Saturday, 4 August 2007

മലയാളം റ്റെസ്റ്റിങ്

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Kerala Minorities and their 'Minority Status'

(Religion as an opinion or an intellectual vision as we knew it is changing, taking new forms of power, politics and material. We are upset about changes. But do we fear that breaking our silence on changes will dent on our decency and good nature. For those who think that a discussion on change is eminent to forge a healthy religious unity among the Kerala people, here is an opportunity)

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) on Wednesday granted minority status to five educational institutions under the Pushpagiri Medical Society; ending an eight-year-old wait that began in February 1999. With this, the number of professional colleges having minority status in Kerala has gone up to 11. reference

Currently the number of minority institutions that got ‘minority status’ stands at 27 and the upward trend continues.

The Commission’s verdict, apparently kept under wraps by Kerala’s Media from reaching its majority, is riddled with controversy, lack of common sense and is another example for India’s judicial bungling.

That an Indian constitutional clause (article 30) intended to guarantee a minority, rights to run own educational institutions to attain equal development with the majority is used to enhance the minority’s domination over the majority, is the controversy.

The verdict is a cover for the rich owners of Kerals’s Professional Colleges to renege on their social responsibility. For the socially and economically backward, still reeling under India’s old apartheid and the poor it deflects professional education into an unreachable trajectory.

No doubt, it hacks through the socialist model of development that Kerala has been envisaging for decades. I wonder how many current flag bearers of the ‘minority status’ would have been there if Kerala had not embarked on that model.

Currently the two minorities in Kerala, the Christians and the Muslims, are far more advanced than the rest of its population.

One cannot forget how these minorities have turned Kerala’s old apartheid situations to their favour: a Kerala that reeled under the lordship of a lazy, unskilled feudal land-lords, and an equally inefficient royal princes.

Colonialism with its missionary outfit and the oil in Arabian lands rushed more opportunities into the minorities’ hands.

When feudalism crumbled, its bankrupt managers had no choice but to pawn away Kerala’s land properties to the rich minorities.

In the rush of the foreign money even when the minority wholesaled the landed property of Kerala, the poor patiently retreated to the outskirts blaming their own destiny, appreciating and respecting the achievement of the minorities.

They never interfered with the minority’s rights to language and religion and never discriminated against them.

Yet, why are my minority friends cutting out a sorry state of them invoking article 30? To gain development at par with the majority, or to renege on their social responsibility towards the disadvantaged and the poor

Who is a Kerala Minority?

Amidst all these perhaps the most interesting questions are (i) Who is a Minority in Kerala (ii) In the context of Article 30 of the I.C, are the rights for minority educational institutions the same as ‘minority status’?

Even the UN that stands to protect the rights of the minorities the world over does not give a definition on, ‘Who is a Minority?’

In some context, minority is taken to be people that are undergoing serious discrimination and ill treatment from the rest of the population, which has never been the case in India.

Likewise, the Indian constitution never defined who is a minority in its national or state contexts. The following article highlights that even article 30 of the Indian constitution are silent on “Who is a minority?” reference

John Dayal, President of All India Catholic Union Secretary general, All India Christian Council defines in his article, “The Indian Government, the Supreme Court and the Religious Minorities of India”, that article 30 as one that gives “ Minorities, both religious and linguistic, the right to administer their own institutions as the means to preserving, encouraging and propagating that distinctive culture which makes them what they are, members of India’s rich tapestry of a plural culture”. reference

Do Christians in Kerala have a ‘distinctive culture’ different from that of the rest? If so, is it European, Roman or American? The same question applies to the Muslims?

According to a 2004 statistics in Kerala, there were 258 professional colleges run by minorities against 89 Hindu-owned. Were they for ‘preserving, encouraging and propagating minorities’ distinctive cultures? (Somebody please help me)

In the same article Dayal talks about Soli Sorabjee, India’s esteemed former Attorney General that he recently presented before the Supreme Court of India that “the right of the minority communities to establish and administer an educational institution was absolute and this right should not be "tinkered" with.”

But see what is reported as written by the very honourable attorney general under “What is a minority?” on April 11, 2007.

In the Kerala context, he observes that “In its advisory opinion in 1958 on the Kerala Education Bill, the Court opined that as the legislation in question applied to the whole of the State of Kerala, the existence of a minority “must be determined by reference to the entire population of that State” and that by “this test, Christians, Muslims and Anglo-Indians will certainly be minorities in the State of Kerala” ”(this opinion was based on numbers).

In the next page he expresses his own view that the practice of deciding a minority based on mere numbers is ‘not conclusive’. Instead he says, “ The criterion should be empowerment. The relevant questions to ask are, what is the strength of the community in decision-making, formulating policies and their execution” reference

Based on these criterions, who is a minority in Kerela?

If anybody is having any doubt read the following article. reference

A little bit of history

The current ‘minority status’ has a history starting with the Self Financing Institutions established in Kerala in 2000 during the time of A.K. Antony (UDF) as the Chief minister. Initiated apparently to attract rich learners who threw huge capitation fees in colleges outside the state, it evolved into a private-public partnership in higher education with the slogan ‘one aided college equals two government colleges’ that contained a reservation programme for the backward (socially, economically and physically).

That the disadvantaged Hindu communities and the poor were unable to take advantage of this government partnership offer is a crucial point here.

Instead, the economically, politically and educationally dominant minorities lapped it up.

This resulted in an enormous rise in the number of seats created in the private colleges. According to the Education Minister E.T. Mohamed (2005), the number of seats in engineering, medical, agriculture and B.Pharm courses rose to 29,511 in 2005-06 from 9,369 in 2000-2001. During the same period, the number of candidates admitted under the reservation quota for Scheduled castes, Tribes and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes also shot up to 7,004 from 2,666. reference

However the management of the unaided institutions was never in favour of a reservation intended to help the poor.

Without mentioning a few ‘important’ Supreme Court verdicts made in the case of unaided institutions in the era of the Capital, the story of Self-Financing Institutions will not be complete.

The first was the Unnikrishnan case (1993), in the verdict of which Justice Jeevan Reddy evolved a scheme to help the poor, which was apparently the base for Antony’s education plan.

The second was Justice B.N. Kirpal’s majority judgement in the 11-judge TMA Pai case (2002). In the zeal to remedy the pitfalls in the Unnikrishan case, TMA Pai ruling went in favour of the managements. It gave autonomy to un-aided institutions in certain aspects and State control in other aspects which created more confusion than clearing some. It let the aided colleges to interpret autonomy as it pleased to charge tuitions fee and capitation collection at their whims and fancy.

It also made some slip-ups here and there which prescribed reservation ‘locally’.

After the TMA Pai case verdict, the fees both in the aided and government colleges soared beyond the reach of ordinary people about which the Supreme Court could do nothing. reference
Then there came a Supreme Court Verdict in 2005, which abolished the government quotas in unaided professional colleges in the case of Kerala.

The Kerala Professional College Bill passed in the legislative Assembly (2006) was apparently the state’s way of dealing with the issue that too is nullified by the Supreme Court.

As MA.Baby, the current minister of Education (LDF) explains the Bill was dealing with Minority Educational Institution and not about Minority Status. And according to him hardly any of the Kerala minority institutions had opted for minority status because they never fulfilled the conditions it entailed. That means minority institutions and ‘minority status’ are two different things. reference

Amidst all these constitutional and legal confusions, then all of a sudden we see the tinkering up of the Commission for Minority Educational Institution with extra judicial powers and the appointment of three members from the minority communities as its commissioners and it conferring ‘minority status’ on Kerala’s minority institutions.

This legally redeems them from the social responsibility of reservation.

Some Suggestions as Way forward

(1) The government of Kerala instead of wasting time on discussing the matter with private management who had already lost their credential on trustworthiness should embark on making new laws to assist the disadvantaged and the poor

(2) In case it fails, it should withdraw with immediate effect, the aid it provides to the minority educational institutions and assists the disadvantaged communities and the poor to establish their own institutions until a proportional balance is reached in development between them and the so-called minorities.

(3) This issue having the self-financing managements and its supporters on one side and the government, the disadvantaged, the poor and their supporters on the other, many think, has the potential to divide the Kerala people along religious-social and personal lines. What can be done to avert this impending crisis seems to me an important question.


Sunday, 29 April 2007

Stay on OBC Reservation Bill- Gross Human Right Violation?

Cheat us once. Shame on you.
Cheat us twice. Shame on us.

{A Chinese proverb}

My concern is based on two recent legal decisions made by the esteemed Supreme Court of India, the final authority on legal matters in the nation. First, the March 29, 2007 stay on Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill that was intended to provide 27% reservation in admission to Other Backward Castes. Second, it granted protective minority rights to Christians and Muslims in Kerala, two most economically, socially and educationally advanced religious groups in the state in terms of their ownership in capital, landed property and institutions.

If the first decision put a plug on many young Indians’ dream to enter India’s elite institutions in the 2007 academic year, the second has not even trickled into Kerala’s ordinary people. Because they haven’t even heard of it; the media in Kerala, owned by Christian and Hindu managements apparently muted the news.

According to my knowledge no TV channel, state run or otherwise, a radio station or any means of public or private communication uttered a word about the crisis that has the most devastating effect on the majority Keralites who belong to Hinduism, the most traditional religion of the land.

Neither Deshabhimani, a media apparently under the ownership of the state’s ruling Communist Marxist party did find it apt to inform the public.

The only media in my understanding that disclosed the judgment was Madhyamam, apparently run by a Muslim management and not read all over Kerala. My hats off to its editorial integrity.

A few websites that disclosed the matter are of little use to the affected Kerala population for Internet and English are beyond their reach.

More on the OBC Reservation Bill

According to N.S. Sajith in the ‘The Judiciary’s Excesses’ that appeared in Deshabhimani Weekly, 22 April 2007, Supreme Court’s March 29 stay on the Reservation Bill was its second quash on Parliaments’ initiative to reserve seats for the backward castes. In 2006 it had ruled against admitting India’s socially and educationally backward learners into professional Institutions. The parliament then unanimously passed the Reservation Bill as part of its 93rd constitutional amendment, on April 7, 2007 as an alternative to that ruling.

The protest staged by the student bodies of the elite institution of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi and the euphoria it unleashed in the major metropolis of India after the SC’s stay is an indication of how they view the government’s act to bring the disadvantaged in the society up to their level.

Those ‘meritocrats’ of the current globalised material world of India see themselves as an advanced group replete with inborn potential as opposed to the majority with hardly any potential begging for an undeserving statusquo.

It is not by accident that the majority of ‘meritocrats’ are in those institutions. In racial and religious terms they represent India’s oppressor castes. Out of anger they called Arjun Singh the minister of India’s Human Resource Development who presented the Bill in the parliament as one of the ‘cynical old man acting on cold political arithmetic’.

They ridiculed Ram Jethmalani for saying in the Parliament that “the present generation, the people of so-called merit must learn that the present society will have to pay for the sins of our ancestors’.

But how do they know about their ancestors if the truth about their ancestry and anthropology is shrouded in the fabricated history of India?

They believe that they “belong to the Rang De Basanti generation who believe in har desh mahan nahi hota, use mahan banana padta hain (A country can achieve greatness only if its citizens strive to make it great”.

And this should be read in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s judgment,
“Nowhere in the world do castes queue up to be branded as backward. Nowhere in the world is there a competition to become backward” (Sunday Times; South Africa).

The government had made it clear that the additional 27% OBC admission would never affect the non-reserved in any way. It has plans “to increase the total number of seats in central educational institutions by 54 per cent within a year, at an estimated expense of Rs. 80 billion (Rs. 8,000 crores)”, if the plan goes ahead.

However the central government is still determined to maintain the Bill.

On 23rd April, it appealed before the Supreme Court to ‘vacate the stay on the Reservation Bill’. But the court declined.

The failure of Indian democracy.

Ironically the Court’s judicial rationale on staying the Bill has nothing to do with the backwardness of the OBC. But it has everything to do with the backwardness, lack of merit and morality within the democratic components; executive, legislative and judiciary of India controlled so far by its ‘great’ groups.

While the court heavily criticised Mandal commission’s (1991) recommendations to provide 27% reservation for OBC as inaccurate and flawed being based on false fundamentals it does not know how the correct information could be gathered. That was how the SC judges answered the minister from Kerala on his question about it last week. The legal authority of India is questioning after sixteen years the Commission’s findings that OBC constitute 52% of the population of India.

What more, India has no valid information on the demography of its backward castes. The only information of that kind available from a 1931 national census is not valid now. The commission’s statistics were the basis for the reservation Bill.

There is not even a proper definition for India’s disadvantaged people in the normal historical and anthropological contexts. Scheduled caste, tribes, backward and other backward are political categories tinkered up in the post- independent India.

The classic cases of India’s judicial, executive and legislative bungling are surfacing now only to punish the majority population who are already variously disadvantaged. Alienated from traditional skills, they lost their historical and social relevance and are now a political football between the executive and the judiciary.

Some may concur with NS Sajith that the stay on the reservation Bill is the case of India’s judicial excesses on the executive.

The ‘meritocrats’ may proclaim that time has come for India’ s judicial awakening to clear up its political mess such as ‘vote bank’ a sleazy trade of reservation for political power between India’s ‘great’ leaders and small people.

But when one reads the following statement from the SC verdict on the Bill, belief in the court will take a different turn

“(OBC Reservation) would lead to chaos, confusion, and anarchy which would have destructive impact on the peaceful atmosphere in the educational and other institutions and would seriously affect social and communal harmony. The constitutional guarantee of equality and equal opportunity shall be seriously prejudiced” (

Kerala has been a reservation state. And any communal and racial harmony it can boast of has come from its reservation approaches nullifies the above argument.

Prabhul Biwai in his essay,’Anti-quota Stir Misguided’ argues that the anti-reservation move was not spontaneous and natural but organised by three parties ‘one upper caste-dominated professional guilds like the Indian Medical Association; captains of industry and owners of private colleges, who stridently oppose any extension of Dalit-Adivasi (Scheduled Castes-Scheduled Tribes) reservations; and Bhartiya Janata Party politicians’

If this is true, it puts the judicial integrity of India’s Supreme Court in serious jeopardy making its monumental stay on OBC reservation a deliberate attempt at further stagnate the socially and educationally backward castes of India who have been the subject of a political ride since independence, the responsibility of which rests on its so called leaders who belong to the ‘meritocrats’ camp.

In this regard the issue of the Bill’s stay is the violation of the fundamental human rights of its disadvantaged population. It implies that India’s apartheid still continues under its democratic skin.

And the ‘meritocrats’ ’ presumption that only one section of the population is eligible for super speciality education and the majority does not qualify for that is gross insensitivity to India’s skewed socio-economic and educational development and is therefore a further proof for its hidden apartheid.

The court did not argue that ‘a backward minority’ is a myth, but it opposed the arithmetic used in projecting their statistics. Is it the problem of the backward castes?

The court has agreed to hear the appeal on the Bill in a few months’ time seemingly in September. And how are the politicians going to formulate a comprehensive caste statistics about a major chunk of India’s population in an honest and sincere manner within such a short time?

And what will be the outcome of that appeal?

An important question now, is what is the role of India’s disadvantaged castes to help each other to escape from this politico-judicial quagmire?

As I wrote at the top, they have cheated India’s disadvantaged not once but many times. So now the fault is theirs if they do not stand up to get counted.

And how do they do it?

Next Kerala’s controversial ‘minority rights‘

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Vishu- Keralite's New Year

vishukonna(cassia fistula)
Keralites celebrate this year, April 15 as their New Year day. Pampered at its western coast by the Arabian Sea, Kerala is the smallest state in India.

Its population of 30 million speak Malayalam, a language formed out of Tamil under Sanskrit influence. Nearly one third of its population live overseas in Africa, Europe, America, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and Asia.

Keralites celebrates their New Year as Vishu. It is the day on which the sun enters the Mesha zodiac according to astronomical and astrological calculations popular in the state. On the celestial map it comes after the autumnal equinox. Zodiac is a band of 12 constellations around the sky with the ecliptic passing through its centre.

Setting of the Kani

The celebrations kick off in the early auspicious hours of the day (between 4 am and 6am) with the watching of the Vishukkani (kani). Kani as shown in the picture is an arrangement of few natural articles easily available in any Kerala home during the season. It is set out by the lady of the home. She does it the previous night after the household went to sleep so that nobody else sees it before the right time.

Vegetables and fruits golden in colour, rice or paddy, konna (cassia fistula) flowers, a clean folded linen, a coconut half, beetle leaf, a book, coins, rounded metallic mirror and gold are the items needed to set the kani.

It is set in a bell-metal pot (any round pot will do). To start with, spread the paddy into its centre. Oil is poured into the coconut half to which a cotton wick (cloth folded and tied to form a bulb at the bottom) is lowered. This coconut lamp is placed over the paddy at the centre of the pot. Everything else is arranged around it in an orderly fashion with the mirror behind to reflect its light when lighted. Prayer room is an ideal place to set the Kani.

When the lamp is lighted at the auspicious time, the kani is ready to be seen by the household. Normally the lady of the house leads everybody in the family one by one to the kani blindfolded so that it is his or her first sight of the day.
The golden colour of the fruits and the flowers resemble the colour of the Sun. The light from the coconut lamp reflected from the round mirror when shines through the yellow article creates a spectacular miniature sunrise.

After the turn of the people the kani is taken to the outside to be seen by the cattle, the birds and all living animals and plants.

However the arrangement of the kani may vary from places to places.

Vishukaineetam or giving Vishu gifts is the second item of the celebration. It is the responsibility of the man of the house. He presents coins to everybody in the household and receives them from the most beloved one in the family.

Seeing spectacular sight and getting presents on the first day of the New Year takes care of the entire year is the belief behind Vishukani and Vishukaineetam.

As the day unfolds youngsters get serious with firecrackers and females with cooking a sumptuous lunch. It is prepared in the Kerala culinary style to include the four prominent rasas (tastes): bitter, sour, sweet and hot.

Meals are served on plantain leaves. All members of the family sit together for the meals. After the meal people visit friends and relatives and indulge in entertainments.

While Vishu embodies prosperity, beauty, wellness, knowledge, communal life, family organisation and friendship at a mundane level it unfolds ‘an elementary oneness’ of the universe at a spiritual level.

The time the sun enters the Mesha zodiac has implications for life on earth that are affected by seasons and other aspects of nature.

Every year, in Kerala, learned Jyothisis predict such effects based on the astrological calendar called Panchangam. This is an ancient Indian practise.

Vishu a secular event

Vishu observations are secular. Nothing about religion is mentioned in its original texts in spite of the contemporary Kerala temple practices to attach it with the deities.

Vishu is not the only New Year celebrations in India. It is commemorated in various parts of India under various names during March-April. In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Puthu Varsham. In parts of Tamil Nadu closer to Kerala, people celebrate Vishu as New Year. In Andhra Predesh it is known as Ugadi. The Bengalis celebrates it as Polia Baishak and the Assamese call it Bihu festival. Baishakhi is the Punjabi New Year.

Nepalese celebrate it by the third week of March while the Kashmeeris observe it on the second week of March. Many olden traditions in the world observe New Year on the days of vernal or autumnal equinoxes which falls during March.

Indians in general and Keralites in particular are people who wish to carry on with their traditions wherever they happen to live. It is important to pass on their ancient wisdom to their younger generations. Even if you live away from home it is not difficult to organise a Vishukkani for the auspicious time of the day.

One can replace many original things in the kani with the locally available products. For example, in South Africa a yellow pumpkin and a yellow ripe mango can replace the jackfruit and golden coloured cucumber. Any yellow flower of the season can replace the konna flowers. Coconuts are available all over South Africa and a cotton cloth wick can be made out of pure cotton (or any small lamp will do).

I wish all Keralites and all who celebrate new year now, a very Happy Vishu and a prosperous New Year.

Sunday, 18 March 2007



Ever since we came to South Africa, a visit to Cape Town was on top in our wish list. Housing many wonders including South Africa’s parliamentary buildings, it is considered an
(picture from UCT website)

exotic tourist destination by South Africans and foreigners alike.

Several times we planned a visit to the city. But by some reason or other it did not materialize for a long time.

Then there came an invitation by courier asking our younger daughter to appear before the management of Telkom South Africa for a bursary interview in Cape Town. The bursary was for her studies at the University of Cape Town, where she was about to start her tertiary education in a few weeks time.

It came in such short notice that we had to make haste in preparing an itinerary for our trip and pack. With a few tips from her father our elder daughter took care of that. Packing and the sundry were as usual left with our younger daughter and myself.

We worked around the clock like busy bees. When we went to bed after making sure that everything had been packed in the car it was past nine at night. My husband set the alarm so we could start off by 5.00 in the morning.

Next day at 5h00 sharp we hit the road.

Nine hours to cover the thousand kilometers from our home town (Grahamstown) to Cape town and an hour for lunch and coffee breaks, we estimated the arrival time to be 3 in the afternoon.

We reached the outskirt of the city of Cape Town by 2 in the afternoon. From there on we were thrown into the hustle and bustle of the city. The last leg of hundred kilometers was not anything like what we experienced till then.

The more we sank into the city traffic the more strenuous the driving became. At regular intervals the highway branched into many lanes causing the inexperienced drivers to veer into a wrong lane. By the time you had realized the mistake there was no coming back until you reached a flyover. By then you are far removed from your destination.

Before we reached the city traffic we had decided that my husband would be on the wheel, our elder daughter assisting him with direction.

Armed with a road map of the city she sat on the passenger seat and steered our way to the city centre and to the hotel we had booked for a couple of days. Flashing glances between the road signs across the road and the road map she broke the tense silence in the car suggesting that her father stay on the lane or to drift left or right where she indicated.

At 120km/hour changing lanes was not easy.

Vehicles dashed in a single direction in three lanes. The race created a sense of urgency. Laws of motion, as it were, presided over human destiny.

It evoked in us a sense of diligence and an anticipation of the city’s industrial and corporate hub that was soon waiting to unfold before us. Both the drivers and the passengers in those speeding vehicles were masters or servants of that corporate world.

They were chasing time.

Yet they were extremely courteous and friendly to the visitors. A car that bore the registration number of another province was forgiven if it veered inadvertently into the faster lane.

The highway was protected on both sides by high walls. They tucked the city’s poor citizenry away from its time-chasers.

Slowly the motion streamlined into a rhythm. We were cruising in the flow.

Once the tension subsided, we became jovial to make remarks about the huge blocks of buildings on both sides. The traffic became hectic minute by minute as we entered the city center. The speed limit suddenly dropped to 60 km/h and we felt the entire world flooded with vehicles.

Inside the city, traffic was controlled by intermittent traffic lights. In front of the red light sometimes you have to pause for two to three minutes.

As we entered into the thick of the city traffic we got lost a few times since we took the wrong lane. Because traffic instructions were perfect, we could find our way easily back.

In case you are lost terribly you can enter into any petrol station which are spread all over the city and the petrol attendants are of excellent help to guide you through.

At one point we saw a flash of a deep blue on our right indicating the proximity of the beech and the beach hotels. We had booked for a hotel on the beachfront.

In five minutes our car was pulled into the front lobby of the hotel. We had booked into one of its self-catering apartments.

The receptionists at the counter were an Italian couple. They were extremely friendly. We felt as though we were visiting a long lost family friend. After exchanging greetings and small talk we went to our fifth floor apartment.

Spotlessly clean, the bedrooms, kitchen and the sitting room offered us a pleasant ambience.

We were all very tired. My husband offered to make us tea and after that we decided to have a nice rest.


Monday, 5 March 2007



It was with great shock that I read about Yahoo's infringement upon the copyright of a Malayalam Bogger (Suryagayathri) and a Malayalam web-publication ( How could a web giant stoop that low?

Its subsequent denial of the copyright violation by distancing itself from the action of WebDuniya, its own subsidiary and the deleting of the content in question from their web was like adding insult to injury. When Yahoo! India makes such claims it is making the public doubt about the integrity of the organisation and its code of conduct for the employees. We take an employee of Yahoo as Yahoo itself.

Trying to fool the Malayalam language users certainly does not spell a fair business practice on the part of Yahoo. It is not by trampling on the rights of individuals and small publications that a giant corporation like Yahoo! India should flex its muscle.
Where are its work ethics and philosophy on customer care and relations?

If they had genuine customer interest in the Malayalam language users, they should have done their homework with care, sensibility and sensitivity.

A word to Yahoo India: it is not yet late to do the right thing; respect the copyright of the individuals on their blog content.

Monday, 26 February 2007



OUYTHOUSoiiNNsuth Africa, India and an old sea route
South Africa India and an old sea-route

Who was the first European that landed in India?’
‘Vasco De Gamma from Portuguese’
‘Which route did he take?’
‘The sea-route from Portugal rounding the Cape of Good-Hope’
‘Why did he come to India?’
‘To promote trade between India and …’
‘Was he?’
Was it for that, he pioneered that route risking his life and of his fellow sailors in the rough seas of Atlantic and Indian? I was remembering my history classes in a remote Kerala village school, many years ago, when I was a fifth grader, where our teachers used to impart knowledge about things perhaps they did not know much or perhaps in the way the writers, publishes and the politicians wanted
A map of Cape Peninsula
to purport them?

I was standing at the peak of the Cape Point, a cape adjacent to the Cape of Good Hope.

The sea below more than 1000 meters was rough and the wind howled in fierce animosity. The attraction at the top of the mountain was an old lighthouse. Prefabricated in London more than three hundred years ago, it was brought over there, a script embedded on a metal disk inside it read.

It looked like a shrine, by age and the solemn-ness that lurked in and around it interrupted only by the howling wind. The wild shrubs that filled the rest of the mountaintop spilled an exotic cent into the air.

Travelers from all around the world, moved in and around it in awe apparently lapping up the history its monuments displayed or not displayed. I noticed the gentleness on their fingers and faces when they touched on those monuments, a metal plaque or a wall inscription, out of excitement.

Sitting inside it, somebody once controlled the sea traffic between the two halves of the world and the destiny of the people in them dawned onto me as a fleeting thought. At one spot, inside the lighthouse stood a spiked metal pole with each spike indicating the direction and distance to the most important cities in the world.

India and South Africa were the two key links in the proliferation of European colonialism. Traffic along the Cape route was once heavy. Ships stuffed with India’s natural and human resources moved forth to the various European colonies and back with the finished products. The place value of South Africa at the initial stage in the colonial equation was to offer transit facilities to those long traveling sailors. Later when South Africa’s natural resources were discovered it became an excellent enterprise zone.

By the later part of the 1900s when colonies turned democracies and technologies were developed the colonial sea-route between East and West rounding the Cape of Good Hope diminished and was abandoned. The whole area is now a national heritage and human dwelling is nowhere in the vicinity.

Blue Rock cable water, a funtastic ski resort with mountains and wine

At the feet of the Cape Point that forms the Southern tip of the African continent and of the South African nation, meet the two prolific oceans: the steely cold Atlantic and the warm bubbly Indian. Cape Maclear and Cape Point are two other adjacent capes at their meeting region.

Beyond the feet of the Cape Point, traveling by vehicle is prohibited except for the trams run by the State Tourism Department. To climb up to the roof of the sharply escalating mountain on foot is like a pilgrimage without rituals. Among them were children, youth, old, male and female. Along the side of the neatly paved walking route are varieties of natural vegetation that form parts of the 7750 hector Table Mountain National Park surrounding the Cape Mountain.

We went there as a family. The excitement about the city never ended. It goes on….

Friday, 23 February 2007

Appology For Hindu Untouchability


The following is an apology forwarded by ‘Navya Shastra Organisation’ to the untouchables (avarnas) of India, as I found in the Hindu Press International (HPI), December 21, 2006. Navya Shastra Organization Apologizes for Untouchability -

Hindu reform organization, has issued an apology to the Dalit communities of India. The organization issued the apology after consulting with Hindu activists and its own Dalit members. It reads:We, at Navya Shastra, deeply regret and apologize for the atrocities committed on the sons and daughters of the depressed communities of India, including the tribals, the "untouchables" and all of the castes deemed as low. We shamefully acknowledge that the ideals of varna and its practical manifestation in castes (jatis), promoted and encouraged the notions of inequality, lesser and greater, high and low, superior and inferior among human beings. An ideal that does not aspire for equality of human beings is not worthy of being an ideal. Caste and varna have relegated many to a degradingly low status. This was a divisive, inhumane and a ruinous social construct. Navya Shastra fully recognizes this and rejects unequivocally as heinous and despicable varna and caste together with all Shastras and theories that endorse them or support the unjust and demeaning social hierarchy that these imposed on the Indian society. Navya Shastra understands that all Hindus cannot be equals when such theories are still amidst us. We ask for forgiveness for what our forefathers did in the past to directly and indirectly contribute to any and all indignities heaped by one human being upon another in the name of Dharma and God, and which some among us continue to do even in this enlightened era. The depressed and lowest castes have been the keepers and protectors of our oldest and most ancient traditions and wisdom. They have kept in practice the traditions that have become foundational to what we call "mainstream" Hinduism today. Some of the tribal languages, spoken even today, have provided the substratum for many of the spoken and classical languages of India. Most of our mainstream indigenous medicinal, agricultural, craftsmanship and other knowledge systems owe their origins to the knowledge and practices that have been propagated and retained within these castes over millennia. The folk performing arts were and are the main sources of input into the classical and popular art forms. We want to celebrate and fete all these traditions on this day, and pay homage to them. These traditions form the very foundation on which the Indian civilization stands today.

Navya Shastra(NSO), apparetnly functions in the west as a neo-Hindu organization is trying to come clear off an age-old Hindu uppercaste legacy, to denigrate India’s majority as ‘untouchables’. As the first of this kind, the apology deserves attention and the offer should stand until the untouchables of India find this proposed change of heart felt in their real life.

The following are some of the concerns in this regard:

NSO is apparently an academic reformation waged on the electronic and print media. How can it bring a change of heart in those who have no access to such gadgets and opportunities? Both the perpetrators and the victims mostly live in Indian villages where such gadgets have little access. Even if they have access, how can the NSO's academic appology-call make a change in their thinking?

The following recent news-clips are proof that the uppercaste's discriminations against Dalits (untouchables) in India are still live.
Educated Dalits Speaking Out (
Dalits All Set To Enter Orissa Temple (
Orissa High Court Rules for Dalits
Dalit Statue Attack Sparks Hindu Riots in Mumbai (
Dalits Threaten to Convert After Being Denied Temple Entry (

If Navya Sastra Organisation should be taken seriously, then their reforms should show results. For that they should have foot soldiers to carry out their reforms, where the discrimination is still live and kicking: in the minds of millions of Indians.


Hinduism a Brahmin-European Discovery.

In the following essay, I try to explain the meaning and purpose of this 'discovery' and how it affects the existence of the Indian majority, based on an article 'The Invention of the Hindu' written by Pankaj Mishra. ( However, I do not agree with everything Mr. Mishra mentions in this article.

Though I have heard about this Hindu discovery before, Mishra’s is the first article I read on it. Among other things he writes, “Hinduism is largely a fiction”, an 18th and 19th century creation of the colonial Europeans and their Sanskrit learned Brahmin intermediaries in India.“Together, the British scholars and the Brahmin interpreters came up with a canon of sorts, mostly Brahmanical literature and ideology, which they began to identify with a single Hindu religion”.

Before going further, I suggest to read this article from the above link

If anybody feels the news shocking, that is natural. In the more than the five generations passed by since this creation, Hinduism has come to represent on the one hand a monolithic religious institution of India and on the other a cultural and national identity for the Indian majority. And to admit, all of a sudden that, that identity is a fiction jointly created by a people who pause the cultural leaders of India and of a foreign people is not easy.

And when one says, Hinduism is a creation of the Brahmin-European alliance, what does that mean?

Does it mean that traditional India’s knowledge and wisdom, its holistic philosophy, enterprises, industry, civilization, religions etc. that we find in the current Sanskrit Brahmanic Hindu texts are creations of a 19th century Brahmin-colonial union? No. They only ‘interpreted’ those knowledge and wisdom, preserved in India's oral traditions and peppered them with a few stories of their own, to appear as theirs.

However, this kind of interpretation of Indian tradition by foreign migrants was not a phenomenon that started in the 18th century. It started much earlier than that; the Brahmanic puranas and even the Gita are apparently such interpretation of earlier Indian traditions.

How those migrants later became Brahmins has a twist. Original Brahmins of India were not foreigners. The Kuchela Brahmin narrated in the Brahmanic text Bhagavatha was a poor, learned, humble, person. He was the representation of the typical average traditional learned Indian. How the Kuchela Brahmin was coerced to join a tardy, greedy pack of foreign migrants who played second fiddle to a villainous migrant ruling class and how he finally traded off his ideals for material as engineered by ‘bhagavan Krishnan’ is the story of the avil-puranam in the Bhagavatha. Once the true Brahmin tradition had gradually collapsed, the migrants cut and pasted that tradition and clan-name on them and they better be called the neoBrahmins (nB).

And why didn’t the Indian majority know anything about that Brahmin fiction and did nothing to protect themselves from its shame?

The reasons could be:

Once the neoBrahmins (nB) stepped into the scene, they displaced the majority from the mainstream using racial/caste apartheid. That led to the majority’s traditional enterprises, industry and quality of life deteriorating at rapid pace. The nB also prohibited the masses from educating and learning, which left them with little grasp of the devastation inflicted on their tradition. Neither it was easy for them to prioritize the issues of freedom and dignity, while worried about subsistence. As time went by their young generations slipped into poverty and ignorance and it became impossible for them to dwell into existential quests.

Why was it invented?

On the other hand, the nB with the wealth and property expropriated from the majority, embarked on a new existence in India (Kerala) and elsewhere. Long before the colonial period, the role changing between the nB and the people of India-nB taking the role of the enlightened Indians and the Indians taking that of the subverted migrants- was in full swing.

And once the colonials struck, an instant rapport was found between the two. Though the chemistry between the two activated unthinkable equations and formula in to the various aspects of Indian life the deadliest of them was found in the religio-cultural field.

Invention of Hinduism was one such. Mishra argues that in the British rational this invention was to impose a ‘uniformity’ or to ‘fix a single identity for such diverse communities as (they) found in India ..’. However, in my understanding, beyond this superficial rational, both the nBs and the British had hidden agendas. The invention fabricated an Aryan racial connection between neoBrahmins and the Eropeans. This authorised the nB the sole custody of Indian religions and civilization and in turn the British got to lay a claim on to a civilized Aryan ancestry.

Serious contradictions

And how much of the above claimed ‘uniformity’ and ‘single identity’ by Misra have the Indian majority achieved by way of inventing Hinduism? It only trapped them into an outside abstract religious identity/label with which their inner Being that was deeply entrenched in traditional religions came into sharp contrast. To some extent they were not even conscious about those inner attributes though their actions were guided by them.

And a kind of such contrast Mishra observes in his aunty which surpises him (please read Mishra’s article).

But contrary to the Indian majority, Mishra’s aunt was unconscious about her inner being. She was more conscious about her outside religious label and the prejudice it imposed.

In most cases the Indian majority rationalizes the outer and let go the prejudices it invites using their inner beingness. That is why the passive chanting of a nB or the political ranting of a Hindu fundamentalist makes little impact on their day-to-day life. Ideals of secularism, universalism and human values are their religion and ways of life which they easily practice. But they are not articulate about them like the westerners.

This non-articulation has been greatly exploited by the inventors of Hinduism. Mishra points out ‘most Indians then knew nothing or very little about the hymns …or the philosophical idealism of the Upanishads that the British and other European scholars took to be the very essence of Indian civilization’. That is, by western definition, only those who could make the outward academic expressions of Hinduism, the right chanting of Vedic hymns in Sanskrit, are true Hindus. Very few among the Kerala majority can read the Gita or the Upanishads in Sanskrit, but they do practice the exact ideals purported in them. But for those go pedantic about Hindu definitions they are heathens. But, how much of the nB who chant Sanskrit hymns in right ways follow those ideals in real life?

Hinduism, as an invented Brahmanic label and as the traditional religious ways of life are two mutually evasive theologies. The latter can never meet with the former.

Hindu temples?

Converting India’s traditional reigious centers into Hindu temples was an organized part of Brahmanic institutionalization that might have started much earlier than the colonial arrival. Traditionally India’s sciences, art and architecture were developed around those temples, which were then secular than religious. Once converted into Hindu temples, neoBrahmins denied the majority access to them and became the sole owners of their property and possessions. Evidence of them tampering with the old temple structures and deities are evident in all present Hindu temples.


In conclusion:
· Contents of this article are not aimed at upsetting anybody. Misconceptions in the west that Indian majority are not proper Hindus for they lack its formal knowledge is taking a toll on their dignity and existence. To Deal with every unfair decision taken in the parlour of human history is the responsibility of the generations that follows.
· Present generation of India (Kerala) may be innocent of the doings of their forefathers. However their dignity is very much in question when they still continue in the path of their for-fathers.
· Indians (Keralites) who tend to ignore this issue out of shear modesty or arrogance are making huge mistakes. A culturally conscious Kerala Hindu youths, at home and abroad are growing disgruntled about complacency with the deliberate damages on their cultures. They need education to purge out the dirt inflicted on their religion and to embrace the truth hidden beneath it.

· In this regard, the invention of Hinduism as a religious label is not simply a religious issue. It is, I believe, an issue of Indian culture and civilization. So it is the business of every Indian who is genuinely concerned with these matters whether they live in India or elsewhere.