When history and geography mingled

14 03 2008



When history and geography mingled
14 Mar 2008, 0000 hrs IST,TNN

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Vinod Khanna (TOI Photo)

Take a deeper look, and one could also see geographical boundaries being blurred, as a wide range of guests from a spectrum of professional fields made their presence felt here.

It was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who, along with Narendra Modi, stole the show. The religious and political heads greeted one another cordially, after which each spent some time observing the works individually. The two then inaugurated the show along with Gopinath Munde and Vinod Khanna.

Also present at this unique exhibition were Varsha Usgaonkar and Chhaya Momaya, who was all set to leave for a holiday to South Africa that night.

Poverty-stricken war hero gets award

A Correspondent in Mumbai
March 12, 2008 20:20 IST

Naik Subedar Bana Singh, who won the Param Vir Chakra for his bravery in preventing a Siachen post from falling into Pakistan Army’s hands in 1987, was on Wednesday awarded the inaugural Sivaji-FACT award for courage.

Singh, who was feted by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images], was also given Rs 1 lakh with the award.

“For all the services this great hero did for the country, the government sees it fit to give him a pension of Rs 100-odd. Hence we decided to give him a cheque of Rs 1 lakh,” said Francois Gautier, the trustee of the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism, a non-profit organisation, said while presenting the cheque to Singh.

Earlier in the day, in New Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj appealed to the government to do whatever it can including changing the rules to ensure that some dignity is restored to people like Singh.

“I hung my head in shame when I learnt the conditions in which Singh lives in Jammu. The man who gave the best years of his life to the country is now being forced to run from pillar to post to make ends meet. He gets a meagre sum of Rs 100 as pension,” she said.

She wondered how a person like Singh, who has two daughters of marriageable age, will carry out his duties towards his family.

At the function in Mumbai, chants of Jai Gurudev and Gujarat ka sher ayaa overlapped as Ravi Shankar and Modi stepped on to the stage together. The two charismatic leaders, who inaugurated an exhibition on Chatrapati Sivaji, spoke about the greatness of the Marathi leader.

Gautier threw the rule book out of the window and surprised the dignitaries by inviting them out of turn and asking them to speak extempore.

Ravi Shankar, who was asked to speak of Sivaji and his spiritual side, said: “One day, Sivaji who was tired of all the problems he faced as a ruler, went to Samarta Ramdas and laid down his crown in front of the swami. Sivaji said he found the burden of ruling was too much for him to handle. The swami accepted it and when Sivaji was just about to leave, he called him and placed a proposition in front of him. The swami said he would take the mantle of the ruler under one condition: that Sivaji work for him.

“Sivaji gladly accepted and returned to rule the country with great prudence. All he needed was the burden of responsibility taken off him.”

Modi, who was asked to speak on Sivaji as an inspiration for those in public life, said: “The brand of secularism that Sivaji followed was the real deal. He wrote to the Mughal rulers, who levied a tax on Hindus, asking them to revoke the tax.

“I do not know why the government in Delhi is so uneasy when the subject of terrorism is broached. They should also learn from Sivaji. He was the person who engaged in guerilla warfare against those who invaded the country, which is a form of terrorism so to speak.

“And third, Sivaji was one of the first persons to protect the cow. Will the centre again learn a lesson from Sivaji, and if not him at least Mahatma Gandhi [Images], who also fought for the protection of the cow, and pass a law to protect the cow across the nation?” he said.

With inputs from Onkar Singh in Delhi

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When history and geography mingled

14 03 2008



When history and geography mingled
14 Mar 2008, 0000 hrs IST,TNN

/photo.cms?msid=2861746
Vinod Khanna (TOI Photo)

Take a deeper look, and one could also see geographical boundaries being blurred, as a wide range of guests from a spectrum of professional fields made their presence felt here.

It was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who, along with Narendra Modi, stole the show. The religious and political heads greeted one another cordially, after which each spent some time observing the works individually. The two then inaugurated the show along with Gopinath Munde and Vinod Khanna.

Also present at this unique exhibition were Varsha Usgaonkar and Chhaya Momaya, who was all set to leave for a holiday to South Africa that night.

Poverty-stricken war hero gets award

A Correspondent in Mumbai
March 12, 2008 20:20 IST

Naik Subedar Bana Singh, who won the Param Vir Chakra for his bravery in preventing a Siachen post from falling into Pakistan Army’s hands in 1987, was on Wednesday awarded the inaugural Sivaji-FACT award for courage.

Singh, who was feted by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images], was also given Rs 1 lakh with the award.

“For all the services this great hero did for the country, the government sees it fit to give him a pension of Rs 100-odd. Hence we decided to give him a cheque of Rs 1 lakh,” said Francois Gautier, the trustee of the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism, a non-profit organisation, said while presenting the cheque to Singh.

Earlier in the day, in New Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj appealed to the government to do whatever it can including changing the rules to ensure that some dignity is restored to people like Singh.

“I hung my head in shame when I learnt the conditions in which Singh lives in Jammu. The man who gave the best years of his life to the country is now being forced to run from pillar to post to make ends meet. He gets a meagre sum of Rs 100 as pension,” she said.

She wondered how a person like Singh, who has two daughters of marriageable age, will carry out his duties towards his family.

At the function in Mumbai, chants of Jai Gurudev and Gujarat ka sher ayaa overlapped as Ravi Shankar and Modi stepped on to the stage together. The two charismatic leaders, who inaugurated an exhibition on Chatrapati Sivaji, spoke about the greatness of the Marathi leader.

Gautier threw the rule book out of the window and surprised the dignitaries by inviting them out of turn and asking them to speak extempore.

Ravi Shankar, who was asked to speak of Sivaji and his spiritual side, said: “One day, Sivaji who was tired of all the problems he faced as a ruler, went to Samarta Ramdas and laid down his crown in front of the swami. Sivaji said he found the burden of ruling was too much for him to handle. The swami accepted it and when Sivaji was just about to leave, he called him and placed a proposition in front of him. The swami said he would take the mantle of the ruler under one condition: that Sivaji work for him.

“Sivaji gladly accepted and returned to rule the country with great prudence. All he needed was the burden of responsibility taken off him.”

Modi, who was asked to speak on Sivaji as an inspiration for those in public life, said: “The brand of secularism that Sivaji followed was the real deal. He wrote to the Mughal rulers, who levied a tax on Hindus, asking them to revoke the tax.

“I do not know why the government in Delhi is so uneasy when the subject of terrorism is broached. They should also learn from Sivaji. He was the person who engaged in guerilla warfare against those who invaded the country, which is a form of terrorism so to speak.

“And third, Sivaji was one of the first persons to protect the cow. Will the centre again learn a lesson from Sivaji, and if not him at least Mahatma Gandhi [Images], who also fought for the protection of the cow, and pass a law to protect the cow across the nation?” he said.

With inputs from Onkar Singh in Delhi





Exhibition on Shivaji to depict him as modern hero

12 03 2008



TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: While Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray is busy pouring vitriol on people from Bihar, his son Uddhav has found another occasion to reaffirm the party’s belief in the Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Uddhav will take part in the inaugration of an exhibition on Shivaji organised by the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT), which will have paintings depicting the Maratha warrior as a modern hero.
The others who will share the dais with the Sena leader will be chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, national general secretary of BJP and former deputy chief minister, Gopinath Munde at the [rohramme to be held at the P L Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi on March 12. The exhibition, ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: A hero for Modern

India’, which is being sponsored by Prafull Goradia, will be inaugurated by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
According to the organisation, religiously-inspired acts of terror cannot be fought on the streets. “Terrorism begins at the level of idea and belief. It has to be dealt with knowledge, better ideas and broader beliefs. The acts must be tackled before it affects the lives of innocent people. Kashmir and Bangladesh are an example of what terrorism can do to to human life.’’ FACT sponsors aims to educate and provide solutions to terroraffected hot spots around the world, says the organisation.
Francois Gautier, convener of FACT, will hold a press meet on March 11 to talk about the exhibition. Born in Paris, Gautier is a French journalist and a writer who has been in India for 33 years. For eight years, he was the political correspondent in India and South Asia for “Le Figaro’’.





Police turn vandals: Live pictures of vandalism

9 03 2008

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Photographs courtesy: SV Badri on Photobucket

Bloggers react :

A Tamil blog protests

ஆரம்பிக்கிறது வன்முறை
ஒரு நாலைந்து முஸ்லீம்கள் பிரச்சினையிலும் வாக்குவாதத்திலும் ஈடுபடுகிறார்கள். அவர்களுக்குப் பாதுகாப்பாக போலீஸ் வேடிக்கை பார்த்துக்கொண்டிருக்கிறது.

ACP முரளி மிகுந்த கோபத்தோடு அங்கிருந்த பெண் தன்னார்வலரை “தீவிரவாதி” என்று திட்டுகிறார். வெள்ளைக்கார நாய்க்குத் துணையாக வேலை செய்கிறீர்களா என்று மிரட்டுகிறார்.(ஃப்ரான்ஷ்வா கத்தியேவை ஒரு வெள்ளைக்கார நாய் என்று திட்டுவது இனவெறுப்பை வெளிப்படுத்தும் வசவுச் சொல்.)
காவல்காரர் முரளி பெண் தன்னார்வலரிடம் கேவலமாகப் பேசுகிறார்.

TIMES OF INDIA
Exhibition on Aurangzeb closed down
Pushpa Narayan | TNN

Chennai: An exhibition on Mughal emperor Aurangzeb at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Chennai was abruptly closed down and the paintings taken away by the police after protests that some of the depictions were objectionable and a distortion of history.
According to Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT), which organised the exhibition, the miniature paintings at the show depicted Aurangzeb’s ‘‘cruelty against not just his father and sons but the entire Hindu clan’’. But within days of its opening on March 3, there were protests from certain quarters against the exhibition.
Among the paintings were depictions of demolition of famous temples in Somnath and Mathura. Thursday last, the cops asked the organisers to remove the objectionable paintings, but it was turned down. ‘‘By the evening, there were arguments between some VIPs who visited the exhibition. Soon a group of people arrived and threatened that they would take to the streets if the pictures were not removed. We seized the paintings and closed down the exhibition to avoid a law and order problem,’’ said Nungambakkam DCP Murali.

Indian Secularism and Free Speech: Not for the Hindu

FACT is an acronym for Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism, an organization founded by Francois Gautier, a French journalist based in India who shares a deep empathy for the sufferings of the Hindu, both past and present. This compassion stems not from a blind fascination but is an informed considered judgment derived from a close reading of Indian history. Troubled by the inexplicable apathy of the Hindus vis-à-vis their own past torment, this Frenchman has taken upon himself the duty to educate Indians, through a series of exhibitions, about the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, the oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh and more recently the fiend, Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb as he was, according to Moghul records” is the title of a collection of paintings highlighting the atrocities of this tyrant and has been exhibited to much acclaim in the cities of Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. FACT-sponsored exhibitions are not crude street shows but sophisticated exercises in true history telling anointed by the likes of Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, KPS Gill, N. Vittal and B. Raman. Whether we agree with their views or not we must admit that these individuals are upright citizens of our country who would think twice before associating themselves with dubious ventures.

The same exhibition was hosted in Chennai at the prestigious Lalit Kala Akademi, and was scheduled to run from March 3- March 9. But on March 5, a group of Islamic fundamentalists barged into the exhibition, objected to the show, created a ruckus and threatened to storm the place with hundreds of supporters after Friday prayers from the mosque nearby. A day later, the Prince of Arcot, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali visited the exhibition and claimed that FACT was misrepresenting history. In the words of Kanchan Gupta (Artistic freedom yes, but not with Aurangzeb, Daily Pioneer, March 9, 2008):

“He was particularly enraged by two miniatures — the first depicted Aurangzeb’s army destroying the Somnath temple and the second showed the destruction of the Kesava Rai temple in Mathura.

By Thursday, March 7, “higher authorities” in Tamil Nadu Government had issued instructions to the police to shut down the exhibition. Murali, (Asst Commissioner of Police) along with his men, stormed into the exhibition hall on Thursday evening and began taking down the paintings. “He was looking for the paintings showing the destruction of Somnath and Kesava Rai temples. He threw them to the floor,” said a FACT volunteer.”

This sequence of events raises the disturbing specter of how Islamic fundamentalists in concert with vested interests can suppress the dissemination of authentic history and thwart a basic tenet of democracy: the principle of free speech.

Aurangzeb was a confirmed bigot vetted by historians of every hue and persuasion. There is not a shred of evidence to proclaim his innocence or any shadow of doubt about the religious oppression that he unleashed against his Hindu subjects. But yet we have a Muslim community taking up cudgels on his behalf. This only serves to give you a glimpse into the mindset of certain sections of India’s Muslim population who remain in a time wrap of past Muslim glory which was marked by the destruction of hundreds of Hindu temples and massacre of thousands of innocent Hindus and who continue to revere religious despots like Aurangazeb.

The two miniatures referred to above are hardly controversial; the events depicted having been corroborated by Aurangzeb’s own words and the works of his own sanctioned chroniclers. As proof of the same:

a) “… The Temple of Somnath was demolished early in my reign and idol worship(there) put down. It is not known what the state of things there is at present. If the idolators have again taken to the worship of images at the place, then destroy the temple in such a way that no trace of the building maybe left, and also expel them (the worshippers) from the place. …” (From “Kalimat-i-Tayyibat” by ‘Inayatullah, a collection of letters and orders of Aurangzeb compiled by ‘Inayatullah in AD 1719 and covering the years 1699-1704 of Aurangzeb’s reign.)

b) “During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as the knower of truth and destroyer of oppression, as the zephyr of the garden of victory and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet,issued orders for the demolition of the temple situated in Mathura, famous as the Dehra of Kesho Rai. In the short time by the great exertions of his officers the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum…” ( from “Mas’ir-i-‘Alamgiri” by Saqi Must’ad Khan. This work was completed in 1710 at the behest of Inayatu”llah Khan Kashmiri, Aurangzeb’s last secretary and the materials which Must’ad Khan used in this history of Aurangzeb’s reign came mostly from the State archive)

The Tamil Nadu government, by succumbing to the pressure of Islamic fundamentalists without ascertaining the facts has not only shown poor judgment but exhibited an eagerness to appease fundamentalists. More importantly, this brings to the fore the anti-Hindu agenda of the DMK run Tamil Nadu government that has repeatedly trampled on Hindu sentiments. Just a few months ago, the DMK supremo Karunanidhi let loose a vituperative tirade against the Hindu deity Shri Ram in the context of the Ramsethu controversy and the manner in which the assistant commissioner of police responded to his ‘call of duty’ in this matter is another example of the deep seated antipathy towards Hindus and Hinduism that some in this state harbor.

What was even more striking was the total blackout of this incident from the mainstream English media. Except for the Daily Pioneer, none of the major Indian newspapers including the Indian Express, Hindustan Times, and Times of India thought it fit to report the event. The Hindu did print a few lines but that was to commend the closure of the exhibition: so much for these so- called bastions of free speech.

Compare this with the quantum of newsprint and number of editorials that followed when Hindu groups disrupted an exhibition at Baroda University last year: the contrast is striking and double standards all too obvious.

And what about those self-appointed champions of human rights like Teesta Setalvad and Shabana Azmi? Surprisingly I do not hear even a murmur of protest from them: another testimony to the fact that their activism is not a fair effort to promote human values but a devious conspiracy to target Hindus.

I cannot but infer that Indian secularism is warped. Indian secularism is discriminatory. Indian secularism is nothing but a tool to muzzle the practicing Hindu. It is a synonym for minority appeasement and Hindu bashing. Until we change this attitude and apply the same yardstick to one and all we cannot hope for a truly civilized democracy in India.

References:
1) Destruction of Hindu Temples by Rajiv Verma
2) Kanchan Gupta: “Artistic freedom yes, but not with Aurangzeb“, Daily Pioneer, March 9, 2008