Friday, September 19, 2014

You Speak Your Language, I Will Speak Mine - But We Shall Still Communicate!

Let me start with a negative note:
I am fed up of language barrier in India particularly, and in general globally. We humans have divided ourselves into very narrow pockets with linguistic identity. Mother tongue (matru bhasha), National language (rashtra bhasha), state languages (rajya bhasha), official languages (raj bhasha), classical languages (shastriya bhasha), link language, entertainment language, second language, third language, foreign language, invader language, heritage language... etc etc.

Here a chart that I had prepared the last time I got frustrated with language debate. Since then, 2 more classical languages may be coming up - Odia and Malayalam.


What I have learned after decades of seeing language debates and politics... Languages unite in some cases. But in more cases, languages divide us more than they unite. I don't have to give details of how languages have divided millions of Indians today.. how they have made 100s of millions of Indians see other 100s of millions of Indians as "un-Indian". The anger, the snubs, the protests, the beating, the reservations, the school politics, the ganging up, the insults.. it's just ugly in so many cases. In the height of "my language versus your language", many have stopped seeing others as a Bharatiya... or even a human deserving dignity.

The key problem is the unnecessary pride and chest beating.. If you don't learn "my language", you are not equal.. And the natural reaction is that if I abandon "my language" in government and business, it will be lost! And practically it is not possible for a regular person to learn more than 3 languages well - I mean read, write, speak and understand at high school level. With nearly 2 dozen really big languages being spoken by millions of people in each case, India is the land of language conflicts.

Frankly, I am not pro any language strongly.. I am not anti any language strongly. My take is that a language serves a purpose of communicating. Language(s) will help you get diverse information. Each have their own style and strength. They also have weaknesses. I am very proud of mine and you be proud of yours. Personally, I am all for more the merry policy! And that's pretty much it. If you start giving it too much importance and create your whole identity around a language (or opposing some other), it is not the best usage of your time. Languages evolve, borrow words, grow in vocabulary, shrink and die. It's a natural cycle. Some just undergo metamorphosis into one or more daughter languages in the course of time.

But nothing is constant. Kalaya tasmai namah. Everything that's born will die one day.
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And now the positive note:
What if.. we had a system in this 21st century, wherein  
You Speak Your Language, I Will Speak Mine - But We Shall Still Communicate!

Sounds crazy? Sounds impractical? It's not. Let me put in my vision and you tell me if this is possible. If possible, you are by all means free to use this idea and make money in the long  run :)

But I have some ideas.. I am sure you will have lot more. And none of these are not any genius stuff as many would already be in place in advanced pockets of our globe.

1) Let's start with a visit to a tax office, a bank or an insurance office. Take the tax office. You have to deal with a tax form as shown here. You are the "kardaata" or "tax payer" in Guwahati. What if you can't read either of the languages the form is printed in? There are 100s of millions of such Indians who can read and write, but not these two languages at an expertise level to fill in a critical piece of tax information.


No problem..
You take your mobile phone that has a handy scan app built into it, and just scan over that tax form. Or you can use a more elaborate professional handy scan machine.


Voila.. the form is fully scanned and you will see on your device an Asomiya translated version. Better, you will have the ability to key in the Cheque number, type of payment etc. right into the phone. When done, simply press a button to e-print the filled form right there. The office will have it right a the desk.
For those who can afford, it can be in their car. Almost all traffic inspectors in Bengaluru today print their traffic violation payment receipt right on the street using a blackberry phone which can print. 


The job is done. Those printing the challans have no language problem. They can print in one or two languages of their government or institution's interest. Those taking the service don't have to worry about learning the languages. They can fill in any language that they are familiar with. The important thing is for the job to get done well, easily and in an affordable manner.

2) Next - emergency instructions.

You are traveling from Guntur in AP to Mysuru in Karnataka. Almost all literate passengers in this inter state train would know Telugu or Kannada or both. But the night train has emergency instructions only in Hindi and English. Lakhs of people who travel interstate between these destinations would have difficulty reading and comprehending the vital emergency instructions.


Again.. use your phone, even the basic smart phone variety. Click the picture of the instructions. The app will then recognize the language(s) and give you an instant translation in Telugu or Kannada. Problem solved!

Some might say.. what's the big deal in reading these 3 lines? Trust me.. 100s of people died in train emergencies in India each year and even if 2 extra lives are saved crossing the language barrier, that's worth it.

It's not just train. It's for all emergency instructions. Plane, Volvo bus, LPG cylinder, inflammable fluid carriers, hazardous material handling factories, school premise, movie theater.. etc. etc.
When life saving instructions are not in the language you can read, they are NOT life saving! If we can make it truly language independent using sign languages, that's different. But at least here is some way to use the existing system, instead of changing it fully.

3) Moving on - Meeting a stranger for asking directions.

It has happened to almost all of us a few times in life. We ask for directions in a city or village that we are visiting, and invariably the language barrier comes in. In most cases, there's a genuine difficulty. But in some cases involving linguistic animosity, people are rude and won't help you. All of us will know at least 2 incidents in life, where we were shunted out just because we could not speak "their" language. In my view, it's risky to be language illiterate in India, particularly for women.

So here's a simple way out. You meet someone. Put a headphone bud into one ear.

Select the on source and destination language buttons on your phone. Boom... you can have a conversation. Your phone is acting as a real time translator. The other person also does the same. Even if the other person is not equipped with this app, your device will tell you what to tell after translation. Everything happens in real time! No interpreter needed. And adding a couple of simple Namaste, Thanks, Shukriya, Vanakkam will make the other person feel happy and your job will be done really well.

If you take the technology further and use Google Glass, you can do wonderful things without needing much human help. But Indian streets, particularly the non metro downtown areas, are a long way from actually using self-help Google glasses. So you need technology that can be simply used with existing human support that's available.



4) Then - Your PM speaks in Hindi.

Now this is a big issue in some pockets of south India and east India. PM Modi speaks in only in Hindi. Language pride and language hate politics kick in. Learn Hindi...  Don't impose Hindi groups start quarrel. If the PM were to speak in English too, the same things would kick in, but from some pockets in the North or West or center. The point is not language. It's the proficiency we have with it, and the like we have for it. Why not use mine is always the problem!

I can't solve the language problems when we have nearly 24 languages, each spoken by at least a few million people in India. It's next to impossible. For 60+ years people have tried. So what I would try is to let you keep your language and let me keep mine.

With just 20 seconds delay, all websites and TV or radio channels that broadcast PM's speech, can do a voice change-over into destination languages. The technology exists already in Europe which is yet another highly diverse India-like continent.


Europe and UN, with dozens and sometimes 100s of languages are involved, conduct business already without any barrier. We in India are still ages behind quibbling over mundane "you speak in my language" nonsense. In Indian parliament, if you have to ask a question in the 2000 year old INDIAN language Kannada, you will have to take prior permission. Unless you have prior permission, you have no choice but to switch to one of the 2 official languages, which at least 200 MPs from non Hindi regions of India are not proficient in! And they keep quiet and their constituencies suffer because of this language barrier. It's really silly and so non-federal in nature. And the same problem across all legislative assemblies where most Indian languages are shunted out even if there are people in the state speaking those languages.

So what can be done? Let the parliamentarians find their solution. We can focus on the general public watching TV. There are a variety of instant translation mechanism available with human help. All it takes is one person per TV station or one person per group of language channels/sites. Problem solved! No more subtitles issue. No more linguistic protests. It can even be two way in any TV debate. You ask in your language and an instant translation software or human intervention can take the debate to the destination language. You can literally participate in a Bangla debate at 5 PM, a Kannada debate at 7 PM and a  Hindi debate at 9 PM, if you are a channel hopping celebrity.. just kidding :)

If you want the original speaker's language, just select original voice through a remote button. In many cases, the emotion and dialogue delivery in the original language has no substitute in the translation. Additionally, another feature of play original and play translation for each sentence, where needed. This way you will learn some basics of the leader's language too. All these are possible with DVR technology and voice translation technology already. We just need to expand and make them affordable. 

5) Lastly.. you are on the road.

You are vacationing in Pune from Coimbatore but can't understand Marathi..
You are visiting Lucknow from Guwahati, but not proficient in Hindi subtitles.
You are touring Tirupati from Vadodara, and can't read temple displays in Telugu.

You can't read the local news papers.. nor can read street sign boards.. nor can make out the TV scroll. It is practically impossible in India to help all languages at all places.

So..  just point your mobile towards it.


App will get the info, understand the source language, translate it and show you the translation without changing the non-text part. Instantly!

You can use this in movies.. plays.. games.. street.. and even schools and colleges.
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In summary:
  1. No more English panditya needed. Time to take the "elite" advantage away from those who have proficiency in English. They have a distinct advantage in Indian businesses today.
  2. No more fights on Hindi or no Hindi.. Time to take away the "elite" advantage central governments have created for those who speak Hindi, so that they alone can transact in government offices everywhere across India.
  3. No more Tamil pride, Marathi pride etc.. politics. Time to take away regional linguistic chauvinism (sometimes justified, sometimes not) where the anger is against one or two focused linguistic groups.
  4. No more hidden messages in one's language insulting the others. I am sure you all have seen in elevators, taxis, buses, trains, street corners..
  5. No more wasting or ink, paint and time in printing/announcing the same info multiple times. Isn't it irritating to hear the same announcements in 3 or 4 languages at some stations?
Make the world an equal opportunity place for all languages. I have only talked of some basic applications here. There are many advanced ways these can be taken to our education, industry, government, hospitals, temples and beyond. Imagine visiting Gaya and understanding instantly the meaning of those shraddha Sanskrit mantras when attending to the last rites of a dear one? The amount of usage is practically limitless.. all we need is proficiency in ONE Bharatiya language to live happily ever after (I consider English also as a Bharatiya language now).

The best part is that no major investment is needed. With smart phones already with more than 15% of Indians now, it is just a matter of time before 75% will have smart phones. I mean it's possible even before 2020 at the current rate!



So what are you waiting for? Go start a business or create apps to work on these ideas. Be a good Engineer. After all Engineers rule the world :) Be a good linguist to help the engineers. Be a great salesman and use the best finances to get it to all corners of India. Use the technology!

Everyone can understand, read, write and speak all languages. Wah.. now pinch me!!

Pictures used from: Wiki, bemoneyaware, blog.wisefaq, brighthub, pnrstatus.co.in, dailymail.co.uk, marketingmag.com.au, hearbudz, telecomcircle and techmaza.org. All credit to the original rights holders.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dr. Narendra Jadhav Educates On Indian Economy

Today, got a chance to hear the very well informed Dr. Narendra Jadhav. He's an expert on Babasaheb Ambedkar's letters and policies. He's also an expert in Indian economics. He has written 30 books in multiple languages. You can browse more about his illustrious career or visit his website that has plenty of information.


I gathered some very nice points from his talk. They are as follows:

a) Dr. Ambedkar was fluent in Gujarati too, apart from Marathi, Hindi and English. Most people will recognize BR Ambedkar as the constitution formulator and a strong voice against untouchability in India. But very few know that the real forte of this multi faceted man was economics. Dr. Jadhav is a great resource on Dr. Ambedkar and his economics lectures.
b) BR Ambedkar has given a total of 537 speeches in his life in 4 languages. And Dr. Jadhav has compiled all of them in his English series of books. Now planning on releasing a Hindi version by December 6th, after the Marathi versions were done.
c) After independence, PM Nehru announced that India would double it's per capita income every 10 years to double the standard of living levels. But in reality, between 1951 and 1986, India's per capita income grew only at 1.2% (growth 3.3% and population growth 2.1%). At that rate it would have taken 59 years to double India's per capita income. In comparison, China doubled in 10, Korea in 13, Malaysia and Indonesia within 2 decades!
d) LPG stood for Liquified Petroleum Gas till 1991. But soon, PV Narasimha Rao's policies made LPG stand for Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization.
e) India in spite of 16 to 17% of the world's population, only had less than 1% of the world's trade in 1991. So the fear mongering against liberalization was silly. 99.5% of the world's trading economies would not "gang up" to harm an economy that formed just 0.5% of the world's trade.
f) When Deng Xiaoping was asked how come you are liberalizing the economy being a communist, he said, I don't care if the cat is black or white.. as long as it catches mice, I will take it!
g) Post liberalization, Indian economy grew at over 6% between 1992 for over a decade. It peaked at nearly 9% in 2007-08. Without liberalization it would not have grown anywhere near it.
h) Europe is facing severe economic crunch. The larger economies have exploited the smaller ones. PIIGS = Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, are disasters. Now all packages to save them.
g) India is at once in a very long time (centuries may be) kind of Demographic dividend advantage right now. India's average age now is 24. It will be 29 by 2020. By then, China would be 37, USA 38, Western Europe 42 and Japan at a disastrous level of 49. All these regions did very well economically when their demographic dividend was suitable. That means, more hands to work and less dependents to feed. Automatically, the savings would be highest during such situations. India has that opportunity of favourable demographic dividend for the next 15 years. If India messes during these 15 years, this would become Demographic Disaster.
h) The one important factor that Narendra Modi government must focus on during this Demographic Dividend window is the Social Sector - Education, Health and Social Amity. Unless these are taken care of, high growth can not be sustained.
i) In India, the education sector needs to be streamlined in order to realize Modi's dream of better skills for all youth. Right now, the ITI (technical training) is under one department while the general education (non technical, but engineering included) is under another department. This friction between the department of Labour and Department of HRD needs to be resolved.
j) Modi has announced a new department called Ministry for Skills development. This is a great step and a first time ever in India's history. However, this is having a Minister of State leading it, which might make it less efficient when cabinet level Labour and HRD ministries are at friction already.
k) There's a priority Schedule Caste and Tribe funds allocation per department as mandated by government policies. If the state has more SC/ST population than national average of around 18%, they must allocate more by department. But neither the center, nor the states have implemented this till date, in spite of demands for decades. Out of the 68 departments in the prior UPA government, only one had even a line item for SC/ST separate fund account.
j) Regarding black economy, India needs to think of the root causes and solve them. For instance the gold rate differential was 65% more in Mumbai 10 years ago. The 500 gram per head gold import reform of Manmohan Singh made it go to 15% making it unprofitable for smugglers. Similarly, we need strong laws in drugs and other areas to stop the hawala network. Just adding more police will only increase more corruption, and won't solve the problem.
h) Lastly, a very little known fact is that while Ambedkar was the man who initiated skill development in public sector, it was Tagore who initiated the skill development on the private sector via Sri Niketan after his Shanti Niketan project.

A good learning experience, from a very learned man!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Yazidi and Hindu Similarity

Yazidis are in news for a grave situation in northern Iraq. They are being literally exterminated by the Islamic State Jihadis. Only 7,00,000 or so Yazidis remain on the planet today and most of them are in the northern provinces of Iraq near Kurdistan. 1000s have died already this year and their mass killing via siege, starvation and other means is gut wrenching.

The world is watching without doing much to save this extremely rare race. #SaveYazidis cry on the social media is not having much effect as 10s of 1000s of them are on the verge of extinction or capture into slavery by the extreme radicals of ISIS. The situation of women and children starving to death has created an uproar across the world, but not much help is coming forward.


While researching into who these Yazidi people are, I stumbled upon some unmistakable similarity with Hindus of India. Two hours back, I didn't know much, but after putting these side by side, I am almost getting convinced that these Yazidis are a lost tribe linked to ancient Hindus of India. The overlapping features are clearly not some coincidences that you will find among pre-Abrahamic religions of the world.

Yazidis kiss a peacock shaped lamp.
Hindus light a peacock shaped lamp.


 Yazidis temples have pyramid shaped gopura just like Hindu temples.


Yazidis symbol is a wing spread peacock, just like Hindu god Shiva's son, Subrahmanya's mount. The most important point to note is that peacock, the national bird of India, is a native of south and south east Asia or Africa. Not found in the area of Iraq or Syria at all.


Yazidi mural on wall of their holy Lalish temple is unmistakably Hindu. You can see saree, which is an unofficial national dress of India.


Yazidi temple at Lalish has snake symbol at the entrance. You won't find this among other tribes of Arabia or Mesopotamia. For Hindus, Subrahmanya is the other avatara of snakes and worshiped very closely for all snake related pujas like Naga Panchami.


Yellow sun Yazidi symbol 21 rays.
Number 21 is sacred to Hindus (Ganesha). Offerings are in 21 count like Modaka (sweet).


Yazidi marry within their castes like Murids, Sheikhs and Pirs.
Hindus marry within castes.  Yazidis could have something like Gotra system (researching).


Any Hindu with even basic understanding of aarti plate, will see Yazidis as their own.


Yazidis believe in continuous rebirth and reincarnation.
Same as Hindu Punar Janma concept.

Yazidis do not circumcise, a very rare thing in the middle east.
Hindus do not circumcise.

Yazidis pray with folded hands. Hindus pray very similarly to their Gods and Goddesses.
Yazidis pray at sun rise and sun set, just like Hindus. Both face the rising or setting sun when praying to sun.


Yazidis have a symbol similar to Bindi or Tilak during temple prayer, very similar to Hindu forehead custom.


For big celebrations, lighting lamp by females common to both Yazidis and Hindus.


Yazidis men worship Melek Taus by lighting fire in temples.
Hindus' do similar fire based worship to their Gods, with high regard for agni the fire.


As I read and browse, there are more similarities popping up. The trident (Shiva's trishula), the vessels used during worship (kalasha), the sound (something like dhol and shankha), sun worship methods and much more..

I am convinced that they ARE deeply connected to ancient Hindu civilization. Whether through Zoroastrian connection in Persia (today's Iran) or directly via migration, has to be researched. If you find credible sources, please share them in the comments.

And most importantly, please put pressure on the Indian, Iraqi, US, EU and other governments to save them. They have just a few days between life and death, at the current barbarism level of ISIS. Let this very rare and ancient tribe of our earth survive.
 

Pictures used in this blog entry are from these websites. All credits to original copyright holders: 
thehindu.com, www.iisd.ca, china-iraq.org, Wikipedia.com, middle-east-online.com, himavanti.org, alokmu.blogspot.com, metrography, demotix.com, indiandacoit.com, flickr.com, ibtimes.co.uk, mangalorean.com, stuartfreedman, blessingsonthenet.com and vox.com. 

Upakarma: A Harmless Hindu Festival

Yesterday was a day of threads for  Hindus.

It's the Purnima or full moon day in the month of Shravana for most Hindus. Hindus who are keeping the tradition of wearing a sacred thread of commitment (yajnopaveetam), wear a new one on this day. Now a days mostly Brahmins and Vaishyas follow this. The overall number is quite small compared to the total population of Hindus. And Hindus who are keeping the tradition of sisters tying a thread for commitment to the wrist of their brothers (or brother like other men), tie rakhi on this day. Yes, you can call this sacred thread day for these two reasons.

But as you can expect around any Hindu festival, "secularism" creeps in.
Dainik Bhaskar, a big Hindi newspaper started "Main Rakhi nahin baandhungi" campaign. It essentially was for a girl to say "I won't tie rakhi".. unless....

Their theme was to generate "respect for women", but as always, such campaigns are only targeting Hindu festivals. Just a week back imagine if they had started a campaign that "I won't celebrate Eid.. unless...".

Hindus went in full force on the social media against this campaign. Finally Dainik Bhaskar had to suck up and remove this from their website right in time for Rakhi morning.

And then came the day of Upakarma morning. Promptly, another prominent media house's Editor started attacking this Hindu festival on Twitter.
Of course, if you follow the responses, most tried to educate her, and a few tried to dare her attack other religions similarly. Not surprisingly, this Editor of a big Indian news paper started focus on only the favourite points all communists are taught to follow.


Her point 1: Women in Hinduism (particularly Brahmin women) are discriminated and are there only to "assist" a male in Hindu rituals.

Her point 2: Please don't attack Islam or others, irrespective of how discriminatory their practices might be. "Secularism" means, as Editors of big news papers we have guts only to attack Hindus on Hindu festival days. We don't dare to do any such preaching or "conduct discussion" on Islamic or Christian festival days.

Let me focus on the Upakarma part more here as most already convinced the anti Rakhi campaign to end before the festival itself.

First of all, is Hindu Dharma (not a religion per say) anti women?

The reality is that it is not. By and far, Hindu women have been accorded the best status that any religious society offered anywhere in the world. Hindu women have been queens, goddesses, have been revealed sacred verses, have authored plenty of bhakti movement songs/bhajans, have been dancing queens, have enjoyed supreme status when it comes to respect.
  • Hindus (and some non-Hindu Bharatiyas) scream "Bharat Mata ki jai".. Not "Bharat pita ki jai"!
  • Hindus worship Devi Lakshmi for wealth.. the most important aspect for livelihood. 
  • Hindus worship Devi Saraswati for knowledge.. the most important aspect to start any livelihood.
  • Hindus worship Devi Durga for strength.. the most important aspect for any survival or warfare. Female Durga is so powerful that she even steps over the dominant male Shiva's chest at her fiercest moment!
  • Hindus teach their kids "Maatru Devo bhava" before Pitru, Acharya or Atithi..
  • Hindus (yes those "evil" Brahmins in particular) chant Gayatri mantra as the most supreme mantra, dedicated to a female shakti. 
  • Hindus often cite "Janani Janmabhumi cha, swargat api gariyasi" giving mother and mother land the greatest status, even above paradise (if it exists)!
  • Hindus teach at a young age, "yatra naryastu pujyate, ramante tatra devatah", drilling the point that where women are well respected, only there the gods will enjoy (meaning reside). 
  • While almost all religions of the world are for men, by men, to men, Hindu Vedas stand out tall as an exception (yes, the same Vedas chanted by "discriminatory" Brahmins today). Ghosha, Lopamudra, Maitreyi, Gargi and others made women proud by being a part of compilation of sacred Vedas! 
In fact, there are many women poojaris (priests) across India today. They are not in significant numbers, but they exist. I visit a Shani Mahatma temple in south Bengaluru, where the main poojari is a woman in her 50s. Just last year, a famous mainstream temple in Karnataka, the Kudroli Shree Gokarnanatheshwara temple, got two widows as the key poojaris! It didn't last long for other personal reasons from their side, but Hindus by and far welcomed and didn't have any demonstrations against widows becoming main priests of a very famous temple.


I have seen women funeral priests, woman marriage purohit, women conducting yajnas and much more.

So it's silly to come out in public to say that Hinduism is against women. I am focusing beyond the tweets of Malini P, as there are plenty of such women who relish the idea of bashing Hindu men and Hindu ideology itself. I am sure the same "intellectual" women would hide if we start asking to show some women Moulivis or women Bishops in India from other religions.

If you have to sum up in 2 lines, the core essence of Hindu philosophy of an "educated man", this one propagated by Swami Vivekananda, stands out.



It's not that Hindus don't have women beaters, rapists, eve teasers, murderers and much worse. But they are NOT justified by Hindus by any means, quoting some scripture. They in fact many would demand that such men should be punished the same way Rama punished Ravana, or Bhima punished Keechaka.  But hey.. it's possible to convince those with an open mind and not those brainwashed by communist ideology. You can only place the facts on the table and expect them to introspect some day.. yes some day! They live only in the topics such as Sati (which have ceased to exist since centuries), Sabarimala temple (which is one temple, with a unique reason), Sita's agni pariksha and a few other pet topics that they use to beat up Hindus, particularly on their festival days.

Are Hindu women not allowed to wear any sacred thread?

Quick answer is, Hindu women are very much wearing sacred threads. There's no restriction. Keeping in mind practical limitations, they wear different types of threads. Threads over the wrists, around the neck and around the ankle are common ones.

Now the longer answer:

Brahmins, Vaishyas and Kshatriyas mostly follow the sacred thread ceremony (that is worn around the torso from neck to waist). In some cases, many other castes, traditionally considered outside of these three, also follow. In Karnataka, Devanga, Goldsmith and dozens of other castes also follow this. But mostly Brahmins keep the thread throughout the year. The basic essence is that the sacred thread gives the right to perform vedic yajnas and other rituals. (Not merely wearing thread, but also knowing what they are performing). For those who were not doing Yajnas, this was not a part of custom. There were many yesterday who openly were showing their thread on social media. It's only 3 Rupees for a pair of threads, so in no way this is "elite" who prefer not to wear.


The basic idea is that the human body is sacred and the 3 strands represent Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. By wearing the thread, one would remind about the divinity inside himself, and keep the body clean (physically, spiritually and otherwise). A man is expected to change the thread if there is "impurity" such as blood on the body, death in the family and many more. And there's always a yearly ceremony where as a group that community changes thread.



Since 20th century and 21st century customs don't have the main thread for women (they have other threads), a married man also wears his wife's part of the thread over himself. The second thread (with 3 strands) that he wears is for Grihasta ashrama. Every time he prays Gayatri or performs other pooja, the reward is automatically shared with his wife. Those who teach Vedas usually wear more sets, but that's more complicated. Just like festivals where women pray for their husbands, here the man not only conducts yajna (fire sacrifice) for himself and his wife, but also for his entire family and society.

For married women, mangala sutra is the main thread (now in the form of gold thread) in 20th and 21st century. Other threads like those tied on wrists are immensely popular for girls and most wear. For instance, Bheemana Amavasya in Karnataka (south Indian equivalent of Kadva Chauth) sees lakhs of girls wearing thread on their wrists after a vrata.


They are kept and disposed off as sacredly as a man would wear and dispose off old threads. So the contemporary tradition is that mangala sutra is the main thread for a woman, and Yajnopaveetam is the main thread for men. A married man has the second set of strands and a married woman has the mangal sutra. That way, society can identify the wedded aspect easily, in places where threads are made visible.

In some communities like Lingayats in Karnataka, women wear threads across their body (like cross bar) just like men or around the neck. There would be a Shiva Linga tied to the thread.

For Hindus, every thread over the body is sacred. There's nothing like one thread is more sacred than others.

What do Hindu men do in Upakarma? Is this ritual anti women? Is it against "lower" castes? 

That is termed in Sanskrit as Upa Karma (upa meaning near, and karma is duty). It's also known as Avani Attam in Tamil, Janivarada habba in Kannada, Gamha purnima in Odiya and so on. Usually a "dwija" or born again Hindu performs this.

The procedure differs from region to region, and from veda to veda. Here are some steps for the Yajurveda Upakarma.
  1. Ganapati puja praying for obstacle removal. 
  2. Invoking Gayatri for shakti into the sacred thread. 
  3. Worshiping ancient Hindu sages who have guided us with knowledge all along. 
  4. Wearing the thread. One for wife also in case of married men.
  5. Rishi tarpana (offering prayers to the ancient rishis or sages who guided us). Kaanda Rishi tarpana is performed with the help of head priest or Brahma seat occupier.
  6. Deva tarpana (offering prayers to all the gods who protect and guide us).
  7. Pitru tarpana (offering prayers to the ancestors from both father and mother's side who enabled us to be living on this planet today).
  8. Brahmacharis or bachelors perform a special agni karya or fire ritual.
  9. Full fledged fire ritual and fire sacrifice called Upakarma Yajna (no, no blood involved. Not that kind of sacrifice). 
  10. Among many other steps, the key is that prayashchittha (atonement) for all the mistakes and sins our families might have committed during the past year. 
  11. Lastly, there is a long set of mantras or prayers for better rain, peace in the society, guidance to walk in the path of dharma, and much more. 

There is NOTHING in the Upakarma that preaches discrimination towards other castes (not present there) or gender bias. There is no cursing or preaching against "enemies" of a particular ideology. There is no sermon making people fear the "all powerful". There are a series of shanti mantras for betterment of everyone on the planet! There is in fact a particular phase where not just the current family, but also women like matamahi are paid tributes, going 3 generations up to women of the family.

The only catch here is that these fire rituals that involve vedic mantras, must be performed by only those who have been initiated into the rituals. The initiation called Brahma Upadesha is usually a step to make the boy or man aware of why's, what's and when's. Otherwise it won't make sense for the person participating. That's why mostly you will find Brahmin men today performing these on behalf of everyone in the society. If someone who has not been initiated wants to participate, there are 1000s of outlets in temples and mathas, where initiation can be obtained and they can join irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. The best part is, one does not even have to "convert" to Hinduism. Read this to get a glimpse of European and African origin Hindus who follow Hindu rituals. I have personally seen European origin men actively participating in Hindu fire rituals after wearing sacred threads, and even getting married in proper Vedic manner.


All they need is a vow for restrictions on food, and advice on puja and homa that a thread wearing person is expected to follow.

In fact, the most *hated* Hindutva man Veer Savarkar ("seculars" chide him as hindu supremacist), presided over a Yajnopaveetam ceremony for former Hindu untouchables (Dalits) in 1929 at Malwan. This was a historic step in correcting the course of Hinduism which had steered off due to mistakes by some Hindus.


The complete step by step  of what's performed in Upakarma is listed in this PDF.

In summary:
  1. Hinduism has probably bestowed the best status for women among any traditional religions or similar setup. 
  2. There's no restriction for women becoming priests or wearing sacred threads. In fact there are many festivals like Varamahalakshmi, which are specially for Hindu women, involving sacred thread. 
  3. There's no restriction for women to perform Hindu rituals. Many are doing it actively. 
  4. There's nothing against women being performed during the "male festival" Upakarma. Similarly there is nothng against men performed in "female fesivals" like Lakshmi pujas. 
  5. As it is practiced today, Upakarma is essentially for "upper" caste males, but that does not make it against anyone else. Everyone is free to join them during 21st century, if they feel a need to perform Vedic rituals for self and for the society. Hindus have tried their best to remove the historic barriers.
  6. There's absolutely nothing against any caste, religion or "non believers" being said or done during a Hindu festival like Upakarma. 
When will the self-styled "intellectual" Editors wake up to the reality?
And when will they develop "balance" to criticize ALL religions' festivals on the day of those festivals?

Images taken from: Facebook, Twitter, yensures.com, logbookwasilla.com, kheper.net, daijiworld.com, www.dw.de, kgbyoga.wordpress, anandsp1.wordpress and bharathgyanblog.wordpress, resurgencehinduism.blogspot, agniveerfan.wordpress. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Israel and Palestine Issue – What Indians Should Know

First things first:

I am not a historian. I am not a politician. I am not a peace activist or a war monger. And most importantly, I am not belonging to any of the three religions that have fought over Jerusalem over millenia – namely Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Frankly, I am indifferent to who has Jerusalem at the end, as it is NOT a holy place for me.

That makes it a lot easier and a lot less emotional. Right? Yes, I am a Hindu, a proud and practicing Hindu who is taking a look at Israel and Palestine issue from an Indian view. Don't bracket me into anything beyond this. I respect the rights of Jews to live in Israel. I respect the rights of Muslims to live in Palestine. And in real life, I have worked for long number of years with both Jews and Arab Muslims, so I kind of know the tremendous sensitivity of this topic. If the writeup does not suit your thought or understanding of the problem, then educate me, rather than bracketing me or ridiculing me. Thank you in advance!

Now that there is a lengthy preamble, let's get started. I am presenting here a series of images, taken from some well researched videos and blogs. The references to them provided at the bottom. All credits to the original researchers and documentary makers.

Where did the Israeli Jews come from?

Jews were all around the Mediterranean sea 2000 years ago, when Islam was not born. As with 20th century, they were persecuted during the first century CE too. Romans ruthlessly massacred Jews in large numbers, and if the percentage of population is computed, it may be comparable with Hitler's Nazi genocide. Jews were in today's Israel 1000s of years back. To cut the long story short, during the 20th century when Israel was created, Jews came from Germany, Poland, Russia, Africa and many other parts to their "promised homeland".


Where did the Palestinian Muslims come from?

Contrary to what many people tell us, Palestinian Muslims also came mostly from outside.

The Ottoman Turks brought many from Algeria and Circassia (former USSR) regions, as a part of their Muslim colonization agenda.
Let's cover the Palestinian (Arab) migration later when we see what Jews actually did to a desert land.

In 1875 CE for instance, there was hardly any considerable population living in the entire region of today's Israel. Only 3 lakh people lived, which was a mix of Jews, Muslims and Others.
In fact the British Consulate report from 1859 tell that Muslims did not exceed 25% of total population of Jerusalem. That clearly shows that today's Israel, including the Gaza and West Bank, were hardly Muslim populated as many propaganda tell us today.


Are Jewish feelings for Jerusalem comparable to Hindu feelings for Ayodhya?

There is similarity. For Hindus Ayodhya is a very sacred place, as the birth place of Lord Rama. But for Muslims it is just another city. Nothing is ever mentioned in any of their holy books about Ayodhya. But a conflict does go on.

The same way, for Jews, Jerusalem is a very sacred place. For Jews, it is a the place of King David and the star of David in Israel's flag is derived from him. Jerusalem is mentioned 667 times in the Bible which both Jews and Christians revere. For Muslims too it is a holy place linked to Prophet Mohammed's life history. But compared to Jews, it may not be at the same level looking at the practical aspects. For instance, Quran does not seem to have any mention of Jerusalem (al quds). Corrections welcome if this is not a fact. But the big conflict goes on.

Secondly, Jerusalem has seen its central part demolished and rebuilt many times. The most prominent one being this. 

Here is the supposed before and after scenario of Jerusalem. The temple mount that existed during the time of Jesus is gone. It is now replaced by a Dome of the rock and Al Aqsa mosque. And Jews have a painful history of this place being destroyed not just by Muslims, but Christians and others too during the past 2500 years. For Hindus such destruction of their holy temples, and mosques built over them is all too painfully evident from their long history of seeing Muslim invasions. So you can understand what a Jew must be feeling about this site.
The current situation is that Jews can't pray inside the area. They are restricted to the outer wall. The laws have kept changing, so you can research the legal sites for the latest information. In fact, this is enforced by Israeli government (yes Jews) by giving the area to Muslim Wakf board. Only Muslims have the right to prayer inside. Not even Christians are allowed prayer inside. Just like in Ayodhya (Kashi, Mathura etc. etc.), the common factor is the destruction of an existing holiest of the holy temples of a different religion, and an Islamic structure built over it or nearby. So Hindus truly understand the pain of Jews when it comes to Jerusalem. Muslims want rights on Jerusalem and Ayodhya holy spots, but won't even let non Muslims inside their holy cities like Makkah. And we hear "Israel commits apartheid" for letting Islamic Wakf board manage the holiest of the religious sites of Jews!

But experts spot that in spite of all the noise, just observing the faith of devotees, one can make out who consider it more sacred.

Jews praying:


Muslims praying:






Not only that, Muslims even end up playing football and eat picnic food at this "very sacred" place.
Have you seen Muslims playing football at Makkah or Madina holy sites? For Jews, even walking over the place is painful as they consider this their holiest of the holy sites. And seeing picnic and football must be really painful.
So the documentary maker clearly sums up: 

If Jerusalem's Jewish links are so obvious, why don't Arabs accept it? 

Same reason as Indian Muslims in general don't want to give possession of Ayodhya's Ram Janmabhumi area to Hindus even after courts clearly showing that there was an ancient temple below the mosque.

And those who brave in the Arab world to tell the truth, are often hounded.
Here is an example. In this book, an essay was written by a prominent academician Sari Nusseibeh from Palestine.
All he said was that there Temple Mount is a Jewish holy site.

Within no time, he got threats. He had to go underground. So you can imagine why Arabs don't come out to speak the facts, even if they know it is truth.

What's common between India and Israel?

Israel was not exactly the case of India, as Hindus never left India ever involuntarily for most part. But Jews left Israel, went all around the world, and then came back in the 20th century.

But the common factor in the past 7 decades is losing land.. Losing lots of land proportional to their country's size. And losing land to Muslims, who don't want to live with the majority (2 nation theory)!

Was Hitler the first one to indulge in Jewish genocide?

No. Jews were systematically persecuted and murdered throughout their 1000s of years of history. Romans conquered Jerusalem and the areas around it and called it Judea, the Homeland of Jews.
Later, they renamed it Syria Palestina, with Jerusalem being renamed and rebuilt as Aelia Capitolina. The word Palestina (Greek originally, later Roman) may be a Biblical word, but was a sign of oppression telling Jews that they can't enter the place without facing death. Essentially Romans were the early form of Nazis for Jews. Much more ruthless in their long list of atrocities against Jews, precisely because they feared that Moses' teachings might result in rebellion by poor.

But unlike most people think today, Palestine or Filistine was never an Arab word. It was nothing to do with Islam.


Was there a Palestine “Arab” nation 100 years ago?


Historians disagree. For instance, Arab Historian Philip Hitti says, there is NO such thing as Palestine in history!
The Philistines people that Greek and Romans talked about, were NOT Arabs. They were not Muslims. Also, they lived in a very small portion of today's Israel, around Gaza. And no one knows where they disappeared during the course of history, long long before modern Israel was formed.
It all started with Ottoman Turks' Muslim colonization plan. As expert Arnold Blumberg says, Arab immigration happened during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Arnold's theory clearly is proved by the fact that there were not many people in the 19th century there. The famous Mark Twain noted in 1800s that it was a barren vast desert land, with hardly anyone living.

So how did the ancestors of today's Palestinians come to current day Israel region?

It all started in late 19th century. With persecuted Jews returning to their ancient home land in small numbers. They were very hard working and they had faced extreme oppression in European nations. So just a chance to live was great for them. They started transforming an almost vacant barren desert land into a fruitful, livable place. Look at Negev desert and other regions when they arrived to Israel.

Certainly the land does not look like a "prosperous Arab" land that they stole, as propaganda tells us today.

As Jews started working hard to turn a barren Israel into a livable and grow-able land, news quickly started spreading.

Arab Muslims started coming from all corners. It was a boom in economy and Jews needed labour help predictably. So the first part of 20th century was mostly a Jew - Muslim joint effort to rebuilt a desert region into livable country.

As you can see in Israel today, they turned a desert into relatively lush green country, with developed country standard cities! And now everyone wants that place, by "driving out Jews to the sea"!
In fact, United Nations declared that those who stayed in the Israel/Palestine area for two years before the formation of the new states, were eligible to be claimed as Palestinians! Can you believe? TWO years residency is enough. It obviously tells that there was never a centuries or millenia of residency proof from the Palestinian side, or else such a relaxed rule would never be applied.
It is very important to note again. There was hardly 3,00,000 total population in the entire country of Israel 140 years ago. The region of Israel (Gaza and West Bank included) that we know today has well over a Crore people (Israel 80 lakh, Palestine 40 lakh). This was almost all migration of people, both Jewish and Arab. Comparatively the next door Jordan, in spite of being 4 times bigger in land size than Israel + Palestine, is only 60 lakhs or so. That shows how a desert was reclaimed by hard working people in the past 100 years in Israel. And you will be astonished to learn more on how Jews from India, particularly Maharashtra and Kerala, went to Israel and transformed the country side with revolutionary new farming methods.
 
Do Muslims recognize the right to exist for Israel?

You might have heard “From the river to the sea... Palestine will be free”. This is Hamas' favourite line being repeated from "liberal" American college campuses to Indian street protests. Indian "seculars"and communists love singing this as you can see off late. It's called Palestinian solidarity movement. But in reality it is a soft call for genocide of Jewish people of Israel. The river here is Jordan river which separates Israel from Jordan. The sea is Mediterranean.
The song essentially means, push all Jews to the sea (drive them out) and "liberate" Palestine. And gullible Hindus in India suck up to this propaganda after seeing bloody and gory images of civilian deaths. But they rarely understand the history behind this, as well as what would happen to them, if the "freedom" happens in West Asia. Radical Islamists are 100% clear in their mind. Today they are talking of Israel. Tomorrow, they would talk of all "Muslim land", which for them does not matter if it was Hindu or Buddhist or Jain or Sikh lands for centuries. Pakistan happened the same way. Bangladesh happened. Jammu and Kashmir Hindu ethnic cleansing happened. It's just spreading. It's very dangerous to support such "solidarity" calls without understanding what the hard core Muslims actually think of Israel's right to exist. Here is a glimpse of "tolerance" towards Jews shown by radical Muslims.

Hamas - Government in Palestine today. As a coincidence, his name as "Zahar" in it!
"driving Jews into sea" is not some dream of "Zionist" propaganda. It's been repeated umpteen times by the very top decision makers for Palestinian people.
And their big financial and military supporters in Iran.
And the TV sermons Palestinians are dished out day in and day out about USA, the closest friend of Israel.
Statement of Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt, which helped shape opinion of today's Palestinian leaders.

The list is very long. From North Africa to Arabian peninsula to central Asia to South Asia to South East Asia, the list of those who just don't want Jews in Israel is endless. And the same guys scream "apartheid", "intolerance", "genocide" etc. at the drop of every topi. See the hypocrisy?


Do Jews recognize the right to exist for Palestine and Arab nations?

Yes. It's the exact opposite of how Muslims behave. Israel has 21% Muslims, mostly Arabs.

For instance, Seif el-Din el-Zubi was the Arab member of Israel's very first Knesset (parliament). 
Arabs live throughout Israel. In some places, constituting over 50%. Just like in India (where 15% Muslim population), Muslims enjoy citizenship rights in Israel (some don't opt for it, but just take passport), representation in democracy, representation in parliament and all kinds of rights. Note again, this is not about Gaza or West Bank (grey in the image below). This is about Israel!
And most importantly, No Jewish leader gives parliament speeches to drive Arabs into sea in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Jordan. They have problems with terrorism and that's the right of every nation to address when your own survival is questioned. Jews have put restrictions on Arabs as you can expect from any majority whose existence itself is questioned in violent means. But they do not say no right for Jordan or Syria or Egypt to exist.

This is a very big difference. Israel wants to live with Arabs as neighbours. Israel wants to live with Arabs as citizen! But Arabs don't even let Jews live in their countries. Arabs want to push Jews into sea and clear the "occupation", forgetting that Arabs in Palestine are also mostly migrants from other countries!


Did PLO claim Gaza and West Bank in 1964 as a part of “liberation” goal?

PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, was in forefront for decades to liberate Palestine from Jewish control. Very interestingly, when PLO formed its charter in 1964 (Article 24), before the 6 day war of Israel with Egypt and other Arab nations, there was NO mention of Judea and Samaria (today's West Bank), and Gaza to be "liberated"! Guess why? Because the Gaza was under Egyptian control and the West Bank was under Jordanian control. So the whole "liberation" of Palestinians from foreign control was not the priority as long as the occupier is a Muslim :)
There's a lot more in this Francisco Gil-White's book, based on which the quoted documentaries here were made.

Has anyone fought for Palestinian rights in Jordan?
(80% area of 1922 Palestine Mandate)

Absolutely not. For Indians, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, this will remind their plight in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and later in the Kashmir valley within Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir.The claims, the terrorism, the systematic ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs. It's all too familiar.

And whenever you hear "Azaadi" or freedom in Kashmir, it's usually the small portion of Jammu Kashmir state in Indian control. No one ever talks of the more than 50% of original Jammu and Kashmir that is under Pakistan and China's occupation!

Here is a starting point. This is the map heavily circulated by anti  Israel groups across the world, showing how Israeli Jews have "oppressed" Palestinian Muslims by pushing them to a smaller region. Green in here is supposed to be Palestinian Arab areas.
But the reality is that the 1946 map to start with is completely inaccurate. It's plain propaganda without any factual basis. There was never a state of Palestine in 1946, even remotely looking like what the anti Jew gangs show.

This was the Ottoman Turk empire prior to World war 1. This collapsed after the World War 1. As you can see they had huge tracks of land, including the Muslim holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Yes, Turks controlled the Islamic holy cities, and not Arabs till about 100 years ago. There was a huge battle of Makkah in 1916 when the local Hashemite Sharif of Makkah, rebelled against the Ottoman Turk Muslims, for which he took help from European Christians like British. It was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire and it was the beginning of a Hashemite kingdom whose capital was Makkah. Gradually it expanded northward. This battle left deep scars on the Middle East. Arab states came under strong European influence. Many people in India still don't know that this was a war between Arabs and Turks, both being Muslims, in which the Arabs took help from Christians of Europe.
Today's Israel is just about 20% of the Palestine Mandate of 1922, that the winners of World War 1 formulated (legal document) to be under League of Nation (UN then) control till the countries are stable enough to rule themselves. Even within that 20% marked as Palestine, nearly 20% of the overall land belongs to Muslims today. So Jews are in just around 15% of the 1922 map of greater Palestine or Palestine Mandate! But they are the only "occupiers" per all propaganda, which never talks of Hashemite Jordanian rule on the rest.
Look closely again. This is from a different source. Along with Israel becoming a new nation, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. The key here is to note Hashemite. They are a very tiny minority Arab tribe, from Prophet Mohammed's great grand father's lineage, ruling majority Palestinians in Jordan. By any conservative estimate, more than half of Jordan is Palestinian. But rulers are not Palestinians!
No Muslim is questioning loudly.. "Is Jordan the Hashemite-occupied Palestine?". It's worth reminding again that Jordan is 80% of the Palestine Mandate from 1922, but it does not have any great population at all. It's population is just 35% more than the densely packed West Bank plus Gaza population. If the United Nations gave 80% land of Palestinians (going by Arab argument) to Jordan, why is not letting Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank live in the larger country of Jordan?

Also, why is there no movement to "liberate" Palestine under Hashemite control, which is 4 times the area of Israel? Tough to answer. Right? Now you know why this can be compared with the sparely populated Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which no one tries to "liberate" from the predominantly Punjabi Muslim rule?

Did Arabs sell land to Jews in 1920-40 period?

This is one other aspect that no one talks about. Jews when they came to Israel from all around the world, they were allowed inside the territory, but did not have much land. They bought land from many locals living there, whoever they might be. And in fact, Arabs sold lot of land at exorbitant prices to Jews then. In the 1937 Peel Commission setup by Britain to probe into the land deals in today's Israel, Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of the founding fathers of Palestinian Arab nationalistic movement, told Laurie Hammond that large amount of land were sold, willingly, by Arabs for money to the Jews. In fact, historians say that his own family collected large amounts of land from smaller owners at throw away price, and sold them to Jews at very high prices. Familiar Land Mafia anyone?
So all those who scream "occupation" by Jews, forget the simple fact that a lot of land owned by Jews today were legally bought by them by paying exorbitant prices. As we have seen earlier they were barren desert land in most cases, so Arab land owners (and others) made lot of profit. Now that the lands have been transformed into fantastic livable pieces, their descendants scream "occupation".

And soon, the same Arabs went to war with Jews. Hypocrisy anyone? First sell the land and the "liberate" the same!

Even some Arabs know that the whole Palestinian identity is a political and tactical weapon against Zionism, and not truly for any "freedom" of Palestinian Arabs. There are so many Arab nations and they hold on to 100s of times the Gaza land if they really want to settle this matter.
As Nathan Weinstock says, the hyper nationalist propaganda of Palestinians now is more of a racket.


What was India's contribution towards liberating Israel from Ottoman Turks?

We should know this really well. Haifa in Israel was liberated from Turks by Indians. Communists who formulated school books totally eliminated India's contribution in World war 1 and 2.

The bravery of soldiers from Karnataka, Telangana and Rajasthan helped liberate Haifa, the port city of Israel from Ottoman Turks' occupation of 400 years. Israel remembers this great help from India in 1918. Indian army celebrates Haifa day.
Teen Murti Bhavan in New Delhi is precisely for one soldier each from Mysore, Hyderabad and Jodhpur.

But we are not taught about this bravery in schools. In fact, this was the LAST time a horse mounted lancer brigade won against machine guns and tanks!


What to do next for Indians, particularly Hindus? 


In summary, India helped create Israel. Indian soldiers (Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims - yes Muslims also) have given up their lives right from Haifa port capture in 1918. India and Israel both are democracies surrounded by hostile neighbours. India and Israel both have the same Islamic radicals as common enemy. The common enemy (in the form of ISIS, Hamas, Hizbollah, Lashkar e Taiba, Indian Mujahideen, Taliban, Al Qaeda et al) is always dreaming to destroy these nations for its well stated goal of occupying their lands. India gains nothing by supporting the radical Islam of Hamas which openly uses terrorism for its survival. Unlike India, Israel crushes terrorism via violent backlash. This is an area tough for many Indians to accept as they are used to sending dossiers to enemies who indulge in terrorism on Indians. India gains everything from technology to business to cultural survival in the long run, by partnering with Israel. Yes, the Israel where mostly Jews live and Palestine where (only) Muslims live. The borders are already drawn. The countries are in place. India must certainly work towards the welfare of Palestinian Muslim civilians who are caught now between the cross fire of Israeli army and Hamas rockets. But do not forget the long history and the RIGHT of existence of Jews in their holy land.


There is a way out of this conflict. But the way out is not by "pushing the Jews to the sea" as Hamas radicals and their sympathisers preach. Hope this long essay has given enough pointers to understand where we have come from, and how Indians should start working towards the Israel Palestine conflict resolution.

Share your thoughts please.

References: 

What is Palestine? Who are the Palestinians? 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9ReF4UUa4E

Is Jerusalem a holier place for Jews or Muslims?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU9CauJP4Pg

The Palestinian Wall of Lies - False Palestinian propaganda exposed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc9v5gLXP4w

India's role in liberating Israel from Ottoman Turks:
http://haifa-history.blogspot.in/2010/09/haifa-day-in-indian-army-memory-for.html