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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I agree, President Obama

Presented below are a few extracts (which I agree with completely) from the speech that President Obama of the United States recently delivered at Cairo University, followed by the manner in which each of these is relevant to the social and political realities in India:

"I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality."
Relevance to India: Women who mostly wear traditional dresses (or dress conservatively) are generally looked down upon and treated as less than equal, many a time despite being highly educated and/or having outstanding achievements to their credit in their chosen fields of work, by women who adopt a more Westernised mode of dressing (quite frequently comprised of clothes that are excessively tight and/or revealing). Derogatory terms like behenji (which, otherwise, is a form of address for an elder sister) are often used to refer to the former, by the latter.

"I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice."
Relevance to India: Women who take up traditional roles like the 'housewife' or 'home-maker', even if they do so of their own volition and are very successful at raising a family, are often thought of as having put their talents to waste and are not always considered as 'modern' or 'advanced' as those who choose to work outside of the home.

"I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations - including my own - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures."
Relevance to India: The emphasis on censorship and bans appears to have been far greater than genuine attempts at preservation of a distinct culture. At the same time, anything that is phoren (foreign) is thought of as superior, whether it be language or food or dress or literature or, of late, even social mores, by a substantial proportion of the population.

"It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us."
Relevance to India: Religious minorities are like the children of a lesser God in this country, despite the equal status envisioned for all citizens by those who drafted the Constitution of India. Mosques are razed to the ground, Gurdwaras are burnt and Churches are attacked with impunity. Thousands of innocent Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are pulled out of their own homes and hacked or bludgeoned to death or burnt alive and their houses set on fire, without the culprits having to fear any kind of punishment. In fact, many of those accused of such grave crimes against humanity not only contest, but also win elections to become members of parliament or state legislative assemblies. Some of them even go on to become ministers in the government of India or in the various state governments.

The resulting sense of persecution and lack of hope for justice can and often does help provide fresh recruits for terrorist organisations, from the minority communities. Thus, the vicious cycle of violence continues.

Incidentally, the 'masterminds' responsible for terrorist violence are almost invariably apprehended as well as prosecuted, unlike those responsible for communal violence.


Sidhusaaheb said...

well written post SS.
about the first one, i have a recent personal experience. I will write about it, when I lose the intial bitterness about it.
and about the second, the less said the better. It is becoming difficult to explain to children why there are people who are allowed to go scot free while others suffer for the same crimes.
Manpreet | Homepage | 06.16.09 – 11:34 am | #


Second* should mean Last bit. Kindly adjust.
Manpreet | Homepage | 06.16.09 – 11:35 am | #

Sidhusaaheb said...

SS. As a regular reader of your blog i can understand your agony and pain. However i find it rather difficult to digest the fact that even a seasoned citizen like you are so biased and having such a narrow and myopic vision/version. One can appreciate the soundness of peace only after chaos. A cluttered mind can never see things right. Not to justify the present but its not a sin either to take a look at the past. The very existence of different countries on the basis of different faith proves enough. If you think that the minorities (read muslim, sikh, christian) are the only one being subjugated to violence and suppression then i hate to say it, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY WRONG!
Right from Hindu kush, to Kashmir, to Bangladesh to Srilanka, every corner of the indian subcontinent is filled with blood of the majorites (read Hindus). Thanks to the army of invaders with the flaming fervour against the majority religion, India now stands with its right and left arm chopped. Right from Ghori to Ghazni to Timur to Babar to Aurangazeb, to even Akbar the great, the inventor of Din-i-Ilahi (universal religion) has done horrendous crime against Hindus. Situation now is not rosy either, as i speak or rather write now, Kashmir is still bleeding. It is of great disappointment not without a tinge of sadness though that a person like you who raise his voice for religious harmony and majority bashing did not mention a word about Kashmiri Hindus. Why is it because it is disputed ? or they have been sacrificed by “Freedom fighters” to free Kashmir ? Or why to worry about a population which has been cleansed to just 5% from 33% ? Anyway why bother about people who are perennially living in camps ? I would love your answer/comment on this. Let me see if you really do some across the border bashing ? apart from your across the border love for punjabi poetry and… u know… Ok well Kashmir is disputed… so killing minority (read Hindus) by freedom fighters to free the majority is OK… its a sacrifice… we have to do it. How about the innocent 170+ people of Mumbai ?
BTW with all due respect, its Hindus AND, AND, if i can stress the conjunction a bit, SIKHS, who killed the innocent muslims on their way to pakistan, as is the case with the Muslims in pakistan who killed the opposite… so… u got the point… OK…
Operation Blue star is not the only operation carried out in the post independent history of India against secessionist movement. There are much more operations (without name for their comfort…) that are still going on as of today… Be it the operation against North east insurgency, Manupur, Ulfa, Bodo, the Naxalbharis, the TamilNadu Liberation Front, or the Killing of more than 300 tamil students to control the secessionist movement… all involve violence, all involve innocent lives and may i stress it here… Majority of them are HINDUS. If you think India is the only country in the world who suppress and kill their minorities… buddy you have to
Patriotic Indian. | 06.21.09 – 10:55 pm | #

Sidhusaaheb said...

@(Un)Patriotic Indian:

For the 4000 innocent Sikhs slaughtered in 1984, how many of the accused have been brought to justice by the Indian legal system till date?

For the 2000 innocent Muslims slaughtered in 2002, how many of the accused have been brought to justice by the Indian legal system till date?

Why and how were some of the prominent accused of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 anti-Muslim riots elected and why and how did they become mininsters?

Who were the people who voted for such tainted candidates and why did they vote for them in such large numbers?

How many of those accused of, as you state, driving people out of their homes in Kashmir have been elected to legislature and how many of them have become ministers?

(By the way, I suggest that you compare the statistics of the number of Muslims killed in Kashmir over the past 25 years with the number of Hindus killed in Kashmir over the same period of time and then try and find an explanation for the number of Hindus killed being a minuscule fraction of the number of Muslims killed due to militancy in the state.)

How many of those accused of terrorism have been elected to legislature and how many of them have become ministers?

How is it that those accused of terrorism are not only arrested, but also tried and convicted in this country, but those responsible for slaughtering thousands of innocents during communal riots go scot-free?

I have not mentioned, even by implication, Operation Bluestar in this blog-post. I have, however, mentioned the burning of Gurdwaras during the 1984 riots, the attacks on Churches last year and the razing to the ground of the Babri mosque, all of which were supposed to be protected by the governments at the centre and in various states, but none of which were.

Even if India is not the only country in the world that suppresses and kills its minorities and is only one of the countries that suppresses and kills its minorities, to use your words, is that supposed to be a badge of honour for India or a cause for national shame?
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 06.22.09 – 8:35 am | #

Sidhusaaheb said...

You’ve been tagged! Visit

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for details!
Deep | Homepage | 06.22.09 – 9:20 am | #


@SS: I can give a thousand examples (with statistics) of cases where the culprits are still scotfree. I dont want to keep arguing with you again and again on who is right and who is wrong. But I agree with you that our legal system is broke. Not only me, even our home minister has acknowledged.
Again the point i am trying to drive home is criticism and even cynicism is good in certain ways. But your recent and past posts and your comments on other blogs seems to be completely targeted at maligning the country rather than providing constructive criticism. Your current post on relating india to obama speech is a fine example for that.
Anyway i cannot change you if you have only hatred for the country !
You know what ur intentions are ! Rest as u wish…
Patriotic Indian | 06.23.09 – 7:48 am | #


@(Un)Patriotic Indian:

Mine or any one else’s love or hatred for India does not change the facts.

The Indian legal system appears to work selectively. It seems to work effectively for terrorism related cases, but does not appear to work at all in communal-violence related cases.

Your idea of patriotism might imply the suppression of unpleasant facts about the country, but I do not subscribe to that.

Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 06.23.09 – 9:07 am | #

Sidhusaaheb said...

As i told in one of your old post, religion is proving to be an existential threat for the human race. Its not the class of civilization but the class of faith which is possess such a danger. But i think your comparing Obama speech to india is a bit over the board.
Agnostic dude | 06.26.09 – 4:11 pm | #


@Agnostic Dude:

I would say that there is nothing wrong with religion, per se, but only with the manner in which some use it for purposes exactly opposite to those it was originally meant for.

I have not ‘compared Obama’s speech to India’, but only picked some ideas that are relevant to some of the realities in India and which, if understood and implemented by those concerned, could actually help resolve the issues outlined in the blog-post.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 06.26.09 – 6:56 pm | #


I like this president.
Deep | Homepage | 06.27.09 – 3:59 pm | #

Sidhusaaheb said...


It is “secularists” like you that will be the cause of the death of India.

India needs more nationalists and not more minority-appeasing fools like you.

Ask yourself why there was only one 9/11 in the US and there is a “9/11″ in India almost every year. It is because we are too worried about offending muslims rather than protecting our country.

We should be more worried that the majority Hindus are treated like second-class citizens in their own country. Muslims have liberties that even Hindus do not have.

Also, do not forget about the thousands of temples demolished by the Muslims and converted to mosques. Famous examples include Taj Mahal and Qutb Minar.

As far as the issues with Sikh people in the 1980s. I think both, the Hindu and Sikh communities have gotten past that. There’s no need to bring it up again and again and apply salt to the already healed wounds of people.

I pity you for your thoughts and views.
Neel | 07.29.09 – 3:20 am | #



It is quite apparent that you equate ‘nationalists’ with communalists.

Four thousand innocent Sikhs and two thousand innocent Muslims were murdered in 1984 and 2002, respectively, and the killers have neither been brought to justice nor appear likely to be brought to justice ever in this country. A number of the accused have even contested and won elections, going on to become ministers in the central and various state governments.

On the other hand, not only does the number of Hindus killed in terrorist or communal violence constitute a minuscule fraction of those numbers, but a substantial number of their killers have also been brought to justice. Those are the double-standards practised in ’secular’ India that I have referred to in the blog-post.

I suppose bringing up those facts does make you and many others like you uncomfortable at the very least, if not guilty. Living in a state of denial by those like you does not change the truth, however.

Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar? Which school or college did you go to by the way and what history text-books have you read? Have you ever been delusional or suffered from any other psychiatric problems?

It seems like you should save all that pity for your own self.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 08.06.09 – 1:19 pm | #