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Using freedom of speech for separatism is perversion of democracy

Posted on Thursday, 28 April 2016 No comments

We earned our freedom through a long arduous struggle spanning two centuries. This hard-earned freedom must really be something to cherish and something to die for. There is no doubt about that in anyone's mind. In the same breath, it can also be argued how important must the 'freedom of speech and expression' be. After all, in a free society, if one can't freely express oneself then what is the point of such freedom. Something so obvious can't be a subject of doubt, right?

Freedom of speech is as precious as all supporters of democracy deem it to be, should be guarded with life. But what if some punks start gaming the system. 

However, all this freedom applies to the act of speech and expression only in the paradigm that mere speech and flow of ideas can't harm anyone. Ergo, nothing useful for a state to put restrictions on it, except may be a malignant will to control everything, like a dictator. This is the entire theory on which any means to control the ‘freedom of speech’ is taken very seriously, almost like a catastrophy, in our extremely vocal and open democracy, followed severe backlash in our free media. And not just in India, on this understanding liberals operate in any democracy, 'compromise on freedom of speech' is a region where a democratic government better not step in.

There are reasonable restrictions on hate speech but such objections are mildly put in Indian constitution. And considering the snail speed at which our judiciary functions, it can be safely said that within the legal framework nothing much has substantially challenged some perils of so much freedom to speak and express.

It should be emphasized that the assumption of ‘speech’ being harmless was made before the information era.

Don't get me wrong, freedom of speech is as precious as all supporters of democracy deem it to be, should be guarded with life. But what if some punks start gaming the system. It should be emphasized that the assumption of ‘speech’ being harmless was made before the information era. Even the worst of the defaulters could be managed within the legal provision that the penal code provided. But not quite today where the spread of information has become so efficient and quick, that law can't keep up with it.

One most obvious example of misusing this freedom is fanning separatist sentiments. And India has seen it being played out again and again. Another one would be hate speech, but that has been addressed under the law. Separatism and hate speech, both are a means to divide and threaten the integrity of our country. Where hate speech is an overt expression and separatism happens to flourish in the background, hidden from public eyes, behind closed doors, slowly over the years. It's a passive act. And it is never organic, it is externally organized and funded. Organic sepratism in a functioning democracy won't find many takers over a long time. It can be kept alive only through external support. Sepratism is always more planned, unlike some hot head giving a hate speech to please a crowd.

Separatists have not only been tolerated but constantly appeased by the successive governments of India.

Another quick comparison will tell you, in Indian set up, more Hindu leaders are known to have exert their domination through hate speeches, whereas it is more Muslims (or other minorities) who have indulged in separatism. Which is probably WHY, hate speech is openly vilified, while separatism is played down and tolerated. However, the effects of hate speech can last just a few months, over a small area, in a small population, the act of separatism is way more dangerous and can compromise the integrity of an entire country permanently. Yet, separatists have not only been tolerated but constantly appeased by the successive governments of India. Now, why is that?

In the garb of freedom of speech, to allow democracy to be used against national integrity, is a complete perversion of democracy. 

This covert act of sedition, commonly known as separatism, needs to be taken to task. It is a complete perversion of democracy to allow democracy to be used against national integrity. They're just people right, who can be bought, their  loyalties can be compromised. If they have genuine concerns, they have to be resolved internally. How do they reach to the “demand of a separate country “ is completely beyond logic. Imagine if this starts happening at every border state. What is India, a cake? Anybody can raise a voice using the freedom that India provided and take away a piece? This is not tolerance or freedom, this is stupidity in the name of democracy. This is the perversion of democracy.

Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga

India, Iran and Afghanistan reach crucial understanding to counter Sino-Pak in Central Asia

Posted on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 No comments

The historic 19th century ‘Great Game’ of Lord Curzon’s making may be in the process of revival, albeit in different setting with different actors and varying interests.

From the vast deserts of Central Asia, the new Great Game seems to be shifting to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the premier commercial waterway of international trade. The actors are not the old imperial powers aspiring for empires but shrewd traders seeking large markets for their merchandise and accompanying political clout. They act not in isolation but in collaboration without losing sight of their respective national interests.

China, USA, Russia, India, Iran, Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the conspicuous actors of this new game. Actually, regional states in the Central and South Asia desire to forge new bilateral and multilateral relationship outside abandoning the model of the days of Great Game.

Their convergence on new relationship built along economic parameters is bolstered by modern technology and advanced entrepreneurship.

The focus of this relationship is on connectivity, on building new gigantic trade routes, on expanding maritime trade and commerce and ultimately on creating healthy contours of inter-dependability for progress and prosperity. The new Great Game is likely to move along these lines.

A major development in this scenario was the building of the Karakorum Highway that connects China’s eastern province of Xingjian with the Pakistani seaport of Gwadar on Makran coast. The next step in the process was Pakistan handing over the building of Gwadar sea port to China.  With that the two Asian countries are to stake claim for a role in maritime trade and diplomacy along the important waterways of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The third phase of Sino-Pak connectivity is the prospect of China’s massive investment in infrastructural development in Pakistan’s strategic northern region of the Karakorum Highway connectivity. This move may not rule out the likelihood of China obtaining permanent foothold in the strategic Gilgit bordering on the underbelly of the Central Asian Republics of erstwhile Soviet Union, besides obtaining proximity to Afghanistan through the Wakhan corridor.

China’s forward move has evoked response from local stakeholders.  Much before Chinese President Xi Jinping signed $46bn energy and infrastructure development agreements with Pakistan last month, Iran and India had a long-standing agreement, signed in 2002, to develop the Iranian port of Chahbahar into a full deep sea port. West’s sanctions against Iran for her nuclear programme delayed expeditious work on the project.            

Iran, Afghanistan and India have reached an agreement of developing Iranian port of Chahbahar as a major trade and transit terminus promising much needed opening for landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

They signed a trilateral agreement 2003. India was to build a road-- Route 606 -- connecting Delaram, the border city of Afghanistan, with Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz province in Afghanistan. Iran was to build a highway from Chahbahar up to Delaram. Border Roads Organization of India constructed the Delaram – Zaranj highway, and it was completed in 2009.

The strategic Iranian sea port along Sistan-Balochistan coastline, 72 kilometers to the west of the Pakistani port of Gawadar, is poised to keep under her navy’s surveillance movement of gigantic oil tankers and warships in a volatile zone of the Indian Ocean.

For India, this link has strategic significance; it frustrates Pakistan’s adamancy of refusing India overland route to Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics and to Eastern and Western Europe. It demolishes Pakistan’s monopoly of overland access to Afghanistan for other countries in the sub-continent. Afghanistan becomes a natural beneficiary of the project with two-way access to the Indian Ocean and to Central Asia.

Observers take the operationalzing of the twin sea ports on the southern coastline of Pakistan and Iran as the harbinger of this century’s new Great Game in the Indian Ocean. Iran, Pakistan, India, China, Russia and the United States of America are direct or indirect stakeholders in the changing geostrategic scenario in this oceanic region.

Located barely 72 km away from each other in the deep-sea, Gwadar port in Pakistan and Chahbahar in Iran are not mere ports but geopolitical launch pads that can alter the strategic balance in the region. The Gwadar port — close to the Straits of Hormuz — allows China access to the Indian Ocean as the Karakorum Highway originating in Xinjiang disgorges at Gwadar.  China can monitor US and Indian naval activity in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea while its proxy Pakistan can control the energy routes from there.

On the other hand, Chahbahar port in Iran is India’s trump card and gateway to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe. It can allow India monitor Pakistani and Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean region and Gulf. The link will give India entry into Afghanistan and Central Asian markets bypassing Pakistan and thwart Chinese and Pakistani effort to turn Gwadar port into a hub of international trade

The Chahbahar port project is crucial for Afghanistan since it would enable shipping goods to Middle East and Europe as well as allow inflow of vital goods to Afghanistan. Economically it would imply a significant boost to its trade and investment in much-needed infrastructure.

The Hindustan Times of 11th April reported that India is ready to invest $20 billion in the development of Iran’s Chahbahar port and has requested it to allocate adequate land in the Chahbahar Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Indian companies were also interested in setting up petrochemical and fertilizer plants, including in the Chahbahar SEZ either through joint venture between Indian and Iranian public sector companies or with private sector partners.

In May 2014, India and Iran had signed a MoU to jointly develop the port once the international sanctions against Iran were lifted. Owing to high congestion of Bandar Abbas port, Iran has been focusing on the expansion of Chahbahar from 2.5 million tons to 12.5 million tons annually. Chahbahar can handle cargo ships bigger than 1000,000 tons and Iran has had long term plans of integrating Chahbahar with the North-South Transport Corridor. The Chahbahar –Afghanistan-Central Asian link will immensely boost Iran’s activity under NSTC,

While eyeing a larger role in Wes¬tern Asia, New Delhi’s regional diplomatic status will see a huge surge with the development of Chahbahar port. Iran, meanwhile, wants India to help create a free trade zone near Chahbahar, some 72 kms from Gwadar where the Chinese Overseas Ports Holding Company has agreed to help Pakistan establish a free economic zone.

Afghanistan, a direct beneficiary of the project has signed the tripartite transit trade agreement on using the port as an alternative route, which could jack up bilateral trade to $3 billion from $700-800 million. India has pledged $100m for laying railway lines connecting Afghanistan with Central Asia.

Interesting thing about the signing of a MoU by three countries, Iran, Afghanistan and India, is that it came about despite warnings from Washington that India was moving too fast and could undermine the sanctions regime. The signing of the MoU moved forward despite this obstructive warning.

Modi asserted that the signing of the MoU had nothing to do with the sanctions on Iran and as such India was not violating sanctions. With the lifting of sanctions on Iran, India will be fast tracking the work on the project. On the heels of a warning from the US ambassador to India, who said countries engaging with Iran must wait for the outcome of Tehran’s discussions with the P5+1 group, New Delhi remains undeterred.  Indian External Affairs Minister has just concluded two-day visit to Tehran and the way for finalization of Chahbahar project has been cleared. Additionally, Iran is preparing to allocate a gas sector to Indian for exploration and exploitation to meet India’s energy requirements. The port will enable Iran to open up to the Western world once the sanctions are lifted

Sources believe that after a commercial accord is reached on implementing the pact, Indian firms will, according to the Indian government, “lease two existing berths at the port and operationalize them as container and multi-purpose cargo terminals”, providing Afghanis¬tan with access to the sea and reducing its substantial reliance on Pakistan.

In final analysis, economic and political lines are drawn in the hitherto landlocked region of Afghanistan and Central Asia on the one hand and the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean on the other. It remains to be seen when warships will be escorting gigantic oil tankers in and out of the Gulf of Oman and on the Indian Ocean.

Written by Kashinath Pandit

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, India)

The core problem of Kashmir is not Pakistan or the separatists - but the Muslim majority

Posted on Monday, 4 April 2016 No comments

"... We want a peaceful resolution to Kashmir ..." 

You may have heard this statement a countless number of times by now. By Pakistan spokespersons, Kashmiri Separatists and their agents in J&K government and public life.

What is this resolution that they speak of constantly?

Is this the resolution that Kashmir stays where it is, with India, and Pakistan stops it's proxy war and violence in the valley? And both the countries can go on their way, burying the hatchet which has marred the discourse for 6 decades?

Is anybody among them considering this as the peaceful resolution they continuously speak of? Is it not going to be the best final solution for the Kashmiri people, the Pakistani people and the Indian people? That the madness stops ...??

Clearly this posturing is not about a resolution at all. It's not about peace or development either. It is definitely not about India's interest or natural justice.

They complain about the Indian army, but will be happy under ISIS

Every time they utter the phrase “peaceful resolution” you should assume that it's a euphemism for either giving full freedom to Kashmir so it can become the den of the world terrorism under Pakistan's murky leadership and Islamic brotherhood, and right under India's nose. Or, we cut all the formalities and hand over Kashmir, literally the head of India, to Pakistan on a silver platter.

These are the only two favorable outcomes according to Pakistan and it's apologists. But they or their minions, who are thriving under Indian democracy, will never utter it in those many words. They'd rather talk about imaginary atrocities of the armed forces, which have not only protected the integrity of Indian borders over the years but have shed their own blood protecting the very Kashmiri population that is desperate for 'azaadi' - be it from the incessant firing and shelling from Pakistan or natural disasters like flood or earthquake.

The problem is not the separatists

State politics of Kashmir is like every other state of India, opportunist to the core, as long as it ensures a re-election, they will parrot any line which will get them votes, even if it promotes the agenda of India's number one enemy. Indian democracy never really devised any protection for itself to counter such deceit, which uses the the freedom given by India against it’s own interests.

The problem is not the local politics, they're the small fish. The problem is the population composition which has been allowed to be manipulated for more than 3 decades. The problem is not the separatists, but the local population which stands behind them.

What do Kashmiris really want?

India is not the British or like the other imperial powers, it's not even like Pakistan, how it was in Bangladesh, or is now in Balochistan. India is not even like USA or Russia. Then you may wonder what is it that these Kashmiris really want? They're not after development or peace, if they were, they wouldn't side with the aggressor and the country solely responsible for their ruin.

If Kashmir is under attack, people in Delhi don't think it's some colony of India under attack, our soldiers from every part of India die to protect Kashmir and it's people. How does it look when the same people position themselves with the enemy?

Bottomline is sharia-control

It is not Kashmir which was hijacked by India like Pak claims, but an entire part of India has been overtaken by Islamic fundamentalism under Pakistan's sponsorship. Kashmiri Muslims' taking over of Kashmir from India is a classic case of how Islam slowly spreads and takes over the countries, playing the victim while it happens. First it achieves local majority, then drives away the minorities through violence, then plays the victim card while openly engaging in violence.

This pattern has been witnessed repeating again and again, across the world. Exactly how a small infection spreads and becomes gangrene when not treated. It happened in Kashmir, today it's happening in Assam. Has also started in Bengal.

The way ahead ...

Kashmiri pandits are never going back. The generation that was driven away has spent their lives, the new generation has found their roots in the rest of India. They don't want to go back to the beautiful shit-hole.

If normalcy is ever achieved, through abolishing Kashmir's special status, it'll be through new migrants, Biharis, Tamilians, Maharashtrians and the rest of India. Kashmir needs to be absorbed back completely into the Indian state, so much so it can't be distinguished from the rest of India. May be it'll happen some day, won't be easy, will need a lot of courage on the part of India.

Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga

Political Analyst. Social Visionary. Editorial Journalist. Founder of award winning open-magazine Indian Exponent.

Follow him on twitter @IshaanMohan

Improving relations with Saudis may help India gain leverage in Islamic world, especially against Pak

Posted on Tuesday, 29 March 2016 No comments

After concluding Nuclear Security Summit meet in Washington (31 March – 1 April), Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Observers are essaying the diagnosis of this visit in the background of various know or unknown complications.

Objective analyses of Modi’s visits abroad reveal his penchant for reassessment of India’s regional and global relationship with a view of infusing new vitality in the tenets of our foreign policy. His first visit to Middle East region was not to Israel as observers would have anticipated but to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

When Modi’s visit to Abu Dhabi hit the headlines of major newspapers in the region, Pakistani leading English daily Dawn termed it as “wake up call for Pakistan.”

India and Saudi Arabia have been exchanging visits of top level dignitaries in the past. However, new vitality was infused in their relations when King Abdullah visited Indian in January in 2006 and was the Guest of Honour at our Republic Day celebrations.

India gives importance to friendly relations with the Saudi Kingdom. It is our largest supplier of oil. Nearly 2.8 million Indian workforces in that country make substantial remittances of foreign exchange to home country. Yet there is not one-way traffic; Saudis are conscious of the large scope of investment India is capable of offering.

Lately, Saudi-American relationship has met with a short and unusual spell of hibernation.  After adhering to its foreign policy for too long a period to the verge of stagnation, the Saudis ensconced themselves with a shift and adoption of ‘Look East Policy’. One important reason for this shift was that the US was no more in need of Saudi oil, which also meant reorientation of Saudi-US relations.

At the same time, India and China are new and alluring customers of Saudi hydrocarbon reserves for more than one reason. Both are oil hungry, both are fast growing economies and both are home to vast populations with a rapidly burgeoning middle class. All this is sufficient temptation to the Saudi corporate business houses to focus on India.

Riyadh is looking for new business partnership and not alliance. US-Saudi alliance has weathered the vagaries of history and their pattern of alliance is resting on solid foundation that will not get dislodged by the surge of new exigencies or opportunities.

The point is that Saudi Arabia’s India option is not America centric. Neither India nor China is nursing any ambition of replacing the United States in the Gulf. On that count, there is no scope of any misunderstanding at any level when visits of top leadership of India and Saudi Arabia are undertaken. Objective assessment shows that neither China nor India has any covert intention of replacing the US in the Gulf.

Nevertheless, observers will not cease unraveling political dimensions of Modi’s Saudi visit. Two regional countries, Pakistan and Iran, come into focus. In the context of Pakistan, we have noted that ahead of Mod’s visit to Riyadh, Saudi foreign minister Adel-al-Jubair, during his visit to Pakistan said, “Saudi relations with Pakistan do not come at the expense of India.” It obviously meant that Saudi-Pak relations remain in place and would not be affected by India extending hand of friendship to Saudis.

There are no two opinions on very close and solid relations between Riyadh and Islamabad. Pakistan is an important ally of the Saudis and Pakistani military is the trusted bodyguard of the Saudi monarchy. Saudis have financed Pakistan’s nuclear programme and Pakistan bemused itself calling it ‘Islamic nuclear bomb.’

However, more recent developments are noticeable.  When Islamabad declined to be part of 34-Islamic nations security coalition proposed by Riyadh, Saudi foreign minister al Jubair and Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman visited Pakistan at short interval.  By declining to commit troops in Yemen in April 2015, Pakistan caused ripples in her relations with the Kingdom.

Maybe Modi could cash on this opportunity. If, like in Abu Dhabi, Modi is able to make Saudis agree to a joint communiqué that condemns States using religion to sponsor terrorist activities at home and abroad, it would be a big step forward in commonality of thinking between India and Saudi Arabia in the context of countering international terror.

Position of Iran in the context of Indo-Saudi relations is different from the position of Pakistan. Iran, really, does not stand in the way of India and Saudi Arabia invigorating their mutual relationship, particularly in the realm of trade and commerce. India has good relations with Iran. She is well aware of the nature of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In framing the nature or relationship, Saudis, like any other country, give priority to their national interests.

India is not a small country that Saudis would think of pressurizing her to downgrade her relations with Iran. India has vital strategic interest in a friendly Iran notwithstanding Iran meeting part of our hydrocarbon energy requirements.

India has vital strategic interest in restoration of peace in war-torn Afghanistan and Iran has a significant role in that process. Iran has provided a corridor to India via Chah Bahar sea port for conducting trade with Central Asian region. After sanctions were lifted from Iran in the aftermath of signing the nuclear treaty, Teheran announced massive investment to the tune of 7 billion dollars in India and India is a vital partner in the development of infrastructure in Iran.

In view of this ground reality, Riyadh will have no justification to think of pressurizing India for a shift in her Iran policy. And if she does, India will flatly refuse it. Modi is not the man to whom Saudis can sell blackmail.

This said India and Saudis have also common interest in other vital areas. Both are pitted against the onslaughts of jihadis directly or indirectly. The two countries have lately developed cooperation in sharing intelligence about terrorists and their activities. In June 2012, Saudis deported to India one Abu Jundal, a suspect terrorist linked to 26/11 Mumbai attack.

Lastly, but more importantly, the Islamic State has emerged as common enemy to both countries. Saudi monarchy is a major target of ISIS, and ISIS moles in India are alluring Indian Muslim youth to join the jihadis.

Modi’s impending visit to Saudi Arabia will essentially concentrate on two objectives. One is to find ways and means of strengthening joint anti- terrorism plans and programmes and the second is to open vistas of trade and commerce between the two countries with large space for private enterprise. Strengthening of Indo-Saudi relations will have impact on the future course of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which comprises 53 Islamic States.

Written by Kashinath Pandit

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University)

Pakistan has been raping India all this while. Yes, literally.

Posted on Thursday, 24 March 2016 No comments
Pakistan wants India to move on from the Pathankot Attacks, wants India to forget 26/11, forget about past, forget about the dead, and think about the "peaceful" future. Pakistan doesn't even mince these words, doesn't make indirect statements, but have the audacity to say this upfront, and the separatist, who are still the owners of Indian passports, support them, lobby for them.

This is not war, this is not bright daylight murder. If it can remind us of anything, it reminds us of RAPE. This is what it is.

Let me reframe the context, Pakistan has been raping India all this while. Since the word rape is taken more seriously than murder these days, probably this analogy will wake us up.

If you have ever watched those old movies from the 60s, there was always a bad guy named Madan, often zamindaar's son, who wouldn't only rape the main protagonist’s sister, but then pay off the evil uncle (generally the mama) to get her hand in marriage. Meanwhile the hero is in the city trying really hard to meet the end meet, for ‘behen ki shadi’ and ‘ma ki aankhon ja ilaaj’.

If you haven't guessed the casting of our analogous 60s film, here it goes,

The rapist - Pakistan
Hero's sister - Kashmir
Evil uncle - The separatists
Hero's blind mother - Indian govt
Hero - Indian people and Indian armed forces

Those movies though meant to be serious, may appear comical and clichéd in present day and age. Never thought that will see those patterns repeating in this scenario.

If you can't get to Madan, since his father is rich and powerful (China and USA), at least get to the Evil Uncle first (the Hurriyat). We can kick Madan’s ass in the climax.

Hope this analogy can provide the necessary jolt!

Why Hinduism is probably the best religion for humanity - A modern argument

Posted on Tuesday, 22 March 2016 No comments

Of course such a claim would sound preposterous and obnoxious, of course I'm saying Hinduism is the best religion because, through my name you could probably guess, I'm a Hindu. I'd request you to avoid that tangent for a bit and indulge me for a minute.

You be like, let's hear this fool (eyes rolling) ...

I'll take that ... let's go with that.

Quick question -- God exists, or no?

If you've doubts about this, it's alright, it is an opinion that god is an imagination, no higher force, no miracles, no cause or reason. It's an opinion and it's alright, a debate for another day.

For now let's assume God Almighty exists and pretty much running the things behind the scenes. And religion is a means to connect with God.

Well if there's one God, there should be one path to reach him right? Not quite, if God is omnipresent, then ways to reach Him must be numerous. Religion is a way to connect the mind with the higher force. At least that's what the intent was, before religion got corrupted with power, politics and identity.

If all human minds are not identical there cannot be a just one way for them to connect to ONE GOD. And the God has to be one, not many, it's more elegant to think that way. The moment you reach many Gods theory you enter the weird area of those gods probably being aliens. That's a theory too, but do you want to think of being controlled by some advanced civilization than a loving God?

It's all estimates really, no wonder most atheists consider religion and God to be the most elaborate trick played on human mind. But they're also the most bitter, unhappy bunch. 

Reiterating again, for the scope of this article God exists.

Monotheistic religions were onto something when they proposed the unity of God and declined the multi-God hypothesis. Like I said before it's more elegant that way, also simple.

Religion should be simple. Probably that's how it'll survive in the future. But another side of the coin tells us, human mind, the target audience for the religion paradigm, is not simple. It's probably the most complex creation of God or nature, depending on your leanings.

And this mind when imagines God, it imagines him in myriad of ways. Just millions of versions really. And then the competitive human mind wants to prove that his God is better than the God of the next door Joe. Knowing fully well that God has to be one, has to be. Because if the "non-believers" are praying to a God of a different name and different storyline, it's still has to be the same God, cause the God is one in reality. This is when God and religion becomes an identity issue. Because of ego.

Humans need God, yes, even if he does not exist. You know why, because humans need hope. We're all dying in the long run and we don't have a clue where we came from. Good is the anchor in this vast universe of loneliness.

But we are also supremely stupid. It's not our fault, we're evolving. Animals are stupid right? So what if we're at the top of the food chain? The God that we fight for is human, as human as we are. Because that is the extent of our imagination. Religion probably aimed to help us reach God, but instead human brought God to his level.

Our God needs pleasing, has a huge ego, needs to be protected, gets so offended, needs to teach a lesson, has a strict moral code. In reality out god is human, because the idea of God is limited by our puny little minds.

Oh the humanity! Right?!?

Monotheism could have worked really well in an ideal world where every heart was pure and made of ice cream. But that's not true. The path of religion doesn't need to be so narrow that you can build gates and install gate keepers. That's the recipe for disaster. You don't know where that chain reaction will take you. Actually, we do know, we are there right now. A pile of huge mess.

The path of religion needs to be wide. Real wide, like the sea. So wide, that it can absorb and soothe each mind. Hinduism may appear polytheist from the outside, but the real intent of idolizing millions of deities is to package shapeless-formless-omnipotent-unfathomable ONE GOD into human-understandable culturally-relevant deity. To an outsider, it may appear confusing and unnecessary, but at the bottom of the pyramid, at the individual level, it works.

Now few of the minds might be wondering. Buddy, do we need the religion then? Let the man follow the natural spiritual course, why bind it with a religion?

Humans are naturally spiritual, we crave answers, we're conscious, we're stressed out. But you know what else we need? We need structure. Hence the government and hence the religion. Free range humans never reached anywhere. At least not in majority. You may have one Buddha, or may be a few, but who will serve the spiritual needs of the less enlightened?

Religion is a requirement, hence it evolved. It's a spiritual structure for humanity. It needs to evolve further, post science and democracy, for that it needs a foundation. And that foundation can't be a narrow back alley, it has to be the sea. The ocean.

Hinduism can be that foundation. It's a structure without a structure. It is so vast so open that it can absorb your personal spiritual preferences and not judge you. This is also the reason it has survived for so long. 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' - The World Is My Family, slogan suddenly makes so much sense.

A Christian may hate a Muslim, a Muslim may hate a Jew. But a Hindu-Christian would love a Hindu-Jew. And a Hindu-Muslim too, why not. Never seen one in reality, but why the hell not? It's probably only a Hindu in this world who'd find some divinity in all paths. They'd happily pray to Sant Issah Masih and Sant Mohammed. If Hindus can worship 10 million Gods, those Gods may know how many gurus, then why not the man who died for your sins? And why not the 'prophet', who claimed he saw God in a cave. Why not? All are welcome. 

This is the beauty of Hinduism, they can find divinity in a stone, then why not in a person close to God? May appear a little gullible, your average Hindu, but his own spirituality reflects in the deity or the guru. 

When you're a Hindu, you may become an arya samaji and stay away from idol worship or a Hindu-Sikh who has no qualms on praying to Guru Granth Sahib in Gurudwara or a Sufi, who you see and can't tell if he's a Hindu, a Sikh or a Muslim. This freedom and openness of heart is needed in your spiritual journeys.

Standalone, Christianity and Islam are great religions, but could have worked on probably a more homogeneous species, like ants or bees, not humans. This is the essential flaw, human mind, needs variety and breathing space.

Hinduism is not perfect, but there's a reason for that - proximity to Islam. The competitiveness I mentioned earlier, that again is at play here. Hindus have lived for so long in proximity with Islam and their worldwide brotherhood, that their openness is no match for that focused Islamic energy. Many now want to reshape Hinduism like Islam, where intolerance is the norm. It may appear rigid, but in reality it's an act of defense. On it's own, it has no standing. There's just so many mind games that Islam is capable of playing that it's own followers are mere pawns, what would an average cow loving Hindu do? Modern Islam would chew you raw and spit you out.

How Islam uses Secularism against Democracy

Criticizing Islam is not politically correct - The term is 'Islamophobia'. You better keep your doubts about Islam to yourself else you'll be quickly tagged as one with an anti-Islamic agenda. A Hindu right winger. An RSS agent. A Kafir. A Non-Believer. Freedom of religion is one of the basic principle of democracy.

Did I miss Manu? He was a giant step-back for the Indian civilization. He should be called the grandfather of modern Indian politics. Wonder had he met Mohammed, there would have been some great scope of bromance right there. Could have hated women together, those two. May be Manu could have segregated Islam a bit with his caste innovations, could have disspiated that evil brotherhood marching towards world domination today.

Though the great thing is, Hinduism has the ability to change, evolve, absorb, adopt and reshape. It's like the water of Ganga, which doesn't go bad with all the pollution thrown in. This quality makes Hinduism an ideal candidate to become the light in these dark times. This is what a religion should be like, so varied, so vast that it has a place for everybody. Even the atheists, don't believe me, read the RigVeda. 

This is the idea of Hindutva. And India has successfully practiced it all these centuries, despite all the problems, today we survive as the most diverse nations in the world. A big credit of that goes to the Hindu majority. Hindutva is often misunderstood, and fault is it's proponents too. You can't have your most unpolished and inarticulate people become your mascots. And that needs to change. The discourse needs to move away from identity and ego. The approach shouldn't be that of a fire-fighter but a light bearer.

Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga

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