World Sikh News – What will happen as RSS challenges the Idea of India

Ajaypal Singh Brar

Published 2 weeks ago: In the back­drop of the views on India by two Italian travel writers, author-commentator Ajaypal Singh Brar decries the attempts to foist majoritarianism-based unity culture by the RSS and advocates that the minorities have no choice but to fight back, tooth and nail.

In the backdrop of the views on India by two Italian travel writers, author-commentator Ajaypal Singh Brar decries the attempts to foist majoritarianism-based unity culture by the RSS and advocates that the minorities have no choice but to fight back, tooth and nail.

Once upon a time, two Italian writers go on vacation together in India, and each writes a book about his travels. One sees in India only what is different and the other only what is the same.

Once upon a time, two Italian writers go on vacation together in India, and each writes a book about his travels. One sees in India only what is different and the other only what is the same.

The one writer, Alberto Moravia, titles his book An Idea of India (Un’idea del­l’India) and tries to explain how different India is, but he is frustrated that he can grasp it only in the most abstract, meta­physical terms and through a series of tautologies.

The experience teaches him why Europeans are Europeans and Indians are Indians, but that is so hard to capture in words. The differ­ence of religion, he thinks, will help him put his finger on it.

India is the land of religion par excellence, he explains. Not only are its religions different than ours but also in India religion envelops all of life. The religious idea completely permeates the experience.

It is time the fascist forces in this land realise that the land and its people can­not be turned into a monolithic society adhering to their narrow version of Hindutva but the recognition of an open network of singularities that links together on the basis of the common they share and the common they produce can make harmonious coexistence possible, workable and enjoyable.

Indians go about their daily lives living their religions in countless strange and incomprehensible rituals. But this notion of a living religious idea, he finds, does not really capture the difference either. The difference of India is much more than that.

In fact, this extreme difficulty of expressing it proves to him that the differ­ence of India is ineffable. “My fellow Italians, I cannot describe India to you. You must go there and experience its enigma yourself. All I can say is, India is India,” he concludes.

Pier Paolo Pasolini titles his book ‘The Scent of India’ (L’odore dell’India) and tries to explain how similar India is. He walks the crowded streets at night in Bombay, and the air is filled with odours that remind him of home: the rotting vegetables left­over from the day’s market, the hot oil of a vendor cooking food on the city’s sidewalks, and the faint smell of sewage.

The writer comes upon a family conducting an elaborate ritual on the river­bank, making offerings of fruit, rice, and flowers. This is not new to him either. The peasants back home in Friuli have similar customs, ancient pagan rituals that have survived for ages. And then, of course, there are the boys. The writer talks play­fully in broken English with groups of boys who congregate on street corners.

Eventually, in Cochin (Kochi) he befriends Ravi, a poor, laughing orphan who is continually tormented and robbed by older boys. Before leaving the town the writer convinces a Catholic priest with the promise of sending money from Italy to take the boy in and protect him, just as he would have done back home.

All of these boys, the writer finds, are just like the boys in every poor neigh­bour­hood of Rome or Naples. “My fellow Italians, Indians are just the same as us,” he concludes. In his eyes, in fact, all the differ­ences of India melt away and all that remains is another Italy.

It makes you wonder if the travel companions even saw the same country. In fact, although polar opposites, their two responses fit together perfectly as a fable of the two faces of Eurocentrism: “They are utterly different from us” and “They are just the same as us.”

The truth, you might say, lies somewhere between the two, they are somewhat like us and also a little different, but really that compromise only clouds the problem.

Neither of the two Italian writ­ers can escape the need to use European identity as a universal standard, the measure of all sameness and difference. India, however, is not merely different from Europe. India (and every local reality within India) is singular, not different from any universal standard but different in itself.

If the first Italian writer Al­berto Moravia could free himself of Europe as a standard, The Scent of India he could grasp this singularity. This singularity does not mean, however, that the world is merely a collection of in­communicable localities. Once we recognize singularity, the common begins to emerge.

Singularities do communicate, and they are able to do so because of the common they share. We share bodies with two eyes, ten fingers, ten toes; we share life on this earth; we share capitalist regimes of production and exploitation; we share common dreams of a better future.

Our communication, collaboration, and cooperation, furthermore, not only are based on the common that exists but also, in turn, produce the common. We make and remake the common we share every day.

Today’s world is a paradox! While, the recently concluded elections in Canada has shown us how a nation with vast swathes of immigrants from diverse nationalities could grasp this dynamic relationship of the common, our own homegrown organizations such as the RSS, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its off­shoots advocate the turning of the entire land into one monolithic singularity in the name of Hindutva, thus destroying the garden full of myriad cultures, nationalities and religious ideologies that has been celebrated as the Idea of India or perhaps as the second Italian author Pier Paolo Pasolini puts it, the Scent of India.

It is time the fascist forces in this land realise that the land and its people cannot be turned into a monolithic society adhering to their narrow version of Hindutva but the recognition of an open network of singularities that links together on the basis of the common they share and the common they produce can make harmonious coexistence possible, workable and enjoyable.

It is not easy for those who stand for the Idea of India, which is diverse and vibrant to challenge the brute bulldozer of Hindutva forces, yet despite the attempts to crush under its momentum and weight the dynamism of diversity, challenge they must. What will happen if the Idea of India dies?

The Tribune – ‘Allow women ragis at Golden Temple’ (Harmandr Sahib)

Assembly resolution for ending monopoly on kirtan telecast

Vishav Bharti – Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 06 November 2018, Putting the SGPC in the dock, Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa brought out two resolutions, demanding for the first time that women be allowed to perform kirtan at Golden Temple and the rights of live telecast of gurbani from the shrine be made open to all channels.

At present, the Badal family-owned PTC has the sole rights of live telecast of the kirtan. This resolution was unanimously passed by the House where even a few Akali MLAs also failed to oppose the same. It will now be sent to the SGPC.

Bajwa lamented that even after 550 years of Baba Nanak explaining the significance of place of women in society, they were not allowed to perform kirtan or sewa of Parkash Asthan of Guru Granth Sahib.

Opposing the move, Akali MLA from Nakodar Gurpartap Singh Wadala said that the decision to now allow the women to perform kirtan was part of the “Sikh code of conduct” laid down by Akal Takht. “It will amount to interfering in the religious issues,” he said.

Gurpartap Singh Wadala confuses two things: Maryada in the sense of how we are used to do things, and the official Sikh Rehat Maryada. The latter does not exclude women from any function in Harmandr Sahib or in other Gurdwaras, the first tells us we have always excluded women, lets keep doing it. This attitude is shameful for those who claim to be the followers of the great Guru Nanak who encourages us to always ask ‘why’ !
Man in Blue

Brussel/Bruxelles – Koningsstraat/Rue Royal – Vooruitgangstraat – Rue du Progres

Koningsstraat/Rue Royal
25 October 2019

Tram to Bockstael

Tram to Bockstael

Tram 93 barré van Jette naar onbekende bestemming


Tram 93 barré naar Jette

Tram 92 to Fort Jaco from Schaerbeek
Tram 93 to Legrand from Bockstael

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – Comment: Guru Nanak travelled widely but always returned to Kartarpur

Abdul Majid Sheikh

Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan, 07 November 2019. As the world celebrates the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, the followers of Baba Guru Nanak flock to Kartarpur. Just how this place came into being and how many times did Guru Nanak return to Kartar­pur is what will be recounted here.

To set things in perspective two sources called janam sakhis as selected by Bhai Gurdas and as recorded in the ‘Miharban’ and the ‘Puratan’ traditions will be tapped into.

According to these sources, a rich official referred to as karori was assigned by the Mughal court to “apprehend” the Guru. As the karori set off to undertake his assignment he was struck by blindness and other ailments.

Just how the Guru assisted him is disputed since the Puratan does not mention it whereas the Miharban calls it a “miracle”.

Puratan janam sakhi details his journeys

Anyhow, the karori set up a small village on his land and named it Kartarpur. To secure the land either it was donated to the Guru or was purchased by one of his rich followers. The fact remains, though, that Kartarpur was founded for, or because of Guru Nanak.

Miharban janam sakhi mentions at the conclusion of Guru Nanak’s “five journeys” that Kartarpur had become his home during his travels and it was established during his journeys.

From Kartarpur Guru Nanak did return to his birth village Talwandi (now called Nankana Sahib) several times to meet his family. But it was Kartarpur he returned to from all his five travels to the world beyond Punjab.

Here I must describe his travels as narrated in different traditions. What’s interesting is that no matter which tradition one reads, they all end at Kartarpur.

In Bhai Gurdas’s Var I, he visited all major pilgrimage centres, including Mount Sumeru in the Pamirs, north-west of Kashmir, somewhere near the Kalash Valley. It holds a special place in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism as these faiths consider it to be “the centre of the earth”.

From Makkah to Lanka

Next, he went to Makkah and Madina with his Muslim devotee Bhai Mardana. Here a legend is often narrated, though not mentioned in any janam sakhi, that Guru Nanak was sleeping with his feet towards the Kaaba when he was admonished by a mullah, to which he said: “Oh mullah, drag my feet towards the direction where Allah does not exist.”

He headed to Baghdad next where his Muslim devotee passed away. There Guru Nanak buried him. Mardana’s grave can still be spotted near the old Baghdad railway station with a plaque on which is inscribed, “Here lies buried Mardana, a friend of the Guru named Nanak, who buried him here.”

On Mardana’s death, Guru Nanak returned to Kartarpur from where he also visited Patna and Multan.

Puratan janam sakhi details the directions in which Guru Nanak travelled. We see him walking towards Lahore, then to Panipat, Delhi, Benares, Nanakmata, Kauru and returning to Talwandi.

From here he travelled to Pakpattan, Goindval and Saidpur, now called Eminabad. Here, he was taken as a slave by the Mughal emperor Babar. After listening to his words it is claimed he was freed with great respect.

He then came to Lahore staying for some time near Miani Sahib Graveyard and then returned to Kartarpur.

The second journey was with Mardana and Saido to Lanka. The third journey was with two other companions Hassu Lohar and Sihan Chhimba to Kashmir.

The fourth journey, mentioned earlier, was to Makkah and the fifth journey was to Peshawar and the Gorakh Nath temples. In this trip, he met Lahina of Khadur, who was to be named Angad and went on to become the second Sikh guru.

Guru Nanak finally returned to Kartarpur and stayed there until his death in AD 1538.

As he neared his end his Muslim, Hindu and Sikh followers wished to perform his last rites according to their faith. He asked them to bring fresh flowers.

As they disputed over his last rites, a chador was placed over him and the flowers. Next morning the flowers were still fresh but his body had disappeared.

At Kartarpur, one can see a grave where the flowers were interred and a samadhi where the flowers were cremated indicating that the spirit of Kartarpur is beyond any religion but of a belief that all human beings, irrespective of gender, faith, race or class, are equal.

That is why Kartarpur Corridor’s opening represents a window for peace between neighbours who for time immemorial have been one.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said right after he took office that if India takes one step, he would follow with two.

Kartarpur represents that very spirit akin to the fresh flowers of Guru Nanak.

Abdul Majid Sheikh recently authored The Probable Origins of Lahore and other Narrations – In India, over 56% of multidrug-resistant TBC cases remain undetected and over 64% untreated

Less than 5% of eligible drug-resistant TB patients in India receive the appropriate WHO-recommended medication.

Swagata Yadavar,
New Delhi – India, 06 Tuberculosis cases in India declined by 1.8% from 2.74 million in 2017 to 2.69 million in 2018, but the rate of decline is not enough to meet India’s target of eliminating TBC, a disease that killed one in six of those infected in 2018, by 2025, according to the World Health Organisation’s 2019 Global TBC report.

The rate of decline in India, 1.8% per year, is comparable to the global decline at 2% per year, but given that India has a large number of TBC cases, it needs to reduce TBC cases by 10% every year to meet its TBC elimination target, five years before the global target of 2030.

India accounts for 27% of the 10 million TBC cases globally, the highest in the world and three times the share of TB cases in China, the country with the second-most TBC cases or 9% of global.

An estimated 550,000 TBC cases were not registered with the Indian government and could have been undiagnosed or untreated. About 56% of drug-resistant TBC cases, a more virulent and harder-to-treat variant of regular TBC in which the TBC bacteria becomes resistant to some TBC drugs, were undiagnosed. This makes India’s fight against this infectious disease harder, as those with untreated TB can infect others.

Missing cases

Globally, 7 million new cases were reported out of the estimated 10 million cases, which means 3 million were missing from government records. This gap is due to a combination of underreporting of detected cases and underdiagnosis, which means that people with TBC either do not access healthcare or are not diagnosed when they do.

The Indian government had made notification, registration of TBC patients, mandatory for private health providers since 2012. In 2018, the government said chemists, laboratories and doctors could face jail if they failed to notify TBC patients to the government, as IndiaSpend reported in March 2018.

Notifications of new cases in India rose from 1.2 million to 2.15 million between 2013 and 2018, an increase of 60%, found the Global TBC report. In 2018, about 537,836 cases or, 26.8% of all TBC cases notified, were reported by the private sector, an increase of 35% compared to 2017, according to the government’s 2019 TB report.

About 550,000, or 25% of estimated cases, as we said, were missing from government records. The number of cases not in government records could be higher than these estimates, as about 60% of patients seek treatment in the private sector, according to various studies, and only 25% cases notified were from the private sector in 2018.

These missing cases could be unreported, undiagnosed or untreated. TB is an infected disease and spreads if left untreated, as we said.

Ten countries accounted for about 80% of the gap between reported and estimated cases. The most missing cases were in India (25%) followed by Nigeria (12%), Indonesia (10%) and the Philippines (8%). “In these countries, in particular, intensified efforts are required to improve reporting of detected TB cases and access to diagnosis and treatment,” the Global TB report said.

Quality of patient care

Notification of TBC cases does not mean much, said Chapal Mehra, convenor of Survivors against TBC, a patient advocacy group. While we can see that the reach and quantity of TBC services have expanded, there isn’t any improvement in TBC treatment quality, he said.

“It is one thing to detect and put patients on treatment, another to ensure if the treatment is the correct one,” he said, adding that it wasn’t clear whether patient outcomes were improving.

In the public sector, the treatment success rate for patients was 79% while it was 35% in the private sector, according to the 2019 India TBC report. Treatment success rate by the government’s definition means the completion of treatment, even though the Standard of TBC Care says that a patient should be tested six months and 12 months after the treatment is complete and then classified as treated, as India Spend reported in November 2016.

Partially-treated TBC patients may infect others, or result in drug-resistant TBC, at least partially nullifying India’s attempts to eliminate TBC.

IndiaSpend sought a response from KS Sachdeva, Additional Director General of the Central TB Division, on October 18, but received no response.

Drug-resistant TBC cases

India had an estimated 130,000 drug-resistant TBC cases, 27% of the world’s cases, and double the number of cases in China, the country with the second-most cases of TBC.

In 2018, India diagnosed 44%, or around 58,347 of the estimated multidrug-resistant cases or MDR-TBC, in which the TBC bacteria is resistant to at least two of the main anti-TBC drugs. Of these, 46,569, or around 35.8% of estimated cases, were put on treatment, the Global TB report said. This leaves 56% of estimated MDR-TB patients undiagnosed and 64% untreated.

India and China accounted for 43% of the gap between the estimated incidence of MDR-TBC and its treatment.

One of the barriers to access to treatment of drug-resistant TB is that management of TB is centralised and over-reliant on hospitals, the Global TBC report said. “Greater decentralisation of services and expansion of ambulatory models of care are needed.”