Sunday, September 11, 2016


……Hansan T.K

“Coming to Doha?”, Ashiq asked.  I could not refuse the invitation. It was frustrating sitting idle locked up in my room without doing anything worth and having nobody even to speak to.  My duty schedule gives me a break from 11am to 5pm every day.  It was the Doha trips I occasionally made with Ashique that gave me some reprieve.

The bay in the shape of a platter looks like a serene blue lake. The decorated wooden tourist boats floating here and there remind us of a bygone era.  These wooden boats that are called “Uru” in Malayalam were built at a place called Bepur in the suburbs of Calicut city in Kerala and are existing symbols of the centuries old trade relation our country had with the Arabs.  Behind the line of date trees on the shore is the complex of concrete buildings.  These aesthetically built magnificent skyscrapers undoubtedly enhance the beauty of the city Doha.  It is noteworthy that these buildings are built in such a manner that they do not infringe on the bluishness and tranquility of the sea in front.  Doha city, the capital of Qatar State, is beautiful and it is the only major city in the entire Qatar worth its name.  Beyond the pale grey desert Doha is somewhat green and I like the trips to the city as it rejuvenated my mind.

Ashique was the driver in my office. His duty was to bring the staff to the office and drop them back at their respective residences.  Doha is more than 50 km from Al Khor and his car races the distance 4-5 times every day.  With Ashique behind the wheel, the car transforms into a “Cheettah” on the road that goes endlessly sans any hindrance through the vastness of the desert. It sometimes reminded me of the famous Congress leader, the late Shri K.Karunakaran who was passionate to travel by cars with high speed.  Ashiq was the king of the wheel, a real driving hero.

In our first meeting he gave the impression of an arrogant young man.  It looked as if the office staff feared Ashique more than the senior officers and management.  In fact this arrogance was a protective mask he deliberately wore.  Becoming closer I could realize that he was a kind hearted man with love and affection towards other people.  We were gradually becoming friendlier shunting the formal official relationship.  His interest in socio-political issues might have been a reason for bringing me closer to him.  In fact after my arrival in Qatar apart from the matters related to mere official work and petty personal issues I had nobody else to discuss other matters I was interested in except to a very close friend. Ashique had given a fillip to this void.

That day too, as usual, after finishing my morning duties at 11 am I boarded Ashique’s vehicle. “Why should you go home now? To get bored at home alone? Come we will go to Doha”, Ashique said. I too was feeling a bit mentally disturbed.  I agreed to the suggestion. We had lunch together at my residence.  Sitting on the right front seat of the car I started to Doha along with Ashique.  Our vehicle, leaving behind the township where my office and residence situated, entered the main road. The speed kept increasing, it crossed 120 Km and still higher. The FM radio in the car was playing some Malayalam cinema songs.  Beyond the fencing on both sides of the road lay flat the desert far and wide. The sight was demoralizing.  There was silence between us.  Suddenly, Ashique’s cell phone rang.  From the talk I could make out that the call was from his home.  Tension was visible on his face while he ended his call assuring that he would send the money next week.  It was just silence to my query, whether anything was wrong? Sometime later, Ashique began to speak.  “It was my wife on the phone. There is urgent need of money.  Next week I will get some cash from a friend whom I had lend money and that could be sent home.” Ashique belongs to Kannur District of Kerala and his family consists his wife and three children. His face blossomed with a big smile while talking about his youngest son. While visiting his native place the youngest one would not leave Ashique alone and he had to always take him along. Always wanting to accompany Ashique on the motor bike, his son also had a special interest in motor vehicles, just like his father. Ashique continued to say “Things would not work as planned with just this job. I have mooted some new projects in association with some friends, with god’s help it would materialize by next month.” Everything would be fine Ashique, I tried to reassure him.

Our vehicle entered the city of Doha.  Wide, clean and tidy roads with trees planted on either side. Artificially grown green meadows and fast moving vehicles, the sight of pedestrians on these roads are very rare. Through the big buildings and crossing the sea shore the vehicle kept on moving ahead.

Ashique was a bit rude to the first staff for she was five minutes late to reach the pickup point from the scheduled time. Offended, she withdrew to the back seat of the vehicle and remained there, keeping mum. The vehicle started its return journey to Al Khor from Doha.  Ashique had taken a diversion en- route to avoid a traffic jam.  After few minutes while negotiating the curve of a roundabout suddenly a truck appeared just in front of the vehicle, Ashique’s speed slowed down slightly. Suddenly there was a violent stroke sending the vehicle rocking.   Our vehicle was hit from behind by another vehicle, there was not much damage to the vehicle, only the bumper was dented and rear brake light on one side was broken. The Arab who was driving the other vehicle came down and talked to Ashique in a cordial manner and subsequently both the vehicles were driven to the nearest police station. In Qatar it is mandatory to register police cases for every motor accident whether small or big.  There are no complications either.  The faulty driver would get the other vehicle repaired meeting the expenses with the insurance coverage of his own vehicle and towards this the necessary documents would be prepared and handed over to the aggrieved party by the police. The entire process would be completed in hardly half an hour.

The policeman on duty asked me to wait outside when I entered the Police Station along with Ashique and the Arab.  Time went by, half an hour to one hour. When contacted Ashique on his cell phone he told me that it would take some more time as the Arab went out to fetch his vehicles records. Again endless waiting. Losing patience I again went inside the Station. I could not see Ashique anywhere. When asked, the policeman replied something in Arab and from his facial expression I could make out that he had asked me to go out.  There was nobody among us who understood Arabic.  The Arab who went to fetch the papers was not seen anywhere neither his vehicle.  I was getting tensed up, unable to comprehend what was actually happening. Fear started skulking in me.  Ashique’s call, there was quiver in his voice.   He was made to sit with a group of absconders who had deserted their Arab owners and was caught by the police. Ashique’s case could also be the same, if so, he could be sent to jail.

Every expatriate worker in Qatar has to be under the sponsorship of a local Arab.  And without his permission the worker cannot do any work at any other place, for it is illegal. However, there are many people who work outside after procuring Visa through agents.  It is an arrangement with the native Arabs and the agents. Many of these workers might not have even seen or known their Arab sponsors.  When the agent fails to give the agreed amount towards the visa he registers police cases against the particular worker on whose name the visa was issued as an absconder.

My fear doubled when Ashique told me this. I stood there dumbfound without knowing what to do.  No, it would not be the case, I tried to make myself believe. But the mounting discomfort continued unabated.  At last my colleague who could speak Arabic well came to the Station. We could understand the magnitude of the problem only when he came out from the station consulting the officers inside.  Now only the Arab sponsor could save Ashique and all our efforts to contact him failed.  Hours passed by and it was getting dark.  Suddenly my cell phone rang. Ashique was on the other end. “I am sitting in the police vehicle….will be taken to the prison immediately….Jail is somewhere in the deep desert…”  While talking to him I saw a Land Cruiser painted blue and yellow with a red light fitted on top, passing me…..Yes, I could see Ashique….The vehicle carrying Ashique disappeared at the turning of the road and simultaneously the voice of Ashique on the phone too stopped abruptly.  Standing shocked I could hear a sigh of a woman and a sob of a child from across the sea….a dream withered away..

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



The ancient ruler, the powerful warrior Emporer Vikramaditya was made to undergo all sorts of sufferings and hardships following a curse of God Shani. He lost his kingdom and had to wander in the wilderness for long, his hand and leg were cut off, forced to work as a slave in an oilman's household. God Shani became terribly angry on the king for ridiculing him after listening to his birth story. Shani heard the remarks of Vikramaditya and place a curse on him. God Shani was so powerful that even his own Guru, the Parameshwar, God Shiva could not protect himself from the gaze of the god and had to undergo its gruesome experience. Although being the revered guru of Shani and having been given a concession minimizing the period of torment to a mere 3.45 hours, God Shiva had to face all humiliations and even reached the brink of death. Such was the power of Shani.

God Shani had never been in the list of deities worshipped daily by the Hindu believers. Unlike most of the Hindu gods there were very few temples devoted exclusively to God Shani. He was remembered only when one was in prolonged trouble and distress. However, the scene has changed and the popularity graph of Shani god has now been on the rise. In fact he is seemingly the most popular among all Hindu gods at present. Many temples constructed exclusive enclosures to facilitate the increasing number of devotees of Shani God. He is the god of the common man, the people who walk on the street. One does not need to take the pain of standing in long queues to get the glimpse of the deity and pay their obeisance and obtain blessings. One can find him everywhere. On the pavements, in the traffic inter-sections. His image cut-out on a metal sheet, painted black and placed in a tin partially filled with sesame oil. Put one rupee, two rupee or five rupee coins in the tin which you can do even while sitting in your vehicle for you can find number of children carrying the tin with the image placed in it at all the traffic junctions. the popularity increase of Shani also manifests the present day difficulties and miseries faced by the people, and the helplessness to tide over the deep crisis they are in. The effect of the gaze of Shani not necessarily is limited to just individuals; it appears that no collective forums, organisations or political parties enjoy immunity.

Bharatiya Janata Party is a comparatively younger national political party with a pan-Indian presence and political appeal. the growth of BJP after its founding in the year 1980 was unprecedented in the history of political parties in the country. Within 15 years of its formation the Party became the single largest political party in Lok Sabha and reached 183 seats, its highest ever in Lok Sabha in the year 1999. BJP was the lone non-Congress party which could lead a 24-party coalition government at the centre to its full terms which was a history of sort for all other coalition experiments at the centre ended abruptly in the past.

However, the Party sine its defeat in the 2004 general elections became a mere shadow of what it had been in the past. Its decisions even well intended gone awry. Even while remaining the largest political party in the opposition side all its efforts to score political points over its opponents failed miserably. Most of its friends, the allies left them. Couple of prominent leaders had left it or had to be expelled from the Party including the fire brand leader Uma Bharti and Jaswant Singh. It was invisible as a main opposition party in the previous years and BJP conceded the role of opposition party to other political formations. In the last elections too it did try all the tricks it knew which were selling like hot cakes in the past, but did not evoke much response lately. And now the party is in a whirlpool of crisis that it never had faced in the past. One could not have imagined the kind of factionalism and bickering now rampant in a disciplined cadre based Party like BJP, a Sangh Parivar outfit. In fact the birth of BJP itself was a bit awkward. Generally political parties form their Trade Union, Youth, Student, Cultural fronts etc. But in the case of BJP, they are the progeny of RSS which claims to be a cultural organisation (though their deeds do not match the claim). Now the BJP might erase the 'difference' in their campaign slogan 'A Party with a difference', for the difference is no where visible.

Nothing seemed to be working towards rejuvenating the party. the changes effected in different important position in the party including the post of President and leaders of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha did not yet bring any visible positive change in its functioning in the respective areas. In fact the new President's foul mouthing of leaders of other political parties put the entire party in an embarassing position compelling it to unsuccessfully defend its president. The victory in Karnataka Assembly elections was seen as a solace to the spiralling woes. But that happiness could not last long as its leaders and ministers got exposed in different alleged scams ranging from illegal mining to sexual harassment charges. The breaking up of coalition government in Jharkhand was yet another blow to the party.

If any individual leader had been affected most by the crisis in the party, it is L.K.Advani. Advani, one of the two stalwarts, had all along been made to remain in the shadow of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Vajpayee's image as a moderate Hindutva politician helped BJP garner the support of various allies to form the government. However, when Advani tried to shed his hardcore Hindutva image and to recreate a secular credential by showering praises on Jinnah, it not only did not enhance his image but, in fact, boomeranged. The RSS leadership seemed to have disowned the same Advani who was instrumental in the growth of Bhartiya Janata Party into one of the most significant political force in the country. The statement of the Sangh leadership that BJP required a generational change was like sprinkling salt in the wounds. He mutely suffered when the second rung leaders, even those who claimed loyalty to him in his hay days, were vying each other to replace him.

The present crisis throws light on the dilemma not only the BJP is in, but also exposes the waning control of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh. The formation of the BJP was a well thought out political strategy of the RSS to further its otherwise limited mass base and interest by penetrating into areas where the RSS or its other branches like VHP directly could not get acceptability. And the meticulously carved out image of Atal Behari Vajpayee helped this masquerading act perfectly. This had also helped BJP to emerge as one of the largest political force in a short time and achieving the goal of grabbing power by forming government at the Centre. However once they were leading the government the leaders of BJP also fell in the inherent traps of the system. In the public glare the BJP and its leaders got a larger image than that of the larger Sangh Parivar itself. The power, money and glamour intoxicated them. Their transformation from that of merely unknown Swayam Sewaks into the power wielding glamorous section and given to enjoy all the pleasures the system offers corrupted them. And they realize that to remain in power they have to make some ideological compromise. Hence some of the leaders of the BJP try to create a niche different from the image of a Sangh activist which put them in direct conflict with the larger Sangh Parivar ideology. On the other hand in the process the RSS has been losing its grip on its own political arm, the BJP. It is only natural a political party with wider mass support and enjoying political power tries to assert itself. This situation is unique in the case of the BJP for in all other political parties the core ideological doctrine is a prerogative of the political party itself

The BJP presumably is experiencing the effect of Kandaka Shani (Sadhe Sati). And the only way left for the BJP and its leaders is to accept the fate as it comes and pray to God Shani to shorten the period of misfortune.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Hansan T K

The high flying industrialist and Congress M.P from Kurushektra supporting Khap Panchat was not surprising. For without the tacit support of mainstream political Parties and its leaders, the open activities of such bodies like Khap Panchayat, in effect, challenging the law of the land and our judicial system, could not sustain. In a country where social status and economic relations are still deep rooted in feudal values, caste plays an important role even in the political sphere.

Since most of these caste communities behave under a ‘herd psyche’, it becomes easy for their leaders to goad them en-masse to the political destinations they wish. Hence politicians vie to garner the support of the caste leaders. In a State like Haryana where ‘Jats’ constitute about 30% of the total population, their support become the main factor in deciding the fate of political parties in elections. INLD leader, Om Prakash Chautala plunging in to the situation declaring
support to the Khap panchayats proclaiming its legitimacy was an open act to consolidate and expand his base among the jat community. The prolonged silence of the incumbent Chief Minister and the inaction of the State machinery against the perpetrators of the barbaric acts of ‘honour killings’ should also to be viewed in this light. Naveen Jindal, well educated and exposed to modern civilizations and cultures may not be accepting the retrograde values the Khap Panchayat trying to uphold. But, since he is donning the role of a politician he might be compelled to take the present stand considering the ground realities in his constituency.

It is time the civil society and the democratic polity to take a serious note on the issues thrown open by the situation. How the over assertion of caste groups and caste and religion based politics dent the secular-democratic political fabric of the country. When talk about caste politics, we immediately are drawn to the post Mandal scenario when the lower castes and intermediary castes emerged as leading political forces in various States. Mayavati and Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP and Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar. However, if you just confine to the view that resurgence of hitherto subservient caste groups in the post Mandal period is the only reason for caste assertion; we would be overlooking the wider reality in the country. The rein of Indian politics, with few exceptions, has always been in the hands of the upper caste sections and the other caste groups basically were playing a subservient role. The emergence of political forces centred on casts, particularly lower castes helped boost their self respect and increase in self confidence. This has ensured their active participation in the democratic process and setting pace for a new social engineering. However lack of proper socio-economic perspective and without practicing inner democratic processes within the organization these organizations are becoming fiefdoms of its leadership and their families posing questions on its future relevance and importance.

All major political parties in the country including those who boost of their secular credentials conveniently use religions and castes for their electoral prospects. Candidates are chosen not on merit on the basis of their track record of social service or social commitment but on the basis of religious/caste credentials conforming to the dominant groups in the given constituency. Political leadership and their candidates are seen running after the religious and caste leaders praying for their blessings in order to ensure the votes of their followers. This unwarranted mixing of politics with religion and caste embolden the religious and caste leaders to extract benefits when those political parties come into power with their support. It also ensures that the feudalistic character of the society remain intact insulated from attempts of reform from within the community or from outside. The government machinery will ensure not to intervene even when it violates individual freedom enshrined in the constitution.

There are hundreds of casts and sub-casts within Hinduism and they all practice different caste and religious customs. However, each of such groups if allowed to run parallel judicial and governing systems according to their customs and choice, it would lead to chaos in the country. It is nobody’s problem if a member of the community abides by the rules set by the Khap panchayat in her/his marriage. But it definitely becomes a problem when two individuals decides to marry each other and being forcefully prevented or even get killed and their families ostracized in case they go ahead with their decision to marry. Here it is the duty of the government establishment to ensure the safety of the targeted people. However, the government fail to fulfill their constitutional obligations for the fear of risking the ire of such strong caste groups. And this politics of convenience is the major reason for most of the social evils still prevailing in the country. Political parties also have a responsibility to act as a reformist force to take the society forward. On the contrary in India it is the major political parties in fact helping the communities to remain enchained to the past, feudalistic retrograde values. Hence we still discuss the Khap panchat even in the age of 21st Century.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who's World Class City

By the time the Common Wealth Games begins, Delhi would have a totally changed look. It would have further widened roads with beautifully designed tiled foot paths. There are new fly-overs under construction at various points to make the flow of traffic uninterrupted. New well laid out parks would add to the city's beauty. The metro rail net work will cover most part of the city including an express way corridor connecting Airport. The sleek low floor A/C and Non A/C buses would provide a new look to the road traffic. The makeover is aimed to make the city a world class one. Going by the preparations, it is sure, Delhi would soon become a world class city. Enormous amount of money has been pumped in by the government. Lion's part of the annual budget has been earmarked for the preparations of the games in Delhi. However, there are apprehensions who will inherit the world class city once the games are over. Who will be allowed to live in this world class city, rather, who can afford to live in Delhi?
Delhi is already the metropolitan city where cost of living is at the highest in the country. The escalating prices of essential commodities, especially of food items, made the life miserable even for the middle class sections. Though price hike is felt across the country, Delhiites suffer more than the people in any other state, as there is no proper mechanism evolved by the government to intervene in the market or to effectively check hoarding etc. For example, in Kerala, the southernmost State of India, Tur Dal was selling at Rs.35-00 while at the same period the price of the same product was between Rs.90-00 to Rs.100-00 in Delhi. Kerala is a food deficit State and totally depends on other States for its procurement of food commodities. The State Government could arrest the spiralling prices to certain extent by ensuring distribution of pulses and cereals through Public Distribution System. However, instead of taking steps to curb price hike, the Delhi government in its last Budget increased tax on almost everything. The VAT was increased from 12.5% to 20% that would further increase in the prices of all commodities in the city. Subsidy on the Gas cylinder was withdrawn and CNG was brought under VAT that was excluded previously. The ticket charges of DTC were increased by 50% and Delhi Metro too substantially increased their charges. The government justifies the additional levies on the requirement of funds towards infrastructure development for the forthcoming Common Wealth Games. A game at the expenses of the life of common people!
Now the government is talking about increasing the tariff of electricity keeping in abeyance the suggestion of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission to slash the tariff in view of the surplus profit the private distribution companies made after the privatisation of power sector in the State. But the State Government stand is dubious, as it only helps the private profiteers. Any elected government's primordial duty is to protect the interest of the people who elected them to power. The chief Minister declared that the people of Delhi are rich enough to pay any increase in the power tariff. The message is clear, she dreams of a 'World Class City' inhabited by world class people, the wealthy who can afford its high living costs, cleansed off the poor.
The Chief Minister and former Mayor of Delhi made public their displeasure on the increasing number of migrants in the city that they rued for the worsening civic conditions. These political leaders forget that migration from the poor rural areas is a creation of themselves. A result of the uneven development pattern where some pockets are pampered while neglecting other areas. This has indeed created unrest among sections and vested interests try to ecploit the situation to their narrow political interests. Raj Thackray's MNS and Shiv Sena built their political fiefdom raising tirade against the migrants. If the target was the South Indians in the 60s, it is now the migrants from Bihar and UP in Mumbai. However, owing to political compulsions, Shiela Dixit or the National parties like Congress and BJP cannot take an open stand like the MNS or Shiv Sena. But there are more novel ideas to chase away the poor, particularly the migrant labourers.
Migrants are the worst affected by the high living costs as they are lowest paid and without a dwelling place of their own. The rents of the houses are also subjected to periodical upward hike. Going by the current rate of increase in the cost of living in Delhi, it would soon become impossible for large sections of poor people to sustain, forcing them to return to the places they came from. Thus the 'World Class City' may be cleansed of the poor, leaving it exclusively for the use of the moneyed 'World Class Citizens'.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Don’t get frustrated, feel relaxed


Most of us might have had such experiences in our daily life. Unexpectedly incidents occurs where one gets humiliated, offended and feel frustrated. There may not be any obvious reason. But you are bound to undergo such bad experiences each day. Things can happen anywhere at any time, while travelling, or while being at home or office, walking on the street or sitting in a restaurant, at a Wine shop or at a Paan shop. You are not even safe on a telephone line. I am sure you too might have experienced such things, especially if you are staying in Delhi. Of course I am talking about the people belonging to the ordinary class. I have no idea about the upper class life styles and their day to day experiences.
Any given day it could begin at your own home that too in the early morning. Suddenly you are woken up from a nice sleep. Your wife may be shouting at you from the kitchen accusing you of not taking interest in the household affairs. You failed to call in the Plumber to fix the leaking tap at the kitchen sink. That is another matter that, the plumber is available in the Society’s office from 10 in the morning till 6 in the evening, a period that you are supposed to be working in the office. But she cannot be blamed, for calling in the plumber is the job of a male, and being the head of the family and a male, it is purely your duty. Wives are peculiar, it is their unique behavior. Be it your wife, mine or anybody else’s. They begin with the leakage of tap in the kitchen sink, but don’t be a fool to believe that it is going to end there. Alas! It is just the beginning. Suddenly the subject gets switched over to the day you went home drunk with staggering legs. The 4 large Whiskies you had not just made you stagger, it in fact swept away her prestige. She strongly believes a teetotaler husband enhances her prestige in the neighborhood and among her relatives. She goes on to remind you with tears in her eyes how happily she was living in her parent’s house before marrying you. It goes on….. However, you are helpless, you cannot respond, and it is wise not to say anything at that point of time. I know you are angry, you feel like yelling at her. Yet you won’t act anything stupid. Better keep mum and suppress your genuine feelings. It is a bit frustrating. Yeah, the frustration thus begins at home.
Next you think of hiring an auto rickshaw to the nearest Metro station since you are late for office and cannot wait for the bus. You signal to many but none stops, they all race past you. At last one stops, you feel relieved, not knowing what is in store for you ahead. You are aware that all the electronic meters in the Autorickshws plying across Delhi do not work. And now the bargain begins, the driver asks for an amount that is double the actual cost. Ultimately you settle down for an amount between the actual and the amount demanded by the driver. You have almost reached the station, just few yards away, suddenly the driver turn the vehicle to the Gas filling station, he won’t listen to your plea or shouts to drive the rickshaw to the station first and then fill the gas while returning. Obviously, you cannot use vulgar languages, for you are supposed to be a gentleman, a civilized and cultured middle class man. So bear it. I know, inside you are burning with rage. Suppress it, there is no other way.

The announcement in the Metro Train says, next station is where you have to de-board the train. You could see long queues on the platform. The announcement asks you to stand at the centre of the door while de-boarding. Well said! But you face a jostling crowd rushing in to the train and in the course you are pushed back into the train again and again. And when you use force to extricate yourself out, you hear people shouting at you using unfriendly words. My advice is not to feel humiliated. It is part of the life, you are in Delhi.
Now you are walking down to the office with long strides to be in the office just in time. You were not expecting it and have no idea from where the car emerged. It just stops in front of you blocking your way forcing you to take a detour. The guy could have stopped the car at one or two meters away. It is enough reason to feel angry. But, no, it is a BMW! BMWs, I hear, offer great comforts to the occupants, but these are dangerous machines for the people walking on the street. So to be on the safer side, do not raise any objection to the guy sitting behind the wheel.
You feel relaxed in your chamber after exchanging greetings and pleasantries with your colleagues in the office. After a cup of hot coffee, it is time for the staff meeting. The ‘Boss’ is furious and he shouts at you in front of all other staff. You are quite convinced that you are being blamed for something you are not responsible for. No, no, no, you should not at all try to defend your case. You see, bosses are bosses. Bosses are a class apart. They are destined to be embodiment of all virtues, epitome of knowledge and repository of all information in the universe. So, now my dear chap, you change that grim face and say ‘yes boss’ cheerfully. That’s it boy; you are brilliant.
Your landline phone is ringing relentlessly and you rush to the room to pick up the receiver. The person on the other end asks ‘who are you talking?’ Now do not feel bewildered. It is quite common in Delhi. You might feel it as if someone intrudes into your house and asks you ‘who you are?’ Forget it, just tell the person you are so and so and how can I help you. You may face such odd situations at various other places too, be it in a wine shop or a pan shop, the salesman at the counter might look the other way talking to his friend standing besides ignoring you altogether.
Yes friends, I know what I have written above is not about something new. You all knew it from your own experiences. But what I suggest you to is, to count such incidents you faced in a particular day. It would be interesting and funny and at the end of the day you would feel relaxed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


……….Hansan T.K

My mother was cent percent religious. She would wake up in the early morning when the cock crows announcing the break of the day. Her day begin with a dip in the cool waters of the pond in our compound. Wearing fresh white clothes and sandal paste on her forehead she would perch on a grass mat behind the traditional brass oil lamp and recite ‘slokas’ from the holy books before retiring to the kitchen to take care of the domestic chores. We children had the duty to pluck flowers of white, yellow, red colours from the plants and Tulsi leaves grown in the compound while she cooked and completed her morning jobs. These flowers and tulsi leaves were to be offered to the deity at the nearby local temple which she visited every day without fail unless she fell ill.

Mother was very close to the Gods. In her ancestral home they had a temple of their own to worship their god every morning and evening. She even had the liberty to quarrel with the Gods. We heard her occasionally raising her voice condemning them for not listening to her prayers when the family was in distress. Such brief sessions always ended with sobs and tears running down her cheeks. She was not scared of the evil spirits for she believed her Gods the powerful ‘Durga’ and ‘Subrahmanian’ (Karthikeya) protect her and the family. She often warns the evil spirits roaming around, the consequences of trespassing the boundary. She said she could identify the evil spirits by the foul smell spread in the air when they are around.

However religious she was my mother never cared to visit the house of Ammni Amma who lived in our neighborhood. Mother could not accept any self-styled god and was critical of the woman as duping the people. Ammini Amma a lady in her fifties with dark complexion was the god woman in our village. She was crippled in her right leg and used a bamboo stick to support her movements. Her followers mainly were illiterate local poor. They thronged at her house seeking her blessings and in return paid her in kind and in cash whatever way they could. Her followers also included few small time businessmen and traders, some belonging to neighboring villages. Her fame gradually went beyond the village and her followers swelled. There were quite a number of influential and wealthy people among them. Initially she lived in a thatched hut on a small piece of land. Gradually the wealth and land increased. She erected a new building replacing the thatched hut. The new house with many spacious rooms was the first concrete house in the village and it had a big prayer hall that could accommodate the swelling followers. Now it was called an ‘Ashram’, Ammini Amma’s Ashram.

Ammini Amma was detached off her family and lived separately along with her only son. She was not married and the fatherhood of her son still remains a mystery. Her son, a school dropout, lived an enviable life style. He used to wear the most fashionable dress in vogue in the cities and moved around on a Motor Cycle. He avoided the local youth as all of his friends were city lads. He did not care to do any job. Soon he became notorious for he indulged in all sorts of misdeeds. He became a drunkard and a womanizer. He spent recklessly the easy money his mother earned.

Ammani Amma was a small part of a larger world of self-styled gods and goddesses in the country. There are approximately 8 million of them in India claiming to serve the spiritual needs of millions and millions of Indians. Not just Indians the powerful and famous among them have devotees in different countries. The successful god-men and women all have their branches in the rich Western as well as Gulf countries. Many have their own Web-sites giving details of their holy-powers, write-ups on the holiness of the persons by their devotees. But one cannot find the details of the exact place of their birth, about their parents, the details of their early life or their educational background. In one such sites of a holy-man who conducts spiritual discourses world over gives the birth place as South India. It could be anywhere beyond the Vindhyas. Yet another most popular God-man’s site narrates the story of his birth emphasizing the divinity. “Baba's mother was fetching water when a blue ball of fire emerged from the village well and entered her stomach; she fainted, woke-up and found herself pregnant.”
India is known for spiritualism. The Sanyasis/Sanyasins formed an important part of the spiritual echelons of the country since ancient period. The scriptures unambiguously describe who a Sanyasi is. In sanyas, desire for wealth, name and fame, as also pride, anger, greed, fear, attachment to children and friends is to be renounced. The present day ‘Sanyasis’ who claim everything from divine powers to the grandiose title of God on Earth move around in luxurious cars and live in posh bungalows. Many have set up multi-million business establishments across the country and abroad. Education and Health care are the two preferred areas of investment by many. Some have entered into the production of Ayurvedic medicines in view of the increasing demand of the indigenous medicine in the country and abroad. One may have the doubt why these divine persons opt for establishing hospitals with most modern scientific amenities when their divine powers could have helped the ailing masses get cured sparing their poor devotees the unaffordable cost of medicines.

The life of these so-called divine people is often mired in controversies. There are many accusations of misdeeds against them using sheer magic to dupe the gullible believers. Their involvement in cases ranging from sex-scandals, land grabbing and extortion are often reported in the media. Latest of the string of such controversies are reported from the very capital of the country, New Delhi and another one from down south Tamil Nadu. The Delhi based God-man was arrested by the police for running a high profile sex racket involving former airhostesses and students. In the second case, people went on rampage targeting his sprawling Ashram and destroying hoardings of the Swamiji after the telecast of a video footage showing him with a film actress in a compromising position. Earlier the Ahmedabad police arrested a god-man and his wife on the charge of cheating people from various states to the tune Rs.1200-00 crore promising to double and triple the amounts the people gave him. Some time ago, the Kerala government launched a hunt for the fake god-men in the State. The police probe revealed startling facts about their anti-social activities. The city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat rocked by large scale violence by agitated people following the mysterious death of two children who were inmates of an ‘Ashram’ run by a prominent spiritual guru. The Guru described the agitation and related probe as a design to malign Hinduism and its spiritual leaders. Surely, the big sharks in the spiritual trade go unscathed with the political patronage they enjoy. The political leadership including Prime Ministers and Presidents are frequent visitors in these Ashrams giving legitimacy to these frauds. Obviously, the politician uses the popularity of these god-men to gain political mileage and hence it is assured no allegations against them leads to its logical conclusion. It is a proved fact that the miracles they perform are sheer magic and many agencies challenged them to scientifically prove their divine power. Professor Late A. T. Kovooor since 1963, had declared an award of Rs. 1,00,000/- for anyone who could demonstrate supernatural or miraculous powers under fraud-proof conditions. But so far no god-man or woman came forward to accept this challenge.

There are many laws existing in the country to check the actions of fraud and cheating. One can approach the consumer courts in case of a consumer product does not live up to the specified standards. But there is no policy to monitor and check the activities of the self-styled godmen who are allegedly duping the gullible people. The Delhi High Court in 2006 directed the Union Government to formulate a policy. It is the responsibility of any democratically elected government to protect the people from being subjected to fraud and cheating in the name of spirituality and healing.