The Telegraph – Migrants face Karnataka government torment in journey home

State seeks double fare, retreats

K M Rakesh

Bangalore – Karnataka – India, 03 May 2020. The Karnataka government had decided to charge migrant workers double the usual bus fare for travelling home within the state but rolled back the hike on Saturday following an uproar and opposition criticism of “cruelty” to the poor left penniless by the lockdown.

Education minister S Suresh Kumar said the BJP-led government had decided to reduce the charge from two-way fare to the usual one-way fare for a single trip.

“The chief minister has given green signal for single fare for all the workers travelling on state road transport buses from the Bangalore bus station,” Suresh Kumar tweeted on Saturday.

The change in decision came as the number of people waiting to travel home within the state swelled by the minute and after a threat from the opposition Congress to launch a state-wide agitation for free transport.

Earlier, on Friday, the government had announced that it would charge double the fare from migrants who want to travel home by state buses.

State Congress president D K Shivakumar said it was cruel to charge anything from the poor who have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 lockdown. “We have sent aircraft to bring Indians stranded abroad.

So why can’t our governments in the state and the Centre allow free transport for poor migrant workers who have been left penniless after the lockdown?” Shivakumar told reporters on Saturday. Some migrant workers had met him, he added, requesting his intervention.

“It is cruel to charge anything at all from the poor who have not been earning anything since the lockdown. Isn’t it the duty of governments to provide them free transport in such times?” he said. “Imagine how much a family of three or four would have to shell out.”

Shivakumar said he was even willing to pay for a part of the travel expenses, saying the total cost for the government shouldn’t be more than Rs 10 crore, and threatened to launch a statewide agitation to get the government to provide free transport.

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation had on Friday announced a list of close to 600 special buses to connect all the districts in the state. But a shock awaited migrant workers when they reached the bus station in Bangalore city. They would have to pay more than double the usual fare, they were told.

An official with the transport corporation explained that the 55-seater buses could carry a maximum of 30 passengers because of the social-distancing protocol now in force, allowing only two passengers on seats for three and one on seats for two.

“The buses are running nearly half-empty and this operation would pile up on the Rs 5.3-crore loss we made last year,” said the official who asked not to be named.

Had the government struck to its Friday’s decision, a passenger to Bagalkot, for instance, would have had to pay the round-trip fare of Rs 1,311 for the one-way, 475 km non-air-conditioned journey from Bangalore. That would have been about 120 per cent more than the regular two-way fare.

Muniyappa, who works in Bangalore as a gardener, said he would have had to pay Rs 260 to reach home in Mandya, about 100km from here.

He was okay with Saturday’s decision to roll back the fare, to Rs 130 in his case. “I can afford that much,” he said.

The demand for free travel has arisen because, unlike Muniyappa, there are people who need to travel long distances to reach home. Also, more family members means more strain on the pocket.

The transport official said the decision to charge the passengers had been taken because of “misuse” during the initial services.

“We had run 25 free bus services until Thursday. But several people who could otherwise afford to pay misused the free service,” he said.

The Tribune – Gunfire near US gurdwara triggers panic, 5 detained for shooting at squirrels

San Joaquin County Sheriff received calls around 6:30 pm

Tribune Web Desk

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 03 May 2020. Police in Californian city of Tracy went into an alert mode after reports of “bullets flying around a Gurdwara” reached the sheriff’s office on Friday evening.

Officials said the San Joaquin County Sheriff received calls around 6:30 pm reporting a person was shooting from a property off Hansen Road in the direction of the Gurdwara off Grant Line Road.

Responding Tracy police officers detained five people at the scene.

After further investigation, the sheriff office said that they discovered a few family members were shooting at ground squirrels.

Some rounds had ricocheted off the ground and flew towards the Gurdwara.

No injury was reported, but windows of cars were shot out.


22 March 2020

Braemstraat, bus 9 to Mariakerke Post

Gentbrugge Kouter
Sint-Simon en Sint-Judaskerk

Kerkstraat – Gentbrugge

Cyclists have the right of way on the Oude Brusselseweg

24 March 2020

Jules de Saint-Genoisstraat
Bus 20 to Groeningewijk and to Gent-Zuid

Jules de Saint-Genoisstraat
Bus 20 to Gent-Zuid

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Hindustan Times – Harmandr Sahib (aka Golden Temple) sees 20% surge in online offerings amid lockdown

Since the lockdown hit collections of all gurdwaras, they are finding it difficult to manage their finances, and the SGPC is promoting online offerings on its website and encouraging devotees around the world to contribute online.

Surjit Singh, Posted by: Shankhyaneel Sarkar

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 02 May 2020. The Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] has witnessed a 20% surge in online offerings amid the nationwide Covid-19 lock-down that has prevented devotees from making a journey to the famed Sikh shrine.

The shrine, properly called Harmandr Sahib, has been deserted since curfew was imposed in Punjab on 19 March. Since then, the regular collection of offerings witnessed a record dip.

From an average collection of Rs 23 lakh a day as offerings (or a total of Rs 85 crore annually, including online offerings) during 2019-20, the figure plunged to between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 a day, according to officials of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

As regular collections declined, online offerings surged.

“On normal days earlier, online offerings ranged from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh a month. In the last month, collections through online modes increased by 20% as per an estimate,” said Mukhtiar Singh, chief manager of the Golden Temple.

Another official privy to the shrine’s financial matters said: “The online offerings do not include few major offerings recently made by some devotees. For instance, a devotee from Amritsar offered Rs 5 lakh through online payment. This data is only of the routine online offerings.”

Asked about the average amount of money offered digitally every day, the official said on condition of anonymity, “Actually, the banks have not given us full details yet, citing the lock-down.”

Since the lock-down hit collections of all gurdwaras, they are finding it difficult to manage their finances, and the SGPC is promoting online offerings on its website and encouraging devotees around the world to contribute online, especially for the Harmandr Sahib’s langar ghar, considered the world’s largest community kitchen.

SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal personally appealed to devotees to contribute from home through this method. An icon appears for online donations when people visit the SGPC’s website.

This icon appeals to devotees to contribute to Harmandr Sahib’s community kitchen that feeds the needy in Amritsar. These people include migrant workers stranded in the city and the poor.

The surge in online offering has provided relief to the SGPC, which runs scores of educational, medical and sports institutions and manages historic gurdwaras in the northern part of the country.

“The SGPC is extending help to every needy person in the crisis, so the devotees should come forward to contribute to these services,” said Longowal.

The Print – Hindu society’s real enemy is a pseudo-Hindu – not those branded ‘sickulars’ or ‘libtards’

Pseudo seculars have greatly damaged India’s liberal character. But they have been made irrelevant. And politicians don’t care about secular ideologies.

Captain G R Gopinath

Op/Ed, 03 May 2020. Lofty words like secular, liberal, intellectual have mutated and been replaced by ‘sickular’, ‘libtard’, ‘urban naxal’ and are now fashionable jargon of derision among many urban middle class.

One may call them the ‘Hindu bourgeois’ but I’m tempted to describe them as ‘Pseudo Hindus’. They don’t wear saffron, but you can see them from a mile away.

Are these pseudo Hindus a bigger threat to Hinduism today than proselytising Christian missionaries and jihadi mullahs? Is Hinduism under siege with pseudo Hindus leading the charge?

Before we get to that, a few words about pseudo seculars and the damage they have caused, they cannot be ignored or easily forgiven. There are quite a few of them among us and you can spot them too without difficulty.

If lofty words like secular and liberal have taken on different connotations today than what they originally meant to us, it’s because ‘pseudo seculars’ placed allegiance to a party, its politics and to a dead ideology above fealty to their own intelligence. They were also selective in its practice.

The pseudo secular wished to uplift Dalits, which was noble, but looked down condescendingly upon their religious beliefs; embrace the Leftist ideology but on condition that Dalits abandons their ‘faith’, that is, stop worshipping their village deities if they want to be emancipated.

The pseudo secular was contemptuous about everything traditional and cultural not only among the poor and lower class but was also scornful of Hindus and their belief systems, even though there is so much else to be ashamed of in our society.

In the eagerness to uphold minority rights, the pseudo secular was blind to the terrorism of the Islamic jihadis who killed Sikhs and Hindus in Kashmir that resulted mass exodus.

The pseudo seculars did not hound them with the same zeal that they now attack the cow/gau jihadis and the crazed Hindus who are sowing seeds of hatred in India. In short, s/he became a pompous ‘secular fanatic’ and created a fertile ground for majoritarian backlash.

Great liberal intellectuals like Bertrand Russel and Albert Einstein, although non-believers, had a generosity of spirit and empathy for humankind. Einstein, not a believer of a personal God who rewards and punishes human beings, said “I’m a deeply religious non-believer. This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”

This essay is not about politicians. They really don’t give tuppence about their religious beliefs or secular ideologies. Their concerns are votes. Ronald Reagan summed it up well: “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

The danger lies within

Now, the pseudo seculars have been largely reduced to irrelevance today. In fact, the threat to Hinduism is not so much from political parties, pseudo seculars, Indian Muslims or even imagined Islamic invaders. It’s from within.

The peril for Hindus in India, the society at large and for Hindus abroad is from pseudo Hindus.

The danger to a civilisation and its ethos is more when common people in a society turn to hatred to feed their demons and fill their day purveying falsehoods.

Some days you are overwhelmed with stories that shatter you, senseless communal killings and arson when lives and livelihoods are destroyed. And there is a sinking feeling, leaving many of us guilty that we didn’t do enough.

This is what I wish to talk about. Conflicts between various religions, wars among religious sects and ethnicities go back over 2,000 years of recorded history but a new measles, a contagion worse than the novel corona-virus, has infected people in many parts of the world but it is more virulent in India and corroding its very soul.

Einstein said ‘nationalism’ is the new measles for mankind.

Not a day goes by when we don’t receive messages on our social media sites and WhatsApp groups spewing venom and inflaming communal passions. One ignores it if the senders and also the messages are anonymous forwards.

But when you receive communications from childhood classmates, relatives and friends, colleagues from work who you thought were easy going, genial and loving, with whom you have broken bread over wine and loved and laughed with, what do you do?

When you see them blindly sending to you and 20 others some nameless person’s opinion, or provocative comments and reports of incidents of prejudice full of malignant animosity, brazen falsehoods and improbable inventions of a sick mind, then you feel engulfed in despondency.

When you show evidence and tell them that the audio of Lakshmi Mittal abusing Muslims in four letter words is fake or when you tell the NRI in the US that the anonymous viral message about Hindus becoming a minority in India by 2050 is mischievous, not backed by any evidence and he must not foolishly believe such things, then there’s no answer.

If you ask them what do they mean when they say ‘Hindus must rise’, then all you get is more fake forwards.

You feel as though there’s iron in your soul. When you look at India’s great sages and saints, considered the greatest of Hindus, Adi Shankaracharya, Narsi Mehta, Mirabai, M K Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda, Basavanna, Thiruvalluvar and many others, one trait runs common through all of them: they all breathed the divinity of unity through love and compassion and what one of Kannada’s greatest poet Kuvempu called ‘Vishwa Manava’ (Universal Man).

The shallow Hindus who can’t see

And to think that the old frail Hindu who made non-violence his creed, whom Einstein likened to Jesus and Buddha, was shot dead by a fanatic Hindu. Three bullets. Point blank range. And life extinguished.

I imagined if Lord Ram, the embodiment of the noblest virtues, in whom everything desirable in a person was enshrined, if ‘He’ were to be walking invisibly and hear a political leader shout “goli maaro saalon ko (shoot the traitors)” in his name, then let alone Ram, even Ravana would have blanched and said, “These are no Hindus. These are pseudo Hindus”.

These may be aberrations of unhinged individuals carried away by rage. But what stuns you is the indulgence and patronage they received by the senior functionaries and, more shockingly, the many ‘farzi Hindus’ who joined in chorus and echoed the politician’s call to murder.

Is Hinduism in peril? No, not in my opinion. It has survived 3,000 years of onslaughts and alien influences. The Charavakas, a sceptical and materialistic school of philosophy founded by Brihaspati around 600 BCE, which rejected the Vedic rituals and prevailing belief systems, were absorbed by Hinduism like a giant boa constrictor leaving no trace of them after a few hundred years.

As Mexican poet and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz memorably wrote In Light of India: “Like an enormous metaphysical boa, Hinduism slowly and relentlessly digests foreign cultures, gods, languages, and beliefs.

Hinduism does not convert individuals; it absorbs communities and tribes, their gods and rites.” It appropriates and assimilates everything that comes its way. It also spawned great religions, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and allowed them to coexist and spread.

Will Hinduism morph itself into a religion of narrow outlook to compete with and resemble medieval Islamic States because of pseudo Hindus on a rampage? That will be giving too much credit to shallow men, the “hollow men, stuffed men, leaning together, headpiece filled with straw”.

But there’s a feeling: a ‘virus’ is debilitating and destabilising our society. And Hindus who believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) must not succumb to this virus.

Something precious seems to have been lost.

William Wordsworth’s famous lines from Ode: Intimations of Immortality come to mind:

“The glory and the freshness of a dream.
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”

Captain Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath is the founder of Air Deccan and a writer. Views are personal.

Hindu society’s real enemy is a pseudo-Hindu — not those branded ‘sickulars’ or ‘libtards’