Friday, August 26, 2011

Sikhism...And the Changing World Order

 What does the role of Sikhism and the present day Anna Hazare people movement have in common....resistance to  coercion and repression.....Our Gurus lead us to belief system that stood firm on charter of human rights 

Sikhism represents a belief that every Indian can be proud to be a part of. The Sikh Gurus are  held in high esteem and sacrosanct not only by Sikhs but by  all supporters of independence in general as role models.

The Sikh Gurus have motivated us to be a better being in an era that was perhaps the most challenging chapter of our history. One cannot forget the contributions of Sikh Gurus and their selfless sacrifices to strengthen the societal framework.... giving them direction and provide leadership to overthrow the rule of invaders.

The medieval era represents the darkest phase of our society in Punjab. Internally we were being eroded by termites of casteism...... gender discrimination..... And overt ritualism emanating from Vedas.

 And externally, we were being butchered by ethnic groups of the most uncivilized tribes of West Asia – the Ghaznis, Khiljis, Mughals, Slaves, Tughlaqs etc.

The Sikh gurus, in these turbulent times, lit the lamp of divine wisdom and steered the society towards the original and deep rooted tenets of our culture.

The Gurus did what the radical Bhaktas could not: create a society outside the caste-based society, the democratic ...classless   Panth...... where everyone stood equal in every respect.

The Gurus laid stress on social service ....Sewa. In my last post I shared ...some words about the relevance of Sewa & Satsang in our life...

 Guru Nanak, after his travels around the world, took to farming, from where he would send the grain to the common kitchen.....The Langar.

 Guru Arjan Dev established a leper asylum at Tarn Taran, which runs even to this day.

But change is not easy.....for it means flowing against the current. Resistance we encounter is variable with time and place.  Buddhism and Jainism shun the use of force ,  They stay clear from it.....and Brahmanism sanctioned it only for "upholding the caste order".

As per  the Sikh tenets, A sikh views armed resistance to tyranny  as a religious duty. Guru Gobind Singh "institutionalised his ideal of defending dharma by creating the Khalsa".

The Sikh Gurus condemned idol worship, ceremonialism and ritualism. What was needed was a separate identity, for the Gurus realised that "it was imperative to build a social system and organise the people outside the caste-society". The instrument of the Khalsa was created to "capture political power for a plebeian mission".....

Historian Hari Ram Gupta writes about the persecution of the Sikhs at the hands of the Mughals: "Majha, the homeland of the Sikhs was completely ruined. A wonderful and terrible trial indeed, from which the weak came out strong, from which the strong came out sublime." The masses joined the revolution because the Sikh Gurus were always in the forefront making supreme sacrifices for the right cause.

It has been said that the Sikh movement was...... perhaps  on matters of eminence alone  is  probably the greatest social revolution.

The Sikh revolution is comparable  with the revolutions in France and America, ...But in those countries  changes took a long time coming ...In France the  class interests and in US the racial aversion and even longer to be  banished there.

Quite at divergence with them the Sikhs’ had a surgical transformation of its followers on the grounds of fraternity, liberty and equality. Also, the times were bad and the Sikh revolution took place at a difficult time, in a caste-ridden society and under a fanatical foreign rule.

Can we say that the Sikh Revolution was social and political in nature, secular in kind and driven by religious inspiration?

 Had there been no Guru Gobind Singh and his call to arms, Sufi saint Bulleh Shah writes that the entire population would have been either circumcised or converted.
Historians agree unanimously that the French Revolution was a watershed event that changed Europe forever, following in the footsteps of the American Revolution, which had occurred just a decade earlier.
The causes of the French Revolution, though, are difficult to pin down: based on the historical evidence that exists, a fairly compelling argument could be made regarding any number of factors. Internationally speaking, a number of major wars had taken place in the forty years leading up to the Revolution, and France had participated, to some degree, in most of them.
 The Seven Years’ War in Europe and the American Revolution across the ocean had a profound effect on the French psyche and made the Western world a volatile one.. The costs of waging war, supporting allies, and maintaining the French army quickly depleted a French bank that was already weakened from royal extravagance.

 Finally, in a time of highly secularized Enlightenment, the idea that King Louis XVI had absolute power due to divine right—the idea that he had been handpicked by God—didn’t hold nearly as much water as in the past few decades.
We mentioned above .....No  one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal oppression and fiscal mismanagement contributed to a French society that was ripe for revolt.

Noting a downward economic spiral in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury. Each advisor reached the same conclusion—that France needed a radical change in the way it taxed the public—so he appointed a new controller general of finance.....He suggested that, among other things, France should begin taxing the previously exempt nobility. The nobility refused, even after  controller general  pleaded with them during the Assembly of Notables in 1787.
Financial ruin thus seemed imminent.
In a final act of desperation, Louis XVI decided in 1789 to convene the Estates-General, an ancient assembly consisting of three different estates that each represented a portion of the French population....The clergy....The nobility ...and the common man.
 If the Estates-General could agree on a tax solution, it would be implemented. However, since two of the three estates—the clergy and the nobility—were tax-exempt, the attainment of any such solution was unlikely.
Feuds quickly broke out over this disparity and would prove to be irreconcilable. Realizing that its numbers gave it an automatic advantage, the Third Estate declared itself the sovereign National Assembly. Within days of the announcement, many members of the other two estates had switched allegiances over to this revolutionary new assembly.
Shortly after the National Assembly formed, its members took the Tennis Court Oath,..... swearing that they would not relent in their efforts until a new constitution had been agreed upon.
The National Assembly’s revolutionary spirit galvanized France, manifesting in a number of different ways...
Prison Bastille
From here onward began the civil disobedience that would eventually pave the way for the revolutionary regime to get noticed and put the changes in effect. The storming of the Bastille prison in the East of Paris on the 14th of July is regarded as being the landmark event that led to the social disorder. This was done in the attempt to gain arms and ammunition's from the prison. Inspired by this event the peasants revolted against there feudal lords eventually freeing themselves of the unfair contracts that they were signed into.

 Shortly thereafter, the assembly released the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which established a proper judicial code and the autonomy of the French people.
The French revolution paved the way for the secular system of governance that we now see governing most of the countries of the world. From the perspective of freeing the people from unjust monarchist regimes that committed all sorts of crimes under the banner of religion it can be seen as a successful and valiant effort on the part of the people.

Anna Hazare is a simple man ....

In real terms  he is Lal Bahadur Shastri's.... Jai Jawan Jai Kisan.... From 1962 his soul and.... heart cried for India and sung for  India..... To see that India is mired in rampant corruption in everyday life pained him.....To see what the hapless Indian citizen confronts when dealing with any part of a monolithic state apparatus . What has has been compounded by a cynical realisation is that almost all the major pillars of a burgeoning democracy are now tainted with institutional turpitude.

Anna Hazare saw that individual greed and naked opportunism has been tacitly encouraged by an unholy politico-bureaucratic nexus that encompasses different kinds of mafia groups -- the builders lobby, the kerosene and petrol adulterators, road building robbers, private education empires, black money tycoons.The Common wealth scandal and the 2G scam are the proverbial tip of a very murky iceberg.
This complex eco-system that had its genesis in corrupt Polity and mafiosi...and the dalals....
These dubious links have been captured evocatively by Bollywood ..... for that matter you have to see the hypothetical  Anna film Dabangg poster... Anna in Salman Khan avatar.

The world’s largest democracy has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of legislators with a criminal record and some state governments are brazenly admitting notorious individuals into the party-fold for electoral considerations.
Anna wants to change the way of governance...not the Government.
I read an article in by  The Deccan Chronicle and thought I would share it with you all on the blog
Written by...  Lt Gen  S.K. Sinha , a retired lieutenant-general, was Vice-Chief of Army Staff and has served as governor of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.

Democracy arrested

The architecture of the Indian Constitution is based on the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity, as espoused in the French Revolution; on the concept of the rule of the people, by the people and for the people, as articulated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address; and on the format of parliamentary democracy as developed in Britain, the mother of democracy.

 Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of our Constitution, while urging its adoption by the Constituent Assembly, stated, “However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad if those who are called to work it happen to be a bad lot.” We need to ask ourselves whether our generation has lived up to the hopes of the founding fathers of our Constitution. The answer is an emphatic no. We have been persistently debasing our democracy.

 Parliamentary, or presidential, democracy is at variance with people’s democracy. The latter provides for one-party rule and for the supremacy of the party over government functioning. We got a close glimpse of that during the visit of Khrushchev and Bulganin to India in 1955. The first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party mattered more than the Soviet PM. A similar equation has developed in India. The distinction required in a parliamentary democracy between the government and the ruling party has been obliterated. Self-glorifying advertisements at tax-payers’ expense are put out with pictures of the party president and PM. The former now often inaugurates major government projects. This does not happen in any parliamentary democracy, nor did it happen earlier in India.

 Those who advocate keeping the PM above the jurisdiction of the Lokpal are not bothered about the PM being made to play second fiddle to the party president. Like the politburo in a Communist state, we now have an extra-constitutional body in the National Advisory Council, a super-Cabinet for formulating government policy. Dynastic rule is anathema in a democracy, but this prevails at the Centre and has been avidly adopted by regional parties in states.

So far, the BJP and the Left parties have not followed suit.

 Jawaharlal Nehru was initially hesitant in promoting his daughter in politics but towards the end he made her party president, setting her on course to become PM. However, he did not project her as his successor. Indira Gandhi had no inhibitions. She openly projected one son as her successor and, on his tragic death, her other son was made heir-apparent. That tradition continues. 

Sanjay Gandhi inaugurated the Anglo-Sikh War Memorial at Ferozepore, at a function organised by the government, with much fanfare.

 The present crown prince inaugurated the Guru Tegh Bahadur Memorial at a Delhi government function.

 The courtiers hailed the first crown prince as a man of genius, comparing him with Vivekananda and Emperor Akbar. They are doing the same now with the current heir apparent. We have also been creating a new feudalism under the garb of promoting youth in politics. The progeny of old loyalists have been inducted in government. A feudal outlook has permeated our public life. Everyone wants a flag and red light on his car.

 In the colonial period only the Viceroy, the governors of provinces and senior military commanders were so authorised. This practice is still followed in Western democracies. Our bureaucracy is shedding its neutral character and getting increasingly committed. The “lick up and kick down” approach is now in vogue. The common man visiting government offices encounters the arrogance of power.

 Vote-bank politics is rampant, with little consideration for probity and national security. In the Nehru era, iftar parties at public expense were not held. Now it has become common practice for people in power to do so. If the state has to fund a religious function or subsidise a pilgrimage, let it be for all religions, not just one.

 Illegal migration from Bangladesh is being promoted to build vote banks without considering national security or a state’s demographic structure. For a PM to assert that a particular religious community should be the first priority for his government violates the spirit of the Constitution. The poor, irrespective of community, should be the government’s first concern.

 And now we have the monstrosity of the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, drafted by the National Advisory Council. It violates the fundamental principle of equality enshrined in our Constitution which is the bedrock of our legal system. The murderer has to be tried under the Indian Penal Code on the basis of his crime, and not whether he is from the majority or minority community. 

Communal riots in our country are almost always confined to a district or a city. The Gujarat, anti-Sikh and post-Ayodhya riots were exceptions. There are many districts in which the majority in that state is in a minority. Thus the yardstick for this atrocious bill should have been the district, and not the state. If the administration is not effective in dealing with communal violence, it should be made effective instead of enacting a new law promoting divisiveness and violating natural justice.

 The most debilitating factor today is the rampant corruption. Such corruption, involving the highest echelons of government, has never taken place in the history of any worthy democracy. Having succeeded in brazening it out in the Bofors affair, the bizarre attempts of the government to do so again in these numerous scams are counter-productive. There is now a national upsurge against corruption. JP led a crusade against corruption and for the restoration of democracy. He succeeded but the leaders he installed in power squabbled among themselves and fell prey to the same evil. V.P. Singh used the Bofors card to come to power but his short tenure was futile. Corruption during these two movements was peanuts compared to that today.

 Anna Hazare’s movement has generated a national upsurge which needs to be channelled through constitutional means, or else it may become a loose cannon. The Indian people must act to ensure this, or else our debased democracy may become a lost democracy.

What is  the role of modern day revolution?
Revolution is a reaction by the people to the current state of affairs in the country or the world for that matter that has reached a certain critical mass large and powerful enough to spark off a social movement that takes action towards the change, for better or worse, of the form of government or the people in the government or the very principles  of Governance...

Modern democracy is also a reaction of the people to their realisation that the old model of monarchy or absolute autocracy or aristocracy does not work anymore.
Yet  The reality check is that  there is no such thing as a perfect political system.

We are witnessing today an Arab people's revolution
We are in the midst of a brave new world.
The uprisings raging from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen are heralding a new Arab, post-Islamist revolution.
Today's events across Egypt illustrate the futility of a dictatorial Mubarak regime seeking to push back the tides of history with mere repression and brutality. They will not succeed.
President Hosni Mubarak's days, like those of deposed Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, are numbered. The effects on the region were, until today, unthinkable.

 And Tripoli has fallen ousting the most powerful Libyan regime of Gadaffi.



Percussions of History..........Jagjit Singh.

The greatest social revolution.......Himmat Singh Gill