doctors, scientists and engineers. All these are of the details of our intellectual might, now look at our physical might.

May be the English grandfather did not tell that we have the third largest army in the world, and even then I clasp my hand in humility because we do not believe that we are above or beneath any individual. Well said Puttar.

Despite having the third largest army in the world, India still remains humble and clasps its hand in humility, saying "Namastey."
So next time you are confronted by an ethnocentric individual who runs down Bharat Mata (Mother India) then you repeat the above to shut him. Some good movies to enlighten you and your children on pride of India are Manoj Kumar’s Upkar and Poorab aur Paschim.

Purab aur Pachhim  (East and West)), Manoj Kumar's movie that tells an exemplary tale of Indian culture versus London Anglo Saxon culture. [But Fiji Pundit, in its Independence Day article will argue that did "sabhayta jahan pehle janmi" (civilisation began in India)) is true depiction of India today? Make sure to read my contrasting posting on 26.01.2013.]

Unfortunately for many Indians abroad, the Indian pride is confined to Bollywood movies. They still speak English in their homes and look down on anything Indian.

As Indian Diaspora, I am proud to say we Indo-Fijians, despite three to four generation and 134 years apart, are still as much Indian as my third and fourth cousins in Karouli in Rajasthan. Jai Hind

(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His indentured grandfather, Bansi was a Thakur from Karauli in Rajasthan, India. He is also a holder of People of Indian Origin (PIO) passport issued by Indian Government that allows him free access into India any time, just like an Indian citizen. )

Bharat Mata- Mother India  had exemplary and honoured leaders in the past. India has a proud history. BUT HOW ABOUT ITS PRESENT STATE? Read next posting on FIJI PUNDIT on India Republic Day on 26 January,2013.




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indian media in developed countries need to wake up:Time to remind India of its weaknesses and faults

Indian media in developed countries need to wake up: Time to remind India of its weaknesses and faults

Indian media in developed countries need to stand-up, shed undeserving patriotism, blinkered loyalty and nationalistic bias and become a medium of change for the better of the once proud and respected nation.

Fiji Pundit, in its media watch role reviews changing view of Indian media in Auckland, in particular Indian Newslink and its conservative editor Venkat Raman. Today we analyse its latest editorial on treatment of women in India.

Indian women need to unite, rise, and fight back male chauvinism in India, in form of Shakti

Indian Newslink's editor and the paper was seen by some sections of the community as a friend of NZ Labour party and apparently a spin doctor and public –relations arm of the Indian High Commission and Indian Government. Venkat became a self-appointed gatekeeper to filter and shut out the bad news of India from NZ public. He even went to the extent of censoring and editing out opinion pieces to show them in good light if something critical was written about his Bharat Mata, Mother India. This came to a head when the comments of yours truly (Thakur)  about India on Facebook posting on Independence Day 2012 was misinterpreted and publicized by his friend and Labour Party apprentice politician and MP-aspirant, Sunny Kaushal, and well-supported in agenda-setting character assassination by this veteran editor.


Is Bharat Mata, as an epitome of a woman, is being disrobed by Indians today?
However, a pleasant and surprising change appears to have come to this supposedly veteran editor Venkat Raman. Despite the Indian lynch-mob calling me a refugee, uneducated Fijian and a failed journalist writing without research, it appears my articles on Fiji Pundit pricked his conscience and awoken the journalist in a blindly patriotic and nationalistic editor.


If one read his editorial of 15 January, 2013, one would wonder whether it is Venkat Raman or Thakur Ranjit Singh talking the truth about India.

“Corruption in high and low places, arrest of ministers and top officials and violence against women have placed the country in bad light….

But how and why did India degenerate into such a pathetic state of international ridicule and a system that appears to have failed at every stage of its execution? Why did the people, known for their political acumen and democratic values, elect and suffer mediocre or even substandard lawmakers?”

Bharat Mata -Our India is  still a great nation of great people. Are we keeping its pride as its past leaders did?
Who will he now apologise for degrading his Bharat Mata, as I was accused and punished and directed to apologise to some conceited and blinkered Auckland Indian leaders who wished to keep us in dark about real happenings in India? But then the nationalist and Indian patriot took the better of this veteran journalist when he became an apologist for what is happening, blaming it on a minority.

“We know that just a few thousand rowdies and despicable miscreants can create chaos in a land of billion plus people. But these are like a drop of poison that can desecrate a barrel of milk, just as a single cancer cell can destroy the entire body.”

Agreed, we have minorities in other countries committing crime, but nowhere is discrimination and atrocities against women as institutionalized as in India.

Despite being a country, “which has accorded women pride of place and honour as President, Prime Minister, Parliamentary Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, diplomats, leaders and captains of industry and as successful and leading entrepreneurs,” it appears majority of Indian women are still treated as paon ki juti (slippers on our feet) bereft of dignity and honour preached in scriptures and mythologies only, not in reality.. To a great extent some outdated shackles and stereotypes of women, preached by a Brahmin and male dominated Hinduism is to blame for this low status of women in 80% Hindu India because dignity and respect for women preached in scriptures, epics and mythologies are inversely related to reality of their downtrodden treatment there today. But that is another topic for Fiji Pundit to tackle.

Are women in India depicted as strong and respected only in epics, scriptures and mythologies?
Venkat ends his editorial with some hope for the future:

“We hope that the young men and women, who have begun a new age of intolerance towards political and corruption, sex offenders and moral turpitude will not rest until the right things are done in the right way in the right time.”

However, this hope can only be realized if Indian editors, commentators and journalists in developed countries (like New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada and USA) can join their chorus of objections against rottenness in Indian men, their governments and a corrupt system. The blind loyalty and blinkered patriotism by NRI media people to an undeserving, unfair and discriminatory system in India will not help this hope become reality. 

Hope Indian media in Auckland can digest this.


Indian women need to unite, rise, and fight back male chauvinism in India


Sunday, January 13, 2013

New gigantic Moto Bridge in Ba - a long awaited relief for rural Ba population

The dreamful Moto bridge: The reality that is shaping as an icon of Ba

After spending last two weeks in Ba, Fiji Pundit is delighted to bring you stories and pictures that our Indo-Fijian Diaspora spread around the world do not get an opportunity to see or read in normal media.

The existing icon of Ba Town- soccer ball for a soccer -crazy town
I found Fiji very hot and that was also reflected in the warmth of people I have left behind some eight years ago. But I do get in touch with my country-yes my country, as I am a dual Fiji-Kiwi citizen and a registered voter. And if any Indian doubts my Indianness, I also hold Person of Indian origin (PIO) passport and am therefore an Indian citizen as well. So I have the best of three worlds.

The cyclone-damaged Govind Park Stadium at Ba
Now to Ba – thankfully the fury of recent cyclone was felt in Ba, but we were spared the floods that had devastated Ba in January of 2012. Despite the criticism of the current government by democracy-hugging has-been politicians and academics, Fiji was very proactive in the last cyclone (Cyclone Evans) when evacuation centres were opened up and operating well before the disaster stuck. Thankfully, no lives were lost, unlike Samoa, a staunch critic of Fiji government but their democracy could not make them as proactive and prepared as military-led Fiji government which had set out security measures well in advance.
The rural icon of a horse and a farmer with yoked bullocks as you enter Ba Town from Kings Road
As you hit Ba Town from Lautoka, and on the junction of Kings Road to Tavua, at the intersection just after the bridge from Lautoka, the icon of Ba -a farming community with bullocks and horses, greets you.

The towering Moto bridge , nearing  completion
You drive back on Moto/Toge/Nukuloa/Balevuto route past Vatulaulau and Nasolo settlements; you will arrive at the notorious bridge that has been a major headache for the rich salad bowl of Ba. Moto Bridge, near Moto Sanatan School is the main link for areas beyond to Vatusui, Nacaci, Toge, Balevuto, Babriban and rest of Moto area. This bridge was washed away in January 2012 floods, causing major transportation problem for this populous area.

Temporary low bridge on the right dwarfed  by the Titanic huge structure that replaces the troublesome old bridge.
This has been a problem for a long time and no government was able to tackle this problem. Thanks to Bainimarama Government, this bridge, through Chinese construction help and local support has taken shape now and developed into a Titanic non-destructible structure, towering very tall over the current temporary access far below the tall bridge.
When Fiji Pundit visited the bridge last week (10 January, 2012), much of the work had already been done and the upcoming icon of Ba had already taken shape. The structure seemed as strong as the resolute of the current government to take development to rural sectors to its people.

The new Moto Bridge being completed may turn out to be the new icon for this rural community in Ba
Indeed the people living in this main feeder to Ba town-many of our people spread around the world - in NZ, Australia, Canada and USA will be overjoyed to have this preview of the bridge. Hope those reading this can share this link to their relatives overseas- so they may have a nostalgic doze of what is happening in their Fiji, especially home town and village. Keep reading Fiji Pundit for what you do not read or see elsewhere – your Fiji Pundit blogsite that gives a new meaning to development journalism and social media.

The towering structure that now will be able to withstand big floods in Moto.

THAKUR RANJIT SINGH [Photos and story]