Monday, January 10, 2011

Saffron or Hindu Terror: Does it Exist?

This blog is to examine if 'Saffron' or 'Hindu' terror as hitting headlines off late, exists or not. Without giving lengthy disclaimers, it would suffice to state that I am presenting my understanding based on a fairly wide ranging angles, but you are free to make up your mind, as always. But do use, some nice, thought provoking details, provided in this blog to expand your thought process in this emotional, as well as sensitive topic.

What is Terrorism?
Let's start with a cliche.. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". Yes, that's true. In fact, not just freedom fighter, but warrior, activist, political hero, religious martyr to mention a few other denominations.

Why am I writing this blog? Because of P Chidambaram, the Home Minister of India, for his utterly nonsensical utterance, "The Saffron Terrorism". For those who don't know, Saffron is associated strongly with Hindu religion (among a few other religions) and strongly held as the identity of right of center political lleaning groups (like RSS) or parties in India. Obviously, Chidambaram's party, the Indian National Congress, as well as their sympathising media have blown this out of proportion. Some are convinced that 'Hindu' terror absolutely exist, while some vehemently oppose this as a delusion of some anti-Hindu sections of Congress or  other seemingly pseudo secular (as termed in political discussions) political parties. Let's get to the bottom of the topic via a slightly lengthy, but informative & factual route.

Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the most widely used, defines Terrorism as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion". Obviously as of this date, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism that exists. So we are literally in an age where we can call anyone & everyone as a 'terrorist'. Hence, it becomes even more important to get to the bottom of who we can most likely call a terrorist. In my view, terrorism is best described in 21st century context as: "Indiscriminate or targeted killing of mostly civilian population, for social, political, ethnic, religious or ideological, or a mix of these reasons, by non-governmental agencies". Obviously, the term 'non-governmental' and 'civilian' needs a debate by itself, which I will skip for now.

Let's focus on the definition made above and see some examples. In most cases, terrorists don't have any Geneva convention type laws to adhere to. Usually they have a clear cut motive, military equivalent training, access to IED, advanced suicide vest, car bomb material or AK47 kind of standard killer weapons, financial backing of those believing in the same mission and most importantly, political, ideological, academic, media & religious backing from a wide range of sources.

Examples of organized terrorist Groups:
There are literally 100s if not 1000s of banned terrorist groups in the world today. There are guidelines to governments for banning an organization for long number of years. Most importantly some groups are banned across major countries telling us that it is not just the decision of one 'evil' government, but a clear cut understanding across the globe. I am only listing four that are banned in India, as an example.
  1. Lashkar-e-Taiba: The 'army of pure' is a notorious terror group operating from Pakistan controlled regions.  Originally focused on Jammu and Kashmir state, this ultra radical group spread its wings into other areas. This group was instrumental in the indiscriminate killings during the Mumbai 2008 attack. You can browse through a series of pictures here, showing the completely inhuman side of this terror group.
  2. LTTE - The most dreaded name during the decades of Sri Lankan saga of terrorism, which spilled into India too. This group was the veteran when it comes to human rights violation & children's rights violation, leaving behind a list of 10s of thousands of victims during their long era of control.
  3. Communist Party of India-Maoist - Burning schools, killing villagers and murderous rampage on tribal societies, in addition to their main fight against India's security forces.
  4. Indian Mujahideen - Setting off bombs to indiscriminately kill civilians, usually those not belonging to Islam. Linked to the first group mentioned above.
Let's now give religious colour to these groups. Note that the first and the fourth ones are usually blamed as secessionist or ultra-radical Islamic Terror groups comprising of all Muslims. The second one is blamed as a separatist terror group, comprising of Christians & Hindus. The third one is generally blamed as a communist or naxalite terror group, comprising mostly of Atheists (communists), Hindus and Christians. When Lashkar is blamed as an Islamic terror group, why is LTTE not blamed as a Christian/Hindu terror group? I will explain in a section below.. keep reading :)

What is not terrorism?
  1. Riot : India in particular is susceptible to religious and caste faults, due to which riots have happened umpteen number of times over centuries. The ones everyone talks about are 2002 Gujarat riot, 1993 Bombay riot and 1984 anti-Sikh riot among 100s of examples from recent decades. Let's take the 1984 case in particular as it was unlike other cases where there were big casualties on both sides.Emotionally charged after the death of their beloved leader, Congress party workers went on rampage, felling at least 3000, may be more, Sikh bodies in the capital of India. What was worse was that it was followed by reward for those alleged in the riot cheer leading, like Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler getting plum government posts, as well as a speech by the next PM Rajiv Gandhi, effectively justifying the riot in his infamous 'When a big tree falls' statement. “Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji,” Rajiv Gandhi said on November 19, 1984, even as thousands of families grieved for their loved ones killed by Congress hoodlums, “We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed India had been shaken. But when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.” So even in this most obscure, one sided, bizarre case of riot in India, I am inclined to say 1984 anti-Sikh riot was not an act of terror, but a politically motivated & executed riot.
  2. Genocide: The topmost thing that comes to mind is the Rwandan Genocide from 1994. Within a span of 100 days, more than 800,000 humans had perished to violent acts, with millions suffering the after-effect scars. Genocide, when executed with such brutal precision and force, is worse than a war. Again, something very much akin a riot, but much deeper and much more lethal as there is an organized brand of violence with the aim to completely uproot a particular group of people.
  3. State sponsored Oppression: Obviously, this is the most controversial one. Every major political or ideological terrorist group will show that they are 'fighting for justice' against state 'terrorism'. But once you go into further details, even factoring in some truths to their allegations, the need for a state to use some degree of force becomes essential for averting anarchy. As long as the state is subjected to basic human rights respect, this becomes a non-issue, though grudgingly controversial. But when things cross a line, as in case of China's ugly crackdown on Falun Gong practitioners, then it will border-line with a question whether there's reverse terrorism going on.
  4. Rape & other Sexual violence: Needles to say, based on the local demographics, this kind of crime can be blamed on any group in the world. Delhi city in India, for instance is nicknamed dubiously as the Rape capital and usually the fingers are pointed at rich Punjabi ethnic group. If you switch to another city or region, you will find yet another dominant local group, with scant regard to a woman's rights.
  5. Family, Corporate, Group or Gangster Murders: Every death, every human rights violation is deplorable. But examples, like this, burning of a young bride by the family itself, should not be mistaken for terrorism.
  6. Political assassination: One example readily comes to mind is Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984. Yes, probably the assailants were inspired by extremists or terrorists' view against her, but they didn't belong to any terror group, rather employed by the Prime Minister herself.
  7. Rowdyism: Obviously in a country like India, with over 80% of population belonging to Hindu families, majority of rowdies or criminals would also be Hindu. In 2010 itself there were thousands of gruesome rowdy gangwar related deaths, like this triple murder example from Bengaluru recently. All those involved with the one example provided were from Hindu families.
  8. War: Let's take the Iran Iraq war from 1980s . A million people perished from the face of this planet, with countless suffering in other ways. Unlike US war in Iraq, Israel-Arab war, India-Pakistan wars, this can't even be blamed on culture, east-west or religion. Both were Muslim nations, but butchered each other for reasons most of the world can't understand. I would not like to get into Sunni-Shia sect divide here, but it suffices to state that in spite of large scale atrocities, this was a war between two armies, not a lop sided terror case.
  9. Cultural, Social, Economic & other forms of injustice: The notorious early 2000s kidnapping industry in Bihar fits into this well.
The above is not an exhaustive list, but gives a fair idea of other types of human rights abuses & crime in our society. Yes, there is a lot of overlap with what a victim families of terrorism go through and many of these crimes against humanity, but one wouldn't call a rapist or a murderer as a terrorist, unless it is perpetuated by someone who did fit into the terror bracket mentioned in a section above too.

Why separate out Islamic Terrorism?
Good question. To use a cliche again, 'Terror has no religion, no race, no colour, no gender' etc. etc. Then why is "Islamic terrorism" such an often beaten up track?

The answer lies in the concept of Jihad used systematically before, during and after the terror act.
  • Before the act, there is exceptional level of training using religious books, Allah, Jihad, Jannat (72 virgins as some say), martyr-ism among other things. The Mumbai 2008 killer of 100+, Kasab, 'found solace in Jihad'. The common factor between countries & incidents is this Jihad Islamic religious concept. For instance, the suicide bomber shown in picture here, made a chilling video of her mission, 2 days before her attack. If you search internet, there are literally 1000s of videos or audio statements made by terrorists before they get onto their act, invariably mentioning that they are fighting a war for their God. No one can take out their side of the story of waging a 'legitimate' battle, but the focus is on the religious aspect of motivation.
  • During: Firm belief in Jihad during the act: There have been examples wherein people have recited Quran while beheading another human, their Jihad's target. I would spare this blog from some of the gruesome videos, but if you have the stomach to see, search on the net for the 12 Nepali laborers killed in Iraq as well as a case wherein 12 year old middle eastern girl beheads as her 'holy duty'. Holy scriptures' recitation during many of these acts make it very clearly a religious brainwash, rather than any other social, political or national feelings that they might be fighting for.
  • After: Claiming 'credit' for fighting for Islam or Allah, after the act or warning of more such acts, unless their demands are met. Last month's relatively small bombing in Varanasi, India, was followed by the usual tactic again. Just start from the first page and then count how many times Quran, Allah, prophet and other very clear religious terms are mentioned as their inspiration for the act in just 5 pages. If you are feeling lazy to count, let me help. 25 mentions of Allah, 4 prophet, 3 Quran, 1 Islam, 1 Hadith, 1 Kuffar, 8 al- references.. 
Isn't it overwhelmingly obvious by now how this brand of terror, termed as 'Islamic' terrorism works? Isn't it obvious by now why the term 'Islam' associated with the crime committed by a few extreme minded, radical individuals? Of course it would be foolish to say all Muslims are terrorists, but those committing terrorism in the name of Allah do fit into the well established bracket of Islamic or Jihadi terrorism. It's not because they come from a Muslim family or have an Arabic name, but because THEY claim they are doing it for Islam. A huge difference compared to other categories of terrorists.

So now.. does Hindu or Saffron Terror Exist?
Simple answer - NO. Here is why.. a picture is always worth thousand words :)

Let's not downplay any form of terror. Yes, any terror blamed as 'Hindu' Terror is also taking lives. It must be stopped & those indulged in it, irrespective of political ideology or backing, MUST be arrested & tried in a court of law. However, one needs to observe the key differences to Islamic variety.
  • There is no concept of Jihad in this variety.
  • There is no reading of Bhagavad Gita or Vedas (Hindu holy texts) before, during or after a terror incident. You will never see a terrorist, at least today, screaming in a video that he/she is going to kill 'non-believers' because Krishna said so or Ganesha said so in such and such a scripture!
  • There is no obnoxious credit taking like the Indian Mujahideen 'love' letters circulated to the media.
  • There is no organized banned terrorist organization providing financial, political & media support to those actually perpetuating the crime, glorifying them as 'martyrs'
  • There is no training camp or standing army with IEDs or AK 47s to back these groups.
These are just some visible differences. Just because someone with a Hindu name, from a Hindu family or a pro-Hindu organization, commit a terrorist act, that does NOT become Hindu terrorism. Hopefully this long blog post with plenty of categorizations & examples drive the point home by now. If a Hindu terror exists, then by all means, a Christian terror or Atheist terror (and Buddhist, Sikh & what not terror) must exist to give company to Islamic terror. Isn't it? The most apt description I have heard is that this is Anti-Islamic-Terror Terrorism in the Indian context. Look into Malegaon or Samjhouta or Ajmer, this fits into the equation pretty well.

Comments Welcome:
Post your views freely. I don't intend to moderate, edit or delete any comment unless it is getting too personal or too offensive for people reading from work places or homes with children. You can post for, against or somewhere in-between views. I don't claim to be an expert in this area, but presented my thoughts as is.  There was a need to bring out these thoughts as the nonsensical 'Hindu' terror fear is being propagated by politicians and media for vested reasons.

Looking forward towards learning from people with more deeper knowledge. Start :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dear Sonia Gandhi and Congress - Is it that hard to accept the Bofors truth?

THE very first working day of 2011 was not exactly a 'Happy New Year' greeting to Sonia Gandhi and the first family of Congress party. Two big news items popped up.

The first one was a very hard punch delivered by the veteran journalist Gurumurthy via New Indian Express - "Zero Tolerance, secret billions"
By any calculation the present size of the $2.2 billion secret funds of the family in Swiss banks seems huge — anywhere between Rs 43,000 plus to some Rs 84,000 crore!
Among many other things that will blot Sonia Gandhi's image forever, also not the first time someone made such accusations, his main focal point was the alleged loot money Nehru/Gandhi family has stashed in secret accounts. Serious money, serious accusation and hopefully, India's grand old party answers it. And by answering, I mean, not the way the party mobs answered a recent accusation by a retired RSS chief Sudarshan, via violence.

By the time, people were still warming up to the serious details in Gurumurthy's NIE writeup on Twitter and other social networks (visual media wouldn't take trouble in exploring such hot topic involving G family), another bombshell greeted 'Happy new year' to the G family.. This was not a mere news paper article, but a 98 page, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Order on the 'long dead' Bofors commission. This was literally a dynamite piece of info by mid-day as it not just traced the entire money trail of kickback, but it also proved beyond doubt that Rajiv Gandhi and family had lied when it comes to Bofors kickback involving Ottavio Quattrocchi, the alleged Italian deal maker.

If you have browsed at least a few pages of that 98 page report, signed by a Judicial member, let's take a few minutes to see what are the earlier lies that this categorical official government report exposed - in otherwords, skeletons that got out of closet even after hte most careful coverup operation over the decades.

1. Rajiv Gandhi: The Country’s highest fact finding tax authority directly contradicted the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assertion on floor of parliament, that no illegal commission was paid for the Bofors deal. It exposed that Win Chadda and Quattrocchi received kickbacks in Bofors.

O. Quattrocchi had remained in India from 28-2-1965 to 29-7-1993, except 2 years in 60s. IT tribunal, a judiciary body in India, categorically found an estimated 242.62 mil Swedish Kroners were paid to Quattrocchi & Chadha for securing Bofors deal.

The kickback payment was in violation of govt rule & evaded tax too.  Rajiv, as a PM under constitutional oath, had lied to the country on 20 Apr 1987.
"We have been assured by the Swedish government and the company that there have been no payoffs," Gandhi told an unruly session of the lower house which ended with an opposition walkout.
So essentially, today, the former PM, a "Bharat Ratna", got exposed we should say.. As a small tidbit, in late 1980's a 10 year old in Patna had recited live, “Gali gali mein shor hai, Rajiv Gandhi chor hai” which got the AIR director suspended. I don't know where that person, now maybe 32 years old is, but surely must be feeling vindicated!

2. Sonia Gandhi: The current all powerful woman in India, the UPA chair person and essentially the Prime Decision maker keeping Manmohan Singh as the face, had lied too, if this official report's data can't be factually proven wrong.

In 1998, long before Sonia Gandhi got into positions of power (she barely had entered full time politics then), CBI had declared: "Rajiv and Quattrocchi used to meet frequently". That of course changed later in CBI affidavits. That came a few years after Quattrocchi escaped from India to avoid CBI Bofors probe, incidentally during a Congress party rule at center, July 29/30 1993 to be precise. 

In 1998, barely two months after entering full time politics, Sonia Gandhi had accused the then BJP supremo, Atal Bihari Vajpayee of lying about Bofors.

"They said Rajiv Gandhi took commission (on the Bofors deal). I, Rajiv Gandhi's widow, tell you that what Atal Behari Vajpayee said is a total lie," she declared.

I don't know if Sonia Gandhi would graciously apologize for such a blatant, factually incorrect public statement, but any one neutral would easily know by now what's the real truth. Gurumurthy had said today morning... "The total wealth of both Gandhis, as per their el returns, is just Rs 363 lakh, Sonia owning no car". After the IT expose of Bofors, that sounded really like a cruel joke on the 'aam aadmi' or common man of India <sigh>. By the way on Dec 20, 2010, the same Sonia Gandhi had famously stated.. “Even when no charge has been established, we have asked our ministers and Chief Ministers to step down” while attacking BJP on corruption topic. Walking her own talk, now that a massive corruption loot blame is pointing fingers at her, will she and her Prime Minister quit today? :)

When Subramanian Swamy had seriousy accused Sonia Gandhi of safe guarding the loot from Bofors, citing November 11, 1991,  Schweizer Illustrierte expose of Rajiv Gandhi's secret account holding 2.5 mil CHF, things were ignored. Will it be the case this time too? Will have to wait and see how much 'walk' follows the populist 'talk' of Sonia Gandhi.

3. Manmohan Singh: In 2009, the supposedly "very honest" Manmohan Singh defended Ottavio Quattrocchi and withdrew the red corner notice.

Today, the Q man confirmed fraud when it comes to Bofors kickback! After avoiding JPC in late 2010 and after sitting through as a PM during the worst mega scams India has seen, such as 2G and CWG, this was the last thing Manmohan Singh needed as a new year gift..

4. Rahul Gandhi: Undoubtedly being tipped within media and Congress circles as the next PM of India, he had already seen a disastrous 2010. Under his 'able' campaign leadership, Bihar saw the worst ever route of Congress party since independence. I don't know of any other state in India today where Congress is less than 5 in terms of total MLA count! Also WikiLeaks had exposed his utter disconnect with the reality of India when he was caught expressing concern over mostly imaginary 'Hindu' terrorism when 800 pound gorillas like Lashkar or Maoist terrorism is staring at his face.

So where exactly did Rahul Gandhi got exposed by today's IT report? Congress' prince charm had loudly stated, "No apologies for Bofors; it was a lie", during 2009 elections.. AND this guy would be a PM of India someday !!

5. Veerappa Moily: India's law minister, is usually a much moderate voice, compared to the louder spokespeople. But he also got exposed by today's report. Veerappa had confidently backed Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi to drop Quattrocchi cases in September 2009. Now that his backing was misinformed, should he take responsibility as law minister giving critical suggestions and resign? After all under UPA government, exactly 15 months before today, CBI, snubbed as Congress Bureau of Intimidation on casual circles, suggested to drop Qauattrocchi's name from Bofors! Such a collasal blunder by an agency that is dedicated to fight criminal activities.

6. Hansraj Bharadwaj: Joked in southern India now that he has been the 'best' opposition party leader in Karnataka, for his frequent tussle with BJP led state government as a governor, he also happened to be occupying the same seat Veerappa Moily occupies today. 

On Jan 7, 2006 : "An erring & a delinquent minister" as Arun Jaitley had commented, HR Bharadwaj, defroze Q Bofors accounts!  This was done as a law minister of India and shouldn't he be facing the music today after committing such a big blunder?

Interestingly, the main opposition party BJP, had accused that Ottavio Quattrocchi's son was funding BJP rebels during a late 2010 state government toppling scheme in Karnataka. Connect the dots.. The Q man taking Bofors kickback, Congress government letting him leave India in 90s, Bharadwaj defreezing his accounts and now both Q man's son as well as Bharadwaj in the same city Bengaluru, incidentally when BJP government was facing a rebel crisis!

Fallout of today's report:
As expected, the opposition party, BJP, seized the opportunity to corner the blatant lies exposed above of the Gandhi family as well as key people associated with them. Arun Jaitley's hard slam on Bofors & Quattrocchi  was out by late afternoon.
Jaitley also made a direct reference to the Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi’s five-point programme on nailing corruption by saying, “Ironically, the revelations by the Income Tax tribunal are a grim reminder to Sonia Gandhi that the country does not need a five-point programme to check corruption. What all is needed is a one-point programme of sending in jail all those who are accused, which will act as a deterrent.”
We will have to wait and see if this latest resurrection of Bofors ghost rattles Congress, in particular, the Sonia Gandhi family that has been blamed most in today's reports. The hapless 'aam aadmi' or comman person in India must be humming tonight.. "Baar baar looto.. hazaar baar looto.. yeh lootne ki cheez hain.. hamaara Hindusta.. taali ho" 
But since Satyameva Jayate (satyam-eva jayate  सत्यमेव जयते  "Truth Alone Triumphs") is the national motto of India, this expose had to happen.. Isn't it friends? 
Credits: My social network buddies for a wide variety of information & thoughts. Picture credit to original photographers.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Some Charity Options in India For Those Wishing To Contribute

On the very first day of a new year 2011, let me take a few minutes to list some impressive charities that I was evaluating over the past one week. There are millions of NGOs in India helping the needy, but let me do my small bit of service by listing some really good ones. I had the privilege to visit or talk a few of these and was quite impressed.

Use the comments to add more if you personally know any or have researched into the effectiveness so that you are referring to other friends online.

1) - They have very impressive education, medical & environment options. Met in person. In fact things are moving ahead into donation mode too.

2) - Very motivating founder. Referred by a Twitter friend & loved their options.

3) - My family involved with this for years. Genuine care for the destitute children & elders.

4) - My mother donated earlier. They do fabulous service to poor rural kids.

5) - Referred by a Twitter friend. Amazing social service for cancer patients. Recommended!

6) - Nothing beats gift of a vision to the poor & needy. Donated to them earlier.

7) - Recommended by GiveIndia after careful scrutiny. Impressed with their service to poor urban kids.

8) - Spoke with the key woman & very impressed. Fabulous job for kids.

9) - Highly recommended by an online friend. Noble work for the severely downtrodden!

10) - Recommended by GiveIndia after scrutiny. Family atmosphere for needy kids.

11) - Recommended by GiveIndia after scrutiny. Wonderful service to kids 'in transit' during adoptions.

12) - Excellent all round service to rural kids, in genuine way.

13) - Unbelievable reach & dedication for education.

The next three were suggested by friends of social network.

14) Consider giving to SchoolChoice Rs 4000 pays for a year's school fees. Even small amounts count.

15) Grain School Charity Options:

16) Social Investments Micro credit Charity Options. More than charity, this is more of a viable business model.

 I will keep this list updated with new suggestions as and when I come across them. Feel free to leave comments indicating your first hand experience.

Happy Giving!!
- K