Thursday, April 28, 2005

Osho on conversion to Christianity

Why do Hindus convert to other religions? The main reason is untouchability. The so-called 'lower' castes are almost trampled upon by 'caste' Hindus. Organisations like RSS have realised this and have been trying to do something about it. But it has been an uphill task.

One of my friends sent the following incident in Osho's life. It's in Osho's own words. It shows how Christians manage to convert.

If a sudra becomes a follower of Buddha, immediately he is no longer untouchable. If a sudra becomes a Christian he is no longer untouchable. This is a very strange world.

I had a friend who was the principal of a theological college in Jabalpur, Principal Mackwan. I was saying to him, "Why are you Christians interested only in the poor?"

He said, "Please come to my house." I was sitting in his office. He said, "My house is just behind the college; come to my house; I want to show you something."

He showed me an old man and woman's picture. They were certainly beggars, in rags, dirty; you could even see it in their faces-so hungry. You could see that all their lives they had suffered; it was written in the lines on their forehead.

He said, "Can you recognize who these are?"I said, "How can I recognize them?-I have never seen these people, but they look like beggars."

He said, "They were beggars. He is my father, she is my mother. And not only were they beggars, they were sudras, untouchables. They became converted, in their old age, to Christianity because they were so old, tired of begging; and now they were concerned about their children-particularly this boy, who is now principal of Leonard Theological College. What would happen to him if they died? He would also become a beggar.

"Because they were sick they entered a Christian hospital, because no other hospital will take poor people and give them free medicine, food, care, doctors. So they entered, they had to enter, a Christian hospital. And there the whole methodology is: with the medicine to go on giving as much of The Bible as possible; with each injection a little Bible. With food, the doctor talks about it, the nurse talks about it; the priest comes every day to inquire about their health, how they are.

For the first time they felt that they were human beings. Nobody had ever asked them about their health. They were treated like dogs, not like human beings. And had they remained Hindus they would have died like dogs, dying on the street corner. You don't know, because that is not the way in the West….

Professor Mackwan told me, "This is my father and mother. They would have died like dogs and the municipal truck would have thrown them out of the city with all the garbage that it carries every day, because there is nobody to carry a beggar to the funeral pyre. Who bothers about a beggar? Beggars are not men, not human beings."

And then he took me to another picture of his daughter and his son-in-law. I was looking at three generations: the father and mother, almost below human beings; Mackwan, who has gained status and is now in a very respectable post, highly salaried.

Now brahmins come and shake hands with him, not knowing at all that he is the son of two beggars who were sudras. I know his daughter, one of the most beautiful women I have seen; she is married to an American.

Looking at the three generations…such a change. You cannot connect the daughter with the grandmother and how can you connect the son-in-law with her grandfather? There seems to be no bridge. The son-in-law is a well-known scholar, professor-six months teaching in India, six months teaching in America. Saroj, the daughter herself is a professor. They are all well-educated; the son is a principal. They have moved in a completely different direction by being converted to Christianity.

I could not object. I said, "Your father and mother did well."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Mumbai Xpress

I saw Mumbai Xpress. The Kamal Haasan-Singitham Srinivasa Rao combination, which has given several successful films has done it again.
Avinash (Kamal) who calls himself Mumbai Xpress, is deaf. He is a honest guy. He is forced to join a gang which plans to kidnap a kid for ransom. The gang includes a horse, whose main aim in life is to bite people and whatever crosses its way. They end up kidnapping the wrong kid who turns out to be the son of the Asst. Commissioner of Police, and the rest is mayhem. But Avinash wants to return the kid and the money he received. The film has just one song.
I regard Kamal as one of the brilliant minds in Indian cinema. He has a way with comedy - he has the ability to make even simple acts funny.
The jarring point is the riduculous scene where the kid threatens to commit suicide and Avinash agrees to be his father and Manisha Koirala's husband. The treatment of the scene is not adequate and the scene seems to drag. Avinash falls for Manisha the next second and there is a song which is almost like a duet. I never new becoming a husband is so easy!
Except for this, the film is an excellent entertainer. Ramesh Arvind as the Telugu insurance agent has done an excellent job.
But the film seems to end abrubtly. The reason may be the censor's cut of a song.
The movie is worth watching once. But please leave your logic at home.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


We were watching Omen. When Damien sees a Cross at a Church, he gets scared and becomes violent. My daughter wondered whether there were no pictures of the Cross or Jesus in Damien's house. He never came across one in five years? I had no answer. Is this a slip by the director?

God and his health benefits


A preliminary study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago shows that a belief in God may improve a person’s physical health.
The researchers are launching the first comprehensive study to examine the relationship between religious attitudes and health.
Measurable effects of strong spirituality, regardless of religion, are improved physiological functioning, health and well-being, especially in difficult times, team leader John Cacioppo said.
These benefits of belief in God accrue over time and are an important aspect of dealing with ageing, he said.
“The study is based on an evolutionary model of humans as social beings in which the motive to form and maintain attachments and interpersonal relationships is in part genetically determined,” Cacioppo said. As a result, people are born with the capacity for spirituality and humanity, he explained. The work will explore how this inclination to see a spiritual understanding varies among individuals.
Among the researchers’ initial discoveries is that African Americans, who say they have a strong relationship with God, were significantly less likely to report depressive symptoms than those who did not.
Among white participants in the study, there was very little impact of religious belief and reported depression.

Monday, April 11, 2005


My friend Pradeep has a nice posting in his blog. He mentions a shopping experience and wonders whether some incidents are in our lives are pre-determined. Similar incidents have happened in my life too. Here is one of them.

This happened a few years ago, when we were looking for a flat. My wife and I went with the usual rigmorale. Finally we shortlisted around four flats.
The first one was good. The builder called it a 'semi-independent' house. But it was quite far from the railway station. The watchman in the second flat warned us of water problems. The third flat promoter demanded immediate advance payment and refused to wait. The fourth one - the building was nearing completion - was somewhat to our expectations. Most importantly, the builder seemed to be a decent guy.
But all our plans had to be put on hold due to the death of my father.
More than six months elapsed before we resumed our hunt. But we thought of checking out the flat. I had no hopes it would be available as the location was good. We saw the building had been completed and the flats had been occupied.
Any way, we thought we will at least have a look at the completed flats, especially the one which we had thought of buying. It was on the first floor. But the flat was locked. We asked the neighbour whether the occupants had move in. But when he said the flat was yet to be sold, we were surprised. It was one of the two flats in the building which had not been sold.
We immediately contacted the builder. He confirmed it had not been sold and asked us to come to his office.
He said while all the flats were booked in record time, these were the only flats which were left out. May be the design isnt good, he said, but he could do nothing about it as the flat was completed. He offered us to give a good price if we booked the flat (as we had met him several times when we were looking out for a flat). The cost of the flat, including registration, came to more than Rs 8,50,000. He said he would make it Rs 8 lakh. A discount of more than Rs 50,000!
One more surprise was in store. I had my cheque book with me. I don't know why I had brought the cheque book. I immediately wrote a cheque for the advance amount.
Just as I was signing it, the builder got a call. This was from someone who had come to see the flat the previous day. He said he had decided to buy the first floor flat. By the time, the cheque was in the builder's hand. He told the caller he had just received a cheque for the flat. He could take the other flat in the building. The caller protested. He wanted the first floor flat and nothing else. The argument continued for more than half-an-hour! Within a few seconds of this call, the person called again to try to convince the builder.

Finally, the builder was exasperated. He said he had been looking for buyers for more than six months, and today there was a fight for the flat.
Now, why did we select this day to go to the flat? Why did I take the cheque book? And had I gone even five minutes late, we would have not got the flat. Destiny?
Talking about destiny, a prominent Nadi astrologer here says he never advertises. Why? Because, if someone is destined to get his palm leaf read, he would come there on his own. And he would come only on the day destined for him.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sudharshan has a valid point on women

S Gurumurthy
Brinda Karat, a Left feminist, has criticised RSS chief K.S. Sudharshan for his views on the role of women. In Sudharshan’s view, a woman who puts the family above her career is the role model for others. Brinda chided him for being anti-women. For her, a family woman is subordinated. Conversely, a career woman is liberated. Sudharshan’s view and Brinda’s are not just a conflict of the ‘traditional’ India with the ‘modern’. Today, it involves the ‘modern’ West as well and a debate is on out there. Look at the facts and the thoughts on the role of women in the West, which our intellectuals of the Left and also of the rest generally benchmark.

Long before, the West had caught on to what the likes of Brinda now advocate for Indian women. The West, ideologically close to Brinda, moved even faster. In the Russian Federation, 65 percent of the marriages end in divorce. The divorce-to-marriage rate in the Ukraine is 63 percent, Czech 61 percent, the UK 51 percent, the US 49 percent, and Germany 41 percent. Swedish women are the most ‘liberated’ and ‘empowered’ with half and more of Swedish parliamentarians and civil servants being women. Is it just a coincidence — or consequence — that 65 percent or more of Swedish women and men live together without marriage, any one with anyone for any length of time? In the end, over two-thirds of Swedish elders are bereft of family support. This has forced the Swedish government to pass a law to provide caretakers, at its cost, for assisting the aged who are orphaned.

Look at the USA, which many look towards. The traditional arrangement where men go to work and women look after the house has fallen from 53 percent of married couples in 1972 to 21 percent in 1998. The divorce rate in the US has doubled between 1960 and 1998. Don’t dismiss it as merely a cultural fall. It is economic as well. The state had to step in to fill the void in families. So the social security cost, that is the cost of caring for the aged and the infirm, unemployed and others, has skyrocketed. Many in the West are frightened of this time bomb ticking under their economies. Some of the best minds in the US fear that the emerging ‘Fatherless America’, as one writer put it, will bankrupt the country.

In contrast, the entire social security cost is privatised in India through the traditional family mechanism. But for such traditional families the Indian state would have gone broke long ago. Now the West is realising the criticality of women who put home above career. A study made in 2003, covering over 100,000 families in the UK and the US, found all this: wherever men and women have competed and claimed arithmetical equality, families broke up; the happiness of families and their overall economic status stood eroded; wherever women had the full support of husbands and had been mothers taking care of the family, happiness in the family was complete; separation forcing women to remarry or remain single caused a drastic reduction in their overall happiness.

Look at the relatively more traditional Germany. An article in The Christian Science Monitor (March 25, 2005) reads: “In Germany, the idea that it’s possible to combine family life and a career is rejected by society as a whole,” argues Barbara Vinken, author of “The German Mother.” German society, she says, is increasingly split into two camps: those who have children, and those who don’t. “It’s a society in which a growing segment isn’t reproducing anymore.” The article goes on: “Sending your child (to day-care in order) to work is seen as something that weakens the family rather than strengthens it,” says Giscela Ehler, head of Familenservice, a childcare consultant based in Berlin. “Women,” she says, “feel that they have to choose between family and career.” Yet, only 16 percent of German women with children less than six go for work.

Now see the stunning decay in women’s status in the relatively traditional Germany. Like in all West the German government provides doles till employment is offered to the unemployed. An unemployed German girl receiving the dole was stunned when told by the employment office to either join a brothel that had jobs to offer her or, if she declined to, become disentitled to her dole! Why? As Germany had legalised prostitution as an industry, a job in a brothel was as good any other employment for women in market economics!

So the West is now debating what the ideal role of a woman should be. In the West, one abuses Barbara Vinken as anti-women or dismisses her as Biblical. Nor does anyone trivialise Giscela as medieval. What Sudharshan says in India is precisely what Barbaras and Giscelas say in Germany. So let us look at the debate in the West, developed and more than that, decaying — lest even as we replicate their development, we don’t bring in their decay. Sudharshan has a valid point. He never said women should not opt for a career. He only cautioned against idolising career women and trivialising the family-bound. In an intellectually spineless atmosphere, he has had the guts to raise a point, a profound one. Let us discuss it without being dismissive or abusive.

Writer’s email:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Education cess: Have schools benefited?

Any idea what is happening to the Education Cess you pay almost on everything? Read on.

By Shivani Singh\TNN

New Delhi: The next time you pay a 2% education cess on any bill at the neighbourhood grocer’s shop, ask the government if your money will help install a girls’ toilet, a water tap or a blackboard at any sarkari school. A year ago when the cess was levied, there were no such facilities in most government-run primary schools. And indications are that nothing revolutionary has happened in the year gone by—2004-’05—for us to dramatically alter this view.
While we wait for precise information on cess collection and spending for the past fiscal year, data from the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) reveals that in 2003-’04 most schools did not even have toilets for girls. Only about 3.5% of the schools in Bihar and Chhattisgarh had such facilities. In Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, only 12% to 16% of the primary schools had toilets for girls.
While focussing attention on improving the student enrolment rate (admitting children to Class I), the Centre and states clearly missed a point. A lack of toilets for girls is one major reason they drop out of school in such large numbers. The data also shows that in 2003-’04, the governments in most states could not even install a water tap in most schools.
While drinking water was available in only 51% of the schools in Andhra Pradesh, in Karnataka 33% of the primary schools did not have this facility. In Bihar and Jharkhand, nearly 20% of the children were enrolled in schools that did not even have a blackboard! About 62% of the primary schools in Assam, 34% in Andhra Pradesh and 30% in Meghalaya had just one classroom.
The central and state governments seem to have not achieved anything, despite political tom-tomming and elementary education being made a top priority. In Bihar, out of 100 kids who joined Class I, only 33 made it to Class V. Only 6.28 lakh out of 11 lakh students enrolled in Class V reached Class VI. The situation was marginally better in Rajasthan, where 42 out of 100 students who joined Class I reached Class V.
In UP, the survival rate up to Class V was 54%. But out of 29 lakh children attending Class V, only 15 lakhs made it to Class VI. With a few exceptions in states like Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Punjab, student survival rate was dismally low in most places. “This, despite the government’s policy to not fail any student in any class up to Std V,’’ said an NEIPA official.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Irritating bias

Why do newspapers publish reports which are totally biased? I am not talking of newspapers whose editorial policy itself is biased, but reports in newspapers which are neutral.
I do not know much about Deccan Chronicle's editorial policy. I have started reading the paper only recently. But a report in the Sunday edition of the paper 'RSS kids get anti-Muslim propaganga' goes to the extreme.
The reporter picks out passages from a Sangh-affilliated web site to prove his point. But he fails to mention why the passages are wrong. If a report says something is wrong, it must also say why it is wrong. The reporter doesnt seem to be aware of this simple rule.
The report ends with the following 'revelations':

And "Pakistan is still having a proxy war in Kashmir. It is training and arming Islamic terrorists, for which the country is paying a heavy toll. Thousands of Kashmiri Hindus are refugees in their homeland."
This colourful site also shows history of India through animation. The animation begins by showing India's map with the symbol of "Om" at the top and a Hindu priest at the centre. The animated history provides glimpses of how "Turks and Muslims invaded Bharat, massacred Hindus and converted them." It slowly moves on to the "tyranny of British rule." If that was serious stuff, the site also provides entertainment to children, who can play "match the pair." Here, children are expected to match pairs of Hindu gods, animals and fruits. Jigsaw puzzles are there from the Panchatantra fables and a quiz on Ramayana and Mahabharata. Hindu children are also told about the sanctity of colour saffron, tilak and the Hindu diet - vegetarianism.

I wonder what's wrong with this? And "Jigsaw puzzles are from Panchatantra". What else does he want the kids to do? Do jigsaw puzzles with Britney Spears pictures?

You can read the article below:

RSS kids get anti-Muslim propaganda
New Delhi, April 2:

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is out to catch them young. "Hindukids Universe," a link site of the RSS home website, is all out there to tell the "Hindu kids" about India's freedom movement -- the RSS way.
"A conspiracy was hatched by some powerful Muslims to hoist the Pakistani flag on the Red Fort and take hold of Delhi through the use of massive arms. The doomsday was set as September 6, 1947. The RSS volunteers alerted Sardar Patel and Pandit Nehru and necessary steps were taken to foil the conspiracy," a section on India's Freedom Movement in the site states.
On Kashmir's accession to India, it reveals Jawaharlal Nehru insisted that the people of Kash mir should have a say in the merger of Kashmir into India and so despite Maharaja Hari Singh's approval of the merger it was delayed. The RSS version of history adds, "The matter could not be resolved and was taken to the United Nations. Nationalist leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee died in the jail of Kashmir while fighting the passiveness of the Indian government to make Kashmir fully integrated to India."
There are more gems like this. "During the Partition of the country, Pakistan signed the agreement that it would make sure that the rights and safety of the minorities would be given proper care. But through planned activities of persecution and torture and forced conversions of minority Hindus and Christians, the number of minorities in Pakistan has gone down from 20 per cent in 1947 to 2 per cent in 1996. In Bangladesh, the number of minorities has gone down from 30 per cent in 1947 to 14 per cent in 1996.
And "Pakistan is still having a proxy war in Kashmir. It is training and arming Islamic terrorists, for which the country is paying a heavy toll. Thousands of Kashmiri Hindus are refugees in their homeland."
This colourful site also shows history of India through animation. The animation begins by showing India's map with the symbol of "Om" at the top and a Hindu priest at the centre. The animated history provides glimpses of how "Turks and Muslims invaded Bharat, massacred Hindus and converted them." It slowly moves on to the "tyranny of British rule."
If that was serious stuff, the site also provides entertainment to children, who can play "match the pair." Here, children are expected to match pairs of Hindu gods, animals and fruits. Jigsaw puzzles are there from the Panchatantra fables and a quiz on Ramayana and Mahabharata. Hindu children are also told about the sanctity of colour saffron, tilak and the Hindu diet -- vegetarianism.