Observations by someone who grew up in the stifling atmosphere of dogmatic Christianity and appreciates the freshness and freedom of undogmatic Hinduism– and wonders why Hindus are so apologetic about their religion when it actually is the best bet for a fulfilling life.
Hindus used to say, “All religions are equal”. They did not want to see that the two biggies, Christianity and Islam, did not agree. Each of those religions claimed for itself, “We alone are the only true religion. Our God is the only true God.” They pitied Hindus that they might actually believe that by stating that all religions are equal, Hinduism would be elevated to their level. Of course, the ‘true religions’ will never allow this.
Now Hindus say, “We respect all religions. We teach it to our children. Our children hear a lot about Christianity and Islam and how good these religions are. We don’t want to offend anyone, so we teach very little about Hinduism and what we teach is only about superficial things, like festivals and customs and not about the deep philosophy and scientific insights which would portray Hinduism in a good light and might irritate other religions.”
Again, Hindus don’t want to see that Christianity and Islam do not respect Hinduism. The clergy of those religions don’t say it into their face, but to their own flock: “Hindus go to hell, if they don’t convert to the true religion. It is their own fault. We have told them about Jesus and his Father or the Prophet and Allah respectively. Still, they are so arrogant and foolish and hold on to their false gods. But God/Allah is great. He will punish them with eternal hellfire.”
In a variation of “We respect all religions” Hindus also say, “All religions teach the human being to be virtuous and good and lead him to God, the creator. Hindus attend Inter Faith Dialogues and try to find the communalities. Of course these are there. Hindus try to build on them. “Yes, all religions have good points. Yes, all religions have good people.” They keep repeating that all religions teach goodness, as if to convince themselves. However, deep down, Hindus know that this is not honest and lacks intellectual integrity. They know that Christianity and Islam have gone off track by preaching exclusiveness and hate to their flock. Those religions have encouraged persecution of others and brainwashed otherwise kind human beings into fighting for an imaginary god who supposedly hates all those ‘others’ who don’t believe, what they are told to believe. They have left a trail of bloodshed in history. But Hindus choose to ignore it. ‘Why provoke unnecessarily?’ they might feel, still betraying a psyche wounded by thousand years of oppression.
Is it not time that Hindus call a spade a spade? Swami Vivekananda has said that every Hindu who leaves his faith is not one Hindu less but one enemy more. He said this while India was ruled by the British, and Christians and Muslims were encouraged to feel superior to the “idol worshipping Hindu”. Hindus were not in a position to put the record straight, as their own elite put Hinduism down due to a malicious British education policy. Yet today, 66 years after independence, it is about time to tell the world loudly and boldly what Hinduism is about.
It is not about ruling the world. It is not about believing in unverifiable dogmas. It is not about being nice to those of one’s own faith and not nice to those of other faiths. But it is about discovering what we really are, apart from the ever-changing body and mind. The ancient rishis have discovered the oneness underlying the apparent multiplicity, long before western scientists did. This conscious, blissful oneness is not somewhere out there. It is permeating everyone (and everything) and can be felt as one’s own essence. This essence can be called God or Allah or Brahman, but the main thing is, that it is within everyone and within everyone’s reach. So, we truly are all children of the same God. We all belong to one big family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam. This truth provides the basis for a harmonious world and it makes sense, or does it not?
Should the United States be taking economic lessons from India? Former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich thinks so. Perhaps not from India as a whole, but at least from the booming western state of Gujarat, which has enjoyed 10 per cent-plus growth under its controversial chief minister, Narendra Modi.
"If we had Gujarat's growth rates over the last 10 years," Gingrich told Modi in a recent Skype video conversation, "we would have been a lot healthier country than we are right now."
While the "Gujarat model" has about as much chance of gaining traction in Washington as Mr Gingrich does, its prospects look brighter at home. Mr Modi has just become the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's pick to lead its 2014 election campaign. With the popularity of Sonia Gandhi's ruling Congress party evaporating fast, the BJP leader may soon be in a position to apply his "model" nationally.
Would he succeed? Could Gujarat's mix of pro-business pragmatism, limited government, hefty foreign direct investment and anti-graft efforts be expanded to the whole country? The task would be Herculean, and pitfalls abound. But India would reap big benefits for trying.
The mere mention of Mr Modi's name raises blood pressure. Muslims seethe over his failure to stop riots that targeted their community in 2002, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and Mr Modi barred from the US. Many see his governing style as autocratic, divisive and ill-suited to running a complex and cacophonous country.
Yet let's separate the villain from the ideas. Mr Modi harnessed his state's innovative spirit and didn't get in the way - both lessons the current government could stand to learn. Mr Modi's life story - he's the son of a train-platform tea seller - resonates with a populace fed up with dynastic politics. (Ms Gandhi's diffident son, Rahul Gandhi, is expected to be the Congress standard-bearer in next year's elections.) But what has really turned the Gujarat chief into a hero of the swelling middle class is his Margaret Thatcher-esque principle, "minimum government, maximum governance."
The current Congress prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has been a surprising failure. As finance minister in the early 1990s, he opened India's economy to the outside world. Investors hoped Dr Singh would use a sizable re-election mandate in 2009 to get back to his roots and remove barriers to trade, investment and job creation. Instead, a series of huge scandals involving everything from mobile-phone licences to coal assets have hobbled Singh's administration. New Delhi is gridlocked amid the slowest growth in a decade, just 4.8 per cent.
Gujarat's resilience stands in stark contrast. Over the last decade, Gujarat grew 10 per cent, compared with 7.8 per cent for the national economy. Under Mr Modi, Gujarat did four things that the nation, as a whole, can and should emulate. First, the administration has continued to slash away at India's "licence raj," the labyrinthine system of issuing permits that hampers business and breeds corruption. Second, officials revitalised industries from agriculture to manufacturing by improving irrigation, supporting small-share farmers and attracting new factories of companies including General Motors and Hitachi. Third, the state more than quintupled power-generation capacity by investing in more-efficient grids and building Asia's largest solar field. Fourth, Mr Modi successfully lobbied for business and infrastructure investment.
"Translating Mr Modi's success in Gujarat to the national level will be difficult as the bureaucratic impediments and opposition from powerful vested interests will be several times greater than at the state level," says economist Eswar Prasad of the Brookings Institution in Washington. "Nevertheless, a leader with a clear vision, strong political will, and broad political support is capable of effecting change."
That last point is key. Even if India stands to benefit from Gujarat-style reforms, that doesn't necessarily mean Modi is the best man to implement them. In fact, given how distracting his personal controversies are likely to be, he could be the worst.
Part of his popularity goes back to a long-running desire among middle-class Indians for a strong hand at the tiller - a Chinese-style autocrat who can break the grip of dithering politicians. No, Indians don't want to live under an oppressive regime that jails dissenters and muzzles the media.
But a system like India's that can't deliver and represses the economy isn't much fun, either.
The problem is that India's thriving democracy features several potent and independent-minded regional leaders with national ambitions - a multiplicity of Modis. Its constitution contains strong elements of federalism. It's very hard even for a popular and charismatic leader to ram proposals down the throats of reluctant states, and Mr Modi is no one's idea of a consensus builder. If US President Barack Obama thinks it's hard to enact change, a domineering and unrepentant Mr Modi could well find it impossible.
India needs Narendra Modi's ideas more than it needs Mr Modi himself. Perhaps the leader and the message are inseparable - that's what Thatcher's supporters would have argued in her heyday. I'm not so sure. In any case, Indians shouldn't let the clouds that linger over Modi blind them to the dire need for change.
The writer is a Tokyo-based columnist for Bloomberg View
Do you know, how did British entered in India? Do you know its true story? British won the first of the Battle of Plassey in 1757 by his 300 army. 18000 Indian army was under the king of Siraj-ud-Daula. But its chief of Army was Mir Jafar. He got big bribe and money. He surrendered his 18000 army under the control of 300 British Army. Robert Clive killed all these 18000 Indian soldiers, king Siraj-ud-Daula and Mir Jafar. With this, British Entered India. So, today, we should get lesson from this true history. We should never get bribe, otherwise, we will again become slave.
Other information: Mubeen is a senior at the University of Oklahoma where he majors in biochemistry. Dedicated to a career in medicine, particularly oncology, he has interned at Columbia University and at the University of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and in its departments of pediatrics and urology. He has also worked in a program for entrepreneurs where he is developing an iPod application to detect concussions in collision sports. Mubeen also co-founded an education program for underprivileged youth in Oklahoma and tutors for children and teens in the Oklahoma Muslim community, and is an opinion columnist for the student newspaper.