Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Visit To Prabodhini School - A Perfect Indian School

We live in a world, where talking about Hindu culture or tradition is usually frowned upon by the self-declared progressives. I know many people who think Hinduism is full of superstition and upbringing children in a solid Hindu environment is impossible. I also know a few of them blindly aping Europe and America, with an unapologetic message that if the future of a kid has to be bright, a westernized education system is a must, keeping away the ಗೋಡ್ಡು ಸಂಪ್ರದಾಯ (useless traditions) that a primarily Hindu traditional school would offer. Let's not even get into the medium of instruction, as English medium education right from the start is more preferred than Indian languages, in most cases.

Don't get me wrong. I love English. I strongly believe that there are lots of good western values that should be inculcated into a child, during the growing years. Things like charity, cleanliness, social involvement, scientific temper are great things. But aren't there schools which get all these into children, while giving education in a local language, and deeply sustaining the rich Indian (primarily Hindu) culture and tradition?

To my surprise, I was invited to visit one such school for their annual function, as a chief guest. My friend Guruprasad Bhat from Mumbai, got this arranged as his family runs a school called Prabodhini, at a gorgeous place called Kalasa, tucked in the beautiful ಮಲೆ  ನಾಡು (western ghats) area of Karnataka. And to put it simply... I was blown out! The school is run by RSS volunteers, deeply rooted in Indian tradition, and the quality of education is outstanding. Yet, the school treated students from all castes, languages and religions equally, preparing the best batch of future citizen of India.

The family and friends who run this school. 

The serene setting of absolutely charming greenery, where the school is located.

This school is run so well, in spite of no money coming from the government, that it has scored 100% result year after year, this century! In fact, it was started by Mr. Raghavendra Bhatt and family, for a few really poor kids whose parents were busy throughout the day on daily labour. It has expanded now into nearly 800 students capacity!

Coming to the function we were invited for.. They greeted us with traditional Hindu Vedic prayers.

Then we witnessed top class meditation and discipline.

The chanted Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic Shanti mantras. Crisp, clear and fully involved prayers for the ಸರಸ್ವತಿ ವಂದನ (Saraswati Vandana) part. Traditionally students are expected to always begin any major function with Saraswati prayer, invoking the Goddess of education. But off late I see lot of resistance to this citing secularism, which for me is a meaningless argument. How is praying the deity of education against secularism? This Prabhodini school surprised us pleasantly!

Then every part of the day long function fascinated me. The 10th standard children were asked to bring their parents and do ಕೃತಂ ಸ್ಮರ (felicitating the parents, Kritam Smara). The literally worship the parents, thank them for all the support to get them educated till this level, and get their blessing to continue their study further.  All this happens right in front of Goddess of Education, Saraswati.

And, caste or religion is no bar. I saw even Muslim women in their burqa and hijab, participating in this function, happily blessing their sons and daughters for a bright future! The self-declared seculars would get a heart attack seeing this :)

Then the outgoing students (10th standard) are made to take a oath that they would keep up the good tradition, behave well in life, and make their parents proud.
Not only that, the outgoing senior batch is made to hand over ದೀಪ (Diya) to the next batch, asking them to safeguard the tradition and future of the school. Great camaraderie!

The cultural aspect of respecting the elders by touching their feet after award ceremony, was quite visible. I even saw the Head Master following this tradition himself.. Here is the head master taking blessings from the generous Guruprasad Bhat, who has served this school even when away from the town of Kalasa for decades.
Saraswati Mata, the primordial ಪ್ರಣವ (Om) and Bharat Mata were prominently visible in the school, along with 100s of pictures of pictures of great Indian educationists, freedom fighters, spiritual gurus and so on. Students get an overdose of the feeling of nationalism and dedication to Indian society in such a school.

And the dance and cultural event after all the speeches and prize distribution was so special. They covered so many folk dances, story telling, inspirational events... I was overwhelmed as to how deeply the students are rooted in the Indian culture and tradition, while keeping a very good scientific and mathematical temper!

The more interesting part was the boys and girls equally performed in various events, keeping 100% gender equality.

And how can any event happen in coastal and western ghat area of Karnataka, without the colourful ಯಕ್ಷ ಗಾನ - Yaksha Gana costume?
How can they miss Ishwara and family, when they are from a Kalaseshwara town?

Cute girls showing village costume from Karnataka.
And some nice energetic village dances.
And their patriotism..

Their energy levels of drum beating..
Their Karate..

Bhuvaneshwari.. the Karnataka mata.
Ever loving glorious Bharat Mata..
Outstanding acrobatics involving pyramids...
 ಮಲ್ಲ ಕಂಭ - Malla Khambas..

The display of energy, culture and tradition was so overwhelming that I had to think about it for days after that..

Such a school also exists in today's world where children are mostly forced into rote learning, with very little physical activities making them obese, in the highly polluted cities with very little green nature around them, stripping their cultural roots for most part in the name of westernization and/or secularism??

That too in a location which is just one hour walk from this gorgeous hill near ಅನ್ನಪೂರ್ಣೆಶ್ವರಿ - Mata Annapoorneshwari temple at Horanadu!

They are just 10 to 12 KM from a gorgeous trekking spot, high above western ghats.. so high that most vegetation disappears. It's called ಗಾಳಿ ಗುಡ್ಡ or the windy hill.

And when they are just 30 minutes walk from this beautiful ಅಂಬಾ ತೀರ್ಥ - Amba teertha area of Bhadra river..

100% results.. great science education involving computers too.. dedicated staff giving an all round modern education... deeply rooted in India's glorious 5000+ years culture and tradition.. and amidst one of the heavenly locations of the planet next to big mountains and lovely rivers, plus moderate temperatures throughout the year!

I wish you all studied in such a school.. if not, at least your children or grand children. This is as close to the ancient Guru Kula education that you can get in 21st century, as possible :)

Two notes:

1) If you have more time, browse through nearly 300 pictures here:  https://plus.google.com/photos/110981894709471519856/albums/5978739794695073985?banner=pwa

2) Since this amazing school caters to some of the lowest income families, and completely supported by private donors, you can also sponsor children for their studies. Contact @gbhat_ or @KiranKS on twitter. Or just leave a comment and I will have the school management contact you.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bharat Nirman Ads - Bogus Claims Of Jobs And Growth

It has been almost 9 months since India's tax payers money is misused to a wide extent to bombard Indians that a massive "Bharat Nirman" (India building) is happening. Every print or visual advertisement will surely have Sonia Gandhi (no one is sure what is her active and constitutionally sanctioned role in the government) and PM Manmohan Singh. More or less all these ads are hypes and I have spent time debunking many of them earlier.

Over 100 crores are clearly burnt in various Bharat Nirman ads. The one ad that always catches my attention is the Jobs related ad. The "revolution" in job creation as claimed via MNREGA has burnt crores of valuable tax money, in just the print and digital ads.

Bharat Nirman ad on jobs - source: vifindia
Keep in mind, there are three kinds of major jobs in India.
  1. The regular jobs - salaried either in government or in private sector.
  2. The casual jobs - like the one being advertised. These are seasonal either in private or public sectors.
  3. The self employment jobs - Majority of Indians make their living in self employment or casual jobs.
"Earlier we used to search for work.. now jobs come to us" claims the young man, in that UPA ad.

Are you really sure Mrs. Sonia Gandhi?
Have you really created the crores of jobs that you claim using our tax money?

Let's explore.

Devinder Sharma, an expert in food and agriculture policy, has written a very important, fact filled article in DNA on 17th February 2014. The title of the article is Migration back to villages. If we don't understand the plight of the 60,00,00,000 farmers in India who are actively into agriculture, we just can't comment on the economy in any sensible manner. This article paints the most current picture of Indian agriculture. It not only exposes the jobs creation myth of UPA, and also exposes the hollowness of their claims on food security and land acquisition bills.

Some key excerpts from that tell us an entirely different picture.

Farmers are leaving the cities and moving back to the villages. Why? The economy has tanked in urban areas.
In the coming months, about 1.5 crore farmers who quit agriculture in the past seven years, are likely to trudge back into the villages. In normal circumstances such a massive reverse migration — from the cities back to the villages — would have been a sign of inclusive growth. But economists are taking this U-turn as a sign of economic slowdown.
When UPA talked of employment generation, it did not tell that 50,00,000 farmers of India left their farming jobs each year, to take up menial and highly unstable jobs. Who calculated these lost jobs?
In the seven-year period between 2005 and 2012, according to CRISIL an estimated 3.7 crore farmers quit agriculture. Economists view this trend as a sign of economic growth. In other words, while 50 lakh farmers are forced out of agriculture every year, growing farm unemployment is being considered as a sign of economic growth. How can pushing farmers out of agriculture sector and then finding an alternative employment for these millions displaced from agriculture constitute economic growth?
India saw mostly temporary and casual jobs that were counted as "Bharat Nirman". Here's the reality.
we are told that an estimated 70 lakh jobs are created in the non-farm sector. Considering that most of the non-farm jobs are in construction, what is not being told is that these menial jobs are temporary and do not carry any social security.
Except agriculture, everything else is collapsing during "Bharat Nirman" phase of Manmohan Singh.
At a time when there is an all round doom and gloom — industrial output failing to keep pace, manufacturing sector declining, joblessness growing, fiscal deficit mounting and the current account deficit growing to a worrisome level — it is only agriculture that provides a glimmer of hope.  
Here is a very worrying part. India emerged as the biggest exporter of rice during the years immediately after NDA government. But the so-called Bharat Nirman is almost making India an importer of rice in 3 years.
India emerged as the world’s biggest exporter of rice, and farm exports zoomed exponentially. And yet the fact remains that agriculture is the most neglected sector. Even the Prime Minister acknowledges that India is faced with terrible agrarian distress.
Already there are indications that India will turn into an importer of rice in the next three years.
UPA government is killing even the only sector that has some decent future, the agriculture.
In fact, at a time when government employees have been promised a further pay rise from the 7th Pay Commission, farmers remain at the bottom of the pile, neglected and forgotten. On an average, 2,500 farmers quit farming every day to join the army of landless workers.
UPA is not reducing the poverty, but infact making it worse. All the "garibi hatao" slogans are just eye washes, by reducing the scale with which poverty is measured.
With joblessness growing and the policy thrust on reducing subsidies for the poor and needy, the number of poor in absolute terms has been increasing. By reducing the poverty line to Rs28 in urban areas, and Rs24 in rural areas, the government can play around with figures, but the fact remains that poverty is on an upswing.
 UPA government burns public money to claim that the National Food Security Bill (FSB) is a great thing.
Food Security Bill ad - source: castingnb

But the reality exposed by Devinder Sharma is that UPA's failed policies have deliberately displaced farmers and now this FSB is just to reduce the chances of food riots when people have neither jobs nor food.
The enactment of the Food Security Act ensuring a monthly entitlement of 5 kg of rice/wheat/millet  to 67 per cent of the population or 830 million people is not only aimed at offsetting the additional burden of the unprecedented price rise, but more importantly, it is aimed at minimising the possibility of food riots that can erupt when a large section of the population is being deliberately displaced from an assured livelihood.
UPA 2 has killed India's economy. Proof.
From a high of 9.3 per cent two years ago, the GDP has fallen to less than 5 per cent in 2013.  
As opposed to UPA's Bharat Nirman claim, jobs are disappearing in India.  All the growth we saw on paper was jobless growth in totality. This is not going to help India that has 18% of the world's population.
At a time when GDP was galloping at 8-9 per cent between 2005 and 2010, the report shows 140 lakh people were displaced from agriculture. Generally it is believed that those who quit agriculture would be joining the workforce in the manufacturing sector. But the report showed that even in the manufacturing sector 57 lakh jobs were lost. A clear pointer to the jobless growth the country is witnessing.
 And lastly,  Rahul Gandhi keeps harping about the Land Acquisition bill as a great achievement of UPA government, even though he has no official role in the government (meaning, will take credit for all positive thigns, but escapes all blame for negative things like scams).

But Devinder exposes the hollowness of Rahul Gandhi's claim:
With the new land acquisition law coming into force, more people would be driven out of their meagre land holdings and forced to migrate to the cities looking for menial jobs.
Wake up India.. It's not Bharat Nirman. It's Bharat Nirnaam (ruin) that UPA government is doing.
India needs a leader with a growth track record. Not tape records. Think and vote in 2014.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Myths about RSS

Today, I saw twitter trending #NationalistRSS in India. Social media has been a powerful medium in exposing the sinister campaign against RSS.

While reviewing some of the tweets by anti RSS propagandists, I felt it is necessary to expose some of the popular myths about RSS. A lot of people are blindly ranting against Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh, without getting proper information. You can't change everyone, but at least you can put some facts on the table. So here we go.. Note that these are not the official statements of RSS, but that of general social media population in India today. Full credit to the original thinkers and the original photographers, for the information presented here onwards.

Myth 1: RSS Killed Gandhi.
Fact 1: Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Godse had left RSS in 1930s itself. This has been reiterated countless number of times by RSS, and the recent one is from December 2010, when Ram Madhav of RSS claimed court records clearly showing RSS had nothing to do with Gandhi's murder. Justice Kapur Commission Report clearly says: "RSS as such were not responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, meaning thereby that one could not name the organisation as such as being responsible for that most diabolical crime, the murder of the apostle of peace. It has not been proved that they (the accused) were members of the RSS"
Also, Nathuram, the convict was hanged within months, bringing justice to the whole incident. Blaming RSS for Gandhi's murder just because Godse was a former member of RSS, is like blaming Congress for Muslim League's mass murder and atrocities during Partition, because Jinnah was a member of Congress earlier. Jinnah was a member of Congress party between 1906 and 1920. So someone who was a member of Congress for long 14 years, was instrumental in inciting Direct Action Day and other mass atrocities against Hindus, resulting in 1000s of deaths. Will today's Sonia Gandhi's Congress claim responsibility for all the wrong doings of Jinnah, including breaking up an age old civilization resulting in millions of deaths?

Myth 2: Sardar Patel disliked RSS.
Fact 2: Sardar Patel had to take action in 1948 due to political pressure from "secular" Nehru and group. But when the ban on RSS was lifted, read Sardar's letters to Guruji, the RSS chief. Patel was the happiest man then! All the bans till date on RSS, including the ones after Sardar's death, are purely the hate that Congress party nurturers for RSS. Everyone knows that RSS does not negotiate with vote bank politics, corruption or country's soverignty. If the same yard stick was used against Congress, SP or other parties, they all should have been banned for the violence of their cadres, or the deadly riots their governments failed to stop (and in some cases helped rioters like in 1984) over the years.  Here is a partial list of nearly 150 incidents of Congress violence. If for each riot or disturbance Congress party was banned, that number would have easily gone beyond Sachin Tendulkar's international century count!

Myth 3: RSS is anti national.
Fact 3: RSS is the most nationalistic organization in India. In fact, even the most bitter enemy of RSS, Jawaharlal Nehru, invited RSS to come participate in the 1963 Republic day parade. 3500 Swayamsevaks marched on that day, in their typical Gana Vesha. During his final years, Nehru realized the patriotic pulse of RSS, that too only when his Congress party's foreign policy went seriously wrong resulting in a humiliating defeat at the hands of China. It was RSS that helped Indian soldiers and civilians greatly in 1962, for which even Nehru was forced to invite them to be a part of 1963 Republic Day parade. I am sure the icon of secularism, Nehru would not invite an anti national organization to march with Indian army during republic day. In fact, the so-called secular folks like members of Indian communist parties, were busy raising donations for India's enemy China during 1962 war! During the 1965 Indo-Pak war PM Shastri requested nationalist RSS to help control traffic in Delhi so policemen could be freed for defence duties. When Pakistanis were trying to take over Jammu and Kashmir, it was swayamsevaks who cleared the snow, so that Indian air force could land their aircrafts.

Myth 4: RSS is fundamentalist.
Fact 4: RSS is pro India, pro Hindutva. RSS' ideology says that there are only two kinds of Hindus in India. Those who are Hindu today and those who were Hindus yesterday. That makes every single human in India (and rest of Indian subcontinent), Hindus by culture, ancestry and tradition. That is the Hindut-va (Hindu essence). Tva in Sanskrit means characteristic, essence or hood - like Bhratrutva (brotherhood), Maatrutva (motherhood), Shatrutva (Enmity) and so on. RSS never preaches any religious doctrine using any sacred book with the eventual goal of converting everyone to that doctrine 100%. RSS does not believe in converting anyone to its "religion". So calling such organization fundamentalist is silly. If at all RSS has any fundamentals, it is that of calling India as Bharat, and treating her as the mother of every single human in Indian subcontinent. In fact, RSS supports uniform civil code in India, meaning one type of marriage/divorce/inheritance laws for ALL citizen, which is opposed by so called progressive parties like Communists and Congress!

Myth 5: RSS is fascist and a terrorist organization.
Fact 5: When you show the long list of social service organizations that are a part of Sangh Parivar (family), the favourite line of Jihad supporters is that Jamat ud Da'wah also does social service. But they don't understand the basics that RSS does not preach violence in any of its shakha. It only teaches people to be proud of India's glorious 5000+ years culture and tradition. It teaches swayamsevaks (volunteers for the nation), self defence. Every human on this planet has the right to defend himself or herself. RSS never advocated for killing or converting "non-believers", like Jihadi terrorists or radical evangelicals do. If any person who claims to be associated with RSS is convicted of any crime, RSS won't play communal or victim card. RSS believes in law taking its own course and punishment for anyone who violates law, unlike Congress party that still supports a convict Lalu Yadav or those charged with mass murder like Sajjan Kumar, or those caught giving genocidal "15 minutes" hate speeches like Akbaruddin Owaisi. While Nehru was unable to stop the blood shed during partition, it was the RSS that organised over 3000 relief camps for the Hindu Refugees from Pakistan after the Partition. In short, every effort to frame RSS to a fictional "Hindutva terror" or "Saffron terror" has failed till date. Here is one such example.

Myth 6: RSS is only for Hindu males.
Fact 6: This is the favourite line of ignoramus feminists. There are two kinds of RSS setups. Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh for males, and Rastra Sevika Samiti for females. Both are thriving in India for decades. Both take out marches, celebrate India's heritage festivals and glorify India's national Hindutva icons.

Myth 7: RSS is anti Muslim and RSS is anti Christian.
Fact 7: RSS treats Muslims, Christians and everyone else in India, irrespective of caste and creed as cultural Hindus. Hindutva is an all encompassing ideology of RSS. This is the reason why RSS never has RSS Muslim shakha (daily assembly) or RSS Christian shakha. Anyone can become a member of RSS as long as they are ready to respect Bharat Mata (Mother India). RSS is against only those whose work against India's soverignty and heritage. In the famous Ranganathacharya Agnihotri case,  "Primafacie the RSS is a non-political cultural organization without any hatred or ill will towards non-Hindus", declared Karnataka High Court (then Mysore HC).

Myth 8: RSS is for Brahmins, Kshatriyas and other upper caste Hindus only.
Fact 8: Totally wrong. RSS has no caste system at all. It treats every single member, be it male or female, as equal. In fact, even Mahatma Gandhi had applauded RSS' casteless setup 7 decades ago. All RSS requires from a volunteer, is respecting Bharat Mata (Mother India) as "vatsale, Maatru bhoome".

Myth 9: RSS was anti Sikh in 1984 riots.
Fact 9: Even the most staunch Sikh supporters of 1984 time, won't claim such things. Read Kushwant Singh's writeup. In fact, RSS was instrumental in helping Sikhs in large numbers when Congress party's murderers went on rampage to kill, and their leader Rajiv Gandhi failed to stop the mass killing. 

Myth 10: Organizations like the Sri Rama Sene of the infamous pub incident, Abhinav Bharat and other organizations are part of RSS.
Fact 10: No. RSS clearly has defined who is a part of Sangh Parivar and who is not. You can't club everyone who claims to be a Hindu organization, and malign RSS because of those organizations' actions. In fact some of those ignorantly clubbed as "Sangh Parivar" with RSS, were trying to kill RSS leaders! Every attempt to malign RSS, like how Congress leaders did in case of Ajmer blast, has backfired.

Myth 11: BJP is the political outfit of RSS.
Fact 11: Wrong. RSS has always been a non political organization. It's prime aim is service to the society, character buidling of youth and nation building. BJP evolved from Jan Sangh. Many BJP leaders, like Vajpayee, Advani and Modi might be from RSS background, but that does not maike RSS a political outfit. In fact, many Congress, AAP and other party leaders are also of RSS background. It is like scores of Indian leaders today  could be from NCC, but that does not make NCC a political organization. RSS volunteers support many political parties, depending upon who is doing the best service to the society, without bias, at that time. The only non-political force that vehemently opposed Emergency was RSS. It was so feared, that Indira Gandhi, who had murdered democracy in 1970s, banned the RSS during her draconian Emergency. J P aandolan, Janlokpal aandolan and a whole lot of popular movements had RSS support. In short, there are RSS admirers and RSS opponents in every party of India. To give an example, even the most staunch anti RSS politician in India today, Digvijaya Singh, was sharing dais with RSS leaders when it suited his Congress party :)

Myth 12: RSS has a membership process.
Fact 12: Wrong. RSS has no business card or party member ID. Anyone can walk in, and anyone can walk out. The concept is that of Swayam sevak. No RSS volunteer carries a Sangh membership card. In short, anyone who wants to serve the society and Bharat Mata, can become a part of RSS, temporarily or permanently. RSS adheres to the age old saffron colour flag (Bhagwa) that was an inspiration to serve the mother land for billions of Indians over millenia.

Myth 13: RSS only concerns with Hindus.
Fact 13: RSS deals with all sections of Indian society. RSS is the first one in majority of natural disasters like 2004 TN Tsunami, 2001 Gujarat Earthquake, 2009 Karnataka-AP massive floods, 2013 Uttarakhand floods, or any rail/bus/building disasters. RSS volunteers are found from Jammu and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, rushing to help every single natural disaster. They are also in forefront to help people in case of man-made disasters like 2012 Asom riots caused by illegal foreign settlers from Bangladesh. It was RSS volunteers who donated blood during 1971 war. RSS runs over 1,70,000 projects across India via organizations like Sewa Bharati, catering to every language, state, religion, caste, colour and creed. Go to their website to learn. RSS runs 27,041 schools (Ekal Vidyalaya) in remote tribal areas : 7,53,123 socially deprived tribal students are enrolled. RSS is in fact the world's largest voluntary service organization with over 60,00,000 active members, plus millions of supporters. RSS was one of the first to land at Uttarakhand to help the needy. They even proudly helped the organization that helps every Indian.. the national army! Watch this video.

Myth 14: RSS does not raise Indian flag.
Fact 14: RSS Sarsangh chalak (highest position within RSS), Mohan Bhagawat himself stands and respects an Indian flag during important national festivals.

There are scores of other myths being propagated systematically against RSS. For now, this list is enough. Just remember: 

R : Ready for
S : Selfless
S : Service

RSS will become stronger with availability of social media, as the malicious propaganda against the Sangh Parivar, will eventually have to die down.

सत्यमेव जयते !