Sunday, December 19, 2010

Separate colonies for Dalits: Is it a solution for the atrocities against them?

On December 6, the death anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, I saw a few people at Deekshabhoomi advocating for separate colonies of the Dalits to prevent caste-based atrocities against them. They held the banner of some Vyavastha Parivartan Manch (forum for change in social system). They were proposing an attractive plan, and however impractical the plan was, there was no one to open a debate and assess the plan from every aspect.

The core argument of the Forum was the incidence of Khairlanji could happen only because the Dalits, to which the Bhotmange family belonged, were minority in that village, and this was the chief reason that the perpetrators could work out their plan. They also held that the incident of Khairlanji was not a unique one, not at least an exception, but the atrocities upon the Dalits by the upper castes are a common scene in the villages of India.

Plan for Separate Colonies of Dalits:
The plan for the separate colonies of the Dalits that they suggested was:
  1. Evacuate the Dalit minorities from the villages and settle them in larger colonies of about 5000 people at prominent locations.
  2. Provide them with built residences and agrarian land as they held before their re-settlement.
  3. Separate police stations, educational institutions, etc. for these colonies run by the Dalits wherever possible.
  4. Make constitutional amendments for this plan etc.

My argument:

I strongly oppose this plan, but let me make it clear, before I present my reasons for opposing, that I do not deny the problem. The atrocities against the Dalits are truth. They do happen even 60 years after the commencement of Constitution of India. There is a problem, but the solution that the Forum has provided is not a solution at all.

It is a truth that the Dalits are minorities in our villages, but this is not the sole reason of atrocities against them. The reasons are far deep-seated in the socioeconomic and religious arena.

Lower socioeconomic status of the Dalits is one of the most important reasons of the atrocities happening against them. The Hindu tradition has always considered them at the lowest level of the social structure. It held them even below the Shudras. Orthodox Hinduism never let the Dalits to get a good social status. This, with several other reasons, led to the largest ever mass conversion in his modern world. But even after the conversion to Buddhism, the Dalits were never allowed to get to the social status that they were looking for. Also with regards to economical status, only a small portion of Dalits could improve itself. A large majority remained the same as they were, save the changes that came with ever-evolving time. The main cause behind this was lack of education.

Before going ahead, we should discuss a three-fold reason of lack of education among the Dalits even after conversion to Buddhism.

  1. Poverty.
  2. Lack of taste for education.
  3. Lack of examples in their own group to illustrate benefits of education.
It should be noted that I have noted the third reason specifically because I have noticed several times that Dalit children find no one to look at when they are in their primary and middle schools. They can find not a single example in their own community that would engrave the importance of education on their little minds. They can find no reason why to learn. And what about the well-educated Dalits? They keep away from their own brethren and live in their own world. They establish organizations of themselves, they agitate for their own reasons, and they do everything but assimilate in their own brethren whom they left behind in the villages and urban slums.

What’s the solution?

Let’s go to our original problem. What is the solution to the problem of atrocities against the Dalits? I believe that the way is to correct things in a reverse way.

  1. Set examples. To set examples, the educated Dalits must mix up with the less-fortunate brethren.
  2. By this way, they can create taste for education in them.
  3. Education will help to eradicate poverty and improve socioeconomic status of the lower class Dalits in a long run.
Implications of separate colonies:

Separate colonies of Dalits would cause segregation of the Dalits from the Indian society. This is something like asking a ghetto for themselves. The Constitution of India asks its subjects to ensure Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity amongst its citizens. This move would strongly go against the spirit of Fraternity and hence against the sprit of Constitution of India.


There is a problem and there is a solution, but separate colonies of Dalits is not a solution by any means. Segregation would only deteriorate the problem. Improving socioeconomic status of the Dalits by disseminating education in them and creating of taste for education in them by setting examples is the best way as far as I can see. I do not hold that this is the sole and only solution for this problem. There may be some other aspects that I could not see. I would be happy to learn of them.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Memorial by Mahatma Phule to Hunter Commission

November 28! India pays tribute to one of its most significant social revolutionaries, a man from 19th century who pioneered the movement of social revolution in Modern India, Mahatma Jotirao Phule on his death anniversary. A philosopher, educationist, theologian, and an eminent leader of masses, he is precisely termed as Father of Indian Social Revolution. Amongst the variety of roles he played for the betterment of the masses, today we are going to talk about his pioneer role in the educational system in modern India and specifically about the memorial to the Hunter Education Commission by him in 1882.

Since the establishment of its rule, the British East India Company had done almost nothing for education in India till 1813. In 1813, for the first time, the Company arranged some funds for promoting education in India. The medium of education was English. By the year 1855, there were only 1474 educational institutions that were run or aided by the government for the population of 200 million. Only 67,569 student were getting education from these intuitions. Also, here were 1628 Christian missionary schools with about 64,000 students in them. Since the Wood’s Dispatch of 1854 through 1882, the government took some important steps for higher education, but primary education was almost neglected. In the economical year of 1881-82, out of 70,00,000 rupees spent by government on education, only 16,77,000 were spent on primary education. On this background, Lord Rippon appointed an education commission under the chairmanship of William Hunter. This commission reiterated the key points of the Wood’s Dispatch, though it suggested to pay more attention of primary education and education to backward classes.

Memorial by Mahatma Phule to Hunter Commission
The memorial to Hunter Commission by Mahatma Phule is a document of immense importance to understand the educational developments in Modern India. Recorded about a century and a quarter ago, it speaks of some key ideas that are an essential part of modern Indian educational system. He not only speaks of compulsory education to all, but also of creating a taste of knowledge among the backward classes.

In this document, Phule argues that the theory adopted by government that education should go down from the upper classes of society to the masses is nothing but a “utopian” idea. He further goes on to ask for a single example of the truth of this theory. To quote him, the higher classes have “kept their knowledge to themselves, as a personal gift, not be soiled by contact of the ignorant vulgar.” He claims that the educational system has become a monopoly of the higher classes and “if the welfare of the Ryot is at heart, if it is the duty of the Government to check a host of abuses, it behoves them to narrow this monopoly day by day so as to allow a sprinkling of the other castes to get into the public services.”

With regards to compulsory education, he says “I think primary education of the masses should be made compulsory up to a certain age, say at least 12 years.” He notes that the cultivating classes hold aloof of education owing to extreme poverty and also because lack of taste for learning. He asks for special inducements in the form of scholarships, annual prizes, etc. to create in them that taste.

He also notes his observations about the indigenous schools and higher education in this document. However, I do not plan to note it all in the present article. I believe that reading the Memorial in original would be much more beneficial, thus we, the Team of Ghalibana, are posting the original document in PDF form along with this post so that you can save it for yourself or take a print of it and read it thoroughly. This original document, though in public domain, was not available on net till date. We have typed it out ourselves and proofread it twice to avoid any errors from our side. It would be beneficial for both our general readers and scholars to present it in as-it-is form.

We would like to hear from our readers about this project. This is for the first time that we are presenting an original source to our readers. If you find this useful, please let us know. If you have any comments, queries, concerns, or feedbacks, please feel free to leave a note. We love feedbacks.

Once again, our heartiest tribute to that Nobel Soul, Father of Indian Social Revolution, Mahatma Phule.

Click here for the complete document in Google Docs.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Is Hinduism really in danger?

 Over the last couple of days, numerous hoardings have been sprung up on the streets of Nagpur depicting Narendra Maharaj (who is claimed to be Jagadguru, the spiritual mentor of the world, by his followers) proclaiming Hinduism is in danger as it has no state support anywhere in the world (particularly in India). These posters are apparently a part of the bigger agenda of the Hindutva Parivar to polarize the Hindus against the non-Hindus and thus create a vote bank for the Hindu fundamentalist parties. Though such efforts particularly appear to the common man, these also do raise serious questions in the minds of those Indians who are proud of the principal of secularism enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Is Hinduism really in danger? From whom? Left us handle this question a bit systemically. A Hindu state has been a longstanding demand of the Hindutva fundamentalists in India dating back to the early years of the 20th century when V. D. Sawarkar coded the philosophy of Hindutva in his book Hindutva. India, as claimed by the Pariwar, itself is a Hindu nation because of its Hindu majority. But India also has a large population of Muslims too. India has the third largest Muslim population in the world only after Indonesia and Pakistan. As Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has correctly noted, “Too see India just as a country of Hindus is a fairly bizarre idea in the face of that fact alone (the fact of its Muslim population), not to mention the intermingling of Hindus and Muslims in the social and cultural life of India.” Also India has been home to a large number of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Parsis, and so on. All these people are Indians by Nationality, and due to this fact, claiming India to be a solely Hindu nation is really a “bizarre India.”

Another aspect of this question is does Hinduism (or any religion for that matter) really needs state support? Indeed, religious have been spread and flourished for ages by state help. State support of Ashoka to Buddhism, of Arabs to Islam, of Romans to Christianity have been helped a lot to spread those religions all over the world in the past. Hinduism had spread to Java and Sumatra with the imperialist kings of South India. But those were the things of past. Is it possible in this age to convert a mass of people from one religion to another by force? Yes, conversions still occur, but there are various reasons behind those and force has little, if any, role to play with it. Religion is supported by its followers. If state has any role to support it, it is secondary. We have seen in the history that religion like Din-e-Ilahi, which was founded by the Akbar, could survive even in his lifetime though it was the regions professed by the emperor himself. And as a matter of fact, Hinduism has survived for ages despite the fact that India has been a subject of various foreign powers for a vast period over this time. This proves that state support is absolutely secondary force in survival and flourishing of any religion. An in a secular state like India, it is absolute unnecessary.

 Let us move towards our main question: Is Hinduism really in danger? It is totally impossible to believe that such an overwhelming majority can be in danger for the minorities. And not merely a majority of numbers, but a majority in every aspect of state – legislation, executive, judiciary, press, military, etc. But this is a less important argument. Hindus are safe not because they are in majority, but because of the multireligious harmony that has been a core part of our Indianness.

Despite the interreligious harmony, conversions do happen in India, and sometimes en masse, but state has nothing to do with it. The Constitution of India has given us a fundamental right to accept and profess a faith of our own choice. What make the people to give up the beloved faith of their ancestors is the most important question . The hostile approach of the upper-class Hinds towards the depressed classes make the poor people to incline towards any love shown by others to them. Many peoples of scheduled tribes have accepted Christianity because of this reason. Another prominent example is of the so-called untouchables who converted to Buddhism en masse, about 400,000, under the able leadership of Dr. Ambedkar. We cannot blame them for their act, because they had been treated rather inhumanly by the Hindus for ages.

The above examples light up the fact that if there is any real danger to Hinduism in a long run, it is from the fundamentalist Hindus themselves who have hijacked the term Hindu for their selfish aims. Their hostility towards their own people and their belligerent attitude towards the others have made a common Hindu to think seriously about his being a Hindu. As Bhalchandra Nemade, a prominent Marathi author, has noted:
"Once Hindu meant all the people living on this side of Sindhu (Indus) River. But now Hindu has become a word in the hands of Hindu fundamentalists, it has been a matter of shame to call yourself a Hindu."
This is not a feeling of Nemade alone. It is a feeling of every common Hindu who is proud of India’s multireligious harmony. To protect our Indianness, the antisecular agenda must be fought against with all of our strength. We are not a Hindu, Muslim, Christan, Buddhist, or Sikh nation – We are Indian at first and Indian from the heart.

To quote Amartya Sen again, “There are good reasons to resist the antisecular enticements... The winter of our discontent might not be giving way at present to a glorious summer, but the political abandonment of secularism would make India more wintry than it currently is.”

1. Sen, Amartya (2005), The Argumentative Indian, “Secularism and Its Discontent”, London: Penguin Books. P. 308
2. Nemade, Bhalchandra, “Reviving the true Hindu Ethos”, An interview with Meena Menon, The Hindu, July 4, 2010.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hemingway, his old man, and me!

After the failure of 84 consecutive days, the old man got a fish to his hook. Then started the real struggle. The old man had never been defied. He had not lost hopes even after returning with empty hands for eighty four days. For the 85th time, he put his ship in the sea. And this time, he caught his luck. But this was not the final victory. The real victory was in keeping the luck sustained, in getting to shore with it. Here was the real test, real fight -- not with the fish, not the sea -- the fight was with himself, with his luck. The old man knew -- what it happened was too good to get done with it.

Then started teh real fight. The old man easily defied the first shark. Then came many. The old man lost his axe, then went the knife, the the last big stick he had. But the old man did not lose. He stil had hope. His fight was still going on. His body was going against him, but the old man had not lost.

While keeping teh struggle with all his sufferings, all pain, he finally noticed -- the fish, his luck, has almost been eaten up by the sharks. He had nothing to lose now. There was nothing left to fight for. Suddenly, the old man felt very calm. How easy life becomes once you accept the defeat?

It's Sunday! The only leisure day of the week. Why do I need this leisure? -- to do something, to read something! But what if there isn't anything to read. Usually we have Loksatta on Sundays, only on Sundays! And today--saving 3 rupees of Loksatta and adding 2 more to it can buy Tab. Deriphylline -- so Loksatta cancelled.

Then what -- once again Hemingwe's old man! The old man lost the axe fighting against the luck, then his knife, then the last emergency stick -- and finally luck! The old man accepted his defeat and suddenly his life became calm. How easy life becomes once you accept defeat?

Tripped over this line -- how easy life becomes once you accet the defeat? I stopped. It's off all the day. No work. Just have good sleep all over the day. Evening at in-laws. Today is Rajasthan Royals versus Chennai Superkings match. Can watch the match in the evening. Rajasthan Royals should win. No work all the day. How easy life becomes once you accept the defeat.

Suddenly tripped over and stopped. Who accepted defeat? Me? When, where, how? Am I defeated? Is it a defeat to live in comfort? Thought get on whirling!

The old man fought till the last moment. He kept on fighting till the complete defeat. His life was full of struggles, but it was the life of a winner. And mine? Where is the struggle? Is it a struggle to be happy the earning of mere 4 or 5 thousand? Is it a struggle to kill your littlemost wants for financial reasons? It is a damn defeat! Get going with whatever present conditions -- to keep things going as they are -- is a defeat!

What should I be doing at this moment? There is MPSC prelim after 3 weeks -- need to appear UPSC next year. I am struggle-less. I am cool. I have no hopes in my mild. Where do I stand? Am I a winner because I'm liviging a happy-go married life or a defeated one because I am still standing where I was yesterday?

The old man's defeat was not a defeat. It was a victory from another viewpoint. To earn money is another thing, but the feeling of "I am a bit different old man" that nurtures your self -- his struggle ws to make people believe on this feeling. He had lost the fish, but even the skeleton was enough to make people believe that he was indeed a different old man. His defeat was not a defeat at all.

Sunday morning spent with the old man! Shedded some tears. But the old man gave a thump -- Be careful my son, you're going to do a crime.

To lose is not a crime. In some way, the old man was too lost. Real crime is to keep on afloating with whatever comes. Keep on struggling, to put a foot forward from where you are is a victory. To be an xxx is not a victory. It is just a step! The definition of victory is confirmed. Sometimes, an old fisherman too teaches you a lesson for life.
~ Ganesh Dhamodkar

(This is a translation of my own article I wrote about 2 years ago in May of 2008. Translated by myself. )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Charvaka: The Pioneer of Skepticism in World History

Charvaka is the materialistic and naturalistic school of thoughts in India Philosophy.  Charvaka, literally one who speaks sweet, founded his philosophy on the thoughts of this world rather than the mystic accounts of Vedas and supernatural god and heaven.  Charvaka denies the authenticity and holiness of Vedas and hence is termed as Nastika (nonbeliever) by the Vedic tradition.[1]  He denied the existence of supernatural God.  He denied the claims that the Vedas are created by God.  He held that they are made by human beings and so they must be open to scrutiny.  To him the Vedas were mere utterances, devoid of any meaning, meant to "confound and confuse the common people."

The central thesis of the Charvaka philosophy is worldly materialism.  This consists of at least two basic principles:  Firstly, there is nothing beyond the life except physiochemical and neuropsychological functions; and secondly, the soul and after life are stories of fantasy as the gods and demons.  Such belief were quite contrary to the chanting and rituals of the Vedic ways.  Because of propagating such beliefs, Charvakas had to confront with the Vedicas several times and the Brahmins showed the greatest cruelty to finish Charvakas several times.  In fact, we can read in Mahabharata how a Charvaka was burnt dead by the Brahmanas in the court of Yudhishthira itself.[2]

Charvaka represented one of the very first skeptic rebels in the world history and we see today that the world believe more in the philosophy of Charvaka's materialism rather than the mystic Vedicas and cunning Mimansa.  Whatever say the Vedic tradition; this is the victory of Charvakas over the Brahminical tradition of mysticism and unreality.  This marks the greatness of Charvaka over the Vedic tradition.  But the greatness of their school should not be judged based only on this victory.  Charvakas were among the first philosophers in the world history to raise question against the traditional knowledge and this gives them the unique place in the world history.  Charvaka merely stand for those skeptical rebels who has spoken out in all great civilizations now and again.

1.  Dr. A. H. Salunkhe, an eminent Sanskrit scholar and author of Aastikshiromani Charvaka argues that the term Nastika is not used honesty by the Vedic cult.  Literally, Nastika means one who does not believe in something.  Technically, this term is used for Buddhism, Jainism, and Charvaka who does not believe in the authority of Vedas.  Dr. Salunkhe states that despite of this original meaning, the term was made popular meaning as one who does not believe in existence of god or anything that is good.  He argues that Charvaka's philosophy did believe in well-being in this very world and hence should be termed as The Gem of the Aastikas as opposed to a Nastik.  Salunkhe AH (In Marathi), Aastikshiromani Charvaka (1992), Satara:  Lokayat Prakashan.

2.  When Yudhishthira enters the city of Hastinapura after the victory of Kurukshetra, Charvaka accuses him in the open of having committed the crime of murdering his kith and kin.  The Brahmins were appalled; they exposed him as a friend of Duryodhana in Brahminical guise, and condemned him to death.  Encyclopedic Dictionary of Sanskrit Literature (2004), Volume I, Delhi:  Global Vision Publishing House, pp. 283-285.

* I found two well-written posts on blog world about the same subject by
The Infidel and by Domenic Marbaniang.  I hope our readers will find them helpful.  The first one is in French, you can use Google Translate to translate it in the language of your choice. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Life and Poetry

Paul Laurence Dunbar
I am not a great admirer of English poetry.  My literary taste is nourished on classics of Urdu poetry.  My philosophy about life owes a lot to the great poets of Urdu language from Ghalib to Iqbal and Faiz to Faraz.  Also in my own mother tongue Marathi, we have some fine pieces of poetry from medieval ages of Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram to modern voice of Marathi Dalit poetry.  Hailing from such a great literary background, I am a bit skeptic about English poetry.  It is true that I have read only a little of it, but whatever I read, it could not catch my nerves and soul.  But all of this was only until yesterday when I saw the name of Paul Laurence Dunbar somewhere while surfing.  I saw his name somewhere in some google ad and just for curiosity made a google search.  The words were:

My days are never days of ease;
I till my ground and prune my trees.
When ripened gold is all the plain,
I put my sickle to the grain.
I labor hard, and toil and sweat,
          While others dream within the dell;
But even while my brow is wet,
          I sing my song, and all is well.
                                                (The Poet and His Song, 1885)

These words, as they sound pretty similar to the Marathi Dalit poetry, prompted me to make a further search.

Paul Laurence Dunbar born in an African-American former slave family in the State of Ohio just a few years after the American Civil War ended.  His mother was a former slave.  His father was a Veteran in American Army during the Civil War.  After separation of his parents, Paul grew up under the loving care of his mother.  She always encouraged Paul to read and write poetry and he began writing as early as six.  His first poetry collection Oak and Ivy published in 1892 when he was just 20 years old.  Though his book was received well locally, Dunbar still had to work as an elevator operator to help pay off his debt to his publisher.  In 1893, he was invited to recite at the World's Fair, where he met Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist who rose from slavery to political and literary prominence in America.  Douglass called Dunbar "the most promising young colored man in America."  It was Dunbar's second book that propelled him to national fame. William Dean Howells, a novelist and widely respected literary critic who edited Harper's Weekly, praised Dunbar's book in one of his weekly columns and launched Dunbar's name into the most respected literary circles across the country.

Dunbar died at a very early age of 33 from tuberculosis and depression from separation from his wife.  He ultimately produced 12 books of poetry, four books of short stories, a play and five novels. His work appeared in Harper's Weekly, the Sunday Evening Post, the Denver Post, Current Literature and a number of other magazines and journals.  He was a poet with a dream and he had his dream all through his life.

He had his dream, and all through life,
Worked up to it through toil and strife.
Afloat fore'er before his eyes,
It colored for him all his skies:
          The storm-cloud dark
          Above his bark,
The calm and listless vault of blue
Took on its hopeful hue,
It tinctured every passing beam --
          He had his dream.

He labored hard and failed at last,
His sails too weak to bear the blast,
The raging tempests tore away
And sent his beating bark astray.
          But what cared he
          For wind or sea!
He said, "The tempest will be short,
My bark will come to port."
He saw through every cloud a gleam --
          He had his dream.
                                    (He Had His Dream)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Medieval Temples of Satgaon

Satgaon is a small village in Chikhli Tehsil of Buldhana district.  It is situated about 10 miles to the south of Buldhana.  The village is locally known as Satgaon Bhusari to distinguish it from another village on Buldhana-Dhad road with the same name.  Not much significant is the village with the population of just above 2000 and I did not even know its name until now even though I stayed at Buldhana for two years from 2000 to 2002 for my junior college studies.  Why the village caught up my attention recently is the existence of four old temples located there, which are as old as the 12th to 13th century.  This was only because of my utter ignorance about them that I did not visit the place during my days at Buldhana.

Few days ago, I found an impressive book in the Government Press Book Store at Nagpur that was the District Gazetteer of Buldhana originally published in 1910 by the British Government.  This book is the work of immense importance as it gives a vivid picture of the district, its people, its land, its flora and fauna, its culture and heritage, etc.  While describing the archeological heritage of the district, the gazetteer gives the detailed account of the temples at Satgaon.  This description is worth to read in original.  The gazetteer notes:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Maharashtra State Cultural Policy, 2010: A step forward

Maharashtra has always played a leading role in the social movements in India.  This is the land where Sant Dnanyneshwar denied the monopoly of Sanskrit language over knowledge and wrote a commentary on Bhagwad Gita in Marathi, the language of the masses.  This is the land where Sant Tukaram (circa 1608-1650) fought with all his strength against the hegemony of old Brahminical culture, wrote about 8000 lyrical abhangas (short poems), was executed for it as being a Shudra he had no right to read or write as per the varna system of Hinduism, and was allegedly killed for his revolt against the old decayed (but still strong) social order where no one but the priest class was lord of all socioeconomic privileges.  This is the land where the great Shivaji, nearly contemporary of Sant Tukaram, became the first crowned King in Maharashtra who ruled for well-being of the masses.  This is the land where Mahatma Phule (1827-1890) and his wife Savitribai Phule started a real social revolution of the masses, started girl education in India by opening the first girl school at Pune, and challenged the hegemony supremacy of Hindu law which kept a large section of people away from all kind of knowledge for ages.  And finally, this is the land where Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) hit a final blow on the varna system by converting to Buddhism with almost half a million of his followers in this very city from which I am typing this post making Buddhism again a living religion in its motherland after being uprooted for about a thousand years.  This is the land of revolution, counter-revolutions, and again revolutions.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Life in Kenya: As it is seen from where I stand

Over the last week I had been going through the last few pages of Glimpses of World History wherein Nehru's description of erstwhile Kenya caught up my attention. Kenya too, like India, was a part of the British Empire then. Nehru portrayed a live picture of brutalities and inhumanities by the British in Kenya. This description is worth to be read in original. After describing the condition of Indians living in Kenya, Nehru writes:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Journey from Independence Day to Republic Day

India celebrated her 61st Republic Day yesterday. This day commemorates the commencement of Constitution of India on January 26, 1950. India attained independence from the British Rule on August 15, 1947; however, she did not have her own constitution at that time and her status was still of a Dominion under the British Crown with at first Lord Mountbatten and then C. Rajgopalachari as its representatives in India. The government ran in accordance to the Government of India Act 1935 in this period. This was to be continued until India frames up and adopts her own constitution. In order to create the constitution, the Constitution Committee was set up with Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its chairman and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar as the chairman of its Drafting Committee. The committee adopted the constitution on November 26, 1949; however, its commencement was postponed by two months until January 26, 1950.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Presidential Address on the Eve of Republic Day of India by Smt. Pratibha Patil

(Here is the complete text of the presidential address by Smt. Pratibha Patil on the eve of 61st Republic Day of India)

My fellow citizens,

On the eve of our 61st Republic Day, I extend my warmest greetings to all of you across the country and also to those living abroad. To the members of our Armed Forces and Para-military forces who guard our frontiers and to our internal security forces, I extend my special greetings.

26th January, this year marks the completion of six decades of working, striving and, all along, being guided by the principles and objectives of the Constitution that was framed after careful deliberations and adopted in 1950. I often recall the speech of Mahatma Gandhi at the launch of the Quit India Movement on 8th August, 1942, where he said that power, when it comes, will belong to the people of India. The wish of the Father of the Nation found expression in the very opening words of the Constitution - We, the people of India. This was a strong affirmation that the impulses of the nation and its future would be guided by its people. They would reflect their aspirations and choices, through democratic means. They would also enjoy the fundamental rights that guarantee their freedoms and dignity. Today, is a reminder that upholding the values, determining the direction and propelling the growth of our nation is a task that must be fulfilled by every citizen of the country.

In the first decade of the 21st century, India witnessed transformational changes. It also emerged as a force driving change in the world. Our achievements and experiences have, indeed, brought the nation to a definitional stage, where the promise of a bright future as a developed and progressive nation is for us to claim, as we all work together with conviction and commitment. However, as we overcome deficiencies and convert our strengths into an energetic force, we must remain deeply conscious of what we must preserve and what we must change.

Foremost amongst what we must continue with, is our democratic principles and way of life. We have ably demonstrated that we are a functioning democracy, by time and again, choosing our governments through the ballot and by taking democracy to the grassroots. Also, as we are aware, democracy is very much more demanding. It is the rule of law. It is the rule of reason. And, as India has shown to the world, it is the rule of non-violence. Democracy involves a pattern of behavior, in which every individual must act responsibly, show respect towards dissimilar opinions and address differences in a constructive and accommodative manner. This will build harmony and tolerance - values which are intrinsic to our philosophy; these form the bedrock of a society that embraces the diversity of language, religion and culture to create a composite whole. These values must be followed uninterruptedly in a nation that is, as vast and as varied as ours.

Secularism, our constitutionally chosen path, entails respect for all religions. Its place in our national life is unalterable. India is a land where followers of different religions have lived together for centuries. We must maintain social cohesion. Our tradition of living in accord with each other must continue to form an integral part of the rhythm of life of our future generations.

Belonging to a civilization that has deep reverence towards nature, we must also be sensitive inhabitants of the Planet, in which climate change has become a major challenge. We must judiciously use its resources, work to conserve its rich flora and fauna as well as adopt environment friendly approaches. Use of energy efficient technologies and renewable sources of energy, are some steps that can reduce the carbon footprint.

Dear Citizens, our nation has made significant strides. We are the fourth largest economy of the world in terms of purchasing power parity. Our target of achieving a double digit growth rate is plausible and realistic, given our impressive performance during the last decade and our resilience during the global economic downturn. We should continue with policies that promote growth, and also take growth patterns to the bottom of the pyramid and, to those currently outside its purview. Empowering the poor and the disadvantaged, enabling them to move up the economic ladder, to join the ranks of the prosperous, is a task that must be accomplished by all of us. Women need to be made full and equal partners. The inclusive growth strategy, which we have chosen, can make our growth process equitable and sustainable.

The roadmap to inclusive growth requires social justice that can be delivered through an effective social sector infrastructure. It should make quality education and good health facilities available to all citizens, along with social services and job opportunities. This, in turn, will create a human resource base which has the skills, knowledge and capacity to work productively. Hence, our attention must remain focused on this, especially as we have a young population. They must be nurtured and prepared for taking up their responsibilities. Future growth in all sectors will depend on knowledge workers and skilled workforces. They can make our economy dynamic, our service sector efficient and competitive, our manufacturing industries broad based and our agriculture and allied sectors strong. Furthermore, integrating and developing linkages between sectors, say agriculture and industry, will further reinforce growth. These linkages can be fortified by having connectivity at various levels. For a nation which is the seventh largest in geographical terms and the second largest in terms of population, our existing physical infrastructure is inadequate. This constrains and limits connectivity. We have to change this situation. The number of bridges, roads, harbours as well as our power generation capacity and transport facilities, among others, require extensive additions. But, do not forget that along with these structures of cement, steel and mortar, it is also important to bridge our differences, build roads to connect hearts and minds, harbour compassion, generate goodwill towards all and transport these feelings to strengthen the unity of the nation. We will also have to create an atmosphere for our citizens to exercise their rights and tell them to perform their duties as well. This is important to make the development of a democratic nation of over one billion people, participatory and sustainable. In the next decade, not only must we witness the speedy building up of infrastructure, but also a greater cohesiveness among citizens.

A bottleneck and an impediment in bringing about the desired results, for which policies and schemes have been formulated and huge allocation of funds made, is weak implementation and corruption in the system. The causes of the chronic ailment of tardy implementation have to be treated. There should be accountability for lack of implementation of projects, programmes and schemes. This is critical for bringing about positive change.

Public-Private Partnerships and SHGs, that is Self-Help Groups, are important mechanisms for outcome-oriented action and for creating a wide network of stakeholders for growth. There have been numerous examples of how women in urban and rural areas have been able to become financially self-reliant through the SHG route. A movement towards universalisation of SHGs, that brings within its ambit all eligible women, can be a powerful instrument for the economic empowerment of women and for inclusive growth. Facilitation of their formation and functioning will, thus, create a wave of progress and change.

Dear Citizens, the world over, as also in our country, there is a rising demand for food-grains. This foretells the need for an intense focus on increasing agriculture productivity to ensure food availability, particularly of agricultural produces which are in short supply, to avoid spiraling food prices. To achieve this very important objective, I call for urgent steps towards a Second Green Revolution. There should be use of new technologies, better seeds, improved farming practices, effective water management techniques, as well as more intense frameworks for connecting the farmer with the scientific community, with lending institutions and with markets. Our farmers are ready and willing to work, earn and learn. We have to respond positively and do some "out of the box thinking". Higher agriculture incomes will improve the living standards of the over 145 million rural households, in the over six lakh villages of the country. With higher income levels, the rural economy will generate demand and provide impetus for growth in other sectors. Recognizing this reality, we have to involve the agriculture economy more pro-actively into the growth process, both as a centre of production and as a generator of demand for various products and services. There are many complementarities that exist between farming communities and the corporate world because both are private enterprises. The possibilities of win-win partnerships between industry and agriculture should be explored. For example, the food processing industry when located close to agricultural areas can transform India's rural landscape. Currently, food processing in India is as low as 10 percent of production, as compared to 65 percent to 80 percent, generally seen in the developed countries. Other agro-based industries would be equally important as propellers of growth. The question is how to attract farmers into such partnerships, which do not adversely affect, but rather keep the interests of farmers in the forefront and take into account their various sensitivities, particularly about their land-holdings. This needs to be done in a farmer-friendly manner and by creating awareness in the farming community. Some Indian companies have understood that linking farmers to industrial units would be beneficial to both. They have developed interesting models of engagement with the farming community. We should study these experiences, as we look at viable options that suit Indian conditions for harnessing the potential of village economies.

Dear Citizens, today, the optimum use of capital or labour or resources across the entire spectrum of our national activity is dependent on cutting-edge technologies and technological breakthroughs. We need technologies for more efficient and cleaner energy, for our industry and agriculture. India has to chalk out strategies that will promote research and development resulting in innovative methods and techniques. The quality of research in our country must be upgraded to build knowledge structures. I think the nation should take this up as an urgent calling. A knowledge economy requires an education system that encourages creativity and a capacity to think in a novel fashion. Also, our research institutions should join global knowledge networks to keep themselves abreast of worldwide advancements in research. Technology should reach a broader section of our society, and also the movement of grassroots innovations should receive encouragement.

A change which is required, and of which I have spoken often is the eradication of social malpractices in particular those related to discrimination against women. These pose a hindrance on our path to building a more progressive and equitable nation. We should follow a positive agenda for the empowerment of women. A change in our mindsets will be important to remove prejudices and create equal opportunities for all citizens. This is essential for our inclusive growth agenda and for tapping the full potential of our population.

In any mission, particularly one as complex and challenging as nation building, as has been said by our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, "We have to labour, and to work, and to work hard, to give reality to our dreams." For this, motivational levels have to be kept high.

Media can have an important influence on how people see the country. With relentless advances in technology, media is now an integral part of our daily lives. It can create awareness by bringing information to the people, getting them to reflect, and making them realize their responsibilities towards the nation. With a media that plays a constructive role, people would be inspired to take actions that would contribute to building the nation and also to learn about the benefits of positive actions.

For growth, an environment of security is essential. Government is committed to maintain high vigil and take appropriate measures to address internal security challenges. Our country has been a target of terrorism for more than two decades. Government has taken and will continue to take necessary steps to tackle threats emanating from terrorism. It will also continue to work with the international community to combat this menace.
As in the past, in the future also, the voice of India in the world would be a voice for peace, a voice for development, and a voice of hope. In the global arena, we will seek a change in the structure of multilateral institutions, so that they reflect contemporary realities. We will continue to cooperate with the international community to deal with global issues. We will seek to build friendly relations with countries in our region and those across the world.

As 2009 came to a close, there have been many analyses about what are the possible prospects of the next decade for India. Some refer to it as the deciding decade, the decade of reckoning. On reflection, I fully agree that it will be so. It must, therefore, mean a decade in which all Indians must do their work with a sense of responsibility, discipline, integrity of mind and purpose as well as with a spirit of cooperation. We will have to inspire our young generation so that they are virtuous, with good character and a sense of fellow feeling towards others. We must channelise all our efforts towards the goal of taking the country to a higher level of all round national development and not rest till we achieve our goal. We can then be proud that we have performed our duty and borne our responsibility well. It is said that, fortune is an outcome of good work and can slip away, if we are lax in our work. I am reminded of a few inspirational lines:-

तय की हैं हमने,
ऐसी कुछ मंज़िलें
कि रुकेंगे नहीं हम!
आगे बढते रहेंगे हम,
हर कदम, दर कदम,
जब तक दम में है दम

With these words, I once again wish all fellow citizens peace, prosperity and progress on the occasion of our Republic Day.


The webcast of this speech is available at:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Uttarakhand Makes Sanskrit Second Official Language

Sanskrit, which is considered as mother of all Indo-Aryan languages, is now the second official language of the north Indian state of Uttarakhand.  The Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly approved a historic bill on December 23, 2009 to make Sanskrit its second official language after Hindi.

Terming it as a historic development Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Ramesh Pokhariyal 'Nishank' said that this was the first time in the world that a state was going to officially adopt Sanskrit.  He added that Sanskrit was not just a language, but also a tool to spread wisdom.

Mr. Nishank stated that it was apt for a region like Devbhoomi ('Land of Gods' as Uttarakhand is often called as) to adopt Sanskrit, since the region has been the home of sages.  From earliest times, numerous sages have used Sanskrit for propagating knowledge in our country.  It was his wish that we utilize the vast powerhouse of information available.  This step would go a long way in fulfilling this desire.

The state would soon draw up a plan for practical use of Sanskrit in official work.  The government stated that it would actively ensure the use of Sanskrit in official communication, besides encouraging people to learn the language.

Incidentally, Sanskrit already has a special status in Article 351 of the Constitution of India as a primary source for enrichment of Hindi.  In 2005, it was also declared as a classical language.

It should be noted here that Sanskrit is spoken by only about 0.005% of Indian population in India.  Though, it has a vast and varied knowledge in it, its use was only limited to the priest group in ancient India and the common public was prohibited to learn it by law.  Perhaps this move of Uttarakhand government would help to propagate this language in the masses.

That Sanskrit has become the second official language of the state is a good news for Sanskrit lover in the state and the beginning of a new chapter.

Ref:  Pratiyogita Darpan Magzine, January 2010.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

10 things you must know about eclipses

Whenever an eclipse occurs, a lot of questions come to our mind which those remain unanswered. Here are a few things that you must know about the eclipses:

1. What is an eclipse? What are its types?UP
Eclipse is a total or partial obscuration of light from a celestial body as it passes through the shadow of another body. Or simply, eclipse is a temporary disappearance of sun or moon obscured by shadow of either moon or the earth respectively. Primarily, eclipses are of two types: solar and lunar. These are further classified as complete or partial eclipses. Annular eclipse is a special forma of solar eclipse.

2. How does an eclipse occur?UP
While revolving in their respective orbits when sun, moon, and the earth happen to be in a same plane, an eclipse would occur. When the moon comes between the sun and the earth, it obscures the sun from an observer at the surface of earth and a solar eclipse occurs. Similarly, when the earth comes between sun and moon, a lunar eclipse would occur.

3. Do eclipses occur on some special days?UP
Yes. A solar eclipse can occur only on new moon day and a lunar eclipse can occur only on a full moon night, because these are the only days on which these three bodies come in a same plane. But not on each new moon or full moon day an eclipse would occur. They occur only when the sun, moon, and the earth comes exactly in a same plane.

4. How is it possible for the moon to obscure the sun completely though it is too small compared to the sun?UP
Indeed the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but it is also 400 times nearer the earth. As a result, sun and moon have almost exactly the same angular size (about 0.5%) so that it is possible for the moon to obscure the sun. We can hide the sun from our sight by just bringing our palm in front of our eyes. It's just like that.

5. How do the complete and partial eclipses occur?UP
The earth and moon both cast two types of shadows in sunlight: the shadow having a dark cone-shaped inner region--the umbra--and an outer lighter penumbral region. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun so that the earth lies in the moon's shadow. When the moon is sufficiently close to the earth so that its apparent diameter exceeds that of the sun, then the umbra of the moon's shadow just reach the earth's surface. It moves in a general west to east trend over a very narrow curved zone on the surface, which can be up to 250 km wide, but averages about 160 km. An observer at a point where only the penumbra will move can only see a partial eclipse. An observer in the path on umbra will experience a total eclipse.

6. What is an annular eclipse? What is a diamond ring?UP
If the moon is far enough away to appear smaller than the sun, a rim (or annulus) of light will be seen around the eclipsed sun and an annular eclipse will occur. The period of annularity never exceeds 12.5 minutes and is normally much less.

At the time of complete solar eclipse, when only a small corner of sun is visible behind the moon, it looks like a diamond. When this phenomenon occurs with an annular eclipse, it looks like a diamond ring and is generally termed so.

7. How long can an eclipse run?UP
As already stated, an annular or complete eclipse never exceeds 12.5 minutes and the average time or it is much more less. However, a solar eclipse from its first touch to its complete release can take up to four hours. The maximum duration of a complete lunar eclipse is 1 hour 42 minutes.

8. Why does not the moon disappear even during a complete lunar eclipse?UP
The moon can usually be seen throughout totality of the eclipse being illuminated by sunlight refracted by the earth's atmosphere in the shadowed area. Since the bluer wavelengths are removed by scattering, the moon has a coppery red colour.

9. Is an eclipse a rare phenomenon?UP
No. Up to seven eclipses can occur in a year, either five solar and two lunar or four solar and three lunar.

10. Do eclipses cause any harm to human life?UP
10. No. An eclipse is a completely celestial phenomenon and it has noting to do about human beings. The funny mythological fables about eclipses that Rahu and Ketu swallow sun and moon during the eclipses are noting but superstitions.

Here is a video link about how an eclipse occur. Just check it. Any questions? Queries? Comments? Let me know.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Man Booker, Olympics, etc.

Today, I have brought two news for you that, I believe, are worth to know, especially if we care to keep ourselves up-to-date.

My first news is about Britain's novelist Hilary Mantel, who has won this year's Man Booker Prize for her novel Wolf Hall.  She beat five other contenders including two previous winners A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee.  Wolf Hall is a fictional account of the rise of scheming advisor of King Henry VIII.  Mantel took about five years to complete this novel, but now her efforts have come to a good end as she would gain good fame all over the English-speaking world besides the prize of 50,000 pounds and a sharp hike in sales of her books.

Another news is from the world of sports. Olympics Games 2016 are going to be held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, which will be the first South American city to host Olympics after knocking out Chicago from the race for the 31st Olympic Games.  Rio de Janeiro's victory came despite US President Barack Obama's personal pitch in favor of his hometown.

That's all for now.  In fact, I have lot more issues in my mind to put for discussion.  Lata Mangeshkar, playback singer, winning Officer de la Legion d' Honneur, the highest civilian award of France; North African country Libya completing 40 years of reign of M. Gaddafi after an army revolution in 1969; and the current political and constitutional crisis in the Central American country of Honduras after an army coup against President Zelaya in June 2009.  Lots of issues--seeds in soil--waiting to germinate.  But by the time they will germinate, news will become history.  So, just have a look over them, think over them if life permits you to do so--or just forget them.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Working on Wikipedia Marathi

As a New Year resolution, I have started working on Wikipedia in my mother tongue, Wikipedia Marathi. I had been on it at least for the last three and a half years,[1] but was so disappointed with its quality and so fascinated with that of English Wikipedia, that I had hardly troubled myself to even check what was going on there. I spend almost a year and a half on English version at first doing small edits and then making some encyclopedia-worthy articles and working on DYKs. [2] As I was editing, I had been learning the style of editing and other technical issues on Wikipedia.

Suddenly came a thought to my mind, when I was working on the article about David Diop for ghalibana, that I must write this article for Wikipedia and I created it in both English and then in Marathi version of wiki. Going through this process, once again I felt very pathetic about the quality of most of the articles on Marathi Wikipedia, and I felt I have no right to think like this unless I do not put my full efforts to make it worthy to the position where it should be. And I resolved to devote my maximum efforts to Marathi wiki and started once again working on it.

Marathi version of Wikipedia in not a tiny one in comparison with the scores of others. It is at the 58th position in the list having about 30,000[3] articles (this count is nowhere as compared with the English version, but it still is a significant number). It has a large number of registered users, but the fact is only a few, not more than 20 or 30, are able to contribute on a regular basis and to involve in the management process, which severely hampers its quality.

Now we have started a project there to create at least 2500 wiki-worthy articles in 2010. Starting only with three members, we hope we can find a few more who think in the same way as we do and who can find some time to build a great reference source in our beloved mother tongue. Let us hope the best.

1. I joined Marathi Wikipedia on February 01, 2006.
2. I had created five 'Did You Know?' articles last year.
3. It has 26,133 articles currently (January 09, 2010).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sir Syed Ahemad Khan: Islamic Reformer in British India

Sir Syed Ahamed Khan (1817-1898) was an ardent reformer who worked to reconcile modern scientific thought with Islam. This was to be done, of course, not by attacking any basic belief, but by a rationalistic interpretation of scripture. He pointed out the basic similarities between Islam and Christianity. He was opposed to any allegiance to the Turkish Khalifat.[1] He also tried to reform the social abuses in the Muslim community. He attacked purdah (the seclusion of women) among the Muslims. He condemned the systems of ‘piri’ and ‘muridi’. He also condemned the institution of slavery and described it un-Islamic. His progressive ideas were propagated through his magazine ‘Tahazib-ul-Akhlaq’.[2]  In his ‘Commentaries of the Quran’, he criticized the narrow outlook of traditional interpreters.

Above all, he was anxious to put a new type of education. He advocated English education for the regeneration of the Muslims in India. The beginnings of the national movement frightened him, for he thought that any opposition to the British authorities would deprive him of their help in his educational program. That help appeared to him to be essential, and so he tried to tone down anti-British sentiments among the Muslims and to turn them away from the National Congress, which was taking shape then. One of the declared objects of the Aligarh College[3] was “to make the Musulmans of India worthy and useful subjects of the British Crown.”[4]   He was not opposed to the National Congress because he considered it predominantly a Hindu organization; he opposed it because he thought it was politically too aggressive (though it was mild enough in those days), and he wanted British help and cooperation. He tried to show that Muslims as a whole had no rebelled during the Mutiny[5] and that many had remained loyal to the British power.

He was in no way anti-Hindu or communally separatist. Repeatedly he emphasized that religious differences should have no political or national significance. “Do we not inhabit in the same land?” he said. “Remember that the words Hindu and Mohammedan are only meant for religious distinction; otherwise all person, whether Hindu or Mohammedan, even the Christians who reside in this country, are all in this particular respect belonging to one and the same nation.”

Sir Syed received various rewards in his life. He was chosen as a member of Imperial Legislative Counsil in 1878 and later was conferred Knighthood in 1888. He passed away in 1898 and very rarely after his death the Muslim community of India could find the leader of his personality and intelligence.

1. Caliph or Khalifa of Turkestan was considered to be the head of Muslims all over the world in those days.
2. Tahazib-ul-Akhlaq (Improvement of Manners and Morals) was an Urdu magazine started by Sir Syed in 1870.
3. Aligarh school was established  by Sir Syed in 1875, which later became Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which finally became Aligarh Muslim University by the law of parliament in 1920 after his death.
4. As quoted by Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India.
5. The Great Revolt of 1857.

Another New Year's Day

Thus wrote Jawaharlal Nehru, who was then imprisoned in the district gaol of Dehradun for political charges by the British Empire, on the New Year Day of 1933, to his daughter Indira:

It is New Year's Day today.  The earth has completed another cycle round the sun.  It recognizes no special days or holidays, as it rushes ceaselessly through space, caring not at all what happens on its surface to the innumerable midgets that crawl on it, and quarrel with each other, and imagine themselves--men and women--in their foolish vanity, the salt of the earth and the hub of the universe.

I was reading his Glimpses of World History earlier this morning when these words caught my attention.  Indeed, the sun and the earth know no novelty in completing one cycle and starting of another one.  But, we, as pity human beings we are, must have to stop somewhere and take a break to review the past and to plan for the future.  So, let us take this chance as an opportunity to look behind and then to take a great leap forward…

Wish all the readers of this blog a very happy new year.  Let the New Year just only be the first step of a lot more prosperity and joy to come.