The Telegraph – Rift over bid to make Modi saint

Rashtra Rishi project by Kashi Parishad runs into wall

Piyush Srivastava

Lucknow – UP – India 04 June 2019. An attempt by some members of a premier body of Hindu scholars to confer sainthood on Prime Minister Narendra Modi has run into trouble, with other members calling the effort illegitimate and politically motivated.

Some members of the Kashi Vidwat Parishad, an organisation based in Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, had last week announced the Prime Minister would be honoured with the title of “Rashtra Rishi” (National Sage or National Saint).

But several other members, including Parishad general secretary Shivaji Upadhyaya, told reporters on Monday the so-called decision was not taken at the correct forum or with the requisite quorum.

“It’s the handiwork of a few sycophants of the ruling dispensation. They decided to bestow this title on the Prime Minister without consulting the politically neutral members and without quorum,” Upadhyaya said.

“Any such decision has to be passed at a general body meeting with the consent of three-fourths of the 24 members. No such meeting was convened. Just two people sat together and announced to the media a ceremony would be held in Varanasi to confer the title on the Prime Minister.”

Rishi Dwivedi, a Parishad member, told The Telegraph: “I fully agree with Upadhyaya. Even I was not informed about any meeting or decision.”

He argued that the title “Rashtra Rishi” was a “wrong and impure” coinage that lacked scriptural sanction. “The pure word is ‘Rajarshi’,” Dwivedi said.

There are four traditional titles for the accomplished among the rishis (sages): Rajarshi (Royal Sage, meant for rulers who turn outstanding sages), Maharshi (Great Sage), Brahmarshi (Eternal Sage) and Devarshi (Divine Sage).

“Rashtra Rishi” appears to be a coinage by Baba Ramdev, who had honoured Modi with the tag two years ago when the Prime Minister inaugurated a research institute at the yoga televangelist’s Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar.

The conferment of such a title by the Parishad, which Allahabad High Court has consulted over disputes relating to the Hindu religion, might be deemed to carry more weight, although such canonisation by it has in the past been tainted by political controversy.

The Parishad had honoured then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh with the title “Brahmarshi” in January 1990, only to withdraw it in August that year when he accepted the Mandal Commission recommendations on OBC reservations, opening itself to charges of advocating “Manuvad”.

A Parishad member told this newspaper on the condition of anonymity that certain central BJP leaders and ministers from the Yogi Adityanath government had contacted two of the organisation’s members before the general election to lobby for a title for Modi.

“These two members are known BJP stooges. They take favours from the government and do nothing except praise Modi and Adityanath,” he said.

“Over 90 per cent of Parishad members opposed the idea of granting the title to Modi, which is why it couldn’t be done before the election. But the stooges got cracking again after the results.

“These two members have lowered the prestige of the Parishad, which is the highest body for discourses on Hinduism. These sycophants have entered the Parishad with the help of the BJP and the RSS.”

Parishad secretary Ram Narayan Dwivedi told reporters that all norms had been followed while taking the “decision” to honour Modi with the title.

“It was decided at an emergency meeting on May 28. Most of the members agreed that like the saints of old, Modi too cared for every living being. His government’s schemes are meant for all,” he said.

A state BJP spokesperson in Lucknow, asking not to be identified, said no party leader had pressured the Parishad to grant the title to Modi.

The Tribune – Sikh neuroscientist donning rainbow turban for Pride in US goes viral on social media

San Diego, 04 June 2019. Jiwandeep Kohli, a San Diego-based neuroscientist who is bisexual and a Sikh, is ringing in this year’s Pride Month with a rainbow turban that has gone viral on social media.

Sharing an image of the elaborate creation on Twitter that has received nearly 30,000 likes, Kohli, who was also a former contestant on ‘The Great American Baking Show’, celebrated what makes him unique, reports The Huffington Post.

“I’m proud to be a bisexual bearded baking brain scientist,” he captioned the image. “I feel fortunate to be able to express all these aspects of my identity and will continue to work towards ensuring the same freedom for others.”

Pride Month kicked off on June 1 and honours the LGBTQ community while commemorating New York’s Stonewall riots in June 1969 that signalled a turning point in the movement for equal rights.

In an interview to Buzzfeed News, Kohli said: “A few years ago I saw a photo of another Sikh man at a pride parade who had a few colours in his turban.

“I was looking at that and I realised the way I tie mine, it had the exact right number of layers to make a rainbow.”

He wore his rainbow turban to the San Diego Pride last year, but again shared it on Twitter for this year’s Pride Month.

There were a few people asking where they can get their own rainbow turban. Kohli in response said he wanted them to know that turbans were a responsibility for Sikhs and it’s not the same as throwing on a rainbow hat.

“I wouldn’t want people to have the impression that I’m just wearing it as an accessory,” he said. “A turban is a sign to the world that you’re a person the world can turn to for help.”

Kohli also runs a website called ‘Bearded Baker Co’, where he showcases his culinary prowess along with recipes for those who want to give his food a try. IANS

Gentbrugse Meersen – Rattendalepark – Rhododendrons

12 May 2019


New leaves

Beautiful flowers



Flower ‘unfolding

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Disaster for Democracy: How the Modi Wave has flooded India with Fascism (Part IV)

A Dictatorship Retaining the Form of Democracy

Pieter Friedrich

On May 23, 2019, after a month-long election process, in which the OFBJP again played an instrumental role, the BJP emerged victorious with 38.5% of the total vote.

“It’s not a victory of BJP,” comments Dr Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University. “It’s a victory of Modi and Modi’s politics. After Modi came to power in the last five years, this has been turned into a personality cult. BJP is now a one-man party.” Swain describes Modi as “near to a god for a large number of his followers.”

The pracharak’s divine status, he asserts, was cemented by the Gujarat pogrom. “Modi became Modi because of the 2002 killing of 2,000 Muslims,” he states. “RSS realized Modi’s value to take over the leadership, to be their prime ministerial candidate, after 2002.”

Seventeen years after the pogrom, Swain believes this election was about electing a leader “for the majoritarian community to control the minority.”

Modi’s rise from obscurity was no accident. He is the result of a fifty-year project on the part of the RSS, a man who was groomed to be prime minister. He rode to victory on the backs of gangs of apparatchiks who are unmarried and completely dedicated to the party, pracharaks from the RSS, among whose ranks he got his own start in public life.

Modi’s re-election was a referendum on fascism, lynching, and the unrestrained violence against minorities, dissidents and the marginalized which has been repeatedly perpetrated with impunity by the troops of the RSS and BJP.

The 2019 Indian general election demonstrated that democracy is about more than the simple act of voting or the peaceful transfer of power from one regime to another. It illustrated the truth of the words penned by Ambedkar in 1949: “It is quite possible for this newborn democracy to retain its form but give place to dictatorship in fact.”

The essence of democracy is a free and open public forum that encourages, cultivates and protects discussion, debate and dissent. The electoral process is the least important part of a democracy. Without social democracy, political democracy is virtually irrelevant—in fact, even dangerous, because it legitimizes tyranny.

Ambedkar defined social democracy as “a way of life which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life.” He warned, “Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy.” Quoting John Stuart Mill, he admonished India that maintaining democracy necessitates that the people refuse to “lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man.”

His words, written the year before Modi was born, were perhaps never more prescient than today. “In politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship,” he declared. Modi epitomizes Ambedkar’s prophecy.

Dawn – India says diplomats, embassy guests ‘harassed’ by Pakistani security in Islamabad

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 03 June 2019. India on Sunday accused Pakistani security services of “widespread harassment” outside an event hosted by the Indian embassy in Islamabad a day earlier, saying that “hundreds” of guests were turned away and some of New Delhi’s diplomats were “threatened”.

The allegations came after similar reports a few days earlier from New Delhi, where guests arriving at a High Commission of Pakistan event were allegedly harassed by Indian security personnel.

Similar harassment by Indian security officials had also been reported amidst Pakistan Day celebrations hosted by the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi in March.

According to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistani security agencies “even used a forklift truck to remove the cars of some attendees” of the Saturday event. India said about 300 guests in total were turned away from attending Saturday’s iftar dinner at the hotel.

The Indian High Commission, asking Pakistan to investigate, alleged that some of its officials and diplomats were “jostled, pushed, abused, aggressively threatened with bodily harm” and in some cases had their phones “snatched” by Pakistani security officials.

“The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct, but are against all notions of civilised behaviour,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement.

The Foreign Office had lodged a protest against the “harassment and maltreatment” of guests that were invited for iftar by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi last week.

A letter by the Foreign Office dated May 31, alleged that Indian police and secret agency officials had “barricaded the High Commission from all sides. Guests were systematically channelled through the check posts, erected specially for the purpose on the day”.

The Foreign Office further said: “Many Indian guests were warned of the dire consequences if they insisted on attending the function. This harassment and maltreatment of guests continued despite requests by the officials of the Pakistan High Commission.

“Kashmiri Muslims invited by the [Pakistan] High Commission were called to the police stations in their respective native areas and warned that they would be arrested and prosecuted if found in the vicinity of the High Commission in New Delhi on the day of iftar-dinner.”

The Foreign Office recalled that Indian officials had behaved in a similar manner earlier this year, when Pakistan High Commission had arranged an event on Pakistan Day.

Last week, Indian publication The Tribune had reported the incident as well and said: “There may be prospects of a thaw in Indo-Pak relations, but ties at the ground level continue to be hostile, as the latest incident that occurred outside the Pakistan High Commission shows.”

According to reports from New Delhi, videos had emerged of armed Indian security personnel rummaging in personal vehicles and plainclothes men asking invitees to produce identity cards that were then photographed. What was presumably another security agency was also seen writing down I-card numbers of the invitees.

Indian media had already speculated that the harassment of the High Commission of Pakistan’s guests would “cast a shadow” on the iftar scheduled by Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria on Friday “as security agencies of both countries reciprocate will full measure”.

Historically tense relations between India and Pakistan plunged to dangerous levels earlier this year when the two sides carried out aerial bombing missions against each other, and even briefly fought an aerial dogfight over Kashmir skies.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi afterwards swept to victory in the elections on a tough anti-Pakistan platform.

Modi decided not to invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to last week’s inauguration ceremony, in contrast to 2014, when the Indian leader had invited then-premier Nawaz Sharif to his first inauguration.