Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 9am

Yoga Day Celebrations - Taking Indic thought to the World

Yoga Day Celebrations

India has constantly used the term ‘Yoga’ in the widest sense of the term - as a way of bringing welfare to humanity. The International Yoga Day celebrations must be seen in this context.

On 27 September 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at the United Nations (UN), demanded that the UN declare an ‘International Day of Yoga’. A couple of months later, on 11 December 2014, the UN General Assembly announced June 21 as the day for celebrating the International Day of Yoga.

In his speech at the UN, while appealing for instating such a day, Prime Minister Modi’s reference to yoga was made in the context of climate change and going back to basics. He said:

“Yoga … embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise, but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.”

Yoga as a way of life to ‘heal the planet’ may appear far-fetched at first glance.


The Myth Of India’s Free Press

The Myth Of India

Why India’s press first needs to free itself from itself, before it can free itself from other pressures.

In December this year, a certain major media group held an awards function. Since there are numerous such functions and conclaves held across the board now, by all accounts, these kinds of functions are heavily sponsored and are a prime source of revenue for increasingly cash-strapped media organisations. Such events are only able to draw the biggest names in the business world, who are inundated with such invitations, by promising the only quid pro quo that cash-heavy sponsors and invitees are keen to have: a chance to rub shoulders with those in power. However, the organisation reportedly annoyed certain heavy duty ministers by a write up, who then made their displeasure known by boycotting the said function. The media house was left red-faced to the sponsors, and the flop of the show is still hot potato buzz throughout corporate and media inner circles.

Perhaps avoiding situations like this is what the eminent crusader for press freedom, former Union Minister and until quite recently, cabinet hopeful, strategically flip-flopping Arun Shourie, meant when he recommended to the journalists that they boycott ministers and ‘do not invite them to press functions’. While he may have meant it as a punishment to be meted out to supposedly publicity hungry ministers, he forgets that the current cabinet has proven itself remarkably leak proof, from demonetisation to intelligence reports on abducted supposed-spies. Whose loss will it be then, if the press begins to hold its events without ministers in attendance? The math is quite lopsided on that one.


Leftist intellectuals pave the way for jihad

Leftist intellectuals pave

The system doesn’t want to offend religious minorities, and a realistic analysis of Islam’s precepts and practices is ruled out. – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Can London fight terror? One has to be extremely optimistic to answer in the affirmative. A city that elects an Islamist Mayor,Sadiq Khan, despite his sympathies with the jihadists being well known, can scarcely hope to live peacefully.

So, there was a third major attack in Britain in the past three months, with three jihadists mowing down and knifing indiscriminately in busy areas, killing seven and wounding 48. BBC reported that one of the attackers,Khuram Shazad Butt, was a 27-year-old British citizen. Born in Pakistan, he “became known to the police and MI5 in the summer of 2015 and an investigation was opened into his behavior after concerns reached counter-terrorism officers.” Yet, little was done to neutralize him.

“One man called the anti-terrorism hotline, while a woman went to the local police station because she was scared Butt was trying to radicalize her children,” BBC report says. “However, the Met said there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned, meaning the investigation had been prioritized accordingly.’”

Further, a man, “who did not want to be named, said one of the attackers had become more extreme over the past two years. He said he had contacted authorities but no action was taken.”


Nationalism isn’t a dirty word

Nationalism isnt a dirty

You cannot confine nationalism to ideologies. To me, nationalism is beyond politics. It’s related to my identity, culture and traditions. – Col. R. Hariharan

I was astounded to see the caption in a recent TV debate: “Stone pelters versus Nationalists.” It is shocking to see, after decades of efforts to establish law and order in Kashmir, made with the blood and sweat of security forces and policemen, stone-pelters conditioning the national discourse on Jammu and Kashmir.

It hurts me to find Modiphobes using the word ‘nationalism,’ as though it is a dirty word, the source of all mischief. Because, I am a nationalist and I am not ashamed to say it loudly. Before self-styled neo-liberals jump to troll me, I say I am not going to allow anyone to typecast me as an admirer of Hindutva orgau rakshaksbecause I call myself a nationalist.

Equally, I am not prepared to allow the hijacking of nationalism by saffron, yellow or red or any other colour, because ‘nationalism’ is non-negotiable. To me you cannot confine nationalism to ideologies. To me, nationalism is beyond politics. It’s related to my identity, culture and traditions.

In this context, remember the words of a smuggler we engaged to ferry our source across Barak River into East Pakistan, on the eve of 1971 war.


Tackling Jihad-e Kashmir And Ghazwa-e Hind

Tackling Jihad-e Kashmir

Ram Ohri The Kashmir Valley continues to be a major zone of religion-based fault-line conflict in India. There have been frequent displays of ISIS flags and jihadi symbols along with pro-Pakistani activity by militant groups in the Kashmir Valley, especially in Srinagar and many other towns, after Friday prayers. The State has a wide array of fifth columnists and fellow travelers, too.

Kashmir has a long history of jihadi militancy and violence. A Pakistan propelled jihad raged in the Valley in 1989 and 1990 which led to the ethnic cleansing of Hindus. More than four lakh Kashmiri Pandits were forced to migrate out of the land of Maharishi Kashyapa, their punyabhoomi. To date they have not been able to go back despite repetitive phony assurances given by the State government as well as the central government. In 1990 itself the Indian government should have dealt with the jihadi insurgency in an effective manner after placing the valley under Governor’s rule.

And thereafter within one or two years the displaced Kashmiri Hindus should have been re-settled in the valley by creating an exclusive security protected enclave for them. But that was not done lest it displeased the leading lights of National Conference and its followers. Now we are paying the price for that tactical blunder. The aggressive attitude of jihadis and their iron grip on Kashmiri Muslims has successfully blocked the return of Kashmiri Hindus to their homeland.

Since then the militancy, supported by Pakistani army and the ISI has continued uninterrupted. The latest upsurge in jihad began with Burhan Wani who was, by far, was one of the most wanted jihadi warriors operating in the valley. He acquired a larger than life image by gathering a group of nearly fifty Muslim youth, many of whom were proficient in using social media and weapons, for fuelling a new wave of militancy.


Buddhism Versus Islam: Clash Of Civilisations In South And South-East Asia?

Buddhism Versus Islam

From Myanmar to Thailand and all the way to Sri Lanka, one of the oldest conflicts of Asia seems to be turning more violent by the day.

The Buddhist and the Islamic worlds seem to be increasingly in conflict in south and south-east Asia. In Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Buddhist nationalist organisations are in open conflict with Muslims; in Thailand, Islamist insurgency has resurrected itself in the Patani region; In Indonesia, tensions between the Muslim majority and Buddhist minority have surged.

The conflicts between the Muslims and Buddhists in the region represent a clear faultline between two cultures, as theorised in Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations. As Islamic invasions made their way towards the east, the repression and persecution that came in their wake ransacked Buddhist temples, destroyed the famous Nalanda University, as well as the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar. Other regions in this part of Asia like Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand were spared from this brute force of the Islamist invasions.

In Indonesia, Islam made its entry only in the 13th century through traders. The province of Aceh served as an entry point for Muslim traders, and through them, their religion slowly spread to the rest of the archipelago. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were only a few pockets of Buddhist or Hindu influence left in Indonesia.

From a historical standpoint, the clash between Buddhists and Muslims seems to be a continuing conflict. What is new, however, is the militant response that Theravada Buddhism has had against Islamism.


Kashmir Struggle is all about establishing Islamic Caliphate and Sharia

Kashmir Struggle is all about

Zakir Musa, the recently ousted terrorist commander of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Indian arm, has unveiled the motivations driving Kashmir saga for the world that had hitherto remained secretive and was never talked about in the open. In a series of video messages, Musa has clearly spelt out that Kashmir is part of Islamists’ agenda to establish Islamic Caliphate and there is nothing political about their “movement”.

Musa’s video message has come in response to a recent statement from Hurriyat Conference leaders where they claimed that Kashmir struggle is political and has nothing to do with Islam. But Musa was quick to denounce Hurriyat’s intent. He minced no words as he questioned the rationale of using mosques and Islamic gatherings as a platform through the years where Hurriyat leaders openly advocated Islamic Sharia and an ambition to establish Islamic Caliphate across Kashmir. “…we want to ask these political hypocrites if Kashmir is a political issue then what’s the meaning of these slogans? Azadi kaa matlab kya? La Illaha Ilallah, (What is the meaning of Azadi? There is no God except Allah), Pakistan say rishta kya? La Illaha Ilallah (What is our relation with Pakistan? There is no God except Allah).”

He went on to say that these (Hurriyat) hypocrites cannot be our leaders. “We warn these Hurriyat people not to interfere in our matters…remain with their dirty politics… otherwise we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk (Srinagar, Kashmir Valley),” Musa asserted.

Musa’s video initiated swift reactions and denials came quick. Hizbul Mujahideen issued a statement distancing itself from Musa’s remarks, which was followed by a second video message from Musa, where he claimed that he stands by his stand and announced his decision to quit as Hizbul’s India chief. He explained that he cannot be a part of any political movement and will fight only for the cause of larger Islamic resistance.